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Chapter 45: Finally, Some Action
Chapter 45: Finally, Some Action
Three streams of light plopped down on the ground from the sky, one blue, one purple, one light green and brown. The columns hit the ground, flattened out a bit like a Jell-O mold, then sprang up and reconstituted themselves into their respective forms - Mega Man, Roll, and Link. The two robots looked up at the great rust-brown factory with looming cargo door towering over them. "We're here," he said, thinking to himself why robots had such a predilection towards attacking factories and power plants.
The one biological entity staggered over to the wall and leaned up against it, putting his cold sweating head on his forearm.
He gulped loudly. "It's all right," Link said as he saw them make motions toward him out of the corner of his eyes. All the time he kept repeating in his mind, 'I'm not gonna throw up, I'm not gonna throw up'.
"You sure?" Mega Man said.
"Yeah. Just give me a minute."
"We don't have a minute."
"Well, then go on without me. I'll be all right," he said, breathing heavily.
Mega Man was concerned, not wanting to leave him here abandoned in the line of danger.
"I'll stay with him," Roll said.
Mega Man was surprised at this move. Since all Roll had practically talked about was seeing some action, it was strange to see her volunteer to stay behind and play babysitter. But he nodded and headed into the factory.
Roll turned back to Link who was now pacing back and forth, trying to walk off his nausea. "Sorry about this," he said.
"Not a problem."
"You can go on ahead. Guess you don't want to stay here taking care of a sick human." Link knew she wanted to see some action just the same as he did. He was trying to fight off the teleportation sickness as fast as possible so he could join back in. He took a sip of water from his canteen to wash down the bile rising in his throat.
"No. I've got as big a duty to protect humans as Rock does."
Link smirked at him. "Thanks." He took a deep breath, expanding out his chest. "I think I'm all right now." He cocked his head back and forth. "Ready?"
She pulled her laser pistol out of the holster at her side. "Let's go."
They barreled into the plant with fierce determination, passing by construction robots with bulky gray bodies and empty eyes walking back and forth. Conveyer belts and pistons fell into the background as they focused on their goal. Roll was the one leading the trek, but they were running side-by-side, trying to catch up to Mega Man. They saw him minutes later at the large doorway into the room which held the conducting coil. An oblong robot with tiny claw arms and red eyes was floating in front of the door.
"What's wrong?" Link asked. "Do we need a Big Key?"
Mega Man said, "I can't be let in because I don't have the proper authority. The only robots that can enter the room are the ones who are in there now doing maintenance and human workers."
"Well, what do I look like to you? Chopped liver?" Link stood in front of Mega Man and pointed to the security robot. "Listen buddy. I'm the chieftain district supervisor for this plant. There is an emergency malfunction with the continuum transfunctioner and we need to get in there now. It's a code 1-A emergency."
"The conducting coil requires a class three authorization-"
"Screw your authorization, son. Lives are at stake. Do you want to be in violation of the first law? Do you? You will if you don't let us in there."
"Contacting appropriate officials-"
Link threw up his hands. "We don't have time for that, dammit! What is your major malfunction? Don't you understand law one overrides your primary objective? Let me in now, or Janie will never live to see another day. Do you want that on your conscience? Do ya? If we don't all get blown out of the sky first, I'll see to it you're retired."
"Command understood. Door locks releasing."
"Thank you. About time we got some service here."
Mega Man and Roll stared at Link. "Where in the world did you learn to talk like that?"
"It was on one of those ghost world plays. Never did find out what happened to Janie. Hope she made it out all right."
Mega Man and Roll inwardly rolled their eyes as the security bot turned and operated the control panel. The door opened its maw and the security bot floated down the gray dingy corridor. They stopped short of another door which opened automatically for them at the whim of their guardian. They quickly sped out into a vast cylindrical tower stretching as high as the top of the plant. Tiers of walkways encircle the various floors this tower intersected with. Trailing wires flashing with electricity dangled back and forth in the breeze over the massive gaping pit.
"It's gone!" Mega Man declared. "It couldn't have just vanished. That thing was huge."
"Authorities being contacted," the security bot monotoned and reversed his direction.
Mega Man and Roll split up and ran down the semi-circle runway overhanging the pit. "It couldn't have just vanished."
"Did it teleport out?" Link asked.
"No. The machinery inside the coil is too unstable to be teleported. It would have to be carried out by someone."
"Are robots capable of carrying out things as big as this?" Link asked.
