Preface: Mega Man Recut is a Dark Comedy/Crime Story retcon of the Ruby-Spears's Mega Man cartoon. While I try to honor the original cartoon as closely as possible, I also take artistic license with characterizations, dialog, and continuity to create a fluid novelization. I wrote this with the fans of the old cartoon show in mind. If any of you are out there, I hope you enjoy it.
Mega Man Recut takes place in a fictional universe parallel to Earth in the 1990s. Any resemblances to current or historical events are coincidental.
Episode 1: The Beginning
In the year 1994…
Dr. Thomas Light was a brilliant robotic scientist. He was stout, with broad shoulders and an even broader belly. His face looked boyish, though his beard had gone white. Close friends saw him as a kindly man, with the same absent-minded air yet stern moral conscience of a beloved grandfather. Yet, at the age of fifty-six, he had no family.
Dr. Light spent half his time lecturing at the University of Robotics in New York City and the other half inventing in his home laboratory. On his days off, he took long strolls in the park where he could be alone and think, and regularly attended the New York Philharmonic every Saturday. He was a born humanitarian and idealist, never seeking glory, wealth, or even acknowledgment for his research. The human spirit was his sole fascination: the ability for a soul to enter the world unbiased, for him to learn himself and the world and determine his own actions. It was this interest in humanity that drove Dr. Light's passion in creating robots.
It was a sunny afternoon in early June. Dr. Light was at work in his laboratory in New York, leaning over a worktable to inspect his latest creation. I think I've finally worked out all the bugs. I'll call him Rock, my new prototype android, he thought. The android was designed to look like an ordinary young man with chestnut colored hair and a cheerful round face, but underneath his synthetic skin lay a complicated network of metal, wire, circuit boards, and microchips.
Now, let's see if he works.
Activating an android wasn't a trivial event like switching on a lamp. The next few moments would be Rock's first impression of the world. If all went well, it would be the beginning of a new being and the foundations of his personality. Dr. Light pulled a pocket-sized remote from his pocket and pointed it at Rock, clicking a red button.
Servos hummed softly as the robot booted up. Rock's blue eyes opened, his pupils dilating as his optic sensors calibrated. He gazed around the room quizzically, breathing softly as his respiratory subroutines kicked in. He sat up on the lab table, blinking inquisitively at Dr. Light. Dr. Light met his stare, determined to look open and friendly, but inside his heart beat faster. What were Rock's thoughts, and how would he react to being alive?
Rock smiled, breaking the tension. "Hi, my name's Rock. Who are you?"
Dr. Light smiled back. "I'm Dr. Light. I built you."
"Are you my father?"
Dr. Light blinked. He pondered the question logically. Certainly, he had succeeded in creating the most lifelike androids in existence, and as Rock's creator, Dr. Light played the key role in bringing him to life. "In a sense, I am."
Rock hopped off the worktable, standing on his legs for the first time, and walked over to a full-length mirror mounted to the wall. He studied his reflection curiously. "I look human," he remarked.
"Yes, and I programmed you with advanced artificial intelligence to feel like a human."
Rock looked back at his reflection and quipped cheerfully, "I like that!"
"Come Rock. Let me show you the rest of the lab, and your new home."
Rock scanned Dr. Light's laboratory with fascination. It was round with a high domed ceiling, like the inside of a giant eggshell. Natural light streamed in from smooth oval windows. It was pleasantly warm from the heat of several supercomputers, each a story high, the largest supporting four forty-inch CRT monitors side-by-side. A drafting table sat under a low hanging bay light with a ream of graph paper stacked on top, every inch covered in blueprints. Filing cabinets with neat stacks of binders lined the walls. The doors were made of sliding steel panels that automatically retracted up into their frame when a button on the wall was pressed.
Lying on another worktable was a girl with blonde hair. Her eyes were closed, as if asleep.
"Who's this?" Rock asked.
"Her name is Roll."
"Did you build her too?"
"Yes, she is a Prototype Android of Advanced Artificial Self-Determination, just like you. You can think of her as your sister." Dr. Light pulled the pocket remote from his lab coat, activating Roll. Pale blue eyes slid open for the first time. She looked from Dr. Light to Rock, smiling sweetly.
