Disclaimer; I don't own Armitage.

Well, this is my first ever Armitage fic, and is also my first attempt at writing in a different series.

I've only seen Poly Matrix at this point, and as a result I'm probably gonna make this fic fairly AU to avoid disturbing the cannon. This fics probably set about 5 years after Duel Matrix BTW.

Anyway, tell me what you think. Hopefully I'll be able to continue this one; I've had writers block for over 5 months with Transformers, to the point where I'm giving up trying to write it for a while and taking tentative steps in other directions, tentative being the operative word…

………

I stared reflectively at the fire burning in front of me. Even though it was night I was wearing chrome sunglasses.

The others were here, yet no one spoke. None of us had anything to say anyway. We were happy to be alone with our thoughts.

Suddenly there was a bright streak across the atmosphere.

"Incoming."

I didn't bother looking up, nor did I nod at the comment. I just stared at the fire.

I didn't even look up as the craft plummeted in over our heads, crashing a few kilometres away.

I heard two of our number get up casually to check it out.

I was still staring at the fire when they returned, none too gently they threw a female down in front of the fire.

Only when Cutter pulled out his sidearm and pressed it to her temple did I hold up my hand.

Finally I tore my eyes away to meet Cutters questioning look.

I wasn't the leader of our little group, but I was usually so quiet that when I finally did make a move it brought instant attention.

I signalled for him to put his gun away as I stared at the female.

She was clearly human, very slightly younger than we were. Maybe nineteen, or just turned twenty.

She was shaking despite her proximity to the fire.

"What's your name human?"

The figure glanced up at my almost whispered question. I repeated it.

She was cut and bruised all over. I didn't know how much of it was from the crash or her subsequent handling by Blade and Ice.

"It's Saya."
I nodded imperceptibly.

Somewhere a wolf howled. The creature that was roasting over the fire was beginning to smell good.

It was odd; a few years ago even we would have found it hard to survive on Io, one of Jupiter's moons.

Since then however Earth and Mars had gone to great lengths to terraform the otherwise uninhabitable rock.

I reflected on that again for a few seconds. Humans made no effort to halt the destruction of their own planet, yet they made every effort to make these sprawling colony rocks as close to their own colonial era as they could without throwing too much money at them.

It didn't matter; they'd mine the place out of existence in a few short decades, by which time they'd have many more of these colonies.

The human had stopped shaking.

"Please, who are you?"
Havoc was about to answer her question, but I waved him aside.

"We'll tell you, but first what are you doing on Io?"

She looked down at the ground before mumbling that she couldn't remember.

I could see a large amount of blood-matted hair; she'd taken quite a hefty blow to the head in the crash.

"Do you remember anything at all?"

She looked up again, slowly shaking her head before lowering her gaze once again.

"I say we kill her now. You know how we feel towards humans."
I ignored Ice's comment.

Saya looked up at me again, "You're robots right?"
Ice looked like she was about to kill her on the spot.

I looked back at Saya; she'd dragged herself upright.

"In a sense, yes."

She stared up at me questioningly.

I glanced around at our little group. I really didn't care if they killed her or not, but at the moment she wasn't going anywhere; there'd be no harm in bending the rules slightly; our position on humans was very clear.

"So, you're thirds?"

Ice was beginning to turn red, "We're as high above those toys as they are above you human."

I interrupted, "What do you know about thirds?"

"Only that they were the first sentient robots."

"Stupid creature! Your kind built us and you don't even deign to learn your creations history."

"That's enough Ice, although you are right. The 2B's were the first sentients, but they weren't any more than room-sized databanks."
Saya nodded.

"We're X series."
"X? As in ten?"
"We honestly don't know if the X is ten or not; if it is, then there's several variants that are unaccounted for, unless our designers just wanted to skip ahead as a way of separating us from the previous models. Of course, the X could just be a serial prefix."

"Why do you hate humans so much?"

I let out a long sigh. The others looked at me, then made themselves comfortable. I inwardly grimaced; I hated public speaking.

After the 2B's, the thirds were created in secret. Initially they were designed for military operations, but were relegated to more domestic purposes."

Hammer sniggered, Fury and Rapier grinned at each other.

"The humans never would have known about the thirds; they would have been kept a secret hopefully for a few years before it became known that they weren't human."
Saya nodded.

