Mega Man X
The New Hunters
Earth. The year is 2600 AD, or, as some time measurements call it, 152 PRE – Post-Reploid Era. On June 6, 2448, the last of the controversial reploid race was shut down, permanently.
The humans had long judged the beings dangerous, ever since their discovery by Dr. Cain in the early 2100’s. Ever since he’d discovered Megaman X, last creation of the genius scientist Dr. Light. Actually… perhaps to say they’d been judged dangerous from square one is erroneous. Certainly, the humans were well-pleased with the reploids at first. Basically, they were completely sentient robots, that felt similar emotions to humans – but were exponentially more powerful to humans in strength, endurance, speed, and intelligence.
Cain, more of a profiteer than a scientist, foresaw the sheer amount of money he could make by building these robots, and using them as labor forces all over the globe. It would change the world entirely, making it completely unnecessary for humans to ever have to work again.
So he founded Cain Labs, a huge set of facilities dedicated to the research on and building of reploids. He turned them out quickly and efficiently, with thousands being ‘born’ each year. X, the prototype for their design, was regarded as their leader… for a time.
Dr. Cain continued his archeological surveys, hoping to find something similar to X. Though he never came across anything else of value in Light’s labs, another famous scientist’s lab revealed something incredible…
The reploid known as Zero, final and greatest creation of the late Dr. Wily, rival to Dr. Light.
Zero was seen as being superior in almost every way to the pacifist X, and quickly rose through the ranks set for Reploids, alongside Cain’s own masterwork, the great Sigma.
But, has so often happened throughout the ages, something unforeseen occurred. It seemed that a certain percentage of reploids didn’t want to work for mankind, saw no reason that they should play slaves to their inferior creators. A few of them gathered together, and attacked mankind. They were dubbed Mavericks.
The results were disastrous. The attacks had been totally unexpected, and while little actual damage was done, nationally speaking, casualties had been devastatingly high, and totally unacceptable. But most humans didn’t have a prayer of standing up to the reploid forces.
Thus were the Maverick Hunters formed; a group of incredibly intelligent and powerful reploids hand-picked by Dr. Cain to destroy the Maverick menace. They were led by Sigma, the most powerful of the reploid race, with Zero and X also playing fairly significant roles (though X was admittedly a fairly forgettable figure early in the Hunter campaign).
Things went well at first. Sigma and Zero proved a devastating pair, their beam swords ripping apart any who dared stand against mankind. With the aid of the other Hunter forces, the Mavericks were all but wiped out, but...
Unfortunately, by this time, Sigma had begun to see their point. He felt guilty over murdering so many of his kinsmen, and could see why they felt the way they did.
He began to wonder why he should serve humans, humans so obviously inferior to him… to his people.
The day that Sigma went Maverick was a truly devastating day. Being the genius that he was, he managed to, in a rather clandestine manner, get most of the Maverick Hunter forces to switch sides along with him, and the day that they came out was the same day that the human city of New York was all but destroyed.
His plans were ultimately for naught, though, for X stepped into center stage again. The progenitor of the race did what even Zero could not – he destroyed Sigma utterly.
But the Mavericks did not vanish along with Sigma and his turncoat hunters. No indeed, outbreaks of the disease – as the bigwigs at Cain Labs were now referring to it – became more common, if more isolated. The Maverick Hunters had become a permanent part of society.
For nearly 300 more years, various outbreaks of the Sigma Virus – which was somehow linked to reploid violence – came and passed. They led to the Reploid Wars, a struggle between the forces of Repliforce (the second attempt of Cain Labs to create a group of Maverick Hunters) and the Maverick Hunters… this series of battles lasted until nearly the year 2400.
It was rumored at the time that Sigma’s memory banks, still intact within his glowing power gem – a device that all reploids have, in some form – had been reabsorbed into various incarnations. This has not ever truly been confirmed, but reports have come from sources such as Hunters such as X and Zero, so are most likely true.
Sigma or not, there came a time when humanity grew weary of the battles, grew weary of the mavericks. The reploids had long ago made themselves into nearly-equal citizens, were no longer a slave race. Cain’s vision of a brilliant, careless future had never come about.
