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Chapter 18: The Vase of Dr. Selkirk
Roll came down to the living room to see how the reconstruction was progressing. Their hefty insurance bills were now finally starting to pay off. Construction robots were repairing the walls and the new furniture was already sent in and set up. Two humans were supervising the construction outside, wandering from room to room and from their mobile van, making sure the house was being arranged exactly as it was before. Hopefully, it would be difficult to even tell that a disaster had taken place here once they had finished.
A mettool skittered across her path, on its way to some other section of the castle. She tucked her feet back and kept on her path once it crossed. The living room couch was there, a different color than what she remembered, perhaps they couldn't find the original. No matter though. The new holographic TV was also there, and other technological components such as the sound system and light fixtures, along with the table's personal terminal for operating the various components.
She pulled up the monitor to eye level and activated the call sequence.
"Dr. Mihail Sergeivitch Cossack. Eurasia."
The terminal monitor listed a series of commands showing it was connecting. The speaker piped up. "This call is long-distance and you will be charged an additional fee for connecting as described in the terms of agreement contract with TeleTech International. Do you accept these terms?"
"Yes," Roll said, slightly irritated.
The terminal continued its scrolling list of connection protocols. It then sounded a tone that indicated the call was waiting to be connected on the other end. An image of a bubbly preteen girl came on the screen.
Roll recognized her as Kalinka, Dr. Cossack's daughter. "Hello. This is Roll. Can I speak to your father please?"
"Oh, Roll! Hi, I didn't recognize you," she said in a Russian accent. Her English was excellent, due to her penchant for western culture typical of a thirteen-year-old. "You've got something on your head."
Roll remembered she was still wearing her battle gear, including her demi-helmet. She had never thought to take it off because she had no feelings of comfort one way or the other. "Dr. Light has been upgrading me," she responded.
"Wow, looks pretty cool. What sort of upgrades?"
"I've been reconfigured for a battle environment. My power converter has been upgraded to accommodate energy pulses and spikes in my new sensory webnet. My servo-globules have been attached with EMT's in order to-"
"Yeah, yeah, that's nice. Did you get an arm cannon like Mega Man?"
"No. I do have these two laser pistols." She pulled the guns out of her holsters and held them up akimbo.
Kalinka whistled in awe. "That's pretty sweet. Can you shoot something?"
"Um, I don't think this is the appropriate place for that."
"Oh, well, maybe you can show me some other time. Did you want to talk to Papa?"
"Yes, please. Is he available?"
"He's working on some new robots. But I'll go see." Kalinka slid away from the screen, displaying an empty couch. Off camera, Roll could hear Kalinka yelling in Russian at her father. However, she could understand Russian, along with a myriad of other languages.
"Daaaaaad!" Kalinka yelled. "Roll's on the phone!"
Faintly, from what sounded like across the house, Dr. Cossack responded, "What!"
"I said Roll's on the phone!"
"Rose is on the phone?"
"ROLL! ROLL is on the phone."
"What does she want?"
Kalinka popped back on the screen. "What do you want?"
"I need to ask your dad some questions about a vase."
"K, hang on." Kalinka left the viewscreen again, apparently only moving about three feet away, despite her father being barely within earshot. "She says she wants to ask you about a vase!"
"Stop yelling from across the house and just come here!"
Roll heard Kalinka sigh angrily and saw her walk behind the couch into another room out of sight. After a few moments, the screen shifted upwards as Dr. Cossack's face came on the screen, squished by Kalinka's connection above. He appeared to be in a garage-like room with many machines.
"Hello, Roll? It is good to be hearink your voice."
"Likewise, doctor. Have you heard about the recent attack?"
"Acch, terrible news. Is everyone all right?"
"Dr. Light suffered a broken leg and numerous small injuries, but he's fine. I just talked to him. He's having surgery soon."
"Aaah, good, good. I see you have new style."
"Yes, I've recently received some upgrades."
Dr. Cossack nodded affirmatively. On the upper screen, Roll could see Kalinka re-enter the living room and sit on the couch. She slouched in and started flipping through channels on the remote.
"Kalinka, darlink, you can hang up the phone now."
"WHAT?" she screamed as she turned around on the couch.
"I said TURN OFF THE PHONE!" Dr. Cossack screamed.
