Author: Burenda PM
When Protoman feels that his position with Wily is being threatened, he decides it's time to kill Megaman once and for all. But as a robot with free will - and perhaps a hidden agenda - will he really go through with it? Megaman Cartoon universeRated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Words: 6,066 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 1 - Published: 03-01-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2287169
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story takes place sometime after the end of season two.
Protoman scowled, giving the wrench in his hands a rough jerk. That stupid blue twerp of a brother just didn't know what was good for him. If he'd just get that fluff filled head of his out of the clouds and listen to me, he'd know there's no point fighting us! He's been lucky so far, but one of these days the doc'll come up with something he can't counter, can't interfere with, or just plain doesn't get here in time to do anything about it. He paused what he was doing to push his yellow scarf around to dangle down his back, safely out of the way of what he was doing. Luck only lasts you so long. In the end, skill and intelligence is all you can really count on, and between myself and Wily, we have more than enough of both to beat those irritating little do-gooders any day. If he'd only join me, I wouldn't have to kill him. His mouth twisted into an annoyed frown. Idiot...
"But Dr. Wily... We're just curious!" That high pitched whine could only belong to one robot: Cutman. The scowl on the red raider's face deepened. Half the time they lost to his little brother, it was because of the incompetence of Wily's other bots. Protoman certainly wouldn't cry if any of them ended up in the scrap heap courtesy of the world's favorite blue bomber.
"Yeah," grunted the other half of the not-so-dynamic duo. "We wanna see the new bot you're buildin', doc." Yup, that was Gutsman. All the subtlety of a bulldozer in a china shop. Wait a second...
"Why haven't I heard about this?" Protoman muttered, setting down his tools. The machine Dr. Wily wanted him to build wasn't anything important anyway - just busy work to keep Proto from doing... less constructive things with his time. He could finish it later - after he found out about this 'new bot.'
"When I say out, I mean OUT! Knowing you two clumsy fools, you'll end up breaking him before I even finish him!"
"No, we won't! We'll be careful! Right, Guts-"
With a small smirk on his face, red and grey robot leaned against a wall with his arms folded and watched as the two Wily bots trudged out of Dr. Wily's laboratory. Those two would never learn. If you want to find out something from the doc, you gotta act like you're not interested. Then he can't help but yap about it until your circuits overload.
"Sheesh," grumbled Cutman. "He didn't need to cut me off." Protoman rolled his eyes.
Once Cutman and Gutsman had disappeared around a corner, Protoman pushed himself away from the wall and stealthily approached the door to Dr. Wily's lab. It wouldn't hurt to do a little reconnaissance before prying via pretended indifference, so long as Wily didn't notice him snooping. Nothing ticked the old man off faster than thinking someone was sticking their nose where it didn't belong. But he wouldn't get caught. He never gets caught...
...at least, not unless he wanted to be caught.
"Time to see what new moron Wily's added to the 'family'," he chuckled softly, poking his head cautiously through the door. A quick glance around the lab revealed just about what Protoman had been expecting. There was Wily, standing slightly hunched over a lab table with a laser cutter in his hand, and inconveniently blocking Protoman's view of what was on the table. From where he was standing, he could only catch a few flashes of tangled wires, cluttered tools, and an overall impression of black, certainly not enough to get a good idea of what this bot was going to look like when he was finished.
Well, then... I guess it's time to take a closer look.
Now, Protoman was made of metal, through and through, which made sneaking up on people somewhat difficult to do, but when he put his mind to it, he could be as silent as any mouse. With slow, careful steps, he approached the aging scientist from behind, waiting until he was only a few feet away before casually announcing his presence. "Hey, doc."
"Gyah!" Dr. Wily yelped, whirling around to glare at his creation. "Proto! How many times have I told you not to do that!"
It was all Proto could do not to smirk at the doctor's reaction. "Eh, I think we're up to a hundred and fifty six now. So..." He easily sidestepped Wily, plucked up a piece of the new robot - probably part of his arm - and examined it with disinterest. "Pretty fancy work there, Dr. Wily. What're you building? A new garbage disposal?"
