"Good morning, Electopia! This is your anchor Ribitta reporting live from my cozy little station in DNN Studios, and I'm bringing an update on yesterday's Omega Initiative incident in Elec Town!"
"Ribbit! ToadMan.EXE here too, reminding you guys to stay in your seats 'cause this is really, REALLY important news, ribbit!"
Dressed in a blue bathrobe, his hair messy with a plate of warm, steaming cinnamon rolls on his lap, Lan couldn't help but feel oddly mature while he sat back on the family sofa, having made sure to get up in time for the ten o'clock news for the first time in his life. And at the same time, he felt a bit guilty. He had known Ribitta and ToadMan quite well: the pretty, plucky brunette and her amphibious Navi had been a big help with saving MegaMan in the past, as they were fellow members of Team Colonel during Dr. Regal and Nebula's hostile takeover of the Net. And yet, he usually never went out of his way to watch them until now! As he watched the duo's report, he made a mental note to continue watching them on his own accord in the future. And perhaps, maybe enlist their help with finding MegaMan in the future...
"So anyway," Ribitta stated with an enthusiastic, yet business-like tone in her rather cheery voice, "As you all are likely aware, the past few days have been littered with a series of incidents caused by a madman by the name of Takuma Saisei, the leader of a terrorist sect known as the Omega Initiative." Right when Ribitta mentioned his name, ToadMan projected a picture of the terrorist's rugged, tanned mug on a smaller screen within the broadcast report. "Despite being a newly born organization that cropped up out of nowhere a week ago, the Omega Initiative has already made a name for itself due to two rather terrifying, brash incidents: an attempted gassing of the crowd attending Dr. Hikari and Dr. Wily's Colonel and Iris presentation, as well as a frightfully large hack attack that effected an enormous portion of Elec Town, with millions of Viruses spawning in seconds!"'Yeah, yeah, I know this! Come on, do you have any new info?'
Lan thought irately as he chewed on a cinnamon roll.
"Oh let me tell you Ribitta, that was some scary stuff, ribbit!" ToadMan remarked in a rather fearful tone, "All it took was seconds for everything to fall apart! Cars went nuts, stoves spewed fire, lights exploded... it's a miracle that no one got killed, ribbit!"
"Believe me ToadMan, it's impressive indeed! And thanks to the hard work of the Net Police and the Official Netbattlers who assisted them, they kept the damage from spreading! So, three big cheers for them!" ToadMan then pulled up a holographic screen and fiddled around with it, which resulted in the sound of a recorded audience cheering and clapping. Ribitta grinned while ToadMan hopped in place before the cheering died down. Ribitta then put on a more serious face before continuing.
"But we mustn't let our guards down! Make no mistake: this Takuma Saisei and his merry band of goons are a dangerous bunch. If they're capable of spawning tons of viruses in seconds, who knows what else they're capable of?"
"Ribbit ribbit! And don't forget, according to him, his goals are to put an end to the Net itself! Brr... I don't think I like the sound of that..." ToadMan gave a cute little shiver just from the thought of his world potentially dying one day.
"And what's quite startling is that despite all the research the Net Police, Scilab, and other concerned citizens have done, we can't really get a good profile on Mr. Saisei in the slightest!" Ribitta stated with a gasp. Lan however perked up and listened as attentively as he could. 'Alright, about time we got to something new!'
"You see, to start things off it's clear that this Takuma Saisei is not going under a real name," Ribitta explained, "Lots of research has been poured into the names of Electopian males both in this country and around the world, and so far there is no record of the existence of a man named Takuma Saisei at any point in history! Or at least, until he declared war on Net Society itself, hee hee."
"Well golly!" ToadMan gasped, "What does this mean, ribbit?"
"Well... I dunno! It's hard to tell if this is a man living a double life as an average joe and moonlighting as some terrorist psycho, or if it's just some pretentious jerk trying to make a big name for himself! I'm kinda leaning towards the latter myself, and you know why?"
"Well you see, the words "Takuma" and "Saisei" are Electopian words, both of which pertain to his ultimate goal! His first name Takuma is an Electopian name with meanings like "pioneer", "expand", "open" and "true". Meanwhile, his last name means "Rebirth". You see, with a name like his, he's trying to advertise his role as a pioneer who's going to bring about the rebirth of civilization by taking us all back to the stone age!"'Huh. Well that's a fitting name, I've gotta admit,'
Lan remarked internally, 'Not really sure what this proves other than him being a ghost in the system though...'
