By Erico


April 9th, 2117 A.D. Japanese Wilderness

In the wilds of Japan lay vast fields of nothingness, ground forgotten by time. Because of this, this site, and other ones like it were hallowed ground for archaeologists. Undisturbed soil meant that ancient fossils and plants would be in good condition.

Such was the case on the fateful day of April 9, 2117. A large convoy of hovercrafts skimmed the ground lightly, blowing dust in every direction. This place had been hit by volcanic ash, and the brown mixed with gray blackish dust. The convoy stopped and the vehicle's inhabitants emerged. But one was out first, an older man with gray hair and a beard. But this did not stop him. He breathed the air heavily, smiling as the sun beat down on him. He turned to his people and their robot assistants.

"All right people. Set up camp. Jim, I'll need you to set out the prelim gridwork." A man with brown hair and a younger age smiled at his mentor. Jim Dacker was the youngest worker in Dr. Cain's troupe. Their goal was to find fossils to prove Cain's theory on Mesozoic plant life, one which he had hypothesized by previous finds. Cain walked with a light step. He had been in his field since he got out of college, and his constant strain had kept him in fine shape. Some said he had found the Fountain of Youth, but whenever Cain heard it he laughed. "If I had found it, I would sell it!" was always his joking reply.

Jim Dacker turned his laptop on and activated the robotic probe that scanned their search area, grid by grid. Humans always went in to do the fine digging, for robots had never held the ability to work by senses, just pure mathematical data. The probe completed the scan and sent the information back to Jim's computer. Jim raised his eyebrows. Cain saw it and walked over to him.

"What's up, Jim?" Jim turned to his leader and spoke softly, probably too softly, seeing as the other worker robots were setting up camp and were always very loud.

It seems the probe has found something metallic buried in grid E-46. Probably some old volcanic deposit." Cain smiled again.

"First rule of archaeology. If something seems odd, then it's important. I'll start there." Cain walked back to his tent, just as a robot finished putting up his bed.

"Your tent is ready, Dr. Cain." The robot spoke, in a monotone voice. Cain nodded. He walked in and picked up his voice diary.

"April 9th, 2117. We've set up camp at the new site and laid out the preliminary gridwork for the dig. I got some odd readings at location E-46. It looks like something metallic is buried there, several meters below the surface. I think I'll begin there tomorrow." Cain clicked off his mike and went to sleep.

Little did he realize that time itself had been waiting for him to arrive.

October 26th, 2124 A.D. MHHQ, New Tokyo, Japan

X clicked off the datapadd's video clip and snorted.

"Yeah. Of course, none of 'em knew that they were directly over what was once Tokyo, the glittering gem of the Orient." He set the datapadd down on the rooftop's edge and sighed, taking his helmet off and setting it down as well. "And all the splenderous wonders contained within the moderately intact laboratory of the famed, yet forgotten robotics genius Dr. Thomas Xavier Light."

"Excuse me? Splenderous wonders? What kind of fecking nonsense is that now?" Came a familiar voice. X didn't have to turn around to know who it was.

"Aaw, get off it, Zero. Sometimes, perfect grammar isn't required."

"Yer damn right." Chirped the Crimson Hunter, walking over to stand beside his friend. He didn't say anything for a while, but finally motioned a comment. "So…how goes the trial?"

He spoke, of course, about the World Trial against all reploids. It had been instigated by what was considered to be one of the most crotchety, old fashioned dinosaurs left to roam the Earth, Emilius Cristoph of the AmeriCanadian Alliance, and prominent Global Defense Council member.

"Bad." X said tonelessly. "Real bad. Their entire case is based on bias, racial hatred, fears and prejudice."

"And they're still winning?"

"I'm afraid so, buddy."

"Politicians…" Zero grumbled. He shook his head, eyes glimmering in disgust. "That hasn't changed in over two hundred years. You play on people's fears enough, you can get them to move mountains, commit genocide, and brainwash their kids."

"Anything to get elected and stay in the public eye." X agreed wearily. He rubbed his gloved hands over his eyes. "The worst part is the emotional strain."

"What, you feel guilty for this?" Zero snorted.

"In a way, it's my fault…it's because they found me buried in that capsule that reploids came into existence…"

"Oh, stuff that." Zero chided him. "Need I remind you that a certain Doctor we know was the one who found you, and since 2117, he's never looked back on it? Sure, Cain may feel guilty about bringing Sigma into the world, but you? Nah."