"Not even Guts Man could do it. And even if one could, it would be too unwieldy to take more than a hundred yards. And even so, no one would be able to transport such a large piece of technology without being seen."
"No human, you mean," Roll said.
Mega Man shook his head. "Well, it may have been a robot. But how would they have taken it out of here? The machine was lowered in from the top. And they couldn't have taken it out the door. Where else would they have gone?"
"Down." Link leaned over the railing and pointed downward into the inky blackness. Mega Man glanced up from the hanging wires and down into the ground.
"Yes, look!" Roll pointed. "Use your spectro. See the scratch marks on the walls?"
"Yes. I see it. They're fresh. Come on, we've got to follow them." He ran forward and jumped down into the pit. Link's eyes widened as he watched him drop like a rock into a well.
"Link," Roll said with authority. "Take that ladder," she pointed out.
"Is he going to be all right?"
"Yes. We have energy absorbing material on the bottom of our boots. It cancels out impact from falls." She followed suit, sprinting forward and long jumping into the chasm.
"Yeah, ladder's a good idea," he spoke aloud, thinking his boots weren't so advanced. He was daring, but not suicidal. Link ran to the other side and grabbed the two side-rails of the ladder and slid. He kept his hands near the sides of the rail in case he needed to stop short. The darkness of the pit gave way to bright light flooding through a cavern at the bottom. He slowed his descent by gripping onto the bars, making sure not to yank his arms out of his sockets.
Hopping the final step, he landed with his boots in the dirt as his robot friends were sniffing around the well-lit cavern they now found themselves in. Bright halogen lamps dotted the access strip.
"This is a big cave," Link said. "Looks like it was meant for people."
"It was. This is a mining shaft."
"The mining facility that's right next door," Roll added.
"The culprit must have made a tunnel close by so he could escape undetected," Mega Man said.
"Not escape, just commit the crime. He's got to be high-tailing out of here now. We've just got to figure out which way he went," Roll said.
Mega Man pointed to the intersection of the tunnel as a demonstration. The cavern was dug out as an offshoot of a mining tunnel. A set of railcar tracks marked its path.
"He had to have gone that way," Link pointed to the right.
"What makes you say that?"
"Look at the pattern of the tracks. They have those raised arrows on them. The rail car can't go backwards because it would catch on the arrows."
"He's right," Mega Man said. "In the old days, rail cars were designed like that to prevent them from reversing direction and crushing someone. Let's roll."
"What?" Roll said.
"I mean, let's go."
Roll, Mega Man, and Link ran up the tracks, passing the spheres of light on the wall to give light. The tunnel started rolling around a bend, revealing a net of security lasers blocking their path. They were shooting out of boxes attached to the wall, probably placed by the culprit to keep trackers from advancing.
"Wait! Hold up!" Mega Man commanded when Link kept going. "Those lasers are dangerous."
"Aw, screw your lasers." Link sprinted off and before Mega Man could stop him he leapt over the grid, passing right through a gap in the net.
Mega Man and Roll, visibly impressed with Link's agility, stopped short of the net, no holes big enough for them to dive or slide through. Mega Man took out his arm cannon and Roll her twin pistols and started shooting the laser producing hubs out from the wall.
"Go ahead, we'll catch up," Roll said.
Link did not need to be told that, as he was already bounding off. It took only a second for Roll and Mega Man to clear the path, with both of them working together. The Hylian was leading the pack now. He pumped his arms and legs back and forth, racing down the corridor. Link was sorely missing his pegasus boots right now.
Another bend appeared, this time to the left, and two unusual spheres hung from the ceiling, looking like burnt out light bulbs. Link paid them no mind at first, then they detached from their perch and flipped upward, spreading out bat wings and heading flying towards him. The Hylian was not sure how they could stay aloft with such a rotund figure, but he skidded to a stop and pulled out his bow and arrow. With lightning speed he nocked and shot a missile that swiftly flew through the air and clanged harmlessly on the metal exterior.
Two plasma blasts rang out behind him, striking one of the bats and disintegrating it.
"I've got the batton-tons," Mega Man said from behind. "Keep going."
Link nodded and rushed under the second enemy as Mega Man blasted it from the sky. A distinct rumbling could be heard ahead of him. Too focused on running, Link hadn't realized it was present until now. The gritty repetition sounded like a rail car beating against the tracks.
After the next turn in the tunnel, he saw the peak end of a metal spiraling pillar, placed horizontally, sailing down the tunnel.
