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Chapter 40: Train Ride
Chapter 40: Train Ride
Mega Man's blue and Roll's purple-red columns dematerialized in the living room of the mansion. They looked around briefly, making sure everything was as they left it.
"Link?" Mega Man intoned.
He heard some sort of groaning coming from the family room. Mega Man called out "Link? Is that you?"
"In here," came a garbled reply.
Mega Man and Roll followed the voice and found Link watching the holo-vid, stretched out on the couch and holding a bottle of soda.
"Ah, I see you found the holo-vid," the robot said.
"No, no, no! What're you doing?" Link yelled out. "You can't go for it on fourth and ten! Are you daft?"
With curiosity, they examined Link's sprawled out form, boots on the couch, slumped back into the cushions. "Can you believe it? Those tigers are down by three and they're going for it and..." he picked up the remote control from the table and clicked a button. The sports players vaporized and were replaced with two teenage girls sobbing. "And Trina caught Vick kissing another girl. Can you believe that? After she took him to the prom when no one else would go with him... in the rain! How would you feel about that? And then that rude couple talking about their home mortgage loan came in and I don't know what happened after that."
"I tell you, this ghost world is weird, but it sure is fun to watch. It's like a one-way door into a different world. And it's so dynamic."
"Uh, Link, that's not a portal into a ghost world, it's just a holo-vid."
"We'll explain later," Roll said. "We need you to come with us."
"Did you find a way to get me back?"
"No, nothing related to that unfortunately. We've got a bit of a mystery to investigate, figured you wanted some adventure anyway."
"Can I bring my potion?"
He waggled the glass bottle in front of them. "These things taste great, but I've had four and I still don't feel any effect."
"That's just a beverage, Link. There is no effect... except to make you gassy."
"Oh, well." Link wanted to find out if anything was going to happen to the ghosts of Trina and Vick, but he was also getting an itch to get off his butt and do something. If for nothing else than to walk off the 'soda's. He wasn't going to get any exploring done laying on the couch.
"Eh, why not."
He stood up. "All right, come with us. What'd you do while we were gone?"
"BRAAAAAAP!" Link belched.
The two robots slowly turned back to him. Link made a sheepish grin.
"'Scuse me," he said meekly.
Mega Man, Roll, and Link stepped out of the hovercar and into the bright sunlight. Link wasn't too scared by the ride over. Mega Man told him it was similar to the hovercraft that was shot down in Antarctica, but slower and meant for city travel. This time though, it was piloted by someone he knew and trusted. Mega Man kept at safe speeds throughout the journey to keep Link from being terrified, much to the chagrin of the cars behind him. Everyone walked or took horses where Link was from, so this was a difficult concept to grasp. Apparently, the cities were so large they needed super fast and maneuverable vehicles, when not using teleporters.
And true to his word, the buildings in this city stretched to the sky. The streets were cleaned and well-maintained. Instead of being trodded dirt, they were made out of some hard material, like an aqueduct filled with a solid substance. But there was nothing natural in the air. It felt like the city was made entirely out of material like building blocks. They were different colors, bright and vibrant, but they were all shaped the same. The streets were synthetic and uniform, the buildings were synthetic and uniform, the people below were synthetic and uniform. They walked from place to place with the same step, the same outfits. The city was arranged in a neat and straight criss-cross pattern, no twists and turns, no dead-ends, everywhere lead to something, designed to maximum efficiency. It would have to be for such a major metropolis, otherwise there would be massive clogging.
Link squinted his eyes in the broad daylight as he stepped out of the cab. This was his first time outdoors in the new world, and he was unaccustomed to the bright sunlight coming down from the thinned ozone layer. He stared at the walkway out to the street as he followed Mega Man's boots.
"It's so bright out. Your sun must be closer to the land," Link said.
Mega Man didn't bother correcting him, mostly because he wasn't sure what the differences were between his and Hyrule's planet. Link's eyes adjusted enough that he could look over the cool green lawn leading up to the train station. It was decorated with hedge animals and flowerbeds. "Those are statues made of plant?" Link asked.
"Shaped out of plant."
"Wow, that's pretty amazing. If you could show me how to do that, the king would be really impressed."
"Yes," Mega Man mumbled. He wasn't quite sure how to break it to him that he might never get back to his world. Apparently, Link was of the mind that once Dr. Light got home, he'd be able to repair the transporter and send him on his merry way. But the machine was in an experimental state, not even completely built. There was no telling how many factors were involved in getting the gate connected to Hyrule. It could have been a one-in-a-billion chance. The android was starting to regret ever taking it at all.
