-ERROR: PROTOTYPE DLN-000 HAS SUSTAINED CRITICAL DAMAGE. Time offline: 2days18minutes.

-SOLAR ENERGY CORE MALFUNCTIONING.

-USAGE IMPAIRED: prgrm - LIMBS (R), (L).

-USAGE IMPAIRED: prgrm - TORSO.

-UNUSABLE: prgrm - EYES.

-SUSTAINED: MEMORY UNIT.-REBOOT SYSTEM?

-YES

-NO

Dr. Albert Wily gazed at the flickering blue screen, currently the only source of light in the cramped "surgery room". The mangled remains of Protoman lay on the steel lab table in the middle of it all. A line of robots stood against the wall – unmoving, but watching Dr. Wily's moves carefully and awaiting orders.

"Replace his energy core with the nuclear one," Wily ordered. "Then reboot his systems and alert me when he is ready to be awaken." The robots began to move at once.

Wily left the room without another word. Protoman's funeral was to be held today and he figured it'd be wise to make sure they didn't get any more thoughts about fighting against the asphyxiating control of the robots. Protoman's failure probably quelled any fire of hope they had, but emotions could run high and someone could end up pulling some stupid attack in a fit of grief-driven rage.

Wily was almost hoping that they would. An attempt at rebellion meant he got to snuff it out. And with every failed attempt at rebellion, the city fell further and further into his grasp…


Protoman screamed in pain as a metallic boot stomped down onto his arm, shattering the synthetic flesh, wires, and implanted chips there. Thick oil poured out of the ruined appendage, staining the cement underneath him.

One of the robots grabbed him by the neck and hoisted him up, slamming him up against the nearby wall. He had taken down several of his enemies, but they just kept coming in a never-ending horde.

And finally, Protoman's body could not handle the pain any longer.

And when he finally reached that point, the pain still did not cease. They kept beating him, kept taunting him, until he could barely stand on his own two feet. He was long out of ammo, but he still held onto his fighting resolve, the reason he came here in the first place.

"I must save them," he thought to himself. The crowd of people, terrified and elated, stood on the streets. They were depending on him. They needed him. But he couldn't—

"Please," he whispered, looking at them. "Don't let me die." Surely if they offered their assistance…

Wily stood above the countless robots remaining, and made one, small gesture with his hands.

The robots knew the meaning.

This was it.

The final attack.

The death of Protoman.

"PLEASE!" Protoman screamed. "HELP ME!" One of the robots stepped forward—and with one, smooth gestured, stabbed Protoman's chest, puncturing the energy core protected under a layer of steel.

A plethora of "CRITICAL ERROR" warnings flashed over Protoman's eyes, and before his systems shut down, he heard the collective gasp from the crowd, and the wailing of one woman that soon overtook the entire crowd:

"WE ARE THE DEAD."


"All systems are online," Wily murmured to himself. He tapped a button on a small remote he held to start up Protoman, and soon after his robotic body began buzzing with newfound energy. Protoman had been almost completely restored to his former glory—even with a few improvements made. Now, he was moments away from reawakening. He was still on the table in the surgery room, with restraints placed on his arms and legs. A few extra precautions had been made as well: Wily had not fixed Protoman's eyes or his arm cannon.

"Are you awake?" Wily asked, after a few moments. He did not turn to face Proto.

The answer came back hesitantly. "Yes."

"Then hello. I am Dr. Albert Wily. Can you tell me who you are?"

"I am DLN-000, informally known as Protoman. I am the defender of mankind and the son of Dr. Light."

"Son?" Wily chuckled lightly. "Thomas almost did build his robots a bit too…human. Tell me Protoman, what's the last thing you remember? Before you woke up here?"

"I was shut down," Proto answered. Wily smirked as he heard the sound of Proto pulling against his bonds. "Why can I not see?" he asked suddenly. "How do I know that you are actually Dr. Wily?"

"Protoman," Dr. Wily said, ignoring his question. "What can you tell me about Dr. Light?"

