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Chapter 35: Contact
Chapter 35: Contact
"Where did Roll go?"
"That's what I was asking you," Mega Man responded.
"Hmm. Very interestink."
"She wasn't kidnapped by Wily, was she?"
"No, no one's heard about Wily since attack."
That didn't surprise Mega Man in the least. Wily's plans were always unknown until they sprung. Fortunately, they usually turned out to be the same every time, just a few tweaks in the strategy here and there.
Cossack continued, "She was upgraded though."
"Da, but am not knowink to what extent. Our conversation was very brief."
"Okay, what about Dr. Light?"
"He iz at Mercy hospital. Doing well, I understand."
"Let me know if I am beink of more help," he said brightly.
"Sure will. Bye, doc."
Mega Man turned off the communication.
"Who's Roll?" Link said, leaning over the sofa, watching the call.
"Roll is my sister."
"Sister? I thought you said you were built. How could you have a sister?"
"Roll and I were built at nearly the same time. Technically, you are correct, I can't have a real sister, it's just a colloquialism."
"Is she a robot too?"
"Yes, though not as advanced as I since I've been continually improved since my inception." Although, maybe not anymore, Mega Man thought. What did Cossack mean by upgrades?
Nonetheless, Mega Man needed to contact Dr. Light, and it would be quicker if he could get him on the phone rather than teleport there, especially with the risk of leaving Link here alone. He reset the calling program and dialed the number for Mercy Hospital. Upon reaching the robot interface he requested to speak to Dr. Light, and was immediately patched into his vidcom.
"Hello?" he said. His face brightened once he saw Mega Man's helmeted visage. "Rock! It's you! You're all right. Where have you been? What happened?" Dr. Light animatedly queried while he struggled to rise up in his bed. The bandages around his torso and leg held in traction kept him from jumping out of his bed in excitement.
"Easy, easy, Dr. Light. Don't strain yourself. I'll tell you everything that's happened." Mega Man regaled his tale in an abbreviated format, starting from his transference through the teleporter full circle to his return home through the same means. He explained Hyrule as a parallel dimension in a semblance of the medieval era, and chose to leave out some important but extraneous elements such as magic, and the Triforce, instead replacing it with "My arm cannon sustained some damage during my time there, and it currently can't function."
"Oh, I see. Well, I'm certainly not able to repair it now. There is a spare arm cannon in the laboratory though. It has no charge function though, I just kept it for emergencies. You have permission to install it yourself. I'm sure you know how."
Link thought it was odd that Mega Man would have to ask permission to gain his weapon back, or rather, to install it himself, but wrote it off as a cultural difference. He had been creeping closer to the TV screen as Mega Man told him the history of their adventures, becoming less and less bewildered by the device.
"How interesting," Dr. Light said. "I never had time to test out the configuration on the reconstitution program before this all happened. I-?" Dr. Light stopped and reacted silently as Link's gigantic face slowly slid onto the screen, the lens making his nose seem twice its size.
"And this..." Mega Man gestured to Link to come over to the couch and face the monitor. Link slowly did so and leaned into the screen, gaping at it with a glazed look, mouth hanging open. "This is Link."
Dr. Light's eyes went wide at the site of this boy with pointy ears staring dumbly into the monitor, dressed in forest green. "Mega Man, what did I tell you about bringing strange people home with you?" Dr. Light chided with a wide smile.
Link reached out with a finger and poked the screen. The liquid crystal display rippled at the touch. Link immediately jerked his hand back. "What is this? Some sort of... ice?"
"No, it's just a screen. A communicator. This is Dr. Light, my creator."
Link cocked his head to the side. "Hello?" he said.
"Hello to you. My, you are from the medieval era, aren't you. Rock, how did he get here?"
"It was an accident. And unfortunately, the transporter has been rendered inoperable."
"Yes, Roll told me."
Link again tried poking the monitor and looking behind it. "Is he somewhere else?"
Mega Man took hold of his finger and put it down, "Careful, you could damage the screen." He turned back to Dr. Light. "What about your injuries?"
"Oh, nothing serious. A twisted femur, and some busted ribs, that's about the long and short of it. I should be back in action in a few days." He added an enthusiastic punch in the air.
"I'm happy. What about Dr. Wily?"
"We haven't heard anything about him since he destroyed the house. Roll told me all the repairs have been made. And those robot masters haven't reared their ugly heads either." Mega Man nodded in acknowledgement. "This is interesting though. He didn't come to attack us, or kill us. Roll found out he took my vase."
"Yes, the gray vase that was in my bedroom, under the painting."
"I remember it," he replied, drawing from his image memory.
"Apparently, Roll discovered some sort of binary code in the markings, but she wasn't able to decipher it before she went out."
