Categories > Games > Zelda > Gatecrash
Chapter 43: The World of Tomorrow
Link stirred out of consciousness, having no idea what time it was or how long he'd been asleep. There were no windows in his room, so he thought it was still dark. Still half-asleep, he tugged on the covers to pull them back over his shoulders and return to dreamland.
It felt like someone short-sheeted the bed. He kept tugging on the sheets, but they wouldn't budge. Then he tried to turn his body upright, and found he couldn't do that either. Something was pressing him down, laying on his torso. His senses woke up with a start and he lifted himself up. There was something big and heavy laying on him. He tried to kick it off as he yelped "Lights!"
The room illuminated and Link saw a big red thing lift off his legs and fall over the bed. Link, still in his long underwear, dove out on the other side of the bed, falling on his butt.
He hastily stood up and crept over to the other side, keeping his head leaned out, and light on his feet, ready to jump straight up to heaven if needed.
A black nose poked out from around the bed, followed by a snout and then a whole head. It looked a dog in the face, but it had a red helmet like Mega Man's, including twitching ears. Its body was bulbous and its legs rotated on joints attached to metal rods. It looked like what Mega Man would resemble if he was a dog... and red.
It was wagging its tail though, and its large eyes looked expressively happy at Link. He held out his hand and Rush delicately sniffed it, as a normal dog would when meeting someone new. The dog recognized him as friendly and panted. Link tried petting him, but all he felt was the eerily distressing sensation of scratching metal. The dog seemed to like it though.
"Robot dogs," Link mused to himself, "Are humans the only natural things in this world?" He stood up. "Wonder if there's going to be a time when they won't be needed."
With no windows, and feeling well-rested, Link surmised that it was morning, and subsequently, time to get up. He put back on his clothes, equipping all his necessaries, as was his habit. The dog stood there, walked around a bit, following Link, acting remarkably like a normal dog did. It jumped on the bed, pawed at the sheets and then nuzzled down to rest. Link kept his eye on it the whole time, a little cautious since his surprise introduction to this animal, or robot.
Finished with dressing, he approached the door, it slid open. This alerted the dog, who stood up and panted happily.
"You... want to go out?" Link asked.
The dog barked quietly in response.
"Okay, boy, er, girl, er, whatever, come on." Link patted his leg as he would if he called to a normal dog. The robot canine jumped down and followed Link out of the room.
The Hylian, accompanied by the mutt, wandered down the halls. Dawn was breaking, he could see from the corridor windows. He wasn't really sure what he was looking for, besides maybe Mega Man or Roll, to find out what there was to do today. The excitement of being in this strange world was one he could barely keep in check. Just the fact he was walking with an artificial dog would be enough to keep Hyrule Castle in rapt attention. Just exploring all the nuances of this manor would be enough to keep his curiosity satisfied for the rest of his days, pending he didn't accidentally flood it with ice cold water.
Link heard some light scuffling nearby and headed towards the sound. There was a distinct crackling, sparking going on as he turned the corner. He found himself in the kitchen again, where there was a boy kneeling next to the counter, holding a small stick that was giving off sparks and wearing a blank metal mask.
"Who're you?" Link asked.
The boy, startled, looked up at him and took off his cover. Link realized it was Mega Man, only wearing casual clothes. His helmet was off, showing his tussled brown hair, and he was wearing a white t-shirt and black shorts, but his large blue eyes gave him away. It was a little disconcerting to see him like this. He was indistinguishable from a normal boy.
"Oh, I didn't recognize you without your armor," Link said. "You're rather busy for it being this early in the morning."
"The dishwasher needed some tweaking in the wiring. I've been making repairs all night. I don't sleep, remember?"
"Oh, that's right. So you've been fixing stuff up all night?"
"Sure, it's what I do. The house suffered some damage before I left. Most of it got cleaned up, but there are still a few adjustments and modifications that are needed. There always are in a house of this size."
"You don't ever stop working do you."
"Not unless there's no work to do."
Link imagined Mega Man working day in and day out, never getting sleep, never getting rest, never stopping. True that he didn't need to sleep, but did that mean he didn't need to relax either? Didn't he get to play? Read a book? Anything fun? He knew Mega Man said that robots were intelligent tools for getting a job done, but this was bordering a very fine line in Link's eyes. The robot was as human as anyone Link had ever seen. 'It's not slavery,' Mega Man had told him, but could he even see the forest for the trees?