"Sigma…" X muttered. His fist clenched up. "In a way, it's sort of his fault. Thanks to him and the two Maverick Uprisings, we've got this problem."

"Don't ask me to explain what goes on inside his sick mind, all right?" Zero grumbled.

"Well, at least he's gone."

"Oh, is he?" Zero snorted. X paused and turned to look at his best friend in shock. Zero looked back unblinking. "Come on. You thought he was dead after you blew up his Flying Fortress in the First Uprising. But he came back anyhow, didn't he? He came back to bug you on Cornus, and that defeat wasn't any more permanent, because he just turned around and attacked you during the Shadow Hunters Incident in 2122."

"Yeah." X muttered. "Somehow, he found a way to channel his persona through cyberspace, the same as Middy downloaded my own persona into the MHHQ's main…"

"Aack, STOP!" Zero groaned, rubbing at his head. "Look, I don't wanna DEAL with the tech shyte. It just happened. Leave it at that."

"Yeah." X said quietly. "So now I'm just up here thinking." Zero blinked a few times, then reached down to the datapadd beside X and scanned it.

He looked up, a gentle smirk on his face.

"What, you think delving into how Cain discovered you is gonna help our case any?"

"Oh, fine." X muttered. "You're a reploid, Zero. How do you think I should handle the defense?" Of course, X had no way of knowing, just as Zero didn't remember, that Zero wasn't a reploid. He was a prototype, the same as X.

"Hell, that's why I leave the paperwork to the pencil pushers." Zero grumbled, scratching the back of his head. "So I can avoid bureauspeak and stick to what I do best. Kick Maverick ass."

"Well, anyways." X continued. He looked back out over New Tokyo and shook his head. "No, I wasn't examining that old datafile for something for the World Trial."

"So why were you looking at it then?" Zero queried, intrigued by X's sudden change.

There was a look in X's eyes as he stared out over the starry horizon and the night lights of New Tokyo. A look that seemed to pierce beyond the normal…and into something more.

"You're trying to reconstruct your past." Zero finished silently. X nodded.

"Not exactly my past…as much as the past of my family."

"What, like the original Mega Man and Doctor Light."

"You're forgetting the others." X corrected his friend. "There was also Roll, and there was Protoman, and Mega Man's dog, Rush…And later on, there was even a big green goofy twip by the name of Auto, according to what little historical data remains intact."

"What, you're not sure?"

"Mount Fuji erupted on October 15th, 2087. Three years later, the world fell into the War of 2090. Luckily, that one wasn't as harmful as the Wars of 2040, and the only changes that came from that one was the creation of the GDC and the formation of the AmeriCanadian Alliance. Still, a lot of data was lost. Including almost everything about Old Tokyo. It was almost a myth until Cain stumbled across Light's lab seven years ago. That's why a lot of information about the age of my family is so shaky."

"Oh, peachy." Zero muttered. He rubbed at his temples. "Well, just what exactly do we know for sure?"

"Doctor Thomas Xavier Light and Doctor Albert William Wily were associates in the Second Rainbow during the Reconstruction." X mouthed, speaking from memory of what he had researched. "When the Second Rainbow broke up in 2067, they'd created a robot by the name of Protoman. While Protoman still was held in check by the Three Laws, he developed certain…personality quirks. Including an incessant need for whistling. He was lost in 2069, and Light and Wily went on to build Mega Man, Roll, and the first six Robot Masters in 2070. That was when Wily flipped out, and started the Robot Rebellions, which lasted until the end of 2081. From there, everything gets sketchy. By mid-2085, all mention of Wily, Light, Mega Man, and company vanish." X shook his head. "It's like there was some sort of cataclysm."

"Huh." Zero muttered, folding his arms. "So, you can't find your past, eh?"

"It's difficult to." X agreed sadly. He looked to Zero. "At least you have a past."

"Not exactly." Zero replied. X blinked and looked to his friend. "Pardon?"

"I said, not exactly." Zero shrugged. "The first thing I remember, I came to in the MHHQ's Medical Bay."

"You mean, you don't remember your past either??" X asked in horror. Zero nodded. "And it doesn't bother you?"

"Not particularly." Zero chuckled. He ruffled X's hair. "But then again, that's why I'm different from you now, isn't it?" X smiled a bit at that and lightly punched Zero in the shoulder.

