"This just in watchers." The news anchor said. "New information coming in from Neo-Chicago reports that this blue armored individual is actually another Liveroid sent from Kira Labs. Our latest video feed shows him defeating the Liveroid that held the local news station under his control. When they had a moment, local reporters were able to identify him as Dr. Kira's rarely seen Liveroid assistant, and called himself Odysseus. As of now there are only two more Liveroid in the city still active. With any luck he will succeed in freeing the city from this recent threat."
Maria let out a sigh of relief after hearing that.
"I'm glad that he is doing alright." She said. "I was worried that he might have expended too much energy by now."
"This Odysseus, isn't he your brother Liz?" Asked a woman in her early twenties.
"I'm not sure where he picked up that particular name Jasmine, but yes that is my brother Ed." Liz replied. "And thank you for checking on us."
"Nonsense Liz, I'm your neighbor." Jasmine replied. "I'm sure that you would do the same for me. Besides, my cousin was concerned as well."
"I'll be sure to send him an email later on, after I get a chance to call Travis." Maria said as she took a bite out of the pie Jasmine brought with her. "Mmmm, remind me to get this recipe from your grandmother, Jasmine."
"All of her recipes are written in German, Maria. So unless you learned how to read it over the last eight months I doubt that you'll get them from her." Jasmine said with a smirk. "That and German ladies protect their home recipes very well. They only teach them to their daughter and granddaughters."
"So have you learned some of her recipes?" Liz asked.
"… No, I have not." Jasmine sighed. "Oma won't let me near her kitchen anymore. Not since I nearly burned it down making soup." She gave a slight laugh. "I can't cook to save my life." She admitted.
"That is okay Jasmine, I'm not all that much better in the kitchen. Liz does all of our cooking here." Maria told her. A chime from Maria's Laptop indicated that she had a new email waiting for her. She walked over to the table where she left it to take a look.
"It's from Travis!"
"What does he have to say?" Liz asked.
"He says that he and Ed are doing well." Maria started. "He says that as long as everything goes well, he'll call us when it is over."
"Good, because I have a lot of questions for my brother." Liz said.
"You're five minutes and thirty-two seconds late!" Khronos said as Ed made his way to his location. "I don't know why I should bother with somebody who can't even be on time."
"I wasn't aware that we had an appointment." Ed said in confusion.
"Tardy AND clueless … How you have defeated our brothers is beyond me." Khronos said as he shook his head and gave a little shrug. "Oh well, time is of the essence. You will not interfere with the Master's plans."
Ed swapped to the Harvesting Shears and readied himself.
"Time to cut you down!" He said with a determined look.
Time Man shook his head and snapped his fingers.
Everything seemed to happen faster than he could process as Ed watched Khronos speed past him, firing several buster shots his way from three different angles. He couldn't dodge fast enough as they struck him. He staggered to his right and he tried to make sense of what just happened. He'd only seen one Liveroid move that fast before, but Sleipnir wasn't here. So what just happened? Then it hit him, his name was the clue: Khronos, the Titan embodiment of TIME. He can manipulate time around him. So Khronos was likely slowing him down while he moved at normal speed. He muttered a low curse he once heard Dr. Kira say before when he smacked his hand with a hammer once.
"I'm guessing that you figured it out?" Khronos inquired as he leaned against a wall. "Maybe you aren't as clueless as I previously perceived. Too bad that knowledge still won't help you."
Ed threw the Shears that he had in his hand, then swapped weapons to the Atlas Fists. He might be moving slow compared to Time Man when he used his power, but he knew how to slow him down too.
"I'm going to clean your clock!" He declared.
"Ugh, more puns." Time Man said with a long-suffering shake of his head. "I thought I'd be rid of them after hearing how you took out Boreas."
When Ed dashed towards him with a massive fist, he smiled.
Again Ed felt the sensation of his opponent speeding around him as he followed his own momentum. He had planned on this though, as his fist connected with the wall and he tore out a chunk just as the Time Slow wore off. Turning around fast, he chucked the block of stone at his errant brother.
"You're too slow Time Man!" He said with a grin.
Khronos could only brace himself as he was knocked to the ground with the stone pinning his legs to the ground.
"Well played Edward, but I still have a means to attack you!" He said as he pointed his buster at him and pulled the trigger.
Ed blocked the shot with one oversized fist and slammed the other into the ground, causing a
column to shake loose and fall on top of Time Man.
"Not this time, brother." He said.
"Zeus!" Alvis shouted over his radio. "What in the name of all that is bolted and holy is going on down there?" He demanded.