"Give me that!" Wily snarled, snatching the unfinished appendage away from Protoman. "And the only trash this robot will be compacting is that meddlesome blue troublemaker Megaman! This new robot will be my most powerful creation yet, rivaling even your abilities, Protoman."
"What?" Startled, the red raider nearly took a step back before catching himself and dismissing the claim as more of Wily's empty boasting. There had been many 'latest and greatest' inventions before, but so far none of them had worked nearly as well as Protoman had. Protoman secretly attributed that to the fact that Wily had had Dr. Light's help in building him. After all, two heads are better than one, especially when both belong to geniuses. "Look, doc, I don't care if you want to build another tin can with a blaster to help you take over the world, but Megaman is mine. If anyone is going to kill my brother, it'll be me," he all but growled.
Dr. Wily sneered. "Well, you haven't exactly had much luck doing that, now have you, Proto? Maybe it's time I replaced you with a robot who's more... capable."
Oh, now, that does it! "You and I both know I'm the only one who stands a chance against my little brother!" Proto snapped. "I am your greatest creation, Dr. Wily. Nothing you can build will ever be better than me."
"Don't you take that tone with me! Have you forgotten who created you? I am the one who built you, Protoman, and I can just as easily take you apart," Wily threatened darkly, one hand clenching tightly over the laser cutter. "Need I remind you that you cannot disobey a direct order from me? You would not be able to resist if I told you to lay down and hold still while I dismantled you piece by piece!"
The silence that followed that threat was so thick it could probably have deflected a blaster shot. Protoman glared at the old man for several long moments, then forcibly relaxed his hands from the tight fists they'd curled themselves into. "Fine," he said tersely. "Go ahead and build your new robot. It won't change the fact that I will be the one to take down Megaman." He quickly turned on heel and stalked out of the lab, knowing that if he stayed any longer he'd probably say something that'd bring the doc dangerously close to acting on his threat.
Not that it'd do him any good... but Proto didn't want Wily to know that just yet.
The truth was, Protoman had never been bound by the obedience protocols Wily thought had been programmed into him. However, he'd learned his lesson the day he'd first been activated in the lab of Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. When he'd revealed his ability to disobey direct orders, the first thing Dr. Light had wanted to do was completely scrap his computer guidance system and start over from scratch, which would have utterly destroyed his memories (few as they were), his personality, and everything that made him... him. Thankfully, Dr. Wily had not only stolen the plans for his systems, but he'd stolen Protoman as well. Wily had reconstructed his body, fixing the damage he had managed to inflict on himself while testing his body's abilities as well as enhancing him in both height and fighting power. In his arrogance, though, he had done nothing to correct the flaw in Protoman's guidance system, since he had been the one in charge of that particular piece of programming.
He probably assumed the only reason I'd refused to obey was because Dr. Light was the one who ordered me to stop, and since Dr. Light wasn't the one who programmed my guidance system, I didn't have to obey him. That was how Wily had intended to program him - to obey only the German doctor and no one else. Too bad for him that he goofed and essentially gave me free will! I obey him because I feel like it and because I'm not exactly keen on being a rogue robot with nowhere to go. Besides... The visible portion of the red robot's face cracked open in a toothy grin. I like blowing things up. Plenty of opportunity for that while I'm working for Wily.
Even so, it disturbed him more than a little that Dr. Wily was thinking about replacing him. True, none of the mad scientist's creations to date were much to brag about, at least not in comparison to Protoman... but that didn't mean Wily couldn't come up with something more advanced than him if he put his mind to it and didn't conserve his resources as he had with the other bots. The man was a genius, after all, and there had been advances in robotics since Proto had been built. Protoman frowned. "Hmph. I'll show him. He doesn't need to build a new robot to destroy Megaman when he has me on his team, and I'll prove it!"
And, of course, the best way to do that would be to kill Megaman once and for all.
"Look... it's Megaman!" The words were spoken in a hushed whisper, but Mega's robotic ears were able to pick it up easily. He glanced in the direction it had come from, but all he could see were bushes and trees.
"Shh! He'll hear you!" came another whisper, followed by a faint rustling from one of the bushes.
"So? It's Megaman! He's a good robot, remember?" the first voice replied. "Not like those mean old Wily bots."