Mega Man rocked back on his knees and stood up. The red dog came out from behind Link's legs. "Ah, I see you've met Rush," the robot said.
"Rush? Yeah, the little pupper nearly scared me half to death."
"Aww, Rush just wanted a friend, didn't you, Rushy." Mega Man dropped to one knee and played with the dog's head roughly, scratching him behind the ears. Rush loved it, lolling his tongue out from side to side as his owner of similar composition played with him. It was an interesting scene, two metal beings bonding.
"I'm beginning to see where you got your affection for Buzzy from," Link commented.
"Who's Buzzy?" Roll said as she came in from the other end of the kitchen, drying her hands with a towel.
"Oh, just a friend we made in Hyrule."
"Oh. Sorry I haven't had time to make you breakfast yet. I just got finished. I'll get started on it now."
"No rush," Link said.
The dog looked up at him and whined, thinking it had done something wrong.
"No, no, not you, I mean, no hurry."
Roll got started by bringing out pots and pans, while Link sat down with Mega Man. "So what's the point of having a robot dog?"
"Well, it's good for families that have allergies to pets, but still want one. But in my case, Rush is also a battle companion. Dr. Light put in some modifications to help with my mobility around Dr. Wily's fortresses. Watch." Mega Man stood up and back. "Jet, Rush."
Rush hunkered down, flattening out his back. His legs dropped to his sides and he scrunched up to make himself flat. His tail and hind-end shifted out of the way to make room for a engine turbine, which ignited, causing him to hover above the floor.
"That's pretty nifty."
"He's got a few other forms too. Dr. Light's been experimenting as well. He's made an adapter chip so Rush and I can combine to give me super-strength or flying ability. Oh, and he can roll over."
"Uh-huh." Link stood back up, looked around the room for a moment. "So what's on the agenda for today?"
"Well..." Mega Man scratched his head, thinking of something for Link to do.
"Hey, Rock," Roll said as she came out of the pantry holding two eggs. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" She gave him a knowing eye.
"Mm, yeah, good point. You could use some casual clothes. Those don't exactly fit today's standard."
Link held out his tunic, examining it. "What, my clothes?"
"Well, you're going to need something as long as you're here. You need to fit in, and what you're wearing now won't exactly be it."
Having the chance to think about it, Link did realize the clothes he was wearing, made of animal skins and textiles, probably wouldn't be what these people would be wearing. They probably had robot clothing that could move your arms for you.
"Might be a good idea."
"Did you take a shower last night?" Mega Man asked.
"No. Wait, was that what that stall was? The one with the rain spout?"
"Yes," Mega Man surmised.
"No way, I touched one of those dials, the water came out icy cold. I would have gotten hypothermia."
"The dials are there to control the temperature of the water, one is hot, one is cold. You have to adjust them both to get the temperature you want."
"Or you can use the bath. It works the same."
"Is that the big basin? That's what I thought it was, but I wasn't sure if it was for laundry too."
"Okay, why don't you go do that, and by then breakfast will be ready," Roll said. "Soap is on the tray next to the wall."
Link nodded affirmatively and left the room. Rush's metal paws clip-clopped after him.
"Good thinking," Rock said once he was out of earshot. "Nice tact on that."
"Yeah, he couldn't get within a mile of the mall before the humans would pass out."
"Yeah, good thing for him we're robots."
Roll couldn't help but think how much Link looked like a child as he glued his eyes to the window, with his fingers perched on the edge, watching the ground below him, spackled with microscopic hover-cars zooming in perpendicular lines beneath him.
The hover-cab climbed higher in the sky. Roll explained to Link that this was like the car they took to the train station, but the purpose of a taxicab was to convey passengers around the city for money. Link compared it to the king's private coach. Mega Man was taking their own car to the police and investigation center, known as the 'constabulary' to Link, to discuss the matters at the ice station and the whereabouts and intentions of the mysterious Dr. Wily. It was essentially a clue comparing session, and neither Roll nor Link needed to go to this. This presented a terrific opportunity for the Hylian to explore downtown and get some new modern clothes.
"So where're you heading to in the mall?" the cab driver, a Caucasian male, asked with a rather acerbic accent. "Going to see the concert?"
"No," Roll said, unaware and uncaring that there was a concert, "We're going shopping for clothes."
