X wished that he hadn't read that book. Robotics: Futile Questions for the Mechanical Future was far too depressing. Though almost everything about the early robotics age was optimistic, there was one lone voice, a now unknown Ben Foster, who all but prophesied what would happen. He questioned everything that Dr. Light had accomplished, saying things like "if you elevate a robot to a human's level, can't you expect that robot to be not only as intelligent, but also as violent as man?" or "freedom for robots will not come to pass easily when robots were originally meant for service to man. That mindset of servitude can only result in confusion or bitterness against the men that ruled them".

X couldn't help but shudder. That was while he now quietly dwelt just outside Maverick Hunter Headquarters, to meditate on the physical world and dispense with all foul thinking. He liked being outside, away from all the business and busyness of the organization. Out here there were guards, but other than that, just the outer wall and green grasses. On a beautiful morning like this, it was easy for X to close his eyes and pretend that there was no war going on. And X was definitely sick of war.

He breathed out a sigh, letting the fresh sun shine on him peacefully, reminding him that not all things were dark and corrupt. Long ago, there had been days when reploids - robots rather - were not seen as menaces, but as signs of progress, signs that there was a good future ahead of all people. X found himself perusing the stored data he had in his mind, put there long ago by his creator. He had done so many times, though in the past year he had been avoiding it. Sometimes it was too painful to look at the optimistic past, knowing that they thought their future was going to be a lot better than it had turned out to be.

It wasn't so bad now. X had to ignore any pain he did feel, because this was all he had of his family - Dr. Light, Proto Man, Mega Man, and Roll. His fondness for all of them brightened him. He had the most data on his second brother Rock, his in-faith predecessor. Newsreels and computer memories of him (likely copied from Roll's CPU) filled X's mental vision, and X loved every megabyte of his brother's heroism. Mega Man had things that he missed out on, not only family but also brightness and a persistant cheer that no matter what situation he was in, that everything was going to be alright. How X wished that he could be the same way!

Roll was dear to him, though he had never met her. She stayed by Dr. Light's side, caring for him and their household in perfect content. X often wondered about how she could be so happy with so "unimportant" a role in life compared to her brother. But that was exactly the point, and it warmed X to think of it: life is not about war, and to be employed in a life of peace is a blessing. Roll was not a warrior, but she made peace what it should be. Bright and full of joy.

His data on Proto Man was sketchy at best. He knew a little about Blues' origins, but guessing from what was on his mind, he could tell that this was a subject carrying a lot of pain for Dr. Light. There was little for X to see, though Rock had made an effort to share his memories of their solitary brother, and X too believed that Proto Man would have done anything for good, and that whenever he hid he would be sure to reappear.

All of that was not to ignore the negatives of the past, and X found himself searching around his data of Dr. Wily. His scowl deepened, looking especially harsh with his eyelids tightly jammed together. He knew about each of the wars, some worse than others. He knew a little about each of the robot masters, though mostly of the Cossack-bots.

Unfortunately, Dr. Light had seen fit to include data on Dr. Wily, and X sourly wished he could get away with knowing nothing about the man. Dr. Wily's foul smirk and decrepit laughter never failed to strike up a good dose of rage in X. He hated everything about him. How could a man work so close with Dr. Light, the greatest of robotics' minds, and still come out as a greedy, evil, and murderous man?

X relaxed a little and settled his hands on his knees. Why was this man making him so angry? After all, he had encountered far more threatening rivals in his encounters with the Mavericks. All the same, he knew how the Maverick virus worked. It always worked from whatever hatred or bitterness already existed in that reploid, but from there it rewrote the reploid's personality to increase their violence and hatred. On the other hand, Wily needed no help being evil.

The blue reploid let his thoughts wander off to someone he didn't think about often: Bass. Bass was an oddity to him, much of it in his looks (were those headfins supposed to make him look like a cobra or something? And why would Wily think that purple stripes over his eyes were intimidating?) but so too in his behavior. Bass always threatened and challenged Mega Man no matter how many times he had lost before and still insist that he was the greatest robot ever built. It was pathetic.