And so Cain Labs built a device that shut down the entire race, that wiped basically every power gem of its memories and abilities to function.
Some called it genocide. Most did not care. More still were gloriously happy that the scourge of violent beings had been destroyed.
It was rumored that two reploids remained intact after the global memory wipe went into effect; that X and Zero, having been built by scientists other than Cain, were not susceptible to the weapon Cain Labs built. Whether or not this was the case, the two were ultimately shut down, peacefully, and their bodies laid to rest within a tomb dedicated to their memory, to the memory of the only two reploids who seemed unsusceptible to the horrors of the sigma virus.
But, as some say, the sins of the past are easily forgotten, and even more easily repeated…
A winter wind, if one could call it that, blew through the wastes of the Sahara Desert. Overhead, the moon shone brightly, its pale light shining on the sands. There was not a living thing for miles around, not a single cactus, or desert snake, or any other such beast.
Several hundred meters below the ground, the story was not any different, but there was certainly activity.
A bald, humanoid reploid wearing a long black cloak walked impatiently down the halls of the building he had named the Hidden Palace. An opal, one that was somehow crimson in color, shone upon his forehead, surrounded by black tattoos.
This was Sigma, the infamous and long-forgotten reploid.
He did not think of himself as a maverick anymore. Indeed, there was no need. The term ‘maverick’ assumed that the reploid was different from other reploids, did not hold the belief that he was superior to the human race.
Thanks to the humans, there was no other kind anymore.
He smirked slightly, even as he quickened his pace down the hallway. Of course, the humans hadn’t intended it that way. Their electro-magnetic pulse, sent out over 150 years ago, had indeed disabled every reploid on the planet. It had wiped almost every memory bank in existence.
But not Sigma’s, not clever Sigma’s.
His own gem had been long buried in the depths of space, long buried in the rubble of his last battle with X and Zero… cursed hunters, cursed relics of a bygone age.
And, of course, it could have ended there, if not for the fact that madmen existed in every era. His smirk grew wider. A curious human scientist had rebuilt Sigma, just to see if it was possible.
That foolish human lay long dead now, deep in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And Sigma was recreating his entire race from scratch… but making sure it was done correctly this time.
First off, he’d made sure that his followers and himself had resistance to emp forces. He doubted very seriously that the genocidal machine Cain Labs had used 152 years ago was still running, but he could take no risks that they would not build another. For this time, he wasn’t simply going to try to create a new nation, wasn’t simply going to try to subjugate the humans to his will.
This time, he was going to kill them, every man, woman and child, just as they’d done to his people.
He reached his destination, a tall metal door marked Laboratory A. It was a rather uninspiring title, one that hardly showed the amount of grandeur to be associated with what lay in stasis within.
“Open.” He bade the door simply, his voice deep and strong. His pupil-less eyes flashed in excitement. The time was finally here. Soon, oh so soon, he could begin his revenge… he would have vengeance for his people.
He was greeted as he entered the lab by several reploid scientists, all obviously hard at work on pieces of machinery that supported a stasis tube in the center of the room. He ignored the scientists, at least for the moment. He was not attempting to be rude, for they were his children – of the first generation, no less – but there was a much more special child within that test tube.
He walked up to the stasis tube and put one heavy metallic hand upon it, peered inside. The being within was a reploid about 6 feet tall, and clad from head to toe in armor of the deepest black. Sigma looked upon his face, and smiled, genuinely this time.
His creation was almost the spitting image of X.
Indeed, there were but two differences that marked him as different than the first reploid. The most apparent was the difference in armor pigmentation, which was not just for show. The black armor had been specially designed to withstand energy blasts, something that X’s own armor had… lacked in, somewhat.
The second were in the ornate arm gauntlets the reploid was adorned with. They were infinitely intricate, and had taken Sigma over 20 years of particle distortion and DNA research to get the trick to.
Quite basically, they could shift shape based on specific code instructions located within his unborn reploid’s mind, could shift into thousands upon thousands of weapons. Even more beautifully, all he’d have to do to increase the being’s arsenal was download precise schematics into its brain.
