According to rumours circulating among the first year students, the recent appearances of bizarre visual glitches in cyberspace and odd looking creatures have increased with the latest space upgrade.
“Hey, hey! Look at me. I look cool, right!?” an excitable voice calls to you over the noise from the doorway of your class. You roll your head from it's perch in your folded arms and look at the girl calling to you, Madoka Risako, a friend of yours with to much energy considering the circumstances.
“Aren't you tired?” you whine, pulling yourself up into a slouch in your seat. “We were out until nearly dawn trying to find that illegal you said you saw, and we ended up doing nothing but running around in the dark chasing cats.”
“Yeah, that's fantastic, but you haven't said how I look yet!” she gushes, completely ignoring your complaint, and being confusing to boot. How does she look? As if you'd judge something like that. She's the same stupidly grinning, red-headed, bobcut sporting girl she's been for years. What's she going on about now" she taps the frame of her glasses, and you just blink in response.
“Okay?” you groan, sinking your head back into your arms and trying to catch a few minutes sleep at best. Day's almost done, if you can just make it-
“No!” Madoka whines, stomping towards your desk melodramatically. “Put your glasses on and look!” Right, your glasses. You should have realized that she might have been going on about something like that. After all, there is a uniform for this school, and and 'creative interpretations' of uniform code often get shot down. With a sigh, you sit up, slide your glasses over your eyes and nearly jump out of your seat.
“Wha-!?” you choke, shocked by the utterly ridiculous sight before you. Madoka Risako, dressed in an elaborate black and white... something. Some kind of mixture of a dress, an apron and a vest, and topped with a floppy black pointed hat, like something from some kind of witch costume, with a big frilly white bow on the front. On top of it all, she's even gone so far as to change her hair, with a simple hair colour change from red to blonde, and abandoning the regular bobcut for a slightly longer look, with the exception of a loosely tied braid hanging from the right side of her head.
“Awesome, right? We didn't find anything last night, but I was so pumped up over our first official investigation as cyber detectives that I spent the rest of the night creating this avatar!” Madoka gushes, striking a pose to show off her handiwork. You only stare blankly, and slide the glasses from your face as the ridiculous witch-looking get up vanishes, leaving only an ordinary Madoka in a very silly looking pose.
“You're inhuman,” you say, laying your head back on your desk. “That took you the rest of the night? Have you even slept?”
“A bit, yeah. I was late coming in this morning, but I've had a few energy drinks, so it's just as good, right?”
Once again, you're left with only your slow blinking as a response. Alright, she wasn't exactly the most brilliant person you know, but right now you can't be too sure if this is completely genuine stupidity, or a side effect of an otherwise sleeping brain.
“You're going to crash pretty hard when you come down off those drinks, you know.”
“Hmm, probably,” she replies casually, as if it wasn't a concern. “But that's okay, I still have more left for later. Don't want to mess up my sleep schedule too bad after all, I'm still required to be a top notch student during the day.”
You give a little chuckle, and turn your head away from her at that comment, partially to make an indication that you want to return to your naptime, but also to hide your grin. Top notch, right.
“Good luck with your classes for the rest of the day. I'm not carrying you home if you're asleep at your desk,” you state plainly.
“As if!” she retorts. “See you after school!” With that, you're left in peace, and a bitter taste in your mouth. Of course, now that you've said it...
“Hey, Madoka,” you say, shaking the sleeping girl in a manner that borders on violent. It's vigorous enough at least to attract the attention of the school nurse, who gives you a slightly concerned look. “You're dead, aren't you?”
She grumbles slightly and tries to brush you off, but it's a feeble motion from someone lost deep in dreamland. You give her another firm shake and her eyes crack open ever so slightly in your direction. Well, in your general direction at least.
“Ah, I mus've pass'd... wh'time'sit?” she drawls, still half asleep.
“It's almost midnight. You've been declared missing by your parents, and they've sent out search teams looking for you.”
A few moments pass, and her eyes rapidly open as what you said sinks in.
“Wh-what?” she stammers, sitting up quickly and rubbing her eyes. She looks totally out of it, and you take a rather notable amount of pleasure in the look of complete confusion on her face as she looks at the early evening sky through the window. She does a double take back to you, and the window again. “But, what...?”
“I may have exaggerated some details,” you say with a grin. “Since I know if I told you you've only been sleeping for an hour, you'd just wave it off and go back to sleep.” She stares blankly for a little while, slowly waking up the dormant parts of her brain as what you've explained seems through the cracks in her thick skull. Then she grimaces.
“Yer'n idiot,” she grumbles, falling back down on the bed and rolling over. “Gon' back t'sleep.”
“Not here,” you say, rolling her over. She doesn't really resist, and she manages to get to her feet on her own, but doesn't look too stable. You lend her a hand by picking up her bag, complete with glasses, and carrying them for her. “We're going to take a cab. As much fun as I'd have trying to keep you from sleepwalking into traffic, I've had enough excitement for one day.”
“Kay,” she responds with a yawn, and staggers off ahead of you towards the doorway. You take a moment to ask the nurse to call in a cab for you two, and follow along.
The cab is already waiting by the time you exit the school grounds, and you load the living and non-living luggage into the backseat with you, and name your house address as your destination. It's not necessarily a far ride, but the few minutes was all it took for Madoka to fall asleep again, her head slowly drifting forward into the back of the passengers seat ahead of her, only to snap violently back to the waking world with each bump in the road that resulted in her head bouncing off the seat.
With time, you roll up in front of your house, and fish some money out of your wallet, kept in your school bag. You throw in a bit of a tip as well, if only to round out the change. Hauling the bags and zombie from the car, you assist her slow shamble towards your house, and carefully guide her to your living room, where she immediately stakes a claim to your sofa and drops like a sack of bricks. With that problem out of the way, the only issue remaining is how you're going to explain the unconscious person in the living room to your sister when she gets home.
The solution came to you easier than you imagined. After all, if you're asleep too, she can't question you about it. Another job well done, but you're not going to pack it in immediately. You may not have had much sleep, but you're still good enough for another hour or so, and what's a better way to spend an hour than by screwing around with other people's stuff? Removing your own glasses, you place them on a nearby end table, and remove Madok'a case from her specialized tote bag. Hers are a lot smaller than yours, but works all the same, except she doesn't keep them password locked. Might as well take a look at what she's been up to lately at least.
Browsing her latest files, you discover an effective cure for insomnia. Several files of poorly recorded video files you suspect were taken with some kind of outdated surveillance program she scoured from some corner of the net. Probably illegal as well, as far as you know. Not that you didn't have your share of questionable programs, though. Out of all the files though, you do manage to find something that catches your attention. A folder, containing a short ten second clip and several still pictures, all of rather poor quality, but one consistent subject: A strange looking girl dressed in blue and white, with some kind of objects floating behind her that at first glance, seem like crystals. She doesn't look like anyone you know, and anyone you know, Madoka knows as well, and vice versa. You don't get much other information about the files though, and quickly find yourself returning to the same blurry pictures and shaky videos, punctuated with news clippings from various sources. Not really motivated to browse further, you log out and put her glasses back in their case, and set the case on the table, exchanging them with yours.
You stifle a yawn, and take a moment to stretch a bit. Yeah, you've hit your limit for now. All you can think about is how good that bed will feel. You'll deal with whatever complaints you get about the couch ornament tomorrow when you wake up. Until then though, you intend to sleep peacefully.
Relieving a bit of mental pressure. This is one of several ideas that've been floating around in my head as stories I'd like to write, potential new CYOA material. Don't know if I would really want to handle a third though, so don't consider this an official beginning, more like a demonstration I guess. At the very least, getting out part of the idea relieves a little mental burden, so if I can relieve the stress of multiple unwritten ideas, I'll actually have room for the two CYOAs I do actually write and be able to continue them.
That and that Alice scene I should probably finish.
So, I was thinking of writing a bit of all the ideas I had, which technically could be considered prologues for the actual story itself if I get around to writing one, either in the place of one of my current two should one finish, or I try to pick up a third one, though that's not quite likely. Still, I'd be putting them all into this one thread, and reader feedback could determine which idea I work with next.
It isn't until some time later that you open your eyes, and the first thing you see is the scowling face of your sister bearing down on you. She does not look pleased.
“So, how much you charging your houseguest for room and board?” she queries. You just roll over and pretend you didn't see her, that works well enough. Well, until until she drags you out of your bed and drops you to the floor. You lay there, legs propped up on the edge of your bed, staring up at your older sister as she stands over you.
“Good morning, sis,” you croak, trying to pull yourself into a sitting position.
“Morning, ha,” she scoffs, taking a step back as you get to your feet, straightening out your rumpled clothes. You're still in your school uniform, huh. “So why is Madoka asleep on our couch?”
“She passed out at school, she was up all night. We live closer than she does, so it cost less to take a cab,” you explain, stretching while you do so. Sis just sighs and shakes her head.
“Well, put on your glasses,” she says. You take a few moments to find them, propped up on your desk, and slip them onto your face. When you turn back, she's holding a stack of metatags. “Picked these up for you.”
“Ah, thanks,” you say, actually a little surprised by the gesture. You tuck away the tags in a large cyberpouch you wear on your stomach. “What inspired you to do this?”
She shrugs as a response.
“I just felt like being nice to my little brother,” she sighs. “Is that so suspicious?”
Well, yes, but you're not going to get into that now. It's a rare occurrence when Yumiko Kourin does something out of the goodness of her heart without expecting any kind of favour in return. She might play it off now, but you can almost bet that sometime in the next day she's going to ask you to do something. Might as well enjoy the freedom you have while it lasts.
“Madoka still asleep?” you ask as your sister prepares to leave the room.
“No, she was awake when I got in, watching TV and eating some leftover rice,” she replies, stepping through the door. With her gone, you get started on changing your clothes. Once you're changed, you head to the living room. Madoka's still there, still watching TV. She notices you as you approach.
“Ah, Takeo, you're finally awake,” she says, rolling from her side into a proper sitting position. “Took you long enough!” Already she's starting to sound energetic again, you wonder how long she's been up in the first place. You call up your clock through your glasses. It's ten past nine, so Sis has probably been home for about half an hour.
“You could have tried to wake me up when you got up,” you say. She just brushes it off.
“You needed your sleep,” she replies, and something about it annoys you. Wasn't this the girl that had fallen asleep at school and ended up needing to be cabbed out of there? Who was she telling needed sleep?
“Well, you seem fine enough now, so come on, I'll walk you home,” you say, heading towards the front door. You can hear Madoka whining behind you, but she follows along soon enough with her belongings in hand. By the time she gets to you, you already have your shoes on. She slips hers on, and you open the door, stepping outside.
“Seems kind of a waste,” Madoka says for no reason you can discern.
“Another night and I'm just going home,” she whines. “Since we're out here, we should-”
“No, not another snipe hunt,” you cut in. Not for the second night in a row, running around in the dark isn't exactly your idea of a good time. Madoka whines again.
“I'm sure we'll find something this time though,” she says, pulling up her console as she starts poring over some files, the ones you were looking at earlier. “Look, this here, I saw this near here before.” She pulls up a blurry picture of an oddly shaped black patch. Given the quality if the picture, it wouldn't be too hard to just pass it off as a shadow, but there's just enough wrong with it's shape to put some doubt in your mind. Not that it's enough to convince you, though. One thing that makes you curious is why she didn't bring up that other set of pictures you found, that girl in blue.
“What makes you think the same thing will pop up this time too?” you ask, but she doesn't respond, at least not for a few seconds.
“Instinct,” she answers.
“Okay, now I'm sure nothing will happen,” you say, smirking a little as she hits you lightly with her bag. Almost immediately afterwards though, a black shadow skitters across the street and ducks into an alley.
“There one goes!” Madoka shouts, taking a few running steps after it, the witch cybercostume she made flickering on as she runs ahead. “Come on! It'll get away!”
You can't deny that an illegal just zipped past the two of you, but to go chasing after it? You should just continue on and forget about it. If it's the same one she was just talking about, then it'll probably still be in the area some time later and you can have a search for it then. Though... this time there is actually something.
 No time like the present.  Ignore it and finish bringing Madoka home.  Leave her to chase it alone and go home.
You didn't want to do this for the second night in a row, but this time you actually know you're after something. Letting it get away from you now would be foolish. You break into a light jog, catching up to Madoka, who matches pace with you as you enter the alley the small creature ducked into. You see a slight shift in shadows ahead, an unnatural shape in the darkness.
“There it is!” Madoka shouts, taking a few running steps ahead of you and swinging her arm, sending out a shifting circle of lines and characters, one of her encodes to catch illegals. Even though she was an energetic pest, when it came to hunting illegals, she had her uses. Even if her aim is terrible. The encode hits the ground just short of the target, and the black mass ducks behind a row of trash cans. The two of you reach the cans, and notice that they're on the edge of a corner. Madoka starts to look around the cans, but you notice the illegal farther down the second alley, and tug on her sleeve before you set off after it.
“I'll trap it, you hit it then,” you say, opening your pouch and pulling out one of the tags, a SteelWall. Your throw is a bit easier, as you don't need to hit the small target, just throw it farther. You call up your console, typing in a few variables to execute the program, and throw the tag. The countdown begins, and the metatag clears the illegal by a few feet before activating, a large wall of riveted steel plates fills the alleyway from wall to wall, even reaching the street level. Taking her new chance, Madoka catches up and prepares another shot, when she stops dead in her tracks.
“Wha-” she gasps, and before you can ask, the display in your glasses goes out. The wall, the illegal, your console, Madoka's stupid outfit, all vanish.
“Hey!” you shout as well, taking your glasses off. “What's happening?”
You hear laughter from behind you, and turn around to see someone you wish you hadn't.
“Rin, what's the big idea!” you shout at the fake-blonde haired girl. She smiles and jogs towards you.
“We've been after this one for a while,” she says as she comes to a stop in front of you. Rin Hikari, something of a nemesis, if you could put it like that. Another kid in the area, she goes to your school, but she's not in any of your classes. Plays herself up as some bigshot cyberdetective, but she resorts to dirty tricks, and isn't afraid to burn out someone's glasses in order to get what she's after. She makes a habit of dressing in a 'uniform' of sorts when she's on a chase, a black one piece dress worn over a white button up shirt. She said 'we', so that means...
