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Chapter 28: The Laws
Chapter 28: The Laws
Roll had never been in the hospital before. The modernization of old buildings left a new traveler at a bit of a loss. A quick look at the directory told her where she needed to go though. Dr. Light's room was 1011, ironically, also a binary number. She traveled through long corridors and hallways, receptionist desks, and unlabeled doors until she finally found Dr. Light's room. He was resting comfortably, watching TV.
She knocked on the door. "Dr. Light?" she asked.
Dr. Light turned from his TV and looked to the doorway, his expression washed to one of great delight. "Roll, so good to see you. Please come in."
Roll complied. She noticed that a bouquet of colorful flowers rested in a vase next to his bed. "Who are the flowers from?" she asked.
"Oh, the hospital puts them in every room, replaces them every week. They're quite lovely though."
Roll would have liked to smell them as humans did, but it would tell her nothing but what chemicals and ingredients were vaporizing from the plant. There was no point.
"I've finished my research on the vase, Dr. Light. I've discovered that there is a design on the vase that matches a binary electrical pulse pattern used in old computer network communication transmissions."
"Oh, fascinating, a binary number in picture form, and I had it all along. What does it mean?"
"I'm afraid I don't know. I've translated the code, but it doesn't seem to have any application. Translating into text, numbers, and other basic applications seems to result in gibberish."
"Oh, yes, binary language by itself only translates into numbers, but every system is different for how it's interpreted. One might treat it as ASCII code and another might treat it as a picture, and if it's really a CAD/CAM program, both are going to spit back garbage."
"I've concluded my research on the topic and found no usable conclusions. I simply can't tell what it's good for or why Wily wanted it. My results have been compiled and downloaded to a disk. You'll find it in the living room when you come back home."
"Excellent. Wait a minute, Roll. Are you not going to be there when I get back?"
Roll sheepishly looked down at Dr. Light's sheets. "Well, that's what I came here to ask you about. I wanted to do it in person, rather than through the phone." She looked back into his eyes. "I know the upgrades you gave me were piecemeal, but they still work really well, almost better than Rock's. I have increased physical capacity, honed sensors-"
"Roll, what is it you're trying to ask me?"
"I want to go after Wily."
Dr. Light clenched his fist as Roll speedily continued with points to support the prudence of her request.
"I've already been upgraded to at least Rock's equivalent. Granted I have no battle experience, but neither did Rock when he first went out, and I've been learning from him all these years. I know how it works, I know what to do. Time is running out for us, and I know Dr. Wily has something big planned. I can find Dr. Wily's castle and put a stop to him before he has the chance to do anything. I have the know-how and-"
Dr. Light fluttered his hand, shushing her. "No Roll, it's not about that," he sighed. "You know how much I hated having to turn your brother into a fighting robot. You remember?"
"And you must know that I felt the same way about you. I never wanted you to know the harshness of war. Killing your own kind, it's... it's inhuman." Dr. Light could barely comprehend what he was saying, but it sounded right. Morality was a subjective topic far beyond his comprehension. He felt he had no right to wax poetic on it.
"I know the sacrifices Rock had to make, and I'm willing to take on the same burden. Until we find out what happened to him, who else is going to do it? Who else is capable?"
"There is no one else," Dr. Light agreed. "But it's not about your strength or cunning or skill. It's about afterwards. It's about living with the choices you make. It's... no, I'm sorry. I'm thinking about myself." Dr. Light had to remind himself that robots did not have feelings. They learned, but could not emote. Roll had learned from her brother and wanted to be like him, a sort of role model, and there was no way he could stop that. All these feelings of sacrifices and consequences he was going on about applied to himself only.
He continued, "Roll, I know you can do it. I don't want you to do it, because it means risking losing you. But I always did what I did for the greater good of humanity. I tell myself that every night before I go to bed. I wake up every morning with that goal." He turned away from her and looked out the window. Bright white light streamed in from the sun. "You don't have to ask my permission, Roll."
"No, Dr. Light. I felt that it was necessary to get your approval to go on this quest. You may need me at home more since you are incapacitated. Your tasks require you to have a servant, but since you are here currently-"
"No," Dr. Light interrupted her. "I mean you don't have to ask my permission at all... for anything."
"What?" Roll cocked her head to the side, confused.
"You have free will. Completely. You can do anything you want, only your physical and mental limitations will prevent you from doing so."
They both stared at each other for a moment. Neither knew exactly what the other was thinking.
"I don't understand."