"Hi, I'm Rock, your brother," Rock greeted, extending his hand.
Roll shook it. "I'm Roll."
Dr. Light grinned at them. "We're one big family, and the two of you are going to help me as I create a whole new world!"
Over the next few weeks, they set to work. Dr. Light mainly worked in robotics, but he treated Rock and Roll as lab assistants and gave them a multitude of projects in various disciplines such as Geology, Astrology, Engineering, Physics, and Biology. Rock couldn't decide which he found more interesting, and pursued each new project as if the fate of the world were on his shoulders. Overjoyed with his creation's zeal for science (which nearly rivaled his own) Dr. Light bought Rock an expensive chemistry set to experiment with.
The two androids became friends with the other robots working in Dr. Light's laboratory. Met was a small tool-using robot, little more than a black robotic head wearing a bright yellow hardhat. She scurried around on her two feet following Dr. Light, handing him tools with a long retractable robot arm while he worked and tidying up after he had finished. There was also Pipi, a red bird-bot that roosted on the roof, waking them every morning with his crow.
On the news, they saw robotic police officers, construction workers, and store clerks, many of which Dr. Light had invented himself. Even the mascot for a popular children's program was a robot called Bright Man, built by Dr. Light's friend Dr. Umlauf. He ended each episode with his tagline, "I'm here to light up your lives!" and an annoying song about energy conservation.
"Hey Rock, want to play Skyblasters?" Roll asked one day as Rock was working alone in the smaller side laboratory that was adjacent to Dr. Light's main laboratory. Roll too liked building things for Dr. Light, but she also liked playing computer games and watching television. Dr. Light didn't approve of such activities, citing both as indulgences that were excessively violent and lacked educational merit. In fact, there were many things Roll did that Dr. Light didn't approve of, such as listening to coarse music, racing downstairs, and her general untidiness.
"I can't," Rock responded. "Dr. Light is depending on me to finish these circuit boards before the end of the day."
Roll groaned. "C'mon, Rock. You never take breaks."
"Roll, if you're not going to be helpful, maybe you should sweep the floor," Rock suggested.
"As if! What makes you think you can boss me around?"
"Because I'm older," Rock said teasingly. "Besides, I don't need any girl robots getting in my way!"
"You mean you don't want a girl robot showing you up!" Roll smirked.
"Hey, when did Dr. Light pierce your ears?" Rock asked suddenly, looking inquiringly at Roll.
Roll grinned mischievously. "He didn't, I did it myself! Do you like them?" she asked, shaking her head so her dangly green earrings swung freely.
"Shouldn't you ask Dad for permission before you drill holes into your ears?" Rock asked seriously. "He might not like it."
"Relax, Rock," Roll replied offhandedly, "It's just earrings. I only drilled through the bottom lobes, and I cleaned up after I was done."
The door to the side laboratory suddenly slid open as Dr. Light walked in to check Rock's progress. Despite her previous cool comment, Roll jumped. "Excellent work, Rock. You have true diligence," Dr. Light praised as he inspected Rock's work. "By building these parts, you are helping me prepare for the World Robot Exposition next month."
"No problem, it was fun!" Rock grinned.
Dr. Light caught sight of Roll. He gave a small start. "Roll! What have you done to your ears?"
"I pierced them," she said, smiling nervously. "What do you think?"
Her feeble grin withered under Dr. Light's stern look. "They look fine Roll, but I do not want you to make modifications on yourself, especially without my supervision."
"But it's just earrings," she implored sweetly.
"That's not the point. You could seriously hurt yourself. I forbid you to modify any other part of your body."
Roll stared guiltily at her shoes. Dr. Light was still frowning at her, but then he looked over at Rock, his expression softening. "Thank you for preparing these parts for me in time. When you're finished here, come meet me in the main laboratory. I want to show you what I've been working on."
"Will do!" Rock replied, twirling a screwdriver in his hand.
Roll scowled as Dr. Light walked out of the laboratory. "I don't think Dad likes me as much as you."
"Don't be stupid! He likes us both equally."
"That's why he likes you better," she replied waspishly. "You're always such a goody-two-shoes."
