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Chapter 54: Level Two
Chapter 54: Level Two
That horrible vibration still rumbled in the alcove. Like a slow drum, it banged on and on, in a perfectly repeating rhythm, doom accompanying each of its steps. The metal grate rattled with each step, her only way to see outside, through an obscured fence.
That cyclops bot was still circling the ventilation tower, looking for her. Somehow she had managed to duck into this storage compartment without it detecting her escape. Unfortunately, there was no available path beyond the bay. So she was trapped, and hiding, and shaking with fear. Her arms were huddled around her legs, sitting in a fetal position as that was all the room this hideaway allowed her. If she could cry, she would be weeping. Her armor was cracked and falling apart. Her power levels were running on emergency systems. Her body felt like it had been crushed in a compactor. Those stupid pistols were useless. She'd only managed to make one successful shot out of about two hundred, and the giant robot hadn't even noticed it. Meanwhile, she was barely clinging onto life, and hiding like a coward inside the hub of the station, trying to escape detection and desperate to find some way out of this wretched situation. Finding none, she felt like she was just waiting for an inevitable death.
Her only saving grace was the apparent ineptitude of the circling yellow devil. By some miracle, its demonic eye had never seen her duck into this alcove. Now, with no target to attack, it simply guarded the hub, looking for the meat for the beast. It knew she was still here, somehow. It knew she was hiding, just not where. For some reason, it hadn't the brain patterns to actually search for her - it was in some sort of watch mode. But she was trapped in here, and the only getaway was back out the way she came.
She could tell when it was getting closer. She could hear the massive footsteps, and when it passed by the threaded grate she spied out of, she could see the horrible yellow mass pass by. Every time its form got closer, she thought surely this would be the time she was going to be caught. This time, it was going to stop at the grate and turn its glowing red eye toward her. It was going to punch through the metal like rice paper, grab her lithe body like a stick and squeeze it until the oil spurted out like an orange.
It approached again, thumping that DOOM, DOOM, DOOM of its footpads down on the titanium floor. Slow. Methodical. No hurry. She would show herself soon enough. She had nowhere to go. It was just playing the waiting game. A waiting game it would win, because it had what she wanted, and she could go no further without it.
The distended yellow hemisphere of its body came into sight, in her square fenced television to the outside. That demonic, sunken-in eye, surrounded by coal black, stared straight ahead. It stopped.
Roll froze, held her breath. The yellow devil's glowing red eye gazed straight ahead, as if stuck. Daring her to make a move. Roll predicted it would quickly turn right, seeing the whole circle of that demon gaze. It had to know she was here. She almost willed it to turn and see her, to know she was there, so it could put an end to all this. To see her, so the torture could end. It just stayed there, immobile, as if concentrating hard on something. Why wouldn't it look in here? Why was it just waiting? Did it see something? Did it know she was two feet from it. Could it smell her? Why was it just staying there? Just do something! Move on!
The yellow devil stepped forward again, as if nothing happened. It just continued its moebius strip around the hub of the station.
This was so stupid. Here she was, thinking she could be the hero, and now she was just huddled in a corner of the station, hurting and waiting for the end. She was so stupid, she couldn't be like Mega Man, let alone better. Mega Man was trained to be a hero. He had something she could never have. She was just a maid. Why didn't she just stay there, like a good robot was supposed to. She had a role that she was supposed to fulfill. Why did she ever stray from it. What possessed her to think she could be like Mega Man, with those tiny pistols and weird green sunglasses. She might as well have just flung open the grate and offered herself to the cyclops. This pain was unbearable. But some sort of self-preservation instinct was preventing her from emerging. Even despite not having the third law installed, she stayed inside. For some reason beyond her programming, she stayed in the dark, hiding, bathed in agonizing fear. Helpless.
Not that it mattered. If she didn't get repaired, her systems would eventually degrade and her memory and CPU would be unable to function. She could already feel her systems going, one by one, circuit pathways dropped off, the hardware failed. Backup systems tried to compensate, but they couldn't be relied on long. They were only a temporary measure. She could feel her systems going... going...