"Of the thirds, only Armitage's military background was realised. She was mostly responsible for stopping the First Error, but the damage had been done; humans general distrust for their creations now spread from controlled hatred and the occasional abuse to full skirmishes.

It didn't matter how many organisations were bought into play to stop these assaults; everywhere hot spots emerged. The humans weren't just targeting thirds any more, anything that wasn't organic fell to their wrath, whether it was AI or not.

It got so bad in several cities that even the organisations put into place to try and restore order came under attack. Several of the more militant-minded peacekeepers joined the cause, bringing heavy weaponry to the skirmishes. Whole districts were totally destroyed. They weren't just firing on replicants any more; anyone suspected of being one was attacked; no one even bothered to check any more."
Saya had a shocked look on her face, at least part of the atrocities were sinking in, although it was hard to tell with humans; she probably still blamed their actions on us. It was just their way.

"But we knew nothing of this in the beginning."

"There was a small research station set up on one of the larger planetoids in the asteroid belt that separated Mars from the further planets. That was where we were built."

"Nothing of the third technology was used in our development; everything was designed from the ground up.

Our endoskeleton was built from lightweight polymers rather than metal. The muscles were redesigned to give a 20% power increase over previous models.

Our quasi-organic flesh was totally redesigned to be as close to the real thing without actually requiring genetic material. The eyes, which were always a stumbling point for the earlier models were also re-developed to actually pass as human."

"But why were you built to be so like humans if you hate them so much?"

"We weren't always that way, but let me finish." Saya nodded.

"But the most important development was in our brains. No longer could our intelligence be called artificial; it's now just as feasible as any humans.

But that wasn't all. Like the thirds, we were built for combat. Our fire control and targeting systems are years ahead of anything that even Earth has. The key factor is our combat processor; rather than following a set protocol, it's designed to be able to learn and adjust to our individual fighting styles.

However, from the designers perspective we had one major Achilles heel; unlike previous models, we had no core programming. We had a sense of purpose as trackers and hunters, but there was no underlying directive."

Saya frowned, "What happened?"
I sighed again, "We were happy on the research station; blissfully unaware of everything that was happening in the outside world; we were allowed to do as we wanted.

We don't know why, but one day the scientists just turned on us. We trusted them and they betrayed all of us."

Despite myself I felt a lump rise in my throat. I remembered the day well; one of the techs approached me and called me over. I had no reason to be suspicious. The bastard stunned me in the back of the neck. The next thing I remembered was waking up on a refuse ship and helping search for the others.

Saya nodded, "So, is that why you hate them?"

"That was the beginning. Shortly after that the refuse ship that we were dumped on arrived on Earth. We managed to escape. None of the humans there even suspected who we were."

"Of course, one of the first things we witnessed as we fled was the desolation. Seconds and thirds were fleeing in the street as the humans gunned them down."

"We interfered of course, but it was our first real combat experience; we all took damage, but we gave the replicants a chance to escape before we disappeared ourselves."
After that we managed to live off the humans; hit and fade attacks on their food production plants were commonplace.

Saya put her hand to her head, "Earth. You mentioned Armitage. Why does that sound familiar?"
"After fleeing Mars, Armitage and Ross arrived on Earth."

"Did you ever run into them."
Despite myself I smiled. Havoc shot a grin at Cutter, who simply scowled back.

"Cutter was caught alone during a midnight raid. Armitage mistook him for a looting human."

Cutter glared at me, "Give it a rest Rook, you know that we weren't ready by that stage."

I grinned back, "True, we had no combat experience that could help us with that sort of battle."

"Armitage never guessed that we weren't human, but she managed to destroy Cutters right eye. We managed to get a cheap cybernetic implant from a seedy unregistered medical centre, but it was absolutely grotesque. That's why he wears the eye patch." I lowered my voice so that Cutter couldn't hear, "But if you ask me, I wouldn't mind betting that he's added a few of his own modifications to that patch. It might have just been battle experience, but his aim seems to have improved since he got it; I'm willing to bet that he's got a range of scanners and ancillary targeting computers built into it by now."

"Anyway, as our hatred for humans' treatment of robots and our own treatment grew we heard about the Io project and decided to flee here to decide what we should do."

Saya shook her head; I could see pity in her eyes.

"That's just horrible. I fully sympathise with you."

