The following work is a joint project between Triad Orion and myself. It has been six months in the making, a long, but extremely fun process. The idea came to us not long after Triad introduced me to the Mega Man universe. It seemed to us both that Capcom had left a rather large number of plotholes in its canon. Being fanfiction authors, neither of us were content with this state of affairs and embarked on the epic task of fixing the Mega Man series, to give the poor characters some semblance of a happy ending. We decided that the best way of doing this was through time travel. And thus, this story was born.

We began the project with the intention of creating a video game, but soon our authorial instincts took over and now we face the daunting task of converting seven hundred pages of script into a full-fledged fanfic. But that being said, we have it all planned out — so sit back, keep your arms, legs, and other appendages inside the time machine, and enjoy the trip.

And it must also be said that this is still completely, utterly, and absolutely Triad's fault.


EPILOGUE

by Triad Orion and Griffinkhan

---

CHAPTER ONE

Another Working Day


It was a warm spring morning, but neither the man nor the boy had any interest in that. The inside of the castle was a uniform sixty degrees, no matter the season, and the only reason the man ever had for looking outside was to plot new ways of taking that land over.

The two stood in the deepest, darkest, most cobweb-ridden section of Skull Fortress, surveying a packed storeroom. It was an odd location for humans, but neither was really human at all. The man had long displaced his humanity with madness, rot eating away at his brain until all that was left was a brilliant intelligence and a mad hunger for power and revenge. He was a cunning old man, as wily as his name, shocks of grey hair sprouting from either side of his head in the epitome of a cliche mad scientist. He didn't mind, however... as he often said, those other mad scientists were simply poor imitations of himself.

As for the boy, he appeared to be about sixteen years of age, rubbing the bridge of his nose in bored manner as he suppressed a yawn. A polished black helmet, tapering into yellow fin-like protrusions, fit closely to his head. Two long, angry purple streaks ran from the base of his cheeks beneath the chin-guard of his helmet to end in points below his eyes, giving him the look of a warrior. That description was accurate, for this was the ultimate of warriors—a machine created solely for battle, his only purpose to fight for his creator's vision. This was Bass, Dr. Wily's greatest achievement to date, and self-proclaimed strongest robot of the age. He wasn't quite at his most fearsome at the moment, however, as the glazed look in his eyes and slouching stance gave him more the aura of a jaded teenager than a ruthless battle robot.

"Man, you have a lot of junk in here, Doc," he observed, his voice reverberating around the filthy room. He stood impassively as Wily turned from the mangled remains of a mechaniloid he had been examining and glared.

"It is not 'junk', you ungrateful pile of scrap!" the scientist declared, moving on to another rusting robot. "Every piece of equipment you see here is an amazing technological achievement!"

"Yeah, yeah..." Bass replied, in a tone that said he rather thought differently. He followed as the scientist continued to dart along the narrow corridor between heaps of spare parts and broken machines. Most of it was worthless, melted and welded together by plasma fire. Nothing spiked the black robot's interest until he noticed the remains of an old robot master to the side. Halting, he peered at the thing's weapon with mild curiosity. "What's this?" he asked, reaching out to lay a hand on it.

Wily turned. "Don't touch that!" he said, but it was too late. Bass' fingers landed on the metal and a violent explosion rent the air. The robot master went flying, and Wily narrowly ducked to avoid being beheaded. When the dust settled, a good half of the storeroom had been effectively cleared away. Bass remained standing, arms folded, looking exquisitely nonchalant as dust settled over his armor.

"Wow, I didn't know Lead Bubbles could even do that..." he remarked, as Wily picked himself up and glared at his creation.

"You stupid..." Wily gave up, seeing that Bass was beyond hearing. He sighed. "Never mind. Just... keep quiet and help me search for other Robot Master types. And don't touch anything!"

Bass blinked. "But... how am I supposed to help if I..."

"Figure it out, bolts for brains!" Wily shouted, and marched off along the now much wider pathway, muttering curses in German.

"...Okay then," Bass said, grinning. If he couldn't touch...

There was a whining sound, and Wily whipped around. "Bass!" he yelled, as the ebony robot armed his buster gun and began shooting precise holes in the piles of junk, revealing more layers of robot parts beneath.

