Cossack's Comrades

Cossack's Comrades Season 1: Epilogue 11

“Haunting of Skull Castle.”
By Cyros (Ring Man)

(Our tale begins at the infamous Skull Castle. Once a sanctuary for Doctor Wily and his mad schemes, then a smoldering war-zone, today it lies in ruins from years of neglect, its hallways only now being prowled by the living, as a trio of humans in hazmat suits scrounge through the wreckage,)

Roberts: I don't think I've ever seen this much rusted junk in my life. *tosses away an old helmet* Why are we wasting our time here? I say raze the place and be done with it.

Tory: Tell that to those big-shots at the RPD. They're the ones writing us a paycheck for handling their dirty work.

(Several beeping noises catch the trio's attention. A pair of worker bots are positioned by a large metallic door. Even after fifteen years, the door seems almost flawless.)

Richards: Looks like they found something. Hey Tory, do the old schematics of this place say what's on the other side?

Tory: Hold on. *looks at a PDA* If this layout is accurate, then there's either the computer core to this place, or Wily's old personal gym.

Roberts: ...Yeah, I'm thinking it's gonna be the former. Hey, robots! Open the door, would you kindly?

(Both of the worker bots obey and start fiddling with the door controls. Less than a minute passes before the barrier opens with a dull screeching noise, revealing a dark, massive room with a large central apparatus inside.)

Roberts: Huh. I guess this wasn't a waste of time after all.

Tory: *shines a light at the central core* Hot damn! It looks like none of this equipment was damaged in the siege fifteen years back. Aside from the dust, everything looks practically new.

Roberts: Then I guess we'll just help ourselves to whatever secrets Wily left behind. With the dirt we find here, maybe we can negotiate with the Chief for five, no, ten times our rate!

??: HE HE HE...

(The three humans freeze at the sound, then slowly look at one another/.)

Tory: Uh... was that you laughing just now, Richards?

Richards: I thought Roberts was just joking around.

(Again, the sinister laughter is heard. Various lights and panels on the computer core begin to glow to life, bathing the room in a wicked crimson hue.)

Roberts: Tory, what'd you do?

Tory: I didn't touch anything! It just started on its own!

??: FOOLS!

(A wave of anomalous energy passes over the room, throwing the worker bots into fits. Before the trio of men, a vaguely humanoid shape emerges, the face of an old man twisted at them in a mad mix of grimace and amusement.)

??: STEAL MY SECRETS, WILL YOU? FOR THIS, I SHALL SHOW YOU NO MERCY!

(The attention of the three men was broken as a massive figure appears from behind, dragging a large object. As it lunged toward the humans, the only thing that could be heard was a cacophony of screams, framed by a familiar elderly cackle.)

***

(Days pass before we return to our narrative. The Comrades are currently on the clock at the RPD HQ in Monsteropolis. When there is a lack of extra-dimensional dangers to deal with, they're employed to help keep the machine that is the HQ running as smooth as possible.)

Crorq: *echoing in the hallway* INFIDEL!!! THIS IS NOT WHAT I ORDERED AT ALL!!!

Dust Man: -And there goes Crorq once again. It seems that our fellow Comrade Ring Man has once again made an error in the Chief's lunch order.

Dive Man: Sucks to be him then. Oh well, time for enjoy some good old fashion whiskey.

Dust Man: I believe the RPD Code of Conduct specifically prohibits the act of ingesting alcoholic spirits while on active duty.

Dive Man: For humans, maybe. I don't recall it mentioning robots.

Dust Man: It does, actually. Section IV, Paragraph 12, Line 91.

Dive Man: Meh. Hasn't stopped me before.

(Dive takes a sip from his flask, just as Ring Man stomps down the hallway. A bowl is balanced awkwardly on his head, dripping a milky white substance.)

Ring Man: I learned something today. With all the crud that Crorq "ingests" into himself, he will not even consider touching sweet potatoes.

Dust Man: I see.

Ring Man: It's going to take a major industrial cleaning to get this all this chowder out.

(Not a scant moment later, the intercom system screeches to life and the voice of CRORQ, THE MAGNIFICANT, blares from every angle!)

Crorq: Attention, INFIDELS! By my orders, all members of Cossack's Creations are to report to the briefing room, immediately!

Dive Man: Whelp, looks like the fat-ass is calling us in. Again.

Dust Man: And he failed to get our name right, again. Still, we should not try to keep him waiting. Lest he decide in his "ultimate wisdom" to assign us less than desirable duties. Again.

Ring Man: You guys go on ahead. I still need to clean up.

Crorq: As I said, all Cossack bots, to the briefing room, IMMEDIATELY! Which goes double for those who dare defile delectable clam chowder with the SINFUL excuse for foodstuffs known as sweet potatoes!

Ring Man: What? But I'm filthy!

Crorq: I HAVE SPOKEN!!!

Ring Man: *twitches* Must... retain... police professionalism...

(A short time later, the Comrades [including a still dirty Ring Man] had gathered inside the briefing room of Crorq, the supercomputer Chief of the RPD. To the Comrades' surprise, Kalinka was present as well, who was currently in a bit of a heated conversation with the Chief.)

Kalinka: -and you didn't think that a civilian survey team may NOT have been the best choice to survey a potentially hazardous location?

Crorq: Nonsense! I was well aware of such "risks," as you call them. But in my infinite logic, I, Crorq, the MAGNIFICANT, determined that the chances of such dangers arising were astronomically small! And BESIDES! They were willing to work for next to nothing.

Kalinka: And we all saw the result of that reasoning, have we?

Crorq: Bah, I blame the superstitious natures of you simple-minded humans! Babbling on about ghosts... HAH!

Drill Man: Alright Crorq, Kalinka. What insidious cover-ups are we being dragged into here this time?

Kalinka: *sigh* AM, if you'll stay quiet for more than a minute, I'll lay out the situation for you and the Comrades. Are you capable of that?

Drill Man: Hmm... Alright, I'll play this game of yours. *crosses arms* But my search for the truth won't be silenced forever.

(Kalinka sighs before activating a nearby display panel. The images of three adult males appear along with several lines of identification.)

Kalinka: Several days ago, the RPD hired out an independent salvaging firm to scour the ruins of an area designated AW-715, which had been closed off by our organization for the past fifteen years. According to our records, various bureaucratic and financial hurdles prevented anyone from officially entering the site legally for years. At it just so happens, the paperwork had only recently went through.

Dive Man: Hah! Definitely smells like democracy at work, eh guys?

Skull Man: A proper assumption, if a bit exaggerated.

Kalinka: CONTINUING. *highlights one of the photos* This is Daniel Richards, aged 25. He, along with the two other men and a pair of robot laborers, entered area AW-715 at 1900 hours three days ago as part of the salvage operation. Sometime yesterday evening, he was found wandering the streets of Jersey City, alone and rambling incoherently. But when his hazmat helmet was removed by the authorities, his appearance was that of an older man, somewhere in his mid-seventies. After a medical exam, the doctors were shocked that his ENTIRE body had aged in such a manner, even down to the cellular level!

Dive Man: Hold a tick, Boss Lady. I still remember you mentioning that somebody was yelling about ghosts. Are you saying... this guy got spooked so hard by spirits that he aged fifty years?

