7M : SA
Written by Hunter-Chameleon (Quint)
The Scissor Army... A few years ago, this robotic force, led by "General" Cutman, managed to wipe out 70% of mankind. The survivors are now settled in Eastern Asia, fearing the final attack. However, some of them still want a revenge...
It's nearly midnight in Kigoshima's harbor. The only sign of activity is a small cabin, where an arguing can be heard.
"... travelling to Arizona? Do you really mean it?
-What could be the other reasons I summoned you? Fishing?"
The speakers were divided in two group of six persons. The first one is composed of two soldiers in light armors, and their leader, the Captain John Aegrimm.
The other one, standing in the shadows, gives some metallic reflects in the pale light.
"Let's put it clearly: I don't want you to be involved in a such a thing: you might get killed before setting a toe on America. And I don't think the Six would approve this.
-We know the risks: I prepaired the company for the time we will turn Cutman in a tin can.
-But you do not know what you will meet. Take a look..."
The protagonist took a step to the light, revealing the face of one of Megaman's former enemies: Quint. He removed the cloak on his right arm to reveal a terrible scar: at the middle of the humerus, the green armor was totally cut, and the following was a mere skeleton.
"Swordman's act. Cannot say I didn't warn you. Did your opinion change?"
Aegrimm was now uncertain - the being that caused this wound was strong, and he was only a mere officer. Wouldn't his superiors be even stronger?
But one his aides came close to his ear and muttered some words. Aegrimm's face turned back to a confident expression.
"Not a bit. We'll go with or without you."
The Megaman look-alike smiled.
"Give 100,000 Zennys and we'll escort you.
-Excellent! We will meet tomorrow. Same time, same place. But let me introduce you some of my co-workers..."
The two other robots stepped in. One was a gold and violet robot with cannons on his wrists, and the other one was a red, monkey-like humanoid carrying a staff.
"Ballade of the Rockman Killers, and Buster Rod of the Genesis Unit.
-A pleasure to meet you."
Both robots nodded.
"Now, go and take a rest; the Seven Mercenaries will take care of the travel issues."
As the humans walked away, Buster Rod turned to Quint and said, in a sarcastic voice:
"Swordman, really? Last time you showed that scar, it was Tenguman's doing.
-Well, I suppose everything changes.
-I don't think it should include your own past, declared Ballade.
-Hmmph. I just give them what they want to hear. Anyways, we must get back to our ship.
-Sure thing. We can't make the other Mercs wait any longer."
On the next day, once they arrived at the pier, Aegrimm's men were astonished: in front of them stood a great barge, seven bots standing in front of it.
The smaller of them walked towards and shook hands with their captain.
"Told you everything would be ready. And this your private army?
-Could say so. We call ourselves "The Company of dusk".
-Nice name. I believe I didn't introduce you to all of the Mercs. You may remember Ballade and Buster Rod."
The two of Quint's partners walked back to the other bots, now forming two groups of three.
"These ones with Ballade are the Rockman Killers. Enker is the spear-wielder with a knight armor - he can block every attack. And that one in red is Punk - stay away from him in close combat.
- The ones with Buster Rod seem to have a common theme.
-My, you're an expert!" claimed Quint in an amused voice. "But you're right. Mega Water is the green, and Hyper Storm is the blue behemoth. With Buster Rod, they form the Genesis Squad."
The so-called Mega Water walked closer and nodded to Aegrimm.
"A pleasure to meet you. I am the boat's engineer. Hurry to get your men aboard, or the sea won't be as easy to travel on.
-Erm ... Right ... Company, let's go!"
As the men went into the boat, Quint muttered to his teammate:
"Remember I'm the one who gives orders.
- Maybe, but I deal with the boat. And the passengers."
A few hours later, in a military place near Los Angeles, someone was checking a radar screen. Then, as he stared at some uncommon sight, he called his superior.
"Look at this, Captain. Some boat left the Japanese Archipel, and is now heading to the western coast! What shall we do?
-Use the scanner. Maybe this is no common boat."
