Long time no see everyone. I know, i know, there is no excuse for how long i've been taking lately. Normally i wouldn't take so long, but i'm nearing graduation and college work is taking top priority.

Anyway, here is the sixteenth installment of Love Knows No Limit.

story

"talking"

thinking

Emphasis


Love Knows No Limit

By: Flashgunner

Ch. 16: Living a Lie

"All finished." Ballade's eyes slowly opened as he heard the voice. "How do you feel Ballade?" The navi looked back and forth at the restraints.

"Probably better if you let me out of these confound things." He got his wish as the wrist and leg locks disengaged and he touched down to the floor. He examined himself and moved his arms around a bit as Megaman and Protoman teleported in.

"I hate to rush you, but everything is all set. Just let us know when you're ready and we can go after Enker." Megaman explained.

"I'm ready now. The longer we linger here, the more time that bastard has to do as he pleases." Ballade punched his fists together the clash sent a small shockwave through the air that knocked the two of them back a step.

"Then come with us, we'll take you to meet the rest." Protoman beckoned as he turned back to the portal. Megaman was about to protest that Ballade rest a little more, but he was out the portal with Protoman before he could form a single word.

Great… another one… He sighed, in his head putting Protoman and Ballade in a similar personality group.

Megaman followed their footsteps into the operator terminal cyber space where all the navis were waiting. Introductions soon followed, but Ballade only gave each of them quick glances and nods. He kept most of his attention on Megaman and Roll, who were naturally beside each other.

"He doesn't seem like the most social navi…" Glide whispered to Iceman as Megaman finished the introductions with Guile.

"He scares me a little…" Iceman commented. "What if he turns on us?"

"I have no reason to." They both jumped as Ballade somehow overheard him. "I only have one target. The only way I could harm you is if you get in my way." He finished without once turning to face them.

"Guts! He's my kind of navi! We think alike!" Gutsman gruffly commented and went to pat Ballade on the back. Ballade took one step away, making Gutsman miss and stumble.

"No, we don't." His attention was still fixed on Megaman and Roll, ignoring the rest. He walked towards them, leaving the others speechless.

"Talk about a downer…" Gutsman scratched the back of his head.

"Megaman." Ballade called as he closed in. He gave a quick glance to Roll. "May I speak to you in private?" The two navis glanced at each other momentarily and Megaman agreed.

"Sure." The two walked a good distance away to stay out of earshot of the rest.

"As a fellow navi with a soul I can read your actions and feelings. These navi's they mean a lot to you, especially the girl, correct?" Megaman was surprised by the question.

"Of course… why do you ask?" He cocked his head to the side.

"I must be honest with you… besides your friend… Protoman was it? Besides him I feel the rest are walking to their own deaths. I know what it means to cherish something as do you. Are you willing to put all of them at risk?" Ballade's question lingered in Megaman's head, but only for a moment, the answer was to such a question was always easily answered to him.

"Ballade, I have confidence in every one of them. You don't know them like I do. When it comes to physical abilities, there are a large number of navis I could point you towards over my friends. What makes them different and useful is their special abilities." He pointed to each one of them. "Gutsman may be big and lumbering, but he is one sturdy navi… with the help of a few chips he was able to withstand the blast of your bombs when they were only a few yards away, saving all of us. Glide has a special back attachment that allows him flight, and he has access to a lot of rare chip data that has gotten me out of multiple binds in the past. Iceman is very quick witted, I've seen him come up with strategies to take down opponents in ways I never would have considered. Guile's operator is an ex-hacker computer genius, giving him access to codes and forced glitches that can bend the environment to his advantage. And finally, Roll is the best navigator I have ever known, she has more determination than anyone, and honestly there isn't a navi I trust more than her." He finished and gave Ballade a smile. "Give them a chance Ballade; they may surprise you."

"Have it your way." Ballade shrugged, turning his back. "Are all preparations ready I'd like to leave now if possible.

"One moment… Lan?" He called over audio.

"Way ahead of you bro, we're all set."

"Good." Ballade started towards the portal. "Everyone follow me."

"Finally, we can get this guy for good!" Lan stretched out and leaned back.

"You seem rather lax Lan…" Sean commented as he cracked his neck. "Then again you've always been I don't know why I said that…" Yai leaned back in her seat and whispered something to Sean. "What…?" She whispered again. "OH!" Lan shifted an eyebrow at them.

"What?" he asked. Yai smirked.

"Oh nothing, you only blew a fuse in Dex's head in the morning… I don't know how you two fell asleep in that position, I mean come on Lan your hand was in her shir-"

"OKAY YAI WE'RE DONE WITH THIS TOPIC!" Maylu yelled as she blushed madly, grabbed Yai in a headlock, and covered her mouth. Lan just faced his terminal screen and scratched the back of his head, ignoring the stares he was getting from Sean and Tory.