“Hey!” Madoka says, pushing on your shoulder to get your attention, pointing down the alley towards where the illegal had been. You see Rin's 'partner in crime', Suzume Matsuda, crouching about where the illegal should have been, looking like she's gathering something. Madoka starts running after her, and she beats a hasty retreat. You turn back to Rin to see her smiling.
“We win this one,” she says with a laugh, patting you on the shoulder. “You and your friend could learn a thing or two from this, 'Only the strongest win'.”
“You turned off our glasses,” you retort, waving said apparatus. Rin just looks away, acting as if you're not even talking to her. “Just so you could get it without a fight.”
“That's the way it works,” she replies, walking past you. You turn to watch her leave, and see Madoka walking back towards you. She glares at Rin as she passes, but doesn't say anything to her.
“You lost her, didn't you?” you ask Madoka as she approaches. She glares at you too now, and walks past you, sighing as she does.
“It's not fair,” Madoka whines. “It's almost like she can fly, the way she gets over things in her way.”
A flicker of light catches your attention, and you notice that your glasses have turned back on. You slide them back on and look back to where the illegal had been. A few distortions catch your eye, and you head over to find a few loose metabugs, what Suzume had been gathering obviously. Madoka chased her off before she could grab all of them, but the ones left were all fairly cheap ones. Still...
You catch up to Madoka a few seconds later, showing her the small handful you'd managed to collect that was left over. She's not impressed, but that doesn't stop her from picking a few of the cheap ones out of your hand and dropping them into a cyberpocket.
“We've got to find a way to get back at them,” Madoka says once you reach the main street and continue back on your original goal, the Risako home. You'd complain along side her, but truthfully you're just glad that it resolved quickly and that you weren't chasing that thing all night, even if it didn't end in your favour.
“Sure thing,” you say, if only to try to put on an air of agreement.
“I'm going to talk to Chie tomorrow, see if we can get her help,” she says, obviously already plotting some kind of elaborate revenge scheme you're sure you're going to end up being caught up in. Great, in a matter of a few hours, your prospects for tomorrow have gone from standard to bleak. You're going to end up running around in circles for hours again, though whether it be for your sister or your present company, you can't be sure. If God feels kind, it won't be both at the same time.
The rest of the walk to Madoka's house consists largely of you playing along with all her growing schemes of revenge, and bidding her goodnight at her door. On the way back, you take a detour to stop by a convenience store and pick yourself up some juice. The rest of the walk back is uneventful, and you get home without further incident. Sis greets your return, and you set about getting yourself something to eat, then bugger off to your room. You take a few minutes to cash in what metabugs you did collect, eat, and kill some time poking around some software sites, looking for any patches or news about new apps. Once that gets old, you get onto the internet proper to kill a bit more time, at least until you decide to get a bit more sleep, so you'll at least have the energy for another school day, and whatever events the rest of the day brings. You turn in for the night.
The day comes faster than you'd have liked.
“Time to get up,” your sister calls from the living room. You grumble and roll over in your bed.
 Yeah, time to get up and get going.  No, you're going to stay in bed.
Not happening, you're going to stay in bed. Today is going to be a headache, you're sure of it. So long as you can hide under the covers, maybe you'll get lucky and everyone will forget about you.
Doesn't work that way.
“Get up!” your sister exclaims from right next to your bed, seconds before a tug pulls the blanket off you. You sigh and roll over onto your back, just in time for your now balled up blanket to be dropped on your head. “Don't you have school to go to?”
“Yeah, yeah,” you mumble, pushing the wadded blanket off you and sitting up.
“By the way,” Yumiko begins, and already you're dreading the rest of the sentence. You know what's coming. “I have a-”
“Right,” you interrupt, sliding off your bed as Yumiko takes a few steps backwards. “What is it you want me to do for you then?”
“Oh? Well, can you watch the store after school?” she asks, jumping straight to the question. Actually, that's not quite as bad as normal, since at least this gives you an excuse to make some money and to potentially skip out on whatever shenanigans Madoka is cooking up. Too bad it's terribly boring. Still, being bored is better than being run ragged over someone else's pride.
“Sure,” you reply, and you can see the approval in your sister's eyes immediately.
“Good! I'll be there until you show up, so don't be late!” she chirps before disappearing from your room. You start getting ready for school.
“He~y!” Madoka shouts from somewhere behind you before you even make it several steps from your door. So it begins. “So, I was thinking about how we can get back at Rin!”
“Great,” you say half-heartedly. Not that saying no would dissuade her any from sharing all her ideas. She liked to talk, but you were thankful for that. The less you had to say, the less you could actually claim to be involved, and thus ensure that she does most of the work. They are usually her schemes in the first place, after all. You only want to do your share of the planning when it's a truly joint operation, instead of just a half-baked plot cooked up by one that just happens to include the other. Along the walk to school, you weather Madoka's ideas, most of which seem to be little more than random ideas that popped into her head rather than carefully planned.
This continues until you encounter another person along your walk, a mutual friend of a sort, idly toying with a cyberpet as she walked.
“Oh, hey! Maggie, over here, over here!” Madoka calls out, catching the girls attention. Margaret Troy, one of your schoolmates and a friend you met through Madoka. She's a foreigner, blonde haired blue eyed foreigner at that, though you forget what country she said she was from originally. Her parents moved here after her father's job placed him in Japan as one of the staff of a new branch of their company. Being an obvious foreigner, she drew a bit more attention than normal. She also has quite a collection of cyberpets styled as dolls, most of which she's programmed herself.
“Oh, hello,” she says, greeting both of us as we get closer. “I was just debugging Orleans,” she says, gesturing to the floating doll figure in front of her. “I made her a new outfit, but it's been glitching,” she continues. As if on cue, a bit of the hemline of the skirt flickers and a patch of the graphics fade their colours out.
“Oh, I could probably help you with that,” Madoka chimes in. “Though I'd like to take a look at some of the code you used for it,” she adds. Always taking, that girl. It doesn't take long before Madoka is sharing recent events again, and goes on about her plots with Maggie. They continue their talking until you reach to school, where you break away from them and head off to your class. At least, that's what you thought would happen.
“Hey!” Madoka shouts, grabbing your shoulders from behind. “We're meeting with Chie between classes. I'll bring her to the second floor fountains. Meet us there, 'k?”
“Yeah, sure,” you say, shrugging her off. You make no guarantees you'll be there, but it probably wouldn't hurt to at least make a token appearance. At the very least it might save you some complaints later if you don't show.
Class is boring. You endure it though, if only because you must. The bell rings to signify the end of the period.
 You have a meeting to show for.  Blow off the meeting.
I have no idea how the typical school day in Japan is organized.
The protagonist's last name is Kourin, a male with a decidedly masculine first name, and is a friend of Marisa, so that's pretty obvious.
His older sister's first name is Yumiko, which can mean "bow child", so it might be Eirin, who shares Kourin's hair color.
Rin might be Orin, if not because of the shared name and clothing then because the kanji for the surname Hikari can be 干刈 ("parch" and "reap"). However, she did say 'Only the strongest win', so it might also be Cirno.
Suzume's association with Rin might mean she's Okuu, though the female name Suzume can be 雀 ("sparrow") which could point to Mystia. The surname Matsuda often includes "pine tree", which works better with Mystia obviously.
Of course, most of the names could just be throwaways that don't have relevance, Marisa's being an exception.
Yeah, some characters are a little more obvious than others, though I'll stick in a few clues about who they are when they're introduced, or when it's appropriate if they're a bit too far removed from their original character.
On another note, I sure wish I knew as much about naming. Would be pretty helpful for, y'know, including hints in their names.
Marisa, Alice and Kourin are all the obvious ones so far. I though Rin and Suzume (Rumia and Mystia) were pretty obvious as well. Yumiko actually isn't supposed to be anyone, but when I consider the fact that I'd planned on her being a med school student...
Best advice I could give for figuring out who someone is supposed to be is to consider who they're similar to, and what the Touhou's power is supposed to be. Some work better in the context of a cyberability/hacking technique, some just wouldn't unless I come up with a crafty solution. Right now, all I have for the more questionable/difficult to use powers is to turn them into professions that their parents will have (working at a nuclear power plant, for instance).
Yeah, it was a pain in the ass. At least one day we lost some time because one of my cats jumped into the damned paint and tracked it across half the house, so not only did I have to catch and clean my cat before she tried to lick it off, but we then had to find every spot of paint she got elsewhere.
Other days were delayed by other means (dropped brush splattering paint over a completed section, looking for and ultimately running out to buy edging tape, correcting yet more mistakes in the paint job, both of us fell sick on the same day). After that, I spent yesterday moving all my shit back into my room and finally organizing it, and cleaning the upstairs. I'll be updating sometime today at least, just waking up now.
Might as well go to the meeting. If you didn't, you'd none-the-less have to hear about whatever was brought up later anyway, except with a lot more complaining about your lack of initiative. At least her directions were clear, 'second floor fountains', right. At least that narrows it down, as you open a floor plan for the school and tick off the various locations of fountains on the entire second floor. It only takes you a few seconds to run a sweep for Madoka, turns out that she's not that far from the stairs you need to take. Hopefully this will be quick.
You round the corner, and feel your spirits sinking a bit. Madoka is there, of course, along with Chie, Maggie, and Chie's slave, Mana. Chie Kokoroe and Mana Kumotsu, Chie being fairly short for her age, short brown hair to match her stature. She actually wears prescription glasses, which she wears special set of attachable cyberglasses over. Mana is the opposite, a tall, thin girl that even has an inch on you in height. She has an unusual feature in having red hair naturally, and while long, she usually keeps it tied up in some way. Today it's a bun.
“Well, this is turning into a party,” you state, walking towards the group. Mana gives you a small, polite wave, and Madoka strides over.
“Right it is! We've already got a plan in place to deal with those two troublemakers,” she begins. You cut her off with a wave of your hand, first.
“This is a little ridiculous. Five against two?” you interject. Madoka simply cocks her head to the side, like she never thought of that.
“That is a little unfair, but whatever, at least we know we're going to win!”
“Chie, explain the plan,” Madoka says, stepping aside for the short brunette girl to have her say.
“Mana and I will break into several popular rumour pages and post a false report about metabugs appearing in a nearby park. When Rin and Suzume arrive, Mana will have some Mister Forthright prepared for the initial attack. In the confusion, Margaret, Madoka and you will use these SteelWalls to box them in,” she says, holding up several tags for the mentioned walls. “Once they're trapped, Madoka will attack them with a new attack program I've been writing,” she continues, gesturing to Madoka as she does. Madoka in turn holds up a strange small octagon of what looks like wood. “After that, they should be out for the count.”
Madoka smiles wide, while Chie and Mana also seem pleased with the plan. Maggie is the only one that looks like she doesn't entirely agree.
 “That plan actually sounds good.”  “Well, that's an alright plan.”  “That's a pretty dumb plan.”  Ask Maggie what's bothering her.
After several distractions, I update!
Fun Fact: I almost posted this having given Chie the last name of Nakamura. I had a... doubt I guess you could say about the name, so I googled the name and turned up a voice actress.
You can't help but feel a little interested in what's got Maggie looking distraught. She usually goes along with Madoka's ideas without batting an eye, but when she doesn't there tends to be a good reason.
“Something wrong, Maggie?” you ask her. She looks away for a moment as all eyes turn on her. After a few seconds of silence, she speaks up.
“If you put up a fake news post, doesn't that mean that more than just Rin and Suzume will turn up?” she says. All around, everyone's eyes open a little wider. She's got a good point, and you feel a little silly you didn't mention it first, but at least not as silly as Madoka and Chie probably feel, likely having concocted their 'brilliant' plan. Before anyone else can say anything, the bell rings again, alerting everyone that the next classes are about to begin.
“Well, there's the bell,” you say, turning and making your way towards your next class.
“Wait! We'll meet at the gate after school!” Madoka calls after you. You can guarantee they'll have reworked their plan by then.
Science is a little less boring than your other classes, mostly because you actually have an interest in it. A few of your friends are in this class as well, and one of them, Hideo Suihou, keeps looking over at you from his seat while the teacher gives her explanation of the days lesson. Once she finishes and the work period begins, a small screen pops up in front of you, labeled 'Hideo'. Text begins to appear.
“Saw you with Chie and them in the hall,” he writes. “Checking in with your harem?”
Well, that's one interesting way of putting it, even if it is a gross exaggeration. No way would you have Madoka in your harem.
“Just talking. They're planning something tonight,” you write back.
“A party? Can I come? Who else is going?” Ah jeez.
“Nothing like that. They're setting up an attack plan to get back at someone.”
“Gang war?” Hideo replies. It is a little something like that, isn't it?
“Something like that,” you write back, and close the window, deciding to get to your work, considering that the teacher is starting to eyeball you suspiciously.
Class ends, and the rest of the school day rolls by. The final bell rings, and you pick up your bag, already packed and ready to go, and take your leave of the building. You'd have tried to make a run for it to get out of school grounds before Madoka could find you, but your last class is on the third floor, while her's is on the ground floor. You resign yourself to your fate.
“Takeo!” Madoka calls from the gate, everyone else having assembled already. You took your time, if only to make them wait longer. “Okay, we've gone back over the plan, but we can't think of anything that we could do to lure out Rin.”
“We've decided we'll just have to change tactics, so we're going to have a sniping mission as opposed to a full out assault,” Chie says, picking up immediately as Madoka stops. “So, you're going to have to use this Mega-be,” she says, handing you a tag. You haven't actually used one of these beam weapon tags in a while, since for the last few months you haven't exactly been waging cyber-war against fellow students. Chie hands everyone but Madoka a tag, and they all apply it immediately to their hands. You do the same, if only for appearances.
“Once we spot Rin, we'll hit her with concentrated fire. Hopefully that'll spook anyone else that shows up and they'll get away from her to prevent damage. When that happens, Madoka will still use the Mega-Spark, and that should overload her glasses.”
