They were going today. Roll shuddered. She couldn't decide if she wanted to delay the trip until next week, or if she wanted to "rip the band-aid off fast" and just get it over with.
I'm being silly. Roll shook her head. Of course I need to go.
"Are you ready, hon?" Pallette asked. "Bass'll be here soon so you have a second if you need to get anything."
The first generation girl-bot shook her head and stepped onto the huge teleporter platform. This operations room wasn't the mass mission's room (the "horseshoe" as everyone called it), but rather the operations room for smaller mission and activities. Thus the teleporter platform wasn't as large as in mass missions, and there were only four workstations for navigators in this room. Still, the room was plenty large enough. It had to fit four computer terminals (two on each wall), the four counters that held up all the technology, and still have large enough walkways between them so that the Hunters could pass behind the navigators and get to the plating closets that accompanied each station.
Today the chirpy Pallette sat at the front right navigator station, tapping away at her computer. None of the other stations were occupied, as this room, while outfitted for the worst circumstances, was just used for civilian outings. That was fine for Roll. It did make her long for the days when all travelling entailed was a quick teleport. It wasn't as if the Hunters were going to let their anti-teleport fields down any time soon.
"I should be fine. I have what I need right here." Roll patted a bulky item wrapped up in orange cloth. "Does my hair look okay though? I never used to wear headbands, and I get so paranoid that my hair is sticking up funny."
It was her new outfit, that Bass had picked out no less. Roll giggled at the thought. He had given the excuse that it was the first red thing he saw on a rack, but it was so much fun to tease him about it. The flowery blouse was delightful, and so were her red capris. As much as she preferred dresses, she didn't mind the capris at all. They were just so cute.
"Oh, stop fussing about your hair." Pallette knocked on her own head attachments. "At least you have hair."
Roll tittered. "Sorry. But hey, you've got a job to do. You need to be helping Maverick Hunters, not fussing with your looks."
The massive double doors at the back of the room opened, and in came Bass, headfins and all. As reluctant as Roll was herself, Bass seemed more outwardly apprehensive about going. It was because he knew what they would find, Roll guessed.
"Sorry I'm late." he said, going right for the teleportation lab. "I was experimenting, and I lost track of time."
"Says the robot with the built-in chronometer." Pallette winked. "Okay, when do I need to pick you up?"
Bass glanced at Roll assessing her. "Eh...I don't know. It's probably better if I just call you when we're ready."
"I getcha." Pallette programmed the coordinates into her computer and began activating the teleporter pad. "Aw, everyone makes such a fuss about that old robot museum. I've never actually been there. Tell me if it's any good, alright?"
With that, the computers hummed and throbbed, and the teleporter pad glowed a bright neon blue. Shortly thereafter, they appeared in a bright corner of the robot museum, a similar but red teleporter pad this time. The robots stepped out of the narrow teleporter area and found themselves in a magnificent lounge. Bass couldn't help but think that such a place was far too gaudy for robots, but Roll absolutely loved the short, lime green couches that lined the wall and the grand windows that swooped across the left wall. The hill country outside of this window (conveniently facing away from Giga City) was so marvelous that she might have gone on staring at it for hours...if only she didn't have more important business at hand.
She would have been interrupted anyway. Out of the hallway came a tall reploid, one dressed splendidly enough to surpass the outdoor view. Bass gagged. The brunette robot in his eloquent stained glass robe seemed even more dignified than the day the dark robot first met him, and today he donned a special pair of blue-lensed glasses. The petite accessory rested on the tip of his nose, and he smiled at the two first generation robots, raising his arms to welcome them.
"Good morning!" he said. "Good to see you again, Bass. And I see you've brought the lovely Roll. I am Aengus R."
Aengus shook hands with Roll, and she curtsied. "Bass told me a lot about you."
"And I can assure you, not a word of it is true." Aengus winked. "Let's get down to business. Are you ready to see the first generation display? Or would you like to talk first?"
Roll took a deep breath. She was surprised at how perceptive Bass was these days. He knew immediately that she was tense, and was at her side right away. Roll could feel her tenseness melt away.
