Klangfarbenmelodie

Written by: Sellie

Chapters 1-4 Beta Read by: Geko

Disclaimer: Rockman/Mega Man is copyright Capcom Co. Ltd.

Authors note: This story has been altered since it was posted on chapters five and six have been altered. As for the sequel that Polyrhythms it is in the process of being written. There will be a special Polyrhythms extra on my website either at the end of this month or next. Also to tide you over there is a hand drawn Rockman comic (not related to this story though). I figured I'd plug my site while I was posting the new version of the story. Go to it - the link is on my profile page.

1

Rock bounded down the concrete driveway to his home, a gentle breeze blowing his short black hair. While he appeared to be an average boy he was in all actuality an advanced android capable of feeling all the emotions of the average human. Created by Dr. Light, he considered the elderly man his father. Rock lived with his creator, also living with them was Rock's sister Roll, who was also an android, and his robotic dog Rush.

Dr. Light had created a handful of other robots that remained close to the family. One was Auto, a large green robot who moved out a while ago feeling the need to set up a business for himself. Others were Eddie, a robot built like a small red toolbox, and Beat a blue bird-type robot. Both had eventually moved in with Auto, after Dr. Light had suggested they keep the green robot company. Tango, a green cat, theoretically lived in their home, but was prone to wanderlust like most cats and usually only stopped in to visit them for a quick pat before setting out on her own again. The last member of the family was Rock's big brother, Blues. Blues has a strong sense of independence which in a way reminded Rock of Tango. His solitary behavior made it very confusing for Rock to know where his big brother stood on any matter. All-in-all Blues was very cat-like. While Blues spent the majority of his time away from the household, he did come for brief visits frequently enough, much to Rock's delight.

Reaching the door of his home Rock opened it. He had spent the morning in town, but not for any particular purpose. He was taking a break from his usual exploits. Rock was known to most of the city by another name, the name Rockman, known defender of the world against the evil exploits of the nefarious Dr. Wily.

Rock walked through the house frowning as he did not see anyone. Aside from the ticking of the grandfather clock that stood in the abandoned living room and Rock's footsteps the house was devoid of sound. Rock decided that Roll must have left to run some errands, taking Rush with her. Maybe Dr. Light was down in the basement laboratory, as was usual. Feeling hopeful, the frown disappeared from Rock's face as he headed for the stairs.

A strange sense of foreboding struck Rock as he stood at the edge of the stairway. The sense that something was out of sorts. His frown returned as he rushed down the steps, taking them two at a time. He stopped cold at the landing.

Files and mechanical components were scattered around the room. Tables were overturned and broken. Plasma burns marred the walls. "Dr. Light!" Rock called, scanning the trashed laboratory. "Dr. Light? Roll?" Rock out again, hoping to receive a response. Desperate, he rushed into the room looking for signs of - anybody!

Immediately he knew that he was observing the handiwork of Forte. The destruction here mirrored his over zealous enemy's method of attack perfectly.

Clenching his hands into fists, Rock called on his armor. The two-tone blue armor replacing the blue jeans and white t-shirt he had been wearing in a burst of light. He prepared to beam over to Dr. Wily's laboratory intent on rescuing his family, whom, he had no doubt, were being held hostage by the madman. Before he entered his desired coordinates, he heard the sound of rushed metallic feet on the stairs.

"Arf!" Barked Rush as he burst through the doorway. Unlike Rock's design which made him look completely human, Dr. Light had not spent so much time on creating a realistic dog design for Rush. Mainly red in color Rush's metallic body easily made him stand out from other dogs.

"Rush!" Rock cried out delighted. At least his K-9 companion had been spared.

"Rock, are you down there?" Roll called down the stairs.

"Roll!" He exclaimed relieved that his sister was safe as well.

Beside him Rush surveyed the damage and whimpered. Rock placed a consoling hand on his head.

"Is Dr. Light with you?" He hoped that she would say yes, that the damage in the room was caused because Forte was enraged that his quarry was absent.

"No…why?" Roll responded confused. Rock tensed at the response, his hopes dashed. He could hear her coming down the steps. "Isn't he down here with you?" Her head popped around the corner of the stairway. She gasped. "Wha-what happened!" She asked racing up to Rock, her red sundress billowing behind her.

"Wily," he stated with certainty.

"No!" Roll exclaimed falling to her knees, her long blond hair cascading around her face hiding it from view. "Dr. Light?" She whispered, already knowing the answer.

Rock shook his head. "Gone."

Roll looked up. Her green eyes filled with tears.

"When I returned home I came down here to see where all of you were, and I found the lab like this," he removed his hand from Rush's head and gestured around the room.

No longer feeling Rock's reassuring hand Rush padded over to Roll and nuzzled her. She absently patted him taking in the extent of the damage.

"Do you think he's okay?" She asked, referring to Dr. Light.

Rock extended his hand to Roll and she slowly took it. Gently he helped her to her feet.

"He'll be fine," he assured her looking directly into her eyes. "I promise," he hated making promises in situations that he couldn't predict the outcome of, but he wanted to still the worry in Roll's mind.

"Bring him back home Rock," she implored.

"I will. Just stay here," Rock saw that she wanted to argue with him, her concern overriding her logic. She was not a fighting android, nor equipped with any weapons. "I mean it, stay here. I will bring father back home."

Reluctantly Roll nodded.

Turning from her he looked down to Rush. "C'mon boy, let's save Dr. Light." Rush barked in agreement. "He'll be home soon," he assured Roll and himself as he beamed out of the room with Rush, leaving his sister alone amongst the decimated ruins of the laboratory.

The next thing Rockman saw was Dr. Wily's newly reconstructed Skull Fortress. The building was aptly named, for the front of the building was shaped like a huge skull. Usually he would not be able to transport directly to Dr. Wily's main building, but would have his transport intercepted, the coordinates scrambled, taking him to an area where a Robot Master lay in wait. It seemed that there were only two reasons that this did not happen today.

The first was not very probable, that being this plan was a spur of the moment scheme and Dr. Wily had not created or reconstructed any Robot Masters. The second seemed more likely: that this was a trap.

Rush raised his hackles and growled, turning to look behind them. Hearing his companion, Rockman turned as well, transforming one hand into a Rock Buster and readying himself for a fight.

There, standing in front of the forested area that neighbored Dr. Wily's property stood Ice Man, attempting to look intimidating despite his petite stature.

Ice Man was wearing his trademark pale blue snowsuit. The hood was up around his face encircling it in white fur with his childlike face set in a grimace he faced Rockman.

"We knew you'd be coming," the first generation Robot Master said in his youthful voice.

Rockman became wary at the 'we' in the threat and surveyed the area around him, never turning his back to Ice Man. Seeing no one near him, he worried that he'd be attacked from behind as he almost had just been. Although Ice Man was one of the weaker Robot Masters Rock did not want to take any chances by underestimating his opponent. He decided to end this fight before someone else came onto the scene.

Charging his rock buster he saw Ice Man cringe, having been on the receiving end of such an attack in the past. It was that hesitation that allowed Rockman to let loose a charged blast and a volley of normal shots. The small Robot Master jerked sporadically as it seemed his systems considered the effectiveness of Rockman's attack. They seemed to have come to a decision as Ice Man tumbled to the ground with a thud, the attack having effectively defeated Ice Man.

"I…guess he was bluffing about the 'we'…" Rockman did not feel too confident. After all Dr. Wily was usually not one to be this sloppy. Examining the forested terrain behind the fallen Ice Man, Rockman thought he saw movement. It could have been an animal, as the movement only lasted a moment and then all was still again in the forest, aside from the slight rustle of the foliage as a weak wind blew across the area.

Taking a step forward Rockman intended to investigate the movement, believing himself to be in a trap and thus suspecting every strange movement to be a potential threat. His journey was cut short as a barrage of leaves hit him head on.

He fell back from the impact of the attack and lifted his head to see one of the larger trees in the forest line move. It was Wood Man, Rockman's suspicions of danger proving to be accurate.

Rockman quickly sprang to his feet and readied his buster once again. Wood Man was a large robot built to appear as a tree, and had been well camouflaged in the wooded area; he had not however been the source of movement Rockman had seen before.

"So you just hid there and let Ice Man attack me alone?" Rockman cried out indignantly, outraged for the little guy, who had been so confident that he had backup.

"Huh-huh-huh," Wood Man chuckled with glee sparkling in his eyes. "I never liked him much."

Rockman fired his buster, launching a charged blast at the Robot Master.

Wood Man was prepared for this attack, and summoned a shield of leaves to surround himself. As the blast hit the shield it was mostly blocked, however, the bark that created Wood Man's barrel like torso was singed in some places. Narrowing his eyes Wood Man inspected the damage.

Rockman frowned. At this rate he could be attacking Wood Man all day. The two stood sizing one another up. Rush sat by Rockman's side forgotten by the two combatants. His hackles rose as he obediently waited for Rockman's command. The robotic dog's first impulse had been to attack the tree shaped Robot Master, but he did not wish to interfere with the fight, knowing that if he got in the way he could endanger Rockman. So intent was he on the two he did not notice the movement behind him.

Rockman grimaced as Wood Man's narrowed eyes opened and he smiled. Within moments the calm breeze that had blown around them reached hurricane proportions, throwing Rush into the forest passed Wood Man. Rockman was blown off his feet and flew forward. Unlike Rush he did not have a clear path to the trees; he was being blown on a head-on collision straight for the now startled Wood Man. The second generation Robot Master held out his arms to grab onto Rockman to soften or at least control the anticipated impact, but was struck on the side by Ice Man's remains. The unforeseen blow caused him to loose his footing moments before Rockman's body crashed into him from the front. Trying to stay on his feet, Wood Man wobbled momentarily before Rockman's weight and the wind knocked him backwards. Hitting the ground hard, Wood Man groaned.

Rockman was disoriented after the harsh impact and immediately worried about how his companion had faired. He quickly blocked such thoughts from his mind and focused on the matter at hand. He was used to fighting Robot Masters on a one-on-one basis, not as a team, granted they were proving to be an ill coordinated team.

With a roar Wood Man threw Rockman off his chest and struggled to his feet. Because of his rotund stature Wood Man had a hard time rising, but after a moments struggle he managed to do so.

Rockman hit the ground on his side; the impact causing him to roll onto his stomach. Raising his head he saw a gloating Air Man. Another of the second generation Robot Masters, the large robot rivaled Wood Man in size. Where his mouth should have been was a huge fan, the cause of the attacking wind. The fan blades were still now, so there was only the gentle breeze caused by nature.

"What was that all about?" An enraged Wood Man shouted to Air Man.

"It was an accident," Air Man chuckled, "merely a miscalculation on my part," it was obvious to any who saw Air Man that he found his comrade's previous circumstances amusing.

"You did it on purpose!" Wood Man stomped his foot in a juvenile manner, and although Rockman could not see his face he could hear the anger conveyed in his voice and could picture the ire mirrored on his face.

"Hey! I was trying to help you out, Tree-Bark Man," Air Man said brushing the other robot's anger off. "Didn't want Rockman to kick your butt like the last time."

"Tr-Tree-Bark Man!" Wood Man howled in rage. "How dare you! You promised you'd never call me that again!" Wood Man stormed past Rockman, who still lay on the ground, apparently forgotten by the two. "Don't even pretend you forgot. You're always trying to pull rank on me just because you were activated before me, but I'll have you know that doesn't make you any better than me!"

Rockman blinked, thinking that he must have had his systems scrambled from the two harsh hits he took previously. The image before him was something he had never thought he'd be seeing. Absently he wondered if this is why the Robot Masters usually attacked him one at a time.

"I don't pull rank on you because I was activated earlier than you. I pull rank on you because I'm a superior Robot Master." Air Man was able to position himself so he looked akin to a robin puffing out his chest.

Wood Man growled, a guttural sound that carried throughout the area.

"That's right, because unlike you I have an effective weapon. What kind of damage can leaves do anyway?" Air Man laughed haughtily, adding insult to injury.

Wood Man's growling ceased and he shot a round of leaves at Air Man. "This kind," Wood Man replied as the leaves effectively clogged Air Man's fan. The attack took down the previously laughing robot, causing his laughter to stop as well as his systems. "Idiot. Your weakness was my leaf attack," Wood Man stated shaking his head as he stood above his former companion.

Rockman took this opportunity to charge his rock buster, Wood Man being too preoccupied to notice the smaller android.

With his buster charged to its maximum Rockman fired, hitting Wood Man directly. Rockman hated such underhanded tactics, preferring his opponents to have a fighting chance, but the situation called for quick action if he were to rescue Dr. Light. The uncertainty of what Dr. Wily might do to his father was overriding his usual sense of fair play. Now that the Robot Master did not have his leaf shield activated his armor was no match for Rockman's charged blast. Wood Man attempted to turn towards his attacker, but Rockman quickly fired several shots in rapid succession, causing the rotund robot to fall, his systems deactivated before he was able to turn fully and face his opponent.

