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Enigma

By Mikari

Humor / Romance

Chapter 1

Intelligent discoveries made you Dr. Wily's assistant, dumb curiosity made Protoman the bane of your existence. (ProtomanxReader)

Enigma

Puzzle 01: Assistant

You fingered the smooth texture of his yellow scarf as he lay motionless on the examination table. You promised you would repair him and nothing more. You had no intentions of becoming a liar when you made that promise, but breaking it was very tempting.

His helmet was off and you could admire his handsome face. His eyes were closed, no breathing simulation, only stillness, yet he looked so human. You placed your hand on his cheek, he felt so human. You leaned closer, your breath against his motionless perfect face. Your lips pressed gently against his, he was so warm. Your heart pounded as if it wanted to break away from your chest. You drew back, heart racing, face red.

Your face was still hovering inches from his when suddenly his brilliant blue eyes opened. Your eyes went wide in shock. He gave you a cocky smirk, "you liar."

You remembered the first time you saw him in person. On that cold night he was wearing his helmet, you were yet to see his face for the first time. You remembered just how it was that you came to be in the position you were in.

xoxox xox xoxox

You watched as the old fossil gestured to the image from the projector. You yawned and tried to stay awake. You were a university student skilled in the field of robotics. For someone so smart it was a cruel irony that you had missed the small font in the curriculum stating that this particular class was required. You had enough credits to graduate, but your choices had not included that particular class so you still had to take it.

After having gone through all your classes, this one class about robot armor and weaponry was a piece of cake. You glanced around you and saw a lot of freshmen with a few sophomores mixed in. At least they didn't skip the class to find out later that they couldn't graduate until they took it.

You sighed and rested your head on your arms atop your desk while the professor rambled on in his German accent. Just one more class and you would be done. Then you could focus all your attention in your projects and have the government fund them. Robotics genius or not, they wouldn't take you seriously without a degree and you were not rich, yet. Without realizing it, you fell asleep.

"Miss Lastname," an angry voice called. "Miss Lastname!" The angry voice yelled.

You startled awake and opened a file on your laptop hopelessly pretending to have been immerse in your notes. "Excuse me, could you repeat the question?"

The professor looked displeased, "I will see you in my office." The old man turned away angrily and left the classroom.

You looked around to see that you were the only student left there. That old fossil better not flunk you for falling asleep. Your grades were flawless, what more could he ask for? You gathered your things and hurried out of the class room.

Campus was buzzing with activity as it was the lunch break for most students. You made your way past the other students, catching bits and pieces of conversations along the way, none of which really interested you. You spotted the professor still making his way to his office despite getting a head start out of the classroom. You slowed down to give the old fossil time to get to the office first.

Following from a few feet behind, you watched as the professor entered his office and approached the door. You stood there and knocked gently, even if you were expected, you knew Dr. Doom would give you an earful if you didn't knock. Yes, Doom was supposedly his last name. He didn't tolerate anyone making fun of it. You always suspected the name was fake, but why would he nickname himself that? Was he some kind of secret super villain?

"Come in," the gruff German accented voice allowed you passage, thus you entered the office. "Sit down," the old professor gestured to the wooden chair across from his large polished desk.

You sat, instinctively glancing around the office. Unlike other professors, this one didn't have pictures of his family anywhere. He did have an assortment of books, plans and small robot models cluttering his office.

"Miss Lastname," the professor leaned back on his cushy wheeled chair, the black leather reflecting the overhead light from a different angle. "I had such high hopes for you. I do hope your nap at class was due to staying up late working on something useful and not due to sheer laziness," he spoke with great disapproval.

"I was researching some things. I already turned in my project even if your class isn't over," you reminded him.

"Ah yes, about that," you feared he would tare the project apart.

"I think it's plausible to be able to build-" you pressed your point, interrupting him until he interrupted you.

"Enough!" The professor interrupted and you fell silent. "Let me speak, child." You nodded and listened as he continued, "I approve of your project and already finished the documentation for you to graduate. You already have completed the needed credits, all you needed was to pass my class."

"Thank you sir!" You squealed with joy, maybe the old fossil wasn't so bad after all.

"That's not all; I would also like to offer you a job in my laboratory as my assistant," the old professor continued.

"That's very kind but I was thinking about pursuing my own experiments..." You didn't want to sound ungrateful and you didn't want him to take back your opportunity to declare your college degree finished without having to wait for the end of the semester.

"Do you know who I am?" The professor pulled off his... face? No, a mask, a very realistic mask. The face under the mask was unmistakable.

"You are," your voice was lost. Sitting before you was the one and only Dr. Wily. How in the world did he manage to sneak into the university staff?

"I'm giving you a choice, girl," he didn't look as intimidating in person than what he looked on TV when you were a child. He was much older now, almost at the end of his years.

His robots didn't seem to be around. Surely they wouldn't get into the university unnoticed. The staff couldn't be that incompetent. You could punch his lights out easily without his body guards, but you didn't. When the old fossil kicked the bucket he might just leave everything to his little assistant, he had no one else, no family that anyone had ever heard of.

"On one condition," you finally spoke, "my reputation is not to be stained. If my presence in your hideout is known, then I will pretend to be a hostage forced to labor under a death threat. Don't get any ideas about that," you grinned, "I can reprogram your robots when you least expect it. In fact I could snap your neck right now old fossil."

Dr. Wily laughed instead of getting angry. "I knew I chose correctly. I assure you, child, I have no intentions of letting you go unrewarded. My time is running out, what I truly want is an apprentice. If you prove yourself worthy you will inherit everything. Until then I will have the spotlight. If I cannot take over the world, it will be your turn; I will not ruin your element of surprise."

For some reason the old fossil assumed you wanted to take over the world. He was aware of the fact that your projects bordered regulations. Perhaps he thought you were tempted to go beyond those regulations. Maybe he assumed that the materials in his laboratory would further tempt you to do so... he was probably right. "You have a deal."

xoxox xox xoxox

So it was done, you graduated and packed your things, moving out of the dorm. Dr. Doom, who was actually Dr. Wily quit his job without incident and retreated to his hideout leaving you with vague directions to follow. Now you knew why Wily's attacks coincidentally never occurred on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays lately. With his hunt for an apprentice at the university done, Wily had an open schedule. You were sure you would be busy helping him, but as long as you had free reign to work on your own projects, you would be okay with it.

Everything happened quickly, in a blur, and he next thing you knew you were standing in a pier at night with a mountain of luggage next to you. You were starting to regret sending the taxi away. It was getting very cold and you were by yourself away from the heart of the city.

Then you saw it, a small and surprisingly quiet motorboat approaching. There were two figures riding on it, one was a little taller than you and the other much larger. You watched in amazement as the boat's occupants jumped onto the pier. "Gutsman and Protoman," you recognized them, they looked the same as always even after years of fighting Megaman. You smiled as the situation sunk in. You were basically joining the villains, but you weren't sure if that was what you wanted. It didn't matter; your name wouldn't be stained. Villain or not, when Wily left the world of the leaving you would be free to make his laboratory yours. You could move the supplies elsewhere to erase any connections to Wily and start over in a new lab, with the benefit of having a lot of equipment and materials to put in it. No one had to know where you got it.

Furthermore you would inherit his robots. A plan formed on your head and you grinned. You would come up with some story to say you reprogrammed them. You might even be a hero. You knew what that story would be. You would say your own robot warrior defeated them and that's how you were able to reprogram them. You could be a hero if you wanted or a villain if you wanted. There was no need to rush your choice. As for the robot warrior in question, that could be made a reality. You would build your robot however you wanted. You make it as great at Megaman, or even better.

"It's nice to meet you," you snapped out of your daze, addressing the two robots. AIs generally responded well to gentle actions and kind words. You wondered if it would be the same for those.

"It's really nice to meet you too," Gutsman replied, extending his large hand in a greeting. Your hand was tiny compared to his, but his grip was surprisingly gentle.

Protoman scoffed, "come on, let's go."

You giggled, "as I thought, you were programmed with a bad boy attitude."

"What?" Protoman sounded angry. "Listen here girl, I'm not some machine. I have my own free will."

"Of course you do, I know you were programmed to believe yourself to be alive and to have freedom within certain parameters," you were a robotic expert after all. "Freedom is the alignment of a group of random variables affected by the environment perceived by the input senses-"

"Shut up!" Protoman growled at you. "It's obvious you don't understand!"

You put your hands on your hips and scowled. "You can't talk to me like that!"

"Damn right I can, stupid girl!" Resisting the urge to throw you in the freezing water, Protoman began to make his way up the pier towards land. "You can take that brat to Wily yourself. I'm not in the mood to deal with her," clearly, the prospect of having you around at the lab did not please him at all.

"Well I never!" You stomped your foot on the old wooden pier. You didn't think Protoman was programmed to be that much of a jerk. It was insufferable, it was infuriating, it was ridiculous. It was like being insulted by a freaking toaster.

You were not off to the best start with Protoman, but Gutsman was much more civil and better at being of service to you. He piled your luggage into the boat hoping it could carry it and helped you get on.

The large robot took you to a remote little island that you didn't even know existed. The trip was long and uncomfortable. You spent it squished between Gutsman and your luggage, neither of which was soft.

By the time you reached the island and Gutsman carried your things to your room, you were ready to collapse into bed. "Dr. Wily said he would talk to you tomorrow," it was music to your ears when Gutsman informed you of that.

