Rockman EXE belongs to someone who isnít me. References to
Frontier and Dragon Drive are coincidental...I think. Salamander Dart!
A/N: I swear, I wrote this before I knew the title of the GameCube game. x.X Freaky coincidence...
I wish I could
reach out and touch you If only for the length of a
It was a slow day for the Netbattlers of Akihara.
"Sorry, Netto-kun, I really need to do my piano practice today," Meiru said apologetically, holding up a sheaf of sheet music. "We could do something after school tomorrow."
"Sure...see you tomorrow, then." Meiru turned the corner and disappeared on her scooter.
"I need to have a beauty treatment done," Yaito declared from the window of her limo, halting Netto from asking the question that was about to leave his mouth. She waved and rolled up the tinted glass as the car sped off. "Bai-bai~!"
"What about you, Dekao-kun?" Netto asked hesitantly. "Want to have a Net battle?"
"Not today," he sulked. "I'm still grounded for sneaking out with you LAST week. See ya, Netto."
"Bye." The bigger boy left in the same direction Meiru had gone (probably trying to catch up to her, Netto reflected wryly) and disappeared. "Che! They're all so busy on a Sunday."
Dejected, the teen skated down the sidewalk to a small park, where he sat down on a bench and took out his PET. "You'll have to keep me company today, Rockman."
"If there's anything I can do, Netto-kun, I'll do it."
Netto's expression turned sour for a moment, then he picked up a pebble and threw it into the small pond.
Netto sighed. "I'm just bored. I wish one of the others had some time for me today."
"I'm always here."
"You're stuck in the PET. What good is that?" Netto was only letting on to a sliver of the bitterness he was feeling. "It's just great," he said sarcastically, "I have lots of casual friends, but I find myself thinking of a computer program as my best friend. That's not normal."
Rockman was quiet for a moment. "I'm your best friend?"
"Of course." Netto held the PET in front of him, smiling at the blushing Navi. "I mean, Meiru is my oldest, closest friend...but she's a girl, and they think differently sometimes. Yaito-chan is the same, and I don't know her that well...and Dekao I like, but I don't think he likes me so much." Netto's eyes were downcast still. "So...yeah, you're my best friend, but I can't even hug you or hang out with you or try new things with you...all we can do is talk."
"Is that what's been bothering you?" Rockman crossed his arms inside the PET. "I'm glad you think of me like that, but aren't you lonely?"
This seemed to bring even Rockman's spirits down a notch. "Oh."
"I wish..." Netto smiled wistfully, gazing at the sky. "I wish sometimes that you could come out of there, and we could be friends. Not Operator and Navi, just normal kids. You can't do that, can you?"
"I can't," Rockman said apologetically. "I'm made of data. There'd be no vessel to hold me outside the PET."
Human and Navi fell silent for a few moments, until Rockman brightened a bit. "You could come in here."
"In where? In the PET?"
"Into a computer system. I have an e-mail that Glyde asked me to pass to you, Gutsman and Roll-chan about one of those VR games Gabcom makes. Yaito-chan offered us a test run of the game."
"Really?" This intrigued Netto. Maybe it wouldn't be a waste of a Sunday after all. "Where can I get the game?"
"I'm certain if Yaito-chan wasn't too busy to see to us, one of the servants would."
Netto leapt to his feet and skated down the sidewalk, PET in hand. "Awesome! Do you know any more about the game, Rockman?"
"Sorry, Netto-kun. All I know is that it's some sort of spy game. You can play it over the Net with anyone who has the equipment."
Within moments the boys had arrived at Yaito-chan's mansion, where Netto hesitantly rang at the gate--avoiding an occurrence such as the last one, when he and Dekao had snuck in through the fence and gotten caught by Security.
"Yaito-sama is occupied," Glyde explained once Rockman had been plugged into a PET terminal. "I can arrange for one of the prototypes to be brought to you, if you like."
"That'd be fine," Rockman assured him. "Netto-kun and I will just try it out."
Glyde signaled something to the house security system and turned back to the blue Navi. "Tell Netto-san he may go to the hideout, and the game will be rerouted through the system there. The servants will bring the VR equipment."
