early 21st century, after the cataclysmic Third World
War, heralded in the Age of Robots, so called because
of the rapid advances in artificial intelligence. One
particular robotechnician, Dr. Thomas Light, and his
nemesis Dr. William Wily, deserve special mention, as
well as the very famous Rockman, called by American
papers, "Mega Man." None of our current repliroid production
would be possible without these three very important
historical figures . . ."
--excerpt from Repliroids and their Place in Society by Dr. Alan Cain, historian and archaeologist
the center of darkness, a pool of incandescent light
surrounded the man.
fifty years old, his hair was full on top of his head,
though prematurely white, shot through with streaks
of iron grey. His beard and mustaches were both snow-white
as well, and the crinkle lines around his blue eyes
indicated a face more accustomed to laughing than frowning.
Indeed, in another country, he might have been likened
to Santa Claus, for he was as portly around the middle
as the jolly old elf was reported to be.
in his old and faded white lab coat, the man snipped
the last wire with a pair of electrical wiresnips. He
looked up from his work to the luminescent clock on
the wall across the lab.
four. Blast. He hadn't meant to work this late.
it was worth it; the job was done.
the Santa clone, lying on the table, was what appeared--by
all rights--to be a man. His hands were a work of art,
if the old man dared say so himself. The raven-black
hair looked completely natural, although it might be
shot through with highlights of midnight-blue in bright
sunlight. Large, piercing blue eyes regarded the man
sightlessly in a well-proportioned face.
it not for the mess of wires and bolts that lay revealed
within the man's chest cavity, he would appear completely
human. The old man picked up the access panel and placed
it back on the man's chest, where magnetic seals and
synthetic skin made a seamless close.
any reckoning, Thomas Xavier Light was a genius.
man grinned at the android lying on the table before
him. All that was needed now was the master control
chip in the brain, and the invention would be complete.
Who could have imagined that it would come this far?
Dr. Light's grin grew even wider.
he had never imagined such success when he had first
attended the Tokyo Institute of Technology. His first
idea had been to become a linguist, for Thomas Light
spoke German, French, Japanese, and of course, English
with equal ease. Yet somehow, in applying to Japanese
universities, he had been drawn to the ever-growing
field of robotics.
the invention of his first robot, a sort of "cybernetic
suitcase," as he liked to call it, he had been hooked.
His German cousin, William Albert Wily, had already
also been accepted at a prestigious Japanese Technical
Institute, and so Dr. Light followed in his footsteps.
then, was the crowning achievement of Light's career
to date. The new android would be identical to a human
in every way, but for its inability to make certain
decisions. For instance, it would never be able to violate
any of the three Rules of Robotics:
robot must never harm, or directly cause harm, to a
robot must act for self preservation unless it conflicts
with the first rule.
robot must obey all commands, unless they are in conflict
with the first two rules.
it--he--would be fairly human. Even Dr. Light couldn't
say for sure exactly what his personality would be when
activated. Of course, the doctor could, and had, provided
guidelines, but the finer points of it would remain
unknown until the moment of activation.
Light looked across the room to where the android's
"female" counterpart lay on a corresponding table, almost
invisible in the blackness of the night in the lab.
As a joke, he had named them Rock and Roll. Rock, the
newly completed "male" android, would be an assistant
to Dr. Light in his studies, as would Roll, to a lesser
was so much to be done, still! Dr. Light grinned into
the night at the challenge. With technology like this
. . . why, the Earth could be reclaimed from the radiation
and overpopulation which poisoned its body!
Wily was due to arrive tomorrow--no, later today, Light
reminded himself--so he'd better get some sleep so he
could meet his cousin at the Turboport. There was so
much to do and so little time!
the grant from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the
two cousins, as partners, were to begin their massive
project on the following day. Hopefully, Rock and Roll
would prove of great assistance, once activated.
X. Light straightened his back and ignored the popping
sounds it made in protest as he set down the electrical
wiresnips. Tomorrow would be a busy day, and he had
so much to look forward to!
* * * *
Albert Wily sat aboard the Bullet Train and studied
course, they were only preliminary sketches, but better
than nothing at all. He had been working feverishly
on the designs since the week before when his cousin,
famed robotechnician Dr. Light, had called on the televid
and announced that the pair of them had been given a
grant to develop six industrial robots of amazing capabilities.
recalled the conversation perfectly.
robots?" he had asked. "Didn't we just finish with this?
Didn't Blues teach you your lesson?"
be better than Blues, Will!" Dr. Light's effervescent
voice had disarmed Wily's apprehension. "I learned my
lesson, yes! Blues' brother will never be allowed to
make the same mistakes. Come on, it'll be the challenge
of a lifetime!"
the word "challenge," Dr. Wily had buckled, and agreed
to join his brilliant cousin in creating the six most
advanced robots the world had yet seen. So it was that
Dr. Wily found himself riding on a Bullet Train to Tokyo.
Tokyo Institute of Technology itself had specified that
the pair work on developing robots to counter six of
the worst environmental problems that threatened society
on Earth. Human laborers survived for too little time
in most cases; they tired quickly and frightened easily
in radioactive cleanup areas. Therefore, the robots
would be designed according to the need for filling
the gap left by distrustful and rebellious human workers.
wilderness reclamation robot was needed to clear away
nuclear rubble generated during the blessedly short-lived
Third World War, while a waste disposal robot would
work in tandem with it to dispose of the nuclear waste
and other garbage that threatened to overwhelm most
urban areas. Teams of four each could be assigned to
cities in varying degrees of quantity.
most important would be the atomic energy robot, which
would help tremendously in utilizing the full potential
of atomic power plants around the world. Hopefully,
many of that type of model could be used at the World
Power Plant in Sydney, commissioned as a last show of
a tenuously United Earth.
less important would be the Antarctic exploration robot,
which would help in purifying water at the South Pole.
Because the South Pole alone had somehow avoided the
ravages of nuclear winter and the poisonous radioactive
hell which possessed the waters after the Third World
War, all water in the world was drawn from reservoirs
deep beneath the surface of Antarctica. The only source
of pure, clean water on the planet came from the World
Water Purification Plant in New Shirewick at the South
came the timber felling robot, to help clear areas for
new housing and provide lumber for buildings, and the
ground disruption robot, to aid in the mining of minerals
needed to maintain the flow of always-increasing industrial
front of him, Wily held the sketch for the wilderness
reclamation robot. Like the others, it was humanoid.
It had massive shoulders and a stout body to support
its "muscle" structure. A huge lantern jaw would be
used to crush large pieces of rubble to smaller, more
manageable sizes, while the "hard hat" on its head would
protect it from falling material.
it looked a bit cartoony, the design appealed to Wily's
more fanciful side. Thomas would understand: hadn't
he named his two robots Rock and Roll? Wily chuckled
to himself, but frowned as a servingbot approached and
offered him a drink. What ever happened to human service?
world was too dependent on robots, Wily surmised grimly
as he refused refreshments. It would be the downfall
of humanity, should the robots somehow go berserk and
revolt. Of course, Wily reminded himself, that was why
they were all programmed with the Three Rules.
shivered and glanced down at his old, leatherbound copy
of Karl Capek's R.U.R. It could happen too easily
of somebody got careless. The world would indeed be
a grim place if somebody were to . . .
brushed the unpleasant thought aside and dozed off into
a sleep with dreams of a dark haired welder and a silver-colored
welding shield, brand new on the day of its experimental
plasma-burst proof test . . .
to Awakenings--Chapter 1