"Knock it off!" Wily said, dashing back towards his creation, his eyebrows furrowed in anger. "Grr... just..." He glared at the robot's smirk of self-satisfaction. "Just go play your video games or something," he said finally. Bass may be an perfect engine of destruction on the battlefield, but that very nature made him almost intolerable when stuck at the fortress. Wily had finally found him a video game console in order to give him something to entertain himself with besides systematically breaking his lab equipment.

"I can't," Bass reminded him. "You took apart my PlayStation to make that new robot master of yours. And then Mega Man blasted it to pieces."

Ah, yes. Not one of his brightest ideas, he had to admit. Not only had "Sony Man" been completely useless in defeating that blue insect, it had put him on the bad side of Bass, as well. Not that Wily really cared what his robots thought, but Bass had the ability to be very irritating when annoyed. As he was demonstrating at the moment.

"What about the X-Box?" Wily asked, searching for any excuse to get Bass away from him for a while. Simply ordering him would not work, Bass was a master of finding loopholes.

"Heck no!" Bass exclaimed, making a face. "I'm not playing games on anything that's more evil than I am, thanks."

Wily grunted noncommittally. "Fine, then. Go stand in a corner and look for something salvageable. No shooting, and no touching. If you see anything, tell me and then get out of my way!"

"Aww... fine," Bass sighed. He walked to the corner, sporting a very unflattering pout. Wily ignored him as he continued to search for parts. There were several minutes of blessed silence, save for the shifting of metal pieces and Wily's soft muttering as he examined them.

"Hmm... this looks like... Quick Man," he mumbled, pulling out a shattered helmet sporting a bright yellow boomerang. The head was still inside the helmet, though the body was in a pile across the way, and the control chip appeared to be intact. "I wonder if I can use anything from him..."

"Hey, Wily!" came a far too cheerful voice. Wily froze. "Check me out! I'm a Robot Master!"

Almost afraid to see what Bass had done now, the old scientist turned to find his greatest creation sporting a pair of large scissors on his head. Wily sighed, then growled, "Bass! I told you not to touch anything! How dare you disobey my orders?"

"Well, I'm not technically touching them," Bass said, that damned smirk Wily so wished he hadn't designed back on his face, "since I'm wearing gloves..."

"...That's the last time I ever give a robot a sass-back protocol." Wily grumbled. Both master and robot knew very well there was no such thing, but Wily liked to complain. The truth was, Wily had no idea why Bass acted the way he did most of the time. It was very troubling. But so far, Bass had remained relatively loyal, despite everything, even staying with Wily after that fiasco with King. Several times, Wily had wondered if perhaps his creation had left him for good, but he'd always returned in the end. His love of destruction and mayhem overrode his rebellious attitude, it seemed, and kept him at the scientist's side.

"Hey, there's a button on this thing," Bass commented, running his hand along the blade. "I wonder what it does?"

Wily started. "BASS! Don't—"

"Whoops!" Bass said, not sounding at all apologetic, as he pressed the button and the Cut Blades launched from his head, hitting a pile of junk a short distance away. Parts showered down on Wily, as the scientist cowered in an attempt to protect himself from the falling objects.

"Now look at the mess you made!" Wily shouted, looking around at the debris-strewn floor. "Do you know how long it..." He paused suddenly, noticing an object on the ground. Bending down, he picked it up, turning it over in his hands. "That's... that's it!" he said, staring at the object with mounting maniacal glee.

Bass, interpreting the change in mood as anger, said nervously, "Uh... I didn't do it! I swear!"

"Be quiet, Bass," said Wily dismissively, still staring at the object. "I have a plan."

"...Does it involve you building eight new robot masters and getting defeated by that blueberry again?" Bass asked, trying to sound innocent and failing.

"...Shut up!" Wily growled, restraining the urge to chuck the object at his robot's head. It was far too important for that. "The reason Mega Man keeps winning is because he gets enough time to prepare his offensive. Time is the key, don't you see?"

"Um, no, not really," said Bass, folding his arms. "Indulge me then, Doc. What's your plan?"

"Even a moron like you should be able to deduce it, Bass," said Wily, rolling his eyes. "If Mega Man wins because he has time, we simply take away that advantage!"

"And how do you propose we do that?"

"The answer lies before you!" Wily declared, holding up the object so the black-armored robot could get a clear view. "Long ago, I created the robot master Flash Man, don't you remember?"

"...I wasn't built yet, Doc," Bass reminded him.

