pop, fizzle


The holoprojector hummed to life at X's approach, as the three before it had done. X watched with eager fascination; while the holograms were mere glimpses of the father he never knew, he treasured every second.

The upgrades were a nice bonus, too.

X waited, frowning slightly. Usually Dr. Light appeared as soon as the projector turned on, but this time there was nothing. What was going on?

"Is it on?"

An unfamiliar voice, tentative. Young, a young boy's voice, nothing like Dr. Light's.

"You tell me."

Another voice, slightly deeper, belonging to a different boy. What the hell...?

The projector fizzed slightly as a head came into view, sliding into the column of light at about chest-height on X. A bright, smiling face topped with curly black hair grinned.

"It's ON! Cool! X! Hey, X!"

X started, stepping back.

"Bro. Rock. Dude. It's not as if he won't already know you."

The face glanced back.

"Yeah, but still! We're sending a message into the future!"

Rock practically bounced into view, revealing a short and wiry frame dressed entirely in blue. He pulled a slightly taller young man into the projector's field with him, this one dressed in red and wearing dark sunglasses. Rock let go of the elder's arm and turned back to X, still grinning like a maniac.

"C'mon, Blues, say something to our little brother!"

Blues turned to X and smirked, pushing his shades back into place with one hand. "Heh. Hi."

Rock turned the grin on Blues. "Well, that was eloquent."

"Thank you." his brother responded calmly.

A new voice echoed from the projector's speaker. Higher. A girl's voice.

"Boys! You know Dr. Light's using those pods! What d'you think you're doing?"

Both boys turned.

"Aw, c'mon, Roll, he's got five or six of 'em! We're just using this one to send X a message!" Rock explained, looking as innocent as possible.

"...Rock, we're going to be there when he wakes up." The exasperation in Roll's voice evaporated as it grew softer. "Dr. Light has things to say that he won't be able to later."

Rock's grin slipped. "Well- well- I know that! But Blues might not be there, he might be traveling! He's gotta leave a message so X knows who he is!"

There was a pause. Roll's voice took on a slightly amused tone.

"Allriiiight... but if this is Blues's message, then why are you doing all of the talking?"

The grin returned, joined by a smirk from Blues.

"That, sis, is what we call the natural order of things." Blues replied. "Now come say hi to X."

"Oh, this is ridiculous!" Roll exclaimed. A blonde girl in a red dress bustled into view, stepping up next to Rock and smiling perfunctorily at X. "Hello, X, I'm Roll, though of course you know me because I'll be there when you wake up! I hope by the time you see this you're better than your brothers at not tracking mud into the lab." She added this last in a particularly acerbic tone.

Rock and Blues simultaneously glanced backwards. Blues's smirk remained in place, but Rock's grin turned decidedly sheepish.

He tucked a hand behind his head. "Um, oops? Sorry, Roll."

His sister sighed and rolled her eyes. "Are you quite finished? Because if you are, then either grab a mop or get out from underfoot."

"Yes, ma'm!" Rock chirped, scooting off. Blues shook his head, sent one last sidelong grin at X, and strolled off after his brother.

Roll smiled after them, shaking her head, and leaned towards something outside X's view. The projection fuzzed once, and vanished.

X stared into the empty space left by the projector, mind whirring. For the first time in his memory, his emotional capacity had been overloaded. Brothers? Sister? He knew Dr. Light had had other creations, of course, that one had won the Wily Wars and become the most famous robot of its time, but... that was just it. It was a robot. They were all robots. Weren't they?

C'mon, Blues, say something to our little brother!

Before X's brain could proceed any further, the projector crackled once again. He elected to put off processing information until later, and focused his full attention on the machine.

Blues's form appeared, flickered once, and snapped into place. A few moments passed, and he spoke.

"X. Hey."

A sigh.

"Listen. Rock and Roll don't know it, but Light's not making these pods as indestructible as they are for nothing. He knows something we don't, and he's preparing for a worst-case where you'll grow up alone."

The mouth under the visor settled into a thin line, and the next words came out low.

"Maybe even activated alone."

A fist clenched, relaxed. Blues started speaking faster, as if he meant to build up momentum.

"So anyways, whatever happens, you oughta know this. You weren't created to be a helper, or a fighter, or a companion to anybody. The Doc didn't make you to be used for somebody else's purposes.

"You were made because we wanted to make you. You- you were created for the sake of creation, for your own sake. Even if you've been activated by a total stranger, even if you've never seen me or the Doc or Rock or Roll before in your life, you should know this: you were created by a family that wanted-- that wants you, in the hopes of you becoming part of that family."

He smirked a little, seeming to recover. "Here's to hoping Light's a paranoid old fool, and you get to become one of us after all. I'm looking forward to meeting you."

With that, the young robot reached forward. Shockingly blue eyes glanced over dark shades, seeming to lock onto X's own stare.

"Seeya, X."

And there was a hiss, and he was gone.

The seconds went by. X knew; his internal clock, the only part of his conscious brain that was not currently engaged in furiously reevaluating everything he had ever believed about his own past, ticked them away one by one, exact to the picosecond.

When ten had passed, X judged that the projector had given all it had to offer, and he stepped back and began a full reassessment. Or, at least, he attempted to.

Somehow, he kept getting stuck on the concepts "brother" and "sister."

It turned out to be just as well. After another five seconds, the projector fizzed to life yet a third time. X immediately directed his attention back to it, welcoming the respite from his own thoughts as well as the possibility for further enlightenment.

Dr. Light appeared, looking as he always had. A small smile crinkled the elderly face.

"Hello, X." At last, familiar territory. The voice resonated, as it always did, in old, long-corrupted memory files that X had never let Dr. Cain erase. "I'm glad you found this; if you beat the guardian I'm setting to protect it, then you've almost certainly taken advantage of the other military upgrades I've left you."

He sighed. X started, suddenly realizing that the sound was well-nigh identical to Blues's.

"I'm sorry that you have to fight." The deep voice slowed, heavy with resigned weariness. "Still, if the responsibility is yours, then the least I can do is ensure that you are well-equipped. Enclosed is an upgrade for your body armor; it should double shock absorption."

Small blue eyes peered fondly out from under bushy white eyebrows. "Farewell, X. And good luck." And the lights winked out.

X was left in darkness for exactly three-quarters of a second. This was just enough time for him to feel disappointed at having not learned more about his siblings from his father, realize that it was only practical for Light to spend all of his time talking about the upgrades which he would actually use, and begin an internal debate on how useful information about his siblings would be. He would have gone further, of course, but that again would have required coherent definition of the idea of "siblings."

He was cut off by the reignition of the top and bottom lights on the projector. For a nanosecond, he expected another message.

With a shake of his helmeted head, X stepped onto the platform.