Fifteen minutes later, Rock, Roll, and Dr. Light gathered around an alcove in the laboratory wall where Dr. Light stored three new robots. They were unlike anything they had ever seen.
"In the robotic industry, we call robots with unique abilities Robot Masters." Dr. Light explained. "These Robot Masters are designed to aid mankind with specific tasks."
He gestured to a robot with a pair of large shears mounted on his round head. He looked like a giant orange puppet with wide eyes, no nose, a hinged mouth, and ears that stuck straight out like a monkey.
"This is Cut Man, a logging robot," Dr. Light announced. "And this is Guts Man, a construction robot. He has enormous strength."
Guts Man was easily the biggest robot Rock had seen yet. He towered over them at ten feet, with legs and forearms the size of construction barrels. He had a square jaw like an iron shovel and deep-set blue eyes under a tight yellow helmet.
"And Ice Man can freeze anything with his Ice Slasher beam," Dr. Light continued, pointing to the last robot in the line. Ice Man was shorter than the rest and wore a navy hooded body suit. He had large, disc-shaped eyes like white hockey pucks and a small slit for a mouth.
Rock and Roll leaned in closer to gape at the strange, blank-faced robots. "When are you going to activate them?" Roll asked.
"Well, I plan to unveil them at the World Robot Exposition, so I'll activate them for a test-run in three days," Dr. Light answered. "I must make sure their guidance systems are functioning correctly, and their hardware is operational."
"Guidance system?" Rock asked curiously. "What's that?"
"The guidance system is the part of a robot's brain which allows him to make decisions," Dr. Light explained. "A faulty guidance system will prevent a robot from rationalizing thought properly. I program all my robots' guidance systems with conscience, compassion, and self-determination, the same principles that I programmed into you and Roll."
"Really?" Rock asked, intrigued. "Why those principles?"
"Oh boy, here we go…" Roll muttered so only Rock could hear. He ignored her.
Dr. Light eagerly launched into a lecture he knew by heart. "Conscience: the aptitude, intuition, or judgment to distinguish right from wrong. Compassion: sympathy for the misfortunate and a desire to help those in need. And finally, Self-Determination: free will. We are the authors of our own actions, a freedom which is possessed by all men, in virtue of a power inherent in human nature, whereby a man is able to change his own character creatively by deciding for himself what he shall do or shall become."
"Mortimer Adler wrote that," Rock said knowledgeably. Dr. Light beamed approvingly while Roll sighed and rolled her eyes.
"Precisely. These principles govern the very essence of human nature, and how we choose good from evil. But these robots aren't the same as you and Roll. I view all robots as living, emotional beings, but advanced androids have true free will, while Robot Masters must obey their programming. They are created to serve humanity."
"Just think of all the great things they can do to help mankind!" Rock said enthusiastically.
Roll yawned loudly.
"Yes, but it's late, and time for young robots to go to bed." Dr. Light placed an arm around Rock and Roll, steering them out of the laboratory.
"Aw, but I want to know more about the new robots!" Roll complained as they walked up the stairs to their bedrooms. This probably wasn't true; Rock had a feeling she had rudely yawned out of boredom. "Can't we stay up a little later? Just for tonight?"
"It can wait until tomorrow, Roll. Cut Man, Guts Man, and Ice Man aren't going anywhere," Dr. Light chuckled.
Dr. Light bade them goodnight as he walked down the hall to his bedroom. Roll, looking sour, sulked into her room as Rock closed the door to his. He laid down in his bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. He couldn't be happier. Dr. Light had to be the smartest human in the world, and he was proud to be his son. But Dr. Light forgot a principle when he was programming robots, he mused to himself as his eyelids began to droop. None of the three principles addressed family, and family was the most important principle of all.
Proto Man was guilty of burglary, larceny, armed robbery, conspiracy, forgery, grand theft auto, fraud, arson, espionage, sabotage, identity theft, extortion, abduction, trespassing, money laundering, blackmailing, speeding, shoplifting, jay-walking, and the defacement of a public statue (a monument to Ludwig van Beethoven). Eluding authority had become child's play to him, and he was swiftly climbing the ranks of New York City's Most Wanted. He was an advanced combat robot, built with technology even the military couldn't match, and he had never lost a fight to anyone, man or robot.
