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Literature
A Boy and His Stove Part 9-2
Villain Intermission 1
???, Omega Initiative HQ
June 28, 200X
7:21 PM
(Song: Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Sigma Palace 4: [link])
"Really Mr. Terry, I'm sorry! I'm so-so-so-so-so-so-so-sorry! I didn't mean to let a bad Navi get me, I-"
"And I've told you a hundred times that sorry doesn't cut it, you moron! You botched our mission, and now we're gonna pay the price for it! I hope you're happy!"
"Aw, Mr. Terry..."
"SHUT UP! Things are bad enough as it is, and I don't need your whining to make it worse!" Terry shut his PET off so he wouldn't have to deal with DynamoMan's blubbering, and set it in his pocket while he strolled down the underground base's sinister dimly lit hallways. He was glad he did so, because now DynamoMan couldn't tell just how shaken up he was at what was to come. 'Useless Navi!' Terry thought, trembling slightly while a wave of nausea thrashed around in the pit of his stomach, 'You were supposed
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove Chapter 9
Chapter 9: Cozy Dinner and Good Friends! The Fight Has Just Begun!
ACDC Town
June 28, 200X
6:32 PM
(Song: MegaMan Battle Network 4, ACDC Town: [link])
"Hey, hey, hey! Looks like we're here, you guys!" Dr. Skrenta announced with a wide grin on her face as she pulled up to the blue-painted Hikari household, "So go ahead and get your butts outta my car! You guys have some barbecue to tear into, and I've got a program to analyze!"
"You're leaving? I thought you were going to eat with us!" Lan complained. He was already growing to like this eccentric goofball of a scientist, and she was going to leave?
"Hey, hey, hey! I never said that I was gonna eat, just that I might be able to weasel my way into getting some grub. And besides..." Her smile turned into a disinterested sneer while she cast her gaze upon the house, "Wily's hanging out there, and last I checked I'm allergic to batty old loons, you know what
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 8
Chapter 8: A Fun New Friend! Skrenta the Screwball!
(Song: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies, Themis Legal Academy: [link])
"So Chaud?" Lan asked as the trio of youths ascended the cobblestone staircase up to Scilab's pristine glass doors, which were crowned by the facility's somewhat gaudy yellow-green "S" logo, "Who exactly are we showing that Virus generating program to?"
"Well, considering that their pet project involves the mass extermination of all Virus-based threats on the Net, your father and Wily are the obvious choices!" Chaud explained when they reached the doors. "But after getting friendly with the rest of the notable staff on hand, I realized that there's possibly another helpful soul who would want to see this."
"Well, who's that then?" Lan asked, to which Chaud replied with a sigh.
"You'll see her soon. All I'm going to say is that I'm sure you'll both get along just fine" He then took hold of the
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Harsh Words From Chaud! Useless?!
(Song: Apollo Justice Ace Attorney, Investigation Opening: [link])
In the wake of DynamoMan's deletion, Elec Town's chaos began to wind down. A chorus of screaming sirens rang through the air which heralded the arrival of emergency workers, and distraught civilians poured out of nearby buildings. Meanwhile, Lan and Dex stood near the speaker in the town square as they were asked to. It didn't take long for a singular charcoal police vehicle to break off from the pack and pull over near the duo. The passenger window rolled down, and revealed the neutral, cold expression of one Eugene Chaud.
"Hey, Chaud!" Lan nervously greeted the surly-faced boy, his icy glare causing him to sweat a little. "Long time no see!"
"But we saw each other a few minutes ago." Chaud corrected coldly, which caused Lan to stick out his bottom lip.
"Yeah well... you know what I mean!" Lan whined, "We
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Literature
We Can Be Heroes! (Chapter 1)
Chapter 1: Walk Away
(Song: Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Luma and the Hat: [link])
It had been the funnest night that Lapis Lazuli had experienced in her life. Not to say that it had much competition mind you, seeing how the past 5000 years or so had awful tragedies in store for the blue Gem every night. Whether it was being trapped inside of a mirror for a majority of her life, being set free and trying to desperately flee the planet she was trapped on with a broken gem, being captured and tortured by the ones that she were supposed to be safe around, or having to imprison herself in a fusion with a sadistic thug for months on end to protect the only one she cared about... saying that Lapis wasn't a stranger to bad nights (and days, for that matter) would certainly be underselling it.
But yet, this was a genuinely fun night indeed. After being freed from Malachite, Lapis had been dead set on leaving Earth. The lush blu
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Literature
We Can Be Heroes! (Steven Universe AU Fic)
Prologue: I'm Blue
(Song: M&L Bowser's Inside Story, Deep Castle: [link])
Organic Life. Just the mere thought of those words and the inferior life forms they were attached to made Blue Diamond want to retch. If she had lacked considerable self-control, she was certain that her normally stoic, straight face would be twisted into an expression of pure disgust and hatred. But considering that she was surrounded by all sorts of rank-and-file Gems who looked to her as a pillar of stoicism and cool-headedness, she decided to take a deep breath and repress those powerful emotions for her own sake. After the incident that went down between her comrade and sister Yellow Diamond and a particularly mouthy and rebellious Peridot, she certainly didn't need to be the next Diamond to lose face with her followers. Besides, it wouldn't be that long before she got to take out her disgust on some organics on the planet sh
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Defeat Him! The Innocent Electric Bomb, DynamoMan!
(Song: Wario Master of Disguise, Count Cannoli theme: [link])
"DYNAMO CRUSHER!"
"Whoa!"
StoveMan dove out of the way just in time. Had he been a second late, he would have been crushed flat by DynamoMan's attack. And it would have hurt, too: DynamoMan's impact cracked the tiles he landed on, and caused a large amount of electricity to spark dangerously around him in a 3-inch radius.
"Geez, that kid's packing some serious power!" StoveMan whistled, feeling equal parts horrified and impressed. "Too bad it ain't gonna cut it against me!" StoveMan cackled while he bent over and focused. The flames on his head burned brighter and brighter, and it wasn't lost on Terry either.
"DynamoMan, get up! I said GET UP, you're gonna get hit!"
DynamoMan had been spending the last few seconds slowly recovering from the powerful attack he had unleashed earlier, which
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 5
Chapter 5: An Old Foe's Return! The Petty Revenge of Jomon's Heir!
Elec Town, Elec World Shopping Mall
June 28, 200X
2:34 PM
(Song: Mega Man Star Force 3, Incident Occurance: [link])
"Dex, what in the world is going on?!" Lan asked, absolutely flabbergasted by all the chaos erupting around the mall. It was unlike anything he had ever seen: all these electrical devices going nuts for absolutely no reason defied any sense of logic or reason. It was as if multiple net crimes were happening at once as opposed to them happening one at a time, and was far too much for him to handle. Where would he even begin? With the flame-spitting ovens? Or perhaps the screwy air conditioning? And that's not to mention all the other electrical devices connected to the internet such as the cars and escalator going completely haywire.
Dex however wasn't quite as worried or flustered, and kept a cool head while he and Lan remained in
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Palling Around With Dex! Mall Mates!
(Song: Phoenix Wright Justice For All, Toccata and Fugue: [link])

"Geez... oh geez... how did it come to this?!" Lan raced down the empty datascape, desperately running as fast as his legs could carry him. From behind he could hear the towering footsteps of something big... something angry.
"GIVE UP, LAN! YOU CAN'T RUN FOREVER!" the powerful, bellowing voice from behind shook Lan's body to the core. As tempting as it was, he refused to look back and continued running. "NO MATTER WHAT, THERE'S NO ESCAPING FROM WHAT YOU'VE DONE!"
"Grr, he's getting closer!" Lan grit his teeth and tried his best to pick up the pace, only going somewhat faster than before as he had already reached near-full speed. He continued his desperate sprint, only to suddenly stop in a mad panic. He had reached a drop-off point that revealed nothing but an empty abyss that stretched ou
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Literature
Chapter 3.5
ACDC Town
June 27, 200X
3:01 PM
(Song: MegaMan Battle Network 2, ACDC Town: [link])
Lan and Dex were approaching the Hikari household while the lovely afternoon sun shone down. The larger boy was in great spirits, and walked with a confident swagger in his step while the smaller had a dreadfully exasperated look on his face.
"Man, I can't WAIT to tell everyone that I actually did it! I finally beat Lan Hikari! I FREAKING BEAT HIM!" Dex whooped while Lan sighed.
"Dex, you do realize that I was using a completely new Navi that hates listening to common sense, right? You know that if I still had MegaMan, GutsMan would have lost!"
Now, it was Dex's turn to feel bummed out as he did a complete 180 from his original upbeat attitude and hung his head down in shame. "Yeah... I know." he sighed, "But can't ya just give me this? Come on Lan, be a pal and gimme credit just this once!"
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Literature
Beach Summer Fun Buddies! (Long SU Oneshot)
Ah, Beach City: the pride of Delmarva! A huge tourist trap in an otherwise unremarkable state, famous for both its beautiful beaches (hence the name) and its magical guardians, the Crystal Gems! During the busy summer months, tourists are often torn on how to spend their time: most as you would expect, hitting the beach. Others swing by the city's surplus of fantastic restaurants: the Fish Stew Pizza, The Big Donut, the Beach Citywalk Fries, you name it! And others still like to poke around the enormous cliff face at the far end of the peninsula to take in the beauty and mystery of the ancient Crystal Temple. But while most tourists and locals were caught up in the summertime hustle and bustle, one boy and his father had other plans on there minds...
"Hey Dad, do you see Lapis anywhere?!" Steven asked as he scanned through the huge crowd flocking to the boardwalk's side of the beach, the pair of binoculars he bought along proving so far to be of no help whatsoever.
"Ah... nope! I'm sor
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 3
Chapter 3:  A Gutsy Sparing Match! Dex Isn't Playing Around!
Hikari Residence, Toilet Network
June 26, 200X
5:43 PM
(Song: MegaMan Network Transmission, Relaxation: [link])
"Alright, time ta close up shop! SUCK ON THIS!" StoveMan enveloped himself in fire and propelled himself like a missile, completely obliterating the group of Mettaurs he plowed through before slamming into a wall and coming to a halt. "Heh, piece'a cake." StoveMan sneered as he dusted his arms off. "Hey, we got anymore Viruses ta bust?"
"Nope! That just about does it!" Lan sighed in relief. As he had predicted, just about every device connected to the Net in his house was infested with Viruses, ranging from small gatherings of three or four to large mobs of twenty and more. Thankfully it was only Mettaurs and not anything stronger, which made the process of busting them go pretty smoothly for the most part as StoveMan easily bulldozed through
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Literature
The Blame Game (Steven Universe One Shot)
'Aw man, what to do, what to do...' it was quite late at night, and Amethyst was bored out of her mind. Then again, the purple Gem always had trouble staving off boredom during her nights at the barn. She'd sleep, but she felt far too wound up to do so. She'd watch the barn's dusty old TV, but with the exception of two channels that aired nothing but jewelry television there was nothing but static, and the only video tapes laying around were those dumb Camp Pining Hearts episodes that Peridot's obsessive watching turned unbearable. Heck, she wouldn't even mind tinkering with the drill if it wasn't for the fact that the real tech savvy Gems all had other business to attend to. Peridot was binge-watching her stupid show while Garnet and Pearl spent the long hours of the night meditating, something Amethyst just never had the patience for.
"Man, this BLOWS!" Amethyst growled as she flopped onto her back and pounded the barn's wooden floor.
"HEY! Keep it down, I'm trying to wat
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 2
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: At this point in the story, I kinda want to do something a little dumb that I've been meaning to do for a while: Link to fitting music on Youtube for when it's appropriate in the story, as to enhance the reader's experience. Can't promise that they'll all be Mega Man songs, but they'll still be fitting!)
Chapter 2: StoveMan's Amazing Power! Looks Can Be Deceiving!
ACDC/Beach City Metroline
June 26, 200X
1:15 PM
(Song: Megaman ZX, Area C: [link])
After grabbing a bite to eat and saying their goodbyes to Mick, Tab, and Match, Lan and company took the next Metroline back home to ACDC Town. While the underground train zoomed through the dark, dank subway tunnels, Lan glanced down at his PET, which he had currently put into sleep mode so he could give StoveMan a chance to cool off.
'You know, since he is the Navi I'm going to be stuck with for the time being, I may as well get to know the guy.'
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 1
Chapter 1: A New Friend! The New Navi is a Stove?!
???
June 23, 200X
12:31 AM
(Song: Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Sigma Palace 4: [link])
MegaMan woke with a flash, breathing heavily as he tried to shake the horribly disorienting feeling plaguing his mind. He had to jam his eyes shut as the light wherever he had woken was painful to look at, and while he waited for his vision to clear up, he thought back to what he remembered last: Lan had jacked him into a compspace in order to dispel some poison gas, but he was jumped by three evil Navis lying in wait. He didn't get a chance to fight back because he was frozen in place by something the purple Navi threw at him...
"Ah, I can see that you have woken at last."  MegaMan opened his eyes and saw that KomusoMan was slowly approaching him, bamboo flute in hand. "Good, good. Now, I do hope your trip here was not too uncomfortable."
"YOU!" MegaMan tried to raise his arm
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Literature
A Boy and His Stove (MegaMan Battle Network Fic)
It is the year 200X, and mankind has advanced into a "Network Age" where the internet itself has become an integral part of most people's lives, with the Net itself turning so complicated that it became a realm of its own where Net Navis, the avatars of those who use the Net are employed to navigate this complex second world. All sorts of industries have shifted focus on the Net because of its importance, which unfortunately includes criminal syndicates. Powerful groups such as the World Three, the Netmafia Gospel, and the Dark Chip syndicate Nebula sought to control or destroy the Net for their own means... but thanks to the heroic actions of a certain grade schooler and his trusty Net Navi, their desires never came to pass.
Despite his young age and hot-headed attitude, Lan Hikari and his twin brother/Navi MegaMan (Hub Hikari) were formidable Net Battlers and were able to handle whatever these nefarious groups through at them: neither powerful virus nor multibug organism no
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Activity


Villain Intermission 1

???, Omega Initiative HQ
June 28, 200X
7:21 PM

(Song: Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Sigma Palace 4: [link])

"Really Mr. Terry, I'm sorry! I'm so-so-so-so-so-so-so-sorry! I didn't mean to let a bad Navi get me, I-"

"And I've told you a hundred times that sorry doesn't cut it, you moron! You botched our mission, and now we're gonna pay the price for it! I hope you're happy!"

