The Business of War

Stage 7

The Breaks

Cutman strode triumphantly into the Technodrome. Their counterparts in his own reality didn’t have anything like this.

What monstrous ego.

On the wall hung group portraits of, what appeared to be, past incarnations of the team. Cutman picked up the first one and stared into the eyes of each member. Needlegal might might have been the same … it was hard to tell with that sort of robot. Hardman had a rather vacant look in his eyes. Indeed, they all looked rather different than the team he’d been studying up until this point. Except for Shadowman. With a shrug Cutman tossed the picture onto the floor and proceeded to slice every single one in two. He rather enjoyed the way they fell into pieces onto the floor.

I won! You couldn’t stop me … I won!

After defeating that buffoon Crorq, Cutman shut them all down and strode to the Robot Police’s other main computer. From there he ascertained the whereabouts Crorq's superiors … Washington. He guessed as much. Convenient for the General. He dispatched a regiment already in place in order to deal with those fools. That was a few days ago and before he knew it, most of the Robot Police’s old territories fell to him.

Not even having to repair the Androids for the umpteenth time really bothered him. For once they had managed to accomplish their mission. He had one of Mesmerman’s many bodies. He had spent most of his time toying with it. He had even made the Androids repairs as painless as possible. But not completely painless of course. As the General learned himself, pain teaches valuable lessons, and he passed this same knowledge on to his troops. If the only lesson they gained was “don’t make me fix you again" well, that was enough.

He actually had a long list of repairs to make now that he had access to the RPD cells. He found they were trying to reconstruct Super Koala … that robot looked like Hell. Wraithman and Skullman looked as if they were beyond repair, but perhaps … combining what he could of the two could work? And, of course, Crorq and Needlegal would make delightful additions to the Scissor Army ... with no sticky past personality to get in the way of his success.

Cutman made his way into each of the rooms. Distressingly boring. He thought of those past teams. Now that the current batch of “heroes” had fallen, he probably ought to turn his attention to the so-called “retired” ones. You never know when some old problem could come back to haunt you.

Once Cutman was finished touring the grandiose base to his satisfaction he left the compound. He’d put a squadron of Joes on reconstructing it into a Scissor Army base as soon as he could. He found Chimeraman and Shoryu there looking at him with guilty expressions. Something had gone wrong.

“And how will you two ruin my perfect day?”

Shoryu stepped forward nervously. “Cut Papa … Mommy and Gemini have deserted you! There was a confusing fight and both of them just left!”

The General stifled a bit of impatience. This wasn’t really a huge problem for him … he didn’t need ClassiCal anymore, nor did he need one of Mesmerman’s puppets. Cutman gently picked up his most supportive ally.

“It’s all right, Sho. The truth was I never expected either of them to stay. And there’s not much they can do … now that I’ve won completely.”

Cutman snapped his head to the other robot. “You. Report!”

Chimeraman jerked straight. There was no gentle tone used with him.

“Uh … I’m sorry to report that, due to the traitorous actions of Golemman and Omniman as well as surprise involvement made by Artilleryman we have lost out base at the center of the Earth.”

Cutman immediately smacked the composite robot with an open palm. Shoryu made a small scream. It frightened her when Cutman lost his temper.

“You idiot! Do you know how hard such an improbable base is to create? How could you have let them do that!?”

Chimera presented a severed arm with an open computer panel attached to it. “It wasn’t a total loss, sir! I’ve gained knowledge of the Cossack’s new base! As well as access to their teleportation system, communications, and tracking signal … Arty stored it all in here!” The look of anger washed away and was replaced with a new look of consideration. The Cossackers proved more relentless than he had thought … the death of their leader really hadn’t slowed them down at all. This was just the thing he needed to wipe the last smear off his perfect world.

“He fought me tooth and nail but I got him, sir! He was no match for me!”

Cutman nodded slowly. The loss of his Inner Core Facility was a setback, but it had never truly functioned. And now most of the world belonged to him. “Good work, Chimera.”

Chimeraman grinned and made a quick salute before running as fast as he could on all fours. Smart, not sticking around to see if Cutman changed his mind. Of course he would need repairs soon ...