Proto Man acted as the right-hand man of Dr. Albert W. Wily, a man of mysterious origins. It could be speculated that Dr. Wily was born in or at least grew up in Germany, but his current abode was America. Dr. Wily was the kind of man who built war mechs in his garage, experimented on carnivorous nanobots in his basement, and booby-trapped Halloween decorations for his front lawn. The police classified him as a mad scientist and a public threat, though he was also guilty of embezzlement, racketeering, possession of illegal firearms, and tax evasion.
At the moment, these criminals were lurking in the shadows outside of Dr. Light's laboratory.
"The three robots are in the next room," Dr. Wily hissed, pointing toward the smooth outer wall of the laboratory.
Proto Man nodded, lifting his weapon and taking aim.
A loud crash woke Rock with a start. Puzzled, he climbed out of bed and crept to the dark hallway, where he found Roll, who was also awake.
"What was that?" she whispered.
"I don't know."
They both stood still, listened hard. The could just pick up the faint sound of footsteps in the laboratory, accompanied by an unfamiliar voice. Another crash rang out, this one louder than the first.
"I think someone's breaking into the lab!" Rock whispered urgently. "Let's get Dr. Light!"
Together they darted quietly to Dr. Light's room, but his door stood ajar. Dr. Light was already at the top of the stairs wearing a white lab coat over his pinstripe pajamas, ashen faced. "No, not him again," he murmured. Then, with clenched fists, he disappeared down the stairs. Rock and Roll exchanged nervous glances before following.
The laboratory was dark except for a stream of moonlight pouring through a gaping hole that had been blasted through the laboratory wall. In the darkness, Rock could just make out the forms of two intruders. One was a robot, armored in heavy red titanium. He looked like an android, but an opaque visor masked his face. A bright yellow scarf draped loosely around his neck.
Next to the red robot was the most frightening man Rock had ever seen. He looked the same age as Dr. Light (he even wore a white lab coat), but this man was thin and bony, with long fingers that constantly twitched, as if on the verge of snatching something while no one was looking. The hair on top of his head was all gone except for a gray mane that grew wildly around his skull.
The man gazed hungrily at the new robots with beady blue eyes. "Magnificent. They will do nicely as a first in my army."
"Dr. Wily! What are you doing back here?" Dr. Light cried, clicking on a light. The bald man and red robot both jumped and turned sharply to face Dr. Light.
"Just settling an old score," the man identified as Dr. Wily jeered through crooked teeth. He had an oily voice, thick with a Central European accent.
"They're going to take our robots, Dr. Light!" Roll shouted warningly.
"Not if I can help it!" Rock had been gauging the situation carefully. He shot forward to attack Dr. Wily's only defense, the red robot. A strong urge to protect his family outweighed any fear he felt towards taking on an armed opponent. At least there was only one to deal with.
The red robot smirked, waiting. Then, just as Rock was about to tackle him, he sidestepped sharply out of the way. Rock flew through empty space in surprise, tumbling head first into Dr. Light's new Robot Masters. All four of them crashed to the floor. Rock picked himself up, feeling foolish, then noticed that the other three robots were stirring as well. He had accidentally woken them up, three days before their official test-run. With a whir of electronics, the Robot Masters rose to their feet, looking sleepy and disoriented.
"Stop them, my robots!" Dr. Light commanded.
Dr. Wily elbowed Dr. Light roughly aside. "No, Dr. Light! They shall obey me." He whipped out a sinister looking device from inside his lab coat. Holding it like a gun, he took aim at the robots in the alcove. Rock winced as Dr. Wily squeezed the trigger, expecting to be shot. But the device didn't fire a laser beam; instead, it emitted an ultrasonic frequency. It was irritating, but otherwise Rock felt unaffected.
This wasn't the case for the Robot Masters. Their blank, confused stares were replaced by a vicious glare, and Rock could almost feel a wave of hostility permeating from them.
"We obey you, Dr. Wily," Guts Man growled, his first words ever. Rock understood immediately what the device did—It reprogrammed robots remotely! Yet it had no power over him—but this helped matters little. With the Robot Masters now under Dr. Wily's command, the odds had just tipped out of Dr. Light's favor.
