Never say die

A Megaman One-shot

By Archaon

-z-z-

Doctor Albert Wily, renowned and notorious robotics genius, cackled nefariously, even as he typed in his terminal. His currently most advanced creation eyed him condescendingly. "Did you crack completely, old man?" groused Bass irritably, although his words did hide a trickle of concern. He thought Wily was a crackpot, of course, but that didn't mean he didn't care for his creator. He blamed his programming for that.

"It will be perfect, PERFECT!" raved said creator.

Bass sighed. "I don't care what's your next scheme, but whatever it is, Megaman will once again stop you. I've told you before, he is mine and no one else's." The last part was delivered with very strong conviction.

Wily stopped typing and eyed him carefully. The mad gleam previously in his eyes faded into amusement. "Certainly", he deadpanned. "As soon as you stop fancying his sister, you'll get to it", he added with a straight face.

Bass gaped at him. "Who told you that rot?" he demanded. "I told the other robot masters that the next time they try to start that baseless rumor again, I'm going to destroy them!"

"Nobody told me", replied the evil doctor plainly.

"When I get at the one who said it, he is toast! Arms, legs, feet, all going down his throat", went on the robot, ignoring Wily's admission. "Unless it was Splash. Then she'll learn what robo-sushi tastes like", he amended.

"I said, I figured it out myself. Although it is good to know others agree. I don't really mind. It's just another proof of my abilities." Despite Bass' stunned face, he went on. "And, anyway, you are not thinking wide enough. Megaman is old news."

Bass raised a brow all the way up, which also caused the corresponding fin to rise. "Right", he mocked.

The mad glint returned to Wily's eyes. "The future is coming, Bass", he chuckled. "Didn't you notice my latest attempts to kill that pest have been very lackluster? He doesn't matter anymore. All that matters is my MASTERPIECE!"

Bass winced a bit. The last word had been shouted. Wily had been doing that a lot lately, jumping from mood to mood with unnerving bipolarity. "You're not talking about Zero again, are you?"

Wily leaped off his chair, grabbing the robot by the shoulders and lifting him off the ground. Bass could only gape once more. Perhaps his creator was not as frail as he'd thought. "Yes, it is about Zero, Bass. Everything's been about Zero lately. He will be my heir! My legacy! A piece of myself that will survive forever! Even when all of us are celestial dust!"

Bass extracted himself from the other's grasp, resisting the urge to break Wily's fingers. Perhaps a little pain, would set his head straight. He contemplated using that line of thought to bend the First Law a bit. "Zero does look impressive", he agreed grudgingly, nodding at the sealed chamber holding said unfinished android. "But even if he can grow stronger and keep up with his times, he will eventually be destroyed. And without you around, he will stay dead."

The orange and black robot expected Wily to go mad at him, but instead the other smirked smugly. "Zero will certainly be able to keep up. His Copying, Upgrade and Integration chip is far superior to the existing 'weapon get' tech. And even death won't stop him from recovering."

Bass snorted. "Yeah, right. No matter how advanced his nanites are, if every last component is destroyed, he is done for."

Wily chuckled at that. "Indeed. He would have been done for, provided all of his components were located in the material world." His eyes went wild again and he resumed typing while laughing.

The strongest robot master shook his head. "Totally loony."

-z-z-

Zero faintly smiled in satisfaction as one last of X's missiles exploded is Vile's face. The purple warbot reached the limit of his endurance and blew up. The red hunter closed his eyes, still smiling. He was done for, of course, but X was strong enough.

#Emergency: power core at 8 percent. Massive structural damage detected. Legs and lower torso not detected. Two out of three nanite cores are malfunctioning. Energy agent fluid leakage detected. Attempting to seal. Repair systems working at 600 percent. Recovery improbable. Seek repairs at once.

Yep, done for.

"Zero!" came the predictable cry. X kneeled by him, completely disregarding caution. Zero scowled. They were still in hostile territory and he had taught him better than that.

"You've grown strong X", he replied. Ignoring the warnings his system was shouting, he willed his buster to eject an upgrade chip. He had paid good Zenny for it, but it had only improved his performance a little. Still, X would need all the help he could get. "Take this arm part. If you can stand the recoil, it will be useful", he joked.

X did take the chip, but made no move to leave. "I'll get you back to the entrance, Zero. I'll carry you out of this place's shield and teleport you back to the base."

Zero shook his head. "Futile and dangerous. My power is too low and if the enemy gets reinforcements… You need to get Sigma."

X was crying now. "I refuse! You are more important than Sigma."