"I don't know: he probably thinks that his name sounds cool, but I think it's just plain corny!" Ribitta scoffed while ToadMan nodded in agreement. "I mean, how inflated does your ego have to be when you change your name to mark yourself as some kind of guy who's gonna bring about a worldwide revolution? A pretentious jerk, that's what!"
"Yeah, what a jerk, ribbit!"
"Trust me, it'd be a lot easier to laugh at him if he wasn't such a dangerous man..." Ribitta sighed before steeling her nerves. "Anyway, I'd say that's all we really have on this mysterious Mr. Saisei for now. All we can really hope is that the Net Police can get to the bottom of this, and get this guy tossed into a padded cell before he really starts hurting people! Anyway, that's it for our Omega Initiative update! But don't go changing the channel now, because up next we have an incredibly heartwarming story to share with all of you!"
"Ooh, yes we do, ribbit!" ToadMan agreed, "Stay tuned for a tale about how a hardened Net Criminal's encounter with a rescued cat led to an adorable friendship!"'Well gee, that was a waste of time! I may as well have not watched the news at all!'
Lan growled as he reached for the remote and powered off the TV. He supposed that he was foolish to think that he'd make any serious progress in regards to dismantling the Omega Initiative right after their second major attack, but he had hoped that there'd be something
useful in the news. Then again, he did suppose that if he were to get any information of substance, he'd be hearing it from Chaud, his father, Wily, or that Skrenta lady as opposed to the TV news, even if Ribitta had proven to be a useful ally in the past.
So for now, what all could Lan do? He mulled over his options in his head for a bit: on one hand, he could easily go with StoveMan and spar with Dex and GutsMan. And who knows? Considering how well StoveMan could fight once he started listening to Lan, maybe they could score a win against the brawny duo this time! Though Lan also wondered if maybe he and StoveMan could risk doing some early detective work themselves, and maybe chip in with the Net Police's investigation if he could catch Chaud in a relatively good mood. But then again, Chaud was pretty adamant about him and StoveMan staying in the background considering his performance against DynamoMan and Terry...
While Lan thought hard about how to spend his day, he was interrupted by a knock on his door. "Oh? Mom's back already?" Haruka had indeed left the house about half an hour ago to run some errands, but she was always gone for at least two hours! Maybe she left something behind and just now realized it? That was the justification Lan went with when he opened the door. But to his surprise, standing on the porch's welcome mat wasn't his mother, but rather a certain ginger-haired acquaintance of his...
"Oh, Mr. Match!" Lan gasped in surprise at the sight of the pyromaniac at his doorstep.
"Yep, that's me alright," Mr. Match responded slyly, "Glad to know that you're good with faces, kiddo." Lan narrowed his eyes and frowned at larger man, who simply chuckled at the kid's expense. "Aw, lighten up. I'm just messing with ya! Anyway, you mind if I step inside for a bit?"
"Oh! Well uh... I guess?" Lan answered somewhat hesitantly. Unless it was someone Haruka knew well, she never liked having people at the house while she was away. And if she knew that a former Net criminal was looking to enter without her being consulted... but Match did say it would be for a bit. And so Lan shrugged and waved him in. Match stepped inside and shut the door behind him before making his way to the kitchen table and plopping down on a chair.
"Heh, man. The minute I step inside, and it's like I've gone down a trip on memory lane." Match gave a wistful sigh as his gaze shifted over to the oven in the kitchen. Funny to think that a couple of years back we met in this very house for the first time. You were still a greenhorn in the world of netbattling, I was a repairman tinkering with the oven..."
"Yeah, tinkering with the oven by making it spit fire!
" Lan remarked irately, "Seriously Match, you almost burned the house down! And I had fire spit at me! It wasn't fun, you know!"
"Aw, come on kiddo! You came out okay, didn't you? Your house is still standing, you and your mom didn't burn to a crisp... no harm done, right?"
