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Chapter Text

[ACTIVATE]

 

"X..."

 

"?" Emerald eyes scan the room before focusing on the glowing monitor.

 

"Can you hear me?"

 

"..." Slowly lifting itself out of the capsule, the blue android blinks a couple of times to notice the image of an aged stout human speaking...

 

"I apologize. Drastic times come for drastic measures..."

 

"D..dok...k...ta...?" X struggles to speak, recognizing the creator's voice. Voice sounds cracked. Grating is the right term? X opts to remain silent, taking piecing the data fragments together. Start-up is too slow due to the processors being bombarded with new information.

  

"X. I will be sending you a list of coordinates." Melancholic blue meet blank green, the scientist continues. "You are to defeat the enemies in the area until your brother recovers."

 

"..." Checking the updated database, X reads the recent world news regarding the 'Reploid rebellion' instigated by an entity named Sigma. The most concerning bit of information is how Rock Light was betrayed by a supposed hunter named Vile. X sat up, rotating its shoulder joints. "Hn."

 

"When Rock is ready to go, I will bring you back here so you may continue your tests."

 

"Ok." The android knows there isn't much time left. Someone might notice Rockman's disappearance. A temporary replacement to stop the threat with minimal force and time allotted, X will need to pretend to be Rockman. Rockman is aware that defeat is not the same as terminate. Defeat means not to harm the IC of any android. X can do that.

 

"Do not push yourself to finish the area..."

 

"..." X finally stands up for the first time, looking at the creator's AI. GSS is working fine. However, it will need a bit of fine-tuning based on the listed terrains from Dr. Light. X then looks at the side to see the unconscious form of Rock Light on the metal table.

 

Left arm missing (no struggle) with right buster arm heavily damaged (over-usage or overcharge?), torso crushed inward (an encounter of a large machine) with a clean hole at lower abdomen (micro-fusion fuel tank damaged), scorched ends of both legs (presence of ash and other foreign substances), helmet destroyed with a sparse of brown synthetic hair burnt and a number of other minor scorch marks and cuts around the body.

Rock won't be able get up for half a day or longer, depending on the availability of materials.

 

"Are you ready?"

 

'I don't know everything...' X shifted his hand into a buster before looking up. 'but surely, the reason for this rebellion will come to me. I'm not in the wrong... right?'

 

"I'm ready." X announced and Dr. Light nodded.

 

"Good luck, X!"

Chapter Text

[SNOWFIELD]

 

"???" X looks around, fascinated at the white layer on the ground. 'So cold?'

'My hands are really shaking....!' X shakes his head, disappointed in himself. 'Focus. You don't have the luxury!'

"..." Trudging past the snow, X observes the landscape. No casualty as of yet. 'Maybe the Maverick Hunters have yet to dispatch its hunters.'

[Hunter - an individual that pursues a particular object or organism for sport or a living.]

 

'How do they determine what is a Maverick?' X wonders, jumping past a purple rabbit?

[Ray Bit - a rabbit mechaniloid originally part of a robot zoo before combat modification. It shoots laser beams from the tip of its ears and can easily leap four feet into the air.]

'Saved progress.' X avoids the rabbit and keeps moving on to encounter other robots. No. Reploids is the proper term.

[Axe Max - a defected lumberjack reploid always accompanied with a regenerative cybertree stump. Avoid the spikes along the log pieces.]

'Saved progress?' X jumps up the log to see a bee mechaniloid.

[Bomb Been - a mine-dropping bee-shaped miniature helicopter.]

"?" X decides to slip pass both enemies, walking away and ignoring the voices behind him. More lumberjacks and bees, the azure reploids ignores them all especially when his sensors detect a cave.

 

"???" X detects at least six Batton-type mechaniloids in the outer entrance of the cave.

[Batton - a popular bat-shaped surveillance robot that hangs on ceilings. There are at least 24 types of batton production.]

"..." X readies his buster, descending the icy platforms. X will not deny the feeling of slight joy on slowly falling towards the next platform onto the next as he activates his night-vision. Destroying the bats, X angles his arm upward while walking to shoot the remaining bats.

[Incoming threat: Spiky - a hardwired spiked-wheel machine used in aeration and exploration.]

'The enemy knows?' X looks down to see the angry-looking wheel before jumping over it, still walking and charging his buster for anything difficult.

 

[It came in the form of different platform jumping.]

'Currently ten minutes passed.' X tells himself, staring at the wall and then the upper platform. 'How?'

"!" X jumped up, using the thrusters on his back to carry him at least a meter high. Clinging to the edge, X quickly climbs to the new platform and let out his charged shot towards the incoming spiky.

'Am I incompatible or is this facility littered with aerial reploids?' X frowns, continuing his journey. X's frown deepens, needing to spam his boosters to keep going upward until...

"..." X stares at the dead end before looking up. X then checks his armor. 'Thrusters can boost speed and carry me midair but that still wouldn't be enough.'

'Maybe I should utilize EAS? Running upward?' X taps his boots, preparing the experiment. X shifts his setting, ensuring his GSS won't die on him. X doesn't want to fall halfway the journey. Dr. Light might not have enough resources to repair him. 'Here I go!'

 

*Clank! Clank! Thud! (Again.) Clank! clank! clank! Clunk! (Faster?) Clank! Clank! Clank! clunk! (Nearly fell!) clank! cluck! clug! clank! thud!

 

"Ha... ha..." X rests on the edge of the new platform, tired from wall kicking. Of course he has to rely more on his feet to heat and create momentum. The metal and ground is frozen, slippery to the hands. X sigh. 'Saved progress.'

"?" X looks up to see his creator's capsule. Why is it here in the middle of the road? Won't the enemy also notice? X stands up, inching close to the machine.

"X, so you have come... just as expected..."

'A pre-recorded hologram?' X tilts his head, looking around in the dark. X checks the blueprint Dr. Light let him download, halfway there.

 

"Enter the capsule, X. If you do, your movement abilities should upgrade significantly."

'Leg upgrade.' X wish this is the answer to the wall climbing dilemma.

"There are capsules like this hidden around the area. If you want to become stronger..."

'Will Dr. Light uninstall the upgrades when this is all over?' X muses as he allows the hologram to modify his circuitry. 'Will I need to relearn wall-climbing? Wall-climbing must be a special technique.'

"Do your best... X..."

 

"Oh?" X can't help it, staring at his legs in amazement. His legs look different. It has white plating and golden linings. Dash ability is now available. X doesn't need to rely on EAS anymore, but EAS is faster. X reconsiders the energy usage and opts for the dashing ability.

Dash, jump, dash, jump

[Jamminger - an aerial robot used to prevent unauthorized entry in bases.]

Dash, jump, shoot, dash

[Flammingle - a purple flamingo-like robot originally used in a zoo, but modified for combat.]

X realizes he can go farther if he connects the jumping and dashing ability.

Shoot, slide, dash, jump and he's out.

 

X jumps up to rest on a gigantic metal cylinder of some sort. Looking around, X notices he is back in the open.

"Hn?" X's eyes widen at the sight of an abandoned device.

[Ride armor - a giant mechanical armor that can be piloted by an individual. Currently 23 common types in the world, ride armor may be customized for specific purposes.]

"Wow." X gasps, approaching the ride armor. It's close to the color aquamarine, but considered a green color version of a basic ride armor. X climbs on the machine to try.

"..." X stares at the command panels, noting the joysticks. 'Like a game?'

'Based on the manual online, the ride armor can do everything a regular reploid can do except the legendary wall climb and shifting its appendages.' X searches online while breezing through the area in the safe protection of his armor. X looks up from the buttons, noticing the roof of the incoming cave. 'Hmmm...'

'Sorry!' X apologizes as he got off the ride armor, reaching the roof in time to hear the ride armor explode below. X peeks down, 'Did I press the self-destruct button by accident?'

'No loss. I hope.' X dashes forward, saving his progress. X needs to save constantly, not wanting to die and lose all progress.

 

'So quiet.' Jumping and dashing, X finds it easier to climb on things with his new leg upgrades and snowball.

[Snowball - a spherical object made from snow, usually created by scooping snow and compacting it into a fist-sized ball. See Snowball fights]

'I want to make a snowball!' X jumps up from the huge snowball, dashing and jumping up to search for the creator. 'Will they teach me? Will I learn if I see them make one?'

Reaching the creator of snowballs, X feels greatly disappointed to see the mechaniloid.

[Snow Shooter - a mechaniloid specialized in scooping and throwing. Be careful as its throwing speed can reach up to 250mph maximum recommendation in accordance to....]

"I see." X caught one, examining the cold iron ball. X notices a trademark emblem on the balls. 'Practice... ball?'

 

'Saved.' X throws the 'snowball' right at the opponent, watching the eye lens crack and the machine fall. X notices there are more Snow shooters, charging his buster because they won't be able to teach him even if they want to.

After killing a handful of them, X reaches the main control room with a mechanical door. X goes near the door, about to press his hand and pry it open until it opens for him.

'The target does know I'm here!' X blinks in surprise, preparing his charged shot and walking inside the area.

A hallway frozen through and through, X braces for his first maverick encounter.

 

*Click!

 

"..." X looks around. An empty room with a peculiar pink device above- The target emerges from a hidden hatch next to the pink device, landing at the end of the room.

'A penguin.' X is then corrected that the name is Chill Penguin and a former Maverick Hunter in its correct terrain. X checks the information Rock gathered in his time as a Maverick Hunter, noting the reploid's flexibility to perform his functions in this facility. X secretly wants to ask how Chill Penguin learn the wall jump/kick ability as not many reploids are capable of performing such a task.

'However...' Rock's knowledge of this reploid means X should pretend to know him. X decides to keep silence as the Lord of the Snowy Plains speak.

 

"You don't stand a chance."

 

'All because of class?' X tilts his head, confused. 'Maybe the Maverick Hunters give more skill sets to A-class hunters than B-class hunters? What about C-class hunters or D-class hunters? Is there such a thing as an E-class hunter? I know the web shames F-class hunters but why?'

'Minute damage.' X takes note as he shot the reploid. 'Hardened alloy and short stature, this will be a bit problematic.'

'Yes. Really problematic.' X looks down at the legendary frozen platform. His system is recommending ice skating for unknown reasons. 'What is the purpose of ice skating in the middle of battle?'

"...Shitty?!"

"!?" X dodges the ice projectiles from the other's mouth. Before his system can offer him the reason for the ice skating suggestion, X searched the term shitty.

[Shitty - 3 different meanings available.]

"In his context." X states, watching the reploid freeze himself whole. X notes zero damage is taken and decides to watch the reploid slide on the ground? X jumps up, clinging to the wall and observing his enemy go back and forth. 'He's playing?'

[Shitty - worthless]

"Rude." X comments, curious if Chill Penguin and Rock have bad synergy. 'To consider another worthless will require time and effort to know the quality of such worthlessness.'

 

'Wa~' Emerald eyes sparkle at the sight of penguin sculptures forming around the opponent.

"Hm?" Chill Penguin glared at the supposed B-class hunter. 'Something seems off.'

 

[It's like I'm fighting a child?]

 

'It can't be!' Chill Penguin jumped up. The azure reploid's gaze follows him, charging his buster and doing absolutely nothing. "Too easy!"

[Blizzard - severe snowstorm with strong winds and low visibility.]

"Cute...?" X is speechless at the other's creativity, watching the ice penguins come near him. 'But all good things must come to an end.'

[FIRESTORM EQUIPPED]

'Next time I use it, I'll place it on his cooler tanks... Wait. Wouldn't that kill him? Hmmm.... Maybe it won't?' X burns down the sculptures, halting to notice particular sculptures. X placed his hand on it, staring down. 'They have reploids in them.'

"?!" X pushed the statue and gets damaged by ice projectiles. X flinched, having his back hit the wall. 'I let my guard down!'

"It's too late!"

'I'm frozen now...' X thought, checking his system. 'Nope. Not completely. I can still use my buster. I should do it soon or Dr. Light will realize my condition.'

 

*ZWWWNNG!

 

"W-what?!"

"Twenty minutes?" X checks his internal clock, looking back at the reploid. Chill Penguin is panicking, blowing ice projectiles everywhere he goes. X simply needs to wall kick and jump to the other side-

"N-no way!"

'Let's try.' X shifts his buster into Fireman's weapon.

 

*BWAM!

 

"Gah!" X gets slammed to the other wall, standing up and looking around. "You're alive."

"I-I surrender!"

"..." X lowers his buster but X really shouldn't have. Now Chill Penguin went towards a random ice sculpture, holding it (him?) hostage.

"One false move and I'll smash him!"

"..." X looks around, not sure what the penguin wants him to do. Of course he wants to save lives, but he isn't sure if sniping the penguin also counts as saving lives. X has to save all lives. X thinks of a solution as the penguin speak.

'But I really want to make a snowball...' X sighs, pursing his lips. 'I remember an activity called Snow angels. I want to make Snow angels...'

 

*Squaak!

 

"?" X gets his head back into reality, surprised to see the frozen reploid standing down at the unconscious penguin enemy.

"Thank you Rockman." The reploid smiles and X blink.

"I'll bring Chill Penguin under custody." The maverick hunter (Manager?) comes forward and offers an ice chip. "Here. You'll need this."

"T-thank you." X takes the chip hesitantly, scanning the reploid's feature. The reploid laughs, petting X's head.

"Don't you remember me? It's Marth!" The reploid laughs and X nods shyly. "Don't strain yourself or he'll wring my neck!"

"Yeah... Be careful Marth." X warns and saves his progress.

'Marth and Rock are friends.' X takes note. He walks away from the hunter unfreezing his comrades, alerting the doctor to warp him to the next coordinates.

 

'Where will I go next?'

Chapter Text

[TOWER]

 

"..." X looks around. Aged, dusty and dark.. Like the lab. 'I can't assume there isn't any hostages here.'

"Ready for the mission." X saves his latest progress and rushes upward. The area has a similar lay-out to his brother's memories in his time against the Robot Masters. Ladders, joes, random blasters, detection lasers and devices... X breezes through the area and feels Rock would have done a better job passing through the area.

[All he has to do is defeat the main boss of the area and all activities will cease.]

"Very organized." X listens to his voice. Still a bit cracked but better than before. X sighs, jumping up the turtle mechaniloid and rushing up to see more of them.

[Mega Tortoise - a large tortoise-type mechaniloid originally created for rescue operations now modified for combat.]

'Cute.' X still has the ice penguin photos in memory. He will ask Dr. Light if he can add this to the simulations.

 

"???" X looks around, entering an elevator platform with walls covered in spikes. X looks up to see more spike platforms. 'Okay...?'

'What sort of control tower have this set-up?' X muses, jumping over the Jammingers who thought they had him. Strange how they can't fly back up.

[Sine Faller - a mass-produced flying mechaniloid that may be customized for delivery]

'They're different than Jammingers?' X exited the elevator before the platform goes further up towards the spikes. X walks out just in time to see the vibrant blue sky.

'Pretty...' X observes the clouds. 'Better than a simulation...'

'I should hurry. The sooner I finish the tests, the faster I can go on my own and explore the world.' X climbs up, wall kicking and leaving dents on the wall. Ready to climb onto the ladder, X spots an electric violet lizard-gecko?

[Ladder Yadder - a gecko-like mechaniloid that monitors forests.]

"But this isn't...There isn't any forests?" X is confused, not wanting to hurt the harmless mechaniloid. X waits for them to go behind the ladder before climbing. 'The world is really strange.'

 

Reaching the top, X enters the base once more to see moving platforms to jump on. He keeps jumping upward until X notices a cannon on his supposed floating platform.

[Turn Cannon - a stationary, rotating cannon built for security purposes.]

"..." X destroys it with slight regret to reach the top.

'That was fast.' X sees the ominous mechanical door, labeling it (like his brother) the boss door.

'Very boss-like.' A hallway with red lights above it, X braces for his second maverick encounter.

 

*Click!

 

'Now that I think about it... The doors have a strange insignia.. Wait! It's using a greek symbol for Sigma! This Sigma person is pretty keen on literature. I am impressed.' X stops to look around. A room filled with computer screens featuring all activities within the area. X exhales, 'Spotted right from the very start.'

 

"So you've made it this far?"

 

"?" X looks up to see the reploids emerging from, again, a hidden hatch. 'What is wrong with sitting or standing in the main boss room? If I become a boss someday, I want to sit on a boss chair and make the Muhahaha sounds. Wait. X. Focus. Your enemy is speaking. Oh no... I missed most of it. No no no what have I done?!'

"..." The reploid stares at X expectantly.

"..." If X were human, he'd be sweating profusely at the sharp silence. 'I even spent ten minutes faster here than Chill Penguin... Not like there is much to analyze in the area when the area turned fully weaponized.'

