eyed the computer readout critically.
abnormalities in the robot, so he let it pass. He adjusted
his leather jacket--an indulgence he had taken after
the press conference six months ago--and entered the
information on his electronic notebook.
the press conference in September, Rock had taken a
job as Dr. Light's representative to the LighTech factory
in England. Had he wanted, he could have lived his life
as a normal human being here in Gladstonbury. However,
he felt an obligation to stay with Dr. Light. Therefore,
he lived in Tokyo with his creator/mentor and teleported
to England each day to work.
was another brainchild of Dr. Light's and Dr. Wily's.
Apparently, they had been working together on the concept
since before Rock's activation. Due to an unfortunate
accident, of which Rock could never get either doctor
to disclose any information, the pair had let the project
lie. Shortly after the invention of the matter synthesizer
however, the cousins had finally perfected a system
which would transport large groups of particles back
and forth. Although they didn't want to risk trying
it on organic matter yet, Rock had assured them that
he would volunteer for experimentation.
now he had a teleportation chip in his brain that allowed
him to move across the world and back within a matter
of minutes. It was quite handy. Rock frowned and bit
his lip to keep his mind from wandering. That was the
trouble with having a brain that adapted like a human's;
it wandered like a human's from time to time.
back on task, Rock. He forced himself to review
the statistics about the factory for what seemed like
the thousandth time that day.
factory produced four main types of robots. One, a recent
upgrade from the EG-400 series, was the EG-500 series,
which resembled nothing so much as a large hard-hat
when it was in its off mode. Underneath, it had two
feet and photoreceptors--eyes--as well as plasma welders
and small arms that could handle tools. Although not
good for any complex chores, the EG-500 "metools" were
next was a welding robot invented after the press conference.
It was humanoid, but had no face; it was just a large
green or orange metal-clad humanoid with an all-obscuring
welding helmet and shield, which could go on its back
when it used its powerful plasma welder. The current
model was the 12-KIF series. Absently, Rock wondered
if there was any rhyme or reason in the numbers, or
of they were just arbitrarily picked out of a hat.
other two robots were military 'bots. Rock frowned.
Dr. Light and most of the rest of the robotechnics community
thought that military robots--which were often programmed
without the first two rules of robotics--were immoral
fact, in most countries, the warbots--as they were known--had
been banned. The middle-east and some of Europe, including
Great Britain--were the only holdouts. Rock disapproved
of warbot manufacture, but it was his job to make sure
that they were produced smoothly.
WAR6 (terribly clever, Rock thought with a half-snarl)
was a small, domed robot, often red or blue, with a
retractable spring-leg on its underside. It was equipped
with three photoreceptors, spaced evenly along the circumference
of the dome. An explosive charge could be mounted inside
for sabotage missions.
last item, Rock decided, couldn't really be called a
robot. It was shaped like a football, but several times
larger and silver. Although it had some programmed directives,
it was mostly remote controlled. Mostly, it was a small
bomb, used to kill a few people in a concentrated space,
but not good for wide-scale bombing. Its designers,
Arab weapons-specialists, called it by a name that translated
roughly to "the fist."
cheered up. This factory, however, was presently also
one of the few that was privileged to be manufacturing
the Gutsman line. The wilderness reclamation robots
had been the most popular by far, although multiple
copies of all six robots had been manufactured and distributed
all over the world.
sight of Tim's face was always slightly comical to Rock,
who looked now on a row of twelve of them, fresh from
the factory. It had taken less than a week for the factory
to make them, and even then, they were being bought
up faster than they could be put together.
of these were aware yet; they were merely finished in
the physical sense. Back in Tokyo was where the brain-chips
were mass-produced. It was merely Rock's job to make
sure that the bodies were in good condition. Roll, back
in Tokyo right now, would be supervising the chip production.
nodded curtly and turned to the foreman. "You're clear.
Good job, John."
Brewers smiled and shook the android's hand as if both
had been human. "Thanks, Rock. I'll see you next week."
grinned and nodded. It was Friday, and since the British
didn't subscribe to the Japanese tradition of working
for six and often seven days during the week, Rock was
free for two days.
activated his teleport circuitry and watched as the
world disappeared in flash of luminescent blue, almost
like lightning. Rock lost all sensation, and in an eyeblink,
he was in the lab in Tokyo. Of course, it had taken
longer than that, but as he had discovered, a being
in teleport-state is not aware of itself or its surroundings.
looked at the clock on the wall. It had taken him maybe
twenty minutes to get this far. Dr. Light stood, back
turned, fiddling with something. Rock quietly walked
behind him into the welding room and took off his jacket.