"Aw, Mr. Terry..."

"SHUT UP! Things are bad enough as it is, and I don't need your whining to make it worse!" Terry shut his PET off so he wouldn't have to deal with DynamoMan's blubbering, and set it in his pocket while he strolled down the underground base's sinister dimly lit hallways. He was glad he did so, because now DynamoMan couldn't tell just how shaken up he was at what was to come. 'Useless Navi!' Terry thought, trembling slightly while a wave of nausea thrashed around in the pit of his stomach, 'You were supposed to be an upgrade from SparkMan, not a downgrade! Now that you blew our mission to hell... who knows what the boss will do to us?!"

While he approached Takuma Saisei's "war room", Terry felt his legs grow weaker while he reflected on his past experiences prior to throwing in his lot with the terrorist cell. From electronics shop assistant, to underground Netbattler, to petty Netcriminal... While he gradually became more of an unpleasant person after being disowned by his grandfather, it was still an enormous leap to take for a two-bit punk like Terry Jomon. A leap that he seriously, seriously should have thought about before joining the Omega Initiative: petty crimes like mugging, thievery, and intimidation were pretty easy to do with minimal consequences if caught. But when you're carrying out jobs like spreading widespread electrical mayhem across Elec Town for a primitivist nutcase of a terrorist... serious netcriminals like him, Wily, and their ilk were far, far less forgiving. People like them want to send the world to hell, a process that's harder when your lackeys botch jobs and let the feds stomp all over them. And when you're aiming that high, you can't afford to keep around detrimental idiots around for that long. No, you had to get rid of them permanently...

Terry soon found himself right outside the War Room, indicated by two impressive olive-green tapestries lining the walls surrounding the enormous door, each of which was decorated with an enormous black omega symbol. And standing at the front was none other than Saisei's right hand man Yahoot, who had his arms folded as he grinned ever-so-slightly at the approaching Terry.

"Mr. Jomon, just in time for dinner, I see." Yahoot remarked stoically. Trying his best not to shiver too much, the pale-in-the-face Terry nodded curtly.

"Yeah. Uh... is the boss..."

"Expecting you, yes." Yahoot confirmed, "Mr. Saisei was hoping to discuss the results of today's mission with you over a nice plate of traditional Yumland curry. And now that you are here, I see no reason to keep Mr. Saisei waiting."

(Song: Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Sirhan Dogen theme: [link])

Before Terry could protest or stall a bit, Yahoot opened the door, revealing Mr. Saisei seated at the head of a long, curved desk. From the War Room, Terry could hear a somewhat relaxing, if sinister song that was being performed by a group of Net Navis broadcasted on a large monitor above Mr. Saisei's head, with Mr. Saisei's personal Navi KomusoMan providing the haunting melody via bamboo flute.

"Ah, Terry!" Mr. Saisei greeted, his powerful voice laced with a friendly tone, "Please take a seat over here! We have much to discuss this evening." To Terry's misfortune, Mr. Saisei pointed to the seat directly across from him.

"Well, looks like it's too late to run." Terry swallowed down another nervous lump as he stumbled his way into the War Room and took his seat across from Mr. Saisei, who was looking quite dashing in a charcoal suit. Terry however refused to look Mr. Saisei in the eyes and decided to stare down at the ornate oak table, not even paying attention when Yahoot approached the table, produced a platter seemingly from nowhere, and placed a plate of delicious-smelling curry and rice under his nose.

"Ah, it smells delicious, Yahoot!" Mr. Saisei praised before trying a spoonful of curry from his own plate after Yahoot set it down, "And the taste... oh, it's to die for! Have you tried this yet, Terry?"

"I'm not hungry." Terry mumbled, pushing his plate of curry away.

"Really now?" Mr. Saisei responded, cocking an eyebrow, "If memory serves, you are always the first of us to clear your plate. Where on Earth has your appetite gone, Terry?"

Terry didn't reply, but his eyes nervously shot from side to side. 'Oh come on! You know what the issue is! Just go ahead and punish me already! Oh god, I hope it doesn't hurt too bad...!'

(Silence)

"Mr. Jomon appears to be quite distressed, Master Saisei." KomusoMan pointed out, the Navi band's music having stopped abruptly, "The way he sweats, the way he glances across the room like a panicky shrew... there is discord deep in his heart. That much is certain."

"Really now?" Mr. Saisei asked quizzically, "Well what seems to be troubling you, Terry?" But before Terry could respond, Mr. Saisei's eyes beamed as he was hit by a realization. "AH! I suppose it has to do with your performance evaluation, is that correct?"

"Uh... well..." Terry then sighed. What's the use of lying when your terrorist boss is sitting right in front of you. He gave a resigned sigh and answered with a rather meek "Yes..."

(Song: Phoenix Wright Spirit of Justice, Defiant Dragons theme: [link])

"Ah... I see." To Terry's surprise, Mr. Saisei resumed smiling in his kind, fatherly way. And he was terrified: What would he do now? Would he calmly kill him with a smile on his face? Suddenly fly into a rage and beat him like a speed bag? But all Mr. Saisei did was shake his head and chuckle a bit. "Terry, I am your ally! Your brother-in-arms in this war against Net Society! There is no need to fear me! The fact that you would be terrified to report back to me after a job well done... that is quite a shame."

"Wait... a job well done... that's what you said, right?!" Terry asked in disbelief, his stomach unclenching considerably. Mr. Saisei's answer was a nod.

"Of course, Terry! You proved the might of the Omega Initiative to the denizens of Elec Town! You showed them that we are unflinching in our cause, that we are not to be trifled with! You performed your role admirably!"

This... was the last thing Terry was expecting, to be honest. He remembered his time working under his grandpa, where the slightest slip-up, the tiniest mistake was grounds for an earful from the old man. He expected far worse, at least having a finger broken considering what he had seen with the criminal circles he ran with. But Mr. Saisei was... congratulating him. It was an alien sensation, and yet satisfying all the same. "Well... thank you! Seriously!" Terry answered his boss before letting out a huge sigh of relief, "But... well, my stupid Navi got himself deleted! And thanks to him, we couldn't keep that Virus generator running as long as we could all because that bonehead-"

"Terry, relax." Mr. Saisei scolded gently, "Your Navi's deletion does not change the fact that the test run was a complete success. We now know for a fact that the generator program works, and that when broadcasted can generate hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Viruses over a signal's radius! The fact that you weren't caught en route to the testing grounds, the fact that you weren't apprehended afterwards, and the lack of Net Officials knocking on our door are all signs that this was a job well done. So feel free to celebrate, my boy! In fact... Yahoot!"

"You need not ask, Mr. Saisei." Yahoot replied coolly as he produced another platter seemingly from nowhere, this time with two wine glasses and a bottle of champagne resting on its surface. He set the glasses near both Terry and Mr. Saisei, popped the bottle's cork (To Terry's annoyance it was done the boring way, with no rocketing cork and the jet of liquid that accompanied) and filled them to the brim with the vibrant yellow booze. "Drink up, gentlemen."

"Thank you very much, Yahoot!" Mr. Saisei thanked Yahoot before turning to Terry and lifting his glass. "Well now Terry, how's this for a celebration?"

"Pretty good, Mr. Saisei. Pretty good." Terry replied with a chuckle, now completely convinced that Mr. Saisei didn't bear him any ill will. With a slight grin on his face, he and Mr. Saisei clinked their glasses and took a sip. Mr. Saisei gave a content sigh, but Terry's... was a bit more vulgar.

"OH CHRIST!" Terry dropped his glass on the table and spewed a fountain of champagne from his mouth. While his drink spilled all over the table he continued to sputter and spit, desperately trying to erase the fizzy drink's surprisingly strong taste from his mouth before grabbing a hunk of curry and devouring it. After a few more handfuls the taste was eliminated by the spicy curry's more pleasurable flavor, and Terry was at ease once more.

"I take it you're not a fan." Mr. Saisei stated with a hint of whimsy in his tone. When Terry let his actions sink, he blushed a deep red while Yahoot grimaced and shook his head in a disapproving manner.

"Yeah... I'm really sorry about that." Terry apologized, shame clear in his voice. Mr. Saisei simply laughed it off and stretched before scooping up a spoonful of curry.

"No need to apologize, Terry." Mr. Saisei responded before pursuing a more important manner. "Now as far as I'm concerned, the first phase of erasing Net Society has passed without a hitch! Which of course means that it's time we moved on to phase 2. Yahoot!"

"Yes sir?"

"How is the analysis of MegaMan's data coming along?"

'MEGAMAN!' That name alone made Terry's blood boil. Just the mere thought of that stupid blue Navi made Terry want to punch something. Even if his grandpa disowned him, it wouldn't have happened if that stupid Navi and his brat operator didn't ruin everything! The way he lost that tournament match, and his grandpa disowning him in front of a crowd of spectators right afterward... as humiliating as it was, it made it all the sweeter to know that MegaMan was under the thumb of the Omega Initiative. To think that he'd join the group that would avenge his loss to that idiot...

"MagicMan finished a few minutes ago, actually." Yahoot responded cooly before trailing off. "MegaMan... I knew during my days working under Lord Wily that he was a powerful Navi... but things have changed considerably since our last encounter. Last time, a shot of Life Virus energy was all MagicMan needed to bring MegaMan to his knees. But to think that he could withstand Cybeast possession! Cybeast possession! Perhaps if Wily sought to capture him instead of try to delete him, we would already be in an age without this putrid Net Society holding us back."

"Well, that is just one of many mistakes Wily made during the World Three's heyday. Suffice to say, we shall improve off of where he went wrong." Mr. Saisei stated icily, "But anyway Yahoot, now that MegaMan's code has been analyzed, would you be so kind as to send him off for further testing with the next chance you get?"

"It shall be done, sir." Without missing a beat, Yahoot hauled both platters away as he made his way back to his quarters. After Yahoot took his leave, Terry slouched back in his chair and sighed before taking another bite.

"So Mr. Saisei, what's next for me? You want me to go out and install more of those Virus generating programs?"

"That won't be necessary." Mr. Saisei responded curtly, "I don't need to risk making any unnecessary movements. We know that the programs work, to plant more and more is unneeded, reckless, and highly counter-productive." Mr. Saisei then shifted in his seat and began to lecture Terry almost like a school teacher. "You see Terry, the telltale sign of competent revolutionaries is that they can achieve the great change they seek in the fewest moves possible. To bring the change this world needs, we only need to make several decisive moves. Every action I supervise gives the Net Police and the Officials another opportunity to strike us with a crippling blow, and the last thing we need to do is sabotage our good efforts by acting foolishly. Now if you will excuse me..."

'Well that makes sense, I suppose.' Terry shrugged, as Mr. Saisei's logic was pretty sound. He noticed that Mr. Saisei was hastily typing a message into his PET, which only took a few seconds. He then put away the PET and faced Terry with a small smile on his face.

"Now Terry, what I want you to do is to relax and celebrate a job well done! Lounge about at your leisure! It will be some time before I require your services again."

'Well, no complaints here!'
"Thanks, Mr. Saisei!" Terry whipped out his PET, shot out of his chair, and began to head back to his quarters before remembering something that he felt Mr. Saisei would be interested in. "Oh, Mr. Saisei! You know what exactly happened when I had DynamoMan plant the Virus Generator?"

"What?"

"That Lan Hikari brat tried to stop me!" As expected, that genuinely surprised Mr. Saisei, who raised an eyebrow in response.

"Did he now? Was he the one who deleted DynamoMan?"

"No, that was ProtoMan. You know, the Net Navi of that twelve year old official, Chaud? Lan's got this stupid-looking stove Navi now. DynamoMan was stomping on him before that stupid ProtoMan bailed him out!" Yes, it was an embellishment. But Terry sure as hell wasn't about to admit that DynamoMan was on the ropes after StoveMan began to fight back.

"My, how the mighty have fallen." Mr. Saisei remarked, his tone surprisingly a bit solemn despite the spiteful words. "But thank you for telling me, Terry. It appears that he was only as powerful as MegaMan was after all."

"Serves that little brat right for ruining my life!" Terry cackled nastily, falling silent when he heard the sound of footsteps make their way towards the War Room.

"Ah, that must be Mitsu." Mr. Saisei remarked as the footsteps grew louder. "My dear Mitsu, how are you on this fine evening?"

"Doing GREAT, Mister Saisei! Buzz buzz!"

'Oh great...' Terry rolled his eyes when the approaching woman skipped into the room. Standing right next to him was his fellow Omega Initiative member Mitsu, a petite, pale brunette of a woman dressed in a set of black jeans and a rather gaudy yellow T-shirt with a bee emblem emblazoned on the front, while a yellow and black striped jacket was wrapped around her waits like some sort of makeshift belt/skirt hybrid. He hadn't known her for long, but her grating personality was already driving Terry off the deep end.

"Glad to hear, Mitsu! Glad to hear, indeed." After the formalities, Mr. Saisei's eyes took on a more serious glint. "Now I trust that you are up to speed with current events?"

"A-buzz-solutely, Mister Saisei!" Mitsu confirmed with a salute, causing Terry to cringe, "Terry tested the Virus Generator, which means that we're gonna move on to Phase 2, buzz buzz!"

"You're right on point, Mitsu!" Mr. Saisei replied before letting out a booming laugh. "Now, the appointed date is approaching quickly. I trust you can do what must be done for the sake of our revolution?"

"A-buzz-solutely!"

'Stop... PLEASE stop...'

"I'd take on the whole WORLD to get revenge against our toxic Net Society! Buzz buzz BUZZ! Trust me Mister Saisei, those rich jerks won't know what stung'em, buzz buzz BUZZZZZZZ!"

"Good, good!" Mr. Saisei praised with a nod. "Now, away with you Mitsu! You will need all the time you can to make sure things go without a hitch!"

"Roger, Mister Saisei! The Animal Avenger Mitsu signing out, buzz buzz!" And with that, Mitsu ran out of the room, arms stretched behind her like an airplane while buzzing like an idiot. Terry simply shook his head and sighed while staring into his hands. 'That girl's mental. Absolutely, positively MENTAL... What in the world does Mr. Saisei see in such a nicompoop? Though I suppose I'll be finding out soon... you better not screw this up, Mitsu!'

