Interlude: Downtime.

January 20X4.
Three weeks after the Blackout and the arrest of Mr. Black.

"I'm George Cochran, and I approve this message."

We see a campaign commercial with the tall former New York Governor narrating over scenes of his touring New York during the massive blackout which Dr. Wily created, leading up to the upcoming New York Presidential Primaries.

"Like all of you in the New York area, I spent several nights in the dark following the blackout that Dr. Wily created, and lived through the same plight as you. But, if you pick me to be the next President, I will take extra measures to stop these ongoing attacks by working with Dr. Light and Mega Man, like during my term as Governor.
But, I will also work to keep our children educated and make the United States scholastic system amongst the best in the world. And I will continue to ensure that the housing market will remain stable like it has for the past thirty years.
20X5 will be the dawn of a new era for New York and the United States. But, only if we can do it together."

Afterwards, the picture freezes on Cochran's chiseled and aged face as an announcer rapidly states, "Paid for by Cochran for President."

The commercial ends and we return to the Channel 7 studio, where Kirk Trujillo and Trish Falkenburg are seated at the desk.

"After recovering from life-saving surgery, John "Mr. Black" Barton was sentenced to One-hundred years in prison following a guilty plea earlier today. However, there is a chance the sentence could be reduced several years from now, but likely not during Agent Barton's life. According to the FBI, Barton will be serving his sentence at an undisclosed location in solitary confinement, under extreme guard," Trujillo reports.
"There were unconfirmed reports of other masked vigilantes being sighted in the New York area on the night Barton escaped police custody. The FBI and the New York Police says they are investigating."

A red graphic that reads "Breaking News" appears on the screen and Trish Falkenburg reports, "This just in from the Channel 7 newsroom. Several banks in United States are reporting that their account holder's assets have been wiped out via a hacking attack. Federal authorities are looking into the matter in the event that this was a plot by Dr. Albert Wily, who created a massive blackout earlier last month to breach the New York Federal Reserve. All banks who were hit by this new string of hacks are assuring that all users accounts will be insured and are apologizing for the incident.
We will keep you up to date on this ongoing news tomorrow morning on Channel 7 news at 5:00."

Dr. Light's lab.
Just outside New York City.

Operating the Land Blazer in the dead of night, ProtoMan returns home after spending time with his friend Nomad. Instead of taking the chance opening the loud garage door and waking somebody up, he leaves the Land Blazer outside and sneaks all the way around the lab building and to the back of the house beside the lab and jumps to his windowsill, which he left open just a little before leaving.
After he reaches his room, he opens the window and climbs inside.

Once inside his bedroom, Proto quietly approaches his door and looks outside, checking for any of his siblings or the little robots who may be lurking out here, but finds nobody.

"Whew! Another clean getaway," Proto whispers, relieved.

Proto walks over to his bed, but instead decides to rest on the floor for the time being. He thinks about how much longer he will be able to keep Nomad a secret, both from Dr. Wily and Dr. Light. He does not want to put her life in jeopardy, so he has to make sure that nobody knows about her for as long as possible.
Until he feels it is safe enough to allow his family to know about her, which will not be until Wily is in jail... or gone... Proto feels less worried keeping things the way they are.

He wishes he could contact Nomad from here to check on her, but the call would probably be traced on Dr. Light's tracking equipment inside the lab. All he can do is lie here and dream about his friend. It is the only thing he can do to trick himself into believing she was here, or that he was with her.

As Proto searches his memory core for all first-person archives of his times with Nomad, he tends to linger on the moments where the two of them were holding each other. The nights that she allowed herself to recharge in his arms, because he was there and would protect her at all costs.
Earlier tonight being one of those nights.

He replays those tender hours from tonight, remembering the warmth of her beside him as he drifts into recharge mode...

Hours later.

ProtoMan wakes up after a few hours of recharging, his room slightly luminated by the sunlight peeking through his closed curtains. He groans because he only had a partial recharge after coming home so late after being with Nomad.
It looks like another day where he makes up for lost sleep by chugging some energy.