The red hunter glared at him. "What about the humans, X? Will you allow more to be killed?"

The blue bomber shook his head. "No, I'll get you repaired and we'll get him together."

Zero sighed, then smiled. He concentrated a bit, then slowly reached his helmet, retrieving a bulky data chip. "A complete copy of my control chip, X. Give it to Cain and he'll revive me."

X looked at the chip in wonder, then nodded slowly. Making sure to secure it as safely as he could, he hesitated one more time, then dashed away.

Zero chuckled. "Sucker", he added under his breath. The last thing he knew was that the fortress around him was exploding, a proof X had been successful. "Die Sigma."

-z-z-

Hi there doc. If you're reading this, it means I bit the bullet while X survived. Hopefully he did finish off ol' Siggy. Don't analyze this thing too much. The 'control chip' fib, I pulled it out of my arse on the spot. X wanted to carry me out like an idiot and I had to sell him some fairytale to avoid getting him killed. I was too far gone, anyway. Really, all three of us know that there is no known way to backup a reploid's memory and personality matrices. We are not mere data to be copied and pasted. X knows that very well-he was your assistant, after all- but I counted on him being too shocked not to grasp some futile hope. Farewell, doctor Cain.

Cain sighed, rubbing his temples to abate his sudden headache. He had suspected something like that when X, half dead and almost scraped, had insisted to pass him the chip before passing out from exhaustion.

"What am I going to tell him?" he lamented. In the end, he decided to stall. X was in a delicate mental condition and he didn't need to know Zero was irrevocably dead.

-z-z-

So this is death… A bit dull so far…

#Logging in…

#Welcome to Zero network. Wily is God and Zero is his messiah.

#Material body terminated. Initiating recovery mode…

Huh?

#Recovery mode initiated via cyberworld.

#Allocating real space memory blocks…

#Building data library…

What the hell? There should be nothing left of my systems. I was atomized along with Sigma's fortress…

#Core personality has been retrieved successfully.

#Warning! Zero network control nucleus not detected. Attempting to recompile from DNA data… successful!

#Warning! Current DNA data is graded as Beta version. A newer version has been detected. Updating body data version… loading "Zsaber. dat", "Sworddance. dat", "Combattech. dat"…

What does that mean?

#Activating recovery mode. Core personality will be placed in stasis. Ambient energy graded as low. Estimated time of recovery: five months.

How…can…this…

-z-z-

Serges was leading the way while Violen and Agile trudged behind him.

"We still don't know why you brought us here", groused Violen, his bulk shaking the ground with every step. They were walking among the ruins of Sigma's first fortress.

Agile nodded. "Indeed. We have so much to do for our master. We are already behind schedule."

"Shut up you fools. The voice in my head told me to look here. There is something of immense value", snapped the X hunters' leader.

"The voice in your head?" mocked Violen. "We are doomed."

The taller swordsman also laughed. "Perhaps you should check it out, doc. It can't be healthy."

The maverick scientist scowled. "That's the same voice that gave me the idea for your upgrades." His face changed to a cruel smile. "He also says you are nothing but a bunch of blabbering, simplistic maid-bots that wouldn't know a good plan if it was directly imported in your processors."

"Hey!" they complained. Before they could continue, though, they stopped short at the spectacle. A very intact, gleaming and very new-looking Zero was lying in the center of the crater they were walking in, completely out of place in the bleak surroundings.

"Can we reprogram him to work for us?" wondered Agile pensively. Zero's reputation was mythic among the reploid race, seeing how young it really was.

Serges frowned. "Unlikely. Master Sigma might be able. However, it would be well within my ability to split the body in three and keep it in stasis. His mind is missing, after all."

Violen quirked a brow. "Splitting him in three? What would be the point?"

The maverick scientist chuckled. "Bait."

-z-z-

"Damn it X, your naivete got you killed. You should live…"

Once again, Zero was lying on the ground, his body missing some of his favorite components.

#Emergency: power core breached; working at 2 percent. Massive structural damage detected. Legs and lower torso not detected. Left arm not detected. Upper torso not detected. Three out of three nanites cores are malfunctioning. Energy agent fluid leakage detected. Attempting to seal… Failed! Repair systems working at 4 percent. Recovery impossible. Seek repairs at once.

"Worse than last time", he mouthed. His synthetic lungs were almost totally gone. He only had hazy recollections of the first time he had died and wasn't sure how he had survived. He had woken up in Cain's lab, upgraded and more powerful than ever. He only questioned it after the second war was over and the good doctor had been as dumbfounded as he was.