Everyone looks pleased with this new plan, even Maggie.
“Well, that sounds fine. Good luck with that, you guys,” you say, walking past them. They all look a little surprised, and Madoka looks outright shocked.
“Wait, you're not coming with us?” she asks, and you shake your head.
“I was asked to watch the store after school. I can't just skip out on that,” you say, shrugging.
Madoka gets ready to say something, but stops. No one else says anything either, they all seem to be looking to Madoka to come up with some kind of answer for the situation. You can almost see the wheels turning in her head as she tries to convince you. You do feel a little guilty just bailing on them like this, but it's not like it's your fault.
 Alright, you'll go with them. You can find some excuse out of the store duty.  You'll go with them, but only when they're ready to start the plan.  You're going to stick with the store. This is Madoka's revenge, not yours.
This, I have no idea. Either it's the token male friend, a reverse trap, or it's a boy who wears a trap cybercostume. The characters for "Hideo" reveal nothing except that it's a decidedly masculine name, but "Suihou" can contain "pheonix" or "green".
>a small screen pops up in front of you, labeled 'Hideo'
[x] Plug your controller into port 2 [x] You're going to stick with the store. This is Madoka's revenge, not yours.
[X] You'll go with them, but only when they're ready to start the plan.
… Well, maybe it would be fun. You're not going to blow off the shop entirely though.
“Alright,” you say, interrupting Madoka's train of thought. “I'll go along, but only when it's time to go get the plan in action. Otherwise, I'll be watching the shop.”
Madoka's visible confused for a few seconds, then stands up, dusting her hands like she's been at work.
“Looks like my ploy worked after all!” she cheers. “Just act desperate and you can't help but agree.”
“Oh, well in that case I guess I'm all booked for the night,” you respond, turning away. You're stopped by a hand on the shoulder.
“Hey, hey, I was joking,” Madoka says, taking you seriously. “I guess, uh, I'll give you a call when we're ready, okay?”
“Right,” you say as Madoka removes her hand and you set off back to your house.
Once you get in, you get around to changing out of your uniform and into some normal clothes. From there you head to the kitchen for some quick dinner, and find yourself a pork bowl cooked and left for you by Yumiko. As you heat it up, you open the phone program and dial your sister, holding your hand near your head, thumb and pinky extended in a mockery of a telephone. It rings a few times.
“Kourindou Curiosities,” Yumiko pipes from the other end of the line.
“Hey. I'm home, heating up some food then I'll be right in,” you say, walking idly out of the kitchen. “I'm going to have to close early tonight though, I had some plans with some friends I can't bail on.”
“Oh, another one of those hunts?” she asks.
“Something like that,” you muse. “It's okay right?”
“Well, you're the one losing pay for whatever hours you don't work the counter,” she replies, sounding distracted on the other end of the line. “I know how it is though. Why do you think I'm shuffling the responsibility off to you?”
“Anyway a customer is actually coming in, see you soon!” She hangs up, and you do the same, just in time for the microwave to signal it's dinnertime.
It's not long after you're standing outside the front of the shop. Kourindou Curiosities, a weird little shop Yumiko operates. The building itself was an abandoned storefront, in a neighbourhood not too far from your own. A friend of Yumiko's is in real estate, and helped her get a lease on the place, though of all the stores to open, a curio shop wasn't something your family expected. You're not entirely sure how she managed to afford it in the first place, let alone keep it open. She likely funneled some of her tuition money into it, though that's not your problem.
You enter the store, and Yumiko is sitting behind the counter, flipping through a magazine. She looks up at the sound of the chime, then returns to the book, bending one of the corners and sticking it somewhere behind the counter instead of on the small magazine rack on the counter itself.
“Alright then, store's all yours,” she says, heading off into the back room and emerging a few seconds later with her handbag. “Have fun~!”
“Sure,” you mumble as she heads out, door chiming as she leaves. You take the seat Yumiko had been using and locate the magazine she tucked away, a magazine dedicated to cyber-glasses users. Eh, why not, hard copy news is pretty rare these days. With this, you're officially set to pass the time until your call to service comes in.
The store really is somewhat of an oddity. It's a bizarre hybrid, really, a pawn shop, a curio shop and a junkyard. The original idea supposedly was to use the place for short term to sell off a bunch of miscellaneous goods that Yumiko and several of her friends had to make quick cash, rather than having to individually bring things to different shops around the city. Plus, they could set their own prices, sort of like a large garage sale. Instead of actually selling things for money, they accepted trades on things that would be of equal value, under the idea that something of equal value would sell for the same amount of money some other time.
Of course, things don't always work that way. For every thing sold, three more items were gained in a trade, and before long the meager stock grew to a store full of miscellaneous goods. The only tried and true products the store carries that are guaranteed to sell for viable currency is the various beverages and candy kept on hand, likely the store's largest source of income as most of the customers you've ever dealt with are the schoolkids that come in with their allowances. The door chimes, here comes one now.
You sit up and look over the counter, looking right into the eyes of one Usagi Inken, best thief and con artist in middle school, not that she has competition. She's smiling already, and she's not wearing her cyberglasses today either.
“Lazy~” she begins, looking down at the magazine. “You should be watching the store diligently, not stealing merchandise to entertain yourself.”
“It's not stolen,” you retort. “If I want to look at stolen objects, I'd check your pockets.”
“I didn't steal anything yet!” she whines, stepping back and crossing her arms over her chest. She brushes some of her black hair out of her face, along with one of the large, floppy 'bunny ears' sewn onto the hood of her sweatshirt. Every time you've dealt with this girl she's been wearing it, probably because of how easy it is to store small objects in it. “You can even check my pockets if you want.”
“I don't need to, because you won't be stealing anything. You're going to pay upfront like a normal customer, and you'll be leaving the store without being thrown out for once.”
“Now why would I want to do that?” she asks, approaching the counter again. Something about her posture is off. You give her a glare and she corrects herself. “What?”
“Whatever it is you're trying to slip away with, you'll be paying for,” you state, leaning on the counter. Usagi furrows her brow and shrugs.
“You're paying, and that's final, or I'm calling your house.” She twitches at the sound of that. You can see a look of defeat in her face as she pulls down her hood and pulls up one of the ears, undoing a small zipper hidden along the seam, a small changepurse. She takes out a few coins and places them on the counter, along with several piece of candy she removes from the pocket on the front of her shirt. She glares at you as she places them on the counter.
“You're getting too good. I even left my glasses at home so you couldn't use them against me this time,” she complains as you ring up the purchase. You count out what little change she gets in return and place it on the counter. She scoops it all, candy and money, into her hand and pockets it in a lump.
“I've gotten used to dealing with you,” you say, turning back to the girl. “I catch you every time, so I have to wonder why you even bother anymore.”
“Because I can,” she says casually. “It inspires me to try harder.”
“You're trying the wrong thing,” you sigh. “You should put that effort towards honest things. Learning how to steal candy isn't going to help you in life.”
“It helps me now, though,” she says, popping one of her candies into her mouth. “Of course, I'll stop immediately if you start giving me freebies.”
“I don't think so,” you respond.
“That's too bad,” she says, turning and walking back to the door. “See you around~.” The door chimes as she leaves, and you take your seat once again. Well, that's bound to be all the excitement you get in one day. The rest of the time passes as expected. A few kids some in to buy candy and drinks, a few other people come in to take a look for anything interesting. After sunset, you get a ring on your personal phone. It's Madoka, uou accept the call and raise your hand to your head.
“Almost,” she says, sounding a little out of breath. “Though it really is a worst case scenario.”
“There's tons of people here. They all must have seen the posts and head here. I see a few from our school, and a few of Chie's friends from another, but there's a lot I don't know either. Suzume and Rin are here though,” Madoka reports. “I'm sending you a direct feed, look at this.”
A screen pops up in your field of vision, and after a short status bar, the feed cuts in to a stream of Madoka's field of vision. There really is a lot of people there already, and you do catch a glimpse of Rin for a moment, on the far side of the crowd of people. You sigh into the phone, it looks like it could be a total disaster if they went through with the plan.
 Looks hairy, you're going to back out. That many people is sure to backfire.  You're going to go anyway. Maybe you can organize a new plan of attack.  Tell them to back out of this plan and give up. They'll need a new idea.  Tell them to back out, but meet at a new area. You'll make a quick plan.
[X] You're going to go anyway. Maybe you can organize a new plan of attack.
Pulling back and redeploying may catch their attention. As a secondary note, several potential strategies we may employ: 1. Somehow get the crowd to believe that our opponents are in possession of the metabugs, leading to a small riot in which we stage our attack under the cover of confusion. 1v1. create a cache of illusory metabugs directly behind Rin, so that the crowd starts rushing at her, and is potentially either overrun by the chaos, or is isolated by Steel Wall programs she may put up to orchestrate an escape, at which point we stage our own ambush, and unleash the Master Spark. 2.(probably a very bad one, but...) Hit the general area of the crowd that Rin is occupying with the Master Spark, hope it does its job. If not, encircle her and attack from behind with conventional attack programs.
Hopefully Satchii won't arrive and mess things up, or anything like that.
[X] You're going to go anyway. Maybe you can organize a new plan of attack.
Start another rumor about metabugs at some other location. Between the people who go there, the people who stay at the first location, and the people who know a hoax when they see it and go home, the crowd should thin enough for us to get a clean shot at Rin.
Of course, we don't know which of those groups Rin herself will be in, so this'll involve dividing our forces, but them's the breaks.
Updating maybe sometime soon before I go to bed, along with my other stories. I was putting it off until after I got my computer formatted again, but now I find that might not still be for a while yet.
[X] You're going to go anyway. Maybe you can organize a new plan of attack.
It's a disaster, but you're not going to back out of this already. Besides, this late the store tends to not have any business at all, so it's not like you'd be missing all the fun and excitement of an empty store. You get up and go about the routine of closing up shop, taking note of the time. Closing two hours early, not too bad.
Not too much later, you're approaching the target area where you had originally planned your ambush. Despite the number of people, finding Madoka and the others is pretty easy, thanks to the tracking software that you have installed. Of course, it also helps that they're the only group of people near bushes that are spending their time looking suspicious rather than looking like they're searching for a lost contact lens. Madoka spots and waves you over, and she motions for you to get down. Yeah, not happening.
“So, what do we do about this mess?” you ask. Madoka looks a little annoyed, but edges away from the bush and stands up. Chie, Mana and Margaret do so as well.
“I don't think we could make such an open attack on them. Open hostilities would probably cause a panic and we'd have a war on our hands in a matter of seconds,” Chie pipes up. “We need to reassess our plans and pick a new method of attack.”
“That's sounding like what I was thinking,” you respond with a sigh.
“Here,” Chie says, opening her console and tapping at a few keys. A city map pops up in front of her and she lays the window flat, and everyone gathers around out of habit. Chie taps a section of the map and it zooms in. “Mana, run your signal locator, and sync output with the map display,” she says, and Mana complies, opening her console as well and making a few selections. The map in front of you lights up with a number of glowing dots, every active pair of glasses in the area of the park.
“That's everyone here?” Madoka says, looking over the glowing mass.
“It is. We are here,” Chie says, reaching out into the map to point at a location, a cluster of lights off to one side. “Rin and her group are here,” she continues, pointing to another group of lights, 4 total. Seems she's gotten reinforcements since you last heard.
“I take it that some others showed up to support Rin?” you ask.
“We don't know,” Chie says while adjusting her glasses slightly. “It was another pair of people that showed up. We've seen them talking, but we're not sure if they're here together. They seem to be friends of theirs though, so they'll probably help her if they're still around her when we attack.”
“So what can we do?” Maggie asks, looking over the map. Chie points out a few spots, areas nearby where there are opening to alleys and small streets.
“If we can lure them into these areas, it would be easier to attack them without needing to worry about getting too much attention,” Chie says. “Getting them there alone though would be the tricky part.”
“We couldn't just find a new angle to attack from and just hit-and-run, could we?” Madoka asks, starting to sound a little impatient.
“Well if you want to risk coming under fire from everyone in the park,” you say. Madoka smiles at you, the kind of smile she uses when she wants to do something you disagree with.
“That would also be a viable tactic still,” Chie says. “Though not ideal. If everyone starting shooting at everyone else, Satchii will come buzzing by and pose some problems for everyone. I'm actually surprised one hasn't turned up yet with all these people around.”
“Don't jinx it!” Madoka whines. Now, everyone is quiet, which gives you a short time to think. Admittedly you don't know that much about Rin or her glasses, but you do know that she has a program that allows her to detect and track anomalies in the space, which is how she finds illegals. That could be used against her if she has it active. It also occurs to you that you could simply approach her with a challenge officially. Sure, it's not the ambush that everyone was set on, but it'll get the job done and you can get her away from everyone else without much suspicion.
Then again, even though it's a terrible idea at it's core, a part of you wants to see the chaos that would erupt if you ditched planning and simply co-ordinated an attack on Rin right now regardless of the witnesses. From the looks of the gathered crowd, a few of them are getting a little irritable at the fact they're not finding anything, so firing into the crowd, even if you're not aiming for Rin, would likely ignite the powderkeg.
 Organize a new ambush in an alley using a false anomaly.  Organize a new ambush in a side-street using a false anomaly.  Challenge Rin outright and abandon the plan for an ambush.  Just forget the plan and prepare your attack now. Open fire!
>“Though not ideal. If everyone starting shooting at everyone else, Satchii will come buzzing by and pose some problems for everyone. I'm actually surprised one hasn't turned up yet with all these people around.”
[x] Organize a new ambush in an alley using a trail of false anomalies that would be easy for Satchii to follow. [x] Once they've taken the bait, the others will SteelWall Rin and her friends in, while you draw Satchii out by inciting a donnybrook. [x] Lead Satchii to the alley, then scram when it starts formatting the SteelWalls.
If you pull this off, it will be the end of all resistance from fellow schoolchildren: There won't be any reprisals once it appears you have the means and the ability to call down Satchii on someone's ass. That means no more of these impromptu get-togethers with Madoka, which should be all the motivation the protagonist needs.