Kalinka: Hardly. Further tests indicated an extremely high concentration of chroniton particles throughout Mr. Richards' body, consistent with a category 5-CF sub-spatial disturbance in the three-dimensional backbone structure of our reality, indicating the possible presence of either one or more unknown pan-universal entities...

Comrades: ...

Kalinka: ...yes. He was spooked. By ghosts.

Crorq: Hah! I see no evidence that this man's condition was caused by "ghosts." Clearly, these chronitons that have afflicted him have sorely fractured his puny human mind.

Kalinka: Yes, we still lack clear evidence on the situation, due to you barring anyone else from entering the area to investigate. And there are still two men and two robots still unaccounted for in the area as well.

Crorq: I know that, INFIDEL! Why do you think I called your blasted robots here in the first place?

Kalinka: Because this is a potentially supernatural matter, and as per our agreement, such matters call to my Robot Masters when they are not on regular police assignment.

Crorq: As far as I am concerned, this is a regular RPD matter, and as such, I, Crorq, the MAGNEFICANT, am ordering these peons to investigate, not you!

Ring Man: Um, pardon the interruption, but while we're on the subject of our team investigating this missing salvage team, I feel a need to ask; just what IS area AW-715?

Crorq: ...Huh. Yes, I do believe in the heat of the moment, we forgot that important detail of information.

Kalinka: Yes, it would seem that way. You see, Ring, area AW-715 is the code the RPD gave to the site of Dr. Albert Wily's final Skull Castle.

Drill Man: Wily? But he's been dead for over fifteen years! And the only remains of his legacy are the few Wily bots the pop up from time to time, claiming to be preparing for his return!

Crorq: A situation I am fully aware of AND taking care of as we speak! But that is not your concern right now. What is of your concern is the immediate investigation of Wily's horrid looking dwelling and determining what has transpired there.

Drill Man: So wait. You mean to tell us that the fortress of one of the most infamous villains in the history of the world had been left rusting for the last decade-and-a-half? With only a minimal amount of security, no automated defenses of any kind, and no second thought about checking out the inside during all that time?

Crorq: Again, it was entirely no fault of mine, whatsoever! It was those blasted bureaucrats and real-estate agents mucking up the works! Inefficient infidels, I say! Why, if I was running things as I did the RPD, I, Crorq, the MAGNIFICANT, would do away with such primitive positions, and do away with the crawling menace that is red tape, FOREVER! MWAH HA HA HA HA!

Shakeman: Sir? You're laughing maniacally again.

Crorq: Er, what? *coughs up a pretzel* Hmph, must be those dreaded sweet potatoes contaminating my system! Shakeman, get my personal stomach pump, on the double! I must detox quickly before my condition worsens!

Shakeman: *sighs* Yes sir...

Bright Babe: Uh, Chief? Should we get going now, or something?

Crorq: Why are you still here!? *pelts moldy fried shrimp at Bright Babe* I will not tolerate laziness and backtalk from a walking lamp post!

Bright Babe: *blushes with embarrassment* L-lamp post?

Crorq: OUT!!!

(Everyone piles out of the office as Crorq prepares for his emergency detox. Kalinka looks at the Comrades sternly and continues her part of the briefing.)

Kalinka: Well now that we've settled the basic facts with "Crorq the Magnificent," I can advise you with some additional information.

Dust Man: My primary concern is the possible high chroniton levels we're to be expecting. While we won't be affected by aging in a biological sense, our servos and circuits are susceptible to wear-and-tear, requiring frequent replacements and upgrades over periods of extended service. Encountering such rapid time fluctuations could possibly damage us in ways that would make it impossible to function.

Kalinka: You think I haven't thought of that? With your constant dealings with pan-dimensional anomalies and such, I took the foresight to install warning systems and shield emitters against exotic particles and energy fields. Chronitons included.

Ring Man: So we're immune to time distortion fields then?

Kalinka: To an extent. I wouldn't go jumping in any time warps, if that's what you're implying.

Toad Man: But we gotta do the time warp again! Tim Curry commands it!

Drill Man: Tim Curry, you say? I knew a man with that suave of a voice would be up to something. Has he finally teamed up with our secret Illuminati stalkers? *turns* Know anything about that, John?

Ring Man: I'm still covered in festering cream, Drill. Not really in the mood right now.

Toad Man: Speaking of which, may I?

Kalinka: No, you may not. Ring Man, go clean yourself up already. I'll fill the others in on what to expect, and get in contact with Over-1 to provide backup for you.

Drill Man: *narrows eyes* Why bring him along, Kalinka?

Kalinka: To be honest, I don't want to hear his dismay about not being allowed to explore one of Wily's old bases. He thinks it would be an interesting experience for himself. So you might as well take him along, satisfy his curiosity.

Pharaoh Woman: A most profound plan, Royal Vizer! One should be most presentable when communing with the spirits of the departed, and I must note that our resident ring-slinger's overall aroma would be most unwelcoming to our otherworldly visitors!

Dive Man: Yeah, John's almost starting to smell as bad as you, your royal putridness.

Pharaoh Woman: Exactly! *blinks* Hey, wait a minute!

***

(Hours have passed and the sun has begun to drop beneath the horizon. Through the mountain forests of the Appalachians walk our heroes, the Comrades, along with their ally Over-1. They approach a forested area by a mountain, which within its face sits the decaying, fenced-off ruins of Wily's fortress.)

Dive Man: Spooky.

Over-1: Indeed. To think this is the final resting place of one of history's greatest madmen.

Dust Man: Technically, this was not Wily's final resting place. In actuality, his body was cut apart into several pieces and later placed all over the city of Monsteropolis in numerous public locations. His head in particular was-

Bright Babe: Sean, I don't think we need to know the details this time, okay?

Dust Man: Sorry.

Toad Man: So, what are we waiting for? I ain't afraid o' no ghost! *sneaks between Bright and Pharaoh* I hear it likes the girls!

Pharaoh Woman: Well I, um, I fear not such beings, if they are indeed present! Having been chosen by the gods, I am under the divine protection of, uh, the mighty goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet! I shall fear no spirits, wretched Toad!

Dive Man: Well if it's the supernatural we'll be dealing with, I'm all stocked up on the classic remedies. Crucifix, blessed knives, holy water and a heap o' bibles; hell, I probably should have packed up a whip too!

Skull Man: The thought of you wielding a whip is almost enough to send shivers up even my spine, Geoff.

Dive Man: Not that kind of whip, Hunter! *leans in close* I only use that on party nights.

Skull Man: Lovely.

Drill Man: Alright everyone, keep your optics in check. No telling what we're going to encounter inside the castle. *eyes Ring Man* Unless someone would happen to know some secret they're not telling the rest of us.

Ring Man: *sighs and leans toward Skull Man* When's he going to realize I'm not spying on any of you?

Skull Man: After extended observations, I'd suggest just ignoring his paranoid accusations; lest we have a repeat of the incident with the Kool-Aid Man.

Ring Man: Point taken.

(The Comrades make their way through the main castle gate and into the maze of corridors. Illuminated by Bright's bulb, the walls showed little signs of life and where covered with patches of dust, rust and mildew. The floors were littered with rusted pieces of scrap metal and useless machinery, but strangely absent of any sign of fortress defenses, functional or otherwise.)

Over-1: To be honest, this place wasn't what I was expecting. Outside may scream Wily's name, but the inside just yells "scrap heap."