Even weirder was Bass' turn from evil to good. How could someone as stubborn as the dark robot even think of abandoning his relentless rivalry? Dr. Light himself had left glowing compliments of this change in X's head, and had asked X to trust Bass despite a clear warning about Forte's irrationality. There was also a mention of Bass' technician, Crystal Bot, who had been created with stolen X parts. To X she just an example of very bad mishandling of his own technology - she was so much a child, with no understanding of reality. X questioned why someone like Bass would tolerate her.

Why was he thinking of Bass today? X opened his eyes and shook his head. There was no point. He'd had no opportunity to trust any of the older robots, much less Bass. He knew nothing from his programmed in data about the robot apocalypse, but a few rumors had escaped the successing dark age. X avoided these rumors when he could, but it was inevitable that at one point or another he would hear them. The only clear thing was that his entire family was dead, and for good or ill Bass was too. Bitterness started to bite at him, and X made himself look at the bright day and meditate on the sounds of the city. He was not in a warped, apocalyptical land, he was in Arcadia, a populous city that served as the base for the Maverick Hunters. His brothers and sister were likewise a dream. They could never be anything more, so why not focus on what warmth he had for reality?

This was X's regular ritual. He had to get used to the world he was in, if nothing else but to stave of his imaginings, which were altogether much worse. He did it often enough, so it was very easy for Zero and Axl to find him. As they approached, X smiled curiously in their direction. They, more than anything else, pulled him out of his dank musings.

"Alright, here he is." Zero said to Axl. "Now what was it you wanted to tell us?"

"Sorry to bother you guys, I just couldn't help it!" the hyper robot exclaimed. Both of his friends had never seen him so excited. "I finally found out where my copy shot comes from!"

X sat up with happy interest as Axl continued. "Apparently I was created by Reiko Inafune in Giga City. She was a scientist working on my generation of robot specifically for being immune to the maverick virus. Everyone said that she was the most brilliant mind since Dr. Cain, though..." Axl's voice trailed off, and his smile faded. "Though she really never got to show her true talent because she was killed in a Maverick attack, and her entire lab was destroyed. But I asked around, and I found out that I was based on two different first generation robots. No one knows their names, but their serial numbers were - "

A transmission from Alia interrupted. " - X, a curator of a museum in Giga City is reporting what he thinks may be Maverick activity, and he's requesting a Hunter investigation. - "

Axl was horrified. " - Please don't say it was Giga Central Museum of Robotic History! - "

The others stared at him as a confused Alia confirmed his fears. " - Uh, yes, that's the one. - "

"I can't believe it!" Axl exclaimed in horror. "At the exact wrong time, too! Okay...X, Zero, let's go!"

Before either of them could object or even question why, Axl had teleported out. The two looked at each other with mild confusion.

"You know," X chuckled, folding his arms. "Sooner or later he's going to have learn that he's not exactly the boss around here."

Zero shrugged. "Well, let's go see what's got him excited."

Once they arrived, they did indeed find a mess that was rather Maverick-esque. Several displays in the original generation section were smashed, and the floor was covered in transparent display shards. The curator, brown-haired reploid Aengus R, was nervously flitting about, all at once wanting to clean things up and yet trying not to disturb a crime area, fidgeting uneasily as he fought between his two urges. His blue coat, lined with panels colored like stained glass, billowed out behind him as he paced back and forth. Zero eyed him a bit, but investigated the room quietly, absorbing every sight.

Pain went through X as he watched a now miserable Axl try to figure out what happened to the huge, and now shattered display case. The once modern and artistic case was empty of everything but a few wires that used to hold up the vanished exhibit. X could only imagine what was going through Axl's head at that moment. He had never seen the young reploid this upset before. The despondent Axl stared at the empty wires with depression. He finally knew his mysterious origins, only for this to happen.

"Those panels...they weren't glass..." Aengus R spoke up nervously. "Those are special translucent panels made from a plasticine-metal alloy for high impact resistance. Anything that can break through them has got to be very strong."

"He was here..." Axl said, refering in despair to the large, now empty display. "One of the first generation robots that I was based on."

"Hm, your armor, well, it vaguely looks like his." Aengus rubbed his chin in thought. "But I'm not sure I would have noticed the resemblance if you hadn't said anything."

