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Chapter 57: What Goes Up...
Chapter 57: What Goes Up...
"Gemini Man," Mega Man said coldly.
"Gemini Man?" Link queried. He looked back down at the sword he had partially unsheathed and shoved it back in his scabbard. He should have known with that crystal armor.
"You're going to be the last thing this space station sees," they said in tandem, and held up their squarish arm cannons on their hands. Two blue lasers emitted out, heading straight for the group of them. The three of them turned and leaped over the top of the computer console they were standing against for cover. The lasers passed over, reflected against the glass, and started bouncing around the room haphazardly.
Crouching behind their shelter, Mega Man leaned next to Roll and whispered something quickly. She nodded. He then turned to Link. "Can you provide a distraction?"
"Can I?" Link said incredulously. "I am a distraction!"
Mega Man looked back at Roll who nodded once firmly.
"Go!" he said.
Link jumped back out from his cover and began brandishing his sword with one his favorite techniques, rolling it side to side and spinning it in his hand, crying out an attention-getting battle yell. Mega Man did the same, though he jumped to the opposite side and fired his plasma cannon at the two of them. The robot masters moved to intercept the two foes respectively, matching their movements.
As the gap between them was wide enough, Roll leapt out from above the console, with her feet under Tango in skateboard form. Fire burst out of the tail-pipes as Roll grabbed air, holding onto her flat cat. She flew through the narrow space in between corridors, down the center of the command deck. With the Gemini Men each assigned someone else, they had opened a clear gap to the elevator, but she had to speed.
"Get her!" they shouted out, with their guns pointing to the others. She zipped by on her board and disappeared into the lift. Mega Man and Link ducked back under the computer console, with their distraction complete. Roll slapped the emergency close button without looking as she breached the doorway. The robot masters stopped their fighting and fled to the door, but it was too late. They clambered up the shut entrance.
"After her!" the left one said to the right.
"She's of no concern," the other said. "The inverser is safe, and she can't escape from the station. We'll finish these two off, then go after her. The way through is shut."
Meanwhile, Link rejoined Mega Man, who was checking his arm cannon, behind the computer console. Link was exasperated from the stress of so many battles, but his gusto was increasing his tolerance limit.
"Is he going to split into anymore guys?" Link said between breaths.
"No, just two. He's named after a constellation that resembles a pair of mythical twins."
"Which one's the real one?" Link had his eyes looking behind him with his back to the rampart. He gripped his sword tighter in his hand.
Mega Man was a little confused with this question. "They're both real. You hurt one, you hurt both of them. It's another of Wily's tricks with holograms."
"How does it work?" Link said, looking back.
"I don't know," he said sarcastically, "I've never gotten close enough to find out."
Gemini Man and his brother had lost track of Mega Man and Link when they became distracted by Roll. They scanned the computer consoles which had become small barracks in front of them. "How foolish!" one said. "You might have managed to scrap together some sort of defense with three. But now it's two on two."
"Did I say two on two?" the other Gemini Man taunted. "I mean two on very shielded and invulnerable two."
"Is that so?" Mega Man said, looking at Link and smiling. The Hylian smiled back, already digging out his instrument. "Play it again, Link."
Link took a huge breath and blew into the flute as hard as he could. The ear-piercing shriek felt like it would shatter the thick windows.
The two incarnations of Gemini Man took a step back as if the ground was trembling underneath them. Their light shields flashed with static and fuzz, as if they'd been hit. The flickering went faster and faster until the white veil splintered and dissolved away.
"Our shields!" Gemini Man said.
Mega Man popped up from behind the console. "Now... it's even." He fired off a series of blasts from his arm cannon. The Gemini Men dodged most of the yellow balls of plasma. Link emerged as well, spinning his sword in his hand, ready to test its might, crystal armor or no.
The Gemini twins ignored Mega Man's blasts and fired their own Gemini lasers at various points around the room. Blue beams of light tore through the computer equipment, and refracted off the walls. In an instant the command deck became a hazard course with lasers bouncing back and forth like tennis balls.
As Link finished brandishing his sword, he looked ahead. "Holy cow!" he exclaimed as he saw a blue ray of light zipping toward him. Without thinking, he leaned back and let the beam pass over his head, where it bounced against the window wall at a 45-degree angle and headed up. More were coming. Link spun around, weaving and ducking around the rays threatening to tear through him. He flipped onto a handstand, still holding his sword, as one whizzed between his legs. With all the dodging he was doing, he couldn't manage to get a step forward. His shield might have deflected the blasts, but it was in pieces now. His agility training was paying off in spades, but he was useless like this. At the first opportunity he ducked back behind the console for protection.
