Categories > Games > Mega Man

Lion's Den

by Luna_Tiger 1 review

Kalinka's all grown up, and she's starting to see the bleak future ahead. Struggling with her feelings of love and responsibility, the cat creeps in, and she and he will both be laid to rest.

Category: Mega Man - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama, Romance - Characters: Other - Published: 2005-08-20 - Updated: 2005-08-20 - 3840 words - Complete

Disclaimer: I have a confession. I am one of the graphic designers that works for CAPCOM. And if you believe that, wanna buy the Golden Gate Bridge?

Kalinka. Remember her? 'Course not, anyone reading this far has probably only seen Megaman NT Warrior and hasn't even played Battle Network, let alone researched the original games. Leeches. Kalinka Cossack is the daughter of Dr. Sergei Cossack, the blackmailed antagonist of Megaman 4. She was the subject of said blackmail, used by Wily to get Cossack's cooperation. And we like her with Blues.

Written for Ms. Atreyu.

- b - e - g - i - n - s -

Lion's Den

Joint projects these days weren't too surprising. No one would say it, but she knew why. Dr. Light wanted to finish his last creation before the grave claimed him. It was surprising, to learn it wasn't for one last achievement to be beheld in the scientific community, grant money, or even a patent.

In fact, he wouldn't say -why- this robot needed to be complete, just that it had to be. And when had the great Dr. Light ever steered his friends wrong?

Every few months or so, he'd call Cossack in for a favor, another set of hands and an equally clever mind. And like always, a now adolescent Kalinka always followed.

Watching the two work side by side, or even just the same room, was fascinating. Her own aspiring interest in robotics was sparked like a match in methane simply listening to them converse about various motor-types and gasket sizes and failsafe programs with back-up memory files.

Rock asked once, a few weeks into their first trip down, why Kalinka became so interested in following their footsteps. She gave him an answer, a truthful one-- "I suppose it runs in the family."-- but she couldn't tell him the real reason.

No. She'd die of mortification if -Rock- knew...

Despite her infatuation, Kalinka saw first-hand the damage done when people physically and mentally labored non-stop. She promised herself she'd know when to quit, when to takes breaks, how to condition her body to remove herself from rampaging theories one is desperate to see through from start to finish in one sitting. She would not be like her father, whose lab light was on for more hours than it should've been. She would not be like her idol, who Roll reported (in a worried tone, no less), suffered from fatigue, even when he was forced to relax for a day.

It was those reasons she was in the small pavilion that afternoon, letting the crisp air, of an autumn warmer than she was used to, bathe over her in the gentle swing of the seat. But even removing herself from the workload of future brilliance, Kalinka had her own future to start thinking about.

Earlier that day, when Roll exercised her right to patron over her 'father' and his guest and made sure they ate something first, Dr. Light had pulled Kalinka aside, and subtly pressed a realistic scenario onto her brittle shoulders.

"I wanted to ask if...if, well, you'd be willing to take possession of Roll after I'm gone. You. Be her owner, personally. You're both such good friends, and I'd...I'd just want her to be taken care of properly."

He said she could think it over, when she couldn't manage a response. And hadn't occurred to her then, why he was only offering her Roll. It'd be rude to ask anyway, then or now.

He was right; Kalinka and Roll -were- good friends, as chummy as a human and a pre-programmed robot could be. She had no qualms with the idea itself...but the implication frightened her.

She didn't want to think about Light's old age, didn't want to think that he could die in a year, a month, a day, an hour from now. She knew it was coming, but that didn't mean she want it predicted to her in such a fashion--


Kalinka jumped, human reflex kicking into Survival Mode, hiccupping a gasp as her eyes shot directly to the source of Danger-- Her muscles unraveled, and she cooed. "Awwww."

A metallic cat, its body white and lime-green, flickered its ears and made itself right at home inside the pavilion. Leaped up the step and marched inside like it owned the spotlight, leaped up onto the extra space on the swing and dropped itself into her lap like it owned that too.

It was a rather light-weight model, much like in scale compared to Rush, who was heavier than the average dog his size. And it was purring even before she placed her hand tentatively to the top of its skull, acting so characteristically of a cat, it was in reality overplaying the role.

Dr. Light's trademark logo was as plain as day on the cat's haunch, done so genuinely as far as she could see, she never suspected it of fraud. And Kalinka let the cat lay there, using it as much as it was using her. Rubbing its head, she wondered if there were sensors under key plates that let it 'feel' her petting him, or if it was merely a programmed reaction to being touched.

