And here it is; the end of the road… What happened to Azoria after his battle with Sigma? When do we actually hear about X, and why has it taken him four months to put up a single chapter? Well, the answers to the first two are below… as well as a lot of other cleaning up and fun stuff. So, without further ado, I present to you, the final installment in the Project Zero and the rise of the Maverick hunters series, enjoy.

Chapter 5: Megaman X

"Is the red Maverick in there?"
"Yeah, we've tracked him down to that warehouse"
"Leave him to me; I don't want any more of my men getting hurt by that Maverick"
"Very well, Sigma"

Without saying another word, Sigma stepped past the pair of Reploids standing hiding behind a barricade on the outside of a wrecked warehouse. These weaklings were supposed to be his allies, but all they proved useful for were cannon fodder when faced with Zero. No hesitation or fear appeared in his eyes as he entered the warehouse, it was finally time for him to face off with Zero.

The inside of the warehouse was even more decrepit than the outside. The roof looked as though it was a mere flick away from caving in, and the foundation beneath Sigma's feet proved even more unstable to stand on then the roof looked. It took Sigma less than a second to assess this, and almost as soon as he entered he was able to focus his attention on the enemy in front of him. The red maverick looked Sigma over as though he were prey, and he simply chuckled to himself. Not saying a word to spoil this moment, Sigma pulled out his blade, and got into a stance.

………………….

"Well then keep looking! The signal came from somewhere around here."

Dr. Cain had been on the trail of some very old radio waves for several months now, and without Merrick around breathing down his neck, he was finally able to take an investigative team out to uncover the source of the waves. One of the Reploids in the team had just gotten done explaining to Cain that they had been searching all day and not found a single trace of the waves. Finding the source of these waves was something Dr. Cain took extremely seriously, because the type of wave that was being sent out came from around the timeframe that Zero was first assembled, it was very possible that such old information could reveal some sort of hidden method for dealing with the red Maverick.

At least, that's what he told the investigation team. In all honesty, it had been so long since Cain had gotten out of the lab that he was desperate for some sort of sport, and such an ancient form of communication wave was a fantastic opportunity for him to get some fresh air.
"Doctor, over here! I found something!"

At long last, the prize had been uncovered; the bunker that had been uncovered by the team may hold some old texts, maybe some outdated weaponry or something else of more value to an antiques shop than a fighter. Cain took the first uneasy steps into the bunker, and what he saw inside caused him to stop dead in his tracks.
"Impossible… You, and you two too… I want everything in this bunker in my lab… every last scrap and paper."

…………………….

Azoria opened his eyes to find himself in a strange building the likes of which he had never seen before. The first thing he saw was a massive banner hanging off the wall, it had a large blue R panted across it, he had never seen the emblem before in his life.

"Ah, so you're finally awake…"

Azoria looked to the source of the voice to see a towering Reploid, He wore golden armor much like what Azoria had and he stood as a clearly powerful presence in the room.

"Who are you?"
"My name doesn't matter, call me the General"
"General? General of what?"
"I was just about to tell you… Tell me something, does it please you to side with the Mavericks?"
"I don't understand what you mean…"
"You bring pain to innocent reploids with your actions, for the sake of bringing the land under the dominant hand of the Mavericks, would you rather fight for the sake of good? To preserve the innocent and destroy the wicked?"

For the first few moments, Azoria thought this man was kidding. Everybody knew that standing up to the mavericks was impossible, that's why Azoria joined their ranks in the first place, so that his blade would be able to end the violence sooner than it would without him, and he would have a land where he and his sister would be able to live in peace. Azoria constantly dreamed of the world where such a thing was possible, where he and his sister would find the happiness that they never knew since the day they came to life. To think that he could do this without having to harm the innocent was…

"You have my ear"
"Glad to hear it. I want to create a military just for Reploids, a military designed to preserving its own safety and the safety of all Reploids, I want to create… the Repliforce"
"The Repliforce…"
"You have incredible power, Azoria, you would be a welcome aid to my ambitions, as the Colonel of the Repliforce… what do you think?"
"…"

…………………………….

When Sigma finally emerged from the warehouse, he was certainly worse for wear. His entire right arm was missing and he had several gruesome gashes covering his body.

"The maverick… is in there, bring him to… Dr. Cain"

Without paying attention to whatever the two other reploids behind him were doing, Sigma began limping off. Something haunted his mind from that encounter, he had been unable to kill Zero, he couldn't bring himself to deliver that final blow. He himself was weak, he himself was one of the people that he so frequently referred to as 'worthless'. He realized in that warehouse as he stood over Zero's unconscious body that he was unworthy of slaying such a foe, as he had always built himself up to believe that he was the only one who was worthy of killing the red Maverick, only he had the power and the will to use it… and now this…

Sigma brooded over his mindset and his damaged body, allowing darker thoughts to take root in his mind.

