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Chapter 11


'Round and 'round and 'round we go...


Rock and Hadrian burst in the room commonly known as the "War Room," confusion showing clearly on their faces. "What's goin' on, here?" Rock asked as he glanced at the setup around him. Around the high-tech holograph table sat Dr. Cain, Zero, X, Iris, Colonel, and Matt.

Everyone grinned as the two robots came in. "Nice getup," X remarked with a snicker.

Rock and Hadrian glanced themselves over. They were both wearing white T-shirts and sweat pants--Rock's blue and Hadrian's red--and the black hair on both of their heads was totally messed up. Hadrian, of course, was wearing his yellow scarf. "Well, we forgot to hit the Armor Recall, so sue us," Hadrian grumbled as he took his seat.

"So, Matt," Dr. Cain broke in before Zero could add any more comments. "I think you need to show everyone what you showed me a few minutes ago."

"Right," Matt said drowsily. Obviously he only woke up a few minutes ago. "This is a holo-tape my security cameras picked up."

The holo-table came to life, sending a column of green light clear to the ceiling. Within the light was a fully three dimensional image of a residential district in ruin. Just about all the Mavericks imaginable was terrorizing the neighborhood while Hunters were attempting to evacuate the humans. Mega Man's eyes widened as he saw Sting Chameleon (he'd studied the Mavericks until he knew them as well as Robot Masters) target a small family consisting of a father, a mother, and two young children--a boy and a girl. He saw as Sting send two of his "stingers" into the father's back. "No..." he whispered to himself. A robot must never harm a human being.

X could barely contain his rage as Magma Dragoon attacked the mother, leaving the two children orphans. Your duty is to protect the humans from the Mavericks.

Bass didn't have as powerful a reaction as the children fell to the Mavericks as the both the Blue Bombers were experiencing. Nevertheless, his conscience began to nag: What a waste. And Bass actually agreed for a change. Sure he was big on destruction and mayhem, but what did killing a defenseless family of humans prove? Absolutely nothing!

Suddenly there was a collective cry of rage, defiance, and sorrow from Mega Man and X as they stood simultaneously. "Now, Rock, don't be doin' anything we'll all regret in the mornin'..." Hadrian started to say.

"X, X, calm down, will ya...?" Zero was coaxing his friend.

All in the room was blinded by a bright light and when it subsided, Mega Man was fully armored and X had on his "advanced" armor. "Ohh, man..." Hadrian and Zero muttered before the blue robots teleported out.

Bass started letting out with a string of language that would have made a sailor blush. He let everyone in the room know exactly how he felt about, X, Mega Man, and the horses they rode in on. Zero, meanwhile, was trying to get everyone organized. "OK, everybody, calm down...we can handle this...Bass, would you be a pal and just SHUT UP for a second!? Thank you." Now Zero had everyone's attention--even Bass's.

"Now, Colonel, in X's absence I have authority over his unit. I'm placing you in charge. Get those Hunters over there as fast as you can!"

"Yessir!"

"Iris, I'm placing you in charge of my unit."

Iris's eyes widened slightly at that. "Why's that?"

Zero grinned. "'Cause Proto and I are gonna help X and Rock, that's why!" Now Zero turned to Matt. "Chip, get all the other Hunters over there that you can. We're gonna need a lot every man, woman, and 'ploid we can get over there!"

Matt looked positively downtrodden. "How'm I s'posed t'do that?" he asked, still not entirely awake yet.

"I don't care how you do it--use the intercom, call 'em all up individually, glide up and down the halls naked screaming 'the Mavericks are coming, the Mavericks are coming'--just get them over there! Let's get goin' Hadrian!" With that, Hadrian armored up. Just as they were about to teleport away, Roll interrupted them.

"Wait! I wanna go, too!"

Protoman grinned. "Sorry, sis. There ain't anything you can do."

Mega Man had said that to her before, but there was something about the way Protoman said it that made Roll's circulation fluids boil. That's the last time you're gonna say that to me!

As Protoman and Zero teleported away, Dr. Light turned and made as if to go. Roll saw something about his manner--a slight shuffle in his step, a slight stoop in his shoulders--that let Roll know that something was wrong. She ran out the door after him.

