The Business of War

Introduction ~ Chapter 2

June 3rd, 20XX

4:43 PM

The Multimen roared in unison as they destroyed the building.

“Death to all who smear Wily’s name!” bellowed one as he tore off a nearby streetlight. Barrageman, a huge green robot, stood above the scene, targeting enemies of his comrade. Enemies who always seemed to oppose the self-proclaimed

“Wily Rescue Force”. These enemies had withstood countless attacks against a wide variety of enemies. They used to be freelance heroes who received financial contributions from the city for their (near) selfless efforts, but now they're a formal division of the Robot Police Department. They vow to stop all robotic threats before they grow out of control. They are eight robots, bound together under a single banner. They are … the Mechanical Maniacs!

Topman (also known as Nightmare, the Spinning Demon), with his spinning attacks, weaved effortlessly through the army of Multimen. He used high-speed kicks to mutilate each robot and laughed as more came to face him. “Bring ‘em on!”

Elsewhere, some of the Multimen laughed at another ‘Maniac. “What good are six measly robots against a dozen?”

“Its quality, not quantity that wins, Multiman’” said the shining Geminiman as he used his nightsticks to tear into the oncoming onslaught of robots. Lennon was used to Multi’s condescending attitude and could dish it right back at the smug robot – in spades.

From atop one of the building, NeedleGal, sister to the leader of the team, took aim at the hulking Barrageman.

“We have a score to settle, big guy,” she yelled as she fired a multitude of projectiles at the flying robot master. Barrageman analyzed the situation.

“Unit NeedleGal sighted. Threat assessment: minimal.” Barrageman took the attacks and delivered one of his own, knocking Psycho Magnet, also known as NeedleGal, from her perch on the roof.

Needle was caught by the newest member of the team, Kenta “Magnetman” Eigen.

“You have to be more careful,” said the red Robot Master as he used his Magnet Bullets to disable more Multimen. His control had been improving and he was expertly able to target the weak spots of the robot in order to inflict maximum damage. NeedleGal got to her feet and concentrated on the fight at hand.

Barrageman wasn’t about to let her go, though. He searched through the crowd of Multimen and fired his Ion Blast at her. He only succeeded in destroying more of his comrades and Kenta shielded the both of them from Barrageman’s attacks using his magnetic power.

Barrageman snickered. Multiman could create an infinite number of robots, so that wasn’t a concern. Neither was Magnet’s little shield. He’d just keep blasting away until –

That was about as far as Barrageman’s thoughts got before he was hit in the head by a sub-sonic bullet from out of nowhere. Instantly defeated, Barrageman fell from his home in the sky to the cold, unforgiving ground.

From his hiding place on the roof on a nearby building, Snakeman (also known as Raijin) smirked triumphantly. Over the team’s internal channel he said, “The big guy’s down. Somebody better catch him.”

“My ears 're burning, Raj! 'Less ya mean somebody else,” said a huge blue robot as he caught Barrageman. Hardman (known to his friends as Hadrian) knew he couldn't support the weight of Barrageman for long. With both hands he aimed at a cluster of Multimen and shot his Hard Knuckles, while still holding Barrageman, at just the right angle. As the team planned, the momentum of the Hard Knuckles decrease as Barrage’s weight pulled them both down. In no time, most of the army of Multimen were destroyed.

“Good job,” said their leader as he sliced off the heads of more Multis with his sword. “That was exactly like we planned.” Shadowman smiled (although none could see it under his mask). The robot also known as Gauntlet felt the battle was going well.

However, he did not account for the speed Multiman could reproduce. Over the internal radio Snakeman warned his team of the oncoming threat from his observation point.

“Hey, the fight’s not over yet! The Multis are forming a perimeter around you and they’re regrouping … FAST!”

At this moment Snakeman joined the fight below. Leaping from above, Snake landed on a nearby Multi, taking it out while he landed. The fight was beginning to turn. While Barrageman wasn’t a threat anymore, the Multimen had tasted blood. This had turned from a very trivial fight into a battle for their lives.

“I hate to say it, but … we need reinforcements,” said Shadowman, vexed at their situation.