"I see it!" Link yelled to the two robots behind him. It looked like the pillar was just traveling by itself on a rail-car down the tracks. The sight of their goal renewed their vigor and they ran even harder, now catching up to the slow moving bulky machinery.
A bright flash of light erupted from near the pillar and passed by. Link ducked it and it sailed between the two robot siblings, exploding against the wall.
"What was that?" Link declared.
"The machine! It's not traveling by itself!" Roll said.
"It's that robot from the museum. I can't blast it, I might hit the coil!"
A large plasma blast soared upward to the ceiling above Link and hit the stalactites above. A tremulous rumbling followed. Link knew what was coming and dived out of the way, just as the boulders started coming down. Getting to his feet, he scampered off as the ceiling tumbled down behind him. Just barely out of the crush zone, he waved away the dust and looked for Mega Man and Roll.
"Guys? Where are you?"
From behind the cave-in, Mega Man yelled out. "We're all right. We're back here," he called out after checking with Roll, who was getting up and brushing the dust off. "You all right?"
"Barely!" Link yelled from the other side of the rocks, barely able to hear the robot's muzzled voice.
"We have to dig our way out!" Roll yelled. "Go on without us! We'll catch up!"
"Got it!" Link furrowed his brows and sprinted down the tunnel, ready to catch up to the slow moving device. The robots would be fine, but it was more important that someone stopped that conduit coil before it fell into Wily's hands. In no time, he saw the end of the machine dipping low into a bump. It looked like it was driving itself, but Link knew there was some invisible being pushing the long rail-car.
"Stop!" he yelled.
Two more plasma blasts erupted from the machine. Link was far enough away to dodge them and did so easily.
"All right, coward. Let's see what you're made out of." Link took out his bow and arrow and fired two shots as he ran. Both arrows hit their target, the point of origin for the blasts, and fell to the ground harmlessly.
"Ack," Link swore. "How about some heavy artillery?" He plucked a blue bomb out of his bag and threw it ahead as far as he could. It hit the edge of the rail-car, which the invisible foe ran away from. The machine avoided the blast, but the shrapnel must have done something to the robot, as he could see a black shimmer running through his body, revealing his outline. The cloak was flickering in and out, giving an idea of where the robot was.
Link was getting desperate for useful weapons. "One of these has to work," he yelped and pulled out the next thing on top of his bag, his boomerang. He chucked it forward with full force. It sailed through the air, spinning and spinning, slowly descending. It missed his intended target and flew under the rail-car.
Suddenly, a screeching sound filled the air and yellow sparks flew from the wheel. Link's boomerang must have jammed up in the wheel or hit the brake or something. The enemy ran its stomach into the bottom of the car and fell back into the ground.
"Yes!" Link said. "Finally."
The Hylian ran up to the machine and pulled out his sword, pointing it at the fallen humanoid, whose shape was flickering in and out like a light.
"Reveal yourself," the Hylian demanded.
The robot remained motionless on the ground. Link could see he was sitting up, leaning back on his hands. Perhaps he was trying to recover from disorientation.
"I said reveal yourself," Link demanded more forcefully.
What looked like a shimmering waterfall washed over the robot, as if he was turning to liquid. The form solidified, changing color to blue, revealing...
The form of Mega Man looked up at him, an evil scowl in his eyes. With a swift motion of his leg, he kicked Link in the stomach, sending him flying back into the rock and his sword clattering to the floor. The blue robot spun around and pushed the trolley forward, pumping his legs like pistons, getting the car moving even faster than before.
When Link recovered from his blow, he looked around, seeing nothing in view. He didn't remember being knocked out, but perhaps he was. There was no rail-car, no sounds of rumbling, and no conducting conduit. Link woozily stood up and recovered his lost sword, cursing himself for letting him get away. Letting Mega Man get away? What in the world was going on? There couldn't be two of them, could there? He'd seen some similar robots, of the same design, but he thought Mega Man was a unique robot. Was he fighting for the wrong team?
Just then, Mega Man and Roll came running down the passageway. "Link, are you all right?"
Link withdrew his sword. "Don't come any closer."
"Link, what are you doing?"
A moment of decision brought his sword back down. He remembered all the good Mega Man had done for him and a world he didn't even know. There was no way he would bring up a blade against someone like that. "Sorry. I'm having a rough day. You won't believe what I just saw."
Next Chapter: Meeting the Enemy