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Chapter 59: Final Boss
Chapter 59: Final Boss
"NOOOOO!" Mega Man outstretched his hand down to his fingers, helplessly lying on his back, with Roll on her knees tending to him. He tried to launch himself at the murderous robot, but she held him back, preventing him from a suicidal attack based on blind anger. He struggled against her grip, but the huge blast he'd just received had temporarily delayed his motor reflexes.
Link laid there, face down, pressed against the metal grating of the floor on the roof of Wily's castle. The clone stayed there for ten seconds, glaring down at the fallen body coldly. Then he turned around with unhurried malice back to his doppelganger and a chilling smile crept over his face. Roll and Mega Man looked up at him, eyes wide and watery with horror. The light in the rear cloaked him in dark light.
He vaulted into the air, jumping onto another platform yards away. Then like a leap frog he continued on, moving up the stepping stairs that circled around the garret to higher elevations. He was obviously tempting Mega Man to follow him, to exorcise the rage and achieve the vengeance he had just instilled.
Mega Man freed himself from the floor and Roll's hold. His sister let him up.
"You coward!" Mega Man called after him, holding out his arm cannon. "I'll kill you! I'll kill you!" Red hot anger burned in his eyes. In the same manner, Mega Man leapt after him, jumping from scaffold to scaffold in the same route.
Roll started after them, then halted in mid-step, and glanced back to Link's body. She clasped her hands in front of her chest, and stared at him, a sad, quizzical look on her face, like she didn't know how to react. There was so much she couldn't understand about human life, but the ability to be full of life one minute and wink out the next was something beyond her comprehension. Between the fighting and the escape and everything that had happened, her sympathetic nerve was raw. Her artificial emotions forced her to pay her respects, albeit briefly. Her logic programming told her to run after her brother and win this fight, for there was nothing she could do now.
Mega Man had cornered his clone to the edge of the dark platform, and engaged in a firefight. Plasma shots were traded back and forth, but Mega Man couldn't seem to get a shot to connect. The clone could dodge and weave anything Mega Man put in his path. He shot with the ferocity of having lost his friend to this beast, but he couldn't make a single hit count. He wasn't blinded by his fury like a human would be, it only made him more determined. Still nothing was working. This robot was pure hardware, a war machine, able to anticipate his every move and counter it. He always thought his advantage was his humanity, the ability to think a little better than Wily's robots. But this type of cold, battle A.I. was driving him to the limits. Wily had always made robots superior to him in hardware. Did he finally make one superior in all aspects?
The Mega Man clone charged up a Mega Buster shot and fired. Mega Man barely dodged, lost his center of gravity, and fell on the cold metal. This gave the opportunity to pelt him with short shots, draining his energy. Mega Man quickly got up on his feet and returned fire. His plasma shots were too slow, and he didn't have the advantage of charged power. He did however, have one thing his foe didn't.
Mega Man switched from plasma cannon to gravity hold, his blue exterior switching to white and purple. Without hesitating, he activated it. A flash of light surrounded the arena, but the robot showed no effects. His feet stayed permanently on the ground. This did not worry Mega Man, some robots were immune to the physical effects, but their internal systems would still suffer damage. He tried again, jumping over the continuous plasma shots he was being attacked with. Again, no effect. The robot didn't even flash with electrical discharge as robots do when hurt. He didn't recoil, he didn't even blink.
Frustrated, Mega Man tapped his reserves of weapon energy, funneling everything he had into a single shot, draining his tank. When he fired, he felt the air around him shift, cringing as the gravity effect shockwave erupted around him. He felt like he was buffeted by air cushions. But still the clone was unfazed.
Mega Man switched to magnet missile, and himself to red and gray. The missiles shot out two at a time from his arm cannon, flying up into the air, about half the distance between the two, and skyrocketed down at him. They exploded with pressing force, compelling the Mega Man clone to step back. Now he flashed with electrical damage.
The clone shrugged off the hit, and Mega Man fired volley after volley of missiles. The magnetic beacon installed in the software honed in every time, even as the robot thrashed his arms to deflect the splash damage. Mega Man paid no attention to his weapon energy, he was too focused on hurting this abominable copycat. With teeth gritted he held out his arm cannon and shot his final missile. He only noticed the reserve was drained when he fired and nothing came out. A quick check confirmed it, he was out of juice and his enemy had more than enough to spare.
Seeing no more missiles were coming his way, the Mega Man clone brought his hands from his eyes and unleashed the power he had stored inside his weapon full force. In the instant Mega Man had checked his weapons for anything else, and found nothing, the energy ball collided with him and tossed him back like a rag doll. He ended upturned on the grating, weak and gasping for power. Still on his back, he turned over, leaning on his hands and panting for air. The clone held his arm cannon across his chest and walked up to Mega Man.