Dust Man: Given that this place was assaulted over fifteen years ago, it shouldn't be a surprise that there is quite a bit of debris here. I suppose it's to our advantage in the event of a fight, since I'd be able to utilize these metal scraps into my Dust Crusher. However, I would have to be careful of inhaling excess rust, because it can get caught in my suction systems and wreak havoc-

Bright Babe: Hey, Sean? You're rambling again.

Dust Man: Huh. I really need to work on that.

(A scrapping noise catches the team's attention. Pharaoh Woman yelps out loud and looks around frantically.)

Dive Man: Hey, what is it, stinky? Scared? And here I thought you ancient Egyptian types were big on old, dark and smelly places.

Pharaoh Woman: Once more, I must object to being called odorous, you, um, you insolent cur! My stench is as pure as the waters of the mighty Nile. And furthermore, I must attest the fact that I am not scared! I was just... startled, that's all.

Dive Man: Whatever you say, Ms. Yuk.

(Pharaoh starts muttering under her breath when the scrapping noise occurs once more.)

Skull Man: That sound again. It seems to originate in the chamber just ahead.

Drill Man: *raises his drills* Stay sharp, everyone. Let's move in quietly.

(Step by step the Comrades enter the next room. There is much more debris strewn about across the floor, and the forms of several burnt out Sniper Joes could be seen poking out in various locations. A small object lies in the middle of the debris, shivering.)

Skull Man: Visual observation indicates the source of the noise was a solitary Metool.

Bright Babe: Oh wow, look at the paint job! It's all faded; this little guy must have been here for a long time.

Pharaoh Woman: Look how it shivers under its helmet. Surely it must be terribly alone and fearful of us.

(Pharaoh Woman starts walking ahead of the others and toward the hiding Metool.)

Drill Man: Careful, Avi! For all we know it could be a ruse by the Met Daddy! Or it's a bomb planted by Wily years back!

Pharaoh Woman: Perish the thought! Can't you see how helpless this little one is? *knells down to the Met and holds it gently* Be calm, little one. You have nothing to fear from us. I, the great Pharaoh Avi, ensure you that nothing shall-

(As she lifts the Met off the floor, it reveals its face; or rather, it reveals a twisted metallic mass resembling a dried-out face. It opens its mouth and gives off an unearthly moan.)

Met: WwwaaauuuuGGGGHHHHHH...

Pharaoh Woman: EEK!!!

(A frightened Pharaoh tosses the Met into the air and fires off a wild Pharaoh Shot. After a brief explosion, an empty metal hat clatters to the floor, smoking.)

Dive Man: Bwah ha ha ha! Oh man, you should 'ave seen the look on yer face! Priceless!

Pharaoh Woman: S-shut up! *shudders* What vile thing spawned such a, a creature? It was as if it came from the depths of Tartarus itself!

Over-1: *scans the helmet* Well whatever it was, it had some signs of a paranormal influence. I can't make heads or tails of these spectral readings, aside from some stray chroniton signatures.

Drill Man: Clearly this is a sign of a third party, leaving a scout to determine our strengths. I suspect it might be time bandits from the far future, looking to acquire long forgotten technologies from our very bodies!

Ring Man: Didn't you just say it might have been Met Daddy? Seriously AM, we don't have all the answers yet. As a detective bot, I must remind you that one should not jump to conclusions based on hunches alone.

Dive Man: To be fair, yah ain't much of a detective, John.

Ring Man: What? Of course I am! It's my primary function to formulate strategies based on available facts, which makes me suited for detective work!

Drill Man: Then riddle me this, John; if that is your real name! When's the last time you've successfully solved a case? Have you even gotten a full-fledged case before? *pointing dramatically* Have you ever even read Sherlock Holmes!?

Over-1: Aren't we supposed to be searching for signs pertaining to the fate of the rest of the salvage team?

Skull Man: I agree with Over-1. We already found signs of chronitons in the castle; it stands to reason we will find more of them further inside.

Over-1: In that case, might I suggest that we-

Drill Man: Oh no, don't even think about saying it!

Over-1: But you don't even know what I was going to say!

Drill Man: As both a seeker of truths and an expert on movie clichés, I know exactly what you were going to suggest. So we're going to do the opposite!

Over-1: But staying together doesn't seem efficient with a group our size. Wouldn't it make more sense to-?

Toad Man: Hey guys, check out this lever do-hickey!

(Without pause, Toad Man grabs an old oversized lever and pulls it down.)

Comrades, Over-1: !!!

Toad Man: Huh. Nothing happened? Well now I just feel cheated.

(Just then, a large column bursts out from the floor of the room, blocking the entrance. Two thick panels erupt from the corners on the opposite side of the room, separating everyone into teams of three.)

Toad Man: Ah, now that's more like it!

Dive Man: *shouting* Flippy, I swear I'm gonna reenact the Spanish Inquisition on yer ass one of these days!

Bright Babe: *shouting* Is everyone alright?

Pharaoh Woman: *shouting* I have been unharmed, just as I predicted! The mighty Hunter is with me, and, um... Flippy as well. How... fortunate.

Ring Man: *shouting* I got Dive Man and Over-1 with me! Are Dust and Drill with you, Jet?

Bright Babe: *shouting* Yeah, they're fine!

Dust Man: Well, it would seem that our plan to stick together has been disrupted. Still, we have an exit from this chamber, and from what I saw of our surroundings beforehand, so does everyone else. I suggest we continue our investigation of the castle and group up with the others when we can.

Drill Man: It seems we don't have a choice... thanks to a certain amphibian-bot.

Toad Man: *shouting* You're welcome!

Drill Man: *shouting* Alright team, let's explore deeper into the castle and try to find signs of the salvage team or anything else unusual! And most importantly, stay together!

(With their plan set, the three teams of robots begin to search the hallways of Dr. Wily's ruined fortress. The group of a grinning Dive Man, the lone-wolf Over-1 and Ring Man are currently travelling down an old maintenance corridor. A look of sadness seems to be displayed on the latter's face.)

Over-1: You don't seem too upbeat right now, Ring. What gives?

Ring Man: I was just thinking... about what Geoff said before we all got split up.

Dive Man: Yeah? You got something ta' say, John?

Ring Man: Did you mean what you said? Am I really not a good detective?

(Dive's smile drops for a moment; then it returns as he laughs.)

Dive Man: Ah come on, there's nothing wrong with feeling a little humility! The Big One upstairs loves it when people are brought down a peg or two!

Ring Man: *looks down* But...

Dive Man: Besides, in the eyes of the lord, it doesn't matter if yer good or bad at a particular something. You just need ta' do yer best and keep on doing what's right, got it?

Ring Man: *blinks* That's actually pretty insightful. And coming from you? I can't help but be impressed.

Over-1: Same here. You're just full of surprises, for an evangelical submarine with legs.

Dive Man: Heh, ain't it the truth? *turns a corner* So, any of you guys see anything out of the ordinary yet?

(A squeaking noise catches the trio's attention as a ghostly figure rides right past them on a tricycle.)

Ghostly Metal Man: WHEEEE!!!

Over-1: Does seeing that count?

Ring Man: Works for me. *points down the hallway* Follow that ghost!

(Dive, Ring and Over-1 chase after the cheerful figure as it rides down the hallway. It turns at the corner up ahead and disappears from view. The two Comrades and their guest rush around the corner and... Find nothing but a rusty hallway.)