[Ξ] Organize a new ambush in an alley using a false anomaly.
>it will be the end of all resistance from fellow schoolchildren And we will be the god of a new world. Pic related.
Seriously, though, I'd rather keep this private and avoid encountering Satchii, accidentally or otherwise. It's not entirely clear to me what the difference between this and the side street vote is, but an alley seems more secluded.
>>75694 Fishing for the common sense = superpower, are we?
Two things: the writer wouldn't put it there if it wasn't going to have a different outcome; what is the difference between a very dark and narrow alley-way compared to a spacious and often used form of travel, eh?
[x] Organize a new ambush in an alley using a false anomaly
You frown at yourself mentally. You're starting to think Madoka is rubbing off on you if you're finding the idea of starting a scene acceptable. No, you're going to do this covertly. No use drawing more attention to yourself.
“How about we lure them here,” you say, pointing to a section of the map, an entrance to an alleyway close to Rin's position, but not close enough for her to see you easily. “We get them in there with some kind of false reading, and then hit them when they come to investigate.” A few moments of silence follow.
“I like it,” Chie says, nodding. Mana nods as well. Madoka and Maggie offer no complaints, and then silence falls once more.
“So, how do we create a fake anomaly?” Madoka asks.
“Well, there's no such thing as a fake anomaly, I guess,” you say. “So we just have to create one and hope Rin takes the bait.”
“So, how do we-” Madoka begins, and you cut her off by raising your hand in a gesture of 'wait'. You open your cyberpouch and retrieve a small spray can. Madoka's eyes go wide in realization. “Ooh! Yeah!”
“Let's get into position,” you say, breaking away from the group. Chie closes the map window and follows, and everyone else picks up the pace behind you. You don't go near the park itself, sticking instead to the open area skirting the grounds as you make your way towards the alley entrance. You get to the alley and hurry inside, leaving the park behind and out of sight. Finding a new hiding place is fairly easy, as there's a small, open area surrounded by walls that serves as a middle ground between the back of a business and the alley itself, where garbage is tossed. Luckily, it's not overflowing with trash, and serves as a good base of operation.
“Okay, when Rin and company come into the alley, Mana will close off their retreat with a SteelWall, and I'll cover the space ahead of them. We can launch attacks from in here using a surveillance drone,” Chie says, opening her console once more and tapping a few commands. Mana opens her pouch and pulls out a small bat-winged figure, then releases it into the air where it keeps itself airborne. It kind of looks like Mana, though you can't see too much of the detail on it before it zips out into the alley, sending a feed of it's field of view back to a display screen in front of Chie.
“From here, I could help a little more too,” Maggie says, reaching to her pouch and pulling out several of her cyberdolls. She releases them into the air as well, and they hover under their own power.
“They can attack?” Madoka asks excitedly. “I didn't know that! It's got to be hard to control that many at once though.”
“Not really,” Maggie says, looking up at the dolls. From your vantage point, you can see the flickering light that surrounds her iris as the dolls each begin to move differently, though they're really simple actions like bowing, stretching, spinning and so on. You've heard that Imago users have become more commonplace, and that there were several jobs using the cyberglasses that are starting to require Imago use as a condition for eligibility. Maggie can use it, and Chie can as well, but she prefers not to, though why you don't remember.
“I'm going to set the bait now,” you state, and you step away into the alley itself, brandishing your kuro bug spray. Coast is clear, you take a few steps into the alley towards the entrance, and kneel down. You give the can a shake and press the nozzle, spraying a fine coating of the black cybersubstance on the ground. The graphics glitch momentarily before a black hole roughly the size of a textbook snaps into place. You retreat back into the alleyway, stowing the can as you go. “Bait set.”
“Now we just wait,” Chie says, and the waiting begins. You all sit, listening to the faint drone of the activity in the park for any Rin-like sounds approaching. Several minutes pass, and with each passing moment you get more and more tense. The one problem with this plan is that the same kind of anomaly can attract Satchii and it's kyuu-chans, and for each minute you spend not getting Rin's attention is another minute until the ridiculous antivirus rears its head and shoots you all in the face.
“I'm getting something from in here,” a voice says, snapping you all to attention. A screen pops up in front of you.
“It's her,” it reads, and a smaller window opens within, showing a feed from the small drones view. Rin and Suzume are visible, along with the two others they were with. Akiko Mitsuru and Hanako Shimabara, the latter one being someone from your homeroom.
“I don't see anything,” another voice adds.
“Well, there's a reading, so there is something here. Ah!”
You watch in the video feed as Rin spots the glitch in the alley floor and walks a little bit closer.
“There's a hole in the space, this must be what I was picking up.”
She's alone right now, and everyone else is still a good distance away. You had considered the plan to be to hit Rin and Suzume, but you have a perfectly good chance to take her out alone. The odds are heavily stacked against her, you can't help but feel a little annoyed at the circumstance of 5 on 1, but if you wait you might lose the opportunity, or have to hit everyone at once.
 Take Rin alone.  Attack them all.  Wait to see what happens.
Waiting for a different situation might cost you the chance, and taking them all at once would be a little bit much. Besides, this is a problem with Rin, the others don't have to be involved. Taking her out alone would be the best option. You look to the rest of your group, and nod.
“Get her,” you write into the screen. The 'kill order' as it were.
Mana and Chie are the first ones to move, Mana taking a few steps towards the corner of the enclosure to throw behind Rin over the wall, and Chie advancing towards the entrance. The two of them retrieve one of their SteelWall tags and let them fly, the programs autorunning instantly, the large walls of riveted steel springing into place and filling both ends of the section of the alley, cutting off Rin visually to anyone on the outside using glasses.
“What the-” you Rin shout, and a few panicked shouts from farther down the alley. Chie's already working on something else next to the enclosure, tapping away on her console. Several large circles appear in the air over the alley, flickering orange for a moment before winking into a customized purple ring filled with a yellow crescent moon within, a symbol Chie likes to use as a badge. Mana joins in, typing a few commands, and each of the holes in the sky unleashes a barrage of lights, converging on Rin at the center. As soon as the firing begins, Maggie moves her pets over the wall, and scatters them among the symbols in the air. Each of the doll-pets brings up their hands and join in by producing their own coloured beams. Rin hadn't even managed to get out so much as a curse by this point, instead opting to scream in frustration.
“Damn it damn it damn it,” she shouts repeatedly over the noise carried through the portals from the Mr. Forthrights firing mixed with the beams produced by Maggie's dolls. You're not going to bother making your own attack at this point, really. This is simply overkill already, not to mention...
“My turn!” Madoka says, sounding like a whisper barely audible over the background noise, retrieving the odd box object and approaching the entrance way. “I'll hit her with this now.” She signals to Chie, and Chie responds with a nod. Madoka switches on her witch costume again as Chie works. A few more clicks and the portals close down, and the dolls retreat as Madoka jumps out into the alley. You get yourself into a position so you can clearly see the scene, Rin hunched over covering her ears, she's flickering heavily from the amount of damage her cyberbody's sustained from the attack. She uncovers her ears and looks up, scowling at Madoka.
“You?” she says, looking her over. “Attacking me like this?”
“Consider it an business move,” Madoka says, holding up the box in front of her. “Remove the competition and all that.”
“This is a bit much for simply blacking out your glasses,” Rin jeers.
“Nah, this is normal. If I just blow you away, you won't be a problem anymore,” Madoka retorts with a grin. “Now hold still, I don't want to miss with this.”
Rin begins to respond, but is cut short by a bright flash of light and a loud humming. No, not just a flash, a giant beam of light. Madoka looks just as surprised as you imagine you do at the huge beam filling the alley in front of her. The SteelWall behind Rin doesn't hold up more than a few seconds after the initial flash, and it quickly melts away. You hear a set of surprised screams briefly over the humming, likely the unfortunate victims farther down the alley now getting the aftermath of the wall coming down. After a few seconds, the beam fades away, and Rin's cyberbody is completely garbled, a small window at the center of your view point of her displaying an error message. She removes her glasses and sighs.
“They're burnt out entirely,” she say begrudgingly. “Looks like you've got yourself a monopoly for now, Madoka.”
“My glasses broke!” you hear someone else shout from down the alley, sounded like Suzume. A few confirmations from the others sound much the same, everyone's glasses were fried. That's not all you hear either, you hear a lot of chattering, a loud din coming up the alley. That beam must have spilled over into the park, no doubt there were more casualties than just Rin and her group. In any case, it sounds like a lot of people are coming.
“I look forward to shooting down your revenge!” Madoka says quickly, before skipping back into the enclosed area. “Let's go,” she whispers, and everyone gets moving, heading through the unlocked gate into the area directly behind a building and skirting it into the street beyond, effectively escaping the scene. It doesn't take long for Madoka to explode.
“That was SO awesome Chie!” Madoka gushes, holding up the box object. “It was like some kind of huge anime laser cannon!”
“I... didn't expect it to be so large,” Chie says, adjusting her glasses. “I think I set a few things incorrectly. I should change a few set-”
“No way!” Madoka shouts, pulling the box away protectively. “This thing is crazy powerful! It's like some kind of magical weapon!” Madoka stops for a moment, thinking to herself. “Hey, would that mean I'm like a magical girl?”
“Maybe something like that,” Maggie says.
“Well, you do have a costume and a weapon that fires giant lasers,” Mana says, adding onto it. “That's been kind of popular lately for magical girls, hasn't it?”
You can already see the wheels turning in Madoka's head as she takes in the information, a smile forming on her face slowly as the idea grows on her.
“Then I guess that would make me a magical girl after all, wouldn't it?” she asks rhetorically. Even if you answered her negatively she would simply disregard it. “Then that would mean we're a team?”
“I wouldn't go that far,” you say for the sake of it. As expected, Madoka simply waves her hand around dismissively.
“Oh, come on Takeo, this could be fun!” she says, slowly becoming engulfed in her own fantasy. “You could even be my sidekick!” Her fantasy rapidly balloons and engulfs you now. Struggle as you might, she's got something in store for you now too. It's only a matter of seconds before the others are engulfed in this little world of Madoka's. “We could all have our own avatars we use during investigations and jobs, and use codenames!”
“This is kind of silly for high school students, Madoka,” Chie says. She seems to be in the same boat as you, a boat you wish was safely anchored by reality and not being thrown around violently by the sea of Madoka's imagination.
“Oh come on Chie! It could be fun! It wouldn't be much different than how it is now!” Madoka practically whines. Chie looks up at Mana, who simply shrugs.
“I think it's a cute idea,” Mana says, no doubt stressing Chie in the process. Maggie looks like she accepts the idea already.
“What do you think of this, Maggie?” you ask. Her dolls idly float in the air around her.
“It could be interesting, sort of like a game,” she says, gaining a supportive thumbs up from Madoka.
“If everyone else is in on it, I don't want to be the odd one out,” Chie says with a defeated tone. “I'm not going to do anything embarrassing though.”
“That's a good start, Chie,” Madoka says, looking to you. “So what about you?”
 “This is ridiculous. I'm not having a part of this weird fantasy.”  “It's unusual, no surprise there. I guess I could give it a shot.”  “Sounds kind of good. I'm in as well.”
[x] “This is ridiculous. I'm not having a part of this weird fantasy.”
“No way,” you start, shaking your head. “This is ridiculous, I don't want any part of this crazy fantasy of yours.” Madoka looks a bit annoyed at your resistance.
“You're no fun,” Madoka whines. “What's so wrong with the idea anyway?”
“It's completely ridiculous. Dressing up as a witch with a cyber avatar just to hunt down illegals and look for missing objects and pets? That's hardly something a 'magical girl' would be doing,” you say. “And since there are no evil magicians or monster invasions for you to shoot down, you following me here?”
“It's just for fun,” Madoka states, planting her hands on her waist. “You don't have to do it, I was just asking, okay? Jeez, you're such a...” she trails off, looking up into the sky. You wait for a few seconds for her to finish, but nothing happens.
“Such a...?” you inquire.
“Well, I was going to say 'boy', but that's too obvious,” she replies. “Still, even if you're not going to play along, you are still going to help us.” From the way she said it, it almost sounded like she was telling you what you were going to do No, in fact you know she was, and no amount of complaining in the world would keep her from brushing it off and coming to you anyway. Might as well save the trouble.
“I'll help you when you need me, but don't expect me to get into your little magic club here,” you say. Madoka smiles, no doubt at something you just said.
“Magic club? I kind of like the sound of that,” she mumbles half to herself. Oh not again.
Nearly an hour later, you arrive at home. The group had stuck together for a bit longer afterwards, mostly talking and thankfully not about the magical girl situation, until everyone split to go home. Madoka's house was on your way back, so you walked home with her and split from there at her front door. It's half past nine by the time you reach your own door. Yumiko isn't home yet, you can tell since the lights aren't on. You enter your house, kick off your shoes, and make a line straight for the kitchen. You fix yourself a sandwich, and head for the living room for some television. You casually dine on your sandwich, relaxing on the couch, when you hear a sound come from farther within the house, sort of like a thump. You dismiss it as nothing, but you start to feel a little curious. Thinking on it, you're not entirely sure what could have made that noise. Maybe something fell over in a closet? You get a shiver when you think of the possibility of a burglar breaking in through one of the back windows, but something like that wouldn't happen, would it? They'd make more noise.
 Go look around.  Go look, but be alert.  It's nothing a good bout of ignoring won't fix.
You can't help but feel a little curious about the sound, enough so that it's slightly irritating you not to go look around at least. Even if it was something stupid like a book falling off a table, at least you'd know. You finish up your sandwich and push off from the couch, heading down the hallway leading from the living room to the bedrooms. A few steps into the hallway and you hear something new, almost sounded like a crackling sound, and it was coming from your room. That's strange, you don't know anything that could make a sound like that. You find your door nearly closed, open just a crack, and give it a push. The first thing you see is that your window is open, the second is the girl crouching on your desk.
