Okay, here's the first chapter of my rewritten version of Megaman Zero X: Humanus Machina. I've reworked the plot, and added more action, more character development and more comedy, mostly from Axl. I have my line from A to Z mapped out, but I'm missing a few letters; if you have a favourite moment or character from Megaman X, Zero or ZX that you'd like to see in this story, send a PM or tell me in a review. No guarantees that I can work them in, but I'll give it a shot.
Read On and Enjoy: God how I've missed saying that!
Chapter 1: A New Warrior
Abel City; a sprawling metropolis that controls the vast majority of the planet, with the High Council in control of the government and the military. The city, along with its sister Giga City, is in a state of recovery. Only three years prior, the planet was consumed in a massive conflict that devastated most of the population, stretching for a whole ten years. This period will be forever known as the Eve War. Abel City was not excused from the destruction; only the vast city centre was left untouched. Much of the outskirts have been devastated and reconstruction is a far-away dream. Because from the ashes of the Eve War a new conflict rose; the Maverick War. A large army composed of fighting Mechaniloids and soldiers disillusioned from the Eve War still attack government installations and try to ignite the populous against the High Council, led by a commander from the Eve War. This army called itself the Mavericks, and was extremely effective in its attacks.
In response to the attacks, the High Council created a massive new fighting force to assist the ailing military; the aptly named Maverick Hunters. The military Units were attached to a new Commander, Signas, and an old government building was totally revamped with the latest technology. The major breakthrough made by the Maverick Hunters was something with both military and civilian applications; the Human Reconstruction Program. Able to replicate lost limbs, organs and all other internal systems, so long as the heart and brain remained intact, the Reconstruction Program was the saving grace of the government, despite the losses caused by both the Eve and Maverick Wars. With the latest weaponry and enhanced strength and reflexes from the Reconstruction Program, the Hunters were able to match some of the more powerful Mavericks. But anyone could see that the Hunters were losing. They needed a way to turn the tide of the war, but their best Hunters had either turned Maverick or had been killed. They needed a new Hunter, one as powerful as the now legendary Omega. Fate was now ready to intervene in the war, and a new warrior would soon emerge to engage the Maverick threat.
Abel City Central; a small Maverick force was attacking a squadron of Hunters from the 17th Elite Unit, led by Hunter pair X and Axl from Alpha Squad. X was clad in high-tech blue armour, with the latest in Buster technology; twin cannons loaded into the arms of his armour. Axl chose for a dual-chromatic armour; red and grey, with a handgun modified for extra power to blow through the Mechaniloid armours. The other Hunters from the 17th had the basic laser rifles issued to military personnel. Bullets, lasers and plasma bursts were traded by Hunter and Maverick alike, with more hunters falling than Mavericks.
"Damn things are burrowed in like tics!" Axl snarled as he ducked behind the crude barrier they had erected and reloaded his pistol. "They really should just give up and die already!"
"Tell them that!" X yelled in reply, blowing a Maverick to pieces. He ducked into cover as the Mavericks returned fire and tapped the side of his helmet, activating his com-system. "Layer!" he said, "please tell me there are no civilians in the area!"
Inside Hunter HQ, Alpha Squad's command room was manned by Navigators; Hunter Squads intelligence officers. The Navigators for Alpha Squad were Ciel, Palette and Layer, with Head Navigator Lumine and Medical Officer Iris overseeing.
"I wish I could tell you that," Layer said, watching displays from security cameras as well as other information being displayed on large screens inside the crystalline room as she tapped furiously on her keyboard, "but according to the database, there is one civilian in the area. Name on record is Zero; a mechanic in a garage fifty metres behind Maverick lines. You're going to have to blow through that barricade if you're going to evacuate him."
"Great," X said, before telling Axl the situation, "We've got a civ in a building past Maverick lines, fifty metres."
"Oh yay," Axl said, "another rescue-op. What's the plan?"
"I'll let you know when I come up with one," X said, before leaning over the barrier they had erected to fight off the Mavericks and firing more shots to reduce the Maverick presence. X realised that the Mavericks wouldn't just move aside and open a path, so he came up with a quick way. He activated both of his Busters, calling for cover fire to distract the enemy. Axl groaned; he knew what was coming before X even voiced it.
"This isn't going to work," he said to X as they prepared an old plan.
"Sure it will," X said brightly, "remember 22nd Street? It worked then."
"22nd Street?" Axl said, turning white, "WE ALMOST DIED ON 22nd STREET!"
"Details," X said, before addressing the troops, "Open fire on my mark." The soldiers readied their weapons, and Axl, still groaning and mumbling, prepared as well. "FIRE," X shouted, and the Hunters minus him jumped up and began to open fire. X rose a second later and pointed both his Busters between the Maverick positions, charging them. The plasma cores glowed, and energy began to gather as he stood there, exposed. But because of controlled fire and Axl's precision firing ability, any Maverick that aimed at him was instantly dropped. Once the charging was complete, X fired and two bursts of fully condensed plasma shot across the gap between them, slamming into the enemy barricade and causing a massive explosion that cleared away the remaining Mavericks.