"Why do they have to get up so damn early?" he complains, picking himself up and leaving to find the rest of his family, wherever they are...

As Proto fixes his scarf, he makes his way to the family room to find his brother Mega Man also up, not wearing his helmet and looks preoccupied.
"Hey, Bro. Standing on pins and needles again?"

Mega barely smiles, "Yeah, I guess."

"You're smiling. So, that means, you're not worried about you-know-who," Proto replies, referring to Wily. "So, it must be the girlfriend."

Mega pauses for a second, and shyly replies, "Yeah, it is. I talked to her last night. She says she'll be on break again next month, and she wants to see me."

The more gung-ho of the two brothers, Proto punches Mega's shoulder. "Aw right! Way to go, Rock!"

Mega becomes flustered and stammers, "Hang on. It's nothing like that, Proto."

"Okay. If you say so, bro," Proto teases.

"Kalinka and I just want to spend time together, preferably without plasma being shot around us, and without any unwanted attention," Mega explains.

"Okay... I can run interference for you two when you give the word," Proto jokes, elbowing his brother's arm.

Mega shakes his head, "Nevermind."

"Just jokin', Rock. Hey, at least you don't have a lunatic pining for you, like Roll does," ProtoMan says, insulting Bass. Then, he becomes serious, "But, seriously, Rock, I'm sure you two will have a great time... and I can keep the rest of the family off your back if you two are gonna..."

"We're not!" Mega insists.

"Okay. But, the offer is on the table. I'm lookin' out for you, bro," Proto says.

"If you ever find a girlfriend one day, I'll be sure to tease you," Mega replies.

As Mega makes his way to the lab, where the rest of his family awaits, Proto waits until his brother is no longer here, then retorts, "Already got one."

After he reaches the lab, Mega Man finds Dr. Light seated before his large monitors as he works on another new project, while Roll sits on the floor with Peekaboo, Rush, Eddie and Beat.
Mega has an idea about how he and Kalinka can spend time together and be safe at the same time. He does not know how his family is going to say, but he is going to try anyway.

Rush is the first to notice Mega Man, barking and racing to his side, running around him and nudging himself up against him. Dr. Light notices and briefly turns away from his work.

"Good morning, son," Dr. Light says, briefly nodding.

Peekaboo bleeps to Uncle Mega, and Roll calls, "Hi, Mega. I was wondering when you were gonna get up. It's not like you to sleep in."

"I actually got a call from Kalinka Cossack last night," Mega replies.

Roll giggles, "Oh, boy. Here we go," as Peekaboo looks confused by his Mommy's comment.

"How is Miss Cossack doing?" Thomas asks, not turning away from his work.

"She's great. She said she is on leave from college again in March, and-"

"When's she arriving?" Roll asks, knowing that when the daughter of Dr. Cossack is free, she will most likely fly to New York and be with Mega.

"That's what I wanted to discuss with you guys. I actually had an idea," Mega says, almost nervously. "You know that vacation I've always been talking about taking? I was thinking about finally doing it around the same time."

This causes Dr. Light to finally break away from his work and face his son. "That sounds like a swell idea, Rock. But, maybe you and Kalinka should discuss this with Dr. Cossack first. Any good parent would want to make sure their daughter is safe, even if she is with somebody as gifted as you."

"We all know what happened the last two times she came here," Roll says.

"I remember. But, I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen this time. Being the Defender of the Human Race has it's advantages. I can pull a few strings make sure we're not bothered. But, it wouldn't be the two of us alone. Maybe we could all go on vacation, somewhere away from here," Mega says.

Roll lights up, "Really? Where?"

"I don't know yet," Mega says.

"How 'bout Hawaii? Or Costa Rica? Or Puerto Rico?" Roll suggests, rattling off various tropical locations. "I could use some time away from the lab after all this fighting."

"How 'bout Florida?" chimes ProtoMan who enters, (trying to find a way to be closer to Nomad.)

