Questions and Misunderstandings
The sounds of battle rang through the air and Terry Marmo was an unfortunate participant. Most of his movements were parries, dodging and blocking. "You think you could stop attacking me for a second and listen to me, if!?" Terry yelled out to his assailant. "Not while you keep messing my name up! Now hold still!" The short brunette, lF, retorted as she threw one of her bladed weapons at Terry. Terry, who just recovered from escaping one move, realized that he didn't have enough time to move from this next attack. Closing his eyes tight waiting for the impact, the sound of metal hitting metal near his face caused him to open his eyes to see someone who heavily resembled Nepgear standing in front of him. Her hair was a bright pink and reached her knees and her outfit looked to be a white one piece bathing suit with purple patches around her curvy sides. She also wore thigh high boots and long gloves of similar design. Terry stayed on the ground, looking up at this floating girl in shock before she spoke to him. "Are you okay, Terry?" Terry rose from his spot and took a closer look at this girl. "...Nepgear? Is that...you?" Looking over her shoulder and into Terry's eyes with her now blue orbs, she smiled. Turing back to IF, she lowered her weapon for her friend. "IF, please. This is all just a huge misunderstanding." IF sighed as her weapons disappeared from sight. Nepgear exhaled and after a bright light returned to the more gentle form Terry remembered.
" *sigh*...Goodness. That was a close one..." Nepgear sighed wearily. IF stepped between Nepgear and Terry, leaning in close to her friend. "Gear, how and why are you associating yourself with this...man!?" A firm tug from IF's small ponytail startling the brunette, forcing her to look up at Terry. "Look, we obviously
got off on the wrong foot. But like you, I have a name. How about we try again?" IF glared at the taller male, while Terry only crossed his arms in return. Nepgear frantically looked between the two before pulling IF closer to her to avoid another fight breaking out between them. "Iffy, I know you're worried about me, especially with the way things are. But I can manage without Neptune! I have to!" IF shook her head. "Nepgear, you've gotten lost 5 times and it's been over a month since we've been here..."
"Did you include today?"
Both IF and Nepgear turned to Terry, who still had his arms crossed, but smirked at the knowing Nepgear. "Wait, what!?" IF raised her eyebrows. Nepgear looked away nervously. "N-Nothing to worry about, Iffy." IF rubbed the back of her neck, closed her eyes and sighed. "Even if you're familiar with ruling a nation like Planeptune, and you're doing great by the way, you are a new representative here and getting lost doesn't help with your shares as a stand-in CPU." She then gave an icy stare in Terry's direction. "Especially with a suspicious stranger. I mean, geez! He's a friggin giant! What are you, like 7 feet.."
"I'm 6 feet 2 inches."
"Hold on. Wha-"
Completely ignoring Terry, IF continued. "So Gear. I'm gonna ask you one last time. Do you trust this man?" Terry raised his own eyebrows, the shock in his eyes was visible even behind his shades. A little upset that he was getting brushed aside, he took a deep breath to regain his composure and addressed the issue at hand "Okay, look. She and I just met. What kind of question is that to ask someone you
just met? Not cool, IF."
"I wasn't speaking to you, Terry."
"But you are looking at me."
Once again, Nepgear was frantically looking back and forth between the two as they exchanged words and dangerous glares.
