Hello out there, Mega Man fans! So sorry for the long wait on this chapter. Things've been busy for me lately so I haven't been able to write as much as I'd like. Most of the chapter had already been done, but I had a bad case of writers block until just recently. Anyway, hope you enjoy this chapter. I think it's like... 15K or so words. Anyhow, this one's for you, Kura! Hope you're doing well!
After their meeting in the bridge, everyone had gone their separate ways in preparation for what was to come. Anticipating the possibility that Pandora could not accompany Neal abroad as planned, Vent and Aile pulled Neal aside after he had spent an hour or so searching himself. While Aile had spent a bit of time sparring with Neal in order to give him both more confidence in his swordplay, as well as more fighting experience as a whole, the majority of what Vent did comprised of taking potshots at Neal while expecting him to dodge. While some may have seen that as abusive, it did speed up his reaction time by a small margin. Had he possessed such a thing during his fight with Fistleo, he may not have had that scar beneath his left eye. Not that he complained about it.
Pandora on the other hand, needing someone to talk to who wouldn't judge her too thoroughly, went to the ship's engine room in order to speak with Cedre. True to form, Cedre was as laid back as most people considered her, and so the greenette didn't have to worry about her past actions being held against her. While Pandora's overall lack of confidence –short bursts of bravery notwithstanding- stemmed from the fact that her only real interaction with people who weren't her brother involved terrorizing violence and wanton destruction, the girl was beginning to come out of her shell. While Cedre herself may've come off as a bit harsh and hot-blooded, she genuinely did care for those around her, and just like how Cedre didn't judge Pandora for her past actions, Neal didn't judge her at face value either. In a way, the now-long-haired teen had been a good influence for the both of them.
As for Lily, she had become very concerned about her big brother-figure as of late. He'd been more secretive and distant than he'd used to be, and she was getting worried. She'd went to Cedre, Rose, Muguet, Sardine, and anyone else who could take time out of their busy schedules to listen to her, but they all seemed to tell her the same thing. That Neal was likely busy with all that was going on, and that he'd be able to get back to her given enough time. The only thing she could do for him was be patient and be there for him when he needed someone to talk to when he couldn't confide with the others.
As for Prairie and Fleuve, their work was cut out for them, though with Gardenia, Tulip, and Marguerite manning the helm they could work without too much worry. The upcoming mission involved scientific principle not seen since the waning days of Neo Arcadia, and while they both were there, all they had to go on were footnotes and speculation. Add into the fact that they were working with Humanoid specimens instead of a top-grade combat Reploid, there were a lot of things that needed to be changed in the programming. While the files Elpizo brought back from Cerveau and by extension Ciel had been a great help, Transerver technology had changed tremendously since then, and while they were pressed for time, they couldn't afford to cut corners either. Were Ciel still alive, she could've solved this dilemma like *snap* that. However, she wasn't, and they had to do what they could by their own power. The Guardians, formerly known as the Resistance, had done things that had been considered impossible in the past, and they had no intentions of stopping now.
Mega Man X: Command Mission Soundtrack – Resistance Line
"Alright everyone. Before this mission goes underway, there are introductions that have to be made," Prairie spoke to the collective of Vent, Aile, Neal, and Pandora the next morning. At that moment she and Fleuve were standing in the One-Platform Transerver room, which wasn't too much different apart from that the last of the wall and floor paneling had been secured and the remainder of the wires fully insulated and mounted against the wall of floor. "Masse and Lune*1* will be acting as the new Operators for this part of the Grand Nuage's systems, and will be overseeing the proceedings in the upcoming mission," she said pointing to the raised platforms situated in the back of the room, manned by a pair of fraternal twins, though they bore a few aesthetic differences. The one on the left, Masse, was a reploid teen with green shoulder-length hair, his head encased in a full helmet and visor connected to the console in front of him. The one on the right, Lune, had shoulder length white hair, an electronic visor over her eyes and a pair of augmented gloves on her hands, which were connected to the console in front of her.
"As you are aware, since we are unable to establish contact with the governing body of Legion, we can only assume that another coup d'etat is presently taking place, or has already been completed," Fleuve said getting up from the side of the Transerver platform, possibly from where he had been making final adjustments. "In order to assure the maximum chance of success, we will attempt to bolster our manpower by making it possible for Chosen 05 to move beyond Asia's borders and into the rest of the world, by altering the date of birth on her electric dossier to comply with current regulations."