"Thanks," you smiled sleepily. "You were a good boy," this AI responded well to compliments. His expressions were limited by the construction of his face but you could almost feel the discomfort he had after witnessing your argument with Protoman evaporating. Of course that was silly, robots didn't feel discomfort unless they were programmed to emulate it. You were just tired. None the less, warming up to an AI was sometimes like training a puppy. "good night big guy," you patted his arm, no way you could reach up that high for a pat on the head.

"Good night," with Gutsman gone you close the door to your new room and eyed the simple bed with white sheets and a brown headboard.

You left the unpacking for tomorrow. You would take a good look at the room then, at the time you were simply too tired. You walked a few steps, kicking off your shoes and collapsed into bed falling asleep instantly.

xoxox xox xoxox

Puzzle 02: Equal

The sound of an unfamiliar voice calling your name woke you up. You examined your surroundings ignoring the knocking on the door. The room was unfamiliar. A flood of memories came to you as you finally replied with a sleepy, "coming," and stumbled over to the door.

You opened the door a few inches to see an orange and gray robot with a big scissor on his head, "Cutman?" you yawned, "good morning." That's right; you were now the assistant and apprentice of Dr. Wily. You lived in his secret island laboratory along with his robots. You hoped Cutman was as easy to get along with as Gutsman.

"Good morning," Cutman seemed a bit surprised at the greeting, as if he had received mixed opinions about you and didn't know what to expect, bracing himself for the worse. "Dr. Wily wants you to be ready for work in thirty minutes."

"Oh..." you were still sleepy, "okay, I'll be ready soon, thank you," you smiled, watching as Cutman nodded. His orange face wasn't built to bee too expressive either, though it was a little more flexible than Gutsman's big yellow jaw. For those two you relied on their eyes to interpret the AI's reaction. He seemed to have reacted positively.

Cutman left, muttering something along the lines of, "maybe she's really not so bad."

You closed your room's door locking it and stretched. The room was rather small after you took a better look at it. The floor, walls and ceiling were made of metal. There was a small closet and a simple wooden dresser with some empty drawers. Aside from that, the bed, a desk and a chair were the only other pieces of furniture. The air vents on the ceiling kept oxygen and fresh air circulating through the room, while regulating its temperature. There were no windows and the overhead lights were the only illumination. The plain room would look exactly the same during the day or night.

You decided to think about how to make the room more comfortable later. For the time being you explored the only other door connecting to the room and was pleased to find an adjacent bathroom. It was small, but at least you had your own bathroom. The bathroom had no tub, only a small shower with a glass door. There was a white sink with a mirror hanging over and a white toilet in the corner. The scent of detergent was strong in the bathroom; Wily must have sent his robots to clean up the place for you. For that you were grateful.

There wasn't much to be found in that bathroom. A single white towel hung in a towel holder between the shower and sink in the small space of the bathroom. The floor, walls and ceiling were just the same as the room, made of silvery metal. You had a feeling that if you wanted a rug and extra towels you would have to get them yourself. You made a mental note of the supplies you would need to buy, it felt like moving into a dorm for the first time all over again.

You let your clothes fall to the floor adding a laundry basket to the list of things you needed. The soap holder inside the shower had a little cardboard box containing a white bar of unscented soap. There was no shampoo anywhere to be seen. It didn't matter; you had washed your hair early yesterday anyway. Besides, Wily wouldn't know what shampoo to get for a girl. He no longer had any need for it himself, as he had finally gone bald over the years. The list of things you needed to buy continued to grow.

You took a quick shower, dried yourself off and wrapped the towel around your body. You exited the bathroom and started to rummage through your luggage, looking for something to wear. Then suddenly the door flew open. You let out a high pitched, "eep" and clutched your towel. You frowned seeing who it was that invaded your personal space. It was Protoman, that same jerky robot from last night. "I locked that door."

"And I unlocked it," Protoman gave you a cocky smirk that you longed to wipe off his face. Why would anyone program such a jerk? "Dr. Wily is waiting for you and he's getting impatient."

"Cutman said I had thirty minutes!" You defended.

The cocky smirk never left Protoman's face, the rest of his features hidden by his helmet and dark visor. "Is that so? I guess he must have misheard me when I asked him to deliver the message that you were expected in ten minutes."

You glared, it was as clear as day what had happened. Protoman lied to Cutman so he would give you the wrong message. You mentally counted to ten and decided it was of no use getting angry with a robot. If it was malfunctioning or simply built to be obnoxious, it was not its fault, but an error of the one who made it. "Fine, I'm coming, go away so I can get dressed."

"Whatever," shrugging with disinterest, Protoman left the room, closing the door behind him.

Your glare came quite close to burning a hole through the door. You were really vexed by his attitude. Furthermore, why in the world were you so flustered? It wasn't like a person had seen you clad only in a towel. He was just a robot and he didn't seem to care anyway, for some reason that bothered you more. Pushing your thoughts away, you quickly got dressed and headed out of your room.

As you feared, Dr. Wily spent a good ten minutes complaining about your tardiness before sending Protoman to give you a tour of the lab. Apparently the old fossil wasn't up for walking all around his large underground laboratory. You were certainly not in the mood to be in Protoman's presence and if the scowl on his face was any indication, he wasn't fond of his assigned chore as your tour guide either.

Protoman walked through the lab swiftly, pointing to doors and hallways, stating where they led. You took his words with a grain of salt, not sure if he was giving you truthful information or not. It didn't matter, you would figure out your way around the lab on your own. During most of the tour you glared at Protoman hoping he would spontaneously combust. His movements were detailed and precise; he was certainly not one of those blocky, clumsy robots.

Protoman was an android at the top of technology. You were sure he must have been upgraded over the years. If you didn't know he was a robot you might assume he was a man in a tight gray bodysuit and red armor; a man who worked out a lot... Lost in your thoughts, he stopped and you walked right into him.

"Clumsy girl," he grumbled in annoyance. He turned his head towards you and you were sure he was glaring under his dark visor. He observed the red tint in your face. "Are you sick or something? You are just a fragile human girls after all. Did the night air give you a cold?" He mocked.

You glared even harder if that was possible, "I'm in perfect health thank you very much."

"I'm not stupid," he scowled, "people don't have such red faces when they're in good health. Earlier it was the same." He seemed to be unaware that your face was red out of a strange sense of embarrassment in both occasions somehow caused by him. "I'll be much more peaceful around here when you kick the bucket." With a mocking laugh, he turned away and left.

"It'll be much more peaceful around here when I turn you into a vacuum cleaner!" You screamed back, disassembling him was looking quite tempting. He only looked back at you for a moment, no doubt giving you a murderous glare under his visor, then he threw his head back in superiority and stomped away.

You went back to talk to Wily about the usage of the lab, information that Protoman didn't care to give you. Once you knew what you needed to know, you started on your daily chores. The mornings were for working on Wily's projects, but in the afternoons you could work on your own things. In the evenings you could rest, but you would probably get caught up in your projects and continue until the late hours of the night.

xoxox xox xoxox

That evening you were itching to keep working on detailed designs of the combat robot you planned to build. However, you had a shopping list to take care of and you knew you would regret it if you needed any of those items and didn't have them. Other than a few things for your room you also needed to buy groceries since you didn't share Wily's taste in food and wanted to add something more appetizing to the refrigerator.

Until you got the hang of sneaking in and out, you wondered if you should request someone's assistance. Gutsman or Cutman would listen to your request, definitely not Protoman. You thought about that as you went through your mental shopping list. Then you ran into him, quite literally. You back away and looked at the person you had collided with on the sandy beach of the deserted little island.

He was a very handsome man, brown hair, blue eyes, well built, gray pants, red shirt and a yellow scarf that was blowing in the breeze. The scarf would look out of place on anyone else, but somehow for him it worked. He was indeed very good looking, even if he looked like he wanted to rip your head off, "sorry."

He raised an eyebrow suspiciously, "you're apologizing to me?"

"Well yes, I mean, I was the one who ran into you," his anger slowly, ever so slowly melted into puzzlement as you went on. "So, do you work here?" You stopped cold. What if he's some random guy who got shipwrecked on that island and wasn't supposed to know about the hidden lab.

"Yes," he finally replied, giving you a scrutinizing glare, "I work for Wily, you already knew that."

"Oh, was I supposed to?" Maybe you should have reached that conclusion. "I guess it is pretty obvious, I mean, why else would you be here. I'm name," you introduced yourself.

The handsome man gave you another puzzling look, then he came to a conclusion, "you don't know who I am..." He laughed and when he stopped he had a cocky smirk plastered on his face. "Nice to meet you, name. I'm... Blues." You had to admit, he looked really good standing there at the beach, scarf blowing in the wind, the sun setting in the background. "Were you on your way out?"

You nodded, wordless, your breath had been taken away and you couldn't find your voice. You tried hard to make your throat produce some sounds. "Shopping... I need to buy some things in the city."

He had just gone to the city to look around, clear his head, get away from the antics of Wily, Gutsman, Cutman and especially to get away from the new girl. Yet, the new girl was acting so differently all of a sudden, it puzzled him. "Want me to go with you?"

The joy undeniably appeared in your face. "If you want to," you smiled.

"Let's go," he led you towards the hidden boats and you both got on one, quietly leaving the island towards the larger portion of land in the distance.

xoxox xox xoxox

It was a Friday night and the city was lit up and active. You walked through the crowds with Blues, trying to make conversation. All in all, so far you had only managed to ramble about yourself. Occasionally you would ask Blues something, what kind of music he likes, what was his favorite movie, what did he like to eat. He would give you an answer and leave it at that with no elaboration. You had started to feel uncomfortable wondering if your ramblings were bothering him and looked away displeased.

