Welcome everybody! This story attempts to connect the Megaman X and Megaman Zero universes and then continue on the Zero storyline. This first introductory chapter is placed before the end of the Elf Wars, as described in the Megaman Zero games, and long after MMX8 and Command Mission.

After many years I decided to go back and rewrite parts of this story. Thus what follows is the revised first chapter. Keep in mind that this story might not take into account some details revealed in Zero 4, Megaman ZX or the Physis album. Also, in an effort to write an interesting story, I may add or alter many events seen in the games.

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Chapter 1: Hell and hope

The sun was late to rise, as if to avoid facing the scene below. Somebody gifted with a healthy amount of imagination could perhaps assume it had once been a grand, technologically advanced city. Currently, it was a little more than shattered rubble. The once proud spires were reduced to random piles of rocks and debris. The once translucent glass skywalks were nothing more than glistering ruins. Most importantly, formerly sentient, dissected beings, humans and reploids alike, were scattered everywhere, withering away with nobody to offer them a proper burial, a grim reminder of the devastation war caused.

Not everything in this wasteland was devoid of life. A small squad was among the scrap piles, consisted of both humans and reploids, all of them heavily armed and armored, though physically and mentally weary. They had selected a secure position among carcasses of demolished buildings and vehicles, being virtually invisible from every side except perhaps from above, trying to catch their breath and regain their strength.

A single reploid had chosen to sit away from the others, apparently lost in thought, though he hadn't dared to remove his azure and white plain battle armor. Said armor must have once been shiny, but now it was reduced to a mess of dents and scorches, stained with red liquid in many places. Much of it belonged to the armor's owner and he frankly didn't care anymore. His thoughts were far more painful than the wounds on his artificial body.

How much longer do we have to fight? Is there an end to war? I once wanted to believe it, but now…

"Oh, yes, the world is so gloomy I just have to sit here alone and bleed myself to death."

The voice that interrupted his thoughts belonged to another reploid in red, white and black armor sporting long, blond hair, who brazenly intruded upon the first reploid's intended solitude.

"This is not funny, Zero", replied the unwilling warrior.

"Of course it is not, X. But sitting there and mourning like that will help no one. Especially if you die in the process."

"Just look at these corpses. How many victims? How many lives have been snuffed? It doesn't matter if they are humans, reploids or even cyber-elves. When I try to think how many reploids I have terminated with those very hands, even if they were enemies, I..."

He could not finish his words, wanting to just collapse there and cry. His eyes denied him even that release. He had already shed too many tears in this last war.

The crimson reploid sighed and sat next to his precious friend and partner. His armor was equally, if not more, damaged and dirty, but his mood was lighter.

"All of us have done things that we are not proud of", he started, a shadow passing before his face but quickly vanishing. "But you must not forget the reason we fight for. You are Megaman X Light, for crying out loud! Earth's greatest champion and savior! If we just sat back and did nothing, many more would have died. And everybody would become a slave to that maniac, Weil."

"You can't just blame everything on him, you know. We all are..."

The blue bomber coughed and fresh artificial blood wetted his armored hand.

"Damn it, X. Let me treat that wound. It is obvious your repair systems cannot heal it fast enough."

"It is only a scratch. You should mind the others first. Lamtha was shot by a heavy pulse cannon and that human, Pierrot, is hurt too."

Zero frowned. "X! If this is your way to commit suicide, I won't allow it. You were stabbed by a freaking beam blade up to the hilt and your subtanks are empty. The fact that you change armors faster than I slash my sword doesn't mean the interior damage you have suffered will just go away! Stop fooling around and let me see it", he demanded.

X reluctantly complied. He phased out his body armor with a thought, now wearing only a white undershirt. The action caused him to cringe with pain. As soon as Zero saw the grievous wound, he swore a profane curse and picked up his healing kit.

"I can't see how you can even move around after such a nasty stab", he mused, his fingers moving with decades of expertise. He injected some extra nanomachines inside his friend's body to aid his innate repair systems and speed up the regeneration process, then applied bandages to both the hole just under his chest and the exiting point at his back. After the bleeding was suppressed, he started treating the other numerous but less serious wounds.

X obviously wanted to state a question, but he hesitated for a long while, resulting in an uneasy silence. He eventually found the mental strength to speak. "Zero, do you think we can actually achieve peace through our actions? Do you still have a will to fight? I once thought we had the power to stop conflict, but I'm not sure anymore."