 

"L-let's fight!" X raises his buster, internally crying for his childishness. He can't rewind the recordings because it's being filtered and analyzed by Dr. Light. He can't request Dr. Light to play the previous conversation or the Doctor will think badly of him. X is in probation right?

'Is probation the correct term?' X idly ponders, losing focus once more.

"Agreed." This reploid (the database states as Boomer Kuwanger) has no idea that X is searching up the term probation. Good thing he dashed forward or X will see images of prison inmates and regular individuals with their warden.

'Right! Boomer Kuwanger. Let's see...' X is multitasking, dodging the reploid as Boomer Kuwanger rushes forward to stab him with his pincers.

'It says here that Boomer Kuwanger and Rock are friends. When and what degree of friendship?' X lands on his feet on the other side, looking behind as he kept reading the pages. 'Wait. He has a sibling unit? Where is he/she then?'

 

"Eh?" X blink a couple of times when the enemy vanished from thin air. When his sensors scream for him to get out of harm's way, X immediately dashes forward and lets out a charged shot from his original location. The enemy reappeared there for some reason without any guard up, getting shot straight on the chest. 'Will his sibling unit not take vengeance if Boomer Kuwanger gets defeated?'

'Oh. His battle style is similar to Quickman.' X records the data when the reploid throws his pincers on his head like a boomerang. X also realizes he has a height disadvantage, seeing he can't jump over the reploid unless he's on a wall.

 

"Are you even Rockman?"

 

"!" X almost snapped his neck at the question. The reploid's judging him, scanning his every move.

"Of course I am!" X answers back, a bit worried. "Who else would I be?"

"..." Boomer Kuwanger narrows his eyes and X has to pull out the big guns. It's in his suggestion box that he defeats this reploid as quickly as possible, especially when the tower contains relevant information about other Maverick activities.

"I'll prove it to you." X focuses all attention towards target, setting him as maximum threat. The next words of exchange became a blur since X focused all his attention to shooting and dodging the enemy's attacks. Being a shooter is difficult, there isn't much to do except shoot and dodge. X also doesn't have any other weapon except his gun and he is not risking a fist fight because Dr. Light didn't give him any information to fight bare-handed against a trained ex-Maverick Hunter. 'I can't take any reploid lightly.'

 

'Eighteen minutes. Rock would have done better...' X thought as the defeated reploid lay on the ground. X destroyed the left leg and right arm of the insect-based reploid. There's also a huge injury (should have been a hole) between the abdomen and chest (emergency shutdown is in order.) since Boomer Kuwanger avoided X's charged shot.

'It's bigger than Quick's boomerang... Not shiny though.' X is also holding the pincers accidentally stuck on the wall during the skirmish.

 

"You... are not Rockman." Boomer Kuwanger repeated and X finally realizes his mistake.

 

'Oh. OH.' X remembers Dr. Light telling him to be more careful. He fell for the reploid's trap. These reploids are between the line of robot and human. However, all X sees are things used for his development. The reploids are lacking something but humans are also lacking something. Nothing is perfect but the conditions X lived in the simulations are perfectly imperfect.

Right now, X does not know how to interact with any rational entity. He simply wants to keep learning and knowing. Boomer knows X sees him as part of a goal (and not a entity to be saved) that should be probed around until all mystery is cleared. Rock might have seen Boomer Kuwanger differently. 'Maybe Rock would have tried reasoning with the reploid? No. That would not be reasonable. The eyes Boomer Kuwanger shows... It's asking for a fight, a fight to destroy all monotony. Something to look forward to...'

'I am doomed.' X turns silent, trying to find an excuse. None. How can X make an excuse if he really doesn't see the point of lying. Lying. X hasn't even learned the art of Deceit. How can he when he's in a simulation where everyone knows what he's thinking and gives the worst case scenario? Why is being his brother so difficult? It shouldn't be difficult. X lived through Rock's memories.. but he isn't Rock.

 

"Who... are you...?"

 

"Rockman... Just Rockman..." X lies and it feels so wrong in a way. Watching the reploid shut down, X browses through the articles online. X walks forward, copying everything in the IC.

'I apologize but the target found out.' X contacts Dr. Light, scanning the contents of the reconnaissance reploid. 'I hope this will be the last.'

"Don't worry. I will fix everything, X."

"Thank you Doctor." X rubbed his right arm, hoping the nanites pitch in. He heals faster if he doesn't move, but X swears he read in Dr. Light's files that he has a healing armor?

 

'On to the next area.'

Chapter Text

[FOREST]

 

"?" First thing X wants to feel is the mechanized trees. They're cybertrees but not all of them are cybertrees. They blend in the surroundings to monitor the wildlife in the area.

X places his earpiece onto the tree, listening to the beeping of whatever is installed. 'I wish I have a wire to connect to the security cameras....'

'I wonder where the real organic creatures are?' X walks around the forest. He can see more Lumberjack reploids, avoiding them and dashing onward. He dodges the rocks falling down, dashing and jumping. That's his life now.

X feels his battle name should be called Dash-jump-shoot man. It fits his entire life as a temporary fill-in of his brother. Dashing to get to the boss faster, jumping up and down or forward platforms, shooting when inevitable.

 

[Mad Pecker - Woodpecker-type lumberjack mechaniloid that pecks trees to summon Creeper.]

'Wait a second.' X gasps. 'What if the entire Maverick Hunters have a similar life? Does that mean we're all Dash-jump-shoot man?!'

'So sad.' X prays the war and maverick skirmishes end soon. He wouldn't want everyone to have a monotone life. 'They need to live, learn and appreciate life!'

[Creeper - caterpillar mechaniloids monitoring the system in cybertrees and outside world. Creeper is often accompanied with Mad Pecker as its optic is sensitive to strong light.]

 'What if I borrow a wire?' X thinks to himself as he stare at a lone creeper. X picks it up, watching it work before prying it open. It's not difficult when the machine isn't fully-armored. It took a while for X to get the correct cable, dissecting the creeper, but when he did.

'Why is it using a mixture of energen and anti-freeze for its blood?' X looks at his wet hand covered in blue-green gunk. 'Maybe to cool its mechanisms? Must be it.'

'Now then!' X holds the bloody cable and stares at the mecha-tree. X walks towards it, shooting a mad pecker after it exposed a sign of a plug port.

 

*Click.

 

'In we go.' X plugs the cable and cleans the other end so he can connect the wire to the back of his head-helmet? 'Can I remove my helmet? What if my armor is my skin?'

"!!!" X receives new data. Images of animals being evacuated due to the rumors of Mavericks in the area, the primary location of the maverick hunter governing the area, Commander Sigma dictating the arrest of Vile-

'Contrary information?' X checks his database. 'Is Sigma not the instigator of the Reploid Rebellion?'

"..." X disconnects from the connection, baffled. 'Analyze the data one more time....'

'These are the established facts. Rock Light is a Maverick Hunter. Rock fought and was severely damaged by Vile from a ride armor.' X deduces from the condition of his brother and the data within the Forest system. 'Sigma is the Commander of the Maverick Hunters. There is an increased rate of Maverick activity.'

 

[Maverick Hunters - a law enforcement organization supervised by the government, dedicated to protecting humanity at large from Mavericks. See Mavericks.]

 

'These are the contrasting facts. Preexisting data states Sigma is the leader of the Reploid Rebellion, utilizing the discontentment of reploids and other defected reploids to start a war against humanity.' X holds his head, thinking carefully. 'Recent data states Vile is the leader of the Reploid Rebellion, rallying A-Class Maverick Hunters to defect from the organization to rebel against Humanity.'

'Both sources confirm Vile to be a previous A-Class Maverick Hunter sent to probation for showing signs of apathy towards other's well-being. Vile is a warbot, designed not to regard human life even if creators tried to alter the reploid's purpose for civilian-infested areas.' X ponders hard. 'Vile manages to escape a high-level correctional facility through unknown means. Data regarding jailbreak is not recorded.'

'Prior data states all A-Class Maverick Hunters recently in contact with the 17th Elite Unit commanded by Sigma has gone Maverick. Recent data reveals all available A-Class Maverick Hunters report directly to Commander Sigma to quell the Maverick insurgency.' X takes a step back. 'There is no conflict in both data in regards to all available workforce (not higher than B-Class) of the Maverick Hunters being placed in search and rescue missions, security and information gathering.'

'Conflicting data. No conclusive data...' X closes his eyes. 'Who is the stimulant for a United reploid independence front? Who is the Mastermind for the Reploid Rebellion? Who is Rock under and who does Rock trust to take orders from?'

 

[Maverick - Generic term for reploids and mechaniloids that are a threat to human and reploid life.]

 

"Maverick..." X can't wrap his logic around this term. 'Both data suggests there are three types of mavericks: flawed, free-willed, and political. However, prior data focuses on the probability of a fourth type of Maverick which is induced virally. Manipulation by nanites in whatever medium available is understandable but why utilize the word induce? Is this not an illness?'

[NO OTHER DATA IS AVAILABLE.]

"What to do..." X moans to himself, hurt at the error. 'Dr. Light orders the defeat of the chosen Maverick Hunters. However, recent data reveals three of the listed targets to not be a Maverick. I have even defeated one of them which is Boomer Kuwanger.'

'What must I do?' X walks forward, thinking to himself. 'If recent record is correct then negotiations must be the first solution before fighting. My action in Chill Penguin is correct but not Boomer Kuwanger? No. It must be right since Boomer Kuwanger prepared for a fight....?!'

"Wait!" X skidded as he looked back. Saving recent progress, X changes focus at the sight of a familiar machine. 'Ride armor!'

 

*Clunk click!

 

"Yes~!" For the first hours of being outside, X learns to appreciate the durable ride armor as he dash past the quicksand terrain.

Punching another ride armor rider is also very fulfilling. When X comes out from his moral tests, the first thing he wants to do with Rock is have a Ride armor fight. It's going to fun!

*Thunk!

"NNOOOOO~!" X wailed when his ride armor bumped the boss door. X hits his head on the panels. 'Why can't they make bigger doors?!'

'...' X moved away from the door, jumping out and having his ride armor explode behind him. 'It was fun while it lasted...'

 

'Why do most ride armors detonate after disengagement? Am I using it wrong? I must be doing it wrong. I must check the manual again.' X trudged forward, dragging his legs. 'Ride armor can be programmed to self-destructive... So I must program it not to self-destructive?'

"X. You missed the body upgrade."

"Sending data." X doesn't see the point in getting the body upgrade when nothing lasts forever. Also, why is there good signal in this base, but not outside? 'Is there a jammer? Is it because there is a hidden capsule lying around here?'

"Good thing you were close to the vicinity. I was able to download the upgrade."

'...' X feels a change in his body armor but X is still thinking hard. 'If I encounter a reploid deemed to be a Maverick hunter, what must I do? What is the Rock way to do? Hehe. I am learning puns! Wait. Did I pun right? I need to see more human lingo. Is the internet the best source for this form of communication? I don't know~!'

 

*Click!

 

'A jungle?' X then stores all questions at the back of his mind, having it sent to Dr. Light.

"Woah...." This new area is bad. Too much artificial plant-life and fake insect noises. 'Camouflage? Well... At least there isn't any hostages here.'

"No flowers..." X realizes he never got to smell a real flower. He understands he won't be able to see animals due to the evacuation but plant life should be hard to immigrate.

'I smell something sweet but where?' X looks around, ignoring the chameleon emerging from his hiding spot. 'Where is it?'

 

"You seem dazed, hunter."

 

"?" X looks at the chameleon, nodding a bit to acknowledge his existence. X stands tall, crossing his arms and disappointed that the sweet scent comes from those fake flowers. 'An artificial forest.'

"Sting Chameleon." X answers back, reading his enemy's status. Sharp shooters of the haunted forest. 'A haunted forest? How is the forest haunted when there is nothing to see but mechaniloids? Maybe it's a tourist attraction name. People are fascinated with the unknown.'

 

"What do you say?"

 

"..." X slowly looks up, recalling the words joinVile and Independence. X checks database again. Vile is not a dependable leader. Though highly respected by peers, Vile performs and prefers solo missions. There is also the fact Rock and Vile do not get along. X should say no with anger.

"I don't want to live in a world with him in charge!" X puffs his chests, both arms at the side with clenched fists and his eyebrows furrowed. An angry position. X wish there is a mirror to see if he did the stance correctly.

 

"It can't be helped." Sting Chameleon didn't react correctly. Resignation. Humility? X frowns.

"Hostage?" X inquires and the reploid stiffens slightly. Yes. It is strange not to see other reploids in the area. An area with this amount of surface area in close contact to human society would be the first area Maverick Hunters should reclaim.

"Isn't there another way?" X takes a step forward. System analysis finalized. Ideal weapon to subdue enemy.

[BOOMERANG CUTTER EQUIPPED]

"There's nothing we can do." Sting Chameleon vanishes into his surrounding.

'We.' X doesn't like Strong Chameleon's pessimism. To have a Maverick Hunter go against his own organization for the safety of his battalion is a noble but cowardly decision.

 

[Reploid - androids with the ability to think and act independently. They are comparable to humans.]

"Have you availed all remedies?" X asks as he wander deeper into the area. He doesn't need an upgrade to notice minute movement of the foliage. For a newly-awakened reploid, all movement in his/her surrounding could mean life-or-death.

'He reminds me of the Ladder Yadder.' Or in X's case, something really interesting. The blue android doesn't have the fear of death yet. That lesson is in the latter part of the testing. 'So cute.'

 

"Nyah ha hah! You shouldn't care about that." [Despairing tone noted. Saved.]

"But I want to hel-?!" X flinch as he got hit by a beam... Sting? X shoots Boomer Kuwanger's weapon, watching the green reploid vanish once more.

"Childish! Naive! Poor little Rock." [Mocking tone. Saved.]

'Recommended action: Shoot until dead. Denied.' X walks deeper, observing the reploid. "Where are your subordinates? I know someone evacuated the animals-?!"

 

"?!" The target's eyes widen. Though his arm is bleeding from the damage, X is holding the other's tongue tightly.

"You aren't a threat." X ends his sentence, tugging the reploid out of his hiding spot.

"!!!" Shock from the force, the Maverick (hunter) fell to the ground.

"What's wrong?" X tilts his head, utilizing the body upgrade. X whispers. "My assessment is correct. You never intended to hurt anyone. Please surrender and state the real Mastermind's name?"

 

*Snap!

 

"Ah..." X didn't think Sting Chameleon would break his tongue to escape. 'Do reploids need tongues when we use voice synthesizers?'

"You wasted your chance, B-Class." [Soft and suggesting. X must deduce the reason for his utilization of hidden microphones.]

'If Sting Chameleon defeated, what happens to his unit?' X thinks, not moving from his spot to let his arm recover. 'Or has he already-'

"..." X pieces the information together. An act. This is all an act. A win-win situation with the risk of minimal damage to self. X compliments. "Cunning."

'I'll play along then.' X charges his buster, amplifying his weapon. "You leave me no choice!"

'That will hurt.' X wants to say since the weapon cut the reploid's tail.

'Chameleons don't regenerate their tails... He's a reploid. Regenerative property will depend on blueprint.' X watches the blood drip, shooting the main source until it is crippled. 'Did I overdo it?'

 

*Sizzling noises.

 

"What did I hit?" X asks in the middle of shooting his unlimited boomerangs. It doesn't come back unless he commands it. So far, X let out twenty boomerangs in every area Sting Chameleon went, destroying the surveillance devices accidentally.

"Urk. Finally."

"Hello." X greets, glad Rock never met this reploid. 'Doctor Light will transfer these memories eventually.'

"For a B-Class. You're pretty intuitive." The reploid compliments back, landing beside him. "Are you the one who freed the South Base and Floating Tower?"

"Chill Penguin and Boomer Kuwanger." X nods. "Who forced you to act like a Maverick?"

 

"Wait. You're the only one who entered their territories?" Sting Chameleons frowns, mouth still bleeding from the tongue rip. "Unbelievable! I was expecting you had help from Zero."

"Zero?" X searches his database of the name Zero. None. No data. Zero just like the name. X panics, unsure what to do.

"Yes. The special A-Class Hunter Zero. He is your  past teacher based on what Vile blabbered about." Sting Chameleon didn't notice X saving all relevant facts. "Since you defeated me, I'll come willingly back to base."

"Just as you planned." X agrees. Sting Chameleon laughed a bit, spitting some blood on the floor. "Let's keep that a secret, ey?"

 

"Word of advice." Sting Chameleon placed his hand on X's shoulder, voice turning sharper. "Be careful of your allies."

"They aren't what you think they are." The reploid transferred his weapon blueprint to X, walking past him towards the exit. "I suggest you go to Storm Eagle next. He will help."