Mega Man paid the tickets for the three of them and then stepped up to the platform and waited. It was a large room with two large grooves formed in the middle. At the bottom of the grooves was a path made of criss-crossed metal and wooden planks, like what was used in rail cars for mining. Other small groups of people were standing around, waiting for something as well. Several of them were standing individually and talking, seemingly to no one. Men wore typically bright, colorful clothes, or drab formal things. The women looked like they were wearing nothing at all. Their clothes might as well have been painted on. It was all Link could do to not stare.
Instead, Link looked around at the various posters, promoting strange products and services. One poster showed a timepiece that could be worn on the wrist, telling you the time no matter where you were, not needing to be outdoors, or build a clock tower. Another exhibited a 'hydrogen reactor' for vehicles like Link had seen before. All of them had that same jump-off-the-wall ghost technology that Link had seen before. Humans must have used ghosts for serving them like robots, but probably employed them with pay, because they weren't created. At least not in the conventional sense.
"Excuse me, do you like medieval history?"
Link turned to the man who accosted him. "Medieval history?" The man was wearing a glowing ring around his neck and a double-breasted black suit modified with buttons on each side, connected with a small rope. "Uh, I guess." Link had a mild interest in historical records, especially the epics and sagas of old. Guess they had the classification of 'mid-evil' here.
"Then you should watch 'The Coming of the King' premiering on Epix. It's found on the history stream."
He left Link and moved on to a different person, who Link overheard asking him another question. Link was about to ask Mega Man what that was all about, but the robot precluded him.
"That was a sutty. They're undercover advertisers who work in social gatherings. They talk about a product as if they were just a normal citizen, but they really work for the company they're advertising."
"He really wasn't very good," Roll interjected.
"No, I could see him a mile away," Mega Man added.
Link felt a rumbling under his feet. Mega Man and Roll started looking down one end of the platform. A great big metal snake was traveling down the path, glaring its one big eye-beam at them.
"That's no rail car." Link's hand grasped the hilt of his sword just as Mega Man stopped him. "Don't worry, it's just another vehicle. It's called a train. It travels on a specified path, carrying either passengers or cargo."
"It's not a monster?" Link asked with reserved ferocity.
"No. Just a vehicle called a train."
"So we're going to have to get inside it?"
"It looks fast."
The train silently glided to a halt along the tracks, leaving the doors directly in front of the three. The word 'zephos' was painted in calligraphic script on the side, above the green-blue detailing. Mega Man approached the doors and slipped the ticket into a slot. A small green light blinked and the doors opened. It was hollow on the inside with rows of seats and poles, covered in burgundy upholstery. Link lost track of time, examining the parts of the train, as people entered the vessel. Soon the doors closed and the train's momentum shifted forward. Link grabbed onto a pole to keep himself from falling over.
Link kept his eyes glued to the small square windows as the view changed from the darkness of the station to the white outside, traveling at high velocity. He could feel the vibrating hum of the train, silent as it was, as the train accelerated faster and faster. "So remind me again why we're not teleporting," the Hylian said.
"Too close to teleport," Mega Man answered, hanging onto a rope on the ceiling. Link changed his grip to the same. "We told Dr. Light to get the museum to activate a tachyon field. Besides, the teleporter takes a massive amount of power. Roll and I can teleport, but that would mean we'd have to leave you behind. Also, I didn't want you to get sick again."
"Oh, yeah, not getting sick." Link said as a wave of nausea passed over him as they crossed a bridge, the vast open canyon broadening down and down. To stave off another round of stomach cramps, he focused on reading the advertisements lining the ceiling and upper portion of the cab.
Hey, Rock, why aren't we teleporting? Roll communicated wirelessly, I mean, why are we even bringing Link along? Aren't we just wasting time?
You saw me with Light. This is a detective story. I don't have the capacity to figure it out. I don't have the creative thinking. He does. He has the deductive reasoning. I saw it. I could barely survive in the temples he walked through without a second thought.
Rock, you're selling yourself short.
I'm limited by my programming. You're the same. We can't think creatively. And we need a creative thinker for this.
Well, then, why couldn't we just keep a comm line open to Dr. Light and tell him what we're seeing?
Too hard. We need someone to be there with us.
And Link is that guy? No offense, but he doesn't know how to lace his treads here.