"As was explained before, the Transerver Program will be modified so that you will be able to move through Legion's cyber world across the circuit in the form of program data," Masse spoke up in a level tone.
"In order to free up memory and allow for ease of movement, we advise that you limit the number of people entering the cyber matrix at once, until such a time when the bandwidth is widened has been confirmed," Lune said adjusting her visor over her face, typing a few commands in her holographic keyboard, and the Transerver platform lit up. "Now, who will be going in first. Mind you, should you be in any risk, you will be forcibly pulled out of the circuit as to assure your safety."
"I should go. This was mostly me and… Model E's idea in the first place," he said opting not to call him TK-31 at the moment, as to not raise any unneeded questions.
"Not alone you're not. I'm going in with you," Vent said putting a hand on the teen's shoulder.
"This isn't because you think it'll be like the Matrix is it?" Aile asked tiredly.
"Wha- No! How could you even think that? Man, you're crazy, sis. You're crazy," Vent said facing the other way, the ponytailed girl sighing while Pandora was trying to follow the hidden meaning behind their conversation.
"So… How exactly will the rendering software work?" Neal asked as he stepped onto the platform, slipping into Model E form while Vent followed and slipped into Model X.
"We theorize that your minds will interpret the inside of the circuit as a long corridor, and any defensive programs as obstacles in your path," Fleuve stated cleaning his goggles. "How you will see yourselves and one another is up to debate, however for the most part this should be perfectly safe, though I do not advice we use this means again unless absolutely necessary."
"Hopefully we won't have to resort to such means," Prairie commented, remembering what happened shortly after the previous time someone had done what they were about to do now.
"If there are no more objections, I will launch the program," Masse said, Prairie, Neal, and Vent nodding in recognition. With that, the green and white-haired teens began to type onto their consoles, particles of light surrounding the Model E and X Mega Men, lines of holograms forming wireframes over their bodies. "Finalizing programming… Preparing for Transfer," Masse and Lune said together right as the light hid the two from view. "Initiating Transfer!"
Mega Man Zero 4 Remastered: Physis Soundtrack – Cyber Space
"Uwaaaaaaaagh!" Vent and Neal cried as they found themselves flying through a tunnel of light, panels of data accompanied by streams of 1s and 0s flying past their eyes. When the light finally dimmed, their bodies were dumped onto the ground. Getting up, the two noticed that it was colored a light blue, its texture like metal. True to Fleuve's word, they were in what appeared to be a long corridor, the spiraling portal at their backs likely from where they had came. To the sides they saw what looked like massive panoramic-view windows, massive streams of data in all shapes and colors flowing by like fish in a stream. Suffice it to say, the sight was strange, yet somehow soothing at the same time.
"Man, what a ride," Neal said as he got to his feet, his legs a bit wobbly as he regained his bearings. "What the- What the heck am I wearing?" he asked as he looked down at himself, his hands running along the top of his helmet. From the neck down his body was hidden by a tan-colored cloak with ragged edges, a black catsuit with yellow lines clinging tightly to his body. His helmet was now colored black, a purple eight-pointed star set on his forehead and a pair of yellow-lined black cobra-like fins set atop his head. He wore orange greaves and vambraces on his shins and forearms, a pair of white gloves on his hands.*2*
"Nice curtain, fin-head," Vent saw fit to chuckle at his friend's state of attire, no matter how inexplicable it was.
"Yeah? Well at least you finally got a haircut," Neal retorted, Vent's laughter cut off as he looked down at himself before a cry similar to his left his lips. His body was now clad in a dark blue catsuit with a pair of light blue stripes running down his sides from his armpits. He had yellow pads on his shoulders, blue vambraces and greaves that bulged out at the elbows and knees, with a blue backpack-like device set onto his back. Atop his head was a blue helmet with raised grooves and yellow accents running over the top and on the sides of his head. Lastly was his hair which had now been cut to shoulder-length, but was jutting out horizontally behind him.*3*
"Why the heck do we look like this?" Vent cried out as he found his long hair now non-existent. As his arms flailed around, a streamlined version of the X-Buster materialized over his arm, shots firing sporadically forcing Neal to drop to the ground with his hands over his head.