"Thank you." X hears the reploid laugh and vanish before X could face him. Sting Chameleon teleported away, probably to the correctional facility and falling unconscious due to blood loss.

'A sly ranger doing whatever means necessary to accomplish his goals.' X contacts the doctor. 'I have a request.'

 

[PROGRESS SAVED!]

Chapter Text

[AIRPORT]


"Plane?" X looks onward, seeing a huge airship at a distance. 'That's surely where Storm Eagle is. Since Sting Chameleon referred him to me, the reploid must be a nice reploid!'

"Okay! You can do this!" X tells himself as he stared at the moving platforms. 'One wrong move and I will fall very far down....'

'Up!' X jumps and walks towards the airship, sensing the helmet upgrade in the area. 'I only need to know its location and send it to Dr. Light.'

"X. That is very lazy of you."

'But...' X pouts as he dash forward, evading the robots in the area. 'I don't have much time-Mettool?!'

 

"X." [Unable to get angry at the reploid grabbing hold of the huge mettool.]

"Mine~!" X cheers as he hug the confused mettool. X smiles at his new comrade. "Keep?"

"?" It blinks at X.

[Metall C-15 - a basic construction reploid hides under it's helmet for protection.]

"Friend?" X asks again. The metall makes a disapproving tone. X starts tearing up.

 

"X. You can't own a friend."

"..." X begins to leak, saddened that he can't even keep an ally as old in production as him. 'B-but...'

"It seems you found the head upgrade. I will install it accordingly."

"B-but..." X hugs the reploid. The metallic doesn't do anything, too confused on what to do. X whispers, "I want a friend.."

"You will have lots of friends later. For now, you have to finish the mission."

"No!" X buries his face on to the metall, shaking his head.

 

"X... You're halfway there. Don't you want to explore the world?"

"..." X looks up, curious what angle Dr. Light is starting at him from. 'Creator is strange. Why doesn't he just blast enemy bases for easier infiltration?'

"That's called deux ex machina."

'Well I want god to give me a friend!' X orders as he cradles his confused enemy.

"That's not how life works X-"

"What are you doing with the metall?"

"?!" X looks at the voice, surprised at the unknown reploid. X speaks, more to Dr. Light. "God exists."

"Oh dear..."

 

*Pat.

 

"?" X looks up at the reploid who pet his head. Taller by a couple of inches, the reploid has a crimson and gold theme with green lights on the chest. The reploid also has a cold aura around him and X notices the curious long golden hair attached to the reploid's head. 'What is the name of this reploid?'

"Why aren't you responding to your communicator?" The blonde sighed.

The reploid has vibrant blue eyes and a chiselled human form. X's system screams danger, but Dr. Light remains silent for unknown reasons.

"You had the Commander worried-?" Sapphire eyes widen in shock but X needs information who and what the reploid is here for.

"?" X leans close, lifting himself up and placing both hands on the other's chest armor for support.

"Rock?" The reploid didn't move, stunned at the attempt.

"Hm~" Slowly, X reaches towards the other's helmet gem and lightly taps his crimson gem on to the surface.

 

[DATA RECEIVED!]

 

"What are you doing?!" The Special A-Class Maverick Hunter named Zero shouts, shoving X away.

"..." X stumbles back one step, analyzing the data. It seems Storm Eagle is the last reploid he will handle. Zero took care of the others.. except for Sigma and Vile.

"Y-you?" Zero seems to also receive information from X, but it's limited as Dr. Light filtered and processed the data accordingly. Zero crossed his arms, keeping his composure. "You got busy."

 

"One hour, forty-seven minutes and counting." X comments the time spent on all three areas. He also received the coordinates from the last upgrades. Odd how Dr. Light isn't installing it. 'Must be because of Zero.'

"How are you, Zero?" X took a step forward, leaning close to observe his brother's ex-teacher. Data suggests Rock and Zero are friends and frequent partners due to Rock's trusting nature. Zero is also popular like Vile, but more on the side of the female populace for his no-nonsense behavior.

"Fine." Zero turned away, looking at the nearby ship. X tilts his head, moving closer.

 

'Zero is a curious subject. His control chip holds no memory of his origins. What is he built for?' X scans his brother's teacher. "Your internal heat is rising."

"And whose fault was it again?" Zero rubs his gem, looking injured. X blinks, confused.

"Flame Mammoth?" X hypothesized since Zero's armor is still hot from the questionable encounter with the gigantic reploid. 'Zero doesn't analyze conversations.'

"You should have your armor cooled down before-?" X presses his hand on Zero's back, tracing the hidden compartments which consequently caused the reploid to flinch and move two steps back.

'Sensitive?' X stares at Zero, curious at the mixed expressions. "Does it hurt?"

 

"Y-you're acting different today." Zero doesn't make eye contact.

"Is it wrong to worry for my friend?" X wonders what exactly makes a friend. The term teacher is obvious. Dr. Light can be considered his teacher. The determination of friendship is difficult. Data suggest Rock has lots of friends. Rock cherishes his friends so X should too. X should have friends.

[Friend - an entity whom one has with a bond of mutual affection. An entity whom one spends lots of time.]

"I care for you Zero. Don't forget that." X doesn't want Rock to lose important people in his lives. Friends are as important as family. 'Can Rock's friends be my friends?'

"What are you mumbling about this time?" Zero muttered under his breath.

'No. Maybe not.' X thinks to himself. According to studies, reploid lifespan is short due to constant conflict. By the time X comes out from his capsule, everyone he meets today might be dead.

"..." X exhales, human traits all picked up from Dr. Light and his virtual comrades. 'Change the subject before Zero realizes...'

 

"Shall we start the mission?" X smiles, going to have his first partner mission with this unknown reploid. 'Think of happy thoughts because reality is better than a simulation. Not everything will crash and burn. That is a relief by itself.'

"I can't leave you here nor can I teleport you back with the jammer in the way..." Zero sounds torn. Zero must really not want Rock hurt. Zero decides. "Fine. Stay close to me. I can't let you get hurt again."

"Okay." X follows Zero, staring at the huge lump of golden synthetic hair. 'I see the hair helps stabilize his balance.'

'He acts like a robot master.' X notices, analyzing Zero's movements. Efficient and accurate, Zero is constantly looking at him and telling him not to wander away from his area.

"Rock." Zero tugs X's arm, noticing the air-headed nature of his student.

"Yes?" X follows Zero, jumping over the platforms. Zero rubs his face, shaking his head.

"???" X wish he has access to all of Rock's memories. 'How does Rock act towards these protective gestures?'

 

"Zero." X tries to learn more from this unknown friend of his sibling, catching the subtank Zero tossed at him. "Is something wrong with your sight?"

"What about it?" Zero's eyes narrowed, turning to face him. X feels this is a sensitive subject, but he is very curious.

"I think you can perform better if you have your target system checked." X cups Zero's face and makes the taller reploid face him, staring at blue eyes. "Your built is designed for frontal combat, not far-range attacks. Well.. you can snipe, but you require more time focusing and planning the attack."

"Rock!" Zero immediately pulls back, turning red again and X continues. "Have you considered using a blade? Your target system won't have a problem in coordinating with your motor system. You can eliminate more targets that way."

"!!!" Zero takes a step back, but X doesn't know when to quit invading his personal space. X also doesn't know when to shut up.

"You sure you don't want to head back? Your condition is worsening." X suggests and Zero's facial nerve near the left eye twitched. X says, "You didn't recharge, did you? Drinking E-tank won't be enough to rest your processors. If you want, I can help you-"

"Are you flirting with me?" Zero asks and X consequently searches the term.

 

[Flirt - a behavior of attraction for amusement.]

 

"No. I'm serious." X looks at the other's built before staring at the airship. "Few more meters and we will encounter Storm Eagle. I cannot have my teacher fighting inadequately."

"I can do this without your help. Stop worrying." Zero reassures and X moves away, losing all focus when he hears the familiar flapping of wings.

"Bird?" X dashes towards the sound, confident it will be an avian reploid.

"Rock wait!" Zero follows after him.

'Storm Eagle. A friend and somewhat teacher figure of Rock. He has no boss door and is highly respected by his subordinates.' X halts just in the to see the reploid land on the ground. 'I wonder how it feels to fly?'

 

[CHAMELEON STING EQUIPPED]

 

"Rockman." Storm Eagle acknowledged, but he noticed something off with the android. "You fought with Sting Chameleon."

"Storm Eagle." X wants to ask how it feels to fly or what is really happening inside the Maverick Hunters, but he forgot Zero is coming here. Zero might find out X isn't Rock because teacher-student relationships are always close.

"..." X closes his mouth, thinking what to say.

"I don't want to fight you but..." X speaks before Zero entered the area. "But do you know where Vile is?"

 

"Why? Why do you want to know?" Storm Eagle stares at X grimly.

"Why?" X thinks of an answer. Both data suggests Vile is a threat to society. It is Sigma that will require conclusive facts and defeating Vile will give him the evidence needed to solving this mystery.

"To help him." X answers, cheerful. "I want to help everyone. That's why-"

"Storm Eagle!" Zero enters the area. The aerial Maverick Hunter's gaze focuses on Zero.

"Forgive me then..." Storm Eagle spreads his wings. "But I must defeat you!"

 

"Odd." X looks at Zero, asking. "You and Storm Eagle no longer friends?"

"No. He's surely doing this for a reason." Zero says softly, readying his buster.

'Yes. Yes he is.' X looks back at Storm Eagle. "Chip?"

"..." The pained expression says it all. X gets pushed back by Zero.

"Go to the main deck and land Rogumer. I'll take care of this." Zero orders the clueless reploid.

"O-k?" X agrees and dashes to the door.

 

*Click!

 

"Hi!" X sees the other defected Maverick Hunters carrying guns.

"As if you'd shoot me." X swats the gun of one of them. Threat level in the entire area is zero. They're not worth the trouble. "Land the ship or Zero kills Storm Eagle!"

"X. That's lying."

"It worked, didn't it?" X pouts as the crew freaked out. Zero must be very strong and scary.

"X. Do not trust Zero."

"Why?" X enters the main deck, watching everyone speak in clusters. 'They must be the C and D-Class Hunters! I should ask if there is such a thing as an E-Class hunter.'

 

"X. Listen to me. Zero is dangerous. You shouldn't interact with him."

"?" X pouts as the crew members discuss where to land the ship. 'But he is Rock's friend.'

"But he can't be your friend. You did notice your security defenses raising up."

"Hn..." X finds that odd, but it's the first time he tried it with anyone. "Sorry..."

"Don't apologize. It isn't your fault."

"..." X notices a particular object lying across the room, suddenly getting an idea.

"I have good news! Rock will be operational soon so you can go home and finish the test- X? What are you doing with that?"

 

"Zero!" X calls out, emerging from the safety of the ship to see both reploids injured. "Catch!"

"Wha...?" Zero catches just in time to destroy the robotic birds. Zero stares at the metal tube. "A pipe, really?"

"Try it!" X cheers and Zero made a deep moan of pain.

"You mean Zero groaned."

'Progress saved!' X agrees as he watch Zero thwack Storm Eagle with a pipe.

"Secretly glad it's just a pipe." Storm Eagle said as he let out a directed tornado shot which made Zero stab the pipe to the ground as a support.

"..." Storm Eagle frowned, dodging the shots. "The pipe is multifunctional."

 

"Right! We're landing in front of HQ!" X said. Zero yelled back as the winds kept going. "No! Change its course! Rogumer will destroy HQ if it detonates!"

"Oh! Ok!" X heads back down and then pulls out an online map. 'Where will Rock park it then?'

"Head to the Command panel and plug yourself into the mainframe. I will handle the controls."

"Excuse." X requests the co-pilot reploid. The reploid was about to retort back but realizes he was the blue bomber.

'Privileges.' X hums as he connects his consciousness into Rogumer's system. Good thing there is a wire here or he'll need to search for one. 'I always wanted to drive a plane.'

"Airship."

"Plane." X says stubbornly, reading up and following Dr. Light's instructions on how to park a war airship.

 

'Dr. Light? What will happen now?' X finally asks, sitting back as the other reploids talked how it was possible for one reploid to command the entire mechanism. [Two words: Dr. Light]

'Rock... Won't Rock learn the truth?' X is worried for his brother. 'Won't he need to fight Sigma? What type of Maverick is Sigma? Political? Defect? Or is he the one you are referring, the viral category? What happens next?'

"X... There is so much we don't know."

"..." X looks around. 'You are lying. You always know things.'

"I know everything I don't know that's why I know things."

'Promise me Rock will be safe then.' X hopes, kneeling on his boss chair and peering at the reploids crowding over an injured reploid. 'Zero didn't terminate him.'

 

"Maverick hunters kill as the last resort."

"..." X watches the reploids interact like friends, curious. 'You know they will die if the airship lands farther than a hundred feet away from HQ. You also know Zero knows Storm Eagle's condition. You want Storm to talk to Zero and Rock.'

"The Mastermind is cunning that way."

"..." X closes his eyes, tired. 'Life is exhilarating...'

"And exhausting."

"Sleep sounds nice." X says to himself. X can almost imagine his creator smiling at him.

 

[SAVED FINAL PROGRESS]

Chapter Text

"How are you?"

 

"Zero." X acknowledges the crimson Hunter's presence. Ten minutes before the teleportation is enabled. X smiles, "Just waiting for judgment."

"Today is pretty hectic for you. I'm sure Commander Sigma will be lenient.." Zero comforts him, standing beside the blue reploid. "So how did you do it?"

"Do what?" X asks. Zero details, "How did you repair so quickly? It shouldn't be possible to come back after a couple of hours, moreso self-repair."

"..." X turns silent. X answers, confident. "I got lucky."

 

"Huh?" Zero doesn't buy it. X explains his theory how Rock came across Dr. Light's capsule, leading to his sudden activation. "I stumbled upon a capsule that restored me."

"You could have shutdown and never activate." Zero is worrying. Friends do that. X blinks, tilting his head. "But I didn't and we partially restored peace."

"Were you always this optimistic?" Zero jokes but X asks, curious about his brother. "Why?"

 

"How do I usually act to you?" X takes a step towards Zero, leaning close and startling the reploid.

"Hm~" X smiles, amused when Zero decides not to move away. "Were you always this restless around me?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Zero feigns and X leans closer. X notices the twitch on his right hand, Zero's system is engaging combat. X is on lock.

"I see..." X moves away, sullen at the revelation. 'Dr. Light is right. Whoever made Zero has a grudge against me.'

 

"Is anything wrong?" Zero asks, but X is too deep into his thoughts.

'Based on the date of creation, body parts and codings in his system... Zero's creator is either a robot or a human, mostly a human. A human with a grudge against my creator... There is so many humans in the past.' X ponders. 'It's hopeless. Insufficient data. I simply have to file and answer it for a later date.'

"Rock?"

"Sorry. Just thinking again." X turns his head, giving a smile to his brother's friend. 'I can't let him notice. Zero knows his system is reacting against me but I can't make him know I noticed. Think of your brother's friendship!'

 

"You need some alone time?" Zero inquires.

"What do you think~?" X teases and Zero scowls, facing away.

"You need lots of it." Zero begins walking away.

"H-hey!" X raises his hand, sad that this could be the last time he'll talk with Zero. X deletes teasing as it is ineffective to friends.

 

"What?" Zero sounds irritated, not even turning to look at him.

"..." X recoils on his decision. He failed to make a friend. Incompatibility is evident. 'He only came up to check on my condition... On Rock's condition.'

"Good night." X bids and Zero shakes his head.

"Whatever." Zero continues walking. "Come back after ten minutes. Storm has something to tell us."

"Yes..." X replies obediently.

 

"..." Watching the reploid's figure disappear, X takes a deep breath. His last breath before sleeping. 'It was too short... At least I know the resources are abundant.'

Teleporting back home, everything turned dark.

 

[DEACTIVATED]

Chapter Text

[ACTIVATE]

 

"X..."

 

"..." Emerald eyes open, the blue android feels he is forgetting something.

 

"Can you hear me?"

 

'That can't be right. I've been in this capsule for as long as I can remember.' The android thinks to himself, slowly sitting up from his bedchamber.

 

"I apologize for waking you..."

 

"Doctor..." X speaks, recognizing his creator's voice. Everything feels familiar. X begins processing the data given. Start-up is too slow due to the processors being bombarded with new information. 'Have I done this before?'

  

"X. I will be sending you a list of coordinates." Melancholic blue meet confused green, the scientist continues. "You are to defeat the enemies in the area until your brother recovers."

 

"..." Checking the updated database, X reads the world news regarding 'Doppler Town' where a scientist has distributed suppressants towards the reploid populace. The most concerning bit of the information is the fact X knows the reason for the Town's popularity and inevitable rebellion against humanity. X speaks softly. "A virus?"