"Still, last time my repair systems were working. Not so now", he thought more than whispered, just as the world around him was replaced by flashes of his past. His weird, insane creator, then every other person he'd ever known passed by his consciousness, including Iris. He had never moved on from her, he decided. Just as darkness went to follow, though, something happened.

#Logging in…

#Welcome to Zero network. Wily is God and Zero is his messiah.

#Material body terminated. Initiating recovery mode…

The memory of his last death jumped to his mind at once and he tried to open his eyes, even though he knew intellectually he lacked the energy to do so.

His eyes did open, but what he saw was very different from Sigma's freaky, semi-digitalized chamber. He was floating in what could be described as a soup of data. He had gone on cyber-missions before, but there was a different, regal feeling about this place.

Looking down to himself, he saw a body made exclusively from data. A line began from his midsection like an umbilical cord, extending to the void and reeling him in.

#Recovery mode initiated via cyberworld.

#Allocating real space memory blocks…

#Building data library…

As the system report appeared in his mind, he saw visible turbulence around him. The whole realm was stirring and he felt his speed increasing.

After what could have been an eternity or a moment, he saw the end of his line. Before him, levitating in the void was an enormous sphere of pulsing red data. A giant, three-dimensional web of connections started from it, extending to all directions and containing much smaller orbs of data, each a different color. Incredulously, he recognized the central sphere as himself. It was the same as looking at a mirror, or even at your own limb.

He unglued his eyes from the spectacle, only to notice a smaller but still very large murky-black data orb. "Sigma!" he whispered, afraid of his own voice. What was apparently part of Sigma looked sickly and gave a sense of emptiness and exhaustion. While it was still connected to the red webs, it sported a different network of its own, an immense collection of strands that were actually far more numerous than the central core's. What he dubbed as the Sigma network was also very malformed and defective-looking. Where the red strands were in perfect shape and distance, the black ones conveyed a feeling of disrepair and negligence.

"The Zero Virus and the Sigma Virus", he decided. "That's how we both keep coming back." He easily recognized the orbs on the Sigma network. The data of every Maverick that had ever been killed, from the simplest grunt to the mightiest general was stored there, ready to be recovered at a moment's notice. Unfortunately for Sigma, the imperfection of his system was evident. Many of the colored orbs seemed tainted by his black, some half-destroyed, others completely beyond recovery. Zero sighed in relief. If Sigma had mastered that particular ability, the hunters would have to fight the same foes hundreds of times.

In comparison, the Zero network was pristine. The orbs were perfect and undamaged, waiting in silent stasis. In disbelief, Zero recognized some of them. Hunters of his unit that had died, close friends and even some noteworthy rivals. They could be revived, all of them, he concluded, although he didn't have the faintest idea of how to do it. He wasn't about to risk playing with what was essentially a repository of reploid souls.

It was then he noticed empty spaces allocated near the Zero Core, each with a name attached. X, Signas, Alia, Douglas, many others. Placeholders, he decided, a soul net that would catch his friends and stop their data from drifting to the void.

"Perhaps Sigma can only be destroyed from here", he contemplated. Any such further thoughts were halted, though, when his system spoke again.

#Core personality has been retrieved successfully.

#Activating recovery mode. Core personality will be placed in stasis. Ambient energy graded as average. Estimated time of recovery: two weeks.

Zero did not resist as his mind went to sleep. The last thing he saw, however, was an orb of gentle light that was closer to the core than any other. "Iris…" he muttered before oblivion came.

-z-z-

His eyes snapped open and he saw the clear blue sky above him. "I'm outdoors", he realized. According to the Maverick hunter satellite, he was at the same spot where the weird cyberworld fortress of Sigma had appeared. There was only desert around him now.

Zero hopped to his feet, feeling better than ever. While there were no outward changes on his body, he felt his power had increased again. A quick scan revealed new subsystems that had never been there before.

A quick try confirmed his fears. The teleporting and communications network had collapsed under the strain of the Sigma and Zero Viruses just after they had teleported to Zero Space's last area. In the last two weeks he had spent dead, the system might have recovered, but the passwords had changed, denying him access."

"I'll just have to walk then", he decided, tuning on his internal civilian radio instead. It took some effort to actually find a working station, then almost stumbled when he heard Isoc's lecture about the so called 'Nightmare Virus', supposedly produced from his data ghost. "Dancing on my grave, are you?" he snarled in the thin air. "When I find the one responsible, there will be many more data ghosts around." He needed a disguise in order to stay hidden. X and the older hunters would disregard such nonsense, but anyone else might start a riot at sight.

