Disclaimer: I don't own Rockman/Megaman in any of its forms or anything else referenced here.

Wily's status as a Japanophile is shown in the favored treatment of Shadowman (Jiraya the frog robot!) and most especially in the OVAs (which are made of cute and crack). Giant mecha and ninja cosplay FTW.

It is Word of God that Drs. Wily and Light didn't work together on Protoman and that the Cataclysm didn't happen. I will start taking Capcom's timeline seriously when they do.

Objective: Mettool Prototype.

Status: Located.

Data acquisition: In progress.

This was one of the times when Blues wished that he had been built a little taller, but given the current status of the technology, having a low center of balance, large 'feet' and so on were practical necessities.

They did, however, make it necessary to pull a chair over and semi-stand on it to be able to get a top-down view of the mettool, which had been left on a fairly high lab worktable.

He would have to try to get the chair's cushion back into an approximation of normal form after this, he noted in his logs.

Blues had been built with several dictionaries, databanks, copies of scientific articles and so on installed, and more had been downloaded since. One of them contained a very useful phrase: 'it is better to ask forgiveness than permission.'

If he had asked to see the mettool, Dr. Light would have said no, since they were still running tests and he might disrupt the experiment. This was what was known as a 'lie,' since it still wasn't complete so they definitely weren't running tests.

However, if he looked blank and said that he had gone to acquire data about his primary task and quoted priority and line as his motivations Dr. Light wouldn't be able to object, since it would be his own programming Blues was quoting, and would only be able to say 'don't do it again.'

He really should know he needed to be more, or rather less specific by now, but humans had their own areas of very annoying irrationality, like the laws. Blues' current working theory was that this was a territorial imperative at play.

Dr. Light never liked Blues going in his lab on his own.

However, he had been created to look after smaller, weaker robots, and while he had run tests with lots of others already this was the first one that was being built just for him. Well, several had been built for the sake of running tests of the systems and capacity of 'DRN.000 Protoman,' but this was the first one to be purpose-built with him and his known capabilities in mind.

Albert (Dr. Light had ordered him to call his partner Dr. Williamson, but Dr. Williamson had said to call him Albert and when two contradictory orders were at play, the second law gave him leeway to consider which had higher priority) had designed it, obviously.

It was going to be used to test out all sorts of environments normally far too hazardous for robots trying to work on their own, like construction sites, power plants, rough terrain, and so on, so Albert had given it a 'hard hat,' like humans wore, so that just in case anything went wrong (but nothing would unless Blues messed up and didn't take proper care of this robot, or that was what Dr. Light had implied even though…) it would be okay.

Ok was one of those useful words that meant status nominal, green light, affirmative… Dr. Light didn't like it since it had emotional connotations that didn't apply to him, but really, all human words had emotional connotations. If he couldn't use any of them, then why design him to speak?

Dr. Light was illogical sometimes.

He liked robots. Robots were logical and helpful and didn't argue in circular logic that made his head spin and crash.

It wasn't safe to boot up the computer hooked up to the robot, there were corporate espionage defenses here, but it was the work of a minute to make a connection directly to the robot.

This was a very cut down version of his programming, very. Mostly just movement routines, the guidelines he had worked out for priority and taking care of lower-level systems (like nuts and bolts, in this one's case) first and other odds and ends. There was a somewhat flexible ability to reassign priorities in a very limited fashion, but it clearly wasn't working since Dr. Light didn't seem to understand yet that sentience was a prerequisite to that sort of higher level cognition. He'd tried to keep telling Blues not to use 'I,' or any form of self-identification, which had caused all of his programs to become utter gibberish without that necessary term.

Blues had been built to debug and take care of smaller robots with less-powerful systems, to enable them to function and perform their tasks. The human descriptor for a small unit that deserved aid and invoked those instincts was 'cute.'

The mettool was cute. With its little helmet and well-designed little legs and place to attach different devices so that it could do its work properly and several other factors that he assigned a subroutine to catalogue in detail for future reference and design (whenever he got to design his own tiny robots).