"Yeah, I guess it is…"

Zero yawned, then blinked as he examined his internal chronometer. "Well, X, I think I'd better head back down to the halls and get me some sack time. Hazil doesn't exactly enjoy it when I come in with more wear on my systems than need be."

"Aah, get going, you big lug you." X snorted cheerfully. A bitter wind blew by, causing the both of them to instinctively draw their arms tighter around themselves.

"Hmm, it's getting cold earlier this year." Zero commented drily. "You stay up here and freeze if you want. I'm heading down where it's nice and toasty."

X grunted a bit, but kept his gaze out to the horizon. He could hear Zero close the ceiling hatch behind him.

And then it was just him. Alone.

Like he'd come into the world.

"There's so much I don't know." X began unsteadily, looking into the stars above for guidance…hoping that somewhere was his family, watching, listening…

"A lot of historical data was lost in 2090, a lot of it's fuzzy." X continued sadly. "And I figured…Well, maybe you'd have the answers."

He looked down at his helmet. Blue, streamlined, with a red crystal control chip cover embedded in the forehead.

"A lot of things have happened since I was brought online…since I was born, I guess you'd call it." X continued. "The guy who found me…he's a real nice guy by the name of James Cain. Using the plans that you used to build me, dad, he built an entire race of robots like me. Only they're called reploids."

"Only problem is reploids, like me, were too human. Most of the positions they were put in was hard labor, stuff they usually gave to robots and convicts. And they didn't like that. Even I didn't like that. We were our own spirits, our own people. We weren't robots." He shook his head. "Some humans couldn't accept that. Even now, and ESPECIALLY now, there's a new breed of discrimination and racial hatred on Earth. Only it isn't against Jews or blacks or Asian people…it's against reploids."

"And some of them decided to fight back. Reploids who fought back, turned against humans…were labeled Mavericks. Dangerous reploids. Irregulars. The Maverick Hunters were created by James Cain under the guidance of the GDC. And ever since 2118, we've had Maverick Hunters. And we've had two Maverick Uprisings."

X dipped his head a bit in shame.

"I've…done questionable things. I've killed reploids. I've killed fellow individuals who spawned from my designs. I became a Maverick Hunter to stop one Maverick in particular…a former Maverick Hunter known as Sigma. He's led both Uprisings…and thankfully, only two. I stopped him both times, using the armor capsules that you built, dad. I don't want to fight…but when I have to, they're there. And I'm grateful for that."

"And now…Now, the GDC is leading a World Trial against all reploids. I'm the defense counsel…and if I don't win this case, then every last reploid on Earth will be considered a danger. Every last reploid will be killed…and even I would be looked at for destruction." X's eyes watered a bit, the beginnings of tears. X could cry…Like no other before him had been able to.

"It's just a real bad situation. And the only other people who've ever had to deal with something like the mess I'm living in now is you guys. The family I never knew." X looked up to the stars again. "I hope…I dream…that you're up there somewhere, watching over me…It's easier for me to deal with that loneliness in my life if I think that somewhere beyond the known world, you're all still cheering for me."

X hopped up and dangled his legs over the side of the MHHQ, sitting on the rooftop railing. "I know that you'll never be able to sit down with me, to give me all the answers to all the questions inside me. But I want to know that I'm not alone. I want to know you're listening. That you still care about me. That I'm not just some abandoned project you all forgot about." He sniffled a bit and rubbed the tears from his eyes. "That's all I ask."

And then, just like that…

He got a reply.

The chill October wind blew by, causing him to shiver uncontrollably again. But unlike before, there was something in it…

His ears perked up.

A whistle…A whistle??

And then he felt something on his head. Something cold. Something wet. Something…

Before his eyes, a stunned X watched as a gentle powder descended from the massed clouds above. Zero had been right. It WAS gettting cold earlier this year…

Slowly, a grin stretched across X's features, and his tears were replaced by another kind of water. The water that came from white crystals from heaven.


And as he warped his armor away for a more conservative T-Shirt and blue jeans, X shut his eyes and let the tiny snowflakes pelt him, and the chill wind blow by his face. All his doubts, all his fears, all his worries were washed away by that gentle tickling of their message.

He could hear them then. He couldn't explain it, but…somewhere, beyond what his eyes could see, somewhere where only that feeling in his throat could sense it…he knew they were there. He could hear them.

And he could feel them.

In the Whispers In Time.