The Protomen are a rock group based in Nashville, TN that perform a rock opera based on the Mega Man mythos.
The Protomen (2005)
The eponymous album from the group, The Protomen begins in a future where Albert W. Wily has enslaved all of mankind. The only person who still remembers how Wily conquered the world, and still has the will to fight, is his old colleague Thomas Light. The album mixes the mythos of Mega Man with the sensibilities and imagery of George Orwell's 1984, resulting in a dystopian tale where Mega Man is not a classic champion of justice, but a confused antihero bent on vengeance.
Being a rock opera, the album's tracks tell a linear story. Track 1, Hope Rides Alone, tells the story of the dystopian society ruled by Dr. Wily and Dr. Light's creation of Proto Man, followed by Proto Man's challenge of Wily's regime and his defeat at the hands of Wily's robots. Track 2, Funeral for a Son, is an instrumental piece representing Dr. Light's sorrow over Proto Man's death, his anger at the people for doing nothing to protect themselves from Wily's forces, and his eventual creation of Mega Man. In track 3, Unrest in the House of Light, Dr. Light tells Mega Man about Proto Man and how he was destroyed fighting against Wily's army, and he forbids Mega Man to fight for fear of losing him. In track 4, The Will of One, Mega Man sees the suffering of mankind and decides to fight, despite Dr. Light's insistence not to.
In track 5, Vengeance, Mega Man confronts Wily's army and its mysterious leader directly and lays waste to most of Wily's forces, only to discover that Proto Man is leading the opposing forces. Track 6, The Stand (Man or Machine), features Proto Man telling Mega Man that his battle is meaningless and that mankind cannot be saved, no matter what he does. Despite Proto Man's words, Mega Man steps forward to challenge him. Track 7, The Sons of Fate features Mega Man and Proto Man's duel. Mega Man insists that Proto Man can be saved, as can mankind, but Proto Man rejects this.
The brothers duel to the death, and when Mega Man stands victorious over Proto Man, Mega Man sees the weakness and antipathy of the crowd and realizes that Proto Man and Dr. Light were right: no one man or machine can save mankind. In the end, Mega Man turns from the battlefield and lets what remains of Wily's forces slaughter the crowd. Track 8, the epilogue, Due Vendetta, is a largely instrumental piece alluding to the replenishing of Dr. Wily's army with new robot masters.
Act II: The Father of Death
The second CD opens with a brief musical Intermission. We are then introduced to a younger Thomas Light, on the verge of activating the first robots, with which he had committed to end the suffering of those like his father, lost to the work of coal mines, and his lover, Emily Stanton. However, his colleague Albert Wily had different motives for the execution of their work: Use the robots to control the city and those longing for a leader. Regardless, they had come too far in their work, so the switch was flipped, and the wheels began to turn. Still in doubt, Thomas left the workshop, with Albert alone, surveying the robots, noticing one red light among the lifeless eyes behind their featureless blast shielded helmets, immediately recognizing it as the new face of fear. Albert left the workshop, the robot following behind, heading to Thomas's apartment. (The Good Doctor)
As Albert's vehicle passes, the wandering Thomas is entirely lost in his thoughts, eventually surmising that he must undo the robots before they are used to destroy any life left in the city. Meanwhile, Emily, who has been communicating with the occupied doctor via letters, arrives at his apartment to leave her latest regards, but walks in on Albert, scouring through his partner's desk. Albert attempts to convince Emily to join his endeavors, that Thomas will be nothing once his plans come through. Emily, like her beloved, denounces Albert's wicked ambitions, assured that there will always be a light through any coming darkness. In angered retaliation, he signals for the green-helmeted robot to kill her as he escapes. Thomas soon returns to his apartment, where he sees the robot near the window, bloody knife in hand. The robot tosses the knife over to Emily's corpse and follows the way of his master, leaving Thomas in shock at the body now lifeless in his arms, taking the letter still in her hand. The authorities bust into the room, but Thomas flees into the night. (Father of Death)
In the following days, Albert began his propaganda against Thomas, leaving the press only to activate the first of his giant telescreens, forcing his presence on most of the city. Convinced that there is no chance to turn from this path, Albert enthusiastically turns the citizens against the renegade "good doctor", gaining their loyalties in the process. Thomas is eventually apprehended at Emily's gravesite, one of the few to find time to witness her burial. (The Hounds)
As he is tried, Thomas makes no defense of himself. He pays little attention to the court, lamenting Emily's death instead. Even as the jury declares him not guilty, Thomas internally condemns himself. (The State Vs. Thomas Light) Under police escort, he leaves, pursued by a vengeful mob clamoring for his life. (Give Us The Rope) He boards a train and abandons the city.
Years pass. The City gives more and more power to the robots, and in turn, that power is amassed by their controller. Dr. Wily now rules the city and the surrounding territories. Old machines are replaced with the new, and telescreens remind the people who they owe their prosperity to, of the man who watches over them. (How The World Fell Under Darkness)
A young citizen, Joe, has grown up in the City under Wily's rule. Finally, after years chafing under the laws set forth by the dictator and enforced by the green-helmeted sniper, Joe stages a one-man revolt. Before they can do anything, they're confronted by the sniper. (Breaking Out) Joe gets its gun away from it, and manages to wound it in the ensuing knife fight. Before they can deliver the killing blow, an old man stops him. The old man is none other than Thomas Light, who claims that he's the only one who can kill the sniper, since it's his creation. Before the sniper can react, Light cuts the power cables that serve as the robot's jugular. (Keep Quiet)
The two plot, eventually finding what they believe to be Wily's weakness: The broadcast tower. If they destroy that, they believe that they could blind Wily and his forces. Scavenging what he can, Light gives Joe a bomb, then the sniper's helmet. Joe dons the helmet and leaves. Both men quietly state their hopes that the plan will be successful, and that the citizens will take the destruction of the telescreens as the sign to revolt. (Light Up The Night)
Joe arrives and quickly scales the tower. They set the bomb, but are delayed on their exit by security bots. They fail to make it, and is blown through a window as the bomb detonates. Outside, Light is estatic to see the tower explode and the screens short out. He approaches the inferno where the tower stood, only to see a crowd gathered around both the tower and Joe's remains. (The Fall)
Light sinks to his knees as things continue to get worse: Wily's voice erupts from loudspeakers across the city. Wily declares martial law, even as Light laments Joe's death. He feels the steel arm of Wily's law coming for him, and resolves to face his end with dignity, even though there's nothing he can do to stop it. As he stands, he feels the long-forgotten letter from Emily in his pocket. Reading it, his resolution changes. As he returns the letter to his pocket, he grimly asks for one favor from his late friend Joe: "When you see Emily, tell her to wait for me, 'cause I still have work to do." The construction of Proto Man has begun. (Here Comes The Arm)