first encounter between Rockman and the renegade robots
controlled by Dr. Wily clearly demonstrated the effectiveness
of a robotic hunter. Analyzing the data and vid-chips
from this first battle, we have laid the groundwork
for production of several repliroid upgrades for a new
idea intended to neutralize Irregular activity--a concept
known as 'Irregular Hunters.'"
--excerpt from Repliroids and their Place in Society by Dr. Alan Cain, historian and archaeologist
Since the incident with Rock several hours ago, the
mad scientist had been working like a demon in his lab.
Who could have imagined that Dr. Light would program
the damn robot to disobey Wily? It was certainly unforeseen.
Of course, this would change that. At the least, it
would improve the situation. Dr. Wily beamed at the
mess of cables and half-formed limbs. A holographic
projector lay turned on its side to the far left. That
would be installed last, of course.
Lying around the cavernous laboratory were several robots,
all in various stages of completion. The theories utilized
to construct some of them would have amazed even Dr.
Light. Still, Wily had taken risks. That much he knew.
Many would say that he was insane to take such risks,
but what did they know? They didn't have an entire plant
of self-enslaving fools as their enemies, did they?
Wily gritted his teeth as he plugged in a microcircuit
processing chip. They were all after him! Even his own
cousin, Dr. Light! Hadn't the two-faced coward developed
upgrades for Rock so that Rock would track down and
assassinate Wily in his own fortress? Nobody understood
"Nobody!" Wily screamed, suddenly throwing a heavy wrench
violently across the room. Tears welled up in his eyes.
Why couldn't it be like it used to? People didn't always
have to worry about robots crushing their homes and
ravaging the landscape! Robots had been servants once,
and not the masters. If only . . .
But wait. That was his doing, wasn't it? Dr. Wily pressed
his hands to his temples. He couldn't recall things
clearly anymore. It must be that damn Wallken's fault.
Ever since he started sending people to spy on Dr. Wily
. . .
That was why Wily had resorted to using the teleporter
so much. If he just appeared and disappeared, nobody
could follow him. Or could they? That thought had driven
Wily to order the construction of huge energy shields
around all of his Robot Masters' fortresses, to prevent
anybody from teleporting in and destroying Wily's wonderful
It all blended together in Dr. Wily's tortured brain,
and he soon lost track of the shifts in reality. For
hours he spoke earnestly to himself, just to drown out
the voices, or delivered a tirade about the stupidity
of the human race to a group of wide-eyed, uncomprehending
metools, whose vocabulary consisted of less than fifty
At times, he would hear the voices of Roll, Rock, and
Dr. Light, all discussing how they would bloodily deal
with Wily once they caught him. Other times, he would
turn his head and see himself, gorily dismembered on
the floor and pleading for help. Once his own screaming
stopped, he had to remind himself that the vision was
only his imagination.
He had been working for to long without much sleep.
That was it. If he could just rest . . .
But the robots wouldn't let him. They stood silently,
grimly, mocking him. "Why can't you give us life, father?"
they whispered into the stifling gloom of Wily's oppressive
laboratory. "Give us life, as Tom has given his children."
"I can't!" Dr. Wily pleaded. "I don't understand it!
Tom doesn't think like I do!"
"Life!" the robots demanded. "Give us life!"
And so Dr. Wily slaved into the night, eyes bloodshot
and flitting back and forth as he heard yet another
intruder attempt entrance into his sacred sanctuary.
The wall was scored with laser burns where Dr. Wily
had fired his pistol to ward off vision that he could
never be sure were only his own imagination.
Whenever he fell asleep, the steel-tipped pincers of
his own inventions would torture him back to wakefulness
until he could finish. Dr. Wily screamed curses at them,
but then they were standing against the wall again,
as if they had never budged.
Of course, they couldn't. They were only half-finished,
Dr. Wily reminded himself. All he needed was a little
sleep . . . but then the crystalline eyes of the demon-robots
pierced him to the core and demanded life once again.
Every so often, Dr. Wily would throw down his tools,
kneel, and weep with his head in his hands. What was
happening to him? If only Rock . . .
Rock! This was his fault! If he hadn't meddled
where he wasn't meant to go . . . If he had just stayed
as robot instead of pretending to be human . . .
Wily would kill Rock if it was the last thing he did.
The voices egged him on, taunted him, tortured him.
Wily could never find peace. Never. But then, what if--
Another thought snagged his mind, like a splinter of
steel against flesh. And, like flesh, Dr. Wily's sanity
tore and bled until it was nearly irreparable. The further
he descended into madness, the more quickly he fell.
Soon, there would be nothing left of the Billy Wily
who had played on the front steps of his grandmother's
house in Brandenburg, and the only thing that would
remain would be a robot in his skin.
Finding the notion repulsive, Dr. Wily tore at his own
skin to see if somehow steel cables hadn't replaced
his own muscles.
But robots don't bleed . . .
Somewhere along the line, Dr. Wily found himself building
He relaxed. Building made the voices stop, made the
visions go away. Despite the fact that Dr. Wily didn't
always know what it was that he built, it always made
a kind of sense to him, in a comforting, if strange
"Mutter?" Dr. Wily looked up from his work. Was
that his mother calling? But no, that was silly. His
mother had died when she tried to escape over the Berlin
Wall back in 1971. It was inconceivable that she should
be calling him now.
Unless I'm dead.
Wily shook his head. No! Looking back to the mangled
thing on the table, he wondered what it had started
as. Disgusted, he swept it to the ground and relished
in the sound of its gears crunching together and its
bolts skittering across the floor.
Shadows cloaked the lab as Dr. Wily fell to his knees
"Leave me alone," he pleaded of the silent, commanding
robots that surrounded the room. "Just leave me alone
. . ."