 

"Close enough. A parasite and Rock has been infected by it due to his... Subordinates. When Rock is ready to go, I will bring you back here so you may continue your tests."

 

"Ok." The android knows there isn't much time left. Someone might notice Rockman's disappearance. Everything feels so familiar to him. It must be because of the modules installed in his head. X will pretend to be Rockman and defeat the mavericks. X can do that.

 

"Do not push yourself to finish the area..."

 

"..." X stands up for the first time, looking at the creator's AI. GSS is working fine. He also notices a number of upgrades which enables him to dash and wall climb? X then looks at the side to see an empty metal table. "Hm?"

 

"Are you ready?"

 

'I don't know everything...' X looks at his father. 'but I feel this rebellion must be stopped. I'm not in the wrong...'

 

"I'm ready." X stated and Dr. Light nodded.

 

"Good luck, X!"

Chapter Text

X knows he should be examining his environment, marvel in the frozen battlefield littered with enemies...

 

...But he isn't.

 

Something is wrong. This is wrong? What is wrong?

 

'I did this before.'

 

X can't believe himself. Memory bank is empty with only Rockman's data and Dr. Light's information newly transferred few minutes ago.

 

'Then why is this familiar?'

 

Yes. Why is this familiar? I can't remember. X knows he's done this before.

 

When?

 

Something happened back then. Something...

 

[INSUFFICIENT DATA]

 

Nothing. Is he not allowed to understand?

 

That is not possible.

 

His name is X, an android with infinite potential. Even with a limitation, he should be able to do anything, especially when the activity involves memory recall.

 

[Helit - a flying type mechaniloid that attack with 2 missiles.]

 

'Maybe I need to stop relying on previous data.' X thought, pushing the problem down three priority levels. 'Observe the area and create an ideal solution. Dr. Light must be testing me.'

'Right?' X hoped. His creator wouldn't erase his memories without any reason correct? 'Wait. Why did I think of erasure?'

'Nothing makes sense.' X realized, confused with his own thought process. Climbing the ladder, X came up and looked out of the base through the broken window.

 

'This is a base. The area connected to this base is a city or is it a town?' X zoomed in to check for any organic lifeforms. None. There are only machines here. X tapped the floor. '5-inch thick ice floors...'

"Ice cubes." X stumbled on blocks of ice below him. The blue android keeps walking, encountering frozen stalactites. 'Spikes. Why is it always following me?'

"..." X decided to open the blueprint given to him by Dr. Light, checking for the shortest path to reach the perpetrator.

'Minimize casualty.' X took a deep breath, exhaling through his mouth. His breath is visible. 'I should finish this mission before I waste any more energy.'

 

[Notor Banger - a hopping mechaniloid with a cannon with a gun attached to its head.]

 

'Mass-produced.' X jumps and dashes away, firing his charged shot only when there is no other way.

'?' X picks up a transparent canister containing a golden orb. A contained energy pellet.

"Ah~" X swallows its contents, storing energy in his sub tank somewhere around the abdomen. X dashes forward, tossing the glass container at a nearby Notor Banger and killing it instantaneously. X falls, slides and lands on a seemingly not frozen metal floor.

"Why?" X entered the automatic door, having no enemies present in this spacious room. However, he noticed a particular spot scorched with a plasma shot. 'A team was dispatched or is this a solo mission?'

 

'Will I meet him?'

 

"?" X frowned. 'Him? Who is this male that I am implying? How is it that I can create thoughts without any basis?'

'A thought for another time.' X shook his head, jumping and dashing out. 'The enemies can be avoided.'

 


 

 

'Maybe the ones assigned to this area were the ones who evacuated the civilians?' Dashing in the air, X mused how Dr. Light knew this upgrade will be beneficial to his objective. X is ignoring everything except for the snowstorm. 'Will this be a weather control room? No. The freezing process is natural-?'

'A leg upgrade...?' X stared at the hidden area unreachable to most individuals. X scans the distant capsule, curtesy of the original AI, and looks down. 'I already have that upgrade.'

 

'To the boss.' X jumps down, ignoring a reploid riding an upgraded snow mobile. Dashing to the mechanical door, X sees ice patches and snow littered around. His enemy creates snow or a form of solidified water. "A snow machine?"

 

*Click.

 

'...' X enters the room, encountering an odd sight. A clutter of androids on the floor. All frozen, some dead while others committed a forced shutdown to preserve their IC or maybe they chose to run their fundamental programs only to survive?

'Blizzard Buffalo.' X analyzed his target. For an android- reploid whose occupation is that of an ice sculptor, his height is impressive. X noticed the rocket booster behind the target, also the hydraulics connected to the head. X tilted his head, realizing that the creator made the hydraulics and hose in the same color. 'So I shouldn't damage the ones connected to the head or chemicals might stain my armor-'

 

"Captain Rock!"

 

"?" X slowly turned towards a survival. A reploid. The only reploid standing and still alive compared to the others. X asked, curious even with the heaving irregular in front of him. "Who are you?"

"N-now's not the time for jokes, Captain! Look out!" The reploid shot when Blizzard Buffalo shot out snow.

"Why are you having a hard time?" X continued to stare at the reploid who is most likely a maverick hunter. X searched deep through his brother's records, identifying the face and voice as a reploid named Connar who belonged in the 13th Polar Region Unit-

"Connar. Were you not properly notified of the target?" X asked as he jumped away from the ice-skating, rocket-boosting irregular.

 

*Thud!

 

"No. Not just you, your entire team." X landed on his feet, turning around and watching the buffalo thrashing to remove his horns from the wall. X looked back to check the bodies. Yes. They are all from the same unit.

"He's too strong sir! We-"

"If he is too strong then the least you could have done is minimize casualty." X begins walking towards the fatigue maverick hunter.

"I-We were caught off-g-guard..."

 

"Listen to me carefully." X cupped the stunned official, emerald eyes staring back at viridian. "You don't have to be special to defeat someone. All you need is to use your CPU and act. There is always a way to defeating your enemy. Even with your current equipment, do you want to defeat him Connar?"

"Yes... sir." The reploid seemed to calm down incredibly.

"Good." X lets go of chilled synthetic skin, turning back to stare at the the buffalo. He's shooting out snow. Again.

"What have we gathered so far, Connar?" X explains to this maverick hunter, saddened by the fact the Captain of this Unit isn't present. He should be present. These hunters act like new recruits.

"Blizzard Buffalo shoots out ice bullets and fires an ice beam that immobilizes the victim long enough for him to ram and knock us unconscious or in the worse case scenario, termination." Connar grimaced as X nodded sagely. The hunter continues, watching the buffalo turn to face them. "His vision is limited and he deems all that functions as a potential threat."

 

"Solution." X answered, charging his buster. 'The reploid skipped Blizzard Buffalo's sturdy armor but maybe that was obvious?'

"My leader's solution is to keep shooting until we gain an opening and dodge incoming attacks." Connar's voice turned apologetic at the end when he saw X turn to stare at him with furrowed eyebrows. "Sorry sir."

"Can you not climb on walls or wall kick up to jump over him, turning around and shooting the rocket booster attached to his back?" X asked and the maverick hunter winced at the blunt question.

 

"Not all of us are capable of performing a triangle kick!" The reploid has his head bowed and X looked around.

"Why not dash away?" To prove his point, X dashed a meter to the right and avoided the rampaging irregular.

"There is plenty of space. Your original numbers should be able to confuse the enemy and deal sufficient blows for emergency deactivation." X continued, still talking with the embarrassed hunter as the irregular struggled to remove his horns for the who-knows-how-many times. "Your enemy is not even thinking. He is being manipulated by something, potentially an external device given the limited movements."

"If your team is here to terminate this controlled-reploid then this operation should be over, but it isn't so analyzing and detaching the controller should be your primary objective." X heaved, disappointed at his fellow ally. "How did this happen?"

"I-I'm sorry!" Connar is heating up and not meeting his gaze. "I was simply following orders from the assigned leader. I am not allowed to deviate or my contract will be terminated.."

"Connar..." X blinked, confused. Connar is a B-class Maverick Hunter. He should be experienced at least to the complexities of encounter but...

 

That attitude is improper.

 

"I am not telling you to rebel against your presiding authority, Connar." X feels Connar is scared of him. It makes sense since Rockman is the Captain of the 17th Elite Unit of the Maverick Hunters. Getting reprimanded by a superior will not do well in one's record. "What I'm telling you to do is think out of the box."

"It is clear that your leader is vague in his orders." X begins analyzing the animaloid, shifting his buster back to a hand. "But that is no reason to stop thinking. Let us begin the rescue mission."

"Your orders?" Connar began charging his buster and X is glad this hunter understands his motive.

"You are to keep me cover as I free the remaining survivors and learn the body part controlling the irregular!" X immediately dashed to the one wheezing at the corner, destroying the ice trapping the hunter.

 

"Understood!" Connar begins shooting, dashing away when Blizzard Buffalo charged at him.

'Ten more.' X carried the unconscious hunter bleeding from the loss of the right leg. X rushed out, patching the wound by heating the ends with his buster. 'A temporary fix nevertheless.'

"Captain!" Connar yelled in joy as X carried his third patient. "I was right! His rocker booster is just an accessory part! I slowed down his movement!"

"Good job." X looked up as he carried a female hunter right beside the third injured hunter. 'Is the Maverick Hunters in need of a program training overhaul?'

'But who am I to judge? I recently came out of my bedchamber.' X rushed out to treat the two Hunters.

 

"C-captain...Rok?"

"T-thank...u...o..."

"Hm..." They're speaking to him in whispers, smiling and happy for being with each other. These two are a couple. X has data regarding couples.

"I-I'm... Fine!"

"...R-rock?"

"W-wow..."

"W-we're saved!"

"Connar!" X shouted as he plucked the ninth survivor groaning in his arms. "I've finished analyzing the target. Aim for the horns! That is the component pushing the irregular to his limits!"

"Yes sir!" Connar activated a beam saber.

"Be careful!" X didn't need to state anything further. The hunter should know the risks of close combat. X rushed out and placed the pained hunter down, glad the injured reploids that woke up knows first aid.

'Last.' X thought, rushing to the last hunter and stomping on the ice. X picked the unconscious hunter, dashing out. 'Twenty casualties... What a waste.'

 

*Thud!

 

"Captain!" Connar yelled, beaming but his eyes are drooping from exhaustion. The irregular is unconscious. The horns have been destroyed. "M-mission... A-accomp-pli-!"

"Good job...?" X wondered why Connar stopped talking until he saw the immobile hunter.

"How many hours has it been since you first started the mission?" X inquired to the stumbling hunter coming inside the room.

"T-twenty-two hours..." The hunter laughs and X looks back at Connar.

"Please return to base and recharge." X rubbed his face, feeling stiff from the low temperature.

 

"C-can you come back with us, Captain?" A hunter begged, worried for the potential reprimanding from their current head X believes.

"Very well." X can deal with it. It wasn't the team's fault per se. 'They're children who's limited to following orders. What a sad life.'

"Thank you sir!" The female hunter bowed her head, panting.

'No...' X watched the injured hunters retrieve their deceased colleagues. 'They're emulating mourning.'

 

"Let's go home, Captain!" A Maverick hunter smiled up to him. "Get a quick recharge like all of us before you go to the next mission!"

Home?

"Hn..." X tried to mimic that relieved smile.

[It looked melancholic.]

Chapter Text

Unfamiliar. Empty. Depressing.

 

'The Captain needs to know there is a serious need for a role assessment..' X followed the group. 'Not everyone can be a leader. Some work better in smaller groups or even solo..'

 

Serious. Monotone. Familiar.

 

'Why are they whispering?' X scanned the personnel. 'Support-based reploids? Maybe they were deterred from the last catastrophic event?'

'Sigma's rebellion... Why does that term feel familiar?' The blue android looked down. 'Have I analyzed the incident before? No. It's just Rock's memories resurfacing to keep me from deviating.'

 

[NEW COORDINATE RECEIVED]

 

"Toxic... Seahorse?' X read up the area description of his next target. 'The reploid is controlling the water supply and infiltration should be from the bottom or more specifically, the sewage system.'

'Sewage...' X searched up images of sewers, preparing his ventilation, armor specification and downloading potential machine units guarding the area. X checked the time spent. 'Eleven minutes.... Why do I feel warm inside? Have I done this before to feel happy of this achievement?'

'No.' X exhaled. 'Whatever I'm doing, defeating irregulars, is not something to be proud about. One wrong move and I could kill them.'

 

KEEP CAUTION

 

"Captain!?"

 

"?" X looked up, seeing more of the same model units as the ones he is accompanying rush to his area.

 

"Oh rust! It is him!"

 

"?" X took a step back, calculating their threat level. More than thirty soldiers with plasma guns and busters st- ERROR!

 

*THUD!

 

"Ack!" X hates how his system would crash suddenly due to conflict. Of course these reploids are Rock's subordinates, but please don't lower the threat level from 7 to 0 immediately! That's like dropping the room temperature for humans! 'System isn't ready for this type of adjustments!'

 

"Captain!"

 

Of course these reploids will be concerned and consequently ecstatic to see their superior make a full recovery from the rumored virus. X squirmed, trying to get out of the body pile.

 

"*******************?!"

 

"C-calm down!" X winced, pushing everyone off him while deciphering the intention of this collective body. He knows these reploids are stressed, in need of a recharge and a fix. He also knows Rock is a really nice Captain and that there is this Zero character who treats all of them like war droids or veterans or both.

 

"*******************!"

 

'Why doesn't the Maverick Hunters recruit more combat-based reploids?' X mused, sitting up and taking a breather. The noise is ongoing, but the expressions of these reploids were warm. 'Is it because of the Sigma rebellion? No. Humanity's paranoia? Yes! That must be it. Sigma did sway a great number of combat-based reploids.. Why don't I have records of the aftermath? Is it confidential? Hmmm...'

 

"Where were you anyways, Captain?"

 

"..." X looked up, receiving the file Arae, an A-Class Hunter and also an ex-police officer in Abel city. She gave a question this collective body wished to learn, focusing all attention at his person and toning their noise. Accessing the HQ's database with Rock's authority, X checked the status of his brother.

 

"We were looking for you everywhere!"

 

MISSING IN ACTION

-Last seen kidnapped by his Second-in-command Mac...

 

"We were so worried! Yeah! ...."

 

'I need to come up with an excuse.' X had to replay the video, finding it unbelievable how his strong brother fall victim to betrayal. An invasion in HQ even? Where is safe anymore? 'Rock is not at fault. It is the virus' fault! O-or it's a particular reploid's fault.... Blizzard Buffalo's situation makes it look like there is a Mastermind but who?'

'Oh wait. An excuse.' X stood up, dusting his armor and replying. "I was able to escape the enemies during transportation. I apologize for worrying you all."

 

"**************************"

 

'Nothing makes sense.' X doesn't understand why they're talking all at the same time. No. He should understand. Noise can be separated and deciphered. What X doesn't understand is why none of the praises reach him.

'It's blurred.' X wants to know what they're saying but nothing is entering his microprocessors.

'What is going on here?' X took a step forward, wanting to hear at least one of them.

"......?" Arae looks at him as he placed a hand on her head. She smiles and she didn't know the panic raising in his mind.

"I can't..." The words died in his mouth. Static. Garbled. X lost control of his voice. Retracting his hand, panic rises and X takes a step back.

'Get out. I have to get out.' X struggles to understand his predicament. 'Why? Why am I not allowed to speak? Why can't I listen? What purpose will this serve?!'

 


 

 

[SIGNATURE LOCATED]

 

'What?' X turns to the source, spotting a familiar red. Red and yellow. A figure walking out of his vision.

 

Roll?

 

"Wait...." X rushed towards the colors. 'Roll?!'

 

"Captain?" "Where are you going?!"

 

"Wait!" X called out, turning to a corner and dashing forward. He exits the narrow hallways and faces a gigantic room littered with more Maverick Hunters and support.

 

Maybe she has the answers?

 

'Where? I need to...' X looked around, scanning the crowd and earning curious gazes. 'Red and yellow. Red and yellow?'

'Where where where?' X entered the crowd, searching for his sibling unit. A unit he could trust with his life. X sent a distressed signal, pleading. 'Roll! Where are you, Roll?'

 

"X?" A pause. A voice that knows who he really is.

 

"Roll!" X turned and spotted the stunned android. His sister! His Loving older sister unit. 'She's really here!'

"I... This is a miracle!" Roll dropped her clipboard as X dashed forward. Roll raised her arms, greeting her baby brother with a smile. "I can't believe this!"

