Disclaimer: I don't own Megaman, X or otherwise. No infringement intended or money made: please don't sue.
There are two more things I need to post this week and I've got writer's block on them. Joy. I swore no other projects until I got the various oneshots I'm doing for various people and a couple of the in-progress fics done, but this is the only fandom I'm not blocked in. Even then, I should be working on Definition or Garden, but this is one of those things that's bugged me for a long time and it's better than writing nothing.
I would say this was set after the bad ending of X5 if there was such a thing as a good ending of X5. Let's say the ending where Zero went maverick and afterwards, X doesn't remember Zero and his systems won't accept any data about him, they can't remind him of Zero, nothing works.
Normally, Commander X was an unusually patient person. Unless lives were on the line, of course. He also understood the importance of regular medical examinations, even though his systems were so atypical and they were lucky if they got more than three new bits of data about them yearly, these days.
Normally, X would have been as interested in what they were doing as if he was still a researcher himself. Normally, with something like this, he would have been as alarmed as they were. No, more alarmed, because these were his systems.
He should have seemed shocked or betrayed, not vaguely bored. Any other senior hunter would be tapping their fingers on the armrest or something by now, if not actively rolling their eyes or asking if they could go yet the way rookies who hadn't yet learned subtlety would have. Or they would have if this was a pointless waste of time.
Which it wasn't. Well, it wasn't like they were making any headway, so technically it was, but what this implied?
Here she was, trying to hold back panic, and there he sat, acting like he was humoring them. Because, as far as he knew, he was.
"I'm going to try uploading the data one more time, Commander," she told him, trying to put off giving up. Trying to put off having to analyze this data and write a report on what all of this meant.
"If it makes you feel better, go ahead, Alia," X said reassuringly.
No, she doubted it would. Still, she tried to send the file.
And it was stopped by X's firewalls, again.
"By this point, my firewalls are on alert. You might get better data on their responses if we tried this again tomorrow." X glanced at the clock.
"I'm testing your firewalls?" Alia asked. It was an honest question. Was that what he thought?
"I understand why you're concerned, since Sigma created a new virus-" And they couldn't afford to lose their only immune hunter.
When X just looked at her, surprised by the interruption, Alia added, "Two new viruses."
"Two that combined into one," X acknowledged. "As I was saying, I understand why you're concerned that the new version might have more effect on me, but I don't see how uploading clean data files is going to do that."
Clean? They'd scrubbed these data files. Tried to remove key words, any possible reason for X to see them as potentially hostile or means of easily identifying their content.
"I know that research is more important, but at this rate I'm going to be late for my meeting with Signas about my rank test results."
He'd ranked SA, the same as he-who-must-not-be-named. Well, no, she could say Zero's name all she wanted. X just wouldn't hear it.
The slight hesitation that lowered his speed, forever dooming him to rank B, but meant he'd almost never made a friend/foe identification mistake in all the years since he'd been promoted to commander? It was gone.
Like X's memories of Zero. The training was still there, but the person who had given him that training was, 'Someone… it was a long time ago.' That was what X had said, and shrugged, when X had a perfectly searchable memory. Not being able to recall someone he owed a great deal should have raised red flags.
"X, don't you think it's strange that you're rejecting clean data files?" Alia tried, almost desperately.
"Clean of the virus," he corrected her. "They contain harmful data. My firewalls scan every upload before permitting it into the main systems." He frowned now, and she would have breathed a sigh of relief if the pause had gone on a little longer. "You didn't know that they contained harmful data?" Now he was the one wondering if something was wrong with her. If he was going to have to break in a new spotter, after yet another one went maverick.
"It's not harmful."
"According to my firewalls, it is."
"It's data about someone you used to know. Something's keeping you from accessing it. X, don't you realize what this means? For the first time, someone has managed to tamper with your systems."
He sighed, even more clearly humoring her. "Alia, no one's managed to tamper with my systems. I was designed to have complete control over my systems and mind, remember?"
"But there's data missing from your memories. So much of it. And you lost it in between defeating Sigma and when we found you. What if the repair capsules…"
"Alia…" X would have facepalmed if he was anyone else. "The repair capsules were created for me by Dr. Light, remember?"
"Yes." She nodded. "Exactly. He'd know your systems better than anyone."
X sighed, looking tired for a second. "And why did Dr. Light create me?"
"…You don't know?" Didn't know why he existed? Why her species existed? Had the virus really made them forget everything other than the threat of losing themselves? What was never meant to be had become everyday, hadn't it, X thought, and felt old.
"Well, I just assumed… You're superior to a robot master." Wasn't that what people did, try to improve on their work?