A Boy and His Stove Part 9-2
Like I said, I have a quick sub-chapter ready to post! This one isn't really a proper chapter per se due to it basically being a villain intermission where the bad guys discuss their next plans, something that was in most of the Battle Network games! This one was fun to write because I love the way I'm developing Takuma: I want him to feel like a genuinely well-intended revolutionary who just so happens to be a primitivist lunatic: someone who isn't evil for the sake of evil. A guy who is downright chummy and almost fatherly to his supporters, who he works together with to seek great social change. Since the Battle Network series lacks his type of villain, I really wanted him to stand out from the crowd. I'm also unashamedly going to adopt the sixth Ace Attorney game's Defiant Dragons (A group of revolutionaries, coincidentally) theme because god DAMN, when I downloaded and played the game when it released I couldn't help but notice how PERFECT it was for Takuma. Not to mention that the group's leader Dhurke (Who I do NOT recommend ANYONE who hasn't played the game yet to look up because of massive spoilers) sort of looks and even sounds the way I imagine Takuma looking and sounding. I honestly wonder if these coincidences inspired me to continue writing. :p

Anyway, I'm gonna say for now to anyone who cares: Mitsu just so happens to be related by blood to a villain from a past MegaMan Battle Network game! A minor villain whose family is going to get a LOT of exposure in the next arc. A cookie will be given to the one person who cares enough to guess who it is... >:3d

Anyway, that's it for today! Stay tuned for the next few chapters or so! And as usual, all characters and scenarios either belong to me or Capcom!
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Chapter 9: Cozy Dinner and Good Friends! The Fight Has Just Begun!

ACDC Town
June 28, 200X
6:32 PM

(Song: MegaMan Battle Network 4, ACDC Town: [link])

"Hey, hey, hey! Looks like we're here, you guys!" Dr. Skrenta announced with a wide grin on her face as she pulled up to the blue-painted Hikari household, "So go ahead and get your butts outta my car! You guys have some barbecue to tear into, and I've got a program to analyze!"

"You're leaving? I thought you were going to eat with us!" Lan complained. He was already growing to like this eccentric goofball of a scientist, and she was going to leave?

"Hey, hey, hey! I never said that I was gonna eat, just that I might be able to weasel my way into getting some grub. And besides..." Her smile turned into a disinterested sneer while she cast her gaze upon the house, "Wily's hanging out there, and last I checked I'm allergic to batty old loons, you know what I'm saying? And besides..." she added after whipping out a bar of chocolate out of her coat pocket, "I've got like, fifty Bonne Bars waiting for me back at Scilab. I'm good!"

"Alrighty then," Dex announced as he unbuckled his seatbelt and threw open the car door. "I'm gone. Thanks for the lift, Skrenta!"

"Same here, goodbye!" Lan thanked while Skrenta flashed him a thumbs up. After Lan and Chaud both left the car, she took off down the street as quickly as she came. When he turned to the house, Lan noticed Dex walking away. "Hey Dex, you're leaving? I thought you'd love to get your hands on some barbecue."

"No can do, buddy. I'm on a diet, remember? Last thing I wanna do is jack up my carb count with all those sweet sauces you use, ya know?"

"You do realize that the sauces are optional, Dex?" Chaud asked, a hint of flippant annoyance in his tone, "Grilled meat and vegetables are quite healthy, you know."

"Easy for you to say, buddy!" Dex shot back, "You can't have barbecue if you don't use sauce, you're just gobbling up normal meat and vegetables! And last thing I need is to have unhealthy sauces try to try to tempt me with their tastiness! So like I said: catch ya later, guys!"

"See ya, Dex!" Lan waved goodbye at his friend, who made his way back home. Chaud however could only glare disapprovingly at the larger boy.

"That idiot... what on earth do you see in him, Lan?"

"Hey, Dex is no moron!" Lan shot back in defense of his friend, "He's just got his own way of doing things, that's all. The guy wants to eat better and slim down, that's pretty cool in my book!"

Chaud looked quite tempted to argue, but he simply shrugged. "Well, more power to him, I suppose." Without another word, Lan approached the door to the house and opened it.

(Song: MegaMan Network Transmission, In the Room: [link])

"Hey mom, dad! I'm home!" Lan announced while he and Chaud entered the house. Already, Lan was enamored by the sound of sizzling meat and vegetables coming from the living room. "I heard you guys were having a barbecue without me?!"

"Settle down, Lan!" Haruka scolded with a laugh while she greeted her son and Chaud, "We were going to save some for you! And for you too Chaud, if you wish." she added while turning to Chaud, who nodded curtly.

"I suppose I'll eat a bit."

"Well then, how about you boys take a seat around the grill? Zero's in the middle of cooking up a batch of meat and peppers!"

'Zero?' Lan was initially confused by his mother's words, but soon came to see what she meant when he and Chaud entered the living room. Seated on the couch right beside Dr. Wily was none other than the towering Zero.EXE, who despite his intimidating appearance looked quite cute due to humbly cooking some green bell peppers and thin strips of beef on an indoor grill mounted on the coffee table. He looked up at Lan, and bowed his head respectfully.

"Lan, it's so nice to see you again!" Zero then glanced down at the floor, almost as if he was ashamed of himself. "I truly hope that you don't mind that I'm currently occupying your Copybot. It didn't feel right, but Dr. Wily was insistent that I do so." 

"Considering that I'm the one who created Copybots in the first place, it makes perfect sense for me to use any I see laying around. And besides, it's not like you're going to get much mileage out of it for the time being." Wily chimed in, as blunt as always. "But anyway, It's good to have you here, Lan. Come on, sit down with your former arch nemesis and help yourself to some barbecue!"

Copybots... those were robots that could serve as a physical body for a Net Navi to interact with the physical world, created by none other than Dr. Wily to use in the World Three's final world domination scheme. Lan ended up receiving one as a gift soon after Wily's Cybeast plan was foiled, and with it he and MegaMan were able to physically interact as a family for the first time in their lives. It didn't last long due to his kidnapping, but for a few weeks Lan and MegaMan would hang out and watch TV together, they'd go on walks and talk, and would even play the occasional video game... he truly missed those days. He really did. But now wasn't the time to dwell on such things: there was barbecue to partake in.

"Alright then. Just let me grab a chair!" Lan headed over to the kitchen where Chaud had already grabbed a seat of his own and followed suit. The boys situated their chairs in front of the coffee table and the couch, while Haruka did the same with a chair of her own. And bringing up the rear was Yuichiro, who staggered into the room and yawned loudly while dragging his chair to the grill.

"Ah, Lan! Chaud! Just in time for barbecue, I see!" The bespectacled man said while fighting back another yawn, as he usually did on the days he was able to leave work. Lan was honestly surprised that he looked as youthful and handsome as he did considering the stress that comes with working such ridiculous hours almost non-stop.

"And it's nice to see you too, dad! I'm sorry for not seeing you sooner..." Lan apologized, thinking back to those few days where he became a shut-in after MegaMan's abduction. Already, he was at the point to where reflecting on such things made him cringe.

"Hey, we all understand, Lan." Yuichiro reassured Lan with a sad smile before turning away and sharing a saddened glance with his wife. "This is hardly our first rodeo, either." He then snagged a slab of beef with his chopsticks and held it over his plate before taking a bite. "Anyway Lan, your mother told me that you got your hands on a replacement Navi for the time being."

"Oh yeah, I did!" Lan remarked while Chaud subtly grimaced, "I got him on loan from Mr. Match! His name's StoveMan. He's... well, he's kind of a handful. But I like him all the same!" Lan chuckled sheepishly while Chaud gave him a disapproving look.

"Ah, one of Match's, you say?" Wily asked, the subject of one of his more faithful minions having caught his attention. He then scoffed and shook his head. "StoveMan... sounds like he's really scraping the bottom of the barrel for Fire Navi designs."

Lan cringed, glad that StoveMan couldn't hear yet another diss being thrown his way.

"Ah, so you have a new Navi, that's good to hear!" Yuichiro stated proudly. "So Lan, can you show him to us? I'd love to be able to meet him!" Having only witnessed him sucking up to her, Haruka raised no objections, but Lan and Chaud shared reluctant glances. It was a nice, peaceful meal, and neither of them were too keen on letting StoveMan's abrasive, vulgar personality ruin things, especially after thinking back to how badly Chaud's earlier scolding messed with his attitude.

"Uh, that'll have to wait for a while." Lan said with an awkward chuckle, "I dunno if you've been paying attention to the news, but he had to fight like crazy over in Elec Town, so he's busy resting right now."

"Oh yes, that's right! I did receive a news bulletin regarding chaos in Elec Town!" Yuichiro remarked while Wily and Haruka both nodded as well.

"We all did," Haruka remarked, "I'm so glad that you came out OK, honey!"

"According to reports put out by the Net Police, there were not any casualties to report, only minor injuries at worst." Zero responded after looking at a view messages broadcasted by his wrist, "I'm quite impressed. You humans certainly know how to act in a crisis!"

"Believe me, Zero: there's always something putting hundreds of lives in mortal peril. If it's not me, it's some other little whippersnapper looking to start a ruckus." Wily laughed after his response before taking a swig of sake. "But anyway, wasn't the man responsible for the Elec Town attack the same lunatic who crashed our presentation?!"

"Indeed it was: we still haven't found any personal information but he revealed that his name is Takuma Saisei, and that he's running a Netcrime group known as the Omega Initiative." Chaud stated plainly while scrolling through messages on his PET. "It was pretty plain on the night that he surfaced that he was a threat, but after today he's now considered to be among the most wanted men in Electopia."

"Can't say I'm surprised! Considering that he generated thousands, if not millions of Viruses all over Elec Town, who knows what else he has in store for us?!" Wily sighed and took another swig of sake. "It's always something in this country. Always!"

"Still though, millions of Viruses generated all across town in the span of seconds... I was aware of powerful Virus generating technology, but to this level?! How on Earth are we going to fight against such a thing?" Yuichiro asked flippantly.

"Dr. Hikari, it's alright." Chaud stated reassuringly, "The Virus generator is a simple program that can simply be deactivated and destroyed like any other, nothing to worry about. In fact, ProtoMan was able to grab the program and send it over to Scilab for research purposes."

"Yeah!" Lan chimed in, "Thanks to Skrenta, we'll be be ready with a counterattack if Takuma starts planting more!"

"Skrenta?!" Wily scoffed with a snort, "Her, of all people?! Are you telling me that you're trusting her with something as important as an Omega Initiative weapon?!"

"Well... yeah! She's a Virus expert, right?" Lan asked, to which Wily snorted again.

"Feh, she's got nothing on me. You'd best not forget that you're talking to the man who created the Life Virus! You would think that I would be the first one to consult with such a matter!"

"Well if it makes you feel any better, I only gave it to Skrenta because it was convenient at the time. Once you and Dr. Hikari are finished, feel free to help her out with it." Chaud answered in an attempt to cool the rising tensions. Wily however shook his head and set his plate of barbecue down on the table.

"No. No! Completely out of the question! I am NOT leaving such an important program in the hands of a buffoon like her! Zero, we're leaving at once!" Wily stood up and whipped out his PET, while Zero nodded and got off the couch as well.

"Whoa, wait a second!" Lan shouted as he rose from his seat, already feeling nervous due to the intense stares he received from his parents and Wily, "W-w-what's wrong with Skrenta?! She seems really cool!"

Wily's response was a moody "Feh" and the crossing of his arms. "I take it that you aren't too familiar with her, Lan?"

"Well, no. But I met her today, and she was really funny!" Lan thought back to his earlier discussions with Skrenta, and the rather dismissive way she talked about Wily. It was definitely clear that the feeling was mutual on Wily's side and that there was a definite rift between the two scientists... but why? 'What's your deal, Wily?'

"You see, my boy: in the adult world there is very little time to be spared for childish pranks or flatulence broadcasts on a workspace PA system. Trust me when I say that in due time, that you'll come to see that Barbara Skrenta is far from a serious adult. I can't fathom why they'd keep such a nuisance around at Scilab..." Wily sighed and pressed a button on his PET. "Zero, jack out!"

"Understood." The ferocious-looking Navi jacked out of the copybot, leaving a vaguely humanoid cream-colored robot behind. Wily then made his way to the door and summoned Chaud with a hand motion.

"Chaud, do you mind taking me back down to Scilab? I'd go myself if it wasn't for that pesky court mandate..." Wily shook his head and growled quietly: while he was allowed to roam free in the outside world, he could only do so with supervision from an Official, Net Police agent, or Scilab employee. And from what Lan could tell, the good doctor was quite sore about that.

"Gotcha. See you later Lan, Dr. Hikari, Mrs. Hikari." Chaud said, as cool as ever.

"Oh, but Chaud! You didn't even get to eat!" Haruka protested, to which Chaud smirked.

"Eh, I'm not much of an eater anyway. I'll live. Now come on Dr. Wily..." Chaud escorted the older man out the door, and shut the door behind them. Lan however simply sighed and leaned back in his chair. The way a nice, peaceful dinner with friends and family went from joyful to an awkward affair seemed like it should have only been the kind of thing one would see in a comedy film. But no, here Lan was: feeling quite responsible for destroying his dad's barbecue by bringing up Wily's least favorite person on the planet. He sat in silence before meekly apologizing.

"Sorry for making Wily mad, you guys."

"Oh, don't worry about that, Lan. It wasn't your fault that Albert reacted that way." Yuichiro sighed and gazed out the window, at the empty doghouse in the backyard. "Though I honestly can't say that I blame him. Barbara... well, she's kind of a handful, to say the least."

"Gee, you guys really have it out for her." Lan stated.

"Lan!" Haruka scolded, only for Yuichiro to place a hand on her shoulder.

"No need to fret, dear. Lan has every right to stick up for someone that he likes! Even if that someone is quite childish, obnoxious, and a bit of a boor..." Yuichiro sighed once again and massaged his temples. "Lan, let me ask you something: what was going on over at Scilab when you met Barbara?"

"Well, she hacked the speaker system so she could broadcast fart noises all over the building!" Lan snickered as he recalled her prank, though Yuichiro was not amused.