"What robot was this?" X asked.

"We don't know his name, just his serial number: SWN-001."

"Special Wily Number 1...that's Bass!" X gasped, turning with a furrowed brow to Aengus R. "Why didn't anyone inform me of his discovery?"

Both Zero and Axl, who had heard X's stories of all the older generation robots, paid fervent attention to the curator as he answered. "To be honest, X, we thought he was partially a hoax. His armor was so advanced, and if he had been buried for more than a century, well, it held up very well. Too well, unless his armor was simply rebuilt after he was found. The chances of its endurance are slim to none when it comes to robots of that era. But, how can you possibly know his name?"

"Dr. Light left information about all the original robots on my database." X answered, folding his arms. "You should have contacted me anyway. I could have at least confirmed his identity."

"Bass...the real Bass?" Axl said with amazement. "He was one of the original heroes, right?"

"He didn't start out that way. He was created Dr. Wily to stop my brother, Rock." X answered, growling as he mentioned the mad scientist's name. "But he resisted his creator's evil and joined the heros thanks to Dr. Light. I don't have a lot of data after his change, but I had assumed that he died in the apocalypse along with the others. To be honest, Axl, I really doubt that they could possibly have found the real Bass. From what rumors exist of that time period, his parts were recycled. You can't get your hopes up."

Axl nodded, trying to understand, but X couldn't help but think that what he said was a load. Someone from the distant past had survived, and it was Forte, the self-centered, fin-headed rival of his brother. Even besides the unfairness of it all, he was just plain dreading coming into contact with Bass.

"Let's focus on what we're doing now." Zero spoke up. As much as he respected X, the blue robot's habits of going on tangents annoyed him a little. "Aengus R, what can you tell us about the damage done to the museum?"

"Well, here's the funny thing. Only this room was disturbed. Whoever did this was only interested in our first generation exhibit."

"So they were trying to take information from the faked Bass' mind?" X guessed.

"No, that's impossible." The artistic reploid objected. "Whatever happened to SWN-001 in the past completely wiped out his data. We're talking a serious EMP that goes way past the normal robot protection measures. There is nothing in his brain that could possibly have been recovered. People have tried, but they knew very quickly that there was nothing left."

"Oh really?" Zero mentioned, walking over toward Axl. "You keep talking as if someone came and stole him, but look at the display case. This 'glass' was broken from the inside. Look at this damage pattern. It's pretty obvious."

"What?" Axl's bright eyes widened with excitement. "You mean he could still be alive?"

"Not possible! He was beyond repair!" The curator stared at the broken display, trying to see what Zero saw. "I can even show you his scans."

"There are no guarantees. If he is alive, he's in a completely unfamiliar environment." X said. "Axl, I'm transmitting Bass' teleportation code to you. If he is the real Bass, then you should be able to get some teleportation data and trace him. If he's not or if the code doesn't work for some reason, then just search for any reports of a robot with his description. Zero and I will join the search after we do a little more investigating here."

"Right!"

Axl teleported out, and X smiled a bit to see how excited his friend was, and he wished the young reploid success silently. As Zero and Aengus R spoke, X gazed around the room. He had never been inside the museum before, and this room, or what was left of it, intruiged him. He noticed overall that the damage to it wasn't that bad, except to the display that held the robot, and another on the far wall. What kind of Maverick would bother damaging so little, even if they were only after one thing? The hero went over to the far wall to investigate.

"So why would you put a robot that you believe is a hoax in the museum?" Zero asked the curator.

"What we do know for certain is that he was buried underground for decades at the very least. And you could tell from simply from looking at him that he was definitely designed as an oldstyle robot. And well...we needed to put up something. Even fake he was a remarkable example of how the earliest robotic technicians designed robots. From an engineering standpoint, he was completely authentic. He's not modern at all."

"That's ironically dishonest for someone trying to teach history." Zero remarked. "X, you should have...X?"

The blue robot was absorbed by a display, horrified. Zero approached him to get a look for himself, and the curious Aengus R couldn't help but join them. There in the now smashed display was a helmet like X's own, though simpler, smaller, and more round. It had a frightening gash on the left side, as if a beam saber had sliced through it to the head of the robot underneath. Below it was the placard, and it was supposed to read, "an example of an oldstyle helmet". That, however, was difficult to read as someone had scrawled two words over it with a piece of the broken display panel, bending the thin sheet of metal with thick handwriting.