"Got it." Rockman transferred himself to the hideout's computer after relaying the information to his Net battler.
A few moments later Netto appeared at the tree house with a jumble of equipment in his hands. "I got everything--and you got the program?"
"I did," Rockman confirmed, initializing the game on the huge screen. "Glyde says to play, you just plug the chip into your PET and put on the helmet. Then I start the game, and you choose computer players. There are Navi players built into the game."
Netto glanced at the chip. "Transmission. Not a creative name for a game these days--what else should I know?" He fastened the helmet onto his head and lowered the visor.
"Not a lot. Basically, you shoot anyone who isn't me. There are some bonuses and things, but you're supposed to find them yourself."
"Got it." Netto held up the chip connected to the helmet. "Are you ready?"
His Navi met him with a nod.
"Extension chip! Transmission--slot in!"
Immediately the visor went dark around Netto's head and he was met with a select screen. Number of Opponents.
Netto entered 40. Rockman was a good shot, after all.
Rockman had already selected "Team Battle," so Netto was presented with the last screen.
Do you want to start?
Netto was deposited in a cityscape on his backside, a gun clattering to the ground beside his foot. He looked around warily. "Rockman?"
His PET was no longer in his virtual hands, which--upon testing against realistic asphalt--seemed real enough. "Rockman?"
Grudgingly he retrieved the pistol and stood, surveying the landscape. The city was lined with skyscrapers and banners, but was completely devoid of people. Netto moved into the shadow of a building and squinted at the road, searching for enemies or his missing partner.
When no one appeared after a few moments he edged out of the alley and was immediately rewarded with a spray of gunfire. He blindly aimed the pistol and fired, hitting one of the three enemy Navis in the chest.
Unfortunately, that action drew the attention of the OTHER 39 Navis in the city, at least half of which immediately began to pursue Netto. The teen elected to run for his life.
Shoving his roller blades onto his shoes, Netto took off down the empty street, which was quickly filling with the enemy Navis. All were dressed in black jumpsuits and helmets, and most carried machine guns.
He sped over the pavement, dodging back and forth, until the crest of a hill. The Navis pursued in a clump, spraying gunfire all over the city, destroying fragile windows and signs.
Just a little further--
Juking to the left, Netto prepared to start shooting the enemies over his shoulder--how could he miss?--when one of the Navi's shots actually connected with his left leg. It immediately buckled and he flailed, throwing weight onto his right. Off-balance, he careened out-of-control over the hill.
His bladed foot struck a bump in the asphalt and Netto flew into the air, pistol clattering to the ground. He closed his eyes as he was thrown, wind rushing past his head, blood pounding in his ears. This is it. I'm going to die.
Gravity finally caught the boy and Netto hurtled toward the ground, until heart-wrenching seconds later he slammed into something hard and he felt all his breath leave him. His head throbbed and his lungs refused to take in air.
Rockman's helmet had clattered across the pavement on impact, and had a sizable dent in it. Human and Navi were sprawled in a heap, and the spandex-clad boy looked in worse shape than Netto. His jumpsuit was torn and his hair mussed, but his presence in Netto's path of flight had been the only thing to save the brunette. Neither was injured, save for the wound in Netto's leg.
"Realistic game," Netto gasped, fighting the simulated pain.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah." Netto took the roller blades off his shoes and tried to stand. Rockman stood in front of his partner defensively.
"What's your weapon?"
"A pistol. I lost it." Netto wasn't quite sure how far the force of gravity might have taken the gun. "You?"
"Just my Rockbuster." He fired a shot at one of the enemies, plasma impacting aganst its chest. Mortally wounded, it logged out. "But it seems to be reacting slowly."
As Netto lurched to his feet, clinging to Rockman's shoulder for support, the experienced Navi shot off 9 blasts, destroying an enemy with every shot. Netto spotted his pistol lying on the sidewalk a few meters away and staggered after it as Rockman reloaded.
"Damn!" The Navi emptied another supply of plasma into the enemies before running to Netto's side. "Come on, Netto-kun, we'll hide."
