|Mega Man Recut: Season 1
Author: BlackRussian PM
Fighting Dr. Wily while watching your tomboy sister is tough for anyone, even a robot. Add an evil brother who'll kill you unless you switch sides, things get ugly. Retcon of the Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon. Episode 12: "The Mega Man in the Moon"Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Crime - Rock & Proto Man - Chapters: 38 - Words: 300,590 - Reviews: 241 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 23 - Updated: 05-14-13 - Published: 05-18-11 - id: 7003050
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Metal Man will not debut in this episode. Don't be sad though, there are plans in store for him.
Episode 9: Future Shock
After being exposed as Wily-bots, Cold Steel exploded in mainstream popularity. Contrary to what Gemini Man had said, Cold Steel fans were very loyal, and the bizarreness of Cold Steel's brief concert tour only ignited the public's interest. Added with the novelty of being the first rock band comprised entirely of Robot Masters and the intrigue that they were outlaws who no longer produced music, Cold Steel was already being sensationalized as the greatest one-hit wonder of the 1990s. They had even unwittingly started Full Metal, a new genre in rock which rejected the use of consistent rhythms and the constraints of diatonic scales and intonation in for a dirtier, mechanical sound that mimicked a that of a rusty carburetor. It was impossible to escape their legacy. Even malls which use to be a refreshingly sanctuary of dullness played remixes of Cold Steel's original single, what had been fan titled 'The Record that Captivated the World.'
Roll not happy about any of this. "Ugh, I can't believe those losers are still on the radio," she groaned one day to Mega Man while walking back to their hotel in Sacramento. They had just passed an Electric Pizza which was blaring Cold Steel to a bunch of dancing teenagers, the late December wind pulling at their jackets. "Just goes to show you what sort of crap is popular."
"You were one of their fans," said Mega Man.
Roll harrumphed. "Don't remind me, I kissed that grille-faced Gyro idiot. Yech!"
Mega Man was glad the idea of kissing a Bad-Bot repulsed Roll so much. "Yeah, that was pointless and dumb. I hope you've learned your lesson. Besides, I never thought you'd be the type to want a boyfriend."
Roll thought about it for a moment. "No, I think I'd like to have a boyfriend," she said decisively. "Just not some lying, smug, jerk who works for Wily."
Mega Man sighed, but decided as long as there wasn't a bot in the picture yet, he wasn't going to think about it. He had a lot more troubling matters to worry over than Roll dating or even Cold Steel. Roll had noticed Mega Man's change in temperament, and during the past month while Dr. Light had been busy with business, she had been doing her best to cheer Mega Man up, taking him everywhere from arcades to skate rinks. She even dragged him to a museum exhibit on the history of Dmitri Mendeleev and the periodic table of elements, which he'd normally like. But Mega Man couldn't shake it. His life had taken a depressing turn.
"You've been brooding more than usual lately, what's up?" Roll asked.
"I'm not brooding."
"Just tell me, Rock."
Mega Man sighed, tucking his hands in his pockets."It's been six months. I haven't recovered any of Dr. Light's stolen Robot Masters, and Wily's still creating messes," he said without looking at her.
"You shouldn't let that get you down. Things will get better," Roll said quietly. "Besides, you're not working on this case alone, the police haven't been able to catch Wily either. Plus you got me, Dr. Light, Rush, Met, and Eddie, and we're all doing our best."
"It's like I've made no difference."
"Look at it this way, at least thing haven't gotten worse," Roll said pleadingly. "You've stopped Dr. Wily from selling shrunken cities, turning all the humans in the world into slaves, doing whatever he was going to do with that joystick...you've done a lot of good. Why can't you see it?"
Mega Man didn't respond.
Roll sighed. "You've been really down since you came home from Mount Shasta. Rock...what happened up there?"
Mega man didn't answer Roll. That last fight with Proto Man had ended too close. Nightmares invaded his dreams every night of the snowy mountain top, being held tightly in Proto Man's arms, on the verge of death...Mega Man was confused, and he didn't understand. He didn't want to understand anymore, he just wanted everything to end. But how can I win? he thought bitterly. I don't want to kill Proto Man, but he'll kill me. At least, he will unless I join Wily...