He was working on modifying Eddie with the teleport
system as well. Perhaps he'd finish it over the weekend.
took down the gray jumpsuit that was shielded for heat
and put it on, followed by the ridiculous red boots
(who had made them that color?) and welding gauntlets.
Then he fitted the helmet with its dark visor over his
head and picked up the plasma welder and lead shield.
about half an hour of fiddling with Eddie's circuitry,
Rock stood and stretched, tired. He paced around the
room for a few moments and decided that in a few minutes,
he would go upstairs and relax.
walked out of the welding room to find Dr. Light still
working on something. Curious, he stepped forward and
looked over the doctor's shoulder. What lay on the table
was obscured by a sheaf of papers.
his head to the side, Rock asked in a silly voice, "Whatchya
workin' on, doc?"
Light spun around and his eyes grew wide. "Blues! Jesus,
where have you been? What happened? The explosion--"
lifted the visors and looked at Dr. Light. "Blues? Hey,
I'm Rock, remember?"
Light's eyes seemed to grow wider, but then he said,
"Of course." It didn't sound as if he were acknowledging
Rock, but rather realizing something amazing. He looked
at the floor, and then back at Rock for a moment. "You'd
better change. You're probably roasting in that getup."
shrugged. "I'm fine. What's the matter with you. though?
Light seemed to sag. After a moment of thought, he said,
"Go take that stuff off and come upstairs. I'll tell
feeling disturbed, went into the welding room and hung
the welding equipment and suit back on the wall. Taking
his brown leather jacket and folding it over one arm,
he walked to the lift and asked for floor 2.
was a violent shake as the lift reached the midpoint
between the sub-basement and the basement. Rock was
thrown to the side and landed on his rear with a curse.
Balefully, he watched the doors of the lift; their internal
circuitry was automatically programmed to open up the
doors in case of emergency. Sadly, they had not been
built as well as many other things in Dr. Light's lab.
muttered another curse, sounding more human all the
time, and stood slowly. The lift seemed stable enough
after the first jolt; he could be relatively sure that
the cable wouldn't snap and drop him four stories to
his death. Still, he frowned.
had caused the jolt? An earthquake? An explosion?
replayed the aural and optical data he had received
at the moment of the elevator's malfunction, and discovered
indeed that there had been a loud boom in the distance
(possibly as high as two or three floors up), which
he had not heard while preoccupied with staying upright.
explosion, then. But why?
paced back and forth in the confines of the elevator,
frustrated. What had happened? Who--or what--had engendered
the explosion? Rock stopped short. Who or what? Perhaps
it had been a robot malfunction. While such imperfections
were usually detected and corrected in LighTech 'bots
before they were sold, it was not unheard of for one
to go haywire from time to time . . .
keep himself from panicking, Rock reviewed the information
he would need to know when he returned to work on Monday.
It was an exercise in absurdity: of course, he would
know the information, his brain was perfect. Still,
it would fill up a few microseconds of time that he
might otherwise use to extrapolate upon the possible
reasons for the elevator's halt.
week . . .
week, LighTech's main competitor, Sennet Robotics, was
scheduled to unveil its line of three revolutionary
industrial robots. Since the advent of faster-than-light
space travel a few years ago, the mining of other planets'
moons had become a huge industry. The demand for rare
metals found in space was greater than the human workforce
could handle. Naturally, robot labor had been the obvious
had been only a matter of time before Sennet Robotics
released its own line of Robot Masters to compete with
LighTech's. Of course, there were two major things that
Sennet Robotics was lacking in comparison to LighTech:
Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. The main robotechnician for
Sennet Robotics--Sergei Cossack--had resigned in protest
to their manufacture of warbots. Since then, their competition
had been less than impressive.
the new Robot Masters would be something to look out
for in the competitive market of robotics; some of the
technology sounded quite impressive to Rock. Most impressive
was the Gemini model, which could actually synthesize
a doppelganger of itself. Although the original would
absorb the molecules of the second after a few minutes,
the workload that could be accomplished by such a robot
would be amazing. In addition to its laser-cutter, specially
designed to cut the types of rock found on Saturn's
moons, the Gemini model was equipped with enhanced leg
springs, in case it needed to leap out of the way of
falling mining equipment or rock.
a response to LighTech's Cutman model lumberjack, Sennet
had announced the release of its new Ripwood model.
Rock smiled when he replayed the optical data he had
obtained from the latest Popular Technology.
