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Chapter 42: Exploring Possibilities
Chapter 42: Exploring Possibilities
"It's hair from some sort of rodent," Mega Man said, examining the video screen coming from the microscope. "That much I can tell so far."
"Why would an invisible robot be holding onto rodent hair?" Link asked.
"It's such a small amount I bet he was just carrying it with him. It's long enough to have been shed off."
"So it was stuck on his boot or something," Link interpreted. "No problem. Where is the region with a lot of rodents?"
"Everywhere. Rodents can inhabit any region in the world, city or country." He put a hand to his chin. "Maybe a cross-reference will reveal more information." He used the computer to access files of the natural history museum, bringing up an image of the hair they had gotten with files from the Institute of Natural History.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm comparing samples of rodent hair to our sample."
"You can do that just like that? Jeez, no wonder you're so smart. You have instantaneous access to all the information in the world."
Mega Man had never thought about it like that, but yes, he was lucky to have such fast resources. In Link's time, they were still dependent on books to provide information, and he wasn't sure whether they had even invented a printing press yet. But he never thought Link was dumb, just behind the times. Maybe Link was feeling a bit inadequate in the presence of all this intimidating technology and the sheer number of people around.
"Here," he said. "It's a pocket gopher."
"A gopher? Where do they live?"
"Near everywhere arid. They're small burrowing animals. They mostly live in holes in the ground and come to the surface to look for food or such. The range in which they live is far too vast to be searched."
"Still, it's unusual that a robot would be carrying this," Roll said.
"It is, but it doesn't bring us any closer to our goal of finding where Wily is or what he wants."
"Then we're back to square one?" Link asked.
"I'm afraid so." He shut off the microscope. The fluorescent light dimmed, leaving the room a little darker. "I guess we'll have to go back to our lives as usual until we get something else to go on. Given we have to wait, I'm not sure what else to do."
Roll immediately turned to Mega Man. "Wait, we know where Wily is - in the Antarctic. Why don't we just investigate there for him?"
"We can't make the assumption that he's there. We've only got circumstantial evidence to go on. We can't directly tie him to the tachyon field that went up or the robots along the landscape."
"What about the research base. All those humans. That was him."
"We don't know that for sure. ICPO is investigating the crime scene right now. If they turn up some connection to Wily, then we can go investigate, but until then, we have to wait."
"But he escaped from prison and attacked Dr. Light. That's a crime we can put him in for."
"True, but still, I think we should wait until we figure out Wily's true plans. Just because he sent robots to the Antarctic, doesn't mean he's in the Antarctic, necessarily. He could have easily left as soon as we found out where he was." He picked up the slide containing the hair from the lens of the microscope. "We can continue investigating this. Maybe a DNA sample will reveal something, but I doubt it. We already know what it is."
"Maybe Wily keeps a pet gopher," Link said.
"I highly doubt it. Wily would rather have a cold battle robot in his lap than a kitty."
"What about a gopher pelt?"
"No one wears gopher pelts. They would be expensive, not very warm, and very few people wear real fur these days."
"You said they're burrowing animals. Maybe it came from underground."
"It could have blown in the wind 1800 miles for all we know."
"So we really can't make any guesses about where it came from."
"Unfortunately, true. I think we've hit a wall."
The three of them stood staring at the image of the filaments on the monitor.
"Well," Roll stood up, frustrated but complacent. "There's plenty of housekeeping to do. Guess I'll go do that."
"You might want to turn down the guest room for Link."
"Right," she sighed.
Roll, Mega Man communicated to his sister, don't get belligerent. You still have duties to perform when you're not out saving the world. Just cause you got an upgrade doesn't mean you're better than what you were now.
I'm not mad, I just feel like we should be doing something other than sitting on our butts. We could look for him.
It's not that small of a world yet, Roll. Scouring the entire world for him could take weeks. He's one man among billions. Sooner or later, he's going to rear his head. That's when we'll get him.
All right, just as long as you don't exclude me from joining you.
No problem, Mega Man smiled inwardly. I know you didn't get all dressed up for nothing.