And wondering about its mechanics, she could distract herself from the notion of Light's withering life and the idea of having Roll as her own aide. She could temporarily forget the ill feeling in her stomach, to simply admiring the tabby's company for what it was.

A random act of God.

The sun was still fairly high when the feline's head poked up from where it was resting, and without so much as a glance to Kalinka, bound off her lap faster than she could register he was even thinking of leaving.

It was funny, how the sudden lack of an animal's presence could cause such a backwash of depression, short-living, but rejection all the same.

The cat sauntered to the pavilion's stoop, then glanced back over its shoulderblade, and mewed again, the segmented tail waving like a worm squirming on a baited hook. And it stared at her, insistently making noise to garner her full attention.

Kalinka had no idea what it was doing, but got the vague idea when it plopped down to face her, and reared back to sit solely on its hindlegs, forelegs pawing the air and its meows suddenly had a pattern to them, and she gave in to the urge to stand up and walk closer. The cat twisted its body and literally poured itself onto the lawn and walked a few steps, and repeated the process when she didn't come any closer.

Follow me? Kalinka didn't have a problem with following it, and said aloud, "You want me to come with you, right?"

She got the feeling it mentally logged, 'About time' into its thought files as it made a big show of nodding. And it bound away like something not quite real, in leaps and dashes and not quite so fast, across the smaller expanse of the yard (which wasn't all that small in the first place, but certainly less of a trek had the cat gone in the opposite direction).

Kalinka thanked her non-existent precognition on wearing Keds that day. And she followed the lime-green tabby, the casting of the hours behind her were all but put aside and momentarily forgotten.

The perimiter wall was steadily growing in size, and the individual shapes of the shrubs lining it followed. The cat particularly seemed to be heading straight for the small cypress grove, the only actual resident on that acre of the property. That made her slow down, slightly more hesitant now. What was she thinking??

Even when she stopped completely, she was too close to the grove for it to matter about second thoughts, because now it was obvious there was no danger, obvious that she also might've gotten in over her head.

Because the cat was trotting proudly over to its master? and this man was no threat to her life, though a threat to her sanity was a possible issue. And he was staring at her, she just knew it, through his dark shades and the tabby was like putty under his light touches.

She hadn't expect this. "Blues..."

"You're looking well, Kalli," he remarked. "How's the southern life treating you?"

"Ah, fine," she replied distantly. "Everything's good here."

It was quiet between them, then Kalinka noticed the minute smile Blues was sporting. And it confused her. "What?"

"You used to get so much more lively whenever I showed up. What changed?"

A lot. She remembered those days, when Blues would make the most random visits to her home in Russia, always when she wasn't busy or entertaining others. He'd come around, maybe for a hello and an hour of time together, maybe for the night when she wasn't feeling so well, maybe for the day when she really needed the company. Sometimes there were small gifts, only four she could recall, and always an ear just to listen to her go on and on about anything under the sun.

Kalinka knew what changed, specifically. But there was a better answer, one that covered her own and everything else that shifted out of place between now and when she last saw him a couple years ago. So, she shrugged a shoulder and spoke clearly, "I grew up."

Blues nodded, and it relieved Kalinka in an odd way to see him act as if he understood. Could he? "That's good. It makes what I've come here for much easier."

Her heart skipped a beat, and it made her panic ever so slightly.

"Has Dr. Light talked to you yet?" The cat slithered from the crook of Blues' arm to drape leisurely across his shoulders. "About what he's going to leave you?"


Kalinka felt the world sag back onto her as she remembered with every detail that morning, the conversation she had wanted to escape, the reason she'd followed the robotic feline in the first place. Solemnly, she bowed her head. "Yes, he did. Just today."

"I urge you to take him up on that offer."

She whipped her head up, to stare shocked back at him, that soon fell to betrayal and hurt. And she couldn't see why it had hurt to hear him say it like that. "It's my decision. I'll make up my own mind about it."

The scathing tone didn't seem to reflect back onto him what he had projected onto her. He sighed, and Kalinka was sure she'd never heard him do that before. "Alright, fair enough. I said that wrong."

"I don't--"

"I'm asking you, Kalinka." Heavy insistence. Desperation? She felt weird. "I'll even beg if it means you'll agree."

And her mind was a vortex of information she could barely digest. Kalinka couldn't make heads or tails of any of it. "Why--...Why is it so important to you?"

Blues frowned and his brow furrowed, but the tilt in his head indicated he wasn't looking her way. "Because," he began slowly, "I won't be able to protect her if they take her away."