The Ripwood model looked more like a ninja than anything
else: to poke fun at the Japan based LighTech, Rock
suspected. It was mostly dressed in red with a large
metal circular-saw blade attached to its forehead. Rock
had read that it employed the same technology used by
the bomb-weilding Bombman model to synthesize metal
blades from the air.
last model intrigued Rock the most. It was an iron-mining
robot equipped with a magnetic field generator. Although
Rock did not know much about the robot itself, it was
rumored that the field surrounding the robot would be
strong enough to rip iron up from as far as twenty feet
course, LighTech was still busy and had begun the construction
of six other mining robots, to be released early next
year. Rock's factory was to begin restructuring for
the arrival of the new Robot Masters when he arrived
back on Monday.
Masters. That had been a term coined by Wily. Rock shook
his head. Although everybody had expected the Lightech
industrial robots to do well in their work, nobody,
including Roll or Rock, had anticipated the ease with
which they could deputize and command other robots.
Within weeks, all Cutman models had tripled their output
by commanding metools. Many Gutsman models found that
they could also easily command metools, as well as the
humanoid PickAxe model produced by Yamusho Industries.
Wily had seen how well the industrial robots commanded
and deputized others, often doubling and even tripling
efficiency on the worksite, he had dubbed them "die
Meisteren der Roboteren," and the name had stuck
throughout the world--in whichever language was convenient
for the populace to use.
glared at the elevator wall and checked his internal
chronometer. What was taking so long? He had waited
for almost five minutes, and still nothing. He considered
wrenching the doors open and climbing out, ignoring
any damage to the elevator. Just as he calculated the
risk of hurting himself to be only 15%, the elevator
moved to the first floor and opened with a nerve-torturing
grate, sending small sparks flying..
the first time in his existence, Rock knew horror.
noch mahl!" Rock whispered; a German curse he had
picked up from Dr. Wily.
main lab had been destroyed. Blackened rubble, strewn
carelessly like a child's playthings, littered the ground.
The blasted remains of the building belched smoke, gray
and noxious, which blocked out the stars. Rock immediately
stopped breathing; he didn't require oxygen as much
as human beings did, and there was no telling what superheated
smoke might do to his internal circuitry.
fluently in every language he knew, and even translating
some invective into binary, Rock kicked broken pieces
of the wall out of the way. One overriding thought dominated
him: he must, at any cost, find and rescue Dr. Light.
circuits in Rock that had been dormant since his activation
awoke with alarming alacrity. In less than a picosecond,
Rock knew the full force of despair, anger, helplessness
and rage. He violently kicked another piece of rubble
and began tearing up iron bars from the destroyed walls,
searching for any sign of Dr. Light.
burst of ultra-high audible binary intruded on Rock's
private storm of emotion. He turned with wrath upon
the source, and saw eight EG-400 metools moving towards
him. Rock rolled his eyes. It seemed as if these labor
'bots always sought out the aid of a Robot Master when
things went wrong.
to his surprise, the metools did not slow down when
they approached him. Instead, three converged on his
legs in a clumsy attempt to topple him. Vaguely annoyed,
Rock kicked them away. He turned to one 'bot--the red
"t" on its helmet designated it as the preset task force
leader--and looked at it.
rapid binary, Rock demanded to know what had happened.
metools regarded him with wide photoreceptors. Rock
felt unease give way to alarm. He took a step back and
frowned. Repeating the question in binary, Rock took
another step back. Scenes of Radius' revolt in R.U.R. played themselves over in his mind.
lead metool extended its plasma welder.
sighed with relief. How ridiculous! Robots couldn't
revolt; they weren't programmed to. He felt himself
start to grin wryly at his own overactive imagination.
"Getting more human all the time, eh?" he asked nobody
the metool opened fire.
could barely believe his eyes when the metool, of its
own accord, released a concentrated burst of ignited
plasma from its welder. Superhuman and quick as he was,
Rock could not dodge laser-ignited plasma fired at the
speed of sound. Before he could cry out, the plasma
had struck him in the left leg, blistering his synthetic
skin away on contact, melting down steel cables and
destroying circuit pathways.
he fell, he could already feel his auto-repair systems
begin to compensate for the damage. He landed solidly
on one metool, crushing its internal circuitry beneath
its super-strong titanium-alloy helmet.