Dive Man: Ah cripes. Look like Casper's pulled a disappearing act on us.

Over-1: Shh! Do you hear that?

(Everyone stays silent for a second and listens carefully. Their audio sensors pick up the faint vibrations of weapons fire.)

Ring Man: I do. It's coming from down the hallway. We better go check it out.

(The three robots run quickly down the corridor, stopping by the next opening they see. They take position on the closest side of the doorway, listening to the sounds of battle just beyond the opening.)

Dive Man: Who do yah think it is?

Ring Man: It definite sounds like standard buster shots, but that's all I can determine from sound alone.

Over-1: I've been in this type of situation before. *arms buster* I'll take point and check it out.

(Swiftly but silently, Over-1 slips past the edge of the opening and into the room. His eyes widen in surprise.)

Over-1: What the heck?

Dive Man: Whatcha see there, boa boy?

(Before Over-1 can answer, a figure slams into him and both are knocked to the ground. Dive and Ring peek inside, seeing a familiar looking robot with black armor and gold trimmings.)

Ring Man: Way a minute... doesn't that look like-

Dive Man: It's Bass! With tits!

Femme Bass: Ergh, damn it! *pushes herself off of Over-1* Who the hell did you think you are, interrupting our fight?

Over-1: Uh, "fight?"

(Another robot rushes forward, this one just as feminine as the first, only wearing a familiar blue hued armor.)

Mega Gal: Whoever you are, you should be more careful! Bass here gets a bit reckless when she's fighting.

Femme Bass: Who're you calling "reckless?" I was winning until this guy got in my way!

Mega Gal: *smirks* That's not the way I remember it.

Femme Bass: Who asked you!?

Over-1: Um, sorry for interrupting, but I got some important matters to attend to, and-

Femme Bass: Oh no you don't!

(The female Bass pulls Over-1 in between herself and Mega Gal, puzzling the white armored robot. Dive and Ring continue to look on, unnoticed by the gynoids.)

Over-1: No, really, I didn't mean to get involved with your duel!

Mega Gal: *sighs* Well, we were just about finished anyway. Besides, I don't think it would be right of me to let a cutie like you leave without us getting "acquainted."

Over-1: *blinks* What.

Femme Bass: Hmph, as much as I hate to agree with the Blue Bimbo over here... *smirks* You got a look about you that makes my processors overheat all over.

(Both female robots surround Over-1 and hold him close to their bodies. They begin to caress his armor and neck, giggling as they do so, before Femme Bass suddenly locks lips with the flustered robot.)

Ring Man: *blushes* Holy Asimov. Am I seeing what I'm seeing?

Dive Man: Heh, yeah. Lucky bastard's got two robot babes hanging off him. Still, thank God almighty for allowing me a chance to witness this.

Ring Man: I'm pretty sure this has nothing to do with our mission. We need to- Dive, what are you doing?

Dive Man: *holding a miniature camcorder* Like I'm gonna pass up an opportunity to record this for future prosperity. Ah, there goes the helmet.

Ring Man: This doesn't seem like something a holy man would do, Geoff.

Dive Man: God's more open that you realize, Johnny boy. *grins* Oh, there goes Bass' chestplate!

Ring Man: *sighs* I don't think I'll be adding this part to my report.

(Elsewhere, Drill Man and his two companions have arrived at a T-junction. Bright's bulb shines the pathways left and right, revealing two more sets of long corridors.)

Bright Babe: Yeesh, every corridor we go down is starting to look like the next. It was never like that back at the Citadel.

Dust Man: Wily wouldn't want his enemies to find his inner sanctum so easily. It stands to reason that he had constructed dummy hallways and dead-ends all over the place.

Bright Babe: I bet Pharaoh's having a better time navigating this than we are.

Dust Man: Hold on for a moment. My scanners seemed to have picked up a concentration of chronitons in the near vicinity.

Drill Man: How close are we talking, Sean?

Dust Man: Hmm... It seems to be down this hallway to our left.

Bright Babe: You mean this one?

(BB turns a corner and shines her light down the corridor. She is greeted by a pair of laughing robots, both identical in design.)

Ghostly Gemini Man 1: Oh joy! We seem to have some visitors.

Ghostly Gemini Man 2: Yes, visitors indeed.

Ghostly Gemini Man 1: It's been so long since we've had visitors.

Ghostly Gemini Man 2: Yes, too long indeed.

Drill Man: Creepy Gemini twins? That doesn't seem scary to me. Besides, we know he's alive and working for the RPD. Unless... he was a spy planted by Wily all this time!

Ghostly Gemini Man 1: Oh, they seem to be looking for Wily, don't they?

Ghostly Gemini Man 2: Yes, definitely looking for Wily, indeed.

Ghostly Gemini Man 1: Now, why would Cossack bots be looking for Wily? Very curious, is it not?

Ghostly Gemini Man 2: Yes, yes, curious indeed.

Drill Man: Enough of this! *aims a Drill Bomb at the ghosts* Alright you... whatever you are! You're going to spill the beans on what's going on here!

Ghostly Gemini Man 1: Hehehe... What makes you think there's something here?

Ghostly Gemini Man 2: Here indeed?

Drill Man: Don't play coy with me, you Gemini Man imposters! Reveal your secrets or...

Ghostly Gemini Twins: Silly Drill Man. You can't destroy what never existed...

(And just like that, the twin apparitions vanish, leaving the three Cossack bots baffled.)

Dust Man: A curious encounter, indeed.

Bright Babe: Ugh, don't you start with that phrase now!

Drill Man: Hmph. These spirits (if they truly ARE spirits) are craftier than I anticipated. Sean, any luck on finding a center point to these phenomena?

Dust Man: *checks his scanner* Hmm, the signal here seems to be dissipating... But I'm reading more signals further the down the hallway we were going down before. Going by these facts, I assume that the deeper we go through the castle, the more concentrated the readings will become.

Bright Babe: We better get moving then. Something about this dead-end hallway gives me the creeps.

(Something bumps into BB from behind. Startled, she twirls around and aims her buster at... herself?)

Ghostly Bright Babe: Oh! I'm sorry...

Drill Man: What's this? A ghost of Bright Babe? But is it the ghost of an imposter or the real deal?

Bright Babe: Not now, AM! *walks toward her ghostly double* Ah, hello? I don't know exactly who or what you are, but if you're friendly, perhaps you can help us?

(The ghostly copy of Bright Babe leans forward suddenly and gets really close to the real BB's face.)

Bright Babe: *sweats* Eh?

Ghostly Bright Babe: I'm looking for my papa... *twitches* It's been so long since I've SEEN HIM!

Bright Babe: *blinks*

Ghostly Bright Babe: *teary eyed* Was it something I said?

Drill Man: ...I think we better keep moving.

Bright Babe: Yes, I would like that very much right now.

(At that very same moment...)

Toad Man: Go for the head, Skeletor! The head is the zombie's greatest weakness!

Skull Man: If you have been paying attention, Toad Man, our opponent currently lacks a cranial module.

(Indeed, Toad Man and Skull Man have come face to, well, body, with a shambling Sniper Joe lacking a head. It stumbles awkwardly towards the two, its one good arm reaching out to grab them.)

Toad Man: Well, go for the crotch then! Women always say men think with their crotch!

Pharaoh Woman: We do? Perhaps I should consult the fertility goddess Tawaret for guidance...