Rising from his position on the grass, Rockman surveyed the area. Wood Man and Air Man lay near the Skull Fortress while Ice Man was near a large rut in the ground created when Wood Man had fallen.

Rockman suddenly remembered Rush. Worry overtook common sense and he raced towards the forest where the robotic dog had been blown to, rather than stopping to pick up the three fallen Robot Master's weapons chips.

As he neared the forest he was shocked at the damage caused to it by Rush's body as the dog had impacted with the trees. The trunks of the frontal trees had been shattered; the remains of the bottoms stood with splintered wood protruding upwards like broken glass. The grass around the area was littered with wooden debris and uprooted foliage. The damage further in was equally as bad. Rockman's hurried footsteps snapped various remnants of tree branches and bark; he swerved around larger pieces of fallen tree trunks, or jumped over them, none of these obstacles causing much interference for him as he focused on reaching his goal. He was almost halfway through the damaged forest before he found Rush lying on the ground.

The robotic dog was obviously out of commission. The protective plating that covered the wires of his main system had been shattered and wires had been pulled from the aerial trip through the forest. There were also shards of wood from the trees intermingled in his system. Surprisingly Rush was still activated. He whimpered quietly and turned his head weakly towards Rockman, imploring his master to relieve the pain.

Rockman knelt beside his fallen friend and gently patted his head. "It'll be okay, Rush. I'm going to send you back home to Roll she'll take care of you," he quickly set in the coordinates of Dr. Light's laboratory into Rush's transporter. With a last comforting pat Rockman activated the transport. The mechanical dog disappeared in a beam of red and white.

Standing, Rockman, turned intending on taking the fallen Robot Master's weapons chips and loading them into his systems. Even though the three had been their own worst enemies, it was always handy to have their weapons, since Dr. Wily had the strange habit of giving his Robot Masters weapons that would be able to defeat one another. After he had those chips, it would be easier to free Dr. Light.

2

Rockman turned right at what seemed like the hundredth conjoining corridor. Obviously he was completely lost in the mammoth building, granted he had yet to run into any major resistance, though there had been over a dozen Sniper Joes, and too many Metools to count. He was beginning to wonder if he would ever reach Dr. Wily, and hopefully a healthy Dr. Light as well.

Each and every corridor he passed through looked similar. All of them the same dull grey, each metal door was the same as the next. Stopping, he tried to get his bearings. True he did not know where Dr. Wily was holding Dr. Light hostage, but common sense told him that they were in the laboratory. However, at this point he was finding it hard to tell which passage he'd taken, he had already taken. He had just passed numerous destroyed Metools, and knew he was going in circles. Seeing another fork in the hallway several feet in front of him, Rockman decided to use a child's rhyme he heard.

"There's nothing to lose," he chuckled to himself despite the situation, "Icka bicka soda cracker, Icka bicka boo; Icka bicka soda cracker, Out goes y-o-u." The rhyme complete he had chosen the path before him. This decided he continued his journey.

Although this path looked the same as any of the others, he was glad that there were no fallen shells of enemies battled previously, meaning there was a chance that he had not been here before. Rockman stayed alert in case he ran into any of Dr. Wily's defenses. He stopped mid-step, cocking his head to the right slightly, thinking that he had heard something. He strained his auditory sensors, his foot hovering in the air. After a moment he again heard something. It sounded like singing. Rockman slowly lowered his foot onto the ground. It was indeed singing, and he could tell that although it was quiet the sound was coming from close by. Quietly he crept onward, choosing his path now not at random, but following the sound of the singing.

Drawing nearer, he could hear that the singer was male, and wondered if it was coming from a Robot Master, since it did not sound like Dr. Light's voice. He obviously had never encountered one singing before, so he worried that he would be going up against an all new Robot Master, which was something he did not want, especially with Dr. Light's well being at stake.

Turning another corner, he could almost make out the words. Rockman could tell that he was close now to the source of the muffled singing, so he inched his way down the hallway and stopped at the next intersection. Cautiously he peered around the wall, his eyes widening.

There in the corridor stood Quick Man, who was impatiently tapping his foot, his arms crossed. Quick Man was a second generation Robot Master, whose armor mostly consisted of red metal placed over a black jumpsuit. On his chest plate was a boomerang shaped symbol, the marking was mirrored in a three dimensional boomerang that sat atop of the front of his helmet. Quick Man's lithe build increased his speed and gave him a youthful appearance. Down the same expanse of hallway were two other Robot Masters.

"Me and my friends are Jem girls… Jem, Jem is my name," sang Crash Man softly. Crash Man was also armored mostly in red, his lower arms were drill-like, and unlike his other companions he did not have hands. A red helmet covered his head, surrounding the sides of his face. The helmet changed from red to white as it came out to a rounded point in the front, sticking out above his face in a beak-like manor. His eyes sparkled with mischievous delight and he had a natural smile that added to the impish look to his appearance.

"When is that little blue pest going to get down here anyway? We've been waiting like, forever!" Quick Man whined over the other's singing.

Close to the speedy Robot Master was Magnet Man, and he was quite tall – taller than both his companions - with broad shoulders, his size gave him a brutish appearance. His armor was red with some black, and perched upon his red helmet which covered his entire face (save his eyes) was a red and white magnet. He had a gloved hand raised to his head and was rubbing his temples. "He will be here eventually," Magnet Man replied. Then with an exasperated sigh his hand lowered and clenched at his side. Turning his head stiffly he glared at Crash Man. "Would you shut up!" He spat out.

"Once you're a Jem girl you're never the same…" Crash Man's singing trailed off and he looked at his companion. "What? I'm being quieter than you," huffing to himself he began humming the same tune.

Magnet Man's eye twitched. "Do you mind?"

With a wide smile Crash Man stopped humming and replied, "No," then continued as if he had not been interrupted.

"Leave him be. He intercepted some CBC Radio One the other day and well golly-gosh those Jem and the Hologram songs are catchy!" Quick Man was bobbing his head to the tune. "After all there is absolutely nothing to do while we're waiting for that blue booger."

Magnet Man's hand hit his forehead with a resounding clang, as metal struck metal. "I'm surrounded by idiots," he muttered to himself.

Rockman's head slid back around the corner so he could no longer see the trio. He shook his head in disbelief at the scene that had just played before him. The hushed humming from Crash Man persisted.

"C'mon, c'mon and be a Jem gir-" he burst out, still quiet but louder than the first time he sang. He was suddenly cut off, the singing replaced by the sounds of a skirmish.

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Magnet Man yelled in frustration.

Curious, Rockman peered around the corner again.

Crash Man was against the wall, his feet dangling above the ground as Magnet Man held him there, the magnetic robot's hand wrapped tightly around Crash Man's neck.

Quick Man raced from side to side attempting to pry Magnet Man's hand from Crash Man. As he flitted from side to side his arms waved wildly a movement that resembled a gnat in flight. "Hey, hey, c'mon Magnet Man, buddy. There's no reason to attack Crash Man. He wasn't doing anything that bad."

Crash Man waved a drill-like hand at Quick Man. "Don't worry. Magnet Man seems to forget that we don't need to breath." He flashed a smile at the enraged Robot Master.

Magnet Man eyes glittered gleefully. "I didn't forget, I'm just going to squeeze your fucking head off."

The grin slipped from Crash Man's face and he began to wave his arms about him in fear. "Help me Quick Man! Get 'im offa me! Hurry! I rather like my head where it is!"

Quick Man pulled back from the confrontation and stroked his chin.

"Any time now!" Crash Man called out.

Quick Man hit his hand into his open palm. Gesturing at Crash Man to wait a moment, he stepped behind Magnet Man, who was intent on killing Crash Man. He called his quick boomerang into his hand. The weapon was a sharp golden boomerang. He attacked the angry robot who had forgotten that there was anyone else around but Crash Man. With one incredibly swift motion, Quick Man used the weapon like a sword and decapitated the magnetic robot.

Magnet Man's head fell backwards onto the ground and rolled to the feet of Quick Man, who looked put out by the entire ordeal. Magnet Man's body swayed on its feet moments after his head had clattered to the ground, then fell forward into Crash Man causing them both to end up on the floor in a heap.

"Don't you think that was a bit… extreme?" Crash Man asked the lither robot.

With a slow nod he agreed. "Magnet Man's going to be so angry with me when he's reactivated."

"Not to mention Dr. Wily," Crash Man added.

"Ah!" Quick man cried out in anguish. "I didn't even think about him, how are we going to explain this?" He gestured to the prone body of Magnet Man which still lay atop of Crash Man.

"What's with this 'we' business?" Crash Man asked curiously then paused, looking expectantly at the now pacing Robot Master. "Um, hello? A little help here?"

"Oh, ah… yeah." Quick Man bent over to help Crash Man with the heavy remains of Magnet Man. Both of them struggled to move him, but soon Crash Man was standing with Quick Man, looking down at the mess.

"Maybe we can tell the doctor Rockman did it?" Crash Man suggested after a moment.

The Robot Masters still oblivious to him, Rockman felt and overwhelming urge to ram his head into the wall repeatedly. He had always wondered why Dr. Wily had his Robot Masters attack him on their own. That question was answered though after seeing their astounding ability to kill each other while they worked together. First Ice Man, Air Man and Wood Man being each others' worst enemy, now Quick Man decapitating Magnet Man. The scariest part is that none of them actually seemed all that angry with each other, with the possible exceptions of Wood Man and Magnet Man.

Silently he switched his weapon systems to Air Shooter. He was thankful that he had picked up Air Man's weapon chip, for both Crash Man and Quick Man had a weakness to air based attacks.

Rounding the corner Rockman fired at the two unsuspecting Robot Masters.

Quick Man's light aerodynamic design was turned against him as he was blown off his feet and into the wall. He slammed into it hard and slid down to the ground. Shakily he attempted to rise to his feet, but fell back down to the ground his body lying prone where it fell.

Crash Man faired slightly better. He too hit the wall, but remained on his feet throughout the attack.

The shock from the sudden attack was clear on Crash Man's face. He gazed at his attacker. Rockman was now garbed in white and blue armor due to his change in weapons. Crash Man then rushed to attack, jumping into the air and throwing two crash bombs at Rockman. Rockman fired off two tornado-like blasts from the air shooter, managing to deflect one of the bombs, hitting Crash Man with the rebounded projectile. The Robot Master became reacquainted with the wall once again from the power of the attack.

Rockman had made a slight miscalculation. He realized as the crash bomb that he was not able to deflect hit him, singeing his armored shoulder slightly. Another unfortunate miscalculation of Rockman's was that he had believed Quick Man down for the count. He was surprised as the speedy Robot Master's quick boomerang hit him from behind, almost knocking Rockman over.

With a grunt Rockman turned and fired the air shooter at the spot where Quick Man had stood just seconds before, unfortunately with Quick Man's speed he had fled that area and was now next to Crash Man who had just risen.

Rockman wished now that he had the time stopper, a weapon that could have frozen the speedy robot in his tracks. Not wanting to linger long on what he didn't have. Rockman turned his thoughts to the weapons that he did.

Rockman fired another round of hurricane blasts from the air shooter at the two Robot Masters. The two dodged the shots by jumping to the side, revealing the partially damaged wall. As the twin blasts hit the wall it exploded outward throwing shrapnel to the abandoned floor. With the wall partially destroyed in that area Rockman was able to see that it had previously coved pipes.

A plan formed in Rockman's head and he mentally crossed his fingers hoping that the pipes contained water. He transformed the air shooter back to his rock buster, thus returning his armor to its original state.

"Giving up so soon?" Crash Man asked, amused. "I hope you know even if you do we can't go easy on you."

Rockman fired at the pipes ignoring the Robot Master's banter.

"What was that all about?" Quick Man asked, questioning Rockman's aim. The pipes Rockman shot at burst, spilling water over the entire floor. "You trying to rust us or something? You should know we're better quality than that. So what were you trying to do?"

Crash Man looked at the ground frowning. "That was… completely pointless!" He crossed his arms and scowled at Rockman. "I expected better from you."

With a sigh Rockman switched his weapons again, this time to the ice slasher. His armor changed to the weapon's designated color.

Crash Man tilted his head, still not understanding. "Ice Man's weapon? You could shoot us all day with that lame weapon and nothing would happen."

"I'm not going to hit you with it." Rockman stated impatiently, wondering just why Dr. Wily created the Robot Masters to be as oblivious and ignorant as they were. Rockman fired the icy blast at the wet ground, immediately freezing the water. The two combatants all jumped avoiding being frozen in the ice themselves.

The ice made the floor slick, so each had a difficult time remaining upright as they landed on the smooth surface. Crash Man advanced on Rockman, but he was only able to take two steps forward before the ice got the better of him and he lost balance. Wind-milling his arms around attempting to stay on his feet, he felt himself falling. Because of Crash Man's close proximity to Quick Man, he accidentally tripped his partner and ended up falling on top of him.

