||The Creature of Eraimo Beach: Chapter 3 - The Showdown on Eraimo Beach
The policeman on guard let Mega Man by without a second glance. Sheriff Randall must’ve radioed the squad to let them know she’d given him access to the coast. Mega Man spotted Data a few yards ahead of the gate. He didn’t bother to ask how the monkey had managed to get there. Data had his ways.
“Eee-eee!” Data squeaked. “Hey there, Mega Man! The monster from the news is up ahead! Wanna save?”
“No.” Mega Man replied. “I decided I’m not going to try and destroy her after all. Turns out she’s one of our old buddies from back on Kattelox Island.”
Data stopped dancing for a moment. “…That’s a person?” He inquired, cocking his head to the side in a curious manner.
“Yes. I think.” Mega Man added quickly. “And it’s my fault she wound up the way she did. It turns out she had this rare illness that was making her body deteriorate over time, and if it had been caught in an earlier stage she wouldn’t be like this. I should’ve paid Mayor Amelia 10,000 zenny so the hospital could upgrade their equipment instead of maxing out the Shining Laser. I’d have earned it all back with one extra trip to the Downtown Sub-City…I feel like such a jerk.”
“Oh, come on, Mega Man! How were you supposed to know what would happen if you didn’t help the hospital? Think of all the great things you did for Kattelox…helping those boys out with their clubhouse, helping the Junk Store Owner out of the ruins, boosting the TV studio’s ratings…so you missed one. It’s not that big a deal, is it?”
“She turned into a monster, Data.” Mega Man insisted. “There are police officers plotting to shoot her! She’s completely lost her mind!”
“Oh dear,” Data frowned. “That doesn’t sound good at all. What are you going to do?”
“Get Ira off Rikan Island as fast as possible so her mom can find her a doctor that can do something, anything, for her.” He replied. “It’s the only way I can make it up to her and to her mother.”
“Good luck!” Data cheerfully squeaked as Mega Man ran past him down the beach.
It was worse than he’d imagined. Ira had lost almost all of her hair, and her skin was a mottled gray. Her arms were starting to fuse to her body. One jutted outward at her elbow and flailed in a slow, calculated manner. Her hands had mutated into oddly webbed claws. Her mouth hung open, releasing a rotten stench that Mega Man was nowhere near close enough to notice yet, but he did notice that her remaining teeth were more like crooked fangs than teeth at this point. Her eyes were oozing like she’d had a bad case of pinkeye for four years straight. He’d honestly never seen anything like it.
On top of everything, she still couldn’t walk. She shuffled down the shoreline on her knees, dragging what was left of her lower legs behind her. Whatever disease she’d contracted on Kattelox, Mega Man hoped with every fiber of his being that it wasn’t contagious.
“Ira?” He called down the shoreline. “Ira, your mom’s getting the ship fixed so you can get some treatment! Come with me and I’ll get you back to her!”
Ira let loose a loud, guttural howl that finally made Mega Man pick up on how terrible her breath had become, and charged straight for him as quickly as a slow, shuffling monster could possibly shuffle. Mega Man honestly wondered if there really were a doctor somewhere out there in the world who could cure her at this point.
He made sure to stay a safe distance away from her, in case she turned out to be completely out of it and decided to attack. He certainly felt he’d have deserved it, and she had allegedly injured a dozen tourists after all. “Ira, do you remember who I am?”
Mega Man found himself unable to interpret Ira’s response, so he just assumed she had recognized him. After all, there weren’t that many diggers out there who wore blue armor quite like his. “I’m sorry I never donated the money to the mayor to fund the hospital upgrades,” he admitted. “Looking back, it was really selfish. 10,000 zenny was chump change. I could have even stolen the Servbots’ restaurant savings, paid the sum to the hospital in full, and then had enough left over to buy a Kevlar Jacket Omega from the Junk Shop! I promise I’ll make it up to you by getting you off this beach, though—and after that, I’ll donate all the money I can to help with your recovery!”
“Good work, Mega Man!” He heard Sheriff Randall’s beefy, masculine-sounding voice resound through a megaphone, echoing all the way down the shoreline and cutting off whatever unintelligible reply Ira could have possibly made. “We’ll take it from here.”
Mega Man instinctively grabbed Ira and dove into a roll to avoid the spray of bullets from the police line at the edge of the shore. “Hold on!” He tried to shout over the ruckus. “This is a mistake! A misunderstanding!” He would have said more, but Ira’s severe halitosis made him gag on his own words.
“What are you doing?” Randall exclaimed. “Get out of the line of fire, boy!”