"Haven't you got anything left?" it said in a low register.
Mega Man's eyebrows slanted sadly over his eyes, desperation on his face.
Link lied prone on the raised stage. Wisps of smoke emitted from the burnt flesh around the cavity in his torso. His face was smashed against the grating, and his eyes were shut, as if he collapsed from unconsciousness, sparing him the dead man's gaze. The warmth of life still lingered around him, but it was slipping fast.
Link's knapsack, still attached around his belt, suddenly twitched. Then it twitched again. And a lump protruded out from the center. Like a mouse, it shifted left to right, as if budging around the contents inside, heading towards the sack's open end. When it reached the opening rim, two tiny hands lifted up the heavy cow leather hide flap, flipping it open. The curtain exposed a tiny young woman with red hair, and a small purple dress which allowed two dragonfly wings to jut out of her back. An aura of pink light surrounded her.
She looked around, and saw the giant body of Link, a slab of meat on the floor. Her wings flapped once and she was aloft. Silently, the tiny form hovered over the length of his corpse, as if she was inspecting it. Then she drifted over his torso and took out a small wand. With a flourish she sharply rapped it twice over him, sprinkling sparkling powder. The powder fluttered over Link's body and diffused away. Then, her job done, she flew away up into the darkness and disappeared from sight.
The cavity in Link's chest started to slowly taper down, becoming filled with what should have been there - his bones, skin, organs, even his clothes were reforming. The wound was draining away like it was bathwater, vaporizing back out of existence. It closed up around the center, leaving Link's body whole again.
The Hylian's shut eyelids fluttered. Then opened. Link's first sight was that of darkness. Then he tried to remember what happened. A strange sensation was in his chest, and his face was in pain, because it was pressed against a metal grate.
Link extracted his face from the floor, pushing himself up on his hands, and wiped the drool from his mouth. There was a tightness in his upper body he couldn't identify, but it was fading away to normalcy with each second that passed.
"Wha... what happened?" he muttered and rubbed his head.
"And here I was thinking, that was a wound not even magic could fix."
Link turned around to the voice and saw Protoman standing there, with his arms behind his back, leaning on a nearly invisible black pylon. That same stupid smirk on his face. Link was still groggy and unsteady and seeing him evoked no questions as to his presence now.
"Did you save me?" Link asked.
"Apparently, I didn't need to. You have friends in tiny places."
Link's eyes furrowed at this statement. A hint came to his mind and he burrowed around in his holding bag. The glass bottle came to his fingers and he pulled it out. It was empty and the cork removed.
"My fairy..." Link whispered. "I forgot I even had her." He put the bottle back in his bag and sighed with relief.
"You put her in there?" Protoman said. "Thank god she didn't suffocate."
"They're magic creatures. I always bring one with for their curative powers. And they're always watching me, to make sure I'm all right." Link stood up on his stiff feet, strength returning to him. His brain fully realized Protoman was standing in front of him. "Are you here to help us?" he asked hopefully.
Protoman shook his head. "Hardly. I told you. I don't get involved. I stay in the background and watch. All I do is lend a hand once in a while if he needs it. And if I feel like it. Mega Man has to prove himself before I'll help him."
"Prove himself?" Link questioned. "Prove himself!" Link asked with a little more audacity. The first question was meant as a request for clarity, the second meant as indignant explanation. "What in the world does Mega Man have to do to prove himself? Haven't you watched him enough? Don't you know what he does? Just in the time I've been here, he's proven himself a thousand times over to me. I can't imagine what he's done before."
"All under one's instructions. Dr. Light still pulls his strings. It may be just a general order - 'protect the world'. But it's still an order he has to fulfill. If he wants me to partake in his life-threatening acts, he has to show me he's as strong as someone who doesn't take orders."
"Meaning you?" Link asked from the tops of his eyes.
Protoman looked up and away, his eyes staring into the space under his visor. "I have to see if he's weaker or stronger than me. It's been a question plaguing me since the beginning. I don't understand it yet, but I have to know." He turned back to Link. "You, on the other hand. I know where you stand. I know where most humans stand, but you're definitely different." He pulled himself off his leaning post and took his arm out from behind his back. "Here."
He tossed over a large disc object that Link caught in the air. It was his shield, a replacement, right down to the last minute detail.
"Took an interest in your shield. Made you a new one that might be a little better suited to the enemies you'd be facing here. Pure litanium, just like mine. It'll reflect anything."
Link held the shield in front of him. It was just like his original shield, every symbol, every mark. Lined with sharp silver metal, on top of which was a blue background and yellow designs of the royal insignia. "It looks just like mine," Link said astonishedly.