"Rock's helmet".

X and Zero looked at each other. Aengus R, however, was completely confused.

"What? Who is Rock?"

"We're definitely dealing with the real Bass here." X's voice took on that sense of determination it always did when a mission was on hand. "Rock didn't go by his original name so there's no reason for anyone other than those who really knew him to use it."

Zero took this information curiously, but otherwise had no reaction. "If Bass is a former enemy, is he going to be any trouble?"

"I don't know anything for sure." X answered. "Dr. Light trusted him, but we can't assume he going to take it well that he's obsolete. The sooner we have him off the streets the sooner we can find out."

Zero nodded. "Let's get searching then."

"I don't understand..." Aengus R complained as the Hunters prepared to leave. "Who is Rock?"

X smiled, glancing back at the helmet wistfully, and not just a little grateful. "He's my brother, Mega Man. Take good care of that helmet, Aengus."

The curator, wide-eyed, turned back to the piece. He remembered buying it at what he thought then was an exorbitant price, but now he knew that he could have paid double for it and still have made a marvelous deal.

"I will!" Aengus R exclaimed. "This will be the new centerpiece for the oldstyle display!"

But as he turned around, he saw that the Hunters were already gone.

The dark robot was in a terrible mood. He had just woken up in the last place he had ever wanted to be with no descernible sign of anyone he recognised, and the one robot he especially wanted to see had been nowhere to be found. He stared at himself with disgust. Though all of his original armor was there, he could sense foreign computer data in him, as if certain pieces of his mind had been replaced with radically different technology. And as he lifted his left arm up and down, he could feel the cheap joint clamps that the museum must have put in him. However long it had been since he had deactivated and woken again, something must have damaged him. And that left an opening for display repairs.

Of course that stupid museum would give me only the cheapest, crap parts. Crystal Bot better be around here somewhere...

But the thing that enraged Bass the most had been the helmet. Rock, the great Mega Man, the hero of the early robotic age and protector of the earth countless times over, was now gone. The only sign of him left was a broken helmet. Not for a moment did Bass mistake it for anyone else's. He could have identified it from a mile off. Worse yet, the very museum dedicated to protecting history didn't have a clue what it was. And the absolute worst of all was the beam saber gash in it. Hideous cursings and dark thoughts emerged and ran through Bass' mind as he thought of the gash.

Zero...he killed Rock...

Bass pounded an unsightly crater in the alleyway's brick wall. Overall, he wasn't sure how he felt about the simple fact of Rock's death, but thinking about who had done him in drove the black and gold robot to rage. Jealousy mixed in with regret filled him, and he couldn't figure out if he would rather have saved Mega Man or killed the blue bomber himself, priding himself that it would at least be a better death for Rock rather than at the hands of the red, girly monster.

But he forced himself to calm down. What little time he had spent in the robot museum had informed him that Mega Man X was still alive. And if X was alive, then Zero couldn't be.

Zero definitely would have killed Mega Man X if he had the chance. Bass figured. So either the army got Zero, or maybe Rock managed to wound the guy bad enough before Zero got him. Heh, I knew that ugly thing wouldn't work out. Wily sucks, as usual.

Grumpily, Bass leaned up against the wall, wishing he could remember what happened to him. His last recollection was of Crystal Bot telling him to back up his memory right as he was about to fight Algorhythm Man. He gagged.

I really hope that Zero showed up and did something. If I'm going to be defeated by anyone, it better not be that retarded Algorhythm Man.

But there was nothing to be done about it. Bass decided that his next move would be to find X. Not that he cared that much about the new bomber, but it was probably the best way to find anyone he knew and figure out what he could do from there. If any of them were alive. From what he we was able to figure out so far, Roll, Auto, or Crystal Bot could still be operational. And then there was also Dr. Light, stored away safely in the computer. If X had made it, then surely Dr. Light did too. This thought alone relieved Bass no small amount. All the same, he was still alone, frustrated, and full of amaturish "repairs" that would do little more than hold him together. He hoped that Crystal Bot was somewhere with X...though she had better have a good reason to leave him in the museum for so long.