"Hey! Do you mind?" Came the pained exclamation from the now crushed Quick Man. Crash Man weighed much more than the light weight Quick Man. "Would you get off of me?"

"Uh, yeah." Crash Man's uncertain reply made Quick Man glare up at him. Unaware of the look he was getting Crash Man attempted to rise he had made it to his knees when the ice caused him to slip and fall back down on the annoyed Robot Master. "Just a minute… let me try that again…"

Quick Man's eyes widened as he saw Rockman's armor change once again to the colors of the air shooter. "Hurry up!" he cried out panicked.

Crash Man's attention turned to his opponent just as Rockman fired three wind shots at the two. The attack hit both Robot Masters. The icy floor combined with the force of the wind caused the two Robot Masters to skid across the floor at great speed. They hit the wall slumping to the ground. Rockman took no chances, bombarding the two with multiple attacks until their systems shut off.

Relieved, Rockman carefully started towards the three fallen Robot Masters, intent on retrieving their weapons chips. Magnet Man's body lay practically untouched where Quick Man had deactivated him earlier, his body frozen to the icy floor. Rockman stopped short upon hearing pounding footsteps from the hallway that he had come from earlier.

"Guys, guys! Did you do it? Did you beat him?" A deep baritone voice could be heard coming from the direction of the approaching footsteps. Bracing himself for another fight, Rockman switched back to his buster and began charging it. The footsteps grew louder, and soon Junk Man was visible in the hallway.

"Ack! Rockman, you're still functioning!" he said stating the obvious. "Not for long though." He summoned his junk shield a heartbeat before Rockman fired blocking the blast, disintegrating the garbage that composed the shield..

Barreling forward Junk Man roared in rage. His angry bellow changed to that of shock as his foot touched the slippery ground. He flapped his arms at his sides attempting to control himself as he slid on his feet towards the two fallen Robot Masters. His feet caught on Crash Man's legs and he fell forwards hitting the wall. Upon impact with said wall Junk Man's whole frame shook and he fell apart.

Rockman's eyes widened. "Well I suppose that makes sense… he was made out of junk after all." Shaking his head he carefully made his way over to each of the four Robot Masters removing their weapon chips and putting them into his own weapons system. Moving past the corridor where he had just battled, he turned to survey the scene once more, his gaze falling upon Junk Man once again. "That is the reason recycling was banned in early 200X, you can't create a decent product with reused materials." Shaking his head once more he continued on his way, grateful the ice had not spread down the path he had taken.

Having counted seven Robot Masters in total, Rockman hoped that meant he was nearing the laboratory where he was sure Dr. Wily was holding Dr. Light. If the mad scientist was sticking to his usual pattern there should be one more Robot Master left to defeat. Hoping for the best Rockman hurried his speed wanting to rescue his father.

3

Rockman rounded the corner. He had it with Dr. Wily and his labyrinth like fortress. "Where am I?" He cried out as he saw another hallway. "What's with all of these corridors? There aren't even any doors in half of them!" Leaning against a wall Rockman tipped his head back sighing in frustration. "That old man has finally lost it completely. That's the only explanation."

"Rockman?" A soft voice intoned from an intersecting path further ahead. Rockman immediately assumed a battle stance. "I take it you've defeated the other seven Robot Masters," the unknown speaker continued.

"That's right," Rockman replied warily.

"Damn it!" There was a pause. Then, sounding incredulous the voice continued. "What are you even doing all the way out here? I'd have thought getting Dr. Light from Dr. Wily would be your first priority."

"Of course it is!" Rockman exclaimed frustrated.

"Then why didn't you go straight to the lab? That's where Dr. Wily is keeping him."

Rockman's eyebrow twitched in annoyance. His day had already been completely ruined due to his father being kidnapped, and to top it off he had to deal with the utter idiocy of all these Robot Masters. "I have been trying to find it!" He snapped.

"Oh… Oh! You're lost! Amazing, I mean Dr. Wily's lab is really easy to find. Once you enter the fortress you take a right and proceed up the stairs, then you'll come across a big metal door you can't miss… Oh… I probably shouldn't have told you that…"

Rockman could barely hear the muffled mutters of the hidden Robot Master. "Right and then up, that was it? I could have avoided this accursed maze altogether?" he muttered to himself pausing to think.

"Uh, hello?" asked another voice from beside him. Rockman was too deep in his own thoughts to notice the second Robot Master.

"I didn't have to go through all these evil hallways that only led to more…" Rockman continued softly to himself, still not noticing the robot beside him, or the footsteps of the first Robot Master as he approached Rockman from around the corner.

A hand tapped him on the shoulder finally bringing him back to reality. "Wha-" Rockman could not finish before he was blasted in the side by a beam of blue and white energy.

The power behind the attack was enough to send Rockman crashing to the floor. Using his arms to lift himself to a kneeling position, he looked up. At first he thought he was seeing double. Standing before him was the grinning face of Gemini Man, and his holographic clone. Both Gemini Men looked identical, each was garbed in pale blue and black armor, the helmet worn by each was also blue and had four points that stuck upwards in the front slightly resembling a crown. Each had piercing blue eyes that were filled with partially hidden uncertainty, as if neither were sure of their abilities, but they knew what their duty was and intended to do it.

Rockman made it to his feet and was thankful that he had a weapon chip that would allow him to fight Gemini Man. Switching his weapon his armor took on a red and grey color scheme. The Gemini Men looked at Rockman apprehensively upon seeing this.

"Um… yeah, the doctor rebuilt Magnet Man too…" one of the Gemini Men commented to his twin.

"Great…" The other one replied with dread.

Raising his buster Rockman fired three consecutive blasts from the Magnet Missile. The horseshoe shaped projectiles passed up the hologram and homed in on the real Gemini Man. The counterfeit Gemini Man flickered as the system inside the real Gemini Man which generated the physical hologram took on damage.

Clutching both his chest and shoulder Gemini Man stumbled backwards. The hologram flickered once more before it faded away.

"Dang it," the lone Gemini Man muttered falling towards the ground, catching himself before he fell onto his back.

Rockman raised his weapon as did Gemini Man. The two fired in unison.

The gemini laser vaporized the magnet missile and continued towards Rockman, who dodged the attack by jumping into the air. He landed gracefully onto his feet a short distance from where he had been standing. Rockman fired two more magnet missiles, which hit their target. Gemini Man fell to the ground, deactivated.

Rockman removed Gemini Man's weapon chip and stored it for later use. Changing back to his rock buster, his armor reverted to its usual color.

He turned back the way he came, intent on retracing his steps through the maze he had previously traveled. He took one step forward then stopped.

"Now how did I get here in the first place?" He cried out infuriated.

4

"Finally," Rockman sighed as he spied the doorway to Dr. Wily's laboratory. Quickly checking over his weapons, he was pleased to note he was not too much worse for the wear after all of the Robot Master attacks. Assured that he was able to protect himself, he entered the laboratory.

Once in the laboratory he was glad to see that Dr. Light was not seriously injured. He was a little disheveled, and also in a giant metal cage, but otherwise fine. He was a heavyset man with white hair and a beard, it was because of his appearance and his history of being a pillar of the community that he had for the past several years played the roll of Santa Claus at the local orphanage.

The room appeared to be devoid of people aside from the two scientists. There were no signs of any Robot Masters, or Forte. Rockman hoped his rival was waiting further in the labyrinth for him as the Robot Masters had been. The low hum from the computer equipment in the room was the only sound Rockman could hear after he slammed the door open.

The spacious laboratory was much like Dr. Light's, filled with various desks and tables, some filled with computers and monitors, others contained files and various electronic components. Cabinets for storage lined the walls. The only major differences between the two laboratories was the large monitor near the front of the room, the giant human-sized metal cage at the back of the room, and the doorway that stood across the room from the cage.

All eyes turned to Rockman as he had burst into the room. Dr. Light joyously called out "Rockman!" breaking the silence, while Dr. Wily scowled at the room's new occupant. The scowl fit the doctor's visage; he looked every bit the part of a scientist with a face and hair style that reminded one of Albert Einstein.

"Dr. Wily! Release Dr. Light right now!" Rockman demanded pointing his rock buster at the villainous captor of his creator.

Dr. Wily crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. "What do you think you're going to do with that?" He asked, referring to the buster directed at him.

The android remained silent knowing he could not hurt the scientist.

"I thought as much." Dr. Wily turned slightly so he could see both Rockman and Dr. Light, obviously pleased with himself.

"I may not be able to hurt you, but I can destroy your laboratory," Rockman stated slyly, targeting his weapon to the nearest computer. The smug look Dr. Wily wore on his face just moments before vanished. He opened his mouth to speak but snapped it shut irritably. "Now release Dr. Light before I start shooting."

"Fine," Dr. Wily replied sullenly after a moment. He turned his back to Rockman and started towards the cage.

"Don't worry Dr. Light you'll be out of there in no ti-"

Rockman was cut off by both a shout from Dr. Light and a stinging pain in his shoulder. Knocked forward, Rockman quickly steadied himself turning to see Forte smirking behind him. Forte was Dr. Wily's greatest creation to date. He was an android that had been built based on Rockman's schematics. He was slightly over a head taller than Rockman, and had two purple streaks running down the sides of his face. His armor was black with touches of gold on his helmet which had the look of a cobra's hood to it.

He fired three plasma blasts in rapid succession, the ebony armored android swore as Rockman dodged all of them. Rather than hitting the bane of his existence he had managed to hit a computer console.

"Forte!" Dr. Wily yelled, thoroughly annoyed. "If you're going to fight Rockman you are not to do so in my laboratory!"

Forte regarded him coolly. "There really isn't much choice in the battle locals at the point now is there, old man?" He turned to where Rockman now stood rotating his shoulder slightly checking for damage. The blue armored android had moved towards the back corner of the room in his efforts to dodge Forte's attacks. He now stood near the open doorway. "You should have just let me take care of him to begin with," raising his buster once again he took aim at the other android.

"Forte wait!" Rockman cried out imploringly. "We don't have to be enemies. I don-"

"You don't want to fight me," Forte snapped, cutting him off. "I've heard it all before you dimwit. In case you haven't noticed, we've got your stupid doctor, and in order to get him back, you're going to have to fight me."

Rockman looked sad. "Very well," he said, resigned.

"That's better," Forte smirked smugly.

Firing a single shot in Forte's direction, Rockman was not surprised when the agile android dodged. Rockman had only fired the single shot in a last ditch effort to get Forte to stand down.

Forte of course did not, rather he returned fire catching Rockman's side. While stepping back from the power behind the attack, Rockman's attention became divided as he heard a growl to the right of him. Gospel had raised his head from behind an empty desk on the far side of the room, away from Rockman and the two scientists.

He had not noticed the purple robotic wolf when he came in and realized this must have been Dr. Wily's back-up plan had Rockman manage to defeat the Robot Masters and find his way to the laboratory.

Rockman knew from experience that fighting Forte and Gospel was challenging, but if they merged together in such a close quartered fight it would be even harder.

Deciding that he had to take one of them out and fast, he began charging his buster.

Gospel pounced towards Rockman. Rockman fired, hitting his target head on. The single charged shot deactivated Gospel.

Forte emitted a feral growl and lunged Rockman, the two tumbling forwards through the open door at the back of the room. Rockman only had a moment to survey the barren room before Forte attacked him once again. Shots were fired from inside the room, but neither Dr. Light nor Dr. Wily could see what was happening from their vantage points. One of the shots must have hit something important because the doors suddenly closed silencing all noises coming from inside the room.

5

Forte awoke engulfed in darkness. He felt as if he was not alone. There were voices. What seemed like thousands of voices whispering all around him. There were so many and so quite that he could not discern anything that was being said. Attempting to shut out the incoherent whispers that assaulted his mind he tried to remember what had happened.

The memory slammed into the forefront of his mind. He had been fighting Rockman in the battle simulator, there had been shots fired. One of the many plasma bursts that had strayed from their targets had managed to hit the control panel on the interior of the simulator. The door slid shut, and then Forte remembered feeling pain. White hot pain. That was the last thing he remembered.

Rockman must have defeated him yet again. Once again he had failed. Forte, Dr. Wily's greatest creation had been defeated by Rockman, yet again. He must be in the laboratory being repaired he decided. Of course that didn't explain the voices. Could it be that he had lost his mind? Was that why he was being bombarded by these voices?

Forte's questioning was interrupted as he was finally able to discern a voice from the collective. It was Dr. Wily. He seemed very pleased with himself, cackling about some kind of new creation that would be certain to defeat Rockman. Forte heard his own name mentioned as well.

Enraged that Dr. Wily would invent a new android - no he had called it a bioroid, hadn't he - and leave him in this position. Using his anger he fought tenaciously against the darkness hoping to see what was going on. The darkness receded and Forte was able to see the world around him once again. The voices in his head raised as his eyes opened.