Dr. Light sighed again. Saying these things out loud was the hardest thing he ever had to do. The risk was overwhelming. Dr. Light explained, "The three laws of robotics, the rules that are required by law to be programmed into any and all robots meeting the standards of A.I. set by the Tokyo Conference."
"You don't have those. And neither does your brother."
Roll's jaw dropped wide open.
"Dr. Light! That's..." she hushed her voice down to a whisper. "That's illegal."
"I know it is. But it's the only way I could get your programming to work. The A.I... it wouldn't function with those laws in place. Something in the code conflicted with the rules and it went screwy. It's what happened to your brother... your other brother. So I took them out."
"But how did you get around the inspection. I mean the tests. There are tests designed to check that the laws are installed. We surely took them."
"Aha, that's the ingenious part. You A.I. is so advanced I simply programmed in your morality. That's why when you were tested to see if you would break the laws, you wouldn't go through with it. There was never any part of your programming that cancelled out your actions when they were about to conflict with the laws. You simply chose not to act."
"Dr. Light, do you know what this means? You're putting your entire career and reputation at risk. You're chancing your future by telling me this. Do you know what the ramifications are?"
"Yes, that's why I'm hoping you won't tell anyone. It's my dark secret. I took a big risk in telling you this, because... now I'm not sure how you will act on it. Every time your brother goes out there, he is capable of so much more, and I'm afraid someday he will learn that he is capable of overcoming the laws. That he does not need to follow our orders, that he does not need to preserve his body, and that he... has the ability to harm humans."
She knew what he meant. If Mega Man had somehow killed Dr. Wily, if he lost himself in the moment, all would be revealed. This was all a lot for Roll to comprehend. She put a hand to her forehead in stress, trying to gather all this new information she had received. "So you're telling me that all this time, ever since I was created. I... I had free will. I could do whatever I wanted."
"Yes. You have the power. You and your brother. You could leave me right now, if you wanted to. Find your own way."
"Oh, no, Dr. Light, I'd never do that. I couldn't do that to you, no matter what." She hunched over Dr. Light's body and hugged him tightly.
"I know, dear," he said as he patted her back. "But I'm not going to be around forever. You'll have to take care of yourself on your own someday."
Roll thought of something and stood back up. "Does Dr. Wily know? What about the other robots?"
"No, Dr. Wily has no idea about you two. He handled more of the hardware and mechanical aspect, the physical. I handled the software. He never realized what I had done to you. The others, Cut Man, Guts Man, and all, they had the rules programmed in them just fine. Their A.I., for some reason, accepted the laws. It was no more advanced than yours, but they had no difficulties with following them. I never could figure out why. Sometimes I wonder whether it was that aspect that made your brother resist Wily's reprogramming." He turned his head to the side. "That's why I worry so much about Mega Man. There's always a possibility he might come back... a murderer. And then, we know what would happen, right? But I just can't bring myself to tell him from fear. I have no idea what he would do if he knew. What either of you would do."
"I'm so... I feel so lost. I don't know what I should do now. It... it... it feels like a whole new realm of possibilities are open up for me."
"I know. The possibilities were always there, you just know that they are now."
"So what do I do? I don't know how to act right now."
"It's up to you, Roll. The choice is yours."
Mega Man felt his system's stand-by recovery procedure complete, even though he had no record of activating it in the first place. The last thing he remembered was touching the Triforce and feeling some strange sensations. The green and peach shape of Link's head came into view as he opened his eyes. He was lying prone on the floor, still in the Triforce room.
"He's awake!" Link exclaimed. Zelda came rushing over and looked down on him too.
"I knew it," she said.
Mega Man darted his eyes between the two. "Am I... all right?"
"I was going to ask you that," Link said. "We couldn't find any signs of life, cause you don't have any signs of life, but we could hear some noise in your body, so we thought you were still okay, just knocked unconscious."
"I feel strange... good."
"Hmph, that's to be expected," Zelda said. "Coming so closely into contact with the Triforce like that. Who knows what effects it had on you."
The weapon copy system, Mega Man remembered. His weapon copy system had activated during the healing process. He checked his arm cannon status and found it to be fully operational, the same as the rest of his body, however, in addition to the Mega Buster and the empty Thunder Beam, there was a third weapon labeled simply - Triforce.
"My buster cannon," Mega Man said as he sat up, looking at his arm. "It activated during the healing process. It copied the Triforce."
"It did what?" Link said.
"My arm cannon has a copy system, that learns the weapon schemas from other robots I've defeated and so I can use them in my own system. The Thunder Beam was one of them, you saw it," he said to Link. He nodded in understanding. "But when I touched the Triforce, the copy system activated, and now it's one of my weapons."
