Hi there, finally coming back to this after a several-year hiatus. Special thanks to Laryna6 for getting me back to working on this story!
The concepts have been brewing in the back of my head all this time, and hopefully my writing has improved enough that I can do the story justice this time around.
A few quick notes: The reference to "Sky Raven's wind slash" is not a mistake or mistranslation. I began writing this before Mega Man X7 came out, and I still haven't played X7 or X8. Sky Raven and his Wind Slash technique were an idea I came up with on my own, so I find the similarity to X7's Wind Crowang and his Wind Cutter weapon pretty—interesting. I thought about changing the names after I found out about them, but honestly I prefer to not have an ace maverick hunter "cutting wind" in my story. Thanks.
Also, after much debate I've decided to generally ignore the X-series games after X5 for purposes of this story. I'm trying to keep it as cannon-friendly as possible, and will still be tying in the events from the Megaman Zero games, but IMO the plot comes out cleaner without trying to shoehorn in the games made after Keiji Inafune left the series. That's not to say the events of the later games couldn't have happened in the same continuity as this story—just that you're unlikely to see a direct reference to them.
Finally, each chapter has a soundtrack, which will be listed at the beginning of the chapter. These songs are all remixes of videogame music, and are provided by their respective artists for free download at the OverClocked ReMix website. Due to text formatting issues, I can't include the web address for the site, but a quick search should find it.
I highly recommend listening to the songs while you read this story—as that's how it is intended to be experienced—but if you are unable to find the OC Remix site or a specific song please contact me and I will e-mail you a link.
Now, on with the show...
Soundtrack: Mega Man X 'Sigmatism' OC ReMix by Mellogear
Zero hurried through the darkened hallway, his breath passing in and out of his mechanical body with a soft whirring sound—bringing a cooling sensation to his internal systems. The lines of his armor looked lean and feral in the half-light, blue eyes glinting beneath the false brow of his helmet, which swept back like the wings of a hawk. He moved in a shadowed blur of red and white, the black bodysuit beneath his armor vanishing into the darkness as his massive ponytail streamed behind him like a mane of golden fire.
Sigma's room should be just ahead, he thought.
How many times had he faced him? He could not remember. The endless years of battle ran together in his mind, blurring into a haze of violence and bloodlust.
Yes. Though he could never admit it to anyone, Zero had more in common with the mavericks than the hunters. Everyone was awed by his ferocity and bravery, but they never guessed at what drove him to fight that way—charging into battle head on with no concern for his own safety…
…In his heart, he was still a maverick.
The desire to destroy human life had been burned into every circuit in Zero's body. He would never be free of it—but he had made his choice. Instead, he took out his frustration on the mavericks who killed freely—and waited to die. What the other hunters took for bravery was in fact the closest thing to suicide that a warrior like Zero was capable of:
He would make no allowances for defense or safety. He would only fight—with everything he had—until he met his end in battle.
Through the darkness, he could see the gate ahead of him—a hyperalloy blast door as thick as a bank vault.
They always have gates, he thought with a sneer. They are nothing like me. They slaughter those weak humans by the thousands—but when faced with a real opponent, they hide in their rooms and lock the door.
The radio beeped inside his mind. It was Alia.
"Zero, this is hunter base. The anomalous readings seem to be coming from the next room. Something is drawing the virus towards that location—the concentration is off the scale! I'm sending X to help you, he should arrive in—"
Annoying as usual, Zero thought, closing the channel. He wouldn't involve X in this fight. There was no reason to. Drawing his saber, the number-one maverick hunter fired the dash-boosters in his feet…
"Time to stop cowering, Sigma!"
Rocketing forward, he slashed upwards diagonally, barrel rolled in mid-air, and slashed down from the other side—cutting an X into the gate. Slamming into it at full speed, the blast door buckled, breaking into four triangular pieces. Zero flew into the room and stopped, waiting. It was pitch black, and the only sounds were the steady whir of his breathing and the hum of his energy blade.
"Zero! How good of you to come."