Above all, he felt frustrated and disappointed with himself. Someone else was better cut out for his job. He knew he had reached his limit of what he could learn on his own and needed some sort of trainer with more experience to help him defeat Proto Man. The best law-abiding fighting robots were the Robot International Police, and officers Time Man and Enker had come the closest he had ever seen to capturing Proto Man. He also knew they answered to an older, more powerful robot named Duo who also must be very skilled defeating outlaws. But though Time Man and Enker would probably be more than willing to share what they knew about fighting robotic criminals, Mega Man had little contact with either since he left Geneva. Their jobs were classified, therefore they weren't allowed to talk to him.
Regardless, Mega Man had to defeat Proto Man. There was no away else around it, Dr. Wily and the rest he could figure out. Then maybe he could lead a normal life. He cold go back to being Rock and just be Dr. Light's lab assistant, and never have to fight again. He didn't care what happened to Dr. Wily and Proto Man.
There was still the matter of closing the case on Cold Steel officially. Fictus never ordered a police investigation or even questioned Mega Man while the California State Police secured Dr. Wily's hold in Mount Shasta, though he had made it perfectly clear that he still did not welcome Mega Man in California. Still, Mega Man felt obligated to meet with Fictus at least once after the aftermath to pool their knowledge and resources to catch Dr. Wily, but Fictus's unwillingness to talk to him made the attempt fruitless.
"Do you think I could get some assistance from the police searching for Wily?" Mega Man asked politely. This felt like a reasonable request, as Dr. Wily was as big of a problem to Fictus as he was to everyone else. He had heard from Roll that the Californian Robo-officers were very impressive. And he himself was growing tired.
"None can be spared," Fictus replied coldly. "You act as though Dr. Wily is the only criminal running lose, meanwhile I have my hands full enforcing state law, busting crime cartels, keeping the seams of California from falling apart..."
Mega Man did not envy Fictus's job. "But I've heard California has gotten a lot safer over the years."
"And I want to keep it that way. Trouble follows you," Fictus replied curtly.
Fictus may have been right about this. There had to be millions of less guarded places in the world vulnerable to a robot invasion, but Dr. Wily seemed content to stick close to Dr. Light, and since Dr. Light, Mega Man, and Roll were still in California, Dr. Wily seemed to have extended his visit as well. Mega Man thought he must have another hidden base other than the one they had uncovered at Mount Shasta, for Dr. Wily kept raiding up and down the coast. The police had been able to chase him off a few times, but the crime spree had yet to be capped, and Mega Man had a nasty feeling that this was just the forerunner of something bigger.
"It'd be great if there were a policing Robot Master," Mega Man mentioned wistfully, heading out the door. He knew he should probably just give up on Fictus, but he had to try.
Fictus's eyes flickered up sharply to Mega Man, and Mega Man knew he had spent the minuscule quota of patience Fictus had spared him. "I only use drones. Robot Masters are too untrustworthy. We do not run things the same here as we do in New York. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more work to do. I'm still cleaning bits of an illegal arms dealer off my car during a turf shoot out that went bad last Tuesday." Then, as if in afterthought, added, "Merry Christmas, Mega Man."
Dr. Light had been increasingly busy with work. When he was not out, he stayed in their hotel room's study, either busy with paper work or at his computer or conferencing on the phone, only permitting Met to enter with a food tray at meal times. Mega Man and Roll were certain that he must be close to starting a contract with a new client, though they did not know for whom or what he would be working on. Dr. Light was keeping all of this to himself, therefore Mega Man and Roll were surprised when he invited them to come along with him for a business outing on New Year's Eve.
"I'm meeting with some scientists at a local research lab," Dr. Light explained as he drove them through Sacramento's crowded streets in a blue rental car. He said this is a light, airy voice as if this weren't a big deal, but Mega Man and Roll knew better. He had asked Mega Man to come in full armor, which could only mean that he wanted to show Mega Man off, which meant that they were meeting with someone important.
They pulled into a driveway towards the outskirts of the city. As Dr. Light rolled down the window at the security gate, Mega Man and Roll peered out the window a read the sign. Written in clear stainless steel lettering were the words: Citadel Research and Innovative Technologies: Scientific Discovery Branch.
"Hmm. Must be part of several laboratories," Mega Man commented to Roll as the security guard waved Dr. Light through. This laboratory looked much larger than Dr. Light's home laboratory. It was a clean building with neat hedges running along a small parking lot. They were greeted at the front door by a robotic escort, who lead through a white tiled lobby to a reception area where they met the two head scientists.