Plasma globules sprayed out like a fountain from Mega Man's arm. Flying robots imploded in yellow bursts of light, then disintegrated, far long before they reached them. Mega Man's deadly accuracy for fliers complemented Link's ferocious attacks on the ground robots.
Link burst out from behind Mega Man and horizontally slashed a scowling robot made to resemble a penguin across the neck. The head and body flopped down to the floor lifeless. Two more waddled toward them, hopped in the air, and slid on their bellies like torpedoes. Link charged up his sword behind him and released it in a tornado of metal as they approached. The robots flew to the left and right out of harm's way as they got caught in Link's spinning fan.
Mega Man fired a plasma blast above at a oval-shaped bird carrying an egg almost as big as itself.
"Those things are dangerous," Mega Man said over the din, "You've got to get them before they drop those egg bombs. They have dozens of tiny baby bird robots that swarm in and get you."
"Got it," Link said as he jumped up and plunged his sword into a helmeted tank, traveling along the ground. Another tried to bite him, but he jammed his shield into its face, resulting in a piece of it being blasted off. Angrily, Link sliced its turret off and jammed his sword into the hole making it defunct. His shield was starting to look like someone had chewed on it.
Link equated the hydroelectric plant to a water temple. Large pipes and tubes snaked throughout the building, some big enough for a person to go through. Tanks of water rested below and above them, washing back and forth huge amounts of water. They had found an in between floor to squeeze into. It seemed the least guarded of all the routes they could take, which was how Mega Man always did it, taking the path of least resistance.
Link wiped his brow. He had successfully risen to his robot friend's rank of dealing out damage to robots. Getting up close and personal with man-threshing mechanoids was a different tactic, but it was apparently working. Since Mega Man had become a thorn in his side, Wily had engineered his sentinel robots to best deal with his long distance plasma blaster specifically. They were not expecting a sword-wielding Hylian trouncing into their corridor and laying them to waste. The hard part though, was their metal hides made it so much more difficult to successfully make a clean swipe through their bodies. These were definitely not moblins or leevers. He had dealt with armored monsters before, like helmasaurs, but they always had a weak point. These robots were made completely out of helmasaur shell. So he had to put every ounce of strength behind his blows, else he'd get his sword stuck in their hide, which happened occasionally. So far he was having success by aiming for what looked like weak points - eyes, stomach, and anything crystalline. It was tiring him out, his sword had never felt so heavy, but he wasn't ready to give up yet. The goal of trying to match Mega Man's prowess was keeping him going. He wasn't even close to giving up.
Mega Man opened an access port for them to crawl through, having dispensed the malicious attackers in the room. The door opened and shut behind them, depositing them in a room similar to the last one they were in. A large bola hooked into the floor was swinging around, independent of a swinger. The balls on each end were lined with thick pointed spikes. The swing arc was too far for Link to jump over.
"How do we get across this?"
Mega Man tried firing at the bola. The shots clinked off and flew away harmlessly.
"No help there," the blue robot said.
"Can you jump it?"
"Too far. And then what do I do with you?"
Link 'hmmm'ed in thought. This provided an interesting conundrum. It obviously had some sort of robotics involved in it. Otherwise, it wouldn't be swirling perpetually. Link looked a little closer at the device. In the hub of the bola, the center of the circle, a red light was flashing on and off. Rather curious.
"Mega Man, see that red light there? In the middle?"
Mega Man nodded. "Try and hit it?"
Mega Man fired multiple shots at the center, trying to time the shots so they went in between the veering spheres. Some mistimed shots reflected off, but most hit the mark and absorbed in. After a few plasma bursts, the hook holding the bola vanished.
With nothing to hold onto, the bola flung off. The two ends separated, flying in both directions.
"AAAH! Duck!" Mega Man said, and pulled Link to the floor by his tunic.
The giant spiked orb flew over their heads, nearly taking off Link's hat in the process, and embedded itself in the wall. The other flew away and fell into a pit.
"Whoa, that was close," the Hylian said as he stood up.
The two passed over the area and made their way forward, further into the plant. After some steps, the ceiling and floor tightened closer together into almost a tunnel. Suddenly, buzzsaws started poking out of slits on the floor and ceiling. The pair stopped as soon as they saw the first one poke its deadly head out.
