They’re not mavericks, they’re just hurting, they aren’t mavericks- they’re broken, bruised, lost, and hopeless. They aren’t mavericks- they’re citizens, they’re citizens only months old, they’re homeless, they’re looting because they’re homeless- the shortage- the crisis- they’re not mavericks- no one’s maverick, it’s not the virus, they aren’t sick. They’re lost, confused, desperate for a home- only months old, their factory’s destroyed–
“They’re not Mavericks!”
It’s a mantra, it’s a chant, it’s a broken synthesized sob as X answers the fifth maverick call that day. The Navigators protest- they broke the rules, they damaged public property, they’re maverick in the eyes of the law-! Not even you can beat the law, X, so please dispatch them in due time. Oh, they are tired, but so is X, and everyone is exhausted of X’s bleeding, breaking heart. They are not Mavericks.
But no one cares. The city is too tired to care. Oh, so tired.
X doesn’t dispatch them, he doesn’t even arrest them. He squeezes Tetron’s shoulder- oh, he’s alive, thank Asimov and thank Cain- but his voice is hoarse as he addresses him.
“The city isn’t safe for reploids like you. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, but you and your family might be safer in the outskirts.”
Reploids like you– like Tetron, who are homeless and afraid, exempt from the city’s lackluster attempts to fuel the starving reploid population. Reploids like Tetron who only know stories of what the world was like before it was torn apart by war, by humanity’s overzealous ambitions. Reploids whose only chance at survival, at happiness, was to blend in with the broken and the damned.
Tetron heaves a shuddering sigh- thunk, thunk, his internals are loose and damaged– but smiles bravely. He was afraid X would say that, but he’s happy it was X who found them and not anyone else. At least when X is on the field, ‘loids like him can see another day.
His words gouge score deeply into X’s core. They are not Mavericks.
“You patrol a lot for someone who isn’t on the front lines,” a man remarks as X tries to push past him.
“I do my piece,” is all X says. The man is blocking him. He’s a mechanic, seasoned, the weathering is written all over his face. Jaded, cynical, infected by his bleak and pessimistic patients.
“I thought you didn’t want to fight anymore, eh?”
“I don’t have time for this, sir, I really must get going…”
“If you aren’t fighting, how do you expect you’re going to win?”
X begins to wonder if this is a dream as opposed to an obstacle. He stares at the man, optics dilating and constricting rapidly as he determines the state of reality.
“There are things that need doing that aren’t being done, and I intend to do them.”
Reality is still nebulous but the man lets him pass. His mission today is to dance with the devil– federal big wigs who’d rather keep the resources to themselves, to the capital, while the world starves around them. They’ve chosen a prestigious hotel as their conference site that is renowned for upholding the most obscure of segregation laws. X has little hope for the meeting.
But the show must go on.
X has to keep his head high, shoulders set, and eyes cutting to appear even remotely respectable to the humans. There is a woman and two men sitting across from him, their discomfort palpable- it isn’t fear, but disgust, and he can read it in the minute details of their curled lips. They do not want to work with him.
“The Hunters are requesting relief aid after the recent attacks,” X begins. “Many locations have not been able to receive shipments of food, energy, clothes, and other items. We’re doing everything we can with what we have but it’s getting harder every day. We need money, fresh hands, new machines…”
He’s honest, plying, hopeful.
“Why should we send human lives to fix a mess your kind created?” The man to the right is speaking first. He’s a blond with a beard, square glasses, and cold grey eyes. His voice is snide.
“There are human lives in danger and dying every day in this city,” X replies readily. “More are dying the longer we debate this.”
“What do you expect us to do about it?” The man says– and X receives his name. It’s Gabriel Stattington. “I thought you guys said you had it under control.”
“We’re asking for water, clothes, temporary shelters– anything to ease the fallout on the affected people,” X counters quietly. “We need your help. Half the city was destroyed!”
Gabriel leans forward, on his elbows, and his glasses slide to the tip of his nose. “A city you Maverick Hunters were watching. You shouldn’t try to slough your problems on us, Mega Man X. Even if we did help you- who’s to say you won’t go berserk and kill the good men and women we send?”
The woman’s brow knits together, her lips quirk, and her shoulders shift. X notes this as he stares down Gabriel, gaze frozen.
“An event like that is extremely unlikely, as proven by several institutes across the nation, particularly Professor Cain’s very own. An event like that hasn’t occurred in more than two years,” the woman says before X can reply.
He fights the urge to gape. Her name is Mary Shoemaker.
“Thank you, Mary. You are correct- it has been a long time since an incident like that has happened, and I can assure everyone here that it is even less likely to occur now. Even less so if the city, and the Hunters, receive the aid we so desperately need.”
Gabriel is turning pink, no, red on the cheeks. He snorts derisively. “Alright. How do the Hunters expect to compensate for any of our men lost?”
These are not the questions that need to be answered, but he answers them anyway, until the third man speaks. His name is George Erman.
“The objective of this meeting today is to calculate the cost of rescue relief,” he growls. He is a tiny man, shriveled like a sour plum, and quite old. “We don’t have time to bicker over such things– I was hoping I wouldn’t have to intervene…”
The meeting goes much more smoothly after that. Help is on its way, X is assured, even if it is no where near the scale X was hoping for.
It’s still more than Signas achieved that day, however. That had to count for something.