"I can't run!"
Rockman picked his friend up easily and slung him over his shoulder. "I'm faster than them. I hope."
Netto gritted his teeth as the spandex-clad boy took off at a dead run, jarring every bone in his body. He managed to get off a few shots at the enemies, taking down three Navis.
Rockman kicked open the door of the nearest building and sprinted up the stairs, dragging Netto with him. The building was run-down, old, with simulated dust everywhere. Both boys ignored the scenery. "We'll go to the roof," Rockman gasped, "and snipe them."
"Right," Netto agreed.
They pounded up the steps and burst out onto the roof, where the slightest wisp of a breeze hovered in the air. Rockman gently sat Netto on the ground and flopped down beside him. "Don't think...I've ever gotten so tired running before..."
"Must be the game," Netto wheezed. "It's probably giving you capabilities similar to a human's."
Rockman did not respond, trying to regain his breath before crawling to the edge of the roof. "Come on, we'll nab some of 'em from here."
Netto joined him, pistol in hand, and started shooting blindly at the clump of Navis in the street. "Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Gods, Netto-kun, how many enemies did you invite?"
"Almost--done--" Rockman fired off seven more rounds, felling the opponents that Netto had missed. "Thirty-nine? Where's the last?"
"Maybe I hit him earlier."
"I thought I counted them--okay, shouldn't the game end?"
Both boys looked up at the sky expectantly, as though a Game Over sign would appear from the heavens.
Netto sprawled on the concrete good-naturedly, ignoring the flaming pain in his leg. "Well, that was fun. And this is really cool, being able to see you like this."
"I agree." Rockman's green eyes were glittering in exhilaration. "I told you we didn't always have to talk through the PET."
"Yeah, but now we're being hunted down!" Netto laughed, but his face turned solemn once again. "You know, Rockman...I never thought we'd have a chance to meet like this...and now I don't know what to say."
Rockman suspected that despite what they had just went though; Netto's mind was still on the conversation in the park. "What do you mean?"
"All that meaningful stuff doesn't come easy to me, you know that. But...Rockman...I just wanted you to know how good a friend you are to me. I really appreciate it."
"I appreciate your friendship too, Netto-kun." Rockman smiled sincerely.
Netto's face broke into a grin and he leaned forward to hug the Navi. Rockman's skin felt warm and real under his jumpsuit, and his hair tickled Netto's cheek. The computerized boy hugged back with equal strength.
A crashing sound tore the surprised boys apart--the final Navi had appeared on the rooftop. Rockman had raised his arm and felled it with the darts before either could blink.
Hesitantly Netto turned to look at Rockman, and both boys burst into peals of laughter as darkness came crashing down around them.
Tears of mirth still lingered in his eyes as Netto removed the helmet and glanced at his partner on the huge screen. Rockman's jumpsuit had been repaired and he again wore his helmet. "Are you all right?"
Netto checked his leg. Not a hint of the wound remained. "Yeah, I'm fine. You?"
"I've regained my strength as well." The Navi was in much better shape than he'd been in the game. "So was it worth it?"
"Definitely. We'll tell Yaito-chan that the experiment was a big success." He unplugged the chip from his PET and moved to disconnect it from the main computer. "You ready to head back home? It's almost dark."
"Sure." Rockman transferred himself back to the PET, thanking Glyde for his assistance. "Let's go."
Netto smiled hesitantly and disconnected his PET from the terminal. "Rockman...thanks."
Netto cut the power and attached the PET to his belt before turning off the lights and activating the security systems in the hideout. He fumbled in the darkness for the door and slipped out of the treehouse, skating toward home before his mother began to worry. He left the game equipment beside Yaito's computer--certainly one of the servants would be sent to retrieve it.
And if they didn't, he grinned to himself; he could always come back and play the game again.
I wish I could
reach out and touch you....
Shi-chan: I listened to Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls a lot
while writing this...and fought very hard not to make it implicate more than friendship. ^^;; Thanks to the wpp gang, as usual, for putting up with my
flooding and the occasional typo correction. Cyber, Gaia, Golden, Akaru, Jen,