Age of Robots has begun! March! Radius' prophetic
line echoed over and over through Rock's brain. Soon,
that was supplanted by an image of Dr. Light, crushed
and mangled under the blasted remains of his own lab,
destroyed by the robots he had slaved his whole life
Rock leaped up on his good leg and kicked the lead metool
between its photoreceptors, crushing crucial circuitry
and destroying it. Without pausing, he grabbed the nearest
of the quickly scattering metools and ripped its helmet
off, exposing a nest of wires and chips.
one vindictive punch, he smashed the metool's internal
circuitry into unrecognizable trash. Rock looked on
with blazing eyes as the rest of the metools fled. Slowly
at first, the rage went out of him, to be replaced by
fear and disgust.
had he done?
don't kill, he had said to Wily. He looked with
disturbingly blue eyes at the mangled metool in his
arms. Dropping it, as if it were too hot for even him
to hold, Rock fell to his knees. His damaged leg would
not hold up for much longer.
lab coat torn and bloodstained, Dr. Light pulled himself
out from under a heavy synthetic-oaken table which had
shielded him from falling debris. Rock turned listless
eyes towards his creator who, stared at Rock with a
mixture of horror and wonder. Though bruised and more
than a little scorched, Dr. Light stood and walked slowly
God, Rock! What on earth--?"
looked away dully. After a moment, he asked. "What happened?"
Light passed a hand across his eyes and took several
deep breaths before kneeling down next to Rock. "I have
no idea. The metools went crazy. I was trying to get
a handle on them when the whole building shook. I ran
outside, thinking it was maybe a bomb threat that the
HSL had actually carried out."
growled. Founded in the late 1990's, the Human Supremacy
League was a hate group which focused on taking jobs
from robots and giving them back to human beings. Usually,
this meant late-night bombings of areas where robots
were stored, or destruction of nearby robotics manufacturing
lab alone had received over a dozen bomb threats in
the past week; activity by the HSL had tripled since
the unveiling of the eight Robot Masters last September.
The factory at Gladstonbury for which Rock was responsible
had received almost as many threats as Light personally
had. Three of his workers had been beaten severely by
HSL fanatics, and an entire team of metools had been
sabotaged last week, setting production back almost
simply, the Human Supremacy League was responsible for
more damage to LighTech and all other robotics industries
than anything else. Rock was an android, and knew that
it was illogical to waste neural energy on the emotion
of hatred. Still, the HSL and all it stood for aroused
what came close to hatred in a robot in Rock. Even more,
it aroused his sense of justice. At times, Rock would
sit and diagnose himself, to be certain that his senses
of anger and justice hadn't melded together. After all,
it was so easy for humans to let that happen . . . and
the result were groups like the HSL.
the HSL couldn't reprogram metools," Rock said. Then,
with less sureness in his voice, "Could it?"
Light shrugged and winced at the motion. Rock noticed
that Dr. Light's shoulder was bleeding, and so tore
a strip of his own blasted jeans to bind the wound.
Dr. Light smiled appreciation and answered more thoroughly.
"The metools are some of our simpler robots, true. But
it's unlikely that anybody in the HSL would bother to
take the training needed to reprogram them."
looked dejectedly at the three metool "corpses."
his creation's emotional state (amazing, Light thought
to himself,) Dr. Light put a hand on Rock's shoulder.
"Don't feel bad. You had no choice, Rock. Remember the
Second Rule. You're bound to preserve your own existence
circuits in Rock's brain digested the information and
calculated a 95% chance that it provided grounds for
dismissing approximately 63% of his guilt. He allowed
himself a bitter smile. "Thanks for the programming,"
he managed weakly.
Light stood slowly and fumbled in his pockets.
are you doing?" Rock asked.
for help," Dr. Light answered. "There are still fires
and injured here. I just hope that there aren't many
more crazed EG's."
remained sitting while his auto-repair systems feverishly
worked to restore the muscle cables in his leg; the
synthetic flesh was cosmetic, and could easily be replaced
later. After a moment, he heard Roll's voice--tinny
over the holo-link--shrill with anger and panic.
hit here, too! I don't know who it was, but they did
a good job."
happened?" Dr. Light demanded, face growing waxy pale
under his frost-white beard.
took a deep breath before answering. "About twenty minutes
ago, all our robots just stopped working. Some stopped
in the middle of jobs and dropped their materials, and
some just finished up and then sat motionless."
shivered as the last of the overworked auto-repair systems
cut out to recharge. His leg would work for standing,
but running would not be a good idea at the moment.
Slowly, so as not to put sudden pressure on the damaged
limb, Rock stood behind Light and listened to Roll.
seven minutes and six seconds ago, one of the metools
attacked somebody. A worker." Roll's voice nearly broke
as she said, "A human worker!"
was a moment of numb silence between Rock and Dr. Light.