"Roll!" X lunged, hugging his sibling unit. Of course Roll wouldn't be affected by his weight, older robots are sturdier and heavier by comparison.

"I..." X felt tears falling down his eyes as he spoke. "I don't understand anymore..."

"Oh no..." Roll whispered, hugging the confused android. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..."

 

"But you have to keep moving for his sake."

 

"I know it's hard and I will help you." Roll whispered. "For now, please follow our father's orders. Finish the missions as early as you can and come back."

"..." X kept hugging Roll, hearing the unnecessary noise around them. To defeat Mavericks and pretend when there is a lack of data? Must he really risk it?

 

I have no choice on the matter.

 

"Understood." X let's go, hesitant. "Can you write a message for the 13th squad's Commander? Their members need specialized training to hone their potential...."

"I will. You can count on me~" Roll smiled at him. Staring down at his sister, the blue Android requested. "Will you assist me?"

"Of course!" Roll gave a thumbs up, ready to help her youngest brother. "I am your operator, after all... Rockman."

 


 

 [GIANT DAM]

 

"I'm ready for the mission." X stated, charging his buster and opening the blue print of the area. He starts his echolocation, afraid of hurting creatures hidden within the sewer water.

"Good luck, X." Roll prayed and X immediately dashed forward.

Dashing forward and jumping, X raised his arm to avoid sewage water hitting his face. 'Who knows what corrosive chemicals were dropped here?'

"Uhh... X? Are you...?"

"Yes?" X answered, listening to his sister as he avoided majority of the enemies.

'It's useless.' He has to soak his armor into the sewage water. X can sense a life extension not far away and he might need it... 'Or should I say Rock will need it?'

 

"When I told you to rush, I didn't mean literally skipping all enemies."

 

"Most of them aren't much of a threat once you take out the target." X explained, exiting the secondary system of purification.

"If they continue to function then..." Soaking wet with sewage water, X muttered as he dashed faster to dry himself. "The hunters can enter and sweep the area. It's good experience for them."

 

"Dr. Light wasn't kidding when he said you're maturing without memories."

 

"So I am right? This is all a test?" Just when X thought he wouldn't get soaked anymore, the android looked down to face a body of partially filtered water.

"...." X checked the time and then the layout. 'Ten minutes... If I swim fast enough and defeat the boss... Twelve minutes tops.'

 

"No. It's more of the fact that... That Dr. Light decided the world isn't ready for you yet."

 

"Odd. Most of the reploids are based on my design." X prepared for the journey, continuously charging his buster to light the way.

"Is it maturity? Is it evolution? Is it circumstances?" X guessed, all the while avoiding the spikes underneath. 'Next target. Toxic Seahorse.'

 

"Circumstances is the closest answer but I feel that the doctor has plans for you."

 

"Hm..." X stared at the squid-based mechaniloid, shooting it continuously until it explodes.

"What do you think are his plans?" X dashed towards the next door, exiting and dashing up. Air dash is really useful, having an extra boost from his thrusters and boot upgrade.

 

"I don't know yet. I'll let you know when I gather enough information."

 

"Okay..." X doesn't know what else to say, having too much thoughts in his head. Reaching the final purification process, X looked beyond the horizon to see the luscious water.

"It's morning..." X commented and Roll replied. "Eleven AM to be exact. Once it reaches twelve, I will treat you to food! You miss food, don't you?"

"I remember pancakes... Milk? E-can?" X tapped his chin, decreasing speed as he approached the Boss door.

Seeing the door slowly open to reveal a narrow hallway, X continued walking onward. "Chocolate, wheat, rice, bacon and eggs.. Yes. That's all in memory."

 

"It's settled then. After this, you're taking a rest."

 

"I can still do one more before that." X offered, walking inside and exiting the door to meet the boss. An enemy with liquid Mercury as his composition? Odd. X equips Frost shield.

 


 

*Click!

 

"The next one is by the mines. You might get hurt there."

 

"As long as you're with me, I'll be fine." X reassured, dashing back just in time to avoid a spurt of acid. X stared at the reploid in surprise, watching Toxic Seahorse lose form.

 

"*************************************"

 

'I can't hear him...' X grimaced, looking back at his memory with Blizzard Buffalo. A series of clicks and beeps. If it weren't for the subtle oddity of having a civilian reploid having horns then X wouldn't have spared him. 'Selective hearing?'

"?!" X dashed away, bumping the wall. 'Limited space and incapacity to negotiate with target.'

 

I don't have a choice, do I?

 

'Is this really the only answer?' X heaved, rushing forward after his target lets out another burst of acid from his mouth.

'Solidify the body and destroy the core.'

"!!!" The target knows what he's planning and tries to escape. Unfortunate. Frost shield's other form is that of a missile.

 

Target shows repetition. Actions parallel to DWN-026.

 

Recovering battle strategy...

 

"..." X permits the alterations, obtaining other weak points to handicap the maverick. His frame is softer than Toadman, easier to cripple after solidification.

 

[DEFEAT]

 

"..." X frowned, staring at the frozen reploid. He bent down, copying the contents of the IC.

 

[ACID BURST OBTAINED.]

 

"X. Are you okay?"

 

"...I don't like being... limited." X confessed, checking the time as he walked towards the next room. He should check for any life forms in the area. "11:05."

 

"I'll request some of the 6th Unit's personnel to clean the area."

 

"6th..." X checked the database, entering the Surveillance Room. "Aren't they guarding the international waters?"

 

"Not all of them. Some are slacking off."

 

"Slacking?" X didn't understand how one could slack. 'How could a reploid slack off when they are designated in the roles they are created for? The job should be easy for them. Natural even...?'

 

"Do you want to continue the mission, X?"

 

"Hm..." X pondered on that term, crossing his arms. Since he secured this area and the time has yet to reach twelve, X decides to check the next target and lay-out.

He's only been activated for an hour and five minutes, defeated two mavericks and learned his creator decided to limit his sensory perception.

"One more." X requests, looking into the mines. Tunnel rhino? That sounds difficult. X rather take the mission than let anyone else get hurt, especially those hunters without experience. "Will you warp me to the construction site where Tunnel Rhino is?"

 

"I don't think that's a good idea since Z-"

 

"Please Roll." X read the news, hearing human and reploid casualty is piling in the vicinity. "Lives are at stake!"

 

"Hm... Okay but promise me you're ready to act... like Rock."

 

"No issue." X smiled, unaware of his sibling's woes.

Chapter Text

[Maverick Hunters - a law enforcement organization supervised by the government, dedicated to protecting humanity at large from Mavericks. See Mavericks.]

 

'I've already read this before....' X thought as he entered the construction site. The concept of Mavericks and Hunters. However, the concept of Maverick is evolving. X kept walking, noting the number of life signatures in the area. 'Reploids... There is something about them that feels incomplete. However, Humanity is also lacking perfection so what am I trying to decipher here?'

'A cause.' X decided, dodging the boulders fallen and thrown at him. 'I am searching for the cause of rampant violence. An act unnatural if not involuntary. Yes. I am more concerned on cases similar to Blizzard Buffalo than Toxic Seahorse. Reploids that are forced to commit actions they normally would not do.'

 

[Maverick Virus - No result available]

 

'Or is it not yet published?' X knows it's only a matter of time before researchers would stumble upon the mysterious outbreak of violence. Some cases would be of political concerns, others would be a personal concern, but there is this small portion that classifies their actions to be abnormal. Dr. Light has been researching on this lately, filling the library in the simulated reality with conspiracy theories.

 

An irrational thought to eliminate or harm both reploids and humans alike.

A mental condition capable of being transmitted, consuming one's sanity into a vortex of repetitive errors and breaking the victim into submission.

A virus capable of disguising within thought, succumbing its host to do the impossible. Or maybe something so minute that it's impossible to see with the naked eye?

 

"?" X redirected his concern when he found himself staring at two paths. A shortcut but being unable to avoid interaction or a long cut which allows him to cut the supply of energy and cease all powered mechaniloids to function?

'Long cut.' X decided to avoid Maverick Hunter signatures, heading underground to circumvent and track the enemy. The blue android is happy most of the hunters are near organic signatures. 'Puts me at ease.'

"?" After dashing against the conveyor belts, X jumped up to grab hold of a... Subtank? X stared at it, checking his very own maxed out subtank inside him.

 

"You can leave it there... If you want?"

 

"I want to give it to Rock." X decided, holding the item in his left hand.

 

"It'll weigh you down."

 

"No it won't." X argued, jumping down and avoiding two crabs?

 

[Wall Cancer - Crab mechaniloids shooting dual energy balls from its claws.]

 

"Crabs in a mining site?" X wondered as he landed onto the floor, walking towards a mechanized airlock. "That isn't very effective."

"Unless it's a part of security then sure?" X stared at the next mechaniloid. Drimole-W. A mechaniloid fitted in this area.

"Okay. I should really stop questioning the machines here." X dashed away from Drimole-W, shaking his head and destroying Drill Waying. "Maybe they decided to change location... Like birds migration to the South?"

 

"Hehe... The forms of mechaniloids don't automatically mean they're built with a similar purpose to its organic counterpart, X."

 

"But they have no sense to being there." X fussed, jumping up and avoiding the boulders. "What I'm trying to say is that there are some mechaniloids which could have worked better in an environment other than its current location. I feel combat and security has disturbed the balance. It's a term I can't argue with."

"Such as this for example." X entered a door with a symbol resembling to a D? Doppler town symbol? X looks up at the mini-boss?

 

"********************************!?"

 

"Roll. Can you be nice enough to tell me what exactly is this reploid saying to me?" X has a sweat drop.

 

[Hell Crusher - A reploid participating in the exploration and mining of Energen Crystals.]

 

"Dr. Light has camouflaged your signature? So that explains why Toxic Seahorse couldn't detect your presence even with the surveillance room behind him."

 

"Hmm..." X made a non-committed sound, clinging onto the walls and dashing upward to avoid the arm. He's shooting downward, damaging the body until it/she/he cease movement.

"Why do you think Dr. Light did that?" X jumped down to the floor, staring at the deactivated reploid. 'Not serious, but enough to render him unconscious.'

 

"Well... Maybe from the first time you were activated to help Rock?"

 

"First..." X thought about it. He was right. He has done this before. X dashed forward, filling his spare subtank with the energen chunk dropped from the enemy.

"..." X also noticed he's been frowning a lot, encountering certain situations that require him to destroy mechaniloids.

"I feel Tunnel Rhino knew how annoying Wall cancer is." X destroys the crab just to climb up the walls. "That's why he placed them on walls and not the ground."

 

"You're acting like he's really a maverick."

 

"You don't have to be a maverick to hurt someone." X established. "You can't immediately be labelled a maverick for being a strategic prankster."

 

"You think... this is a game?"

 

"A test." X clung to the edge, placing the subtank onto the floor and charging his left buster arm to shoot the Drimole W. X climbed up, grabbing the partially-filled Sub tank. "It's not really a challenge. I feel Tunnel Rhino wasn't actively participating against humanity... A similar case to Blizzard Buffalo."

 

"All from analyzing the stage?"

 

"Yes. I have no one else to talk to." X has plenty of space to think and analyze every single action of a certain individual. However, Dr. Light is making things difficult. To restrain data collection for what purpose? 'What am I if I do not think?'

'I also dislike ladders.' X pouted unconsciously, having a hard time climbing with a subtank in his arm. 'I know. It's my fault for making things difficult but still. This is for Rock.'

 

"Once you enter the Control Room, please shut down the facility temporarily until further notice is made."

 

"Where is Tunnel Rhino?" X inquired, huffing as he reached the empty room. '11:20?! I spent so much time because I wanted to use the long cut when I had my signature cloaked! Noooo....'

 

"He's being engaged by three A-Class Maverick Hunters and an S-class Maverick Hunter. You don't have to help them."

 

"But there is a human nearby." X pressed the enter button, watching the lights dimmer. "Teleport me to the area Roll."

 

"B-but..."

 

"Please?" X requested and he can hear his sister sigh.

 

"All right already."

 


 

 

[WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!]

 

"Target sighted." X landed on a crane, staring down at the rampaging reploid. "Roll. His signature is off. Something... is different about him?"

 

"It's the same parasite affecting Rock. Please deactivate him before it uses his energy and distorts his personality."

 

"Distort?" X didn't think anyone would create something that horrific. Erasure is one thing. Twisting the ego is another.

"Noted." X looked down before jumping, landing on top of the target's neck before it rams to an old wiry man.

"Rockman?!" The scientist claims in surprise with the S-class crimson maverick hunter holding his frame. Database says they are Dr. Cain and Zero respectively.

"Hello?" X tilted his head, unsure what to say other than that. 'Why is an old man walking about? That's dangerous... But he's considered a friend to Rock. Does that give me the ability to scold him?'

'Silence is a virtue.' X ignored the duo, looking down and searching for the infected zones. The parasite is squirming deep in the armor. X shifts his weapon to Acid Burst. 'Even if it's temporary.'

 

"***************************!"

 

"..." X got off as the reploid bucked forward like a bull. X landed on the floor, emerald eyes glowing as it searched for the next site.

 

***************************

 

'Static. The screams and call-outs are all noise to me. Is that a bad thing? A good thing?' X doesn't know, focused on deactivating and minimizing damage. The parasite has a different temperature to it. However, thermal readings will be useless once the parasite consumes enough energy. 'I won't let it harmonize with its host.'

 

*Bang!

 

'I need accuracy.' X decides to experiment and combine both Frost Shield and Acid Burst at the same time. A semi-liquid missile containing concentrated acid. 'One mistake and the core is dead. I don't have any room for mistake.'

"Move." X dashed away from an A-class Hunter, glad someone heavily damaged the maverick's lower extremities.

"......" [The reploid's eyes widened, slowly falling down as it watched the azure reploid pierce through his armor five times.]

 

*Thud

 

"Deactivated..." X took a step back, looking towards the human's area. "Are you hurt, doctor?"

"..." The human stared at him without any movement.

"?" For the first time, X encountered a silence he did not like. He can see awe in their faces. 'Why? Is Rock not as amazing as he looks? Rock is amazing, even if he's small.'

'Moving on....' X checked the last target: Volt Catfish. 'An electric-based reploid. The area is hard to infiltrate with the security system activated and the sudden voltage from the floors. I should disable and reconnect the populace with their energy. I wonder if peak demand is still the same from a hundred years ago... I should calculate that when I have free time.'

 

"Hmm...." X looked back at the crowd still keeping their distance. He also wanted to know why the crimson reploid looks familiar to him. However, he has no time for strangers. Roll is also being unusually quiet after all this. 'Is it because of the time? 11:25 is a good time.'

"If you excuse me, I will be taking my leave." X bowed his head, messaging Roll to send him to the Powerplant where Volt Catfish is rumored to control.

"Before you haul the reploid into the examination table..." X nearly forgot as the human wobbled closer to his area. "Please be careful in checking the reploid's CPU. Activating the infected while it slumbers hidden within the circuitry will not do well for the reploid. The parasite is also mobile, aiming for the CPU for alterations."

"Y-yes sir!" The A-Class Hunter seemed surprise. X doesn't comprehend why. Just before Roll could warp him, something interfered in the form of red.

 


 

"Rock." The crimson hunter addressed, but the way he said his brother's name is wary.

"Hm?" X looked away from the Maverick Hunters who saluted him, staring back at cold sapphire eyes.

"You aren't with your unit." Zero stated, holding his wrist. X also noticed he was tugged closer to the imposing figure. The first thing X thought of was, 'How is Zero interfering with the teleportation? Authority? Wait. He's the Captain of the Zeroth Unit...Why can't Rock be the Zeroth Captain instead? They have more private privileges than the Seventeenth Unit.'

"They're aiding the other units." X checks HQ, noting all the various locations which his brother's subordinates are designated to. Zero's grip is tight, tight enough to snap his wrist. X pretends he's fine, even when systems blaring to move away from this maximum threat. "I felt it was unnecessary to change the orders you have given them, Zero."

 

[Best friend - an entity with whom one shares the strongest possible kind of friendship. See Friendship.]

 

"I see.." Zero cut the conversation short but still expects X to say something.

'Uhh...' X realized he entered into a trap, lightly tugging his wrist.

"Something wrong?" Zero asked but refused to let go.

'How is Rock best friends with a lethal reploid?' The look in Zero's eyes caused X to panic. 'I don't have a friend so how would I know what to act in front of Rock's best friend? What do best friends talk about?! Mission? Work? Er... Love life? What? What would my brother talk about, especially to a warbot?! Why is Roll silent? Oh no. What if Zero also interfered with my transmitter?'

 

"..." Zero refuses to look away, causing X to look at Dr. Cain. The human is panting. He should get some exercise- 'Wait. How old is he again? Shouldn't he be in life support?'