Back in the cyber world everyone hurried behind Ballade as he entered the net. The road to the Kotobuki area was traveled in silence. Ballade said he was on their side, but the rest couldn't help but get the vibe that he would turn on them if it would mean he gained ground on his target. They all made their way into the broken down Koto area and followed Ballade all the way to the deactivated portal Enker somehow went through. Ballade knelt down and put his hand to it. Everyone watched as data trails glided across his eyes.

"Hm… this might be a problem…" He finally spoke up.

"What is it?" Megaman knelt down beside him. He was the only navi that seemed comfortable around Ballade.

"I can sense him on the other side of this portal… and I know how to temporarily activate it, it's an ability Dr. Cossack discontinued before he created Punk. The issue here is that we'll lose contact with your operators." Guile cautiously approached.

"Why is that?" He questioned.

"It leads to an old cyberspace for a Pet manufacturing plant in Kotobuki… the signal in the Koto net is weak enough, if we travel into the factory system the signal will be cut off."

"Sean is there any way to strengthen the transmission signals?" Guile addressed his operator.

"If it were of recent technology yes, but the Kotobuki system is so old that our possibilities are all incompatible…"

"What does that mean?" Lan questioned as he pondered options. Sean sighed and turned to address everyone.

"The only way to stay in contact… is to be in the location of the cyberspace."

"But that would mean…" Dex stood up. Sean nodded to him.

"Yes. We have to go to Kotobuki." They all murmured amongst themselves, but Chaud was already on a communication line with Yuuichiro.

"Dr. Hikari we need seven radiation dissipaters… I'll explain when you bring them just please hurry…"

"Make that eight Dr. Hikari." They all turned to see Mr. Famous enter with his hand on the communication line with Chaud.

"Mr. Famous!" Lan explained as the famed battle trainer entered.

"We'd rather not risk more people than we already are." Chaud huffed. Famous just shook his head at him.

"I'm not doing this for myself. I'm doing this for Punk. I've already sent him to your navi's location. I'll reconnect with him in Kotobuki with the rest of you."

"But…"

"We'll take all the help we can get." Maylu cut off Chaud.

"C'mon, everyone, let's go meet my dad halfway!" Lan had already unplugged his pet and was out the door. Everyone followed quickly, Chaud grumbling to himself all the way.

After getting their radiation inhibitors and a good lecture on being careful from Yuuichiro, the group was heading for the old subway line to Kotobuki. Further back from the rest, Maylu walked beside Lan and grabbed his hand. Lan blinked in surprise and glanced at her.

"You okay?" he asked as the seaside breeze gently blew past them.

"I'm worried…" She answered quietly and squeezed his hand.

"Aw c'mon Maylu, this isn't the first time we've handled a dangerous situation…"

"I hate that you say that so naturally…"

"Maylu?" She turned to him, her face suggesting she was angry.

"I used to think that way… that we'd always figure things out and everyone will always be okay… Then the war happened, how can I be calm after something like that?"

"But… I came back…" He was trying to find the words.

"After everyone thought you were dead!" A tear ran down her cheek and she gripped his hand harder. "I lived for two months without you! I experienced how awful life would be without you! I lose everything if I lose you Lan…" Lan's eyes went wide. They had finally gotten closer with each other, but this was intense. He looked down and smiled weakly.

"Do I… really mean that much to you?"

"Yes…" Maylu said between a sniffle. "More than anything…" She turned and hugged him tightly. "I know what we're doing… I know that it's dangerous… but please, please, promise me that you won't leave me." Lan hugged her back, remembering what he said to her on the subway platform before leaving for the war.

I would promise to return… but this is war… anything can happen… so I'd rather not make another promise if it had to balance on such a thing line… I've already gone against one promise… I would hate to with another.

Lan closed his eyes in shame, he can't believe he aver said such a thing to her.

"Maylu, I promise to never leave your side." He gave her a reassuring smile, which she returned as they continued to the subway.

The subway station was dark and smelled of mildew and rust. Once Chaud found a breaker switch, the platform sprang to life and the lights flickered on. The station was completely empty save for a single subway car covered with cobwebs.

"Wow it's still here." It was the shuttle car they had used to reach Kotobuki during the gospel incident.

"Looks like it's still operational… let's go." Chaud was already in the car, fiddling with the controls. The rest gathered on, but Chaud couldn't get it to start.

"One moment…" Sean stepped up and flipped one switch. The car sprang to life, all the old screens and displays lighting up. Chaud gave Sean a look, who was already casually walking away from the console. Yai was trying her hardest not to laugh.