"Went out? Where did she go?" Dr. Light had already answered Mega Man's last question.
The bed-ridden doctor sighed. "We were trapped in the basement and, against my better wishes, I had to upgrade her battle capability. She's no longer just a housekeeping robot."
"Really?" Mega Man's eyes went wide, not sure how to feel.
"Unfortunately, after she was finished researching the vase, she got it into her head that she could go off to find Wily. I assume that's where she is."
"And you let her do this?"
"I... it's complicated."
"But how would she do that? Does she know where he's holing up?"
"I presume that she had at least some inkling. All she asked me for was permission to go after him, I wasn't aware that she actually found him. We need the knowledge of his robot masters to triangulate his coordinates. Maybe she found another way. Have you tried making contact with her?"
"Yes, but I haven't been successful."
"Oh, dear. Rock, you must find her. That's our main concern."
"Agreed." Mega Man would have made that a priority anyway.
"There must be something around there that would indicate where she went. Try searching through some log files, or recently used programs. She wouldn't have just gone off on a brute-force search."
"All right, thank you doctor."
"And take care of our guest there."
"I will. Goodbye."
"Do your best, Rock."
The image of Dr. Light blinked away to the message 'call terminated'. Mega Man closed the program and started searching through the recently used files of the computer. Link watched with genuine interest as he brought up a world map gleaned from the Hypernet's global scanner database. Roll had apparently accessed this at some point to search for Wily's skull castle, but there was no evidence as to where it would be. In order to find it, Mega Man was going to have to think like Roll. Even though they had started out with the same A.I., they had both evolved with distinctly different personalities through their experiences. He wasn't advanced enough for this kind of creative detective work. Trying to guess what Roll would have looked for was like looking for a needle in a haystack. There were a thousand random instructions that could have been streaming through her head, trying to think of where Wily was. Where would she have started from?
Suddenly, light came streaming into the room and right into his eyes. Distracted and squinting in the light, the android looked up to see Link standing next to the drape control panel, closing back the curtains. Link pressed the switch again and the curtains opened, and closed, opened, and closed.
"Link, will you cut that out please?"
"You need a switch to close the drapes? Isn't it kind of lazy?"
"It controls the curtains for the entire house, so you can open them from anywhere in the house. Please stop playing with it."
Link shut back the curtains. Mega Man brought him to this strange version of the world that was set up like an amusement fair, and he wasn't letting him have any fun.
The robot turned back to his work as the last irritating photons faded from his eyes, blocked by the curtains.
For some reason, that thought gave Mega Man some inspiration. He typed some commands into the world map and did a search for concentrations of tachyon fields.
Link, having his fun quashed, came over to sit by Mega Man. "What's that?"
"A map of the world, and currently searching for tachyon shields."
Link had no idea what the outlines of the oceans and continents were. It just looked like abstract art. All his maps were color illustrated and hand drawn. "What are those?" he asked, referring to tachyons.
"Particles which disrupt energy transportation. If a body teleports into a high concentration of tachyons, the reassembly will wind up scrambled and disrupted."
"Oh... what does that mean?"
"It blocks teleports in. If someone teleported into tachyons they'd be reassembled completely wrong, effectively destroying whatever was teleported." Like himself, Mega Man thought.
Link nodded. He thought tachyons were some sort of monster. It sure sounded like one.
The search reached 100 completion, lighting up levels of the globe with high dilutions.
"So why are you looking for that?" Link asked.
"Lots of buildings have tachyon fields around their perimeters. It prevents unwanted things from teleporting in and surprising them. Like Wily's robots. But only key points around the world have them, like important factories or government buildings."
"So... what, Roll has the ability to teleport?"
"Yes, as do I. Most robots do."
"Wait, so you could have teleported away at any time?"
"Not in Hyrule. There needs to be a teleport pylon within a certain radius for me to land there. You can find them most anywhere in this world, but there are obviously none in Hyrule."
"Ah." Link was beginning to learn there were a lot of neat abilities Mega Man had that he hadn't used in Hyrule. That was okay, Link hadn't shown him his whole bag of tricks yet either.
Mega Man scrolled around the map, investigating each concentration of tachyon surges, noting each one as either a known building or otherwise legally sanctioned tachyon field.
"So if you find the right tachyon field, you'll find this guy, Wily."
"Yes, I need to find one that seems extraneous to the others, or isn't otherwise legally sanctioned. If he was already in a legally sanctioned one, the newslinks would be headlining that and his cover would be blown, so I'm suspecting he's somewhere isolated."
"What if he's not using a tachyon field? It sounds like it would just garner suspicion if it wasn't... legally sanctioned."