"..." X looked back up and Zero is still staring at him. X looked away.

'No. I can't do it.' X doesn't want to risk anything but by saying nothing would equate to suspicion. 'Shoot.. Is this what Roll was warning me about?'

 "Zero. Is there something you need from me?" X is not looking at the reploid. 'Best friends are terrifying, being able to know a fake from the original. None of the results show promise.'

"You aren't Rock... Are you?" Zero whispered and X couldn't help but appreciate Zero's actions. If the Hunters knew there was a fake representing the original captain then they'd panic. Not helpful how paranoia between humans and reploids are increasing. Humanity will not act so kindly when they learn there are two Rockmans. 'A similar incident happened in the past if I remember right? Shinjuku? Hmmm...'

 

"Zero. Drop your stance." Dr. Cain finally spoke out, standing tall with the sword cane. X stared at it, amused if the human is capable of utilizing the weapon. No. Surprised when he saw the old man thwacking Zero with a cane. The human was speaking, scolding the annoyed reploid. "If he really is a threat then he wouldn't have defeated Toxic Seahorse in the last thirty minutes."

"Actually, I don't care if you are Rock or not!" Dr. Cain looked at X. "Let's head to my office for a moment. We need to discuss about this parasite."

"..." X checked the time. "We will meet at 11:50, once I secure the powerplant and discuss with Roll."

"You plan on entering a high-security area and fighting Volt Catfish under twenty minutes." Dr. Cain frowned.

 

"Or less." X added and looked at Zero. "Zero. Can I trust you to handle Crush Crawfish? Reports have stated he has human hostages and a battleship docked nearby."

"All under twenty minutes..." Dr. Cain muttered, still unable to get over the fact.

"Unless you tell me your name." Zero gave a condition that made X sigh.

'What's the point in giving my name if I won't remember all this?' X replied back with a smile. "Still Rockman. I'm just the... extra life while the original body is undergoing maintenance."

 

"..." For that split second, X noticed the sharp gaze waver into something... foreign. 'What was it?'

"If you need help, call me." Zero lets go and X did not expect those words.

'Why? Why would Rock's best friend help me? Does he know? Did Rock talk about me?' X is slowly falling into his thought pile.

 

"Dr. Cain. This is Roll. I would like to talk with you regarding private matters."

 

"Roll..." X can hear his sibling again. He remembers home when he hears his family. 'Home is so warm and safe.'

"..." The human gave a look, a look with his brows knitted together and causing more wrinkles to show.

"Very well..." Cain doesn't look like he is on-board with the plan. "Zero. Rockman. Meet me at my office. Don't get scrapped."

"I won't." X looked at Zero before looking back at his sub tank. X offered the sub tank to Zero, realizing the reploid looked a bit... roughened up. "Subtank?"

 

"Thanks." Zero got it and X received a notification from Dr. Light.

 

[NEW COORDINATES RECEIVED]

 

"See you." X looked at Zero, unsure what else to say since they now know he isn't Rock.

"Hn." [X cannot uncover the reason for that face. Is it sorrow? No. Fatigue? No. What?] "You too, Rockman...?"

"Don't die on me." X wanted to have the last say before he vanished. 'Rock wouldn't like it if his precious friend dies... right?'

Chapter Text

[POWER CONTROL CENTER]

 

"Nope. Still a powerplant in my eyes." X denied as he entered the area. He's seen the lay-out. This place was supposed to be for an evolutionary powerplant model until humans decided to settle in and complain about the potential disadvantage of having a power plant nearby their city. 'In yet, this city utilizes more energy than its neighbors....'

"..." X realized he spent two minutes standing at the entrance, forgetting the fact Roll is busy talking with Dr. Cain.

"Alone again." X huffed, dashing forward. '11:34. I have....15 minutes at most.'

 

[Trapper - a state of the art security system device placed in sensitive areas to detect enemy movement. Once detecting an unregistered and armed intruder, it will shoot laser beams for approximately two seconds.]

 

'Irrelevant.' X dashed forward, avoiding the attacks. X then encountered Crablaster, most likely a production predating or postdating the model Wall Cancer. X is still not over that as he landed on a platform. He knows there are two paths to going forward but he might forget to enter this area.

'Down I go...' Descending down, X activates his night vision to see... spikes. 'Spike walls.'

'And they're stationary... Why would anyone put spike walls here?' X wonders to himself as he got off the platform and enters the next telepod. 'They should get lessons from Dr. Wily. It would be more challenging that way.'

'Note to self.' X looked around in the dark. 'Delete thought before sleep. Appreciating enemy's ingenuity is a negative trait.'

 

*Blip!

 

'Underground.' X lands on the ground, dashing forward and dodging all migrating mechaniloids. X didn't expect much. He shouldn't expect much. 'Why else is the mettool model still around?'

"..." X stood at the elevator and... X sighed, 'Not working.'

Dashing up, X picks up the capsules, avoiding the debris from above. He keeps air dashing from side to side, ready to face anything that enters his vision. Oddly enough, the rock thrower is nowhere to be found.

 

*Thunk.

 

"!" X landed on a steady platform, dusting his helmet.

'Still damp.' X secretly wants to know how to remove his armor. The water is still in his body and it's apparent with the water droplets on the floor. 'Maybe Roll will help me?'

 

[Hamma Hamma - a mechaniloid equipped with two flails.]

 

"Hamma Hamma or Hammer Hammer?" X pondered, jumping up and dodging the enemy. 'I wonder who named them?'

...

'Where does this go?' There are spikes he has to avoid and ladders he has to crawl. Fortunately, X only spent six minutes here before he sees the door with the green D symbol-

"Wait a minute." X knows most of his targets aren't that easy as to stay in the middle of the facility. 'Another mini-boss?'

 


 

[WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!]

 

"Hehehehe..."

 

"?" X stared at the reploid. The mini-boss is riding on a black Ride armor with spikes for hands.

'Who is this reploid?' Sturdy built and high energy consumption, the ride armor is definitely custom made and a one-time usage only. 'Why can I hear him? Did Roll do this? I must thank her some time.'

 

[VAVA - a defected S-A Class Maverick Hunter who sided with Sigma voluntarily.]

 

"You fell into my trap, didn’t you?!" A rhetorical question. X imagines the reploid as condescending.

"..." The reploid looked different from Rock's memory. Vava should be in the color violet with a grey shoulder cannon on the right. However, this reploid in front of him is blue with a golden shoulder cannon. The reploid also has a missile launcher on the left and a shield at the back.

"You're Vava?!" X blinked, surprised to meet Rock's rival? No. Enemy...? Database only states that this reploid is not in friendly terms with Rock. X has a feeling the enemy knows this and rebuilt him for that purpose... Or to cause mayhem. This reploid is a warbot refusing to bend down to norms. X took a step forward, confused. "You're alive?"

"I’ve set up bombs all over this factory." Crimson orbs glow from underneath the helmet. [This reploid is too focused on his directive. He cannot be reasoned with.] "In just a while, it’ll cause a huge explosion!"

'He really hates Rock.' X mused, charging his buster.

 

"Let's go, Rockman!"

 

"..." X chuckled. As long as Vava stays in that ride armor, mobility is limited. X prepares to spam his air dash ability.

One. Two. Three. Four.....

"I lost count." X landed on the ground when the ride armor exploded. He wanted to know how durable the armor was, but he forgot to control his charge shots. He should have shot all fully-charged plasma attacks but he didn't.

'I feel horrible.' X puffed his cheek on one side (something he saw Roll do in the past), staring at the reploid preparing for combat.

'I wish he talked more. Why can't all warbots be like Forte? He's talkative... When he's fighting. No. That's due to his arrogance...?' X was about to charge his buster again until he received unknown data.

 

[RAY SPLASHER RECEIVED]

[SPINNING BLADE RECEIVED]

 

"Forgot to give you this. Can you use it?"

"Zero!" X greeted, surprised to hear Rock's best friend talking to him. "You defeated Crawfish?"

"Yes. You need help?"

"No." X dodged the buster pellets and fire cyclones. X tries out the two weapons, curious of its function. "Hey Zero. Did you know Vava is alive?"

"Vava?! Maybe it's a different model?"

"No.... I'm pretty sure this is the Vava from the first war. (X checked his limited database.) He was rebuilt by the enemy, I believe." X used ray splasher, gasping when he saw beads of concentrated energy bullets from his buster. "The weapon abilities you sent are effective on him. Thank you."

"If you need help. Tell me. It's already nine minutes."

"I have time.." X doesn't like being pressured, already irritating his opponent. Comparing the two weapons, X prefers shiny bullets over dual blades. Bonus. The shiny bullets let out a sparkle upon impact.

 

"You..." The reploid finally falls to the ground.

'Sturdy or tenacious?' X thought. During the battle, X cut off Vava's golden shoulder cannon and nearly sliced his opponent in half (by the torso)... All because of Spinning blades. 'Both. What a formidable opponent!'

'Not an excuse to terminate him though.' X felt bad when he scanned the reploid completely. Teleporting Vava is no longer viable due to the intensity of his wounds. X definitely prefers Ray Splasher now. 'Plenty of Safe Shinies.'

"Don’t think you’ve won with this…"

 

"?" X stared down at the reploid, feeling sad for this reploid. 'It's difficult living as a warbot in times of peace. It's also difficult not knowing how to do first aid.'

"I’ll revive any number of times to..."

"Vava..." X walked towards the reploid about to shut down.

"...take…you…down…"

"I'm sorry." X apologized, looking down at his opponent. "We should have negotiated first. I didn't mean to fight you immediately-?"

 

"!!!" X felt a tug from behind, just in time to see the reploid self-destruct before the metallic door closed in front of him.

 


 

"You don't talk with mavericks like him. They're non-negotiable."

 

"Zero?" X pushed away and turned around. Emerald eyes widened, "How did you get here so quickly?"

"Updated." Zero tapped his boots. As soon as X entered the destroyed room again (to check on Vava), the alarm system started counting down.

 

60 59 58 57

 

"I forgot. Vava said he'll destroy the entire facility with me in it." X looked back at the disgruntled reploid. "Race?"

"Pft." Zero merely smirked and X air dashed to enter the high-platformed exit.

 

46 45 44 43

 

"This is what you get for side-tracking." Zero scolded as he sliced the drill wayings down.

"I like exploring." X merely dodged all of them, dashing and requiring to increase his energy output to catch up with the warbot. "Don't you?"

 

34 33 32 31

 

"You haven't even defeated the enemy." Zero didn't even need to step on the falling platforms to reach the other side.

"I did, just not the right target. (X heaved when he lost sight of Zero) I really envy you!" X complained, nearly falling down because of a misstep. X swears he heard a laugh above him.

 

22 21 20 19

 

"Get in." Zero tugged X forward, needing to wait as the reploid climb the wall too slowly.

"How many minutes left before 11:50?" X asked, bumping Zero's chest lights with his earpiece. "O-ow!"

 

*Blip!

 

"You have... Six minutes left." Zero checked the time and X finds himself right at the starting point.

"Okay." Pushing away, X needs to really pick up the speed. "Zero. You go back to HQ. I..."

"I will handle everything." X then looked back at the destroyed area. "What did you do?!"

"I eliminated the enemies. They were getting in the way." Zero looked back at X.

"You could have spared them-" X stopped midway, exhaling. "I shouldn't even be talking with you. See you later Zero."

[X dashed away, completely unaware that Zero was willing to lend a helping hand.]

 


 

'No more side mission X. It's time to finish this.' X vowed, avoiding the platform he stepped on recently and dashed passed all the way to the elevator.

'Hm~' X looked around. 'Most of the enemies are deactivated.'

'...' X got off the platform before the spikes hit him, dashing forward to see more destroyed machines. 'Wait a second!'

'Zero could have defeated the target without meeting up with me.' X was bamboozled. 'Why would Zero do that? Maverick Hunters should prioritize the safety of Humanity. He could have defeated Volt Catfish before meeting me.'

 

'Oh Light!' X really wants to understand, entering the deeper parts of the facility... Only to see more destroyed mechaniloids. 'What is Zero?'

'In fact, how did he do all this in three minutes?!' X wants to know who is the creator of that specific warbot. 'Zero is... What is his purpose? A one-man army?!'

'The only thing that can hurt me now are the currents.' X did a free-fall, landing to the ground. '11:47. This will be... painful.'

 

*Click. 

 

'Volt Catfish. A playful reploid that provides power during power shortage.' X equips Tornado fang as recommended through analyzing Rock's memories with the reploid. 'This reploid is friends with Rock. I shouldn't harm him-'

"Rock!" The reploid greeted, having the same altered signature as Blizzard Buffalo and Tunnel Rhino.

"You know what this city should be called?" The reploid began and X tilted his head.

"No...?" X has a bad feeling about this-

 

"Electri-city. Get it?" The reploid chuckled. His whiskers are moving similar to his fish counterpart.

...

"..." X stared at him with a blank expression. 'A pun. Does Rock like puns? Why do I have no data regarding puns?'

"..." The reploid frowned, noting the expression in those eyes.

 

"You aren't Rock."

 

"Excuse me?" X looked back at the reploid, surprised he was caught immediately.

"Rock always likes my puns!" The catfish model glared at X. Meanwhile, X is shock to hear his brother liking puns. 'Is this the reason why Zero found out as well? No! It can't be right! Nothing in his memories state Rock to be a punny individual.'

"Whoever you are... Prepare yourself!" The reploid who X can finally understand refuses to negotiate?

"W-wait." X bit his lower lip, unable to find any solution. 'Why did Dr. Light refrain me from accessing all of Rock's memories? I don't understand! How can I be an effective substitute if I don't know everything?'

 

'Something definitely happened in the past.'

 

"Very well..." X agreed with remorse, pointing his buster towards the insulted reploid. 'As Rock's friend, I must ensure I do not kill him.'

 

"I'll show you, faker!" [Even if he hates me.]

 

"I-I'm not!" X can't continue his sentence, not when he isn't allowed to disclose any sensitive information. However, it's technically his fault for not being a good enough to copy his brother. No! It's not his fault! It's Dr. Light's for not giving him access to all of the memories! 'But there's always a reason why he's limiting access. I should have known better and assess the situation more instead of rushing face-first.'

"?" After landing the third charged shot, X feels dizzy. Everything is going dark and he isn't sure if it's because of the reploid manipulating the electricity around them or his system experiencing technical difficulties.

'When was the last time I rested?' X swears he has enough energy, considering he drank some in his subtank, but the world is spinning. He's only relying on his motion sensors to avoid and attack the enemy. 'Have I ever experienced this before?'

 

".................!"

 

"!?" X winced as he got hit, caught off-guard when his auditory wasn't able to pick the sound. X is confident that Volt Catfish shouted so why isn't it registering?! 'But I can't troubleshoot right now! Not in the middle of battle!'

"Urk!" X falls back, narrowly avoiding the reploid's charged shots. Armor is partially scorched from the last hit, still cackling with leftover current. X also forgot to change his resistance setting from last time in the energen mining facility. 'Fine! Might as well risk it.'

"?!" X looked behind to see a monitor indicating a particular location.

 

[COORDINATES SAVED!]

 

"Doppler's research lab?" X sent the info to the only available channel: Zero. Zero is a very strange individual. 'How did he find my channel when I've never met him?!'

"Agh!" X screamed, getting hit with another charged shot. X dashed out of the way, hating himself dearly. 'I forgot about him!"

 

"......................................"

 

'Get your mind out of the mindscape-Oh!' X once more gets distracted when he finally receives a report on his body's condition. 'Okay. I was right. I didn't prep my body and now everything in me has been artificially replaced with piezoelectric material. System is recommending shutdown so I should turn that off.'

'Okay. It's 11:51.' X dodged again, charging his buster. 'Hm. This is bad. Stop thinking and focus on the ba...?'

*Click.

'Wait. What? If I can't use my buster then which part is my excess energy channeled to?!' X dodged again, rolling away when he fell down. Vision is failing him. His buster is acting wonky. 'Why am I such a klutz?'

'Hmmmm!' X wants to stomp his feet, but he's running away from target. He needs to find cover and take a break. A minute to relax, shift mode and fix whatever's wrong with his buster.

Dr. Light must not have expected him to use so much energy nor did his creator imagine X to enter into various contrasting environments that will degrade/corrode his armor (even if it's minute). 'Ice, water, radioactive minerals and a mini-power plant. I really should have detoxified myself before coming here, even for five minutes-?!'

"!!!!!" X, in all his times as a speed runner, tripped on thin air. He also landed face-first and it was so painful (the floor is also metal) that X deactivated his pain receptors. 'I think I destroyed my voice synthesizer.'

 

*Slash!

 

"11:53. We're late." Zero cuts down the enemy in half, deactivating his saber to stare at the sapphire reploid on the ground. "Let's...go?" 