The red Maverick hunter stopped for a while, as if to mentally consult himself. A moment later he resumed his task while answering. "X, listen to what you say. The corpses you see around you would have never been born without us. We have saved this world many times and we can do it again. Sigma is finally destroyed for eternity, or at least the millenium he needs to collect his component particles. After so many wars we did it. Of course peace can be achieved. But bear in mind that wanting to maintain peace for infinity is a futile, a fairytale. We just have to make sure that the peaceful intervals are as long as possible and that means vigilance. As for me, I will continue to fight for as long as I can make a difference, for as long as I can see an enemy and for as long as there is somebody I can protect. Weil is just one more obstacle that separates us from peace."

A minute later, Zero had finished his work and X had recalled his cyan armor. "There. You are almost as good as new. Cheer up a bit. The kiddo is coming. You don't want to shatter his mood with that sour face."

"Axl is not a kid anymore. We have been side by side for what? Eighty years? A century?"

Zero smirked. "Axl will always be a loud brat, X. He will never stop being a kid, however mature he might grow. That's the main reason we keep him around."

"HEY GUYS. I know we have been through hell, but don't let it bother you. Soon, we will find that wanker, Weil, and I will personally kick his butt to the next galaxy. Just you wait, Weil!", shouted said reploid from afar, swinging his fist in the air, his navy-black armor damaged yet still shinny.

X sighed, though Axl's presence seemed to lift some of the weight from his shoulders. He actually managed to show a smile, though marred by bitterness. "I can see what you mean, Zero. But I truly believe he feels every bit as depressed as my sorry self does, though he manages to hide it a lot better."

"He has a point though. This war is almost over. In a couple of days we will reach Weil's flying fortress. His army and his plans lay in pieces because of our struggles. The only major problem we will have to face is that monstrosity, Omega."

"Do you think we can succeed?", asked X meekly.

Anger was now evident in Zero's voice. "Of course not. Not when you are in such a pathetic state, X. Wake up! Don't let that damn war break you. Everyone in our team looks up to you."

"I'm nobody's idea of a leader, Zero. You are much more qualified for that. You have been helping me from the very beginning. In fact, you have done more than I ever could."

Zero rolled his eyes. "You just don't get it, do you? Not only our squad, but everyone, be it human or reploid, is ready to follow your lead. When this mess is over, I bet everyone will want you, the legendary S class Maverick hunter and fighter of justice, to lead them into prosperity. You know much better than I do that there are battles that are not fought with weapons. Either way, don't you dare betray their trust, our trust X. You represent hope. If you let us down, I will kill you myself."

Zero rose forcefully and attempted to leave, but a white-gloved hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned and saw X standing up, his eyes closed and downcast. But then he raised his head and smiled. Zero barely managed to hide his elation, for in those emerald eyes he saw a spark of determination that had not been present for quite a long time.

"Thank you, Zero. I have yet again been such a fool. I don't know what I would have done without you...", he confessed sincerely.

"You would have died hundreds of times, of course. And the same goes for me, too. I..."

He suddenly staggered and nearly lost his balance as he placed his hand on one hip and grimaced painfully.

X reached out and supported him and Axl soon joined. "Hey, X. Haven't you helped Zero yet? I gave him a med kit to heal himself, but it seems he is just too damn stubborn."

"Nothing really serious. Just some superficial..."

"As hell it is. Don't listen to him, X. I was covering his back in that last battle and I actually messed up. He was fighting with six blade-wielding opponents at the same time while protecting that little human girl. He must have been hit numerous times."

"I remind you that my self-repair systems are much more efficient than any of yours. These wounds will heal in no time."

X was now really serious. "Remove your armor, Zero.'

"I told you..."

"Now, Zero", demanded X

"Yes, mother." As soon as the crimson armor disappeared, the jaws of both X and Axl nearly hit the ground. The red bomber's body would be in place in any reploid anatomy manual. Much of his inner workings were blatantly visible.

"Sweet mother of pearl, Zero! How are you even conscious?" gasped X, trying very hard not to avert his eyes.

Zero tried to sound cocky. "It's not as bad as it seems. You should have seen the other guys. You can save the kit for someone that really needs it. Our supplies are low and these things don't grow on trees", he said, a forced smile on his face.

"You can't be serious, Zero. This is a complete mess. I don't even know from where to start, man", said Axl frustrated.

"How could you treat me when you were in such a condition? This is ten times worse", added X mortified, his visage indicating he expected his friend to kneel and die where he stood.

"I told you it is not a great deal. I can take it and more."

"Yeah, man. You can take it to a grave perhaps."

X was furious now. "Zero you idiotic ass. And you blamed me for being suicidal. Just... just stand still. This will take quite a while."

After Zero left grumbling and a whole lot healthier, Axl turned to X.