"Oh dear, again?! That's what, the sixth, seventh time she's done that this week? And let me guess, when she introduced herself she zapped you with a "joy" buzzer."

"Yeah, she got me good, Dex too!" While he laughed though, Lan couldn't help but shudder at the recollection of his hand receiving that nasty zap.

"Well Lan, are you aware of how many interns she's scared off with that trick?" Yuichiro sighed yet again, cringing as if the very thought of Barbara's existence was painful. "Lan... I don't quite agree with how he worded it... but Barbara is very much not a serious adult. Yes, she has provided all sorts of great things for Net Society in the Virus Busting field, and I will be the first to vouch for her credibility! But being a genius does not give you a license to torment and annoy your coworkers!"

"But dad!" Lan protested, "She's not trying to be annoying, she's trying to be fun! Seriously, it was hilarious when she broadcasted those fart noises!"

"Well I can imagine that the Scilab staff weren't too thrilled about it, were they?"

"Well yeah, but..." Lan wanted to argue, but the mental image of all the staff that complained and rose a fuss when the noises played kept his mouth shut.

"Trust me Lan, if I had my way Barbara would be working somewhere else. She is very disruptive in the workplace and gets under just about everyone's skin. She's really only kept around thanks to being a genius in regards to Viruses. In fact, she's one of the top consultants helping Albert and I with the Colonel and Iris project."

'Oh yeah, she mentioned that!' Lan thought back to how Skrenta said that she played a major part in the program's development. That seemed to be a sore spot with her, and Lan couldn't blame her: she wasn't even invited to speak at the doctor's conference! Maybe it was time to find out why she had been given the shaft like that...

"Anyway, I think I've said my piece." Yuichiro gave a powerful, almost roaring yawn before drowsily rubbing his eyes. "Now if you two will excuse me, I have sleep to catch up on. Sleep in a nice, warm bed..."

'Or not.' As tempting as it was to badger his dad further, Lan was still the child of an Electopian working man: he knew exactly how hard those unforgiving hours were on Yuichiro. He'd always have another time to address Skrenta's unfair treatment with him. "Alright dad, you go catch up on your sleep! And uh... sorry if I was being annoying about Skrenta."

"Hey, once again Lan you have nothing to apologize for!" Yuichiro said with a weak smile, "Barbara is a... complicated person to say the least. Once we have the free time, I wouldn't mind talking more about her with you!" Yuichiro turned towards the master bedroom, and wasted no time in getting through the door. Haruka glanced his way, and sighed.

"Oh Yuichiro... I wish he didn't have to work at Scilab, those hours are just so brutal! And that Skrenta woman... she sounds like she's really running him ragged. If he won't get her fired, maybe I ought to have a word with his higher-ups..." with an irate puttering noise, Haruka grabbed the grill, dumped the meat and peppers onto her plate, and began to messily devour them while Lan awkwardly watched.

'Geez, are Dex and I the ONLY ones who like Skrenta?!' Lan thought as he awkwardly snatched a slab of pork from Haruka's plate and began to chow down. 'Seriously, she's so cool, and so funny! I'd kill to have a big sister like her! They all need to loosen up around her!' Lan glanced at the stairs and shrugged. There wasn't really much to do right now: dad was sleeping, mom was stress-eating, StoveMan was nursing his wounded pride... though maybe Dex, Yai, or Mayl would be up for a chat? Though considering how today really wore him out, maybe a nap wasn't out of the question.

'One thing's for sure, though: I'm not gonna join in on playing "Pin the diss on Skrenta." In fact, maybe I should call Chaud and see if he can give me her contact information! I wouldn't mind introducing her to StoveMan at some point...' Lan interrupted his own train of thought with a yawn. 'Or not. That bed's sounding cozier and cozier the more I think about it. I might try to get ahold of her tomorrow.' Having decided to end his day on a high note, Lan ascended the stairs, more than ready for the sweet embrace of his pillow and blankets...
A Boy and His Stove Chapter 9
Jesus Christ, it's here! It's done! I never have to work on this stupid chapter again, hooray!

Seriously, I don't even know why but I HATED working on this chapter. For whatever reason it put me in this huge rut where I didn't know what to write. I was bored, nothing really happened... gah, I'm so sorry that you guys had to wait so long for THIS. I honestly had to force myself to complete it, and the lack of fucks that I give probably show in the writing, hee hee. But thankfully, I'm now going to what I REALLY wanna write: the next arc which I'm gonna use as an excuse to bring a headcanon regarding a minor villain of mine to life. I PROMISE that I'll get that arc posted in a uhc more timely manner!

To make up for the wait, I'm gonna post a short "villain intermission" chapter that I penned up in advance. That one was a lot more fun and far easier to write! Expect it in... a few minutes after I post this, honestly. :p

Anyway, to the few who have the patience to keep up with this, thank you so much! Once again, I WILL finish this story no matter how long it takes, I SWEAR IT!

As usual, all characters and scenarios either belong to me or Capcom.
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  • Listening to: Coc'n Rolla, Begnagrad
Alright, I'm pretty sure most people aren't really gonna care about this journal entry. And that's fair, most people shouldn't have to be subjected to other people's whiny rants about stuff. But personally, there's a show that I loved dearly once that's been consistently letting me down to the point to where I only watch it as an obligation to this day, and don't really have another place that I can air my grievances personally. So here's the short of it, I'm falling out of love with the cartoon Steven Universe.

Unlike many people, I actually thought the series started strong with Season 1, even the very beginning. I really loved how even way back then, the show had a distinct "feel good" vibe to it: Steven was an innocent sweetheart, Greg was a good, if nervous dad, and the Crystal Gems felt like a happy surrogate family. As shown as early as Laser Light Cannon, there was a hint of something far more sinister over the horizon, but it was good at showing Steven's innocent and naive viewpoint and quickly grew into a fun action/slice of life show with awesomely horrific episodes like Cat Fingers and Frybo. As the series went on, the show began to show some serious depth: Steven, Pearl, Amethyst, Garnet, and Greg are all bundles of insecurities and serious issues, and I love the maturity and respect the show (usually) goes with handling these issues. Stuff like death, grief, self-loathing, and anxiety were all expertly handled, with later episodes even touching on domestic abuse. And of course, the heroes weren't the only selling points: Beach City is full of lovable, eccentric, and memorable characters who have issues of their own: Sour Cream's hailing from a fractured family, Mayor Dewey's position as a buffoonish yet well-meaning and good-hearted politician who's out of his depth, and Kiki Pizza's struggles with putting her foot down for her own sake. And of course, once the show touched upon a darker past to the Crystal Gems involving a rebellion from an oppressive fascist alien race of sociopathic planet looting psuedo-Nazis, we got to meet wonderful characters like Lapis Lazuli and Jasper, as well as the baggage that came from Steven's mother Rose Quartz's controversial decision to kill Pink Diamond.

For two seasons the show consistently impressed me and left me eager to see more of its lovable characters, take in the raw emotions, and root against the nasty Diamond Authority... but season 3 has been going downhill like crazy, a trend that hasn't stopped in season 4. And it really, really saddens and scares me. There are multiple reasons why I'm starting to lose faith in the show, and it'll take some time to get it all out, so bear with me here.

Reason 1: Poor and Inconsistent Characterization

Boy oh boy, this has REALLY been a problem in season 3, and even a bit late in season 2. Steven Universe started out having consistent, well-rounded characters who not only had wonderful personalities, but ones that made sense. Come season 3 however... maybe it'll work better if I break it into particular characters who I take issue with.

My BIGGEST issue is with Peridot. Peri, Peri, Peri... much like her characterization, my feelings toward this character have varied considerably. I started off not caring about her in the slightest, grew to love her once she was stuck with the Crystal Gems, but now she teeters between a mid-favorite and among my least favorites. When she first appeared she was a rather cold and surprisingly heartless villain: showing a startling lack of empathy by viewing Steven as a pest in need of extermination and crushing an injured Robonoid of hers. I didn't hate her, though I didn't get the hype around the character (I got left behind on watching the show and got back into it after Jailbreak aired. Note: I'm no bandwagoner, I liked the show from the start! I just slacked off on watching it :p). Come season 2 however I fell in love with her. It was entertaining as all hell seeing this coldhearted bitch show her hidden layers as a goofy, dorky, bratty little gremlin who thinks a wee bit too highly of herself, and it was humanizing seeing her slowly mentally unravel due to being stuck on the planet with the enemy and no way to go back home. It was cute seeing her reach out to Steven and through him, develop a conscious. And yet, it didn't feel forced, at least at first: she still held on to a lot of bad behavior that rubbed off from growing up in a bad home: she was bigoted towards Garnet and Pearl, openly gushed about how Dear Lead- er, I mean Der Fuhr- AHEM, I mean the Great Diamond Authority should have strip-mined Earth into oblivion, and was hilariously rude towards others. I loved how flawed and multi-faceted she was, and liked seeing her grow a grudging respect for the Crystal Gems and learn how to be a better person though.

That was all ruined at the tail end of season 2 and most of season 3, when she kind of grew into the token "small annoying forcibly cute teammate" of the Crystal Gems. She became a fangirl of sappy cartoonishly Canadian TV, got big into social media, started using human slang, and for whatever reason has this obsession with befriending Lapis Lazuli (Probably because some of the writers, one in particular REALLY wanna shill Lapidot). She feels like a completely different character than she did for most of season 2, and I don't like it. She's not the intelligent jerk with goofy nerdy tendencies and an inflated ego learning how to be a better person anymore, now she feels like what I can only call "le quirky Peridot!1!!1!!! XDDDDDDDDDDDD": a character whose quirky tendencies completely overtook her identity instead of being a part of it. Plus, her redemption was honestly poorly and sloppily handled: right after gushing about how Hitl- (Okay I'll stop) er, Yellow Diamond did nothing wrong, she suddenly burns her bridges with Yellow Diamond by insulting her to her face, declaring that Earth had things worth protecting, and otherwise did the Crystal Gem song and dance despite it being made clear in the previous episode that she had lengths to go to unlearn her toxic mindset. Sure, after her traitorous behavior sinks in she's horrified... but gets over it really quickly. And what feels REALLY weird is that she still comes off as inconsistently characterized: in Beta, she's "le quirky Peridot!!1!!!!!!1 XDDDDDDDDDD" in full force, but in Kindergarten Kid, a season 4 episode, she's suddenly back to her old (and far more likable) rude jerk with goofy tendencies characterization. Out of all the characters, her inconsistent writing sticks out the most.

Lapis Lazuli is another big offender of inconsistent/bad characterization. This one really hurts because she's an incredibly nuanced character and one of my absolute favorites. For a while, she was consistently characterized as icy, vengeful, and standoffish towards most people after being put through so much crap, but had a much sweeter side she reserved for Steven which shows her as being debatable a better mom than most of the Crystal Gems. She also has a lot of issues that ring home with abuse victims: she has downright awful self-esteem, is prone to shutting down emotionally, and became an abuser herself after being yanked around by Jasper. I LOVED this so much... which is why I find episodes like Hit the Diamond and Beta downright insulting to the character. In those, she's this cartoonish goth girl who is incredibly apathetic and feels completely different than she usually does. And in Beta, she's suddenly best friends with Peridot with some blatant Lapidot pandering going on while in her previous appearance she loathed the very ground Peri walked on, and for good reason. And to add insult to injury, SHE was treated as the bad guy in Barn Mates despite having every reason to hate Peridot. Gah.

Garnet... alright, it isn't inconsistent characterization or even really bad: she's still the same stoic badass with the occasional asshole moment who nonetheless is adorably affectionate and maternal towards Steven. But in recent episodes... I dunno, there are some who feel that she's been losing her sense of identity and is basically reduced to being a fusion. It's hard to explain... but I kind of agree. Lately it feels that she's less her own character like she was in the past, and everything about her is now related to being a fusion. And even worse, her components, Ruby and Sapphire are dreadfully boring characters. They have no depth whatsoever, and can be defined as either being rambunctious and fiery or cold and distant, and being super in love for one another. And what's worse is that due to them being lesbians, not liking how one-dimensional they are or how unhealthy their relationships seem (Seriously, they put Peridot's life at risk because they couldn't hide their lady-boners for one another) will get you put under fire for criticizing a sacred cow. Bleh.

Connie I feel instead of being inconsistent or poorly characterized is just boring. I don't HATE her as she is a nice kid... but that's all she's got going for her. A bland, nerdy, nice girl with not much else to her. I liked her better back when she was struggling with her emotionally abusive parents because I could heavily identify with her feelings of anxiety regarding mom and dad... until that problem was suddenly taken care of. Now she just bores me. It's kinda fitting, her fusion with Steven, Stevonnie, is in my opinion the most boring fusion. But that's for another day.

That's about it for my characterization rant, part two's gonna have me talk about my issues with wasted potential in recent episodes. So uh... yeah. See you guys next time. Or not. I dunno.

Chapter 8: A Fun New Friend! Skrenta the Screwball!

(Song: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies, Themis Legal Academy: [link])

"So Chaud?" Lan asked as the trio of youths ascended the cobblestone staircase up to Scilab's pristine glass doors, which were crowned by the facility's somewhat gaudy yellow-green "S" logo, "Who exactly are we showing that Virus generating program to?"

"Well, considering that their pet project involves the mass extermination of all Virus-based threats on the Net, your father and Wily are the obvious choices!" Chaud explained when they reached the doors. "But after getting friendly with the rest of the notable staff on hand, I realized that there's possibly another helpful soul who would want to see this."

"Well, who's that then?" Lan asked, to which Chaud replied with a sigh.

"You'll see her soon. All I'm going to say is that I'm sure you'll both get along just fine" He then took hold of the steel handle on the right door and opened it, revealing a large, spacious, well-kept lobby. It was nice and peaceful: the pretty receptionist with her purple hair styled in a pixie cut greeted the three boys, a few scientists and a handyman were lounging in some chairs watching a game of baseball on the wall-mounted flatscreen TV on the front-most wall, and the sound of soothing classical music could be heard emanating from the speaker system. And up a flight of stairs was a cafe where the workers would unwind during their free time, as well as a set of doors leading to a conference room. All in all, it was a rather pleasant atmosphere.