Dr. Light strokes his heavy beard and considers his son's plan. "Now that you mention it, if a group of you were going away together, maybe it would not be so bad," he says, smiling.

"I'm sure Kalinka would love to see all of us again," Mega says. "I'll discuss it with her later."

"Well, as a scientist, my place is in my lab," Dr. Light says.

"But, don't you want to have some time away from here, Dr. Light?" Roll asks.

"Perhaps, one day, when things are back to normal. But, I should remain here and finish this project. I would regret if I were to forget anything at this point. Besides, you kids should have some time to yourselves," Dr. Light says, "As long as you are on your best behavior."

Mega Man, "Trust me, Dr. Light. We'll be-"

ProtoMan interrupts his brother, grabbing him by his shoulders as he appeals to Thomas. "Don't worry, guys. Rock here is a boy scout. He's not gonna misbehave or anything."

"I think he's more worried about you, Proto," Roll glazes.

"Now, why would you be worried about me?" Proto asks, folding his arms.

Roll looks down to Peekaboo. "Boo, cover your ears." And after Boo lowers his hardhat over himself, Roll snipes back at Proto, "You don't exactly have a good track record."

"Alright, kids," says Dr. Light, turning away from his project again, "We have plenty of time to make these plans. I will even see if my schedule is open in two months time."

"Great! I'll let you know after I talk to Kalinka again later," Mega says, looking like a ton was taken off his back.

Before ProtoMan can respond, he remembers something. If he does go away with his siblings, it will be difficult to slip out to see his friend Nomad if she calls to him.
Now he's gotten himself in a real bind. If he doesn't go, it could look suspicious, but, if he stays, it will be difficult to reach Nomad.

"How could I have been so stupid," he thinks to himself as he walks away.

FBI Headquarters.
Langley, Virginia.

Agent Paul Allen sits in his office, stationed near the "bullpen" or the central hub of headquarters. Even with Mr. Black locked away, the FBI's work never stops. Including a strange occurrence on the night Barton was almost killed involving The Conduit's Network.
A very troubling occurrence if there ever was one.

Allen's phone rings and he answers it immediately. "Status?"

Agent Cotto is on the other end. "We're in New York, about to throw the net."

"The warrants are official, therefore the operation is a go. Do what you have to do, but make sure our involvement does not disturb the flow of their duty. It would be problematic. We can't afford to let this one slip like Barton did," Allen answers.

"We'll find whoever is involved with the people Agent Barton worked with. My team knows how to handle the situation if anybody causes trouble," Cotto says. "I'll call back when we are in place."

"Wrap this up efficiently. We can't afford to bungle this like we did Barton, Agent," Allen says before cutting the call with Cotto.

New York Police Department.

A sunglasses-clad Agent Cotto is joined by several federal agents as they make their way to the central police station. They step through the front entrance and head inside, and as this large presence enters the station, several officers and Policebots notice and their stares follow.

Cotto and his entourage approach the station's front desk, and the agent removes his sunglasses from his face, then produces his badge.
"Agent Rahm Cotto, FBI. We need to speak with your top brass, including Chief Toombs, A.S.A.P." he says to the robo-receptionist.

"For what reason do you wish to see them, Agent?" the robo-receptionist politely asks.

"It's a matter of extreme importance. Classified," Cotto replies.

Later, Chief Toombs makes his way to a hearing room, and he looks very annoyed knowing that the feds are once again sticking their noses into police business. "Just when I just I didn't have ta' deal with these stooped FBI geeks, they come and hijack me station again," HE MUTTERS.

He immediately turns the corner and sees Agent Cotto, along with Captain Tallarico and the other high-ranking members of the police brass. He says, 'Okay, you've got us all here now, fellas. Now, what'cha need from us?"

"Take a seat, Chief. Please," Cotto requests.

The Police brass sits in a row, with Cheif Toombs on one side and Captain Tallarico on the opposite side of the five officers, looking perturbed.