This new reploid had been designed to implement this ingenious weapon design. There would be no upkeep cost… the gauntlets, and indeed, the reploid himself were run on a state-of-the-art fusion generator.
This being would be his avenging angel, this reploid would be the death of humanity…
He called him Destro.
The powerful reploid turned to regard one of the scientists. “Skie. Is Destro ready to be awoken yet?” he smiled as the young, human-like reploid ran some figures in his head. It was obvious that everyone was excited. Indeed, there had not been an event this big since Sigma had recreated Vile – well, not truly Vile, but a being with a near-recreation of his personality and memory banks – in this very lab two years ago.
Skie nodded. “Indeed, sir, we believe that he’s at 95% energy transfer. We were but waiting on your word to proceed with the final stages of the process.”
The once-Maverick nodded. “Thank you for that.” Perhaps it was the years that had changed him; he had not once been so polite. It was likely the fact that every one of these reploids was his own child, his own birth…
Perhaps it was the fact that he had never realized how precious the lives of reploids were to him until he was reborn into a world that had none.
“Proceed when you will, Skie.” He said, and turned back to regard the glass tube.
The young reploid nodded, and immediately called together his comrades. They sat down before several consoles, and began typing furiously away at various keyboards. One connected himself directly to an energy matrix, and began slowly rising the power levels past 95%… to the 100% mark, as the various acidic and catalytic solutions in the stasis tube began to pour out into small tubes.
“Ten seconds until pressure release on the tube.” A scientist to Sigma’s right noted. Sigma smiled again. He’d cherished every reploid birth he’d been able to witness over the past thirty years – and there had been thousands – but this one would be especially wonderful.
“Nine seconds.” Indeed, this creation would signal the beginning of the end for humankind. The end of the Earth as it was known to whatever universe lay out there.
“Eight.” He had already gathered his armies. They but needed a trained warrior to lead them into battle. It could not be Sigma… he could not die once more. If the humans saw him upon the battle field, so much as knew of his existence, they would band together all too quickly.
Seven seconds left. The scientist no longer counted aloud – there was no need. The time imprinted itself within the mind of every reploid present.
Six. At first, the attacks would be scattered, confused. It was unlikely the humans would even know reploids were responsible at first. The various nations would probably draw into themselves, declare war on old enemies they thought responsible.
Five. ‘And their mistrust for one another shall be their undoing. They will realize the necessity of unity, until it is far too late.’
Four. Sigma had realized the need for unity. It had been the Maverick Hunters that had kept the reploids from forming their own nation long, long ago. It had been the fault of the Hunters that the race had been completely destroyed 152 years ago.
Three. Two. One. Never again, Sigma vowed. There would be no humans left to let it happen again.
The glass surrounding the stasis tube descended with a hiss, leaving a blinking, black-armored reploid standing confused before a room of unfamiliar faces, before an unfamiliar world.
“Hello, Destro.” Sigma said, addressing the reploid with the greatest of pride and love in his voice. “Welcome to life.”
Destro’s eyes narrowed in confusion for several moments, but his memory banks had already been encrypted with knowledge of their situation, of the world, of his identity, and it passed.
“Hello, Sigma.” The reploid said simply, and he stared deep into the older being’s eyes. Destro’s eyes, unlike Sigma’s, did indeed have pupils, pupils that were rimmed with amber-colored ireses. As Sigma met his gaze, he found himself locked in that gaze, like a fly within the very color Destro’s eyes represented.
After a few more seconds had passed, Sigma broke the gaze, glancing down at the floor for a moment. “Come, my child. There is much to be done.”
It had been months since Destro had been brought into the world, had been months since he became part of the Maverick Movement – the sole home of his kind on all the Earth.
And, to be quite honest, Destro hated it.
He kept such feelings a secret, of course. It would have been insanity for him to say otherwise, not to mention basic suicide. Oh, no, his body wouldn’t be destroyed. It would be but his mind, his precious memory banks, his invaluable black gem.
But he could not help his thoughts, no matter how hard he tried. The more he thought of Sigma’s plans, the plans of every reploid in the Hidden Palace, the more he was repulsed.