"Yikes!" Link said. The saws were alternating between each other, so that one couldn't jump over one without possibly hitting the other. "This is going to take some timing."
"Welcome to my world," Mega Man muttered. He headed out after the buzzsaw on the bottom completed its run, running along the slitted line. The ceiling saw extracted, slicing through air, but too high above to reach the robot's helmet. Just as it fell back in, Mega Man leapt into the air and the saw emerged from the floor. If he had been standing there, he would have been cleaved in two. He continued down the tunnel the same way.
Link sighed and ran after him. The saw from the ceiling came down, with Link cautiously ducking down as he ran through. As it retracted, he could see the white gleam of the rotor start to come up out of the ground. He hoisted himself up, trying to be as light on his feet as possible and narrowly avoided getting the seat of his pants cut.
They weaved in and out of the buzzsaw tunnel. Link tried to step where Mega Man stepped and repeat his actions. A few timing mistakes forced him to hug the wall as the edge of the blade nearly cut off the heel of his boots.
They finally made it through the passageway and into the next area, which housed platforms and pits. Link treaded close to the edge of one and looked down. The darkness obscured the bottom.
"It's too far for you to jump across," Mega Man said.
"Hold on," Mega Man said and grabbed Link by the belt and scruff of the neck. Link's eyes widened as the robot picked him up off the ground, swung back and flung him to the other side of the pit. The Hylian screamed in terror as he flew over the blackness onto a metal column. Instinctively, he tucked and rolled along the square platform, righting himself quickly.
"What was that!" he called back across the chasm.
Mega Man bounded across the pit easily with his robotic legs and landed next to Link. "You needed to cross the pit, didn't you? Was that a problem."
"I do have this, you know." He pulled out his hookshot and grasped the handle. He pointed it at the ceiling at the center of the next pit and fired. The grappling hook soared up and hooked into the plating. Link released the trigger for a split second, which sent him sailing up, and then stopped in mid-air. He swung forward like a pendulum and reached the other side with no problem. He yanked the grappling hook out of its set and retracted the chain. With a smirk, he turned back to Mega Man and said, "No one tosses a Hylian."
Mega Man smirked and jumped over the pit. Suddenly a yellow blur jumped out of the pit, heading straight for Mega Man. It was a met-tool with a rocket strapped to it. With his inertia, Mega Man wasn't going to be able to avoid it.
On a spurt of quick thinking, he fired his hookshot and grabbed the helmeted robot in mid-air. It latched on, and pulled him back to Link's platform. Mega Man continued the rest of the way unobstructed and landed on his feet. The met-tool's rocket was still firing, and it directed the flare outward, about to take off with Link.
Mega Man grabbed the robot and yanked it off the hooks, then tossed it over the pit where it tumbled end over end into a pit.
"Had to throw that one back. Too small," he punned. Mentally he cursed himself for not checking the edge of the pit before he jumped. Too many times he'd been attacked by robots jumping out of pits. He should have known this time would be no different.
Mega Man opened the door they found themselves at after jumping the pits. The sweet moist air and sunlight of the outside surprised them. Link stepped out into the warm light. There wasn't another building as far as he could see, except for the city in the distance. It felt nice to be out with some nature again. To breathe the air. They were at ground level, at a large factory dock junctioning with a wide, rapid river. Some strange looking vehicles bobbed in the water, tied to plastic posts in their ports. Link looked at Mega Man, asking him what the next move was since they had apparently come to a dead end.
"Excellent," the robot said, approaching the dock. "This will make our trip much faster." He started untying the ropes that held the flat boat at each post.
"What's this?" Link asked.
"It's a hydroski. A type of boat with an hydro-volt unit. We just take it down the river and we'll arrive at the robot master's lair in no time." Having untied the boat, he jumped in and started pressing buttons on the control panel. To Link, it resembled a hovercar, but with no wheels and in the water. It was remarkably flat, making him think of a manta ray with its back scooped out for seats. If it capsized or took on water, it would likely sink very quickly.
"It looks fast," Link said nervously.