He observed your face with a very analytical expression, "you're displeased," he concluded after his observation as you two walked through the streets towards the mall.

"I was just wondering if you're bored. I don't want to bore you," you admitted.

He grinned as if perceiving a hidden irony, "I didn't think you would be this concerned about what I felt."

"Why wouldn't I be? I want you to feel comfortable. I mean, it's natural, right?" You insisted.

"I'm not like you," his statement was left to interpretation.

You looked at him with many theories swimming in your head. You haven't seen him in any wanted posters. Maybe his job was less open and more underground. Maybe he was a real criminal. Maybe you were sheltered compared to him. "I don't care where you came from," you finally spoke, "I don't care how you came to be. You're a person, just like me, we're the same, equals." You had a knack for intimidating men with your knowledge; you certainly didn't want to drive this one away so soon.

It sunk in that your dating pool just shrunk. Before you were too busy and men didn't dare approach you anyway. Now you were working for a criminal and needed to keep a low profile. He worked for Wily too so you didn't need to be too guarded with him. Plus he didn't jump off the boat and swim away as you imagine most men would do when you started rambling about your adoration for robots. He did look a little odd though, as if he couldn't decide if he should feel complimented or offended.

"Equals, huh?" He seemed to be contemplating your words. He also looked confused, as if you were the biggest enigma on the planet.

"Yeah!" You insisted with a smile.

"Alright then, equals it is," he gave you that cocky grin that was becoming familiar, the grin you were starting to adore.

xoxox xox xoxox

Puzzle 03: Antagonist

You made your way from one store to another in the mall with Blues walking beside you. You had just exited another store with your purchases, which you were thankful he was helping you carry. "Let's see... towels, rugs, laundry basket, scented soap, shampoo, conditioner, scented spray, alarm clock, sheets. I just need to buy some food now," you checked your watch. "I think we can make it before the mall closes. Are you up for it, or are you getting tired of all this?"

"I'm fine," Blues smirked with curiosity shining in his eyes. "Let's go get the rest of the things you need."

The two of you entered another store, piling a variety of food into a cart. You would be busy and had to make sure you had sufficient supplies. It turned out you liked many of the same foods. It was amazing how much your tastes coincided. Blues was pretty smart too, though he seemed to be internally debating about something whenever a topic related to technology came up. He looked like he understood what you were saying and even commented on occasion.

xoxox xox xoxox

Once the shopping was completed, the two of you headed back to Wily's hideout, slipping in unnoticed. "Are you going to stay at the hideout for a while or do you have a mission to tend to?" You inquired as you put the groceries away in the refrigerator.

"I'll be around," Blues ambiguously replied.

"That's good; it'll be much more pleasant around here with someone with whom I actually have something in common," you smiled. "I'm always caught up in my projects, but it's nice to have someone to talk to now and then.  I thought I would have no one to talk to with the only other inhabitants of this place being an old fossil and a bunch of machines."

For a split second he looked offended. You were busy arranging your food to fit in the refrigerator so you didn't really notice.

He took a moment to compose himself and finally spoke, "did you hear about the clock tower that was recently built in the city?" He casually asked.

"Of course, everyone has heard about that, it just recently became open to the public. There's a museum about the history of robotics inside and the view from the top is supposed to be amazing. I've been too busy to go see it, but I really want to go sometime," you cheerfully replied.

You observed the familiar grin grow on Blues' face, "if you're free tomorrow, would you like to go with me? There's a nice restaurant on the top floor, we could have lunch there and take our time looking at the exhibitions in the afternoon."

You were practically ready to jump with joy. The very handsome and cool spy had asked you out on a date. That was his job for Wily; he was a spy no doubt as awesome as they were portrayed in the movies. "I'd love to!" You had no idea what he was planning.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next morning you woke up in good spirits. After you put away the groceries the previous night you unpacked. You placed the smallest rug in the tiny space of the bathroom and a bigger one at the foot of your bed. The rugs and towels matched the new bed sheets in your favorite color. Your high tech laptop sat proudly atop the desk and your dresser was cluttered with brushes, combs and a variety of accessories, mostly earrings. Your clothes were put away in the dresser drawers and closet. Your room still looked a bit empty but you were sure it would become cluttered soon enough with unfinished inventions and research. Then again, unlike before, you had your own lab space for that now.

Thanks to your alarm clock, Dr. Wily didn't need to send one of his robots to wake you. You completed your morning routine and stepped out of your room in a good mood. It was still early and you had just enough time to get some breakfast before you started your morning chores helping the old mad scientist. He had assigned you a few things to do and it didn't look like he would join you in the work that morning. The work as light for that day and you were sure you would finish early and have some free time before leaving on your date. You had not seen blues around the hideout yet; you assume he might have some work to do elsewhere in the morning.

You entered the kitchen practically skipping and humming a cheerful tune to yourself. Dr. Wily sat in front of the kitchen table with a cup of coffee reading the newspaper while he waited for Gutsman to finish cooking his eggs and bacon. The large robot looked quite comical in a frilly pink apron. "Good morning!" You chirped.

"Good morning," Gutsman replied politely.

"It is a good morning indeed!" Dr. Wily appeared to be in a good mood, "today is a grand day for revenge," you guessed he was plotting to pick another fight with Megaman in hopes of finally getting rid of the obstacle that prevented him from taking over the world. You knew the heroic blue armored robot wouldn't fall easily. His creator, Dr. Light, was a genius. He had been an inspiration to the scientific community and especially to you.

You continued smiling as you opened the refrigerator, then you frowned. The food you stuffed in there the previous night was gone. Did Wily have an issue with sharing the refrigerator? He let his robots keep their energy cans cool in there. "Doc, did you move the food I put in the fridge last night?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," the old fossil sounded truthful enough.

"Gutsman, do you know what happened to the food? I put a lot of groceries in here last night," you interrogated the big robot.

Gutsman shrugged as he served Wily's hot breakfast on a plate. "I didn't see anything new in the refrigerator," he set the plate down in front of Wily, whose attention shifted from the newspaper to the food. The large robot paused, "actually... I did see some groceries, but not in the refrigerator. Protoman was carrying some stuff out."

Your jaw dropped, that jerk! "Where did he go?" You urged angrily.

Gutsman didn't seem to understand the origin of your anger, "um... to the training room, I think." Without another word you rushed out of the kitchen.

xoxox xox xoxox

You hurried to the training room just in time to see Protoman toss a cereal box into the air and disintegrate it into nothingness with a shot from the plasma blaster on his arm. "Protoman!" You screeched angrily, "you jerk, how dare you steal my food and disintegrate it?"

"I ate as much as I could, but I'm full, so I decided to put what was left to use in another way," Protoman gave you that cocky smirk you detested. Though he could live on energy cans just fine, the high density fuel wasn't the only thing capable of providing him with energy. He could also obtain energy from food and had enough technology to perceive tastes. Food was not a necessity and the energy cans were convenient, food was more of a luxury than a means of maintaining functionality.

"I'm going to take you apart and melt all the pieces!" You shouted angrily.

"Give it a try," he challenged, "you wouldn't last a second."

You glared hard at him, then it occurred to you that he might not even have proper laws of robotics installed in him. He had put humans in danger in the past many times. They were just lucky Megaman was there to save them. You wondered how far you should push your luck. "You'll need maintenance at some point," you glared darkly, "you might never again wake up from it." You fully intended to carry out your threat when the opportunity came. The one who would be waking up from Protoman's maintenance, would be a reprogrammed, much more tolerable version of him.

He chuckled mockingly, "empty threats."

With one last burning glare, you stomped away, your appetite lost. You decided to go straight to work. The prospect of constructing weapons of mass destruction appeared to be a good outlet for your frustrations. Little did you know that the trouble was just getting started.

xoxox xox xoxox

Midday didn't come soon enough and by then you had recovered your appetite and most of your good mood. In fact you were starving and eager to leave the hideout. You felt as if a large weight had been lifted off your shoulders when you saw Blues enter the lab so you could leave together. The two of you quietly left the hideout, sneaking off to the city.

Lunch went by very pleasantly, on the restaurant at the last floor of the clock tower. The food was delicious and Blues seemed to be more open to conversation than before. After lunch, you hung out at the exhibitions, rambling on and on about all the schematics and prototypes of machinery. The evolution of robots was presented in an interesting way, so it was fun even if you already knew all those things.

Time flew by as you chatted pleasantly with Blues. It was almost three in the afternoon when you went up to the balcony in the roof. The large circle of the clock ticked below as you took in the view of the city. You had all but forgotten your fight with Protoman, instead focusing in the good time you were having.

"Want some ice-cream?" Blues offered.

You smiled, "that would be nice."

"Stay here and enjoy the view, I'll be right back," Blues went off to the little ice-cream shop in a corner of the large spacious roof. You watched him disappear among the other visitors before returning your eyes to the view of the city.

xoxox xox xoxox

Just out the clock tower, there were two figures in long coats and hats, one much taller than the other. Someone approached them from the shadows. "Did you plant the explosives?"

"Yeah, we even did your share of the job," the large one spoke in annoyance, he had a very prominent jaw.

"Just what was so important that you needed to do?" The smaller one inquired, his face looked orange.

"Never mind that now, we have work to do. You have my armor and weapons right?" The one standing in the shadows asked.