Dr. Wily crowed with delight. It seemed that his creation was waking up. Forte watched the elderly scientist before him confused. Why was Dr. Wily looking at him? Forte tried to turn his head and found that something was holding him back. Thinking that he was perhaps being restrained Forte tried moving his eyes, hoping that his peripheral vision would allow him to find who it was Dr. Wily was talking about. Finding himself unable to do so he felt like screaming in frustration, but doubted he would be able to do even that.

Dr. Wily stepped off to the side and Forte would have gasped had he been able to. Leaning against the doorframe a cocky smirk on his lips was...himself.

Forte tried to rationalize the situation. There was no way he was staring out at himself, there was only one Forte. That android standing by the door was not the one. This was not possible, no matter how much the double looked like him.

Dr. Wily finished his gleeful description of a bioroid, how it did not suffer from pesky rules of robotics, and was given a free will and emotions - unlike his other flawed creations. The Forte double's eyes looked - for a brief moment - hurt. The reaction was almost imperceptible, but Forte caught it. Frankly the action was unnerving as it reflected the his feelings as well. The scientist seemed oblivious to the fact that those creations that he brushed off as flawed, and had carelessly tossed into his personal war with Dr. Light and the world, had gained sentience. True the Robot Masters were not as advanced as Forte but even they had developed personalities beyond what their programs should have allowed.

Forte's musings were interrupted as the voices surged around him. Still he could not hear any specific message from them, but the overwhelming urge to kill was bombarding his senses. He mentally shuddered. Never had he felt such bloodlust. Even when he had fought Rockman, his nemesis, he never felt such an intense urge to kill. There was no anger behind this irrational urge, more of a giddiness at the thought of tearing through flesh.

...Tearing through flesh...

An urge to kill Dr. Wily. To feel his blood and organs surrounding his hand.

This desire was not his own. Realization struck, this body was not his own either. Somehow he was in someone else's body. Most likely the bioroid which Dr. Wily spoke of. Forte fought through the commotion in his mind to remember what Dr. Wily had been talking about to his double. There was the fact that this bioroid could kill humans...something about Dr. Light initially creating the plans for the bioroid and a supposed thirty year stasis period that Dr. Wily insisted was not necessary. Forte tried to recall the name Dr. Wily used for his creation but couldn't.

Zero.

That was the first thing those voices had said that was clear, and while he had no context to put the word to he automatically knew, Zero was the name of this bioroid.

Forte could feel the imbalance in Zero's mind build as the voices seemed to multiply, and Forte realized how right Dr. Light had been when he had said that the bioroid needed to be placed in stasis. Zero was far from stable at this point, animalistic desires and childish curiosity assaulted the mind, along with another influence that Forte could not place. At this moment Forte would have given anything in order to warn his creator of the danger of Zero. Worry causing him to act irrationally Forte attempted to call out to his creator, or his double to warn them, but it was futile and he soon gave up.

He still did not know the full extent of Zero's capabilities, but Forte could feel the raw power coursing through the monsters body. Dr. Wily was correct when he had said that Zero was his greatest creation. Forte himself was nowhere near as powerful as this abomination, and if this carnal desire was what came with power Forte didn't want it.

It was not restraints that had held Forte back, but the fact that he was not in control of Zero's body. The bioroid stood in his pod, unmoving. He regarded the room's occupants, unaware of Forte's presence in his mind. Patiently Zero had listened to Dr. Wily's gloating, how his new creation would surely destroy Rockman. He paid little attention to the old man's ramblings, simply observing him coolly. Growing bored Zero's hand twitched at his side.

Forte watched on as his double noticed the movement and became alerted to the possibility of danger. He tensed ready to spring to action in case Zero was a threat to Dr. Wily. The double's cocky attitude mirrored Forte's usual confidence, as the double obviously though he could save the doctor with ease if anything should happen.

Inside Zero's head Forte implored himself to do more than just be ready for an attack. Zero was dangerous. If he wasn't stopped right away something horrible would happen.

With a speed surpassing that of Quick Man, Zero's hand jutted out, striking Dr. Wily in the chest, exiting through the old man's back. Forte could feel the entire attack. The bioriod's hand entering his creator's chest, a small shudder from Dr. Wily as Zero's hand entered the old man's body, the warmth of his innards, the ease that it took to exit the man's body. Forte had always known that Dr. Wily was old, but it took until that moment to realize how incredibly frail the man was. Forte was repulsed by what had happened. The fact that he could feel what Zero felt both physically and mentally left Forte with a hollowness in the core of his mind.

Drip.

Drip. Drip.

With every drop of blood that fell from Zero's fingertips Forte tried to withdraw from the situation. Attempting to block out what had just occurred. The voices in Zero's mind did not allow him the pleasure of oblivion. He was kept in the present and saw the look of horror on his double's face. Saw his double rush to Dr. Wily's aid, too late of course, the old man was dead. Killed instantaneously thankfully.

Coldly Zero withdrew his hand. Dr. Wily started to crumple to the floor, the monster's hand no longer there to keep the old man upright. Forte's double caught the scientist before he hit the ground, the man's blood splattering on the android's black armor. He yelled something to Zero as he lowered the body of his creator to the ground gently. Inside the mind of Zero Forte could not hear what his double said, too overcome with despair that was mirrored on his double's face.

Numbly he watched as Zero destroyed his double. Good, he thought absently, that's what I deserve for failing Dr. Wily.

Zero shot throughout the fortress attacking and destroying anything that moved reveling in the carnage. He broke free from the fortress running wild and laughing. His laughter was a high-pitched sound that caused Forte to mentally shudder, even through the veil of hopelessness. Zero left a path of destruction as he traveled, plants, animals, as he entered the city humans, no one was safe. Very little of these actions registered fully to the still despairing Forte, none of the victims faces were familiar to him.

Eventually Zero met up with resistance from Rockman. This woke Forte from his despondency. He urged Rockman to get out of there, to leave and take his family as far away from the city as possible. At his current fighting level Rockman did not stand a chance of winning this battle. Unfortunately Forte could not be heard.

Soon Rockman fell, he fought valiantly enough, then Blues, eventually Roll, Auto and Dr. Light. With each of these deaths Forte felt as if he lost a part of himself. As Dr. Light fell, Forte too was mercifully granted oblivion.

6

Forte was jerked back to consciousness, leaving the embrace of nothingness, back now to the cruel reality of what had happened.

The first thing he realized was that he was still in the murdering bastard's body. This time however things felt different, the voices had disappeared completely and the instability that had overtaken Zero's mind was gone.

Forte could not explain the change but looking at the chaos around him he wondered how long he had been out. Judging by the futuristic robots Zero was fighting it must have been some time.

The deaths of those from the past still weighed heavily on Forte's conscious, even Rockman's. Forte had sworn to kill the blue armored android numerous times before, but now that it had been done, even if he had not been in control of Zero's body, Forte felt dirty.

Forte wondered just how he had joined with this bioroid's mind, and wanted out. He wanted his past back. He needed it. He needed to hear Dr. Wily's next scheme. Needed to exchange blows with a very much functional Rockman.

His inner turmoil was interrupted as he saw a flash of blue armor. He automatically thought it was Rockman, but reality set in. The android was strong but he was no phoenix, he would not rise up from the proverbial ashes. Rockman had been defeated and was not coming back.

Forte felt Zero's worry for the one in blue armor. Hearing the name X being called out from Zero's lips, the one in blue armor turned around to face Zero.

Had Forte had a heart it would have stopped beating. There standing before him was what appeared to be an older version of Rockman.

Forte's vision faded again, only to be brought back to a scene where Zero and X were fighting together in order to save someone. Again Zero's mind was not focused on any ill intentions only on helping those out who needed it. Forte assumed then that sometime during the period of his first vision and the second Zero had been put into stasis to stabilize his systems.

Zero was no longer the monster he had been upon first being activated. He had come to his senses and had somewhere along the lines joined forces with this X who must have been created by Dr. Light before Zero killed the old man. It seemed the Light/Wily Wars were finally over. Unfortunately for the world it was obvious something worse had taken the place of Dr. Wily.

Forte was forced to succumb to numerous flashes like these gaining bits of insight to this reformed killer.

It was obvious to Forte that this Zero of the future was playing the role of hero with the older version of Rockman. It seemed ironic to him that one of Dr. Wily's creations, would now be fighting alongside one of Dr. Light's creations. Rockman's statement about him and Forte not being enemies came to mind. As annoying as he had found these comments, it seemed that somehow these two bioroids had come to realize what Rockman had always known.

Forte's world again was plunged into darkness.

7

"No, not you!" Dr. Wily cried out as a red beam appeared in his laboratory preceded by a familiar whistle.

After the beam dissipated a figure clad in a grey and red jumpsuit with a red helmet and black visor covering his eyes stood. His ever present yellow scarf wrapped around his neck. Although his eyes were obscured by the visor his frown was obvious.

"Blues!" Dr. Light cried out with hope.

Blues turned to see Dr. Light in a metal cage. Its bars thick enough so that even an android would have a hard time bending them.

"Dr. Light," He asked the portly aged man "are you injured?"

"No, I'm fine Blues," Dr. Light assured him. "It's Rockman that I'm concerned about. He and Forte were fighting and they ended up in the battle simulator neither of them has returned yet."

"Forte get in here," Dr. Wily said backing towards the simulator never turning from the annoyed Blues.

"Dr. Wily," Blues began, "stay where you are."

The old man stopped where he stood. "You can't hurt me," he stated, but complied.

"Rockman?" Blues called out hoping to catch his younger brother's attention. Receiving no response he called out again. "Rockman? Rock?" He waited a moment before he turned his full attention on Dr. Wily. "Is the battle simulator on?"

"No, why would it be?" Dr. Wily crossed his arms annoyed. "Rockman's the one who burst into my laboratory. I was just minding my own business."

"Is that so? Then how did I end up in this cage Albert?" Dr. Light inquired.

"Ah, that…" Was the mad scientist's response.

"If it was off we should be able to hear them shouldn't we?" Blues asked not wanting to listen to any lies that Wily would come up with.

"…indeed," Dr. Wily turned looking to the console for the battle simulator and frowned when he saw that it had been destroyed when Rockman had initially busted into his lab. "It seems that Rockman destroyed the controls," he said coldly.

"So it's impossible to tell if the simulator's on or not?" Blues mused to himself. Then louder. "Can you shut it off from here even with the console damaged?"

Wily crossed his arms and glared at Blues. "Of course I could, but don't think I'm going to help you."

"Yes you are Wily." Blues said pointing his buster at the scientist.

"Eh…" The elderly scientist twitched nervously. "But you can't the first law of robotics says-"

"You don't want to test out that theory now do you?" Blues queried cutting him off. Nodding towards the main controls which were not damaged he motioned for Dr. Wily to get to work.

Angrily Dr. Wily made his way to the controls Blues following close behind him. Dr. Wily knew for a fact that Rockman would not break the first rule of robotics, but Blues he could not be so certain of. The android was too unpredictable. Not only had he betrayed the scientist and sided with Dr. Light, but he also seemed hesitant to help the side he'd chosen. There was no figuring out the android and Dr. Wily was no fool. Upon reaching the console Blues watched Wily as he started on the shut down procedure.

Dr. Light meanwhile frowned at the two of them his situation apparently forgotten. He cleared his throat trying to catch Blue's attention. The red armored android turned around and remembered his creator.

"Keep at it Wily." Blues instructed. "And don't try anything funny." With that he headed off to the far corner to free Dr. Light.

"Do anything funny?" Dr. Wily muttered to himself. Calculating the amount of time it would take to hone in on the blue robot's frequency and attack him, while leaving Forte safe from harm, then opening the battle simulator and having Forte save him from an enraged Blues, he realized that even in a best case scenario the odds would not be auspicious.

Blues had managed to free Dr. Light and had returned along with the hefty scientist just as Dr. Wily had completed the subroutines required to open the battle simulator. Pressing the last key Dr. Wily waited for the doors of the room to open. He frowned when nothing happened.

"I thought I told you not to try anything," the tone in Blues' voice caused Dr. Wily to glance over his shoulder nervously.

"I didn't."

"Let me see if I can get it open," Dr. Light said stepping up to the controls. He looked them over for a moment and raised a hand intending to access Dr. Wily's battle simulator program.

"Oh no you don't!" Dr. Wily snapped smacking the other scientists hand away. "I'm not going to have you mucking about in my systems. I already tried opening the doors through the computer it won't work. That infernal blue robot of yours shorted out the override when he first came in."

Dr. Light's eyebrow twitched at the others attitude. Blues suddenly looked rather uncomfortable with the situation. "I'm sorry perhaps my eyes are going bad on me but I believe it was Forte that began shooting blindly at Rockman."

Dr. Wily remained silent sulking slightly.

"Let Dr. Light take a look at the controls." Blues said after a moment.

Obviously annoyed Dr. Wily stepped away from the console and with a grand wave of his hand allowed the other scientist access. "He won't be able to open it this way either," standing with his arms crossed Dr. Wily watched sullenly as the other man worked at the controls.