"I would rather get it over with, to tell the truth." Roll said a bit wistfully. "I know you have my brother's helmet in there, and I want to see it very much. There's just one thing. I have another piece I'd like you to add to your museum. It's only right that they be together."
Roll lifted her package and gently pulled away the orange cloth. Aengus leaned forward eagerly to get a glimpse of the mystery item. Roll took her time unravelling it, but soon enough she revealed a red helmet, accented in grey. A black visor, cracked but still intact, lay in the front of it.
"I had this with me when Bass found me." Roll explained. "It's really dirty right now, but I know your museum can restore it. I know you'll love to have it in your collection. It's not only the helmet of the oldest sentient robot, but the helmet of my brother Proto Man. Please take good care of it."
Aengus' eye nearly popped out of his head. He inspected the helmet eagerly, not daring to touch it, lest he harm it somehow.
" - This is her family, you jerk. - " Bass glared at the museum curator. " - Try not to act like you just won the lottery. - "
"Ahem, excuse me." Aengus immediately straightened, trying to force his face into a false neutrality. "Roll, I can assure you that this museum will take the greatest care of your brother's helmet. Both of your brothers'. Now, why don't you follow me, and we'll discuss how you would like it displayed."
Aengus waved his arm down the hall, and both of the robots following him were treated to the magnificent displays set up for the early reploid period. Bass glanced only momentarily at these. Roll, on the other hand, was absorbed in every detail of Dr. Cain's findings. It was indeed Dr. Cain who, in his twenties, had discovered X and unearthed him from his now decrepit laboratory. He dedicated his entire life to creating the reploids. While he only succeeded in this during his later years, historians still referred to this time period as the "Cain Age", acknowledging the one who had changed history almost as much as Dr. Light himself.
"Oh, I wish you didn't hate robot museums so much, Bass." Roll said wistfully. "This place looks so nice. Mr. Aengus must be a wonderful curator. Your display would be just perfect!"
Bass darkened, and Roll was very thankful when Aengus answered instead.
"His display was perfect." Aengus laughed. "Until he broke out of it."
"What? Bass was on display?"
"Someone sold me to the museum for a million zenny." Bass' eyes dared Aengus R to keep talking about it. "I figure if they wanted that much for me, I can deal with it."
"It's much more profitable to me for you to be awake, of course." the dark robot's attitude didn't bother the curator in the least. "There is so much about history that we do not know, and I get the first scoop! It's really quite exciting."
"Exciting..." Roll said softly. "I wouldn't call it that. Not after living through it."
"I am very sorry about everything, though. Bass spoke a little of what you've been through, and if there is something you wish to keep to yourself, I won't press you." Aengus assured her. "Perhaps for the museum's purposes a more vague description of history is more important, so that a general idea can be presented for a well-rounded understanding."
Those were a lot of unemotional buzzwords, and Roll appreciated them. All the same, the topic was just too dark for her. She sighed. Over the telecom line she'd promised to speak to Aengus about the past. Only now that it came to the point, she found herself reluctant. Still, she had a few minutes at least to decide what she was going to tell him. For now, she switched to a different topic.
"Bass, why don't you give your helmet to the museum when...I don't know, if you decide to get an updated look."
Bass was nicer to Roll ever since their reactivation in this new century, but one thing about this century Bass didn't like was their robotic style choices. Looking like one of those crazily colored animal things that was all the rage these days certainly didn't appeal to Bass, no matter how much the others teased him about having an eye for fashion. He glared at Roll, knowing exactly what she'd meant.
"I don't plan on dying for a long time. And I'm sure as hell not coming back to a stupid museum." he scoffed.
"You don't have to go on display." Roll said. "You could just give Aengus your helmet. You told me you wanted to be recycled, anyway, so I'd have to recycle you into something cool...like a skateboarding ramp or something."
"Ugh, no skateboarding. Since when is that cool?" Bass snorted. "Make me into a gun. Eh, no offense, Aengus, but I'm sure as hell not letting my helmet be stuck in there with Mega Dweeb and Emo Boy."