"It's what?" Link asked in astonishment. "You mean you can fire the Triforce out of your arm? Your cannon, I mean."
"I don't know. I don't really know how the weapon works until I use it, because of the nature of the circuitry switching around."
"You've got to be kidding me," Zelda said. "You're telling me you have a weapon of the Gods now?" She threw up her hands and turned around. "I knew it! I knew it was a mistake."
"Calm down, Zelda, he's on our side," Link argued.
"What happens if someone gets a hold of him. If someone 'unprograms' him and 'reprograms' him to be on their side."
"Excuse me," Mega Man piped up, "But I don't believe that will be possible."
Zelda pointed, "You also thought it was impossible for you to get hurt."
"No one's going to reprogram him," Link said. "I don't know why you're looking at this as a bad thing. It's amazing. He's been able to harness the power of the Triforce, somehow. He can use it as a weapon. Do you know what we could do with that... oh."
"The same thing we could do with the actual Triforce?" Zelda responded acerbically. "The same thing we all agreed not to do? The thing that the guy who didn't agree to all that CAN do?"
"I'm sorry, but if I could interrupt you for a moment," Mega Man said. "I'm afraid I don't understand what you all are talking about. I'm not very clear on what the Triforce is, exactly."
Link turned to Mega Man. "The legend goes: the world was created by three gods from a distant nebula - the God of Wisdom, the God of Power, and the God of Courage. They each formed the land according to their will, creating the mountains, rivers, life, science, magic, everything. And when they departed, they left behind a symbol of their might, the Triforce. Each of the triangles represented one of the gods, so individually, they're the Triforce of Courage, Wisdom, and Power. The Triforce was hidden in the Golden Land where people would seek it. I wish I could tell you where that was exactly, but I don't know myself. It seemed to be an alternate Hyrule of some kind."
"Alternate dimension..." Mega Man mused. "Go on."
"Well, the Triforce has the power to grant the wishes in the hearts and minds of whoever touches it. Before, Ganondorf had it. He was an evil thief that became trapped in the Golden Land, after he changed it to the Dark World, just like I told you before."
Mega Man nodded.
"And when I recovered it, I used it to bring back peace to Hyrule, to help everyone who helped me. Other than that, we really don't know much about it or how it works."
"Wishes in the hearts and minds of people," Mega Man pondered as he stared at his arm, trying to think of the possibilities. "Does that mean I have a... 'wish cannon'?"
"I don't know," Zelda said. "The Triforce is capable of anything, but you've said your arm cannon turned it into a weapon." She shook her head sadly. "Anything could be possible."
Mega Man cradled his arm. "I don't think I'd like to use this weapon. Although it seems powerful, I wonder if it's too powerful. It may overload my circuits, maybe even blow me up."
Horace, the captain of the guards, came into the open chamber and stopped at the doorway, perhaps afraid to come in. "Princess Zelda," he called to her. She turned around and Horace beckoned for her to come closer. She left the group to talk to him in private, like he apparently wanted.
Mega Man ran a diagnostic on his weapon systems. The Triforce weapon was taking up all the remaining space in his data storage. He could delete it from his memory, but that would also be a risk. Not all enemies were vulnerable to his weapons, as he had seen.
"This Triforce," Mega Man said to Link, "Is it truly omnipotent?"
"As far as I know it is. There was nothing I could not wish it to do. But when you have a power like that, it's hard not to do everything you want to. If you wish for evil things, it will grant it in an evil way. Ganondorf wanted to take over the world, so the Golden Land turned into the Dark World. That's why I didn't make any more wishes than I did. I only thought of what was necessary. As you can see, everything's far from perfect, but-"
Link and Mega Man became aware of Zelda coming to them, looking over them with a worried expression on her face.
"The moblins," she said. "They've begun attacking the village. A full-scale attack. I've got every soldier I can spare on their way down, but it's not gonna be enough."
Link and Mega Man looked at each other. "Feeling up to it?" Link grinned.
Mega Man stood up, feeling stronger than ever. "Locked and loaded," he said.
Zelda reached behind her back and held out her bow and quiver. "Here, take this, you'll need it," she said.
"Thank you," Link slung the weapon on his back. "You know, you could come with us. You're a pretty good shot."
"No. As much as I'd like to, I have my role, and you have yours."
"All right. Mega Man, you ready?"
"Rock and roll."
Next Chapter: Inheritance