Once upon a time, Blues had mentioned when the world was against you, there was always family to fall back on. Family is what you made of it; it didn't have to be blood. It didn't have to be loved ones. There were people out there you didn't even like, that you could put your life in the hands of, and be as safe as you could ever be made. Trust made family, reliance made family, cooperation made family. However, he himself had said his outlook on family was skewed. It was the most precious thing he had.

"Rock's my only family."

When did Roll become someone important enough to protect?

"I haven't done enough for her," he continued, as if making up a lie and confessing his sins, contradicting each other. "I want her safe. But she'll be confiscated immediately after Light's gone, and either reprogrammed or DDed." He paused, and looked back to her. "He didn't tell you this, did he."

Why would he have? Light was not the type to pressure someone into making a decision, and chose his words to give Kalinka a real choice about Roll's future. And DDed. Deactivated and/or Dismantled. Many a conscious machine's fear, to no long function and serve their programmed purpose.

Dazed, she shook her head. "Ah...n-no, he didn't. He told me to think it over. Wanted her to be looked over properly. That's pretty much it."

"I wish you would say yes."

"Even you can't convince me to make up my mind so quickly," Kalinka murmured. "I want it to be my choice in my own voice. Not yours."

He nodded. "Then I'll trust you to make the choice you see as fair."

And he was moving towards her; the cat fell from his perch purposely, and landed feet-first on the grass. Kalinka couldn't help but notice she was taller than him now. A good three inches over him; she remembered when he was always taller. To his shoulder, his chin, his nose, eye level. It felt awkward, and he wasn't so far away now.

Kalinka closed her eyes, hoping he wouldn't be so close to her when she opened them. On the contrary, they flew back open when a gentle, cool pressure kissed the corner of her mouth. And irrationality got the first thought in: So that's what a kiss from him would feel like.

"It couldn't ever work, you know."

Time was fleeting; it was there, then gone much too soon in her opinion, and all Kalinka was left with was his back to her as he stepped passed and out toward the clearing. And those whispered words in her ear, so final and so clear, made the world stop. Because he'd known all along. That a human felt beyond the affections of friendship...for a mechanical monstrosity.

Her expression of shock softened to sadness, and then she smiled in remorse, but also.... The squeeze in her heart unwound like a chilled breeze during a summer heatwave. So much exhaustion, and happy she didn't have to worry anymore. "...Thanks, Blues. I needed to hear that."

There was the distinct noise of affirmation, and the cat rubbed up against her leg in parting as the red-clad robot teleported away, who followed Blues' lead moments later.

And all she was left with, was the chirping of the birds, the sway of the leaves, and the nonexistence sound of sunshine hitting every individual blade of grass.

She would have to give Dr. Light an answer by tonight, tomorrow in the latest. Except now, she had to convince herself, without playing upon Blues' plea.

"Rock's my only family."

Kalinka would do it. It was her own future too, so it had to be on her own terms, at least in her mind. Blues would not be a persuasion, simply a side to take into consideration and weigh its merit.

The day could only get better from then on.

-b - r - o - k - e - n-

"You're supposed to be incapable of lying to a human."

"I am."

"But you--"

Blues gave an impatient sigh. "Tango." Stern, unshakable. "I can't lie. But I can bend the truth to fit the lie and still make it true. It's a trait most others lack."

Tango's ears drooped. "Call it what you want," he said sadly. "You still lied to Kalinka."

"No bit of what I told her doesn't go hand-in-hand with what I'm aiming for."

The condemned building groaned in the blow of the wind, but not even Tango flinched these days when the zephyr came calling. The floor they were camped on was one of the higher ones, with its walls knocked out, and old furniture nothing but tools to machines who didn't necessarily need the comfort of cushions.

An old kitchen table, a pair of high-boy shelves refit to accommodate their new loads, an easychair missing an arm, a metal stool restored and supportive, a foldout couch that came more or less in working shape, and enough space to make any sane man wish the walls still existed. The only thing that hadn't originally existed inside the building itself was all the computer ware, stocked and strewn about the 'home' area.

Tango was resting in the empty space on the table that Blues had left open specifically for the cat, and Tango was taking advantage of it, watching miserably as Blues scrolled through whatever data he'd just hacked. "You aim to manipulate little girls? Heartless."

"You played along with it."

"If I'd known, I wouldn't have."

"You didn't ask."

"I know better than to ask what you're planning. You never tell me -anything-. 'It's too complicated,' this and, 'It's none of your business,' that."

"I think the match goes to me, Tango. Leave it."

"I will not," he said, miffed. "I know you better than anyone out there. You don't care about Roll like you implied."

"I implied nothing. If Kalinka thinks I wish to protect Roll's safety because I care about her welfare, that's her own conclusion. It's how she took it."