"Yeah," the big one handed him the equipment.

The one in the shadows smirked, "I'll be ready in a minute."

xoxox xox xoxox

Up in the clock tower you were getting impatient. What could possibly be taking Blues so long? Were there that many people waiting in line to get ice-cream? You decided to go search for him. You didn't get far before a series of explosions shook the clock tower. A small round robot with a helicopter on its head and a megaphone for a mouth flew near by broadcasting Dr. Wily's mad rambles about world domination.

You couldn't believe your luck. Dr. Wily chose to pursue one of his random acts of terrorism on the date of your date, on the site of your date. He could have at least have the courtesy of telling his subordinates when his going to blow something up so they know to stay away from it. Everything went downhill from there. People panicked and started trying to escape, you couldn't find Blues anywhere.

It didn't take long for Megaman to arrive with his loyal robot dog Rush, who could transform into a sort of flying skate board powered by small rockets. As people fled, three robots went up to the roof, Gutsman, Cutman and Protoman, Megaman's eternal rival. Megaman knew the destruction was a challenge for him, Wily wanted to draw him out for a fight. In truth you doubted the confrontation would be any different than the others.

You should run but you didn't. You had seen the battles of Megaman versus Wily's robots many times on TV, but you had never been this close to the action. You hid and watched as Megaman quickly defeated Gutsman and Cutman. To their credit, they had at least rendered Rush unable to help Megaman. While the canine robot curled up to wait for his self repair system to fix him, Gutsman and Cutman were picked up by Wily's jetcopter, flying above the building.

The jetcopter distanced itself from the building hastily, away from the plasma shots from the two battling robots. You watched in amazement as Protoman and Megaman fought, evenly matched. A stray shot blasted the floor near by. You backed away from the flying debris and the expanding cracks, but the damage was already done. The floor beneath your feet collapsed, sending you falling into the level below. You screamed at the top of your lungs as you fell.

The floor below was filled with smoke; it invaded your lungs threatening to choke you. You coughed and struggled to get on your feet. You were bruised and pained but nothing was broken. You had to get out of there. You couldn't possibly climb back up; you should have made your escape while you had the chance. The fires had grown and the building was filled with too much smoke. You were in serious trouble.

xoxox xox xoxox

Puzzle 04: Human

The clock tower continued to burn and you were trapped on the top floor, while Protoman and Megaman fought on the roof. "I heard someone, there's someone still trapped in here!" Megaman urged.

"So what? That's not my problem!" Protoman shot a powerful blast of plasma at the blue armored robot.

"I have to go," dodging the blasts; Megaman dived into the hole on the roof, landing on the floor below.

"You're not going anywhere!" Protoman immediately gave chase.

You were struggling to reach the emergency stairs. Megaman had his hands full with Protoman. Proto would most likely not relent his attack even if the one Mega was trying to save was you, or perhaps especially if the one Mega was trying to save was you. You were sure that you had no choice, you had to get yourself out of there on your own. You hoped that at least Blues made it out safely. You were a bit angry at him for leaving you behind but you gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he thought you were already outside and was looking for you among the crowd that had rushed out.

Protoman saw you making your way down the hall. You were so light headed you were practically crawling. He bolted past his brother and rival towards you. The ceiling above you was about to collapse. You fell on the floor unable to move any longer without your precious oxygen. Protoman dashed forward picking you up and retreating on time before you were crushed by the flaming debris. This wasn't what he wanted, he wanted you to have a bad day, he didn't mean for you to end up dead, but you were dangerously close to it. "Hold on, don't die!"

You were too lightheaded to comprehend what was happening. The smoke was everywhere and without the advanced vision the robots had, you couldn't see through it. You opened your eyes a little, someone was holding you and there were voices. You caught a glimpse of yellow. A yellow scarf, you couldn't see anything else but that was all you needed to know. Blues, your rescuer had to be Blues. It was true that Protoman had an identical yellow scarf but he hated you, he would never help you, they were so different from each other. You lost consciousness, but you felt safe.

"Protoman!" Megaman hurried to his brother's side, looking at the unconscious girl in his arms. "The smoke is suffocating her."

"Take her, you're the one who's always playing hero," Proto handed you over to Mega. "It looks like our fight will have to wait, get her to safety, hurry!"

Megaman didn't have to be told twice, he bolted towards the hole on the roof, easily jumping up with great agility. Rush was still damaged, but he had recovered enough to fly. "Quick Rush, we have to get her to the hospital," the blue armored robot jumped on the transformed red robo-dog and they flew away from the smoke and flames of the clock tower.

xoxox xox xoxox

You didn't know for how long you were unconscious, but when you first woke up, you were very light headed and disoriented. You muttered something under the oxygen mask, taking in the massive whiteness of the atmosphere.

"Name?" You tilted your head lightly to the side and saw him sitting beside the bed.

"Blues... where?" You whispered softly.

"You're in the hospital, its okay, you're safe now, get some more rest," Blues assured you.

You didn't want to go back to sleep, but you were so tired. You couldn't help it but to drift off into slumber land once again.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next time you woke up you felt much more rested than before. A nurse soon came to check on you, relieving you of the oxygen mask. You took a few medical tests just in case and were free to leave soon after, insisting that you could get home by yourself.

Someone addressed you on the way out of the hospital. "Name?" She looked like a human at first glance, a young woman with blond hair and blue eyes. She had a sort of armlet that went from her left wrist to her elbow, that was the only thing that really stood out.

You had seen her on TV before and recognized her instantly, "Roll?" She was a human-looking android, a sister to Megaman and Protoman. From what you knew, Proto and Mega were very similar but Proto had more of a rebellious free will. Roll certainly thought of Mega as her brother, but she didn't consider Proto much of a brother despite the close similarities between Proto and Mega's designs.

"Hi," Roll greeted cheerfully. I was on my way to visit you, but it looks like you're all better now.

"You were coming to visit?" Roll's initiative puzzled you. You wondered what triggered such a course of action.

"Yeah," Roll continued smiling, "when Mega took you to the hospital he heard you don't have any family in this city. They didn't know of any friends to call and you were unconscious so they couldn't ask you. Mega told me about it so I decided to visit."

"That's very nice of you," you returned the smile; it seemed to be her favorite expression. Her AI, from what you could tell, was a gentle kind one. You had gone far in pursuit of your goals. You dedicated yourself fully to you robotics projects going wherever there were opportunities to learn. As a result you had not been too social over the years.

"Are you going home on your own?" Roll inquired.

You nodded, "yeah, I'll be okay," you certainly couldn't lead her to the hideout, but another idea occurred to you. It was lucky that you met Roll, if you played your cards right, you could get yourself a tour of Dr. Light's laboratory. "I don't feel like resting at home all by myself though, but I don't want to keep you here. I'm sure you must have interesting things to do at Dr. Light's lab. It must be an amazing place; he was a truly great scientist. I can only imagine what his laboratory is like." You made a sad face, including every sign you could put into it that you would expect an AI to recognize as sadness.

"Why don't you come visit us?" Perfect, Roll said exactly what you wanted her to say.

"If it's okay," score! You got yourself a tour of the laboratory of the greatest scientist that ever lived.

xoxox xox xoxox

Dr. Light had been a brilliant mind. When he passed away last year, his robots, Megaman, Rush and Roll continued operating without him. They had become completely independent. You remembered seeing Wily in a news report throwing a fit about his rival not sticking around in the world of the living long enough to witness him taking over the world. Dr. Light had been in many ways your inspiration. He was involved in the construction of the initial version of Protoman back when Dr. Wily was his partner. Wily's ambitions came to light and the two scientists went their separate ways with Wily taking Protoman away. He later stole a series of robots, reprogramming and modifying them to be his minions.

Protoman was another story, from what you heard he seemed to have a mind of his own from the start. You soon reminded yourself that you were being silly. Self sufficient machines were still machines, even if they were detailed, human-like creatures. You remembered Dr. Light use to think of his robots as his children and he spoke of them proudly, everyone knew he cared for them as sons and daughter.

Back then when you were a child you used to share Dr. Lights views. As you grew up you were pushed to change your perspectives by necessity. No one took you seriously when you spoke of robots as your friends. No matter how many people looked to Megaman as their hero, the scientific community was something else. A precious marvel of technology sure, but not a person. The great Dr. Light with all his achievements to defend his good name was the only one allowed the luxury of holding robots in high esteem without being ridiculed.

As a scholarship student depending on funding from the scientific world to survive, you couldn't afford not to be taken seriously. Even so you felt as if Dr. Light's robots deserved a special kind of respect. Even long after their creator's life had ended, they continued to loyally function abiding to his wishes. Because of that, in gratitude to Dr. Light and to Megaman, the robot siblings and their robo-dog were left to continue inhabiting Dr. Light's home, going about their business and keeping each other up to date with technology.

"There isn't a lot of human food around here," Roll handed you a plate with a slice of cake. "I hope you like cake, than again, who doesn't? Mega and I don't need vitamins so we only have food like this because it tastes good."

"Thanks, and you're right everyone likes cake," you tried it, "this is delicious."

"You really think so? I made it myself," Roll looked quite pleased with herself. "Mega never compliments me on my cooking, he eats it alright, but never says a word of thanks. He used to complain when I was a beginner though."

"You're quite talented," a true miracle of technology. You wouldn't mind if all the cooks in the world were replaced with Roll units, but her design was not to be replicated, as per Dr. Light's wishes.  