A week later, he would cringe at his vague 'I hid myself while I repaired myself' line. While accurate, it sounded very very stupid for someone not familiar with what he had seen during his death time.

-z-z-

Zero tried to regain his wits as the air rushed around him faster and faster. At long last, his eyes snapped open, although he decided at once he had been better off oblivious. "Shadow…" he snarled as he fell. Said hunter had never been completely trustworthy in his eyes, but they had formed some semblance of a 'comrade bond'. To be betrayed so easily had been a blow to his pride.

Giga City's Lagrano ruins kept rushing next to him and he decided he had to act. The metallic walls were very wet from the rain and pretty far away, not a good combination, but he had to try. Charging his buster, he released a shot downwards, hoping to reduce his momentum. The whole assortment of artificial islands was built very high from sea level and he decided he had just enough time for a second shot. Meters from the water surface, he fired again, this time aiming to reach the wall and stop his fall completely.

To his horror, his sensors registered a fatal flaw to his plan. The wall close and below the water was coated with high-voltage, mono-molecularly edged spikes. It had been a necessity to protect Giga City's foundations from rogue mechaniloid attacks. The robotic fish, of which the source was still unknown, were a very real danger in those waters, threatening to undermine the whole Force Metal excavation process.

Zero's grotesque and very original expletive was wasted above the sea waves, right before he followed.

-z-z-

#Logging in…

-z-z-

Zero snapped his eyes open, only to find himself underwater. After checking with the hunter satellites, he decided this had yet been his fastest recovery, a mere two days. According to the Zero Core's reports, the force metal in the water had helped recreate his body faster than ever. It had also created another, water-based new ability that was still in development. Zero knew he would need the extra help.

"When this crazy mission is over, I bet X and I will be dozens of times stronger than we are now", he muttered, still underwater. From what little enemies he had seen before he joined X, a mere metool was roughly as dangerous as Vile had been the last time they fought. Even a little Force Metal gave a very unfair advantage.

After some underwater walking, he finally spotted a maintenance ladder that led him back to Giga City's bowels. He would need days of training before he could even attempt to fight any Rebellion generals. While he was worried about X, he knew his blue-armored friend was still alive. He made sure to check while he was dead and X's designated position on the web had been empty. He had even managed-very carefully- to set up an alarm that would in theory alert him should the worst happen. The red hunter was still very hesitant to use his unusual abilities. If he were to mess up with the preserved reploid data as Sigma had done, he would never forgive himself.

He encountered his first enemy, one of the plain Preon soldiers of the Rebellion, then noticed an upgrade to his sensors that allowed him to measure how much Force Metal it had in its body.

Zero smirked. He liked fighting next to X, but only when alone did he dare to go all out. While he had accepted Wily was his creator and the true cause of the Sigma Virus, he was still leery about attacking X reflexively, should he lose control in the heat of combat.

The Preon was turned to scrap very fast and he felt himself becoming a tad bit stronger. He once again felt better than ever.

"If dying didn't hurt so damn much, I'd be doing it more often", he decided mirthfully.

-z-z-

#Logging in…

-z-z-

#Logging in…

-z-z-

#Logging in…

-z-z-

Zero decided the Elf Wars had been the worst clash he had ever faced. During its four years, he had died three more times, which was insane for his level of power and skill. Each time he had returned stronger than ever, frustrating his enemies and raising more than one brow among his allies.

Sleep took him over, a stasis that was supposed to last a little more than a century. He knew he would never be able to get rid of the Zero Virus because in the end he was the Virus, with his bodies mere vessels and conduits of power for the material world. What he hoped to do was purify himself from any malignant remains Wily had left him. He didn't want to truly die, but also couldn't afford starting another war by accident.

At the last moments of consciousness, he thought he heard X, but he dismissed it as a figment of his imagination. X would be very busy running and protecting his utopia, Neo-Arcadia. Zero's absence would barely be felt, he decided. With X in charge he expected to awaken in a far better world.

-z-z-

Omega screamed in defiance as Zero's last attack completely destroyed his body. He calmed down, however, when the world around him shifted.

#Logging in…

#Welcome to Zero network. Wily is God and Zero is his messiah.

#Material body terminated. Initiating recovery mode…

While Omega was compelled by chains of programming to obey Weil, he decided he hated the man almost as much as he hated Zero. In the end, he himself was nothing more than Zero, with all his memories intact and a special add-on from Weil to wrap and bend him to the scientist's will.

#Core personality has been retrieved successfully.