Thanks, Rock. She left the room, leaving her brother and Link in the science lab.
"Roll will prepare a bed for you tonight," Mega Man told him.
"All right. Thanks for letting me stay here."
"Well, we certainly wouldn't put you in a hotel for the night," he smiled.
"So what's this DNA stuff?"
"DNA is a nucleic acid found in all living cells. Well, essentially, they're the building blocks of all life. They're 'blueprints'. They carry information on how to build life, all the characteristics that you have, like hair color, eye color, the structure of your nose, and so on. Here's a picture." He brought up a quick sample picture of a DNA molecule, strategically neglecting to tell him it was gleaned from a children's science textbook. It looked like a colorful corkscrew ladder.
"So this is what makes up all life?"
"It's the key to all life. It's what makes all the differentiations in life. But it's microscopic. You won't be able to see it with just the naked eye."
"Oh, I'll have to tell that to the royal wizard when I get back home."
"I doubt you could see it. Even if you've invented the microscope it won't be powerful enough to see DNA."
"Oh, I don't know. He probably has some sort of magnifying glass spell."
Mega Man decided to keep his mouth shut, and let Link continue his childlike wandering, jumping from question to question. It was the best way for him to learn.
"So," Link continued, "Could you use alchemy on the DNAs. I mean, could you mix and match it? Like could you put a duck bill on a cow?"
"Yes. That would be a weird use of genetics, but yes. Except that making genetic alterations by private citizens was ruled illegal in the Sydney convention some decades ago."
"It was considered immoral and contradictory to natural evolution. Basically people were scared they were messing in something they weren't supposed to be messing with. They thought we should let nature take its course and not force evolution. There were a few exceptions though. Like using genetics to be able to grow limbs back."
"I see. I wonder if that's how Ganondorf makes his monsters. Through some sort of genetic alchemy."
Mega Man sat back and regarded Link. "You know, I must say, you are remarkably receptive to all these new ideas that are being thrown at you."
"Well, you have to be in my line of work - professional adventurer," Link said with fake hubris. "It wouldn't do very well if I went into a town and then hated everyone for their different way of life or for doing things I don't agree with." He played with his belt, tightening and loosening it. "I think that's some of why Hyrule depends on me so much. I've got an open mind, willing to think of new ideas and possibilities. Those temples weren't designed with the common man in mind. Everyone else is kinda stuck in their ways."
"That's for sure," Mega Man said as he thought of the puzzle he barely got out of under the forest.
"Of course, I wasn't so willing to accept you at first. Heck, when you first came down, I thought you were human. I didn't understand what a robot was, no matter how many times you tried to explain it to me."
"Well, I mean, you're adapting better than I did. Remember that fight in the bar?"
"Well, that was just because you weren't used to the subtleties of Hyrule society, like don't mess with the card club."
"Or when I tried to cook that animal."
"Okay, that... no, there's no excuse for that," he laughed. "Although, I guess there is, if your food comes instantaneously from the wall from somewhere. You've probably forgotten how to cook."
"Roll got all the cooking skills, since she's the housekeeper. I'm the tool-user."
"So you do fixing and things?"
"And help Dr. Light in the laboratory."
"Could you ask Roll to cook something for me sometime? I'd like to see what meals from the wall are like."
"Sure. She'll be making breakfast for you tomorrow. I'll ask her to make something good."
"Thanks." Link looked up at the image of the gopher fur still on the monitor. "Say, you have a lot of equipment here, right?"
"Then maybe you can help me with something."
"Why is it," he pulled out his ice rod, "This won't work?"
"What is it?"
"It's an ice rod. It shoots a sub-zero blast of air to freeze things. I tried using it, but it's not working. Like all my other magic weapons."
"I told you. I don't think magic exists in this world."
Link laughed it off. "That's like saying air doesn't exist in the world. Magic is not something quantifiable. It's all around us. It's natural energy. It doesn't just go away. For extreme uses of magic, you need magic potion so you have more natural energy about you."