"Hmm, it seems that Albert was telling the truth," Dr. Light mused. "I suppose the only thing we can do is manually open the doors."

"Won't work," Dr. Wily muttered.

"What was that?" Blues asked.

"It won't work." Dr. Wily repeated, seeing the confused look on Dr. Lights face he expanded. "Those doors auto lock once the program starts, that way whoever's in there can't get out if the situation gets a little bit dangerous, either they make it through the simulation to the end or they don't."

"That's too cruel!" Dr. Light exclaimed amazed at the new low the other man had gone to. When it became obvious that Dr. Wily was choosing to ignore him he continued. "Then I suppose a plasma blast to the door is out of the question."

Dr. Wily frowned in thought. "Yes, a plasma blast wouldn't work. I pride myself on quality craftsmanship."

Still standing behind the two Blues sweat-dropped, he quickly regained his usual calm demeanor and spoke up. "Let's just put this theory to the test shall we?"

Dr. Light nodded and Blues walked towards the doors to the battle simulator. Aiming his arm cannon he took a shot at the door. After the attack hit the door was left singed but otherwise fine. Frowning he fired several more times, the coating of soot increased in diameter but otherwise nothing changed.

"I told you it wouldn't work," Dr. Wily stated flatly.

"Then we'll just have to repair the computer system," Dr. Light returned.

"You're not going to be poking around in my main computer Light," Dr. Wily snapped.

"You don't have a choice," Blues said.

With a frustrated sigh Dr. Wily turned back to the main computer system. "If we managed to construct a sub-console and rerouted the initial battle simulator protocols to it there might be a chance that it would be accepted."

"I agree," Dr. Light said running a hand through his white hair. "We should start on this right away."

The two scientists worked for hours on getting the sub-console up and running. Luckily Dr. Wily's skull fortress was always well stocked. The building was empty save for the two scientists, Blues and the two trapped in the battle simulator. The other occupants of the fortress had been defeated by Rockman before his arrival to Dr. Wily's laboratory.

The work went unbelievably swiftly the two scientists though bitter enemies had at one time been partners and their ability to work as a team had not been lost. Soon the sub-console was completed and ready to be tried.

Dr. Light entered the command to shut down the battle simulator, and for a moment it looked as if nothing was going to happen, but then the doors to the room slowly began to open.

The doors opened revealing the two; both were looking through the newly opened doors in confusion.

"Rockman!" Dr. Light cried out happily relieved to see the blue robot undamaged.

Rockman blinked as if getting his bearings. "Dr. Light?" He asked questioningly. He turned his head to look towards the android beside him. "F-Forte!" Confusion was apparent in his voice.

Forte turned his attention to Rockman equally as confused.

"Forte kill Rockman!" Dr. Wily demanded. "I can't believe you haven't yet."

There was a silent exchange between Forte and Rockman.

"Blues get Dr. Light out of here," Rockman told his elder sibling. With a curt nod Blues took hold of Dr. Light and transported out of there. Rockman gave Forte another glance and escaped as well.

Dr. Wily was in an uproar. Not only had Rockman escaped but it looked as if he had received absolutely no damage while in the battle simulator with Forte.

8

"Rock how are you feeling?" Dr. Light asked him as he returned. The three were now standing in the living room of the Light residence. Rock having switched his armor for his casual cloths the moment he returned

"Did you finish Forte off that quickly?" Blues asked at the same time.

The disorientation was wearing off at this point and Rockman smiled at the two. "I'm feeling better Dr. Light," he assured his creator and father. "I'm not quite certain what happened though."

Dr. Light frowned at this. "You should not be suffering from memory loss… I'd like to run a full system diagnostic immediately to make certain nothing is wrong."

Rock nodded agreeing to undergo the test.

"What about Forte? Is he out of commission for a while at least?" Blues pressed worrying about another attack in the near future.

"Well-" Rock began but was interrupted by a streak of red and yellow entering the room.

"Rock you saved Dr. Light!" Roll his sister cried out joyously upon seeing them. "Are you all okay?"

"Yes Roll, we're all fine," Rock assured her patting her shoulder.

"Thank goodness. I was worried," she said breathing a sigh of relief.

"Actually Rock will have to come down to the lab and be checked out to make certain," Dr. Light informed her seeing her concern he continued. "Rock's just slightly disoriented it's nothing to be concerned over."

She nodded as Dr. Light ushered Rock down to the lab. The two reached the threshold and stopped where they were. Neither had remembered that the laboratory had been trashed earlier that day.

The condition of the room had improved slightly since Forte had finished with it, but the room was still filled with broken components and projects. The desks and tables had been righted and on one of the tables lay a damaged Rush waiting repairs.

"I'm sorry Dr. Light. I've been trying my best to clean the place up while you were away," Roll informed him walking up from behind.

"Its fine Roll," Dr. Light soothed. "We'll all pitch in after I've checked Rock out," he continued into the room.

"Roll where's Blues?" Rockman inquired.

"Oh, he up and left on his own again," Roll replied in a huff. "I can't believe him sometimes," she placed her hands on her hips looking annoyed.

Rock observed his sister sadly while he tried to play the past few hours back in his mind.

"Rock if you would have a seat here?" Dr. Light asked him directing him to a table that was still in one piece. Rock nodded and sat down. "It's a good thing that not all of my equipment was destroyed after Forte's latest visit."

9

After ranting for some time Dr. Wily calmed down enough to question Forte on what had occurred in the battle simulator. He almost swallowed his tongue at the look on the androids face and bit back his harsh question. As he had been ranting he had not taken the time to even glance in the android's direction. Dr. Wily was used to three different expressions from the black and gold armored android those were impassiveness, rage and a cocky smirk he wore when he was being overconfident. Forte was looking around the room in barely noticeable disbelief and when he realized that the doctor's rant had finished the android looked to Dr. Wily in almost masked relief. Forte seemed glad not that Dr. Wily had finished his tirade, but rather glad to see him, something the aging doctor had never seen from his creation. The look soon faded into indifference, but there was no doubt in Dr. Wily's mind that it had been there.

"What happened in there?" The question was asked without the harsh infliction he had intended to use prior to seeing Forte's strange behavior.

Again Forte's expression changed this time to confusion, frustration, then relief, before he schooled it back to his usual indifference.

"Nothing," he stated flatly crossing his arms almost petulantly.

Still shaken by this change in his creation Dr. Wily didn't push Forte to answer. "Fine then, get out of here. I have no time to deal with your failure. I have more important matters to attend to," this wasn't a complete lie. He did have to fix up his laboratory, repair his Robot Masters as well as Gospel. Though these new emotions that were breaking through Forte's usual demeanor required some thought as well. Dr. Wily wanted time to think over the change before he pushed Forte for answers.

Forte nodded curtly and started for the door. Dr. Wily turned to be greeted by the site of the mess that was left over from his latest destroy Rockman scheme. Looking at the large monitor at the front of the room he was surprised to see Forte half turned and looking at him. The ebony armored android seemed to be struggling to say something. Curious Dr. Wily continued as if he hadn't seen Forte but kept an eye on his reflection. After a moment the android shook his head and exited the room.

Dr. Wily turned to where he had stood and leaned against the consol behind him.

"Interesting," he said to himself.

10

Blues had transported himself to the forest surrounding Dr. Wily's Skull Fortress.

He was frustrated and hurt over his family's actions. Everyone was always so certain Rock saved the day, they were always concerned over his well being. Blues was the overlooked one, and although he didn't show it to his family it bothered him. Just once he would like to see them worried for him. Knowing that it would never happen he spent most of his time away from home on his own.

Blues wasn't blinded by jealousy, placing the blame on his brother's shoulders. Rock was the only one in the family that treated him well, but that was Rock's nature. He treated everyone this way, even his enemies, which was why Blues was so concerned over Forte's status. Wily's latest plan had brought back memories of the last time Dr. Wily had kidnapped Dr. Light and framed Blues for the act, a move that still left the android feeling bitter. He was worried that if Forte was still functional that another attempt might be made at carrying the plan out. Although Blues was the overlooked one he cared deeply for his family and didn't want to see them hurt. In some strange way he even felt like this towards Dr. Wily, his other creator, which was why – for a time – he had worked with the other scientist. Of course Dr. Wily's need for world domination and stooping to anything to obtain this goal made it impossible for him to remain with his other "father".

Blues would have preferred to beam directly into Dr. Wily's laboratory, unlike Rock he had the ability to break through Dr. Wily's shields and beam wherever he wished to, but he did not wish to be spotted right away.

Stepping forward Blues froze as Forte stepped out of the building. From his vantage point he could see Forte and knew that he was clearly visible if the other android were to even glance up.

There seemed little chance of that though as the other leaned against the outer wall of the Skull Fortress his eyes closed and his head bent down. Not wanting to take any chances Blues took refuge behind the cover of some nearby trees, all of which had seen better days. He could only assume that the damage to the trees had happened when Rock came to rescue Dr. Light.

Blues was curious as to what Forte was up to and waited to see what he would do. Behind his visor his eyes widened as Forte let out a choking sound. From anyone else Blues would have said it was a sob, but he couldn't see anything causing the usually savage android to cry. Blues was proven wrong as another sob escaped from Forte and he slid down the wall resting his head on his knees.

The two were left in silence then as Forte sat still and Blues looked on in disbelief.

"Fuck," Forte cried out pulling off his helmet and throwing it from him. It was a half hearted venture, and the headgear landed nearby. "It wasn't real. Get over it already," he berated himself glaring angrily at his helmet. The removal of his helmet revealed short purple hair, it was so dark that it was almost black, but with the light shining down it had an obvious purple tint to it.

Blues frowned, although he had never spent any time with Forte aside from fighting he doubted that this was a frequent occurrence, and he wondered what it was that wasn't real.

"They're all still around, Wily, Light, Blues, Roll even that damnable Rockman…" He snorted derisively. "It was just some computer malfunction," Forte ran his hand through his hair troubled.

Blues continued to observe this strange behavior with a mix of awe and pity. He knew that he was watching Forte who thought he was alone and that he should either let himself be known or get out of there as at that moment Forte posed no threat to his family. Yet it was at this moment where Forte was at his most emotionally vulnerable state that Blues began to see in the ebony armored android what Rock saw. Blues saw the human side that Rock must have always known lurked beneath the bravado and rage.

Slowly Blues stepped forward, his movements were cautious as if he were approaching a wounded animal. Not quite able to grasp what had possessed him to make himself known he continued forward.

"Forte?" He asked softly to gain the other's attention but not set the other off aware of said android's volatile nature.

Forte's head snapped up in surprise. "Blues?" He questioned unsettled.

Blues nodded and stopped walking forward now standing by the fallen helmet. "Are you okay?"

Forte blinked, realizing that he must have been watched for some time. "How long have you been out there?" He questioned his voice void of emotion.

"Long enough," sensing that this answer was unsatisfactory he expanded. "Since just before you came outside."

"Oh," Forte's voice was still flat and he made no move to attack Blues.

Deciding that in his current state Forte was not going to start attacking any time soon Blues picked up the discarded helmet. It was much heavier than his own and he absently wondered if all of Forte's armor was that weighted. It was remarkable – if that were the case – the speed that he possessed weighted down like that. Shaking off the thought Blues carried the helmet over to the seated android and offered it to him.

"Want to talk about it?" Blues was relatively safe as Rock had taken care of the fortress' defenses earlier, so if he was spotted by Wily Forte would be the only one the scientist could send after him.

Forte blinked again, then frowned grabbing his helmet out of Blues' hands and holding it on his knees. "There's nothing to talk about. Now get out of here before I kill you."

Blues decided to call his bluff and sat down beside him leaning against the fortress wall comfortably. Turning his head he smirked. "No, I think I'll stay here for a while," Forte growled but still did not attack. "So care to share what's bothering you?"

There was a long pause. "Does the name X mean anything to you?" He finally asked avoiding Blues' question with one of his own, hoping that the answer could put his mind at ease.

"X!" Blues exclaimed initially shocked by the question. Then he remembered that Forte had stolen the schematics for Dr. Light's newest creation. Granted Dr. Light hadn't told him this information, but Blues had been able to piece everything together after some snooping.

"So those schematics I stole…" Forte trailed off.

Blues saw no pint in lying about it. "Yes, those were for X."

Forte's head dropped. "Damn it," he whispered sounding defeated.

Blues looked at him questioningly not understanding the others reaction.

Sighing Forte raised his head and looked to the other. "I think we may have a problem."

"How so?" Blues inquired uncertain if he really wanted to hear the answer.

Forte shook his head again. "Forget it. Don't worry about it. It's because of me that we're in danger. I'll take care of it."

"If there's some sort of problem that could endanger me and my family I want to know about it." Blues snapped remembering Forte's words from earlier.

"I have reason to believe Dr. Wily is using those schematics to create is own bioroid," Forte informed him after a pause.