"Well, Gear?" IF's words brought her back to reality as she thought for a few seconds before giving her answer. "I believe I can trust him. I mean, he hasn't done anything bad. Yeah...In fact, he's done nothing but help me. So despite his attitude, he's a gentle giant." Terry looked at Nepgear, gently caressing his trimmed beard. "Wait. I
have an attitude? And I'm not that
IF sighed, not wanting to deal with this problem any longer. "Ugh, fine. We can start over. If Nepgear is okay with you, I guess I shouldn't have a problem with you either. I tend to forget that the Nep sisters have a pretty spot on judge of character." Holding out her hand, which was slightly covered by her large blue sleeves, she gave a genuine smile to Terry. "I'm IF. A single beautiful breeze that blows through dimensions." Terry gave a small chuckle to her introduction but took her hand regardless. "Nice to meet you, IF. The name's Terry and I'm lost." IF raised an eyebrow. "The pleasure's all-Wait, you're
the one who's lost!?" Terry caressed his bearded chin while looking away as Nepgear giggled nervously. "Well, I ran into Nepgear at this fountain while trying to figure out where to go and she offered to help me out, even though..." "...she was lost, too?" Terry was visibly surprised when IF completed his statement, but she just waved her hand in a dismissive manner. Luckily, he didn't notice Nepgear's own panicked expression. "Relax, Terry. Here's some free advice: Don't let Nepgear guide you anywhere without someone else who knows the lay of the land. She gets lost about 80% of the time." Terry, for the first time that day, laughed. "That's a bit late, but hey, it's free advice." Nepgear, however, was not amused. "What the goodness, Iffy! That's not nice at all!" IF grinned at her friend. "Sorry, Gear. But it is true." Nepgear exhaled. "But you didn't have to make it sound so bad! Geez..."
IF cleared her throat. "Anyway, you're definitely new around here and it's not like I'm punching a time clock or anything..." Terry palmed his chin. "Then maybe you have time to answer a question that's been bugging me. Nepgear told me something about a war between dimensions. How-mmph!" IF elbowed Terry's side. "I'm really sorry about that, but now isn't the time or place." Terry winced, rubbing his sore side. "Okay, okay...I understand. Anywhere we can
go?" Nepgear tilted her head. "Then how about the cafe? You know, the one where we planned to meet at should be safe, right?" Thinking, IF reached for one of her many phones, pulled out a white one, and began scrolling her contacts. "Hold that thought, Gear. You may be on to something." She said while dialing a number. "...Hey. It's me. Listen, it's earlier than planned, but I need a clean area to talk business...No, nothing dangerous. Gear trusts him...yeah, a guy...Really, now?...Sure, that is convenient. No problem. We're just five minutes away. See ya'."
IF closed and pocketed the phone. "Okay, you two. Let's get moving." Nepgear nodded before matching her walking stride to IF's, while Terry placed his hands into his pockets and sauntered behind the two, smirking to himself. "Just 5 minutes, huh..." Nepgear tilted her head back with an exasperated expression. "...You won't let me live it down, will you?" Terry only shrugged. "Hey, Terry. You're getting a lot of free advice today." IF called out. "Free is good. Well, what is it?" Terry asked. "It should be obvious that I should do the talking when we get there." Terry nodded. "Most people go here to trade information, so they'll pretty much ignore you unless you have something to say to 'em. Unfortunately, your question just so happens to be the one subject that everyone
wants to get information about. So it's best if you just enjoy the cover, lay low and keep quiet. It'll be boring, but..." "No worries. I can keep to myself." Terry interjected. Then he looked upward into the clouds. "Keep to myself, huh? Used to be a regular thing for me before meeting those Hunter siblings...I hope your brother's doing his part, Karla..."
Clenching his fist, his resumed his conversation with IF. "So, IF. Exactly where are we going, if I may ask. Miss Nepgear mentioned it, but didn't say much else. Not even a name." IF kept her pace ahead of the other two. Instead of answering, she stopped and pointed to a log cabin a few steps away. "This is the cafe Nepgear mentioned. It's called 'Field's Cafe'. I'd tell you it's history, but I don't have the time. It's basically your average bar and dive. Great food." She said, her eyes glued to her phone. "So, go on in and just have a drink or two. I should be finished before too long." "I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure I don't have the currency for that, IF." Terry said, his expression still stoic. IF lightly tapped her forehead. "Oh, right. Hold on a sec..." She began rummaging through her coat pockets. "Ugh, can't believe I have to pay for it...ah!" Finding what she wanted in a small, blank green card, she handed it to Terry. "Here. Put it on my tab. Just don't go berserk with it..."
"Don't you mean bear
-serk, Miss IF?"