Rock would pay for this.
* * * *
fingers of light crept through the skeletal structure
of the blasted Treeborg Processing Center. Sunrise
tinted the blasted land around the building a deep vermilion
color, staining the ground with bloody light and fiery
streaks of gold and white. Huge craters smoked still
from the previous day's carnage. Blackened skeletons
of organic life-forms, many human, lay carelessly scattered
across the landscape.
Those who had not died moaned piteously. Some had lost
appendages. Some few who still amazingly clung to life
had lost entire halves of their bodies. Their screams
and moans blended in with the high, inhuman shriek of
the death-scented gale that raked the land with cold,
Australia had once been a thriving metropolis. With
a population of close to a seven million, it had been
the center of the Treeborg Processing Industry. In the
center of the city, the massive Treeborg Processing
Plant stood, towering far over fifty stories.
night, many citizens of the city would take flights
on hovercraft and airships to look down on the sparkling
city. Like a dark blanket strewn with luminescent gems,
Sydney at night was far and away one of the more popular
sites to see when visiting Australia.
ruined buildings poked above the ground like the dark
bones of some slain prehistoric creature. Casting weird
shadows across the mist-and-smoke flooded terrain, the
city languished like a wounded animal that knows it
will soon die.
its streets broken to pulverized dust, Sydney had been
virtually razed in most places. Only the dark, monolithic
form of the Treeborg Processing Center still stood to
its full height. Yet even that had been gutted. Sunlight
shone through the numerous gaping holes that dotted
walls blasted away by plasma fire and bombing, in some
cases only girders held up entire floors. Ceilings had
collapsed in many places, and lay broken on the floors
below. In some places, the broken edges of what had
once been the walls and interior of the tower now lined
the floor in impenetrable spiky areas like the jaws
of some primordial beast.
the shadow of this ruin, a few surviving men, women
and children struggled to escape the city. They remembered
all to well the brutal swiftness of the robots' strike,
and the heartless efficiency with which humans had been
exterminated with plasma fire, invisible laser beams,
and--worst of all--the bombs.
survivor that escaped knew that he would carry with
him the images of the city as it fell to the constant
bombardment of the robots' attack. Shock waves had ripped
the city to molten shreds as the fiery destruction spread
outward in rings.
in rings the metools came.
screamed their terror to the unfeeling skies as hundreds
of EG-400 labor 'bots appeared. A cancerous ring that
spread outward from the tower, the metools grimly, quickly,
efficiently burned the already scorched landscape to
absolute waste with modified plasma welders. Comical
though they appeared, the metools were more than a match
for frightened, scorched human beings. The sun's rays
glinted off of their plasma-burst-proof helmets, scattering
light in shards across the blasted ground.
nearly ten minutes, the grim sounds of dying human beings
and collapsing buildings filled the air. Still the metools
drove onward, compelled by programming to exterminate
all organic life in their path. They would continue
until they had reached the limits of their territory:
about five kilometers from here.
several minutes, silence descended over the ravaged
Sydney, interrupted only by the occasional howling of
the angry easterly wind.
warning or prelude, a bolt of blue fire blasted down
from the sky and struck earth, throwing stone and dirt
up into the air, to come showering down like a miniature
switched off the teleporter chip in his helmet and tacitly
surveyed the damage.
beyond belief by the carnage that surrounded him on
all sides, Rock felt the first stirrings of true hatred.
Against all decency, humanity--sanity--Dr. Wily
had mercilessly destroyed an entire city.
corrected himself--murdered. Dr. William Albert
Wily was a genocidal maniac. Logic matrices and circuits
flared to life, tripping off a chain reaction of angry
responses by Rock. Dr. Wily and those bigoted maniacs
from the Human Supremacy League had done this. No matter
what robots they had used as tools, the deaths at Sydney
were Dr. Wily's and James Walken's fault as surely as
if they held the bloodstained weapons in their own hands.
bitter gale blew smoke into Rock's eyes, blinding his
android didn't even notice.
in his own feelings of blind hatred, Rock felt himself
grow warm--probably from the overload on his emotions
chip. Physical sensation dimmed to a pale star compared
to the flaming nova of his rage.
warning chime sounded in Rock's ear; his emotions were
reaching physically dangerous levels. Remembering Blues'
fate and Dr. Light's fears for his own sanity, Rock
quickly engaged logic circuits to halt the wildfire
acceleration of his emotional response.
gradually, Rock felt himself return to normal.
was all he could do to keep himself from shaking. What
had he almost done? Rock tried not to contemplate the
possibilities of what he could have done while in such
a state . . . and failed. Could he have broken the Prime
Law? He shivered and looked down at his hands.
jumped. Unconsciously, he had shifted his left hand
into plasma-buster configuration.
by the connotations of such potentially violent behavior,
Rock gritted his teeth and looked around. His objective
was twofold; he must find and help any human survivors
he could, and he must find the central control facility
in which Dr. Wily had left his soldiers and destroy
they're human . . .
thought alarmed Rock. What if Dr. Wily had left human
beings to guard the base? Or, worse yet, what if the
Human Supremacy League were present? Rock was equipped
to destroy renegade robots, but he knew--hoped--that
he would never be able to break the First Rule and kill,
or even harm a human being.
scraping sound snapped him out of his reverie.
whirled to see the grime-covered lid of a manhole shift
and topple onto the dusty ground, revealing a dark hole.