Genocide. Pure, simple genocide. Against the very race that had created the reploids. Certainly, Destro understood the anger present against them, felt some of it himself. They had done it to them, after all. There was a part of him, deeply ingrained, that told him that vengeance was not the path to be taken, though. Something deep within him made him feel disgusted, repulsed at the very thought of killing a single one of the humans… of killing any form of life.
Sigma could never know that, of course. He had been bred as a weapon, was meant as nothing else. He cursed the pacifism hidden within his systems daily, as he underwent training to unlock the full potential of his Particle Distortion Gauntlets (PDGs), as he was made to demonstrate knowledge of hundreds of fighting styles, styles that had been downloaded into his brain.
Curses didn’t help in the least, but simply made him feel all the worse for being involved in this. But what could be done? He could not escape. No place in all the world would have him, could even know he existed. He would die if he left the Hidden Palace, would die if he revealed himself to the people within it… would die inside if he tried to tolerate it.
And so he sighed, sighed deep and long as he sat within the lounge on the third basement floor of the Palace, sipping on a beverage that, though it tasted good, offered absolutely no value to his systems, which had no need for extra sustenance. He glanced down at a timepiece currently embedded in his gauntlets, which were in their civilian format at the moment. Fifteen more minutes until his next useless, pointless class. He had mastered every technique necessary to him. The magnetized bits in his arms and legs that allowed him to ‘stick’ to most walls; not a problem. His boot jets? Also not a problem. He had even mastered a double air dash that baffled his professors. As far as weaponry….
He’d checked out all 1500 weapon variations currently stored in his gauntlets, every beam saber, every blaster, every buster. At first, it had been quite intriguing, seeing his hands seem to melt – though in reality they were disassembling on the sub-atomic level and rearranging themselves, not melting – and reform into some strange new type of weapon, but it got old fast.
The fact that every single one of the weapons was incredibly lethal, that every single one of the weapons was more than twice more than enough to kill the hardiest of humans… that simply disgusted him. It was one thing that Sigma wanted to kill the human race – not a good thing, of course, but it was one thing – it was quite another that he felt he had to atomize it.
And so on this day Destro closed his eyes, hoping to envision a world far removed from his own, a world where he didn’t have to fight, a world where his every companion sought to kill and maim their ultimate parents… a world where peace reigned.
And as he tried to dream that dream, a lone figure strode into the otherwise empty room, and looked upon him in disgust.
‘It’s the weapon…’ the reploid thought. ‘the ultimate picture of Sigma’s madness.’
But the being was a member of Sigma’s army too, and so could do nothing. He sat down and opened a drink similar to the one Destro had tried but a moment before, and looked at him intently, ferociously.
*Tank. Tank. Tank.* That was the only sound in the still, dead air. *Tank. Tank. Tank.* It was a sound that hadn't been heard on the planet Earth in a century or more, until very recently. *Tank. Tank. Tank.* Specifically, it was the sound of a Reploid walking on steel. *Tank. Tank. Tank.* It was a Reploid that, much like Sigma, had died and been reborn. Twice now.
It, or he, didn't know why. He had never sought to prolong his own existence. In fact, there had been many times when he wished that he was dead, but Reploids were, or at least had been, programmed specifically against suicide. But he entertained no such thoughts now. No, he had a mission.
This mission was impossible. It didn't make any sense. It was an anachronism, an idea from a long time past. His mission, self-appointed, was to destroy Mega Man X. Sigma had created a body, dubbed it Vile, and given it a personality, not unlike the original Vile's. However, Sigma had done a better job than even he could have imagined.
When the wave had swept over the planet, destroying every last Reploid, Vile, or his mind, had once again escaped death. Much like X, Zero, and Sigma, his mind had become something more than a crystal. It was a complete being. A soul. And one thing all of the religions of the humans had a agreed on was that a soul, if it was real, couldn't just dissipate.
And now this soul, this broken, twisted thing, was back, and could think of nothing but vengeance. So what if X was already dead? Vile would find his remains and tear them apart if necessary.
