Just outside of the city limits of Monsteropolis, Dr. Light had been hard at work in his home repairing several of Dr. Wily's robots from the Eighth War. At this point it was just getting cumbersome. He really wished the man would see the error of his ways and stop this nonsense, but alas, that was only a fading dream, and the good doc was slowly beginning to accept it as such.
At the very least, he can undo some of the damage wrought by the mad doctor by repurposing his robots and giving them the opportunity to make a positive impact in society. He firmly believed everyone deserves a second chance, a shot at redemption, to set things right, begin on a clean slate… Everyone.
He was in the lab with his beloved son, Rock, and his darling daughter Roll, his own creations, his cybernetic children, and they were assisting him with these repairs. Rock looked over at the remaining two robots who were to be reactivated in their now repaired bodies. This would be the first time they'd be active since several months ago when he raided Wily Tower, nearly had himself and Rush destroyed by both the doctor and that evil energy that had thankfully been dispelled by the spacefaring Duo.
His heart was heavy...would any of these robots be too willful and choose deactivation over settling into civilian life? So far and so good, all of them had been more than willing to abandon their old programming in favor of something new.
Astro Man needed no convincing, never desiring to fight in the first place, and was sent to atone for his antics at the local museum, working in the deep space wing. Clown Man grudgingly accepted his fate as an entertainer and was working at a nearby amusement park, seeming to have lightened up after being allowed to work near the prize counters. He claims he hates it, but if one watches him closely, they could observe the faintest of grins on his painted face during his shift. Search Man was sent to the military to be studied, he was one that worried Rock. One head seemed to possess no ill will toward humanity, or Rock himself, but the other was staunchly loyal to Wily and belligerent, and so was very unstable as the two fought for control, but he'd have to let the government sort that one out. Frost Man had been sent to the same outpost as Ice Man to help with polar bear study, and last he heard the little guy was happy to have a new friend since it got pretty lonely out there. Tengu Man joined an air patrol division of military and performed alongside their fastest fighter jets, pleased to be the center of attention as one of their star attractions that drew in crowds to raise support for the endeavor. Aqua Man lived his dream as a performer as well, putting on stunning shows at a water park.
That just left the doctor with the two finished, but lifeless bodies of Sword Man and Grenade Man. They all exchanged glances. Tengu and Search had been rather bumpy, but overall adjusted, but they came to the quiet, solemn consensus that Grenade was just a little too destructive to reactivate at the moment, and their only option in the military still had their hands full breaking in Search.
Dr. Light decided he would talk to the general about him and see what they could do, he assured Rock that he would do all that he could for him, so that just left them with Sword. Rock honestly wasn't too worried. From what he could remember, the bisected robot was one of the more reasonable of his foes with a calmer demeanor, and certainly not as dangerous as his brother beside him. Dr. Light nodded at his son, walking over to another surface to retrieve one of the last two IC chips in a small canister while Rock and Roll carried the large robot over to the steel table, both carrying a half of him.
"Why do I have to touch the butt side?" Roll grumbled, carefully avoiding said posterior as she dumped his limp lower half on the table beneath his torso, which Rock carefully placed. He cast her a glance, a small, playful smile on his face, and she grimaced, before they both turned to Dr. Light, stern once more. He opened up the compartment on Sword Man's chest, very gingerly lowering the chip into a little node made specifically for it, and delicately soldered it in. He closed the chip's compartment, adjusting a few minor dents in his interior that he had missed, before closing that up as well. After a moment, there was a low hum as his systems started up, and finally, his eyes opened, green LED optics bleary as he began scanning his surroundings, a tired, staticky groan escaping him. His consciousness registered, and his eyes snapped open wide in quiet disbelief.
It wasn't a question. It was a statement, as if clarifying to himself this was in fact, the land of the living.
"Yes, yes you are." Dr. Light assured him, placing a hand on his large pauldron. "Though you are very far from your, um...station. You're in Monstropolis, my laboratory to be precise. It's been three months since you've been out."
Sword blinked. Three months?!
"...Where's Dr. Wily?"
"Rotting in jail, where he belongs, or maybe the loony bin. Hopefully the lo-" Roll began, at which Rock nudged her. "Oof! What?"
"He's in the police's custody right now. His sentence hasn't been decided yet, but he is alright." Rock assured him. "But, they've decided that since you all were only doing what you were programmed to do, they'd give you a chance to redeem yourselves with community service, as well as the opportunity to find a new purpose." he smiled hopefully.
Sword Man looked thoughtful, a bit apprehensive at news of his master being jailed, but he knew they wouldn't abuse a frail and unwell old man, despite his atrocious track record...the other bit he pondered for a while...a chance to follow his own dreams...what a wild concept. He wasn't sure if there was any purpose for him outside of combat, but it wouldn't hurt to try, he supposed. His thoughts drifted elsewhere.
"And what of my brothers?"
Dr. Light couldn't help smiling himself, and Rock was beaming at this point.
"They're all bettering the world in their own ways." he replied jubilantly. "In a few more weeks, we're going to have them regroup to tell us about how they're doing, so you'll get to see them then! Or maybe you'll run into them while finding your own calling."