Kalinka jumped straight up as she heard her dad's voice come through the phone she had forgotten was still on. "Oh, sorry." She hit a button next to the screen and the image of Dr. Cossack scrolled up until he filled it at normal resolution.
"Daughters..." he said idly. "So what is this question you are hawink?"
"When Dr. Wily attacked, we thought he was out to destroy us. But it appears he only wanted to obtain an object. I've discovered that this object was a vase that was given to him by someone. We're hoping you know. Here's a picture."
Roll accessed the menu interface and displayed the picture she had uploaded - the same one in which she had first found it. The picture showed up on a corner of the screen.
"Da, I am rememberink this. This is near, thirteen years, I am thinkink?"
"Approximately. Do you see the vase in the background?"
"Yes, I am rememberink Dr. Light telling me somethink about it."
"Yes, what was it?"
"It was gift. Gift from other professor, before you were built. Yes, yes, Dr. Selkirk, I believe."
"Dr. Selkirk? Dr. Light knew Dr. Selkirk?" Roll said quietly.
"Yes, lonk time ago. Before... incident."
Dr. Selkirk was a premiere roboticist more than a decade ago. A rival of Dr. Light, Dr. Wily, and the remainder of the robot-building community, he was, suffice to say, a great computer mastermind. His designs were the foundation behind many of the AI programs used today. However, his mental stability was less than perfect. Several times at events such as conferences and award ceremonies he had burst out into violent fits of rage over minor particulars such as misprepared food. His laboratory had the highest employee turnover rate of anyone. And his personal demeanor was... less than stellar. If he hadn't come up with such amazing ideas, corporations would have never done business with him. He was both genius and madman. His way of looking at the world was so different from everyone else it had to have been the reason for both his success and downfall. One day, unfortunately, his dark half got the better of him and he went on a rampage in one of his labs, horrifically killing twelve of his own scientists. He was apprehended by a S.W.A.T. team and put into a maximum security prison where he committed suicide before he could stand trial.
"I had no idea Dr. Light was friends with him," Roll said.
"Oh, da, da, this was beink before he went all koo-koo in the head... moreso. As I am recallink, Selkirk said he made wase himself."
"Really? Did he say anything else about it? He didn't store a secret formula inside the vase for safe-keeping, did he?"
Dr. Cossack laughed. "No, no, would have found that by now, I think, no?"
He was right, nothing was stored inside the vase. Roll would have found that by now. And if Dr. Selkirk had, in fact, created it, it wasn't of any anthropological significance, such as the key to a lost city or something silly like that. What was it about this vase?
"Did Dr. Light tell you anything else about the vase?"
"No, nothing important. It was made out of typical clay. Typical dye for the patterns. Based off a hydria design with handles. He said it looked nice under the paintink," he shrugged. "I am sorry I am not being of much help."
"No, you've been a great help, Dr. Cossack. I'm sure I'll be contacting you again soon."
"Give my best to Dr. Light."
"I will. Thank you. Goodbye."
The visceral moblins snarled and snapped at him like bulldogs. Their jowls dripped with saliva as their burning yellow eyes dug into them. Their helmets flattened their piggish ears, making them seem like animals ready to attack. They poked their spears at the two viciously, egging them on to take some action. As they closed in, Mega Man and Link found themselves at each other's backs.
"Sure is a lot of them," Mega Man said, reminding himself that these creatures weren't human and therefore not bound by the robot laws.
"Got anymore tricks in your sleeve? Or arm?"
"Well, I'm a pretty high jumper."
"All right," Link focused on retaining magic energy in his sword, gathering his physical energy to spring forward. "Do it!"
Link shot out from Mega Man's back and rushed into the circle of moblins. He thrust upward with his sword, deflecting an incoming spear. Slinging his shield off his back he struck the moblin in the face with it as he tucked his arm into the leather holding rings. Link continued with the momentum, barreling outside the circle, giving him more breathing room. The moblins roared and ambled forward.
Mega Man jumped straight in the air, tumbling end over end. Twisting his body around he fired his arm cannon down at the ground. The plasma shot hit the moblin down on the head, tearing him in two. He vaporized in a puff of white smoke.