Bass was tired of thinking things over. Actually, he was just plain tired. He couldn't identify what it was, but his power core wasn't operating normally. If he had to guess, he would say that a connection had come undone somewhere. He was going to have to power down, and soon. Bass growled as he looked out of the alleyway into the town. This "Giga City" appeared to be some sort of mining town, and everything centered around that. What reason was there for X, a fighter-bot, to show up any time soon? The dark robot retreated back into the alley.

Hey, wait a minute. I have energy crystals in my arm from my double buster upgrades!

Bass did a quick check of his arms, and sure enough, the power in the crystals would keep him going for a few hours, if he was careful and didn't push himself too far. Switching his power around, he managed to put his power core in rest mode. He could feel an immediate decrease in his energy, and he growled slightly. But the sooner he found X, the sooner he could get a decent repair. Energy crystals could only go so far, and for a power-hungry machine like this Wily-bot, that far wasn't very far at all.

"Hey, you!"

"Who are you shouting at now?"

"That guy down there? Don't you recognise him?"

"Oh yeah, that's the guy from the robot museum. Well whaddayaknow?"

He was known for being "that guy in the robot museum"? Bass' fangs showed themselves as he looked up towards the very goofy voices that were entering from the other side of the alley. Two very odd things that he assumed were some sort of robots approached him, one looking rather like a polygon-ish mole in bright red, yellow, and dull blue coloring. The other had the appearance of a hump-backed, armored goose, complete with needle fangs and and a spiked collar.

Ugh, who would make a robot as fat as that mole? And how does that ugly bird think its going to fight with stumpy legs like that?

Bass's disgust at them was obvious, but this only seemed to amuse the approaching machines as they approached and inspected him with their ugly eyes and devious grins. The dark robot automatically equipped his buster.

"Oh, look at that, Spade." the goose said. "He's one of those models with the built-in buster. Hey there, mister. Nobody uses those anymore."

"Don't be rude now." the mole chortled before addressing Bass. "What this dummy here really means to say is that he's Brannigan Vee, and it's quite the pleasure to meet you. I'm Spade Lentigo. And you are...?"

"Bass." he answered firmly, still cautious, thinking that their names were dumber than their appearances. "Remember it. Now what exactly were you saying about my buster?"

"It's old! Nobody uses it!" Brannigan answered. "Except for that X character. Surely you've heard of him."

"No." Bass lied.

The two robots looked at each other, and Spade snorted as he laughed. The whole conversation seemed like a joke to them.

"Why, he's the lead fighter of those oppressive Maverick Hunters!" the mole explained. "Imagine not knowing that! All us perfectly innocent reploids just want a society of our own, and he goes and labels us Maverick, then hunts us down for sport! Him and his stupid friends!"

Bass rolled his eyes. Anyone who really was "perfectly innocent" wouldn't bother labelling themselves that way.

"So what's a reploid?"

The pair stared and blinked at him. An instant later, horrible, screeching squawks and malevolent, rolling grunts filled the air, which Bass took for some pale mockery of laughter. Forte's face shrivelled into pure hate, but this had the unfortunate affect of only making them louder.

"He's just an innocent little obsolete thing!" Brannigan Vee could barely speak, he was laughing so hard. "He really doesn't know anything!"

"Ha, ha, oh shut up, old fool, ha ha! Don't be so rude." Spade jokingly shoved his friend aside before addressing Bass. "All kidding aside, you're alright! Why don't you come with us? We'll have some good times and tell you what's really going on in this day and age! Bwahahaha! Bless your soul!"

"Shut up, both of you."

The deep, hissing voice, barely on the edge of sinister, came from the roof of one of the buildings above. Long, thin legs with jagged spikes like a giant's sewing needles stuck on them came from over the rooftop and clung tightly to the brick, propelling a very small body down to the ground. While most of it was spiderish, instead of the normal hanging body there was the form of a man there, with a human-like face only obscured by two large mandibles.