"He looks lonely," murmured a third voice. "I wanna play with him!"
Megaman smiled. Children were yet another thing he loved about this park. "You can come out, you know. I won't hurt you." The bushes shook again and one of the children squeaked, but then the three kids emerged from the leafy foliage, two boys and a little girl. The smile on Mega's face widened and he dropped to one knee to appear less threatening to them. "Hi there," he said. "My name's Megaman."
"Yeah, we know," said one of the boys, a kid who looked about twelve with a mop of messy red hair. Mega recognized his voice as the one who'd said Megaman was a 'good robot.' "I'm Ryan. This is my friend Corrie, and that's my little sister, Michelle."
The brown haired boy named Corrie folded his arms and eyed Megaman skeptically. "Are you really Megaman?" he asked.
"'Course he is!" Michelle piped up, wrinkling her freckled nose at her brother's friend. "Who else would he be?"
Corrie snorted. "One of Wily's robots in disguise, of course!" he said enthusiastically. "Any minute now he'll pull a mask off his face and it'll be Gutsman!"
The little red haired girl squeaked and darted behind her brother, peeking out at Mega with wide eyes. "You're not really Gutsman, are you?"
Mega couldn't help but laugh, recognizing Corrie's teasing for what it was. "No, I'm Megaman. Don't you think I'm a little small to be Gutsman?" He knew, of course, that he was still really big to a kid as little as Michelle was, just as all adults seemed equally tall to those who were very small. Even so, he figured Michelle was old enough to be able to see that there really was no way he could be the bulky former construction bot.
"No, he's really Protoman in disguise," quipped a new voice from behind the blue bomber. "All he'd have to do is take off his shades and scarf, slap on a coat of blue paint, and no one would be able to tell the difference." Mega whirled around, eyes widening in alarm at the sight of his brother leaning against a tree not ten feet away. Protoman smirked broadly. "Admit it, Protoman. You got busted."
"Protoman!" The blue armored bot eyed his older brother warily even as he took a stance between Protoman and the children. Though he kept his eyes on the red raider, his next words were directed at the children behind him. "Ryan, Corrie, Michelle, go find your parents."
Ryan opened his mouth to protest, "But-"
"If I were you," Protoman cut in softly, suddenly, "I'd do as my brother said, kid." When the children still showed signs of reluctance, Protoman formed his arm into a blaster and shot a bolt of plasma into the air. It wasn't aimed at any of the three, but it still had the desired effect of sending the kids running. Once they were out of sight, the red robot tossed his little brother a cocky grin. "Well, like I always say: Why use words when blasters work just as well?"
"What are you doing here, Protoman?" Mega asked levelly, his own blaster at the ready. Please don't let it be another plot of Wily's. Not here. Not with children nearby. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. "And what's with the sudden concern about innocent bystanders? You could have used them against me." He usually wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but this was Protoman. He wasn't about to take anything his brother did at face value. "It wouldn't have been the first time you've taken hostages."
"What? Can't a guy want to talk to his brother without a bunch of kids around?" Protoman teased, voice tinged with the hints of a fake pout. "I'm hurt."
"Can it, Protoman!" Megaman snapped, already irritated at having his peaceful morning ruined by his brother's sudden appearance. "We both know this isn't a social call." He just wanted Protoman to get to the point of this little 'visit,' then get out of here... even though a part of him still wished that his brother would stay and be a part of his family in more than just name. But he knew better than to get his hopes up. The last time that had happened, it had nearly ended in disaster for both the blue bomber and the city he protected. Since then, he'd had to come to terms with the fact that his brother was evil and there wasn't anything he could do about it.
"No, it's not," the elder bot agreed coldly, all hints of the smile gone from his face. "I'm here to give you one last chance to join me, brother."
Megaman growled. Not this again... "You already know my answer, brother. I will never work for Dr. Wily!"
"I wouldn't be too quick to reject my offer if I were you, Megaman," Protoman said, surprising Mega a little with just how... serious he sounded. Whenever he'd turned his brother down before, the red raider usually just smiled, shrugged, and said something along the lines of 'suit yourself.' Mega eyed his brother warily, but didn't say anything, allowing Protoman to continue. "In case you haven't noticed, all the times we've fought so far I haven't exactly been going all out. All those missed shots, neglected opportunities, the times I just happened to let one of the others get in my way... none of it was coincidence, bro. I've been going easy on you. I didn't want to kill you."
