He was standing guard.
He had been doing so since his body was reconstructed… eighteen months of standing guard, with very occasional action at best. Nothing that would cause any problems, either… nothing anywhere near the duel that had destroyed him the last time.
He was guarding that which would one day, he told himself, would be used for the triumphant return of his master. His master was in jail now… but he had come back twice before, and he would surely do so again.
And when that time came, he would be one of those to lead the forces, and he would get his revenge on those two accursed Light bots. They had not been able to defeat him before they had attacked in tandem, but their combined strength had been too much. He had been defeated. But not killed.
For Enker was not one to die so easily. Even if his body was destroyed, it was not certain that it would kill him. He had been reconstructed two times, and there were still parts to allow for him to revive again. There had been two more like him, strong robots who would not let go of their life so easily. But they were now gone… Punk had been the first to fall, having met his ultimate end at the hands of an unknown entity, his body not only destroyed but entirely disintegrated. Ballade was technically unaccounted for at the time Enker had last been taken out of commission, and he had not been given any more information about it than that he was to be considered gone. And so, Enker was the sole remaining Rockman Killer, the name given to Wily’s strongest trio. They would have been his generals, his foremost soldiers when he returned.
But now, Enker could not do anything but wait. Defend this place, guard these archives… hone his skills. For he had access to the archive systems, and could load a weapon system to fight. A weapon pod, it was called. It could use any weapon stored in these archives, be loaded with the AI of any of Wily’s robot masters. Enker would use these to learn how to fight any type of weapon, any sort of foe. But he tried to not destroy the pods, merely still them so that they could be used again… for he did not know how to repair them, and no more were being placed in the archives. He had learned many fighting techniques, and felt that he would be ready if he was ever again accosted by Rockman… he would see to that with his weapon. His spear.
Enker’s weapon, the spear called the Mirror Buster, was one of the most advanced pieces of weaponry that Wily had ever constructed. It was one of a kind, and its function was closely intertwined with Enker’s body. The spear could attract and absorb energy, even kinetic energy, and with this create an attack, an arrow of energy, amplified and directional. This was why he had been chosen to be the guardian of the archives… when anyone attacked, he could divert the attack towards himself, thereby making sure that the archives came to no harm.
Enker walked to the computer that was the core of the archives, the system that held all the combat data of Wily’s creations, as well as what could control most of the archives. He tapped some buttons, bringing up a list of combat data… looking to find one to fight. Three weapon pods were loaded into the machine. He could fight three at once, it was no problem… but some combinations were harder than others. He decided on one of Wily’s older robot masters, Metal Man, to start with. The machine started loading the data, a process that would take a few minutes. It would be a…
He would not have that fight. He heard the sound of a gate opening in the other end of the large cavern that housed the archives. He paused the system, turning around to face the intruder. It was a humanoid shape… not much larger than himself. Mostly black… a distinctly shaped head.
He very well knew who had come to visit. And it was not a wanted guest. Turning his attention fully to the visitor, he held his spear in a firm grip and started walking towards the intruder, whom he did not yet percieve as a threat. He seemed to make no fuss of himself yet either, but was simply wandering towards Enker.
The two met in the middle of the cavern, facing each other.
"You are not allowed to come here."
"I’m only here to take what’s rightfully mine. For now."
"Even so…" Enker pointed his weapon towards Forte. "You are not one of those allowed to come here as they wish."
Forte put a hand on the spear, pushing it to point away from him. "Says who?"
"Says our master."
"Hmph. It’s over, Enker. The old order is gone. Wily failed." Forte stared Enker in the eyes. "He’s gone."
"You’re lying."
"No lies. Wily destroyed himself… he was ended by something he himself unleashed. He let a final scourge out in the world… his final act will echo for generations to come, but the old man himself is not coming back." He took a breath. "Something big is about to go down out there, Enker. And none of us are equipped to handle it."
"Hmph. I’m sure Light’s robots will take care of it again."
"No, Enker. Light, and his spawn, are also gone."
"Wait. Are you saying…"
"Light himself is dead. So is Rock, and all the others… only Blues is still unconfirmed. There’s a new generation on the march, and we’re not part of it."
"Like the one that killed Punk?"