"Three weeks ago, during the meeting in Manhattan between Dr. Albert Wily and Agent Barton's ex-associates, a call was sent to all available units to send police to the meeting place before Mega Man, ProtoMan and Agent Barton interjected themselves" Cotto states.
Sounding displeased, he continues, "Your involvement was something that Mega Man and my superiors rejected until the situation was under wraps."

"We'd received a call for help from them, accordin' to our logs," Toombs replies.

Cotto's face does not change as he motions to an FBI robot. The Robot plays audio from a data box in his hands, with the agent's own voice saying, "A pair of Albert Wily's shuttles have been spotted over the west side of New York, heading towards Manhattan."

The voice of Mega Man responded, "We just found out where the deal is taking place. I'm sending the coördinates now. This is where Wily will be too."

The voice of Mr. Black added, "Don't send back-up until Mega Man sends the signal. We can't afford to lose them."

Cotto motions for the robot to end the audio, and adds, "That was not a distress call. That was confirmation of the location of that meeting. And they specifically asked for no backup until requested.
And after investigating this for the past three weeks, we have concluded that the call to send backup was from somebody within the police," Cotto says.

Captain Tallarico suggests, "You're saying we have a mole in the department?"

Cotto replies, "Maybe, maybe not. It is possible whoever did this was just overzealous to help Mega Man apprehend Wily. But, until we learn who is responsible for this, all of your Officers and Policebots will be under strict surveillance, and that includes the five of you. We are going to look into phone records and personal affairs if we think anybody is involved."

"That's a mighty big invasion of privacy. That kind 'o surveillance went out about a decade ago, pal," Toombs says.

"This is not negotiable. We're dealing with a matter of protecting the American people - and the world - from a danger they don't even know. And all the documents and warrants are official, therefore it is a waste of time fighting this. If you wish to file a protest, I suggest you contact the Bureau. Don't make things difficult. Those who refuse to cooperate with our investigation will be prosecuted," Cotto warns.

"An' what're we supposed to do while you turn my entire department inside out?" Toombs asks.

Tallarico also argues, "We have a duty to protect and serve, you know! You can't just walk all over us!"

"Until this investigation is over, proceed as if it were business as usual. Your Officers will go about their daily lives and duties, but will occasionally be questioned by FBI agents," Cotto answers, "Also, the memory cores of all Policebots will be scanned for any instances of disobedience and glitches.
We will call you when you are needed."

Cotto leaves the Officers here and he and the FBI begin their rigorous search of the Police department and screening of every man, woman and robot here. And shortly thereafter, three of the Officers leave the area, shaking their heads in frustration, leaving only Tallarico and Toombs.
"Well, what a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into now," Tallarico says in frustration.

"You're not the only one that's being raked through the coals, Tali," Toombs replies.

"I'm not about to lose a twenty-five year career because somebody in this department dropped the ball," Tallarico hisses as she removes her Policewoman's hat from her head.

"Oi! I don't know what happened that night, but I'm lookin' to get to the bottom of it! The last thing I would do is put Mega Man is danger, no matter how much I want that cretin Wily in jail!" Toombs barks.

"I don't know if you've noticed, Montgomery, but everybody is getting tired of living with terror attacks happening ever few weeks! You want this war over more than anybody, except Mega Man," Tallarico says.

"An' you think I would put me robot pal's life in danger just so I can end the war?" Toombs speculates.

"Sooner or later, people get desperate. Look at Mr. Black and the people he worked for. Dr. Light and Henry were desperate to end the war, and then they made Gamma. How desperate are you?" Tallarico says before she leaves.

Toombs sighs and reaches into his pants pocket, getting his flask of Scotch and taking a sip. "Aye, if I don't lose all me hair before this war's finished, it'll be a miracle."

Skull Fortress.

"I'm Wade Kramer, and I approve this message," says a voice on the monitors inside of the command center.

We see a Caucasian male with thinning hair, a modest build in a darkened room holding a flashlight, looking at the camera, speaking to the viewers. This gentleman is Congressman Wade Kramer, a candidate for the 20X4 Presidential elections, running on the opposite end of the ticket as Ex-Governor Cochran is.