"Okay guys." Chaud began as he eased the train's throttle forward. "Activate your radiation shields now. We'll be in Kotobuki shortly…" The car hissed forward slowly, but barely picked up any speed. "Or it might be a while…" The car made a snapping noise and suddenly shot down the old tunnel, knocking all of them off their feet.

"Well that was nice…" Tory commented as Dex rolled off of him. They all got to their feet and pressed the three buttons on their belts. The devices vibrated and a small egg of green light surrounded each one of them. With all the preparations complete, they began discussing the plans upon arrival. None of them had contact with their navis at the moment, but once they reached the Kotobuki station, they could hopefully plug into the old systems and get instructions from Ballade.

"Okay, everyone focus, we're nearing the station." Chaud spoke up from the controls. They all looked out the front and could see faint traces of light down the tunnel. Chaud reached for the throttle and turned it all the way back, but the train kept moving.

"Um, Chaud? The brakes?" Dex suggested as Chaud frantically looked over the controls.

"Yeah those would be nice, the station's closing in!" Tory added.

"There's… no brakes?" Chaud cried out. Mr. Famous gasped.

"Oh no…" He caught everyone's attention. "This is bad…"

"About what? C'mon super genius, before we crash!" Chaud barked at him.

"This is an old subway model… they used brake rails to slow trains down into the stations… they've been unused for so long they probably don't work anymore!" Everyone stared wide eyed at Famous.

"Why the hell didn't you say something?" Dex frantically berated him.

"I just realized it, don't blame me!"

"Forget about it! Everyone brace for impact! Lan yelled as he reached for one of the poles. Maylu grabbed onto him tightly, Lan holding her tight to his body. Everybody held onto something as the car began to crash through caution barriers and boarded sections of the tunnel. Each impact shook the train furiously until they were in the station. The car collided with the back buffers of the station at full speed. Everyone was tossed to the front of the car, debris and shrapnel flung into the cabin from the surrounding station and the capsizing car itself. When the cacophony subsided and the dust cleared, there was silence.

"Oooh man, my head…" Dex groaned as he rolled over and rubbed his forehead. A bunch of dust and pieces of rubble fell off of his body to the ground as he stood up.

"You okay?" Dex turned to see Tory climbing out of some rubble with Mr. Famous behind him, both were slightly bruised up. "That was not fun…"

"A little help?" Yai's voice called out. Dex turned around to see Yai and Sean stuck under a stray beam.

"Just a sec here, are you good?" Dex questioned as he hoisted the beam up.

"I'm fine… but Sean's knocked out, I think he cushioned the beam from hitting me…" Yai crawled out and helped Dex pull Sean out. His head was bleeding.

"Oh damn… Sean you with us?" Dex shook him lightly.

"Uhhh…" Sean reached for his head and slowly shook it.

"Anyone see Lan and Maylu?" Chaud climbed over a pile of stones.

"We're all okay Chaud, thanks for asking…" Yai grumbled to herself.

"I haven't found them…" Dex answered.

"Over here!" Lan's voice came from beneath a large pile.

"Shit!" Chaud and Dex got to work clearing away some extremely heavy stones; they both feared what they would see beneath it. After one solid heave at the largest rock on the pile they both stared wide-eyed. Lan had completely shielded Maylu. She was unscathed, but even though Lan had taken the full brunt of the crash for her, he didn't have a scratch or bruise on his entire body.

"Lan?" Dex stumbled over the name. "How the hell did you get out of that without dying?" Lan looked himself up and down as Maylu opened her eyes and released her held breath.

"Wow, guess I got lucky huh?" He responded with a smile then checked on Maylu who seemed to be in a slight shock from the crash. Chaud glared at Lan, but decided not to push it, they had a mission to complete first. "Maylu, you with me?" She glanced up at him between gasps for air.

"I'm not dead?" She stuttered. Lan rolled his eyes and poked her in the forehead.

"No silly, we're all okay come back down to earth."

Maylu shook her head and blinked. She looked at everyone and they were all okay. Although relieving, it was close to traumatizing after how worried she was about anyone, especially Lan getting hurt. Lan stood up and helped her to her feet, allowing the group to continue into Kotobuki city. They emerged from the old subway station and into the desolate city. It was a horrible sight. Abandoned streets, toppled buildings, some with broken beams and scaffolding jutting out everywhere, broken signs, cracked roads, and much more.

"Everyone check your radiation devices…" Mr. Famous suggested before they went any further. Luckily, none of their devices had been damaged by the crash and everyone was fit to continue. They came across an abandoned music store a block away from the station.

"Here…" Lan pointed to the shop. "Let's see if we can find a port in here." They entered the store. It had been picked clean on the inside, nothing but a counter and shelves remained. The only thing signifying it as a music store was the half broken logo outside the shop. After searching around, Tory stumbled upon a net port underneath the front counter.

"Guys here!" He beckoned them all over.