"Alright, come on," X said, "We have a civilian to clear out of this area." The team rushed forward, quickly closing the gap before they heard a whistling noise. X ordered a halt and listened.
"Oh crap," he said, "HIT THE DECK!" All of the Hunters dropped to the floor as a guided missile shot over their heads and slammed into the building they were trying to reach. The building, after a breath, was consumed by fire and noise as the missile exploded. X, ears protected by his helmet, began calling for a medical team and a fire crew.
"Well," Axl said sarcastically, hands behind his head, "this is going to look good in our report."
X didn't answer. The civilian they were supposed to save was being sent to hospital with massive burns and damaged limbs. It was a miracle that he survived at all; the same couldn't be said for his garage. The thing was totally destroyed, and it didn't look like there was going to be any reason to repair it.
"Why'd they hit this place?" X asked out loud, eyes narrowed at the wreckage.
"What do you mean?" Axl said, looking at his partner.
"Judging from the shell the fire crew retrieved, that was a guided missile," X said, "no way was it aiming for us; all we did was duck. Which means that the Mavericks wanted to destroy this building, right?"
"Maybe," Axl said, "but why? I mean, I've never credited them with a lot of intelligence, but this makes no sense. It's just a garage for crying out loud; nothing special about it."
"Unless it wasn't the garage they were aiming for," X said, "maybe it was that guy we pulled from the wreckage that was their target."
"But why would they do that?" Axl asked, "That still makes no sense at all."
"I don't know," X said, "but I think that we've got a new piece on the board."
"I hate when you talk like that," Axl said, "this isn't an action movie."
"Iris," X said, ignoring Axl and tapping his com, "the civilian we pulled from the wreckage, is he going to make it?"
"Not likely," Iris said, "most of his body was damaged in the blast. He's lucky he's survived this long. Why do you ask?"
"Can he be put on the Reconstruction Program?"
"I think I see what you're thinking X. I'll work on him personally. I'll give Ciel his file; see if she can give us his personality."
"Thanks Iris," X said, "I'll see you when we get back, okay?" He cancelled the line and he and Axl caught a ride with the fire crew, which would carry them back to Hunter HQ.
Inside the Alpha Squad mission room, Ciel was preparing her profile on the civilian, Zero. Once X and Axl turned up, she stood up and put his information on the main screen.
"Zero," she said, "aged about seventeen; he's been working in Abel City for the past three years or so as a mechanic. According to the bills charged to the garage, he was very good at what he did; no one's complained about his work, he does it well and seems to enjoy what he's doing. Everything before that, where he was born, where he lived, his real name, everything is absent from the file. He probably never even registered that information."
"So what's he like?" X asked.
"He's a cipher," Ciel said, "a loner. He orders all his food to the garage, which is where he lived, and he orders parts as well. In fact, only the people that go to his garage know what he looks like because he's such a recluse. He has no personal life; everything is lived in machines. At best, he may just be a quiet, reserved person who doesn't want to interact with other people."
"And at worst," Lumine said, taking the lead, "he could very well be a psychotic nut-job that's biding his time to unleash some sort of terror on Abel City."
"Aren't you a bucket of laughs, Lumine," Axl said, "sounds like you and the new guy will get on well together, doesn't it; birds of a feather and all that." The others laughed while Lumine scowled. A beep in Iris's lab coat sounded, and she pulled out a local communicator.
"Go," she said as she put the communicator to her ear. She listened for a moment, before saying, "Great, I'll be down in a moment." She pocketed the communicator. "Zero's been brought in. I'm going to handle his reconstruction personally. His body's going to need a massive overhaul; all his bones are broken and he's been stuck on life support. This is going to take a while." She left the mission room, Ciel closed Zero's file and the rest of the team began to work on their report on the previous op.
"I'm going down to R&D," Lumine said, "let me know how the civilian's reconstruction goes." Lumine left through the pneumatic doors, leaving the Navigators and their charges alone.
Lumine didn't head to R&D though. In fact, he went straight to his private office and sat down at his computer, punching in a code and setting up a secure Audio Only line. The signal was bounced across various receiver towers in Abel City, before being sent up to the Eurasia Space Colony hanging in low orbit for the next few days to receive supplies. The colony bounced the signal around before sending it down to Giga City, which bounced it around its own receiver towers and sent it to its intended destination.
AUDIO ONLY flashed up in big red letters on his computer screen, and a computer-distorted voice sounded through the speakers.
"Report, Lumine," the voice said.
"It's done," he said, "The civilian has been approved for Reconstruction. Iris herself is overseeing it."
"Excellent," the voice said, "the money has been wired straight to your private account. Untraceable, like we agreed."
"Thank you," Lumine said, "I'll see to what we agreed on personally."
"You had better, Lumine, or Lord Sigma will be most displeased with our... arrangement." The line was cancelled at the voice's end, and Lumine leant back in his chair, a smug smile on his face. He sat there for a while, before leaving his office and went up to R&D to check on the latest developments for weaponry.
Zero was working on repairing a part that had been brought in. He was sitting at his workbench like he always did, tuning out the noise of another skirmish outside his door. Not once had anything happened to him in the dozens of skirmishes that had been played out on this street. Luck, most likely. Alia always said he was lucky, but he had stopped believing it a long time ago.