"Not quite… only three of those ten are still in action. Punk’s killer is among those three, and by far the strongest… perhaps stronger than both of us. He might live. But we would not."
"What happened to you, Forte? Is this the confidence of the one calling himself Wily’s strongest creation?"
"Nothing is wrong with my confidence… but the world grows. A new threat emerges. And I merely want to ensure that I have a fighting chance against it. And so…" Forte raised his arm, pointing his buster towards Enker. "Will you get out of the way, so that I can get what I came for?"
Enker shifted his weight and gripped his spear in a battle-ready stance. "I destroyed you last time we fought, and I can do it again!" He stabbed towards Forte’s torso, but Forte dashed backwards.
"Hmph. When we last fought, I was newborn… and I still took one of your arms!" He fired a series of bullets from his buster. Enker simply pointed his spear in the direction of the bullets, drawing them in, absorbing the energy as they struck the shaft. He then pulled it back and made another stabbing motion towards Forte, causing an arrowhead of energy to fly towards him. Forte easily dodged it by jumping over it. Enker tried to anticipate Forte’s landing and moved in for another stab, but before Forte hit the ground, he jumped a second time in mid-air, landing behind Enker. He quickly turned around and released another volley of shots from his buster before making a dash away from Enker.
Again, Enker absorbed the shots. But if he fired in Forte’s direction right away, he ran the risk of striking the computer. Instead, he held on to the charge, absorbing it into his own body. Had his power cell been drained, this would have restored energy to him, but as it was, the effect was negligible. But his options were limited, as the spear could not preserve a charge for more than five seconds, and when that time was up, would release the energy outwards no matter where it was pointing. He noticed that Forte was looking up towards the large shelves that lined the walls of the cavern… he had come to find something here, some weapon or technology to strengthen himself… but Enker could not guess what it was. Forte had come alone, but Enker knew that Gospel, Forte’s support unit, was not a part of these archives. It was a one of a kind, and Enker did not know what had become of it. He guessed Forte wouldn’t want to answer if he asked, either. But whatever it was he was looking for, Enker could not let him take it. Not as it seemed that Forte was no longer loyal to their master.
As Forte took a leap onto the lowest shelf, Enker followed. Forte kept looking around at the weaponry. He couldn’t know where the thing he was looking for was stored… Enker had to admit that not even he had managed to make sense out of how things were stored here. There seemed to be no reason or rhyme as to what got placed where. On this shelf, he saw both Crystal Eye and Power Stone, which could have made sense to keep in the same category, but there was also Gyro Attack, Charge Kick and Water Wave. It didn’t seem like anything here caught Forte’s fancy, as he turned around and dashed towards Enker, firing off another barrage from his buster. It was still no problem for Enker, who had his spear absorb the attack and fire off a shot towards Forte as he attempted to jump up to the next level. It blocked his ascent, causing him to return to the ground level instead, starting to dash towards the shelves on the other side. Enker ran after, but lost sight of Forte as he jumped two shelves up.
Enker caught up just in time to see Forte slide his arm casing back down. As he turned towards Enker, some parts of Forte had shifted in colour, now having taken on a light blue-gray hue rather than orange. He turned towards Enker and shot, but it was no longer the Forte Buster, it was a cube with uneven surface. Enker blocked it with his spear before he could tell what it was, but as it hit, it also split into a few smaller fragments, some of them hitting Enker’s body.
Dust Crusher.
Enker thought back to his battles with weapon pods with Dust Man’s program… while Forte was completely different from Dust Man, Enker knew how to counter the weapon. So when Forte fired at him again, rather than block the projectile with the spear, he stabbed towards it, absorbing not only the kinetic energy from the cube at the point of the spear, but also drawing in the smaller fragments and firing off the energy towards the attacker, all in just an instant. The return shot grazed Forte’s torso, but neither of them slowed down. Forte fired off another three Dust Crushers, now making sure that he wouldn’t be in the way of Enker’s counterattack. The third shot, Enker absorbed without immediately firing back, spinning around to fire towards Forte as he jumped off the shelf. Again, he managed to graze Forte, who moved into the shelf below them. Enker soon followed, and followed Forte as he dashed across the shelf, along the wall of the cavern. Enker saw him sweep something up as he passed a few other weapon caches, and knew what to expect next.
Magnet Missile.
