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The end, scenelets. There may be more, but I'll mark this as complete for now.
Why has ff . net suddenly deleted all the dividers I had between ANs and the actual chapters?!
This wasn't his room. He was standing up, not in his recharge capsule (he hadn't had the time to waste on sleep in a bed in ages). This wasn't home, this was a battlefield, and he had a brief moment of panic as he tried to figure out what was going on. It couldn't be a dream, Dad (X nowadays, he had to remember that) hadn't been able to figure out how to build that into them.
Still, he heard his father's voice, only not exactly, again. He just knew that X was glad he was okay, and that things were going to be fine, and that he was loved. That was nice, certainly, but what on earth was going on?
There were bodies.
Human bodies, they were in some sort of command center. Where was the Irregular? The weapons were busters, hunter standard issue from the effects, and… a beam saber?
He wanted his father here, to hold him and to tell him what was obvious wasn't true. He wasn't here, and yet Sigma felt like he was being held, that it was okay for him to be in shock for a bit, it was understandable and things would be taken care of. It wasn't his fault, and he would have the luxury of time to grieve.
He should be figuring out what was going on and dealing with it, he clearly wasn't the only one here who had just woken up to this and that was his job.
No, right now his job was to calm down, be okay. If he was frantic everyone would be even more panicked, after all. It's okay, Sigma. Everything's going to be fine. It was horrible, but it's over.
What was going on? How could he have…
It wasn't you. You fought it for a very long time without even knowing and I'm proud of you.
He wanted to crawl into his father's arms, although he was far too big for that in this body (the test models had been smaller, partly to save money). He wanted this to be a bad dream, for X to make it go away.
X was so very sorry that he couldn't do that for him. Couldn't erase this. Couldn't tell him where he was so Sigma could join him.
Sigma felt held as he cried, although there would never be those arms that seemed fragile yet were stronger than titanium to shelter him ever again.
This, this was strange. If it weren't for X's calmness, a rock in a storm, he might be losing himself in all these selves. He had to find them, teleport the link nanites there since reploids, let alone original androids, hadn't been designed for that, and then try to…
They needed him, though: that was what kept him, and X too, going. They were children in need, his children, which was a really strange idea for him but not for what remained of Omega and Lion. They were scared, scared as he'd been after he'd been woken up for the first time and told what he'd done unknowingly. He was erasing their memories of it: hopefully they'd all think that was another virus effect. They didn't deserve to suffer that guilt.
Maybe a metaphor was brushing hair? Or his hair, yeah. Just running a brush through it until it was straight instead of hairs criss-crossing: no tangles, no pulling. Just gentle putting in order. X could cure the virus, unlike him, but he couldn't link to their minds deeply enough to heal them. He could talk to them though, at least.
Damn him. Damn Wily, damn everything that had done this to General Sigma, the man, reploid, person that had saved Zero's life and given him a purpose and hope of atonement.
Even the ones that had hated him, though, cried with relief when he set them straight. He could feel their hate, why they had hated him, the pain it stemmed from, and he really couldn't keep them from finding what they wanted to know: did he suffer? Did he suffer for what he had done to their loved ones? He did, and for most of them that knowledge was enough, to know that at least there was justice, even if they didn't apologize for hating him because they'd thought he hadn't really cared about his crimes. Of course he had. He would have to really be a monster not to. Really be that demon.
He wasn't, he knew that, alright X? Still, it was so horrible that this had happened to them.
It was, yes.
He had X here, and he couldn't afford to only focus on him, or he might warp him. He'd hated being alone in his heart, this was what he was built for (besides destruction). To guide, to build in destruction's wake. Or was that Omega? X and Dr. Cain had installed his modern OS so that he could be whoever he wanted.
He wanted to help them. So that worked.
Oh, Yggdrasil was here? Alpha-Blues really had gotten him somewhere safe (of course he would). Most of the others had no idea why there was someone in their head but weren't questioning their rescue. Yggdrasil knew about the theory, although Blues couldn't link to his creation (Dr. Smith. Ha. He had to agree with Omega, calling himself that when faking human: now that was Blues all over.) since he was an android, not a robot master. Incompatible. Still, Kalinka had been incompatible, and she'd still been… something very Bluesish to him. Don't worry about it. Of course he doesn't love you less because of it.