Mega Man decided not to tell him that air does not, in fact, exist in all worlds. "What you think of as magic is probably some element that exists in your world and not in ours that allows you to do things that seem supernatural. If I knew more about it scientifically, I could theorize better. How do you get it to work?"
"Well, you just point it at something and fire it using your mind. I'm not sure how to explain it. You just will it to do whatever it is it does. My lantern works the same way, it can produce a small flare if you put a little magic powder in it. It's not much good for anything but lighting torches."
Mega Man had initially shrugged off Link's claims of magic, and hadn't given much thought to how it would work, since he didn't have that capacity. But still, there was an opportunity here to learn something about the elements of a different world. A lot of scientists would like to get something like this under the scope. They didn't have many opportunities like this. Dr. Light would be disappointed if he didn't take advantage of it, as long as Link was here. "Well, I'll give it a try. Give it to me."
Link handed him the wand. Mega Man took an inspector's look at it. The scepter consisted of a thick, metal cylindrical rod, tabbed in blue at the heel, and tapering down to a thin bar, connecting the shaft to a pointed blue diamond at the tip. It seemed like a typical staff used by wizards in fantasy stories.
"I'll try putting it under the compositor, and use the material composition filter." Mega Man took the rod over to another machine in the room. This one had two large metal boxes, one hanging from the ceiling, the other implanted in the ground. Mega Man slipped the ice rod in the thin opening, placing it on the clear white lit surface. Then he brought up the console and typed some commands in. The box from the ceiling whirred loudly as it lowered closer to the wand. Finally he pushed a green button, and a bar of light swept slowly over the white surface the rod was lying on.
Link was hopeful this could provide some clues, maybe give him the key to activating his magic weapons in this world. Maybe magic was just done differently here. Maybe instead of willing it, you had to apply some sort of catalyst, or use a talisman, or something. Magic was one of the few advantages Link had over the robot. If he could get his weapons to work, he could fight along Mega Man's side. But until then, he was dead weight.
The display in front of the two started listing lines of text one after the other. Mega Man read them off. "The shaft is composed of iron... nickel... the crystal is... clear quartz... and indigo dye."
"What... what does that mean?"
"There's nothing in this rod that can't be found... well, anywhere." In fact, if Mega Man didn't know better, he'd say Link bought this in a cheap occult bookstore. "I could make something like this myself, given the materials."
"So you're saying..."
"There's nothing abnormal about it. Nothing 'magical'. It's just a scepter."
"No, no, that's not true. I've used this thing before. I know it works."
"I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm just saying it doesn't work here. I can't find anything that would make it do what you say it would."
"Well, um, how about another scanner?"
"I can't think of any scanners that would yield more information."
"Well," Link scratched the back of his head. "Maybe when I went through the portal, some of the materials changed. Like it got transposed into the materials it would be made out of in this world."
"I didn't change when I went through," Mega Man said matter-of-factly. "And I'm composed of elements that don't exist in your world." He handed him back the rod.
Link looked at it forlornly. "Well, maybe I'm just not doing something right. I just need to concentrate. I need to find out what's different here. There's no lack of magic, I'll tell you that. It can't just go away."
Mega Man didn't want to get into an argument. "Well, it's of little consequence now. Your bed should be made up. I'll take you there."
Mega Man led Link through the house and stopped at the door to the guest bedroom. The door parted in two to let them in.
"Just finished," Roll said from her position of turning down the bed sheets.
Link's eyes widened at the sight of the luxurious accommodations. "This is nicer than the king's bedchamber," he exclaimed as he walked in, spreading his arms to feel the space. Mega Man thought the room was rather sparse as far as bedrooms were concerned. There was just a chest of drawers, nightstand, and bed, plus one door leading to the adjoining bathroom and one leading to the closet.
Link sat down on the bed. "Whoa, this feels like a cloud." He laid back on it, spreading his arms. He sighed in relaxation.
"I stocked the bathroom with some bedtime supplies you might need, like a toothbrush, hairbrush. And if you need anything, just tell the computer to open a comm line to Rock or myself."