"Is it value you're worried about?" Aengus asked. "It shouldn't be. Rock and Proto Man are the oldest robots, yes, but in the scheme of things, you're not much younger than they are. Besides, of the three helmets yours is the most visually striking." Aengus reached over and pinched the nearest head-fin. "Anyone who saw all three on display would be immediately drawn to yours. It's very avant guarde while at the same time maintaining a clean simplicity."
Bass' eyes went upward, and Aengus got the hint. He chortled as he let go of the headfin.
"And really what's wrong with your helmet being with theirs?" Roll smiled, looking appreciably sweet as she did so. "You're my brother too."
Bass rolled his eyes, always sheepish about compliments that didn't have anything to do with fighting. But before Aengus could ask about that, the trio entered the first generation display room.
The room, as it always had been, was small. There wasn't much too it. Since Bass had broken out of it, the place was rather empty looking, especially since , and now an entire wall was dedicated to the little blue helmet within. Roll immediately steered away from it. Instead she spent a full minute gushing over their almost complete first generation mettaul. She then inspected the display that Bass smashed out of. The metaloid "glass" had been removed, but the display itself was still empty, and it was easy to see where the tin plaque had once been. Roll listened as Bass described his escape, but her laughs were hollow.
"If you would like to see how we plan on redesigning the room to better display your brother's helmet, you can see some of our sample blueprints here."
Aengus gestured to a boring folding table in the center of the room. As described, it was a messy display of papers. Roll turned, but she wasn't looking at the blueprints. She'd avoided this long enough. The girl-bot carefully handed Proto Man's helmet to Aengus, then without a word headed for the display case holding Rock's helmet.
Unlike the rest of the room, Mega Man's display case was intact; the double layers of metaloid display glass shielded the helmet from any thief, and only Aengus knew exactly what alarms were hooked into it. Roll noticed or cared about none of that. All she could see was her beloved brother's helmet exactly as it was a century ago. Too exactly. There in the middle of the helmet was the crack made by Epidemic Man's secret blade, the one he had the whole time but kept secret until that horrid moment when it sliced through the helmet, and ended Rock's life.
Roll didn't want to cry. She didn't want to go through this again. But she did. The awful scene returned to her memory like any file brought up by a computer: as clean and real as the day it was recorded. The first sob echoed in the room, followed quickly by the second and the third. Before the fourth sob came, Bass was already by her side. She buried her face in his arms, crying as she never knew she could cry before.
- Hey y'all. This scene is just a little update for this story, and plotwise it goes between chapters 7 and 8. Before I wrote Afterlife, I was planning on writing a scene more or less like this, only I forgot about it completely. Does that happen to you guys to? Anyway, there was really no place I could put this in the plot structure of the story. Putting it at the beginning of chapter 8 would have contradicted what I was going for, namely a Zero focused chapter where he's dealing with his own inner turmoil. I don't know, it's a pretty generic scene I'm sure I could have shoved in somewhere, but I just don't feel inspired to edit it in somewhere. If I make a deal with Capcom to publish this as a novel (dreamin' big over here) I may find a place for it. It's actually a pretty obvious scene, and as such doesn't really add anything to the plot. I just wanted to put it here to show what I originally intended. I am sad about cutting out another appearance of Aengus R, though.
- Just a reminder, y'all. I know I have a pretty good following for my story series, but with my latest story, Rockman Gao Taosenai, I have been a huge slacker. Admittedly, I needed the time off because I was getting sort of burnt out, but I should be updating regularly and I'm sorry I haven't been. The Starcraft one-shots I've done have been a wonderful break, and now I know I can come back.
This is my commitment to you: I'm going to update regularly until the series ends. Starting off, the twentieth chapter of Rockman Gao Taosenai will be out Monday night. After that, I'm going to update once a week, and you will get regular updates so that you can get the finale of my story and finally find out my complete reasoning for writing this series. It's been a great three years, and I'm so dang proud of myself that I got this far and wrote so long a story. Now all I have to do is write good original fiction, and I'll be set. Thanks a bunch, y'all!