The scanner report showed a strangely large -for a boat of this size- metallic structure.
"So they are back... Good..."
The Captain turned to one of the computers and activated a transmission channel.
"Tell Major Waveman to get a squad ready. We want our guests to have some fun, isn't it?"
Hundreds of miles away, Aegrimm was staring at the sea, trying to remember how it all began.
Some years ago, he was a member of the UN Army. During the events of the Scissor War, due to an injury, he had to watch helplessly as the slaughters occured in North America. Then, only a few days after the Fallout, he gathered some his unit's veterans, and began to train them in anti-robotic fights. And now, he was travelling to stop the being that started this blood-bath...
"Mind if we chat a bit?"
Surprised, Aegrimm immediately turned back and took his gun out, now aiming at a startled Quint.
"Oh ... sorry.
-Don't worry, it happens a lot to me. Somehow, it looks like you wanted to ask me some things...
-Yeah. My problem is that, part of the Robot Masters now serves the General, and the remaining ones still resist. Whose side are you on?
-I think I'm on the humans' side.
-Let's explain. From all I remember, we are the last robot Wily re-activated before his disappearance, right?
-Such, we're the only remaining Wily Bots. And he was opposed to Light's servants, of course, and he later fought the General. Right now, we're doing several maneuvers to slow the Scissor Army's next assault down." At this point, the green robot began to smile. "This assassination is one of them.
-The way you say it, we're your tools. Could we really trust ..."
At this point, Quint rushed on Aegrimm to make him duck. A second later, a harpoon was shot at the point his head was standing.
"Alert! The Army is attacking!"
A dozen of Marine Joes jumped on the boat, their harpoon guns ready to impale anyone moving. Leading them was Major Waveman, the might spear-wielder.
"Ahoy, gentlemen! I warn yeh all that you're trespassing in territorial islands. We must apply the legislation - now."
At that signal, the Joes began to shoot everything in sight - members of the Company, and a few of the Mercs who were not on duty.
"Time to get my hands dirty as well..." muttered the CO as diving on a soldier. However, some energy shield deflected the spear, and sent the Major bumping on the bow.
"Fight someone of your level, fisherman!
-I should have guessed ... Enker, isn't it?
-It is. And I challenge you to a duel!
-Bring it on!" as the two bots charged each other.
The two duellist really were spear-masters: for a long time, each attack was parried, each flaw exploited, in a ballet rythmed by the sound of metal striking metal.
Finally, Enker collapsed - maybe of exhaustion. Waveman was about to impale him when his weapon, in a burning flash, was sent backwards by a strong force-field.
"The Mirror Buster ... I should have known..."
Totally defenseless, Waveman didn't dodge Enker's last attack, which cut his left arm from the shoulder.
"Take this as a lesson. Now out, or your neck is next."
Walking back, Waveman crouched to take his fallen arm back, and glared at the spear master with something like a wink.
The Joes immediately took back their fallen comrades, Waveman's spear, and left the boat, back to their base.
"I don't think they'll come back. Learned their lesson." Quint explained to his colleague. "Any wounded?
- N'yorin was killed, and Roben got one of those harpoons in the torso, but he should survive. No other men were strongly hurt.
-Strange. Almost as if they just wanted to scare us. Any idea why, Quint?"
The green robot kept staring at the waves, standing still like a statue.
"Guess not... Alright, we'll proceed to N'yorin's funerals in a few hours. We should rest for now. Worse things are waiting for us..."
Days later, the travelers finally arrived on the Eastern Coast, in a field of debris previously known as San Francisco.
The Mercs were mooring the ship, while the Company was getting ready against the virus' effects. Finally, a group of thirty men, suited with one of the US Army's latest developments: the Biological Armor.
These armors compensated their lack of mobility by an enhanced resistance to chemical agents and radiations. As long as they didn't leave their suits, they could survive in the wasteland.
Aegrimm walked closer to the Mercs ; he needed some answers that his men couldn't provide.
"Strange. It looks like there has not been any battle there. Why is it destroyed, then?
- The San Andreas Fault" said Punk calmly.