"We're so pleased to have you here at Citadel's Scientific Discovery Lab, and we are most excited to show you around our facilitates," said the first scientist happily, clasping Dr. Light's hand. He had a thick white mustache under a lumpy nose, and a gap between his front teeth gave him a slight lisp. "I'm Dr. Goss—"
"And I'm Dr. Stinson," said the other scientist, also extending a hand. He was a gaunt man with a sloping forehead and a long, sorrowful face.
"I'm glad to meet you both in person," said Dr. Light. "I have heard many wonderful things about Citadel already, and was only too happy to visit the Scientific Discovery Lab. I have brought two of my creations along, Roll and Mega Man, if that is all right."
"Of course of course, robots are most welcome here, though I dare say you won't see many," Dr. Goss chortled. He nodded towards the laboratory's entrance. "Shall we?"
Dr. Light, Mega Man, and Roll followed Dr. Goss and Dr. Stinson to a door, which Dr. Stinson opened by placing a finger on the biometric lock. The door slid open to reveal a spacious lab, several times the size of Dr. Light's at home. There were rows of workstations filled with silver instruments, meters and scopes of all sizes, computer terminals and spare parts. A spectacular glass dome looked out gray sky above. The scientists working around the lab were a cheery bunch, and as Dr. Goss and Dr. Stinson showed Dr. Light around, they'd enthusiastically share what they were working on, which seemed to focus on a whole range of sciences from electrical engineering to space exploration.
After they had taken a turn looking at each of the different stations, Dr. Goss and Dr. Stinson lead them aside so the scientists get back to their work. Dr. Light took this opportunity to formally introduce Mega Man and Roll. "These are my greatest creations," Dr. Light said proudly. "And I can say without hesitation that they are the finest examples of robots you will ever find. Mega Man is a combat robot, built to counter the forces of Dr. Wily, and an advanced-android."
"Very impressive. Not only keeping New York safe, but Geneva and San Francisco as well," said Dr. Goss, smiling warmly at Mega Man. "It truly is an honor to meet what is America's first robot hero."
"And this is Roll. She too is an advanced android."
"Most lifelike." Dr. Stinson cleared his throat and looked back at Dr. Light. "We know your background is in military technology—" he began.
"And we are glad of it," Dr. Goss quickly put in, inclining his head at Mega Man again.
"But we do not design weapons in any of Citadel Laboratories," said Dr. Stinson.
"Of course," Dr. Light said understandingly. "It is not my ideal field either—"
"But we do what we must for funding," said Dr. Stinson.
"What we prefer to do is conduct research, to answer questions and riddles of the world around us," said Dr. Goss.
"—seeking knowledge for the betterment of humanity," added Dr. Stinson.
Mega Man hid a small smile. This all sounded right up Dr. Light's alley.
"Which brings us to the other room on our tour. What I am about to show you is something truly extraordinary, something we must trust all three of you in total confidence, for it is top secret," said Dr. Goss, leading them to another locked door. "This is our high security lab, reinforced with three layers of super steel.
"I use the same material for my home laboratory," Dr. Light said.
Dr. Stinson nodded. "Sturdy stuff."
The door to the high security lab swung outwards, revealing a dark opening. The next room was even larger than the last, circular, and much darker, lit only by the computer monitors ringed around the outside. In the soft blue light, the scientists working in here looked like ghosts in their starched lab coats. The floors had a gentle slope towards the center of the room where a glass canister sat on a brass pedestal. Dr. Goss waved them forward and they all walked down into the room for a closer look. Mega Man's spirits perked up a bit as they looked into into the container. It was filled with a cloud of glowing specs, like violet firework sparks freeze framed in a camera still. He had never seen anything like it before. "What are they?" he asked.
"We aren't sure. We call them chronitons," answered Dr. Stinson.
"Were they created in Citadel Labs?" Dr. Light asked.
"No," said Dr. Goss. "The chronitons originate from mankind's greatest unknown: outer space. This sample was sent to us for study from NASA. They were discovered drifting alongside the Space Station's Trimaxion Navigator, and as you can see there is almost a hundred of them—"
"—Eighty-eight of them, to be exact. A collection of subatomic particles that emit an unidentifiable radiation that appears harmless, but we've sealed it in a vacuum container until we have determined its exact nature," Dr. Stinson finished.
"We do not often have opportunities such as this to examine such a specimen so closely," said Dr. Goss, "And most of our research pursuits lie in technology, not space. But, as technology is so closely linked to the natural world—"
"It is of vital importance to understand as much as possible about the inexplicable," Dr. Light finished.