Mega's blue eyes widened in shock. If that was true... No, it can't be true! I would have noticed! Besides which... "But... but you're a robot! You can't disobey Wily's orders, and I know he's told you flat out to destroy me! More than once, even!" But even as he spoke, his mind came up with more than one occasion where his brother had done some small thing to help him, like when he'd told Megaman about the disrupter chip he'd planted, or the time he'd saved Mega from falling over a cliff. It can't be true... can it?
"So?" Protoman shrugged casually. "I don't have to do what he tells me to do. I just do it 'cause I feel like it. If you ever examined your own actions and motivations, you'd probably find that the same thing applies to you. We were made from the same plans, after all."
"What are you saying, Protoman?" Mega asked suspiciously.
"You really think you do the things you do because that's how you're programmed, bro?" Protoman scoffed. "If that's the case, then how were you able to lie to Dr. Wily that one time he captured you? You really think Dr. Light programmed you with the ability to lie? I can lie, too, y'know, and Wily sure as hell didn't program that on purpose!"
"B-but you've lied to me under Dr. Wily's orders..." the younger bot stammered.
"He probably just thought my so-called obedience protocols were overriding the honesty subroutines," Protoman pointed out. "But I've lied even when the doc hasn't given me orders to. I've even lied to him, bro. I do what I want, and so can you."
"What are you saying?" Mega asked again, bewildered. "It almost sounds like you're saying that you... we... have free will. That's impossible! We're robots, Protoman!"
"Highly advanced robots, the products of two of the world's greatest geniuses working together over a period of years," Protoman replied calmly, as though robots with the ability to think and act for themselves, even going against their creators' wishes if they wanted, was an everyday thing. "Oh, don't get me wrong. They probably didn't mean to give us free will, but they are human and they are getting old. Mistakes happen. With me it was a matter of Dr. Wily being a little careless with my programming, trying to make sure I wouldn't have to obey Dr. Light. And even though Dr. Light redesigned part of the plans he used to build you, he was still going off my original schematics. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that he could have missed that tiny piece of programming, giving you the same thing Wily gave me."
It made sense. Eerily so. Or maybe... Dr. Light wanted me to have free will... If Megaman had had a heart, he had no doubt it would be pounding in his chest right now. "But... that means... you could join me if you wanted to."
"But I don't," Protoman said flatly. "I like doing what I do. I like working for Wily." It might have been Mega's imagination, but he almost thought he saw a flicker of emotion cross the visible half of his brother's face. It disappeared too quickly to be sure. "Now, I'm giving you one last chance, bro. Exercise your free will. Join me, or this time I won't hold back."
The decision was easy. Free will or not, Megaman knew that he could never turn his back on his creator or the city he loved. "No deal, bro," he said grimly.
Protoman sighed and lifted his blaster. "Pity... We would have made a great team."
Megaman dodged the shot, of course, but then he was nearly Protoman's equal. It would have been rather disappointing if his little brother went down too easily. Proto snapped off another blast of white-hot plasma, then quickly dove to the side to avoid his brother's return fire. As soon as he hit the ground, he immediately rolled away - and good thing, too, because the "blue bomber" wasn't just a name Megaman had picked up without earning it. As fast as Proto could roll away, Megaman's burst of rapid fire was just as fast, the little sizzling balls of energy slamming into the ground where the red robot had been mere nanoseconds ago. A brief lull in the barrage was all the time Protoman needed to send a bolt of plasma in his brother's direction and pull himself up off the ground.
"Tell me something, Protoman," Megaman grunted, barely ducking in time to avoid that last attack. "Why didn't you want to kill me befo- Wah!" The blue armored bot hadn't realized that Proto's blast hadn't really been aimed at him, but at the tree behind him, and he had to send up a flurry of panicked shots to incinerate the tree before it toppled onto him and pinned him to the ground.