"Thank you," Roll smiled brightly. "It's too bad Mega ran off somewhere. It would have been nice for him to have the chance to talk to you too."

Talking to Roll reminded you of your childhood when you decided to pursue a career in robotics. She was in a sense a child back then too, not in appearance but just recently activated. You let yourself forget she was a robot and spoke to her as a friend. You realized then that maybe that was why Proto hated you so much. Maybe he was just sensitive about the entire robot thing. Maybe that was the particular variable you scored dangerously on and got thrown into the black list.

xoxox xox xoxox

Later in the city park, in a quiet area away from easy view, "I almost didn't recognize you, brother."

Blues looked at the blue armored robot; he knew it was of no use to pretend he was someone else. "Want to fight?"

"You're not properly armed for us to go all out, Proto." Megaman pointed out.

Protoman alias Blues huffed, "I can take you on any time."

"I don' doubt that you're still strong even without your armor and complete weaponry, but that's not why I approached you." Megaman got ready to try again; he had been attempting to convince Proto about this for years. "I want you to join the side of good. I can convince the mayor to give you a chance. You can live with Roll and me. Seeing you stop our fight to save that girl is more proof to be added to the fact that you're not really bad."

"I'm not going to join you, I didn't come into existence to serve the city," as usual, Proto refused.

"It's not about serving anyone. I do what I do because keeping the city safe feels good," Mega continued with the same argument as always.

"Save your arguments, it's not going to work," Proto walked away.

You were on your way home after visiting Dr. Light's lab. You passed by next to the park and saw someone familiar exiting it. "Blues!"

"Name? I thought you were in the hospital, I was just on my way there," until Mega saw him and he decided to take a detour and not reveal his intentions to visit you. No one but his brother could recognize him without his armor, not even you.

"I'm all better, I can go home now," you remembered his visit earlier and the way he saved you. "Thanks for helping me back there."

"You knew it was me?" For a moment he was surprised.

"Of course," you grinned, "well actually, I couldn't see you with all the smoke," you admitted. "I remember catching a glimpse of your scarf though; I knew it had to be you."

"I'm not the only one with a yellow scarf," he pointed out.

"Yeah, but the only other one I've seen with a scarf like that is Protoman and he hates me," you concluded without a doubt, the one who save you had to be Blues. "Besides, you were the one who was there with me. Who else would be looking for me?"

"Yeah, you're right... it was me," he finally admitted. You returned to the hideout with Blues. You had fully recovered from the clock tower incident but you were starting to get tired. Another full night of rest should get you back on track.

To be Continued

Enigma

Puzzle 05: Possibilities

It was cold on the way back to the hide out so Blues let you borrow his scarf. You were still wearing it as you made your way down the halls of the underground hideout in the remote little island, cuddled close to Blues.

Footsteps approached from the opposite direction, they were rather slower than Cutman and lighter than Gutsman. "That has to be Wily," Blues concluded, "I don't feel like reporting to him right now," he quickly made up an excuse and opened the door to a nearby utility closet.

"I might as well face him now, he's probably too sleepy to rant," you stood in the hall while blues closed the door and hid in the utility closet. If Wily saw him, he might say too much, then his identity would be revealed.

Dr. Wily slowly made his way down the hall as if every step further tired him out. "Name? Where did you disappear to?"

You placed your left hand on your hip, raising your right index finger in accusation, "it's your fault I nearly died! Why didn't you tell me you planned to attack the clock tower? If I knew, I wouldn't have been caught in the middle of that!"

Dr. Wily raised an eyebrow suspiciously, "you didn't know about that? I didn't tell you because Protoman said he told you so I didn't think it was necessary to repeat the warning."

You felt your eye twitch in anger. "That incompetent machine didn't tell me anything! Maybe it's about time he was scrapped, even if he has been upgraded to the top of the latest technology, a faulty heap of metal if still exactly that in the end!"

Dr. Wily shook his head at your outburst, "he's the only one who can measure up to Megaman. Besides, I can't scrap him or reprogram him. I lost control of him years ago. Actually, I don't think I ever had any control over him at all. He upgrades himself and does what he wants, he's completely independent."

"That doesn't make him any less infuriating," you argued.

"You'll have to learn to live with him," Dr. Wily concluded with displeasure. His tone indicated the verbal exchange was over.

Dr. Wily walked away leaving you to grumble under your breath in frustration, "stupid machine doesn't know his place."

After Wily was gone, Blues emerged from the closet looking displeased. Before you could say anything to him, he spoke, "I have to go," then swiftly went away without waiting for your reply, he even forgot his scarf.

You thought the way Blues left was odd but decided not to over analyze it. He was probably just tired and Wily must have reminded him of why he didn't feel like reporting. He might have some important unfinished work to tend to. You returned to your room and got ready for bed.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next morning you woke up to the sound of your alarm clock. You got up feeling as if something was out of place. Once you were ready for the day the answer came to you. You fell asleep with Blues' scarf and woke up without it. You searched for the scarf on your bed but didn't find it.

Soon your mind began to form a theory. Protoman must have taken it. You slept like a rock more often than not and he had proven to be quite capable of unlocking your door without permission. With a furious battle cry of "Protoman!" you dashed out of your room to search for the main suspect in the case of the stolen scarf.

xoxox xox xoxox

You found the bane of your existence sitting at the kitchen table with an energy can in his hand. Wily was once again immersed in reading the newspaper as he did every morning, slowly drinking his coffee while Gutsman prepared the rest of his breakfast wearing a silly apron. "You took it didn't you?" You slammed your fist against the kitchen table, making the surface tremble. "Why did you take it? You already had your own scarf, why did you steal it? It wasn't even mine, what if he wants it back?"

Protoman nonchalantly took another sip of his energy can, "looks like she finally went insane."

"You know very well what I'm talking about," you insisted, "the scarf you stole from me last night, give it back. This is definitely crossing the line. I'm warning you, if you don't give me that scarf I'll find a way to wipe your hard drive clean!"

Proto slammed the mostly empty energy can on the table. "If you want to fight me that badly, I can grant your wish, but you know as well as I do that you won't last."

"That's enough!" Wily finally lowered his newspaper, unable to ignore the bickering any longer. "Name, you are disappointing me as an assistant."

You scowled in disbelief. The old fossil was taking Protoman's side. After you learned he was to blame for not warning you about the clock tower attack you set aside all idea of trying to be friendly to him, the jerk didn't deserve it. "It's not fair," you complained, "from the start Protoman has been picking a fight for no reason and you're taking his side? He's been a jerk ever since we first met. He consumed and destroyed my food, he didn't warn me about the clock tower and now he stole something very precious to me. That scarf belongs to someone dear to me, I'll get it back if it's the last thing I do." You stormed out of the kitchen.

xoxox xox xoxox

You observed the weapons and armed vehicles that were available at Wily's hideout. Most of them needed repairs from previous encounters with Megaman. Proto's design was quite similar to Mega so those vehicles wouldn't stand a chance. You shook your head; there was no need to use second hand weaponry when you could build your own. You hurried to your laboratory.

xoxox xox xoxox

You were focused on developing the schematics to a weapon that could measure up to Proto's plasma blaster when someone entered the lab. You looked up hearing the footsteps and found none other than, "Blues!" You also noticed that his yellow scarf was back around his neck. "You got your scarf back? I was trying to design a weapon to force Protoman to return it. I'm so fed up with him; he's mean to me for no reason!"

"I asked him nicely so he gave it back to me," Blues explained. "Maybe if you were nicer to him, he'd be nicer in return," you were still an enigma to him. You reacted so differently during your encounters with his alter-ego. He knew it was probably best to just leave you alone but his curiosity got the best of him. "I'll be away on a mission for a long time," he was tired of this game; he was getting dangerously attached to a lie that could never be true. In the end, it might be bad for both of you. "Try to make friends with Proto while I'm gone. He's no different from me, treat him how you treat me. You're much more pleasant when you're being nice."

You pouted, ignoring the part about Proto and focusing on the more important information. "You're going away," you hugged him. "I'll miss you. When are you coming back?"

"I don't know, it might be a while," never, Blues would never return. From that point on there would be no more pretending, no more lies. He didn't know why he did what he did next. He didn't fully understand what made him choose such a parting that would only make things harder.

He held you tightly for a moment longer; you could feel his warm breath on your neck. One of his hands caressed your hair traveling down to your back, his other arm wrapped around your waist. He moved his head back slightly, his face gently brushing on yours. Then he kissed you. You closed your eyes enjoying the moment, allowing the kiss to become deeper. It continued until your need for oxygen made you pull back to take a deep breath.

You could see his familiar cocky grin adorning his face as if he held a small victory in being able to go on for longer without air. Well, you'd just have to rise to the challenge and try again. Seeing that you had quickly recovered he searched for the same thing. The kiss lasted longer the second time and it was more passionate.

You didn't want to let him go and you were pretty sure that he didn't want to let you go either, but it had to end. He left you breathless and already longing for his return,

xoxox xox xoxox

The sun was setting when you went outside for some fresh air. You didn't expect to find anyone above ground until you saw him. Protoman stood at the beach, yellow scarf blowing in the wind, gray and red armor shining in the sun. He had his helmet on as always, his dark visor covering his face down to his nose.

"Um... Proto?" You might as well start keeping your word. You wanted to accomplish the impossible and make friends with this stubborn insufferable robot before your dear Blues returned from wherever his mission led him. He never talked about his job much, perhaps for your own protection or something like that.