Roll clenched her fists in anger and frustration. "Do
you understand? The robots have broken the Prime
down," Dr. Light said, sounding strangely detached.
"Are you okay?"
got a little scorched in the arms fighting a 12-KIF,
but I'm okay. The renegade robots headed south a few
minutes before you called. I think they're acting on
some sort of signal." Roll rubbed her arms as if she
were cold, despite the flames in the background. "I
just called for an ambulance for the humans injured."
Dr. Light answered. "Just stay logical and get home
as soon as you can."
three-dimensional image of Roll faded into millions
of tiny phosphorescent sparkles and dissipated into
nothing. Rock and Light stood silently for several moments
before Rock finally spoke.
better call an ambulance for our injured, too. Maybe
we could call Gary up from New Shirewick to help put
out these fires. IRA might help, too." Rock clenched
his fist. "Then we'll find the plentyn--" he
used a Welsh curse learned from one of the factory workers
in Great Britain, "--who did this to us."
idea," Dr. Light agreed with a grimace. He punched up
the number for the hospital and the fire department,
and within moments, sirens could be heard approaching.
That accomplished, Rock saw Dr. Light hit the number
code to reach Gary in New Shirewick, Antarctica.
disturbing keening sound pervaded the air, and the image
of the South Pole materialized in front of the pair.
A pale blue sky lit by a pale, hazy sun shone over a
landscape of sterile white. The bent forms of palm trees
covered in ice and snow dotted the landscape. Rock noted
wryly that just a decade ago, nobody would have thought
palm trees could grow in Antarctica. treeborgs were
a wonderful invention.
few mutlidirectional surface scanning robots--U.S. Army
issue, Rock noticed--skimmed back and forth across the
ice, taking readings. Here and there, a helicopter-like
equipment-transport robot dropped without warning onto
the ice, to collect samples or deliver tools to an unknown
destination below the horizon.
was nowhere in sight.
Light frowned. "The vid-chip is supposed to be attached
to him at all times. Where is he?" After a moment, he
said, "And what are we looking at? This isn't the World
Water Purification Plant in New Shirewick!"
hypothesized several alarming theories, but decided,
for Dr. Light's benefit, to voice the least alarming.
"Perhaps the chips was torn off by wind . . . or something,"
he finished lamely.
Light shook his head and sighed. Rock knew that the
doctor's body had aged 53 years, 6 months, 8 days and
14 minutes since its birth. He had always known that
Dr. Light was middle-aged, if not old, by human standards.
it seemed to the android as he watched his master now
that he appeared far older and frailer. It saddened
Rock to see his creator so dejected. Logic circuits
balanced with compassion programs to produce a decision.
get back home," Rock said. "There's nothing more we
can do here."
* * * *
was close to two hours later when the cleanup crews
excavated Eddie and some of Rock's tools from the damaged
laboratory. Eddie was activated a placed on duty immediately
after Dr. Light and Roll had confirmed that he was free
of any bugs.
for his part, spent much of the time brooding. When
they had arrived home, Dr. Light found a plethora of
messages awaiting him and went to his study to take
them while Rock and Roll repaired themselves in the
spacious living room.
pushed the last flap of syntheflesh into place.
are some bad cuts there," Rock observed as she winced.
"Are you sure your systems are functioning within green
shot Rock a withering glare. "My systems are fine. Don't
you think I've run a self-diagnostic several times since
shrugged. "I merely suggest that the damage looks as
if it could be bad enough to have affected your diagnosis
system as well."
activated a small heating welder on her index finger
and erased the seam between the two pieces of syntheflesh.
"Well I'm fine. Don't let your anxiety circuits get
eager to continue arguing, but not willing either to
let his sister win the debate, he asked. "What were
you doing fighting against a 12-KIF anyway? You know
that if one went berserk it could easily destroy both
of us; it has that high powered plasma welder. If that's
not enough, it also has the shield. Your logic circuits
must be faulty if--"
was attacking a human being," Roll snapped. "I had no
choice. Prime Law overrides all. At least," she amended
darkly, "for us."
fell to silence as he fixed the rest of his own leg.
Roll said, "you showed about as much logic when you
attacked a nest of crazed metools. I'd rather face one
high-powered 12-KIF welder than eight metools--all with
beeped a few rapid lines of invective in binary and
hexadecimal before standing and testing his new leg
assembly. He was lucky; his systems were already nearly
back to normal. Roll's would take weeks to repair if
she let her own auto-repair systems tackle the job.