-It's kinda obvious. They launched some bombs in the Fault, creating strong vibrations and causing an earthquake. They let the survivors kill each other for food and shelters.
-Do you think there are any survivors out there?
-No one. When the missiles stroke, there was no warning for the civilians to get into shelters.
-That's a ... harsh statement.
-Maybe, but remember it's Cutman we're dealing with." explained Quint. "We'll go as soon as you ask us.
-Now, then. The earlier we do this, the better."
The robots all nodded. Then, they put on their capes, to protect them against the strong sun. One could have mistaken them with Far West desperados, especially Quint, with what seemed like a guitar case on his back.
"We already worked on the itinerary." Ballade took out a map of his belt. "If we go this way, we won't meet the SA patrols.
-How on Earth do you know that?
-We've studied them for a long time, and they always follow the same pattern. Desert Joes may have a great memory, but they a large territory to cover.
-Hmph. Still, I am forced to trust you." Aegrimm turned to his men. "Company, let's go!"
In Desert Gulch, some of the most dangerous beings the world has ever met were now discussing.
"I'm telling you, the General is off his mind. What if they betray him at the last moment?
-Relax. Didn't they help us very well the previous times?
-Sure. And remember all of these occasions where they could have put him down. I say we can trust them.
-It's almost like you never heard about them! The only time they fought with the blue brat, two of them escaped, and one betrayed Wily! The others could follow this example!
-Trying to discuss the General's choices, Captain?" the newcomer muttered, yet any of the present people heard him. He was now pointing at the "Captain" with his weapon, a gun that took down many valuable warriors. "I got to discuss with them, and they're reliable. Got it?
-You're not one to talk, Judge. One of my men actually had to carry you back from your first battle against the Light Alumni.
-As it matters. Now get back to your units, or I'll report your monitory tendencies..."
The Captain and his two interlocutors left, without a final glare at the Judge.
The company was now traveling to the Mojave Desert. During one of their halt, they met a proof of humanity's prudence, and how it miserably failed.
It is Roben who first spotted it: a huge, cylindrical door set on the slope of Mt Whitney. On it is written a single number: 13.
"Hey, I heard about this stuff!" exclaimed Zan. He was the Company's scientist, and always got aware of top-secret information. "It was the Post-Nuclear Preservation Project!" And he explained.
Years ago, the US Government created a specific company - Vault-Tek - which goal was to build several nuclear-proof shelters, each of them able to preserve a hundredth of humans during three generations - enough time for Earth's decontamination after the supposed Great War.
Did anyone make it to the vaults? Or was the structure empty, totally defeating its purpose of preservation? One could get the answer only in a century, when the doors finally open.
Hyper Storm brutally summarized the situation.
"Whatever is or isn't in it, that's not our business. Staying here any longer will make us spotted by the Army."
With these words, and a feeling of defeat after this sight, the Company continued its travel to Elysium.
Finally, after a whole week walking though the wasteland, the travelers arrived to the foot of an abnormally large mountain. it wasn't referenced in any encyclopedias, and it was too much of a work for having been done by humans.
"What you see here", explained Buster Rod, "is Elysium. The whole fortress is set in the mountain, previously elevated by the Army's workers.
-That is some huge rock, and it must be well defended. How are we supposed to get in there?
-Don't worry" said calmly Quint. "Our friend Hyper Storm here will open a way. Isn't it, comrade?
-Stand away, all. Might send pebbles and stuff all over the place."
The giant robot threw his cape away, put his hands on the ground, like a football player before the melee. After what seemed an eternity, he charged, helped by rocket boosters at the level of his feet. He finally crushed into the mountain with an earth-shattering noise.
After the dust cleared up, a large portion of the mountain was missing, and Hyper Storm was sitting close to it, half knocked by the impact.
"You go next, Quint. Must refrain my head from going away..."
The green robot took down his guitar case, opened it and took some sort of drill from it.
"Now, if one of you were kind enough to help me, I would greatly appreciate it."