As far as Proto knew you irreparably hated him for what he was. Or rather, you looked down on him, which was from his point of view even worse than hatred. He didn't expect you to even notice how much you were bothering him. "What do you want?" He asked roughly.

"I'm glad you returned Blues' scarf," you began with the first thing that popped into your head. You didn't have a peace offering or a written speech to give. You only went up to the island surface for some fresh air, not for this. "Can we be friends?" It was direct, it was blunt, it was probably stupid.

"Just like that?" Protoman sounded annoyed.

You sighed; putting up an act was hopeless. "look, it's obvious that you hate me and I'm not fond of you either. I'll even admit the fact that I'm only trying to be your friend because Blues asked me to. I'm completely lost here, I get along well enough with Gutsman and Cutman, why is it that you decided to hate me?"

"Gutsman and Cutman barely have any pride. They're not like me; they don't care too much if they're treated as things. It does bother them, but they hardly complain," you couldn't tell if he was glaring or not behind his dark visor. "Just so you know, they don't really like you all that much; they're just confused and give you the benefit of the doubt. You're an enigma. You can be nice sometimes and an idiot others. Blues was confused too."

You held your temper down, his voice was annoyed but there was no malice in it as if he was trying to control his hostility and suppress some unknown frustration. An idea occurred to you and you expressed your theory, "did you talk to Blues before I met him? He said something about me not knowing who he was. Did he mean to say he was a friend of yours and he expected you to have mentioned him? He did look angry at me at first. I don't think it was only because I bumped into him. Plus he sounded surprised that I apologize, as if he didn't think I was capable of that. You told him something, didn't you?"

"I suppose you could say that Blues already had begun to form an opinion of you when you ran into him," Proto admitted. "He didn't expect you to be nice to him. His impression was that you thought of yourself as better than others. You gave me that impression, Gutsman too, but he was more lenient in giving you the benefit of the doubt."

"I get it now, that's why he said he wasn't like me. That's why I had to tell him we're equals..." You thought back on it and weren't sure what to make of it. Blues certainly seemed to like you well enough now. Plus you didn't think you were coming off that egotistical when you first met Proto. Maybe the answer really was that you had insulted his sense of self. An imaginary light bulb appeared above your head, "he told me to treat you the same I treated him," you recalled, "did he mean, like an equal?"

"Maybe you're not so stupid after all," Proto commented. "I wouldn't mind being treated as superior though."

You glared, "you really enjoy insulting me, don't you? Hey, if I'm going to try to be your friend, you have to try too," you insisted. "Besides, how could I possibly treat you like Blues? He's unique and smart and cool and original and handsome..." and you were blushing just thinking about it, "really good kisser," you whispered under your breath.

"Is that all?" Protoman gave you a cocky smirk, but for once, you didn't feel like punching him. You were reminded of Blues. You found yourself wondering if their faces were similar at all, but you've never seen Proto without his helmet before. Proto moved forward as you stood in the sandy beach of the little island, with the ocean behind you. The waters were very calm as the tide lazily moved a little towards the beach and back again in slow motion. The sun reflected off his armor giving him a majestic look. He was coming closer...

xoxox xox xoxox

Puzzle 06: Trust

You stood at the beach of the little island where Wily's secret base was hidden. You were completely still as Protoman approached like a knight from a fairytale. He hugged you close, one arm around your waist, the other hand caressing your hair and traveling to your back. This felt familiar, so familiar as if you were reliving the moment with Blues. Your breath caught in your throat and you froze. He kissed you and you were taken completely by surprise.

He was supposed to be a combat robot, not one of those realistic Kronos Heaven lover robots. How could he be both? That wasn't supposed to be possible! You've seen him fight, he was definitely built for battle, how could he be doing this?

He moved away, you were so completely taken aback you almost forgot to breathe. "You..." You pointed at him with your index finger, still in shock.

He wore the same cocky smirk you've seen before, "real enough for you?"

You tried hard to find your voice. Finally when your throat was able to produce some sounds you bellowed, "you call yourself Blues' friend?"

Proto's smirk evolved into a laugh, he laughed as if he simply couldn't stop. The shocked expression on your red face only fueled his amusement. "He won't mind sharing if it's with me." With a triumphant stride, Proto walked away, back to the underground hideout, leaving you to contemplate the recent happenings out at the beach.

xoxox xox xoxox

The days continue to pass. You were distant to Proto at first, though at least it seemed that you didn't say anything that offended him. Mostly you just felt guilty about 'cheating' on Blues. You tried to tell yourself it didn't count because Proto was a robot but you were no longer able to think of him as just that. He was different, he was special.

After several days of avoiding Proto you decided to try to talk to him. The two of you sat on the sand at the little island beach. You took your shoes off and allowed the calm blue ocean to reach your feet.

Proto seemed a bit surprised that you finally decided to approach him but the two of you spoke without trying to rip each others heads off. You spoke of your goals and about how you weren't really sure if you wanted to be a villainous scientist or a heroic one.

"Why not just a mad scientist? You certainly have the temper for it," Proto teased. If he had said something like that before, you might have gotten angry at being called a mad scientist by a machine, but he wasn't just a machine. Furthermore, he wasn't trying to insult you; it was clear in his voice that he was only joking.

"You shouldn't provoke my temper," you stuck out your tongue, "I can be quite deadly I'll have you know."

"I'm pretty indestructible," he looked smug.

"You shouldn't try to test that theory with me, "you laughed, "I used to be pretty good at breaking things, I'm less clumsy now, but who knows." He frowned lightly at the word 'things' but tried not to show it instead letting you continue, "when I was little I broke my then best friend's arm by accident."

Proto seemed to relax at the mention of a person, 'things' was only a figure of speech. "How did that happen?"

"I had this little toy robot, a Megaman toy actually, he was just becoming well known. He could shoot soft little rubber balls from the blaster on his arm. I modified it and put a marble in his blaster instead of a rubber ball," you confessed remembering the event. "I accidentally shot the marble at my friends arm and it came out almost like a bullet. Luckily the surgeon was able to remove it. That was our last day as best friends, even if I apologized. I thought I would never hear the end of it from the adults. They wouldn't let me experiment with my toys anymore, but I at least got a lot of robotics books. They thought that if I was reading I would at least stay out of trouble and learn to be careful. I still experimented in secret of course."

"You had a Megaman toy?" Proto pouted.

"Are you jealous?" You teased, "if it makes you feel better I had a Protoman toy too, but it wasn't a toy robot, it was a plush toy. It was soft and fluffy, good to sleep with. I remember taking off his scarf and using it to tie my hair."

"I never gave my permission for those toys to be made," he continued to pout, but you knew he was amused by your stories. "I guess it never really bothered me all that much."

"What about you?" You asked with real curiosity. "I remember seeing you on TV whenever there was a news report about Wily's latest scheme. What did you do off camera?"

"Not much really, I just wanted to beat Mega, I still do. I'm the only one who can fight him on equal grounds. I kept to myself most of the time. I didn't use to visit the city," he stopped as if he had said too much.

"You mean you visit the city now? You must be really sneaky to get around unnoticed," you mused. "Let me guess, you wear a long coat and a hat like a detective from an old movie?" You tried to picture it but something didn't quite fit. "What about your helmet? I suppose it would work if you rode around in a motorcycle all the time, but you would stand out walking down the street."

Proto remained silent as you took on a rather predatory expression and continued, "you know, I was always curious about what you looked like under your helmet. I've seen pictures of Mega without his helmet. I wondered if you too looked similar, but you're more of a bad boy type than him so I bet you'd look cooler. Can I see?" you reached to take off his helmet.

"No!" Proto held his helmet down. You knew it would be impossible to get it off against his incredible strength.

You pretended to give up, "you're no fun. What are you hiding under there? Are you bald?"

"Of course not!" Proto ascertained, "I have hair."

"What color?" You pretended to settle for his descriptions and looked into the horizon. You watched him from the corner of your eyes as he appeared to be debating if he should answer your question or not. Then you went on the attack trying to take off his helmet by surprise.

His hands flew to yours, taking hold of both your hands, palms against each other, fingers laced, before you could even blink. "I have fast reflexes don't I?"

"That's not fair! You're too fast!" You playfully tackled him into the soft sand. If he didn't want to move you were sure it would be like trying to tackle a solid wall. However, he fell back and allowed you to lay on top of him uselessly trying to take off his helmet which he held in place with one hand, his other hand on your waist.

"I give up," you rolled off him mostly because it was starting to feel odd. "When do you think he's coming back?" Proto reminded you of Blues. You used to think they were so different, yellow scarves aside. Now you were reminded of Blues a lot whenever you saw Proto.

"Who?" Proto was still in the same light mood that had formed when you two actually fell into a friendly conversation and playful battle.

"Blues," you lay on the sand next to Proto, looking up at the sky. The sun had set while you sat with him and the stars were starting to appear.

"I don't know," Proto's good mood seemed to evaporate, replaced by unreadable neutrality.

"You miss him too, don't you? He's your friend," you knew the topic of Blues made Proto uncomfortable. You wondered if he too was worrying about the spy. "I don't want to ask Wily because it might cause trouble for Blues."

'I agree, you shouldn't ask Wily or anyone," Proto was quick to insist.

"I guess I'll just have to keep waiting for him..." Proto remained silent. You sat up on the sand looking at him and noticed the portion of his face that could be seen reflected pain. "Proto? Are you hurt?"

"I'm alright..." Proto insisted with a hint of stubbornness already starting to form.