"Why would he bother?" Blues wondered aloud. "Dr. Wily has never been known for his patience and there's a thirty year hibernation period before a bioroid can be activated," this information was something that Dr. Light thought to be secret that only he - and with the theft of the design - Dr. Wily knew, but it appeared that Forte must have done some digging in the matter as Blues had done.

"Do you really believe that Dr. Wily will wait those thirty years?" Forte asked him sounding very weary.

Blues froze momentarily as he absorbed this revelation. It sounded like something Dr. Wily would do, but it was dangerous even to the doctor himself. "He…he wouldn't," Blues finally spoke, "Dr. Wily may be many things but he's not stupid. If he did create a bioroid and did not allow those thirty years… it would go crazy and go on a rampage… and since a bioroid isn't held to the first rule of robotics, he'd kill people without hesitation. Including Dr. Wily."

"Who no doubt will put in some sort of safeguard to prevent such a thing from happening, but with the new technology in a bioroid it won't work," Forte spoke with the certainty of one who knew what was to come.

Blues found Forte's certainty extremely disconcerting and wondered if he should call Forte on it, he quickly dismissed the notion not wanting the other to suddenly clam up. Regardless of how Forte had come to this conclusion Blues had researched Dr. Light's plans and knew that fail-safes would be nearly impossible to create and finding one that would function properly would be based mainly on luck. Knowing Dr. Wily and his massive ego Blues had a sinking feeling that the doctor would indeed think himself able to create a working infallible program.

"What brought you here?" Forte inquired shaking Blues from his musings.

"After Rock came back to the laboratory he was acting strangely. I wasn't certain if he had left you operational, I came back to see."

Forte nodded in understanding. "And deal with me if I still was I imagine."

"Yes," Blues saw no reason to lie about his reason for being there.

"You should have done that while you had the element of surprise," Forte sighed slowly putting on his helmet and rising to his feet. "I'm not going to let you put me out of commission, especially not now," his hands clenched at his sides, "I have to set this right."

Blues rose slowly as not to instigate a fight immediately.

"I had intended to fight you… when I thought you'd attack my family," Blues looked at the taller android through his visor. "I'm not going to stop you from doing this."

Forte seemed shocked at this but didn't argue. He turned from Blues and walked to the fortress. "Just because I'm not attacking Rockman right now does not mean I won't once this is over."

"I know," Blues agreed sighing, "I also know nothing I could say will change your mind," he watched as Forte opened the fortress' door and entered. As the door shut with the clang of metal hitting metal Blues shook his head. "It seems I have another little half brother to look after," smirking he followed. His smirk changed into an all out grin as Forte spun around at the sound of the door.

"What are you doing?" He hissed. "I thought you weren't going to fight now!"

"I'm not. I don't want you rushing into Wily's laboratory and blowing up his bioroid though."

"Zero," Forte commented absently.

"Zero?" Blues asked not understanding.

"His name, it's Zero."

"So you've seen him then?" Forte remained quiet. "You were just planning on rushing in there and blowing Zero up weren't you?" A sheepish nod was his response. "That would only be a temporary fix, you know that. Dr. Wily would just build another bioroid and you'd be in trouble."

Forte seemed shocked at the others concern. "Why would you care anyway?" This time it was Blues' turn to remain silent. "What would you suggest I do then?" He asked deciding that Blues was not really concerned about Forte's well being but thought that he would want to save his own skin.

Blues felt more comfortable with that question. "How far is Wily on Zero?" Blues asked trying to formulate a plan.

"I-I'm not certain," Forte admitted.

Silently he wondered how the other knew so much about this bioriod but not how far his construction was. "Okay, what I think we need to do is find out how far along Zero's construction is, and then we need to find a way to keep Dr. Wily from activating him before the thirty year period has completed."

The idea was a good one. Blues, although he had not spent much time with either of his creators he was well enough versed in both of their programming styles to come up with something neither of them could crack and would be very hard to spot in the first place.

"What's with this we? I don't need your help. I can handle this myself," Forte crossed his arms over his chest and looked adamant.

"Listen, I'm not letting you do this by yourself. Don't be stubborn," Blues assumed the same stance and waited for a response. When none was offered he added. "The only alternative is that we fight here and now and once your out of the picture I implement my plan."

The comment incensed the taller android. "You wouldn't win," he stated, "but if you insist on working together… we're going to have to wait until evening when Dr. Wily leaves the lab," Blues nodded. "So until then get out of here before I change my mind and choose to fight you."

"Fine I'll be back at nightfall," getting no argument from Forte Blues left.

11

Forte waited in the shadows outside of Dr. Wily's laboratory, he could hear the doctor working through the thick walls. Those walls were built to be soundproof providing the scientist the peace that he required to work, the soundproofing was only effective for humans though with the enhanced hearing of the Robot Masters and Forte listening in on the work going on in the room was no problem. However, Forte had never had any reason to listen to his creator tinkering in the laboratory before now.

The one time Cut Man had tried to listen in on the goings on in the room he had been snitched on by Ice Man who had an annoying habit of trying to get the occupants of Skull Fortress in trouble if they were doing something Dr. Wily would disapprove of. Cut Man had gotten a stern talking to, but Dr. Wily knew of the small Robot Masters childlike tendency and had given Cut Man the same warning he had given everyone else, informing them that they would not like his reaction if he found out anyone else was invading his privacy. That had stopped the Robot Masters from trying to find out Dr. Wily's plans before he felt it time to inform them. Granted most of the time the Robot Masters were not around to listen in on the scientist anyway usually being destroyed by Rockman shortly after they were activated.

Forte sighed grateful for the advantages of being the only other being besides Dr. Wily inside the Skull Fortress. He didn't have to worry about a Robot Master walking by and spotting him, there was never a worry about the other robotic occupants of the fortress as none were granted the same amount of intelligence as himself, Gospel or the Robot Masters.

Having nothing to distract him other than the sounds of work traveling through the wall Forte was left to his thoughts. The usual topic on his mind was the ultimate defeat of Rockman. Today though he was unable to keep his thoughts straight, flashes of memories from the battle simulator kept interrupting all other thoughts.

Frowning in annoyance as he attempted to focus on the task at hand he tried to push Rockman's defeat, and the memories out of his mind.

Forte had just succeeded in doing so and began planning a course of action when the laboratory door opened. Concealed in the natural shadows of the dimly lit corridor Forte was unnoticed by the doctor as he exited the room. The metallic door clanged shut behind him. Dr. Wily was muttering something about Rockman under his breath as he walked towards his quarters which were on the same level as the laboratory.

Forte did not move for sometime even after he heard the door to Dr. Wily's room close.

Once he deemed that the doctor would not be returning to the laboratory again that night he left the shadows and stood in the dim light of the hall looking at the doorway to the laboratory. Stepping forward with apprehension his hand rose slowly to the mechanical lock that was located beside the door, his hand hovered there as he contemplated what he was doing and dreading what he was going to find.

"It's for the good of us all," he whispered to himself in an attempt to convince himself that he had chosen the correct course of action. It seemed to calm him as his movements became more confident as he typed in the password on the keypad.

There was a small click from the door as the password was accepted and the door unlocked, usually this would not have concerned him but with the fortress void of activity and knowing that he was going against his creator the noise seemed to reverberate throughout the hall as loudly as his uncertainty which came back in full force at the sound. He could still turn back if he left now, but he knew that in reality that was not an option. Forcing himself not to cringe he waited until the count of ten, and then satisfied that he had not been heard he opened the door as quietly as possible.

The faint glow from the hallway cast an eerie light throughout the otherwise dark room. Even with the faint light being let into the room and his enhanced eyesight he was unable to make out anything other than shadowy outlines of objects in the room.

His attention was immediately drawn to a table near the right of the room it was the only one with a robot on it. He automatically knew the shadowed form and smiled softly. It amazed him sometimes that he could care so much for something.

Stepping into the room he silently closed the door. The light from outside of the room gone it took him only a matter of seconds for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. With a certainty that came from living in the fortress for some time he found the lights and turned them on the bright halogen lights illuminating the room dispelling the darkness.

His attention returned again to the table on which Gospel lay still inactive, however the majority of damage that he had sustained from Rockman's attack had been repaired. Scanning the rest of the room showed him that the majority of the damage to the laboratory had been repaired as well, with the exception of the battle simulator.

Forte took a moment to glare at this now hated machine. If it had not been for whatever had happened in there he would be continuing on with his life blissfully unaware of the future and trying to destroy Rockman every chance he got rather than betraying the man who created him. Granted if he was still ignorant of what was to happen in the future everyone would be in greater danger than they were now with him and Rockman knowing what would happen. Blues at this point knew some of it, but hardly all.

Torn between guilt and justification for betraying his creator Forte turned his attention back to Gospel, whom Dr. Wily had chosen to repair after the laboratory rather than the Robot Masters who had also been damaged by Rockman. The Robot Masters must have been beamed into the laboratory after he left that afternoon as they now lay in a heap next to the table that held the robotic wolf.

Biting his bottom lip Forte felt the guilt almost beat back the feeling of being justified in his actions, his eyes closed as he fought an internal battle. He was bombarded with the sight of everyone laying dead at his – no Zero's feet. His eyes opened as if he had been slapped there was no time for doubt. The ebony armored android focused on the matter at hand and tried to think of where the doctor would keep such a creation as Zero. It was obvious that the bioroid creation of Dr. Wily's was not being kept in plain view, but Forte knew that Dr. Wily had been spending more time than usual in the laboratory and since he had not been working on creating any new Robot Master designs he must have been working on Zero.

As for the Robot Masters that had fought with Rockman they had been active for some months, Dr. Wily deciding to activate them before he actually implemented his capture Dr. Light scheme. It was one of the rare times that there were Robot Masters traipsing throughout the fortress. While Forte was usually standoffish around the others he was secretly glad when they were around, as their antics provided him with a great deal of amusement even if he never showed this.

Deciding that if Dr. Wily had been busy working here on Zero the best source for this information would be Dr. Wily's computer Forte moved to it.

There were in all actuality many computers in the room, most connected to Dr. Wily's main computer, it was however, a small unassuming computer at the back of the room Forte went to. The machine was one of the few computers that were not connected to the central computer that controlled the majority of the fortress' systems. The computer he stood before was the one that Dr. Wily did most of his personal work on.

Sitting down in front of it Forte attempted to log onto the machine and was blocked when it asked for a password.

Heaving an irritated sigh he thought for a moment, he had never seen the old man log onto the computer so he did not know the password, and knowing how paranoid Dr. Wily was it was entirely within the realm of possibility that the password was changed on a regular basis anyway.

The probability of a password had occurred to Forte and he was prepared for such a thing. Forte had been designed to destroy Rockman, that was his main goal, however when Dr. Wily created him he was designed to be Rockman's equal which meant he had been given free thought and other human characteristics, boredom being one of them. He had found this trait to be one that appeared frequently when he was not working on defeating his nemesis. Skull Fortress had never offered much for entertainment, himself, Gospel and Dr. Wily frequently were the only ones around especially since Rockman usually dispensed with the Robot Masters shortly after they were activated.

Dr. Wily was usually busy working on his plans for global domination, and the odd time he wasn't, he would hole himself away doing who knows what. This meant that Dr. Wily was not much of a companion to the android, and although Forte cared deeply for Gospel he was only a wolf and did not have much to offer other than a strange sense of silent companionship.

This being the case the ebony armored android found himself in need of a hobby. The easiest one to find in the fortress was fiddling with the computer systems. He quickly discovered that he had quite the knack for it and had at one point wondered if this talent came from Rockman's designs, as the bane of his existence had been created as a laboratory assistant. He had quickly pushed that bit of distasteful thinking aside not wanting to have anything in common with Rockman, but needing something to occupy his time.

Easily bypassing the security Forte scanned the contents of the computers data banks looking for information on the bioroid.

He smirked satisfied as the information he was looking for appeared on the screen. Reading the information displayed his smirk faded. According to what was written the construction of Zero was nearing completion. The programming had been completed and installed, and all that was left was some finishing touches on his weapons systems.

Whatever was going to be done to stop Zero's activation had to be done soon. Scanning down through the information he discovered which energy terminal was supplying the non-active bioroid, no where did it state his exact location, but digging further into the files Forte was pleased to discover that Dr. Wily had inputted the programming for Zero from this very terminal, and that everything was still connected, meaning that Forte could make the necessary alterations to Zero's programming from there.

His meeting with Blues came to mind and he was tempted to go out and meet him as agreed but Forte's independency and his guilt made him stay. This whole situation was his fault, since he was the one who had stolen the plans of X which Dr. Wily had used to create Zero, this being the case he felt as if it was his duty to rectify this wrong. Even feeling this way Forte decided to heed Blues' advice and not just turn the laboratory upside-down in search of the capsule that would house Zero as he slept and destroy him. Forte had something else in mind, something that would guarantee that Zero would not go on a rampage and kill everybody.