(Song: Yoshi's New Island, Theme Song Remix: [link])

But right out of nowhere, the elegant tunes of the Den City Symphony Orchestra went silent and were soon replaced with a... different type of music. For whatever reason, a symphony of loud, blaring fart noises were suddenly blasting through Scilab's speakers. Everyone stopped what they were doing and took their time to stare up into the air, absolutely caught off guard by the sudden gaseous sounds ranging from faint airy whispers to enormous wet blasts. Just about everyone's face began to turn a nasty cherry red, but while just about everyone's redness was due to a mix of embarrassment, annoyance, and anger, Lan and Dex's came from trying their best not let any trace of a laugh escape their mouths. But it was all in vain, because they were ultimately boys fresh from elementary school faced with the immaturely hilarious power of fart noises. And as such, they basically exploded into fits of laughter and doubled over, unable to contain it any longer.

"OH-HO MAN!" Dex cackled, so overwhelmed by the unexpected fart noises that he fell flat on his back and clutched his chest, "WHAT THE HECK?!"

"Is... is that SUPPOSED to happen?!" Lan guffawed while slapping his knees.

"No. It's not." The purple-haired receptionist growled. She smashed her fist onto a button on her desk, which caused a pleasant chime to ring out over the speakers that was almost drowned out by the fart noises. She then grabbed a sleek, slender microphone and growled "Dr. Skrenta, to the lobby. NOW." She then sighed and began to massage her temples while the men watching TV cranked up the volume in a vain attempt to drown out the fart noises and Dex and Lan's laughter began to subside. After a minute or so, the doors on the far side of the lobby slid open.

(Song: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies, Noisy People: [link])

"Man, oh man, oh MAN!" a rather playful woman's voice could be heard jeering from the doorway, "Who's the wise guy that pigged out on beans for lunch?!" Stepping into the room was a rather wacky-looking woman who seemed to be the last kind of person Scilab would have on hire: She was a slightly pudgy lady of a moderate height who was wearing an open labcoat that revealed a rather tacky, garish neon green collared shirt that was dotted with abstract purple and yellow shapes which clashed quite a bit with her black slacks and neon-yellow shoes. She also wore glasses with frames so thick that it was impossible to see her eyes, the only things visible were swirls that decorated the frames. And her blond hair (Which was likely not natural as evidenced by her visible chocolate brown roots) was tied back in a frizzy mess of a bun. One thing Lan noticed that the minute she walked into the room, the men at the TV all rolled their eyes while the receptionist shook her head sorrowfully.

"Quit screwing around and fix the intercom, Skrenta!" the receptionist growled while this Skrenta woman frowned.

"Aw, but how come I have to do it?" she whined while she approached the desk.

"Because it's YOUR fault that these obnoxious fart noises are blasting all across Scilab!"

"Ah, but how do YOU know it was me? Huh?! Huh?! HUH?!" Skrenta shot back, her hammy defiance causing Lan and Dex to giggle even harder.

"Well, even if it wasn't for the fact that this has happened four times for the past week, it's because when I jack my Navi into the intercom's network, she gets redirected to THIS network instead!" The receptionist whipped out a PET and projected an image of a huffy-looking female Navi tapping her foot impatiently inside of a network that didn't look too out of the ordinary with the exception of animated images of Skrenta wagging a taunting finger scrolling through the skyline.

"Alright, alright, ALRIGHT, I'll fix it! No need to be such a crybaby! Gee whiz..." Skrenta sighed before whipping out a PET of her own, this one being mainly orange with garish pink polkadots all over it. To Lan's surprise she didn't project the image of a Net Navi, but what he thought for sure was a Virus! It was a squat grey quadrupedal creature with the head of a cartoony antlerless elk with sneering bulgy eyes and impressively shiny teeth bared in a smug grin. "Alright buddy, looks like the jig is up. Call off the other guys and have them all gather back on my homepage!"

"Thank god..." one of the scientists watching TV sighed while all the farting came to a stop.

"There, happy?" Skrenta sighed as she put her PET back in her coat pocket. "Now, if you're not gonna whine at me to fix something else, I'm gonna-"

"Wait, Dr. Skrenta! I need to talk to you for a minute!" Chaud yelled, which caused Dr. Skrenta to turn and face him with a smile.

"Hey, hey, hey, if it isn't that Chaud kid! What brings you up here today?" She greeted cheerfully, before looking directly at Lan and suddenly gasping. "Oh my God..." she pressed a hand to her mouth, "Is that... are you... Lan Hikari?!"

"Well uh, yeah." Lan chuckled awkwardly. Dr. Skrenta then replied with a squeal as she zipped over to where Lan stood and scooped him up in a big smothering hug. "OH MAN!" Lan gasped as his circulation was being cut off by Dr. Skrenta's powerful grip.

(Song: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies, Bobby Fulbright theme: [link])

"Oh my god, oh my god, OH MY GOD! It really is you! I've heard SO much about you!" Dr. Skrenta before before setting the boy back on the ground, leaving Lan to stumble around slightly dazed by her powerful hug. "And oh MAN, you look so much like your dad!" A sly grin then appeared on Skrenta's lips while she continued. "Trust me kid, when you grow up, you're gonna be SUPER hot, just like him..."

"Uh... thanks?" Lan replied awkwardly while Skrenta chuckled naughtily. He guessed that was supposed to be a compliment, but he could just never get used to the weirdness of having to hear people call his parents hot. 'Are they really supposed to be that good looking?!'

"But anyway Lan, your dad just LOVES talking about you and all the awesome things you get up to!" she continued, her eyes having turned sparkly and tearful. "Taking down criminal organizations, winning Net Battle tournaments... oh man, I wish my life was awesome like yours!" Dr. Skrenta sniffled and wiped the comically large streams dripping down her face. "I swear though..." Skrenta then dropped the exaggerated tears and sighed while she glanced over the mostly peaceful lobby, "Would it kill these guys to cheer up a bit?! You try to have a little fun with 'em, and they start grumbling and moaning like the boring eggheads they are!"

"That's because you keep getting on everyone's nerves, Skrenta!" A woman's voice could be heard yelling from the cafe on the upper level.

"Yeah! Quit screwing around with people trying to do their jobs!" a lounging scientist chimed in over the TV.

"Or relax!"

"Hey Doc," Dex piped up with a giggle, "I think the whole fart thing was hilarious!"

"Yeah, me too!" Lan cackled, "I swear, I was NOT expecting something like that to happen in Scilab!"

"Aw, you boys are just the sweetest!" Skrenta gushed while ruffling both Lan and Dex's hair (Or in Dex's case, rubbing the top of his mostly bald head). She then stopped and gasped once more. "OH MY GOD! I haven't even introduced myself yet!" She then stepped back, cleared her throat, and placed her hands into both labcoat pockets before whipping them out and spreading her arms out widely. "A-HEM!" She cleared her throat again, this time even more obnoxiously, "The name's Skrenta! Dr. Barbara Skrenta, to be exact. Nice to meet you guys!"

"No prob! The name's Dex!" Dex announced.

"And you know who I am!" Lan laughed.

"Well now that we've got our names out of the way..." Dr. Skrenta stretched both arms out towards the boys who didn't catch on to the receptionist rapidly shaking her head and gesturing away with her hands. They each took a hand in a bid to shake... only to jump back and cry out in pain after a sharp jolt of pain flared through their hands.

"AW GEEZ!" Dex hollered while grabbing the afflicted hand with the unharmed one, "What the heck?!"

Dr. Skrenta cackled with a fiendish glee when she spread out her hands and let the boys study them in bigger detail: somehow they had missed the obvious joy buzzers she had attached to each hand. "Man, oh man, oh MAN! I freaking love these things, no one ever expects them! Well, at least not the first time. Every other time after that though, they never wanna touch my hands..." she sighed and looked back over at Chaud who was fiddling around on his PET. "But anyway Chaud, I take it you came up here for a reason?"

"I thought you'd never ask." Chaud replied coldly. "Have you been keeping up with the news bulletins for the past hour or so?"

"Oh yeah!" Skrenta answered, "Didn't a bunch of chaos break out in Elec Town or something?"

"Indeed." Chaud replied with a nod, "That man behind the terrorist attack during Dr. Hikari and Dr. Wily's exhibition had one of his followers go out and use some sort of program that mass generated enormous amounts of Elec-type Viruses, and they caused all the machines in the vicinity of Elec Town to lose control. Dex and Lan back there tried to stop the Navi behind the chaos while ProtoMan deleted him and found the program behind the attack. Since you're Scilab's top mind when it comes to Viruses, I was thinking that it would be right up your alley: you examine it, let us know its inner-workings and the best way to counter it, and we'll be able to counteract any others that man might try to put out in the future."

"Whoa!" Lan yelled out in surprise, "Wait a second Chaud, Dr. Skrenta's the one you wanted to show that program to?!"

"Obviously." Chaud replied coldly, "Why else would I come up to her and ask her to analyze it? Use your brain, Lan!"

"Hey!" Lan scolded defensively, "What I mean is... I just didn't expect someone so goofy to be the one you were talking about!"

"Heh... Lan, let me tell you a little something." Dr. Skrenta boasted with a sly look on her face as she popped the collar on her labcoat, "Did ya know that every bit of Virus related information that comes out of Scilab and gets shared with the public is all because of me?"

"Well... no. I didn't know that!" Lan admitted.

"Yep! Whether it's information on Virus behavior, their weaknesses, habitats, even tips on how to raise tame Viruses! I actually own a bunch myself, they're all a bunch of little Elk ones I created myself! They're so cute, and so fun to prank people with!" Skrenta rambled before going back on task. "Hell, did you know that I also created the Virus Breeder machine?!"

"No way!" Lan gasped in shock. He remembered hunting down and collecting friendly Viruses for the machine to domesticate a year or so ago... And to think that it was something that Dr. Skrenta had come up with!

"Yep! And now, I'm even helping your dad and that old kook Wily with that Colonel and Iris program that they're working on!"

"Really?" Lan asked, "But how come you weren't at that exhibition talking about the program?" To Lan's surprise, Dr. Skrenta seemed to lose all sense of joy and cheeriness: her smile changed into a frown and she sulked a bit while facing the ground.

(Silence)

"I wasn't invited."

"Huh, but why?" Lan asked, concerned by this revelation. Yuichiro wasn't the type of man to downplay the accomplishments of others... right?

"You tell me." Skrenta laughed bitterly, "I don't know myself. But I know that at the very least Wily has it out for me. He's always nagging me, always yelling at me, tries to shoo me off when I swing by their lab to say hi... I'll be the first to tell you that your dad isn't a bad guy Lan, but now that he's all buddy-buddy with that old kook, I bet he'll buy whatever Wily says about me." She chuckled bitterly once more. "All I'm saying is that I'd make a better partner than a former terrorist on a PR standpoint, you know?"

(Song: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies, Themis Legal Academy[link])

"Alright Skrenta, I think we get the picture." Chaud dismissed as he whipped out his PET's jack cable, "How about you take out your PET so I can give you the program I talked about? If anything will cheer you up, I bet it will be helping to take down a terroristic madman, hmm?"

Skrenta suddenly went from sulking and pouting to standing up straight and grinning widely once again. Almost as if she wasn't bummed out at all. "Sure! Just let me whip out my PET real quick..." She whipped out her own Personal Terminal and allowed Chaud to connect his cord with a port in hers. With a few button presses, a notification chime could be heard ringing out from Skrenta's PET. "Alright! Thank you, Chaud! Do you need anything else?"

"Not from you, no. But I do want to talk with Doctors Hikari and Wily to see if there's anything they can do to help."

"You want them, huh?" Skrenta sneered, "Well, you just missed them! From what I've heard, both Hikari and Wily decided to close up shop for the evening and headed over to Dr. Hikari's house! I think he said something about a family barbecue..."

"B-barbecue?!" Just the thought of that word got Lan's mouth dripping like a leaky faucet. He turned to Chaud, his eyes absolutely glowing with anticipation. "Chaud? Can we..."

"Go home? Sure. You get to eat, and I get to touch base with the good doctors. I'd say it's a win-win, hmm?" Chaud grinned slightly while Lan pumped up a fist.

"WHOO! Then come on and hurry up, you guys! That barbecue's calling our name!" Lan whooped as he sped out the door... only to run right back in with a panicky look on his face. "Uh, guys?! Our ride's gone!"

"Well yeah, I told the agent who drove us here that we'd take the Metro back home." Chaud coolly noted, "So hold on a second and be patient."

"Metroline?! Who said you had to take the Metro?!" Skrenta chimed in, "Hey, you guys say the word and I'll drive you all to the Hikari Household! I've got enough room in my car for all four of you! Maybe I can sucker myself into getting some barbecue as well..." She cackled with a fiendish glee before stopping and whipping out a chocolate bar from her labcoat. "Then again, who needs barbecue when you've got a Bonne Bar?" She peeled back the colorful wrapper decorated with smiling yellow cartoon characters and took a huge bite out of some dark chocolate. "Anyway you guys," She mumbled through a mouthful of her snack, "Let's hit the road! Last thing ya want is for them to eat it all before you even get there!"

"You said it, Skrenta!" Lan laughed while he charged out the door, with Chaud, Dex, and Dr. Skrenta not too far behind...
A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 8
Alright guys, once again I'm so sorry for this chapter not moving the plot along that fast! I promise that the next chapter will make up for it by moving it along to the next arc... at the cost of being longer like my older chapters. I'll TRY to make it not as long, but we'll just have to see when it's uploaded...

But anyway, this was a fun one to write, mainly because I LOVE the OC I introduced here, Dr. Barbara Skrenta: a slightly raunchy, immature, fun-loving prankster of a scientist! Is it self-indulgent? Sure! But she's fun to write, so I don't care! XD I promise though that she's not going to be some sort of Mary Sue or creator's pet, so don't worry if that's now a concern! I just wanted an excuse to write a character who is EXPLODING in personality!