"You seem a different person, X. I must confess I was really worried about you since we camped here. And everybody else has been equally worried. But something like a miracle must have happened. Don't let this war get to you, X. We need you."

"Thank you, Axl. Your words mean a lot to me. And, yes, miracles do happen. Most of the time, we are just too blind to notice them." He turned and stared at his crimson friend's back as he walked away, still grumbling.

I will do it father. With my friends' help, I will create and maintain the world of peace you had always hoped for.

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He entered the room, tired and vexed. He had been born human, but after years of DNA manipulation and machine replacements, his body was anything but. Still, for the last months, sleep often eluded him and the toll on his psyche was heavy. At first it had been simple. Kidnapping the mother elf and infecting her with a special strain of the Zero Virus. That had removed her free will and had made partial replication feasible.

It had been way too simple for Dr. Cornelius Weil. He had been part of project Elpis that produced the mother elf and destroyed the Sigma Virus in the first place. It had been even easier to raise an army. Many humans and reploids supported him and his family's grand legacy did not hurt. Why, he had marginally lost Arcadia's Supreme Governor seat during the last elections. Those that opposed him were bribed, threatened, brainwashed, blackmailed or terminated, at first under great secrecy.

Weil poured himself a glass of high quality brandy as he sat down on the lofty priceless Indian sofa. As much as he wanted to return to his research, he was aware of his limits.

When the time to step out of the proverbial closet had come, he had been unstoppable. His armies dominated land, air, water and Cyberspace. He had launched preemptive strikes against most of the earth's military forces, including the Maverick Hunters. He had raided research centers for advanced technology and had combined it with his own remarkable achievements.

As he let the drink grace his taste buds, he closed his eyes and let a deep sigh. He would soon have to replace one of his eyes with a cybernetic one for his vision was dimming.

In the end, he had underestimated the Maverick Hunters. Perhaps it was because he had been working too close to them during the last Sigma war. Perhaps when pushed to their limit, they had become more formidable than ever. Perhaps he had believed that because a portion of his army consisted of humans, they would hold back lest they were declared mavericks. At first that had been true, but later the crumbling and desperate Megacity Central Council had specifically announced that no reploid killing enemy humans during the war would be labeled as such.

Ultimately, it wasn't really the Hunters posing a problem. "X and Zero", he growled towards the exquisitely decorated walls of his private quarters. The now empty glass shattered in his grip. In the end, the two ancient androids had been his undoing. After years of war, they had led his enemies with terrifying efficiency. He had lost count of supporting facilities, flagships, war machines and armies they had personally demolished.

The deranged scientist peered out of the room's reinforced window, towards the vast deserts left in war's wake. They were out there and they were coming for him. After reaching so close to world domination, he was now left with virtual breadcrumbs. The flying fortress he was currently inside, the remains of his once glorious army that rode with him, two times that many hostages, used both as slave labor and as a missile shield after the fortress's systems had fizzled away, a couple safehouses around the globe that were currently of little use and Omega.

Weil managed a small smile at that. Omega was his greatest creation, incorporating many kinds of innovative technology inside the body of a majestic reploid. Omega was the only resource that had successfully hindered the two elite maverick hunters, occasionally forcing them to retreat.

"I only need a little more time. A little more time to completely incorporate the mother elf to Omega's systems. When they come for me, Omega will destroy them. Without X and Zero, I will be able to safely retreat and rebuild my armies."

As on cue, a servant drone entered the room. "Master Weil, the repulsion capacitors are almost empty. We need to land to allow the solar collectors to recharge them."

While he often thought himself to be above displays of mindless rage, Weil debated the therapeutic value of smashing everything in sight to bits. Breathing hard for a few seconds, he calmed down and conceived a plan. "Notify general August to come here at once. I have a mission for him and his regime. Also, take steps to prepare half of our slave population for disembarking", he ordered.

The drone saluted and left, leaving the would-be conqueror to his thoughts. He needed time and after a long string of sabotages, his levitating fortress needed extra time to recharge and resume flying. An appropriate bait would appeal to his enemy's morals and slow them down, giving him time to finish augmenting Omega.

Weil stretched and allowed himself a yawn before returning to his main laboratory. Rest could wait; he still had a world to take over.

End of chapter 1

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Revision notes: In addition to improving the first part, I also wrote the Weil segment from scratch. It not only helps giving a different point of view, it also offers some of the Elf Wars' background information. While there is no indication other humans supported Weil, it is entirely possible. Not only were the Elf Wars the most destructive in the whole Megaman mythos, they also caused many moral lines to be crossed. I gave Weil the first name Cornelius because I can…

Also, I just noticed that much of my format and scene dividers are gone... I'll have to fix them as I go.