Thinking fast, Rock decided to pretend to be under Dr. Wily's control too. He quickly straightened and looked attentively at Dr. Wily, mimicking the Robot Masters.
"Rock!" Roll screamed in horror. "He's reprogrammed them!"
"Yes!" Dr. Wily cackled evilly. "It's my latest, most stupendous invention yet: A remote protocol-disruptor. Its genius is in its simplicity; it emits a scrambling signal that counters the robot's guidance system, re-tuning their programming to obey whoever holds the protocol-disruptor. As you can see, it's very effective."
"Albert, that's an evil device, and should be destroyed!" Dr. Light shouted in outrage. "Robot's guidance system's are programmed very specifically, and should never be tampered with! You have no idea what danger you have created—"
"Oh, I am just beginning, Tom!" Dr. Wily interrupted. "With my protocol-disruptor, I'll reprogram all the robots in the world! Then none will obey any human orders ever again! Ha ha ha!"
While Dr. Wily gloated, the red robot walked down the line of robots as if inspecting them. Rock knew his chance was coming. As soon as the red robot had his back turned, he would grab the protocol-disruptor out of Dr. Wily's hands and reverse its damage. Any second now…
The red robot paused in front of Rock, his black visor turned towards him. A small smirk grew on his face, the same self-satisfied smirk he had given Rock when he dodged his tackle. Then he turned away, casually announcing to the room, "Hey Doc, this one's faking."
"Was?" Dr. Wily snarled, wheeling around furiously. "Unmöglich! He resisted my protocol-disruptor? But that means—"
"Thanks a lot," Rock growled at the red robot. He threw a punch towards the robot's face, but the red robot was faster and Rock missed his target. As he lost his balance, stumbling forward clumsily, the red robot's elbow struck Rock in the back, slamming him to the hard concrete floor.
"No, Rock!" Dr. Light gasped.
Roll seethed in anger. "Ugh, I'll stop you myself!" She took a running leap onto the red robot's turned back, catching him by surprise. Wrapping one arm around his neck in a chokehold, Roll began bashing her fist against his helmet. It was the same plan Rock had moments before. However, her attack did no more than merely irritate the red robot. He quickly broke her grip around his neck and threw her to the ground on top of Rock.
Two strong hands wrapped around their wrists, and they felt themselves being lifted from the floor by Guts Man.
"Take them back to my lab," Dr. Wily ordered.
"You let Rock and Roll go!" Dr. Light shouted, raising his fist angrily at the red robot. He was restrained by Ice Man, who acted without an order from Dr. Wily (it appeared Dr. Wily's protocol-disruptor did more than just force robots to obey him; it changed their very nature to become loyal servants).
Dr. Wily stepped next to the red robot, a jeer growing on his face. "Oh, I think not, Dr. Light. They will make a perfect addition to my collection of robots. And I wouldn't try anything, Dr. Light—if you do, Ice Man will freeze you. Show the doctor, Ice Man."
Ice Man let go of Dr. Light to demonstrate his Ice Slasher beam. He stretched out an arm, splaying his fingers and took aim at Rock's chemistry set. A gust of cold energy jutted forth from his palm, freezing the collection of beakers and test tubes solid.
"If you try to follow, let Cut Man show you what he'll do to you." Without missing a beat, Cut Man threw the shears from his head like a boomerang, cleaving the frozen chemistry set in two. Dr. Wily's message was clear. Without a word, the group of robots turned to leave through the hole in the wall, dragging Rock and Roll with them.
Despite the threats, Dr. Light followed them out, pleading. "No, not Rock and Roll! Please!"
But Dr. Wily just laughed insanely as they walked into the back of a large skull-shaped aircraft. He climbed in first towards the cockpit, the red robot sauntering in behind him without a second glance at Dr. Light. Finally the Robot Masters entered, shoving Rock and Roll inside with them. The door to the aircraft slid close behind them, and a strong gust of wind nearly blew Dr. Light off his feet as it took off from the ground, into the night.
And suddenly, they were gone.
To be continued...