"What's wrong, Doc?"

Dr. light turned and gave Roll a weak smile. "Nothing, Roll. Nothing."

Roll made a show of impatience. "Don't give me that, Doc! I know something's wrong and I want to know what it is!"

"You know me too well," Light muttered. "I suppose that I could tell you. I've always been a man that believed in peace. After all--you, Rock, and all the original Robot Masters were originally built to serve Mankind. The only reason I made the modifications to Rock and made him a fighting machine was to keep the peace. Now I find that my creations have led to war, decay, and the near-extinction of the human race. It's just a little hard for me to gather."

Dr. Light turned and began to walk to his borrowed quarters. "Dr. Light." Dr. Light stopped for more that the simple reason that Roll called him "Dr. Light" rather than just "Doc." There was something in her voice. Something that sounded different. Dr. Light turned to face his "daughter."

"Look, Doc," she began. "I know this is the future and everythin', and I know we're standing knee deep in it, but you must realize the future still ain't set in stone. I mean, this is one of many different possibilities. Every choice we make sends our time through different paths. When we get home, we could change all of this, for better or worse, right?"

Dr. Light smiled. "Roll, sometimes you can be so ditzy, and other times you can be so mature." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "How did I end up with a daughter like you?"

Roll grinned. "Just lucky I guess! See ya!" With that, Roll turned on her heel and ran down the hall. Dr. Light chuckled to himself and turned the other way.

**********


Mega Man and X teleported right in the very center of the group of Mavericks. They had their backs to each other, their arms were folded, and they both had an expression on their faces that made the other Mavericks back away, even though they outnumbered the two robots at least twenty to one.

"You guys have really asked for it," Mega Man said menacingly.

"You killed humans on my watch," X added.

"Big mistake!" they both said simultaneously.

With that, they struck. And they took the Mavericks by such surprise that it took them a few seconds to recover. And those few seconds cost several Mavericks their lives.

Vile, meanwhile, watched the battle from above, on the roof of a nearby skyscraper. "Idiots!" he screamed into his receiver, which was tuned in to all their comm devices. "There's only two of them!!!"

"Not quite!" came a voice from behind. Vile spun to find Protoman standing behind him, arms folded and scarf flapping in the wind. "Let's get ready to rumbllllllle!"

Finally, X and Mega Man had been subdued, beaten, and frozen solid by Frost Walrus and Blizzard Buffalo, two of the Largest Mavericks in the entire army. "Well, that was easy," Blizzard said casually.

"Yeah, too bad they destroyed Chill Penguin. He was da man!"

Suddenly Blizzard Buffalo face went from one to amusement to one of pain. "Uh, Buffalo...?" Frost Walrus asked.

Blizzard Buffalo toppled over, and behind him stood Zero, Beam Saber drawn. "Hi, guys!" he said cheerfully. "Didn't miss anything, did I?"

With that, Bass, in his Super Adapter, strolled in from behind his "brother." "Hmmm..." he muttered inspecting the ice blocks that Mega Man and X were trapped in. "This should do it." He then shot both ice blocks, which shattered instantly, releasing the Blue Bombers.

Zero knelt down next to his friends. "You guys OK?" he asked.

"N-n-n-n-no! We're f-f-f-f-f-f-freezing!" Mega Man responded--and Bass couldn't help but grin.

Bass looked up and was all business once again. "Looks like the cavalry's here," he stated, amusement still in his voice. As soon as he said that, all the Reploids in the immediate vicinity turned to look.

"Ah, Colonel," Frost Walrus said with a grin, or at least as much of a grin that his saber-like tusks allowed. "How nice of you to show up."

Colonel scowled. "I had thought that you were an honorable Reploid, Frost; now I see that I was wrong."

"What do you mean?" Frost Walrus asked dismisively. "I'm just living up to what Repliforce always stood for."

"Wrong, Maverick, we believed that Reploids should be independent from the human race without harming the Humans!"

"Maybe, but I've learned the truth from Sigma. It is you who are the disgrace to Repliforce!"

