It was one of those days around the office. Everyone seemed to be busy with something when they didn't want to be working, and those who had nothing to do wanted something to do. It was just after a massive maverick attack, one of the odd ones the Maverick Hunters had been watching closely for about a week. It was odd to the analyzers that even the most wild minded of mavericks were targeting something with extreme prejudice, and whatever it was, it kept eluding them, and the Hunters. Even half minded mavericks were trying to find the same thing as the completely mindless ones were and that was causing problems when the two groups started to clash.
Down the hall strode one of the highest ranking hunters in the facility. Red and white armor, cubic shoulder plates bearing the letter 'Z' and long blonde hair following behind him from the back of his helmet, almost hiding his signature Z-saber. He famous Zero, arms crossed, walked down the hall, not too happy with his reassignment for the day but it beat doing paperwork. He was off to retrieve his two other partners in the process, as Signas had also reassigned them for the day as well.
For the most part, Zero continued to walk down towards one of the offices, many other reploids running past him with their arms full of papers making sure not to bump into him or anyone. Once he had one of his destination doors in his sights, he let his arms drop down to his side, pausing a few feet in front of the door to let another reploid late for something dash right past him. Putting his hand on the handle, Zero opened the door, a quiet squeaking following him as he walked in, and shut the door behind him.
In the small room was a desk, with an enormous arc of piled paperwork craftily made on it, a waste basket some eight feet away from the front of the desk, and something in a swivel chair, quietly snoring away as it used the fortified mass of paper as a shelter for his head. Zero looked around the mess of a desk to find the navy sharp shooter himself, asleep amidst his work. The blond hunter just shook his head.
"…mrph…right between the eyes…" He muttered in his dreams.
"I could hit that from five hundred yards…"
"I GOT-" 'Thud'
With a swift motion, a confetti attack of paperwork now finding it's was to the floor, as Axl did with his balance, Zero walked over towards him and gave him a serious look. He quickly shot up to his feet, readjusting his helmet accordingly as if nothing ever happened. Zero glared at him for a good few seconds before walking back towards the door, Axl following him with a gaze of innocence.
"Come on we've been reassigned this morning." Zero explained, going for the door handle again.
Hearing that lifted Axl's mood a bit. "So does that mean I don't have to this mass of Signas' homework?"
"No, you still have to do paperwork like the rest of us." Zero answered, waiting for the younger Hunter to leave his office space.
"Aww…" moaned Axl, leaving his room in a mild slump to join the usual madness outside. "It's worse than having nothing to do."
Zero rolled his eyes as they went to gather X from his office. If it wasn't one thing, it was another with Axl.
"Look," He began, nearing his friend's office. "X and I don't like it any more than you but you need to take the responsibility to do it. We don't need Signas on our backs about that, he's on us about everything else that goes on around here. Just do it, and get it over with, follow my example, and X's."
Zero was still talking to Axl when he opened the door to X's office, not paying attention to what was inside. Axl on the other hand, started to giggle under his breath at the sight he saw inside. Zero glared at him again, and Axl was quite intent on pointing into the room. Zero followed Axl's direction and saw something that just made him facepalm.
X, at his own desk, pen in hand and face down in his work, sleeping away and completely unaware that his two partners had walked in the room at all. It was clear he was dead asleep, dreaming about something and muttering about it as he dozed away. Zero couldn't make out much of it due to X breathing into his one arm. The only bits of understandable sentences in X's sleep rambles was something about paper shredders and coffee stains. Zero went and shook the blue Hunter's shoulder, waking him up in a moment or so. As Axl did, he jolted awake, sending papers off the side of his desk, but not falling completely flat on his face in the process. The expression on his face made Zero wonder what in the name of reploids it was about.
"Do you…need water or coffee or something…?"
"No…no I'm fine…just weird dreams." X said, rubbing the sleepiness away from his face. "What's going on?"
"Signas reassigned us this morning back to that abandoned site we hit yesterday." Zero explained, ignoring Axl's snickering in the background. "Apparently something is jamming the satellite observation over that area."
"I thought that place was swept clean for any run away mavericks?" X questioned, getting to his feet.
Axl shrugged his amusement off. "Maybe we missed one?"
"Or it's something else…"Zero added in. "Anyway, we're supposed to head there again, briefing room for a quick explanation and such."
With a non X joined his fellow reploids in the walk to the briefing room, where the familiar navigator Alia was busy making sure that everyone was accounted for and listening. Once the three walked into the room, the navigator began her briefing, leaving everyone else to get settled within the time her first sentence was finished being spoken.
"Yesterday an odd maverick attack broke out in this abandoned site." She began, pulling up the visuals on a monitor. "Today as a routine check to make sure the area was once again safe began, our satellites were unable to pick up any audio or visual signal. Instead another odd signal was jamming the satellites, but only to the extent of the area in question. We believe it is some sort of cloaking field, and due to the maverick attack that happened only yesterday, we're sending in X, Zero and Axl to investigate and take down the field."
"And hopefully not find anything…"
"Please hold all questions until the end of the briefing and remember to raise your hands…" Alia commented to the whispering individual in the room. "Unfortunately, you three will be without a navigator as the field blocks any outgoing and incoming signal. You will have to be teleported just outside the area, and find the source on your own. After the field is gone, we can resume contact and teleport you back here."
"Under stood, we'll be on our way immediately." X replied with a nod.
He and his other two followed him into the transceiver room where other navigators were ready to transport the trio out into the fray. X stood calm, looking at Zero who seemed to be facepalming at Axl's clear anxiousness to get out of HQ. Shaking his head at them both, it was only a few moments more until the three were taken away back to the aftermath of yesterday's maverick attack.