Cutman strode happily through the streets of Monsteropolis. The news had not ruined his day after all. And there was another delightful place he’d heard about … Hardman’s bar. Now that the owner was scrap, he’d love to see it.

Shoryu spotted it before Cutman did. “Look out!” said the little voice on his shoulder.

Cutman instinctively jumped and turned around. A Neo Officer had taken a shot at him!

“General Cutman! For the crime of genocide I place you under arrest!” The presumptious Neo Officer took a few more shots before the dumbfounded general dispatched it to the scrap heap by severing it’s head from it’s body with his trusty (but no longer aptly named) Rolling Cutter.

Both the orange robot master and the small spider were silent. Cutman strode silently towards the still body of the robot police officer. Cutman's right arm twitched involuntarily. It was supposed to be Shut Down. Its brain fried. All robot police officers in the entire world were supposed to be Shut Down! And yet … this one had attacked him. Cutman contacted a random location on the globe. Shoryu made a frightened noise as Cutman's face darkened.

This is not supposed to happen!


The Robot Police had fallen back to London. Thanks to their successes in Europe they had managed to keep a strong hold over it, even while their forces fell like dominoes thanks to the mechanisations of General Cutman. Virtually the entire world was in his skeletal grasp and only an unlikely group of assembled allies could stem the tide of destruction and genocide.

They were gathered within the large Robot Police headquarters and guarded by a battalion of the remaining Special Forces Units. In a closed meeting, not broadcasted to the world, a few decided the fate of many …

“I can’t believe I have to work with an iiiiiiiiiiiidiot like you, Cossack!” Crorq chewed his food angrily. He stood awkwardly on his repaired leg … it came from a robot of similar construction, but different proportions. He hadn’t the time to get it properly repaired.

“The devil you say? So if I’m the idiot how is it that I escaped death at the hands of General Cutman when you became nothing more than an oversized doorstop!?”

Crorq gripped the table with a tiny hand and leaned in close. “Yes, and how did you escape, Doctor? You were pretty vague on that part…”

Cossack sighed and tried not to look nervous. This alliance was important … Cossack knew that. And it would be broken in an instant if this blustering yellow robot knew the truth. “I told you already … one of my fellow scientists was fanatically loyal to me and stood in my place as I made my escape in a prepared tunnel. He looked a lot like me … I had doubles of the Comrades made to make such an escape look real. I never expected anyone to sacrifice themselves for me. I won’t hear ill of him!”

Crorq would have narrowed his eyes if they were visible, but his viewscreens were still broken from the recent battle. “Really? And in his elation the General did not notice any small differences between you and your ‘double’?” The super computer tossed the rest of the chicken wing he had been eating into his large mouth. “More likely you’ve formed an alliance with him. He’s letting you live to strike us at the most opportune time! A terrorist like you would fit right in with the Scissor Army.” Doctor Cossack winced. That was disturbingly close to the truth. Was he in an alliance with Mesmerman? No … Cossack would never turn against his principles! Not even that mind bending robot could make him do that.

Kalinka, taking her father’s wince to be that of hurt rather than shame, leapt to his defence. “My father always does what is right, computer! My father stands by his principles despite all odds! He defied your Shutdown Code in spite of the entire world turning against him! And now – only when your Shutdown Code has been repealed – do we offer our aid! In good faith my father has returned your president to you and that president knows my father’s righteousness!”

President Weaving sat silently in his own spot at the table, nodding. He was disheveled from his recent experiences, but kept a stoic appearance.

Crorq let out a bark of genuine laughter. Bits of chicken flew from his mouth as he struggled to contain it. “Oh, so you’re father is righteous? It’s surprising that he’d stand for Diveman’s actions … as well as those of the Armored Assassins –“

“You have no proof of those allegations! Mysteryman -!”

“I have all the proof I need and you know it! There’s no talking your way out of that one! You and your father are a pair of hypocrites. And, as for the president of America, I feel I must clarify one important fact: although the Robot Police Force was started and based in America the current crisis has made it into a powerful multi-national organization with a great degree of latitude in all matters of state. And, since the Scissor Army was so kind as to eliminate all world delegates and my superiors in one fell stroke, as well as tossing the world into chaos, I facilitate the most reliable means of communication … which makes me the de facto ruler of the Earth! So what’s one measly president compared to that, eh?”

