COVER ART BY metalhime. I commissioned this piece based on the chapter "Fate". BEAUTIFUL WORK! Check out her stuff on DeviantArt/dA (search 'metalhime'. I don't think I can post a link here :-( )
Here it is. A re-do of chapter 1. Ugh, did I really write like this so long ago? Anyway, hope you all enjoy the new shine on this tale.
Oh, can't forget the disclaimer! I do not own Mega Man X, Zero, Sigma, nor any other mentioned characters and concepts from the franchise. They are the property of Capcom. This is a transformative work intended for entertainment purposes only, and will never be used for commerical nor monetary gain.
X, a Class B officer of the 17th unit, paced erratically in the command center, with worry frozen in his features. The case should have been textbook: a lone Reploid goes berserk, and a team of well-trained Anti-Maverick Police are then dispatched to neutralize it as cleanly and safely as possible. This berserk Reploid - or "Maverick" as society was beginning to call them - cornered itself by holing itself up in a warehouse far from any residential zones. Or, perhaps, X thought, it originated there. Whatever the truth was, X did not care so long as the threat was destroyed and no more of his friends came to harm.
Instead of a clean and safe execution, the case levied an unexpected cost. Garma, a senior captain of the Anti-Maverick Police Force, had been one of the best in the business. When news of his death came in, a pall came over the comrades he left behind. Morale plummeted. To make matters worse, it was not just Garma who fell the Maverick wiped out his entire unit as if they were rookies fresh out of training. Terrified, no one volunteered their name to put down this Maverick and avenge their captain. No one, except one.
Upon viewing Garma's burnt and broken remains, Sigma took up his sword. Sigma, the first Reploid created after the humans discovered X, spent most of his existence leading the Anti-Maverick Police Force for Abel City, the largest metropolis in the region. Brimming with silent rage, he vowed to face the monster and slay it himself. Concerned for Sigma's safety and the future of their organization, X joined his voice with others who implored Sigma to reconsider. With respectful but vehement protestations, many pleaded for him to send someone else, and to not put himself in danger for vengeance's sake. However, Sigma pulled his rank as a Class S officer and dismissed them all, with cold blood apparent in his eyes.
X watched Sigma depart from headquarters that morning. He feared for the future. Sigma alone glued together their cause. The Anti-Maverick Police Force was one of many anti-Maverick organizations that existed at the pleasure of the public. Knowing this, Sigma often attended Abel City council meetings to secure their unwavering support. Their support not only meant funding, but the carte blanche authority to create and apply policy as they pleased- so long as they kept the peace.
On the Force, many considered Sigma style of command to be strict but always fair. And, like today, he got his hands dirty if the situation called for it. He thus inspired a level of loyalty and discipline among his troops that became the benchmark for all other anti-Maverick precincts.
Thus if the famous Sigma were to fall in battle, it would be celebrated by Mavericks everywhere. Such a failure would erode humans' trust in Reploids, and - if not remedied - could lead to a heavy restructuring. Perhaps, even, their eventual disbandment. Without a strong, unified force opposing the Maverick phenomenon, X knew their pursuit of peace would inevitably fail.
Now the day waned, and no indication of Sigma's progress came through. No indication of his demise, neither, X thought.
"Signal inbound from Camelback Storage Outpost! It's Commander Sigma!"
X looked up sharply at the news, and rushed over to the communications console. Many other officers also left their post at the announcement and surrounded the operator at the console, and so X pressed as close as he could to listen within the boisterous crowd. As they clamored with anticipation, the operator pressed a finger to her ear, saying "Acknowledged Commander. We will have medical staff on standby. Dr. Cain? Roger. HQ out."
She then whipped around and announced, "Commander Sigma has neutralized the Maverick at point CSO-5!"
The crowd around the console cheered wildly. "I knew he could do it!" and "That's our Commander!" were shouted back and forth. X was relieved himself, but his worry had not yet dissipated the mention of Dr. Cain confused him, and thus found himself dreading the details. Compared to his Reploid cohorts, X both appreciated and lamented his unusually powerful intuition.