Punk hurriedly came and helped Quint to fix the device on his right arm: the metallic structure was now covered with a large, crimson drill, similar in a way to Megaman's Power Adapter.
"This, gentlemen, is the Sakugarne, and it will help me to finish the work of Hyper Storm."
The desert was filled for several minutes with the sound of Quint drilling through the mountain ; then, he pierced a large enough way into one of Elysium's corridors.
"Hurry up in, now. They may have been warned by the noise."
Inside the fortress, the soldiers had to be careful; failing this close of their goal would have been such a disgrace... Luckily, they didn't meet any guard during their travel to the main room, the one where their target would be.
They were almost at the mountain's top when the Mercs stopped them. Ballade immediately activated his X-ray visor.
"Alright. He's in this room, alone. I'll show you."
Immediately, Zan walked closer, carrying a portative screen. The purple warrior connected one of its wires to his oculars, showing the scene: the General was sitting on his chair, looking at his computer, unaware of what would soon happen to him.
This was what Aegrimm had waited for since he accepted the Mercs' offer. He asked to Kane, his main pyrotechnical, to prepare the door. Then, he turned to his men:
"Company! Get ready to kill the General! On the count of 3, we'll burst in and shoot this bastard to death! 1 ... 2 ..."
"3!" At this signal, the door exploded, and the thirty veterans ran in, emptying their guns on the orange robot. It was only after their weapons stopped, and the metallic corpse lied down on the ground, that he turned to the Mercs, only to see the Sakugarne's drill pointed on his heart.
"Mercenaries", said calmly Quint, as his partners were removing their capes and taking their weapons, "it is the time to fill in our next contract."
The next minutes were a total slaughter; the Company, who had wasted all of his ammunition on the General, was defenseless as the Mercs charged them. If one tried to flee Enker's spear, he would get his skull crushed by buster Rod's staff. Had one managed to step out of Hyper Storm's charge, Punk's Screw Crushers would slice him in half.
Ballade and Mega Water were slowly walking around the arena, one throwing explosive Crackers in, adding confusion, and the other throwing water blasts, stronger than a geyser, on anyone who would try to escape.
Quint quickly took Aegrimm apart, blocking him on the wall by grabbing his throat with his left hand.
"You ... promised us ... help ...
-And we did. We escorted you to the General so that you would kill him. He is dead, so we apply an older contract - turning you to cold meat.
-Who ... asked this?
-Sorry, my policy is to never betray my current employer" explained Quint, half-laughing, half-serious as he killed Aegrimm with his drill-arm.
When it finally was over, the Mercs were covered in blood, which Mega Water quickly cleaned with light-powered blasts, while Quint stared at the mass grave. He quickly took a dramatic gesture.
"Alas, cruel fate! The company of dusk will never see the dawn..."
"Well, well ... You should have been a poet, Quint. It remarkably suits you."
The newcomer, still in the dark, had a pair of metallic blades on his head, and wore what seemed like a lab coat. He was escorted by two robots ; on his left was a camo-green colored one, with a propeller on his back, and on his right was a brown-colored robot, carrying an extremely huge rifle.
"Ah, it's you, General. And you brought friends too? Nice!
-They are my bodyguards and assistants. You could still be up to another treachery...
-Do you really believe I would betray you? With all of this money involved? You just hurt my feelings, General.
-You don't take jokes that well, Quint." grinned the orange robot. "but here's my promise." The General threw to the Mercs a large bag of money.
"A million Zennys, this is what we agreed to. Now, Gyroman and Searchman will escort you back to your ship." Cutman came closer and shook hands with Quint. "Until next time, Quint.
-As long as you pay us enough, we'll always be ready to work with the Scissor Army."
As the Mercs left the room, the General activated a communicator.
"Supply Corps? Get a truck ready. Captain Gyroman and the Judge will escort the Mercs back."
He then cut the communication, and walked closer to his fake corpse. It was a regular Joe painted orange and a fake pair of Rolling Cutters on his head.
"What a pity" he said, removing the dummy's coat, "it's good for rags now..."