"Ah!" Spade Lentigo looked up at the spider robot as it descended. "Here we are. Bass, meet Recluse Stradivarius. All's of us call him Straddles, but he doesn't quite like new aquaintences - "

"Put a sock in it, Spade." Recluse snapped. "You talk too much. Both of you are on the job, remember? Now get back to it!"

"Aw, C'mon, Straddles." Brannigan complained. "We only wanted to have some fun with this new guy here."

"Oh, leave him alone. He's got nothing to do with us, and there's not a reploid dumb enough in the world to go along with you two idiots."

"But he's not a reploid! Said so himself! He's from the robot museum."

"Then someone will be looking for him, stupid! Now let's get going." Recluse put a long leg on each of his apparent companions' shoulders and started directing them away. "I don't know why Dire puts up with you imbeciles, but you're at least going to do your part of the work before I knock the both of you more senseless than you already are."

Bass stood there, a little stunned, and far more than a little disgusted. For the life of him he couldn't figure out why a human would bother to build such annoying robots such as those, with their ugly designs, personalities, and names. They were at least ten times dumber than anything Wily ever built, Bass decided. But even that brief thought of his creator brought his mood down even further, so he just forced the thought away and turned to leave. Only he didn't.

Just as he had turned, a bright gleam shone in the corner of his eye, a familiar gleam. Turning back as the three annoying robots were exiting the other side of the alley, Bass noticed the shiny object in Recluse Stradivarius' human hand. He seemed to be tossing it to himself almost habitually, like it was some sort of charm or keepsake.

"Hey you, Stradivarius, what is that?"

The spider-roid turned back to the dark robot, finally addressing Bass directly. "Oh, this thing? It's something of mine, that's all. Why? Do you know what it is?"

Hastily the spider clambered back down the alley, deftly pulling himself over a dumpster as if it wasn't there. Spade and Brannigan, ever amused by pretty much anything, seemed glad to be bothering the older robot again, and they followed along at a more casual pace. Arriving at Bass, Recluse lowered the object to allow him to see it.

It was just what Bass feared. The object was perfectly round, like a glass orb that shone even in the dim streetlights of the alley. Except it wasn't glass, but crystal. A sinking feeling made itself known. Bass reached out to take the orb, but Recluse quickly pulled his hand back.

"Now, you tell me what this is." the spider held it above his head tauntingly. "What is it? A power source? An energy diverter? Something good, no?"

No one ever successfully took that tone with Bass. The black and gold robot scowled, getting into Recluse's face to make himself perfectly clear.

"Not until you tell me where you got it."

"Hmph, fair enough, but it's not much of a story." Recluse frowned and raised himself up a little higher. "Some old friends of mine went on a mission some years ago, and well...no one really knows what happened. They were destroyed, and so was the laboratory they were after. A group of misfits called Red Alert got there afterwards, and if there was anything they knew was really valuable, they took it. I found this orb in the wreckage some time afterwards. I think it was being operated by a reploid, but there wasn't much left of that poor soul."

Bass' eyes widened for only a moment before they sank downwards and met with the ground. Quiet rage filled him, and he spoke up, "What happened to Red Alert?"

"All dead!" Spade announced. "Those Maverick Hunters declared them Maverick and killed them all!"

Bass was far from believing the giant mole, but when the spider-roid saw Bass' disbelief, he spoke up again. "Lentigo is stupid, but what he says is true. And by the way, you two, I believe I told you to get back to the mission! Our plan won't work if you two slack!"

"Aw, Straddles, we want to see what happens!" Brannigan complained with a honk.

"Let's get on, X won't destroy himself!" Spade patted the goose on the shoulder as he pulled him away.

"Shut up and leave!" Recluse hissed. "Don't say the plan in front of him! Now I have to destroy him so that those meddling Hunters won't find out! Right when I was about to find out what this thing was too!"

Before Recluse realized it, he had taken a plasma blast to the face. Staggering away from the dark robot, it took a moment for his eyes to clear and see Bass shaking with fury. His red eyes shone and a hideous scowl revealed his fangs, and the fact that he was ready to rip them apart.

"Oh, you'll destroy me then?" Bass hissed. "I've been deactivated somehow and in a stupid robot museum for over thirty years because I was fighting to save Mega Man X from getting destroyed by losers like you! And now you think you're going to get him? Not before you get past me!"

