Are you sure he's fine?

I can't say…it's too soon to determine anything.

Damn it all! I should have acted faster, then maybe he -

We couldn't have expected that last attempt.

He's right. All we can do is fix what we can, and hope that he will get better.

He found himself floating in a sea of clouds, with reflecting hues of egg and cream in all directions. The sky seemed as if it were stained by the dim color of the light. He felt at peace, and fearful at the same time as well. He tried to move about, but found himself unable to. The clouds seemed to be…circling him. Homing him out. Far off into the distance, he noticed a curious figure approaching. It appeared as dim as a phantom, with the wings of a celestial being. Those piercing eyes are what kept him from turning. The glowing, yellow orbs seemed as if they had placed a spell on him. Memory began to fill his thoughts, but could not understand the jumbles of events flooding before his view. Stinging…he felt a stinging sensation atop his forehead. The rush of pain and darkness consumed him. He remembers the throbs and waves of pain, and then the blanket of nothingness covering him. A battle, he remembers battling a being such as the one that comes to him. He looked closer, and the sudden feeling of anxiety filled his being. A slash of pain assaulted his pondering, which left him gasping for non-existing air. He couldn't remember where he had seen that creature. The being slowly moved closer toward him, until he could see the unknown creature's facial expressions. It seemed to be…smiling. No, it was grinning wickedly at him. Sudden adrenaline pumped through his body, but it was for naught, as he still could not move a single limb.

You think you've won? The being chimed in his thoughts.

Wide-eyed, he couldn't even begin the process of responding. The ability to do so seemed beyond him. He tried to do something; anything to show that he had heard, but not necessarily understood what the ghostly being had said.

You have accomplished nothing. It's all up to you, now. You hold the power to forever change the world, though I doubt you'll ever put it to good use. The creature lifted its hands, and cupped the face of the scared-beyond-death reploid before him. It is all I can do to continue in this failing world. I can do nothing. It is beyond my powers to do anything, now.

He did not understand what the phantom was talking about, but deep down, he felt the words as true. He absorbed all that he had heard, in hopes that something else would happen. He wanted to escape the atmosphere, the world that seemed to have stopped. A sudden feeling of control was regained, and interpretation of all the confusing flashbacks in his mind began to form information.

"W-w-what…" he stuttered, looking to the being with a stern gaze, "do you mean? I won't do anything to destroy the world. What y-you were going to do…" He straightened himself in the strange dimension. "You were going to kill all the humans!"

The phantom merely gave a chuckle. Like I said, it is up to you now. Consider it a gift, for dooming the reploid race forever.

"No, you're wrong! We reploids weren't destined to do such a crazy thing! All life…we were meant to live together. With no more battles." The feel of a familiar pistol in his hand fueled his courage further. "With my friends, this is what I learned!"

The figure chuckled once again, and began to ascend toward the tip of the circling clusters of haze. If you truly believe that, then use all your power to make it come true. If you are right, at least there might be some hope for our future.

The being's voice became distant. All around the dimension, the light began to dim to a shaded blue, then it plummeted to a gloomy purple. Power filled his body, until he could feel the physical traits of being functional. He heard familiar voices toward that warm feeling of darkness. He allowed it to take him, to relieve him of the solitude.

Is he waking up? Is he okay?

He's recovering still. We shouldn't expect him to -

No, I see it. He's waking.


Green, groggily eyes lifted, and for some seconds, all was one hue of color. Primary colors slowly blended into the hazy shapes, as they began to sharpen. Distant chattering tuned into focus. Axl tried to lift his head, but found himself connected to a machine on the back of his head. A transparent membrane floated over him, and scores of little lasers and grips danced over his face. He was lying on a platform, securely strapped on so he would not slide away from his comfortable position. It took him some time to recognize that he was inside a repairing capsule. Off to his left, three figures stood closely together and toward the glass. One was a deep shade of blue, with a bright red gem at the center of his helmet. One had light, blonde hair, with a communicating device around her head, and the last character was a brilliant color of crimson, with long, bright blonde hair behind his sharp helmet, which was decorated with a blue, shining gem.

"Axl," the blue reploid called out, "are you okay?"

Axl tried hard to understand the muffled voice from behind the glass, but his thought processing was a little stuffy. Incoherent sounds escaped his lips.