Blues was a logical being, with much emphasis in his design on keeping his thought processes logical. Dr. Light's objections to Blues working on this cute little robot with its teeny wires and cute little processor were entirely illogical. Therefore, when confronted with a floating point adjustment to make and a worktable with the necessary tools spread all over it in a manner that proclaimed that they weren't where they should be anyway, so why not use them before tidying them up and putting them away properly?

Dr. Light's objections were summarily filed away in the 'junk data' drawer.

Now, he should figure out how to allow the mettool to drop down and take cover under its helmet really quickly, just in case…

It would be entirely incorrect to say that Albert wasn't a morning person. He was most definitely a morning person.

However, in the interest of accuracy, it would have to be noted that, more specifically, he was a midnight to six am morning person, not a six am to noon one. Spending years in an engineering program, where 'sleep' was a couple of hours on the couch in the computer lab in between trying to frantically complete assignments for the next class, taught that regular sleep schedules were for the weak (and English majors), and that the best hours of the day were those when everyone else was out of the computer labs and you could get tacit permission from tech support, provided you had the cred, to do a few things lesser users were utterly forbidden, lest overheating, fire sprinklers, and expulsions result. Or the tech support staff having to scramble to fix it, cutting into the valuable webcomic time that allowed them to get through the day without strangling freshmen humanities majors or professors with tenure who still needed to be walked through opening their e-mail.

Sunlight? Sunlight was for vegetables.

Unfortunately, when you the one doing the actual running of a company with an estimated worth in the untold billions, due to Thomas' claimed inability to read legalese without his eyes glazing over, you had to be in by normal business hours.

The instant they found some trustworthy subordinates who wouldn't be tempted by the fact a small, missable little 'adjustment' of some funds or paperwork would allow them to buy their own country, he wanted to say he'd go back to waking up at a decent hour.

Except that the other reason he needed to be in early, or at least in before Thomas, was to run damage control.

Case in point: Blues' whistling was both more cheerful and louder than normal.

Albert had asked Blues to make him tea in the mornings for several reasons. One, there was actually a lot of precision involved in making tea properly. Different types required different exact temperatures, lest they be underflavored or burnt, not to mention the fine motor skills involved. With a normal robot, if you wanted it to make tea, everything needed to be exactly the same every time, positioned in exactly the same place, or else you ended up with a cup of smashed china and a burned kitchen.

Blues was no normal robot. Albert had started out guiding his hands through it, then demonstrating, and before his very eyes, Blues had gone right past ordinary human levels of functioning and cognition to engineer levels of, 'if you don't know how to do something, start by looking it up online and proceed to figure it out for yourself. What are you, twelve or an English major?'

Another reason was so that he saw Blues first thing when he came in, and the third reason was because he generally needed that tea before they were done. Badly.

Eight am was an entirely unreasonable hour to have to deal with have to deal with moral issues, legal issues, his best friend's issues, an inquisitive child's whys, and the twin crushing realizations that the world was not fair and he was the one stuck trying to explain this to a child who thought entirely in terms of logic and fairness without breaking his little non-positronic brain or crushing that bright, inquisitive spirit.

He had a great deal of newfound respect for his father.

"Good morning, Albert!" he heard when he opened his office door. There was Blues, still wearing that scarf (Albert hadn't told Thomas that Blues was the one who had figured out how to waterproof his hands and arms reliably enough to do laundry), but not carrying tea.

Instead, there was a tea tray. Right next to him. Being carried on the back of what had to be Thomas' mettool. Albert could make an astute guess as to how much of his movement programming Blues would have had to rewrite to pull that off, and the answer was all of it. "Good morning, Blues. And hello to you too." He bent down to 'say hello' to the mettool, who beeped at him, and say that yes, Blues had also not just finished but made some changes to Albert's physical design. "Why the plus sign?"

"Because he's a good mettool."

Blues had taken to web design and symbolism in general far too quickly for Thomas' taste. Albert deeply approved. Form and function were deeply intertwined, beauty was at its root a value judgment, and what had he been expecting when he had programmed Blues to 'prefer' working robots and so on. "That's very clever, Blues. Now, can you tell me what you did wrong?"

Blues blinked at him, which he had already learned through imitation was shorthand for an innocent 'huh?'

"Thomas' lab…" he prompted patiently.

Not ringing any bells or lighting up any circuits.