Dr. Goss grinned. "I couldn't have put it better myself. The chronitons could be the next breakthrough in renewable energy, or they could just be the atomic equivalent to a rainbow," he tittered. "A phenomenon that is pretty to look at, but has no practical value. But it is of no importance either way, as our goal is never to produce, but to learn."
They all stared at the chronitons for a moment in silence. A few of the particles winked like stars.
"How long will it take for you to figure out what they are?" Roll asked.
"Oh, that will take years and years of research," said Dr. Stinson. "These were only just discovered, and we must do many different tests and measurements. Surely you have observed from your creator that science is an art of patience and observation, with experimentation only after we can satisfactorily rule out all potential hazards with handling these chronitons. Why, it could take until the next century before we can even explain why they glow this particular shade of purple, but the important thing when dealing with the unknown is not to be hasty."
Roll took a step away from the chronitons. Mega Man could tell that such extensive testing for so little of a result was not at all appealing to her.
Dr. Goss was checking his wristwatch. "Well, that concludes our visit. We are all leaving early tonight for New Year's Eve. Time to go out for fun and bring in 1995 on a happy note." He lead them back out the high security lab, through the lobby and towards the door while he, Dr. Light, and Dr. Stinson maintained a friendly, casual conversation, then they all bade polite goodbyes.
"We will keep in touch," said Dr. Stinson.
"Wow, if Dad got a job with Citadel, he'd be set for life," Roll said later that night when she, Rush, Met, and Mega Man were alone in their hotel. "Not that he isn't already, but you saw that lab!"
Mega Man nodded in ascent to Roll's statement, but he also missed Dr. Light's home laboratory and hoped Dr. Light wasn't planning on moving out to California for a permanent position at Citadel.
"Wasn't it cute how they kept finishing each others sentences?" she giggled. "Dr. Light fits in with them like peas and carrots." She flopped down on the couch, grabbed the remote, and switched on the TV.
"So...humans stay up until Midnight every New Year's Eve?" Mega Man asked.
"Yeah, it's a tradition to stay up to see the first new hour of the year, you know...as a symbol of leaving the past behind and getting a new start in a brand new year," answered Roll. She didn't add that humans also usually went to wild dance parties with loud music because she knew that wouldn't interest him, and the likeness of Cold Steel being played at any given club was high. "That should resonate with you, what with the lousy year you've been having."
"Seems kind of a late time to stay up just to watch the clock change," Mega Man remarked.
"It's not that late...yeeesh, you're such a dweeb Rock."
"Yeah, well, I'm tired," Mega Man grumbled, but he settled down on the couch next to Roll anyway .
They watched television in peace for a few hours when Dr. Light suddenly burst into the room, looking deeply troubled. "Mega Man, it's—" he began, the satellite scanner beeping frantically in the his study.
"Dr. Wily, and he's after Citadel's technology," Mega Man filled in automatically.
"Are you kidding me?" Roll groaned. "It's New Year's, can't he take a holiday like everyone else?"
"You can stay here," Mega Man said as he stood up and took his helmet from the nightstand.
"Heck no, I'm coming too! This is way more fun than watching a stupid ball drop anyway," Roll said.
The Skullker was hovering directly above the Citadel's Scientific Discovery Laboratory's glass dome, which had been blasted apart. Guts Man and Cut Man were already on the ground, creating a mess as they shoved equipment into the Skullker's red tractor beam. They both looked up as Roll and Mega Man landed in the room, Rush transforming back to all fours with a growl.
"Cut Man, Guts Man! Hold off Mega Man, he mustn't spoil my plan now!" screamed Dr. Wily over the loud speaker above.
"Your blasting days are over, Mega-twerp!" Guts Man roared, punching his fists together.
"I'm going to cut you down to size, blue boy!" Cut Man chimed in, both of his hands transforming into sheers.
Mega Man and Roll both braced themselves for attack, but Mega Man was looking toward the side of the room. The biometric lock of the high security laboratory had been blasted open by what looked like a bazooka, the door leading to the chronitons standing ajar. Mega Man knew by the foreboding feeling in his chest who had broken in to that darkened chamber. "Roll, fight Cut Man and Guts Man, I'm going in after Proto Man," Mega Man called, nodding his head over to the door.