"Hey, watch it you numbskull! You almost hit me!" Neal cried out, Vent eventually calming down enough to cease firing and get his bearings back.
"Um… Fleuve…" Vent said as his right arm returned to normal, and he clenched his hand into a fist a few times to make sure it was still working. "I think there's something wrong with that rendering software of yours."
"I did the best I could with what I had at the time," he returned over their comm. links. "Remember, all Zero had to do was destroy whatever had prevented him from Transferring onto the Ragnarok. This time around we need to be able to identify what is there, so it may be possible that the rendering software is only 'slightly' modifying your perspective of reality while in that form."
"In English please?"
"He's saying to deal with it," Neal grumbled as he got to his feet and down the cooridor. "Come on and let's get going before we have to start shooting down advertisements," he said resentfully as the blue-clad man ran to catch up with him.
"And you're sure the two of them are okay in there?" Aile asked watching the two travel through cyberspace with a perspective that made it look like they were in a side-scroller.
"Brainwaves, blood pressure, pulse, respiration, temperature, and metabolism all read green as far as we can tell," Masse spoke as he observed the two's biometrics.
"So then they're fine on the way in. But what happens if they get hurt in there?" Pandora asked nervously.
"In theory, their Biometal should form a barrier between their bodies and their environment, potentially protecting them from whatever may bar their way," Fleuve stated. "However I would advise that they stay away from any situations that could result in their… deletion."
" . . . " was Pandora's response before she cried out- "YOU HAVE TO LET ME IN THERE! I WON'T LET NEAL DIE!" -, flailing towards the Transerver platform in a crazed frenzy, Aile barely holding her back from doing anything dangerous.
"Pandora! Snap out of it! No one is going to die!" Aile said as she tried to hold the greenette back.
"Oh yeah, because you did such a good job last time Neal went somewhere without backup," Pandora spat back, her tone laced with venom causing Aile's eyes to widen. Not wanting a repeat of what happened back then, Pandora stomped her heel onto the top of Aile's foot causing her grip to slacken, followed by an elbow to the gut causing her to double over entirely. Running up to the Transerver platform, she transformed with a cry of- "Dual Megamerge!"- before crying out- "Now send me in! I'm not letting Neal die a second time!"
"But nothing's even happened yet," Fleuve cried out. "For all intents and purposes, they are totally, completely-"
Mega Man X: Command Mission Soundtrack – Liberion's Duty
"Holy shit! What the hell 'are' those things?-!" Vent's voice suddenly cried out, the group's eyes turning to the monitor above. At the moment Vent and Neal had ducked behind cover, the prior firing off his X-Buster in an attempt to hold back a swarm of streamlined… Mettuars*4* wielding pickaxes and sending shockwaves along the ground at them. With each shock, their cover was being chipped away little by little, and there were at least two dozen advancing towards them, their attacks patterned to allow their brethren to advance without fear of retaliation.
" . . . safe," Fleuve finished reluctantly in light of the current circumstances.
"Like I just said…" Pandora said taking a calming breath. "You have to let me in there! Right now!"
"Pandora, listen…" Aile wheezed out as she got to her feet, grasping the girl's wrist for support. "It was never my intention to let Neal die like he did. I was just as scared as you were when it happened," she said as she shakily pulled herself to her feet, the brunette's body unused to direct assault when it was unprotected as it had been a minute ago. "But you can't just go in there without backup of your own. You're aren't important to just Neal. Vent and I care about you too, even if my pig-headed brother doesn't know how to show it from time to time."
" . . . I'm sorry I hit you like I did," she apologized. "It's just… When I thought Neal was just… gone, I had no idea what to think."
"It's alright. We all have our ways of coping with stress... Some just do it differently than others," Aile returned as she rubbed her aching stomach. Who knew heels could be used like that? she wondered to herself as she stepped onto the platform as well, Megamerging with Model Z.
"Finalizing programming… Preparing for Transfer… Initiating Transfer!" Masse and Lune said as Aile and Pandora disappeared in a flash of light.
After shielding their eyes from the oncoming lights, both Aile and Pandora flipped forward before landing on their feet in a crouch, the tunnel above their heads disappearing as they looked around. With the streams of data moving through the air like schools of fish, it was impossible to associate this place with the real world, and with how light their bodies were, it was easy to understand that they were pure energy/data at that point in time. Looking down in their bodies, both Pandora and Aile realized they had been subjected to extreme aesthetic changes as well.