He stopped, his cape swirling about him. His eyes glowed particularly brightly. *Well,* he thought, *if I can't find my enemy... I could always kill a look-alike...*
He walked on, suddenly bursting out into laughter. "X, I promised you I'd haunt you until the day you died. I'll haunt you still."
12:00 pm, July 19, 2600. Some where in Arizona .
Saren sighed, and wiped her hand across her forehead. She set her pick ax down, and sat in the red, dusty dirt. Looking around the camp, the flame red-haired, slim 20-year-old women looked across the camp.
It was a rather ramshackle job, much like the ancient archeological digs of the 1900’s. It mainly comprised of around forty tents, half of which is was used to hold there equipment. The others were mainly sleeping quarters, for the fifty or so archeologists digging. What they were looking for was harder to explain.
Treasure. If she was to sum it up in one word, that would be it. A nameless wealthy merchant had started up an expedition, simply to flaunt his money. Too bad that he had decided that it was a waste of time. The expedition was pulling out in a week, after only a month of working, along with Saren’s only way of making money. I freelance electronics expert didn’t get far, it seems. That’s the way the dice rolled, but it still pissed her off. A random worker ran up to her. “Saren! The Professor wants everyone cleared out of here by nightfall. Your gonna have to shift.”
She looked up at the man, holding her hand up to block the glare. He was young, maybe eighteen, and had large sunglasses on. “Sure, I’ll be out of here by night.” The man took off. She looked at the ground. “I suppose one last dig wouldn’t hurt, for old times sake.” And so, she picked up her pickax, and started again.
Two hours later.
*Chunk! Chunk! CLUNK!*
Saren stopped her digging. “What the…. I think I found something…” She crouched down, and shifted the dirt a little. She saw a red and gray object under her. She pulled out her tools, and started brushing at the dirt, shifting the dust. Pulling out her voice recorder, and flipped it on, set the small box next to her, and said into it,
“First, it’s a red and gray object, made of some metal. The ax didn’t make a scratch I can see. The metal feels… cool to the touch. It seems large and… I haven’t reached the edge of it yet. Hmm… it seems, like a man-sized piece. From what I can tell, by the strange designs on it, I’m guessing this object dates Pre-Reploid, maybe even before.”
Reaching the edge, she cleared away at the object, until the whole edge was exposed. “It’s about… five, six feet tall, maybe three feet wide. It appears to be a shield-like object. I’m pulling at the edge… man, its struck… This is exciting! I’ve got the edge… it’s inch and a half thick, or so, and…”
*Gasp!* *Ka-Thunk!* The recorder picked up a couple moments of absolute silence. Then, a new, rich, slightly musty male’s voice. “Drop your weapon. I wouldn’t hurt you, but DO drop your weapon.”
*A couple more seconds of silence, then the sound of a gun falling to the ground* Saren stared, wide eyed, at the ‘man’ in gray, with a red helmet and arms. He looked like a Reploid. A long with the shield…
Deathstrike Atma looked over at the so-called ‘ultimate weapon’ of the Reploid army, and could have laughed out loud, for more reasons than one. The slender, black-clad reploid certainly didn’t look like a destroyer, perhaps excepting his crimson colored eyes, which were shut tight now. How ironic that this Destro was likely the most powerful reploid ever born… much more powerful than Deathstrike himself.
‘Strike was one of the animalistic reploids that Sigma had been so fond of in times past; indeed, that the now-disbanded Cain Labs had been fond of in times past. He was modeled entirely off of a line of questioning that attempted to figure out just what a lizard would look like if bipedal, and nearly 6’5” in height. His eyes were curved and glowing, and his mouth was filled with a thin row of razor-sharp teeth. Besides those weapons, a laser cannon had been mounted upon the tip of his tail, and his wall climbing abilities were beyond those of the typical reploid.
All in all, he’d been told he was modeled after the long-dead Sting Chameleon, one of the original maverick hunters that had rebelled along with Sigma a good 500 years ago.
