By Eric "Erico" Lawson

Epilogue: Dreams Beyond The Rainbow

Dedicated to the Legacy of Metal co-authors: Patrick Frazier, Justin Sikes, Ben "Maelgrim" Roberts, and Alexander Musa. The shared dreams are the ones that succeed.

And the ones worth fighting for.

May 12th, 2070 C.E.

Dr. Light's House, Tokyo, Japan

It was fitting that the prize money he won for the Nobel Prize in Physics would go towards building a new robot. Especially one like this.

Painstakingly, with an artisan's precision and a father's love, Thomas Light had made the Advanced robot to surpass all others. A brand new microfusion generator, courtesy of Dr. Bailey Flynn at EFRI, lay in his creation's chest. Advanced synthskin, layered with hundreds of thousands of bio-mimetic sensory arrays covered the metallic endoskeleton. Highly articulated hands would give the robot fine motor skills that would surpass anything that had come before it, while the powerful servos and hydraulic lines, as close to a bloodstream as the mechanical being could possess, gave it the strength to deadlift hundreds of pounds with ease.

And over all that power and potential, he still resembled an adolescent of barely four and a half feet in height, with raven black hair so dark that every so often Light swore the synthetic follicles possessed a shade of blue. Had the magnetic seal of his chest not been open, Light would have dared anyone to argue that the boy on the operating table wasn't human.

Had his hair not been black, the robot's resemblance to Light in his youth would have been uncanny.

Footsteps softer than Wily's approached him in the laboratory, and Light looked back over his shoulder. He smiled at his visitor.

"Up and around, I see? You're adapting to your environment very quickly, Roll."

The female mechanoid who he'd named Roll was a fetching young girl with blond hair and green eyes, like the mother she'd never known. Complete with a pretty, but appropriate red dress, she looked between Light and the other robot on his worktable…oldest by number, but not by activation.

She pursed her lips and gave him a slightly sardonic look that could have only come from Wily's behavioral algorithms. "Doctor Light, I've been online now for an hour. Moving from the living room to your laboratory isn't a major accomplishment."

He chuckled. "Try and save the vitriol for occasions that deserve it, Roll. I'm just trying to be friendly."

She relaxed and returned his smile. "I apologize. But I have been meaning to ask…I've been speaking with Eddie, and he indicated my "Attitude" wasn't as friendly as he expected. Why is that?"

Light turned back to his work, running the final systems checks. There were a lot of them, too; power distribution relays, safeties, lockdown circuits…

"You'd have to ask Dr. Wily. I made your positronic matrix and installed your Core Module, but he built your initial response sequences. I suspect that he simply wanted you to have a sense of independence, to make it so you wouldn't just fall over yourself trying to be friendly. That's Albert for you, though. He gives his friendship and loyalty only to those who deserve it. Just like…"

He fell silent and looked back at Roll, knowing she would catch the mist in his eyes.

"Just like who, Doctor?" Roll asked, unaware of the woman Light lost thirty years ago.

Light blinked twice to clear his eyes, smiled a little wider, and shook his head. "Never mind."

Roll frowned in thought for a moment more, then shook it off and switched her attention to the robot boy. "So, this is…My brother?" She said, after searching for the most appropriate definitive noun.

"Yes. That's exactly what he is." Light answered softly. "He's your brother, you're his sister, and I'm your…your father."

Roll crossed her arms. "Why did you make us, anyhow? My designation is for housekeeping and general maintenance, but…"

"But why make you so human, if you were just going to be a cleaning robot?" Light finished. Roll's emerald-colored eyes flickered momentarily before she gave a firm nod. Light exhaled and pointed to the raven-haired robot on his worktable. "Sometimes, Roll, humans do things that make no sense. And I'm sure that there is a greater purpose to your life, and to his. What I don't know is what that purpose is. I brought you into the world, and I promise to care for you, to show you what the world is like, to help you reach your potential. Beyond that?" He shrugged.

Roll thought it over. "So I have to discover my own purpose, then?"

A blossoming sensation of warmth ran through Light's heart at her words. It seemed she shared the same trait as his first, lost son. Curiosity, and an ability to grow.

"Something tells me you would have, anyways." Light patted Roll on the shoulder and winked at her. "Now run along. I'm just about ready to turn him on, and I'd like a moment alone with him."

"Sure." Roll said, her response automatic in the face of a Second Law directive. "But don't keep me out of the loop for too long. I'd like to say hello to him as well."

"And I suspect, somebody else here would also." Light replied, glancing towards the laboratory's exit. There, barely in the doorway, Eddie leaned in quietly to stare at them all. When the Fliptop realized he'd been spotted, he disappeared from view.

Roll headed out after the smaller Fliptop, rolling her eyes as she went. "This family is weird." She muttered.

Light turned back to the inactive robot underneath him. "Weird, yes." He said, for himself, but also for the mechanical boy who couldn't yet hear or understand him. "But it's our family. Yours."

He reached down and traced tired, gnarled fingers against the side of the robot's face. "Rock. That's your name." Light smiled, feeling as though he was staring down at a reflection through time.