"But you lied--"

Blues glared at the cat from the corner of his eye. "I did not lie. I said I couldn't protect Roll like she needed to be. And I can't, because the government has her bio-signature's frequency. If she legally has an owner, Roll's in better hands with Kalinka than she would be as a fugitive robot with me. They couldn't touch either one without bringing about lawful repercussions, which makes the government look to be in the wrong. And Light is a thorough enough man to leave his will and last wishes loophole-free." Blues paused, then added softly, "He won't jeopardize his final project's success to some overlooked legality."

Tango's nose twitched. "But if you don't care about Roll, why do you need her protected from the government?"

"Because she's going to be the sole survivor of Light's clan, and Light is leaving -her- and only her the coordinates to his 'Repliroid'. The spot's been picked, the catacomb prepared to keep it undetectable, and she'll be its Keeper. She will be the Repliroid's guardian, and the further they are apart, the safer either will be."

This...perplexed the cat. "So to protect this Repliroid thing, Roll needs to be carefully watched and cared for. But if you only care about the information she carries, that would mean you only care about the Repliroid's safety? ...Why?"

Blues' mouth twitched, but the rest of him was still like death, and Tango could tell he couldn't see what was on the screen, in spite of staring straight at it. "....With both Wily and Forte gone, Rock began questioning his future." Bitterness seeped into his words. "Told Dr. Light he was uncertain about his role now that his primary purpose was fulfilled. And Light..."

Tango bunched himself as small as possible, this 'upset rage' emotion Blues was projecting was all but an unexplored issue. Tango had never seen him like this.

"Light proposed he be given a new form, a new life, a second chance. With all the fundamentals of reincarnation. The next life, no memories, an intact character. Light feared the next generation, and he wanted someone to be about to look after it. A self-learning robot able to comprehend right and wrong, with a conscience...and free. Free to lie, free to disobey humans, free to kill if they wished to, able to make their own judgments.

"Exactly like a human. A human in the body of all wires and metal plating, and a brain made of chips and processors."

Tango flickered one ear up when Blues fell satisfyingly silent, but kept himself low. "...You tried to stop him, didn't you?"

"Not hard enough," he grumbled. "He didn't want to ever stop helping people. He hates war, -hates- it, but always said if he was needed, he'd feel...satisfied if more people lived because he was there. He'll never see the world as flesh and synthetic. It'll always be him...knowing he has the power to do good and right and all that hero stuff. And I didn't try hard enough to talk him out of it."

"He's selfless. I don't you could change his mind any more than you could ask a zebra to change its stripes."

Blues snorted softly. "You've been poking your nose in that quote book, haven't you?"

"Does it show?"

"Obviously." Click click, went the mouse. "The point -is-, to be human-like, he has to be at least a little selfish! Lest you be left with nothing more than a slave! His bio-signature is going to be transplanted into that machine when it's complete, with no memory on why he feels the need to do good deed after good deed. ....But since I missed the chance to talk him out of it, I could guarantee he'll live through that timed trial Light's putting his capsule in."

Tango nodded idly. It made sense now. But, there was still one thing he didn't understand. "So what was that you told Kalinka? 'It could never work'."

Much to his surprise (and chagrin), Blues laughed. Not with insanity, lord no, but loud and full enough to be classified as 'truly tickled'. It was frightening. Tango placed his paws protectively over his head.

"Humans are very complex animals, Tango. Emotion acts as the main drive of their existence. And a strong emotion can made them go mentally overboard." Blues paused after making an amused noise, then his hands fell away from the table and his neck craned up, and all he was looking at was the roof. "...Kalinka was in love with someone she could never be with. Not the way she'd want to be with them. He can't be the person she wished he could be, and she had to be told to stop dreaming. That he loved her back...

"...But he can't be what she needs."

Tango heard the break in his voice like a gunshot in the woods, and lifted his head. Shortly, he was on his feet, and leaping gracefully into Blues' lap, front paws on his chest and rearing up, to throughly lick the tears away.

Because his partner was hurting, and shouldn't be seen crying.

Because Blues seemed to think he was losing all those he was close with, and Tango wanted to reassure him....that even if (or when) Kalinka and Rock left him....

....there was still the little green tabby.

- e - n - d - i - n - g -

I've seen more Rock/Roll (of the classic kind) and Blues/Roll than I have of Blues/Kalinka. How cruel and twisted is that?

God I wish Kalinka could come back in the games. I swear she'd grow up to be even sexier than Zero. And seeing that I find Zero incredibly attractive (and still maintain the hating-of-his-guts thing), she gets to be better than him.
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