New Year's Salute
"But what --"
For the last twenty minutes and more Enker had followed at Punk's heels like a spiky golden-blue -- and very annoying -- yappy dog. For those same last twenty minutes and more Punk had stubbornly ignored him, making the trip back and forth from the storage basement to the highest tower of Wily's newest Skull Fortress (without teleporting, even) dragging what were obviously explosives of some kind. Just what kind, Enker had no idea -- which was why he was trying to drag the information out of his fellow Killer.
Really, it was beginning to reach embarrassing levels of failure. The last thing Enker needed was to finally lose his calm; the only thing that could possibly be worse than that would be to be spotted by any other Robot Master. Or Forte. Forte definitely topped his list of Do Not Want Now Or Ever Really --
"Okay fine, it's gonna ruin the surprise but whatever. You're gonna need to know anyway."
Punk's outburst coincided with his stopping midway up the catwalk stairs. Unprepared, Enker plowed into the broad red expanse of Punk's back and -- staggering -- barely caught himself before tumbling over backwards.
"... This had best have a good explanation, Punk ..."
"Oh yeah. Oh yeah. See, me and Ballade were watching the newsfeeds for Master Wily --"
Enker felt the cold clutch of doom creep along his circuits, Punk's obvious gleefulness be damned. Blissfully ignoring his 'brother's' silence, Punk resumed his stairway climb and kept chattering.
"-- anyway, we were watching the newsfeeds and most of it was more boring holiday stuff, human stuff, you know the kind. Don't care about that 'kiss-mass' thing. But there's something else they do, stuff when the year's over."
"... New Year's Eve, yes. What about it?"
By now Punk was nearly vibrating with glee.
"New Years is when they blow stuff up. Now that's something I can get behind! And I thought Ballade was going to short out with happy, let me tell you. So --"
Now Enker felt a headache coming on, the sort normally produced only by overcharging or provoking Quick.
"... So that's what the explosives are for, I assume. Punk, you do realize that they use a specific kind of explosive, don't you? And said explosives are launched into the sky?"
By now the two had reached the rooftop hatch; Punk shoved it open bodily -- revealing well-trampled snow, many footprints, and a brilliant stair-filled sky -- and climbed out. Enker followed close behind, despite himself. As Punk set down the crate Ballade swing into view, grinning like a maniac.
"Don't worry about that, Enker. We got a plan."
That 'plan' (much to Enker's despair) turned out to involve sitting around on the rooftop and ripping the insides out of a bewildering, dizzying variety of explosives, flares, dazzlers, and incendiaries, a task that he dreaded every moment of but certainly kept Ballade and Punk highly entertained. The occasional accident wasn't fazing them, either -- Ballade, especially, seemed to take every charge that blew up in his face as a part of the festivities.
As he gingerly tweaked the powdery core from yet another charge, Enker fully expected to hear the sound of Master Wily's displeasure come blasting over their comm channel. But, oddly, it never happened. Perhaps the Master was distracted with some other nefariously brilliant scheme?
"Aww, Enker, lighten up some. This's supposed to be a fun night."
"I'm sorry, Ballade, if the idea of causing mass destruction to myself, to you, and-or to the top of this tower is not exactly appealing to me right at the moment."
He squinted at Ballade suspiciously.
"Especially as, may I point out, neither one of you have bothered to explain to me yet just what you plan to do with these things once we've finished with ... whatever is it you have us dismantling them for."
Ballade's only answer was another grin. He shrugged, whistling (whistling! where did he pick up that habit, from the prototype?!), and dropped a few more dazzlers into his own lap to get pulled apart.
That was the last straw. Enker climbed to his feet, brushed the snow off his plating and swung towards the hatch. Oh yes, that was enough of this foolishness. Punk dropped his own flare into the snow and surged up after him.
"Hey, Enker --"
"I am not putting up with this, Punk."
"Hey, don't be like that. Ballade's just being Ballade. Look, this's what we're gonna do -- once we're finished ripping the things open, we're patching them back together with all the flare gel and the incendiaries but not the actual ammo, see? Like the sparkly explosions the humans set off. He just wanted to surprise you with it, that's all.
"Come on, dude, we're not actually going to blow up the top of the Fortress or something."
"... Alright, fine. That sounds fair enough. Though you could have just said as much to begin with."
It was only after the new bright and sparkly but not lethal (they assumed) cores were spliced together that it occurred to Enker he hadn't found out how the blasted things were going to be launched.
Then he saw Ballade. And his pile of hollowed-out Cracker shells. And his manic smile.
Oh, no. Ohhhh no ...
Five seconds after midnight --
*CHOOMCHOOMCHOOM* -- another volley of fireworks and flares rocketed skyward to the sound of Ballade's howls of laughter, exploding high above the Fortress in splashes of violet and red and orange. Punk pounded Ballade on the back.
"Looking good, dude! Give us another --!"
Ballade was only too happy to oblige, funneling the explosives into his launchers with blinding speed.
On the ground below, a handful of Robot Masters -- and Doctor Wily, even! -- were milling around in the snow, staring up at the spectacle. And, despite himself, as he stood there watching his brothers' antics, Enker had to admit that the mad plan had actually worked.
Well. Happy New Year, indeed.