Skull Man: But robots do not... *sighs* Excuse me for a second, my Comrades.

(Skull turns and fires his Skull Buster right at the advancing Joe corpse. The blast goes straight through the chest cavity, destroying the remaining joint control circuits and making it fall limp to the ground.)

Toad Man: Hey, he was mine!

Skull Man: It matters not who destroyed what; the threat has been neutralized. Now, can we continue with our investigation?

Pharaoh Woman: Of course, my proud Skeletal Warrior!

Toad Man: *gurgles* Uh-oh.

Skull Man: I am hesitant to ask, but... What was that?

Toad Man: Oof! I believe my lower digestive tract is telling me to proceed to the nearest bathroom!

Skull Man: We have been over this before. We are not equipped with a human-like digestive system. And I am certain we do not need to defecate in any degree.

Toad Man: Well of course YOU don't. You're all skin and bones! Well, bones and metal pieces. Metallic bones and what not. Now, excuse me while I find the nearest restroom!

Skull Man: *crosses arms* Even if we did find a restroom in this fortress, what are the chances that it will still be functional after so many years?

Toad Man: My senses of coolness tell me so, girls and... Skeleton. See? I found one right here!

(Toad Man opens up a door with the words "Restroom" above the doorway. Standing behind the door stands a figure so tall, the doorframe blocks off the upper part of its body. A ragged robe soaked red and brown covers a body made up of dull grey and rusted metals. Its massive right arm clutches the shaft of an equally massive and wicked partisan, covered with rust and caked with a variety of vital fluids.)

Toad Man: Oh, hello! Are you the resident janitor by any chance?

?? Man: Rrrrrrrrr...

Toad Man: Does that growl mean 'yes' or 'no?'

?? Man: Rrrrrrrrr...

Toad Man: What was that? Restroom's out of order?

?? Man: Rrrrrrrrr...

Toad Man: Okay then, guess I'll just have to find another place to do my business!

(Toad Man shuts the door and turns around miffed.)

Toad Man: Man, that guy was rude.

(The door is suddenly pierced by the tip of the partisan, missing Toad's head by a hair. Yelping, the Comrade hops out of the way as the door is ripped out of its frame by the mechanical giant. It lurches forward, displaying a massive head comprised of three rune-covered triangles that sported no visible eyes.)

Skull Man: Stand aside, fellow Comrades; I shall engage this unknown foe.

(As the monstrous automaton lunges at our heroes, Skull Man fires off several shots. They barely scratch the hulking machine as it brings up its weapon again for another strike.)

Pharaoh Woman: Fear not, my fellow Comrades! Surely this creature is a disciple of the God of the Dead, here to-

Skull Man: Get back, Avi!

(A Skull Barrier is formed in front of Hunter and Avi, but immediately shatters as the spear tip pierces the edge of the shield. Skull Man recoils from the force of the blow.)

Skull Man: ...I believe a tactical retreat may be in order.

Pharaoh Woman: As your royal superior, I most heartily agree with your suggestion!

(Skull Man creates another Skull Barrier which he immediately fires off. The flying skulls strike the giant and send it stumbling back into the restroom. With that brief opening, Skull Man grabs Toad's arm and starts running down the corridor along with Pharaoh Woman.)

Skull Man: My combat analysis of that... thing... indicated that the three of us together could not have been able to do much damage. We must regroup before it can regain its senses and comes after us.

Toad Man: Well okay, but I still need to go to the bathroom.

Pharaoh Woman: By my divine wisdom, I wish for you to hold in your urges until we have returned to our home nation!

Toad Man: But I gotta go!!!

(As the group disappears down the hallway, a scrapping noise comes up open where they just were. The hulking machine drags its partisan limply along the ground, its sightless gaze following the path of the Cossack bots.)

?? Man: Rrrrrrrrr...

(A nearby speaker crackles to life, gaining the attention of the geometrical-theme giant.)

Broken Speaker System: *static noises* YES, AFTER THEM! LEAD THEM TO THEIR DOOM!

?? Man: Rrrrrrrrr... *nods in affirmation and lurches onward*

(The scene turns its attention back toward Dive Man and Ring Man, who have returned to their task of investigating the anomalies along with a strangely quiet Over-1.)

Ring Man: I hope you're finally satisfied, Geoff. We just wasted an hour watching "that" when we should have been helping the others with our mission. Not to mention Over-1 here...

Dive Man: Come on, you have ta agree with me that Over-1 got the good end of that deal. Ain't that right, kiddo?

Over-1: ...I feel confused about what just happened.

Dive Man: Yeah, I remember when I first became a man. Well, man-bot.

(The trio enters a larger area of the castle. Several couches and tables are scattered about, covered with cobwebs and dust. Ring takes notice of a broken television set and several electronic entertainment devices strewn about the floor.)

Ring Man: Hey, this place seems a lot like our recreation room. *picks up an old game case* I guess even Wily bots were allowed a little R&R now and then.

Dive Man: Do you think they had a mini-bar in here too? I could go for a bottle of Jack right now.

Ring Man: Now's not the time to be drinking on the job, Dive. We need to focus on the task at h-

(Ring Man feels something drip onto his helmet. Feeling with his hand, he pulls it back and finds the white glove stained with red. He stares upwards and his eyes go wide.)

Ring Man: Holy SHIT.

Dive Man: Hey man, watch yer language- *looks up as well* Sweet Jesus! *blinks and whispers sheepishly* Uh, sorry about that slip up, yer Holiness.

(The ceiling above the two has been adorned with an elaborate design of circles and lines, all painted with blood. Bizarre runes are scattered in between the spaces of the design. In the center of the design, nailed into place, is the headless body of a human arranged into a Y-like position, dividing the entire symbol into thirds.)

Ring Man: I'm sorry to say this, but I think we found one of the salvage team's members.

Dive Man: He didn't go peacefully, that's fer sure. *squints* What the heck is that thing he's nailed to?

Over-1: Hmm. *uses his helmet scanner* Scanning the arrangement of lines and overlaying it with known geometric patterns, this symbol seems to be a variation of Metatron's Cube.

Dive Man: The fuck? That's a HOLY symbol!? *scowls and cracks his knuckles* Alright, this time I'm REALLY gonna go Inquisition on someone's ass!

Ring Man: Hold on. You said this was a variation, Over-1. How so?

Over-1: The majority of the design seems to have been painted in human blood. But there's another symbol highlighted from the rest if you look at it through a scanner. It appears as a circle surround by three equidistant arrow shapes.

Ring Man: Highlighted with what?

Over-1: Traces of chronitons, believe it or not.

Dive Man: You guys keep using that word, yet you've yet to explain to me what they are.

(A flash of light occurs, briefly blinding the three robots. Out of nowhere, each feel a sharp kick in the head, knocking them off balance. As the light clears, they spot another ghostly figure whining at them.)

Ghostly Flash Man: WHO CARES WHAT CHRONITONS ARE!? YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN BE HERE! GO HOME ALREADY! YOU ALL SUCK AND I HATE YOU!

Ring Man: Ow! What was that for?

Ghostly Flash Man: ESPECIALLY YOU! SCREW THE HELL ALL OF YOU!

(The ghost kicks Ring Man several more times in the head before disappearing.)

Ring Man: *holding his head* Will someone PLEASE tell me what that was all about!?

Dive Man: Heck if I know, pal.