"Y-you..." Sensing the life signature vanish right in his presence, a sharp spike of sorrow, anger and denial came up to his processor. His voice is glitching as X struggles to speak. "Y-you... did you...avoid the I-IC?"

'How is he so... fast?' X thought. He knows he's sad and angry because Zero came and finished his mission. Although, X is also aware that if Zero hadn't done that, he would have returned to his capsule and never see Roll ever again.

"I did." Zero stared at the reploid before looking back. "Are you... crying?"

 

"N-no." X found difficulty in speaking, struggling to stand up after falling down. He should activate his pain receptors now. He likes experiencing reality, no matter how harsh. "J-just... f-phenote-typic plas-asticity."

"That's not the answer I'm looking for." Zero walked towards X, kneeling down as the reploid kept blinking.

"Hm..." X already changed mode, but he's still overheating... X rubbed his eyes, lowering his receptors' sensitivity, yet he still sees bright red and gold.

"Hi Zero." X greeted, hands on his lap as the blonde looked down on him.

'He's so shiny.' X smiled, sitting because X learned very late that he shouldn't have overused his EAS. Now his legs are undergoing self-maintenance.

 

"..." [X believes the straight mouth and narrowed eyes is Zero's default expression.]

"About the crying issue... It's a response to pain which I recently reconnected with.." X explained, looking at his hand to stare at the excess (No it is not excess! What is his body doing?! He needs this liquid to cooldown!) liquid. "It should stop now... I hope."

"Emotional or physical?" Zero looked like he's encountered this with Rock before. X answered, watching Zero stand up. "Both? I think."

"Can you move?" Zero walked towards the computer, typing things.

 

"No." X looked towards Volt Catfish. He's cut in half. Repairing him will be difficult, especially with the custom-made molds for the generator.

"..." X searched the reason for emotional pain: Death of Volt Catfish by maximum threat, failure to accomplish missions due to maximum threat, inability to adapt to situation, lack of trust from creator, limited information regarding mission and breaking of agreement with Dr. Cain. All of them are reasonable, but not enough to activate his emotions. 'I do not want to be a crybaby. Being sentimental is fine, but not overemotional. People will not disclose information if you're too responsive.'

"Outdated." Zero remarked, turning back to see X crawl towards Volt Catfish. "Uh... Rockman?"

"What?" X replied, using his arms to move. Zero walked towards X, not bothering to help but merely to observe.

"Ha!" X reached the body, copying the weapon ability, before slumping onto the ground.

 

"..." [X may not see Zero right now, but he's standing above him with his arms crossed.]

"You like judging me, don't you?" X mused, turning around to have his back rest on the floor. 'Self-maintenance is slow.'

"Do you remember the first time we met?" Zero inquired, arms still crossed.

"No." X feels tired after his tearducts stopped leaking. "Why? Did I cry last time?"

 

"No..." Zero waits for X to sit up, commenting. "You... Are you sure you don't remember anything?"

"Please don't force me to lie." X sighed, standing up. Self-repair is indeed slow. It's already lunch time. Roll will not be pleased. "Am I funny?"

"You and Rock are not funny." Zero replied, staring back at Volt Catfish. "But Rock is more responsive to human customs. You on the other hand..."

"Ah." X ignored whatever Zero's having troubles with saying. At least he received the answer to his problem. 'I just wasn't acting human enough.'

"That's...difficult." X twirled around the room, liking the colors blending around him. Twirling is difficult with these boots, but X managed to do it by chance. "Save progress."

 

"Why do you save?" Zero asked and X smiled, nearly falling to the ground when abruptly halting his spin.

"In case my body gets destroyed or my CPU explodes or anything bad that will render me deactivated were to happen." X stood straight again, holding his head. 'That felt nice and weird at the same time.'

"You let Dr. Light filter everything...?" Zero sounded sad so X looked up to analyze the reploid's expression. 'No. Zero's creator didn't care about facial expressions. This is hard...!'

 

"Yes. Father knows what is best for me." X answered back, reverting to his curious cheerful self. 'I will gladly let my father use me if it's to help my siblings and this wonderful world.'

"Come on." Zero walked towards him, grabbing his hand. "Dr. Cain is waiting."

 

[SAVED FINAL PROGRESS!]

 

Chapter Text

 

"So you're X."

 

"Hmmm." X looked around the office, sitting on the comfy velvet chair while the old human and killing machine sat opposite of his direction. 'What an interesting arrangement.'

"Did you check on the reploids?" X held his crepe, waiting for Roll to come back.

'Roll told him to be honest to these people but still...'

The moment he received the notification from the other side with the word FINAL, X knows he has few minutes left before Dr. Light checks on his progress. He isn't sure why Roll looked so sad when he told her that. Their time was short, having Roll feed him like a child, but he enjoyed it. He also finished defeating most of the targets so retrieval was imminent. 'Back to the capsule to forget everything again.'

 

"We have examined it and lost several personnel in the process." The human sighs. [He looks like he should be resting today.]

"Limited personnel..." X doesn't understand why everything has to be so... imperfect. X knows Roll is also up-to-date with whatever their creator is doing so there isn't much he can offer except his own insight.

'Why is everything not working the way it should be?' X shifts his position, not used to this set-up. 'It's not harmonizing with theory. It feels wrong. Maybe the rules should be abolished? No... Not everyone is created capable of working outside the law. They might harm society and themselves.'

"Well.. Based on Dr. Light's examination, Doppler's parasite does not reproduce." X looked down, nibbling on the strawberry. He's not equipped to explain, but to analyze. A part of him is helping Dr. Light with the analysis so it's fine to divulge whatever he's examined with the help of his father right? Though, Rock would have a better job explaining things. "We know it looks like a millipede that can cut itself into smaller sizes and bury itself inside the reploid's mainframe."

"However, the parasite itself is infected with a virus. The discovered virus mutates to adapt to its surrounding." X chomped on his meal, tasting the fruit called a banana. For now, he'll observe these individuals. Zero is the hardest to decipher. "That is the reason why Rock is still under observation. Dr. Light... He's still... analyzing its behavior."

 

"That explains why you utilized acid burst. Not the most efficient way but I suppose you have to use what's available." Dr. Cain looked at his phone.

"Yes. However, the longer this parasite stays in the host, the more... difficult it is to extract." X decides to skip the nature of the virus controlling the parasite. "You may conduct a blood test, considering it sheds and excretes toxin...?"

"?" X is immediately distracted when he heard a beep from the phone. He decides to check the contents via the internet. "I didn't know you need to have authorization from a third party just to operate on the victim?"

"For high-ranking officials..." X then looked at Zero. "I'm surprised at the number of limitations imposed on you. Is that the reason why Dr. Light did that, training me to adapt to such restraints?"

 

"Even though I would like to scold for invading my privacy, I would like to correct you on that matter." Cain waved his hand, leaning on his chair. "As the adviser and founder of this organization, I have more privileges than Zero."

"According to your friend, you want to investigate the events occurring in Doppler town and solve the mystery on these parasites." X blinked. "You believe Dr. Doppler, the leader of Doppler Town, is being used? Sounds reasonable but why would your friend refuse the possibility? Anything is possible."

"Dr. Cain and Doppler are acquaintances." Zero answered and X made an ah sound.

"Partiality." X proceeded to take another bite, shuddering at the new flavor. 'Sweet~!'

 

"It isn't. I solemnly swear that if Doppler did decide to go against humanity then he wouldn't have done such a sloppy work!" Dr. Cain argued, wrinkles showing on his forehead. "He's a brilliant reploid, hoping to benefit both races. He would never begin a revolt this... Bombastic."

"Bomb...bastic?" X isn't sure if this is a pun or not. The Maverick Hunters technically got laced with bombs during the grand ambush. 'Explains how Rock got captured without any hunters seeing him. There's also the matter that the one who captured Rock is a subordinate. Hm... Didn't Zero fight his right hand as well? What a cunning enemy.'

"He could have kept his resentment a secret from you." Zero pointed out and Cain rolled his eyes.

"He has nothing against humanity." Dr. Cain looked irked. "Even if the government cut his funds and expel him from the science community."

"..." Both X and Zero stared at Cain. X stated, "That's a compelling reason."

 

"I know... but it was only because he was researching on taboo." Dr. Cain's last word caused X to perk up. "He had a chance to discontinue, but he refused. He knew it was important."

"Taboo?" X wondered, curious what forbidden topic this would be. 'I heard chocolate was a taboo-or is that an advertisement statement somewhere in the skii resort?'

"It's not taboo when it isn't proven." Zero stated and X has a feeling it's that thing which caused Dr. Light to isolate Rock's body. The same topic he refused to discuss. 'Too many unknown variables.'

"Doppler said it exists, but he couldn't publish his work without evidence and controversy." Dr. Cain is back to his sad tired state. "I should have asked for updates."

"You didn't know any better." X swallowed the strawberry, closing his eyes. "You never thought he'd get that far..."

 

"Judging from the parasite's composition (X skims his Creator's notes) and effects towards it's host, I am confident (X pauses, watching a video of Zero defeating a millipede.)  that Doppler is the creator of such creatures." X licked his lips. "I assume Doppler researched the Maverick Virus?"

'Oh~ So they do know it exists!' X noticed the human's eyes brighten, continuing. "You believe Doppler was infected during his research and consequently manipulated by this virus? A virus' main purpose in life is similar to a human - invade and reproduce. Infection is inevitable and containing it is impossible due to its... Method of transfer.."

"Does your father know what exactly is the Maverick Virus? It's origins and nature?" Dr. Cain leaned forward, "We're fully aware that the status Maverick can come in various types, but both races refuse to accept the possibility of infection. A disease that causes involuntary violence."

"That would cause mass hysteria." Zero still has that no-nonsense face, arms crossed.

"Yes. It exists and we have absolutely no idea where it came from." X continued, pouting. "Though, I would love to read Doppler's work since we're researching it in a theoretical plane."

 

"So Dr. Light can't obtain samples... (A tap of a- Two taps from a cane? X wonders what it means.) Of course! What sort of reploid would admit themselves once infected?" Cain is tapping his cane with a pattern. [X stared at it, curious what tune he's mimicking.] "No. The question is. What reploid would want to admit they're a maverick? Mavericks are immediately terminated once declared by the government."

"Analyzing the deceased is not viable. The virus self-destructs after the reploid dies. If there are nearby hosts, it will transmit through air particles or contact." X stops to eat some more of his crepe. He likes dessert more than the real meal, but that didn't mean he hated Roll's katsudon or miso soup. X likes eating very much. They all taste good- Well. Not sure if everything tastes good, but X would like to find out someday. "The parasite might also inherit the trait of the virus, strengthening the host and fortifying itself within the persona? I don't know. I am not allowed to look too deep into the research."

"Does this mean the virus is sentient?" Zero made X look at the crimson reploid. Zero lifted his arm, "Is it possible that the virus chose Sigma as its ideal host and infected fellow reploids to...?"

"Never mind." Zero looked away. "Forget everything I said."

"No no. I haven't studied that part in Rock's memory yet." X wondered why Zero was shying away. 'Oh wait. He's a warbot. Do warbots hypothesize outside a realistic situation? No? Hm...? But he's also a reploid. Wait. Zero's isn't technically a reploid.'

'What if he believes he's insulting someone?' X asked, wanting to clarify. "What you're trying to say is that Sigma might have been the one who awakened the virus? Thus, Sigma is the first infected."

 

"What? No!" Cain denied and X looked at the human.

'Human looks remorseful. Is he the creator of Sigma?' X thought. 'Zero is just voicing out his opinion, considering he fought Sigma more than once and defeated the other Maverick leaders with Rock...'

"If Sigma acted due to the virus then...?!"

"That would explain why he keeps coming back, stronger and with a group of reploids at his beckoning?" X read through all the data. 'Sigma emerging stronger and different each and every time is an anomaly. Reploids shouldn't be this fixated on one reploid, even if he's the past Commander of the Maverick Hunters.'

Wait. Would it be an anomaly when we're discussing about a complex computer virus? The only conclusion I've made is that the virus is created by a human and possesses traits similar to an organic virus.' X also wonders why the doctor's gaze turned dark. 'However, Dr. Light has analyzed the signature mark of each scientist and researcher in this era. None of them matched the virus...'

 

"Who infected Sigma?" Cain looked down.

"I wouldn't know. As the Ex-Commander of the Maverick Hunters, Sigma may have been infected by defected reploids." X frowned, shaking his head. 'Difficult. Not enough information.'

"Yet it is very likely that Sigma is infected." X stared at Zero. "Why would a reploid be so adamant in humanity's destruction when there is an easier way? If Sigma were built to be a Commander, he would have utilized both humans and reploids to gain reploid supremacy. Execution will come later-"

 

"What?"

 

"?" X paused, looking back his memory. Oh. OH. X laughed, looking down at his crepe. "Sorry. My mistake. I mean to say-"

"I feel we should go back to what you mean by easier way." Dr. Cain looks confused. "I did base all the reploids on your design."

"I doubt personality is part of the package, doctor." Zero was back to his normal self. X tilted his head. 'He's defending me? Why?'

"..." X decided to ignore the thought, thinking Zero did it to defend his partner's brother. Finishing his crepe, X checked the time again. 'Ten minutes left before departure.'

 

"Anyways, Dr. Light already created a cure for the parasite. I'm sending the formula in the Research Lab at the East Wing. That's the least I do before I leave." X sent it, finishing his crepe. He doesn't have much time left. He has to get out and leave soon. "We will research further regarding this... mutating Maverick virus. Hmmm? Does that mean we should call it a Sigma virus once we confirm it's DNA sequence?"

"No." Cain said while Zero asked. "You're leaving?"

"Right. Zero." Dr. Cain tapped the crimson hunter's leg with his cane. "When X returns to his capsule, Dr. Light will wipe and immediately overwrite his memories while integrating removed data for X's tests.."

"Why isn't he allowed to keep them?" Zero looked at X who sighed. Finishing his food, X stared at the emptiness. "Crepe..."

"Not sure but he has his reasons. (Cain stood up.) With Roll's help, we'll get into contact with the good doctor. Never thought I'd work alongside one of the greatest minds in history." Dr. Cain is walking out, still chatting even when Zero stared at X. "We'll need to keep this a secret of course. He doesn't like being sensationalized. Again. Zero. Escort X to the rooftop or balcony. Meet me in the Command Room! I'll analyze the coordinates you've sent me."

 

"Bye." X bid as Cain walked out.

"..." X stood up, placing the crepe paper inside the trash bin before looking at Zero. "Shall we?"

"Hn." Zero stood up and walked out. X followed him, humming a tune his eldest sibling whistled to him.

 

..........................

   

[DEACTIVATED]

Chapter Text

[ACTIVATE]

 

"X!"

 

"..." Emerald eyes snapped open; the blue android jerked in his capsule at the call.

 

"Are you awake? Please notify me immediately!"

 

'What happened?' The android thinks to himself, sitting up from his bedchamber.

 

"I know I should have known better but I had hoped for the best..."

 

"Doctor..." X speaks, recognizing his creator's voice. Everything feels familiar. X begins processing the data given. Start-up is slowing down due to... environment and target data? "W-what is this?"

  

"X. I will be sending you to a dangerous location." The scientist sent a number of coordinates all in order. "You are to defeat each enemy in the areas guarding items emitting the virus."

 

"..." Checking the updated database, X reads the world news regarding the space colony 'Eurasia' crashing into Earth with immeasurable devastation to the planet's surface and its inhabitants. The most concerning bit of the information is the fact the atmosphere is saturated with the Sigma Virus and will require decades-worth of purification. X stood up. 'How terrible.'

 

"Once you destroy the fragments, that is the time when you will defeat Sigma and Zero."

 

"The virus gives them invulnerability. The Sigma virus plans on mutating with the Original virus..." The android knows there isn't much time left, seeing the messages and SOS from the humans through the net. X took a step forward, looking at his surroundings before teleportation- "Rock?"

 

"Rock...He encountered Zero during exploration of the aftermath."

 

"..." X walked towards the deactivated reploid. Cuts and slices. Zero is a sword-based enemy, but he can see scorch marks from plasma shots. The real issue here is that the energy which caused the destruction of the exterior armor is dense with the virus. Damage is too severe. Rock cannot safely transfer from one body to another with the virus holding him hostage. Enemy is assessed as a maximum threat in database. Dr. Light will need to cleanse and remove any infected file, all the while attempting to save Rock's memory. X asked. "Will Rock... be all right?"

 

"He will, but Humanity needs him."

 

'Don't worry." X looks at the AI. "Let my brother rest. I will shoulder his responsibilities..."

 

"I'm ready." X stated and Dr. Light nodded.