Some fun facts about her (Which I'll do when I introduce OC's. I should have done this with DynamoMan and Takuma Saisei, but that ship has sailed. Trust me when I say that this will NOT be exclusive to her!) are that her name is based off of two famous computer scientists. Her first name was inspired by Barbara Liskov who created the Liskov Substitution Principle, and her last name comes from Rich Skrenta, The CEO of Blekko who created one of the world's first mass-spread computer viruses called the Elk Cloner back when he was a prank-pulling young'un! It's pretty obvious that she draws on more of her last name's inspiration than her first. XD

And the other fact is that in my mind, I picture her having the voice of Jamie Marchi, specifically doing her Panty voice from Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt. Very fitting, I think. :p

So yeah, as usual all characters belong either to me or Capcom!
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Chapter 1: A New Friend! The New Navi is a Stove?!

???
June 23, 200X
12:31 AM

(Song: Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Sigma Palace 4: [link])

MegaMan woke with a flash, breathing heavily as he tried to shake the horribly disorienting feeling plaguing his mind. He had to jam his eyes shut as the light wherever he had woken was painful to look at, and while he waited for his vision to clear up, he thought back to what he remembered last: Lan had jacked him into a compspace in order to dispel some poison gas, but he was jumped by three evil Navis lying in wait. He didn't get a chance to fight back because he was frozen in place by something the purple Navi threw at him...

"Ah, I can see that you have woken at last."  MegaMan opened his eyes and saw that KomusoMan was slowly approaching him, bamboo flute in hand. "Good, good. Now, I do hope your trip here was not too uncomfortable."

"YOU!" MegaMan tried to raise his arm cannon, but he was met with resistance from something pinning his arm down. He grit his teeth and growled as he squirmed and fidgeted around, but there was no hope of escaping: whatever he was bound to, he was bound far too tightly to run off anywhere. "Where am I?! What do you want with me?!"

"Your question is wasted on me, as I do not have any particularly meaningful reason for capturing you other than it being the will of my operator. But if you wish to speak with him, I would be more than happy to oblige." KomusoMan bowed, then held his wrist up close to his face. When his arm was in position, a hologram of the threatening man that interrupted Yuichiro and Wily's presentation popped up.

"Ah, so the Blue Bomber wakes! Believe me when I say that I am delighted to see you this morning." And MegaMan had no reason to doubt him, as the smile on his face was pretty sincere, surprisingly so in fact. "Now, as for where you are, you are in a computer nestled deep inside of my home base. But of course, that should be pretty obvious." MegaMan scowled as the mysterious man gave a grim chuckle at his expense.

"Yeah, sure. But why am I here, anyway? What do you want with me?"

"A much better question!" the man laughed, "You see MegaMan, there's no beating around the bush: you are one hell of a Navi. Dismantling three criminal organizations, surviving being possessed by an unruly Cybeast, taking the position of the Underking, getting an unstoppable meteor to change course from the Earth... not many Net Navis have rapsheets as impressive as yours."

"So are you saying that I'm a threat to your plans, then? Then why go to the trouble of dragging me over here?!" MegaMan asked indignantly.

"Well you're right on the money: you pose a very real threat to our Omega Initiative, and I am a firm believer in pulling out a threat by the roots before it's too late. But at the same time, you are far too useful to merely delete. We believe that your coding will provide something useful to further along the Net's destruction, as you are quite obviously not some run-of-the-mill Navi. Now please, sit back and relax, and I promise you that analyzing your code will not be a painful process in the slightest."

When the man went quiet, another Navi jacked into the compspace. MegaMan gasped when he saw him, because he looked quite familiar: he resembled a wizard complete with billowy cloak, pointed hat, an equally pointy beard, and two enormous wand-like appendages in place of hands.

"MagicMan?! You're working with them?!"

"Quite obviously." MagicMan bowed slightly, "I sincerely hope that you do not carry a grudge, I was ordered to fight and 'twas not my place to judge!"

"MagicMan!" another familiar voice barked as a hologram of a dark-skinned man with a square chin and a sharp, angular nose appeared in front of the sorcerous Navi, "Cut the small talk, we have code to analyze!"

"As you command, Yahoot." MagicMan nodded before turning back to MegaMan, his beady yellow eyes aglow with a twisted joy, "I must admit that I am quite pleased by this turn of events! Instead of having to engage in the act of homicide, I get to decompile your data and see what's inside! Now..." MagicMan's raised his arms forward and slowly emitted a pulsating rainbow light that slowly enveloped MegaMan's eyesight, "Cast aside your anger and discomfort, and sleep peacefully..."

"No... no! Cut that out, I'm not... I'm not going to..." As much as MegaMan wanted to protest, he couldn't fight it. His vision was completely overtaken by the rainbow light. But it wasn't blinding or painful in the slightest. If anything, it was oddly peaceful, and a small smile crept onto MegaMan's face the longer he stared into it. The urge to struggle or fight back lessened and lessened... until he closed his eyes again and drifted off, feeling oddly peaceful despite his scary situation...

_______________________________

ACDC Town, Hikari Household
June 26, 200X
10:43 AM

(Song: Mother 3, Sorrowful Tazmily: [link])

"Lan, honey? Are you up?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Why, there's a nice, warm bowl of oatmeal waiting for you at the breakfast table! And I made sure to drown it in honey and raspberries, just the way you like it! Does that sound nice?"

"Sure. Whatever."

"Well, it's not going to stay warm forever! I suggest you head on downstairs before it gets cold!"

"Alright." With a heavy sigh, Lan rose from his bed and left his room. Not unlike a zombie, he listlessly descended the stairs and plopped down on a barstool, right in front of the delicious-smelling breakfast Haruka cooked up for him and simply stared at the food. It wasn't to take in the sight of the wonderful food. In fact, to put it bluntly he didn't give a damn about the rich golden honey, plump and juicy raspberries, or the steam wafting from the food. He simply stared, like he had been staring at the ceiling of his room for the past couple of days, with a hollow, empty feeling eating away at his insides.

"Lan? Aren't you hungry?"

Lan sighed again and decided that if it made his mom happy, he may as well eat. He gulped down spoonful after spoonful of oatmeal, but he didn't really care much about eating it. It didn't really have a flavor as far as he was concerned, it was basically flavorless gunk that crawled down into the pit of his stomach. It didn't take too long to finish either, he was done in a minute and a half. "There, I'm done." Lan then rose from the barstool and headed upstairs, only to feel a gentle hand clasp onto his shoulder.

"Lan? Are you sure you don't want to talk about this?"

"What's there to talk about?" Lan stated bitterly, his right hand balled into a fist, "I got careless and MegaMan got kidnapped by a bunch of evil Navis because I was a moron, that's all. So can you please leave me alone?" 

"Honey, you're not stupid! How were you supposed to expect a terrorist attack at a formal occasion, or that the psycho's Navi would have backup? Belittling yourself like this isn't going to solve anything!"

"Yeah, well there's not much else I can do!" Lan snapped, "No one's got a clue who that guy was, or why he wanted Hub so badly, and now he's gone without a trace and I have no idea where to start! Now just do me a favor and leave me alone!" Already Lan regretted raising his voice at Haruka, who looked quite hurt by his attitude. "Mom, I-I'm so sorry for yelling. I just-"

"I understand, honey." Haruka sighed as she moved in for a quick hug, holding her boy as tightly as she could, "I miss Hub too. I can't even begin to imagine what that madman could want with such a sweet young boy..." Haruka's voice briefly quivered before she cleared her throat and steeled her nerves, "But it's not healthy to just sit around in your room all day. Your friends, your father, and I are all starting to worry!"

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that," Lan sighed as he and his mother pulled away from their embrace, "I just... I just need some more time to get this all sorted out, you know?" Lan looked out the window and out at the rest of the peaceful suburban town. The weather was quite nice, but the sky was a drab, dreary overcast grey. It was pretty appropriate as far as Lan was concerned. "Hey look, are you okay with me going outside? Maybe it would help if I got some fresh air."

"Of course you can! Feel free to take all the time you need, just please, please remember that you have so many people that care about you, okay? I know it doesn't sound like much, but we WILL do all we can to help you out, understood?"

"Yeah mom... I understand." Lan smiled softly, then turned towards the door. "Alright, see you in a bit, mom!"

"Take care, honey!"

Lan gently shut the door behind him, and stepped down from the porch onto the sidewalk and headed eastward, where the local park awaited. As he passed by ACDC Town's many pristine, well-kept houses, his thoughts turned to that night three days ago when he lost MegaMan. The outcome was inevitable, but he still hoped that the Officials could have been so much more helpful than they were. But of course, that was too much to ask: all the Officials really did was take a few statements, examine tech they suspected to have been tampered with, and gave Lan meaningless reassurance that they'd nail the guy who stole MegaMan. Hell, the few times he wandered downstairs for a meal or a bathroom break, he flipped on the TV and saw that there wasn't even a name linked to the mysterious man, driving it home that he didn't have so much as a lead to go on. And thus, the past three days consisted of little more than him laying down in bed, listlessly staring at the ceiling, sleeping on and off because at this point, there wasn't much else he really could do.

And so here he was, leaving his house all so he could sit on a bench and stare listlessly at nothing. It's funny how life works, sometimes.

Having reached his destination, Lan took his seat on a lonely little wooden bench situated next to a rather lovely statue of a pink squirrel, the town's official landmark.'Aw, little squirrel,' Lan sighed internally as he stared into the statue's beady little eyes, 'If only you knew how I felt.' Lan then shifted his gaze to the cloudy sky above and leaned back, closing his eyes in an attempt to sneak in a quick nap... at least he tried, but his efforts proved futile when he heard the sound of a deep, familiar voice.

(Song: Phoenix Wright Spirit of Justice, Cheerful People: [link])

"Guys, there he is! Lan's right there! HEY! BUDDY!" 

'So much for peace and quiet.' Lan sighed as he opened his eyes, and saw Dex, Yai, and Mayl cross the street over to the park.

"Lan Hikari!" Yai scolded, her adorable little face contorted in a disapproving scowl, "I hope you have a good reason for ignoring our phone calls and emails the past few days!"

"Aw, ease up on him, Yai!" Dex scolded, always being the guy to stick up for his little buddy, "He's lost his Navi, can't ya be a little nicer to the guy?"

"I know, but would it hurt to at least answer one of our messages?"

"Ugh..." As Yai said, the trio had been sending Lan messages all throughout the past three days. He didn't feel like answering them, and thus allowed the PET to ring sometimes for hours on end. While he couldn't care less about answering his messages back then, guilt was starting to creep in now that he had to face the music. "Look guys, I'm really, really sorry I've been ignoring your messages. It's just-"

"You're feeling pretty down about what happened to Mega, huh?" Mayl asked gently. She took a seat next to Lan and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, which caused his heart to briefly flutter at her touch. "I understand. You have every right to be upset, but please Lan, don't shut us out! We just want to help you!"

"On point as always, Mayl!" Yai nodded proudly, "Lan, do you remember when those absolutely boorish Nebula thugs stole our PET's?"

"Well yeah, who could forget that?" Lan said as he thought back to when Nebula kickstarted their failed attempt at hooking humanity up to SoulNet by kidnapping his dad and taking away his friend's PET's.

"Now, who was the one who risked life and limb to get those Navis back for us?" Yai asked as a mischievous sparkle glowed in her eyes.

"Me, but-"

"Exactly: you took on Nebula and saved our friends from Regal's clutches! So now that you're the one without a Navi, how about we help you out for a change?" Mayl offered.

"Whoa, now!" Lan chuckled nervously, a bit taken aback by their overly eager generosity, "It's not like I don't appreciate you guy's help, but... oh, how do I put this without sounding like a jerk..."

"Hey man, if you're gonna say that we're out of our league, we're not talking about taking the fight to that nutjob ourselves!" Dex corrected Lan, who still couldn't help but feel a bit guilty, "But we're more than happy to get ya a replacement Navi for the time being! How's that sound?"

A new Navi, huh? Using a different Navi wasn't exactly a foreign concept to Lan: he had to make do with a replacement at least three different times in the past to bail MegaMan out of particularly bad situations. And it wasn't like anything was stopping him from doing so this time, at least nothing besides his rather bad attitude the past several days.

"Aw man, that actually sounds really neat!" Lan chuckled sheepishly, feeling like a colossal moron for not even considering it, "But even with a new Navi, what am I going to do? I mean, in the case of Nebula, it was at least a prolific criminal organization with a leader we all knew about! It doesn't seem like anyone knows about the guy who tried to gas us!"

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there!" Mayl promised, "But first, how about we get situated with your new friend?"

"Sure, why not!" Lan laughed before taking a long look at his three friends. "So uh... which of you guys are letting me borrow your Navi?"

"Oh, it's none of us, silly!" Yai giggled, "But Glyde actually did step up to volunteer on your behalf!" To prove her point, Yai retracted her PET and had it project a hologram of Glyde, her prim and proper butler Navi.

"Indeed I did, Master Hikari." Glyde confirmed with a bow, "But Miss Yai informed me that young Master Oyama was actually setting things up with someone else, hence my request being denied."

While Lan felt a bit bad for Glyde, he couldn't help but feel a bit intrigued. Dex actually took initiative for something this big? He was a reliable guy for sure, but usually not to this point? At least Dex was proud, as his fishy lips were curved in a smug grin.

"Yup! Ya see, the day after you lost MegaMan, I rang up that pal of yours from Cyber City, Mick! You remember Mick, right?"

"Duh!" Lan answered. And how could he forget him? The tanned, shaggy-haired troublemaker was basically his best friend for the year he spent attending Cyber Academy, and he along with Mick's pal Tab got in more than their fair share of crazy situations. "But why'd you call him?"

"Well since he seemed like a pretty good friend of yours, I thought it was fair to let the guy know what happened with you and MegaMan. Surprisingly, the dude actually felt pretty bad for ya. He tried ringing ya up, leaving e-mails, all that stuff, but ya never answered him!"

"Aw gee, you had to bring that up." Lan sighed, still feeling pretty guilty over giving just about everybody the cold shoulder.

"Nah, it's all good! Anyway, since ya didn't pick up, he figured you were pretty bummed out, so he promised me that he'd get a good word in with a pal of his, and that he'd set you up with a new Navi! Well ya see here, that pal of his told Mick that he had the new Navi ready today, and suggested we picked you up! We were gonna head over to your house and let ya know what happened, but we saw ya leave your house, trailed ya, and BOOM! Here we are."

"Oh man, I can't believe Mick did this, that's awesome! So you mean I can get my new Navi right now?!"