Curious as well, X pushed to the front of the crowd and asked "Anything else?"
The operator, coming down from her own excitement, said "He didn't give any more details than that, except that he needs medical attention. He also requested we fetch Dr. Cain, but again, he didn't elaborate there either. We ought to just be glad he's back."
"Thank you," X said. He then pushed his way out of the crowd of his celebrating comrades. In order to investigate his doubts, he would need to speak with Dr. Cain.
Dr. Cain was the first living thing X had ever known. While the doctor was not the one who created him, he was the one who discovered him, and who undid the seal on his stasis capsule. News spread rapidly among humans about the "more human than human" robot, who could think and act for itself. The sensation resulted in Dr. Cain's name and expertise earning indisputable reverence.
Regardless of his fame, however, Dr. Cain was truly taken in by X, a discovery he deemed "the ultimate testament to human genius." Dr. Cain took care of him and educated him, and both had formed a bond of mutual respect that carried on since the day of X's awakening. During that time, X had allowed Dr. Cain to study his engineering under a grant from the World Federation, and from his research Dr. Cain was able to create Sigma.
Deemed a historic success, the Federation bought Dr. Cain's plans and ordered them to be replicated in mass production, and thus the "Reploid" race was born. Sigma was truly a marvel, and his magnetic and honorable persona earned him most of the fame and recognition as being the "first." Sigma also possessed vastly improved battle specs over X, and thus X's name lost its leverage in the world except for with one human, the one Dr. Cain.
Unfortunately, the indisputable fact that Reploids could randomly go berserk and harm others crippled the spirit of Dr. Cain, who had no intention whatsoever of introducing to the world a race of potential ticking time bombs. He blamed himself, thinking that his research was not good enough, despite having admitted that there were features revealed in X that could not be analyzed and therefore was not reproducible in the first generation of Reploids. Dr. Cain supported the formation of the various Anti-Maverick Police precincts to protect the innocent from his "children," but because of his remorse, Dr. Cain retired and secluded himself in a private home away from the city. X tried to keep regular contact with him, but the increasing frequency of Maverick outbreaks made it difficult.
Nonetheless, X was determined, and in his quarters he sent a call on a private channel bound for Dr. Cain's residence. The automated operator patched him through, and Dr. Cain flashed onto X's view screen.
"Ah! X! What a surprise! Long time no see," Dr. Cain greeted.
"Yes, I'm sorry for not calling more often," X replied.
"Don't be," Dr. Cain said. "I know things have been busy on your end."
"They sure have, Doctor. How are you holding up?"
"Oh, these old bones feel older everyday." Dr. Cain coughed as if to emphasize. "But they still have some vitality in them yet."
"Glad to hear it."
Dr. Cain smiled, but then said, "So, this isn't just a pleasure call, is it? You're probably still on duty. What can I do for you, X?"
X sighed, wishing they didn't have to rush into business so soon, but the reason for his call bubbled to the forefront of his priorities.
"I heard Sigma requested that you come in, and although it may be none of my business, I wanted to find out why," X asked.
"Oh," Dr. Cain said. "Yes, he has. In fact I was just now preparing some equipment to bring over. I'm not surprised you haven't heard the details. Sigma was critically damaged by an unusual Maverick, and so they need me to repair his more complex systems."
"That's not all, is it?" X asked after a telling pause. He could tell Dr. Cain was starting to become a little anxious, for his body language did nothing to veil his thoughts.
"X, I think it's better if you come see it in person. In fact, I do want you there. Sometimes even I don't know what Sigma is thinking."
X's brow furrowed, thoroughly confused by Dr. Cain's uncertainty. "Where?" he asked.
"Headquarters, Research Lab 44. I'll give your access code temporary clearance. And keep your wits about you, X. I'll see you this evening."
"Yes, Doctor. Goodbye," X said. The view screen flickered off. X sat down on the corner his maintenance bed, trying his best for a moment to figure out what was going on. Unable to develop a mote of a decent hypothesis, X gave up and left his quarters to continue his duty until that evening.