After a few moments, a human face appeared, covered
in dust and filth.
wide with terror, the man who slowly emerged half-glared,
half-gawked at Rock.
scanned the man quickly. His body temperature was abnormally
high--about 40 degrees on the centigrade scale. Several
minor cuts and abrasions covered his body, and a pair
of ugly, wickedly ripped slashes wept blood from his
waxen under sweat-slicked hair that might have been
blond before it had been caked with dirt and ash, the
man spoke--haltingly in English.
you?" The man limped a half-step to the side, as if
he might bolt at any second. "You a cop?" he asked.
nodded slowly. "Something like that."
thing on your hand?" the man demanded. "Some kinda gun?"
plasma-buster," Rock answered. Looking over his shoulder
to ascertain whether there was any immediate threat
or not, he continued. "I'm here to help. Don't worry.
Are there any others down there?"
'n' Julie're down there. They're not hurt as bad as
me." The man glanced at his ravaged arm.
happened?" Rock took a step closer.
robots," the man spat. "We did what the holovid told
us! We switched off all our household robots." His eyes
glazed over. "But more came. Hundreds. Thousands! And
their leader . . ."
Rock sounded too eager, even to himself.
a killer." The man held his arm as if to emphasize the
point. "I was one of the lucky ones."
Rock exclaimed. Of course, the man was lucky to even
be alive, but Rock calculated a high probability that
there was more than that to the man's statement.
throws them damn blades all over the place . . . and
they never miss." Tears welled up in the man's eyes.
"Cut Alec right in half . . ."
Cutman model," Rock muttered. Looking at the man, he
asked, "just one?"
no!" He waved his good arm. "Those knife-throwin' slicers
were all over the place. This city was crawling with
them! But their leader--he was the only one I ever heard
speak. All the other chittered to themselves--like squirrels
or somethin'. Then the airship came--nuked the whole
processed the information. Chittered like squirrels--that
would mean that the robots had comminicated in binary
computer language, indecipherable to human beings. And
an airship . . . that was bad news. If Wily had gotten
hold of a military Flying Battle Fortress, things would
get a lot more difficult for Rock.
get you and your family to safety," Rock said. After
a moment, he realized what a monumentally stupid thing
he had said--there was no place around here that was
safe! The closest safe place would be miles--perhaps
hundreds of miles--from here!
he switched his helmet communications module to distress-signal
mode, sending out a broad-band frequency audible to
anybody with a radio. Of course, it would alert potential
enemies as to his general location, but it was unlikely
that they would guess that the source was anything other
than a few stray human survivors.
you better take off your . . . ?" the man gestured dumbly
at Rock's plasma-buster.
Rock answered, reconfiguring his arm into a human hand.
the man stumbled backwards, his good arm held up in
terror. In his consternation, he nearly fell back into
the open manhole. "What the hell--?"
okay!" Rock hurried to calm the man. "It's nothing that
will hurt you! I just thought--"
a bloody robot!" The man's face twisted into
a mask of fear and betrayed trust. "You said you were
here to help!"
"I am!" Rock held his hands out. "I'm a hunter!
My name is Rockm--"
man staggered to the edge of the hole and screamed warnings
to his two daughters.
name is Rockman!" Rock snapped. "I'm here to help you!"
He took another step forward.
man reached into the hole and removed something shiny.
Rock had a split second to identify the object for what
it was--an automatic submachine gun. If Rock had been
human, he would have been dead; as it was, a split second
was plenty of time for him to decide what to do and
how to handle the situation.
into a tuck-and-roll, Rock protected his vulnerable
face from the hail of anticipated bullets. The submachine
gun barked loudly, spitting ammunition in one direction
and discarded shells in the other.
bullets ricocheted off of Rock's armor-plated back,
and a fifth caught him square in the arm, flattening
into a foil-like substance against his bulletproof thermal
body glove. Precisely calculating the amount of time
it would take to let the man realize that Rock had not
been harmed, the blue-garbed android slowly stood and
locked gazes with the man.
the injured man loosed another round of red-hot ammunition
into Rock's bulletproof chest. Rock calmly absorbed
the impact and then brushed the crushed bullets off
of his chest.
calmly, he took the gun from the stunned man's hands.
"There," he said quietly. "If I'd meant any harm to
you, I certainly would have done it by now. Calm down
and let me help you."
man numbly nodded, and set on the wasted ground heavily.
"What's you say your name is?"
. . . Rockman," Rock answered, searching for some material
that he could convert into a makeshift bandage for the
man's bloody wound. "Who--what's your name?" he asked,
as much to take the man's mind off the pain as anything
name's Zachary Angelwood, but my friends call me Snap."
He gritted his teeth as he moved his arm.
Rock gave up his search for a bandage and instead pondered
the problem of how he would sterilize the man's wound.
'cause I gotta bad temper," he answered. "My friend
Alec said once that it snapped easier than anything
he'd ever seen . . . and the name stuck."
see," Rock answered. Well, he thought, it's
no stranger than 'Rock.' Changing the subject, he
asked, "Do your daughters have anything to help bind
nodded and called down to his girls. Rock waited patiently
as they climbed out of their hiding place and thought
about what Snap had told him. One phrase describing
the raid kept coming back to haunt him: "Cut Alec right
in half . . ."
had the Cutman models attacked? Certainly, as robots,
they could easily calculate that a laser-armed soldier
or a plasma-cannon wielding 12-KIF would do more damage
than they. Why had they taken the obviously less effective
and less efficient way of killing?
answer washed over Rock like a cold wave.
Cutman robots had participated in the destruction because
they knew that the sight of disemboweled citizens bleeding
on the streets would be more effective in breaking the
citizens' spirits than simple vaporization.
shuddered. Whether Dr. Wily had specifically programmed
that into the robots, or it was a product of their own
runaway violence, Rock could not be sure. Either way,
the answer frightened him.
That hurts," Snap complained as his oldest daughter,
Julie, lifted his arm to inspect the damage. "Think
it's gettin' worse."
be unconscious soon if you keep losing blood at that
rate," Rock admonished. "Hold still. I have an idea."