"This should be a familiar sight to those watching this. These were the conditions you were forced to live in thanks to Dr. Albert Wily.
But, if you vote for me in the New York Presidential Primary, I promise I will work to ensure that this never happens again.
And I will ensure that Dr. Wily will be a factor no more. His kind of evil will never be allowed to walk the earth, we will live in peace again..."

The lights in the studio are turned on, removing the darkness as Kramer concludes with a smile only a politician could flash, "And most importantly, you won't have to sit in the dark if I have anything to say about it."

"Paid for by the Kramer 20X4 campaign," states an announcer.

The snickering of Dr. Wily echoes through the command center after he shuts the monitors off. "I doubt it, Mr. Kramer. And if you win, I look forward to making an even bigger ignoramus of you than you are now!"

As he continues to laugh, Dr. Wily counts the money that his robots took from the banks late last night, plotting out his next plan. After every handful of bills are counted and placed into a stack, Dr. Wily's eyes catch the sight of the one shard of the Jadous Sphere that he recovered from the foiled deal with the mysterious Conduit.
The shard is now encased in a transparent aluminum glass container, and can only be accessed by Dr. Wily.

Dr. Wily stops and stares and the sphere, wondering if Bass is right and this shard truly does wield unheard-of power.

Albert's eyes narrow and mentally, he considers using the shard as a part of his new plan. And he can feel that whisper in his head gnawing at him to wield it.
But, he decides to wait until later... but, is not opposed to utilizing it in the close future. He still has a troubling feeling about Bass and his loyalty, therefore he still wants to have something to use against Bass if he becomes a problem again.

Once Dr. Wily is finished counting the money, he contacts Bright Man. "The money is all here. I trust you closed our offshore account?"

"Dark Man did it. We're lucky we didn't get caught, because their security systems were scanning him for a while."

Albert rubs his cleft chin. "Then, we will have to make the next robbery count and think of a new way to gain the funds for my next robot!"

"How can we keep stealing money, Dr. Wily? It's getting to tough for us to rob banks."

Wily shouts, "I am the genius! I will find a way to get more money one way or another! Nothing will get between me and the completion of this robot! Just do what I say and stop complaining!"

Dr. Wily throws his hand communicator away and stacks his money when Bass arrives. "You wanted me to report to you about the plan. What is it?"

Trying to shrug of the chaffing remarks from Bass, Wily answers, "We need to heist one more bank, preferably in California, and I want to do this to be a two-pronged attack.
If we cannot hack them, then the Robot Masters go on a full-on attack and strip it of every cent. But, in order to do that, we must get Mega Man away from us. Far enough to make sure he would never reach us in time.
In order to do that, we need to create a distraction he cannot possibly ignore. And for that, I will need to spend this money to make a new Robot Master... a kind of Robot Master Mega Man has not yet dealt with."

"And that kind is?" Bass asks.

Wily smiles, "A Robot with a feminine touch."

Albert snatches a paper with a robot design from the console and hands it to Bass. This Robot Master is designed like a female. Almost Mermaid-like in that she has no legs, but includes a mermaid's fin from her waist down.

"I attempted to build a female robot as a member of The Killers, but... she did not survive," Wily states, still thinking Nomad is gone. "But, this robot is more advanced. She will have a staff that fires plasma from a crest ornament on the front end. And the best part is, she will have a program that can alter the thought process of most robots she is around, making them enthralled with her!
Of course, I need to test it first. But, I think it work according to my plans."

Bass sneers as he states her name, "Splash Woman?"

"Yes. It was the first word to come to mind," Dr. Wily says, snickering.

Bass is not impressed with Dr. Wily's new robot, and the plan. "You are wasting your time building another robot. Just send me after Mega Man, and he will be dead. I will find ProtoMan and return him here, and Thomas Light will be your prisoner."

Dr. Wily's faces becomes etched with a sneer. "Are you questioning my plans?"

"As long as Mega Man continues to walk the planet, he is a threat. We need to take him out now!" Bass argues with the mad man.