"Good, let me see if I can contact Protoman…" Chaud drew his pet cord and went to plug it in, but he stopped an inch from the port. "Shit…" He mumbled.

"What's wrong?" Maylu asked as she looked at the port.

"This would've worked if I still had my Mark 2 Pet…" Sean bent down to examine the port.

"Ah, just a moment…" He reached into a bag he had attached to his belt and dug out a small apparatus. "Here is an adaptor for this port, just plug your pet in here and plug it in. I had a feeling this might happen." Chaud did as he was told, and he successfully connected his pet to the system. Sean passed out the adaptors to everyone else as Chaud tried to contact Protoman.

"S….ch….si….cha… Sir Chaud?" Protomans voice came through.

"I'm reading you Protoman, we made it to Kotobuki, what next?" Chaud asked as Ballade took a place beside Protoman.

"This portal will take us to an abandoned Pet factory about five blocks from your location; you might be able to see it from where you are."

"Very well…" Chaud acknowledged Ballade. "We're going now."

"Be warned." Ballade cut him off. "I know Enker is in there."

"Loud and clear, we'll meet you there."

Ballade watched as the crackly image of Chaud faded.

"I hope you all realize the danger you're getting into." He commented as he turned to the deactivated portal.

"We know, and they know too." Said Megaman from behind Ballade. Ballade responded with a grunt. "Some people are willing to give up everything to protect what they hold dear… I'm sure you understand Ballade…" Ballade stopped and stood still for a moment, then chuckled.

"I'm glad I met you Megaman…" He knealt down and placed his hand atop the portal pad. "No one has ever understood me like you do." A sharp flow of data shot from his hands into the portal. It began to glow and activated a second later. "Now let's not keep my brother waiting."

They all nodded, ready for anything, and followed Ballade into portal.

"I can see it from here." Mr. Famous called from outside the shop as Chaud replaced his pet on his belt. They all moved outside and looked towards where Mr. Famouse was pointing. There was a fairly large building in the distance with multiple cables and broken wire poles leading towards it. They made their way through the ghost town, Yai huddle against Chaud.

"This place… gives me the creeps…" She commented.

"Have you guys noticed?" They all turned to Lan who was staring at his pet screen. "Why is it so dark and murky out here? It's only two in the afternoon…"

"I would assume that's the radiation." Sean reluctantly explained. "There's so much of it that even light has a hard time passing through it."

"If that's the case then let's make one thing clear right now." Chaud stepped in. "If anybody at any point has a problem with their radiation inhibitor… back out and get away from the city as quickly as possible."

"Easier said than done Chaud, we totaled the rail car remember?" Maylu brought up. The rest looked around in realization that their exit would be difficult. Mr. Famous solved that.

"No worries, I sent an e-mail to Dr. Hikari as soon as we got out of that mess, they're putting together a new railcar with its own brakes to send to us as soon as we need it."

"Problem solved then," Chaud turned back and continued walking. They reached the front gate of the factory, which was so rusty that a simple push from Dex forced it off the hinges. With nothing else in their way, they entered the factory through a large shutter that was stuck open.

The interior of the factory was dark, dreary, and filled with dust. Even with flashlights it was hard to see with how much gunk was floating in the air. They all had to wave their hands in front of their faces constantly as they walked to avoid getting a mouthful of dust. Old, broken machinery was everywhere, multiple broken beams hung dangerously from the ceiling and half-finished pets were scattered about.

"Okay, scratch that… this place gives me the creeps." Yai reiterated.

"Look for ports, there should be plenty around here for all of us to use." Said Famous as he began wiping layers of dust off machinery. It took a long time, and a lot of dusting, but eventually each one of them found a port. Lan drew his pet cord and plugged into a pet casing assembly line with Maylu right beside him.

"Let's save the world again." She smiled at Lan as she plugged her pet in beside his.

"All in a day's work." He returned.

The navis all touched down in the bleak cyberspace of the factory. There was little to no lighting at all, forcing the navis to summon little bits of data that emitted light.

"You sure he's in here?" Iceman asked, but was immediately shushed by Ballade.

"Enker, I know you're here. Stop being dramatic and come out." The navis all stood stiffly. They were all aware of the terror they would soon face, but for some of them it was only hitting them now the kind of danger they were in.

"You know Ballade that's one thing I've always hated about you." A voice came from all around them. "You never want to have any fun… it's always straight to the point." A few lights flickered on, giving the cyberspace a faint source of light. The navi's let go of their data lights and looked towards the middle of the area. Enker was standing right there, his spear at his side. "But what is this? You brought along help? My how the great and honorable Ballade has succumbed to his own weakness."

"Don't take me for a fool you coward! I'm merely honoring their wishes to come along after they rescued me. I have no intention of letting a single one of them interfere with our fight!"