For the hundredth time that day, Zero glanced up at the photograph he kept on the bench. Him and Alia, before the fire; he hated how happy he looked in the photo. That was when he heard the glass smash and something fly into his garage. On instinct, he grabbed the photo and ducked under the desk before the missile exploded. A white hot heat engulfed him, and then it all just faded into black.
Zero opened his eyes, blinking and looking around. He was in a sterile white room, with bright lights glaring down on him. He groaned as he sat up, rubbing his eyes before casting them afresh over the room. Apart from the bed he was lying on, there was nothing in there. It was larger than a hospital room, but smaller than a standard hotel room. He looked at himself next; not a mark on him. That was odd, considering he had just survived an explosion. His hair felt like it was the same length as well, again odd. He flexed his fingers, and heard something even odder than everything else. He did it again, just to confirm. There was no doubt; that was a mechanical sound. What the hell was going on? He moved to stand up; there it was again, a mechanical, metallic sound as he moved. He suddenly noticed a pile of clothes by his bed that he hadn't seen before. He changed quickly into a black t-shirt, blue jeans, trainers and a red hooded jumper before moving to the door.
His long blonde hair hung freely as he pressed a button on a pad near the door. The door whooshed open and he stepped out into a monochromatic hallway, devoid of life. His footsteps echoed as he walked around, looking for the exit. His green eyes kept flickering in circles as he searched, not bothering with keeping quiet. As he turned a corner, he saw and heard a small group of people heading his way. He ducked back behind the corner, listening to their conversation.
"What do you think he's going to do when we tell him?" A young, male voice said.
"Probably have a fit," another male voice said, "I would've if I'd been as burnt as he was and my skin was suddenly cleaner than a-" the group rounded the corner and Zero pounced, knocking through them and sending them to the ground. He stumbled, but started to barrel through the halls at speed.
"Shit, he's running," X said as he climbed off the ground, "I'm going after him. Someone call for back-up." X pelted down the hall after Zero. The group had been X, Axl, Iris and Ciel; Iris and Ciel were lucky enough to avoid Zero's surprise attack, but Axl took most of the attack and was currently unconscious.
"This is Chief Medical Officer Iris," Iris began speaking into a communicator, "Zero has left his room and is now running. X is after him, but Zero's going to hurt himself if he pushes himself any further. Close off the halls on the medical level and keep him occupied until I'm down there." Iris looked over Axl quickly, before deciding he wasn't in any immediate danger before sending Ciel after X to help him talk to Zero. Ciel nodded and dashed off after them. Iris had to get Axl awake in case Zero decided to attack them.
As Zero ran through the halls, he was aware of a few things:
A) He was being followed
B) He felt stronger than he had ever felt in his entire life
And C) Most of his body was mechanical
Suddenly, and alarm ripped through the halls, and he could hear more sets of feet coming up behind him and a group of armed military-types blocked his exit. Before they reacted, Zero struck. He raised a fist and punched one in the face as he came up to the blockade. He kicked another one in the gut, before spinning around and dropping the rest with fists and elbows. Once they were gone, he ran off again, but didn't get far. Another group of soldiers blocked his escape, pointing rifles at him. He turned and made to run back where he came, but one of the guys he knocked over before was back up and blocking his way.
"You can run," he said breathlessly, "I'll give you that."
"What the hell have you done to me?" Zero asked with steady voice despite his heavy breathing. His green eyes narrowed at the guy. He had brown, spiky hair and brown eyes, and seemed to be trying to work him work.
"We saved your life," he said, "my name is X. I'm a member of the Maverick Hunters."
"And I care who you are," Zero snapped, still prepared to run if he got an opening, "why exactly?" As he spoke, he saw X's eyes dart behind him. Zero turned slightly, before lashing out and snapping a punch into a soldier's face. The soldier dropped, letting go of his rifle. Zero grabbed it and pointed it at X with one hand. X stopped in his tracks.
"Move and you die," Zero said, finger on the trigger.
"You're no killer," X chanced, not sure if talking was a part of the 'move and you die' declaration.
"No," Zero said, "I'm a pragmatist." He moved, faster than X thought possible, and flipped the gun around and made to smack it into X's head. X managed to duck, and Zero took his chance. As the soldiers opened fire, Zero decided to try out this mechanical body of his. He ran straight to the windows lining the hall and jumped out of one, smashing the glass and entering empty space. He seemed to hang there for a second, before he plummeted out of sight.
"HOLD YOU FIRE!" X yelled as he moved to the broken window and watched with amazement as Zero dropped ten floors to the ground and landed on his feet. Even more amazing was the fact that only a few seconds after, he started to run from the headquarters.
Ciel popped up out of nowhere. "What happened?" she asked, concerned.
"He got away," X said, "He jumped out of this window and ran like he was still being chased."
Ciel looked at the window, then down to the ground. "I know where he's going; can you rent a cruiser from the garage?"
"So long as I don't blow it up," X said "I've killed more cruisers than Mavericks." Ciel laughed as they headed down to the garage level, prepared to pursue the now armed and frightened individual known as Zero.