Pandora looked down to see that her body was covered in a forest green catsuit with lime green stripes running down her sides and stopping above her hips, another set of lime green stripes forming two diamonds in the shape of a figure eight on her shins. Over her arms were long white sleeves with extended cuffs, a matching shawl segmented like a flower over that with two shoulder pads attached, a pair of lime green four-pointed stars set onto her shoulders. She wore a tinly-armored white helmet on her head with a pair of white rabbit ear-like frills on the side, a forest green crest with a red diamond on the forehead mounted above her brow, and hanging back past her shoulders was a "cape" of polymorphic forest green hair. *5*
Looking herself over, Aile noted that while her current form bore some similarities to Model Z, but there were palpable differences as well. Her body was clad in a purple catsuit with black trim running down the sides of her body, legs, and arms. Her upper body up to her neck was clad in lightweight red armor with pointed shoulders, a black streak running down the center like a zipper, with white sides around her shoulders. Her forearms were guarded by red gauntlets with pointed rings below her elbows, black gloves on her hands. Her legs were clad in black-soled red boots with white toes, pointed rings set around her knees while red points worked a third of the way up her thighs. Her head was encased in a spherical red helmet with a visor resembling pointed sunglasses, a red fin atop her head surrounded by a white ring, a long mane of white hair not unlike that of her Mega Man Zero form billowing down her back. *6*
"Huh... I can see why both Neal and Vent were so shocked by these changes," Pandora said running her hands down her finger, the catsuit conforming perfectly to her budding curves.
"This is definitely not something I'm comfortable repeating another time," Aile said extending her hand, which suddenly transformed into a long energy blade, instead of simply holding it. "We need to move. The sooner we get back with Neal and Vent, the less of a chance we risk being discovered."
With a nod, Pandora rushed off after Aile, whose body was like a blur as she shot forward, ambient clusters of data resembling hands carrying bombs shooting towards them. With quick and fluid motions that felt completely natural, Aile slashed one virus after the other in two, destroying their payloads in the process. At the same time, Pandora was attacked by orange rat-shaped viruses with red lights on their backs that scuttled at her across the ground. With deft flicks of her wrists, golden daggers of light left her hands before piercing them where they lay. After a few minutes they finally caught up to Vent and Neal, whose cover looked like it was on its last legs. While Vent shot at the Mettuar-like viruses bandit-style, Neal continued to draw purple energy into his right hand as he would summon his E-Rapier, only for the energy to dissipate.
"Light Dagger!" Pandora shouted as she vaulted over the boy's cover and let loose several daggers of light at the attacking mettuars, deleting half their numbers in a flash.
"Step Sword!" Aile called out as she rushed past Pandora, an after-image appearing in front of another batch of Mettuars before deleting them. When those in the back attempted to bring down their pickaxes, bolts of purple energy shot out of Vent's buster, now that he had a clear shot, and deleted them.
"About time you got here. I was worried the two of you had gotten lost," Vent said vaulting over his cover while Neal simply walked around it.
"Says the guy who got held up by Mettuar," the now-whitette quipped back.
"There were twenty of them!" the brunette argued back.
"Can we please get a move-on? I'm afraid if we stay here any longer, we'll attract more viruses to our location," Neal said looking around, as though expecting something to leap out and attack them at any moment.
"You act like this is some kind of shoot 'em up game where enemies will keep coming at us," Vent stated, only for a group of purple-armored viruses wielding massive hammers above their heads to drop down around them.
"I hate you so much right now..." Neal growled as he felt his anger swell from the pit of his stomach, purple rings of fire forming around his hands before he threw his arms forward. "Hell's Rolling!" he shouted as he threw the rings of fire around his hands forward, wheel-like projectiles digging into the closest one before it exploded in a shower of data, the group running in the opposite direction toward Legion's cyberspace.
"Masse, Lune. What are the status of Chosen 02, 03, 04, and 05?" Prairie asked as she continued watching the screen, Vent, Aile, Neal, and Pandora slash or blast their way through any of the viruses that seemed to be drawn towards them.