"Alia, I was created because Dr. Light was tired of having his children kidnapped and reprogrammed. I was meant to be free from that threat. A being with absolute free will, free from anyone's control from my own. If Dr. Light knew a means of cracking my systems that could sneak past all the failsafes I have set up to detect something like that, he wouldn't have programmed the capsules with how to use it, he would have gone back to the drawing board and created a scenario to train me to defend against it." While he was hibernating and evolving in that capsule. "My firewall and data setting were accessed in that time frame."
"You can remember that?" Even if nothing else? Not even the lost wielder of the beam saber he still carried?
"Of course. Security setting information is important." Obviously. "Yes, it was a larger change than normal, but that makes sense, doesn't it? Since there's an entirely new strain of virus now, in addition to the normal minor mutations."
"So, if you really have control over your security settings, can't you undo that change?" Alia asked, leaning forward, trying to hide her eagerness, her desperate hope.
He just looked at her, eyes serious, and frowned. "Alia, think about what you just said. You just asked me to reduce my defenses against the maverick virus." Either she hadn't thought that question through or she was a maverick, and he'd have to kill her like so many others. Like Zero. It wouldn't be the first spotter he'd had to kill, to protect what was left of his unit.
All she could do was shake her head and raise her hands, horrified.
"All the data I sealed was data that would reduce my ability to fight the virus," he assured her, willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. But he would be watching her. The new virus seemed easier to detect, less subtle & less shielded against scanning, but there were two viruses, weren't there? "Alia, I know you're… stressed. Everyone is. This is… an even greater failure than Repliforce." He took a deep breath. "Have yourself scanned." By someone else. That was all the chance he could give her, his eyes warned her. "If I can get the test results from Lifesaver and they're clean, I won't mention this to Signas. For as long as I can." Until she did something else suspicious, because there were lives at stake. Too many had died: he couldn't risk letting a Typhoid Mary live, no matter how long they'd worked together.
He hadn't been able to let Zero live. He'd killed his best friend. Just like any other maverick. He'd remembered the battle, when he reported to Signas. He just hadn't remembered that it was anyone special. Just another maverick. An unusually powerful one, with a good weapon, but just another maverick.
There was no need to mourn just another maverick, any other commander would have said, but this was X, who did mourn them all. He just kept fighting, regardless, to save those who could still be saved.
Yet he still carried that beam saber.
Was it because it was Zero's weapon, and he remembered him on some subconscious level? No, X didn't have a subconscious. He was aware of everything that went on in his mind.
Was it really just because it was a powerful weapon? That wouldn't explain the care he took with it, when normally he wasn't all that attached to the weapons he gained during wars. There would be another war, with improved weapons.
Or was it because of the fact it was so old? That so much care had clearly been taken with it? Did X recognize that it had once been someone's pride and joy? Was it because Sigma used a beam saber, and X had built Sigma? Could he feel the weight of memories in it, did they call out to his own even now that his memories of Zero were gone?
Would he have done this for any of them?
"Will you remember me, when I'm gone?"
He frowned at her again. "Alia, don't talk like that. And of course I would."
Of course he would. Because losing her wouldn't hurt as much as losing Zero. He could go on, if she died. She would have someone to remember her.
"I'm glad," she said, and smiled.
The inevitability of death hung over her head like the sword of Damocles, like the blade X carried. One of the two immune hunters gone, and with him the reason for both his years of immunity to the virus and the secret of whatever connection he'd had to it.
Alia envied X sometimes.
She wished she could stop thinking about it.
Oh hello there, Wear & Tear-style Alia.
I've seen a lot of people accuse Dr. Light of tampering with X's mind against his will just because Dr. Light/the LightAI was there earlier and worried about his son.
The only problem is that this is completely impossible given what we know about the series and the characters. Dr. Light is not capable of reprogramming X like that. No one is. That was the entire point of building X in the first place. If Dr. Light had come up with a means of cracking X, he wouldn't have programmed the capsules with how to use it (because then someone could have found out from the capsules). Hence, despite his genius, Dr. Light or anything based on him is the last person that would be capable of cracking X. If anyone was capable of cracking X, it would be Dr. Wily, and he clearly hasn't or else X would have gone maverick already.
So, once the impossible has been ruled out, the actually plausible and quite common makes for a good hypothesis.
Repression FTW: because X does not have the time to lie around in an angst coma mourning his best friend/partner/brother in all but blood/teacher/rescuer/the many things Zero is to him when there are people that need saving.
If only we all had that much control over our own minds…
Edit: I realized I wrote lightsaber for beam saber. Well, it is.