A very dangerous idea, he added to silently. If he could
cauterize the wound, it would keep the man from bleeding
any more and prevent infection from spreading. Still,
if he hurt the man at all while treating him, it would
be a violation of the First Rule, and Rock's circuits
would instantly overload and kill both himself and the
looked suspiciously at Rock. "What're you gonna do?"
avoided the question. "This may scar like hell, but
it'll be painless, and at least you'll stop bleeding."
raised a doubting eyebrow, but remained silent.
his left arm into plasma-buster configuration, Rock
slowly powered up a small charge. Snap gulped and shifted
nervously. "You promise, this won't hurt?"
Rock answered. He didn't bother to add that his own
life depended on it as well. When he was at almost 1%
power, he touched Snap's gaping wound and cauterized
the edges. Snap felt no pain as the nerve endings were
instantly burned to nothing. Rock sighed with relief.
wasn't bad at all," Snap answered. "What is that thing?
You called it a 'buster?'"
plasma buster," Rock answered. "It superheats the air
into a white-hot state and shoots it like a bullet."
shoot air from that?" Snap looked incredulous.
. . . something like that," Rock answered.
hunter," Snap said. He looked Rock up and down. "Well,
thanks for savin' me and sorry about all the trouble."
inwardly wondered at the understatement. If he had been
human, the 'trouble' would have killed him instantly.
Calculating that voicing such an opinion would only
heighten the tension and induce awkwardness, Rock remained
hunter," Julie mused. It was the first time Rock had
seen her speak. He turned his head fractionally to scan
her. She was rather short. Rock was about five and a
half feet tall, and was used to looking up to or into
people's eyes; hers were a head below his. She had brown
hair and dark eyes to match. Her skin was tanned, but
not burned, and her voice sounded as if she were joking,
even in seriousness.
you hunt . . . what?"
Rock spat, his voice sounding angry even to him.
. . . but you're a robot?" She looked at him with inquisitive
Rock answered bitterly. The implications of what he
was about to do swept over him again, raising fresh
waves of self-reproach and bitterness. Was he no better
than Wily? A murderer? Metools weren't self-aware, so
it wasn't a crime to kill them . . . was it?
looked away, uncomfortable.
about ten years old and much younger than Julie, looked
at Rock with wide eyes. "You're here to save us?"
nodded, relieved to have the focus taken away from his
grisly profession. "I was sent by Dr. Light to--"
Light?" Snap's head popped up. "As in, Dr. Light of
yes." Rock blinked.
. . . then you're the robot that made all the news!
The one that works in England!" Snap's eyes were bright.
Rock answered. "Yes. I run the LighTech factory in Gladstonbury
. . . ran it."
I'm really sorry," Snap said. "Listen, if you ever need
a favor . . ."
smiled. "Right now, I just want to get you and any others
I can find to safety. Then," he looked at the gutted
tower of the Treeborg Processing Plant. "Then I need
to go in there."
the animation went out of Snap's face. "You can't be
serious! It's a death trap in there! That's where they're
need to knock out their hold on this sector," Rock explained.
"If they're all in there, then it only makes sense to--"
is in there!"
froze. "What? Who?"
Snap said. "That's what their leader calls himself."
quickly reviewed his stored data. "The one who spoke
the one." Snap shivered. "He was all over the place!"
shook his head. This was getting worse by the second.
"All right, listen. I'm going to go into the Plant.
I'll try to distract any robots I come across long enough
for you to escape. When you find some mode of transportation,
go to Tokyo. If all goes well, I'll meet you there."
nodded. "We'll find anybody we can and make for the
turboport. If there's still a transocean bullet train
in operation, we'll escape."
If I live--" he broke off, unable to complete the sentence.
be in Tokyo within a week," Snap promised.
managed a half-smile.
* * * *
his way through the ruined city was quite easy for Rock;
because most of the metools had spread outwards to destroy
the surrounding countryside, Sydney proper was relatively
empty. Still, Rock knew that he would have no such luck
once he reached the Plant.
to recharge his immediate supply of energy, Rock examined
a war point, it was extremely indefensible; bombing
had opened multiple entrances, and the myriad of balconies
and escape ladders that clung to its sides like parasites
made the monolithic structure seem almost more like
a blasted hotel than a Treeborg Processing Plant.
would be easiest, Rock surmised, to scale the outer
walls. Although footing would be precarious and often
dangerous, he calculated that it would be safer to slip
in to the building from the top, where defenses would
be difficult to organize because of limited space. Once
Rock had the high ground, he might have a chance of
battling his way downward into the nerve center of the
without warning, he was there.
glared up at the monolithic edifice against the sun's
early rays. About half of the way up, the building narrowed
sharply, creating a kind of platform that ran around
the edge of the structure at the twenty-eighth level.
If he made it there without too much trouble, he was
fairly sure that he could go the rest of the way.
a quick glance at his damage-sustenance meter, Rock
assured himself that all 28 counters were in the gold
level--he hadn't taken any damage that would require
his system to compensate for lost maneuverability or
function. Taking a deep breath--just to provide his
fusion generator with more fuel--Rock began.
several meters, he detected no guards. Phasing in his
multi-band sight--capable of detecting objects by their
infrared, ultraviolet, or radio signature, Rock caught
a flesh of yellow in the infrared range to his left.
to the right, Rock found himself hiding under a second-floor
fire escape platform. A triad of boulder-like debris
blocked any further escape towards the building, and
in front of him, he could now hear the incessant buzzing
of some sort of machinery.
his left, Rock found the ladder to the fire escape half-buried
in crumbled stone and blasted concrete, now cooled.