"Still just the big asshole huh…" Punk stepped up beside Ballade.

"Oh my, this is a treat." Enker chuckled. "Our weakling misshaped brother showed up as well."

"Your taunts are nothing but immature squaking to me Enker, Ballade may have his reasons to fight you, but we do as well. He may want to do this alone, but we are here to assist him in any way possible." Ballade let out a huff of disapproval, but didn't protest.

"Well then, what are you all waiting for? I'm here, so attack me, or are you too busy trembling in your own data?" He laughed. Megaman turned back to see Glide, Iceman, and Guile quivering. After all they were they only one who didn't have full synchro on their side.

"He's as bad as they come." Protoman pointed his sword at him. "If you're so great, then prove it."

"Protoman, I wouldn't provoke him…" Roll whispered to him.

"I'm following Chaud's orders, you will receive yours form your oporator shortly." Roll blinked in surprise, but then Maylu chimed in.

"Listen up Roll, I'm sending you a boosted aqua tower chip. Don't use it until Chaud gives the command okay?" Roll nodded and felt the data stream into her arms. A blue aura emanated from them. She glanced at the rest of the navis. Megaman's arm had formed into an omega spread cannon, Protoman was holding a lifesword, Gutsman's fist had turned gold, Glide had a herosword on his arm, Punk had a blackbomb, Iceman a dynawave pickaxe, and Guile a supervulcan.

"To hell with it! I'm taking him down!" Ballade rocketed towards Enker, fists reared back. Enker sidestepped gracefully as Ballade's powerful punches sent shockwaves that collided with the opposite wall. Enker dropped his staff and grabbed both of Ballade's fists.

"How many times is it going to take you fool? You will never match me, not in a million years!" Enker head-butted Ballade, and without letting go of his arms, leaned back, and threw Ballade over his head. Ballade formed two sphere bombs and launched them at Enker as he tumbled through the air.

"Brace yourselves!" Megaman yelled as the bombs detonated, shaking the cyberspace with their gigantic explosions. Enker had ridden the explosion into the air, and was surprised when Ballade appeared beside him.

"What?"

"You're getting soft brother! Never underestimate me!" Ballade landed a punch right in Enker's face. The navis all watched in awe as they witnessed Enker receive a blow for the first time. Enker tumbled to the ground, but righted himself before crashing. He glared at Ballade.

"Unbelievable… you actually managed to hit me…" He reached out a hand and his spear flew into it. "How disgraceful, for me to be so careless." He twirled the staff in his hands and readied it behind his back. "I'll make you pay for that." Enker zipped towards Ballade so fast that the navis barely saw the movement. He rammed Ballade with his staff and pushed him into the floor, dragging him a few extra yards before jumping up and stabbing him through the stomach. Ballade cried out in pain, but Enker wasn't done. He hoisted Ballade into the air with his staff and smashed him into the ground, twice, before removing the spear and swinging it around to punt him across the cyberspace. With Enker's back turned to them, Chaud issued the order.

"NOW!" Protoman yelled as he swung the lifesword, creating a wide sword beam that careened towards Enker. Glide did the same with his hero sword. Roll slammed her hands the ground, sending a large pillar of water towards Enker, Iceman likewise slamming the pickaxe to the ground to create a massive shockwave. Gutsman punched forward, launching the goldfist, with punk beside him flinging the massive bomb. Guile and Megaman stood side by side, the omega spread and the supervulcan firing rapidly on target.

Enker turned around just in time to see all the attacks upon him. He was engulfed in a massive explosion by Punk's bomb. The rest of the projectiles hit home causing the explosion to expand and morph. The supervulcan and omega spread from Guile and Megaman continued to unload into the dust cloud left behind, ensuring that Enker would have no room to fight back.

When the attack finally subsided, the navis all stared at the aftermath. They were all sure they had scored multiple hits. But the smoke cleared and Enker stood firm, with his spear crossed in front of him, glowing bright orange. He didn't have a single scratch on his body.

"No way." Punk sputtered.

"Heh, trying to catch me off-guard? Pathetic. I'd gladly kill you all slowly and painfully, but I'll let the mirror buster do the talking with all the energy you so kindly gave to it!" In one sweep there was a bright flash of orange. Lan, Chaud, Maylu, Dex, and Mr. Famous all went full synchro and their navis leapt into the air to dodge the wave of energy. It had become visible for a moment once they were fully synched. However Iceman, Glide, and Guile were not blessed with that ability. They were thrown from their spot, Glide's body cleaved from his waist, Iceman fell missing and arm, Guile was lucky he had tilted his head, because the left side of his body broke off and de-rezzed.

"GLIDE!" Yai cried out.

"No! Iceman!" Tory shook his pet as every warning light began blinking.