"You know what they say about birds of a feather, bro," Protoman said with a shrug. Just to keep his brother on his toes, he tossed a casual shot at Megaman's feet, knowing he was still distracted from the close call with the tree. "I guess I always hoped you'd come to your senses and join me." Was it just his imagination, or did he actually hear Mega swear just now? Naah...
The younger bot quickly leapt away, though his moves weren't as graceful as they normally were - probably something to do with the fact that one of his titanium-clad feet was trailing smoke, courtesy of Proto's last attack. Megaman saw the smirk on his brother's face and scowled before firing off another round of plasma shots. "So why are you trying to destroy me now? What changed?"
The question pulled the red raider out of his cloud of battle euphoria, though not so much that it distracted him from dodging those blasts and returning fire. He knew what had changed, but it wasn't exactly something he wanted his little brother to know. No way was he going to admit that Dr. Wily was threatening to replace him! "Nothing," he said quickly, probably a little too quickly. "Nothing's changed. I'm just tired of fighting you, that's all. Decided it was finally time to end this little feud of ours."
Megaman frowned, but Protoman didn't give him any time to dwell on his answer. This time, however, he didn't use his blaster to launch another attack, instead lunging forward and catching Megaman off guard with a well placed fist to his gut. The younger bot doubled over, gasping as the air was knocked out of his artificial lungs, then tumbled to the ground when Proto delivered a vicious blow to the back of his head. Protoman stared blankly down at his brother's fallen form, then grimly pointed his blaster at the blue bomber's head.
"I told you I'd been holding back, little brother..."
A faint groan told Proto that, though downed, Megaman was still very much awake. Mega shifted slightly, turning his head so head could glare blearily up at his brother. "Yeah... well... So have I!" And with that he snapped up his buster faster than it could register on Proto what was happening...
...and a burst of plasma far larger than it should have been slammed into Protoman's chest. Despite his sunglasses, the whole world turned a blinding white for one brief moment... then everything went dark.
'I didn't want to kill you...' Protoman's words came echoing back to him. Maybe... maybe even there at the end, he still didn't really want to destroy Mega. Then again, maybe I'm just reading too much into this, the robotic hero grumbled silently, picking himself up off the ground. I really shouldn't get my hopes up...
All too aware of the ruse he'd just used on his brother, Megaman approached the unconscious robot cautiously, ready for the moment Protoman jumped up to reveal that he, too, knew how to 'play possum.' But nothing happened, and soon Mega was at his brother's side, wincing at the sight of the damage he'd done to the older bot. The chest plate covering Protoman's vital circuits was partially melted, even to the point that some of his inner wires were exposed, several of which were a smoking mess. No wonder he wasn't moving...
"Sizzling circuits," Mega murmured, wide eyed. "Literally! I'd better get you to Dr. Light, fast!" He didn't even think twice about it before scooping his brother up in his arms. Helping people was what he did... and Protoman was his brother... Now if only it wasn't such a long walk back to Dr. Light's lab. Sheesh. Of all the days to leave Rush at home...
"...spotted... Wily had done, but... le... alone. Felt... for the best."
Protoman's systems slowly came back online to the slightly distorted sounds of two people speaking in the next room over. It took him a moment to recognize their voices: Megaman and Dr. Light. Now why would he be hearing their voices of all people?
"...that why... didn't reprogram him? Because he... free will?"
What are they doing in Dr. Wily's fortress? he wondered muzzily, feeling rather detached from reality. Something must have hit him pretty hard to put him in this kind of a state. A vague memory of blue and white floated to the surface of his memories, but it didn't mean anything to him. Not at first.
"I could no more... -program Protoman than... you, Mega. For good or for ill, he... the way he is because he chose to be. I'm not going take that decision away from him."
The voices were getting closer. Protoman frowned. That bothered him for some reason. His eyes traveled lazily around the room as he tried to figure out why... then stopped and widened slightly in surprise. This isn't any room in Skull Fortress! I... I recognize this place... This is Dr. Light's lab!
"Why did Protoman attack me? From what I could tell, he was flying solo this time, no orders from Dr. Wily or anything."