"It is. They use it for getting up and down the river quickly, to the other end of the plant." Mega Man started the engine and it hummed to life with an ethereal bass vibration. Link cautiously stepped into the hollowed-out fish on the robot's gesture.
Mega Man looked behind him to gauge distance. He took the circle attached to the front panel in both hands and the vehicle started to back out of the pier slowly. He kept reversing until he was clear of the dock and righted the vehicle until it faced down the river. It bobbed up and down with the current. Mega Man shifted it out of reverse.
A missile blew past his head and exploded.
He turned back and saw two joes on jet-skis skimming down the river, bouncing with the waves and pointing their blasters.
"Damn," Mega Man said. "Okay, you drive, I'll shoot."
"Me!" Link said incredulously. "Why do I have to drive?"
"I can't drive and fire simultaneously. I can't look forward and backward at the same time," he said quickly, pressing a myriad of buttons and switches on the panel.
"But I don't know how to drive!"
Mega Man pulled Link forcefully into the driver's chair in the center of the boat. "Just use the steering wheel to turn it left or right. That's all you need to know."
"What about speed? How do I control speed?"
"Don't worry about that." Mega Man said as he gradually pushed the throttle lever to maximum. The quiet hum of the motor grew to a lion's roar and the hydroski steadily shot off like a rocket. Mega Man teetered and rocked from the waves as he went to the back of the boat to fight the enemies.
Link held onto his hat as the wind picked up faster and faster. "Whoa! Whoa! WHOA!" Link screamed, trying to maintain control of the boat by turning the steering wheel left and right. Whatever happened to reins? The slightest movement of the wheel nearly brought him careening into the river bank, and he quick turned it to the other side, which almost sent him into the other side.
"Careful up there!" Mega Man shouted, holding onto the weaving back of the boat.
"I've never driven before! What do you expect?" He said into the wind as he rotated the wheel again to the other side.
"Just keep it straight!"
Mega Man crouched into the hull, using it for cover, and fired his plasma shots. The two joes, now joined by a third, snaked in and out and fired their blasters. Link's erratic movements were actually providing the cover they needed, but sacrificed their speed. The irregular bouncing was causing Mega Man's shots to fly all sorts of ways, none of them hitting the target. He was caught in a crossfire of missed shots.
Link finally was able to figure out how to move the steering wheel without causing them to shred sand and drive straight. He had to concentrate on knowing the sensitivity of the movement of the boat, and not on the blurs of green passing by his peripheral vision. He hated going this fast, let alone being in control of the vehicle going this fast.
Mega Man traded shots back and forth with the robots. The two skis in front split off and approached at opposite sides. Once one was close enough, he let loose a barrage of blasts. One of them hit the ski itself, causing it to sputter. Mega Man capitalized on its break and fired as fast as he could. The joe's ski absorbed the shots, and he absorbed a few himself. The vehicle exploded in the water, its front board rotating end over end as it splashed along the river's surface.
Just as Mega Man was about to turn to the next one, a sudden jolt of the boat caused him to lose his footing and he fell.
Link felt the huge jostle too and saw that one of the joes was on his side and had bumped him. "Why you little..." Link muttered and heedlessly turned the steering wheel to bump him back, regardless of how close to the bank they were.
The joe and Link became locked in a game of bumper boats. Link gritted his teeth and slammed the robot back as hard as he could, then returned to the center of the river before he got too close.
The joe raised his blaster and pointed it at Link's head. Link's fierce expression turned to shock.
Suddenly a plasma blast came from behind, blasting the joe's arm off. Mega Man, kneeling on the floor with one hand holding it for balance, fired again, aiming from the tops of his eyes. Two more shots took out the ski and the joe's head. The robot dropped back and skidded into the bank, tossing everything overboard.
Link gave him a thumbs up and turned back to the river while the robot righted himself. The river seemed to be getting choppier and choppier, with large rocks now beginning to poke through the water. Now Link had to contend with avoiding certain explosive death on a jagged rock.
Mega Man figured he had reached the most tumultuous part of the river as he continued trading shots with the attackers. Two more had appeared behind the one still leading, and he was really hoping this was the last of them. They couldn't be that much further from the end of the river. The bouncing of the rapids was sending every shot off its mark.