"It is just like yours. Robot memory's an amazing thing."
"I can't believe you did this," Link said happily.
"I've always thought the best offense is a good defense." He shifted his weight back up straight. "Don't say I never did nothing for you."
A red glow surrounded him, obscuring his figure, and he vanished up into the air. Link yelled out a heartfelt "Thank you!" unaware if he was ever heard.
Mega Man's only recourse was to keep jumping around. It was only prolonging the inevitable. No power remained for any of his two acquired weapons. His energy generator was going critical, it had taken too much damage. He could feel it leaking out the seams of his armor. This clone was simply too much to fight. Wily had taken everything he was and improved upon it. It was the ultimate Mega Man killer. It wasn't meant to replace him, it was meant to destroy him.
Roll had stayed at the edge of the arena, pelting him with shots from her laser pistols as she could, but she might as well have been firing mosquitoes for all the good it was doing. The Mega Man clone was ignoring her as if she wasn't there. And when he was finished with her brother, she would be next.
Mega Man jumped to the side, as a double-charged shot went by, nicking him under the arm. His movements were getting slower and slower, not so that a human would notice, but a robot would. That clone's evil smile was still on him. He stood in the center of the circle, taking potshots at Mega Man, laughing inside as he danced around amusingly.
Mega Man dropped to one knee as he landed, too weak to stand on both feet, and held his chest. "Please... stop," he whispered. Having run out of options, he had resorted to his last-ditch effort - begging.
The clone zipped up to his counterpart and grabbed him by the breastplate, holding him aloft. "There is no mercy for you," the clone said robotically. He outstretched his arm cannon, charging it to maximum. "Die."
A sound from behind. "You first!"
A gleam of metal, accompanied by an iron shink sounded in the night behind the Mega Man clone. Mega Man looked down and saw a huge gleaming metal spike projecting from his chest. The clone stared down at the skewer with indifferent anger, his battle face still on. He tossed Mega Man back to the floor and whipped around.
"Whoa," Link said as he staggered forward. That sword was stuck in there hard, and when the robot spun he was either going to be thrown with the sword or he could let it go. He chose the latter.
The clone stared at Link in the face, with the same angry, murderous gaze, his lip curling in a sneer. He grabbed the sword from the blade side and pulled it through the rest of his torso defiantly, tearing up more of his body by ramming the hilt through, and threw it at his feet. He lifted his arm cannon again and fired.
Link grabbed the shield off his back and held it by one of the leather straps just as he shot. The plasma blast reflected off the shield with a -tink- and flew away. The clone fired several more shots, as Link slipped his arm fully in the straps and crouched down, hiding his entire body within the shield. The clone never saw him dip into his bag and pull out the ice rod.
At the first gap in the stream of shots, Link peeked out from behind the shield, and poured out a jet stream of ice at the robot's foot. Concentrated ice melded the metal of the boot to the floor. When the clone tried to break free, and couldn't, and looked down at it. Link used the minuscule opportunity to shoot again at his arm cannon, freezing it in place. The Mega Man clone tried to keep it out of the ice's path, but the moving servos were slowed down by the cold and Link kept his stream on it. With his arm and leg totally frozen in place, all he could do was stare hard at Link grimacing fiercely.
Link returned the defiant gaze as he picked up his sword off the floor.
"You like death so much, have some!" He wound his sword back behind him and charged up a huge spinning slash. With a fierce cry, he swung the sword, a light trail followed the blade as it swiped cleanly through the neck of the evil robot. Link spun completely and returned to his stance.
The clone's evil expression froze. The hum of his charged blaster slowly faded away, something never heard before, as weapon energy never lost its hum unless the power flow had been interrupted. The clone's sinister smile dropped. The corners of his mouth plummeted into a grotesque surprised frown.
His head fell off his neck and clunkily rolled on the ground like a football. Yellow sparks burst out of the neck opening. Frayed wires and rotors, thinking there was a head still attached, frantically skipped around like a wind-up toy knocked over on its side. With a kick, Link pushed the robot over and it clanged to the ground in a hollow echo.
"Link!" Mega Man said.
"You're alive!" Roll exclaimed. "H-how?"
"A little magic fairy dust."
Mega Man smacked his forehead. A slow laugh spread across his lips, slowly evolving into a full belly laugh. Roll looked on in bemused confusion.
"What?" she said.
Mega Man got up from the floor and hugged Link across the shoulders. Link gulped for breath in the metal arms of a robot hug.
"I'll explain later," he squeaked out to Roll.
Mega Man, still wrapped around Link, opened his eyes, and found his arms were clasped around his shield. "Whoa, you got your shield back?" He released the hug and looked at him. "Did the fairy do that too?"