"It would seem that my 'brothers' were not strong enough for their tasks Master Sharpe." Zeus replied. "You can still depend on me though. I have my two squads of Legion units with me at the Solar Plant. Just let the little lab assistant try and make it in here."
"You had better hope so Zeus!" Alvis said.
He then cut his feed, leaning back in his chair.
"I may need to send out the next generation sooner than I expected." He turned around to face sixteen storage chambers containing the second and third generations of Liveroids. "Gaia, activate." He commanded.
Gaia's eyes lit up as he stepped out of his chamber. "Yes Dr. Sharpe?"
"It would seem that your predecessors weren't up to the task after all. All of them but Zeus have fallen, and I don't expect him to last too much longer." Alvis told his wooden robot. "Take your brothers out and begin phase two. We may not have Neo-Chicago, but that won't stop us."
"Do we have permission to use any means necessary, Master?" Gaia asked.
Alvis paused a moment as he thought this through. "Yes, whatever it takes to get the job done." He said. "I've uploaded all of you with the data on Edward from today. Study it, learn from it. Do not fail me Gaia."
"Failure is not an option!" Gaia declared. "If we encounter Edward, we will show no mercy. Unlike Zeus and the others of the first generation, we are not his brothers. We do not owe him any kindness."
"Dr. Light, I think I found out where Perses sent those Legion units." Ed said into his radio.
"Are you sure Ed?" Travis asked.
"Yes." Ed said as he took cover behind an overturned table. "I can definitely say that I am sure of this."
He popped up from behind his cover to throw a couple grenades before ducking back down.
"There are quite a few of them here, and they're just as tough as you said they would be. Perses' Bombs seem to be dealing the most damage, but I'm running low on stock."
"I wish I could send you some assistance Ed, but I'm without a means of sending you any E-Tanks." Travis told him. "They should have a similar energy system to yours. See if you can take any solar cells from the ones that you've taken out."
Luckily there was one just on the other side of his cover, but that would leave him exposed if he tried to search the wrecked frame. He then got an idea as he switched to Khronos' weapon, the Chronium Pylons extending from his shoulders, and activated the Time Slow. The Legions were affected just like he was when Khronos used it on him. He used this opportunity to collect the solar cells from the downed robot before returning to his cover.
He switched back to Perses' weapon and exchanged his dead cells for the fresh ones. Each Weapon seemed to use its own set of solar cells. He would have to ask Dr. Light about a better way to recharge in battle, later. With more energy charges ready, he ran out from behind his concealment, tossing a well aimed grenade at the clustered groups of robots.
He stopped behind some more cover near a pile of sparking Legion frames to gather more solar cells.
"This is getting tedious." He complained. "At least I'm almost done with this." He took a peak to see how many of the annoying robots left.
"Seven left … Okay, I can do this!" He told himself as he ran back out into the line of fire.
The news flickered back on with a new video feed as the news anchor voiced over with his report.
"Our newest video is currently live as we see Mega Man throwing himself into danger to stop the last Liveroid still active in Neo-Chicago's Solar Fusion Plant. As you can see here, the last Liveroid, Zeus, has somehow gained control over some of the Neo-Chicago Police Departments new security robots, the Legion. But even the impressive robots seem to be no match for the heroic robot."
"Your brother seems to be handling himself very well Liz." Jasmine said.
"I didn't even know he had it in him really." Liz said. "When I was there he was always so quiet and reserved. He only spoke when he needed to."
"That is because your brother has always watched, and took note of everything around him." Maria said. "Ed is the silent observer who calculates his every move carefully. Look at how after every strike he makes, he advances towards the fallen robot. I'm willing to bet that he's picking up solar cells to replenish his own supply."
Liz looked at the video more intently, keeping an eye on her brother's movements. She watches him fire off shots at locations that normally would be considered a mistake. Then the objects that he hit would fall onto the Sniper Joes, or block their line of fire to give himself clearance to move ahead. She had never seen this side of her twin before. Just when did he pick up this talent? Or was it already something that was in his system from the day they were activated?
"He's making those robots look like second hand toys." Jasmine said with a smile.
"Well he is designed with the most advanced personality core out there." Liz said as she tapped the side of her head. "The Prometheus Equation is superior to every AI out there currently. Though Ed and I are only working off a limited version of it, we're still more advanced than those Legion units."
"While that is true Liz, don't forget who it was that designed those robots." Maria reminded her. "Alvis is far smarter than either Travis or myself as far as our IQs are concerned. It is possible that he has something else up his sleeve."