Snakeman laughed. “Yeah, I figured that was the case.” Shadowman raised an eyebrow.

The Multimen felt the surprising force of the new Special Forces unit of the Robot Police, who seemed to appear on cue. Each hulking white robot was incredibly resilient to attacks and had massive strength, and with four of them on hand, the tables suddenly turned.

“Multiman! You’re under arrest. Don’t move or we will be required to use force!”

“Hah! No stupid Police Bot can take out all of us!” screamed one of the Multis as the army turned to face their new attackers.

“Luckily they’re not on their own,” laughed Topman as the fight resumed. The Special Forces turned the tide and the army of Multis were destroyed faster than they could reproduce. After several long moments the fight was over. The Mechanical Maniacs, aided by the Special Forces, had defeated an army.

After a few minutes of bantering and ribbing amongst them, the Mechanical Maniacs sauntered out of the building and onto the streets, where people had gathered to see what was the source of all of the commotion.

“No thanks are necessary. We were only doing our jobs. Now you’re all safe once again.,” beamed the shining Geminiman as a crowd approached the robots.

“You think we’ll thank you!?” One of the people screamed.

“Well, we did beat an army of Multimen and saved the building.”

“It’s been demolished! And the street’s wrecked! Nobody can work in there again!”

Geminiman turned. The person was right; the building had been destroyed. And he noticed Barrageman was gone. Lennon supposed that one of the Multimen teleported himself and the massive green robot to wherever their base was, once again eluding capture.

The crowd jeered at their would-be-heroes. The Maniacs looked anxious as the Special Forces merely looked confused. Snakeman sighed, feeling it hadn’t been the same since Los Angeles.

The team teleported back to their base, escaping the angry swarm of dissatisfied “customers”.

“So what got the Rescue Force all riled up this time?” asked NeedleGal, dropping herself on the couch.

“Tha' network recently aired a ‘Life ‘o’ Wily’ special.

Guess Doc Robot didn' like it,” replied Hardman.

NeedleGal grunted. Her good humor had been dulled by the angry mob of people. Drink in hand, Topman entered the room.

“Does anyone else think working with those Special Forces is kind of creepy?”

“Well, we were trapped in them and forced to work for Bizarro for a bit,” replied Snakeman who also had a refreshment of his own. “I had my reservations too, but they’re doing a really good job. The Robot Police have been ten times more effective in beating robot threats since they were made. I tell ya, I wouldn’t want to be a criminal right now.” Snakeman chuckled as he fondly remembered the Special Force robot’s fist through Multiman’s massive chest.

Shadowman entered the room with seven CDs in hand. “Heads up, people. Our ‘magnificent’ chief has sent us some upgrades.” The ninja tossed the disks at his team-mates one at a time.

“What’s on them?” Asked Topman, spinning a CD on one of his fingers.

“Crorq says they’re just standard upgrades. The latest in crime-busting technology. Hasn’t even been announced yet.”

“So…these are from Crorq?”


Each member of the team looked at the disks with obvious doubt. The Supercomputer Crorq, their Chief of Police was once their enemy back then he was emotionless and somewhat incompetent. Now, he was just insane thanks to some of their old friends. Somehow, the RPD thought there was some value in his schemes.

Each member tossed their disks aside. Kenta used his magnetism to erase his disk making audible crackling noises as if it were placed in a microwave.

Shadowman laughed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He placed the disk inside a pocked on the interior of his jacket…just in case. Shadowman was a bit of a packrat when it came to gadgetry and technology.

“So, what's on them?” asked Topman. Even if none of them had installed the disk, they were all curious as to what it contained.

Shadowman’s smile faded. “I don’t know, actually. None of our systems could crack it. It’s a complicated piece of programming and I’m itching to give it to Light so we’ll know for sure what the deal is.”

The team talked some more, but none of them mentioned the one teammate not in the room.