It was an odd weapon, and an especially odd choice against Enker, who wanted to draw fire towards himself. Forte turned around and fired… but it wasn’t Magnet Missiles. It was Forte’s regular buster shots. Enker easily blocked them, and as he fired back, Forte dodged and started moving towards Enker, continuously firing his buster. Enker had no problems blocking it all, wondering what Forte’s angle was. It would require far, far more than this to overload him, and he could even fire off a few shots towards Forte as he blocked the barrage. Maybe he was simply trying to distract him… but what purpose could that possibly serve? Enker couldn’t think more about it before Forte shifted colours and threw a few Dust Crushers his way. It was possibly an even stupider move than attacking with the buster, as it let Enker block and attack at the same time. Enker knew Forte was better than this. Was he trying to lull him into a false sense of security? That made no sense either. Forte had a plan. He always did. Enker had never liked Forte much, but that he had to admit and begrudgingly respect… he always had a plan. Him acting like he didn’t did, if anything, make Enker feel more cautious about the whole thing – which perhaps was part of his plan too. As that last thought ran through his head, Forte suddenly did a dash towards Enker followed by a jump. Enker turned around, but Forte did another jump – this time backwards, so he landed on the same side he had jumped from, this time behind Enker. Before Enker could react, Forte dashed into his back, knocking him to the ground. A futile move, as there was nothing Forte could follow up with… but he didn’t, instead using the time it had bought him to scale another set of shelves. Enker was soon on his tail, and ascended up to a shelf at the same time Forte jumped down to it from the one above, now having a yellow tint to certain parts of his body. He aimed at Enker and shot, sending a large thunderbolt towards him and smaller ones in multiple directions around the buster.
Thunder Beam.
Perhaps the strongest weapon Wily had ever designed, and without any doubt the strongest electrical weapon. It had been used by Elec Man, one of the original robot masters. By far the strongest of those eight, and few had since managed to approach the speed and power of that one. Enker wouldn’t admit it, but it was one of the few he had legitimate issues with when fighting its weapon pod. Luckily, Forte wasn’t Elec Man, and more predictable… but Thunder Beam was still an issue, as Enker could at most hold two charges of it in his Mirror Buster. And if Forte kept using it here, it could damage other equipment. He had to finish this and fast, but this was a dangerous place to fight a Thunder Beam-equipped Forte… he jumped down from the shelf, hoping that Forte would take chase. At first, it seemed like he wouldn’t… but then, he followed Enker, jumping down from the shelf further away. Enker knew what weapons he would have passed, and there was nothing there that was dangerous… so he ran towards Forte, who fired another Thunder Beam. Enker thrust his Mirror Buster into the ground as he caught the bolt, allowing most of it to be negated and absorbing the rest. Forte kept his distance, dashing backwards… exactly what Enker wanted him to do. Taking the fight to the side of the cavern as far from the computer as possible, and with no shelves close by. He launched more thunderbolts, Enker catching them all and returning fire or absorbing as he saw fit. Forte was moving towards… the hatch. Was he going to leave? No matter. Enker had to destroy him. Forte touched the wall, the hatch opening to let him through. Enker considered it for a second… the passage to the teleporter room was small, making fighting Thunder Beam a hard thing in there. On the other hand, using that weapon there would be dangerous to Forte too. He chose to immediately take chase, entering behind Forte before the opening had closed. At least it seemed Forte didn’t want to fight in here either, as he simply rushed to the other hatch, entering the room on the other side. White walls and ceiling, two passages on either side of a large square in the middle of the room – behind which was the generator powering the entire archives, including the teleporters. At least there was no danger for it to be damaged if Forte fired the Thunder Beam in here, as the walls were well isolated. Enker ran after Forte towards the teleporters, and Forte jumped into the third largest one – designed for bigger things than a single robot. Perhaps he was aiming to bring something larger with him… Enker followed, but did not find himself on Forte’s home turf, but the other teleporter room made for the archives, a room further up in the same caverns. Forte looked at Enker as he entered the hatch, and this time Enker didn’t have time to go through before it closed. Same on the other side… Forte was out and the hatch was closed before Enker made it through the passage. As he came out into the cavern passage, he could not see Forte and so took a few steps further before he heard a thud behind him. As he turned around, he saw Forte  shift in colour from red to light purple, two magnets above him exploding as he did so. He had used Magnet Missile to hold onto the wall above the hatch… clever. Forte took aim… above Enker. So this was what he was getting at.