The last Legion finally fell to the floor in a sparking mess. If he had lungs, Ed would be breathing hard. If he had a heart, it would be pumping at a high rate due to the adrenaline rush. He had neither, but he still felt both exhausted and energized at the same time. He took a moment to take in his surroundings. There was too much interference from the generators for him to get an accurate reading on his radar. If anything were around him that he couldn't directly see, he wouldn't know until it was on top of him.
He swapped out Perses' weapon for Hestephes' and prepared himself for the offensive. He went deeper into the plant, being careful to check every corner and doorway for any surprises. All that he found were a few human workers that had been hiding from the sounds of battle. After directing them to get out, he continued on his way, finally reaching the central core. He knew what was going to come next, and he took everything into consideration as Zeus dropped down from the ceiling in front of him.
"The Legions gave you some trouble, didn't they brother?" He asked in a condescending tone. "What could they possibly have that our other siblings didn't?"
"There were more than one of them, Zeus." Ed replied. "Though I'm sure that wasn't all."
"I suppose that superior numbers would indeed play a factor in that situation." Zeus agreed. "Whatever it was, I am glad. You're tired after fighting them, as well as the other seven Liveroids before that. Now it is my turn, and when I'm done with you, your core won't have enough power to work a lightbulb."
Ed grinned at his remaining brother and said,
"You really can't help that, can you?" Zeus said with a sigh. "I sometimes wonder if maybe Dr. Kira had a sense of humor when he programmed some of us." He began to build up electricity, sparks jumping all around his frame.
Ed dashed to his left as Zeus let loose a bolt of pure energy at him. He fired several shots of Hestephes' oil at him and the floor. He then switched to the Harvest Shears and tossed one at Zeus's head.
"I don't want to hurt you too Zeus, but you aren't giving me much choice."
Zeus ducked under the attack, but slipped on the oil on the ground and slid towards a wall. He braced himself and jumped up to some overhanging pipes.
"You may not want to, Ed, but you still can!" He replied. "Here you are the most peaceful of us all, and yet you're attacking your own brothers. Deep down you're just as violent as we are! And you have the Equation just like we do!" He fired off another energy bolt at him. "We're made to be the most human like robots ever, and you are attacking us like we're common robots."
"Like you guys are any better?" Ed protested as he rolled out of the way of the attack. "You guys attacked humans, and took over the city! Why is that? You weren't like this before!" He threw a Harvest Shear at the pipes Zeus was hanging from. "Why did you let Dr. Sharpe change you? Why Zeus?"
Zeus landed on the ground and paused in a crouching position. Why was he doing this? Just when did he make the decision to follow Dr. Sharpe?
"I … I don't know?" He replied. "I don't know, but I cannot refuse his orders regardless."
"Yes you can Zeus!" Ed said with encouragement. "That is why we have the Equation! So that we can make our own decisions. We can choose our own fates, but we need guidance. We need someone to show us what right and wrong truly means. Our Equation Chips are no better than the mind of a human child when we were activated, but we can learn faster. We can understand more due to how our memory works."
"I … I don't …" Zeus said as thoughts flooded his mind. He never wanted to hurt anyone. He didn't want to take over this plant, HIS plant. He just wanted to help people. "I don't want to fight." He said. Then a thought, no, a voice crossed his circuits and his thoughts reversed.
"But I have to! He wants me to, needs me to!" He clutched his head as the conflicting thoughts confused him further. "Ed … help … me … please." He said as he struggled for control over himself.
"What can I do?" Ed asked.
"Stop … Me … please!" Zeus begged. "I can't … keep this up. His programming is … too strong!"
"I can't Zeus, you're the only one to break through like this." Ed told him. "Fight it!
"I … can't!" He pleaded. "Do it Ed … Or I will do it … for you." With a shaking hand he opened up his chest plate and put a hand on his power core. "You know what will happen if I do it."
"Zeus!" Ed cried. "Don't do it!"
"Then you have to Ed!" Zeus shouted. "Do it for me! Do it for the others!" He began charging up another energy bolt. "Choose Ed!"
It was like something clicked inside of his CPU. He switched out his weapon for Atlas' and cocked his arm back.
"I'm sorry Zeus." He said as he punched his brother with enough force to dislodge his core.
With the last remaining bit of power, he smiled.
"Thank you … brother." He then fell to the floor as the light left his eyes.
Ed fell to his knees as he took his brother's wrecked body and pulled it closer. He knew this feeling that he was experiencing right now. It was the same feeling that he had when Liz left with Dr. Khanleaf. He now knew what it was. Sadness. Feeling like he just had his own core ripped from his system, he cradled his brother's head for a moment longer. He pulled himself together, picked up the last bits of Zeus's core that had been thrown free, and teleported home.
Travis was surprised when Ed had returned without requesting a Containment Array. He understood quickly why that was as he helped him place Zeus's broken body on the table. He saw the look on Ed's face.