Manually, it would still take a few days to complete
Light walked slowly into the room and sat on the couch,
opposite of Rock and his sister.
he sighed, "the good news is that nobody was killed,
and that LighTech is covered under insurance for bombings."
calculated a 97% probability that the next words out
of Light's mouth would be--
bad news is," Dr. Light continued, proving Rock right,
"that it's not just LighTech."
Rock and Roll's simultaneous exclamation rang eerily
in the large living room.
Robotics has been bombed in at least nineteen different
factories," Light answered.
Sennet is based in the United States!" Rock exclaimed.
"What--" He interrupted himself as probability matrices
expanded and collapsed in his mind. Calculating possibilities
at the speed of light, Rock quickly came to an alarming
conclusion. "Is this worldwide?"
don't know," Light admitted. He picked up the remote
to the holovid and clicked it on. "I was hoping that
there would be some news on it." Clicking through hundreds
of channels, Light finally arrived at International
157, better known to most English speakers as CNN.
a few stories about mounting tension between revolutionary
groups in Chile, a young boy dashed onto the set with
a sheaf of papers in his hand. The anchorwoman took
them quickly and scanned the words.
just in," she announced. "According to major robotics
corporations LighTech, Sennet, IRM, and numerous smaller
companies, the industrial robots of the world seem to
have been infected with some sort of virus. Current
information lists seven hundred as dead and thousands
as injured." Her eyes widened as she read more. "The
virus apparently induces robots to go berserk after
a short period of inactivity. Experts are not sure as
to the cause of this outbreak of violence, and urge
all robot owners to deactivate their property until
the threat is ended."
God," Light whispered, his voice hoarse. "Oh, my God!"
of all countries are also urge to stay away from--"
image fizzled out.
leaped to his feet. "What?! What happened?" Before he
could start to curse the holovid, an image flickered
and reappeared on the screen.
better," Roll was about to say. Instead, she and every
other person in the world watching CNN was silent as
they stared at the strange emblem holographically floating
above the projection disks on the floor.
the upper-left hand corner of the square emblem were
the letters "Dr." Superimposed over a large ring was
a white "W." Rock and Roll both looked with horror,
attempting to postulate another theory for the occurrence.
Dr. Light whispered, and quickly punched in a set of
numbers on his televid.
image dissolved and reintegrated into the features of
Dr. William Albert Wily.
mouthed the word no, but was speechless.
raised his eyebrows. "Citizens of the world," he announced.
"I am Dr. William Albert Wily. Many of you might recognize
me for my work with my famous cousin, Dr. Light of LighTech."
slowly sat, not knowing what to compute.
world had become increasingly dependent on robots,"
Dr. Wily continued. "For its food, for its water, even
for its air. The occurrence of an event such as this
strike by the industrial robots of the world could destroy
the human race."
have dug your own grave," Dr. Wily said quietly. "Under
my command, the industrial robots of this planet have
been reprogrammed. They will destroy everything in their
path until I tell them to stop."
turned his face away. This was insane!
televid rang, just off screen. Wily smiled and picked
it up. "It looks as if we're in for caller #1," he announced.
"Why don't we put him on the air?"
Light shouted into the televid. "Will, you're crazy!
What are your thinking?"
Wily's smile never wavered. "I told you, cousin Tom.
We're far too dependent on robots. If the human race
doesn't throw off its self-forged yoke of slavery to
its own robots, then it is doomed. I'm doing this for
the good of humanity."
sound like one of those damn Human League activists!"
Rock snapped, loud enough to be heard over the televid.
is that? Rock?" Wily's smile grew, if anything, broader.
"Funny you should mention my good friends. I trust you
received our mutual message?"
Roll yelled. "What are you talking about?"
too? Oh, splendid, the whole family is there!" Wily
clapped his hands together once. "As for the message,
I trust your labs were both bombed?"
was your doing? You bast--"
on the air," Wily admonished, waggling his index finger.
"Be a good little mädchen and don't embarrass
yourself in front of billions of viewers." Wily motioned
to the side, off screen. "Besides, you might offend
my friend's sensibilities."
screen panned over to take in the image of a totally
unremarkable man with muddy brown hair and cinnamon-colored
eyes. "Meet James Walken, commander-in-chief of the
Human Supremacy League." Wily seemed ecstatic. "He and
his upstanding friends will be helping me to prove a
point. As of now, I declare world domination. If I do
not receive calls of unconditional surrender from the
political leaders of the following countries by 6:00
Pacific Time tomorrow morning, the Human Supremacy League
and the Army of Wily will punish this world until it
has learned its lesson."