"Well not right now, we've gotta head over to Beach Street: Mick and his pal are staying at a cafe near the Metro Station." Dex explained, much to Lan's delight.

"Well what are we waiting for?! Come on guys, let's catch a ride over to Beach Street!"

"Whoa! Hold on a second, Lan!" Mayl giggled, much to Lan's confusion.

"What?"

"Do you even have your PET with you?"

"Well I... uh..." Lan chuckled sheepishly as he realized just how foolish he looked, "Oh yeah... it's at my house."

"Yeah, it's kind of hard to receive a new Navi without a PET in hand, huh?" Mayl giggled again while Lan playfully groaned in defeat.

"Alright, alright, I was being silly. Just hang on a moment and let me grab my PET. Oh! And I should probably let mom know where I'm headed off to..."

_______________________________

Beach Street, Flamingo Cafe
June 26, 200X
12: 56 PM

(Song: Mother 3, Club Tititboo Theme: [link])

"Alright guys, Mick said he'd be waiting in here!" Dex announced as he threw open the double doors leading into the cafe. "Now to pick out where he's sitting..." 

While Dex scanned the tables for a sign of the hooligan, Lan was engrossed with the building's interior decor. It certainly lived up to its name all right: there were flamingo decorations all over the place! There were two life-sized flamingo lawn ornaments on each end of the bar, tiny plastic figures of the birds were placed on each table, the walls themselves were a garish hot pink, and the far end of the cafe had a mural of tiny grey flamingo chicks hatching from eggs. Lan wasn't quite sure if the decor was tacky or slightly cute, but that wasn't important at the moment as Dex had just found the guys they were looking for.

"Aha, he's right there!" Dex announced as he pointed to a circular table situated over in a corner of the cafe, where indeed, Mick was seated at. He flashed a grin towards Lan and friends, then beckoned them over. And he wasn't alone either: over to his left was the slightly pudgy, friendly Tab adorned in his Asterland apron and visor, almost as if he dropped everything and ran straight from his family's shop straight to the Cafe. Over to Mick's right however was someone Lan definitely didn't expect: a rather sinister-looking redhead dressed in a rather flashy tropical shirt emblazoned with flame patterns who Lan had ran into several times over the years: sometimes as a friend, others as a foe. But there was definitely no forgetting that cocky grin of his anytime soon.

"Oh hey, Mr. Match is with them!" Lan called out as he ran over to the table and quickly plopped down on the seat adjacent to Match. "Hey! Mick, Tab, Match, long time no see, you guys!" Mr. Match gave a rather mellow thumbs up, but he wasn't able to greet him due to being interrupted.

"Actually Mr. Hikari, it's only been about three weeks since we last saw each other." Tab corrected in his usual overly-polite way, adjusting his glasses as he did so.

"Aw, cut it out Tab! You know what he means!" Mick yelled before flashing Lan that mischievous grin yet again, "Forgive Mr. Chubby over there, it's nice to see ya again, man!"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Hikari," Tab sighed, immediately regretting coming off as so insufferable, "I didn't mean to sound so rude..."

"Hey, no need to sulk, Tab! It's nice to see the both of you!" Lan felt a bit happier seeing Tab's spirits noticeably rise upon being reassured.

"Same here, man!" Dex hooted as he, Yai, and Mayl all took chairs from neighboring tables and surrounded Mick's party, "Hey, if we get some free time later Mick, ya wanna Net Battle?"

"Hey, as fun as kicking GutsMan's ass is-"

"HEY!"

"-we're gonna have to put that on hold. We came here to get Lan that replacement Navi of his, remember? So uh... yeah. Mr. Match, if you will?"

"Oh, so you finally acknowledge me, huh?" Match snorted playfully as he gave his goatee a rather flippant flick, "And here I go thinking that we're gonna play "Ignore the redhead" all day long!" He then looked over at Lan and held out a brawny hand, "So hey, how's it going today, kiddo?"

"Ah, well... I've had better days to say the least." Lan chuckled sadly as he shook Match's hand, and winced a bit at the man's powerful grip.

"Yeah, no kidding," Match stated as he let go, "A little birdie told me that some bad dudes nabbed your little blue buddy when you guys were gassed at that conference a couple of days ago. I tell ya man, I didn't believe it myself when Mick first told me. The invincible Lan Hikari and the Blue Bomber himself seemed like two flames that were never gonna burn out, but here you are: all alone, and poor old Mega's been snuffed out. But you know something kiddo? Your pal Mick couldn't have contacted a better guy for this kind of situation! Here you are, a guy without a Navi, and here I am, a guy who's lousy with them!"

That much was certainly true: Out of all the Operators Lan had known, there were only two that operated multiple Navis: there was Mr. Famous, a well-known Net Battler who had a seemingly massive arsenal of Navis that he rotated around for various situations. And then, there was Match, who had used three different Navis throughout the years. It was definitely a convenient setup as far as Lan was concerned, though he couldn't help but wonder something that he had missed out on.

"So you're going to let me borrow a Net Navi of yours, right?"

"Yeah! What, are ya suddenly having second thoughts there, kiddo?"

"No, no!" Lan insisted, "I just didn't know that Mick was friendly enough with you to put in a word for me!"

"Well kiddo," Mr. Match explained as he looked fondly at Mick, "You remember how I was working as an assistant teacher over at Cyber Acadmey, right?"

"Yeah, you helped me learn how to use the Cross System with HeatMan!"

"Yep! And you're not the only kid I've been passing down my wisdom to!" Mr. Match then clasped a friendly hand on Mick's head and gave him an affectionate hair-tousling, "Ya see, Mick here got wind that you were taking lessons on handling Fire Navis and came to me one day after school. He's a real troublemaker, that one. But ya know what? So am I! The kid reminds me of when I was a youngster! Now, he still hasn't quite gotten the hang of truly mastering fire and all its power, but he's getting there!"

Lan couldn't help but feel a bit proud that Mick had a father figure he could look up to, even if he wasn't exactly the perfect influence. Mick didn't really talk much about his home life back when Lan went to Cyber Academy, but the few times he did he seemed pretty on edge, so he had a feeling it was best left alone.

"But oh well, you didn't come all the way here to listen to me drone on about my little buddy, now did ya? You need a Navi, and I intend on delivering!" Match then picked up a satchel that he had resting on the ground and placed it on the table. He opened it up and dug around before producing a red and white PET. Now as you know, kid, I own about three Navis, which is a lot considering most people stick to one." Mr. Match pressed a button and projected a hologram of the first evil navi Lan ever faced off with: FireMan, a rather well-built Navi with two nasty arm cannons and a torch-like head that burnt with an eternal flame.

"Oh hey, it's FireMan! Long time no see!"

"It's good seeing you too, Hikari." FireMan droned as he gave a curt nod, "It's good to not be at each other's throats for once, you dig?"

"Now of course, you and MegaMan have quite the history with FireMan: you guys have pulverized him more than once, and even gained powers similar to his through that Soul Unison stuff." Mr. Match explained, "So it would be pretty logical if I handed FireMan over, right?" Mr. Match dug out another PET, this one being red and yellow, and summoned another hologram. This time it was HeatMan, an alarming looking Navi who resembled a cross between a demon and a zippo lighter. But despite his frightening appearance, he was the only Navi of Match's who could be considered a truly good person. Go figure.

"Hey HeatMan! It's been a while, huh?"

"You betcha, kid!" HeatMan cackled as his fingers roared to life by sending forth small jets of fire, "Gosh, I hope we get to team up again! It'll be just like the good old days where we got to run wild and burn things to the ground, hee hee!"

"Slow it down there, captain." Mr. Match chuckled, "Of course, HeatMan goes without saying: MegaMan got his cross, and you even used the guy to bail Mega out of some pretty gnarly situations. So that means he's the guy I'm loaning you, right?"

"Well um... yeah?"

"WRONG!" Match cackled as he set HeatMan's PET aside as well, "Sticking with what ya know is a pretty safe bet, but I like watching ya squirm. Putting students through the wringer is what us teachers do right? So I've been thinking about maybe partnering you up with a Navi you aren't that familiar with." Mr. match produced his third PET, a red and grey one, and Lan wasn't surprised to see whose hologram was projected from it. The quadrupedal, oddly-shaped Navi with a raging fire constantly burning around his head, FlameMan was easily the Navi of Match's Lan was least familiar with. He had been used by Match once, and it was during the Alpha Crisis where the guy tricked Lan into setting Scilab on fire, which put God knows how many people's lives in jeopardy. Lan hadn't seen him since, and he wasn't complaining due to the ugly memories it bought back. Still, he ultimately wasn't the type to hold grudges, so Lan decided to make nice with FlameMan.

"Hey FlameMan, we haven't seen each other in a while! You keeping up well?" FlameMan's only response was a cheerful sounding roar. While he only communicated through seemingly unintelligible roars and grunts, Lan had a feeling this was the Navi's way of saying "Yep! How about you?"

"So," Lan asked as he looked down at the odd-shaped Navi, "I take it you're lending FlameMan to me? That'll be interesting, his candles would be a lot of fun to play around with..."

"Oh, him? Nah, I bought him out because I felt kinda bad for neglecting him lately." Mr. Match admitted sheepishly as he set the third PET aside, "However, you haven't seen ALL my Navis yet." he promised with a sly grin on his face as he pulled out a fourth PET, this one being a combination of red and blue.

"Oh, you made a brand-new Navi?! What's he like?!" Lan asked eagerly, only to be shut down with a stern hand motion.

"Whoa, settle down there kid! It'll be a lot more fun to show you rather than just blabbing on and on about him, ya know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I know."

"Eh, no need to fret. You've got enthusiasm, and I like that! Since you're so excited to meet him though, you mind handing over your PET?"

"Sure!" Lan agreed enthusiastically. He handed over his empty PET, which Match took and linked to his own. Mick and Tab crowded around the screen and exchanged knowing glances with the redhead while he pressed a button on his own PET.

"Alright kiddo, I'm transferring him over! Just a fair warning though, he's a bit of a spitfire, that one! I only made him about two days ago, and he's already good at giving me the run around!"

'A spitfire?' Lan thought, feeling a bit cautious about what Match had said, 'What did he mean by that?' But any doubtful thoughts were temporarily dispelled when Lan's PET screen blinked to life. He grabbed the PET and held it close, grinning eagerly as he anticipated the new arrival.

"Pft, you guys should get a load of this!" Dex chortled to Yai and Mayl, "He looks like a kid on Christmas morning!"

"Dex, shush! Let him have his moment!" Yai hushed while the PET made a dinging sound. A mass of light showed up on the screen and quickly turned into a mass of zeroes and ones. The numbers began to shift and morph until they formed a rather odd shape. The binary was quickly replaced with proper features and colors, leaving Lan speechless when he saw the new Navi Match had given to him.

(Song: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies, Noisy People: [link])

"It's a... grill?" Lan's excitement was quickly replaced by an underwhelming feeling. As he said, the Navi he was looking at resembled a cooking appliance as opposed to something suitable for combat. He did have legs and arms at least, but his torso and head seemed to combine in the form of a large, black grill, with a dial-knob in place of a nose and two rather angry eyes. And from the look of things, he wasn't exactly thrilled to see Lan either.

"STOVE. I'm a STOVE, ya little snot-nosed brat!" the Navi replied with a very rough, crass-sounding voice, "I can't believe it, what's Match trying to pull?! YO, MATCH!"

Feeling a bit taken aback, Lan projected a hologram of the grill Navi and let him turn around and look his creator in the face.

"Hey little man, ya called?"

"Where do ya get off tryin' ta loan me to some punkass little kid?! Ya said I'd be shackin' up with an ace Netbattler!"

"Whoa, simmer down there, bud." Match warned, "That "Punkass little kid" is Lan Hikari, the guy who's saved the world at least seven times, an expert Net Battler, and my little buddy to boot, so show him some respect, why don't ya?"

"Hey, respect ain't somethin' that you're entitled to, ya know. Ya want respect? Ya EARN it, and ya don't earn my respect by calling me a grill when I'm CLEARLY A STOVE!" the Navi hollered while Lan growled in anger.

"But you ARE a grill! Just look at you!"

"Kid, Kid! Settle down, ya hear?" Match scolded while the new Navi simply glared daggers at him. "Oh boy, I told ya he was a spitfire! Lan, StoveMan! StoveMan, Lan!"

"SEE?!" StoveMan hollered, not even giving Lan a chance to let the name sink in, "I AM a stove. It's in my name, ya little punk! REMEMBER THE NAME!"

"Hey, you look like a grill, so that's why I called you one, geez!" Lan yelled as he resisted the urge to throw the PET across the room. He had known StoveMan for only a minute or so, and he already regretted taking him in.

"So, whatcha think, kiddo? It's not often ya see a stove-based Net Navi, ya know!" Mr. Match grinned, a look of pure contentment on his face. While it was tempting to complain, Lan was not about to complain. He needed a new Navi, and as jerkish as this one was, he wasn't about to be an ungrateful little brat and whine about it. StoveMan's attitude was just something he'd have to deal with.

"He's uh... he's great! Really!" Lan chuckled reluctantly, "But um... is he... is he suitable for combat?"

"Well of course he is!" Match snorted, "What, do ya think I make crap or something?"

"No! I was just-"

"Eh, it was a valid question. I mean, he IS a stove, ya know."

"Yeah, I totally didn't notice. Ya ginger piece'a-"

"ANYWAY," Match interrupted the surly Navi's insult with a glare, "Don't worry man! I'd rather he show you himself, but he's got all sorts of fun stuff he can use to roast the enemy into cinders! And what better way to save your Navi than to show your opponents just how painful the flames of vengeance are, huh?!"

"Well you've got a point there," Lan stated somewhat sadly, "But well... that's the hard part. I don't know what to do!"

"What do you ya mean by that?"

"Well, that's exactly it: I don't know how to follow up with this! Look, I have no clue who the guy was that kidnapped MegaMan, and I have no idea where he's hiding! I've got nothing to go by, and... well, that's why I've been so moody the past few days, I don't know what to do!" Lan admitted. And it was true: no matter how helpful and cooperative his new Navi was, there was still no real way he could track down MegaMan's kidnapper. However, Match wasn't too bothered by this.

"So what, you're giving up already? You're not even gonna TRY to save your pal? MegaMan must not mean that much to ya then, kid."

