"What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!" --Count Dracula, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Having thoroughly investigated the Lanfront Ruins, Dr. Light's expedition returns back to civilization with enough evidence to support Wily's claim that he was duped and turned into a pawn of Ra Moon from the very start. Of course, Wily's crafty that way. You can bend reality any way you want it with enough half-truths and selective evidence. In a flashback, we know he was already scheming up a new scheme from the start. We just didn't know what.
Cleared of all charges concerning the two robot rebellions, Wily is nonetheless put on five years probation for violating his ban on robotics. Entrusted to Dr. Light and placed under a very easygoing version of house arrest, the two seem to fall back into their old pattern. The oldest pattern, back when they still were partners... as curmudgeonly, but reliable, colleagues.
Their first dual project in years is a thing that we will later come to know as one of Mega Man 3's major pains in the neck: Doc Robot. Mega Man is instantly suspicious of how it could be used, and he has reason to be.
Inside his thought bubbles, Wily's all too aware that Rock's sense of paranoia is deserved, because that's exactly why he's working on it. Light tries to get Wily refocused out of the funk that follows this exchange by deciding that it's time for the former mad scientist of Light Labs to get elbow-deep into a more satisfying project.
Funny how all the best secret projects all seem to take place in hidden sub-sub basements.
Light's intentions, as always, are good. This "Gamma" project is his ultimate peacekeeping robot, a means of handling things like Ra Moon, and something he's been cooking up for some time. Perhaps he wishes to give Mega Man some well deserved rest. Maybe Light likes hedging his bets. Or perhaps he just loves to tinker. Pick your reason, but he opens up his most secret project to Wily, with the opinion that it's better to worry about the future and to rely on one another than it is to place blame and hold grudges. A noble sentiment, but it's not one that Wily's always keen to follow.
Flash Man makes an appearance, using his Time Stopper to hold a brief meeting with Wily in Gamma's underground hangar. How did he get in? The access code that Blues had. Sentiment, again, seems to be Light's weakness. After receiving the update on Shadow Man, Wily orders Flash Man to tell the others to hold fast for now and wait for further orders. The wheels in Wily's head begin to spin with new schemes, but he needs time to process it.
Time that Light and Mega Man have unfortunately given him.
Fast forward to the unveiling of Gamma. Having been working with Light and the others in close quarters for an extended duration, Wily is nervous as Light sets out to begin the presentation. He shows a trace of doubt about the plan that's been set in motion. Is it too late to stow it away, to simply be Light's friend and partner again, to put away all the schemes and just... be himself?
And then Light goes and opens his big mouth, and jealousy and rage take hold of Wily once more.
As soon as the curtain drops, Wily's plan is set in motion. Riding Item-2 Jet Sleds, the "Series 3" Robot Masters that Wily apparently co-developed with Light fly in guns a-blazing and make off with the eight rare, crucial energy elements used to power the enormous Gamma. In the process, Hard Man also throws a detachable rocket punch at Rush, disabling the power pooch and stripping him of his Jet function with heavy damage. In spite of Wily "ordering" them to stand down, the Robot Masters fly off with the energy elements in tow. Wily seems distraught, but it's all an act. To the readers, at least, he has tipped his hand.
And once again, Mega Man has to clean up the mess.
I couldn't help but chuckle and flash back to fanfiction again as I was reading through this. It was so good seeing Wily working with Light, seeing the bad guy attempt-- for a time-- to try to live and work as he used to. If Light hadn't shown him Gamma, if Gamma had never been built, would Wily have gone ahead with his latest plan? Or, was he always geared towards it, and Gamma just gave him a convenient cover to start the third Robot Rebellion?
Canonically, Wily has always been jealous (or insanely jealous) of Light's accomplishments, forever doing things to try and prove he's the superior genius. But seeing him hesitate? That was different. We expect Wily to go bad. It's when he goes good that we rock back on our heels and blink. A part of me screamed inside, "Just stay to the path of righteousness, ya dunderhead!" when Wily waffled over calling off the plan or not. In the end, though, he let it go ahead. And why? Jealousy.
How do our weaknesses define us? In A Knight's Tale, Count Adhemar famously quoted of Sir Ulrich's sparing his opponent, "Then he shows his weakness, for that is all mercy is." Light's weakness is his sentimentality. It's what makes him so likable, but time and time again, events that should have rattled his head free of that have passed with little notice. To his peril, he has put his trust in Wily, banking on friendship and the lie that Albert fed him. Hoping that those feelings of goodwill can be returned, he's opened up the doorway to the biggest (literally) trouble yet.
And then there's Wily, who shines as the focal point of this issue. His weakness? His unwavering sense of jealousy and ambition. Given a chance to turn his life around, to live on the straight and narrow, he throws it all away for yet another power play. We curse his futile ambitions, but should we really be surprised? It's human nature to reach for what we don't have, to strive towards dreams that may never be fulfilled. If we didn't have ambition, nobody would have mapped the oceans, found the precise age of our planet, broken the sound barrier, or sent probes to the farthest reaches of our solar system. Our ambition, our need for growth and betterment, sometimes at the cost of those around us, is encoded into us.
Wily's ambitions are his weakness. Because of them, he will never lead a fulfilling life, or find the sense of belonging and appreciation he craves. His ambitions cause him to throw everything away, to slap every outreached hand, to spit in every smiling face that looks upon him.
Wily is in some twisted fashion, a mirror of our own dark natures. I pity Wily as I criticize his decisions...
And I dread that in some way, a little of his own twisted ambition might rest in all our hearts as well.
For the Blue Ink.
When he isn't writing "The Blue Ink" reviews for The Mega Man Network, Erico (The Super Bard) spends his days keeping track of the "Legacy of Metal" fanon, dabbling in cooking and tea-brewing, and exploring the human condition from his Iowa stomping grounds.
The views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mega Man Network.