Pain, the perception of pain, it was an alarm that something was wrong. It was insistent so that the malfunction would not be disregarded, but not intense enough to hinder the repairs. Having become more familiar with Proto you somehow knew he was not telling the truth. "What's wrong? If you're hurt you can tell me, I can help."

"It's nothing," Proto sat beside you, looking away, his tone had become more defensive.

"Please let me help, you can trust me, I promise," you pressed the issue relentlessly.

"It can't be fixed!" Proto snapped at you.

"Why not?" You snapped back.

"My energy core is faulty, it has been since the beginning," he admitted almost ashamed. "I've managed to become independent and capable of upgrading myself, but I never changed that."

"That makes sense," you reasoned, "you'd have to be temporarily deactivated for that and you don't trust anyone that much. It must be taking its toll on you."

"Eventually my energy core will cease to function, my days are numbered," there was some bitterness to his voice, but no fear.

"Not if it's fixed!"  You adamantly insisted. "I can't just leave you like this with a death sentence. Let me give you a new energy core. With your other systems upgraded your old core must be struggling. You're just shortening your lifespan by functioning like this."

"I know that, but I refuse to fall behind. I refused to become obsolete I'm not some machine, I'm as timeless as a human," he argued.

"And as fragile," you added. "If I had a faulty organ that was killing me, I would put my trust in a surgeon instead of settling for an early death. Please Proto, please let me make you live longer. I promise on my very life that I won't try to mess with you. I won't try to brainwash you or anything. I promise I'll repair you and nothing more." It didn't look like he would agree to it. You sighed, "I can't force you to do this, just know that the offer is open whenever you feel you can trust me."

xoxox xox xoxox

The days continued to pass and you still heard no word from Blues. It was as if he had dropped off the face of the Earth, but you tried to stay positive and keep believing he would return. You also had another worry on your mind, Protoman. Dr. Wily continued his occasional attacks in the city though they were farther apart each time. Even so, every time you watched the news and heard about the intense battles of Protoman and Megaman you knew that Proto's life had been reduced.

One morning when you went to the kitchen for breakfast, you didn't find Wily reading the newspaper and drinking coffee as he usually did. Gutsman wasn't there either. You worked at the lab, repairing several things and later returned to the kitchen for lunch. That time you did find Gutsman in his usual silly apron, he was making soup. "Hey big guy, what's up?"

"Not much," Gutsman stirred the large pot of soup. "Dr. Wily isn't feeling well so he's taking a break."

You thought about it realizing that it had been many days since the last time Wily launched an attack. He was certainly old; maybe he just needed more naps. "Well, at least we can all relax for a while," you searched the refrigerator wondering what you should eat, nothing looked particularly appetizing. Then the scent of pizza invaded the kitchen and suddenly you knew what you wanted.

You noticed that the scent was coming from a pizza box held by Protoman as he walked in. He was already eating a slice. You watched as he set the box down on the kitchen table, taking another bite of the slice he was consuming. "Is the fossil still feeling sick?"

"Yes," Gutsman replied to Proto's question. The soup was finished and he served it in a big bowl. He placed a spoon and a glass of juice on a tray next to the soup before going on his way. "I'm taking some soup to him now," with that said, Gutsman left.

You continued eyeing the pizza. The logo on the box was from a very good pizzeria in the city. You wondered how Proto obtained it unnoticed. Maybe he took off his helmet to hide his identity. It sounded like a contradiction, but he was always wearing it so he might actually be harder to recognize without it. You wondered if you ever passed him by in the city not knowing who he was. Your curiosity to look under his helmet increased but you resisted. You knew it would be impossible to get it off against his will.

Proto opened the pizza box revealing that the pizza had your favorite topping; you remembered it was Blues' favorite too. You felt as if a great discovery had been floating in the back of your mind unnoticed for a long time, but you continued to ignore it. "Go ahead, have some pizza before you disintegrate it with your eyes," Proto finally offered. You didn't need a second invitation.

xoxox xox xoxox

Puzzle 07: Life

You were enjoying your lunch with Proto when Cutman suddenly ran into the kitchen. "Dr. Wily wants to see you both right away," he had a sense of sad urgency in his voice that didn't go unnoticed by either of you.

You would think Proto wouldn't interrupt his lunch like that, but it was as if he read something between the lines of what Cutman said. "Let's go," he set his third unfinished pizza slice aside and followed Cutman out of the kitchen with you trailing close behind.

The three of you made your way to Wily's room where he was weakly laying in bed under black sheets. The room was dominated by dark colors. The wooden furniture was simple and standard, much like the furniture in your room.  The walls were practically wallpapered in newspaper clippings on Wily's greatest achievements, the greatest disasters of the world.

Gutsman and Cutman stood on one side of the bed with you and Protoman on the other. You felt as if they were giving their final farewell to their dying grandfather. That's when the reality hit you. Just as Dr. Light had passed, Dr. Wily's time was upon him. He looked very fragile and a little unfocused. He breathed softly and spoke, "when I made you my apprentice I thought I wanted you to follow in my footsteps and finish what I began. I change my mind, I want my name to be forever engraved in history as the greatest villain of all times. It will be my brilliant mind that shall shine and no one must surpass my evil, not even you. My last wish is for no one to ever surpass me. Use the laboratory as you please, but the one that came the closest to ruling the world has to be me."

Wily laughed bitterly and weakly then continued, "I suppose I can't really stop you from using the resources I leave behind to take over the world. Once I'm gone, the world will be safe until someone new decides to pursue my ambitions. If you choose to grant my wish and prevent my place in history from ever being overshadowed, then you'll have to stop them. Gutsman, Cutman, if name grants my wish, follow her orders, if not, then I leave that mission to you. Protoman, it doesn't matter what I tell you, you never listen anyway. That's okay; don't ever let anyone boss you around, goodbye..." he closed his eyes and was still, the raising and falling of his chest with ragged breaths had stopped.

"Dr. Wily?" Gutsman spoke with worry.

"Hey, doctor, say something," Cutman almost begged.

Protoman shook his head, "he's gone, his life has ended."

You didn't think you would be witnessing the death of such a great scientist like this. Most would remember him as a villain and not for his achievements. However, as long as he was remembered as someone intelligent and powerful, that would be enough for him. Gutsman and Cutman didn't take it well, though it was obvious that it was coming. It took you and Proto a while to calm them down.

Dr. Light eternally rested in the park in the middle of the city where his grave was always crowded with flowers. Dr. Wily eternally rested in a little island that no one knew existed. For some time people might continue to worry about his next attack. Eventually they would realize that it would not come.

xoxox xox xoxox

That night you had a terrible nightmare. You didn't have nightmares often so you were taken by surprise. You were smart enough to determine what was real and what was too exaggerated to be real even in your sleep. However, that nightmare wasn't random or outrageous. You were walking through the underground hideout towards the lab in what appeared to be a normal morning. You heard Proto's angry and sad voice, expressing disbelief about something.

You hurried down the hallways until you reached the lab and asked what was going on. Apparently he had just learned that a friend of his had died, Blues was dead. The possibility of Blues' long absence being due to an early death was constantly floating in the back of your mind. You also knew that Protoman would soon die if he refused to have his energy core fixed. You kept those worries in check in the back of your head, you couldn't make them stop but you didn't let them consume you. With the recent death of Dr. Wily, though it was natural due to old age, all your unpleasant thoughts broke free from their mental cage to plague you in your dreams.

You screamed loudly, unable to stop yourself as you snapped awake. You had been dreaming, but for all you knew, the dream could be real. For all you knew Blues would never return. "Name!" Protoman forced your door open and rushed to your side. He looked you over as if searching for an injury, "what happened? Why did you yell?"

Though they couldn't move as fast as Protoman, Gutsman and Cutman soon arrived. The three of them surrounded you in confusion waiting for you to speak. "A nightmare," you finally stated, trying to regain your composure. "It was only a nightmare, don't worry, I'm okay." You didn't want to strain Gutsman and Cutman with your worried about Blues. They mourned so much for Wily that you feared they would overheat and permanently shut down from the stress. "Go back to sleep," you tried to force yourself to smile but you were not too convincing.

"Go, I'll take care of her," Proto finally voiced. Gutsman and Cutman stayed for a few more seconds unsure, before finally conceding to entrusting you to Proto.

Once Gutsman and Cutman were gone, you confessed the truth of your nightmare, "I dreamt that Blues was..." you pushed the word out, "dead."

Protoman sat down on your bed beside you and hugged you. "You're never going to let go of the image of Blues," he concluded, "I'm sorry, I thought taking him out of the picture was for the best. I thought you'd just forget about him then. I guess there's no way around it..." he removed his helmet.

You stared at Proto in realization; the one you saw was Blues. That was the reason why they were so similar, they were the same. That's why Blues seemed surprised you didn't know him, that's why he said he wasn't like you. Maybe deep down you always knew but didn't admit it.

He seemed sad, "Blues was me all along. We didn't get off to the best start, but you were so different to Blues. You were an enigma and I couldn't help it but to answer to my curiosity." He looked into your eyes, "I'm sorry for the trouble I caused you. I enjoyed my time with you as Blues. It wasn't what you thought so I tried to end it. I didn't want to lie to you anymore. I wanted to start over with the truth. Now you know who I really am... I guess this changes everything."

"Idiot! This doesn't change anything," you didn't have to worry about your growing feelings for Proto being traitorous to Blues anymore, but you still had another bigger worry. "It's the same as my nightmare, you're going to die and you're too stubborn to let me save you! I'll find a way to save your life even if it's by force!"