"Despite the interruptions, progress is steady with no noticeable delays. Bandwidth is able to accommodate their sizeable data profiles, so there's no risk of them lagging," Masse spoke before Lune took over.
"While different types of computer virus are being drawn to them, it appears that Chosen 02 through 05 retain some if not all of their combat arsenal. The only reason they look so marginally different while doing so is likely due to the rendering software being used."
"Is there any way we can clean up the image for them?" Prairie asked.
"Unfortunately, mid-Transerver navigation is not something that has ever been researched into, so I have no way of refining what I have already made without more time and dedicated research. Hopefully this is not something that will have to be repeated more than once," the little man replied.
"Commander, the landing party is almost within Legion's cyber space. I anticipate that Chosen 02 through 05 will meet steadily increasing opposition until they get to the Data Storage Node."
"This is by far my greatest idea. Ever. Of all time," Vent spoke aloud with a smile as the group of four rode into Legion's cyber space via the mag-train's program as it made its bi-hourly trip from the Hunters Camp.
"Either that or we'll end up walking right into a trap. Though this does save us a few hours in which we could wind up being discovered," Aile spoke as she formed and de-formed her arm-sword out of habit.
"I still don't understand why my powers won't work when I need them to," Neal sighed as he blazed purple flames in his hands, only for them to dissipate within moments. He had no idea why he blurted out "Hell's Rolling" like he did, or how he managed an attack like that when nothing like that was in his repertoire prior to their trip into the cyber world. He supposed it could've been from the innate adaptive nature of Model W, but if that were the case, why was he having so much trouble making something as simple as a cutting tool. "The two of you have your original weapons to some extent, but I can't seem to use anything exclusive to my original body." He had tried using the EX Skill: Hiken he'd gotten off of Fistleo, but it was most likely only something that could be used in the real world, when Model E was actually working. Either that or there was something else screwing with him. He didn't know.
"Maybe it's because of our Biometal," Pandora spoke up. "Theirs are more...authentic, than ours, so it's only natural something like this could occur."
"Things were so much simpler when we were back in the real world," he sighed as he gave up using his power consciously. It'd happen when the time came, he just had to wait. "We're coming to a stop."
"Alright then. Let's tread carefully, and try not to walk into any traps," Aile said readying her sword.
"Guys, this is a public transporation system. The heavy artillery won't come in until we get into Legion HQ's cyberspace," Vent said shamelessly bounding out of the mag-train's software and into a replica of the station, only to come face to face with over a dozen mounted cannons cased in green armor. All of which were trained upon them.
"You just had to say that, didn't you?" Aile asked her brother with a deadpan expression, the brunette chuckling weakly before the shots were fired.
"Man, cyberspace is a freaking nightmare," Vent groaned as he and the others finally navigated their way out of the city's cyberspace, and were now at the threshold of the firewalls surrounding Legion HQ's cyberspace. "Mounted cannons, trident-shooting fish, bomb-dropping hands, exploding rats. This entire world needs new anti-virus software."
"Of course there are still viruses running around," Neal groaned as he helped Pandora alone, the girl having taken a couple shots but was relatively alright. "If anti-virus software actually worked, the wouldn't be a market for it anymore. That's why they only protect you from some of it, but not all of it. So you're always forced to buy more."
"That's capitalism for you," Aile sighed, being the best off out of everyone, Vent right behind her, while Neal and Pandora were in relatively the same shape. Out of everyone, their powers appeared to be the most sporadic of the four, ceasing to work at the most inopportune moments and forcing Vent or Aile to cover for them, lest they get overrun.
"So... We're at Legion HQ in the cyber world. How do we go about getting inside?"Pandora asked looking forward. Before them was a replica of Legion HQ, or at least according to the rendering software they were using. Surrounding it was a high wall of hexagonal red panels interlocked into one another, with five additional layers forming a sextuple-layered nexus of protective software.
"If we try to force our way in, we'll only set off every alarm and wind up getting deleted before we can even get past the initial firewall," Neal spoke from behind the folds of his cloak that concealed most of his form from view. "My own knowledge of electronic infiltration is only limited to what can be accomplished behind a computer monitor, but the best way to bypass a fortified security is to access a secondary data stream through the redundant security measure."
"You sure know a lot about this sort of thing. What exactly did you do with yourself before becoming a Guardian?" Aile asked with a raised brow behind her visor.
