A Different Place
by Aaron D.
The robot opened its eyes for the first time. An odd face (the first I've even seen, he thought in the back of his mind) greeted him to his new consciousness. Powdery green hair stuck out in lazy spikes atop the cinnamon-brown skin that covered the other's face. The newly-awakened robot looked deep into the other's crimson eyes and asked, "Who are you?" Howling winds and clumps of snow flew past his face, but strangely, he was not cold.
Despite the battle scars and burns covering the other's features, he grinned earnestly. "I think you know," he said simply.
"Oh," the new robot said in his high-pitched voice. "You're MegaMan Trigger!"
"That's right," Trigger said. "And wbo are you?"
"I'm...Data! I'm your Peripheral Memory Storage Device!" Extremely thrilled at this recognition, Data began dancing around gleefully.
Trigger brushed stray green strands of hair out of his eyes. "Hey, stop that. We've got work to do." The Purifier (what was that, again?) grunted as he shakily stood up. "Sera's stopped functioning for the moment. We need to seal her up before her self-repair programs progress too far."
"Okay!" Data agreed cheerfully. "What should I do?"
"She and I were...fighting," Trigger gasped, limping as Data fell into step beside him. "It took a lot out of both of us. I started it, really. I was trying to destroy Eden's main systems because of what the Master...well, you'll know all of this after download, won't you? Anyway, I'm having trouble getting her into the stasis capsule. I used a lot of parts from my legs and some from my arms to build you, so I'm not as strong as I used to be."
"I'll help!" said Data. He and Trigger approached a huge pile of snow, which the Purifier quickly dusted away with his hands. Underneath was what appeared to be a young woman with the same coloration as Trigger. Looking at it curiously, Data helped his creator put the inert body into a nearby container. Trigger sighed as the girl's body fell limply into it, then firmly closed the transparent lid. At his master's command, Data hit the flashing red button that sealed the stasis chamber.
Trigger let out a long breath as he slid down, resting his back against the container. "That ought to hold her for around a hundred years, assuming no one opens it before then. That should give me time to recover." He squinted as though a sharp pain was shooting through him.
"Are you okay, MegaMan?" Data asked with concern. "Can I do anything for you?"
"Uugghh," Trigger grunted. "I'll be just fine in a little bit, Data. First there are a few things I have to tell you." Trigger used his left arm to boost himself up and shift his body into a more comfortable position. "There's a program inside of you, Data," he explained, his baritone voice grave. "When I upload it, it'll initiate my transformation. I'm going to hide out among the betas for a few decades."
"What are the 'betas'?" Data asked.
"Yuna calls them the 'carbons,'" Trigger explained. "They're the people that inhabit the surface world-created from a corrupt form of the Master's genetic code. I carry the true form within my memory banks, and soon, so will you. Anyway, as soon as we transfer the program to me and activate it, I'm going to change."
Trigger smiled. "Well, first of all, my colors are going to change. No more green hair."
Data's mouth formed into an "O" of surprise. "No?"
Trigger's fingertip pointed to his scalp. "That's right. The green's going to go to my eyes." He pointed to his dark-colored cheek. "And then this brown color's going to go to my hair."
"So what color will your skin be, MegaMan?"
"The same color as the carbons'," Trigger answered. "Kind of the same color as freshly-cut wood, maybe a little lighter."
Data accessed his memory banks. "Oh, I see. That'll look weird, won't it?"
"You'll get used to it eventually," Trigger assured him. "Also, I'll become a young child, equivalent to a carbon child of one or two years. I won't be able to do anything, basically. You'll have to make sure I'm safe until the carbons find us."
"Yeah. Eventually, my child self will probably be raised by a family of betas. I don't really care which one; I think if I'm just adopted by the first random family which comes along, it'll give me a more real experience than if you and I choose a group of them."
Data cocked his head quizzically. "Are you sure about this, MegaMan? It might be better if we put some thought into it?"
"No," said Trigger, "I want to make sure it's completely random. It's the only way to truly experience life as a carbon-they don't get to choose their families, so why should I?"
"If you say so."
Trigger chuckled. "I'll kind of miss being grown up-actually, I guess I won't, really, once you have my memories-but I guess I'll eventually grow up again anyway, won't I?"
"Uh, I think so..." Data said, confused.
The wristband on Trigger's blue armor began beeping. "Uh-oh. Looks like Mother's systems are coming back on line. We'd better get out of here before Yuna can locate us with Eden's sensor array. There's a small boat just off the shore of the island. I...can't make it in this state. Get ready to download my memory files, Data."
"Okay," Data said, unsure of himself. What if he messed up everything?