“I promise I can explain if you’d stop shooting at us!” Mega Man cried as he shoved Ira down to prevent her from being torn to pieces by the latest volley of machine gun fire. “She’s not a monster! She’s a very sick little girl from another island who needs our help!”
“Come on, I know a zombie when I see one!” One of the other officers shouted from the front lines. “That girl’s not sick, she’s undead!”
Mega Man turned to fire his buster at the line of cops. He was willing to do anything to make sure Ira got back to her mother’s airship safely. “Back off!” He shouted, firing his gun just as Ira shuffled into him and knocked him to the ground. Without even realizing it, he reflexively fired off another shot that hit Ira square in the gut. The cops added their gunfire to the mix, and within seconds she flashed a bright white a few times and promptly exploded without any trace of goop or gore in sight.
The police let out a great cheer, and Mega Man glanced down at his armor, which, contrary to his expectations, hadn’t turned dark. Maybe she really had been beyond medical help. She did look remarkably like a zombie. Nonetheless, he regretted not saving his progress all the same.
“That’s a wrap, boys,” Sheriff Randall announced. “Shame that thing didn’t drop any zenny, really. We could’ve used it. Show’s over, let’s head back to town.”
As the police troops headed for home, Mega Man hung back a bit, still reeling from the aftershock. It all happened so quickly. He hardly even had the chance to do anything to keep from failing. Ira’s mother was going to be livid.
Mega Man heaved a sigh and plodded down the shoreline. He didn’t even try to catch up with the police officers. They’d be waiting for him at the station.
Back at the police station, Sheriff Randall led Mega Man through the back halls and into her office. “It isn’t much, but it’s the least we could do to thank you for saving our village.” She replied, handing him a Buster Part. “It’s a Gatling Gun…a pretty decent part, if I do say so myself. It was a police force standard back when we could afford busters.”
“Thank you, Sheriff,” Mega Man said with a halfhearted smile. “I’ll be sure to put it to good use.”
“Don’t worry about it!” Sheriff Randall jovially replied, slapping him on the back so hard he almost dropped it. “It’s the least we could do for our town hero!”
Thankfully, he didn’t have to explain the situation to Ira’s mom. Shortly after Mega Man and the police gunned Ira down, Roll managed to fix the airship and the two of them did a flyover while the police regrouped. “I don’t see her anywhere,” Roll frowned as she glanced out the port window. “I think the police must’ve gotten to her before Mega Man did…I’m really sorry this had to happen.”
Fortunatley for them, Ira’s mother didn’t go into shock and crash the ship. Instead, she just sighed. “Maybe it was for the best,” she said out loud, more to herself and Roll. “We’ve been fighting this disease for a long time now. Since the start of this year I couldn’t even understand her when she’d try and talk to me anymore. She…wasn’t in very good shape.”
“I didn’t really get a chance to take a good look,” Roll admitted. “That picture on the television was really blurry.”
“I don’t’ know what I was expecting. A miracle? Some wizard of a doctor to be able to pull a magic potion out of his lab coat and change her back to the way she was? There was no way. She was practically one of those creepy monsters from those video games you can buy over in Akbar Toys. I must have been delusional.” Ira’s mother wiped at her eyes and Roll quickly took the helm to prevent any kind of accidental collision. “I’ll probably be in the Kattelox Hospital’s debt for the rest of my life. How am I ever going to pay off 100,000 zenny in this economy? They couldn’t even save Ira!”
“I00,000 zenny…” Roll calculated in her head. “I can probably come up with that…”
A week later, Roll pulled the Flutter up to the dock at a ruin platform jutting out of the ocean. Even though it had only been seven days, she and Mega Man had put the whole incident at Rikan Island behind them. Another day, another dig.
“Hey Roll, what happened to my Shining Laser? I can’t seem to find it anywhere.” Mega Man called out into the living room, where Roll was watching TV.
“I gave it to Ira’s mom to sell back at the beach!” Roll exclaimed. “It cost you about a hundred thousand zenny, right?”
“A hundred thousand? More like a hundred million!” Mega Man flipped out. “If she found anyone with the cash to buy that weapon, Ira’s mom would be set for life! If she actually used that weapon, she’d be an unstoppable force even against a hoard of Wojigairon!”
“After spending all that time with her daughter in the hospital she at least deserves an early retirement,” Roll pointed out.
“Besides, you could certainly use a challenge in the ruins. And I think your armor’s gotten lighter…”
“Oh, come on!” Mega Man sighed. He knew she was right, though. “Okay, fine. I’ll use the Hyper Shell instead. Just make sure you remember to stay at the spotting controls, alright?”
“Sure thing!” Roll cheerfully lied through her teeth. “Good luck!”