Toad Man: Tally-HO!

(Over-1 and the two Comrades are greeted by a running Toad Man, Pharaoh Woman and Skull Man, barging in from an adjacent hallway.)

Pharaoh Woman: Rejoice! We have brave this dastardly labyrinth and have been reunited with a third of our compatriots! Truly the Gods smile on us today!

Dive Man: News flash, Queen Cleo-splatra, it ain't fortune when we still have Flippy hovering around us.

Toad Man: Hovering, you say? Yeah, I could use some rocket boots to increase my awesome mobility!

Skull Man: Enough of this banter, we must not dawdle in this area any longer than we have to. We are currently being pursued.

Ring Man: By what, ghosts? We have a few encounters with some ourselves.

Over-1: *blushes* Among other persons...

Pharaoh Woman: Nay, my friends! It is a creature of immense strength and endurance! It stalks us like an ancient tomb guardian, displeased that we have defiled the sanctity of this ruined castle! And it, um, oh, it has a pyramid for a head, so it must be related to Egypt somehow!

Skull Man: Technically, its head was comprised of an intricate tetrahedron adorned with runic symbols. Egyptian pyramids are all have square bases and, as such, four triangular sides.

Toad Man: I named him 'Triangle Man!'

(A sharp metallic screech and a distant growl alert the Comrades and Over-1 to the approaching danger.)

Skull Man: As I stated, we have stayed here for too long. We must reunited with the others, and quickly.

Ring Man: But where do we go now?

(Thinking quickly, Over-1 activates his helmet scanner and looks down various hallways. He spies on hallway closest to the bloody symbol on the ceiling and spots a trail of sorts.)

Over-1: There! I see a faint trail of chronitons in that direction. If we're lucky, they'll lead us to the source of these phenomenon!

Dive Man: You mean the reason why this place if full of ghosts and defilers of holy symbols?

Ring Man: All signs point to yes on this one, Geoff.

Dive Man: Then what're we waiting for! *brandishes his knives* It's time for a little exorcism up in this shithole!

(Further inside the ruins of the castle, the final group of Cossack bots have reached a familiar set of hallways. To us, that is. Not to them.)

Dust Man: I must say that the past half-hour has been... interesting, to say the least.

Bright Babe: Yeah. That room with the dancing robo-zombies was a nice change of pace. But then we had to deal with that oversized Plant Man head.

Drill Man: Not to mention its terrible singing voice! Never have my audio sensors been assaulted in such a manner! *turns to Dust Man* Any idea where we are in the castle, Sean?

Dust Man: The design of the corridors suggests we're somewhere near central operations. And my scanners are detecting the largest concentration of chronitons by far. Somewhere beyond... that door.

(Dust Man points ahead to the end of the junction. Surrounded by debris was a large metallic door, which stuck out from the worn walls surrounding it. The three Cossack bots cautiously moved up to get a closer look.)

Drill Man: *examines the door* The marks on this door are fresh, barely a couple of days old. Somebody came through here recently, and all the signs point to the salvage team being the ones to do so.

Dust Man: Maybe. But check out that metal gash on the floor. *points to said gash* Seems like someone, or something, was dragging something sharp and metallic along the floor. It must have been quite heavy to leave such a mark, and I doubt anyone from the team, robot or human, held that amount the strength.

Bright Babe: Then you're saying... something came in after them?

Drill Man: Seems like it. Let's get inside, and finally reveal the truth behind these bizarre events.

(Before Drill could get closer to the door, the emergency lights turn on and surprise the team. A rumbling is heard as the ground beneath them begins to rise from the back, creating a ramp toward the doorway. Despite trying to remain balanced, the Comrades fell on top of each other and rolled downwards, just as the entryway opened on its own power. They fell in a pile inside the room, as the door shut itself again with a metallic screeching.)

Bright Babe: Ow! Oh, we were just asking for that, weren't we?

Dust Man: A trapped floor panel was definitely Wily's style. But it begs to question why it hastened our entry into this room. If this is an area of importance, it would stand that the trap would have prevented or at least delayed our arrival here.

Drill Man: *stands up* Unless we were meant to be brought here. Into a trap!

(The red glow of emergency lights hide most of the details of the room, yet a familiar laugh echoed all around them. Dust and Bright regain their footing and enter a defensive stance, preparing for the unseen threat. Drill Man brought his weapons to bear, and took note of the dark column structure in the middle of the room.)

Drill Man: Alright, whoever you are! We're onto your little game here! Your sinister plans, whatever they may be, will never succeed as long as I function!

??: MY, WHAT A PARANOID LITTLE CREATURE YOU ARE, DRILL MAN.

(The central pillar lights up and reveals the castle's computer core. Above the heads of the Comrades floats a glowing blue figure in a lab coat, sporting a crazed hairstyle and a wide mustache.)

Bright Babe: No way! That ghost looks just like... Dr. Wily!

Ghostly "Dr. Wily": WELCOME TO MY LAIR, LITTLE COSSACK BOTS! I'VE BEEN WONDERING WHEN YOU'D FIND YOUR WAY HERE, DESPITE THE OBSTACLES PROVIDED BY THIS CASTLE. STILL, IT SURE MADE FOR AN ENTERTAINMENTING SHOW FOR MY AMUSEMENT, HE HE HE!

Drill Man: Your little 'distractions' were nothing we couldn't handle, spirit! And sooner or later the rest of our team mates will make their way here as well! *mutters* As long as that double-agent John hasn't lead them into an ambush.

Ghostly "Dr. Wily": OH HO HO, I'M COUNTING ON IT, DRILL HEAD! AFTER ALL, YOU ALL ARE GUILTY OF TRESSPASSING IN MY DOMAIN, AND YOU WILL FACE THE CONSEQUENCES! JUST LIKE THE FOOLS WHO ENTERED BEFORE YOU.

Dust Man: If what you are saying was true, then that would mean that you dealt with the entire salvage team. Yet you left a witness who escaped, but not before he received a high amount of chroniton exposure. Are we safe to assume that you allowed him to leave on purpose?

Ghostly "Dr. Wily": HMM... PERHAPS. BUT THAT MATTERS NOT. YOU THREE AND THE OTHERS SHOULD BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR OWN LIVES RIGHT ABOUT NOW.

(Another screeching noise is heard as another entrance on the opposite side of the chamber opens up. The remaining members of the Comrades and Over-1 pile into the room quickly, while Dive Man and Skull Man grab the door halves and slam them shut.)

Ring Man: There! That should hopefully delay that brute long enough for- great googly moogly!

Toad Man: Hey, that was my line!

Pharaoh Woman: By the light of Ra! It truly is the departed spirit of the mad doctor!

Ghostly "Dr. Wily": AH, IT SEEMS EVERYONE IS HERE. AND FROM WHAT I'M HEARING, IT SEEMS MY 'EXECUTIONER' IS ON ITS WAY AS WE SPEAK.

Dive Man: Hey, crackpot! You think you're funny roaming the earth and avoiding the divine justice of the Lord? Allow me to send you back to Lucifer for your all-expenses paid afterlife!

Ghostly "Dr. Wily": FOOL! YOU THINK THE REALMS OF HELL, HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE ENOUGH TO CONFINE ME? FOR THIS INSOLENCE, I SHALL MAKE YOUR DOOM AS SLOW AND PAINFUL AS POSSIBLE!