"After all this is done, I'll pull the two of you aside and tell you everything. I. Swear," Neal stated, leaving no room for argument, wanting to accomplish what they had set out to do as soon as possible.
"So in short... We just go down?" Vent asked poignantly. "How exactly do we go about doing that?"
"Our hackers are currently looking for a link to allow you access to the secondary security, where defenses will be more lax. I can't guarantee you won't encounter any opposition once you're inside, but at the most it'll be limited to what you would interpret as a bottleneck," Fleuve spoke over their comm., circuit-like streams of data dancing across the ground beneath their feet in a web-like pattern. After a few moments one of the extending lines turned from white to green, the end tracing out what appeared to be a maintenance hatch in the ground a few "yards" away from them; distance was subjective, given the nature of the place they were in.
"Pay a man enough, and he'll walk barefoot into Hell,*7*" Neal thought aloud as he stepped forward, given all of this was his idea, as he moved to open the hatch. The irony of course was not lost on him. His current actions elicited no fiscal pay; only a traveling companion who, as he may or may not know at the moment, would save his life many times over before this adventure was said and done.
Mega Man Zero Soundtrack – Enemy Hall, Mythos Version
"This accessway is supposed to be Legion's secondary security route, right?" Vent asked as Pandora and then Aile touched down behind him. "Why does this place look so run-down then?" he asked looking around.
"It's possible that with how advanced the mainstream security measures are, the people up top simply didn't see the need to update their lesser security measures, what with all the redundant power sources, softwares, and the like," Neal asked as he too looked around, keeping his eyes open for anything that would jump out and attack them. Unlike the sleek-and-shiny format that the cyberworld above had, this area was colored mostly sepia and resembled a deep cavern underground, their surroundings dimly lit, jagged, and partially deteriorating.
"I suppose we should be thankful for that. Makes what we're doing a lot easier," Pandora said as she summoned a light dagger into her hand before throwing it into a dark corner in the direction of Legion HQ's own cyberspace, since their backs were at the wall as soon as they entered that secondary passage.
"Everyone on your toes. This entire place could be booby trapped for all we know," Aile said as she readied her sword and led the group forward; while she took the front, Vent took the back, sandwiching Neal and Pandora between them as they moved forward.
If the quartet were able to see themselves from the command center's rendering softward, they'd see that this place resembled a close-to-end sidescroller level. The group had to run for their lives over collapsing platforms that began to shudder when they stepped on them, leap over bottomless pits, and slide underneath low spaces. Were they not doing something so potentially vital for the wellbeing of the world, it may have even been considered fun. Outside having to outmaneuver ghosts that could turn intangible around their attacks, laser-shooting satellites, and head-shaped viruses with auras that only fell when they launched their own faces at them of course.
Eventually, the group came upon what to them, appeared to be a Transerver Platform. Standing on it, the quartet was blinded by a flash of light, before everything cleared and they found themselves in a marginally different space from the tunnel they were in before. The area looked like a sealed cylinder with only a single spotlight providing any illumination to the sepia-colored world around them; orbiting around the walls were numerous encrypted cubes, as well as a plethora of dual-ended swords bearing red eye-like orbs, similar to Model W fragments; the floor beneath their feet appeared to be comprised of the same cubes orbiting around the outer wall, with only a few irregular deviations.
"Guys, I'm not seeing an exit here," Neal spoke as he looked around.
"A dead end, perhaps?" Pandora queried as she too looked around.
"Then how do we get out of here?" Vent said patting down the ground at their feet. "The way we got in isn't here anymore."
"This is probably another security measure. A way of bottlenecking potential hackers," Aile said looking around as well.
"FOREIGN DATA DETECTED IN CYBER MATRIX. INITIATING SCAN," a booming, mechanical voice sounded from behind them as the area transitioned from color to wireframe in a rippling pattern, the group turning to see a sword-like silhouette with two more behind it hovering in the shadows at their backs. "SCAN COMPLETE," the figure suddenly rushing forward and slashing two of the hard-looking data blocks in twain, giving the group a good look at the apparent security measure for the node they were in. "INITIATING SYSTEMS PURGE."