"Take it easy, Axl, you don't have to speak," the female reploid said, as she went behind a monitor with Axl's readings. "You still have a lot of recovering ahead of you."

"Who would have thought Lumine's final attack could have done so much damage," the blue reploid whispered, and the red one nodded.

Slowly, Axl was beginning to remember something. He was fighting Lumine, who had gone maverick, on the moon, after Sigma was finally defeated. He remembered Lumine morphing into a more powerful body, and then, a sudden flash of darkness. What had happened to him? "X…Z-Zero…" he mumbled.

Nobody seemed to have heard. He mustered the strength to speak louder, but the feeling of peace filled him. The little instruments hovering slowed, and then retreated into their compartments. The restraints unlatched, allowing Axl to hunch in his seat.

"There, now we should leave him to recover." Alia, the navigator, typed in some commands and codes, and left the monitor. "He should be fine in a couple of days."

Zero, the crimson reploid, concerned, expressed a doubting face. "What about the dark shard that was inside him…what was that?" Inside, Zero was deathly afraid that Axl may have been infected by Lumine's attack, and hoped that he wouldn't go maverick.

Alia furrowed her brow. "It's hard to say…it isn't anything that's hurting Axl's functions, but nonetheless there will be scans to find out what it is. For now, we should worry about Axl's recovery."

Zero nodded, and looked to his blue friend, who was like a brother to him. X seemed distant, as he continued his watch over Axl. A familiar emotion crossed his facial features, which made Zero concerned, but only a little. He was well aware of how sensitive X was about fighting, so Zero understood what he was going through. A long and deep sigh relieved him of the recent events. It would never change. With the defeat of Sigma at long last, there seemed to be ray of hope that the war with mavericks would be over, but Sigma was never behind the horrific plot to exterminate "the old world." The whole time, it was all Lumine. For the whole fight, the hunters had fallen into every one of his traps. The ability to go maverick at will…Zero couldn't believe it. There didn't have to be a virus anymore; reploids were choosing to go maverick. No, he thought. There still had to be some explanation.

"X," Alia called. "Let's go. Axl's going to be fine."

Not looking up, X looked at his good friend one more time, and then turned to leave the room, along with Zero and Alia. "I know," he whispered, more to himself. "He's a hunter. Hunters never give up." He left it at that, as the door shut behind him.

Axl vaguely heard their words, as he was being sucked into a state of calmness. He felt a little beat up, but he wasn't worried. He could feel that he was going to be fine, however, he felt a bit different. An unfamiliar feeling was growing inside him. A sort of…energy. Axl could feel it in the deepest corners of his mind. For now, the strange feeling wasn't concerning, but the strange dream about the mysterious figure had Axl worried more than a little. The figure looked like Lumine; the figure was Lumine. He had said that he gave him a power that was his to use in any way he wanted. Was it the power that would make him maverick? Lumine himself had said that he didn't have the "specks" to become a maverick, but what if he gave him that opportunity? Axl remembered Lumine's words then. He could use the power however he wanted. If he wanted to use it in favor of the Hunters, then he could do it. It was his power now, and he was going to use it in anyway he wanted.

Axl sat up from his seat. He knew he wouldn't be able to leave until he was clear to do so, so he decided to try to harness Lumine's power; his new power. He hadn't a clue how to do it, so he tried thinking about the power, in hopes of getting a reaction. Seconds pass, and for a moment, Axl could feel a sudden burst of energy go off. He wasn't sure if it was him blowing a fuse or something, but he kept on trying. Nothing. He couldn't let out the power again, if he ever had let it out at all. Suddenly, a swirl of fatigue arose, making Axl fall back into his chair. His exertion must have tired out what little energy he had left. He decided as soon as he was better, he would try again. He felt pain inside and outside, but mostly within his mind. He suddenly remembered that Lumine attacked his gem, a very sensitive part. Slowly, he reached up to touch the gem. It was repaired. Unsatisfied, he tried to remove his helmet, but there was not enough room in the narrow capsule. He looked at the glass in frustration, when he noticed that he could see a faint reflection of himself. He tried to see the reflection of the gem, to see the repairs, but there was not enough detail to make out anything. Looking harder, Axl then realized that his gem was a different color. It was supposed to be blue. Looking at the thin reflection, he could see as clearly as a bull's-eye that it was a deep shade of purple. He suddenly felt scared. Of course it worried him. It worried him a great deal.