 

"Good luck, X!"

Chapter Text

 

[JUNGLE] 

 

'Contaminated.' X analyzed the water under him. His boots are soaking wet with the chemicals. The river(?) is contaminated not only of the virus, but also other chemical wastes dumped by unknown perpetrators.

'Now then...' X looked around, unable to even see the supposed blue skies nor the trees of this supposed jungle. 'Where is this fragment?'

 

[Status: Normal]

 

'I need to avoid those things?' X looked up, noting the purple reploid heads roaming above his area. Dr. Light warned him that once he starts emitting energy (shooting his buster), those things will go after him.

'Let's get this over with.' X checked the lay-out one more time before jumping down the waterfall(?) As soon as he landed, the blue android had to jump to a platform at the sight of infected mechaniloids.

'Piranhas?' X mused, pushing an infected reploid to the water as a platform to the next area. X dashed, minimizing his energy consumption. 'No source of energy in sight. I'll need to find a clean energy capsule somehow.'

X jumped passed the reploids, wincing at the buster shots that managed to hit him. 'No talk and all action. How bothersome.'

'?!' X flinched again while he was landing down to the shortcut of the area, having some of the infected water enter his tiny wounds. X increased self-recovery by ten percent.

 

[K̸̡̏i̴̪͝n̷̪̈͜g̴̹͍̉̐ ̵̰͝P̴̲̅̅ŏ̷̪̙́ș̵̺͋e̶̜͊i̴͔̘͑̚d̵̹̾ò̵̜n̵̦̂̄]

 

'Too many enemies.. Not enough time!' X is even cut off from his creator. If he gets terminated now, no one would be able to retrieve his IC. X can't let that happen. He also can't let anyone know what's happening to his sibling unit. 'I have to help Rock.'

'Infection is at ten percent?' X moved away from the water area, checking the results of the water analysis. 'There are traces of energen, but I will consume more energy for purification.'

"?" X looked at the lonely capsule hidden in the cave, walking towards it with an idea. 'Dr. Light won't mind. I can also hook up and get the additional armor upgrades fitted for this type of circumstance.'

 

[ULTIMATE ARMOR EQUIPPED]

 

'Why am I not fully charged?' Hooking up to the capsule, X transfers the energy stored into his system.

"..." X sits at the base, looking around the dark area. 'Is there an energy shortage? I thought Earth has a lot of resources...Or at least have an alternate source of energy at hand.'

 

[100%]

 

"Ok." X says to himself, unhooking himself and ready to go against the tainted water.

'Hopefully, I get to find another capsule before I run out of energy.' X dashed and allows himself to fall down, unwilling to provoke the purple heads roaming above empty androids. X frowned, dashing and somehow managed to grab a blaster from the water.

'How careful should I be?' X thought, shooting the mechaniloids in the way. As soon as this happened, the entire supposedly dead reploids stared at his direction with blasters and busters at hand.

 

[P̵u̴r̵p̴l̸e̷ ̸R̸o̸s̸e̷]

 

'Wow.' X activates the self-destruct mechanism of the blaster, tossing it before the enemies get to shoot. X immediately dashed away from his area, narrowly avoiding the purple heads and nearly getting caught by a mass of flora(?)

'How do I get rid of you?' X kept dashing, not realizing that these heads will accompany him for the entire trip.

'How persistent.' X has three virus readings chasing him, not helpful how diverse the platforms are here. Due to the contaminated water and air particles, X is already thirty percent infected with this unknown Maverick Virus. 'A hybrid of a Sigma and Zero virus?'

'So which one are you?' X looked back and then forward to avoid the wall.

 

[SIGMA VIRUS]

 

"Great." X is soaked in the virus and pollutants, breathing ash and nanites as well as being chased by holographic infections. X decides not to climb the ladders, jumping up and getting soaked further. 'I rather slowly get infected than an immediate submission.'

"..." X doesn't even have time to read the descriptions of the area nor its natural inhabitants, blasting a hole to enter the territory of the broken fragment. X noticed himself unconsciously breath out at the amount of stray reploids. Infected. All of them.

'They're being brought back to life?' X theorized, unable to detect any life signature from any of them. 'What a terrifying virus.'

 

[Status: Caution]

 

"?!" X turned around to see none of the purple heads anymore. X held his chest, surprised. 'I didn't even feel a thing!'

'Now what? How do I detoxify myself?' X knew he should've asked more questions. 'What is wrong with me?'

 'Wish I can see everything though... How does a forest look like?' X dashed forward, falling and dashing further. 'How does clear water really feel like under my boots?'

'So many thoughts, too little-' X didn't notice he reached the boss area, narrowly avoiding two reploids?

'What?!' X expected only one reploid, but this is the same virus hybrid that can bring reploids back from the dead.

 

[WEB SPIDER: ???]

[SPIKE ROSERED: ???]

 

"Together." X begins to charge his buster, letting go when he notice he was biting his lower lip. X doesn't understand himself. 'Where did I get all these habits-?'

"Hey!" X forgot these two reploids are infected, unwilling to negotiate. X avoided the crystallized web shots and thorns. 'I have no choice, do I?'

"Nova strike!" X unwillingly had no choice but to consume thirty percent of his energy for this.

"?!" X dashed away from the whip and shot the crystallized web strings from above.

"Armor reinforced by the virus?" X cursed as he stood ground- X internally regrets placing both reploids as medium threats. Now he has to air dash away with no other choice, but to use a Giga attack and end both reploids at the same time.

 

[40%]

 

"Shoot." X gritted his teeth. landing on the ground and staring at the aircraft fragment. 'How will I be able to finish this mission when I'm so inefficient?'

 

*Bang!

 

"Destroying it only stops the natural proliferation, not the secondary infection." X mumbled to himself, looking back at his status.

 

[Status: Danger]

 

'Touching them will also infect me? What do I do?' X finds this troublesome. X sends his data to Dr. Light, hoping he finds a way to destroy the virus.

"..." X feels tired for some reason. That's not right. He recharged recently so he should be fine...

 

"I can't leave you here nor can I teleport you back with the jammer in the way..." An android muttered with his back faced in front of him. The taller android walked forward with his buster right in the open, deciding. "Fine. Stay close to me. I can't let you get hurt again."

[I take a step forward, trailing behind crimson and gold.]

"If you see anything suspicious, tell me." The male talked, blasting the enemies left and right.

[I jump from platform to platform, nearly falling off the edge.]

"!!!" Crimson turns to reveal Sapphire e̶y̶e̷s̷

 

 

"?!" X staggered back, confused at the unknown data recently recovered. 'What was that?'

 

[NEXT LOCATION: VOLCANO]

 

"..." X opened the video once more, unsure of the identity of the reploid. 'Crimson and gold male? But... Roll is a female with the same color theme.'

'Useless...?' X isn't sure. He knows this video is close to the test regarding trust and temporary subordination. 'I'll set it on a lower priority.'

 

Remember?

 

"Ten miles North..." X looked up, zooming in to see the active volcano. 'Let's keep moving then...?'

Chapter Text

'The world is silent.' X didn't mean it in a poetic way, rushing towards the active magma chamber. GPS (though the reading is hazy due to the infection clouds) and seismometers says it won't erupt, but visual and olfactory data concludes something more troubling than the former. 'At least there isn't any organic life...'

'Wouldn't they already be dead?'

'A barren field littered with shells.' X simply outran the mavericks. Yes. The infected might as well be called Mavericks for catching the Sigma and Zero virus. Zero virus... 'Zero?'

'Do I know Zero?' X wanted to ask someone, hopefully Dr. Light since the thought of the word/digit Zero causes X to feel strange. Feelings are strange. It wants him to remember something, but that can't be right. This is the first time he emerged from the capsule... right?

'Silent. So so silent.' X wants to hear the Earth. He wants to hear the chirping of birds, rustling of leaves, splashing of water... But the only thing he hears.

 

'It didn't make sense?'

 

'Incoherent thoughts. Thoughts of the dead and someone sinister.' X wants to shut off his auditory system, but the sound is caused by both frequency and the nanites in the air. The virus is searching. It's seeking for hosts. For what purpose? X doesn't know. 'I don't want to know.'

'Anger, break downs, carelessness, depression, exhaustion...' X lets his system filter the thoughts into a series of emotions. Emotions or state of minds right before the virus infects its host. 'Vulnerability? No. Some are voluntary?! Why?!'

 

'Nothing makes sense!'

 

'Monetary, Notorious, Omnipotence, Power...' X didn't understand the reason for such desires. Nothing was permanent. Why would anyone risk such an exchange? Reploids are strange... just like human beings.

'In the end, I couldn't locate the primary cause or area of infection.' X breathes through his mouth, shoulders sloped down as he stared at the volcano. 'Odd... I feel even more tired from ten minutes ago... It's from the virus... Isn't it?'

 

[Status: Warning]

 

'It's sapping my energy... It...' X covered his mouth, closing his eyes as he yawned. 'It wants me to sleep?'

'I can't sleep. Not yet. Too early. I refuse!'

And why not?

"The virus is annoying." X wished he could extract the voices in his head. It constantly asks and causes him to hesitate even more. It wants him to hurt, but not the deceased infected. X doesn't know where the virus is rerouting his energy and resources, but he set half of his remaining energy in stopping the alterations. X has fifteen percent left to his disposal. This would include his dashing, air filtration, armor protection and plasma shots. 'Take note, only let out charge shots.'

 


 

[VOLCANO]

 

"Tsk!" X should have seen this coming. One mistake and he falls down in a river of lava. Humans or reploids or both races working together has gotten inventive on energy utilization. X tries to check whether there is an available capsule in the volcano. Malfunctioning? X heaved in disappointment.

'...Who taught me how to sigh?' X suddenly thought, jumping passed the infected blocks/rocks...? 'I sigh a lot. Maybe Blues? Hm... But Blues whistles.'

 

[Status: Danger!]

 

'How?' X looked back and realized the air is thick with the virus. X needs something to cover his nose- 'Screw olfactory. I'll shut it off even if my core generator needs the air!'

'I just have to finish this level quickly!' X reassured himself, adding another condition to watch over.

 

[Thermal: 88%]

[Energy: 13%]

[Status: Danger!]

 

'I need to be done by ten minutes or I'll turn off and be scorched alive.' X really thought the Ultimate armor would give him a better resistance to heat. It just wasn't good enough. Less shooting and thinking, more strategic dashing and avoidance to anything highly infected. X sensed high maverick readings nearby.

'Two gigantic readings?' X licked his lips, but forgot he preserved his water supply for his core and subtank. Subtank which is one-fourth filled in his stomach.

'Now or never?'

'Yes.' X is starting to get used to the wise voice, even if it's the virus.

 

'Lonely, isn't it?'


 

Static.

 

That's all X hears as he encountered two dinosaur-based reploids. Roaring and puffing their chests, the reploids have a certain aura around them.

 

[Thermal: 93%]

[Energy: 10%]

[Status: Danger!]

 

'They're dead, but not exactly.' X dodged the flame attack, clinging to the wall and staring down at the piles of burnt bodies on the ground. 'Bloodlust surviving even until death.'

'If I defeat the fragment, maybe they will go back to normal?' X hoped. He doesn't have much (of anything) left.

 

'I should overcome this.'

 

"!" X let out a charged shot and managed to hit the fragment, but he didn't think the smaller dragonoid would punch him to the other side of the wall.

"L̸e̷t̷'̴s̸ ̷f̵i̷g̴h̸t̴ ̶o̶n̵c̶e̸ ̸m̴o̶r̴e̵,̶ ̶R̴o̸c̷k̵m̸a̶n̴!̸" The smaller dragonoid roared, grinning with glowing emerald eyes.

[MAGMA DRAGOON: ???]

"Urgh..." X gets off from the rocks and pushed away just in time before the larger dragon lets out another batch of flames.

 

'Kill them.'

 

"What?" X didn't see that coming. 'Does that mean these two reploids killed all these reploids for no reason?!'

"Ÿ̴̳o̶̞͘ǘ̷͎ ̶̘̅ṇ̵͐e̷͎v̴͙̒e̶̝̍r̸̖ ̴̢̉c̴̍͜ḧ̵͉a̶͉̿n̵͕̔g̵̛̠ĕ̸͕,̸̻͌ ̵̳̓d̵̯͊ő̶͕ ̸͍̈́y̵͓̔o̷̘͗ű̵̞?̵̝̀" The larger reploid chuckled and the earth shook as he landed on the ground.

[BURN DINOREX: ???]

'No! I refuse to believe such an incomprehensible reasoning! They're infected, but the virus increased certain traits of violence...' X winced at the scorch marks around his armor. The heat causes the armor to dent easier on several areas. 'Or did the virus maintain their memory?!'

 

'Kill.'

 

'Only my X-buster is working against them. Is it because of the virus?!' X hates this very much. He can't leave with these two following him. No. More like, he can't risk getting back-stabbed as he escape. He secretly wished Dr. Light had thought twice in installing the anti-virus countermeasure in all his weapons, not just his primary weapon and armor.

 

[Thermal: 95%]

[Energy: 6%]

[Status: Danger!]

 

'No choice.' X has to take risks, but when hasn't he taken them?

'This will hurt.' X rushed forward, using Magma Dragoon's shoulder to lift himself up. He consequently kicked the reploid's back to enter into close range with Burn Dinorex, boots getting injured at the flaming earth.

"!?" X wants to scream as he didn't expect the reploid to bite his arm. However, X doesn't have much time left. He brings his charged buster right at where the core generator would be, blasting a gigantic hole and having the reploid slump on him. X then proceeded to turn around and use the body as a shield, feeling nauseous with each second.

"Gah!" X pushed the body away, struggling to not puke out his remaining materials as he gets gutted by the remaining opponent.

 

[Thermal: 97%]

[Energy: 2%]

[Status: Too late!]

 

Static. Noise. Turn it off. Turn it all off!

 

Go to sleep.

 

"!!!" X tastes something foul as he barfed the contents out of his system. He feels dizzy. The entire world is too bright no too dark? In yet, X still has his systems tugging him back to reality. 'Reality has become unappealing.'

Just when X was ready to fall to the ground, someone caught him. Someone cool.

 

"Rock! Get a hold of yourself!"

 

"?" X moved his head a bit to see gold and blue eyes. "R-roll?"

"No. This is your temporary operator, Alia. Next time, please alert HQ. You had us worried." Alia held onto his helmet, pressing a kiss on his forehead.

"..." X looked around and saw three other reploids fighting against Magma Dragoon. A purple-haired female swordsman, a pale yellow-haired gunslinger and an owl?

 

Go to sleep...

 

X decides to rest, setting a timer of fifteen minutes.


 

 

x...X...X!

 

"?" X woke up, sitting up from the medical bed. X immediately checked his system, also checking whoever was trying to call him. No one. No one was calling him.

It was just X resting in the Medbay of his brother's organization.

 

[Thermal: 50%]

[Energy: 88%]

[Status: Normal]

 

"..." X rubbed his face, listening to the sound of soft chatter from the other side.

"You sure that's Rock?" An unfamiliar male voice wondered.

"Of course that's Rock! Who else would he be?" The operator Alia defended.

"Axl just never saw Rock~" Another young female teased.

"Hey! I'm just saying..." [X stood up, checking his armor. Not perfectly repaired.] "He... I dunno but Rock doesn't match the schematics of Rockman online. You noticed it, didn't you Layer?"

"No..." A mature woman answered back, but her tone seemed hesitant.

"Well~ We can talk to Douglas and Lifesaver about it." The cheerful young female from earlier suggested.

"We should. We also have to find Zero." The android named Axl said, unaware X was checking the database and downloading the next set of coordinates for any oddity in Area Zero. "I always did want an autograph from the guy."

 

[Will you continue the mission in spite of such risks?]

[YES] [NO]

 

"Axl. Zero might be infected, you know?" The young female retorted.

"I thought he was immune?" Axl wondered. "I'm sure the guy's fine. If not? We beat him then!"

"After we create the cure." Alia interjected. "It seems Rock obtained a countermeasure to weaken infected reploids."

"Right. Does that mean we get to destroy the Sigma heads? They're not the best things in the world." Axl even shivered as he said that.

 

"..." X rested both hands on the table, already hacking the database to check any available telepod for transportation... But it seems he doesn't need any of those with the Maverick Hunter's experimental Teleportation system. 'Making the entire HQ itself a transerver is a brilliant and crazy move, Douglas. I recommend your efforts.'

'Unfortunately, when I use this, the plan will be scrapped simultaneously.' X sighed. Yes. A lot of unauthorized teleportations would have the records gaping with holes. 'I can't stay here. I need to solve the problem before they experience a scarcity.'

 


 

[Will you continue the mission in spite of such risks?]

[YES] [NO]