"You'll never know the world that I came from, who I was. There was a time I looked just like you, a time I had the same wide-eyed innocence you will possess when you first power up." Light leaned back and turned off the overhead lamp. "You won't know about my fiancée, or the life I led. You'll barely know about the Rainbow, or how much we've sacrificed to save the world and bring it to this point. Indiana will just be a dream of a place that used to be."

He laughed for the skip of a beat. "Or how I used to ride a motorcycle, or smoke a pipe. Everyone who came before, it's just going to be a footnote to you. For as important as they all were, they'll just be names of those who are dead or old and on their way to the grave like I am."

Light rubbed at his eyes. "What would Vanessa think of you? Or Schroeder? Rick, Lisa, or Walter? Titus?" He lowered his hand down and picked up his multi-tool. "Al Simdorn. Him and his big ideas. You owe a debt to all of them. I would have never come this far on my own. It's only because they stood behind me, supported me, that I'm here now, working on you."

And what of the robots that had come before, Light thought? What of Kay, or Eddie, or RD-224? What about Blues? They were just as important, he had to agree. Without the lessons he'd learned from them, building them, watching them, all the breakthroughs in robotics and robotology, the study of mechanoid minds, would have never happened. Wily could build bodies like nobody else; he was a genius, an architect of metallic form.

Light's talent, though, had extended farther, into the realm of the positronic matrix. The connections, the artificial synapses and lattices that mapped how a robot thought, reacted.

How they might dream. Somewhere, he believed that there was a soul in silicon.

Light closed the access panels in Rock's arms and in his forehead, leaving only the one in his chest open. "I hope the world has changed enough, Rock." He said. "I don't know if it's ready for a robot like you. Maybe Al's right, after all. But that never stopped me from trying. There are some who say I'm the father of modern robotics."

He reached his multi-tool into Rock's chest cavity and made the final connections between his central power distribution node and the microfusion generator. Only when that was done did he reach for the small, but precious transparisteel tube containing a half gram of refined Tritium; the necessary starter fuel for any fusion generator. He inserted it into the device's feeding vent and paused for two beats to confirm that the external power relays were functioning and providing the necessary energy to sustain the electromagnetic fields within the generator's reactor core.

Satisfied they were running at optimal containment, Light twisted the tube in the port, which unlocked the lid of the tube and the inner seal, and let the Tritium drop into the core. A reverse twist sealed the generator back up, and Light pulled the now empty tube away.

"I don't know if I have the strength of will to be the father to an entire generation of mechanical beings, but I can be a father to you. That much, I can promise you."

He closed Rock's chest panel and held a hand against the synthskin as the magnetic seals locked into place and dissolved the faint lines of the cover.

"I have given you everything I can. All my knowledge, my experience has gone into making you. The mistakes I've made, I've learned from. There will be no glitch with you, no terrible flaw."

He tousled Rock's black hair and beamed. The world may not have been ready for a robot like Rock, but it would adapt. It would have to.

Thirty years had gone by, and Light had seen a world grow sober, earning wisdom through blood and hardship. By need, the purest motivation for any technological advancement, robots had been made. Some in the Second Rainbow had refused to accept the changing world and their role in it, and the group had disbanded, but the lessons remained.

The march of time kept to its own pace, and those who believed they could stop it would always fail. The Wars of 2040, despite all the best intentions of Light and Wily, had happened. Every tragedy since had come and gone, heedless of his wishes.

You couldn't stop things from happening, but you could guide them. For that reason alone, the opportunity to make a difference, Light had forced himself to wake up every day and trudge on. Not just for himself, but for those whose lives were influenced by his actions. For those whose lives hadn't come yet.

For those who might be forgotten.

A positive signal from the status monitor connected to Rock indicated that his microfusion generator had reached self-sustainment. He disconnected the external power relays and listened as Rock's body reflexively drew in a breath; drawing in particulate matter from the very air to sustain the microfusion's fuel supply.

He opened his mouth to speak again, but found, for a change, that he had run out of things to say. Somehow, in the face of the first waking moments of Rock, DL#01, any grand statement seemed pitiable.

The activation sequence would be automatic now. With his power supply up and running, Rock's processors would activate of their own accord. The positronic matrix would glow with artificial sentience, running the final systems checks and Core Module diagnostics.

And then the robot would have its first thought.


I am.

I am Rock.

Light pulled his hands back and breathed softly. A new life was being born before him, and he felt rejuvenated, watching it happen. Perhaps his entire life had been nothing but prologue to this moment after all. Maybe this grand act of creation was the most noble, humane deed Thomas Light had ever done in his fifty-seven years. It didn't make him feel great, or accomplished. If anything, standing beside this robot, in its shadow, it only affirmed how small he really was. How fortunate his life had been.

A finger on Rock's right hand twitched, one of the first signs of activation. Light fought the lump in his throat and swallowed, dismissing it as quickly as it had come.

He found his voice again, and all his erudite language evaporated for an instant of clarity.

"Welcome to the world." Light whispered to Rock.

And his eyes of blue opened.