12

Rock left Dr. Light's laboratory feeling drained, more so than he ever had in his entire life. The events that led up to himself and Forte winding up in the battle simulator seemed a distant memory, even though he had entered the decimated laboratory in his home less than half a day ago. Initially he had thought there could be nothing worse than Dr. Light ending up in the villainous clutches of Dr. Wily but after what he had experienced with Forte he decided there were much worse things that could happen, that very likely would happen. Forte had felt it too, that was the only explanation for the Wily android letting him escape.

Between Dr. Light, Roll and himself the repairs to the room were completed. It was not the work that they had done to repair the laboratory that had worn him out, nor was it the battles with the Robot Masters. He forced a smile on his weary face as he passed Roll in the living room she had left shortly before leaving Rock and Dr. Light to finish the final stages of repair together.

"Didn't get enough of cleaning in the lab?" He asked her as he saw her puttering around the room tidying up.

Roll looked up at him after she finished straightening the couch cushions, rolling her eyes she smiled, "Ha, ha, Rock. Maybe you want to consider a career as a comedian," Rock laughed dryly at her joke. "Is Dr. Light finished in the laboratory?" She asked hoping the elderly scientist was not pushing himself too hard.

"Yes we finished cleaning everything up," Rock nodded. "Once that was done he decided to call it a night," Rock too worried about the fervor in which Dr. Light seemed to attack everything he did. "I hope you'll be doing the same too," he informed her, "you've had a hectic day and I'm certain you could use the rest," although they were androids and did not require sleep as humans did, they still needed to recharge their systems and back up their memory files on a regular basis. Both he and Roll had chosen to take on a schedule that mimicked human sleeping patterns in an attempt to be more human-like.

Dr. Light enjoying his children's presence was glad to oblige and even went to the extent of altering their charging pods which they initially had to appear as beds. The beds were slightly higher than a standard bed as the equipment that allowed for their recharging and file back-up were built into the box spring.

"Are you going to bed too?" She asked. "You've had a harder day than I did," she said referring to the rescue of Dr. Light.

"Rock shook his head. "Not right away. I'm going to go for a walk. I've got some things to think over."

Roll frowned and walked over to him tilting her head slightly, she looked him in the eyes. "Still worried about not remembering what happened in that battle simulator?" Taking his silence to the question as an affirmation she smiled consolingly. "Don't worry about it. Dr. Light gave you a thorough systems check and found no malfunctions and that no one had tampered with your systems, it was probably just a hiccup or something in your memory banks… he told us not to worry, so it'll be fine."

Rock nodded feeling guilty, at first he had been disoriented and only had a foggy recollection of his time in the simulator but shortly after returning to Dr. Light's laboratory the memories flooded back to him. He had managed to keep the information from Dr. Light and Roll. He had never kept anything from them before and it hurt him doing so now, but he did not want them to worry. Besides he had a feeling that no amount of preparation time would be able to stop Zero if he was activated. That is if this vision had some basis in reality he would take care of it on his own.

"Rock? Rock?" Roll's voice broke into his musings. She was waving her hand in front of his face. "Earth to Rock," he blinked twice. "Ah, Rock where were you just now?" She asked putting her hands behind her back and regarding him anxiously.

"Don't worry about it. I was just thinking about something. I should get going… See you tomorrow Roll," he said quickly brushing off the question. With that he was off, walking out of the room to the front door.

"Be careful Rock," Roll called after him.

Rock's hand stopped on the doorknob, resting on the cool metal. He closed his eyes and was overcome by indecision, not certain if he was doing the right thing, but not able to involve his family in this dangerous situation, and not able to do nothing. He quickly shut out the part of him that wanted to tell Roll and Dr. Light everything, opening his eyes he turned the knob and opened the door.

"Don't worry Roll, I'm always careful," he told her as he looked out the door seeing the sun setting. That said he left the building and closed the door softly.

Sighing Rock leaned against the door letting the coolness of the evening wash over him. "I'm sorry Roll, Dr. Light… but this is something I just have to do by myself," taking in the horizon for a moment, the sky aglow with the fiery rainbow of sunset he pushed himself from the door. Calling on his armor he beamed away from the house, unaware of the slight figure that had been watching him from the living room window.

Rockman had beamed as close to Dr. Wily's Skull Fortress' coordinates as he deemed safe not wanting his presence to be picked up immediately by the scanners. The last thing he wanted was another confrontation with Forte. Rockman was deep in the forest by Skull Fortress, he was greeted by the destruction left behind from when Rush had been blown through the trees that afternoon. Rockman cringed slightly in the fading light of the day, the damage looked worse than he remembered it, only partly because of the shadows being cast by the setting sun.

He shook his head. He had not come to the Skull Fortress to relive the afternoon's battles.

Rockman started towards the fortress following the path of destruction by Rush as he had been blown through the majority of the wooded area.

As the last vestiges of the day gave way to night the sky turning dark, the blue armored android reached the opening of the forest.

He stopped mid-step surprised to see a familiar red and grey clad figure leaning against the wall of the Skull Fortress. The figure was tapping his foot impatiently his eyes were hidden behind a black visor that was attached to his helmet, even so it was obvious that the figure was annoyed.

"Blues?" Rockman asked softly.

Blues stopped tapping his foot and turned his attention to Rockman. "Rock? What are you doing here?" He demanded.

Rockman cleared the distance between them and looked sheepish. "There was something I, uh, had to do."

Blues stood there regarding Rockman silently, it seemed the younger android had found something fascinating on the ground beneath his feet. "This wouldn't have anything to do with Zero would it?" Blues finally asked venturing a guess to the reason his brother was there.

Rockman's head snapped up and he gapped at Blues. "How did you know?" Rockman breathed barely able to find his voice.

"Let's just say that after you returned to the laboratory this afternoon I came back here and had a little chat with Forte."

Rock could tell that Blues was not telling the entire story but decided that it was not necessary to ask for more information, after he himself had kept his knowledge on the subject to himself as well.

"Is that why you're here?" Rockman inquired curiously, "Though it looks like you were waiting for someone."

Blues nodded absently and glanced at the door. "Yes, actually I was waiting for Forte," Rockman looked at him astonished. Seeing the reaction Blues elaborated. "We are going to take care of Zero so Wily doesn't do something stupid."

"You can't destroy him!" Rockman cried out in dismay. Even if Zero started off as a crazed psychopath as time progressed he would become on of the planet's champions, trying to right the wrongs that he had inadvertently created. Although Rockman was not X in some way he had lived parts of the bioroids life and he knew that without Zero's strength and friendship X would have been very much alone. True without Zero there would be no Maverick War nor would X be alone without any family members left, destroying Dr. Wily's bioroid would make the most sense but part of Rockman did not think that was the best solution. He had come here without any plan, but with the intention of stopping Zero by any means possible, but hearing his brother talk about taking care of Zero made everything gain a whole new sense of reality.

"We weren't going to," Blues stated, "we were going to alter his programming rendering it…" The red and grey armored android trailed off and turned his attention to the door once again and sighed. "That idiot. Don't tell me he's decided to do this on his own."

"Who Forte?" Rockman asked still trying to grasp exactly what was going on.

Blues nodded never veering his gaze from the door, frowning he started towards it intending on stopping Forte from doing something stupid. Noticing that Rockman was not following Blues half turned towards his brother. "Coming?"

Starting Rockman gave a curt nod. "Uh-huh!"

The two silently entered the fortress. Blues peered down the dimly lit corridor at the entrance of the building looking for signs of movement. His brother was close behind him wary of any new surprises Dr. Wily may have added since he was last there. Certain his brother would follow he continued his way through the building.

Rockman inwardly griped at the ease that Blues had in finding the laboratory, remembering his experience trying to navigate through the labyrinth like halls.

Blues continued to walk until he reached the main laboratory. Leaning in close to the door he heard someone typing on the keyboard with fervor. Blues' frown deepened.

The blue armored android behind him lightly tapped his shoulder in an attempt to gain his attention. Turning his head Blues saw Rockman mouth one word. "Wily."

Blues shrugged his shoulders uncertain and continued to listen to the goings on in the room before them.

The incessant typing suddenly stopped and he heard a hushed curse from Forte.

"It's Forte," he whispered to Rockman. His frown was replaced with his customary smirk. He was rather amused that Dr. Wily's android was attempting to reprogram his creator's newest creation. The entire goings on held a certain irony that was not lost on Blues.

Silently he opened the door, he and Rockman entering. Being the last one in Rockman closed the door almost inaudibly. The slight sound it made caused Forte to spin around from the computer terminal he was working at.

13

Rising from his seat Forte sent an angry look towards the two. "What are you doing here?" He demanded annoyed.

Blues stepped forward unconcerned by the heated glare. "You were not supposed to do this alone."

All the traces of vulnerability that had been shown from Dr. Wily's android that afternoon had vanished. "There was a change in plans… aside from that I don't recall saying he could come," Forte pointed an accusing finger at Rockman.

"Blues didn't know I was coming," Rockman stated quietly his head bowed down. "I had no idea what you two had planned… I came here hoping to talk to you about… about what happened," Rockman raised his head, his bottom lip trembling.

Forte took a step back his look softening slightly. He lowered his hand and turned his back to both of them.

Blues stood watching the scene in quite awe never would he have suspected Forte to react to Rockman that way.

"I suppose since you're both here…" Forte left it at that his sentence trailing off. Sitting back down he turned his attention back to the screen where he'd been working.

"Okay you two that's enough. What exactly did happen back there in that battle simulator?" Blues demanded thoroughly irate.

Both of the rooms other occupants stiffened, remaining quiet.

Blues was not going to let this slide, he had been more than patient with the situation, and he was even willing not to push for an answer until he saw the impossible interaction between the two. "No. You see that? That's not going to work again. Nobody's giving me any answers and you're both acting completely different. I want an answer, what went on in there?"

"Can we finish this first?" Forte asked sounding extremely weary, his eyes still on the screen, his usually cocky attitude toned down appearing defeated.

"Okay," Blues relented walking up the console. One way or another he was going to find out, but there were more pressing matters right now. It wouldn't be too hard to get Rock to tell him everything once they were done if nothing else. He turned his attention to the information displayed on the screen.

"What are you doing on that computer?" Rockman asked moving forward as well. "Doesn't Dr. Wily keep all of his files on the main computer?"

Forte shook his head. "Not the important stuff."

"You did this?" Blues inquired gesturing to the screen and was answered by a nod. "I'm impressed."

Rockman crossed his arms and frowned at the compliment given to Forte. The two were so engrossed with the information displayed that neither noticed.

"It's nothing really," Forte stated matter-of-factly, "but as you can see I'm running into a problem right here," he pointed to a line of programming. "I can't find a true statement for this line… its necessary and ties into the system initiation sequence in the preliminary lines of coding…" He trailed off.

"Rock could you get me a chair?" Blues asked, and then to Forte asked, "Can I see this from the beginning?"

Rockman's frown deepened as he went to fetch a chair for Blues. He was finding it hard not to be angry at the ease the two seemed to be feeling around each other. Forte was their enemy. Rockman had tried ever since he could remember to be friends with his rival but was never successful and here comes Blues who had never shown any interest in being friends with Forte at all and here the two seemed to be falling into an almost sibling-like relationship. Like the kind he and Blues had with one another, and even that had started off roughly.

He didn't know what bothered him more that Blues was giving his attention to Forte or that Forte wasn't trying to hinder Blues from helping him. Grabbing the first chair he found in the laboratory which was rather nearby he started back to the computer.

"Be my guest," Forte moved his chair over to the side allowing room for Blues.

Rockman returned to the two with a chair and gave it to Blues who took it and sat down, not even taking the time to acknowledge him.

"When did you pick up programming?" The red and grey armored android inquired as he read.

Looking over his shoulder trying to find the problem Forte commented. "There's not much else to do around here."

Feeling left out Rockman quietly took a seat on a desk that was off to the side from Blues and Forte. As he watched the two working the ill feelings he had felt dissipated and he realized that this must be exactly how Blues felt as he watched Rock interact with their family. It wasn't that Roll and Dr. Light didn't care for his brother, it was just that they did not understand him and it was because of this that they weren't close with the first "son". While admittedly Rockman and Blues had fought on several occasions the two of them had gotten closer as the older one realized that Rock had not intentionally become the focus of the family. After that realization Blues had felt no reason to prove his worth and fight with Rockman. They were then able to develop a proper relationship and it had grown to the point where Blues looked out for Rockman, and he looked up to Blues.

Thinking about the correlation between his current feelings which were bordering on jealousy and how Blues must feel he was able to look at the situation differently and his jealousy subsided.

There was still the fact that Forte wasn't trying to kill Blues but Rockman believed that was because of the situation. After all Forte was not trying to kill him either.

With the negative feelings gone Rockman was able to watch the two working in amazement. It was disconcerting that Forte an enemy who usually attacked him in a blind rage was quite adept at problem solving and very competent with a computer. Rockman had initially been created to be Dr. Light's laboratory assistant but did not spend long in that position as Dr. Wily began presenting a threat. He had then been given the task of keeping the world safe from the scheming doctor. Rock's preference was to be outside and relax rather than spending time in the stuffy laboratory.