"This was your plan? Get me into the cavern, trap me under a cavein?" Enker walked towards Forte. "There’s no weapon there with the accuracy and speed you’d need to catch me. None that you can use."
"Is that right?" Forte smiled. Enker didn’t like the look of it, and sped up as Forte released a few projectiles reminiscent of molecules above Enker, striking the ceiling of the cave passage and exploding immediately. Enker just managed to dive out of the way as a whole lot of rocks started falling.
Ballade Cracker.
Enker stood up and looked intensely at Forte.
"How can you use that weapon? Only we-"
Forte started laughing. "Do you know what happened to Ballade, Enker?"
"I… was told that he was gone."
"After Punk was killed, and you were taken out of commission… Ballade did the unthinkable."
"The… what?"
"He turned against Wily. He sided with Rockman, helped him to destroy one of Wily’s bases, then escaped…"
"…and then?"
"Of course, I was given the task of hunting him down. He could not be allowed to get away with treachery."
"Are you trying to say that you killed Ballade?"
"I defeated Ballade. Like you, he wouldn’t die so easily… but without someone to put him back together, it didn’t mean much. So I dragged him back to Wily, who ended his pathetic existence… and upgraded me with some of the leftover parts. I defeated Ballade. I absorbed Ballade. And so, I have access to his weapon. I just needed the… raw material."
"Is that what you came here for?"
"Among other things." With that, Forte backed into the hatch again. This time, Enker managed to follow close by, even as Forte dashed back into the same teleporter that had brought them up here. He was adamant to not lose Forte again, and just managed to slip inside the hatch leading back to the archives before it closed behind Forte. Enker started worrying. With both Thunder Beam and Ballade Cracker, he was in serious risk of being overwhelmed. But it seemed that Forte did not take the chance he might have had, and instead went for the shelves. He rapidly made his way up one, firing a few Ballade Crackers behind him to block Enker’s chase. It was mildly successful, as Enker didn’t manage to make it up as fast as he would have wanted. Giving Forte unsupervised reign of the shelves was dangerous, as he might have more tricks up his sleeve. As Enker climbed up, he heard something above him – and a jet-propelled platform with Forte on top of it made its way across the cavern, letting Forte jump off on the top shelf there. Enker made his way down again, mentally trying to process all that Forte now could reach, but it was mostly a jumble. Water Balloon? Plant Barrier? Anything useful? Enker wasn’t sure, but there was no way this could be good. But as he had made it somewhat more than halfway across the cavern, Forte jumped down from the lowermost shelf and ran towards him. He shifted colour and swinged his buster towards Enker, who blocked just as a short, burning beam extruded from Forte’s arm.
Flame Sword.
Close combat? What was Forte even thinking? Enker was made to use a spear… he was one of Wily’s best close combatants. Flame Sword was perhaps the worst possible weapon Forte could have chosen, and he proved it as he managed to graze Forte several times with his spear, while blocking all attacks thrown his way. Enker’s confidence grew, perhaps too much, letting his judgment lapse for an instant. In the middle of a swing, Forte’s Flame Sword disappeared, and instead he took on a yellow tint again. Enker just managed to duck as the thunderbolt passed over his head, and the next thing he saw was a bright light.
Centaur Flash.
It didn’t blind Enker for long, and he immediately reacted by stabbing in Forte’s direction, hitting only air. As Enker could see again, he saw Forte enter the hatch again. This was bad. Enker quickly took chase, and Forte must have been mocking him, as he seemed to be waiting for Enker when he entered the passage, standing in the open hatch on the other side. As Enker approached, he turned around and ran, but seemed to stumble on something.
Enker saw his chance. He sped up as much as he could, drew his arm back, and…
Enker stabbed at Forte, who took the spear through the chest… and then shuddered and disappeared.
Copy Vision.
Enker immediately turned around when he realized his mistake, but it was too late. Forte dropped down from the ceiling, pointing his buster towards Enker’s upper torso. Normally, not even a shot from this range, even with something like Ballade Cracker, would be fatal for Enker, not with the amount of energy he still had… but Forte had chosen his weapon carefully. Enker got hit by an invisible force, stronger than any of the kinetic or explosive weapons that could be found in the archives.