"Damn! Pull them out now, they'll be deleted if they stay in there any longer!" Sean ordered as the three called back their navis and immediately began tending to them with multiple subchips.

"Unbelievable. The three of us knocked out in an instant," Yai said in disbelief as she pulled another handful of subchips out of her pet case to stabilize Glide.

"We did what we could," said Sean reluctantly, "I just hope they can do something." He turned to the others who were all encased in white swirling auras.

"You dodged it? I have to admit I underestimated you," Enker expressed his surprise to the remaining five navis as they touched to the ground. Roll stood ready, but glanced over at Megaman, who had an extreme look of rage on his face.

"Mega?"

"How dare you," he growled, "HOW DARE YOU HURT MY FRIENDS!" Megaman leapt at Enker.

"Lan!" Chaud yelled from Protoman.

"RAAAAH!" Gutsman charged as well.

"Dammit!" Chaud cursed and followed behind them.

Megaman's hands turned into goldfists, protoman drew his sword, and gutsman reared back his arms. The three met Enker and all began throwing blows. Enker effortlessly dodged each one. From further back Rolls arm became a trident cannon. She aimed it at Enker, but held it steady. She tried to get a clear shot, but she was too worried about hitting the others.

"Maylu…"

"I know Roll, I'm trying too… we have to wait for an opening." The two looked down the sights of their bow, small windows of opportunity kept opening, but never long enough to take a shot.

Enker suddenly spun in a circle with his spear, knocking all three back.

"NOW!" Roll and Maylu both yelled, firing the three tridents. In three swipes of the arm, Enker caught all three between the fingers in his free hand. "What?" Roll's jaw dropped.

"Outta the way!" Punk had leapt high into the air and launched his wiry arms at Enker, the weights on the ends of them crashing into the ground. Megaman saw a brief flash of colors heading upward.

"Up there!" He yelled pointing. Protoman's arm became an M-cannon, Gutsman's arm formed into his seldom used guts buster, and megaman readied an omega spread. They all fired simultaneously, the multiple volleys of plasma fire careened towards Enker. He suddenly disappeared, the beams crossing and exploding at the limits of the cyberspace.

"Where?" Chaud looked around through Protoman's eyes.

"Behind you!" They all heard Ballade yell as he struggled to his feet. He was directing his warning towards Roll. She glanced behind her and saw Enker with the three tridents she fired at him.

"Would you like these back?"

Gutsman was the first to see him, and was already rushing towards her before Megaman and Protoman turned.

"ROLL!"

"MAYLU!" Lan and Megaman watched as Enker brought the tridents down on Roll, but at the last instant, Gutsman dove in front with his arms crossed over his face. The tridents smashed into his arms, digging deep into them.

"AAAAAAUGH!" Dex yelled as his Pet dropped from his hands and blood spurted from his forearms.

"Oh no!" Yai dropped her pet and sprinted to Dex as he fell to his knees, clutching his arms. His synch with Gutsman faded. Tory quickly ran to the radiation protected bag of extra supplies beside Mr. Famous to grab bandages.

"Gutsman!" Roll yelled as Enker pulled back for another strike. He was disrupted as Megaman and Protoman both swiped at him with swords. Enker blocked them both as Roll grabbed hold of Gutsman and leapt to a safe distance.

"Dex, here," Tory began wrapping the bandages around his arms.

"Yai," He managed to say in pain.

"Yes?"

"Get… Gutsman… out of there."

"Gutsman! Are you alright?" Roll frantically questioned as the large navi heaved heavy breaths. His arms were fizzling and data streams were popping out from the trident holes.

"I'm always alright… guts," He wobbled and began to fall as Yai logged him out.

"He's too damn fast! I can barely follow his movements, even in full synchro," Chaud cursed.

"He's toying with us. Heh, he isn't even trying," Mr. Famous chuckled, "I heard stories from Punk, but I never expected this much."

"Any ideas Lan?" Megaman asked as Lan pondered a strategy.

"Don't bother," Ballade stepped up beside them, standing strong despite the painful wound from Enker's spear, "You should all just leave. I made it clear you were all in danger, but you risked it anyway."

"Ballade, we're here and nothing can change that. We're bringing him down," an image of Lan split off from Megaman, "I don't care if he's a million times stronger than all of us, I'm not backing down."

"What if I told you that was like jogging speed to him?" Ballade's words made them all freeze in place, "Determination can't beat Enker. Mr. Famous is right, he is toying with you. Now stay back and leave this to me!" Ballade fired towards Enker, his fists reared back.

"Not using your bombs? You're overconfident." Ballade reached hi and threw a punch, but Enker disappeared. All the navis lost track of him, but Ballade's eyes darted left and he kicked off the ground.