"I will decide when it is time for you to destroy Mega Man! For now, I need more money to create the robot who will win this war!" Wily responds swiftly.

"You truly think this ultimate robot will be the greatest ever made. Have you forgotten my abilities?" Bass states.

Dr. Wily remains silent as he faces his pile of money once again. "Your success rate against Mega Man is no better than ProtoMan's. No better than any other creation, nor any other Robot Master. I made you to be the most powerful robot in the world-"

"And I am!" Bass snarls, balling his fists.

"No" Wily snaps, spinning to Bass. "Mega Man is! I hate him, but he is the most powerful."

Bass approaches Dr. Wily, staring into his eyes. "You need to let me handle him my way! Treble and I can attack their home, and all their defences will not be able to stop me. Neither will the police. Just let me loose and I will bring you Mega Man's head!"

"You may have the chance. But, first," Dr. Wily says, "I want you to prove how loyal you are to me during the next operation. When the time to heist the bank comes, we will lure Mega Man away, too far for his miracle dog to jet him back. And you will be there to witness the battle... but, you will not destroy him."

"What?!" Bass barks in shock and anger.

"You need to put my best interests at the forefront of your mind, and that is to do what is best to win the world. I will leave the task of destroying Mega Man to Splash Woman!"

"I came back to destroy Mega Man!" Bass claims, not telling Wily that the real reason he came back was to get more power. "What purpose do I serve without that?"

"You will still be my top enforcer with Mega Man out of the way," Wily answers. "Sure, my next robot will outrank you, as would Splash Woman should she destroy Mega Man. But, you can still have the chance to kill Mega Man... after you prove yourself."

"And, how do I prove myself to you?" Bass asks, growing angry.

"Do what you're told. Don't defy me, ever. And perhaps I will give you one more chance," Wily replies.

"One?" Bass asks. "I don't need you to kill Mega Man. I'm going to kill him with or without you. I think it would be best for your sake if I were in your army when I finish the job."

"You don't want our relationship to end, Bass. I am not some helpless old man as you think I am... not as long as I have that," Wily warns, gesturing to the case containing the Jadous Sphere shard.

Instead of challenging Wily back, Bass calms down, well aware of the power the shard wields. "Fine. I'll play along for this next mission. But, when your Robot Masters fail at destroying Mega Man, I expect another chance!"

Bass turns and leaves, and Dr. Wily grins. With the mere threat of the shard, it kept Bass in line, and he now has control over him. He glances at the shard, only wondering how strong it really is if it can change Bass' mind.

Wily contacts GutsMan and Cut Man in the fortress. "GutsMan! Cut Man! I need you to fill Underground Level C with water."

"Does that mean we're finally making a swimming pool? I know Wave Man and Bubble Man will like it," Cut Man chimes in.

"But, I can't swim like you other Robot Masters can!" GutsMan bemoans.

"The water is not for you to swim in!" Dr. Wily yells, "It is a training ground. Training for our newest member of the army. See to your task immediately. I do not want her waiting."

Dr. Wily grabs the plans for Splash Woman and begins to laugh. "We're going to a launch one phase of my next plan near the water. Hawaii sounds nice. And we're not looking for any Makuhuna Comet this time!"

Author's Notes:

I am sorry for the delay. I was on writing vacation and I could get motivated soon enough.
Episode 13 will debut in February, and while it is not dark like the other episodes, it will make a Splash... Woman. I am nervous, because it is Episode 13... if only I could skip to episode 14 for superstition's sake, I would. But, you would ask what happened to Episode 13. :P
So, get ready for more Mega/Kalinka, Proto/Nomad, Splash Woman, more Conduit intrigue, and an episode in Hawaii without Lion Men.

Even in the future, bank accounts are easily hacked. If only Dr. Wily existed, we could blame the Target breach on his dirty deeds.

Please don't forget to leave a review of comment. And if you catch any typos or continuity errors so bad that it would make rain pause in mid-air from the shock of how bad the error is, please DM me right away.