"I guess this is the anti-hacking measure..." Neal said looking at the figure descending from above. "Kyudoka, if you can hear me, I need eyes on that thing!" he called out as the figure came into view. The figure's body appeared to consist of a white-armored legless torso with brown accents. Stabbed through the top and criss-crossed across its back were a trio of swords, each different. One had a red crossguard, the second blue, and the third yellow. From the end of the sword at the top of its head to the end of its blade was around twenty feet in height, and close to as many wide. While the miko-like Cyber Elf, Kyudoka, did not appear, his eyes were able to glean a name; SWORD_EXE.*8*
"SPIRAL SWORD." The electronic being called out as the swords crossed on its back were suddenly let loose before being thrown at them, the criss-crossing blades aiming to bisect them. The quartet dashed, leapt, ducked, or slid out of the way of the attacks, the swords slicing through some of the encrypted cubes orbiting the walls before returning to the sword-shaped being like boomerangs. "SWORD PRESS." SWORD then rose into the air before impaling the blade that comprised the lower half of its body into the ground, a radial shockwave being sent out at the scattered Mega Men and throwing them off of their feet. Vent, Aile, and Neal all managed to recover, while Pandora fell harshly on her stomach. As the sword-like being bore down on her with its own blade, the greenette tried to run away, only her foot was caught between two of the blocks that comprised the floor. "FINAL SWORD."
"Dark Arm Blade!" Neal shouted as he rushed in front of Pandora, the same purple flames from before forming a jagged energy sword in his hand, which he used to catch the massive blade right as it was about to come down on top of Pandora. While the fin-headed teen fell to one knee but held held the blade back, Aile managed to help the greenette out of her own predicament, Vent firing off a charged shot from his buster at SWORD's exposed back, diverting its attention away from Neal and towards him.
"Come on tough guy, take your best shot!" Vent shouted as he fired shot after shot at the SWORD program, who floated towards him before bringing his sword into the air above his head before bringing it down with a call of- "GREAT SWORD." -, sending a blade of air flying at him. While he was able to dodge, a portion of the ground at his feet had been cut in half and fell into the abyss. Aile leapt up at its exposed back with sword raised high, only for the two swords unwielded to slash at her from both sides, nearly cutting her into three had she not side-spun between them at the last second between them, a few strands of hair cut in the process. The next moment a trio of energy daggers impacted SWORD's exposed back, the electronic being whirling around facing Pandora, whose arms were extended post-throw.
"TARGET ACQUIRED." Moving towards Pandora, everyone threw everything they had at the security measure's back as it moved towards her, Vent firing off shot after shot but causing no damage, Aile leaping up at its head only to be batted away, Neal throwing everything he had at the being only for his attacks to cause no damage, Pandora freezing up when she saw her own attacks were doing no good. Raising its blade above its head, the being poised its blade at her. "FINAL SWORD."
"EYAAAAAAAAH!" Pandora cried out as the blade descended towards her, clamping her eyes shut.
"PANDORA!" another voice called out, and the girl felt herself being shoved out of the way.
"GYAAAAAAH!" a voice that wasn't the greenette's cried out, the girl's eyes snapping open to see Neal had taken the hit in her place, the descent of the blade taking the end through the spot above his left pectoral, across his sternum before leaving below the right.
"NEAL!" Pandora cried as time seemed to slow, the fin-headed cyber warrior falling to the ground and on his back, hands clutching at his chest with a pained grimace as bits of data rose out of a nine-inch-long gash across his chest.
"FINAL SWORD," the electronic being repeated as it brought its blade down for another slash, only for Aile's blade to intercept its own with a loud *KIN*, her feet forced back as she held the massive blade at bay. Aile fell to one knee under the security program's tremendous power, Vent's buster shots impacting in charged bursts, only for the swords on its back to spin and deflect the projectiles away from itself. Pandora cried out to the teen that had fallen to the ground in front of her, a startled gasp leaving her lips as a wave of ill intent suddenly coursed through the matrix in all directions. The next moment Neal's eyes snapped open, cerulean blue now replaced with a cloudy pink, with purple war paint-like markings taking over the sides of his face as his body rose by its own power, the cloak he wore falling away with a shrug of his shoulders as he began to float into the air.
