(This chapter was absolute garbage, I can't believe it... I freaking tried my best salvaging this wreck...)

Commander Signas turned off his monitor in his office, after having spoken with government officials regarding the future of the new generation Reploids. He sighed to slowly let out the feeling of being squeezed. It seemed that the manufacturing of the new generation Reploids had ceased all together around the world, by the order of the government. He and the Maverick Hunters were given the task of retrieving all DNA cores and copy chips from defeated Mavericks and send them to the new generation Reploid facility to undergo tests. He wondered what the developers would think when they would discover nothing wrong with their creations. The belief had always been that a Reploid became Maverick because of the virus, and the three laws of robotics held true. Now, Reploids were able to go Maverick if they so desired, of their own free will. Such a fact was still unbelievable to Signas – even frightening. He held Alia's tests as proof for such a statement, due to her status as a former Reploid researcher.

The leader of the hunters wondered then, if the virus was ever the cause of the Mavericks in the first place. Reploids could think on their own, and nothing held them back from making an evil decision. Mavericks were around before the virus was discovered. It was a term used to describe rogue Reploids who would no longer follow orders, but today... Signas merely shook his head. Who could understand a Maverick's origin?

As he rose from his seat and made his way into the hall, his thoughts wandered to the fate of Axl, a valuable team member to the hunters. He had faith that Axl would be fine, and decided to make his way to the navigation room, when he suddenly heard the whirring of a hovering engine coming from behind. Startled, he turned around to see a certain spiky-haired Reploid spinning in the air. "Axl!?" he exclaimed.

"Oh! Commander Signas! Ahhhh!" Axl ceased his spinning as he passed the commander, then proceeded to crash into the floor, onto his back. "Ouch!"

Signas blinked once, then walked to the downed hunter and stood above him. "Axl?"

Axl groaned, looked up, then quickly got to his feet and raised his hand in a salute. "C-Commander Signas, sir! I'm sorry, I didn't see you!"

Signas chuckled. "At ease, Axl. It's just... you surprised me back there. It looks like you've made a full recovery. I assume X and Zero have told you the current events?"

Axl lowered his hand and nodded. "Yeah, I heard everything, and I'm ready for whatever's gonna come. I was actually looking for you..." Axl gave off a youthful smile, and Signas couldn't help but smile back at such resilience.

"I see. Well, I was on my way to the navigation room to request you to come over, but now that you're here, we can finally prepare for your departure. Come with me."

"Yes sir!" Axl replied.

Before Signas could begin a discussion regarding Axl's imminent fate, the emergency alarm went off, and the hallway began to flash red, with an intercom announcing the current situation.

Emergency. Emergency. Maverick attack detected. All available hunters report to the navigation room for briefing. Repeat...

"Oh no..." Axl said, instinctively hovering his hands over his pistols. "Mavericks! And just when everybody said we were winning..." He furrowed his brow. "I would go and help but... man, this bites!"

Signas placed his hand onto Axl's shoulder, and turned the hunter toward him. "Nobody said this fight was going to be easy." Signas let go and proceeded to walk down the hallway, toward his original destination. "Come with me, Axl. I have to see to this current attack, and when it's all over, we can finally get to your current situation."

Axl eagerly caught up with the commander, wanting to get this over with. He secretly hoped Commander Signas would send him to help his fellow hunters, but he knew that wasn't possible. If he showed himself in public, it could cause a panic, and not to mention anger the higher-ups. Axl wished his day wouldn't be so complicated.

^x^

"What's our current situation, Layer?" Commander Signas asked the navigator, who had long, flaring purple hair and purple accents around her curvaceous body. He stood behind her seat, looking at the monitor with concern.

Layer, not looking up to greet the commander, continued to stare at her monitor, typing and clicking, studying the many lists of potential threats in the areas where Maverick hunters had been deployed.

"A recent uprising in this construction site has been keeping on-duty hunters occupied all day." She raised her hand and pointed to a city's location within a list. "It seems the Mavericks intend to raid the supplies, and on top of that the construction mechaniloids have gone on a rampage. The hunters are too pre-occupied with evacuating civilians in the neighboring city, and can't deal with the Mavericks directly."

"I see," Signas simply said, crossing his arms with his chin in hand. "Then we'll have to send in reinforcements."

Layer shook her head. "I was thinking of having a backup squadron sent, but our numbers are being stretched thin as it is. We don't have enough hunters at home to handle this, and hunters deployed elsewhere won't make it there in time."