Lan had a VERY different definition of "No harm done" that didn't involve setting his oven on fire, but he figured that it wasn't time to argue semantics. After all, he was sure Mr. Match came to visit for a reason, and he figured it would be best to get right to the point. "Anyway Mr. Match, how come you dropped by, anyway? Did you want to tell me something?"
you?" Match asked incredulously, "Kid, I didn't make the three hour Levbus trip to your humble abode just to tell you something. No, in fact, I was gonna invite
Lan's eyes went wide with surprise. 'Invite me somewhere? Well that sounds nice!'
"Y'see, this whole teacher life I'm living is kinda bleeding into my free time, you know," Match explained as he leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms, "Even though school's out for the summer, I still can't help but wanna assign some homework, or grade some papers, heh heh. So I figured, why not check in on good ol' StoveMan and see how you guys have been doing? Think of it as being like a progress report, kiddo."
"Oh, you want to check on StoveMan?" Lan asked as he rose from his chair, "Well if you give me a second, I'll run up to my room real quick and bring him down for you!"
"Heh, that won't be necessary, kiddo. I figure I'll be seeing him in a few minutes, just let me finish up here." Lan sat back down and listened attentively while Match continued. "You see, I heard through the grapevine that you and StoveMan threw down with those Omega Initiative guys. You tore your way through Viruses, fought a lightning-slinging Net Navi... Heh, I tell ya kid, it really warms the old heart to know that StoveMan's burning bright despite practically being a baby. It's like a dad watching his kid grow, you know?"
"Heh, well thank you!" Lan chuckled bashfully, flattered by how proud Match was with his raising of StoveMan. Of course it wasn't as easy as Match thought, and it seemed that whoever Match's source was (Chaud? Dex? Some other third party?) they left out the details regarding the fact that ProtoMan was the one who finished off DynamoMan... but hey, he and StoveMan did seem to reach something of an understanding in battle. And that was all that mattered, right?
"Yeah. Man, I really wish I got to see you guys in action 'cause it sounds like StoveMan's really improving combat-wise... so ya know what? I decided to ring up an old buddy, and he's okay with us using his shop for this "progress report" of mine..." Match then smirked and pointed straight at Lan, his teeth gleaming as he did so. "So how does a netbattle at Higsby's sound to ya?!"
"A netbattle, huh? Well bring it on, then!" Lan responded triumphantly with a cross of his arms, "It's been a while since we've had one of those, hasn't it?"
"Indeed it has, kiddo," Match stated, "But it's not gonna be against me. Instead, I was thinkin' of a two-on-two match: you and me vs Mick and Tab! I think you'll find that they've gotten a lot better at Net Battling under my tutelage, heh heh!"
"Well that sounds fine to me!" Lan said, "So, around what time should I be there? An hour? Half an hour?"
"How about you get changed outta that comfy robe of yours and head over to Higsby's right now? Mick and Tab are already waiting for us!" Match smirked while Lan yelped in shock.
"Aw geez! If you wanted me to head out the door right now, why didn't you just send an email in advance or something?!"
"'Cause email's a drag, ya know? I figure that if you've got something important to say, ya better do it face to face." Match chuckled and made his way to the door. "Just hurry up, will ya? And don't get cold feet and ditch us, or you're never gonna live it down!"
"Cold feet? As if!" Lan hissed as he rose to his feet and ran up the stairs to his room, "We can take Tab and Mick just fine! You'll see."
"Alright then, see ya in a bit, kiddo! I'm off!" While Match slammed the front door shut, Lan headed inside of his room and made a beeline for his closet, quickly tossing clothes out in a pile on the floor while in search of today's outfit.'So a netbattle against Tab and Mick, huh? You know, I haven't gone against either of them!'
Lan thought to himself as he produced his favorite orange vest from the closet, 'But they shouldn't be too bad: StoveMan's really beginning to grasp the basics of fighting smart! And after Chaud tearing down his self-esteem, he could use the emotional picker upper from beating their Navis...'
Lan glanced over at StoveMan's PET, frowning a bit as a pang of sympathy tugged at his heart. 'I just hope he isn't beating himself up too badly about what happened...'
Lan then produced the set of bike shorts he often wore alongside his vest, and then grabbed his favorite blue bandana. 'Ah, he'll be fine,'
he thought confidently, 'He's a tough guy, I bet he's already forgotten all about what Chaud said to him! Now I've gotta hurry, can't keep the guys waiting too long...'