All three turned to see where the light-hearted voice came from to see a bear with blue fur wearing a red and white jumpsuit with 3 large red buttons going down the center. He had large black eyes and his head was seemingly attached to his body by a zipper. IF rolled her eyes at the obviously bad pun, Nepgear was trying to stifle a laugh and Terry sighed in relief as he finally saw someone he knew anything about. "Really, Teddie!? What'd I tell you about those lame bear jokes?" Teddie placed his hands on his hips in a proud manner. "Of course! You said not to say them inside anymore. Inside, Iffy-chan!" IF huffed in annoyance. "Then why do you keep pressing my buttons!? You must want a demotion, huh?" Teddie's large pupils shrunk in fear and his eyes began to fill with tears. "Huh!? T-That's not fair, Iffy-chan!" Terry smirked and shrugged slightly. "It wasn't that bad, IF." Nepgear nodded in agreement. "Yeah, that's a little harsh. It was kinda cute, really." That made Teddie's day, as his face lit up with hearts literally in his eyes. He leaped for Nepgear with his arms open, trying to embrace her in a bear hug. "Oh, Gear-chan! You think I'm cute!!" Nepgear blushed while thrusting her hands out to block the incoming bear. After Teddie comically bounced off and land surprisingly well on his feet, Nepgear playfully waved her finger. "Now what did I tell you last time, Ted?" The short animal walked back to the others with a stride of a penguin. "I know, I know...I'll be a good little bear..."
Terry's eyebrow twitched at how easy it was to manipulate the girl chasing bear. Especially someone as innocent and timid as Nepgear. "Didn't she only call his one-liner cute, though?"
Another thought crossed his mind as he watched Teddie enjoying a moment with Nepgear, who was petting him like a dog. "How on Earth, or wherever I am, are these characters interacting with each other? I need to as IF about this later."
A poke to his forearm from IF disrupted his thoughts.
"Hey. I'm going ahead to deal with my own business, then I'll come for you. We'll talk in private, but in the meantime..." Terry just nodded. "I told you before. I understand." Gently pushing her towards the cabin as he made his way to Teddie and Nepgear. "I'll keep quiet." IF looked at him as he poked Nepgear's forehead, joking about getting lost while watching IF walk ahead. A small smile crept on her face before she walked into the cafe. Teddie watched as Terry's eyes continued to gaze at his superior officer. "She's quite the cutie, huh?" Terry looked him directly in his big eyes. "Not really my type." Teddie narrowed his eyebrows in doubt. " Grrr! I don't believe you!" Terry almost laughed at how cute and non-threatening he sounded. It didn't help that Nepgear was holding back her own fit of giggles, either. "Well, she would be cuter if she hadn't tried to kill me less than 10 minutes ago..." Teddie swooned, leaving Terry in shock. "I know! She fights like a battle angel, using dark magic and acrobatics to capture my heart..." Terry finally lost it. "What
the hell is wrong
with you!?" And Nepgear could hold her laughter no longer.
After everyone calmed down, Teddie moved closer to Terry. "We were never introduced, were we?" He held out his stubby paw. "The name's Teddie. I'm the server, part-time bear
-tender and the most adorable mascot here at Field's Cafe! Pleasure to meet you!" Terry smiled and took the small paw into his own. "Cool. I'm Terry." Nepgear, who was on her portable device, waved at the two. "I'm sorry, you two, but I have to go now. I just got an assignment, so can you give Terry the history behind the name of the cafe, please?" Teddie lit up like a firework. "Of course, my precious Gear-chan!" Nepgear smiled, giving him another quick pet. She then walked to Terry, still holding her device. "Um, could we...trade contact information? I'd like to keep in touch without bothering IF about it." Terry shrugged and reached to his side, pulling out a thin smartphone. "Sure. It'll help in case you get lost again." Nepgear's cheeks puffed again. "Please stop bringing that up! It's embarrassing! Hey, that's kind of an outdated phone, isn't it?" Terry raised an eyebrow and looked at the phone in question. "It's a new model where I'm from. And judging by your tablet, I can't really say anything in my world is as advanced as that. It looks like it can do...Nepgear?" The lilac hair girl was looking at the small device in Terry's hand, completely tuning out whatever he just said. "Can I...upgrade it? I can bring it back within the hour! Quicker even!!" Terry backed up a little as Teddie shook his large head with his eyes closed. "Oh boy, seems her own flip has been switched..." Terry mentally panicked as she noticed her eyes lot up in a similar manner to the bear whenever he saw a girl. "Um...crap! What did I just get myself into!?