"Mmmmm," Link said. "Okay."
"Okay," Mega Man said, "Good night."
"Night," he said lazily.
The doors closed, leaving Link in the dark, enjoying the comfort of the guest bed. He rubbed his hands above his head. Suddenly, he felt some strangely hard plastic object, disjointing him from his trance. He pulled himself up and looked at the device, but it was too dark to see.
"Turn on lights?" Link asked, not sure if that was the right command. Apparently, it was. The room lit up to daylight proportions. The little block was a white box attached to something under the bed with a plastic cord. Link tried tugging on it, but it didn't yield. He was afraid to rip it out, for fear of breaking something. There was a black side to it, though, under which were two small bumps with a plus and minus. As he felt the buttons, the black part lit with two numbers out of red lines. Link tried pushing the plus again, and the number increased by one. Pushing it several times kept increasing the number. Minus decreased the number. Since he had no idea what this did, he tried setting it back to what it was before, but he couldn't remember what that was. So he set it to the lowest number he could get - thirty-four. Link had never seen a bed that needed turning on before. He got up and looked around elsewhere.
He recognized the chest of drawers, but there were no handles on it. How was he supposed to open it. He touched one of the drawers and it popped open. It must have responded to sensation. Very interesting. What else was there?
He entered what looked like another door in the bedroom. It pulled apart, revealing an extremely white room with no furniture, and nothing soft. He cautiously entered, seeing a basin in the middle of a counter. Maybe this was the washroom. No sooner had he brought his hands to the faucet, than water started streaming down into the drain. He pulled his hand back and the water stopped. He put his hand in, water began. He pulled it out, water stopped. The sink knew when he wanted to use it, and when not to. That was extremely creepy. He didn't like the house knowing what he was doing.
Next to the sink were two brushes and a tube-like item. He picked up the tube and examined it. It was colored red and blue, and had some writing on it that made no sense, but there was a picture of a woman smiling toothily. The tube had a button near the end, though, so he experimentally pushed that. A small amount of some thick blue cream excreted out, with a fairly minty smell. He sniffed it closer and took a taste. It was a very strong minty gel, and it tasted pretty good and gave him fresh breath. Maybe it was a nightly tradition to eat this before bedtime. Link took a larger squeeze's worth in his mouth and set it down.
There was also a large brush and tiny brush. The large one was obviously meant for hair. The tiny one was meant for... tiny hair? A mustache brush? They had some strange bathroom habits in this place. Link decided not to use the tiny brush for what he thought it was meant for and picked up the hairbrush.
That gel was so good he took one more shot and then set it down. He threw his green cap on the bed and looked around a bit more as he brushed his hair. There was a very large basin in the other side of the room. It looked like a bathtub, but modernized, with a faucet like what would be found in a sink. At the dead end of the room was a stall enveloped in frosted glass. Link stepped in, after taking one more nip of gel, and examined the empty tiled space. There was nothing on the smooth, clean walls except for two dials on either side of a panel and a large spigot high up on the wall. Link looked at the dials and turned the right one. Icy cold water started streaming out of the large spigot. Link nearly broke the glass trying to escape the invigorating blast, bounding out of the stall, breathing heavily. It was like being under the ice rod.
Figuring he should leave it as it was, he rolled up his sleeve and put his hand into the stall, turning back the dial. The water dwindled to a drip and shut off.
It was a mystery to Link why there were three sinks of different sizes in the room. Wouldn't one big one be enough? Couldn't that accommodate all the needs. All you really needed was a bath, and maybe a basin filled with water. Maybe they had to do laundry in this room as well.
Anyway, Link exited the bathroom, deciding not to try anything else in the room, taking the blue cream with him, if he felt like a snack later. He pulled off his partially wet tunic and stripped down to his underwear. "No lights," he declared. The room's illumination dimmed to pitch black. Stretching his arms one last time with a large yawn, he slipped under the covers, finding them a bit chilly, but thick, and promptly went to sleep.
Next Chapter: The World of Tomorrow