Mega Man's inertia carried him forward into the branches of a tree. He hit stomach-first into a knotty bough. "Ow, this isn't what I had in mind," he said as he struggled to stay on. The limb began to crack from Mega Man's weight as the moblins clamored around the tree, poking their polearms up into the leaves. "Uh-oh." The branch snapped and Mega Man came tumbling down into the mix, falling on his hands and knees. One of the moblins grabbed him by the neck and thrust him up against the tree as he bellowed with rage, saliva spattering out of his mouth.
"Say it, don't spray it." Mega Man thrust his arm cannon up into the monster's abdomen and fired. The plasma burst shot through his body like melted butter. He transformed into a hazy fog as Mega Man dropped back to the ground.
"Who else wants some?" Mega Man spun around and found three moblins coming at him. He fired a plasma shot at the leader.
He suddenly roared and held up a gigantic green boulder. The plasma shot impacted with the rock and dissipated as the other moblins gathered behind him.
"What th'?" Mega Man said. He kept firing at the stone, but each shot kept getting absorbed. The green began to turn into orange and red. His plasma shots were heating up the rock, yet the moblins still held onto it. "Grr, why don't you come out of there," Mega Man said as he fired with intensity. The boulder glowed red hot, and he could smell the searing flesh as the beasts made their way toward him, defending his volley. The monster grunted and threw the rock at Mega Man in a surprisingly fast feat of strength. The blue bomber hadn't the time to escape. The irony of Rock being crushed by a rock flashed through his mind. He leaned back as far as he could. His feet firmly planted, he touched the grass with his hands as the boulder passed overhead, seemingly in slow motion. His thoughts turned to his battle with Guts Man as the stone crumbled into pieces behind him.
The robot pushed off and uprighted himself as the moblins continued their assault. Another had already picked up a rock and hurled it at him. He jumped to avoid the incoming obstacle. "Jeez, you guys are strong."
Link parried and thrust in close combat with the moblins nearby. He wasn't that used to defending against spears. Their long range was making it difficult, but their great length made them slow. He sliced one in two with his sword, the arrowhead dropped to the ground. Using the slicing thrust, he kept into the spin and sliced through the moblins belly, dissipating him into white smoke. The others kept closing in though. Link hovered behind his shield as they came at him. A few pokes with his sword was nothing compared to the beating he was taking. He dug into his knapsack and pulled out a bomb.
"Let's see you handle this," he said and lobbed the bomb into the crowd, not looking where it was going. It landed behind the mob grouped around him, the fuse ominously hissing, while the monsters continued unabated. The bomb exploded, sending several of the beasts flying forward and up in the air like bowling pins. Link attacked and surfaced out from the melee. He had to keep away from being trapped in a corner, which the moblins were trying to do.
"Let's see what this baby can do," Link said as he looked at his sword. "Watch out, Mega Man." The blue robot turned away for a split second to see what Link was doing as he defended against the continuous rock attacks. He leaned back and gathered the magic into his sword, the power of the storms. Violet tendrils of electricity danced around the blade as the skies darkened. Link held his sword up and a thick column of electricity struck it, feeding into the blade. He spun around and arms of lightning shot out, rotating around, zapping the enemies they touched. Several of the moblins that Link had already damaged vanished into thin air.
The light show over, the lightning retracted into the blade and the sun returned. Link regained his footing, leaning over his sword, panting. "I'm out!"
"What?" Mega Man shouted over the ruckus.
"I'm out. That used up all my magic energy. I'm not used to it," he looked to the monsters recovering from the blow, regaining their senses. Mega Man jumped over the last rock and ran back to Link's side.
"Are you all right?" he asked as he saw several more monsters coming out from the woods. Reinforcements. "There's more coming!" Mega Man said. A lot more.
"We can't take them all," Link gasped. He stood up, holding up his shield and started moving backwards as the beasts crept forward. Mega Man treaded with him.
"This does not look well," Mega Man commented.
Link glanced behind him as he felt his footing change. They were backed up to the river bank, with water rushedly raging below them. "We have to jump!" Link said.
"What? Are you crazy?"
"You can swim, can't you?"
"Not really," Mega Man said as he eyed the monsters about to pounce.
"Now's a good time to leeeaaaarrrrn!"
Link grabbed Mega Man's arm and pulled him down with him as he jumped into the river.
Next Chapter: Down by the River