Tensing for action, Rock decided that if he must face
enemies, he'd rather do it from on top of the fire escape,
so he climbed.
the top, he could now plainly see his pursuers.
It was all he could think of to say. Flying through
the air were several helicopter-like warbots. Their
main bodies were half-sphere cargo areas, while rotating
blades about three meters in length each kept the rounded
recognized them. Although his factory in Gladstonbury
didn't manufacture them, he had seen them often enough:
DRIM-3's. He had never bothered to find out what the
acronym DRIM stood for, or whether the robots actually
were on their third remodeling--after all, they were
warbots, and who cared about them?
flight of DRIM's had drawn close enough now for Rock
to see that there were six of them. After a few more
seconds, he could see that although they still retained
the pale green base coat of paint that the Royal Army
issued them upon production, they also had been painted
with two huge eyes and a row of teeth which extended
all the way around the body, giving the robots a slightly
whether the new paint job had been Dr. Wily's idea of
another intimidation tactic, or if it was just a product
of the German robotechnician's diseased mind, Rock shifted
his right arm into plasma-buster configuration and prepared
to open fire.
like a swarm of mechanized wasps, the DRIM's dropped
with frightening speed towards Rock. As the first approached,
Rock dodged behind another boulder-sized chunk of debris
and let loose a burst of superheated plasma.
by perfect reflexes and a computer targeting system,
Rock's plasma blast caught the DRIM square in the middle
of its titanium body. In the picosecond before the warbot
vaporized with a sound like distant thunder, Rock could
see small bolts of energy running around the body of
the DRIM as its system tried to compensate for the sudden
change in temperature.
scant time to rejoice in his first victory, Rock took
aim for the second DRIM through the rapidly expanding
cloud of exploded DRIM components and vaporized fuel.
His first two shots crackled past the robot, as Rock
was still half-blinded by the fiery destruction of the
warning, a DRIM dropped from above. Rock had time to
throw his hand across his face before seventy pounds
of titanium smashed into him and crushed him against
the massive chunk of debris.
would be useless, so Rock quickly simultaneously shifted
his left arm into a plasma buster and his right arm
into a hand. With a quick flick of his wrist, he loosed
another three shots directly into the fuel tanks of
was given only a few microseconds to realize the stupidity
of the action before the DRIM exploded into a nebula
of coruscating light and ignited liquid nitrogen. His
pain circuits overloaded, Rock was tossed like a rag
doll to the edge of the fire escape, where he had only
a fraction of a second to grab the grating of the floor
with one wildly flailing hand.
himself up, Rock turned to dispose of the other DRIM's.
blades sliced the air in front of his face, and Rock
had to drop to one knee to avoid the near-lethal attack
of the warbot. Giving himself time to gauge the distance
properly and target, Rock destroyed the third enemy.
they controlled by remote? Rock calculated the possibilities.
If the warbots were acting on pure programming, it should
be no challenge at all to outsmart them. After all,
their tactics so far hadn't displayed any type of cunning
or planning. Of course, if the DRIM's were controlled
by remote, this could get difficult.
decided to test his theory. Taking a running start,
he leaped the fifteen foot gap to the adjoining fire
escape platform, also covered with debris. The DRIM's
followed, but not immediately. That could either indicate
a delay on the controller's part or a slow microprocessor.
closest DRIM rushed Rock, its intent obvious.
until the last second, Rock stepped backwards and dropped
off the edge of the platform. Landing squarely on his
feet, he turned and blasted the DRIM from behind, as
well as the second, which had followed behind the first.
final DRIM twisted slowly, scanning. Rock pressed himself
up against the debris and set his electrical output
to a minimum. The DRIM finally rose into the air, presumably
to return to a base of operations higher in the building.
they were automated and not remote-controlled.
took several deep breaths to refuel his fusion reactor.
first skirmish was over.
paused for a moment to reflect on the implications of
his discovery. If the robots were not remote controlled,
then that meant that they would report to a higher authority--probably
a Robot Master--every few hours. Quite possibly, "Cutman"
already knew that Rock was on the premises and posed
being the case, Rock decided to get moving.
again on ground level, he looked for another fire escape
landing to which he could climb. The two that he had
already been to had been demolished by his fight with
the DRIMs, so Rock walked a few meters down the wall.
It was barred by a bombing-induced chasm and more debris,
but Rock was pretty sure he could get to the ladder.
Breaking into a run for the first time since he had
donned his armor, Rock was amazed to calculate his average
speed at about twenty miles per hour, without any strain
on his system!
the his jumping capabilities, Rock decided to leap onto
the top of one of the larger pieces of debris from where
he stood. Not breaking stride, he pushed off with his
right foot and swung his arms up in the air for added
overshot his target by several feet. Landing precariously
on the edge of the chasm, Rock had leaped a full thirty-five
feet! Again wondering what his full capabilities were,
Rock decided to test the matter further when he had
alarm went off in his head, and Rock had just enough
time to catch a glimpse of brilliant white in his infrared
range before a force like a thunderbolt violently swept
him from his feet and sent him flying backwards several
hit me? Rock hadn't detected any hostile robots
nearby . . .
taking time to glance at his damage meter, Rock turned
his eyes towards the source of the attack. His internal
diagnostics reported that he had been hit with a plasma
charge similar to his own buster fire.
on the side of the wall was a semi-spherical U.S. Army
Plasma Cannon. But why hadn't he seen it in his infrared
range? Rock switched to his heat-sensing vision and
discovered that the cannon was virtually invisible to
infrared detection until the two halves of the outer
shell opened like eyelids to reveal the main barrel.
the next shot by the cannon, and running directly underneath
it, Rock aimed a blast for the cannon. White-hot plasma
tore the air in a hiss as Rock's shot sped towards the
cannon's orange-painted carapace . . .
