|I still love this idea, and someday I might give it the attention it deserves. Surely I'm not the first person who's thought of making Roll the warrior, right?|
"Hullo, Roll! It's time to get up!" His seven o'clock greeting was accompanied by a business-like rap of knuckles on her wooden door. "Doctor Light says he needs you in the lab in a half-hour for some tests." Another knock, then "Roll?"
He hesitated, then pushed the door open, poking his head in to look around the room. A lump of blankets on the bed stirred grudgingly at his intrusion. He grinned, tossing his brown hair and shifting the mop he carried to his other hand as he guessed approximately where the girl's ribs might be and reached over to poke her. "Come on, Roll, up and at 'em!" The bundle of blankets responded by curling up tighter and making a grumbling noise.
He clicked his tongue chidingly at her. "As if you have any room to complain! I've been up since five, prepping the lab."
Slowly and unwillingly, a head of blond hair poked out from the far end of the thick comforter, blue eyes glaring groggily at him. "And you're ridiculously cheerful for it, too," Roll said, voice muffled by the blankets that still covered her up to her nose.
Rock pulled back, smile widening slightly. "Well, it's not like we really need sleep, is it?" he said lightly, leaning both hands on his mop.
"I don't care whether I need it or not," sniffed Roll, sitting up and kicking the blankets slowly off her. She stretched and yawned, eyeing Rock with a mixture of affection and irritation. "I like it." She then hopped down from the bed and ambled to her closet to change out of her pajamas. "Does he want me in armor today?"
Her companion glanced at the ceiling, thinking for a moment. "I think so -- he said you might be on call today in case there's another attack. The tests are mostly going to be internal diagnostics."
"Oh." She pushed the closet open and tugged out a pair of red jogging pants and a white tank-top. That was what she generally wore under her armor, which was actually padded enough that it was fairly comfortable. When she turned around, she saw Rock watching her, concern plain on his expressive face.
"I know he said the tests would be over a week ago, but I'm sure they'll be done soon ..."
"Yeah," Roll replied tonelessly, folding her clothes over one arm. "Now get lost so I can get dressed. Tell Doc I'll be there soon."
Rock blinked, startled, then laughed, evidently unembarrassed. "Of course. I'll see you there!" With that, he snatched his mop up and trotted from the room, waving back over his shoulder as he shut the door.
Roll snorted, then proceeded to off her pajamas and pull her clothes on. Her armor hovered in a pod in the corner of the room, gray and white trimmed with pink and red. She personally thought the color scheme was a little ridiculous. I look like a walking valentine. Shrugging off her internal complaints, she flipped her blond hair out of the back of the tank-top and let it settle on her shoulders, pulling it carefully into a loose braid. The ponytail was all well and good out of uniform, but it sort of got in the way of her helmet.
More internal diagnostics ... Probably to double-check the function of the new emotion chip he'd installed last week. Annoying as the repeated tests were, she had to admit that Light was a brilliant man. As the months and years went by, his programs, particularly the AI and emotions protocols, got more and more complex. She was glad Wily had let him have pretty much free rein over his work, or she and Rock might have remained lab drones for the rest of their long and pathetic lives. Admittedly, Wily had created her specifically for this kind of work, and Light had requested the lab bot upgrade that had resulted in Rock's birth, but all the same, it was better than having no vocabulary beyond "Yes, sir", "No, sir", and "How can I help you?"
She tapped the call button for her armor, located on the inside of her right wrist. In a flash, the armor vanished from its pod to re-form snugly around her body. Her world tinted an odd shade of magenta as the digital visor banded automatically across her vision. She grumbled and deactivated it, then walked from the room with a sigh -- and a final, despairing look in the mirror. Ridiculous.
As she stepped into the hallway, a purple blur bounced to its feet and rocketed over to slam her forcefully against the wall, swiping a long, pink tongue over her face. "G-gospel!" she gasped, caught between irritation and laughter, attempting to push free from the dog's affectionate embrace. He was taller than her standing on his hind legs, and when he sank back into a sitting position, he came nearly to her chest. "Bleargh," she mumbled, scrubbing her face with her left hand -- the right was plated with armor and her weapons console.
Gospel cocked his head questioningly and wagged his tail, whining.
"More tests in the lab today, boy," she said apologetically, patting him on the head with the same hand she'd wiped her face with. He looked crestfallen. "But I'm on call," she added, hoping to cheer him up, "so we might get to do something fun today -- if not we can go on a walk later, all right?"
He wagged at her, dismay forgotten, and she trotted off to the lab. The walk was a short one: five minutes of twisty corridors, elevators, and cubicles had her at the door. The lab itself was unimpressive. The floor was metallic, the walls white, and on the wall across from the door was an impressive computer network, consisting of five consoles with linkups to all the equipment in the room, including a reclining chair much like one would find at the dentist where they ran most of their tests. She eyed it with distaste before surveying the occupants of the room -- and stopping in surprise.
"Albert!" she blurted, and her creator lifted his head from where it was bent in conversation with Doctor Light.
"Hello, Roll," he said with a smile.
From a corner of the room near the computer consoles, Rock lifted a free hand to wave cheerfully at her. He was digging through the lab's scrap heap, a large pile of new and used "robot bits", as Rock termed them affectionately. Roll found it the most unsettling part of the room -- even more unpleasant than the exam chair -- and she pulled a disgusted face at the lab worker when she discovered that the hand he was waving with didn't belong to him. He snickered and went back to work.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, turning to face Wily once more. "Is something the matter?"
Wily's face crinkled in affectionate amusement, and he shook his head. "Not at all! Tom told me he'd be finishing the last phase of the testing today, so I thought I'd attend."
"Well --" Roll hesitated, then grinned. "That's fine. It's going to be awfully dull, though."
"That's what I told him," Light said, eyes twinkling. "He didn't believe me, either."
"This is something of an investment of mine, if you recall." Wily lifted his eyebrows mock-severely, and Roll shook her head.
"Whatever you say, Al," she said drily. "Where do you want me, Doc?" she asked Light, who gestured in the direction of the exam chair. Why am I not surprised?
Rock, who was spreading bits of machinery out on a table near the scrap heap, flicked a mechanical eyeball at her as she passed. She caught it after it bounced off the side of her head and threw it back at him, pegging him right between the eyes. He yelped in surprise, then stuck his tongue out at her. She returned the gesture before flopping in the chair and waiting to be strapped in.
Wily and Light, who had witnessed their exchange with parental amusement, followed her over. As she leaned her head back carefully into the headrest, Light bustled around the table, strapping her in and wiring her to the machines -- all the while explaining exactly what was going to happen to her with the off-the-cuff care of a dentist about to drill a patient's teeth. Roll wondered if he'd ever thought of going into medicine. It wasn't that the diagnostics were painful, but it felt a great deal like the computer was forcing a buzzing fly inch by inch through her veins.
She sighed and waited, noting that Rock was trying to distract her by making a puppet of a scrapped lab bot's head and torso and pretending it had asked him to dance. He was so morbid. Dr. Light caught him at it and gave him a hard look, which he responded to by grinning sheepishly and hurrying back to work.
She felt Wily's hand pat hers lightly right before the program kicked in, driving all outward sensation from her. Light said it was best to concentrate on something simple and orderly while the diagnostic was running. Roll generally did her multiplication tables, slowly and methodically, then ran over the employee roster of the laboratory (including robots) alphabetically, reverse alphabetically, and then by pay rate.