Sigma's voice drifted down from somewhere above, deep and melodic—almost hypnotizing. Zero looked up, and saw the maverick leader's latest incarnation. He was hovering in mid-air, about thirty feet up. His new body was hidden by a black cloak, but Zero's sensors picked up an enormous energy reading from it.
"I see you've improved the shippuga technique, Slash Beast would be proud—if you hadn't killed him." The maverick leader observed as he floated to the ground.
Zero slashed upward with his saber, sending out a wave of scything energy. The glowing arc struck, and Sigma's cloak fell to the ground in two pieces—empty.
"And you also seem to have mastered Sky Raven's wind slash—impressive." Sigma called from Zero's right, taunting him.
Zero's old enemy looked much like his previous humanoid forms. His face still bore the characteristic smirk and the long, vertical grooves over each eye—but this time his armor was molded to the contours of his body, making it look like a white and purple leotard. Two rows of cylindrical capacitors jutted from the back of each shoulder blade, and four-chamber plasma cannons bulged on each forearm. The cannons flared out in a bell shape, looking as though someone had cut two normal X-Busters in half lengthwise, and fused each half to opposite sides of his arm.
Sigma's eyes glowed, shooting out white hot beams. Zero jumped over the beams and air-dashed towards him, turning in mid air and slashing down from behind—but the evil maverick vanished.
A high pitched whine sounded behind him, and Zero spun out of the way as Sigma fired one of his arm-cannons at point blank range. A three foot wide beam of plasma tore through the air where Zero's head had been, searing his cheek. Still in mid spin, he slashed at Sigma with his saber—but the maverick vanished again before the blow could land.
Sigma reappeared across the room, hovering a few feet off the ground with his massive arm-cannons folded across his chest. "I've gotten a good deal faster since the last time we fought." He said smugly.
"You're still the same," Zero spat, "All you can do is run."
After that, there were no more words. Sigma zipped around the room so quickly it seemed like he was teleporting, firing his cannons and dodging Zero's counterattacks—but despite his superior speed he was unable to connect with any of his blasts.
Changing tactics, Zero charged his weapon energy to maximum and air dashed towards Sigma, slashing down with his saber from above. Again the maverick vanished, but as his slash missed, Zero continued the downward motion—landing on one knee and slamming his left fist into the ground.
A dome of blue light enveloped the hunter as he unleashed the lethal power stored in his systems. Blasts ripped out of the floor all around him, filling the room with searing light. Unable to dodge them all, Sigma reappeared on the far side of the room as he was struck by three glowing orbs of plasma.
Seizing the opportunity, Zero leaped towards his opponent, crossing the room and delivering a corkscrewing double-slash with his improved shippuga attack. As he landed, Zero twisted and slashed upwards—leaping into the air as he struck—and then slashed straight down as he began to fall.
Landing in a low crouch, his saber held out in front of him, the red hunter watched as Sigma crashed to the floor face down. Smoke rose from the jet vents in the fallen reploid's boots, carrying the ozone-tinged smell of melting circuitry.
Almost as sweet as burning flesh. Zero thought as he lunged forward in a thrusting attack. "You can't run anymore Sigma!" he screamed, the battle-fury coursing through his circuits.
Sigma raised himself on his right arm and aimed his left buster. Zero spun to avoid the blast, but instead of a focused beam the cannon released a spray of smaller energy blasts—catching him in the back as he turned.
He ignored the damage and continued his attack, spinning around and slashing in a wide arc with his saber. The plasma blade burned through armor and circuits like a giant welding torch—severing Sigma's left arm at the elbow.
With a feral grin, Zero slashed down, aiming for his enemy's head—but the wounded maverick managed to sit up and raise his right arm, using the beam from his remaining cannon to deflect Zero's saber.
Cutting into the plasma beam was like sticking a hand in the stream from a firehose. The backlash threw Zero across the room, nearly ripping the saber out of his hands. He hit the ground and rolled to a kneeling position as Sigma pressed the attack—his buster now constantly firing as he swung the huge beam like a mile-long energy blade.
Unable to block the beam with his saber, Zero was forced on to the defensive—dodging and weaving as the massive plasma beam swept the room.