Cossack, Kalinka, and Weaving stood agape for several moments, drinking the statement in. The silence was broken by Doctor Cossack.

“You’re everything I’ve ever fought against!”

“That’s enough!” Everyone turned towards the high-pitched voice. They might have had their differences with each other, but they all respected this third party.

Megaman tried to stand as tall as he could. He had been out of this War since the very beginning of it, but he felt he could unite everyone and provide a driving force against this ‘General Cutman.’

“Cossack, you know as well as I do that we have to work with each other to end this mess. You feel protective of your people, and I understand … but from what I hear they have managed to cross the line more than once.”

Crorq barked a triumphant laugh, but Megaman rounded on him next. “And don’t think I didn’t hear about Brussels! All this talk about being world leader … Cutman’s really the one closest to it and you know it. And I don’t think shutting me down was the best thing your department has ever done. Right from the beginning you were used by General Cutman to fuel this War.”

Crorq shifted uncomfortably. He did not like being reminded of his mistakes. “Light … why isn’t he here? He should be here himself.”

“The Doctor has suffered … a lot more than you think during the course of this War.”

Crorq sniffed. “That fool sulks like Achilles in his tent.”

“That ‘fool’ saved your life, the lives of your men, and the hope of the entire world by beating your Shutdown Code. You should be thankful!”

Crorq returned to grumbling, his ego having been reigned in. It was true, General Cutman had shut them all down. If not for the quick actions of the renegades Spark Chan, Topman, Bass, Protoman, Slashman, and Constance as well as the various Watchers...all would have been lost. It galled Crorq especially to learn that the Shutdown Code had been brought down thanks to the diskette Shadowman gave Artilleryman and the console Skullman gruesomely stole from a Watcher.

Acting quickly, they revived Crorq first. By some miracle his mind was still intact. Using him as a transmitter, Doctor Light was able to disperse the ‘Reboot Code’ to all RPD forces. Those that remained anyway. With the true nature of the Shutdown Code revealed, it was quickly nullified.

Seeing that a union was possible (and, indeed, necessary) Slashman had facilitated contact between the Cossack forces and the Robot Police. It turned out that the Cossacks had saved President Weaving from the Scissor Army’s attack (which counted for more than Crorq had let on) and wanted vindication. And now they would be given the opportunity to do just that. By taking part in a dangerous mission against the Scissor Army, and aiding the Robot Police in their work, the Cossackers would earn a pardon for their crimes.

Crorq might have mixed feelings about being implanted with the Code himself, but had become intoxicated by the unrestricted power it gave him over his fellow robots. Losing it meant he was back to just being a very important robot in the world … that was good, but nothing like the constant hold over life and death that Crorq had come to enjoy. He was frustrated that he could not bring Cossack and his forces to their knees. Crorq would rather have tossed Cossack and his minions into prison, however desperate times called for desperate measures, and even Crorq could see that they couldn't remain at odds with Cossack and his forces under the current circumstances. The computer produced another box of chicken wings and took one out.

“Let’s get down to business, then…”


The meeting went as smoothly as could be expected. Throughout it all, it was made clear that the forces of the Robot Police Department had been considerably depleted. In fact, they didn’t have much of a leg to stand on. In a drawn-out conflict their defeat was inevitable, much as Crorq hated to admit it.

“But thanks to Geminiman we know exactly where the Scissor Army is!” said Megaman with enthusiasm. “In a place called ‘Mt. Elysium’. It’s a hollowed out mountain in the Rockies,” Megaman pointed to an orange dot on a map of the world, “and Desert Gulch, here,” Megaman pointed to another location. “Elysium is a stronghold and Desert Gulch, aside from being the General’s main base, is largely unknown. According to Geminiman Elysium is fortified with heavy artillery, the remains of the Microwave Bombs the General once tried to complete, thousands of Scissor Joes, and is the docking bay for the Seven Mercenary’s Marauder (which is still in orbit). It’s clear that the General is at one of these bases.”

Crorq stamped his foot excitedly. “Then let’s wipe them off the map and flush that maniac out! We haven’t a moment to lose.”