...yeah, I guess. Just let me send a message to a couple of people in case they want to reach me...whoa! 5 o'clock already?!" Nepgear looked confused. "Wait, that can't be right..." She checked the time on her tablet. "It's only 2:32. Your clock must be set for your home. Don't worry, I'll fix that right up!" She held out her hands with a cheerful, yet mischievous spark in her eyes. Terry was reluctant, but decided for that it was better than actually knowing what horrors lied behind those nearly glowing eyes. "Do you promise to give it back immediately when you're done?" Nepgear quickly flipped her device with her right hand like a handgun and slipped it with ease into its pouch strapped to her leg of the same side. Giving him a thumbs up she transformed and held out her hand again. "Give me 7 minutes!" Impressed, Terry finished sending his text message to his two friends and powered down his phone before handing it to the floating CPU stand-in. "Well, I'll be waiting here. And don't do anything cra-"
"...annnd she flew off." Teddie said while Terry watched as the clouds were parted when Nepgear rushed up like a rocket. "She tends to do that." Terry turned to the bear, who gestured him to follow. "I mean the phone thing. Nepgear's a real technophile and likes to build, break and rebuild all types of electronic devices like phones, robots, etc. She even wanted to turn her headquarters into a giant mech at her command." Terry's eyebrow twitched. "Was it the safest idea to give it to her..." Teddie and Terry walked under the awning of the wooden cabin. "You've got nothing to worry about! She's beary talented!" Terry smirked and shook his head and Teddie continued. "Anyway, Gear-chan wanted me to tell you the history behind this place. It got the name from a greenhouse located right under this very establishment!" Terry leaned against one of the support beams and placed his hands in his coat pockets, glad that Ted didn't replace every 'very' with a 'beary'...and then mentally slapped himself for rhyming. "No shit? That pretty cool, Ted. Do you work in there, too?" Teddie, not fazed by his company's language, nodded. "That's not in my job description, unfortunately. The only ones allowed in into that area are the ones involved with its creation. I can show it to you through the Vegetation Hall." Terry ran a hand through his hair. "And that is..."
"I'm getting to that! So impatient...Almost all of the food and drinks served here are grown directly below us." "Hence the name, right?" Terry smiled as he moved off the beam. "You got it!" Teddie said. "I'd tell you more, but Mizuki will have my head if I'm late again and I've got 10 minutes left..." "And 7 minutes! Here you go, Terry." Teddie and Terry were startled by the sudden landing that Nepgear made as she landed in front of them. "I made a few adjustments so you have a much better signal, as well as dimensional time zones! You should be able to call anywhere now...unless you hit a dead zone. Nothing you can really do about those...but I am trying!" Terry chuckled a bit as he received back his heavily modified cell phone. His original phone was a glossy black smartphone, while this new device was a gray tint with blue trimmings. "Hey, that looks really nice, Nepgear!" Nepgear reverted back to her human form and clasped her hands excitedly. "R-Really!? I'm so glad you like it-Oh! I almost forgot...here." Teddie watched as Nepgear handed Terry a matching case for his belt. As he accepted the case, he then noticed that his phone was much wider than before and that it had a little more weight. Placing the phone in the case, he shook it a little and found that not just the phone, but the case itself was extremely well made with quality and care. When he checked his message and call logs were all intact he smiled at Nepgear and politely bowed for her generosity. "This is incredible!" He said while looking through his new phone to see any new features. "See, Terry? No need to worry about it." Teddie said as he removed his head and a human stepped out from the now apparent bear costume.