(With a mighty cackle, the ghastly scientist raises his arms and causes the computer core to glow brighter and emit plumes of smoke. Ghostly shapes of various Robot Masters begin to appear, and a collection of defensive laser turrets lower and take aim at our heroes.)

Drill Man: Is this supposed to scare us, Wily? Eat this!

(Drill Man fires a wave of bombs at the ghosts, which pass harmless through them. Several head toward the computer core, but are deflected by some kind of energy field and tossed around to various places.)

Skull Man: Incoming! *blocks an explosion with a Skull Shield* AM, I must interject that your explosives may not be the best weapon in this situation.

Ring Man: Wait a minute, why would ghosts want to protect a computer core? *dodges a laser blast* Are they using it for something?

Dust Man: Hmm... *fires a Dust Crusher to distract some ghosts* Over-1! Hunter! Check for chroniton fields!

(While the others avoid contact with various ghosts and machines, the trio aim their scanners at the computer core. Sure enough, they find a massive chroniton reading inside the core itself.)

Over-1: It's just like Kalinka predicted! Some kind of extra-dimensional entity has lodged itself into the computer core and all of the fortress' systems. And that means...

Skull Man: These ghosts are not ghosts at all; they are holographic projections created by the core.

Toad Man: *running by* Says you!

Skull Man: It makes logical sense. Whatever has inhabited the core must keep it intact in order to remain in our spatial realm. Destroying it will end these incursions.

Ghostly "Dr. Wily": HA HA HA! DO YOU REALLY THINK I CAN BE THAT EASILY DEFEATED? FOOLS!

(The holographic image of Wily begins to shift shape, turning into the familiar Alien form from Wily's second try at world domination. As this occurs, the doors which Over-1 and the Comrades with him had entered are ripped off from their housings. A red glow illuminates the towering Triangle Man, who slowly advances on the distracted Comrades.)

"Alien Wily" Hologram: YES, MY PET! WHILE THEY FIGHT FOR NAUGHT, TEAR THE LIFE AWAY FROM THEIR BODIES!

Triangle Man: Rrrrrrrrr...

Ring Man: *looks toward Triangle Man* Avi, look out behind you!

(In an act of heroism, Ring Man leaps toward the behemoth as it prepares to skewer Pharaoh Woman, knocking it back slightly. Recovering quickly, the monster robot takes hold of Ring's arm and violent tosses him toward the central column's energy shield.)

Ring Man: Well this could have gone better. *hits the field* G-G-G-G-G-G-

Pharaoh Woman: *gasps* Oh no! The Wielder of the Rings is in mortal danger! And the frightful beast of Egyptian-like resemblance is preparing to strike again!

Dive Man: Stand back, ladies! I'll take on this Silent Hill rip-off!

(Dive Man opens his chest and fires off a special Dive Missile, filled with a mixture of Holy Water and other liquids. It strikes Triangle Man and sets it ablaze, mildly annoying it long enough for Dive to tackle it against the wall. The two metallic titans struggle to overpower one another, giving the others a slight relief.)

Triangle Man: Rrrrrrrrr!!!

Dive Man: Yeah, well 'Rrrrrrrrr' to you too, Rune-Face!

Pharaoh Woman: Well done, but our fellow Ring Man is still is mortal danger!

"Alien Wily" Hologram: OH, YOU WANT HIM BACK THAT BAD? HERE YOU GO THEN!

(With a flick of his hand, the hologram causes the field to overload slightly, launching a shocked Ring Man into an unaware Drill Man. They crash into the far wall, Dust Man and BB surrounding the two to give them time to recover.)

Bright Babe: You okay, John?

Ring Man: Bzzt, step right up, step right up and win a prize! Three rings for a dollar!

"Alien Wily" Hologram: NOT FEELING WELL, RING MAN? OH, I CAN DEFINITELY FIX THAT! I'M A DOCTOR, AFTER ALL! MWAH HA HA HA!

Toad Man: Alright, enough is enough!

"Alien Wily" Hologram: EH? *turns toward Flippy* OH, IT'S JUST YOU.

Toad Man: That's right, Mr. Ghost Alien! Your power is impressive, but I have something that not even you will be able to defeat!

"Alien Wily" Hologram: HA! A LIKELY STORY, AMPHIBIAN. I SHOULD VAPORIZE YOU THIS INSTANT FOR YOUR STUPIDITY!

Toad Man: Well I'll have you know, that I dare to be stupid! Behold!

(Reaching into some unknown place, Flippy unveils a strange contraption that hangs off himself like a backpack. A cord feeds from the device into a spiked instrument, which he aims at the floating hologram.)

Toad Man: As I've said before, I ain't afraid o' no ghost!

Drill Man: Is that a.... proton pack? Flippy, where in the name of Dan Brown did you get your hands on a proton pack!?

Toad Man: Internet.

"Alien Wily" Hologram: THAT? *laughs* YOU EXPECT ME TO BE AFRAID OF A CHILDREN'S TOY? YOU REALLY MUST BE THAT IDIOTIC!

Toad Man: Oh yeah, well if I was dumb, then could I do this?

(Toad Man aims the device at the Wily hologram and pulls the trigger. Amazingly, his purchase proved to be genuine, as a red proton stream arcs out and strikes the hologram and several surrounding "ghosts," disrupting them for a split second.)

"Alien Wily" Hologram: GHKT! THAT... HURT... THAT HURT!

Toad Man: Oh yeah! *moonwalks* Bustin' makes me feel good!

(In anger, the Alien image motions to turrets to all aim at Toad Man! Were it not for the quick intervention of a speeding Over-1, the slimly robot master would have been blasted into itty-bitty pieces!)

"Alien Wily" Hologram: INSOLENT FOOLS! YOU'VE TRIED MY PATIENCE FOR LONG ENOUGH!

(Even more turrets fall from the ceiling and aim at our heroes. A hailstorm of plasma bullets and laser blasts continually follow their movements, forcing them to constantly dodge. Several of them hit Dive Man in the back, making him cry out in pain and distracting him enough for Triangle Man to toss him to the side. It reaches for its tool of trade, but Skull Man kicks it away and proceeds to block his advance.)

Dust Man: *creates some cover with various junk pieces* This barrier won't last very long against that turret fire. We must find a way to take down that energy field and destroy the core!

Over-1: That proton gun seemed to short the hologram system out for split second. It might work against the room's systems, if we could hit multiple targets at once.

Dust Man: That would only work if they're in a line. To create a wider area of effect, we'd need to... Jet!

Bright Babe: Yeah?

Dust Man: Your light bulb is designed to emit high intensity light, but if we were to hook you up to Flippy's proton pack, you may be able to create a wide-scale proton burst and disrupt the room's systems long enough for us to take down the core!

Bright Babe: What? Are you nuts? I have no idea if my systems can handle that!

(The two Comrades duck as another piece of the junk barrier is blasted away.)

Dust Man: Whether or not if it is, our options are limited right now. This may be our only shot at survival.

Bright Babe: Wow, thanks for no pressure, Sean. *sighs* Alright, hook me up.

Over-1: Flippy, get over here, we need your pack for this.

Toad Man: Wow, who would have thunk it? Me and BB, hooking up like this in the heat of battle!

Bright Babe: Don't push your luck, Toad.