"Uh, no, not quite. That's a long story."
Mega Man looked at him quizzically, but let it go. There would be time enough for questions later. Hopefully.
"I know I never asked, but where are we?" Roll said, joining the happy couple. She looked up into the pitch blackness. It seemed they were the only ones lit in this dark abyss.
"Probably somewhere on the top of the fortress," Mega Man said.
"Yeah, I can feel the air, but it's warm," Link agreed.
"Climate controlled probably. I don't know why the conduit led up here though. It would mean..."
A ringing sound of a spotlight being switched on resounded in the chamber. A tiny pinprick of light could be seen far away. They couldn't really make out who it was. But there was only one person it could be.
An echoing loudspeaker switched on. "Come into my parlor... said the spider to the fly. Heh heh heh," the distant voice of Wily spoke.
The three of them started walking towards the light. No robots came out to meet them. No other guards. It was just them and him. The final showdown.
Dr. Wily was sitting in a chair. His arms were locked to the armrest by metal cuffs. There was some sort of helmet fastened onto his head, matting his white hair down around his ears. A pipe attached to the helm, leading back up somewhere beyond the darkness. It looked as if he was strapped to an old-fashioned electric chair. He sat as still as a mannequin, only moving his eyes.
"Nice to see you again, Rock," his voice boomed. "I always try and make your stay in my fortress a pleasant one. Kudos to you on using the satellites to reveal the invisibility cloak. As well as defeating my light shields. Bravo, indeed. Your problem-solving programming just gets more and more innovative."
The three continued heading straight to the light, unimpeded by his taunts.
"And Roll," he said with sadistic joviality. "I haven't seen you in ages. You've changed quite a bit from the housemaid who used to vacuum near my workstation, haven't you? It looks like Dr. Light's given you the same treatment as your brother. Do they call you Mega Woman now?"
Roll said nothing, grim determination overshadowing her face as she walked on.
"And wherever did you find your remarkable human friend. I found it hard to believe when I saw this pointy-eared boy speak to me so impudently, that he would actually be capable of defeating any of my creations, let alone a robot master. He even found a way to triumph over my remote-controlled Rock. With nothing more than a sword and a shield. Hmph. Such courage."
"That's my specialty," Link replied.
He realized as he got closer that Wily wasn't moving his mouth as he spoke. This was rather odd. Perhaps it had something to do with his chair, or that thing on his head. Mega Man and Roll were worried what that meant too, but prevented it from showing on their faces.
They were only a few feet from Wily now. Mega Man raised his arm cannon to him, and Roll gulped.
"Surrender, Wily," he said. "I'm taking you back to prison for the crimes you've committed."
Wily's speaker voice audibly heaved a tired elderly sigh. "We've been through this dance before, Mega Man." He slowly craned his head up, and progressively raised his wild eyes up to the ceiling behind him. The three of them, fearing what he was looking at, slowly raised their eyes up too.
Two glowing blue eyes lit up in the dark, 70 feet above the ground, and something huge and towering leaned forward in the dark over the three of them. Light reflected off its red and black armored breastplate. It raised its massive tree trunk of a leg and stepped down, next to Wily's chair. The ground shook like an earthquake as the foot connected, nearly causing all three of them to end up on the floor. It was nearly 70 feet tall.
"Let's change the tune," Wily said. The hulking mechanical form was built like a humanoid soldier-tank. Cannons protruded out of its shoulder, its wrists, its knees, and it wore some sort of Viking-like horned helmet, with a faceless visage that had no mouth, just a pair of brutal eyes.
"Look out!" Mega Man said.
"Holy goddesses. It's a giant robot!" Link exclaimed.
The colossal battlemech droid took another step forward, advancing on its enemies.
"That's right," Wily said, "I've done it." He laughed maniacally as the three of them realized what he was saying. "I've done it. I've done it! Selkirk's work is a reality. I've made the ultimate sentient life form. The body of a robot, with the decision-making abilities of a human. This truly is complete freedom. Now, not even you can stop me, Mega Man."
"And you put yourself in a giant mechaniloid?" Mega Man yelled out over the thunderous movements.
"Why build a robot, when you can build a big robot?" he laughed. "Speaking of which..." The mecha raised its giant leg, and positioned it over the form of Dr. Wily. With a tremendous crash, he brought it down on the entire contraption.
Mega Man, Link, and Roll stared horrified at what Wily had just done. At first, Mega Man suspected this was another robot dupe. His doubts were trounced though, when he saw a puddle of red blood oozing out from under the sole.
"I certainly won't be needing this anymore," Wily said.
Next Chapter: For Everlasting Peace