Hmm, Link had a point there. He just assumed Wily would have a tachyon field up to prevent him from directly teleporting in to the central command, like he always did. It was the reason he had to land some distance away from an overtaken structure and fight his way inside. Instead of searching for tachyons, maybe it would be better to search for buildings that didn't have tachyons that should have. He put in the query string and a blue circle lit up in the Antarctic continent. It was quite the ranged area, but it said that there was a shortage of tachyons in that area. There should not have been, given that the Antarctic research base was the only structure down there worth having one. It was unusual enough to send a scout down there to check.
"There?" Link asked.
"Yep, the Antarctic. Very cold region." Mega Man brought up the house computer and activated one of the Beats in the garage/hangar bay at the other end of the property. Link watched as a picture of a fat blue bird shaped like an egg came up. The robot pressed some buttons on a panel in front of him and activated the teleport on the machine.
"What's that thing?"
"Beat. It's a bird robot Dr. Light built for many purposes, capable of carrying large loads. Right now, I'm going to use him for... scouting."
Mega Man punctuated his last word by punching up the camera on the freshly teleported Beat robot. The in-window camera provided a nearly pitch-black frozen wasteland with heavy snow. The only light was from the hi-res photon spotlight Beat was sweeping back and forth on the ice shelf.
"How long could this take?"
"Not long. It's not just the visual, it's also got sonic, infra-red, electrochemical, bistatic, and other analyzers that go much farther. Hopefully, we'll be able to spot her if she's down there."
The Beat bird spent half an hour sweeping back and forth the arctic wasteland hypnotically. Link only had the patience for it because he was used to making long journeys back and forth in unexciting landscapes. Though he had never seen snow on this level. He couldn't imagine anyone but the heartiest types of races inhabiting it, and probably living beneath the surface where it was warmer.
If they were searching by eyes alone they never would have found Roll, but Mega Man was busy keeping watch on all the sensors the bird had to offer. Every square mile was thoroughly scanned for signs of the lost robot. Mega Man was not lying when he assured Link if she was down there, they'd find her.
Link nearly jumped to the ceiling when he saw a red light in the darkness. It quickly passed from one side of the window to the corner almost instantaneously.
"That! What was that? I saw a red light."
Mega Man answered without inflection, "Yes, a flight beacon. We're coming close to the airstrip."
"Air strip?" Link was picturing a strip of paper in the air.
"It's a landing area for aircraft, which are machines which carry passengers through the air. Some of them need a long strip of land to take off and land on."
"Interesting. Maybe she got there in an airplane."
"No, she teleported. Otherwise, I would have found some means of transportation she arranged. We're programmed to take the shortest route, the path of least resistance."
Mega Man thought the research base would have been a likely headquarters for Wily, and a likely destination for Roll. To confirm his suspicions, the computer suddenly beeped an alarm, waking them out of their hypnotic stupor. Mega Man pulled up the offending program and saw a red flashing blip in the 3-D sonar.
"Is that her?" Link asked.
Mega Man typed in some more commands, bringing Beat close to the zone where the alarm had gone off. Link paid close attention to the visual as it was brought down to the ground, but there was nothing but snow.
"I don't see her."
Mega Man switched the unaltered visual feed to x-ray. The colors changed from black and gray to brightly fluorescent yellow, pink, and blue. In that acidic mish-mash of colors there was an white outline of a body lying down.
"Is that her?" Link said.
"She must be buried in the snow." Mega Man commanded Beat to bring out his heat ray, set to the lowest intensity, just enough to melt the snow without melting Roll. In the camera, a small muzzle extended out from the bottom and swept a red ray over the area in front of it. The layer of snow on her wasn't very high, the blizzard must have just started, and she was unsheathed in no time.
"She must be unconscious," Link said.
"Or inactivated. But I think she's still alive." Even though Mega Man had no evidence for that, she wasn't destroyed so that meant she could be brought back, though he hadn't the foggiest why she was immobile.
"She should be all right, but she needs to be brought back here." Mega Man commanded Beat to pick her up. The camera showed the region in view getting closer to Roll, hovering over her. Off-screen, Beat's feet latched onto Roll's shoulders and lifted off. With no effort, it flew off, a little more encumbered, but not impeded by the extra weight.
"Can't you teleport her out of there?" Link asked.
"I can't get in touch with her to activate her teleport by remote. We'll just have to transfer her somewhere safe." Mega Man set a course for an island off of South America. Beat would be able to make the trip with no problem.
Suddenly, a flash of dull red caught Link's eye as he looked at the camera feed, still set to X-ray. "What's that?" Link pointed out a squat body standing on the ground, holding up his arm.
The body silently shot something bright, like one of Mega Man's plasma blasts, that grew larger in the camera window. "Uh-oh."
The shot met the camera and the feed soundlessly changed to pitch black. If he could have, Mega Man would have gulped in worry.
Next Chapter: Getting There is Half the Fun