"Sears is having a fall sale. 40 percent off all marked brands."
"40 percent off? You mean the prices are nearly cut in half!" Link gasped.
"Correct," the cab driver said.
"Roll, we should go there," Link turned to her and pleaded.
"Don't worry. Every store has a sale now. They're trying to get rid of fall inventory."
"With the deals this good," the cab driver said, "You'd better hurry in, before it's all gone."
Link pointed to the cab driver, with surprise in his eyes and a muffled yelp that Roll wasn't taking advantage of deals like this. Roll just sat back and rolled her eyes.
"You're not from around here, are you?" the cab driver said.
"Where're you from?"
"You pullin' my chain, boy? Where're you from?"
"No, I'm from Hyrule."
"And where exactly is Hyrule?"
"Well, um..." Link wasn't sure how to describe where he came from in relation to this world. He could say he came through a mysterious vortex, but Link thought that would sound weird, even for this world.
Roll interrupted before the Hylian said something even more outlandish. "He's from out of town. Hyrule's a new military academy, probably not entered into your data table yet."
"Oh... well, enjoy your stay here. I recommend... getting new clothes for the town."
"Yeah, that's what we're trying to fix," Roll said. She had tastefully used Link's long hair to cover his pointed elf-like ears. It probably wouldn't have raised any eyebrows if they were seen in public, but just in case...
The cab driver continued, "If you're looking for accessories, Hikari's is the place to go. There's a variety of brand names, value-priced items, and cosmetics to fashion-aware teens."
"Waaaait," Link said, with trepidation in his voice. "Are you a subtle advertiser?"
"He's a cab-driver," Roll said. "All public servants are programmed to give spiels and blurbs. It's part of how the company affords them."
"Programmed? You mean...?"
Link peeked over the driver's chair. The cabbie, who was indistinguishable from a human, was nothing more than a torso with arms, impaled on a thick metal pole implanted in the car seat.
"He's a robot," Link asked Roll, no longer mindful of the cab driver.
"Of course. Cab driving is a dangerous profession. But no one holds up a robot, no one hurts or kidnaps a robot."
"I feel a little ill," Link said.
"There's a biohazard bag in the pocket in the back of the car seat if you need it," the cabbie thoughtfully said, apparently oblivious of their conversation.
Link tried to look at the buildings passing in the front windshield. "When Mega Man said robots were used for jobs too dangerous for humans I thought he meant construction and mining."
"They're used for that too. Here." She bent down to the floor of the cab and inserted a card below. A panel opened up, displaying a selection of colorful rectangles. Still gripping the card, she pressed one of the pink ones. A section next to the card slid away, revealing a pink and white canister.
"Thank you for your purchase," the robot driver said.
She pulled a small tab-like lever on the top of the canister and gave it to Link. "Here, drink this."
Link, wanting to quell his aching stomach, not only from the revelation but the flying, took a great big gulp of the liquid without hesitation. It was sweet and bubbly, with a hint of mint and lime. After two more great swallows he tipped his head back up and smacked his sugary lips.
"Mmm, not bad."
He rotated the can in his hand, examining the pretty labeling on it. There was some tiny fine print on one side. He took another sip as he rotated it the other way. In vertical letters were the words 'Fairy Juice'.
"Pbbbttbt!" was the sound Link made as he sprayed out the pink potion all over the driver's dashboard.
"Hey!" he uttered.
Link turned to Roll. "What are you, some kind of sick cannibal?"
"What? What's wrong?"
"You expect me to drink this?" he practically shoved the can in her face, wiping his mouth and tongue with his other hand. "You're disgusting. I can't believe you make a drink out of fairies. Argh, their healing powers aren't enough for you?" He imagined fairies being put in a Cuisinart, innocently flying around, until someone started turning the crank.
Roll said, "Oh, this is not a drink made out of fairies."
Link paused. "It's not?"
"No. That's just the name. Fairies are mythical. It's just what they call the drink, to appeal to a younger generation. Essentially, it's just flavored water."
"Really?" Link took another look at the can. It clearly read fairy juice on the label. "Then these aren't the spells used to extract the fairy's magicks?"
"Sodium benzoate? No, those are the ingredients. It's mostly water, sugar, flavoring, and coloring."
"You sure?" Link asked. He didn't want to be taking part in necromancy.