"Incompetent robot... I installed you with a history chip for a reason, you know." He sighed, and shook his head. "Never mind! ...Flash Man had the ability to stop time for a short while. However, due to his relatively weak power source, he wasn't able to maintain it for long."

"...Stop time...?" said Bass, giving Wily a look like he was crazy. Which he was, of course. "Okay..."

"It was my mistake that I did not see the practical applications of the technology sooner," Wily said, beginning to pace as he held the part in his hands. "Though Flash Man was a failure, his technique could easily be adapted into a robot with a much greater potential... such as yourself. In your hands, time could be halted for as long as we wished!" He stopped, turning to his creation with a maniacal grin plastered on his face once more. "Don't you see, Bass? Before Mega Man even realizes what has happened, we will have taken over the world!"

"Or, I could stop time and just kill him while he's a sitting duck..." Bass said.

"Don't logic me, robot!" Wily griped, glaring at him. "Taking over the world takes precedence!"

Bass sighed, and began stalking towards the exit, as Wily remained holding the broken piece of Flash Man as though it were made of gold. "Fine. Just get to work on it, then. I'm gonna go steal me a new PlayStation."

"Yes! Get out of here!" Wily crowed, his voice reverberating around the room. "I must have space to do my work! This will be my greatest invention yet!"

"Everything's your greatest invention yet, Doc," Bass said, pausing to lean against the doorframe. "I was your greatest invention, that exploding toaster was your greatest invention..."

"Exploding toasters are cool!" Wily declared.

"...If you're a senile mad scientist..." Bass muttered, just loud enough for his creator to hear.

"Out! OUT!" the madman screamed, grabbing a random part and chucking it at Bass' head. It bounced harmlessly off his helmet. "And don't come back until I call for you!"

Bass rolled his eyes. "Fine. Bye." He slipped out the door, his boots pinging on the stone corridor for a time before fading away as he disappeared upstairs.

In the junk-strewn storeroom, Wily laughed.

-------

Several miles away, it was still a beautiful spring morning. The sunlight spilled through the windows of a small, neat house, causing the spotless interior to sparkle to an almost blinding intensity. Not a speck of dust floated in the sunbeams, testament to a housekeeper with either a passion for cleanliness or a serious case of OCD.

The quiet peace of the scene was disturbed by the pounding of feet on hardwood floor and the sounds of a scuffle. A cry rang through the house, "Rock! Get back here!"

"No way!" came an answering voice. The boy named Rock, who looked to be about twelve or thirteen, burst into the living room. He was dressed casually in shorts and a T-shirt, his socked feet muffled by the carpeting. Blue eyes darted to all corners of the room as he skidded to a halt before the couch. The moment's glance was all he needed to realize he was cornered, as the only other exit was to the basement laboratory. Mentally berating himself, he ran a nervous hand through his black hair and quickly turned to close the door as a last attempt at deterring his pursuer. Unfortunately, he was too late. The furious girl in a red and white dress barreled through the doorway before he could reach the knob, a broom in one hand and a pair of very dirty sneakers dangling by their shoelaces from the other.

"I can't believe you got mud all over the kitchen floor!" she said, blue eyes narrowed in anger. Her blonde hair hung loose down her back, having been half-freed from its ponytail during the chase. She waved the shoes under Rock's nose. "And I just cleaned it, too!"

"I didn't mean to, Roll!" he defended, backing away as she advanced with a menacing gleam in her eyes and her broom at the ready. "And aren't you supposed to be the peaceful one?"

"Not when people mess up my nice, clean house!" Roll snapped. She continued advancing and Rock backed away again, only to slam into the back of the couch. He winced, trapped, and instinctively raised his arms to cover his face in preparation for the inevitable assault. But the smack of wood against synthflesh and metal limbs never came. Instead, there was a five-note whistle that echoed through the rooms of the house, followed immediately by a voice from the doorway.

"What's going on in here?"

The speaker leaned nonchalantly against the doorway, sunlight glinting off his dark sunglasses. His hair was the same shade of raven black as Rock's, though he was taller and his features had a more mature air, appearing to be around eighteen. He wore a maroon turtleneck sweater, long pants, and a canary yellow scarf despite the warm weather. He smirked upon seeing that the two feuding children had noticed his presence.

"Ah! Blues!" Rock exclaimed, using the distraction to push away from the couch and put some distance between himself and the broom. "Don't sneak up on us like that!"

Blues raised an eyebrow. "...I announced my presence very loudly. What more do you want?"