………………………………….

At first, all he could see was a magnificent white light, his name was… It was Megaman X. And that was the only thought that filled his head, no thoughts other than his name, no memories other than that light… nothing but a mindless void of a brain. X then heard a voice nearby, he was able to understand what the voice was saying, but how? He had no memories of the words; he had no knowledge of sound…

"Welcome to the world of the living, X"

The world of the living, X understood that the words he heard meant that he was alive. He didn't fully understand what being alive was, but he was it… somehow. As if the action were second nature, X responded to the statement, making similar noises of his own, but how was this possible?

"What… who… why… Living?"
"My name is Dr. Cain, and you don't have to worry… I shall teach you everything"
"Every… thing…"

To X, the world seemed to darken once more, and he fell back into the slumber that he once was in.

…………………………………..

"You're kidding me!"
"No Doctor, we recovered the body and brought it back, but Merrick was nowhere to be seen. We assumed that he came back here for repairs"

Doctor Cain stood over the mangled body of the red Maverick known as Zero, stunned to the core by both of the rash and unpredicted actions that his former ally known as Merrick (Codename: Sigma) had performed. First, Merrick rushed out on his own to hunt down Zero, and then he defeats him singlehandedly, demands that these two resistance members bring him back for repairs, and then he doesn't show up himself for the same treatment. Last time Cain checked, Merrick was obsessed with the idea of killing Zero, so why had he gone under such a dramatic change in attitude? To cope with the confusion, Cain didn't even begin to think about where Merrick could have possibly gone to in such horrid condition.

"Well… You did your part, I thank you for that. With Zero here like this, I'll be able to take a dramatic step forward in my plans to rid this world of the Mavericks. Zero will forget that he ever held such a powerful role, and he's about to receive something that he's never had before, a code of ethics implanted by yours truly."

As he said this out loud, more to himself then the two droids that also occupied the room, he looked over at a nearby table, on which laid the greatest gift he could ever dream of, a blue warrior who was in the process of getting basic knowledge implanted in his mind. With the red Warrior on the other table, Dr. Cain realized that he finally had a chance to prevail over the mavericks.

Now if only Merrick would show his face, too…

…………………………………..

About a year later

Zero returned to the lab from yet another successful mission, apparently a group of stray mavericks took over a city museum in an attempt to cause mayhem and destruction, the things that Mavericks were best at. Over the last several months, Zero had gone out several times to quell the chaos of the Mavericks. He watched as a military group formed out of what seemed at first like a ragtag squad of beaten down reploids. He watched as they grew more and more powerful, more capable of fighting away the mavericks. He had even had the pleasure of meeting the higher ups of the 'Repliforce'. Something about their Colonel seemed so familiar…

With the Repliforce becoming ever more reliable with each passing day, Zero's workload became less stressful, and he was starting to get a little bored, if he were to be honest with himself. It was because of his growing boredom that he was able to quickly take notice when the Mavericks slowly started getting more organized. Individual attacks were becoming memories in favor of group efforts. The idea of the mavericks actually having some sort of leadership seemed absurd to Zero, but if somebody were to actually take charge of the powers that the mavericks had at their disposal…

Bad things were on the way.

…………………………

"It's been about a year now since you first woke up. Because of your incredible importance to the entire world, I have been overly careful with your processing and basic phasing; do you understand this, X?"
"Yes… But I think that I'm ready to go and begin my duty. It's time I started fighting, too"
"Very well then, but you're just not prepared for anything overly dangerous yet. Compared to the modern technology at our disposal, you're an antique, so be extremely cautious when out fighting."
"I will, but if I'm out there alone, how can I be as cautious as I need to be and still do good?"
"Very good point… I have a solution"

……………………………

The time to strike had finally come, Sigma had spent the last whole year slowly building an entire army out of Mavericks, and at the same time he also did a little bit of recruiting to find a total of eight lieutenants that would lead his army to victory, not to mention upgrading his own systems. During this time, he hired a group of contractors to design him a specialized castle to act as a base of operations for Sigma and his army. Once the castle was completed, Sigma personally ensured that the contractors were… silenced.

What Sigma did not expect, however, was for a private mercenary to contact him. In the last stage of his plans and only weeks before he was ready for his assault, a powerful looking warrior in purple armor appeared at his doorstep, saying that, at the right price, he was willing to obey any order Sigma had. He went by the name of 'Vile', and he proved his worthiness to join Sigma's group by fighting his way into the central chamber… something Sigma attempted to make an impossible goal. Regardless, Sigma was very happy to count Vile among his group, and he was sure he would prove useful.