Link saw it before he hit it, but couldn't do anything about it. A drop-off in the river. He couldn't control his speed, he couldn't warn Mega Man. He just hit it as straight on as he could. The bump kept the hydroski airborne for a moment, then crashed down on the water again, spraying Link with water. A horrible screeching sounded from the bottom of the boat.
Mega Man, not paying attention to their course, was surprised when the floor dropped out from under him and he found himself in mid-air. "Whooaaaa!" he yelled out as he saw the boat drive out from under him, replaced by frothy water.
Link glanced back behind him and saw Mega Man about to tumble into the river. Instinctively he grabbed the hookshot from his belt and fired it backward, keeping one hand on the steering wheel.
Mega Man saw the chain pass by him and grabbed it as fast as he could. He hit the water with a forceful impact, dragging the chain down with him. The links rolled out of their reel until it hit the end and stopped. Link felt his arm nearly pulled off, and almost got pulled in the river with him, but he grabbed the steering wheel with a firm grip and held on. The Hylian felt like he was being pulled apart.
Mega Man splashed in the water, trying to keep his head up and find a good grip on the hookshot's end. White foam bubbled around him as the joes sped forward and closed in. He finally managed to find the orientation of his body and gripped the hookshot chain firmly. The taut chain pulled him down the river, as Mega Man stretched out his arms and let his feet fly behind him. He slid along the water like a penguin, and looked like he was trying to take off.
As the joes surrounded him, Mega Man plunged his feet into the rushing water and pulled back on the hookshot. Link gritted his teeth and groaned as he felt the tension on his muscles increase. Mega Man thrust his large padded feet against the water, putting resistance to it, and water-skied off the back of the boat. Still holding onto the chain, he adjusted so he could hold it with one hand, ducking through their shots. He slid over to the nearest joe and blasted his vehicle at point blank range. The jet ski exploded. He switched hands on the chain and fired to the left, taking that robot out too. The third, and last, was behind him, and he changed the grip of his feet so he moved outside of the wake. The robot was now in his peripheral vision and he fired. The shots missed, but the robot slowed down, dropped back, and sailed to the side of the river.
Mega Man arched his eyebrow as he realized this was a retreat. He had no idea why it would do that, but it was out of threatening range now. Maybe it was returning to regroup or something. In any case, they looked to be out of harm's way. He turned back to Link and waved, smiling.
Link smiled weakly through his gritted teeth, stretched between the hookshot and steering wheel, which he was somehow able to manipulate still. At least they finally made it. Mega Man started pulling himself in as Link released the trigger. The spring-loaded mechanism started reeling back in, slowly but steadily under the robot's weight. He looked back over the river and realized a part of the horizon was starting to get nearer and nearer. He peered closer and realized the river was ending... abruptly!
"Waterfall!" Link yelled. But it was too late.
The hydroski flew over the edge of the river and sailed at a perfect 45 degree angle downward. The air resistance seemed to keep it aloft longer, as if falling in slow motion. Unfortunately, the river took a sharp turn in the bend as soon as the waterfall ended, and the hydroski found itself flying over land after a short time. It tumbled, down, down, into the craggy swampy land, where it impaled itself on a rock and twirled on its side. It spun like a windmill, as if it were doing cartwheels, until it hit a bad rock and crashed into the ground, catching the fuel on fire and exploding outright.
From their vantage point on the rock, just at the edge of the waterfall, Link and Mega Man watched their boat collide with the rocks and thanked their lucky stars Link had managed to jump off in the nick of time. Link's body was secure on the outcropping, but his arm was hanging off the rock, holding on to the suspended Mega Man at chain's length below, dangling on a thread.
Mega Man looked up at Link with innocent eyes. "You okay?" he called out.
"You... are... very... heavy..." Link gasped.
Mega Man looked down at the ground, looking for a spot to land. "Swing me over to that land down there," he pointed.
Link, mentally pre-thanking Mega Man for letting go, swung his arm back and then forth, towards the river bank nearby. Mega Man jumped off and landed soundly on the rocky floor, next to a plateau-like face.