Rock rolled his eyes. "Maybe if you were around more often, it wouldn't be so startling when you do appear."

"Well, you'll just have to get over it, little brother." Blues attempted to grin evilly, and Rock snorted.

"Blues, Rock... don't fight," Roll interjected patiently. "I wouldn't want you to hurt each other, since I'm going to kill Rock by myself!"

"What'd you do this time, kid?" Blues asked, eyeing the broom in her hands.

"Nothing! I swear!"

"He tracked mud into the house!" Roll answered, glaring at Rock. "I've told him time and time again to take off his shoes before he comes inside, but does he listen!"

Rock gave Blues a pleading look, as Roll gripped the broom tighter. Blues folded his arms as though he were pondering the situation.

"Hmm..." he said, then shook his head. "Sorry, Rock. Can't help you. Roll, have fun."

"Hey! Blues!" Rock yelped, as Roll grinned and raised the broom.

"What is going on up here?"

All three turned as the door on the far end of the room opened, and a man emerged from the revealed staircase. He was in his early sixties, with a cloud of white hair and a fluffy beard that had gotten him the post of Santa at the local children's hospital for the past decade. A pair of reading glasses perched on the tip of his nose, and he reached up to pull them off, stowing them neatly in a pocket of his lab coat. The coat had once been white, but there were several brown oil stains decorating it now. Roll, spotting them, looked dismayed. This was Doctor Thomas Light, one of the world's most famous and brilliant roboticists, and the creator of Rock, Roll, and Blues.

"I could hear the ruckus all the way in my lab," the doctor continued, as he shut the door behind him. "I need quiet when I'm working on X—" he paused, "—tra upgrades for Rock, I mean."

"Upgrades... right," said Blues, with just the slightest hint of skepticism. Neither of the other children reacted.

Dr. Light blinked, noticing the sunglasses-bedecked boy for the first time. "Oh! When did you come in, Blues?" he asked.

"For pity's sake, are you people deaf?" Blues sighed.

"He couldn't have heard you whistle all the way in the lab," Roll pointed out.

"It was a rhetorical question," Blues replied, looking disgruntled.

"Upgrades! Yay!" said Rock, bouncing in excitement. Both Dr. Light and Blues gave him an odd look, and he stopped, slightly sheepish.

"Anyway..." Dr. Light said with a sigh, looking at his daughter. "Roll, stop trying to kill your brother." She lowered the broom, disappointed. "Rock, stop doing whatever it is you did."

"Yes, Father," they said in unison.

"Thank you," he said, smiling. With the crisis averted and his role as the benevolent parent fulfilled, he turned back to the door to the basement lab. "Oh, and one of you go pick up some milk before lunch, please," he added over his shoulder as he started down the steps. "We're all out."

As soon as the door shut, Rock turned to his sister. "You do it, Roll."

"You do it, Rock," she shot back.

"You do it, Blues," Rock said, not to be outdone.

"Wow, look at the time!" Blues exclaimed, checking his nonexistent watch. "I'd better go." A moment later, he had vanished in a column of teleportation light.

"...Jerk," Roll said, shaking her head.

"He always does that..." Rock sighed.

Roll shook the broom at her brother. "Mega Man, you have to go get the milk," she said sternly. "I would... if I didn't have to clean up the mess you made."

"Okay, fine," he said, deciding it wasn't worth the continued argument and possible application of the broom. "I'll be back in awhile." He took his sneakers from her grasp and headed out of the room.

"Remember to wipe your darn feet when you come back!" she called as he left.

"Yeah, yeah," he muttered, and pulled open the front door to emerge into the bright sunlight of the morning.

-------

Rock slipped on his sneakers and headed out along the gravel driveway, whistling tunelessly. He could have just as easily teleported to the city, but it was a short walk and it was definitely a beautiful day. Birds called from the trees lining the drive and a squirrel darted across the lawn.

Times like these made Rock glad to be alive. The skies were blue, the land at peace, and even Wily had holed up for a while, recuperating from the losses of the King fiasco. Rock sighed as his thoughts wandered to the recent battle. It hadn't been nearly as damaging as the Robot Wars of the past, and it was interesting working alongside Bass again, but the whole thing had left him with a bitter taste. Bass had gone back to Wily, despite everything, and though Blues had come out of it all right, the injury he'd sustained had almost seemed to drive his brother further away. He really had been startled to see the elder robot this morning. It was his first time stopping by the lab since the conflict ended, several weeks ago.

