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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by aarond
A Different Place: Chapter 3 - Goodbye to Data

The scar on MegaMan's forehead never did go away---in fact, it left a bit of a reminder for him every time he looked in the mirror. The scar was mostly covered by his hairline, but he noticed after a couple of weeks, the hair above it began growing white. MegaMan had what his Grandfather called a "Sorcerer's Lock." The boy would have been dismayed, but Jonial assured him that a man's face wasn't complete without a few scars, so MegaMan began to take a kind of pride in his new appearance.

Still, while MegaMan had left the incident behind him, he found that Mayl had not. In fact, she and his other cousins began teasing him even more than they had before. MegaMan found that as long as he remained out of their sight, he would be safe, so he began spending more and more time in the kitchens. This suited the rest of the family fine: he was keeping busy and he was out of the way.

Some might consider a blessing that nothing of major importance happened in the next few years, but MegaMan was, to put in plainly, bored out of his mind. The ship sailed, it put in port at an island, the cargo was unloaded, new cargo was loaded, and the ship put out to sea again, where the whole process continued. As he grew bigger, MegaMan was expected to help with unloading the hold as well. After several such experiences, MegaMan finally learned the proper task for him. While Jann and the others would utilize the ship's crane and forklift to unload cargo, MegaMan would take some of the smaller containers and load them on the dock the old-fashioned way---with his own two hands.

"Whatcha doin'?" Mayl asked him one of these times. She was lying on top of a larger crate that had already been loaded on the dock.

"Unloading the ship," MegaMan answered. "I don't want Grandpa to get mad at me."

"We don't have to do it," Mayl answered, dangling one of her arms over the edge of the container.

MegaMan gently lowered his load onto the dock. "Grandpa says I've gotta earn my keep."

Mayl said nothing again until MegaMan returned with another load. "How can you carry so much?"

"What do you mean?"

Mayl sat up, looking a bit more interested. "You're carrying three containers. Isn't that heavy?"

MegaMan put down the boxes. "Yeah, a little."

"A little? Those have to weigh more than four hundred pounds."

MegaMan shrugged and returned to get another load. By the time he'd returned, Mayl had fetched her cousins, Jann, and Jonial, and they were all staring at the foundling boy as he placed three more crates onto the dock. MegaMan stopped in his tracks, staring back at his foster family.

"What is it?" he asked.

They continued staring. Finally, Jonial piped up, "Well, he has been bustin' his hump since he was just a lad. That's why he has a lot of pep in 'im." Clearly, the Namagem family patron wasn't about to let anything like common sense to get in the way of something that could substantially help his business.

Nothing more was said about MegaMan's unusual strength after that, at least, not by the adults. MegaMan's cousins still tended to tease him about it, calling him "freak," and "steroid-boy" for several weeks after.

Because of this, MegaMan began spending even more time in the kitchen than before.

"Hey MegaMan!" Data called one morning, popping up onto the kitchen counter. "Let's dance!"

"Not now, Data," MegaMan said, stifling a giggle. "I've gotta get everything ready for dinner." He stirred the chowder he was making on the stove. "Why don't you go play on deck for a while?"

"All right!" Data said cheerfully, and hopped up the stairs.

MegaMan continued preparing the meal, much as he did every afternoon. About half and hour later, he heard his cousin Frann calling him from up on the deck. Walking softly up the stairway, MegaMan found Data atruggling in his cousin's grasp. Frann was the largest of MegaMan's cousins, and since learning of MegaMan's massive strength, he'd stopped threatening the younger boy physically. In fact, MegaMan had hardly seen him over the past weeks.

"Put Data down, Frann!" MegaMan called.

"...Yeah," Jaren said from the side. He and Mayl were distancing themselves from Frann.

"Come on, monkey-boy," Frann teased. "Come get your monkey!" He dangled Data teasingly in front of MegaMan, then snatched him away just as the younger boy reached out his arms. Then, Frann took it a step further and slowly moved Data out over the side of the ship.