“Wha- Hey!” you shout, startling the girl. Only now that you've alerted her do you notice the break in the graphics on the wall in front of her. She looks up at you and looks slightly panicked, and turns back to the window. You react quicker, running ahead from her as she stumbles from your desk, reaching to close your window. You reach it first, and turn around and put your hand on her shoulder to stop her while you shut the window, when a chill runs down your spine. You can't feel her when you touch her, but she stops all the same. In the small time allowed to this girl from your shock, she struggles free and makes another attempt at the window, but it's already closed too much, you simply step back as she claws futilely at the frame. You lift your glasses, and the girl disappears. She's not real? But... how? You've never heard anything like this. You lower your glasses just in time to see the back end of the girl disappear through your door, crap! You chase after her, following her down the hallway. You remember the mega-be you have, and raise your hand, firing a warning shot. Some warning shot though, you hit her in the back of the head, scattering the graphics and causing her to stop dead and slump to the ground. Well, at least you have some time to think now, and the first thing on your mind is to keep this... thing from escaping. A program like this in the space has to be some kind of rarity, whether it's some kind of pet or, could it be an illegal? Now you're getting a little excited on your own at the thought of something like that, a discovery that could make you some kind of legend. 'Cybergirls discovered!' In all your daydreaming, however, you didn't notice the scrambled head slowly reconstituting itself. It's not too much longer before she's whole again, so if you're going to quarantine her, it has to be now, and there's only one place you can think to hold her safely.
With a flicker, the girls head is restored, and instantly she opens her eyes and sits up from the floor, looking around in a panic. You're sitting at your desk in your room, the glitch in the wall having since repaired itself. The door and window are closed, and now she's trapped inside with you. It's the first time you've really been able to get a clear look at her. Appearance-wise, she seems slightly younger than you, blonde ringlets hanging from under some kind of white cap, a rather plain white dress with a black bow on the front and, strangely enough, a pair of crescent shaped wings on her back. Despite not being real, she looks like a human girl in any other way. Likely realizing the situation she's in, she slumps forward, resting her head in her hands, which are propped up by resting her elbows on her knees, and glares at you. Well, at least she's not fighting, and maybe you can sate your curiosity a little bit.
 Try asking her questions.  Try to recover her program or system data.  Try using some programs on her.  Watch what she does.
[x] "Sup, cutie. What do you think you were doing up here, all by yourself? Couldn't possibly be leaving me a love-note and having weird fantasies while sprawled across my desk, now would you?" [x] Watch what she does.
[X] Try asking her questions. See if she'll let you... [X] Try to recover her program or system data. If so, great, if not, inform her that it's probably best for us to have this information if we are to help her. [X] Act friendly, and at least politely. She's obviously a unique being.
[X] Try asking her questions. See if she'll let you... [X] Try to recover her program or system data. If so, great, if not, inform her that it's probably best for us to have this information if we are to help her. [X] Act friendly, and at least politely. She's obviously a unique being.
[X] Try asking her questions. See if she'll let you... [X] Try to recover her program or system data. If so, great, if not, inform her that it's probably best for us to have this information if we are to help her. [X] Act friendly, and at least politely. She's obviously a unique being.
You give the girl another look over. You find it a little hard to believe still that she's just some kind of program, the largest humanoid pet you've seen was still only under two feet tall, and it looked more like a cartoon with exaggerated features. Whoever made something like this, well, it's either a professional or a seriously skilled homebrew. For the moment, you smile at the program girl.
“Can I ask you a few questions?” you begin. The girl simply watches you, unblinking. Guess she doesn't need to, being digital and all, but it's still a little unnerving. She doesn't seem to respond, instead, she looks away towards the window. “Is that a no?” you press the issue, and she turns her eyes back to you.
“Is that a no?” she repeats, in your voice. No, not repeats, it's a recording and lip syncing. That's unusual, maybe she's a personalized dictation program of some sort, though what she'd be doing away from her owner is beyond you.
“Are you some kind of recording interface?” you ask, following your train of thought. She shakes her head, her hair even moves like it was real. This is a bit too much attention to detail, really, but at least it seemed like she consciously responded to you, so there has to be a rudimentary AI at least. As you think about what it could mean, her wings buzz slightly, though they stop soon after.
“Are you a cyberpet?” you ask next, and she responds again by shaking her head. Now, unless she's capable of lying, you're running out of options of what she could be. You open a window and start a scan. You figure you can at least try to get some kind of process data, something that could explain her functions at the very least. As you do, you notice your door opening, and you notice that the girl does too. Damn it!
“Take-Wha!” Yumiko shouts as you cut her off, wedging yourself into the doorframe and holding the door. “What the hell!?” she continues shouting.
“I'm sorry! Please, close the door!” you shout, and push her back, then nearly slam the door. You take a step aside, and notice the girl standing nearby, looking quite pissed, wings buzzing furiously. You stand with your back to the door and face the girl, escape averted for now, you'll explain it in a bit. Right now, you're getting a bit of a pain in your ears from wearing your glasses for so long, so you take your glasses off and nearly jump out of your skin when you're suddenly assaulted by your sisters loud yelling from outside the door.
“-some kind of madman or something? You doing something illegal in there? What's got you so worked up-” you hear. In mid sentence? You should have been able to hear her if that was the case. You slip your glasses back on for now, and the shouting stops again, instantly. You blink in confusion, until you look at the girl. Her wings are continuously moving, and you're reminded of the search you began. You shake your head as if you were casting off distractions and open your console, opening the scan window. What you see is a cascade of information, hundreds of processes running per second, changing variables for something, but you're not sure what. Whatever it is, they're definitely coming from this girl. You catch a glimpse of your door opening again, but this time you're still on your feet. You step back and lean into the door, pushing it closed. You can feel the thumping on the door, but you don't hear a thing. You open a new window, this time searching for any kind of registration information or maybe a product number. You get no results at all, which would mean that this girl is either completely custom made or doesn't have any retail components. You start to run a search on her systems, even if she's not a registered product, she has to have a connection to a server. As you start, you feel the thumps getting harder to the point of pushing the door open slightly. You're not going to be able to hold off any longer, you only have one choice, and once more you raise your hand and fire a blast of your mega-be at the girl. You strike her in the chest, and the visual data corrupts and scatters, and she falls over just as soon as the sound of your sister's shouting floods back through the door.
“-ME! IN!” you hear, and step away from the door just in time for Yumiko to barge into the door at near full force, the door swinging open violently as she nearly falls on her face. “What. The. Hell.” she growls, righting herself. “What the hell is wrong with you to shove me out like that and then just ignore me,” she continues, stepping towards you. You look down at the now disabled girl on the floor, and remove your glasses.
“Hold on! Please, look!” you say, pointing to where the girl lay, handing your glasses over to her. She snatches them from you and holds them as if she's going to crush them, but instead she simply lifts them up to her eyes and scowls, looking back at you.
“You were screwing around with some kind of strange ero-game?” she hisses, and you recoil in surprise.
“What? No! She's, well, I don't know, here, look,” you stammer, snatching your glasses back from her so you can bring up all the information windows you have so far. You hand them back to her and she takes another look, then tosses the glasses back to you.
“I don't get it,” she states. “And I don't care whatever it is you're trying to show me, because whatever it is, you couldn't possibly have any good reason to treat me like that, and-”
“Look,” you cut in, looking back down at the girl. She's reforming again already. This might be a good thing. You step around Yumiko and close the door, standing against it again. “Just wait, please.” Yumiko grimaces again and crosses her arms over her chest.
“This better be good or I'm going to-” she cuts off, but she's still talking, you can see her mouth moving. You glance over to see the girl once more reformed, propping herself up, same angry glare, wings beating rapidly. You remove your glasses.
“-won't be able to sit right for a week, and that-” Yumiko rants, stopping as you hand her the glasses.
“Put these on and watch,” you say, and she holds them up to her eyes again. “No, put them on entirely,” you say. With a sigh, Yumiko complies, and you start talking nonsense mostly, reciting numbers, names, lines from TV shows you remember, anything that comes to mind. Yumiko doesn't look too impressed until she takes the glasses off, obviously to chastise you, but stops. She puts the glasses back on, and takes them off again.
“You're screwing with me,” she says. You shake your head.
“No! It's her, that girl. Whatever she's doing, she's, wait,” you stop. “Can I have my glasses back for a second?” Yumiko hands them back, still not looking too happy, but she doesn't seem quite so mad. You open up the search you made into her system info, and are somewhat surprised to see that she is connected to the same server you operate from, or rather, she's operating from your data specifically. You feel lost for answers, when you remember one of the other windows. You click over to the processes log that continues to fill with records of her activity. You stop the auto-scrolling and scroll back up, until you hit a break, and that's where you start to read.
Unexpected Error: Program Interface Interrupted, possible corruption detected. Restoring...
Interface Restored. Executing NoiseCancel option.
“She's actively canceling sound around the glasses,” you say, slipping them off. “How, I don't know, but that almost seems to be her purpose. She's running a lot of processes, but-” you say, getting cut off by a quick gesture from Yumiko.
“That's nice, great, whatever. I don't really know what's going on, so I'll just get on with what I came here for...” Yumiko stops, furrowing her brow. She seems to be growing slightly more frustrated now. “Ah great, I don't even remember what it is I wanted anymore with all this,” she mumbles, turning away slightly. You scratch your arm idly.
“I can wait until you remember, if you want,” you offer. She just shrugs and shakes her head.
“Don't bother, I'll just interrupt whatever you're doing when I remember to inconvenience you. Until then though,” she says, turning her head towards you. “What exactly do you plan to do with this 'girl'?”
 “I was thinking of trying to study her. She's definitely something unique, and I could learn a lot from her code.”  “Well, I was kind of interested in her capabilities, so I was hoping to do a little more poking around with her functions.”  “I was hoping I could find her owner, or creator or something. Maybe I could get some information from them.”  “I, uh, was kind of thinking of keeping her. She doesn't seem to have an owner, and she's running off my glasses connection, so...”
Any degradation of quality can be blamed on the fact that half of this was written in one block, the other half was written a few hours later when I was slightly less awake.
Any complete failures to understand technology completely my fault and I have no excuses other than complete ignorance.
[x] “I was thinking of trying to study her. She's definitely something unique, and I could learn a lot from her code.” [x] “Well, I was kind of interested in her capabilities, so I was hoping to do a little more poking around with her functions.”
The double-vote won't capture as much information as a single vote, blah blah blah. This is good enough. Let's try and find out if we can create more of her.
[X] “I was thinking of trying to study her. She's definitely something unique, and I could learn a lot from her code.” [X] “Well, I was kind of interested in her capabilities, so I was hoping to do a little more poking around with her functions. Carefully, of course.” [X] “I was hoping I could find her owner, or creator or something. Maybe I could get some information from them.” [X] “But she seems to be connected to my server. I'll have to keep watch over her for awhile.”
I hope i do not inspire any ire with my multifaceted votes, but i think this is the best way we can learn the most about her.
[X] “I was thinking of trying to study her. She's definitely something unique, and I could learn a lot from her code.” [X] “Well, I was kind of interested in her capabilities, so I was hoping to do a little more poking around with her functions. Carefully, of course.” [X] “I was hoping I could find her owner, or creator or something. Maybe I could get some information from them.”
“Well,” you say, looking through the lenses of the glasses at the girl. “She's something unique, so I thought I should at least try to study her programming. I could probably learn something interesting from how she's made,” you say. “Plus I'm also interested in what she could do as a program. What kind of functions she has.”
Yumiko squints at you a bit over that last remark.
“And you're not going to try to make her do or say anything weird, I'm sure,” she says.
“Like I could do that anyway! She's not even real, what could I possibly get out of it?” you ask, rhetorically more than seriously. Yumiko looks a little bothered.
“So you considered it...” she nearly whispers.
“What? No! I, look,” you stammer into a sigh. “This is like reverse engineering something. Purely mechanical interest from a programming standpoint. This is a high level AI construct operating a masterfully crafted and coded cyberbody, it's like,” you pause, almost not wanting to consider saying what you're about to. “It's like some kind of fairy out of a fantasy story.”
“After that then,” Yumiko says, “Once you figure out how she works, what then?”
“Well, I was thinking I would return her to whoever made her. Someone wouldn't make something like it then simply let it get lost and not try to find it. I could probably get some more information from them too,” you say, taking a seat at your desk. Yumiko stands at your door, looking at you for a few more seconds, before sighing.
“Well, whatever,” she says, opening the door. “Have fun playing with your virtual girlfriend.” She closes the door behind her when she leaves. When she does, you slip the glasses back on, and immediately notice that the cyber-girl is crouched in the corner of your room, focusing intently on your wall. You get up from your seat and take a few steps towards her, but she turns around. Over her shoulder, you can see a bit of a distortion in the wall, like there had been in the wall when you first noticed her. Why would she... oh?
You reach into your cyberpouch and retrieve a can of kuro bug spray. You crouch down, and the girl watches you, buzzing her wings occasionally. You point the can at the ground and spray. The patch of ground flickers and blinks until it finally gives out, creating a small hole in the graphics, only a few inches across. Despite this, the girl dives for it, sliding one arm into the hole. It looks like she's trying to force herself through it, given how much she's struggling. She pulls back and places her hands on the edges of the hole, trying to pull it open more, and the edges of the hole flicker slightly, then the graphical error does spread slightly. You have to intervene then, pushing her back a bit and moving around to restrain her. It's an awkward situation, in trying to physically restrain something that only exists in another world. You mime your actions of holding her back, and manage to hold her without effort until the hole eventually repairs itself. Afterwards, you release her and she slumps to her knees, then sits on the floor and pulls her knees up to her chest. You move away from her now, heading back to your desk. It's pretty obvious she still wants to escape, but why through glitches in the space you're not sure. That tends to be behaviour for illegals, so unless she's infected with some kind of virus-
Your train of thought is derailed by a sudden window popping up in front of your view, you first dismiss it as some kind of annoying spam, when you notice the header. It's a product registration prompt. You blink in confusion, then look at the girl, her wings are buzzing again. You turn back to the window and press the cancel button, then look back at the girl. Her wings have stopped moving now, but they start once again, and another window appears, and another, and another, until your entire view is filled with the windows. You sigh, and begin closing the windows. For every one you close, another pops up. You keep on closing them in any case, until eventually they stop reappearing. Once you can see past them, you notice that the cybergirl is looking rather agitated. You close the last window, and sit back. You arms are a little tired from having to hit so many buttons. One more window pops up in your view, the same registration prompt. You look back at the girl. She looks frustrated now, glaring at you over her knees. She seems really adamant in bugging you with this.