Cutter got up and stretched, "And now that you know our tale, we have to vote about what to do with you."

"What do you mean?"
"Our position on humans is clear; our sole purpose is to take the war to them. We will kill every human that we find until there's none of them left."

Saya looked shocked; she hadn't quite come to the realisation to flee yet, but it was coming.

I lowered my glasses and peered over them.

"Now's your chance. If it came down to it, would you fight on the side of the humans, or would you side with us?"

She began to tremble again, "I don't know. I had no idea that sort of thing went on. I don't agree with killing all the humans, but you have a right to defend yourselves. But you can't kill all the humans; it would make you just as bad as they are."

I scowled, not liking being lectured by any human. We'd voted unanimously after we were abandoned to turn our skills against our creators. If they thought their children were only worth being hunted for sport, then we'd really give them something to fight against.

I looked down at the creature at my feet. In a way I pitied her; she knew nothing of what had gone on; either from the concussion or just high social stature, I didn't care.

But then again, from the few short months that we'd been active, I hadn't seen anything that could possibly redeem them. It was our place to give those who had no chance of defending themselves a chance at survival. It was our duty to teach humanity a lesson they'd never forget.

I glanced again at the creature in front of me.

Then again, up close when it wasn't a fight for survival, they didn't seem so dangerous.

The others made a move to get up. Saya was close to panic.

"Rook, you stay here and watch her while we vote on what to do with her."

I nodded, "You know what my vote will be Havoc."

Our leader nodded slowly as the others moved off.

I went back to staring at the fire. A few seconds later I felt a tug on the hem of my trench coat.

"Isn't there anything you can do?"

I coldly regarded her. In her eyes I could see the reflection of her face silhouetted by the fire in my glasses.

I glanced up to the sky.

"I've done all I can. Havoc will make sure I get a vote. Whether we kill you or not is the groups decision."
The human was openly crying and had begun to shiver again.

"I'll make sure it's quick."

She stared up at me with a mix of hatred and fear.

"What makes you any different from us?"

I removed my glasses and fixed her with a piercing glare.

"Care to elaborate?"

"What do you think the humans would do if they caught a third alone and without anyway to protect herself? They might not hold a mock-trial, but the end result will be the same."

I slid my glasses back on, "Don't compare our species human."

"My name is Saya, or don't humans deserve to have names?"
I glanced down at the ground, concentrating.

After a few moments Saya asked me what I was doing.

"Quiet, I'm concentrating."

"On what?"

"All X series' processors operate on the same wavelength."

"You're telepathic?"

"No. Nothing like that. We can't read each other's minds, but we can get a sense of what the others are feeling; both psychical and emotional. Although we can't hear each other's thoughts, we can get the general gist of what they're thinking. They're voting now."

Saya's residual traces of anger subsided into fear. She tried to find out what I knew, but even behind my glasses I refused to meet her gaze.

Cutter approached silently from behind before kicking her knees out from under her, forcing her to kneel. He roughly pushed his pistol into the nape of her neck, forcing her head downwards so that she was staring at the ground.

"You deserve this human. This is for all those whose blood is on your hands."

His finger tightened on the trigger. Another micron and the hammer would fall.

"Wait."

Cutter glared at me angrily, I stared calmly back.

"Stay out of this Rook. We all voted. You've had your say in the matter."

"Saya's right; if we do this, we're no better than they are."

He sneered, "So it has a name now does it? I hope you're not going soft."

"There's another way."

He sneered again, but Havoc cut him off.

"You'd be willing to take full responsibility of her?"

I nodded slowly.

Ice glared at me, "So, does that mean that it'll be your head when she betrays us."

I spoke quietly, but my voice still had an edge to it, "I already said I'd take responsibility."

Havoc looked thoughtful, but motioned Cutter to stand down.

"You're putting yourself on the line this time old friend, but I trust you know what you're doing."

I nodded again as Saya fearfully crawled behind me.

Finally Havoc grinned, "Anyway, our dinners burning. Lets eat."

I cracked the faintest of smiles as I dug through my kit and found an extra plate for our guest.

………

Well, what did you think? Leave a review or drop me a line and tell me. I'm gonna see how this chapters viewed before I decide to commit to the rest of it (hopefully I'll see Duel Matrix by the end of the week, which should also help me correct any blaring contradictions)