"Dr. Light is my father," Protoman answered. "He built me to fight for mankind. To fight and destroy the robots oppressing the city. He is a brilliant scientist and a true hero of mankind." Again, he asked: "Why am I unable to see?"

"A hero?" Wily echoed. "Really. A hero. Are these the opinions he's programmed into you, Protoman?"

"My programming enables me to gather information and make a logical conclusion. Everything I say is true. Dr. Light has fought for this city, and against you, if you truly are who you say you are."

"So why would a hero send his son to fight for him?"

"Dr. Light built me to do what humans cannot. I am stronger. Faster. Smarter. I protect those who are unable to protect themselves."

Dr. Wily was silent for a moment. "You said you assess facts and make conclusions, then?"

"Yes."

"Are you capable of forming opinions? Biases?"

Protoman frowned. "Yes. But such thinking is…illogical. And unnecessary."

"Interesting." Wily stood up and walked towards the door. He placed his hand against the scanner and the double doors slid open. "We will talk soon, Protoman."

The doors closed and Wily's footsteps faded beyond the corridor. The blue screen from the computer in the room eventually faded away as the computer set itself to sleep.

Protoman, unable to put his systems to rest and left completely immobile, passed the time by thinking of his father.


The next day, Wily shut down Protoman's systems early in the morning and finally took a good look at Protoman's damaged eyes. Actually, 'damaged' was far too light of a word. They were completely ruined. One eye was completely scorched by fire, and both eyes had pieces of dark glass in them from when the vizor of Protoman's helmet had been smashed. The nerve chips implanted must have been smashed or finally just overloaded and stopped working. There was no way that Protoman could have had that conversation with Wily yesterday if they were still working. He would have been screaming the entire time.

"Alright," Wily said, turning to address the robot behind him. "Repair his eyes to 100% capacity. I'll be back in a few hours."

When he had returned, Protoman's eyes were darting all over the room, examining every detail that he could take in. His emotions were much easier to read with his eyes restored; he looked like a cornered animal.

"Hello, Protoman," Dr. Wily greeted, leaning over the table Proto was restrained on. "Do you believe me now? I am who I say I am?"

Protoman nodded weakly. It would be hard to forget the face of the man who ordered his death.

Dr. Wily grinned a terrible grin. "Good." Wily began pacing the room casually. "Protoman, let me tell you a little story. Does the name 'Joe' mean anything to you?"

"Yes. Joe was a friend of my father's. He and my father tried to stop you, but you killed Joe."

"Goodness," Dr. Wily laughed. "Thomas wasted no time engraving his opinions into your head, did he? Yes, I suppose it is my fault Joe is dead. But why did Joe die, and not Thomas?"

"Joe was the one in the control tower. Planting the bomb."

"Correct. Even then, Thomas sent another to do his work. He sacrificed Joe, and then he sacrificed you."

"He did not sacrifice anyone," Proto retorted, angrily. "He did not wish for either of us to die. We were not supposed to. And how can you berate my father for sacrificing us, when you are the one who killed us both, you selfish bastard?!"

Wordlessly, Wily walked over to the computer screen next to Proto's table and touched various parts of the screen while Proto watched in confusion. Suddenly, the nerve cells in his entire body spiked up to the max pain it could stimulate. Proto's body convulsed and he screamed in pain during the few, agonizing seconds Wily kept up the torture. Then, finally, Wily pressed another button, and the pain ceased.

"You will address me with respect, Protoman," Wily whispered. "I brought you back to life, and you're being awfully rude to me."

"Go to hell," Protoman hissed.

"Not broken yet, hm?" Wily asked, smiling. "That's understandable. Thomas was the one who made you, after all, and he's been rather hard to discourage." Wily sighed and stood up. "Goodnight, Protoman."

Again, Wily left without letting Protoman's systems rest.

He did not return for the next three days.

Protoman passed time by memorizing the patterns in the ceiling above him.