The hookshot spun back on its reel and retracted fully. The Hylian stood up on the rock and switched his tool to his other hand, rotating the shoulder of his sore arm. Using the same strategy, he fired the chain into the rock wall, and swung down to Mega Man's landing spot.
"I'm gonna need to get a new hookshot by the end of this," he said, resetting his weapon and putting it back in his bag.
"Maybe we can tune it."
Mega Man took in his surroundings, figuring out where they had ended up. The mountainside they had arrived at had a shallow cavern inside. And a strange... metal door?
"We've arrived," he huffed with relief. "Robot master's lair is beyond that door."
"Goody, another one of these," Link said, looking at the sectioned out metal.
"You get used to them."
Link sighed and braced himself. "At least we get to take him together this time."
He approached the door, which opened automatically. The hallway was lined with circuitry and metal plating, oddly merged with the rock, creating some strange hybrid material. With a few more steps they reached the entrance door.
"What kind of robot is in here?" Link asked.
"You never know," Mega Man replied as the door opened, section by section with a high-pitched clinking. They passed under the jamb and were enveloped into the large square room they had predicted. No robot master was waiting for them.
Until he teleported in from above, fully formed. A large vermilion robot with a strange body. Its torso had a needle gauge on it, and its shoulders curved upward, making his chest look like a crescent.
"Gravity Man," Mega Man said. "Funny. I was expecting a water-based robot to be guarding the hydro-electric plant."
"Sorry to bring you down," he said, grinning. "Let me lift your spirits."
The needle gauge on his torso flipped to the extreme left and a faint humming, increasing in pitch, filled the air. Link suddenly felt his stomach turn upside down. His feet lifted off the ground and he found himself falling UP! The ceiling drew closer and closer. It was all Link could do to twist his body so he landed on his back instead of his body. Mega Man landed on his feet.
Link looked up and saw Gravity Man running on the ceiling... or floor... He rubbed the sore back of his head. "Do all robot masters make horrible puns related to their power?"
Mega Man wasn't paying attention, he had his eyes trained on Gravity Man, following him parallel to his place on the floor. The robot master jumped from one end of the room to the other. Mega Man tried firing as he jumped, but no shots hit.
"Who's your friend?" Gravity Man asked of the crumpled and confused Hylian.
"His name's Link, and he's as lethal as me," Mega Man said as he ran toward him.
Gravity Man switched the gauge on his chest, reversing the pull in the room, which somehow, was the opposite of Gravity Man's pull. Mega Man and Link fell back to the floor, and Gravity Man flew up to the ceiling. Link, just having gotten up and oriented, found himself flying towards the floor again and landed on his shoulder. He yelped in pain.
"He falls well," Gravity Man said and smiled evilly. He ran to the other side.
Mega Man, knowing what was coming, positioned himself a ways from Gravity Man, nearly under where he was. When the gravity switched, they passed by and Mega Man fired at point blank range. The plasma globules hit squarely on Gravity Man's torso and fizzled out with the form-fitting static light that appeared.
"Argh, he still has that light shield," Mega Man cursed next to Link, who was groaning.
"Hee, hee, it tickles," said Gravity Man from above.
"Am I on the floor or ceiling now?" Link said, staring up at some flat surface.
The robot master jumped to the other side of the floor again, and fired a slow moving plasma shot down at Link. Mega Man was about to shout out a warning, but Link saw it and rolled out of the way, where it harmlessly scorched the floor.
Gravity Man switched the polarity once again. Mega Man saw it coming and aimed again. On the pass by he fired all the shots he could. It was hard enough to hit him, but with that light shield in place, he had no hope of ever defeating this robot. All his shots disappeared as they made contact with his glittery surface.
Link tumbled into a crumpled heap as he landed on the ceiling-cum-floor. His shield was half off his shoulder, and his scabbard was splayed against his back. His bag had come open, and all his items were scattered on the floor: his flute, his fire rod, his lantern. The soreness of his body made him slow to get up and try to put his things back in. Before he even reached it, the gravity switched, and Link's eyes widened as he saw the floor sucked away from him. He tried grabbing for his bag, but that peeled off the floor too and fell with him. He landed flat on his back, lightly cracking his head on the cold metal floor.