"You are aware that he wouldn't have wanted you to complete the mettool without asking first, correct?"

Oh! "Yes, but…"

"Just yes, Blues. I was asking about that specific factor, not about the extenuating ones."

"There wasn't any good reason not to? I saved him time, and that's what I'm for." Wasn't it? He was built to help.

"I know that Thomas keeps saying this isn't true, but feelings do matter. He didn't want you to go into his lab and tamper without his work without asking first. If a program doesn't want an anti-virus to think it's spyware and block it, then it shouldn't act in a way that normally only spyware does. Thomas knows that you're only trying to help," surely he did, "but most other people don't know you that well. Normally, people who are trying to help don't do things without permission like that. Well, to be fair, sometimes even humans are that foolish, but it never ends well."

Blues nodded, and Albert could tell that he was really trying to pay attention, he really was, and he trusted Albert's judgment, but he also knew that unless he could find a way to explain it better, human… not hatred, but the little things that showed whether or not people cared, that could drive them up the wall, were just too internally inconsistent for him to deal with.

He was just trying to help, and logically Thomas should know that, so no matter how many times Albert presented this counterargument or Thomas got angry at him it failed the logic check and Blues kept innocently trying to help, assuming that would be taken in the spirit with which it was intended.

Blues was programmed logically. He was incapable of grasping that just because something was too stupid to be true didn't mean it wasn't necessarily true. He could grasp that when theory came into conflict with reality reality won, yes. You couldn't program without realizing that when you thought the program didn't have a problem and it didn't work, then you were wrong, but Blues had been built to write programs for other robots and himself, put things into a logical framework, and every framework he tried to put together, every framework of understanding humans had about themselves (Albert had hit the internet and tried to work something out, of course) just didn't work.

So he kept tossing out what he had since it wasn't working logically and proceeding from square one, which was a good way to problem-solve but not a good way to avoid driving Thomas up the wall. And the more seemingly-erratically and pseudo-disrespectfully Blues acted, the more worried Thomas got and the closer an eye he kept on Blues, which just provided more data for too wrong theories and made Albert wish he was a grad student again. Respectable scientists couldn't go out to bars, brainstorm, rant and get plastered with other grad students until they came up with something or the problem became moot, at least until the next morning.

Albert sighed and wished the first law wouldn't make Blues try to argue him out of putting something stronger in his tea. No, no, he wouldn't do that to good tea, but this was one of those tempting mornings.

"Protoman, give me back the mettool."


"You may not use that word in this conversation."

Blues stood mute then, holding the mettool, eyes wide.

"I gave you an order."

More silence, since Blues couldn't use that word.

"How are you avoiding obeying the order?"

"…you didn't say when."

"Give me the mettool now."

Blues just gripped it a little tighter. It made a short of beep/cheep sound, and he relaxed his grip again but didn't let go, keeping his eyes on Dr. Light's since he'd been instructed that eye contact was polite and he was trying to be very polite.

It would have been more understandable (and less hostile) if he'd looked down or to the side, showing he didn't want a confrontation, but he didn't know that.

"How are you avoiding it this time?"

"Wouldn't it just be a waste of time for you to lower its functioning? You built me to increase functioning for other robots, and…"

"Are you saying that your work is so superior to mine?"

"That wasn't what I'd intended to convey." What he wanted to say was that he wanted to keep looking after the mettool, please, and he hated the idea of lowering a robot's functioning even temporarily because it went against what Albert called his prime directive. He was supposed to help, and so was Dr. Light, and this was wrong somehow. "It would only be a temporary lowering of functionality… that would be a waste of your time?"

"You aren't here to decide how humans should spend their time. Hand over the mettool, Protoman."

At this point, the first law had been invoked. Dr. Light was being scary, it was making Albert worried, it couldn't be good for their blood pressure, and he had to figure out how to fix this and stop hurting and scaring them but he couldn't figure out how.

'I statements' and statements about feelings were how humans dealt with differences of opinion without anger or negative emotions coming into it, but Dr. Light didn't want him to use those, even though he'd been developed to make judgments and have opinions. Nor was lying and saying he agreed with Dr. Light an option that was permitted, even though it was what Dr. Light wanted to hear. He really didn't like this and he didn't want to take it, since he couldn't do anything for Plus then, but he kind of only had one way out of situations like this left.