"Tell me what happened Ed." He said in his gentle voice.
"He almost broke free Dr. Light." Ed said. "But he was struggling for control. Fighting with every ounce of his being. He … He asked me to stop him. He said that if I didn't, he would." He hesitated as the memory of it lingered in his mind. "He was willing to fry his core Dr. Light. I didn't want to hurt him after he had come so close, but if I didn't …"
"If you didn't, then he would have destroyed his core, and damaged his Prometheus Chip at the same time." Travis finished for him. "He would have done what I didn't think a Robot could do. He would have killed himself." He placed a caring hand on Ed's shoulder. "You still saved him my boy. I can still fix him, it will just take a while longer than the others."
"I know, but it still hurts." He said. "Why does it hurt? Why do we have to feel?"
"Because that is what makes you human Edward." Travis said to him. "If you couldn't feel, then you would be no better than a common computer. No emotion, no understanding. You would only do as you were told."
He looked at him with a smile on his face.
"If I wanted something like that, I would have built a toaster. You are no toaster Ed. You, your sister, and your brothers were meant to live and work with us humans, not for us."
Ed nodded his head, as he remembered the words he said to Zeus.
"We are meant to learn from you, and grow. Just like children do." He said.
"That is it right there." Travis replied. "All of you are not only my creations. To me you are my children! And I want nothing more than to see my children be happy."
Travis wrapped his arms around the downtrodden Ed, who returned the hug.
"How is Ed doing, Dr. Light?" Liz asked over the video conference.
"He's in his room right now Liz." Travis replied. "He had a rough time, but he's strong."
"So how about you tell us what exactly is going on Travis." Maria said. "All that we ever got were reports from our mutual friend and the occasional TV news."
"Alvis took the Liveroids from the Lab earlier this week." He told them in a somber tone. "He even took the unfinished generation that we were working on."
"The ones you were building for the U.N.?" Maria asked.
"Yes, and he is still out there somewhere with the other two generations." Travis reminded her. "I'm not sure when he did it, but he had reprogrammed them to follow his orders without question. So far only one of them was able to break free, but only for a short time."
"What about Ed?" Liz inquired. "Why did you give him that combat gear?"
"He … volunteered for it actually." Travis said. "He came to the conclusion that if we had to wait for an actual combat robot to be built, then more people could be hurt. So he asked me to give him the Combat Upgrade."
"He isn't stuck in that get up, is he?" Maria asked.
"Not the armor, but I had to scrap his arms to make the Azure Busters." Travis said with a sigh. "For the time being, they can still function as basic hands, but aren't as dexterous as his old ones. It isn't exactly the top priority with eight Liveroids to repair without any help."
"I could always send Liz home to assist you Travis." Maria told him.
Travis shook his head.
"It is best for Liz to stay with you for now Maria. You don't need to worry about me so much. I have some new help planned. It will have to wait until I finish with this job though."
TinMan has signed in. [Local time 17:46, CHI]
TheScarf: You've been awfully quiet this week.
TinMan: I've been busy trying to complete my own tasks just like you.
TinMan: I still cannot locate it at this time.
TheScarf: It is out there somewhere TinMan. I'll see what I can turn up now that everything here has settled down.
TinMan: You should focus on your task.
TinMan: The second wave is coming.
TheScarf: Somehow I knew that he wasn't going to wait. So Stumpy and the others are on the move then?
TinMan: They were … As soon as I detected them, they disappeared.
TheScarf: Did they see you?
TinMan: No, this seems to be a part of their plan.
TinMan: They will reveal themselves when they are ready.
TinMan: How is DrFluffums and the sister unit?
TheScarf: Tired of being left out of the loop.
TinMan: Send them my apologies, it was my idea to send them after the remaining stones.
TinMan: They only need to find the other three servers before they can return.
TheScarf: DrFluffums is aware of this, but she is still willing to nag me ear off.
TinMan: That is the way of women I believe. Besides, she sees us all as family.
TinMan: She is concerned for us is all.
TheScarf: I know how she feels. It is almost like we were put on the bus.
TinMan: Try looking after a family for as long as I have.
TheScarf: … Sorry … I tend to forget just how long you've been around.
TinMan: Well I have to get back to work before I am missed.
TheScarf: Have fun "Professor"
TinMan: Keep an eye on activity near the Amazon. "Stumpy" as you called him was last seen there.
TinMan: He will likely be the first to move.
TheScarf: Consider it done TinMan.
TheScarf has signed out. [Local time 17:59, CHI]
TinMan has signed out. [Local time 18:00, CHI]