Wily listed off the countries he expected to surrender,
Rock turned to Roll and Light.
we get a trace on his signal?" he asked.
shook his head. "He's too smart for that. He's probably
relaying the signal through fifty different satellites
and shielding it on top of that. There's no way to find
out where he is."
sighed and closed his eyes. "The Robot Masters, at least,
should be of some help. Once they get control of the
smaller robots again, we can organize some sort of defense
against Wily's onslaught."
Light nodded slowly. "They should be safe from tampering.
Wily doesn't have the original codes to erase their
programming; they're with Eddie."
Roll called. Looking to Light and Rock she explained,
"we should keep them near us at all times. If Wily gets
a hold of those, he'll be virtually invincible. Especially
if he still has the backing of a bunch of fanatics like
trundled into view, large eyes blinking with curiosity
at the image of Wily, who still alphabetically listed
gotten to the 'R's'," Rock noted.
Light commanded absently. Eddie dutifully cranked his
top open and waited patiently for Light to remove his
in the room looked with blank horror at the contents
of Eddie's storage compartment.
was a single scrap of paper with four German words on
it. Ich habe euch jetzt.
have you now," Rock translated.
case you're wondering how I plan to control you," Dr.
Wily continued, "Perhaps I should introduce you to my
six generals in my New Order." He swept his arm grandly
and the camera panned with his motion to an image of
six humanoid figures.
knew that, had he been human, his heart would have stopped.
Robot Masters stood at attention, each looking straight
forward. Each line of industrial robots created by Lightech
was represented within the group. Rock swore.
of these Robot Masters," Wily said, "Is in charge of
a vital source of the world's supplies. The Water Purification
Plant in New Shirewick is now under my domination, as
are countless other facilities like it. I have gained
access to the codes which allow to reprogram the robots
at will, assigning them to whatever task I see fit."
the prototypes," Light pleaded in a whisper.
because of extremely sharp hearing or just coincidence,
Wily grinned nastily. "I have stolen the six prototypes
for the Iceman, Cutman, Bombman, Gutsman, Fireman and
Elecman lines. With these robots in control of their
'children' I can easily destroy any facility I choose."
put his head in his hands. Finally, he picked up the
televid again. "Will, you have a hell of a way of winning
an argument," he said wearily. "You've made your point,
all right? Just stop this insanity."
afraid it's a bit too late for that, cousin," Wily answered.
Turning to James Walken, he said, "Jim and I have plans
for this planet, and until you are made to see the truth
of our cause, you cannot be allowed to interfere."
have commanded my men to destroy Rock and Roll on sight,"
Walken said in a cold voice, less human sounding than
Rock or Roll. "After that, Dr. Thomas Xavier Light will
stand trial for his crimes against the human race and
dare--!" Rock leaped from his seat, as if to pummel
Walken through the holographic image. Already he could
feel his restraining program reinforcing the Prime Law.
must not harm a human being in any manner.
sank down, defeated by his own programming.
the New Order!" Wily cried. "Die Neue Ordnung!"
and the six Robot Master repeated his cry, fists in
screen dissolved into images of the takeover by Wily's
robots. Deprived of the Laws of Robotics, the robots
ran rampant through human civilization, destroying and
murdering. It made Rock sick to see welding robots turned
to murderers with enhanced plasma welders. Cameras mounted
on leaping WAR6's recorded the destruction of entire
felt his circuits heat with anger as he watched holographic
images of flying robots dropping from the skies and
bombing men, women and children indiscriminately. Fire
raged through the streets, ignited by the renegade robots.
still were the images of the Robot Masters.
models dashed through human settlements, severing limbs,
collapsing buildings and maiming innocents. Armies of
Bombman models rampaged through cities, leaving only
blackened craters and the smell of ozone in their wake.
Iceman models left blasts of arctic, impossible cold
to freeze the air and brittle structures for the oncoming
Fireman models which blasted everything into cinders.
of all were the images of Gutsman and Elecman models.
Faces that Rock had only seen in joy or joking now looked
on, cruelly calculating as they electrocuted humans
to death and smashed entire city blocks with a few well-thrown
boulders. Rock felt his sense of justice begin to override
everything except the Prime Laws.
final blow came when the holographic sphere went dark
and the "Dr. W" sign floated in the center. Wily's voice,
deliberately menacing and heavily accented, announced
the deadline for all countries again.