By the time Wily returned, Proto was running low on energy. He was weary and, much to his own shame, he felt afraid. The pain Wily was able to inflict on him with just the touch of a button had been excruciating. As the pain shook through his body he kept seeing himself back on the grounds in front of Wily's lair, his arms tied behind him as steel fists pummeled his body. When Wily finally returned, Proto barely had the energy or the will to turn and look at him.

"How are you doing today, Protoman?" Wily asked, almost cordially.

Protoman closed his eyes. "I am fine."

"I was thinking about our chat a few days ago," Wily remarked, casually walking around the room. "You said some rather harsh things, Protoman. But I'm interested in what caused that reaction. You told me that you gather information and make the logical, factual conclusion. Correct?"

"Correct."

"But your anger towards me…well, it was just that. Anger. I'm eliciting emotional response from you, Protoman. Even though you've said yourself that thinking with your emotions is pointless."

Protoman remained silent.

Wily gave Protoman a curious look, a dark smile playing on his lips. "Do you hate me, Protoman?"

"Yes," Protoman croaked.

"Good. You should. What about your father? Do you feel anything for him?"

Protoman looked at Wily. "I know he is a better scientist than you. A better man."

"That's not what I asked. Do you feel anything when you think about your father?"

"What is the point of these questions?" Protoman asked in return. "Why do you toy with me? Why did you repair me, instead of letting me remain destroyed?"

"Answer the question, Protoman," Wily said softly. "I'd hate to have a repeat of what happened last time we talked."

Protoman flinched involuntarily. He tried to picture Dr. Light in his mind, something that had become more and more difficult as time went on. Picturing Dr. Light's quiet smile, his kind eyes and remembering his hope for Protoman, his hope for the future of mankind…a choked noise escaped from Protoman's mouth, as if he was in physical pain.

"My father loved me."

"And you…?"

"I miss him," Protoman whispered.

"A robot capable of hate and love," Wily murmured, standing up. "How interesting. A capability that I don't often add to my robots, personally. Emotions can be a far too tricky thing to try and handle. Still…hate can be a powerful weapon. It's what drove your father to stop me." Wily chuckled. "Try and stop me, I suppose. But Protoman, how about your decision to try and fight for mankind? Did you make that choice?"

"I did."

"Was that a decision based on…emotional or factual reasoning?"

Protoman hesitated.

Wily leaned forward. "Well?"

"Factual," Protoman answered, after a moment. "These people were being oppressed by you and the robots. They deserve their freedom."

"It's a fact that they deserve freedom?"

Protoman frowned. He appeared confused. "All people deserve freedom."

"Ah." Wily grinned, and then laughed. "What an interesting sentiment, Protoman. No doubt one that has been programmed into you by the good doctor. Why do people deserve freedom, Protoman? Actually, why do they deserve life?"

Protoman seemed visibly worried. "Every human being is entitled to freedom and life. It is a basic human right."

"So you, not being human, do not deserve those things?"

"I…no, I deserve those things."

"You deserve freedom? Tell me Protoman, did Thomas ever ask you if you wanted to fight me?"

"It was my decision," Protoman insisted.

"Was it, Protoman? Or was it something you were programmed to do? You were made to fight me, Protoman. That was your only reason for existence."

"NO!" Protoman shouted. "My father loved me. He created me and treated me as a son."

"I'm not saying he didn't," Wily replied smoothly. "But his intent was to destroy me. That's why he created you. And while he may love you, these people you fought for do not. They didn't love you; they needed you. They just wanted to use you. You're a tool, Protoman. That's what you were made to be, and that's what they used you for."

"No…" Protoman struggled against his bonds. "No. My existence was necessary. I was supposed to be the hero of mankind. I was supposed to…" Protoman felt tears gather in his eyes.

"Oh dear," Wily sighed, shaking his head. "Still thinking by your emotions…get some sleep, Protoman," Wily said, shutting off Protoman's systems via the computer in the room. "We'll talk later."


When Protoman's systems started up next, he was surprised to find himself in a different room than usual. This room was a small, round area, as if it were a hollowed out from in a cave. He was still restrained, but he was sitting upright in a chair that faced a window overlooking a busy part of the street.