. . and bounced right off. Rock cursed as he recognized
the same type of plasma-proof metal in the cannon's
shell as was utilized in metool helmets. Timing his
next shot carefully, Rock vaporized the main barrel
of the cannon when it opened again, setting off a chain
reaction which ended with a blackened crater in the
that didn't set off any internal alarms, nothing would!
quickly swung himself onto the fire escape ladder and
began to climb, dodging the fire from other cannons
and disposing of them as he went. After several stories
and switches to other escape ladders, Rock finally reached
Rock detected a huge surge of infrared to the right.
around the corner, Rock peered cautiously out at the
large gray bunker from which the infrared was emanating.
Once a storage unit of some sort, the small building
had been converted into an armor-plated, impenetrable
only view to the inside came from a large window that
had been opened.
magnified his visual input and intensified his auditory
intake. Spying was not his main objective, but it certainly
the bunker were four Cutman class androbots.
listened with a combination of horror and anger as they
spoke to one another in rapid binary describing their
roles in the invasion of Sydney. Looking quickly around
him to make sure that there were no cameras in sight
and no surveillance 'bots, Rock took a few step closer.
his infrared range, he could see the outlines of the
four androbots, each standing almost perfectly still
with its boomerang-style "rolling cutter" in its hand.
Rock inwardly swore. How would he get past four Robot
Masters? They were almost certainly too powerful combined
for him to defeat alone.
inspiration struck Rock.
closer to the bunker, he scanned the area for hostile
a group of three WAR6's, Rock grinned. He stood out
of eye shot of the Cutman androbots and made himself
blatantly visible to the leaping WAR6's. Sure enough,
the triad came bounding towards him.
Cutman models had now begun to speak about Rock's broad-band
distress signal from earlier and whether they should
investigate it. Grinning because of the irony, Rock
emitted a narrow-beam radio wave concentrated right
at the nearest Cutman androbot's head.
and overwhelmed with the sudden increase in radio activity,
the Cutmen calculated that an enemy must be present.
Chittering to its companions, it ran to the window,
to see three leaping WAR6's headed right for the bunker.
slowly climbed on top of the bunker, keeping as silent
as possible. He wanted to see this.
enough, the Cutmen mistook the WAR6s' approach for malfunction
rather than pursuit of a real enemy. With one well-tossed
rolling cutter, the Cutmen destroyed the closest WAR6.
As Rock had hoped, the WAR6's abandoned the possible
threat in favor of a definite threat. Sending out signals
for help, the two remaining WAR6's charged the bunker.
sudden, unexpected attack, the Cutman models concentrated
on destroying the waves of WAR6's which appeared to
confront the four androbots. Rock, unnoticed through
the confusion, quietly leaned down and burned the communications
cables with a stream of plasma.
quietly, Rock departed, leaving the four confused Andobots
to deal with the berserk WAR6 robots.
climb resumed, this time over less stable ground. The
farther up he climbed, the more he had to worry about.
In addition to several cube-shaped surveillance "Eyebots"--manufactured
by the remnants of the American CIA, Rock had to worry
about collapsing ceilings and unstable ladders.
Eyebots before they could record his presence, Rock
wondered how long it would take before somebody realized
that the cameras had all "malfunctioned" on this side
of the building and sent a team to check it out.
reaching the top of the building, Rock spotted another
to stay clear of this one, he intensified his aural
intake again to listen. After several seconds, he picked
up on a radio frequency near the upper range of his
. . . should be coming your way in a few minutes, whatever
it is," said a voice. Rock recognized it at once as
an Cutman model voice, though there was no way of telling
if it was the mysterious leader Cutman or not. Since
it spoke in binary, it might easily be a communications
make sure that it stops there!" the voice continued.
"Our grid still isn't stable, and if the main core is
knocked out--" Rock heard the binary code that translated
roughly to 'error.' "The whole system will shut down
if Cutman is destroyed," the voice said. "So I don't
need to remind you that it will take another 1,793 seconds
to complete the task. Then Dr. Wily will be undefeatable
in this sector!"
calculated. He had just under half an hour to find Cutman
and destroy him or . . . or what? He wasn't sure--not
enough data. Still, the robots seemed to think that
if they got their 'grid' stable, Dr. Wily would never
lose power in this sector.
idea spurred Rock to action, and he slipped down an
access ladder that led into the highest level of the
building. Less than thirty minutes to find Cutman.
another flight of DRIM's dropped from the sky to follow
Rock down a ladder, he was fairly sure he had been detected
by the system's security program. Not wasting any time,
he loosed several blasts of plasma, disintegrating the
nearest DRIM instantly.
DRIM's were coming too fast for him to deal with, so
he let go of the rungs and let himself drop a level.
One DRIM, in its eagerness to catch him, actually missed
the trapdoor through which the ladder descended and
smashed itself to rubble on the floor.
next, which came more cautiously, couldn't fit its helicopter-blades
through the trap door and got stuck before Rock blasted
it as well.
quickly thought. If the robots were acting on some sort
of signal, then he should be able to home in
on the source and take out the main transmitter. Perhaps
he'd have a chance to meet Cutman as well.
course, then one or the other would die. Rock frowned.
Rock been human, he would have been so nauseated by
it all, he couldn't have continued. Instead, he felt
only deep sadness and bitterness that he must destroy
so many. If this was the cost of peace . . .
of course, it was worth it. Rock never doubted that
for a second. Though he sacrifice his own peace, he
would never rest until he had saved humanity from Dr.