 Just register it already. It'll probably get her to stop.  Leave the window sit, minimize it or drag it out of the way.  Cancel it. You're just as frustrated as she looks.
[X] Just register it already. It'll probably get her to stop.
You sigh, slumping forward in your seat, looking at the girl over the edge of the window. You get the feeling she would only keep up the spam if you canceled it again, so screw it. You lift your hand and press the accept button. It runs through a confirmation, and then a second window pops up displaying a progress bar. In only a few seconds, it fills and blinks out, and a final window pops up, 'Luna v.5 Install Successful'. You look at the girl, 'Luna'. She's still curled up on the floor, but she's not glaring at you anymore. Instead, she's just watching you, as if she's expecting you to do something, but what?
You turn away, opening up your program files. If she's been installed to your system, she must have a file, and there might be some documentation of some sort. Finding it is simple, a folder titled Luna, though inside are only a collection of various files and several executables, no text or web files that could be a manual, or even a readme. That only strengthens your opinion that this is some kind of complex homebrew that isn't supposed to be loose, though having something like that require registration is kind of strange. You decide to try toying with some of the executables, at least you might be able to get some idea of what her capabilities are. Easier said than done, however. The available files aren't clearly named, and have rather generic icons, which don't help try to identify what their purpose is. The only ones can seem to understand are NC, the noise canceler, Luna, which only seems to alert her when used, and seems to annoy her when used several times in succession, and SD, a sound recording and mixing utility. Everything else remains a mystery for now, though you could probably get more information if you checked her system processes while using them, maybe you could glean some information there. That's something to do for another time though, it's gotten kind of late, and you do still have school tomorrow. Maybe you could convince someone to come by and take a look at this Luna with you. You slide your glasses off and set them on your desk, and go about getting ready for bed.
The next day comes, and your morning routine starts. Wake up, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed. You head into your room to get your glasses. Putting them back on, you see Luna sitting on the ground just as she was last night, watching you over her knees. She's been like that all night? It kind of bothers you to think that you had been watched all night. It also dawns on you that even though you had casually left your door open, she hasn't moved or made any attempt to escape again. Likely since you registered her program, she's not going to run off on you now at least. You don't have time to play around with her files right now though, you grab your bag and head for the door. Shoes on, and out.
In a surprising turn of events, Madoka is already past your house on the way to school, and stops when she hears you exit. She turns around to greet you and removes her glasses for a moment, then stops. She puts her glasses back on and gives a weird two-tiered smile.
“Ah, even Kourin cracks if given the time,” she says, adjusting the bag strap on her shoulder.
“Crack?” you echo, confused by her word choice.
“You were all 'No way am I taking part in this fantasy!', but in the end you went home and made yourself a partner,” Madoka says, waving a finger in the air. “You should be honest about your feelings!”
… Made a partner... Oh.
You turn your head, and no more than a foot behind you is Luna, looking around idly, wings buzzing occasionally. Great.
“You were feeling guilty about not wanting in, so you made an avatar to play with us,” Madoka continues down her road of make-believe. “You probably felt it would be embarrassing to join a bunch of magical girls, right?”
“It's not like that,” you reply, starting to walk again. “She's a program, some kind of pet or something, not too sure.” Madoka picks up her stride with you as you pass, still grinning her same dumb grin.
“Oh~ Some kind of ero-toy, right?” she asks, looking back at Luna. “She's cute, so-”
“Nothing like that, my sister said the same thing,” you interrupt, not wanting to hear more about it. “All I know is that she's got several sound altering capabilities.”
“Sound altering?” Madoka repeats, looking over her shoulder again. “Like what? Changing pitch and tone?”
“That too, but she can also mute all sound, though of course it only works if you're wearing the glasses,” you explain.
“Whoa, that's kind of cool. I wonder if she's some kind of spy tool!” Madoka exclaims, turning around to walk backwards. “She kind of stands out though, so she wouldn't really be good at sneaking.” You look over your shoulder as well. Just as you thought, she's following you. This is going to be strange to explain at school.
As expected, it turned out for the worse at school. Not only did Luna follow you into the building, but she made matters worse for you by sitting under your desk, with the same knee-hugging pose she kept all night on the floor. You've seriously lost count of how many whispers of 'ero-toy' you've heard, and it's not even lunch yet. Try as you might, no matter how much you try to find something in her files to make her go away, you don't have the time to dedicate to a solution. Your only hope is to find some way to correct this situation at lunch. You're going to need some help.
 Get Madoka. Who knows, she might be able to do something.  Chie and Mana could probably help you find some fix.  Maggie is good with humanoid pets like this, maybe she knows.  Forget this, go home early.
Had a few issues remembering how to correctly write names. Fucking mental substitution.
[x] Maggie is good with humanoid pets like this, maybe she knows.
Might as well ask Maggie. She might have some kind of idea what to do to help, since it's a humanoid type. You leave your class to head to Maggie's, just in time to catch her heading out.
“Ah, hey,” you call to her. She turns towards you, then stops. Ah, she must see Luna. She blinks a bit, then smiles at you.
“That's really good! When did you make that?” she asks, walking past you to inspect the girl. Luna doesn't react at all while Maggie takes a closer look. “It's really detailed!”
“I found her,” you say, which causes Maggie to give you an inquisitive look.
“Who could lose something like this? This is awesome quality,” Maggie says, practically gushing. She seems to be going into full fangirl mode over Luna, who simply stands stock still while various parts of her are manhandled by an excited doll otaku.
“You think you can help me with something regarding her?” you ask. Maggie has since opened up a console and has begun to run something, and she looks a little bothered. “Maggie?”
“Oh? What? Yeah, sorry,” she says, turning away from the console somewhat. “A problem, like what?”
“Well, she's a program of some kind, so she has to have some way to be put into a sleep mode or deactivate or something, but I can't make any sense of it,” you say, opening your own console and flipping to her folder. You turn the window towards Maggie and she takes a look, then turns back to her own. She gives a sigh and turns back to yours and starts browsing the files. “What are you doing anyway?”
“I was hoping I could make a copy of the outfit so I wouldn't have to write a new one from scratch, but those files are copy protected with something I can't make sense of,” she says, stopping to press something in the folder. Luna's image flickers slightly. “Found something.”
“It did something as well when you used it,” you say. Maggie looks pack at Luna and presses it again, and once again Luna flickers.
“I see,” Maggie says, turning back to your window. She grabs it and pulls it over to hers, then starts typing something.
“You figure something out?” you ask, walking over. You see lines of code streaming by on Maggie's screen.
“It was a corrupted file, I'm trying to restore it for you,” she says. A new window pops up, and Maggie clicks it. A file in your window flashes, and Maggie switches to it. “There we go.” Maggie presses the icon, and Luna's eyes widen in surprise briefly before her entire image winks out, leaving behind a small crescent moon icon.
“What was that?” you ask, looking between the icon and the window.
“Somehow her programming got a little corrupted, and her shutdown command was disabled. I had to recompile the program, and now it works,” she says, looking at the icon as well. “Little strange that something like that would be affected and not the program itself though.” That is a little bizarre, though considering the circumstances you found her in, bizarre seems pretty normal in this case.
“Thank Maggie,” you say, giving a slight bow. You grab the icon and look it over. It's about the size of your palm. You decide to stick it away in your pouch for now. Maggie smiles, and you go to turn away, but Maggie steps in front of you.
“Hey, you said you found her right?” she asks. “Where?”
“Uh, in my room,” you say. Maggie looks surprised at that. Reasonable reaction.
“That's odd, what was she doing?”
“Trying to break through the space, I think,” you say, recalling her actions. “She was initially drawn to any weak points in the space, and once tried to squeeze herself through a graphical error. That all stopped once I registered her program or something, now it seems she's mine.” Maggie gives you another grin.
“You wouldn't mind lending her out sometime, would you?” she asks. “I've taken a few pictures of her design already, but I might need a better visual reference later.”
“Visual reference? You're going to make a doll of her?” you ask. Maggie nods.
“It's such a wonderful look, it would be a shame not to add it to my collection!” she says enthusiastically. She's really into things like that it seems.
“Maybe some time later,” you say, stepping around Maggie. “I've got to go eat.”
“Oh, why not eat with me?” Maggie asks from behind. You look back at her. “I was just going to go get something to drink.” Well, you hadn't thought of eating with anyone. Typically you finish your lunch quickly before Madoka comes along and steals half of it like it's her birthright. There's no guarantee she won't come looking for you either if you disappear, but it's possible she might restrain herself if you're with someone. At the very least, there will be two lunches for her to plunder, lessening the damage.
 Eat as usual. You enjoy your little respite alone.  Eating with Maggie could be a good change of pace.
[x] Eating with Maggie could be a good change of pace. [x] And if Madoka decides to get her grubby little hands near your food, you feel just in the right mood to stab her with your fork today.
“I'll be right back then,” you say with a slight grin. Maggie smiles as well, and you head off down the hall to pick up your lunch. You pass a few classmates, and once again catch their whispers in passing. Seems now they're confused about the disappearance of the 'ero-toy'. You can't win afterall.
After retrieving your lunch, you head back to Maggie's class. Her seat is right by the door, so you can see her already by the time you get there. She's got one of her pets out, and seems to be giving it some kind of inspection. You wave to catch her attention, and she looks past the hovering doll and gives you a friendly nod. Appropriating a nearby desk, you slide it against Maggie's and take your seat.
“What are you doing there?” you ask, looking at the small figure. One of Maggie's favourite types, if you remember. Fairly simple looking dress, long blonde hair, and a large red bow on the back of the head.
“Just a bit of fine tuning,” Maggie says, picking up her sandwich and taking a bite. “Program update came out yesterday, and I'm adjusting some of the settings back to the way I had them.” You watch the small doll-like girl, and notice that the colour of her eyes is changing by very fine shades as Maggie toys with the options.
“You put a lot of time into working on those,” you say, popping the lid off your lunchbox. A rather simple lunch today, rice and fried egg, with some soy sauce for taste. You didn't really see the purpose in some of the elaborate lunches you've seen some people make, as if they were trying to win some kind of art contest and ended up making food. “You make real dolls too, right?”
“Sometimes, yeah,” Maggie says, looking up from the control panel. “They're a lot harder to make though. At least with code, if I make a mistake it's a lot easier to fix. Cracks in porcelain are a lot harder to fix and a lot more costly,” she continues, idly making her little doll perform some simple actions. Waving, stretching, sitting, turning, and ending with a small dance number. “I like to make my designs in cyberspace first, get the look just right. It makes it a lot easier to create the real thing when you have a scale model of what you're making.”
“I'd imagine,” you say, taking a bit of your rice and egg. “Both of them seem pretty complicated though, I don't know if I'd be patient enough to really take the time to go into all that detail.” Maggie gives a small laugh.
“Don't sell yourself short,” she says, smiling at you. “It's really not all that hard with practice. On the plus side as well, writing your own pets coding gives you more freedom in what they can do. Here,” she breaks, opening her console and typing something. A window winks open in front of you, announcing a connection request from TroyBox, Maggie's server. You accept, and after a brief connection process, another window pops up.
“What's this?” you ask.
“It's the basic program for writing pets. It's not limited to humanoids either, though they're the easiest to work with. I figure that with this, you could at least play around with it and try it out,” she says. “This is just the trial version though, so it'll only be active for two weeks or so before you have to register it. Don't worry about that though, if you're interested, I've got the crack too.” You give an amused huff as you swallow a mouthful of food, she seems pretty into sharing her hobby.
“I'm not sure,” you say, looking over the window. You look back at Maggie in time to catch a faint flickering light in her eye. Without any input from you at all, the transfer accepts itself, and the trial is installed. Well, I guess that settles that then. Maggie grins through her chewing on her sandwich.
“Just give it a shot,” she says. “You could probably take a look at that one girl's programming for some insight onto how to make something incredible.”
“Here you are!” a dread voice calls from behind. You look down at your half-finished lunch. Great, you were just starting to get full anyway. You crane your head back to see Madoka entering the room. You catch a glimpse of Maggie taking a rather generous bite of her own lunch. You aren't alone in the suffering, it seems.
“Hello,” you say, and that's all you can manage to get out.
“Surprised to see you in here!” she continues, addressing you. “I usually have to come to you to see you at lunch, but now you've made it easier! What's the occasion?” Madoka asks, kneeling opposite Maggie. She eyes the remains of Maggie's sandwich with passing interest before focusing on you with a smile. The smile of a vulture, prepared to close in on the remains.
“I needed some help with a troublesome program, and so I came to Maggie,” you say, gesturing towards the aforementioned. “Somehow along the way lunch happened.”
“Oh, and here I was thinking you were coming to join our secret organization discreetly,” she says, sneaking a hand towards your lunch. No, not today. Today, you've packed a special surprise, a deadly King Cobra, coiled and ready to strike. The foolish, unsuspecting hand enters range, and it lashes out, baring soy-poisoned fangs of plastic. You prick Madoka in the back of the hand with your fork, and she snaps it back with a small yelp.
“Not today,” you say, giving her a sidelong glance. “I skipped breakfast.” Madoka gives you a pained look, but it quickly changes into a smile.
“Guess it can't be helped, a sidekick needs his energy afterall,” Madoka says, nodding to herself. Right.
“This again?” you ask, making an effort to eat a little faster. Madoka nods with an enthusiastic hum.
“It's only fitting. Every team needs a mascot, right?”
“Can't you make one? Maggie could probably whip something up if you asked,” you say, looking at Maggie. She nods in agreement. Even though she's part of this whole magical girl thing Madoka seems fixated on, at least she seems to be on your side, which is to leave you out of this. You feel a pat on your arm, and you look at Madoka, seeing a rather interesting grin, and in turn you look at the spot you were touched just in time to see a metatag dissolve into your cyberbody. “That was?”