Between Blues and Forte the sound of typing and brainstorming was constant. Resting his head in his hands Rockman continued to watch the two. It was rather remarkable and he wished not for the first time that Dr. Wily would just stop his plans for world domination. That way there was a chance that Forte might stop wanting to kill him and maybe they would be able to be friends. Aside from Roll and Blues there was no one that he could really relate to, and Blues spent most of his time away from their home, so he usually didn't even have him.

"That should do it." Blues said as he pressed the final button. "Now we just have to wait for the program changes to be sent through." Both he and Forte appeared to be pleased with themselves.

"How can you be certain Dr. Wily won't be able to fix the programming changes?" Rockman asked confused, he removed his head from his hands and leaned in to look at the screen wish showed the changes processing. The blue armored android had remained silent as the two were working not wanting to interrupt what they were doing and having things to go over in his head.

"Well I have a fairly good idea of Dr. Wily's programming abilities and Forte confirmed my suspicions. Between the two of us we've created enough lines of false code, intertwining the new code that makes it impossible to start Zero before the stasis period is over in the programming with them so that altering one line would render the program completely useless. It would take Dr. Wily the length of the hibernation period to correct the program!" Blues appeared quite pleased with the result of their work.

"All of the alterations are hidden so Dr. Wily will believe it's a flaw in the initialization program, not suspecting sabotage he should never even think to look for hidden coding. That way he should never discover that we've done anything to Zero's programming…" Forte trailed off the aura of triumph that had surrounded him changed as he looked down suddenly feeling guilty for betraying his creator.

"I'm certain he won't catch on." Rockman tried to be supportive as he realized that Forte was feeling badly for what he had just taken part in. He expected an angry retort or a glare, some form of hostility from the taller android but received a half smile. Not wanting to aggravate Forte Rockman only gave a small smile back.

Part of Rockman wondered if perhaps the experience that he and Forte had shared would allow them to become friends, though he suspected that after tonight the other android would be threatening his life again.

"Now that the program is processing I want to know what happened. So one of you start talking," while Blues was forceful he did not seem quite as insistent as he had been before, after all he had been promised an explanation.

"Okay," Rock agreed. "It doesn't make all that much sense and I'd find it hard to believe if I hadn't happened to me. Honestly I still find it hard to believe."

14

"So it was like we could see the entire thing happen but couldn't do anything about it," Rockman finished.

Blues couldn't quite fathom the idea but Rock seemed adamant and looking to Forte receiving a nod the ebony armored android confirmed Rockman's story.

"So you mean to tell me you were X?" He looked to Rock, then to Forte. "And you were Zero?"

"Sort of…" Rockman frowned trying to find a way to clarify.

"It was more like were along for the ride, but felt their experiences," Forte expanded.

The console let out a beep signifying that the program changes had taken effect.

"Seems like it's done," Forte said glad to get away from the uncomfortable topic, he had not enjoyed his time in the battle simulator.

"I suppose that's that," Blues said confidently, "the events that took place in that battle simulator will have no chance of happening now," while Blues did not know whether the two had suffered from some sort of vision or damage from battle the thought of a future like they spoke of did not appeal to him.

Rockman looked relieved. Even though he was used to the role of hero and being in X's mind had not been much of a change for him he did not want his family to die, he did not want to die, not like that. That bleak future that he had experienced was something he never wanted to have happen. He glanced at the somewhat morose Forte and felt for him. Sure the android's main objective was to kill Rockman but to have to be in the mind of an out of control bioroid as it killed off everyone you knew must have been hard.

Rockman was just thankful that although there had been numerous battles with that reploid Sigma there were only flashes that he remembered, he hoped for Forte's sake that the murder of everyone had only been a brief flash for his rival.

Rockman and Blues stood. They both turned to Forte who remained seated.

"You are both aware next time we mee-" he began.

"You'll try to kill us, I know." Blues interrupted smirking.

"B-but Forte, I was hoping that…" Rockman trailed off. "Okay," he replied knowing there was no changing the other's mind.

The three had been busy with their awkward farewells, none of them noticing Dr. Wily entering his laboratory intent on some late night work. Nor did they notice him standing in the doorway listening in on the ending of their conversation.

15

"Forte what do you think you're doing?" The enraged voice of Dr. Wily sounded behind the three.

Forte's eyes widened in shock and dismay, lowering his head he rose from his seat and turned towards the entrance where his creator's voice had come from.

Both Blues and Rockman were also startled. Blues regarded Dr. Wily with an arrogant smirk, while Rockman had the courtesy of looking abashed. After all he was here secretly watching the destruction of one of the scientist's newest creations, not fighting Robot Masters for the sake of the planet. It did seem rather wrong.

"And why are they here?" Dr. Wily paused then continued after receiving no answer. "In my laboratory? By my personal terminal?"

Slowly Forte raised his head, a frown on his face, he had been caught, there we no use lying about anything now. At least even with the knowledge that Zero had been tampered with Dr. Wily should not be able to undo the damage. "We had to do it Dr. Wily," he spoke calmly and quietly. "Zero had to be stopped."

Dr. Wily's eyes narrowed at the statement, Forte should not know anything about Zero the project was top secret. "What do you mean?"

There was a pause and when it became obvious that Forte was not going to answer Blues piped up responding. "Simple Wily, Zero's not going to be around any time soon."

"No," Dr. Wily hissed but judging from the three before him he knew it was true. To add insult to injury his creation had been in on the whole thing. The elderly man decided that was the reason for the androids strange behavior earlier in the day. He had been betrayed by his own creation. "Get out," he ordered looking directly at Blues and Rockman. "You," he pointed to Forte, "stay."

Forte nodded.

"You don't have to," Rockman piped in, "you can come home with us," he knew that if Forte stayed with Dr. Wily the android stood a great chance of never being seen again.

"Yes, I have to. I have to stay," Forte replied still looking at his fuming creator.

"No you don't!" Rockman continued, "If you do who knows what will-"

"Rock, let's go." Blues placed a hand on his brother's shoulder. "Good luck," he said to the other android.

With one last look at Forte Rockman returned to Dr. Light's laboratory.

Sighing Blues thought of how similar Forte and Rock were. Both were loyal to their creators. In all actuality Forte had betrayed his creator not for himself, but for the safety of Dr. Wily. Even now Forte would not save himself, resolved to stand up to whatever punishment Dr. Wily would see fit for him, rather than abandon the old man. Shaking his head Blues disappeared as well.

Forte decided that Dr. Wily was taking this either incredibly well or he was holding back his rage and the situation would deteriorate quickly once the rage broke through.

Without a word Dr. Wily moved passed Forte to the terminal and looked through the program. Initially he could not see anything wrong, and had Forte not looked so guilty he would have thought that he had interrupted them before they were able to start. Deciding to check for hidden parameters he began to see the beginnings of additions to his program.

Removing his hands form the console Dr. Wily turned the chair towards Forte. "Why?" He asked flatly his voice not showing any emotion.

Lowering his head Forte responded in a similar tone. "I had to."

"Bullshit!" Dr. Wily exclaimed, the android flinched but did not look up. "Look at me and tell me why!"

Hesitantly Forte raised his head appearing miserable. He opened his mouth the say something, but snapped it shut.

Throwing his hands up in the air Dr. Wily rose and began to pace. "I want to know what could have possible possessed you to fraternize with the enemy and destroy my greatest crea…tion…" Dr. Wily paused and spun around towards the android. "That's it!" He exclaimed. "There is no other possible reason. I don't know how you even found out about Zero, but you did and realized that he would be superior to you in every way. You let petty jealously jeopardize the cause!" He now advanced towards Forte. "But you're not going to get away with it. As your creator I order you to correct whatever you did, that way your punishment may not be as harsh."

"No."

"What do you mean 'no'? You will do this. It is not a request. This is an order!" Dr. Wily was dismayed that his creation would defy him so.

"I can't let Zero be activated," Forte stated quietly.

"I said I'd go easy on you if you repaired the damage," Dr. Wily crossed his arms. Regarding the android he could not fathom any reason other than feeling threatened by the creation of a superior android that Forte would defy him. Now here he was giving Forte a way out of a harsh punishment, he had thought that Forte's survival instinct would have him oblige even if for some reason his common sense had given way to jealously earlier.

Forte's hands were clenched at his sides and he looked at the doctor with a mix of guilt and sorrow. Had Dr. Wily not seen his reaction after being in the battle simulator he would have been shocked, but he had decided that the reason Forte was acting with such emotions before was because of his plans to betray his creator.

"Unless," Dr. Wliy muttered. "Forte!" He ordered the android. "I want to see your programming." The look on Forte's face became mixed with a resigned fear. Seeing the look on his face Dr. Wily expanded. "I should have checked you over after than accident, it seems that Dr. Light has become more underhanded over time, somehow rigging a virus or something into the battle simulator."

"Wha-uh, no!" Forte shook his head. "There's nothing wrong with me, and there was not virus in the machine."

"Then?"

Sighing Forte decided he should tell his creator even if it made hi appear weak or crazy.

"If Zero is activated before his thirty years in stasis he will be very unstable…"

As Forte trailed off Dr. Wily decided to correct him, "That should be the case, but I had created a program that would stabilize that problem-"

"No you didn't. It wouldn't." Forte's tone was flat, not holding any of its usual infliction and to Dr. Wily it reminded him of an old science fiction movie he had seen as a child, where the robots had no human characteristics at all, the thought sent a shiver up his spine. "Zero would awaken completely unstable, and because of the new enhancements he would be free to attack whomever at will."

"Where did you even get such a notion?"

"I'll admit that something happened in the battle simulator, somehow it showed both me and Rockman what would happen if Zero were to be activated," seeing the look on his creator's face he continued. "It wasn't a virus, I can't really explain it but it was real – as real as something like that can be.

"After seeing that the only solution was to make certain he would not be able to be activated before those thirty years… if he was activated sooner…" Forte faltered shaking his head he clenched his hands tighter. "If Zero were to be activated too soon," the emotion returned to his voice and his pain was easy to hear. "He would kill everyone." Forte lowered his head unable to look at Dr. Wily. "It's bad enough that everyone around here aside from us is put out of commission on a regular basis, even if over ninety percent of the Robot Masters are annoying as hell. But it wouldn't just be them this time it would be everyone, the castle guards, the Robot Masters, Rockman Blues, Roll," with a derisive chuckle he continued, "myself, Dr. Light… you." Forte's head snapped up and tears were in his eyes. "Everyone!"

Dr. Wily was taken aback by the whole situation. What Forte said was impossible, none of his creations would ever hurt him, but this intense reaction. Never had Forte cried even after being seriously injured, it was true he was capable of it, he was given every feature Rockman had, even one as useless as being able to cry. Somehow being able to cry did not seem quite so frivolous to Dr. Wily now.

"Unlike Robot Master and androids humans can't come back after they've been killed." Forte's voice was calmer now after that outburst, his eyes widened as he realized he was crying. He quickly wiped the tears from his eyes. Standing there he looked just as miserable as he felt. He stood there waiting for unavoidable deactivation that would be coming.

Deactivation would be worth it to Forte though if it kept everyone safe. There was only one problem now he realized an underlying flaw in the plan. One that had Dr. Wily never walked in on them would never have been a problem. With Dr. Wily knowing that the program had been tampered with there was nothing to stop him from reprogramming Zero from the beginning. Had Dr. Wily though that there had been a flaw with the initial program itself he would have eventually given up on the entire bioroid idea. It was too late for Forte to do anything else now. He only hoped Blues would come to the same conclusion and continue to keep Dr. Wily from succeeding.

Dr. Wily remained silent for a long time. The laboratory remained hauntingly devoid of all sound.

"Get out," Dr. Wily broke the silence, for once sounding his age. "Get out and don't come back Forte."

With an uncertain nod Forte took a step back regarding his creator once more. He was amazed at the choice of punishment and glad that the scientist would be safe – or as safe as any evil genius could be. There was an empty feeling though. This would be the last he'd see of the doctor, the only person he'd been with since his activation. He trusted Blues enough to look after the Zero situation should Dr. Wily restart the project. Forte would not be coming back, he could not risk it. With only a moment's hesitation Forte whispered barely audible, "Goodbye… father," before he transported out of the laboratory.

Dr. Wily had heard the farewell though. He stood alone in the laboratory the defeated remains of his Robot Masters surrounding him, all of the monitors black save for the one that Forte had been working on. Heaving a sigh he turned off the monitor and walked to the door. He turned off the light with a small click the room was bathed in the eerie light from the hallway. The light from the hallway began to shrink as the door closed until the room was left in darkness.

Roll here, in Polyrhythms Book 2 of Rubato - A Rockman Trilogy, trouble is afoot. It seems that life may change forever for the Light family, and not in a good way. Can Rockman save the day yet again, and what has Dr. Wily been up to? This and more in Book 2, don't miss it!