"Look, Protoman," Wily's voice said from behind him. "Interesting, isn't it? How quickly they return to their normal life."

People were moving up and down, entering and exiting buildings, and stopping to chat with each other on corners. With the robots doing most of the work, people's daily activities were limited to mindless consumerism or hitting up the bars. Some people loitered in front of apartments, smoking and passing around bottles of various spirits, but usually the robots broke up those crowds.

Wily's voice sounded gleeful. "Guess, Protoman. Guess how long it's been since your death." Protoman remained silent, but Wily didn't seem to mind. "A week and three days. Look at the legacy you've left behind." Wily laughed nastily.

"They are unable to start a rebellion by themselves," Protoman said darkly. "And you have no idea of what thoughts are in their minds."

"Hm. Want to hear something interesting, Protoman? My robots are not indestructible. Shocker, huh? In fact, human hands are perfectly capable of taking down a robot. They probably would need a machine to assist, but still…the proof is in your father."

"My father?"

"He and Joe took down one of my robots when they first met. Really, one good stab with a knife and that did the trick. Honestly, these people could probably put an end to all this if they actually tried. But they won't."

"You aren't making any sense," Protoman said, but he knew he was lying.

Dr. Wily made a grand gesture with his arms—a pointless thing to do, considering Proto was in front of him and could not see it "Protoman, this city, these people…they don't want things to change. They don't want to stop this. For one thing: they don't have to do anything anymore. Sure, a few of them might die for my own petty reasons and I make all the decisions of what happens here, but…take a look around. People don't have to work anymore. They just shop and talk and cry a bit when someone dies by a robot's hand.

"But the other reason is…fighting back would require work. It'd require sacrifice. It'd require that some of them die for a cause. But no, it's much easier for them to place their hopes in heroes like you…that way, when you fall, it's so easy for them to convince themselves that they tried, that they tried to fight against the bonds of tyranny. And if their exalted hero fails, then they can convince themselves that there really is no hope, and no reason for them to try anything themselves.

"There are no heroes left in man," Wily said. "The last one died when he fell from my control tower."

"They are not ready," Protoman whispered. "Mankind will fight again."

"WHEN?!" Wily roared. "It's been years, Protoman. These disgusting people claim that they want freedom, when they do nothing to try and achieve it! They stand for nothing, Protoman. They are empty and when they place their hope in you, the only thing they're hoping for is a martyr. Someone to weep for when you disappear until the new hero comes around." He barked a laugh. "It's always someone else's problem, isn't it? They will do nothing to save themselves, why should you try to?"

"What you are doing is wrong!" Protoman cried. "You killed Emily, you killed Joe, and you made my father an exile!"

"Emily…" Wily whispered, shaking his head. Thomas's beautiful young lover. Wily's greed and lust had led him into that bedroom that night, to try and convince her to choose him instead. And in his anger at her rejection, she was killed at his hands. Well, not his. His robot's hands, more precisely. Nonetheless, if there was any death he regretted, it was hers. Wily shook his head to clear his thoughts. "I won't argue with you, Protoman. What I'm doing is wrong. But Protoman…

"What's the point? What's the point of fighting for a people that won't stand for themselves?" Wily walked closer and closer to where Protoman was sitting. "What's the point of giving your life for a people that will forget about you in a few weeks' time? You were a hero, Protoman, but they tossed you aside—"

"No," Protoman said, shaking his head.

"They forgot about you—"

"No."

"Protoman, they watched you die," Wily's voice was almost sympathetic. If there was one thing Wily knew how to do, it was manipulate emotions. "You screamed for their help and they turned their backs on you. They don't care about you. To them, you were just a tool to be used. Something to make themselves feel better. Do you remember that pain, Protoman? The blade going through your chest? They let that happen to you. They stood by and watched as you were beaten and begging for someone, anyone, to alleviate your pain."

"So why save me?" Protoman whispered. There was something different in his voice. Something hollow. "Why allow me to live?"