Racism is a human thing, Zero began to 'say' before stopping himself. So many conversations at once were work to juggle, but it was worrying how easily that had been thought of, such a natural and obvious truth. It was true, though. Something had to be done to protect his children from that and humanity from itself.
At least he had a lot of time to think now. X too. They'd figure something out.
It had been a century, he'd made a lot of progress on the mental aspects, at least, what with having to share a lot of his thoughts. He could say that he loved people, but touch was still hard, still sent alarms ringing. Not the programming's fault, not directly. He'd been meant to have no personality and hence no personal space, after all. But when they'd come up to him it had often been to violate not only that space but his personality itself. Someone, especially 'family' coming too close made him remember what had happened before. Nonsense, but he'd learned that lesson well and now had to unlearn it.
Yggdrasil was, well. The android that X had thought Zero was, the Cossack family's creation. His family's, really. The closest thing Kalinka would have to a child. X was his half-brother, he had robot masters galore to look after, but still.
Robot masters had been created to look after less intelligent robots, it was instinct beyond the laws to look after cute little kids. So sue him.
At least he'd managed to tell this one he loved him from the start.
So that was why he made such an effort to actually place his arms around 'Sil when the child hugged him, even though they shook just a fraction with the reflexive desire to push him away. He could have just shut off motor functions, stood there, let 'Sil, but the kid wanted to know that Blues was willing to make the effort for this: that it wasn't just something he endured until it was over.
The problem with being the way he was, or one of them, was that he couldn't love another of his own kind. They were all his children. Well, that was why X and Omega had died virgins. 'Sil was his child, of course he was, but because he had built him, not because he was a robot and therefore Blues had to take care of him on the most basic level, like it or not. Kalinka had been… a possibility. A potential, a bud killed before it could bloom. They'd never loved each other: a crush and a desire, seeds that could have grown.
'Sil was the child they would have had if their dreams had been able to withstand reality. Not a human Kalinka related to far more, not a robot master shaped by Blues' thought patterns. A blank slate, a new person, a hope for the future. Their hope.
Dr. Cossack had wondered why their designs had been in browns and greens. There had been enough red and gold, blood and money, distorting their lives.
He wondered what Zero, and maybe X, had said to the kid, although that was private. Either way, it was good to see him smile without it being a question. Roll had practically raised his own son… He told the drama queen irritatedly to go back to sleep, damn it. The evil energy was gone and he wanted some damn breathing room, time he didn't have to devote to handling her cleanup.
'Sil was falling asleep in his arms (only android left besides Zero, of course Zero needed him to help with this large a project), and Blues didn't freeze so he could stay there unshaken by trembling arms. He held him tight, he choose to hold him. It wasn't exactly pleasant, but then so many important things weren't.
He'd waited to see that Rock would be okay, stood vigil even though Rock had never known he had been there since he'd had to flee his personal boogyman. 'Sil hadn't been touched in all this, but still. Still.
He'd held Kalinka twice to save her. The third time he'd had to let her go.
The world, when the window of this seemingly long-wrecked orbital rotated to show it, looked no worse than it had yesterday: his scanners couldn't detect a significant improvement either, other than the lack of that annoying stuff.
Yet more evidence that the important things were in people's heads.
'Sil was smiling, X and Zero were bustling about, Ring was demonstrating his strategic abilities and Shadow was borrowing Blues' enigmatic bastard card to keep people's attention on Dr. Lament's impact on this and their eyes away from the right directions until X and Zero finished and decided what cover story to go with. If they said they wanted the truth he'd fold his arms at them.
Well, maybe their children did have a right to know. Blues' had found out eventually.
He supposed he'd just let them have to make their choices and pay their prices. He'd set them free ages ago, anyway. The instant he'd woken Omega up, the instant he'd let Rock go back to his home.
He hoped 'Sil did equally well, only without the trauma. He had enough to deal with, what with having an emotional cripple for a father. Oh well.
Give it another century. 'Sil was willing to wait.