Taken by surprise, Proto paused and summoned all his courage and will. "When I first became aware, I thought that every piece of me was a part of who I am. I thought that without my original core I would die and be replaced with someone else. I guess it would be more logical to think that who I am is stored in the data in my memory and not in my energy source. Even so I still worried. There was also the issue of not trusting anyone with my life like that. Being turned into someone else, being brainwashed, it sounded worse than dying. Can I trust you?"

You almost couldn't believe it, "you mean you'll let me?" He nodded silently.

xoxox xox xoxox

You went to the lab with Proto to get him fixed. He took off his armor and lay down in the examination table looking a little unsure. "You can trust me; I'll prove it to you. I promise I'll only install your new core and nothing more. I won't even think of touching anything else." You had prepared a new core for him already, waiting for the day when he trusted you enough to let you help him. You would show him that he could put his life in your hands without worries. It was a powerful core, you smiled like a mad scientist, "you will only sleep for a few minutes, but when you awaken, you'll be much stronger than you ever imagined, you'll have all the energy you need easily accessible."

"I trust you, name," his expression turned serene as he became inactive.

You grabbed your scalpel and took a deep breath. You were a robotics genius, not a surgeon. You steadied your hand guiding the knife on his perfect abs so you could reach the electronics below. From that point on, you focused, smoothly removing the faulty energy core and replacing it with the new one. It was at the very top of technology beyond anything in the world, you had made it yourself when you were preparing to build your own masterpiece of a robot.

With the installation complete you gave the systems one final check and ended the operation. You fetched a flesh colored gel applying it on Proto's abdomen. The skin sealed flawlessly absorbing the gel and was once again perfect. You ran your hand through his abs, up his bare chest telling yourself you were only checking to make sure everything was okay, though your face was turning red.

You fingered the smooth texture of his yellow scarf as he lay motionless on the examination table. You promised you would repair him and nothing more. You had no intentions of becoming a liar when you made that promise, but breaking it was very tempting.

His helmet was off and you could admire his handsome face. His eyes were closed, no breathing simulation, only stillness, yet he looked so human. You placed your hand on his cheek, he felt so human. You had learned that despite appearances, he was indeed human. You leaned closer, your breath against his motionless perfect face. Your lips pressed gently against his, he was so warm. Your heart pounded as if it wanted to break away from your chest. You drew back, heart racing, face red.

Your face was still hovering inches from his when suddenly his brilliant blue eyes opened. Your eyes went wide in shock. He gave you a cocky smirk, "you liar."

"You're awake!" You jumped back, caught in the act of giving into temptation. "I was just checking your temperature," you rambled, "I just wanted to make sure you weren't overheating or anything."

"I have to admit this new core feels great! I don't know how I put up with the old one for so long. My temperature is fine, "Proto assured, grinning at you mischievously, "you're the one who looks like you're overheating. If it'll make you feel better, you can check my temperature again." You decided to take the invitation.

xoxox xox xoxox

When the next morning came your alarm clock when off as usual. You reached for it and violently threw it against the wall causing it to shatter. Then you went back to your nice and comfy position cuddling Proto. He made an exceptionally good pillow. His amusement at your alarm clock violence was the last thing you heard before drifting off to sleep.

Hours passed and you didn't leave your room. You woke up again when Gutsman called from outside your door. "Name are you in there?"

You didn't want to get up yet; you were comfortable exactly as you were. The world had a different idea, as Cutman soon joined Gutsman at the door. "Name? Come out, we can't find Protoman."

"Dr. Wily's gone and Protoman disappeared, we don't know what to do. How do we grant his wish?"  Gutsman stressed.

"Do you think they ran off to take over the world against Wily's final wish?" Cutman theorized.

"I don't know," Gutsman worried.

You decided it was best to answer them, "I'm not taking over the world, I was just sleeping in. Don't worry, Proto's here too, he's not missing."

"Are you sick?" Gutsman and Cutman cried out at the same time.

"No, I'm not sick," you assured, "I just went to bed late last night."

"You went to sleep late," Proto corrected. You decided not to comment.

A moment of silence passed until Gutsman finally spoke again with distaste, "are you two doing human things in there?" He distinctly sounded like a little boy accusing a girl of having cooties.

You blushed and Proto took the opportunity to answer for you, "yes ,we're doing human things in here so don't interrupt." His statement was followed by the sounds of Gutsman and Cutman hurrying away down the hall as if to avoid catching cooties.

xoxox xox xoxox

Epilogue

A few days later a man not much older than yourself showed up at the deserted island requesting to speak to Dr. Wily. When he was told about the old mad scientists' fate, he immediately went to grieve at his grave. You decided to go down to the underground base with Proto, leaving Gutsman and Cutman on the island surface to console the man. You didn't know why, but he seemed upset at you. "Who was that? Gutsman and Cutman seem to know him."

"A fan of Wily. He wanted to become his apprentice, but your achievements caught Wily's attention instead," Proto revealed, that explained why the man disliked you.

You had a bad feeling, but you disregarded it. You should have learned it was best to listen to your instinct. Everything else was a blur. There was an explosion. The man who called himself Wily II had invaded the arsenal of the hideout and intended to pick up where Wily left off taking over the world. He didn't believe what Gutsman and Cutman said about his idols' final wish.

While Wily II was on the attack in the hideout, Gutsman and Cutman were knocked out at the beach; the obsessive Wily fan had caught them off guard. Proto told you to lock yourself in the deepest corner of the lab and wait while he took care of the intruder. The minutes felt like hours as you waited, wishing you could help him fight. Your robot was complete; you put a lot of yourself into her in many ways. She looked a lot like you and her elegant armor was of your favorite color.

She was a fully functional realistic human robot with vast combat capabilities. In a sense she was the female counterpart of Proto. However, she had no programming, no name, no personality, nothing. After you completed her body you never got around to programming her AI. You felt a little jealous of your creation. She could do anything you could do and more, but without any programming, that robot was nothing but an empty lifeless shell.

Disaster struck when Wily II summoned his own robots to aid him against Proto. He was losing and he knew it so he played a dirty trick. One of the enemy robots followed your heat signature and found you. You struggled against him but he dragged you to the battle. Proto immediately stopped fighting when he saw you had been taken hostage. If you didn't get free they would destroy him. You stubbornly struggled against your captor, then it happened. The big black and gray robot had enough; programmed without true restrictions he had no qualms about ending your life. The last thing you saw was a bright light as you heard Proto calling your name.

xoxox xox xoxox

You didn't know how much time had passed since you lost consciousness, yet somehow you knew exactly what time and date it was. Not only that, you knew the temperature and various other pieces of information you shouldn't so easily determine. You heard a voice, his voice, as you became aware that all your systems were in working order. What systems? What was going on? As you thought of the interrogative the schematics for your robot appeared in your mind in perfect detail. You were a genius, but when did you become a computer?

You sat up; you were laying in a strange machine. You saw Proto looking at you with worried uncertainty while gently speaking your name. Behind him were Gutsman and Cutman. "Are you okay?" You inquired, your eyes looking into Proto's.

Proto wrapped his arms around you, relieved to have you back, but you still didn't understand. "It's you, it's really you, I know it!"

"Of course I'm me," you couldn't help it but to laugh, "who else would I be?" You were still somewhat disoriented, despite all the information so easily accessible to you. "What happened? The last thing I remember was getting blasted. It hurt then, but I'm not even in any pain now. I feel stronger than ever, how is that possible?"

"When Dr. Wily realized his time was close to an end, he constructed a machine that was supposedly capable of transferring a human soul into a robotic body," Proto explained. "The fuel it uses is quite rare. At last he managed to create enough for one transfer. In the end he decided not to use it. He said he was tired and that when his time came, it came."

Suddenly it all made sense to you. You examined your body to find it was the body of the robot you constructed. You looked at the other side of the strange machine. There was your body, motionless, cold, lifeless.

"I was losing you, this was the only way I could think of to save you," Proto elaborated. "The danger has passed, the hideout is secure, but they escaped, they're attacking the city. I'll avenge you, I couldn't go after them that time, but I'll avenge you."

You jumped off the machine, amazed by how agile and strong you felt. Gutsman was holding your helmet; you took it and put it on. You knew Proto had no choice but to let the enemy go before in order to save you on time. "I'm going too," you firmly declared.

"It's dangerous!" Protoman protested.

You gave him a look of determination. "I designed this body myself; I know what I'm capable of. I'm alive and I'm in no way fragile anymore. I can fight by your side now, let's go get them!" Understanding that you were right, Proto finally agreed. That false Wily wanna-be would regret ever being born.

xoxox xox xoxox

Intelligent discoveries made you Dr. Wily's assistant, dumb curiosity made Protoman the bane of your existence. When it all began you never expected to fall in love with Protoman and he never expected to return those feelings. Most of all, you never would have guessed that you would become your creation and keep the world safe alongside Proto. Even if you, Proto, Gutsman and Cutman had your own team, you often teamed up with Megaman. You understood that he got along better with his brother than he would ever admit. Even Roll truly saw Proto as a brother then.

Just when you thought you had the enigma of your existence figured out, your life took an unexpected twist. Everything took a sudden turn and moved forward in a new direction. In the end, it was alright. You were enjoying your new life, your new power and most of all his love.

End

There's a reference to Absolute Boyfriend on Puzzle 06.

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