Wily shrugged. "I don't like to waste resources. You could come in handy. And in exchange…" Wily's smile was predatory. "Those people watched you die. How would you like to repay the favor?"

Protoman was still.

Wily chuckled and undid the bonds on Protoman's arms. Somehow this made Protoman even more unnerved than when he had them on.

"What are you doing?" Proto asked suspiciously.

"Call it a show of good faith."

"I will never serve you," Proto growled. "People make mistakes. I have no desire to exact revenge against them, and I never will."

Wily shrugged and left the room. "We'll see about that," he said lowly.


There was no way to escape the lair, Wily had made sure of that, but Protoman was free to wander the entire building. Some of Wily's robots—the strongest ones, the ones that had defeated him—even tried starting conversations with him. Protoman would clench his teeth, keep his head down, and walk right pass them wordlessly.

At nighttime, he would sit in front of whatever window was closest and scan the rooftops, searching for the familiarity of Dr. Light's run-down tenement. The buildings seemed to blend together for him into one dark gray mess. After a few minutes of searching he would end up turning away and staring at the blank walls surrounding him.

Days passed. Wily seemed to be avoiding Protoman entirely. Proto had to wonder what Wily was expecting to happen. Was he expecting Proto to change his mind about working for him suddenly?

It was almost as if Wily was waiting for something. But what?

The answer came one day when Proto walked into a room that was basically empty, aside from a wall lined with television screens. There was a chair in front of the screens and a solitary CD placed on the seat of the chair. Protoman felt a small pang of worry when he saw his name scribbled on the CD's top. Was this something Wily had meant for him to find?

Protoman picked up the CD and noticed a slot to stick it in on the same wall. He hesitated for a moment, and then put the CD in. Instantly, one of the screens flickered onto life. The footage was blurry—something shot off of the streets. It was clear that the man and the woman being filmed were not aware that they were on camera. But the sound was disturbingly clear. With the speakers placed in the room, it sounded to Protoman that they were in the room with him.

"I've been thinking," the woman said.

"Yeah?" the man replied. "About what?"

"About what Protoman tried to accomplish. I'm beginning to think…it wasn't such a good idea after all. I mean, look what happened to him. He was ripped to pieces. Can you imagine what would happen to us?"

"It was a stupid idea," the man agreed, sounding aggravated. "What was the point? We got our hopes up for nothing. A hero who couldn't even save himself."

Protoman took a step backwards, his eyes widening. The TV screen flickered off, but in the same instant, a different one turned on. A new scene with different people.

"This is what happens when someone tries to play the hero, Cillian. Proclaiming himself as the hero of mankind...what can you expect from some robot that expects us to treat him like he's our fucking savior? There's no escaping this hellhole."

A new screen.

"We're praying for a solution that never comes! Look, there's no way out of this, so we might as well accept it, alright? A lot less people will die that way."

It was like a mob was surrounding him and slowly advancing, closing him in. The scenes came in rapid succession.

"They took him yesterday. Joshua. Just dragged him off, kicking and screaming. What? He spoke at Protoman's funeral; I think that's why. Christ, Nick, don't give me that. What was I supposed to do? They would've killed me too. Shut up—I said, SHUT UP. You would've done the same goddamned thing."

Flick.

"Look, look, listen to me…is it really that bad? No more deaths in the mines, we got robots doing our work for us…and just one guy makin' the decisions. Look, I know the idea of following Protoman and his whole 'fight for freedom' thing was a really intoxicating idea at the time…but that's just too damned idealistic, alright? We need to be more realistic. And more grateful for what we have. That we're not the ones being killed…"

Flick.

"They stopped me today, Carmen. Asked if I was part of the crowd that had watched Protoman's…fight. I told 'em no. What? I had to lie! They probably would've killed me! They were there at the funeral…watching. I told them I was just there too pay my respects to a…misguided extremist. Yeah, that's the words I used. What? You're saying that sounds too smart for me? Go to hell, Carmen."