Dr. Light facepalmed and tried not to growl with frustration. "I still can't figure out what bug it is that makes him keep acting so irrational and then crashing!"

"It's been weeks: you honestly haven't noticed that it always happens when you get angry at him?"

"I wasn't getting angry at him!"

"Yes, you were. I know you're getting sick of investors and people pretending to be helpful when they just want a piece of the pie, but you can't compare those people to Blues. He doesn't work that way, and you know it. You designed him to have opinions, and every single time the two of you have a difference of opinion, you invoke the laws, he keeps trying to solve the actual problem since that's what he was designed for and the laws have nothing to do with that, and the poor thing crashes. Do you need a vacation? Because this isn't like you. You're getting far too stressed, and if you try to pull this on someone who isn't Blues or I, they're not going to put up with it."

"I don't…"

"Thomas, you have been my friend for years, but for the past few weeks you have been acting like an ass. I come in to work, Blues has done something to try to be helpful or lighten your workload since you're obviously stressed, then you start putting him in a situation he can't deal with, and then you try to say I don't know what I'm talking about or I'm the one being irrational about a machine when I try to politely call you on your behavior." He talked right over Dr. Light's attempts to do those things. "I wouldn't take this sort of treatment from anyone but you, I don't have to take it, and just because Blues has to doesn't mean it's right. Every single day for weeks now! And you wonder why I haven't been able to get any actual work done! I've got a teleportation device and a portable fusion generator that would move the world's carbon footprint into the serious negative numbers that I haven't had a moment to look at in weeks because I've been forced to run interference for you! Stop treating the laws like they're the only thing you need instead of failsafes that should ideally never be invoked! I want you out of this building, right now, until you cool your head and are capable of having a rational discussion."

"A rational discussion-"

"-With the robot you programmed to be able to have them!"

"And this is my building!"

There was a moment of silence after that, and Thomas realized that he'd gone to far.

Albert, his partner, at first looked angry, but then amused. "Wow. You really are trying to pick a fight with me, aren't you?" Then he looked sober again. "It's getting that bad?"

Because Thomas knew better than to pick a fight with Albert. Pasty-faced engineer, Japanese culture geek… Albert seemed like the sort that would be an easy target for bullies. Except that his fondness for Japanese culture had started at a young age and his parents, desperate to keep him busy, had paid for lessons in kendo and he'd wandered from there all over several other martial arts. Thomas had never been the sort to go to the student athletic center and Albert had several other interests and hobbies, so it had never come up until they had somehow ended up in the wrong bar during an undergraduate conference on robotics in England and someone had taken exception to Albert's support of Japan's soccer team.

"I didn't think it was." To think he'd tried to pull that sort of thing on his best friend. "I'm sorry."

"I'll accept that. For now. But try that on me or in front of me again, Tommy, and you really are going to have a fight on your hands."

"I'm sorry you've had to put your research on hold for all this. If you want to leave and start up your own company, I'll give up my rights to any of it."

Wait, how had that even come up? Only slime would have tried to retain control over Albert's work. "I wasn't talking about the teleporter and generator. I was taking about the fact that you created a sentient life form and you're acting like a slave driver. Morally, and practically, you should know better than to think I'd stand for that, regardless of any attachment to Blues. His programming is your work, and I won't argue that the way some people are trying to get it made public domain." Anti-trust laws, nationalization, all sorts of ridiculous attempts to get control over Dr. Light's brainchild. "But keep in mind that unless I'm happy with how they're treated, they won't walk or talk." That, Albert held the patents on. "So stop acting like a little tinpot dictator, or I will bury you."

Years later, Dr. Light would regret ignoring that moment of remorse and growing angry again at Albert's justified words, when his victory in the legal battle destroyed his friend and the precedents he'd set forced him to send the liberated robot masters in to be destroyed.

The fact they returned to him even after that, thanks to Rock's words alone, made him feel even more terribly small.

Even more years later, Albert's threat was carried out, and Dr. Light was buried in the rubble of his home.

Far more didn't get even that rough grave.