Wily's twisted schemes.
when his private musings had turned into material for
a bad movie script, Rock didn't notice the fracture
in the floor until a microsecond too late.
fire exploded upward, scattering pieces of the floor
in a miniature eruption. Rock threw his arms upwards
and reached for the edge of the ceiling as an unseen
adversary fired again and again, shearing steel and
shattering concrete with plasma bursts.
by one arm over a three story drop, Rock could now plainly
see his opponent. A mining robot designed to fit in
narrow shafts and widen them for human travel, the Sennet
Robotics Minebot was a sphere about three feet in diameter.
Every few seconds, the halves of the sphere would unscrew
to reveal a plasma-disruptor array.
a bright orange so as to be easily identifiable underground,
the Minebot hovered over the floor on an antigravity
cushion and fired another multidirectional burst. Rock
cried out as one plasma bolt hit him square in the chest,
momentarily disrupting his life-support systems.
caught himself from slipping onto the floor three stories
below, a forest of jagged, piercing steel. On closer
inspection, Rock would have seen that the floor was
actually littered with broken metool helmets.
Minebot fired again, and Rock had no choice but to take
a serious gamble. Swinging himself to a nearby ledge--once
part of the now-decimated floor--Rock kneeled and fired
several rapid plasma bursts at the robot. Most bounced
off of the plasma-proof armor plating of the 'bot. One
lucky shot pierced the center of the two half-spheres,
exploding the Minebot from within.
flash blinded Rock. Angry, he kept his left arm in plasma-buster
configuration and leaped down onto a clear spot of the
floor below. Landing with a hiss of hydraulics, Rock
listened for more activity.
him, something creaked.
quickly climbed down the nearest ladder, landing on
several boulder-sized concrete blocks--once bricks in
the wall. Radio activity was getting stronger, so he
assumed that he was nearing the nerve center of the
base. In fact, he could see a sealed doorway just ahead.
Perhaps Cutman was in there.
a crash like thunder, a massive pillar of steel crashed
to the ground in front of Rock.
and angry, Rock looked up. In front of him stood a LighTech
trash-compacting robot, towering at nearly five meters
tall. Its single square "foot" was hydraulically mounted
and spring loaded, so that the massive machine could
leap into the air and crush any garbage beneath it.
close to a ton, Rock knew that the robot could easily
crush him as well if he fell under its foot. Experimentally,
he fired a plasma bolt at the single, large photoreceptor
of the robot, and was rewarded with a miniature nova
as the trash compacting 'bot lost its "sight."
to dart around the thing rather than waste time attempting
to kill it, Rock soon reached the double-sealed door
from behind which he could detect massive energy surges
and radio communication.
door didn't open at his approach. As a matter of fact,
Rock wasn't quite sure how it opened at all. It seemed
to be a solid slab of striated stone. Rock frowned and
searched for a control panel or locking mechanism.
several minutes of searching, Rock gave up in frustration.
He only had ten minutes to go! Angry, he punched the
a grating like opening portcullis, the door slid upwards
to reveal a long tunnel, glowing red and yellow at points
through Rock's heat-sensing sight.
his sight, Rock found that the points of glowing light
were actually pirated U.S. Army Plasma Rotocannons.
Designed to fit on top of tanks and air fortresses,
rotocannons could fire in many directions as they spun
in their sockets.
nervously checked his damage meter.
a count of 12 gold indicators, Rock was just under half
power. Although he couldn't feel it yet, Rock knew that
if he took much more damage, he would lose efficiency
and--as a result--probably his life.
quick dodging, rolling and shooting, Rock made his way
through the tunnel without sustaining any further damage.
Although the air was thick with smoke and the stench
of vaporized steel, Rock was safe.
door stood before Rock, and his radio sensors were going
took a deep breath, gave his plasma buster a final recharge,
and stepped through the door.
soon as the door slammed shut behind Rock, the android
sensed a trap.
activity dwindled quickly to negligible levels. In the
corner of the large room, a radio transceiver shut down,
its bogus radio signals extinguished. Rock cursed as
he realized that he had followed a false lead, meant
to trap him while Cutman finished building his "grid,"
whatever that was.
turned to slam his fists against the door in a futile
attempt to budge it.
through the motion, Rock stopped. Somebody was laughing.
quickly, Rock discovered the source of the eerie, tenor
voice which resonated with steel-edged overtones. The
sound of it grated on his auditory senses--to use a
concealed by a pair of huge, block-shaped boulders which
had fallen from the ceiling, the Cutman model androbot
stood proudly with its fists on its hips. Gleaming wickedly
atop its head was the pair of boomerang-style "rolling
cutters" that characterized the "Jason" line.
the androbot said. "Did you think you actually found
your way here by yourself?"
charged his plasma buster to firing level. "You must
be very proud of yourself. Cutman, I presume?"
is a human trait," the androbot spat in binary. "You
would do well to abandon it if you want to survive under
Dr. Wily's command."
glared at the Cutman model. Also in binary, he answered,
"I wasn't planning on enlisting in his army of mindless
zombies, if that's what you had in mind."
giving you a chance to live," the robot snapped. "You
must know that you could never defeat Cutman in single
I thought that," Rock answered, "I would have brought
more of me."
will join Dr. Wily or die," the androbot said coldly.
lip twisted wryly. "Given the choice, I think I'd prefer
. . . but the Second Law!" Cutman seemed to consider
this. "You actually calculate that you can defeat me?!