Link took another cautious sip. It tasted pretty good, not like fairy innards. "Sorry about that," he said to the driver.
"No problem," he said, rolling his eyes, using a free hand to wipe off his windshield. The cab dipped down off the flying freeway and descended close to a large flat crystal building. They slid along the ground, pulling up to one side where there was a large concrete arena where people were milling about.
Roll and Link slid out of the vehicle. Roll handed him her cash-card, which he took inserted into a slot and then withdrew. "Thank you for choosing Kaufman Cabs. Have a pleasant day at the South Point mall and remember their upcoming 'deal days'." He rolled the window back up and flew off.
"Why is everyone trying to sell me something?" Link mused.
"That's just the way it is here. Advertising pays for a significant portion of commercial products. I just got a message from Rock."
Link took a few seconds to process this non sequitir. "Wha... what?"
"Rock, Mega Man sent me a message from downtown. We can communicate with each other wirelessly."
"Is 'wirelessly' like telepathy. I'm familiar with that."
"It is similar to that. He said he's still in the meetings, but he's finishing up. They didn't find a trace of Wily at the ice station. But they're not unconvinced it was Wily."
"What in the world does that mean?"
"It means they still think Wily did it, even though they have no evidence directly linking them. There was nothing conclusive on the gopher fur DNA either. Except there were some dirt particles recovered that match soil in the New Mexico - Arizona region. That's in a arid/desert zone."
"So basically, we don't really know anything more than we did before."
"Yes, it looks like that."
"Damn, why don't we just make our own investigation? All you guys do is have meetings and research. Why don't we just use some action?"
"You're right. In this world, you have to do a lot of paper-signing before you are allowed to do anything, otherwise courts could easily rule that what you did was a violation of a right guaranteed in the constitution, and everything you did would be for nothing. It wasn't always like this, but over years and years, so many exceptions had to be allowed for different circumstances that you need to ask a lot of permissions, and that takes time."
"I'm going to make sure Hyrule never gets that way."
"Nonetheless, we have to wait, and while we wait, we need to get you some clothes. Come on." Roll took him up to a black block in the middle of the concrete. There was a large screen in the middle of a pillar sticking out of the pavement. Roll touched some points on the screen. "I'm just looking up where the best deals are according to what you need. I need to consult the fashion catalog for young men. See what will fit you. It'll just take a few minutes."
Link nodded and turned away, looking out at the crowd. He could tell what he was supposed to wear just from looking at the passers-by. Weird stuff. Some were wearing rings around their head, some with patterned t-shirts, cuffed pants with strange pointy things coming out of the knee. And that was just the men. The women's clothes couldn't even be described, but there was definitely a lot of variety. All women in his era wore dresses of neutral colors - brown, green, earth tones. Most couldn't afford the expensive bright dyes that were better suited to upper class citizens. And for all castes, the clothes covered them head to toe. He couldn't believe these women weren't shivering to death. It was nearly embarrassing to look at, but somehow he couldn't turn his eyes away. To prevent from being accused of staring, he tried looking around in the distance
A small, round robot with a wide, disc-like bottom was rolling down the sidewalk's edge a little way's down. Link could see it had some sort of spinning brush on its underside and it was cleaning the gutters of litter. Its appearance was thankfully humanless, more like a rounded camera with a lens poking out and two tiny claw-like arms.
One of the citizens crossing the walk got too close to the robot's brush and stepped on it. The centrifugal force sent the robot spinning forward, rotating around into the man's knees. It stopped itself before it rammed them, but the man kept walking and banged his foot into it.
"Hey, watch it," the man yelped. With an angry grimace he flipped his foot up and kicked the little guy over. He passed on by the now helpless robot, lying in the corner of the gutter, flailing its little arms and running its treads.
Link immediately ran over to the street-cleaning bot, now as feeble as a turtle. "I gotcha," he said. He darted his hands in and out, trying to time it so the flailing claws wouldn't hurt him. Its lens eye rotated back and forth, whirring mechanically. Link managed to grab it and set the bot down in front of him gently. "There you go."
Its panic stopped. Its arms remained still and its head stopped moving back and forth in denial of its situation. Once it settled, it continued moving along, seemingly ignorant of what just happened, its brush whirring and cleaning up debris.
"You're welcome," Link said with a little sarcasm.
Next Chapter: Got Item
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