Trust me. I've seen him in action.
Roll communicated a sigh over their wireless connection. If you say so.
The door at the end of the room opened and a half-size robot moving on wheels rolled down the corridor, shaped slightly like a trashcan, but wider, and with two big glass eyes. It had a flat surface on its head and two thin arms. Link, still looking up, didn't see the robot come up behind him.
"WOULD-YOU-LIKE-A-DRINK-SIR?" it asked mechanically.
Link nearly jumped out of his skin. He flipped around and fell against the wall of the train. "What?" He darted his head down, looking at a canister resting at his feet. It was another robot, not very human-like though. That was what confused him. "Uh, sure."
"Sure, one of those."
A tab with a translucent blue color whirred out from what Link figured was the robot's neck.
Link, just following instructions, pressed his thumb on the dirty pad, marked with others' fingerprints. The blue light turned green, and a pleasant beep sounded. "AGE-VERIFIED."
Link looked up at Mega Man. "Does it know who I am?"
"Not really, it just knows how old you are by measuring the carbon-44 decay in your body."
"It's a way of measuring the age of anything by looking at certain elements in your body and seeing how old they are."
The robot dropped a cup made of paper into its stomach, then it's esophagus began dribbling a purple liquid down until the cup filled. The robot grabbed it with its claw-like arm and offered it to Link. "YOUR-DRINK-SIR."
"Thanks," he replied. He wasn't quite sure if he wanted to drink some sort of robotic byproduct. It could be poisoned. On the other hand, this little guy didn't look very malevolent, and he did drink milk after all. That was an animal byproduct. He took a large sip from the paper cup.
"How is it?" Mega Man asked.
"... spicy," Link replied weakly. In reality, it felt like his tongue had fallen off and his throat was burning away like acid.
"There it is." Roll looked out the window and pointed. A white concrete building was standing there, large steps leading up to roman columns. It was near the destination train station. The train announced that it was reaching its stop, slowed down, and opened its doors to let out the passengers. Mega Man, Roll, and Link were the only ones from their cab who exited the train.
They walked out of the station and onto the street. Link was certain they changed villages, due to the different look of this town. The buildings' colors had been altered dramatically, from pink and blue to golden autumn colors. Besides that, the objects and people floating around looked nearly the same. He saw a robot street-sweeper, squatting over the sidewalk, giant rotating brushes spun out around his feet as he rolled down the street.
Coming out of his distraction, he ran after Mega Man and Roll who had already crossed the street and started walking up to the white steps of the building. Some hanging banners read that it was the 'Babbage International Museum of Computers and Technology'. Maybe it was some sort of shrine or temple. Link hoped he had the right equipment to get in.
"Good morning," Mega Man said to an officer standing next to an archway.
"Morning," the strong-chinned humanoid robot security guard replied.
Roll nodded as she passed under the arch. Link passed and an alarm suddenly emanated from the two guard robots.
"Hold it," one of them said, holding out his palm to stop them.
Link instinctively went for his sword, backing up into a battle stance, keeping Roll and Mega Man at his back.
"Unauthorized lethal devices detected. Please hand it over for inspection."
"What device?" Link said.
"I think he means your sword," Roll said.
"No chance, buddy, I only take my sword off to sleep."
The robot stepped forward. "Failure to turn over your weapon will result in immediate arrest and arraignment."
"Try your best."
"Wait, wait," Mega Man said, stepping in between Link and the officers. "I'll vouch for this. He's authorized to carry the weapons. I invoke code 479A."
"Code recognized. The devices will be permitted as long as they are kept on the person and not left unobserved for more than an hour."
"Understood." Mega Man nodded and turned around, gesturing the two ahead of him to keep moving.
"What was that all about?" Link asked.
"You have some things on you that are considered weapons, like your sword. They're not allowed in places with large numbers of people."
"Oh. In my world, no one goes around without at least a dagger. Just as a practical tool, not even for defense." He turned to Mega Man. "Well, wait, why didn't you get stopped? You have that arm cannon.. Isn't that a lethal device?"
"I don't get stopped because I'm a robot. It's in my programming never to harm humans, the three laws of robotics."
"Ah, yes, Roll told me about them. So you couldn't harm a human even if you wanted to."
"It's not quite a matter of wanting. It's just that I can't. Like no one makes a rule about humans flying because they can't fly. The laws prevent me from doing anything before I even do it."
Roll bit her lip and remained silent.
Next Chapter: Link to the Past