"No!" MegaMan cried. "Don't!"

"Ha ha," Frann chuckled. "You don't think I'd really---"

Unfortunately, Data had begun struggling with renewed aplomb after being suspended over the open sea, and his increased ministrations caused him to work free of Frann's grip and plunge into the blue waves of the ocean.

"Data!" MegaMan cried, surging forward and plunging into the water after his oldest friend. His muscles tensed up as he hit the surface.

"MegaMan!" Data shrieked. "Help me!"

MegaMan swam in the direction of the voice, but could not reach Data before he went under. Data's stubby arms and legs worked fine for dancing, but were of no use when treading water. He frantically grabbed under the water without success, then began looking under the surface, the saltwater stinging his eyes. He could see nothing.

MegaMan continued looking, refusing to give up, until his Uncle Jann dove in, grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt, and dragged him back towards the ship. MegaMan went limp in Jann's arms, flopping onto the foredeck limply. His oldest friend was gone. Worse, Data was the only link to his past. Where had he come from? Why would his parents abandon him? And why---

A sharp pain suddenly burst through MegaMan's head. Clutching his temples, he tried to hold back the involuntary convulsions that shook his body. What was happening to him? The pain became unbearable, and MegaMan couldn't stop the screams that escaped his lips.

` "What's going on?" Jann demanded. "What happened?"

"Frann threw MegaMan's monkey into the ocean," Mayl said. MegaMan thought he heard a kernel of shame in her voice despite the hammers pounding down on his skull."

Jann stared daggers at his grandnephew. "Is this true?"

"Y-yeah," Frann stuttered, backing away. Nearly tripping over MegaMan, he regained some of his former confidence. "Served him right, too! That dirty monkey, always in our way! It's not like it was a person or anything..."

The pain in MegaMan's head was starting to fade now, and hot anger was burning through his veins. It was Frann's fault. His only friend in the world was gone, and it was all thanks to that dirty little carbon...

---Carbon? What the hell was a carbon?

Tears streaming down his face, MegaMan lauched himself at Frann, tackling the older boy at the waist and slamming hard into the steel deck. He reached his arm back for a mighty punch, which Jann fortunately got ahold of before the blow landed. With the resistance Jann applied, MegaMan's blow landed with only slightly more than normal force behind it, shattering Frann's nose. The boy offered only a token resistance as his uncle tore him off Frann's inert body, half-carrying MegaMan down the stairs and tossing him onto his bare bed in the cargo hold. "Stay here," Jann said.

For his punishment, Jonial made MegaMan swab the deck three times a day for the next month. Frann, of course, received no disciplinary consequences at all for throwing Data over the side---the truth was, most of MegaMan's uncles and aunts were glad to be rid of the small robot, who'd been a constant nuisance since he'd come aboard the ship. Only Jonial and Mayl seemed to acknowledge that MegaMan was going through any kind of grief at all.

"I know it hurts, son," his grandfather said, patting MegaMan awkwardly on the shoulder. "I cried for weeks when I lost my first teddy, but you've gotta remember, it was just a thing---not a person, and things can be replaced."

That didn't sound right to MegaMan, but he let it pass, because he appreciated what Jonial was trying to do for him, he said nothing in response.

Mayl came down to the hold to see MegaMan three days after the incident. "All you all right, MegaMan?"

MegaMan turned in his bunk so his back was to her. "Go away."

"Come on, MegaMan. Cheer up a little. We're going to make port in a few days, and Grandpa says you'll get to go ashore this time!"

"I don't care. Go away." MegaMan scooted a little closer to the wall. Mayl shurgged and went back up the stairway.

Through his grief, MegaMan found a glimmer of anticpation in the back of his mind. He hadn't been allowed off the ship since his eighth birthday. MegaMan smiled in the darkness of the cargo hold. He couldn't wait to reach the island.

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