Mega Man treaded back and forth between either enemy, holding his arm cannon steady as a rock and firing constantly. But the robot masters were fast and coordinated their efforts. They could jump as high as the room, and as soon as one came down, the other leapt up and fired a volley of lasers around. The blue bomber strafed back and forth, trying to avoid the onslaught and still make some hits. It was being very ineffectual. He noticed Link had hidden back behind the console and dove beside him.
"Are you hurt?" he asked.
"No," Link said. "But I can't do anything, there's too many of those things flying around," he said, obviously flustered.
"Lasers," Mega Man corrected.
"Come out, come out!" Gemini Man said, ceasing their leaping tactics and heading over to where they had taken cover.
"I really hate hiding," Link said.
"Don't worry about it. You can't do anything about them. I'll take care of it." He touched Link on the shoulder in support and sprang back over the console. He fought more intensely, knowing it was just going to be him in this battle. The exchange continued.
Link stared open-mouthed ahead. Can't do anything? No way. No way was Link going to sit here idle while he did all the work. That was not what he had come here for. He was not a cheerleader. His sword might not have been able to even get close to Gemini Man, but he had projectile weapons too. He pulled out his fire rod out of his knapsack and held it out in front of him, concentrating hard. It remained as dull and lifeless as when he had entered this world.
"Quit jumping around!" Gemini Man said from their position.
"You first!" Mega Man replied. They were leaping like frogs, trying to avoid getting hit. Only the Gemini Man robots could jump much higher and faster, and more of their spread was filling the room than Mega Man's directed volley. Only his superior robot reflexes and awareness were keeping him untouched. The gemini lasers moved slowly, but were numerous and unpredictable in their movements.
Link kept trying his fire rod, furrowing his brows as he shook it violently, as if trying to get ink from a pen. The clicking noise it made when he tried to start it repeated hollowly.
"Come on, work. Work, dammit, I know you can." He was clinging onto that thin thread of hope he had maintained ever since he found magic couldn't work in this world. That somehow, magic wasn't confined just to his Hyrule. That it was more than that. That it was everywhere. That it crossed borders. That it had no limits. That it was still there. But the fire rod continued to give empty responses.
"Errrgh," Link grunted in desperate frustration. This was his one and only chance. Mega Man couldn't possibly avoid all those lasers for long. Eventually, one was going to bounce off and hit him. He couldn't let that happen. He wouldn't stand by and watch him die in battle. He hadn't come this far to see that. He slammed the rod violently against the computer in frustration.
A small flame suddenly enveloped the red orb at the end of the scepter with a quiet FOOMPH.
Link stared wide-eyed and stunned at the pilot light of the fire rod. He let forth a weak "Hah!"
Mega Man used the console as a jumping point and bounded into the air. Suddenly, two lasers converged from opposite ends, bouncing off the ground and up into Mega Man's body. He flashed with an electrical charge, grimacing in hot pain, and fell on his back on the computer console, disoriented.
Just as the jumping Gemini Man returned to the floor, and the two set off, ready to charge him, Link surfaced from behind his blockade, holding his two enchanted staffs, one in each hand.
"Hey, boys," he said, twirling the twin rods in his hand. "Surprise!"
He thrust the fire rod in front of him as hard as he could. A massive fireball erupted from the globe at its end and rushed through the air, hitting the one on the left. He tried to shield himself with his shoulder, but the supernatural flame was much too strong for that. The blazing sphere collided and knocked him back against the wall, creating an outline of his body, shadowed in scorch marks.
The other Gemini Man, stunned, turned back to Link, and stared directly at a blast of ice particles zooming towards him. The shards of frost penetrated his face, freezing it, and knocking him to the floor. Gemini Man grasped his frozen face, preventing him from speaking.
"What technology is this!" the burnt one said, struggling to stand up.
"This isn't technology," he said as he sprang on top of the computer console and crossed his rods in front of him. "It's magic!"
He fired a dual blast from each of his rods. A fireball and an ice blast for each of them, and each collided with full impact. The ice blast crashed into the arm of the Gemini Man on the right as he held it up in front to shield his face. The laser cannon on his arm shattered and broke off. The other received a flaming comet, knocking him head over feet. Half his face was blackened beyond recognition and part of his fleshy skin melted off, revealing the metal interior.
The disruption Link had provided gave Mega Man enough time to recover and come back to Link's side. The Hylian jumped off the console, flourishing his weapons. As Gemini Man recovered and stood up, Mega Man whispered into Link's ear. The robot masters, furious with anger and indignance at being bested by a human, glowered at the two.
"Death!" they yelled, and leapt over consoles as hurdles, charging the two of them.
Link, with Mega Man still in his ear, looked up to the ceiling and a smile spread over his face. The Gemini brothers halted in the middle of their charge, skidding to a stop, and looked up at the ceiling as well.
In the dome skylight, they could see Roll outside the station, looking down at them. She waved.