Rock's good mood went down another notch as he thought of his mysterious brother. Proto Man, the media called him; the first sentient robot created by Doctor Light and Doctor Wily and the prototype for Rock's own design. Their similarities were very apparent. They possessed similar reflexes and abilities in battle, and though Blues had been created to look older than Rock, there was no mistaking the family resemblance. But their differences were also so great that Rock wondered if it would ever be possible to overcome them. Blues was a loner, a wanderer, a free spirit, beholden to neither man nor machine. But despite that, he never truly left, always appearing when Rock needed assistance. This, more than anything, confused the younger robot. It was obvious that Blues cared for his family, but why then did he continue to leave them behind? They had gotten closer over the years, but the divide still remained. Blues refused to come live at the laboratory, and he kept most details of his life secret.

Rock shook his head to clear it of those thoughts, determined to enjoy the morning. There was no point getting worked up over his brother. He'd always gone his own way and obviously intended to continue doing so. All Rock could do was trust Blues could take care of himself.

Rock turned left at the mailbox and stepped onto the shoulder of the two-lane road that stretched towards the city. He made good time as he walked, passing a few other houses. Dr. Light lived close enough to the city to be within easy walking distance, for a robot at least, but far enough away to feel secluded. The laboratory sat on five acres of land, complete with woods and a small brook. The doctor had moved to the area after the first war, and Rock liked the house very much. It was much nicer than the inner-city laboratory where he'd been built, and had plenty of room for himself, his sister, Dr. Light, and all the other minor robots and support units that made up their household to live comfortably, while staying out of the public eye.

A car passed, the driver not sparing a second glance for the small boy on the side of the road. Rock was sure the man would have taken more notice had he been wearing his blue battle armor, but in civilian clothing he was barely recognizable as the robot hero who had thwarted Wily's plans so many times. Rock was grateful for this. He was gawked at whenever he visited the city in uniform, and he liked the freedom regular clothing gave him. Of course, there were a few humans in the city who knew of his identity as Mega Man, but most never even noticed he was a robot unless he told them. Dr. Light's design skills were excellent and it was difficult to discern any distinction between Rock and a real human child. There were differences, of course; his skin was much paler and unblemished compared to a human's, there were thin scars on some parts of his body where he could peel back the synthflesh and metal casing of his limbs to reveal the machinery beneath, and close scrutiny revealed wires running through his eyes instead of blood vessels. But none of these were great enough to prevent him from walking incognito in public. His largest problem was convincing police officers and well-meaning adults that he was not lost and didn't need assistance getting home.

Rock headed up a hill, still whistling, as he approached the edge of town. There were still trees on both sides of the road but the skyline ahead was clear, with the top of a skyscraper just peeking over the crest of the hill. As he was about to reach the top, there was a rustling from above and a voice said, "That's my shtick, y'know."

Halting in mid-whistle, Rock looked up at the tree that stretched over the road and saw a face grinning through the branches. The yellow scarf dangled just above the smaller robot's head. Rock sighed, and tugged at the fabric until his brother slipped from the branch and landed gracefully on the pavement.

"If I were a robot master, you'd be dead, bro," Blues said, readjusting his sunglasses. "You walked right under me."

"I thought you had something to do?" Rock replied.

"Standing around is something."

"Right," Rock sighed. "Why don't you go get the milk, then?" he challenged, as the other robot folded his arms and leaned against a mailbox.

Blues merely smirked. "Why should I? I'm the big brother. You're the one who needs to build character."

"I saved the world. Eight times!"

"Actually, it was more like eleven. Are your memory circuits malfunctioning, Rocky?"

Rock rolled his eyes. "You just love to be irritating, don't you?"

"I say it like I see it, bro." His sunglasses glinted in an amused fashion.

Rock shook his head and started walking again. Blues made no move to follow. Rock finally stopped a few yards away and turned to face his brother.

"Are you going to do anything useful?"

"Nope." The smirk again.

"Thanks a bunch," Rock grumbled.

"You're welcome. Now go get the milk."

"Whatever," Rock sighed. "Have fun in the tree."

"Oh, I will."

Rock continued walking. As he crested the hill, he heard a five note whistle. Turning, he saw Blues had disappeared.

"He really must have something loose upstairs..." Rock said aloud, before shaking his head again and heading down the road into the city.