Terry flinch at the event taking place, but nonetheless remained calm. Teddie's human form was a pale skin blonde, teenage boy. He wore a red shirt with thin yellow stripes and a pair of ocean green jeans. He also wore a small red rose on the upper left part of his shirt. "She made an N-Gear for me, too! Isn't she the greatest?" Teddie swooned while waving the N-Gear in front of Terry. While similar in design, his was uniquely made with his bear outfit's colors. "Gear-chan only makes these for people she trusts beary much, so take gooood care of it!" He said while picking up his costume. "Here's a neat feature she added!" He pressed on the screen of the tablet and his costume broke down into digital blocks before vanishing. "What the heck was that?!" Terry said, shocked. Nepgear walked closer to the two. "It's an item storage. Your own personal traveling inventory. I call that function the PI..." Terry slapped his forehead. "Nope. Not getting into this name thing again. But thank you, really." He said as he finished replacing his original case with the new one. Looking through his apps once more, he found the PI function and zapped his old case into storage. Teddie nudged Terry's arm with his elbow. "Pretty cool, right?" Terry smirked at the younger blonde. "Beary cool."
Just as he did, IF walked outside. "Hey! I'm done and you three are still about here!? And don't tell me...He's got you doing those bear puns, too!?" Teddie looked at his device and freaked. "Yikes! I've gotta go! I'll see you later, Terry, Gear-chan!" He waved as he moved passed IF, who stopped him by grabbing his arm. "Hey. I need to talk to you on your break. Can you do it?" Teddie quickly nodded before rushing inside to begin his shift. IF smirked and walked to Nepgear and Terry. "So, why did I give you my credits card again, Terry?" His stomach growled in reply. "I think that
answers your question, IF. Let's go eat something." Nepgear shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I still have a mission to finish. I just came to drop that off for Terry." IF knowingly nodded, both giving each other a casual wave before Nepgear rushed out into the open, transformed once again and flew off. "Now then. Let me take you inside where we can speak privately." IF said looking up at Terry, who held the door open for her. Walking inside, they were greeted with a hall made entirely of glass. Even the floor was glass. And no matter where you looked you saw beautiful acres of land covered with green underneath their feet. "Amazing. I could really use something after seeing something like this. Especially after everything that I've seen so far. And with Teddie telling me about how the food is grown here and made from scratch, I can't wait to see what's on the menu." IF smirked. "Well, you're in luck, 'cause you also get to see what the others here don't." Terry looked down at her in confusion. "You mean inside the greenhouse?" IF stopped at the fork at the end of the hall. With the left leading to the crowded tables and bar, the left path leading to a closed door with no apparent way to enter. IF pulled out a white and red key card, scanning it on a pad where the handle would normally be. "No, actually. Only the certified gardeners and the owners can go in there. Ugh... Didn't that bear tell you anything?" Terry raised an eyebrow at IF's accusations. "Anyway, we'll be going underneath the greenhouse." The door slid opened, revealing an elevator, and IF stepped inside. "C'mon, Terry. We can have the food delivered down to us."
Terry stepped into the elevator and IF pressed the button 'B3' and the door closed with a mechanical 'ping'. Terry looked through the glass and saw all the different, colorful foods that lined up perfectly throughout the area. As they moved lower and the greenery was replaced by dirt and concrete, the light began to fade to where only the elevator's inner lights were the only source. Once it came to a stop with another 'ping', the door opened and another, more reserved bar was revealed. Dark oak and wine red covered the area, bathed in light from small lamps hanging on each wall. On the back wall behind the bar sat a variety of wines, spirits, and plenty of seltzer water. While there weren't many people inside, there were a group of 5 at the far right booth. And of the five, there were two that Terry knew. One of them was Teddie and he was in his bear outfit again. His outfit was tailored to look like a butler. He was serving a drink to a blonde that was the second and more important person he knew.