Signas looked over Layer's computer, and worked his processors to a decision."We don't seem to have any choice, Layer. We'll have to send any able-bodied hunters to the sight, to assist in the evacuation, and have X and Zero teleported directly to the fight. Once the area is secured, have any available hunters back up X and Zero, and we'll close in on the Mavericks."

"Yes sir," Layer calmly replied, but she was far from calm. She had been on reconnaissance for the past two days, and had felt the first signs of system fatigue hours ago, but with so many others stationed elsewhere, Layer had to give everything she had. Alia was too busy preparing the DNA cores of the new generation Reploids, and Pallette was ordered to the R&D Lab to develop materials to backup damaged weapons in previous Maverick assaults. Layer was the only one available to work on the navigator shift. She still had hunters cleaning up yesterday's assault on a hunter base, and now she had to deal with another uprising. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and turn everything off.

Signas turned away, making his way toward the main computer screen, scanning the navigation room a full 360 degrees. 1, 2, 3... 4, 5, 6...

Only 19 hunters were able to report. Before he could ask, X and Zero finally made their entrance, and Signas was pleased that their faces showed no signs of weakness, only signs of determination and focus for the incoming mission.

"Another Maverick uprising has arisen at these coordinates," Signas began, and raised his hand to the computer screen as it showed the location on the world map. The computer zoomed in to reveal a developing urban area, with the camera pointed at a construction sight where mechaniloids were tearing down buildings within the city, with confirmed Mavericks raiding storage units throughout the area. "The Mavericks have targeted this particular location to take these resources used in the development of this city, and are threatening the public with rogue mechaniloids, and deployed hunters on patrol have no choice but to evacuate the nearby civilians. We have confirmed injuries."

The hunters gasped and groaned, fearful and angered. X's face was impassive, but his emotions were swirling. He knew that he needed to put his feelings behind him when it came to his duty. He valued all life, and somehow he felt a connection with every walking Reploid. He is, after all, the original. But he knew that when a Maverick threatened an innocent life, he had to make a choice. The aggressor had to be put down, for the sake of others. No matter how simple the decision was, it always left an impression on X's heart. X took a glance at Zero, who showed no expression except for a phantom twitch of his eyebrow, a seemingly subtle scowl trying to form, but held back.

Signas turned to face everyone, and continued. "All available units are to teleport off site to assist in the evacuation, and to keep the enemy restricted within the construction sight. Meanwhile, I'll have X and Zero teleport directly within the perimeter to search for the Mavericks securing the supplies, which we believe is here." He raised a finger and pointed to a lone, incomplete office building. "Once that's done, intercept the Mavericks, and take any alive, if you can."

Zero, with his arms folded, clenched his fists, eager to put down any who would oppose him. He couldn't help but feel satisfaction from forcing his beam saber into an enemy's armor. It was ruthless, but when it came to the safety of the innocent, he felt no hesitation in taking lives. He knew, though, that that wasn't the only way to approach things. He thought of X, of his compassion, and his forgiveness... things foreign to the crimson hunter. Truth be told, it was X's true strength, and Zero felt that his friend was superior to him, despite his being physically stronger than the blue hunter.

"Dismissed!" Signas commanded, and the hunters all take their place on the floor.

Layer typed a command on her computer, booting up the transporter, and the floor illuminated flashing lights under the hunters' feet. One after the other, the hunters are engulfed in a light the same color as their armor, and dematerialize. X and Zero took their places next, and as their bodies lit up, they spotted Axl, standing next to Layer, with his thumb up, and with a smile on his face.

"See ya, guys," Axl whispered, and the two hunters beam away.

(Hey, hey hey! I like my original note here... I think I'll keep it instead of erasing it.)

(The navigation room is based on the room X, Zero, and Axl are in when Sigma starts flashing on the big screen in X8. It's also supposed to be like the room from when Zero and Axl talk with X in the beginning of X7. The teleporting part is like in Mega Man Zero, when Zero stands in the middle of the room and the two navigator girls teleport him. The mechaniloids are like the ones in the first stage in X8, and the ones in the Maverick Hunter X OVA.)

(SO YEAH, this chapter was AWFUL. I still can't believe I was writing in present tense... all these years, and I never NOTICED. Good thing I'm still around to right the wrongs of the past! Also, I'm sure Alia, Layer, and Pallette aren't the only navigators... WHATEVER. DETAILS, DETAILS.)