------

The city was medium-sized, large enough to have a good assortment of stores and office buildings but not large enough to have many tall skyscrapers, something Blues occasionally liked to complain about. The elder robot had an unnatural fondness for high places, which Rock had never understood. It was just another quirk to add to his already long and irritating list.

Rock moved briskly along the sidewalk, ignored by the taller human passerby. One disadvantage to being built as a preteen was that people tended to overlook you, both when you were walking someplace and when you were speaking to them. This made shopping in the city difficult, as not only did he have to avoid being knocked over by pedestrians, but he had to deal with strange looks from the store clerks.

Rock walked for a few blocks, then turned into the city's closest supermarket. He passed the shopping carts and headed to the dairy section at the back of the store. The long bank of refrigerators along the wall held a vast variety of types of milk, in all shapes, colors, sizes, and percentages. Rock sighed and picked a door at random, pulling out a carton that looked decent enough. Heading to the cash register, he placed it on the counter and tried to look as professional as he could, to avoid questions by the clerk. He hated when they asked him where his mother was, because he could think of nothing to answer but that he didn't have one, which would then earn him an overdose of sympathy that he didn't want or deserve.

Thankfully, today's young female clerk was somewhat distracted by the handsome bag boy, and she absently rang up his purchase and let him escape the store without incident.

Rock headed back towards the house more slowly, carrying the milk slung over his shoulder and thinking of various things. Everything was so peaceful today, it made him wonder what he would do for himself once Wily was finally stopped for good. He freely admitted he wasn't much use for the function his father had intended him, to be a lab assistant. He tried, he really did, but his heart wasn't in the work and something always ended up going wrong. Dr. Light had finally told him not to bother, that he had many other talents and not to worry about it. But Rock really wondered... what would be the use of a fighting robot once the wars were over? Practically all twelve years of his life had been spent thwarting Wily. Once that constancy was gone, what could he do?

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of an explosion.

Well, at least I don't have to worry about being obsolete for now, he thought with a sigh, then took off running towards the source.

The smoke was emanating from the front of a building about a block away. Rock recognized it; it was the local video game store he sometimes frequented. A small crowd was beginning to gather around the building, though no one seemed to want to get very close. There was a siren in the distance.

Rock approached the crowd, ducking around the taller humans to try and see inside. There weren't too many people yet, so he was able to stay a ways back and still have a clear view. The door had been blasted off its hinges and the front window had shattered, allowing a relatively unimpeded view into the shop. Rock looked inside, and froze.

"Oh, heck," he swore softly, and activated his teleporter. His shopping bag disappeared along with his civilian clothing, leaving him in his trademark blue armor. Ignoring the startled onlookers, he pushed his way through the rest of the crowd and dashed towards the ruined doorway of the shop.

Bass was rifling through a game bin as Mega Man arrived on the scene, apparently unconcerned with the smoke billowing from the door and window and the panicked shouts of customers fleeing the shop. His scowl grew more pronounced with every game he rejected.

"Mega Man games? What junk..." he muttered, holding up a game disk and then throwing it at the wall. "Hey, clerk guy!" he shouted, turning to the counter where two unfortunate employees who had been too far from the door to effectively escape now cowered. "Where's Grand Theft Auto?"

"Bass!" Mega Man burst through the front door, buster formed and charging. He pointed it at the black armored robot.

Bass didn't bother to turn around. "Oh, just who I need to see," he said, still flipping through games. "Blueberry-head."

"Really mature, Bass," Rock said, the charge complete. He didn't fire, however; Bass hadn't formed his own weapon and he really didn't want to provoke a fight if he didn't have to, and there were still humans in the area. While a single plasma shot wouldn't do much to dent a robot like Bass, it was a large problem to an unarmored human.

Meanwhile, the clerks were staring at the two robots with a mixture of fascination and fear. The fascination seemed to be gathered mostly by the clerk closest to the door, who spoke up in an awed tone, "Mega Man and Bass, duking it out right in front of me! My fantasies have become reality!"

This caused Bass to turn, and the clerk ducked back behind the counter with an "eep!".

Bass shook his head, and walked to the far wall to examine the games stored there.

"Get out of here, both of you," Mega Man said, raising the buster higher. The clerk who hadn't spoken needed no second bidding, and dragged his associate out the door.