"I got your back, just make sure you take him out!" Roll answered, transforming her utility arm into a circular saw. "And be careful!" she added chidingly.
Mega Man felt uncertain about leaving Roll to take on two Robot Masters by her own, but it would be worse if he reversed their positions, and someone had to stop Proto Man. "Stay boy, I gotta do this alone," Mega Man told Rush to alleviate his worry. Rush whined, his ears flattening against his helmet as he pawed at Mega Man's boot. "Guard Roll," Mega Man instructed, but Rush still seemed reluctant to let Mega Man go, perhaps because last time he had left his master to face an enemy alone Mega Man had been miserably defeated. "Stay, boy!" Mega Man ordered more forcefully as a Rolling Cutter zipped over his head. Rush whined and backed away. Mega Man took one last look at Roll, who was ducking the lab table Guts Man had thrown at her, before plunging into the dark room, the battle outside deadened by the thick super steel walls.
Proto Man was standing before the glowing chronitons, looking down at them curiously.
"Proto Man!" Mega Man shouted.
Proto Man looked back at Mega Man, casting him a smirk. "Tight security in this joint! Had to check my bag at the door."
"You're not leaving here with anything from Citadel!"
"You're already too late."
"What do you mean?"
"Tonight's the night," Proto Man answered simply. "Wily's got a head start on his New Year's resolution, and I gotta hand it to him, this scheme's fool proof. He's been collecting rare and valuable parts from California's best labs to build an amplifier for his protocol-disruptor, big enough to reach all of Sacramento. Or course, at that scale, the signal's weaker...won't affect Robot Masters, but the guidance system of robot drones will get pretty messed up. I just dropped by to pick up the last few things on Wily's shopping list, then it's show time."
Shit. With all of Sacramento's robot drones out of commission, Dr. Wily wouldn't need Robot Masters. The city would be perfectly vulnerable for an invasion. Mega Man gritted his teeth. "There's no way I'll let that happen!"
Proto Man chuckled. "You know I wouldn't be telling you this if there was any way you could still stop it. Everything's already set up for New Year's, the only thing you can do is sit back and watch the fireworks with the rest of the city...if you last that long."
Mega Man didn't know what to do. Was Proto Man telling the truth? Was Dr. Wily planning something outside their raid at Citadel's Scientific Discovery Laboratory that he couldn't stop?
Proto Man looked away from Mega Man. "So this is what all this security is for," he said, lifting the chroniton canister from its brass pedestal. "Must be something really special."
Mega Man bristled. "Proto Man, put those down. You have no idea what they do," he said quietly.
"I bet no one knows what they do, and that's why they're so valuable," Proto Man said. The glow of the chronitons twinkled off his visor, but he was looking back at Mega Man. "Could be just the thing Dr. Wily needs to power up his next super gadget, he's got a real knack for putting mysterious stuff to good use."
"Put those down!" Mega Man repeated angrily, drawing a plasma cannon. He had stepped deeper into the room and now was now only yards away from Proto Man, any closer and he knew he'd provoke an immediate attack.
Proto Man laughed. "Or what, you'll fight me?" He had drawn his blaster too. "You've been real lucky so far." His smile was unfriendly, and Mega Man knew he was referring to the end of their last battle.
There was a disturbing casualness to Proto Man's voice, that killing Mega Man would be no big deal to him. Mega Man felt his nerve slipping, but he found his voice and said, "You're scum, Proto Man, and I won't let you take the chronitons to Wily!"
"Hmph. Even though you don't have brains, at least I know you're no coward either," he said approvingly.
Mega Man wasn't ready for this yet, not so soon. His eyes traveled over to the canister in Proto Man's hand. Well, even if he couldn't defeat Proto Man, he could at least stop Dr. Wily from getting his hands on the chronitons. Mega Man took a breath and fired meaningfully in Proto Man's direction. Proto Man must have been expecting Mega Man to shoot at him for he darted across the room in one of the evasive maneuvers he was so good at, but he halted at the door, empty handed. The canister had exploded upon impact of Mega Man's plasma blast, all that remained was a silvery cloud of powdered glass around the brass pedestal.
"There, now no one gets them!" Mega Man shouted with a triumphant grin.