“Brute force,” Madoka says, opening her console. Wait, brute- shit. You open your own console, finding that your server's security has been compromised and that Madoka is forcing a connection. You work to try to restore the security settings, though Madoka pulls away your console window to buy time. You don't even try to fight to get back your window, you simply open a second one, but by then it's too late. She's suspended your access and locked you out of your own server. A few seconds later, she finishes her upload and your connection reboots. Madoka crosses her arms over her chest, smiling triumphantly. You sigh, rubbing your forehead.
“Why do you do this?” you ask. Madoka simply grins wider.
“You could use a bit more fun!” she says cheerily, turning back to her console. She hits a few buttons and closes it. “Just play along with us for a bit and I'll let you off, okay?” You groan, and reach up to take off your glasses, when you freeze. Those are not your sleeves. You look down at yourself to see that your cyberbody has been changed, modified as an avatar. Instead of your usual school clothes, you seem to be wearing some kind of blue-black yukata, a full out wardrobe change. The only part of your appearance that hasn't been altered is your cyberpouch, in it's usual position on your stomach. Great, as if you hadn't gotten enough weird looks today.
“This is ridiculous Madoka,” you say, on the verge of whining. You open your console and try to find a way to disable it, but you quickly find that you're not authorized to access the program that runs the avatar, and it only accepts commands from a remote host.
“I think it looks good!” Madoka says, standing up. “I put a lot of care into it!”
“It does actually look kind of nice,” Maggie says, smiling a little herself. You're not sure whose side she's on now. You simply accept this as the end of your life as a normal student, and prepare to face your future as the weird cosplaying student.
“We're going to have a get together tonight, since it's the weekend. You should come along too,” Madoka says. “It'll help you get in your pre-requisite hours as part of the team!”
“Fantastic,” you mumble, finishing off your lunch.
 “I guess I'll just do this then.”  “If it'll get me out of this quicker, fine.”  “Don't wait up for me, I just found out I need to format my server tonight.”
[x] “Don't wait up for me, I just found out I need to format my server tonight.” [x] Get rid of the cancer she gave you at all costs. Even if it means having to replace everything. And leave your "ero-toy" at home from now on. No more of this bullshit.
[x] “Don't wait up for me, I just found out I need to format my server tonight.” [x] Get rid of the cancer she gave you at all costs. Even if it means having to replace everything. And leave your "ero-toy" at home from now on. No more of this bullshit.
[x] “Don't wait up for me, I just found out I need to format my server tonight.”
“I wouldn't wait up though,” you say, packing away your lunch box. “It turns out I need to format my server tonight. Picked up some nasty malware just a second ago.” Madoka's eyes narrow a little as you speak. You turn in your seat to face her. “It seems it spreads from the fantasies of a hyperactive red-headed high school girl.”
“You're no fun,” Madoka whines, opening her console and typing dejectedly. “There, save yourself the trouble of a format.” You pop open your console and pull up the control program again. Seems that she's enabled access from your end, so you go ahead and disable it, then delete it. You're restored to your usual, everyman appearance, no longer stuck within the virtual fairytale of Madoka's little pretend world. “You're still in, right Mag?” Madoka asks, turning her head towards the girl sitting in front of her.
“Yeah, I've put a bit of time into designing my avatar as well,” she says, opening a window. A few presses later, and she shimmers, her cyberbody replacing it's image of her uniform with a rather plain blue dress, tied at the waist with lacy red ribbon. “It's not done yet, but I've only got a few touches left to go.” Maggie raises one of her legs out from under the desk as well, revealing the new footwear that comes with the avatar, nearly knee-high lace up boots. They actually look fairly unwieldy, something that really only could exist in fantasy. Kind of reminds you of the boots you see on game or anime characters from time to time.
“Oh! Nice style!” Madoka gushes, looking back up. “Good job as always Maggie! Nice to see you taking this seriously!” Madoka casts you a sidelong glance. It's almost as if she thinks you might be jealous.
“I told you I'll go along and help you if you need it, just leave me out of the fantasy aspect of it all,” you say. Madoka looks back at you, then stands and leans back against the nearby wall.
“So, does that mean you'll show up at the meeting?” she asks. Ah man, maybe it was best to not remind her.
“Maybe,” you say, as non-committal as you can be. Madoka grins, planning something already probably.
“It'll be at my house, we'll gather there and head out,” she says. “Around 7 or 8 pm.”
“An hour is a pretty big 'if' time,” you say, but Madoka doesn't seem to care. You turn your attention to Maggie then. “I'll see you around, thanks for the time,” you say. She nods with a smile.
“It was nice to eat with someone that didn't try to steal my lunch,” she says, getting a slight glare from Madoka. “Maybe next time you can join us properly,” she continues, addressing the loiterer. You Stand up, replacing the desk and chair where you got them, and head off. There's not much time left for lunch, so you're going to put away your stuff and get ready for your next class ahead of time.
The rest of the day passes normally. You endure a few more whispers among classmates about your little toy earlier in the day, but they dwindle off later in the day. If anyone were to ask, you'd have just told them it was some kind of virus, but thankfully you didn't have to work that excuse. The final bell rings, and you happily make your way out of class and leave the building. You make it past the entrance gate without anyone surprising you with ambush plans, and you're thankful for that. With a day off tomorrow, you're feeling pretty good. You think you should go out and do something.
 Head out to the mall, kill some time looking through stores.  Window shop at the tech stores downtown.  Head off to an arcade, you've got an itch to beat strangers at buttonmashing.  Maybe just kicking back and relaxing at home would be best.
[X] Maybe just kicking back and relaxing at home would be best.
Actually, it's probably best to just relax. You feel that you could bet money on Madoka weaseling you into something, and when she does, you want to at least have the energy to put up with it. It's not like you have much money on you to begin with, so you'd just be spending time walking around more than actually going anywhere with a purpose. You set your course for home.
You kick off your shoes inside the door and make a straight line to your room. First thing first, you toss your bag onto your bed and change out of your uniform. With that done, you pick up your glasses and slip them back on, only to find yourself staring at a black-haired girl outside your window. She wasn't there a second ago. You slide your glasses up, and she vanishes. You slide your glasses back down and she's still gone. You're confused for a moment, but you head up onto your bed and crack the window open and stick your head through. You look both ways, but you don't see anyone running. Could she have gotten away alread- Wait. You look down, and once again you see her, crouching beneath your windowsill with another girl, a blonde with a strangle looking cap. You also realize now that the two of them also have wings.
Before you can process anything more, a flash of light fills your vision and causes you to jump, hitting your head on the window. You curse to yourself as you back up into your room, removing your glasses. You blink a few times, trying to clear away the glowing spots. You slip your glasses back on just in time to see the blonde girl hanging through your window rummaging through your cyber pouch.
“Hey!” you shout, and the girl looks up at you. You grab her by the wrist and pull her through the window, much to the dismay of the black-haired girl still outside. This is like when you found Luna in your room, and the same things should work here. Once the new blonde is entirely within your room, you give her a blast with your mega-be and disable her. That seems to spark a reaction from the girl still outside, who tries to reach through the window and grab her downed comrade. You grab her in turn and drag her through the window, a relatively easy task given her complete lack of weight. Once you have her inside, you close your window, and slide off your bed. The remaining girl paws at your window for a few seconds, managing to distort the graphics a little. As she does, you notice a crackling sound again as the space tears a little. That's enough of that then, you step over and pull her away, and she turns towards you angrily. Another bright flash of light, damn it. You don't take your glasses off this time though, the glowing spot has gotten worse anyway. By this time, the incapacitated girl has recovered, and sits up. The black-haired girl looks at her, and the two of them flutter their wings for a second, then look back at you, both clearly upset. The blonde makes another reach for your pouch, but you back away and point your hand at her, which stops her well enough. She doesn't seem to like being shot. You think you know what she's after anyway. You open your pouch yourself, and retrieve the icon that Luna had been reduced to. Both the girls eyes light up at seeing it, then they both shoot you a mean glare simultaneously. The dark haired one grabs the icon from you and presses it, and Luna reappears, shimmering into view, shaking her head. The other two seem happy to see her, but Luna seems more concerned with you, turning around and glaring at you.
“D-don't!” Luna says, which completely throws you. She can talk?
“Don't? Don't what?” you ask, completely lost and still totally shocked. A window opens, Luna's files, and the deactivation icon lights up.
“No!” Luna says, glaring at you. You don't entirely get it at first, but after a few seconds you think you understand. You recall Luna's face when she was deactivated, and with this now you realize that she must not like being shut down, which might explain why that function was broken in the first place. That's not what you care about right now though.
“Wait, you can talk?” you ask next, and Luna glares, then looks back at the other two.
“Difficult... speaking... recording library, voice filter...” Luna says. What's she going on about? “No, talk, trick... Complex.” Her voice is choppy, and seems to vary pitch and tone without much consistency. You shake your head, not entirely getting it. You remember before when she had repeated your words, so you know she's capable of recording voice. Is that what she means by 'recording library'? Voice filter... Oh! Just like that, you understand it. She's cutting words from recorded speech and playing them through a voice filter for one consistent voice. That's a pretty clever trick.
“It's okay,” you say, taking a step back from Luna. “You don't have to force it.” Luna glares a bit more, then turns back to the other two. They all seem quite glad to see each other, which raises even more questions. If these two were trying to recover her, then does that mean they come from the same source? Are they some kind of recovery program or something? You decide to investigate a little on your own, and open a window to start running some checks on the two new girls. Just as you start a scan on the blonde, however, the window suddenly vanishes. You blink, and look at the new blonde. She's watching you, and now her wings are buzzing. You open a new window, and it vanishes just as quickly. She must be closing them on you. You open another, and it vanishes. Another, and it's gone. That's it then, you open several new screens quickly, and even though they remain open longer, they all vanish at once. Now she's smiling at you. You try to open one more window when you get a low memory error. What? You look at the blonde, she must be doing something to your server. Just as you start to wonder what your options are for dealing with this problem, your vision is filled with screens, all the windows you had opened that vanished pop back up at once, all of them running the same scan. Damn it. You start closing them, looking over the returned information. Just like with Luna, it seems that this new girl is using your server as a remote host, and you still can't trace any kind of definite connection link. It also seems that she's receiving some kind of signal from Luna, though any attempt to check what kind of link they might have results in the window disappearing. You're understanding things a little more now with this, or at least you think you do. You can bet that the dark-haired girl is the same kind of thing, connects and temporarily transfers her data to a server and uses it as a link to move freely through cyberspace. Though that would have to mean... Can an independent program really exist? You look at Luna, then at the other two girls. You find it a little strange that they just seem to be looking at each other, their wings twitching occasionally. You at least understand that their wings movements are tied to their processes. Is this how they communicate? Are they-
Your vision is flooded again with windows, but this time they're something different. More registration windows. They didn't even start slowly, this time it's a whole mess of them. You close a few, so you can actually see. All three of the girls are looking at you now. You guess they were communicating, though you're unsure of how exactly they would share information. You'd kind of like to know, especially if they are supposed to be independent programs. With that on your mind though, you wonder just what use they would have for registration procedures in the first place. Talking about registration...
 This is too much, decline registration. Luna was a handful already, you don't need more.  Keep a few open, but put it off for a bit. Try to find out more about these two new ones.  The more the merrier then. At least you should have an easier time getting information.
[X] The more the merrier then. At least you should have an easier time getting information.
Fine then. You might as well register them too. They came for Luna, and whatever just happened, there's got to be some kind of reason behind registration. You can't help but feel there's an ulterior motive behind all this, but maybe like this you'll be able to understand their purpose better. You accept one of the registrations, 'Sunny v.5'. The new blonde lights up once you do, and Luna seems pleased. She must be Sunny. It kind of makes sense in a way. The last one now, 'Star v.5' has to be the dark haired girl. It occurs to you they all have the same version number, which only cements your opinion that they're somehow intended to be together. After registration, their files are installed to your server as well, and you take a look at what they have to offer. Just like Luna, their files are no more obvious in purpose. You find little luck in Sunny's programs, she seems to have the least compared to the others. Any searches or scans you try to run on Sunny turn up little more information as well. It's almost as if she's actively hiding information. Could she be some kind of stealth program? Some kind of hider utility? Whatever she is, you're almost sure that it wouldn't be entirely legal. Star's file are just as inconvenient, but thankfully they seem rather straight forward. You run one of her programs, 'Watcher', and an area map opens, and after several seconds, multiple signals appear. You instantly recognize it, it's similar to the inherent tracking programs built into all glasses, but this ignores the pre-programmed signal requirements, picking up every active cyberglass connection in the area. It doesn't seem to be limited to just cyberglasses either. After cycling a few filters, you manage to single out radio waves and satellite signals as well. An all purpose signal tracker?
… An all purpose signal tracker, an assumed stealth program, and an area noise canceler. You get a chill, looking at the three winged girls. It's fairly clear to you now that they must have been created to complement each other, and if they're supposed to work together, then... are they some kind of spy tool? You can't help but wonder what use someone would have for these kinds of utilities unless they were making an effort to not get caught doing something they're not supposed to, and now you feel even more uneasy about this whole thing. Are these three even legal programs? Could you be arrested for having them? You're fairly certain that they're not typically civilian programs, but then what are they?
You're snapped from your world of thought by Sunny, crouched down in front of you. She's looking at you curiously. You give her an uneasy smile.
“You're Sunny, right?” you ask her. She nods in response. “What are you?” She tilts her head to one side, her wings buzzing momentarily. A browser page opens suddenly, and a wiki page loads. Fairy? You move the window aside. Well, visually you guess, but she's a program. “You're a fairy?” She nods, and you look at the other two. They nod as well. Fairies, right. Cyber-fairies then, but that doesn't leave you in any better position. You're a little annoyed by how limited your means of communication are with them. It would be so much easier if you could get direct communication with them, but where to even begin.