The robot masters' eyes widened and their jaws dropped as they saw her bring her arm back and plunge it into the center of the window.
Shards of glass fell upwards into the blackness. Air formed into white gas that rushed into the newly made hole.
"HULL BREACH. HULL BREACH," the computer announced. "COMPENSATING PRESSURE. RESTORING OXYGEN. FORCEFIELDS ON MANUAL OVERRIDE."
The four in the command deck squinted their eyes from the tearing air threatening to lift them up like a cyclone, but the artificial gravity in the station kept them down. Link's eyes were beginning to water.
"What was that for!" Gemini Man said, unabated, his feet firmly planted on the floor. They were becoming used to the wind and looked straight at Mega Man. "Trying to kill your human friend?"
Mega Man said nothing. Instead, his color changed from blue to purple armor over white. Gemini Man's head snapped back in surprise. Mega Man looked at Link who was clutching onto something on the ground. "Ready!" he shouted above the pandemonium.
Mega Man fired his arm cannon out at the twins. But nothing happened. Except for a flash of yellow light that swiped the room. Then the Gravity Hold took effect. Any loose items, pens, papers, small tools, coffee mugs, headphones, wires, floated off, up through the breach and into space.
Gemini Man realized that their feet were levitating off the ground. By then it was too late, the Gravity Hold had taken effect and they were ineffectually flailing their arms, trying to restabilize. Their inertia got the best of them and they floated up, up, up, heading right for the ceiling. Like a vacuum cleaner the jagged hole in the skylight sucked them up and spit them out into the depths of space. Roll waved them goodbye from her position on the hull. They tumbled end over end in the aether, flying up and up voicelessly.
Link watched them float away and wink out like stars. "I guess Gemini Man lived up to his name," he said.
Roll crawled over the glass skylight, grabbed the edges of the cavity, and flipped herself back into the command deck. The effects of the Gravity Hold had worn off, and she dropped down to the floor.
"Computer," she spoke, "Reestablish forcefields, code 2529."
"Forcefield override removed. Forcefields activated."
A transparent yellow sheet spread over the hole in the ceiling, form-fitting it exactly. The air stopped rushing, conditions were returning to normal.
"That was the last one?" Link said.
"Yeah, but its still not over," Mega Man said, "You heard him, he got the inverser. He has the three things he needs. We've failed. We didn't get there fast enough. We wasted too much time. We failed. He's going to put a human brain inside a robot. He'll be able to create a true, thinking robot. He'll be unstoppable. If we only knew where he was..."
"We know where he is!" Roll exclaimed. "Antarctica!"
"They checked there. They didn't find anything. They scanned it with a fine toothed comb."
"But the robots, the base, don't tell me he's not there," Roll demanded.
"They've done scan after scan. They haven't revealed the location of his castle at all."
"What if its underground?"
"They would have detected it with seismic graphs."
Link piped up, "What if it was invisible?"
Roll and Mega Man turned their attention to him. "I mean, he did the same with that version of you he created. Why couldn't he make it one of those holograph things."
Mega Man thought for a second. Then turned to Roll. "Roll, what were the coordinates you found?"
"Twenty-three degrees forty-three minutes south, eleven degrees three minutes west."
Mega Man entered that data into a program in the console, as well as multiple other commands. He brought up a picture of the aforementioned coordinates, with the caption 'sat cam'. The photo revealed nothing but empty snow.
"Hmm..." Mega Man mumbled. He typed in more commands.
A side picture showed the rotating globe, shifting on its end to show the South Pole. Strange structures were positioned around it. Mega Man finally pressed the large enter button and looked out into the stars.
The satellite in the far corner of the window was rotating on an axis. Two wings made of square flat panels gleamed as light was reflected off. Another satellite, farther away also yawed to a different position. On the computer screen those strange floating structures were moving, displaying data in constantly changing numbers, either increasing or decreasing. Finally the satellite ahead of them stopped and a concentrated beam of light flew to the other satellite. That beam reflected off and disappeared around the bright blue light of the Earth.
On the computer it showed the sunlight traveling around the circumference of the planet, zipping from satellite to satellite until it finally reached the one hovering over Antarctica, where it directed the glow straight down like a drill.
On the live satellite feed of the location, the white suddenly became brighter, like daylight. Then a giant castle faded into the foreground like magic. A mixture of strange looking colorful towers, antennas, and fortifications were distributed around the perimeter, looking like it was made by a deranged mind too obsessed with robots. At the core of these bizarre defenses was a giant skull, staring blankly into the monitor with its empty eyes.
"There it is," Roll said. "Skull Castle. Right where I said."
Link and Mega Man looked over her shoulder at the large, intimidating structure.
"Let NASA/DSMA know, get the tether ready, get us a transport," Mega Man said. "We're going back... for the final battle!"
Next Chapter: Skull Castle