June 4 th, 20XX

6:43 PM

Spark Chan wept silently as she stood by her former home. Her once-proud mango tree lay broken and mangled near the long-abandoned husk of the old Sinister Six headquarters. She had it moved there after the Six reformed, so she could be closer to them. Since then, the mansion suffered from a fire which totaled it, but that wasn’t what bothered her. Her tree was well enough away that it withstood that onslaught.

It was the damage done by some mean-spirited humans that really got to her. It was obviously done soon after their announcement as the world’s most wanted robots right after the recent destruction of LA. The Technodrome had suffered some damage as rioters had broken in, but she had only now remembered her old home from the time she was still just Classi Cal, the flimsy prototype. The people she protected for so long had torn it apart, and all over some false accusations.

Nobody had bothered to fix it, even after the Maniacs had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

She was searching desperately for her lost daughter. Few knew she even existed and Classi preferred it that way. A girl's entitled to her secrets, after all.

“Shoryu?” she called faintly. “Sho? You there? Come out…”

Classi teared up when she finally found poor Shoryu. The robot spider was still alive, but had been badly damaged by rioters. Sometimes she wondered why she even bothered. Everyone was so quick to blame and destroy each other, but few people would actually help out one another or admit their mistakes.

It was so…cruel.

June 12th, 20XX

“…And as you can see here, doctor, production wraps up with a final directives check and software combing to find any and all bugs long before they’re in active duty. All units are individually checked by a representative of the purchasing country.”

They were a group of men, gathered in the clean, sterile, decidedly futuristic setting of a factory, churning out the latest in robotic offerings.

Yet another machine for war.

The white bearded man, the oldest of the group of otherwise thirty and forty-somethings, simply sighed. He was wearing a rather casual ensemble of dark beige slacks, white short sleeve button-up shirt, and a new sun hat Roll had gotten him while he and his family were on vacation. He seemed rather unimpressed…bored, even annoyed by the tour he found himself on.

The other man, the one whom was guiding him through the factory, still beamed on with his billion dollar smile, proud as a new father. He was of Indian descent and spoke with a proper British accent, clad in a dark gray suit that cost most people an entire year’s salary. He was seemingly oblivious to Dr Light’s obvious disdain.

“Its simply amazing!”, he continued to remark. “A mere twenty-one minute production time, from the first screw to the last, all automated. This factory alone can churn out as many as five hundred and seven units a day, you know. And factory number fourteen opens in less than a week to meet the demand. We’re back ordered for the next six years! Quite remarkable.”

“Yes, quite.”, Dr Light curtly agreed.

“Doctor, did you ever think your original designs would be so…universal? I mean, the Sniper Joe model has been in production for nearly ten years now, and up until a few months ago, before my company acquired the new rights to manufacture the series, it has seen hardly any change. Truly, a brilliant design. Timeless.”

The entourage of black suits nodded in agreement silently, with three distinct members of the group, whom seemed a bit closer to Mr. Williamson than the rest, standing nearby, smiling silently in approval.

“…I regret ever building it in the first place.”, Dr Light grumbled.

“What?”, the tawny CEO questioned, taken aback by the grousing scientist. “This is a brilliant machine, Doctor Light. And it’s going to help humanity enter a new era, all stemming from your genius! You should be…proud.”

“Proud…”, the elder scientist scoffed. “Of what? Yet another machine to be used for killing? Say whatever you need to tell yourself- these…damned machines…they’ll kill. ‘A new era’…How many times must I hear such asinine reasoning?”

By this time, the CEO had grown a little impatient himself.

“Doctor…Thomas…I don’t think you understand the logic behind this new Joe. This…’war machine’…Yes, they’re built for war; war with each other! Not humans! Imagine a world where wars and battles are completely automated, sparing human-“

“Oh, spare ME. What sort of a world are you living in, Mr. Williamson?  Because it certainly isn’t reality. Tell me, how many Dr Wilys are there in this world?”

Williamson was unsure of how to answer. He took a moment to think it over, believing it to be not as straightforward as the Doctor wanted him to believe. Light answered for him.

“Just one.”

Well, maybe it WAS as straightforward as it appeared to be.

“Because that’s all it takes.” Light continued. “You can sit here, and make all the claims of a peace-enforcing robot that spares lives, but all you’re doing is making things easier for the Dr Wilys of the world.