With the humans gone, Rock relaxed somewhat, but kept his resolve and buster arm steady. "What are you doing, Bass?" he asked, as the ebony robot nonchalantly began plucking games from the wall and tucking them under his arm. "Those don't belong to you!"

"Do you think I care?" said Bass, as he walked behind the counter the clerks had just vacated and examined the gaming consoles lined up on the back counter. He picked up a PlayStation and added it to his collection. "I'm bored!"

"That's no reason to steal things!"

Bass turned to face his rival, grinning, the purple warpaint adding to his savage air. "Face it, Mega Man, I'm evil. Evil people steal things." He picked up a plastic bag from the counter and began depositing his haul inside. "And now, if you'll excuse me..."

"Well, well, well..." came a voice, in the wake of the familiar whistle. A robot in a grey bodysuit and red armor wandered nonchalantly through the ruined doorway, his oval shield on one arm and yellow scarf fluttering behind him. He gave Mega Man a knowing smirk from behind his dark visor and turned to Bass. "If it isn't my other little brother."

"I'm not your brother, old man," Bass said sourly, glaring at Proto Man. The elder robot shrugged.

"You were made by half the team that made me, so that pretty much makes you as related as Rock is," he said. Sauntering up to Bass, he tugged the bag from his grasp and pulled out one of the games. "Final Fantasy X, hmm? Interesting choice."

"Give me that!" Bass hissed, snatching the game and the bag from Blues' hands.

"What, ashamed to let everyone know that bad ol' Bass likes RPGs?" the red robot said. Nonetheless, he backed away and stood beside Mega Man, who was still holding his charged buster.

"Put those down, Bass!" Rock declared. "I won't let you steal from this shop!"

"Like I care!" Bass snapped back, finally forming his buster and pointing it at the blue bomber. "Try and stop me!" He fired, only to have his shot easily deflected by Proto Man's shield. Mega Man ducked from behind his brother and released his charged shot, which struck Bass on the side and sent sparks flying.

Then the battle was joined in earnest. Bass sent a rapid-fire burst of plasma across the room, and Mega Man dodged, trying to keep from standing in front of the ruined window for fear of stray bolts striking the bystanders outside. Plasma sizzled against the walls, leaving behind blackened marks and melted games.

It really wasn't much of a fight. There wasn't enough room in the store to maneuver properly, and neither side was doing much damage. Bass was worse off, since he had two targets to look out for, but the limited space made working together difficult. Blues finally just dropped down behind his shield and started sniping Bass, letting Rock continue to run and dodge. They continued the dance, bolts flying everywhere but into each other, until Bass leaped over a display of used SNES cartridges and landed awkwardly on an overturned shelf. He tripped, and Proto Man used the opportunity to hit him with a charged shot. Bass staggered to his feet, electricity crackling from a hole burnt in his unprotected stomach area, and growled.

"Had enough, Bass?" Rock taunted, sending another shot at the ebony robot. He dodged, but only barely, the shot striking the edge of the wound. Bass flinched.

"...Don't think this is over yet!" he growled, then with a burst of energy, vaulted over Mega Man's head and onto the counter. "I'll get you next time!" he declared, snatched up the bag of games, and teleported away.

"And don't come back, Bass!" Rock shouted after him.

"You know, he still stole those games, Rock," Blues observed, standing up and slinging his shield onto his back.

"Well... at least he's gone," Rock said.

"That was so cool!" Blues and Rock turned as the clerk came rushing back into the store, with the rest of the crowd close behind. "And I got it all on tape, too!" he continued excitedly, holding up a small video camera. "This'll get a fortune on the Internet!"

"Not now, Fred," his coworker said, with a look of exasperation.

"Um... sorry about the mess," Rock said, rubbing the back of his neck. The store was pretty much gutted. Most of the games that weren't globs of smoldering plastic lay strewn about the floor.

"It's no problem, Mega Man," the clerk replied. "We have insurance against robot attacks."

"Time to depart, I think," Blues said, as the crowd began growing and a few reporters appeared on the fringes. "Come on, little brother."

He put a hand on Rock's shoulder and they activated their teleporters, disappearing in two brilliant columns of light.

In the distance, police sirens wailed as the human authorities rushed to the scene. The crowd around the game store began to disperse. There was nothing new about the wreckage of a robot attack. A trash truck rumbled down the street, and a few children came back out to play on the sidewalks. The wind whistled overhead and the sun beat down brightly on the pavement. The city resumed its normal facade.

It was just an ordinary day, after all.