He didn’t really care that he wasn’t as powerful as this Destro; this accursed destroyer. He didn’t really care anything about power, except on purely personal levels. The only power that Deathstrike wanted was the power necessary to break away from this stupid complex, and these bloodthirsty reploids. He sighed deeply. How ironic his name seemed at times like these… picked directly by Sigma himself upon his birth.
Atma was a squadron leader, leader of a small team of reploids modeled in training and ranking off of the long-gone Maverick Hunters of Cain Labs. As such, he was a Rank A+ warrior, and a model citizen of the Hidden Palace.
Through and through, he despised every bit of it, and desired only to escape.
He didn’t know why he was like this. The draconian reploid bore no special affection for humans; why should he? They had but killed his race, a century ago. At the same time, he had absolutely no desire to spill their blood, to exact terrible and useless vengeance against them. But there was no escape from Sigma’s master plan, and thus far ‘Strike had not even found anyone who even _desired_ to. He knew he was defective in this… that the chances of the prime directive Sigma installed within him going awry were a little under the one percentile range… and with the relatively small army located here, that meant that no more than about 95 of the 10,000 warriors here even had the possibility of not wanting this war.
And the vast majority of them would suppress those feelings, just as Deathstrike was doing, and kill humans just the same.
It was a deeply frustrating situation, and one that ‘Strike knew would drive him to despair if he dwelt upon it too long. But try as he might to suppress his maverick feelings, his wishes of non-conformity, every time he gazed upon the idle Destro, a pang of pure hatred at his very existence could be felt. Not just at this one reploid… but the existence of the entire race.
Perhaps… it would have been better if Sigma had let them stay dead.
If he had been built with a humanoid face, Vile might have been smiling at the thoughts of destruction running through his mind at the moment. His head was, however, simply a mass of wires and metal covered by a helmet, so the only expression he ever had was a slight brightening of his red eyes. But that didn't matter. Even if he'd have been made to function as a super-intelligent street-lamp, he'd still have a one-track mind. *Revenge. Justice. Freedom.* Alright, maybe three-track.
Freedom, he'd had for a long time. Freedom was having a mind that could soar over the plains, or mingle among the humans without being seen or heard. In a way, he was now the oldest of the reploids. He'd been built before Sigma, and had retained a sort of consciousness even without his body. Being so aged had a rather singular effect on him.
He didn't hate the humans.
No, the humans had never really done nothing to him. *Hell, I would've done the same things in their position.* On the other hand, he really had no compunctions about killing them. They were just there, and didn't really affect him personally. But he'd kill them, mostly because he didn't have enough power to defeat Sigma. Yet.
Sigma, he didn't like. Mostly because Sigma had always strong-armed him into service. Before Vile had died (the first time) he'd been a loyal member of the Maverick forces, eager to kill any humans that he saw. He was strong and fast and smart, and could beat almost any other Reploid in a fair fight. Except one. X, Mega Man X, had killed him.
Then Sigma had made another Vile, a stronger Vile, and had barely noticed that the exact same mind inhabited the second version. This new one had sought only revenge against the only Reploid ever to have defeated him... and lost.
Now Vile was alive again, and no matter what Sigma said or thought, he wasn't simply some soldier to be ordered about. He was a being on a mission. And if Sigma got in the way of that mission, that was his own fault. Until necessary, Vile would abide by Sigma's rules.
Vile nodded as he passed two other Reploids, one short and one tall. They didn't know it, but they were rather extraordinary as well. They were X-Hunters, but they didn't know that either. X-Hunters were Reploids specifically devoted to the destruction of Mega Man X, and eventually Zero Omega as well. These two, in their past lives, had been two named Bit and Byte. Vile had already met many Reploids that he recognized from their past lives, although they didn't remember at all. As nearly as Vile could figure, almost every Reploid here was somehow inhabited by the personality of a Reploid from the past. They just didn't remember.
But they would. Vile's eyes lit up as he passed one who had once been named Mac, and then another once named Violen. Oh yes, they would remember. And then let this "Destro" beware. He might be Sigma's favorite child, but that wouldn't save him. One day, the world would cower at the name of Vile. One day, he would have his final revenge, somehow, and then he could rest.
Until then, Vile kept his thoughts to himself.
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