The entire area was dusty, taking on a colouration completely composed of shades of grey and sepia. Seeing the sight of it made X just a bit depressed but now wasn't the time, there was work to be done. X, Zero and Axl all reported in just before the expected radio jamming would occur just as they entered the hot zone. Having been here only the day before, each of them knew their way around what buildings were left standing.
"Alright, stay close." X instructed, receiving an affirmative nod from his partners.
Axl immediately went into hover mode and started checking the roof's and higher levels of any buildings he came across, as X went to the ground and middle floors while Zero took any basements. Outside, they looked under any mass of debris, X looking away painfully from any maverick body that may have been remaining from the battle yesterday. The reminder of it wasn't something he needed to think about. Zero wasn't too far off from him, occasionally looking over at X to make sure that he was alright about revisiting an aftermath of a battle so soon.
What seemed like 'one more building' to the three lasted for hours. Looking under, over, inside what could have been a secret room or opening, resulted in nothing but more dust and their bunny friends being found. Zero was feeling a bit frustrated, throwing things over a little harder than the last thing, and X kept looking around outside, trying to avoid finding any other machine remains he didn't want to see.
"I'm really starting to miss nav support right now…" Zero complained, kicking a piece of twisted metal over. "I think we call it a day for now. We've been at this for five hours and have searched everything."
X put his hand to his chin in thought, feeling that this was also taking much longer than it should have been taking. "I feel like we're missing something…or overlooking a detail."
Zero looked around once X said the word 'missing'. "Like overlooking that Axl is gone…"
X snapped from his thoughts and took a quick look around. "Great he got sidetracked again…"
The two started walking off in a direction they silently agreed was somewhere to start searching for the missing hunter. Calling his name to the wind and retracing their steps, Axl wasn't to be found. Zero grew more annoyed and all X could really do was shake his head.
"When we find him I'm going to-"
Zero's complaining was interrupted by a scream in the distance. Immediately snapping into battle mode, X and Zero rushed off towards the source of the nose, fearing Axl may of found trouble, as he usually did. The blonde hunter clenched his Z-saber handle tightly, running just ahead of X who began to charge his buster as their neared the location that the scream had come from. Just as Zero took one flying leap over more debris, he found Axl on the ground, pinned by some other reploid. X soon followed, seeing the same thing, but instead of leaping to attack it like Zero, he stopped, grabbing Zero's arm to stop him as well from attacking what had Axl on the ground. Zero looked back at X, wondering why he had stopped him, and then looked back at Axl, taking the entire situation in.
Axl, on his back, was looking up at a small reploid that was standing on his chest, looking at him with a curious look. It bore silver armor with dark blue trim, but it mostly looked dust coloured thanks to all the mess outside. The reploid wasn't very big, now looking at X and Zero, almost startled by their appearances. The oddest thing about the reploid was, it wasn't a human, it was a raptor; The dino kind of raptor, no bigger than a medium sized dog.
"Uh…Axl…explain." Zero half demanded half asked, looking at the odd machine.
"Well…I was looking around in an air vent and heard something so I decided to follow it. I followed the sounds out here. I thought I lost what I was following when this little thing pounced me out of the blue."
X started to walk closer to the odd dino, slowly as to not startle it. The raptor watched him and backed off, taking steps back and off of Axl. Axl immediately sat up and looked at the raptor.
"It didn't attack me really, so I don't think it's a maverick." Axl said.
"Not all mavericks are wild killers." Zero replied, crossing his arms once again. "It could be maverick."
"Zero, I don't think it is." X told him. "Axl was alone, pinned, it could of attacked him easily."
"I'm trying to ignore that fact when it's something this small." Zero groaned as he looked in another direction for a moment.
"I think it's kinda cute." Axl commented, patting the strange mechanical reptile on the head and hearing an odd voice come from it. "It sounds female…so I think it's a girl."
"Axl I don't care what you think it is." Zero interjected adamantly. "It's a strange reploid in the leftover mess of a maverick attack."
The raptor slowly walked towards X, who was now sitting on the ground, trying to be friendly towards this stranger. The dino sat in front of X, tilting her head at him curiously. He held his hand out to her and she sniffed it like a new puppy, finding X to be safe. X put his hand on the dino's head, examining her. He noticed that the armor was worn, and that on the shoulder plate, an inscription was etched in.
"C-H-R-O…dash…I can't quite make out the rest…it looks like the word Echo…" X said.
The raptor seemed to perk up when X spoke the word 'Echo'. Axl stood up, dusting his armor off as X took a look at the raptor further, noticing some armor damage, nicks in the metal and the dust stains on the armor. Zero also looked at the dino, wondering about where she had come from and why she was in the sort of area in the first place when his thoughts were interrupted by the most outrageous question from Axl.
"Can we keep her?"
"NO…we CAN'T keep a random prehistoric based reptilian reploid we find in the wake of a maverick attack." Zero blurt out with as much adamancy as he possibly could. "X would you-"
"Awww, aren't you sweet!" X told the raptor as she was snuggling up to his hand that seemed keen on petting her.
Zero could only groan and hit himself in the face with his own hand. "X you can't be serious."
Axl had an idea about this strange reploid. "Well maybe she could help us find that jamming transmitter."
Zero paused for a second, thinking that may have been a possibility. The dino seemed to recognize the word and got up and started wiggle walking and hopping over metal beams in a specific direction. She leapt on top of a heap of what was now a dead building, and looked back at the other three, expecting them to follow. Axl looked at Zero with a 'see I told you so' gesture, in which received a glare that spoke the words 'shut it'.
"Right…we're going to follow a strange reploid into some odd territory that we know nothing about." Zero thought out loud. "Axl, if anything goes wrong this is your idea."