I’ll reiterate it once again- this is a war machine.”

“But…Rockman is-“

“Rockman is what? Hm? Another war machine? Let me explain something to you: Rock is my son. My SON. He is NOT a simple machine, or a tool. He defends the world because it’s the RIGHT thing to do, because that’s how I taught him. How I…programmed him.

…Speaking of my son, I think its time I left and spent some time with him. His soccer game starts in five hours.”

“Well, I’d hate to have you leave on such a sour note, Doctor…”, Williamson frowned, offering his hand.

Light took his hand and shook it like any professional would while looking him in the eye.

“God help you, and all men like you. And you three.”, he turned his attention to Mr. Williamson’s personal bodyguards. “How shameful. You never would have done something like this a year ago. Did your sense of honor die with him as well?”

The three bodyguards took the remark with no hint of emotion. Not even a sign of remorse crept into their faces from behind their darkened sunglasses.

Williamson looked even sadder now, and nodded to his entourage to escort the aging scientist to his private helicopter.

As they left, Williamson leaned over a guardrail, overlooking a few dozen of the vast factory’s work lines as they cranked out the very latest generation of Sniper Joes.

As the two dark-clothed men and woman flanked him, the tan-skinned man grinned.

“My God…He’s right, you know.”, his voice dropping the English accent for a more American tone. The very sound of his voice changed to a more haunting note.

One of the men, a blonde-haired man in sunglasses, also grinned back at him. “Yeah?”

“We’re making war machines here…Damn fine war machines…”

“You were also right, though.”, the woman chimed in, her hair dark and long.


“They’re gonna usher in a new era of peace…AND a new era for mankind, whether they like it or not..”

“Kyehehe…Right you are…Right you are…”

The work lines clanked away below them, loyal, and uncaring of what they were making.

They were machines.

July 22nd, 20XX

“Earlier today, our very own reporter, Asia Phelps, caught up with Senator Keigle, who has been busy all month pushing for his Shutdown Code Act for a speedy pass through the gauntlet…”

“Senator, a moment of your time?”, the pink-dressed reporter asked the hurried Congressman on the white stone steps of the Senate.

“I can spare a few.”, the somewhat chunky man responded, peering at his watch through his bifocals.

“Senator, your proposal has generated a lot of attention in the past few weeks. Care to share your thoughts on the matter?”

“These robot ‘teams’, as they refer to themselves I’m told, have long been a concern of the general public. It took something like the horrific tragedy of Los Angeles almost two months ago to really wake up Joe Q Public to this troubling dilemma.”

“But Senator, the team that was initially suspected of perpetrating that destruction was almost immediately proven innocent. We don’t have any definite evidence that points to any mecha-human involvement.”

“And we don’t have any evidence that points to the contrary either. We may never know the exact truth of what happened there, and even if these ‘mecha-humans’ were found to be innocent, that does not rule out the possibility of yet another robotic force involved.”

“So, you designed the Shutdown Code Act. Could you summarize, for the viewers, what this proposal is all about?”

“Certainly. The Shutdown Code is a software program installed in one of these robots, wherein a human officer in charge of monitoring the activities of these robots can shutdown, via remote, any offending robot within seconds.”

“Any offending robot that has the software installed, to be clear. Correct?”

“Correct. You see, the United States government isn’t completely delusional these days. We understand that robots, like them or not, are a mainstay in our society. What this proposal seeks to do is regulate these rouge machines, essentially turning them into productive, ACCOUNTABLE employees of a city or the federal commission.”

“And these machines would be part of the Robot Police Force, founded almost a year ago, correct?”

“In most cases, yes. Aside from a few hiccups, Megapolis’ own RPF has been quite a success. Crime has gone down substantially in the area where the RPF ‘team’ patrols regularly, though I do, ha ha…suspect that the fact the city now employs such criminals instead of chasing them has something to do with that.”

“Well, never the less, the Shutdown Code Act is gathering a lot of steam in an already hot Congress session, and it is believed the act will pass with a landslide vote when it comes to ballot new week.