Frost Walrus erupted into wild laughter, but it was cut short as Colonel dashed up to him and lodged his Beam Saber in Frost Walrus's chest panel. With a wicked grin, Colonel said, "I don't think, so." With that, Colonel jerked his saber to one side, then tore it back out of his victim. Frost Walrus fell with a clang...

Colonel pointed his beam saber to the sky. "Now, 16th Unit--Attack!" Suddenly a large group of Reploids piled out of the allyways in the neighborhood, yelling war cries.

Down the road, Iris stood with a much smaller group of Reploids, and a human, behind her. "You heard the man!" she cried. "Attack!"

Tengu Man, the newest member of the double zero unit, lifted himself into the air. "In other words, gents--it's time to kick the tires an' light the fires! Yeehaw!"

************


Protoman wasn't having much luck at all. Vile had him in a nasty headlock that was turning his vision red. "Ha, ha, ha!" Vile laughed. "You're not as cool now, are ya?"

"We'll....see....about....that!" Protoman gasped out. He was cut short by a cry of pain from Vile as his captor practically toppled over. Protoman was freed from his death grip and spun around to see his savior. "What the..."

"Hi, bro!" Roll said with a grin. She was pointing a plasma pistol at Vile's chest, and the pistol was smoking at the end. "Having fun without me I see!"

"Oooh, a pretty girl," Vile sneered. "You'll look even better when I rearrange your face!" With that Vile gave Protoman a wicked backhand that sent him flying over the side of the building. He wasn't worried. After all, he and Mega Man both had special shock absorbers in their legs--meaning that they could easily survive a fall from almost any height as long as they landed on his feet. It was a simple matter for himself to flip over and land on his feet, right in the middle of a war zone.

Mega Man just happened to be running past. "Rock!" Protoman yelled, stopping him in his tracks. "Roll's on the roof of that building, and he's fighting Vile!"

Mega Man looked up to the roof. "Oh, man..." he muttered as he activated a special frequency into his commuticator. "RUSH JET!"

At his master's command, Rust teleported in front of him and transformed into Rush Jet Mode. Mega Man hopped on it. "Are you comming?" he asked his brother.

"No, thanks," Protoman answered as he saw a flash of dark blue in the corner of his eye. "I have some personal business of my own to catch up on!"

Mega Man just shrugged and flew his dog straight up the building.

**********


Vile had Roll's throat in a death grip. She was nearly unconscious and circulatory fluids were leaking out of the corner of her mouth. Vile drew his fist back to hit her again. "This'll teach you to shoot someone in the back, girlie!" he sneered.

Suddenly, he fell as he was blasted in the back again. Vile spun to see Mega Man flying straight for him, with a furious expression on his face. "You're pretty good at beatin' up on defenseless girls, Vile," he screamed. "Let's see how well you do against someone who hits back!"

"Try to imagine," Vile said as he shot a plasma bolt from his shoulder cannon. "How little I care!"

The bolt took Rush right on the underside. With a yelp, he fell to the ground, throwing his master right off. "Ahh!" Mega Man yelped, as his right arm scraped against the concrete. Vile hoped onto the concrete barrier designed to keep anyone on the roof from falling off. "Don't take another step, or the broad becomes one more order of street pizza!"

Mega Man clenched his fists. You're sick, Vile. Real sick! Huh?" Mega Man noticed Roll and she was looking right at him, almost as if she were sending a silent message. Roll winked, and Mega Man knew what he had to do. "Hey, Vile--think fast!" Mega Man sent a large blast of plasma at Vile's chest, and it hit dead on--sending Vile and Roll over the side. "Roll!" Mega Man cried as he prepared to dive after her.

Suddenly, Vile leaped up from seemingly nowhere, dilivering a nasty backhand that sent Mega Man hurtling across the roof. "Well, that looked unpleasant." Vile said with an invisible sneer.

"Not as unpleasant as your face!" Mega Man retorted as he flipped to his feet. "There's bound to be a reason for that mask of yours!" Despite Mega Man's flippant words, he knew that Vile had won. He'd delayed Mega Man enough that there was no way he could get to Roll in time!