There was silence for a moment, and in that moment the three strangers all looked at each other curiously. And then broke that silence with laugher. But that was the absolute worst thing they could have done. Again taking advantage of Recluse, it took Bass only five seconds to tear off one of the spider's legs and smack Brannigan Vee in the face with it. But the spider wasn't going to just take that. His other spiked legs swooped down to hit the offender, but Bass dodged each one gracefully and even easily, despite the museum parts making his limbs a little more awkward to move.

The battle brought relief and even a grim joy to Bass as he dodged the shots. But as he fired his busters, he saw that they did little damage to these goons. Fire as he might, his pellets were simply too weak to do much to their armor. They renewed their mocking laughter, and the wild goose shouldered his cannon.

"I've got it, Straddles!"

It was fortunate for Stradivarius that he was able to dodge quickly, as a cannon blast from Brannigan went streaking through to Bass, smacking him backwards into the side of the nearby dumpster.

"Ha, that gets him. Good job, Vee!" Spade high fived his friend's wing.

But much to their surprise, it did apparently nothing to Bass. He was up only a moment later, firing his double blasters to wreck some vengance against Brannigan. Rolling under Recluse's legs, Bass dodged Spade, who was burrowing up from the ground right where Bass had been standing. Spade took rocks from the ground and charged them with some sort of electrical attack, but even when they did hit Bass, they did shockingly little damage. Bass could feel some of his joints acting up, but he shook it off, only angrier than before.

"What's going on?" Spade began to despair. "Nobody can handle my powerful attacks! Who is this guy?"

Recluse tried to catch the dark robot in his webs, hoping to drain his power, but Bass jumped out of the way, barely in time. As the fight dragged on, Bass knew that things weren't going well. His armor was advanced enough to keep them from doing much to him damagewise (knockback was another story), but his weapon was too weak to do much to them. He found that it was just easier to punch, kick, or rip off limbs, but his unreliable repairs were starting to loosen, making it harder to continue. But Bass still grinned. He had his battle AI, and the goose and mole robots weren't flexible fighters. Recluse was the problematic one. In any case, this was still going to be Bass' least favorite kind of fight - the long, drawn out, boring kind. He didn't entertain the possibility of defeat.

"Hey! You guys leave him alone!"

A fourth robot arrived, and Bass managed a quick glance at him. This was one more human-like than the others, was black armored, and had somewhat reddish hair, though that was really all he could see before dodging another rock from Spade. Also, watching Bass in the fight made the newcomer gawk in apparent surprise. He was clearly impressed. He joined in and started pummeling Recluse Stradivarius with rapid-fire shots of his own, though Spade's handiness at throwing his rocks took the stranger by surprise.

Bass grinned deviously. Feeling like showing off a bit, Bass dashed over to Brannigan. As the goose fired his cannon, Bass kicked it out of the way, and the blast instead hit Spade with a fatal blow, giving the robot a chance to dash off in the ensuing explosion.

"Alright!" the newcomer cheered, throwing a celebratory fist into the air. "Go, Dad!"

"What the hell did you call me?" Bass yelled in his direction before another shot from Brannigan reminded him what he was doing. He found a moment to thrust an accusing finger in the stranger's direction as he glared. "You don't go anywhere!"

Axl gasped. He couldn't believe that those words had come out of his mouth. He couldn't help it. But that would have to be put aside. There were still two more enemies to deal with, and he and Bass were going to have to work together to get out of this.

Axl took on Recluse, and his hovering and powerful shots (which would have made Bass green with envy if he'd had the time to notice) enabled him to make short work of the spider-roid. Without his mole partner, Brannigan was in danger. Bass' quick dashing out-maneuvered the goose-bot with ease. Deciding he was getting tired of the drawn out fight (Axl was done with his villain), Forte closed in, jutting his hand into Brannigan's metal skull. In the midst of the sparks and shredded metal, Bass pulled out a perfectly unbroken CPU.

"That's so cool!" Axl exclaimed. "How did you do that?"