"HEY! Mega means the world to me, you know!" Lan shot back, his face red with anger, "He's not just my Navi, he's my brother, too! If I knew how to save him, I would! But I have no clue where to start!"

"Hey, kiddo?" Match asked him, "I saw the attack, ya know? It was all over the news. They showed that psycho's message and everything. And ya know what?"

"What?"

"I know a bit less than you do, but I already have a pretty good idea of what ya can do." Lan wanted to assume he was bluffing, but that smug look on Match's face wasn't just a mere poker face.

"You... do?"

"Yeah! Kid, I used to run with the World Three, ya know? And ya see, I've noticed things in regards to not just how my old posse operated, but other gangs like Gospel and Nebula too. And the most important thing to know is that guys like tall, dark, and psycho that night? They freaking love attention. They LOVE it, like a fat kid loves candy! This is hardly the last time your guy's gonna stir up a ruckus. I know this sounds like a dumb idea... but you might have to wait a bit. Wait, until this guy causes more chaos. I kinda get the feeling that all ya need is some patience, and all the pieces are gonna fall into place. Maybe his broadcast signals get traced, people who know him speak up, that sorta thing. You get my drift?"

Lan had to admit, now that he thought about it, Match's words were pretty logical. The more this madman made himself known to the general public, the more likely information surrounding him would surface. But yet, he wasn't too keen on the idea of basically waiting around for information either.

"Well that does make a ton of sense, but I don't want to just sit and wait for this guy to blow stuff up!"

"Well then, I suggest ya go do your homework, ya know?" Match offered, "It's a hell of a dangerous place, but the Undernet's a pretty good place to do some detective work! It's a huge place, and I bet ya some of the heels, thugs, and crooks know SOMETHING about the guy if you're willing to prod around. And when all else fails..."

"Yeah?"

"Well kiddo, you seem to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time." Match admitted with a manic glare in his eye. "For better or for worse, you always tend to find yourself right in the middle of whatever stuff the terrorist group of the week is trying to pull. All I'm saying is that if gnarly stuff is happening in your vicinity, it's definitely going to be under that guy's orders. It would be a waste not to try to get any cronies of his to spill the beans, ya know!"

"Yeah... you know, that makes sense!" Lan admitted. It was pretty obvious from what he saw that the mysterious man wasn't acting alone, as he had those FrostMan and TimeMan Navis backing him up. And from his personal experiences, terrorists that are high on adrenaline do tend to let things slip. While putting yourself in trouble on purpose was generally a horrible idea, it was pretty appropriate in this case. A newfound feeling of passion and enthusiasm seemed to warm up in Lan's chest as he looked back at Mr. Match.

"Alright Mr. Match, you know what?! I'm done sulking around. I don't have much to go on now, but I WILL do everything I can to get MegaMan back! Trust me, whoever that nutcase is, he won't know what hit him!"

"Ha ha, now THAT'S the spirit, kiddo!" Mr. Match laughed as he smacked the table with a hearty fist, "See? All you needed was for me to light a fire in your belly! So now, I think it's pretty obvious what you need to do!"

"You bet!" Lan then recited his current gameplan: "I'm gonna train up StoveMan and make sure he'll be able to hold his own once we start throwing down with that guy's cohorts. Then, we're gonna scour the Undernet for any kind of a lead! StoveMan, are you with me?!"

"Yeah, sure. I totally am." StoveMan replied, with the sarcasm and bitterness heavily obvious in his voice. However, Lan couldn't care less about his lack of enthusiasm: he had a good idea of how to get his brother back. And no surly, grumpy stove Net Navi was going to get his spirits down.

"Alright, Mr. Match: thank you so much for helping me out! Mick, Tab, that goes for you guys too!" Match simply grinned smugly while Mick and Tab cheered and exchanged high fives with Lan.

"Heh, I knew ya needed a good kick in the rear to get ya going!"

"Good luck, Mr. Hikari! If you need any help, you're always welcome at Asterland!"

After Mick and Tab said their piece, Lan turned to Dex, Yai, and Mayl, all of whom seemed incredibly proud of Lan for overcoming his bad mood. "Hey guys?"

"Yeah Lan?"

"I think it's high time we head back home! I'm ready to get my brother back!"

Dex whooped with joy as he and his friends all left their chairs. Lan took the lead and headed straight for the doors... only to suddenly stop in place as his stomach growled, angrily reminding him that he was missing lunch.

"Well.... uh, we'll leave soon. But for now, let's fuel up with some snacks."

A Boy and His Stove: Chapter 1
Man, now isn't that crazy? Our hero, a stove? Who would have expected that?!

Funny thing is that StoveMan.EXE isn't some weird concept I came up with out of the blue to mess with you guys: Not just StoveMan (Konro Man in Japan), but also KomusoMan are both based off of VERY obscure Robot Masters from the classic series. They hailed from the little-known sequel to Mega Man and Bass, which I think is a Japanese exclusive. Since NONE of those Robot Masters got Net Navi counterparts, I thought it was only fair to give them some justice here! 

And thus, Lan has a feeling that he knows what to do. And with his surly stove friend in tow, he'll definetely have his hands full during the battles to come! (And a funny little note, I had John Dimaggio's voice in mind for StoveMan's dialogue. Don't know if you guys even care, but that's just what I'm saying.)

Anyway, all characters belong to me, or Capcom. Only rarely do they technically belong to both of us. :p

EDIT: I came back to make a slight readjustment: After watching some of the anime's english dub (Yeah, I'm enjoying it. Sue me :p ), I decided to go back and edit the few lines of dialogue that MagicMan had so he'd sound more like his anime counterpart! His characterization as a Gruntilda-esque magical rhymesmith was far too good to let go to waste! I think it'll help him stand out more as a character, that's all.
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deviantID

Xaldinpwn
United States
Current Residence: Houston, Texas
deviantWEAR sizing preference: Dunno
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Favourite genre of music: Video Game Soundtracks
Favourite style of art: Dunno. I like many.
Operating System: Don't care.
MP3 player of choice: Whatever works is fine with me.
Shell of choice: A nice turtle shell is fine with me.
Wallpaper of choice: See second and third answers
Skin of choice: My skin...?
Favourite cartoon character: Zuko, Wreck-it Ralph
Personal Quote: Stay calm, stay fresh, and most of all, stay safe!
Interests
  • Listening to: Coc'n Rolla, Begnagrad
Alright, I'm pretty sure most people aren't really gonna care about this journal entry. And that's fair, most people shouldn't have to be subjected to other people's whiny rants about stuff. But personally, there's a show that I loved dearly once that's been consistently letting me down to the point to where I only watch it as an obligation to this day, and don't really have another place that I can air my grievances personally. So here's the short of it, I'm falling out of love with the cartoon Steven Universe.

Unlike many people, I actually thought the series started strong with Season 1, even the very beginning. I really loved how even way back then, the show had a distinct "feel good" vibe to it: Steven was an innocent sweetheart, Greg was a good, if nervous dad, and the Crystal Gems felt like a happy surrogate family. As shown as early as Laser Light Cannon, there was a hint of something far more sinister over the horizon, but it was good at showing Steven's innocent and naive viewpoint and quickly grew into a fun action/slice of life show with awesomely horrific episodes like Cat Fingers and Frybo. As the series went on, the show began to show some serious depth: Steven, Pearl, Amethyst, Garnet, and Greg are all bundles of insecurities and serious issues, and I love the maturity and respect the show (usually) goes with handling these issues. Stuff like death, grief, self-loathing, and anxiety were all expertly handled, with later episodes even touching on domestic abuse. And of course, the heroes weren't the only selling points: Beach City is full of lovable, eccentric, and memorable characters who have issues of their own: Sour Cream's hailing from a fractured family, Mayor Dewey's position as a buffoonish yet well-meaning and good-hearted politician who's out of his depth, and Kiki Pizza's struggles with putting her foot down for her own sake. And of course, once the show touched upon a darker past to the Crystal Gems involving a rebellion from an oppressive fascist alien race of sociopathic planet looting psuedo-Nazis, we got to meet wonderful characters like Lapis Lazuli and Jasper, as well as the baggage that came from Steven's mother Rose Quartz's controversial decision to kill Pink Diamond.

For two seasons the show consistently impressed me and left me eager to see more of its lovable characters, take in the raw emotions, and root against the nasty Diamond Authority... but season 3 has been going downhill like crazy, a trend that hasn't stopped in season 4. And it really, really saddens and scares me. There are multiple reasons why I'm starting to lose faith in the show, and it'll take some time to get it all out, so bear with me here.

Reason 1: Poor and Inconsistent Characterization

Boy oh boy, this has REALLY been a problem in season 3, and even a bit late in season 2. Steven Universe started out having consistent, well-rounded characters who not only had wonderful personalities, but ones that made sense. Come season 3 however... maybe it'll work better if I break it into particular characters who I take issue with.

My BIGGEST issue is with Peridot. Peri, Peri, Peri... much like her characterization, my feelings toward this character have varied considerably. I started off not caring about her in the slightest, grew to love her once she was stuck with the Crystal Gems, but now she teeters between a mid-favorite and among my least favorites. When she first appeared she was a rather cold and surprisingly heartless villain: showing a startling lack of empathy by viewing Steven as a pest in need of extermination and crushing an injured Robonoid of hers. I didn't hate her, though I didn't get the hype around the character (I got left behind on watching the show and got back into it after Jailbreak aired. Note: I'm no bandwagoner, I liked the show from the start! I just slacked off on watching it :p). Come season 2 however I fell in love with her. It was entertaining as all hell seeing this coldhearted bitch show her hidden layers as a goofy, dorky, bratty little gremlin who thinks a wee bit too highly of herself, and it was humanizing seeing her slowly mentally unravel due to being stuck on the planet with the enemy and no way to go back home. It was cute seeing her reach out to Steven and through him, develop a conscious. And yet, it didn't feel forced, at least at first: she still held on to a lot of bad behavior that rubbed off from growing up in a bad home: she was bigoted towards Garnet and Pearl, openly gushed about how Dear Lead- er, I mean Der Fuhr- AHEM, I mean the Great Diamond Authority should have strip-mined Earth into oblivion, and was hilariously rude towards others. I loved how flawed and multi-faceted she was, and liked seeing her grow a grudging respect for the Crystal Gems and learn how to be a better person though.

That was all ruined at the tail end of season 2 and most of season 3, when she kind of grew into the token "small annoying forcibly cute teammate" of the Crystal Gems. She became a fangirl of sappy cartoonishly Canadian TV, got big into social media, started using human slang, and for whatever reason has this obsession with befriending Lapis Lazuli (Probably because some of the writers, one in particular REALLY wanna shill Lapidot). She feels like a completely different character than she did for most of season 2, and I don't like it. She's not the intelligent jerk with goofy nerdy tendencies and an inflated ego learning how to be a better person anymore, now she feels like what I can only call "le quirky Peridot!1!!1!!! XDDDDDDDDDDDD": a character whose quirky tendencies completely overtook her identity instead of being a part of it. Plus, her redemption was honestly poorly and sloppily handled: right after gushing about how Hitl- (Okay I'll stop) er, Yellow Diamond did nothing wrong, she suddenly burns her bridges with Yellow Diamond by insulting her to her face, declaring that Earth had things worth protecting, and otherwise did the Crystal Gem song and dance despite it being made clear in the previous episode that she had lengths to go to unlearn her toxic mindset. Sure, after her traitorous behavior sinks in she's horrified... but gets over it really quickly. And what feels REALLY weird is that she still comes off as inconsistently characterized: in Beta, she's "le quirky Peridot!!1!!!!!!1 XDDDDDDDDDD" in full force, but in Kindergarten Kid, a season 4 episode, she's suddenly back to her old (and far more likable) rude jerk with goofy tendencies characterization. Out of all the characters, her inconsistent writing sticks out the most.

Lapis Lazuli is another big offender of inconsistent/bad characterization. This one really hurts because she's an incredibly nuanced character and one of my absolute favorites. For a while, she was consistently characterized as icy, vengeful, and standoffish towards most people after being put through so much crap, but had a much sweeter side she reserved for Steven which shows her as being debatable a better mom than most of the Crystal Gems. She also has a lot of issues that ring home with abuse victims: she has downright awful self-esteem, is prone to shutting down emotionally, and became an abuser herself after being yanked around by Jasper. I LOVED this so much... which is why I find episodes like Hit the Diamond and Beta downright insulting to the character. In those, she's this cartoonish goth girl who is incredibly apathetic and feels completely different than she usually does. And in Beta, she's suddenly best friends with Peridot with some blatant Lapidot pandering going on while in her previous appearance she loathed the very ground Peri walked on, and for good reason. And to add insult to injury, SHE was treated as the bad guy in Barn Mates despite having every reason to hate Peridot. Gah.

Garnet... alright, it isn't inconsistent characterization or even really bad: she's still the same stoic badass with the occasional asshole moment who nonetheless is adorably affectionate and maternal towards Steven. But in recent episodes... I dunno, there are some who feel that she's been losing her sense of identity and is basically reduced to being a fusion. It's hard to explain... but I kind of agree. Lately it feels that she's less her own character like she was in the past, and everything about her is now related to being a fusion. And even worse, her components, Ruby and Sapphire are dreadfully boring characters. They have no depth whatsoever, and can be defined as either being rambunctious and fiery or cold and distant, and being super in love for one another. And what's worse is that due to them being lesbians, not liking how one-dimensional they are or how unhealthy their relationships seem (Seriously, they put Peridot's life at risk because they couldn't hide their lady-boners for one another) will get you put under fire for criticizing a sacred cow. Bleh.

Connie I feel instead of being inconsistent or poorly characterized is just boring. I don't HATE her as she is a nice kid... but that's all she's got going for her. A bland, nerdy, nice girl with not much else to her. I liked her better back when she was struggling with her emotionally abusive parents because I could heavily identify with her feelings of anxiety regarding mom and dad... until that problem was suddenly taken care of. Now she just bores me. It's kinda fitting, her fusion with Steven, Stevonnie, is in my opinion the most boring fusion. But that's for another day.

That's about it for my characterization rant, part two's gonna have me talk about my issues with wasted potential in recent episodes. So uh... yeah. See you guys next time. Or not. I dunno.

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