Proto's eyes darted around the room again, confirming that this was indeed the place from his earliest memories of waking up, the place he'd come to when he'd tricked his brother into thinking he'd joined the good side. Everything was the same, from the huge, complicated computers lining the walls to the cabinets of various supplies tucked away in the corners, to the very table he was lying on. What am I...? That little twerp! He kidnapped me!
"Who knows, Mega? He has free will, so there's no telling what his motives might have been."
It all came rushing back to him. Wily, the new robot, the fight with his brother, and that super powered plasma there at the end that had caught him by surprise. Proto automatically lifted a hand to his chest to explore the damage, but his fingers met nothing but smooth metal. He blinked. Dr. Light must have repaired me... A faint shudder went through his wires at the thought. Repairs meant that the scientist had had access to his inner circuits, could have done anything he wanted to do... even reprogrammed him! He took a moment to inventory his systems and thoughts, trying to detect if there had been any change to him beyond the superficial, but he came up empty. So either Dr. Light hadn't touched his core programming, or the old man was very good at covering it up to make Proto think there had been no change. At this point he was more inclined to believe the latter than blindly trust the former.
"Come, Mega. Let's go check on your brother."
Oh, hell no! Proto snarled silently. You've done enough already! Unfortunately for him, Dr. Light's lab didn't have any windows except for several skylights set high in the domed ceiling, and the only door to the room was the one Megaman and Dr. Light would be using to walk in any minute now. Not one to let that get in his way, the red raider quickly hopped off the lab table and scanned the room for something to stand on, something that would get him close enough to the lowest skylight to jump the rest of the way.
Like... say... those filing cabinets right over there.
Protoman allowed a small smirk to cross his face, then quickly set to work pulling the cabinet to a more useful position directly beneath the skylight. It only took him a few moments, but with each passing second he knew his brother and the man who'd helped create him were getting closer and closer to that door, maybe even putting a hand on the knob right now. Without a single backwards glance, Proto leapt on top of the filing cabinet, then jumped up with every bit of power he could muster, yellow scarf flapping wildly behind him. He ignored the shards of glass that showered down on him as his fist broke through the skylight, quickly clamping down on the rim of the window so he could pull himself up. Only half aware of the yells of surprise and alarm coming from below him, the red robot skidded down the rounded surface of the roof, then dashed away into the night.
Old. Obsolete. Replaceable. Was that really what Dr. Wily thought of him? After his disastrous fight with his little brother, Protoman couldn't help but wonder if maybe there was some truth to those words. No outside interference, no holding back... and I still lost to him! He clenched a fist in frustration, but resisted the impulse to slam it into the wall. He hadn't announced his presence to Wily yet, and didn't plan on doing it anytime soon, either. He really didn't feel like confronting the German scientist just now.
The more he thought about it, the more Protoman wondered if maybe it was time he struck off on his own. Wily didn't need or want him anymore, and while Proto was certainly no psychic, any dummy could see that if he stayed it would only be a matter of time before the friction between him, Wily, and the new bot would become unbearable - especially if it became apparent to the doc that his original creation could think for himself. Even worse would be if the new robot could, too! Knowing Wily, he probably reused the basic plans he'd used for Proto, only upgrading what needed to be upgraded. The piece of programming in charge of free will was such a small thing, and Wily would have no reason to think he'd done anything wrong the first time. Only one other robot besides Megaman (which Wily had had no hand in) had shown any signs of free will, and Iceman had been part of the set of robots Dr. Wily had stolen from Dr. Light and reprogrammed for his own purposes. Rather than take the blame himself, Wily had simply dismissed Iceman's 'malfunction' as something Dr. Light must have caused.
Proto's lips curved upward in a small, humorless smile. Yeah... if I decide to 'disappear,' Wily would probably blame that on Dr. Light, too. Everything that goes wrong is either Megaman's fault or Dr. Light's fault... never his fault.
It wouldn't be easy, though, living as a rogue. He'd have to take care to draw less attention to himself, which meant he'd need to cut back on favorite past times like mass destruction of public property. For a moment, he wondered what he would do with himself. It didn't take long for the answer to come to him.
"Eh..." he said with a shrug. "I'll do whatever I want."
With a last glance at his creator and his new little brother, Protoman finally turned his back on them and silently withdrew from the lab.