"It's the Skull Man strike. Basically the one thing that idiot could do without sucking." Bass shrugged, tucking the CPU in his armor with the guess that X would want to look at it. Once the effect of the flattery wore off, Bass' glare returned, and he focused on the now nervous young reploid. "Alright, now you're going to tell me who you...aw crap..."

The dark robot stared at his arms and swore. He had forgotten that he was operating with the crystal energy in his busters, and they hadn't been at full capacity in the first place. Fighting with them had drained the rest of his power. The edges of Bass' vision started to go dark, and his internal mechanisms told him that he was falling. He smacked into the pavement, watching as his fading vision managed to see armored legs running towards him. Everything swirled about him until his vision settled on the worried face of the robot, who was apparently was trying to lift him up. Bass grimaced. He couldn't help but notice that the stranger's face looked familiar. Very familiar, in fact.

But there was no time to ask. Bass used what little power he had left to grab the stranger by the neck and gasp out one last message.

"D-don't put me back in that robot...museum..."

The light in Bass' red eyes went out, and he went limp in Axl's arms. The latter robot was jittery with excitement as he sent out a transmission.

" - X, Zero! I found him! He's hurt or something but I think he'll be okay. I'm bringing him back to headquarters! See you there! - "

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Author's notes:

- Alright, y'all, I'm back from China and fun times were had by all. Now I'm gonna be back on this story, and I hope you're excited about it! Okay, normally I include a section where the new readers can learn about what they need to know to keep up with the story, but really in this one they can start off pretty fresh. There's really very little they need to know. Lemme get that over real quick.

Things new readers need to know:

- Bass, his life having been saved by Mega Man, has very reluctantly given up on trying to defeat him. His friendship with Dr. Light convinced him to become a good guy.

- Crystal Bot is the creation of Crystal Man, who was killed by Dr. Wily for it. Once Bass left Dr. Wily, he took Crystal Bot with him as his technician, and the MM5 robots left Wily as well. She remained Bass' technician until the robot apocalypse, including some time helping Bass look for a deactivated Zero in Russia.

- Bass believed that he had killed Zero for five years until the time of the robot apocalypse, when Wily confirmed that Bass had destroyed a fake.

- During the apocalypse, all sentient robots were destroyed, as well as the scientists capable of building them. Not until the discovery of X were sentient robots able to be built again.

- Bass has only slightly more respect for the Cossack-bots than he does the other robot masters. Emphasis on slight. He actually thinks Skull Man is half decent, mostly because Skull Man didn't talk much.

- Okay, so my gimmick for this story is making all my lovely reviewers into Mavericks. It's actually pretty easy and fun. All I have to do is take their names, go to thesarus .com, and look up words that sound cool. I did a whole bunch already. First up -

MungoJerry

=====Sycophant Porcellus

"Squgga-squgga squeak!"

Sycophant Porcellus is a giant guinea pig robot, with a robotic rider on her back. This robot, Rider Porcellus, is the real Maverick, however, as the guinea pig isn't really capable of getting the Maverick virus. She just serves her master without question, meekly bringing Rider from place to place. Rider has a spear he fights with, and Sycophant fights with her teeth. Unlike other Mavericks, when you fight Sycophant Porcellus, you don't win a weapon, but Sycophant herself. She becomes a handy mech for getting over spikes or through water, and can even climb walls and bite enemies with her teeth.

For some reason "MungoJerry" reminds me of a guinea pig. Sycophant refers to servants, and Porcellus come from the latin for guinea pig: Cavia Porcellus. And yes, those are approximations of what noises a guinea makes. They eat them in Peru. Yummy.

Lalalei

======Festooned Cockatiel

"Oh really?"

Festooned Cockatiel is a very sarcastic Maverick, and she is vain. She thinks she's the loveliest Maverick there is, and takes great pride in both her appearance and her service to Sigma. She can break tough armor with her beak, and she shoots EMP feathers. People who fight her have to be quick, because she causes massive damage in a very short time. Defeated, she gives you "glide feather", which enables you to float downwards from a jump, landing with great force and destroying nearby enemies as you land.

Since "Lalalei" isn't a word, I had to be creative making this name. "Lei" is one of those decorative wreaths, so I went with that and got festooned. Cockatiel just randomly popped up in my head when I was thinking of festooned, and I think it works.