* * * *
was the first to speak.
got to stop him."
leaped up. "Are you crazy? You'll get yourself deactivated
for sure! Dead!"
Light was still holding the scrap of paper which read,
in German, "I've got you now."
the just thing to do," Rock said, voice shaking. "I
have to do something to stop him."
Light slowly stood. "Yes, of course. We must start immediately."
what?" Roll had her fists both clenched. "You're going
to get us all killed!"
would you suggest?" Rock demanded, whirling on her,
"Stand by and do nothing?"
course not!" Roll's eyes blazed. "But we can't harm
Wily. It's impossible. I wouldn't change that even
if I could. How are we supposed to do anything? Let
the humans handle it, and we'll offer technical assistance
have the right idea, Roll," Light said slowly. "You
cannot harm Wily. I, too, would not have that change.
However, human beings cannot take the punishing that
robots would deal to them. Only other robots can weaken
Wily's strength until he is sufficiently weak to be
dealt with by human beings."
turned towards the stairs that would lead to Dr. Light's
private lab. "Then we have to get started on it right
Dr. Light seemed flustered.
new robot!" Rock replied. "The one that'll serve as
a prototype of the others to defeat Wily. We need to
agree," Roll said. "Now is the time to act. Anything
else will come too late."
Light shook his head. "I'm afraid neither of you understands.
We're not making a new robot."
going to modify one of you to be the champion."
Dr. Light's eyes looked at once sad but triumphant.
"I had hoped you could both live peaceful lives, as
I never did during World War Three. That is now only
put her hands on her hips. "Both of us can go."
Dr. Light protested. "There's not enough time for that.
volunteer," Rock and Roll said simultaneously.
Dr. Light answered, "the damage dealt to you will take
far too long to repair without worrying about upgrading
you as well. I'm afraid Rock is the only choice I can
fumed. "You're just saying that because he's a boy and
robot," finished Light. "I'm not being sexist.
You both are equal in physical capabilities under ideal
circumstances. However, these are hardly ideal circumstances.
Rock simply has less damage to his frame and systems
kept her fists clenched, but eventually lowered her
eyes. "I see the logic in your statement. It makes sense
for Rock to take the role of defender at this point."
She frowned. "But after we are finished with his upgrades,
I demand that we give me the same capabilities in case
Rock is damaged."
Light nodded. With a wry twist of his lip, he answered,
"I see the logic in your statement. We will proceed
with construction and design immediately." Turning to
Rock, he said, "Though your sister may envy you, I do
not. You are already superhuman in your abilities. To
be given more power is to be given more responsibility.
In making you more than superhuman--mega-human perhaps--you
will gain more responsibility than perhaps any other
person on this world."
sighed. "And to have such responsibilities is to have
hardly any choice in what you do."
understand," Dr. Light said approvingly. "From this
day forth, you will no longer be merely Rock. Rock is
your superhuman name. Rockman is the name you were created
with, and as you reach you full mega-human potential
you shall be called Rockman."
prefer Rock," Rock said.
Light chuckled. "We'll see. Now let's get to work."
* * * *
the next few days, Rock learned to hate the name of
him, it symbolized everything wrong about being the
champion against Wily. Wily was Rock's friend--or had
been at one time. Rock just couldn't force himself to
believe that he was totally evil. There must have been
something that happened . . .
there were always the Robot Masters. They, too had been
Rock's friends at one point. He had helped to build
them! It was a crime against his conscience and everything
just; to have to kill his own best friends was wrong.
the bombing at Lightech's main lab, Rock had encountered
seven more renegade robots, and had been forced to destroy
each one. After each "death," Rock vowed he would never
get used to it. It was a crime to end life--even unintelligent
cybernetic life--and Rock hated himself for it, and
hated Dr. Wily for forcing him into this situation.
glared out the window from the schematics he was working
the battered, scorched and smoking Tokyo, the sky was
there was James Walken and his damn Human Supremacy
League. Rock had calculated for days now on a way to
find a loophole in his programming that would allow
him to kill--directly or indirectly--this abominable
man who preached hatred and intolerance, responsible
for the deaths of hundreds of factory workers and deactivation
of thousands of industrial robots.
last bloodstained shreds of light vanished as night
swallowed a sporadically glittering Tokyo.
held up the outer shell for a half-completed plasma
weapon--to work on the same principal as a plasma welder--and
sighed as if his heart would shatter.
who saw would have guessed that Rock was other than
a deeply troubled young man with black hair and large,
sad blue eyes.
to Hunter--Chapter 3