"Stop doing that!" Link yelled out. "You're gonna make me throw up!"
A sinister smile spread across Gravity Man's face. "Do what? This?"
The gauge on his chest suddenly flipped back and forth. The three of them fell at opposite sides, then just before they reached the floor, started pulling back up again, then back down, up and down, up and down. Mega Man kept himself righted, needing only an instant for reorientation. He shot his arm cannon as much as possible, but to no effect. Gravity Man lowered and rose himself around the plasma shots. Meanwhile, Link felt like a salt shaker, being tossed up and down, up and down, watching his items float with him, while Gravity Man looked on gleefully, soaking up Mega Man's ammo. His stomach felt like they were going to fall out of his body.
"Whooooaoaoaoaoaoaoaoaoa!" Link yelled out in panic.
"Ha, ha, ha" Gravity Man laughed with his hands on his hips.
A soft, high-pitched note started sounding in the air, then faded, then came back. It sounded like Link's flute. The violent shaking was causing air to rush into the pipes.
Behind him, Gravity Man's light shield started to crackle without having taken a shot. Mega Man looked at it curiously for a moment, then fired. Gravity Man took a shot in the arm and recoiled back, grunting in pain.
Mega Man's eyes widened with surprise and he turned to Link. "Link! The flute! It's the flute! It's a sonically deflecting shield! It yields to a high frequency pitch. Grab it!"
Link saw what he meant and tried to swim through the air over to where his flute was floating in space. Combing several different swimming strokes into one, he managed to maneuver the distance enough to snatch his flute out of mid-air. With a fast, gigantic breath he tightened his lips and blew with all his might into the wooden instrument.
A loud ear-piercing C reverberated in the room. Gravity Man held his ears in pain, tumbling backward. The light shield effervesced with static, sparkling across the robot's body, then cracked like an eggshell and flew apart.
Mega Man unloaded into Gravity Man with shot after shot. The robot master was pulsatingly propelled backwards, having no gravity to resist him, until he hit the wall. As he was pinned there, Mega Man unleashed a rapid flurry of plasma power.
"Noooooo!" Gravity Man roared. With one final shot, he exploded in balls of yellow and white light spinning outwards and a echoing sound that gradually faded.
"All right!" Mega Man said as he dropped to the ground on his feet.
Link plummeted to the floor one final time on his back, where he rested. "Yay..." he said weakly as he held up a finger to indicate he was all right.
Mega Man walked to the center and jumped into the air. He hung there for a second as the balls of light returned and rotated around him. He absorbed their light energy into his body and into his system. The energy reformed into solid metal as a weapon slot chip in his arm cannon.
Link finished gathering up his items and stood, as Mega Man dropped back to the floor and checked his weapon copy inventory to make sure the Gravity Hold was there.
"What was that?" Link asked.
"You handle how you get items in your world, and I'll handle it in mine," he sarcastically sneered.
Having finished their work here, they exited the room the same way they came, emerging from the dark hallway, and back to the waterfall and the river. Evening was starting to drop a blue curtain over the sky.
"Phew," Link said, rubbing his bruises. "Where do we go now?"
"The inverser. We need to take a special transport to get up there. I think we're going to have to call for a vehicle to take us there," Mega Man said, surveying the situation. If only they hadn't trashed the hydroski, that would have been a handy device to use. He and Link walked down the river bank, along the flow of the water, while Mega Man opened a communication line to the law enforcement in the area, intending to let them know the situation in the hydroelectric plant was taken care of, and that they needed a ride.
Link looked back at the misty waterfall, seeing the strange mist around it grow thicker. Especially around the middle of the falls, rather than the bottom. He stopped for a second, with Mega Man still walking forward, and examined it closer. It was almost like something was coming through.
"Hold it," Link said and put a hand on his friend's shoulder. He too stopped to look at the waterfall.
The mist grew larger and larger, until it reached capacity. Suddenly, a gigantic ship punched through the falling water. The decayed wood and rotting sails were instantly familiar to Link.
For some reason none of them could fathom, the ghost ship had arrived in this world.
Next Chapter: Return of the Ghost Ship