"As if I'd let you use the mirror buster again!" Enker came into view in front of Ballade, but again he disappeared before Ballade could hit him. "You can't elude me!" He rocketed upward and swung his leg around to strike, Enker appeared for an instant and Ballade's leg passed right through him as if hitting air. "What?"

"Jogging? No, I think a better word to describe that last scuffle would be crawling," Enker gripped the end of his spear with two hands and struck Ballade to the ground. Ballade crashed to the cyber surface painfully and Enker followed with his spear ready to pierce through Ballade's head.

"Punk!" Ballade heard Megaman yell as he opened his eyes.

"Brother?" Ballade stared wide eyed as Punk stood over him, facing down at him, with Enker's spear jutting through his shoulder socket.

"Augh, dammit." Punk fell on top of Ballade as Enker removed the spear.

"Feh, you are a lucky one." Enker scoffed. "Once again you are spared at the expense of someone else."

"Brother!" Ballade yelled as he rolled over and examined Punk.

"Argh!" Mr. Famous cringed as hi synch aura disappeared and his pet clattered to the floor. Yai and Tory quickly ran to him as he fell, blood flowed from his shoulder.

"Why did you defend me?" Ballade questioned Punk as his shoulder fizzed and popped. Punk winced and chuckled.

"You're family. True brothers protect each other." The words struck Ballade as Punk logged out.

"Sir Chaud, I have just received word that our railcar has arrived, and a supply team was sent with it," Protoman relayed to his operator as Megaman and Roll focused on Ballade.

"Yai! Get Dex and Famous to the railcar." Chaud quickly ordered.

"And just leave you guys here? What if you get hurt?" She protested, but was swiftly turned about.

"No time to argue, they need medical attention stat, and with your help, Sean and Tory can get them there faster!" Yai wished to argue her reasons more, but Chaud was right. Her personal feelings had to be set aside. Together, Yai, Sean, and Tory carefully moved Dex and Mr. Famous out of the factory, leaving Lan, Maylu, and Chaud. Megaman, Roll, and Protoman stood ready for Enker's next move, with Ballade still on his knees where Punk had fallen. Enker sneered at them.

"Looks like our little party is nearing its end. I give you two options. Die quickly or slowly? Either way is fine by…" He stopped and glanced away from them. The three flinched and made quick glances towards where Enker was looking, but could see nothing. Enker sighed.

"My, if only I weren't so busy… I could have you thorns out of my side for good." He turned away.

"What?" Megaman watched Enker as he began to walk towards a broken portal. "Hey! Where do you think you're going?" He yelled. Roll squeaked slightly, she had to admit she was relieved when Enker turned away, but Megaman's steadfast spirit caused her to reset her battle stance. Enker halted and sighed.

"I suppose I can spare a minute or two to explain something to you," he turned and stared heavily at the three, "I'm sure you've heard their side of the story, so why don't I tell you mine," the three glanced at each other, "You really can't blame me for seeking revenge on my creators. Tell me, do you know what it's like to be created and given a conscious, only to be thrown into a bin and never be considered again?" he hung his head, "I'm a prototype, and imperfect experiment, an idea," he flashed bright blue and reappeared looking identical to Megaman, "I have no identity," he flashed pink, appearing as Roll, "I have no purpose," he flashed Red, returning as Protoman, "I have no function," he flashed yellow and reappeared as himself, "I can take on anyone's identity but I don't have one to call my own. I'm a test, a test of an ability that wasn't even fully incorporated into the final product. The insignificance of my life is appalling."

"But why?" Roll cut him off, "That doesn't give you any reason to do all these awful things! Pain of the heart should not be repaid through death and destruction!" she stepped forward, "Just because you disagree with your creator, doesn't mean you have the right to cause harm to everyone else!"

"SHUT UP!" Enker's voice surged towards them. "You're ignorant! You've had a purpose your whole miserable existence! I'd invite you to feel my pain and not strike back!" Roll shrunk away.

"She's right you know," Megaman stepped in front of her, "Your actions are as cold blooded as your words. I may not have lived your life, but I've lived one that tells me you have it completely backwards," He pointed, "All you're doing is using your past as a reason to cause problems. You're nothing more than a bully," Enker smirked.

"If that is how you wish to put it, then this bully is about to destroy everything that mistreated him," the words cut through Protoman's head.

"What do you mean?" he quickly pressed. Enker swept his cloak out to the side.

"You all live in a world that you believe is safe. You all think you have a perfect system that cannot be broken. You rely on that which you have created to the point where without it, the world would crumble," he waved his hand and the portal began to crackle, "Your precious internet, your cyber devices, everything you use today is a product of these systems. You look to them for guidance and curl up beside them when problems arise. I started the war as a twofold plan: first to prove how easily your world can break, and second, to run an uninterrupted examination of the Scilab network," Lan and Chaud's eyes went wide. "I'm fairly certain your operators understand the possibilities here."

