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Fan Fiction by aarond
A Different Place: Chapter 2 - Seafaring Child

For the first few years of his shipboard existence, MegaMan's life was fairly simple. Indeed, later he would find he had only the vaguest recollections of his early childhood. The boy's formative years were punctuated with neglectful adult supervision, to say the least. Often young MegaMan would be shooed by his grandfather or his uncles down into the cargo hold, where he occasionally would spend days without emerging from the lower decks. It seemed that the lad needed fewer regular meals than a normal boy his age, although this thought never crossed the senior members of the Namagem family.

Every week or so, Data would be seen hauling the boy out onto the deck, where he would then run around underfoot once again until he was once more ushered downstairs. Because of his constant proximity, MegaMan also learned quite a bit about how the ship's cargo was loaded, although this for the most part was remembered only on a subconscious level.

By the time he was around six or seven (and the Namagems were never quite sure exactly how old he was, so they made their best guess, assigning him a birthday based on the day he'd been found), it was decided by his foster family it was time for their ward to begin working as a sailor. "You're too damn big to be wandering around," Jonial grumbled one morning. "Go help your Aunt out in the kitchen."

So, MegaMan became helper in the galley to his Aunt Cherle, Jonial's daughter-in-law. Kitchen work was not very complicated, especially the way Cherle did it, her bulk dancing between the sink and stove as she grumbled about things her husband and children had been doing wrong. MegaMan was a swift learner, and by the time he turned ten he all but assumed full responsibility as ship's cook, though Cherle still occasionally put in an appearance every few days.

MegaMan's cousins, Mayl, Frann, and Jaren, were troublesome to him from the beginning. While Jonial treated MegaMan with the same firm hand he used with all of his grandchildren, the other adults made it clear they considered the foundling inferior to their own children in every way. This tended to leave its mark on the children themselves, and gave them license, in their minds, to treat the boy however they saw fit. MegaMan was often dodging punches, thrown elbows, and swift kicks given from his cousins, and eventually began avoiding them as much as he possibly could.

The adults---Jonial's brother Jann, his sons, Ferd and Inan, and their wives, Cherle and Gerta---either tended to ignore MegaMan's difficulties or were marginally unaware of them until something happened none of them could overlook.

Now, Mayl was MegaMan's only girl cousin and she was quite pretty. Unfortunately, she also seemed to have it out for MegaMan the hardest as well, which hurt the boy's feelings, as he was quite taken with her. He both desparately wanted to be around her but was also very frightened to, as she was the most likely of all the children to hit him. MegaMan was running an errand for Aunt Cherle one afternoon when Mayl stopped him just above the cargo hold stairs.

"Whatcha doin, MegaMan?" The boy nearly froze up at the sheer amount of loathing in her eyes.

"Just going down to the cargo hold," he stammered, trying to think of some way out of the situation where he would not be kicked.

Alas, he was far too late. "'Just going down to the cargo hold,'" Mayl mocked him, then gave MegaMan a swift kick in the shins.

Normally, this was where it would have ended, but this particular time Mayl decided to take it one step further, and shoved MegaMan backwards. The boy yelped as he fell backwards, tumbling end over end down the wooden stairway. He hit the lower deck the hardest, bearing the weight of his fall near the top of his head. MegaMan felt a warmth flowing down his forehead as he lost consciousness.

"MegaMan, are you all right?" Data's shrill tones swept through the darkness.

Moaning, MegaMan rolled over on the deck. "Go 'way, Data," he slurred. "I don't hafta get up yet."

"MegaMan!" the monkey called again.

"Data!" MegaMan grumbled, sitting up roughly. He nearly fell back down as a wave of pain rocked through his skull. "Uhhhh," he groaned. "That's right---I fell down the stairs."

Data hopped around the floor and MegaMan's lap, his eyes wide with concern. "You're bleeding! Are you okay?"

"Yeah, let's go upstairs." When the boy returned to the galley, his aunt noticed the sharp cut at the upper edge of MegaMan's forehead. His head was bandaged up, but MegaMan refused to tell which of his cousins had been responsible for his fall. The adults had already deduced it was no accident, as MegaMan had been up and down that stairway since and so all three were punished severely. This, of course, did nothing to endear MegaMan to them.

"You just wait," Mayl promised him under her breath at dinner one night, the other twoglaring at him. "You're gonna get it."

MegaMan, gulping, had no doubt that she meant it.

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