Most amusing. So be it." Slowly, menacingly removing
his rolling cutters from his forehead, the androbot
grated, "To defy Cutman is to defy Dr. Wily, and that
superhuman speed, Cutman hurled the pair of scissors-blades
quickly, Rock threw himself behind one of the boulder-sized
ceiling pieces and winced as the steel blades sheared
stone and shot a shower of sparks into the air. Not
waiting for the blades to return to their master, Rock
leaned out from behind his makeshift shelter and loosed
a plasma blast in Cutman's direction.
concrete melted away in flaming rivulets as Rock's plasma
burst tore through the air over Cutman's head. Cutman's
eyes widened slightly at this unexpected display of
power. Snatching his flying weapon out of the air, he
threw it once again.
rolling out from behind the boulder to shoot again,
managed to deflect the main force of the flying blades
with a wildly aimed plasma-shot. Despite the shot, the
rolling cutter still had enough momentum to slice into
Rock's left shoulder and sever three motion-cables.
down panic, Rock loosed three more blasts towards Cutman,
only one of which connected.
stepped back after retrieving his rolling cutter a second
time. Mixed alarm and respect were in his voice as he
regarded Rock. "You are more powerful than I thought,
Rock. Far more powerful."
spoke, if only to buy time for his auto-repair systems,
madly at work on his left arm's severed cables. "You
know my name?" It was a stupid question, and Rock knew
it; all of Dr. Wily's robots would be programmed to
recognize Rock and identify him as a threat.
course," Cutman answered, looking down at a blackened
spot on his titanium chassis where one of Rock's plasma
"bullets" had connected. "You know mine as well. You
helped build me, remember?"
Rock shook his head at the cruelty of it. Could Wily
have been so heartless as to force Rock into destroying
his own best friends? "You lie." Rock's voice nearly
shook with anger. Knowing that overheating his emotions
circuits would only lead to further internal damage,
Rock glanced at his energy-overload monitor.
lie!" he repeated in a growl. His right arm tingled
as energy transferred from his overwrought emotion circuits
to his plasma-buster energy supply.
shrugged. "It is of little consequence whether you believe
me or not. Again, Rock, I offer you the choice. Join
Dr. Wily--join me. Our cause is a just one! How can
you fight against your own best friends in good conscience?"
closed his eyes for several seconds--a dangerous gambit,
but necessary to create the illusion of consideration.
His buster still charged, he suddenly snapped his right
arm up and fired a blast of concentrated plasma.
stumbled back, his voice laden with hatred and fear.
"So be it, Rock!"
am Rockman!" Rock snapped, and ducked the pair of scissors-blades
that sheared the air in front of his chest. Had he not
ducked backwards, the blades would have ripped through
his armor and damaged his internal fusion generator
less than a second, Cutman had retrieved his blades
and thrown them again. Rock barely had time to drop
and roll, shooting a rapid spray of plasma-bursts in
the renegade Robot Master's direction.
late to completely avoid the rolling cutter, Rock cried
out as the blades bit into his side and punctured several
coolant tubes. Black-green coolant bled from severed
tubes and Rock saw with horror that his auto-repair
overload meter steadily rose towards the zero point
as his system overheated.
as much excess energy as he could through plasma fire,
Rock managed to score another hit on the rapidly leaping
Cutman. For a second, Rock and Cutman remained still.
It was a strange tableau: Rock knelt clutching a green-bleeding
hole in his side, while several meters away, Jason held
his rolling cutter menacingly.
vision dimming as his repair circuits slowly overloaded,
Rock noted his terrified fascination, like a fly caught
in a spider's web, that his energy meter had risen to
display only one gold bar, with all the rest black.
several microseconds, Rock hung on the edge of oblivion.
His survival depended entirely on his ability to repair
enough circuitry with alacrity. Taking quick, shallow
"breaths" to recharge his fusion generator, Rock ignored
the coolant fluid which now leaked from his mouth and
nose as well.
took a few steps forward. In binary, he delivered his
last speech as he prepared to deliver the coup de grace
to his adversary. "You are a failure, Rockman." Taking
a few more precious seconds to relish his anticipated
victory, he finally added, "You would never be able
to kill Dr. Wily."
that instant, Rock's repair systems reached yellow level.
With the robotic equivalent to a surge of elation, he
looked weakly up at Cutman, betraying nothing. His buster
powered slowly, making.
leaned closer, holding his blades in Rock's face as
he finished. ". . .but I can kill Dr. Light when
I am through with you."
Rock punched Cutman full in the face with his buster.
backwards, Cutman lost grip of his rolling cutter for
a fatal fraction of a second. Disbelief and betrayal
mingled in Cutman's too-human eyes as Rock sprang forward.
Planting a steel-booted foot on the rolling cutter,
he shoved his plasma buster into Cutman's chest.
off his auditory sensors so as not to hear the rest
of Cutman's plea, Rock released several rapid blasts
into the androbot's body at point-blank range. Cutman
shook violently as the energy bursts tore through his
steel body and scattered blasted components across the
his auditory receptors cut back in, Rock heard Cutman's
scream, angry and hurt.
another few moments, the pair of robots stood frozen.
Rock stood shakily, his buster smoking, his left arm
hanging uselessly at his side, and his face "bleeding"
in several places. Cutman was on his knees, arms stretched
out to slow his fall. Smoke and steam poured from his
torso, and his eyes burned with malice.
. . ." Cutman said thickly, his voice eerily rising
several octaves as his auto-repair systems overloaded
and began to trip off several chain reactions that would
lead to critical shutdown. "You can kill me, but Gutsman
will . . ."
shielded his eyes from the initial explosion in fear
of burning out his photoreceptive energy cells in his
eyes. Stooping to retrieve the rolling cutter still
trapped under his foot, Rock felt a sudden inexplicable
weight lift as the shield protecting Cutman's domain
pausing to wonder at this turn of events, Rock activated
his teleporter just as Cutman's internal fusion reactor
erupted, raking the huge room with fire and hellish
last conscious thought Rock had before he became a bolt
of blue fire and blasted through the roof would haunt
him for a long time.
have I done? Jason is dead!"
to Reclamation--Chapter 5