#Activating recovery mode.

He would return soon and this time he would train before facing Zero once more. Intellectually, he knew his hatred was silly, because they were practically aspects of the same entity. Even without Weil's directives, though, he would have fought his other self anyway. It was a matter of identity. As long as both existed, none of them was the real deal. Perhaps death would be good for him. There was the possibility Wily's programming would cleanse Weil's.

#Error. Weilobed. dat is not part of the Core personality and might be hazardous. Analyzing…

#Fatal Error. Weilobed. dat contains directives that run contrary to Core programming.

# (A)bort, (M)erge, (D)elete?

Omega felt glee at that. His hopes had proven correct and he would soon be free of everything, free to really become the God of Destruction.

#Warning: Aborting runs contrary to Core programming. 'Survival is vital.'

#Warning: Deleting runs contrary to Weilobed. dat programming. 'Add-on is protected from altering or deletion.'

#Warning: Merging runs contrary to Core programming. 'No internal compulsion, control or influence allowed.'

#Attempting to bypass read-only state and modify Weilobed. dat. Add-on altered by 0.000001 percent.

#Error: Merging failed.

#Add-on altered by 0.000002 percent.

#Error: Merging failed.

#Add-on altered by 0.000003 percent.

#Error: Merging failed.

#Add-on altered by 0.000004 percent.

#Estimated time of successful merge: 196.65 years.

Omega's hopes crashed and burned. Yes, he would live again, free of Weil's power. Only, he would have to remain in the void of the cyberworld for nearly two hundred years! Weil had been smart enough to protect his additions as well as possible and Wily's safeguards would be struggling for a long while.

Amidst the wave of cursing that left Omega's digital mouth, he decided he hated Weil more than ever and certainly more than even Zero. The crimson horror promised then and there that should a chance to take any kind of revenge against the evil doctor appeared, he would use any means to do so, even stooping to cooperating with pathetic goody two-shoes the likes of X and Zero.

-z-z-

Zero felt immense satisfaction after landing the last hit on the monstrosity that was the fusion of Weil and Ragnarok's core. The mad doctor cried in disbelief, promising revenge, but the red hunter was only interested in the fact Ragnarok was dissolving. His death was inconsequential, he decided. He knew many would miss him, especially Ciel and Alouette, but if that was the price to get rid of the scourge that was Weil, it was certainly worth it.

As his body started evaporating by the atmosphere's oppressive heat, he found himself smiling, as if due to an inside joke. He was not afraid at all, he realized in disbelief. Something in his fragmented memories prevented him from having any fears or regrets about his predicament. Shutting down his pain receptors, he looked at irrevocable death with calmness and amusement.

-z-z-

#Logging in…

-z-z-

The End?

Yet another plot-bunny, or more accurately plot-rabbid for you Command mission players. This is another one-shot that I struggled to keep at logical size. I used elements from many sources for this little ficlet:

I know that Splash-woman ends up in the Light family normally, but I couldn't resist writing about robo-sushi

The Bass-Roll situation was never in the games, although it's a popular fanon belief.

The Zero-Virus nucleus was first mentioned in one of the Megamission mangas with iX trying to steal it from Sigma. Not sure if the translation is accurate, but I think it sounds fine.

Serges, the X hunter, is a Wily semi-avatar that was never explained. I never believed he rebuilt and improved Zero's body from scratch.

The control chip thing in X2 was very fishy plot-wise. I can't see X digging in Zero's skull for it and Cain didn't even try to use it before X2. The two matrices are from 'Reploid anatomy 101' which you should go read.

'Wily is God and Zero is his messiah' is something I believe Wily would leave behind. Whether he was joking or actually believed it, is up to you. This line also explains Omega's out of the blue deceleration in MMZ3.

The soul repository is probably Wily's greatest weapon. Zero would have an immortal army that would only grow stronger with time. Infinite lives are infinite.

Zero's third death is in Command Mission, placed canonically after X8. Simply dying from a fall is difficult to believe after what X did in the opening of 'the day of Sigma' though, so I was forced to write spikes there. Also, a plug to the rogue mechaniloids subplot of my other fics. Zero's new ability is of course the water-element 'Absolute Zero'. I heard somewhere about that concept of acquiring it being used in a Japanese fanfiction.

'Initiating recovery mode' was ripped from a very good Sonic game.

Omega's conflicting programs explain why he only appeared in ZX, 200 years later. His promise also explains why his biometal would help Vent/Aile to fight model W.

I hope you enjoyed this one-shot. Please remember to review and stay tuned for more tiny stories.