A wave of relief washed over Sword. So they really were all alive still. Well, almost all of them. The dormant Grenade Man did not go unnoticed, his demeanor taking on a subdued edge once more as he looked the still frame over. Roll followed his line of sight, a near inaudible ‘oh’ leaving her, before perking up.
"Hey, don't be too down about him," she piped up, "we're gonna see about getting him all set up too. Just might be a while cause he's bonke-OW! Heeey!” she yelped, turning to her brother with a betrayed look. “You don't have to be a buttface, Rock." she pouted, rubbing her arm where Rock pinched her synthetic skin.
"He just needs a few more adjustments before he's safe to reactivate. His circuitry was badly damaged." Dr. Light hastily added in. It wasn't untrue, but it wasn't the only reason for his delayed reactivation. Sword nodded in understanding. There was really no need to explain it. He knew firsthand how volatile and unstable his brother was, so there were no hard feelings toward them for being cautious. He found the doctor very trustworthy, so his worries were eased once more. His legs shifted and he turned them, hanging them off the edge of the table, while his torso remained in place. He looked down at the ornate weapon that composed most of his right arm, suddenly feeling very embarrassed.
"Oh! Um...I'm sure you already know where this came from.." he began in a low mumble, raising the blade slightly. This thing was a stolen artifact, and Sword was positive the museum Wily pilfered it from would like to have it back.
"No worries about it. The institute said you could hold onto it, so long as you are responsible with it and do not use it to harm innocents, human, bot, or otherwise." he began, "And they would like you to come in now and then for some study, as they were previously unaware of its combustible properties."
He was taken aback by all of Thomas’s generosity, and not only that, but how graceful the institution was about his creator's theft of their possession. He nodded, feeling a spark of enthusiasm at their kindness.
"Of course! I’d be glad to assist them however possible. And rest assured I only wish to use this blade to protect my fellow bots, and mankind." he replied, then paused... He really must've been relinquished of his only previous prerogative, which was to guard the temple base and destroy Mega Man if they crossed paths. A protective 'instinct' was always present, but it was never in the context of anyone besides just one man. One objective...Though nothing else changed about himself, as far as he could tell, there was a strange sense of emptiness where that programming once was. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant piece of his being to have lost, but its absence was felt nonetheless. A 'PROTECT WILY'S BASE' shaped hole in his circuitry, if you will.
"Doctor...did you...?" he asked quietly, trailing off, not even sure how to raise this question. Dr. Light had a thoughtful frown, already aware of where this conversation was headed, but still, his eyes were very soft. Aged from everything that's transpired in the last few years, yet they didn't lose that glimmer of compassion; he knew this was something that was never easy for a re-calibrated Robot Master.
"I'm sure you are aware that there are strict regulations imposed on robots confiscated from Dr. Wily." he began carefully, "I'm afraid I'm required to remove some of your programming, but don't worry, I limit it to only the components that may be dangerous, and also the ability for Wily to override your new settings. You are free to choose your own path now!...Still, it is your decision whether or not you are comfortable with these changes, though I'm afraid the alternative isn't a very pleasant one. But it is the best we can do for you, and for your brothers."
Sword Man gave a small nod, but didn't reply. His left hand drifted over to the large blade mounted to his right arm, slowly tracing the glyphs inscribed. He was just a weapon...yet, one that no longer had a purpose, a dulled instrument. After all, he had already failed at his primary function. The blue reminder of that was standing right before him, and more concerned for him than his creator had ever seemed to be, at that! What poetic irony. He would laugh if it wasn’t for the stark reality gnawing at his circuitry. With Wily behind bars, and the world at peace for now, there really was no place for a living weapon...
No, but he didn’t have to be a weapon anymore, and his benefactors standing before him ensured this.
If the majority of his brethren managed to find a purpose in their new lives, perhaps he too will be able to do the same. His gaze drifted back over to Rock. The boy had an air about him that seemed very uneasy yet filled with hope, there was a look in his eyes that indicated he didn't wish to see any of his fellow robots deactivated so prematurely in their creation, especially due to circumstances beyond their control. Roll glanced from Dr. Light, to Sword Man, then back to Rock, her hand on her brother’s shoulder in a comforting manner. It was much more subtle than her twin, but he could feel the concern radiating from her as well.
There was another moment of silence as Sword weighed the options. He wasn't particularly afraid of deactivation, so if there was no place for him, he was content with this decision. But, considering Rock had been so eager to see them brought to redemption, so merciful as to recover their IC chips, and now with the good Doctor being so generous and offering him a new life, it would be absurd to turn down the opportunity, not to mention that'd be obscenely rude and unbecoming of the honorable (former) warrior bot.
Why break the successful chain his brothers created? Finally reaching a decision, he nodded, pushing himself off the table, titanium boots meeting the tile with a hollow thud. As he stood, he turned to the doctor, looking down as a warm smile broke through his previously stoic expression.
"I am humbled by all this kindness. Thank you..I'll do my best."