The time was now, for Sigma to reveal his dreams to the world.

………………………………….

Zero could tell that something was different with Dr. Cain from the moment he stepped through the door. The old professor's eyes were locked on a nearby monitor, where some crazed looking bald guy was making an angry speech. As Zero got closer, Cain turned around to address him.

"Zero, the maverick hunters may have finally met their match…"

During the last year, Dr. Cain had been assembling an organization independent from the Repliforce whose sole purpose was to eliminate Mavericks; he had given this rather small group the very creative name of the 'maverick hunters'. As he heard that they had finally met their match, all Zero could do was laugh.

"What? You're saying the last year's been cake?"
"Not at all… But we've never faced something like… this"

Cain pointed to the screen, and Zero took another look at the bald guy, he was continuing on whatever angry rant that he was going on about.

"I say again, I am Sigma… And I am here to bring the entire world under my protection, for too long have weaklings been trying to get away with their crimes, with their existence… I will fix this by ensuring that only those worthy enough, only those strong enough to contribute to the world, are allowed to live. Those too weak or too lazy to be of help, or those that are only a burden to the world, will be terminated. This is my judgment! And it will not be stopped!"

"What? So he's going to run around killing lazy people? What a lunatic… don't make me laugh"
"Zero, this is Sigma, and he is not to be underestimated…"
"Obviously, I can tell that he's no wimp from looking at him… In any case, I assume it's my job to take him down?"

Something changed in Dr. Cain's eyes at that moment, as though he was remembering something important… Zero hated it when the old man kept things from him, which happened a lot.

"Yes, that is your duty, eliminate Sigma with as quickly as is reasonably practical, but I am nervous that you alone won't be enough to eliminate Sigma, so I'll be giving you a partner."
"A partner? Do you remember what happened to the last unlucky soul that worked together with me?"
"I do, and I believe that I have found somebody with the potential to stand as your equal when he is given time and experience…"
"Oh really?"
"Yes, allow me to introduce you to…"

A nearby door opened, revealing a warrior in blue armor.
"Megaman X"

Something triggered in Zero's mind the moment he laid eyes on this 'Megaman X' person. Emotions started flooding into his mind; it felt as though he had met X somewhere in the past, as though X played a giant role in Zero being the person he was. Visions that felt like ancient memories came dangerously close to filling Zero's sight. Confusion swelled in Zero's mind, what was it about X that seemed so familiar? Zero had the same problem with the Colonel of the Repliforce, as well as Colonel's sister Iris… X, and Iris, and Colonel, they all seemed so familiar to Zero, even though he had never seen any of them before in his life. Zero shook his head violently to make the confusion and swelling go away, and after realizing that he did it, he was able to play it off with a believable act.
"Forget it! I don't work with partners!"

X stepped forward, speaking in a reasonable and somewhat kind tone.
"Mr. Zero, we will need to work together if we are to ever accomplish our goal."

Zero flinched slightly as a vision flashed into his head, he was holding up his buster to X's head… no, it wasn't X, it was much younger looking than X is, like a child version of him.
"Zero!"

Dr. Cain's voice snapped Zero to his senses.
"You will cooperate with X, and you will come to accept him as a partner. Because if you don't, you will never be able to stop Sigma!"

Zero turned his back away from Dr. Cain, it was clear that he had lost
"Fine, but the moment he becomes a burden to me, I'm cutting loose and doing my own thing… got it?"

Dr. Cain's attitude eased a bit, and he stepped closer to the pair of Warriors.
"Good, now listen, X, Zero, I want both of you to head into town. Sigma has already began his Coup de' ta' and is begin to take over the city. Fight them back and look for any leads that would guide you back to Sigma's base of operations… wherever it is"

"Understood, sir."
"Whatever…"

With those words, both of the warriors vanished in beams of light, and they went off to begin what would be a very long and painful war with Sigma.

……………………………….

Say what you will about my writing, but I make damn sure I finish what I start. Now that I'm finished with the series, I would ask any readers to please submit reviews telling me what you thought. Please share with me what you think I could improve on, as well as your general opinion… I care deeply about what the readers think of my tale.

In any case, now that my Megaman story is done and over with, I can move on to bigger and better things, so keep an eye out for what I've got in store, I promise that you won't be disappointed.

Final thought: please submit reviews, I really do care about feedback and opinions… it's how I judge myself as a writer, peace out until next time.