"K-Karla...? Is that...really you?"
The young blonde quickly turned around and jumped out of the booth past Teddie and rushed at Terry with tears flying off her face.
"Terry!! Oh my god, Terry! What's going on? Where have you been!? Where's my brother!?" Terry instantly froze up. "Shit...Kid's at the arena..."
...Wait. Who are you, again?"
A young pale woman who looked no older than 25 years old stepped away from the booth she was sitting at. Moving a strand of moonlight gray hair away from her pearl black eyes and popping a piece of candy into her mouth, she glared at Terry with narrowed eyelids while walking towards them. She wore a pair of loose black jeans and a plain white button up top untucked. On top of that, she wore a large white lab coat with black lining inside. She stopped in front of Terry and calmly took in his appearance before focusing on his dark shades. While Terry hardly moved a muscle, her deep stare was starting to make him nervous. She stopped when she noticed a very protective glare coming from Karla. After popping another small candy into her small mouth, she placed her hands on her hips and turned her head to IF. "Nepgear make a new friend?" IF smirked. "Yep. Those Neps sure know how to pick 'em, huh, Ash?" The petite woman smiled back. "Seems like it." She pointed to the new pouch that was on Terry's waist. Karla leaned down to get a closer look at her friend's new apparatus. "Wow, you even had time to get a new phone before
coming to rescue me? How important am I to you, Terry!?" She teased with narrow eyes. Terry looked at her under his shades, letting the Karla get a look at his dark blue left eye. "Hey, I didn't ask for it. She just gave it to..."
"Wait a minute! It's a was a girl
!? You were flirting and
"I'm not your brother."
"Well no one just hands someone else a brand new phone with a custom case..."
"Jealous, lil' Bit?"
"...yeah, a little."
Terry smiled gently at Karla before glaring at the silver haired woman. "But you never answered my question. Who are you?" He pointed at her, the light reflecting off his shades made him even more menacing. "Depending on your answer, my mood may change." Karla placed both her hands on his arm holding them down, giving Terry a disapproving stare. The young woman stepped back and casually introduced herself. "Fine. My name is Ashley. Ashley Mizuki Robbins. And for god sake, we didn't kidnap her!" Karla straightened her posture, holding her hands behind her back looking at Ashley. "Thank you for clearing that up. Terry's protective of me sometimes." Terry raised an eyebrow. "...Only sometimes, lil' Bit?" Karla rolled her eyes. "Anywho, you said you knew my brother was at the colosseum, but it doesn't make sense. How do you know this?" Ashley placed her hands in her pockets hidden inside the lab coat and looked up at a small TV hanging in the corner above their booth. The only one in the bar, in fact. Pulling out a thin white bar, she pointed it the tube and it turned on, revealing...
"...the ropes, Amy has made the life point gap between her and Vernon even wider as his Crystal Beast Amethyst Cat will take a hit!"
"And so will his life points!"
Karla and Terry stood up in shock to see Murdoc facing off in a YuGiOh duel against Amy Rose. Taking a seat across from Karla, Ashley leaned her head on the back of her hand and smiled at the two dumbstruck strangers. "It's not hard to figure it out when a random, unknown duelist makes it into the qualifiers with someone else's player registrant ID. Honestly, I've been following his activities to make sure he won't cause any other problems for us. He's...interesting, to say the least. Facing unknown odds to reach out to his lost sister by playing a child's card game. Brave, but a little silly, I guess..." Karla balled her fist when a larger, calm hand from Terry covered it. "Are you making fun of his efforts?" Terry asked with a serious tone. Ashley shook her head. "No. If anything, I'd like to challenge him." Rapping her pink fingernails lightly on the table, she pulled out a YuGiOh deck of her own. "I was supposed to be up there, in fact. But work's more important, so I let my opponent take the buy. Problem is, he's
not the one I gave my spot to."
She narrowed her eyes at Terry. "Tell me. You wouldn't happen to know anything about this, would you?"