(In less than a minute, Dust and Over-1 have finished hooking up BB's pigtail cords to Toad Man's proton pack. It does not go unnoticed by the alien hologram, however, and thus the turrets once more aim at Toad Man's position.)

Drill Man: Head's up guys, you're being targeted!

Over-1: It's now or never!

Toad Man: Yeah, let's light things up and teach this alien bastard how we do things on Earth!

Bright Babe: No time like the present... FLASH STOPPER!

(As Toad Man pulls his trigger, a stream of protons flow up BB's twin cords and into her systems. After a slight pause, they gather inside her oversized bulb, swirling around rapidly until they release in one enormous burst! The red glow of the light dwarfs that of the emergency lights, and the Alien Wily hologram erupts into a series of fits.)

"Alien Wily" Hologram: GAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! MY SYSTEMS!!! OVERLOADING!!!

(Through the red haze, AM is able to briefly see the blue energy field disappear from around the computer core.)

Drill Man: Now we try this again. *arms Drill Bombs* Dive! Pharaoh! Aim for the core! DRILL BOMB!

Pharaoh Woman: By the will of the gods, I shall not fail! PHARAOH SHOT!

Dive Man: There's only one God I follow! SMILE YOU SON OF A BITCH!

(In unison, Drill Man launches a pair of Drill Bombs into the exposed computer core, Dive Man launches a flurry of Holy Dive Missiles, and Pharaoh Woman launches a charged Pharaoh Shot. The moment they all collide with the central column, everything becomes covered in white as the projectiles explode!)

Comrades, Over-1: WHOA!!!

Triangle Man: *roars in pain*

(Silence fills the room for a moment. As the light clears, those that were looking at the core's location saw the last bits of the device folding in on itself like a crushed soda-can. In a pathetic final display of blue light, the core vanishes forever, leaving the Comrades and Over-1 in a dark, decaying room.)

Dust Man: *winces* I believe our strategy was a success, Over-1.

Over-1: You guys definitely like to end things with a bang, huh?

Dive Man: Hey, it's what we do, right fellas?

Ring Man: Ow... my aching head...

Drill Man: Ah hah! It seems that Ring Man has finally returned to his sense. As I predicted he would.

Bright Babe: I seriously doubt that, AM. *winches* I'm definitely not doing anything like that again.

Toad Man: Did you see me there, guys? Totally awesome, busting ghosts and taking names!

Bright Babe: Yeah, sure. *detaches her pigtails* Are we done here?

Skull Man: Not quite. Though we've taken care of the source of the anomalies, we've still to ascertain the fate of the last of the salvage team.

Dive Man: Not to mention Pointy over there. *cracks knuckles* Let's see just how tough he is now without that little green devil watching over his shoulder!

(Before Dive could take another step, the form of Triangle Man collapses into a pile of broken robot parts. Only the tetrahedron that made up its head remains intact.)

Dive Man: ...well that was anti-climactic.

Pharaoh Woman: On the plus side, we have obtained a mighty artifact for our courageous deeds! *picks up the pyramid* The Gods have seen fit to commemorate our bravery and meddle as we explored this sinister fortress of evil, and our tale shall be told for centuries to come-

(An object falls from the ceiling and onto Pharaoh's back. She shrieks in terror and drops the artifact, running around with a charred corpse dangling from her back.)

Dive Man: Guess we found the last poor bastard. Come on, Mistress Stench, let the guy rest in peace!

***

(One day ends and another day begins at the RPD Headquarters. The Comrades are once more gathered before Crorq and Kalinka, with the addition of Over-1, to relay their report.)

Drill Man: -and once we recovered the bodies of the salvage team, we called in for a general clean-up crew to recover anything else of value from the fortress.

Crorq: So, I was right in my calculations! No ghosts of any kind inhabited Wily's former castle!

Dust Man: True, but this unknown inter-dimensional entity had taken control of the castle's systems and used to holographic systems, along with various data logs on both Wily and his creations, to create an elaborate illusion that spanned throughout the fortress. Whether it was simply a side effect of its inhabitance or a deliberate plot against intruders, well, I cannot say.

Crorq: Nor do I care! I, Crorq, THE MAGNIFICANT, am simply glad to put this administrative mess behind us!

Over-1: You're not mad about the destruction of the computer core? It could have held valuable information that-

Crorq: I have no need of Wily's outdated schematics and the like! I am ten times the genius he was, and at the very least twenty perfect more popular than he was in life!

Kalinka: Despite the various repairs I'll need to perform on several of you, I'd say you've completed this mission with minimal problems. How about you, Over-1? How would you describe this assignment?

Over-1: Well... I finally know what it's like to be a man.

Kalinka: ...what?

Over-1: *an alarm beeps on his wrist* Whoops, looks like Italy is being attacked by killer tomatoes again. See you back home, Dr. Cossack!

(In a flash of light, Over-1 teleports from the office and away from the confused look of Kalinka. Blinking, she turns toward Dive Man for an explanation.)

Dive Man: What're looking at me fer?

Kalinka: We're going to have a long talk later, Geoff. A very, very long talk.

Dive Man: Nice. I'll bring the good stuff this time.

Crorq: Are we done with debriefing these ingrates, 'Doctor Cossack?' Or is there another, unnecessary line of questioning you have for them?

Kalinka: Actually, one thing still concerns me; the remains of this 'Triangle Man' the Comrades brought back from the castle. I didn't get a good look at it when it was brought in, but the runes on its surface were unlike anything I've ever seen.

Ring Man: Ancient writings are Pharaoh's specialty. You got a good look at the guy's head, Jissy. What do you think?

Pharaoh Woman: Well I- er, I beg your pardon?

Ring Man: I said, what do you think of those ruins, Avi?

Pharaoh Woman: Oh, well, um, it is my expert opinion that the runes inscribed on the demon robot's head were, um, some kind of warning... yes, a warning! A warning against intruders... Or maybe, a warning about an intruder? Oh, if only I had another look at the markings, perhaps I could make a better judgment!

Crorq: Hah! That will be unlikely, my Egyptian-themed infidel! After examining the object myself, I found it to simply be a decorative hunk of metal with no value whatsoever! Still, being evidence from a sensitive secure area, I've had my top man bring the item in question to a high-security warehouse, where it shall remain until I deem it necessary!

Pharaoh Woman: Oh... I see. While I feel sadness for losing the chance to look over this unique item again, I hereby respect your judgment, oh great Chief of the Robot Police!

Drill Man: Well at least tell me this, Crorq. Who exactly did you entrust to place this thing in safe keeping?

Crorq: It is as I said! I. Sent. My. Top. Man.

(Several hundred miles away, in a secure RPD facility...)

Top Man: This looks like a good spot. *places the rune covered tetrahedron on a shelf* Not sure what this thing is, but it looks pretty cool. Maybe I could use it as a paperweight? ...Nah, that just sounds dumb.

(The short Robot Master skates out of the room, locking the door on his way out. Automatic lights shut off a few seconds later, leaving rows upon rows of evidence sitting in darkness. As time passes, the runic tetrahedron slowly pulsates a faint red hue, highlighting a sigil of a circle surround by three arrow shapes in clear detail.)

THE END?

Cossack's Comrades

AM as Drill Man          Sean as Dust Man          Geoff as Dive Man

Jet as Bright Babe       Hunter as Skull Man

John as Ring Man       Avi as Pharaoh Woman       Flippy as Toad Man