Mega Man realized by the look on Proto Man's face that he had just done something very rash and very stupid. The chronitons, no longer bound by the special case, fanned out into the center of the room to form a sphere. They slowly started to rotate as though on a fixed axis where the canister had been moments before. Mega Man had no idea what was happening. As the chronitons spun, objects began to whirl slowly with them, first small objects like paper clips and loose tacks, then as the chronitons picked up speed filing cabinets and super computers began scraping along the ground in circles with them. Mega Man's feet slid against the polished tile, an invisible force pulling him towards the chronitons, which were whirling faster and faster until they streaked into violet rings.
Proto Man had edged away from the phenomenon growing in the center of the room, grabbing the door frame as an anchor as his scarf whipped violently around him. He was watching Mega Man, but Mega Man was too close to the chronitons, and he felt suddenly as though an invisible lasso had snagged him around the waist and yanked him into the light. At this, Proto Man withdrew from the door frame completely, slamming it shut behind him.
Now completely trapped in the chronitons' pull, Mega Man heard a strange crackling noise looked down to see clusters of violet sparks pelting against him like paintballs, leaving a funny prickling sensation and a smear of light that began to spread over his titanium skin like a glowing corrosion. As he held up a hand to watch light incase his fingers, the whirling brass pedestal struck him hard on the side of his helmet and his vision went black. He was on the edge of unconsciousness, a thick roar filled his ears and he dropped like a weight. A minute later he recovered and was able to see again, but even then he wasn't sure if he was truly awake, for what he saw didn't make sense.
He was spinning very fast as though in the vortex of a tornado. There was a spectacular flash, and the lab melted into broad stripes of color. Another flash, and everything went dark as if the electricity had cut out. A flickering flash and the stripes of color were back, but dissolved quickly into dust, a fine whirling mist. Flash. He was in darkness again, darkness as deep and black as space. Flash. He could see the chronitons (or were they stars?) twinkling violet in the vast blackness very far away. More flashes. He was spinning as though throttling deeper into space, but even in the frictionless vacuum he felt like he was on fire, every inch of him burning. He could see the origins of the flashes, each of the distant chronitons were bursting like flash bombs, faster and faster, until finally everything erupted it a gigantic boom and Mega Man really did lose consciousness.
When Mega Man came to, he was covered in scattered lab sheets, a filing cabinet, and a table, which he brushed off easily. He was unhurt save for a pounding in his head. I didn't know robots could get headaches, he thought wryly, rubbing his throbbing temples and remembering a vague abstract dream with flashing lights. He pushed the pedestal that had clocked him off his chest, and stood up.
He had no idea what had happened since he had lost consciousness, but Citadel's entire laboratory was leveled to ruins and a crowd of people were gathered around him, looking curious and a bit frightened. Mega Man could only hypothesize that the chronitons had a negative reaction with earth's atmosphere, creating a minor explosion that destroyed the Scientific Discovery Branch. He snapped to attention, remembering Dr. Wily and Proto Man. Was he too late? Had they gotten away? Where were Roll and Rush?
He looked urgently to the humans. They were dressed in lavish costumes, billowing robes of grey that looked silly and rather uncomfortable. He wondered if they were a theater troupe or part of a circus, though he remembered seeing neither on the way to Citadel's Scientific Discovery Lab.
While Mega Man had been clearing his head, the crowd whispered amongst themselves.
"Vat in the verld is he vearing? Just look at zat color—"
"Vhere did he come from?"
"Who is he?"
"...Und vhy is he here?"
Mega Man wondered how hard he had hit himself on the head. Why were these humans speaking to each other in a very bad, very offensive impression of a German accent? "Excuse me," Mega Man said loudly, gaining there attention.
The crowd fell silent.
"Vat are you doing in the middle of the schtreet covered in garbage?" a woman asked boldly. She had deep purple painted lips.
Mega Man ignored this question. "Where's Wily and Proto Man?" he asked.
The crowd backed away from him uncertainly.
Mega Man wasn't sure what had startled the crowd. "Is Wily gone?" he asked again.
"Schtop! Schtop!" cried a man.
"Do not schpeak his name vizout shoving zee proper respect," the woman said in indignation.
The woman's rebuke confused Mega Man. "What?"
"He schpeaks wiz an archaic dialect, like he's from zee twentiez century," wheezed an older man with a monocle to his neighbor.
Mega Man was becoming impatient with this nonsense. These humans appeared to be acting in some strange game that they should be overgrown for. "Please, this is very important. There is a dangerous criminal with hostile robots on the loose—I need to find him quickly, or we're all in a lot of trouble."