Gravity Hold.
Enker stumbled backwards as the full force of the shot hit him. Gravity Hold was a powerful weapon as it was, though difficult to use… but at point-blank range, there were few that would be able to stand up to it. Enker lost the grip on his spear as he crashed into the wall behind him. Soon, another gravity blast forced him to the ground. As he opened his eyes, he saw Forte was holding his spear, and he could do nothing as…
"Too bad I can’t actually use this the way it’s meant to be used… it’s a pretty neat thing."
"But I can still do something with it!" Forte pulled the spear back, and thrusted it towards Enker’s torso with much force. It pierced his chest, skewered his entire body, coming out through his back and embedding itself slightly in the wall behind him. Enker grabbed at it, but he lacked the strength to pull it out… his own body and the power flowing through it made it impossible to move. It had just missed his power cell, but was still touching it… and the point of the spear was touching the generator, making the energy from it flow through him, through his power cell. His entire body started hurting, but there was nothing he could do about it… he could not move. He slumped to the ground, held up only by the weapon.
"Why-why did you-come here…"
Forte looked down at him and smiled, pointing his buster towards Enker’s head. "Would you believe me if I said I came to kill you?"
"No-that can’t-be it."
"True." He drew back his arm and shifted back to his regular colour. "I have no interest in killing you." He started walking to the back of the room, towards the teleporters, still speaking and loud enough for Enker to hear. "I’m making a stand, Enker. In one of Wily’s old fortresses. What I said was true… there’s a new generation on the rise, and I need to be capable of fighting it. You could have become strong enough to do that, too… if you hadn’t been so set in your old ways. I want to upgrade myself further." Forte walked back towards Enker.
"So-you are go-ing to get something from-here to-"
"Kind of. Everything I need isn’t here… but some of it is. This is just one of many steps, Enker." He left through the hatch, returning to the archives.
Enker considered Forte’s words. Maybe he was right about that the world was changing… but that was why it was even more important for Wily to come back, for Enker to lead a strong force to meet it. But now… now he was trapped. He did not have the strength to pull out his own Mirror Buster from his chest, and Forte wouldn’t do it. If it stayed like this for too long, it would damage both Enker and the reactor too much, that both of them would die if it was moved. If Wily did not send someone else to get him quickly… this was the end. But he did not have any capability to contact anyone.
He waited.
Forte eventually returned, pulling a crate behind him. Enker had no idea what was in it. He didn’t ask, and didn’t think Forte would answer. He heard the sound of the teleporter, but Forte soon returned. He returned twice more with crates to send away, and then came in carrying only a deactivated beam saber in one hand. Enker wasn’t sure where that came from… Forte hadn’t carried one when he came, and as far as Enker knew, there weren’t any in the archives. Rather than go directly to the teleporters, Forte stopped in front of Enker.
"So, I believe this is farewell."
"Are-you going to just-leave me like-this-"
"I don’t see why not."
"I-have to de-fend-"
"Oh, guarding the archives?" Forte laughed. "Don’t worry. I made sure that something is going to take care of the next person to go in there! Assuming anyone at all can come here anymore, with the cave being blocked. I hope you enjoy your time in solitude."
"There-is no-other-suitable-"
"Suitable? Depends on what you define as suitable." Forte smiled. "I’m done with the archives. And as far as I care, so is everyone else. You care about making sure they don’t get destroyed." Forte leaned down, putting his face on level with Enker.
"What-did you-"
"I don’t."
They both fell silent. Forte walked to the back of the room, and Enker soon heard the teleporter sound as Forte returned from where he came.
It was the last Enker ever saw of Forte. True to his word, he never returned. And as he had said, the archives had been sealed even further… and without the codes, the teleporters were only accessible from this side. With Wily gone, no one else even knew of the location of the archives.
Enker had been the last Rockman Killer. And now, even he had been taken out of commission. With Wily gone, and Forte now working only for his own interests, an era – what the history books would come to call the Wily Wars – had come to an end.
And with another grand war about to break out, one that would again take history in an unprecedented direction…
The world had truly entered the next era.