Wait, you remember that they established links to each other, and that seems to be how they communicate between themselves. You open up your console and get to work, bringing up the three 'fairies' information. They're all connected with your server, and they're connected with each other as well. You focus in on the link between Luna and Star, opening up a window to vie what kind of data exchange they have going on. All you see are strings of characters in a growing text file, but right away you notice a pattern. It's slight, but certain symbols and characters repeat themselves at different points, it's not random gibberish. It's probably a cipher, but you don't have any idea where to begin trying to crack it. You look up at the two girls, and they're looking at you, even as the data exchange continues. It doesn't seem to require direct contact between the two, unless you're misunderstanding something. Though...
“Hello,” you type into the text, and the exchange stops. You look back at the girls, they're still staring at you. Sunny seems a little confused, and several new strings of characters pop up in the window. You're wondering if what you typed had any effect. Might as well test it. You type a bit more and enter it into the file, but you get no more results. You're a little confused, they seem to respond to spoken words, but not written words. Could there be some kind of reason? The only thing you can think of is to try to crack the cipher, but you're stuck there too, you're not sure what language is their base. They apparently understand spoken Japanese, but not written. Who can say what other languages they understand, it's not unlikely to believe that given their unclear origins and suspected non-civilian utility that they'd be able to understand multiple languages. Ever since the cyberglasses technology went global, multilanguage programs have become more commonplace. Frustrated, you take a seat at your desk, glancing through your console. Maybe you should stop digging for information right now, it'll only give you a headache. Besides, you came home to relax, not spend your time freaking out over fairies. Admitting defeat, you close your console and move to leave your desk, when you're hit with realization. Luna followed you to school since she was tied to your server, it wouldn't be unrealistic to expect the other two to follow you now as well. Granted, you could deactivate them, but Luna made it pretty clear earlier that she didn't like that, enough to force herself to speak to get the point across. You don't really want to have to ignore her request, but you can't have them following you around either. You open your console again and set to work. Your server is connected to your glasses, so everything you own in cyberspace goes with you, what you're planning to do is create a small partition and move the fairies files to it, and then connect the partition to an object in cyberspace, kind of like the pet homes for cyberpets. You idly think that you should go looking at that one tech shop to see if you can pick up a second hand personal server, something physical. You already know who to go ask first, though you're somewhat adverse to the idea of asking her. The partition is still a drain on your behalf though, if you could move the girls to their own server, you could lighten your own load and still be able to access them through remote.
After several minutes of work, you're complete with your task. Your partition information is stored on a cube on your desk, and the girls files are stored in it. You're not entirely sure if this will work as intended, but you hope it does. The only way to really know for sure is to leave the house, but you don't really have an excuse to leave at the moment. You could probably take a walk to a store or something. You have some money on hand, not a whole lot, but you could buy a bag of chips at least. Then again, if you do end up going off to Madoka's little meeting, you could always wait until then, but you won't have time to troubleshoot if it doesn't work.
 Go to the store, you want a snack anyway.  Just take a walk, maybe go to a park.  You should try to look into that used server idea.  You're not worried about it too much, you'll just relax.
[x] You should try to look into that used server idea.
That server might be the best idea, actually. Even if you can't buy one right now, you can at least go take a look to see what's available and get some advice. You're not really sure you want to have to explain your situation though, but you'll cross that bridge when you get to it. You grab your keys and head out of your room, back to the front door. Sliding on your shoes, you pull open the front door and you're off.
The tech store isn't that far away, but it's still a ten minute walk. It's the first store before downtown, which makes it a little more convenient, which is also part of the problem. You stand before the door, looking through the glass to the interior. You don't see anyone out front yet. You pull the door open and step inside, and you can hear something already. Singing, from the back room, but you can't make out the words. You take a few steps, when the source of the voice steps through the doorframe carrying a mouse. Her eyes light up when she sees you.
“Oh, Takeo! Long time no see!” she says, circling the counter. Nezumi Serizawa, local tech expert and friend of Yumiko's. She's only two years older than you, which makes her the youngest of your sisters friends. A somewhat mousy girl, but also very nosy. When she's not fixing computers and cyberglasses, she's digging through computer systems and outdated space for 'treasure', anything she can legally take and resell to make a profit, at least in theory. In practice it's more like hacking and bootlegging. She also buys things other people have found, and also the first person you've met that makes extensive use of avatar programming. In reality, her hair is black, but to anyone wearing cyberglasses, it's a light grey.
“Hey Nezumi,” you say as she sets the mouse down on her counter. That's another thing, she seems to be a mobile nest as well for her pet mouse. You don't think you've ever seen her put it in a cage or something.
“So, what're you out here for? Found something interesting you'd like to sell off?” she asks, getting right to what's on her mind. Well, you did find something, but selling them? Maybe not.
“Actually, I was coming to ask you a question,” you say.
“Oh? Need my help finding something?” she asks, leaning against the counter. Her mouse scrambles up her arm.
“Kind of. I need a physical server, I want to offload some programs I've picked up lately to free up server space and processing power,” you say, looking around. “Just something cheap, maybe a few gigabytes at best.”
“Hmm, physical goods? How boring,” Nezumi whines, opening her console and scrolling through something. “I do have a few cheap ones,” she says, looking at you through her screen. She types something quickly and goes back to scrolling. “You don't have enough space on your glasses server?”
“It's not that, really. These programs are...” you hesitate for a moment. You don't really want to say something that might get her interested, because then you know she'll want to know more, and she won't leave you alone about it until you do show her. Then again... considering the mystery behind these girls, maybe someone like Nezumi would be perfect help. It still wouldn't make her any less nosy, though. Whether you show her or not, you know she's going to be on your case until you explain every detail possible to her, only satisfied when she's absolutely positive she's milked every possible drop of information out of you.
 Keep the 'fairies' secret for now.  She might be able to help, actually.
I have absolutely no idea what the value of the yen is and I will avoid explicitly mentioning prices as long as possible.
It's best not to tell her. In fact, the less she knows, the easier it'll be for you in the long run.
“They're kind of stressing my system. I have to leave them running a lot and they sap quite a bit of processing power,” you say. It's the truth, just a rather veiled version.
“Hmm, some kind of programming thing?” she asks, continuing her browsing.
“Yeah,” you say, taking your chance to get farther away from the truth. Nezumi hums thoughtfully, then frowns a little.
“You really don't have anything interesting,” she says with a sigh. Wait, she's searching your files?
“Hey! Get out of my system!” you state, taking a step towards her to grab her window. She backs up with a smile.
“I haven't even checked this partition yet!” she says, moving her hands towards the screen. You have a hand movement for her too, it's called 'palm forward' and it results in a beam of light blasting her window into flickering fragments. She glares at you through the blinking shards of the screen and closes the window with a sigh. “Fine, fine, I won't go digging through your porn.”
“You shouldn't be looking through my system at your own discretion anyway,” you say, adjusting your glasses. “Now, the server?”
“Ah, due to unforeseen circumstances, it seems the only ones I have left have gone up in price,” she says, grinning again. “Cheapest I can offer is 54,000.” You frown at her. She's upset because you busted her and now she's taking it out on you. Not that you hadn't expected she would do such a thing.
“You sure that's the cheapest, or just what you want me to pay?” you ask. Nezumi turns away and walks back towards the rear door.
“I don't know. If you find me something interesting I might be able to cut you a deal,” she says, stepping back through the doorframe. You wonder how she manages to stay in business when she acts how she does. Then again, it's probably precisely why she's still in business. It seems that you have nothing more to do here, so you leave. There's still a few hours before Madoka will have everyone gathering, and you still haven't quite made up your mind whether or not you're going to go.
 Just stay home and relax.  Might as well show up.
[x] That price raising mouse... How dare she do that to you after you stopped her from going through your files! Call up your 3 new programs and utilize Luna's Noise Cancellation to make you silent and Sunny's Sight Cancellation to render you invisible and just take a used server from Nezumi's shop.
Ah, you should probably go. As much as you oppose the idea of her magical girl stint, you do actually enjoy going out and doing a little virus busting, so long as you actually find something and don't just spend the entire night running around alleys and streets trying to not get shot in the head by anti-virus programs. Now to just pass the time.
You shut off the TV, looking up at the clock. Still a while before the meet, but you're going to get there a little early, planning on using the extra time to make sure Madoka understands your position on this whole thing and doesn't try to force you into anything more. You would prefer if she dropped the whole magical girl idea, but you know she won't, it's just the kind of person she is. Honestly, you're a little glad that she is how she is though. She occasionally does end up with something good, and these times in between are what's punctuated with her strange behaviour. It's been a while since her last 'big hit idea', so she should be due for another inspired moment any time now. After collecting your required personal effects, you slip on your shoes and head out.
The walk to Madoka's house passes normally. You didn't see anyone else on your way either, so it seems your wish for some time alone would be granted. You ring the doorbell and wait, Madoka answers a few seconds later and looks absolutely shining.
“You came after all!” she cheers. “And you're early!”
“Yeah, yeah,” you say, giving her a slight smile. “There was nothing good on TV tonight anyway.”
“Come in!” Madoka continues, stepping back inside. You enter behind her and slip off your shoes, following her further in. You enter the living room behind her and the first thing you notice is the small personal shrine in the room is opened, and Madoka heads over to it. She lingers for a second, staring at the picture within before closing the doors. Madoka's mom, her biological mother at least. She died in an accident when Madoka was still a kid, her father only remarried a few years ago. You feel a little awkward now, having apparently interrupted something a little personal.
“Sorry if I interrupted,” you say, scratching your chin a little. Madoka shakes her head.
“It's okay,” Madoka says. “Now then, why'd you come so early? Come to admit your interest in my little act and you really want in?” Quickly changing subjects, of course, to her own little world once more.
“Not quite,” you reply. “As I've said before, I'm not going to take part in this weird cosplay fetish you've got going on, but I will help.” Madoka scowls a little at your choice of words. Just as planned. “I do enjoy our excursions though, at least the ones that turn out fruitful.”
“Oh, pledging allegiance to the Witch Brigade?” Madoka asks.
“Yea- What?” you trip over your tongue, only processing what she said after you began to reply. Madoka grins.
“I thought of it earlier. Sounds cool right?” Madoka asks expectantly. “I've even come up with my own nickname!”
“A nickname now?” you ask. Looks like she's really going through with this if she's starting to decide her own nickname.
“Yep, it's pretty simple too, here,” she says, opening her console and searching for something. After a few seconds she finds it, and then turns her screen around to you.
“Is the star really necessary?” you ask.
“Absolutely!” Madoka retorts, closing her screen.
“I hope you don't expect me to have to call you that too,” you say.
“But of course!” Naturally...
“This kind of thing is something I would expect from kids,” you say. “I still think the idea of high school students running around in costumes fighting the evil of the internet is an incredibly silly idea.”
“Which is why you're not taking part of my cosplay fetish, but you're still content to be a normal high school student fighting the evil internet, right?” Madoka says. Well... yes.
“Doesn't it seem embarrassing though?” you ask. Madoka shakes her head again.
“What's so embarrassing? Avatars are a fairly common thing nowadays, I wouldn't suspect I was the first to have this idea, just the first person I know.”
“Eh,” you groan, not really having much of a response.
“If you really don't want to play along though, then that's okay, but I expect you to pull your weight and don't leave all the action up to us girls just because we're in costume,” she says, waving her finger around. You want to point out how self-defeating that statement sounded, but you'd rather not. The look in her eyes tells you it has something to do with her imagination again, and fantasies are probably best left in the realm of the fantastic. “By the way, where'd your ero toy go?” You flinch.
“Luna's not a toy,” you say, and Madoka's eyes light up. … Oh.
“You named her? Suspicious!” Madoka cries, grinning wickedly. “Are you sure you don't have any ulterior motives?”
“It's her program name, for one,” you say, glaring Madoka down. “And she's a program. I couldn't do anything to her if I wanted to.”
“So you acknowledge that you would want to take advantage of her if you could?” Madoka queries, her wicked grin remaining. This girl...
“Where do you get these delusions from?”
“Someplace dark,” Madoka states with a smile. “Anyway, the others will be along eventually, so let's play something while we wait.”
“Now that everyone has gathered,” Madoka says, addressing the group that has formed outside her house. Once everyone showed up, we had moved outside to prepare to leave. “It's time to go over the plan. Screens up!” On command, everyone opens their consoles, even you do so hesitantly. A few seconds and a city map flashes onto the screen, and a section of the map blinks slowly. “This is where we're headed.”
“It's that a construction site?” you ask. Madoka nods enthusiastically.
“And no better place!” she replies. “It's common knowledge that construction sites tend to have glitches in their space, due to their incompleteness. What a better place to catch something.”
“Like police,” you interject. Madoka just ignores you, though the others seem a little more mindful. “I don't know about you, but if I was a police officer, I would be a little curious in a bunch of magical girls running around a restricted area.”
“If I were a police officer, I'd be more concerned with the normal looking guy with the magical girls,” Madoka retorts with a grin. “After all, he'd be more likely to be the dangerous one, like a stalker.” Right.
“Are you sure about this?” Chie asks, looking a little nervous. “I don't want to get into trouble after all.”
“We'll be fine, Chie!” Madoka says, stepping over to the girl and patting her shoulders. “In case of emergencies, we can just run away.” Chie groans weakly, but doesn't offer any more words of resistance. She looks up at Mana, but she seems preoccupied with something, turned away from the group and talking into her hand. Must be on the phone.
“What do you think we'll find there?” Maggie asks, casually playing with one of her pets.
“I don't really know, but we can always force something to appear,” Madoka says, the box cannon she received from Chie appearing in her hand. “Take a look through the cracks in space and see what we find.” You don't really like the way she sounded there, but there's not a whole lot you can do about how she sounds. You make a mental note to yourself that if she tries anything crazy, you need to stop her.
“Good news,” Mana says, turning back to the group. “I just got off the phone with my brother, he works at a nearby precinct. I told him that we'd be filming a class project at a construction site, so if any calls come in about us, they'll just be disregarded.” Madoka practically explodes.
“That's awesome, Mana! I'm so glad you're with us then!” Madoka cheers, throwing her arms around the girl, who simply reacts with a quiet laugh and a smile. “Oh, I'm so pumped up now! Come on everyone, let's go!”
And with that, we were off for a night of adventure.