Senator, thank you for you time. Good luck!”

“Thank you , and it’s always a pleasure.”

“For Channel Five mid day news, this is Asia Phelps.”

“Alright, thank you once again, Asia. Coming up after the break; how to save some major money on your electricity bills this summer! Stay with us…”

August 2nd, 20XX

A violent clang was heard by the various staff members of Town Hall, and Richard Malcolms, one of the higher-ups of the Human Administrative Board in charge of the monitoring and regulation of robot activity, stuck his head out of his office to see what the commotion was about. The sound, he found, had come from the double doors at the entrance, which had been slammed open with much more force than one might have expected from the small, stout figure who was now storming past a bewildered receptionist's desk. He was headed towards the room where the mayor was signing the bill that would make Malcolms' job much easier in a couple of months; no more grey areas, no more vigilantism, just the cooperative and the uncooperative. And Malcolms knew how to handle the uncooperative.

It was hard to believe that in a few scant moments, the mayor of Megapolis- the largest civilian area to employ robots in the world- would add his name to the newly passed Shutdown Code Act. His signature would add even more weight to the already steamrolling law.

Amid the protests from the secretary that the mayor was in a meeting, Malcolms stepped out to block the way of the trespasser. "I'm sorry, sir," he said in an unapologetic tone, "Only government officials beyond this point." Malcolms knew who the man was, of course. Thomas Light was the inventor of Emulated Consciousness, the father of robot-kind, a staunch defender of Robot Rights, and for someone in a job like Malcolms', a frequent thorn in his side.

"This is an OUTRAGE!" the old man bellowed from a good foot and a half below Malcolms. "How can you sit here while the men in there sign away the free lives of thousands of individuals? What right do any you have to judge them guilty, to play God like this?!"

Malcolms smirked in bemusement at the comment. "Play God, doctor? The same thing has been said of you, many times."

"This is different, this is an act of oppression, not of creation! Creation is beautiful, creation is birth, but what you are taking part in will do nothing but hurt, nothing but destroy."

"It's because of your creations running amok that the law was ever considered, Doctor."

"An evil robot is only ever the product of an evil man, Malcolms. Perhaps you should be putting our tax dollars towards a police force that can do some good in the community, catch the real bad guys, instead of scapegoating and vilifying!"

"And what then, eh? When all the 'bad guys' have been put in prison, will the violence stop? Or will some freak machine decide that the world might be better off with a few less humans getting in the way? Do you wish death upon your fellow man for the sake of some false ideal of robot equality? WE make THEM. They are our tools, not some endangered species or oppressed race! And quite frankly, after the events of Los Angeles, the destruction of every robot on the planet wouldn't repay the toll of lives they took."

"The Mechanical Maniacs were cleared of accusation and pardoned, Malcolms."

"Yes, I've read the news. But don't think me naïve. Even if the M.M. were found innocent, you can't tell me a robot wasn't involved in the crime. The technology used in the explosion is far beyond anything we've encountered. Who's to say it wasn't the Maniacs who built the bomb? Or the Comrades? For all we know, even Mega Man could have done it."

Dr. Light looked like he'd been spit on. "My son-"

"Your creation-"

"MY SON... would NEVER do something so vile. Rock is as innocent as any man, and more than you, Malcolms. And if you attempt to put that filthy chip into that boy's head-"

"Why, doctor, I thought you knew," Malcolms said with unconvincing surprise. "As the most active member of the Robot Police Department, Mega Man would be one of the highest in priority for the success of the project. The operation procedure started as soon as he arrived for duty this morning."

Thomas Light's eyes widened and his face contorted with rage, becoming far unrecognizable from his usual docile features. "You... you have no right! This is inhumane! It's UNLAWFUL!! It's... it's..."

His words trailed off as he was distracted by the shuffling of feet and the murmur of small talk as the doors to the conference room opened and several important-looking men ambled out into the hallway, laughing and shaking hands as they parted ways. Malcolms turned back to Dr. Light and sneered.

"My good doctor, I believe that law has just passed."


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