“For once, I concur,” said Cossack.

“I also agree,” said Weaving quietly. The thought that the Scissor Army held their base underneath his nose was a disconcerting thought.

Megaman nodded. “Then it’s settled. We’ll send two larger forces to each location.”

Cossack stroked his beard thoughtfully. “We should also hold a reserve back … just in case things should go wrong. If nothing else they can go on a smaller mission.”

Crorq grunted. “Let us not forget Skull Castle. It may be just another Scissor Army base now, but if we could secure it … or even destroy it …”


Cutman spent most of his time in his office at Desert Gulch. Only Shoryu was witness to his anxiety. The robot master clutched at his head as he went over events again and again.

“It had all seemed to go perfectly. The moment I had spent so long … and at so much effort … I finally had it. I tasted it! And now … now no one can find the body of that oversized calculator or most of the Robot Police’s ranking officers! And now, all over the world, Robot Policemen are moving with coordination. Clearly he is alive. But how…?”

Shoryu couldn’t stand to see Cutman like this and tried her best to cheer him up. “It’s not so bad, Cut Papa. Even if they are back, you can just beat them again. Why … you have much more cities than they do now. You used your virus and stuff at the South Pole to distract them … and it worked! You even got one of Mesmer Papa’s bodies so you can talk things out with –“

“Mesmerman?” Cutman’s eyes flew wide open as a thought occurred to him that shouldn’t have been possible. He ran over his memory logs of every motion he made that day from the minute he entered Monsteropolis. And there it was… his answer.

Shoryu leapt out of the way as Cutman brought his fists down on the table. His rage still hadn’t cooled and so he brought them down again. And again! Shoryu shook in the corner as she witnessed Cutman rip the table free from the floor and hurl it into the nearest wall.

“That bastard! That bastard got into my head!”

“Please calm down.”

“I’ll calm down after I kill him.” Exercising self control Cutman regained his composure. He found both his arms were shaking and they only stopped as he mentally forced them too. Mesmerman … somehow he had planted a kind of post-hypnotic suggestion to only soft Shutdown all RPD officers instead of outright mindwiping and killing them. It was such a small and seemingly insignificant difference in thought that even Cutman didn’t detect any difference until he reviewed the very small details of his time. However, after reviewing the logs in his brain he saw it plain as day.

Mesmerman … he was everywhere! And even when he wasn’t he still found a way to get you. Like a viper … he had underestimated him. He never thought that grinning menace could get so close to him. As these thoughts spun in the General’s mind he searched for any altered commands and deleted any that happened to be there. Cutman was furious. Mesmerman had got to him … and as a result victory was snatched from out of his grasp!

With his anger down to a cold flame, the General strode through his now broken door. Shoryu followed him, but at a distance. Cutman was in a dangerous mood.

“What are you going to do?”

Cutman rounded a corner and did not slow down. “Something I should have done right after I shut those robot police officers down, that’s what.”

Cutman quickly made his way to the control room of Desert Gulch. Once, long ago, Cutman had conquered his planet Earth. After long periods of war he finally killed all his enemies and unleashed a plague upon humanity. On his Earth humankind was extinct. He kept stuffed representations in “the folly of history” museum. Joes were programmed with the knowledge that they were once a species that had ruined their planet and best left extinct. When he first got to this reality Cutman relished the chance to do things again. To have … a challenge. It had been too long since anyone dared to stand against him … or even wanted to, since all his enemies were already dead. But now … with victory cruelly snatched from his fingertips like food taken away from a starving man, Cutman was angry, frustrated, and hungry.

The orange robot opened communications to Mt. Elysium. “Napalmman! Where are you!?”

There was some fumbling on the other end followed by Napalmman’s gruff voice. “Yes, General?”

“Are the Chemical Missiles ready?”

“The chemical weapons? Sir, no sir! The order to assemble and launch was not anticipated –“

“Then get them ready! I want you to get them ready and fire them immediately!

Cutman cut off communications. Cutman clenched and then unclenched his hands repeatedly. And then he thought of what Shoryu has said earlier. He had gained valuable insight during the last set of missions. A mad glee came over the orange robot.

I hope they set a few extra places at dinner … they’re getting company!



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