"Don't worry," Trigger said, reading Data's thoughts. "You're going to do just fine. Do me a favor, though, okay? I don't want you give me back my memories, or even tell me who I am, until my body has matured again. Not unless something really bad happens, like the Carbon Re-Initialization Program, or if it looks like Mother is about to find us. I've shielded you from her thoughtscans, but she still might catch on to what we're doing." Trigger clenched his eyes shut. "Ahhh. Here we go, Data. Download begins...now!" Trigger stiffened as his memories began shifting to his storage device, as his body began rejuvenating.
Data shivered, a tear leaking from his eye. "Don't be afraid, Data," said Trigger, the pitch of his deep voice raising as his body youthened. "As long as we're together, everything will be all right." With the last, the Purifier's voice sounded more like a boy's than a man's. Data watched as his creator shrank even further, leaving appendages and layers of skin behind him. As it was shed, Trigger's skin became lighter and lighter in color, until it stabilized at a shade that Data assumed must have been the same as the betas.
When the transformation was finished, Trigger's hair was a dark brown, while his eyes were, indeed, the same shade of luminous green that his hair had been before. The boy looked up expectantly at Data, though the Peripheral Memory Storage Device was pretty sure he'd already downloaded all his maker's memories. Data picked up the child in his stubby arms and began jogging for the boat anchored on the southern shore of what the betas called Forbidden Island.
A seafarer's life was never an easy one, especially the way the world worked now, with those blasted skyships flittering around everywhere with their damned refractors, limitless sources of fuel. Captain Jonial Namagem paced grumpily back and forth on the deck of his steamship, the Blue Barnacle. He'd stick with good, old-fashioned coal power, thank you very much. Jonial would be damned before he'd...what the hell was that?
A rowboat was floating adrift in the ocean current. Jonial signaled for the helsman, which, this shift, was his second son Harkam, to steer closer, then he lowered one of the ship's boats into the brine. As Jonial rowed closer to the drifter, he saw that it had only two occupants, a young child and a odd-looking monkey bot. Never a big fan of robots himself, Jonial grumbled softly as he lifted the two into his own boat. After seeing nothing else of interest in the derelict, he shoved it off and headed back to the Barnacle. "Poor lad," he whispered to the babe, "Your parents probably died in a shipwreck, what? Huuhh...I don't know what to do with you. We certainly don't need another mouth to feed."
Jonial handed the two castaways up to his brother, Jann, and hopped of the boat himself. "What will we do with him, brother?"
"I don't know," Jonial admitted. "He certainly can't stay on the ship. Mayhaps an orphanage at our next port of call will take him in."
"We might want to keep him around, Cap'n," said Jann.
"Why should I be doin' that?"
"You know that most folk we meet don't feel as if workin' on board a seaship's worthwhile, eh?"
"Aye," Jonial agreed, motioning for his brother to continue.
"Well, if we keeps the boy around, maybe he'll be another useful hand for the family." Jann winked at his brother.
Jonial nodded. "You may be right. I'll keep it in mind."
He did more than keep it in mind. By the time the Blue Barnacle had made port at Pokte Island, Jonial was ready to add the child to his crew. Although there'd be a few years where he was a drain, Jonial knew the boy would be old enough to do a cabin boy's work by the time he was seven, and after that, they'd find a place in the ship's hierarchy for him. The kid would also give his grandchildren another playmate, as well.
"Hey," the portmaster said as Jonial handed him the ship's roster, "what about the kid, here?"
"What's the problem?"
"I don't have him listed here. What's his name?"
Jonial scratched his head. "The lad is a...foundling, of sorts." The portmaster nodded gravely. So many Diggers these days left orphaned children behind them. "We haven't really gotten around to namin' him yet." Jonial gave it the briefest moment of thought, then scribbled the first thing that came to mind.
The portsman barked a laugh. "Ha! Like the T.V. show, right?"
"What?" asked Jonial, peering again at the letters he had written. "Oh, I didn't even realize. I was just writing our last name backwards. That is kinda funny, isn't it?" The ship captain cast a look at the young, green-eyed boy, who was at the moment joining his robot companion in a simple, joyous dance. "I hope it ain't an omen."
The portmaster shrugged. "Who knows?" He looked at the name Jonial had scrawled on the roster once more.
NEXT: Growing up Nautical
Author's Note:This story will be a bit different than many of the ones I've written before, not only because it's in a different universe, but also because I'll be trying to take a more somber tone than usual (though I'll still try to stick some laughs in, of course!) If you're lucky, you might see a Servbot before long (hm). Also, while I usually try to finish things in one shot, this one's going to be very, very, VERY, serialized. God bless, ADR.