It didn't seem to end. How much footage had Wily put together? Eventually, Proto couldn't take it anymore. He had no energy to fire his arm cannon, but he still had strength far above that of a normal human. He hurled the chair at the wall of screens, crashing a good deal of them. As the smoke and sparks died down, Protoman finally realized he was screaming. He screamed until his throat was hoarse, and then he fell onto his knees, sobbing.

Wily entered the room. His timing was impeccable.

He seemed triumphant.

"Want to hear the kicker, Protoman? The crazy thing? All of that—and trust me, there was a lot more footage—was gathered in the span of three days. I just had to spend some time perfecting the sound to make my presentation truly memorable."

"Go away," Protoman gasped. "Stay the hell away from me."

"Not yet," Wily said, gleefully, "there's one thing I want you to do me. One little thing. And if I'm wrong about this, I'll let you go. Straight back to Dr. Light."

That caught Proto's attention. His father? He was relieved that there were no clips of his father on Wily's video. His father was still good. His father still loved.

"Here's what I want you to do…"


Wily had given Protoman a brand new helmet, with a vizor that rendered him unrecognizable to the people of the city. His outfit was new and tailored so he would appear to just be another one of Wily's patrol bots.

It seemed like it had been years since Protoman had walked outside. The experience didn't give him any sense of freedom: not with the task he was given and the beeping tracker chip implanted somewhere in his shoulder, a constant reminder of Wily's control over him. Proto walked through the streets of the city feeling terrified of what he was about to do. And that he might succeed.

Nobody who saw him paid him much attention. He was just another robot, after all.

In fact, nobody paid him any attention, up until the moment he charged his blaster and pointed it at a random man in the street.

"You," Protoman said, quietly. "Come with me."

The intent was clear. After all, Protoman had a charged gun pointed at the man's face. Proto had chosen his victim at random, but now he was able to get a good look at him: the brunet man was about twenty-four, well-dressed and traveling with a female friend of the same age. Now, his skin had gotten clammy and the tremors in his body were evident.

"I didn't do anything," the man whispered, his blue eyes widening.

"I know. Come with me," Protoman repeated hollowly. His voice was loud enough to carry across the street, which had fallen dead silent. The man's eyes widened by this, by the revelation that he was being killed for nothing. He figured he might be able to reason his way out, even if arguing was futile.

"Sarah," the man pleaded, looking at his bewildered friend. "Help me out; tell him not to do this." The man was too scared to look at Protoman, but his voice was addressing him. "She's my sister. She knows I'm a good man." Protoman looked at the man's bewildered sister questioningly.

"I—I don't know him," the lady stammered, and hastily walked away.

"SARAH!" the man shouted, close to tears, but he was too terrified to move after her. Protoman surveyed the streets. Nobody looked at the scene with any concern, rather, people turned their backs and beat a hasty retreat. In fact, in about a minute, that street was practically deserted. Nobody begged for Protoman to stop. Nobody called for the justice of an innocent man. They did nothing.

Proto led the distressed man to a dark alley. The man had begun to cry and speak about his family, trying to reason with Protoman…Proto tried to tune him out.

"If one man tells you to stop…" Wily had said. "If one man tries to stand up for him…then you can go back to Dr. Light. If not…" All Proto seemed to be able to hear was Wily's voice. "Well…then I guess I've made my point, haven't I?"

Protoman leveled his blaster at the man, who had finally become silent.

And he shot without hesitation.


Years passed. The city seemed to remain stagnant to Protoman: the buildings and the people remained utterly the same. The days blurred together. Nothing mattered anymore to him. And why should it? Nobody spoke out when he killed. Everybody remained comfortable and complacent in their lives under Wily. They turned their backs anytime one of their own was killed, but sobbing to each other, they called for the destruction of the robots in the supposed safety of their homes. It remained like that for years.

Until he showed up.

The robot dressed in blue. He stormed up the streets with damn near half the city following him, defiantly screaming the mantra of the robots that patrolled the cities day and night:

"WE! HAVE! CON-TROL! WE! KEEP! YOU! SAFE! WE! ARE! YOUR! HOPE! WE! ARE! IN! CON-TROL!"