"What do you intend?" an image of Chaud split from Protoman. "Scilab security is impenetrable. Even if you made it past the initial firewalls the rest of the system would delete you in and instant."

"Does believing that make you feel better?" Enker sneered. Chaud hesitated and held his tongue. "Ah there it is, that wonderful expression I always see when people realize their lives can be compromised. Your safe haven has already been chipped at by the war, you really don't realize how easily I'm going to do something much worse." Lan's image split from Megaman and he glared at Enker.

"I've had enough experiences in my life to realize when someone is trying to scare me. Always excessive buildup and never enough to follow through. Honestly it's a dick move and I'm not buying it. Just tell us what you plan so we can stop it." As Lan finished, Enker burst into laughter.

"REALLY? TRULY? SUCH WORDS FROM A HUMAN!" he immediately seized laughing and glared. "You have no idea where you stand you pathetic bag of flesh. I have discovered a daily reset interval in scilab's security mainframe to prevent the system from degrading over time. It may seem like a small window to you, but it's a mile wide for me, and I can easily slip in."

"What!" Chaud's image split from Protoman again. "That's impossible!"

"Is that a challenge?" Enker shook his head. "You doubt my abilities. I thought by now you would know what I'm capable of." He balled his hand into a fist and held it in front of him. "And trust me, I plan to use my power. I will destroy Scilab's core server processor, effectively deleting Electopia's entire network!" All of them stood wide-eyed.

"No! We won't let you destroy the Electopian net!" Megaman yelled as the three operators merged back into their navis. Megaman and Roll stood ready, but Protoman didn't budge.

"You… you're crazy, that will destroy the world as we know it!" He proclaimed. Megaman and Roll turned to him, confused.

"I see you understand my full intention. Yes, Scilab's network runs all of Electopia's net, but it is also linked in multiple places to other networks around the world. If a network as big as Electopia's is destroyed, the data released will have nowhere to go. It will flow into the other networks around the globe and cause a worldwide data overload, forcing a complete and total shut down of the internet!"

"NOO!" Megaman launched himself at Enker. With one swift movement, Enker reached out, grabbed him by the arm and threw him into both Roll and Protoman who had followed suit. He stepped towards the crackling portal.

"Are you sure you want to come after me?" He chuckled. "You wouldn't want anything bad to happen to your operators would you?" He knelt down and touched the floor of the broken cyberspace. A data stream flowed from his hand into the floor and the whole area lit up bright red. "Have fun kids; try not to bring the house down!" He laughed sinisterly and disappeared into the portal. As soon as he was gone, the portal faded back to its worn state. The navis quickly rolled off each other and looked around at the cyberspace coming to life. Alarm claxons started blaring all around and the light turned harsh. The cyberspace itself began to shake.

"Lan! Maylu! Quick, call back your navis!" Chaud yelled as he released full synchro.

"Wait! Ballade!" Megaman yelled reaching back towards Ballade before his vision was blurred by the pet call. The aura faded from both Lan and Maylu and they unplugged their pets. The alarm was going off in the factory as well. Multiple pieces of machinery were blinking with red lights, sparks flying from everywhere. Then there was an explosion. They all shielded themselves as small bits and pieces fell around them.

"He's bringing the factory down on us!" Maylu yelled as more shrapnel clanged to the floor.

"Move!" Lan yelled as the three made a break for the exit. They got four steps into a sprint before a conveyer belt machine's control panel exploded, they were thrown off balance by the shock, but the belt itself snapped and whipped out, knocking down Lan. Chaud didn't notice him fall, but Maylu turned to help him immediately. Chaud made it to the entrance and turned to see them far behind, debris and scraps falling all around.

"Come on! Hurry!" He yelled at the top of his lungs. As soon as Lan got to his feet the Pet assembler right beside them exploded, Maylu took the brunt of the explosion, knocking her into Lan. She groaned and struggled to get back up. An inch-thick metal cylinder up in the rafters of the ceiling split by the pressure broke loose and fell towards her, the sharp end of it tipped downward as it fell. She glanced up and saw it mere feet from her.

At the last second Lan stepped in front.

The cylinder hit him.

It drove through the center of his chest and stuck out his back.

Maylu's eyes shot open.

"LAAAAN!"

-To be continued-


Well aint i evil. And unfortunately i hate to say it, but it will be a while before another update. I have until may to finish my senior writing project and i really need to buckle down on it. Any and all writing time i have will be directed at my project. I know its a horrible spot in both stories to do this, but this is how it must go for now.

But as always, even though i know i dont deserve it for how long i make you all wait, i appreciate how much support i get from everyone and all those who read and review my work, you are all amazing.

Please read and review!

Flashgunner over and out!