But this warning did not move the crowd. Instead, they seemed to be becoming suspicious of him.
"Vhy are you vearing zat?" the woman demanded, pointing at Mega Man.
"This? It's my armor, I'm a robot," Mega Man explained. He felt this was very obvious with him being on the News every week, but the crowd didn't seem to recognize him.
"Vat a vulgar color for a robot," the woman sniffed again.
"Silence, you fool! Do you want to be decognitized?" a man at her side hissed.
"But have you ever seen a robot armored in that shade of blue?"
"He could be a decoy, a spy sent to test our loyalty!"
"But he's not vearing a badge," another said.
Badge? Mega Man noticed for the first time each human was wearing golden 'W' insignias embroidered on the breasts of their robes. This just kept getting weirder and weirder, and he began to feel as uneasy of these strangely dressed humans as they appeared to be of him. What were they, anyway? Cold Steel fans who had taken their devotion to an unhealthy level?
"Vell? Who are you?" the man with a monocle demanded.
"Me? I'm Mega Man!"
The crowd flinched and shrank away as though Mega Man had just starting spitting acid at them. Then with a terrified wail, they turned on their heals and ran.
Mega Man was nonplussed. "...Huh?" The humans had scattered, scrambling and tripping over the hems of their robes in their eagerness to rush down the street and around the corner. "Hey, where are you going?" he called, running after them. Then he stopped, catching a good look at his environment for the first time.
The skyline that use to be filled with bright skyscrapers was ragged and torn, the buildings completely different. There were tall black towers with small, forbidding windows, others with severe iron spikes jutting out from every corner, and still others of stacked floors that looked uncannily like mile-high columns of human vertebrae. The skies were murky with smog. Helicopters with roving searchlights zoomed through the air. Each street light gave off a dim, greenish glow from a skull-shaped bulb. Somewhere a robotic voice was heard through the streets reminding the occupants that curfew was in forty-five minutes. "...Where am I?" Mega Man asked aloud. He turned slowly, taking in the astonishing sight from every angle. But most unbelievable of all, Dr. Wily's face was everywhere, grinning from purple banners hanging from every pole, leering from an unending grid of posters papering the walls, cackling maniacally from fifty feet flat screened televisions hovering between buildings. The wicked points of 'W's adorned every rooftop, every store front, every vehicle—Dr. Wily's brand.
Mega Man wasn't sure what to make of it. It looked as if...but it couldn't be. Proto Man said Dr. Wily had been preparing for awhile, and he himself had seen Dr. Wily pull off impressive feats, but never this fast...
He spotted a gray-robed teenager shuffling down the crosswalk ahead and quickly ran to stop him. "Hey! I need your help."
"What are ya, crazy? Get away from me," the boy said, quickly brushing him off. "Why are you dressed like that anyway? You tryin' to get arrested?"
Mega Man was relieved that the teenager was at least not using a phony accent. "Why do all these buildings have Dr. Wily's name on them?" Mega Man asked, sweeping his hand around.
"They're his buildings. Duh."
The teenager tried to continue on, but Mega Man stopped him again. "What do you mean they're his buildings? He can't just put his name on them, they're part of the city!" he said indignantly.
"It's his city." The teenager started walking again.
"He doesn't own the city either!" Mega Man stammered, falling into stride beside him. "It's part of the state, part of a country!"
"Yeah, well that's all his too."
"But, that'd mean..." Mega Man trailed off. He looked again at the neon lights flashing Dr. Wily's name.
"You're kinda slow, aren't ya?" the teenager said, squinting at him.
"But...it wasn't like this, just a few minutes ago," Mega Man said weakly. "...Right?"
"Look, weirdo. I don't know where you've been or what you're on, but I can't help you out. I'd be jailed if I'm late for my night shift at the Robot Manufacturing Plant."
But Mega Man still didn't get it. "Where am I?"
"The United Empire of Dr. Wily, where else?" said the teenager in a voice that showed he couldn't be more annoyed.
"The United Empire of Dr. Wily!" Mega Man exclaimed in anger. "But he can't have an empire—"
"He can have whatever he wants, it's his world, we just live in it. Now buzz off before I call a cop-bot!" the teenager snapped, and stalked angrily on.
Mega Man had stopped in his tracks. "Wait...you're telling me Wily has taken over the world?" he asked weakly.
The teenager looked back and gave him a sarcastic smile. "Uh, yeah. Welcome to the year 2025."
To be continued...