How can he keep firing like that? Zero wondered. A buster that powerful shouldn't be capable of continuous fire without—of course!
He ducked as the beam passed overhead, and lunged forward—thrusting the beam of his Z-Saber through Sigma's left shoulder. The row of capacitors on his shoulder blade exploded, and the beam from his arm cannon began to sputter. Smoke rose from the capacitor bank on Sigma's right shoulder as they burned out—unable to power the weapon continuously without the other set.
Snarling in fury, Sigma glared at Zero and fired his eye-beams point-blank. The red hunter ripped his saber out of Sigma's shoulder in an arc, intercepting the beams and reflecting them back into Sigma's eyes—blowing the top half of his head off.
Zero slashed Sigma's body with two diagonal cuts and followed up with a powerful overhead strike—splitting him in half from head to toe. Explosions ripped through the maverick's shattered corpse as millions of micro-reactors failed—cascading into a blinding nuclear flash.
There will be more… he thought, tightening his grip on the saber. There's always more…
A sinister laugh filled the room. Somewhere in the darkness a wall slid open and the lights slowly faded on to reveal a giant replica of Sigma's head sticking out of the floor. His booming voice echoed through the open space, the vibrations resonating disturbingly through Zero's body.
"You fight so well Zero! Even without the virus powering your systems…"
…glowing blue eyes locked on Zero's…
"…and yet with it your power would be even greater. I know you feel the same way about those worthless vermin as I do—why do you stand against me? We both know it is your destiny to join me in exterminating the human race—it's what you were created to do: If he couldn't have the world, then no one would."
The monstrous face shuddered as a large W appeared in the crystal on its forehead, pulsing with violet light. The voice began to shift, its smooth rumble changing into the harsh tones of a strict and bitter old man.
"Why do you fight me, Zero? You are my greatest creation, and yet you have also been the greatest disappointment of all. Forcing me to take refuge in this substandard copy of Light's work—how can you be so cruel to your father?"
The thundering voice shook the floor—or was it Zero's body that was shaking?
"…And to yourself? To deny your very purpose? Your reason to exist? I know firsthand how badly you wish to kill humans—why do you deny yourself that which you desire most?"
Trembling arms clenched into fists. Nanite-laden blood pulsed faster. "Shut up old man!" Zero screamed, a ragged ache tearing through him. "I'll never let you control me again!"
He leapt at the grinning head, raising his saber as white-hot power flooded his circuits. A deep breath sent fresh hydrogen to the fusion reactors throughout his body, turning the surge of energy into a steady flow…
"I'm sending you back to hell!"
Zero slashed down, aiming at the W on Sigma's forehead—but before he could connect, the head leered up at him, and spoke again in Sigma's voice:
"So, you've made your choice—then taste the power you would deny yourself!"
The gem on Sigma's forehead glowed, and viral energy poured from his body in a wave of violet light. The building shook as a corona of power formed around the giant maverick, and the floor crumbled away to reveal Sigma's new form in its entirety.
In a flash, Zero's sensors analyzed the scene before him: Giant energy condensers, drawing in billions of copies of the virus from all over the world, and channeling them all into Sigma's new form.
The viral energy continued to pour in, each copy adding its power to Sigma's—until all the copies on the entire planet had been absorbed. Only the lingering traces of the virus in Zero's systems remained, and he could feel that energy pulling towards Sigma like water towards a full moon.
The gargantuan maverick opened his mouth, and Zero fell towards it, still in the process of slashing down. A massive surge of power began to build in Sigma's body, and he could see the blast as it traveled up the cannon barrel of Sigma's throat.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something move, shining with incandescent light…
X? But what's this power coming from him—it's as strong as Sigma's! Could they have finished that program—the "Cyber Elf"?
No! They were modeling it after the maverick virus, X's system won't be able to handle it—only I can!
Sigma fired his blast, and sheer power ripped through Zero's body—sending the charred and mangled remains of his head and torso flying through the air. As his hearing faded, he heard X's anguished cry—and sensed the terrible light of the cyber-elf building in him as he launched himself at Sigma…
Next: Resurrection – Act 1