"Well, Protoman," Wily whispered. It seems you have a little brother."

Brother? Protoman knew the definition of the word, but he had no idea how a word like that could ever apply to him.

Wily laughed. "Don't you recognize Thomas's handiwork? Oh, he tried to keep it hidden from me…but he built it with his own hands. Not too long after you died, actually."

"You knew I had a…brother?"

"Yes, but I didn't think it was something…worth bothering you over. Now, this is a different matter. I didn't think Thomas would be so eager to send a son to fight me again." Wily's dark eyes flashed with steel. "Then again, maybe he doesn't place as much value on you as you think…"

"Shut up," Proto whispered. If there was one thing Wily was unable of convincing Proto, it was convincing him that Dr. Light didn't actually love him.

"Well then," Wily remarked. "Shall we go down and greet your baby brother? I'm sure he'll be delighted to see you. The hero of the city, come back from the dead. It will be a reunion like no other."

"You want me to kill him," Protoman said.

"I want you to stop him," Wily replied. "From there?" A smile. "We'll see."

Protoman tore through rows of the robots—Wily's robots—to get a good look at his brother. He was only able to look at his brother's face for a moment before he had to look away. And his father…he heard his voice, only briefly, and then saw his father turn and walk away from the crowd. A part of Protoman wanted to call out to him, but somehow the emptiness inside of him kept that desire repressed.

Mega's face was so…innocent. So much like Protoman's had been. His brother's face was younger, the skin paler, they blue eyes brighter, and the brown hair lighter. Megaman had looked…astonished, Protoman supposed, was the word. His arm cannon, still smoking, fell to his side. He had no wish to fight his older brother.

Again, Protoman tried to goad the crowd into fighting against him and standing up for themselves, but they just stood and watched. It was something Protoman had expected and yet so desperately desired not to happen. They would never change, Protoman decided. And yet his brother seemed so sure that they could be saved.

The brothers screamed at each other—Mega trying to call off the fight, and Proto going and forth between damning the crowd and trying to convince Mega to stop fighting for them.

And then the crowd starting calling for Protoman's blood.

He had been the savior of mankind.

And now they wanted him dead.

Proto slowly lifted his arm cannon and pointed at Mega. Tears running down his face, Megaman did the same. The cannons were charging to their maximum power. One good shot would completely dismantle their opponent.

And then what? Protoman wondered. Wily will repair him and he'll go through the same torture I did? He will become as I am? Hated and hateful and empty inside?

Mega was so full of hope. And he had come this far. Maybe one good hero really could…maybe Mega was the one. Maybe saving mankind had never been part of Protoman's destiny.

But they didn't deserve to be saved, Proto thought. These people, these disgusting people who call for blood and shed false tears when their heroes die…

But maybe in time…

In years to come…

There are good people, Proto thought. Or there were. Joe and Emily and…my father. Maybe all it takes is someone like Mega. My brother. To show them what freedom really means.

The charge was full, and Mega's was too. Proto had a perfect shot, but at the last second, he shot a few inches left. Far enough to nearly bypass Mega completely.

Goodbye, my brother.

And when the shot came for Protoman, he awaited it with outstretched arms, as if he were embracing an old friend.

(A.N.) Y'know, if you want to get rid of any semblance of drama this story has, just read all of Protoman's lines in his voice from the cartoon. No, really. I started doing that and now that's the only voice I can hear when reading this, and now you must share my pain. ("HA! I kneeew you'd risk yourself for Mr. Lincoln.")

Anyway, yeah! I love The Protomen and this is my attempt at paying tribute to their awesomeness. I always wondered how Proto deteriorated into a cynical shell of his former self, and "Wily re-programed him" seemed like too logical/boring of an answer. Hopefully this is good and readable and whatnot. If you care to review, I certainly would appreciate it.

...I was tempted to name this "okaysure" since that's what I called it in the original document, but...nah.