Then, he stared at some men who attempted to assassinate him, and thought, while lighting himself a Cuban "But it was worth the sacrifice..."
The fortress echoed with the General's laughter as he headed to his private quarters.
The truck heading to San Francisco would still take hours before arriving, and so the Mercs and their escorters began to talk about many subjects, mainly news from the Human Zone.
"Do the Light Alumni plan an attack for soon?
-Not sure, Gyroman. All we deal with is helping human groups to head to this place - and get killed. But on the radios, all they say is "We're keeping the Army away, don't worry" and all of that stuff.
-It's only because we don't attack them, as a matter of fact. Preparing the final strike demands loads of time and energy, and you help us in this.
-Sure! By "escorting" the humans who are willing to shoot the General down, you weaken their militias. And by studying their weapons, we can enhance our defenses.
- Now, stop talking about this, Captain" declared the Judge. "We don't want the Mercs to give all of these details to the Light Alumni, isn't it?
-But it wasn't our goal. Even if we worked for them, we wouldn't give them these information." The Mercs stopped and thought about this idea. "It would depend of how much they pay us - and it still wouldn't be enough."
Finally, the truck arrived, and the Mercs headed to their ship - nothing had changed since they left to Elysium. Quint pressed a little button on his wrist, activating a small communicator.
"Time to get the submarine up. Operation H58."
Immediately, the ship seemed to shake, as if something bigger was coming out of the sea right under it.
It got finally thrown away, as a green metallic tower came out of the waves, soon followed by one of Wily's most ambitious projects - a gigantic space battleship, able to travel in outer space as well as under the seas.
The juggernaut is weaponed with laser turrets, and a large horned skull was set on its bow.
As the Mercs headed to the deck, Quint turned to the surprised COs and explained:
"This, gentlemen, is our base and home - the Marauder. I would have liked to make you visit it, but we must go to our docks.
-So, this is the time our ways separate. until next time, Quint."
The green robot was only half-listening, as he put on a black cloak. He then turned to the Scissor Army members, smiling.
"Whenever I am on this boat, you may refer to me as Captain Quint. Give the General my greetings!"
And, on this words, the Marauder left, heading to the South-West.
The mission was now finished. The Mercs were now resting, except Buster Rod, who was still working on some human tissues he managed to take from the Company's corpses.
"So, what are the results?" Quint was watching the simian robot manipulating test tubes containing different liquids, each of them potentially harmful to humans. Buster Rod finally turned to his captain and removed his magnifying glasses.
"No good. The serums we developed during the last two weeks are still useless against the General's chemical agent.
-What's the problem? It's only one element!
-You're wrong. It's a combination of several anti-human viruses and bacteria. Plus, they were modified to prevent the creation of a successful vaccine.
-These scientists really knew what they were doing. Too bad for them, it fell in the General's claws.
-I still have a question, Quint: why do you want me to find a protection against this agent? We don't need it, and the human soldiers have their armors.
-You forget the civilians, Buster.
-I don't get you.
- Think about it. If someone finds a cure against this agent, people will be able to live and travel to contaminated lands. Lands now being under the Scissor Army's control. They sure would exact a guerilla on those people, isn't it? And it's not like the Light Alumni are everywhere...
-So, we help both these humans and the Army, giving us more and more money!
-Exactly. Go and rest, too. I'll take the watch."
Even if the Marauder was operated by a crew of Wily robots (based on the Sniper Joes, but without any weaponry), the Mercs still kept the watch, in case anyone would try to communicate with them.
As the captain, Quint had his personal seat - it previously was Wily's, as indicated the red W on its back. Staying still, he began to think about his previous expedition, and the eventual elements he would have to correct next time.
The Marauder was still sailing at full speed to its harbor, a fortress located on France's Atlantic Coast. There, the Mercs would repair their wounds, and train until they were called again.
The dawn is beautiful when you watch it alone, thought Quint. Too bad Aegrimm wouldn't see this anymore...
A great smile appeared on his face. This wasn't the Seven Mercenaries' first mission, but it sure wouldn't be the last one.