Mega Man Zero Mythos Soundtrack – Cannonball
With the taint of Model W wafting off his body in a menacing aura, the shape Neal's body took beneath the cloak he wore was now revealed. A pair of purple lines descended from his shoulders and to his chest, zig-zagging their way down his abdomen before shooting straight down his legs and into his greaves. A pair of golden spiked shoulder pads were now revealed, and when he raised his arms up, both transformed into something reminiscent to the X Buster, the main body black while the ends over the barrel were rounded and colored gold, dark purple energy collecting around his forearms before he called out-
Dozens of shots a second were fired out of both busters, orange and purple energy bullets impacting the sword-like being's body and buffeting it back away from Aile, who rushed to Pandora's side and helped her to her feet. Cackling madly with a crazed look in his hazy-pink eyes, Vent rolled out of the way as SWORD was pushed back, summoning a sword to one hand and batting away the shots, only for the blade to shatter after a few moments, right as the barrage stopped.
The next moment Neal, or rather Dark Neal, raised a hand above his head, a mass of dark energy collecting into a condensed sphere before he threw it with tremendous force. The security measure threw both its back-mounted swords forward into the attack, only for them to be overtaken in the moving abyss. The attack detonated upon impact with the sword-like being's body and threw him back into the orbiting wall of cubes and blades, the dust clearing around its visage only for Dark Neal to be upon it, a fist drawn back before with a single blow his fist breached its chest up to the elbow.
"Pathetic weakling! Return to the 0's and 1's you're made of!*9*" he roared as the sound of something being crushed within a fist was heard. In an instant, the once-formidable sword-like program was scattered into fragments of raw data, the majority of which was absorbed into Dark Neal's chest and stemming the "bleeding".
As Dark Neal continued to cackle, arms transforming into dual busters as he began to decimate everything around him like a crazed berserker, Pandora was about to call out to him, only for a low groaning sound to echo through the air. Looking down, Vent, Aile, and Pandora's eyes widened as the ground beneath their feet began to gave way into the abyss. With frightened cries leaving their lips as the chamber began to collapse, the greenette let out one last heartfelt plea, the sickly pink in the fin-headed teen's eyes turning to cerulean in an instant as he whirled around, eyes darting around the chamber before they went down, the three that had accompanied him falling towards the unknown. Without a moment's hesitation he shot down as fast as his body would go, Pandora reaching up with one hand while the other extended towards Aile, the woman's free hand reaching out to her brother's as the darkness began to swallow them. At the last moment, Neal's hands grasped Pandora's own as the void encompassed them, the comm. signal from mission control going dead in that last instant.
"Oooooooghhh..." Vent groaned as his eyes finally opened after what felt like an eternity later. Getting into a sitting position, he looked down to see that he was now back in his Model X armor, something he was thankful for since he did not like catsuits. They were too tight in all the wrong places. As he got to his feet he called out his sister's name, then Neals', and finally Pandora's, though none answered back. The area he was currently in resembled a pitch black room, the walls and floors covered with an array of silver spider webs. "Man, where did I end up this ti-" *KROOM* "Whoa!" he cried out as a red-and-yellow streak suddenly impacted his side, detonating on impact and sending him flying. "Who's there?!" he demanded as he leveled his X-Buster at his would-be attacker, a pair of glowing red eyes peering out from him in the darkness as a matching grid-patterned floor and room folded itself out before him.
The figure who had attacked him looked like a high-end combat Reploid, his armor designed to resemble a black white-trimmed tuxedo; his hair was blue with a pair of pointed tails jutting upward behind his shoulders, a pair of jagged lines running down from the inner corners of his eyes and down into the black jaw guard. Around his neck was a red bat-like bowtie with an emerald in the center, his shoulders reinforced with eight golden dots on the tops. His articulated armored gloves had golden knuckles, and around his wrists were elongated cuffs with build in card suites, one of which he flicked a red-and-yellow card out of and into his hand. Around his waist was a golden belt that transitioned into a pair of tails behind his waist, a golden emerald emblazoned in the center. His white knee armor had four inlaid yellow golden dots, six golden dots radiating around one on each side of his ankles. His shoes were white with black trim, his soles white. To top off the ensemble was a black top hat with a white band, an armored plate on the right side with eight golden dots inset.
Mega Man X: Command Mission Soundtrack – Spider Magic
"I'm neither Maverick, nor Rebellion. But if I brought your head to the Rebellion Army, it would fetch a pretty penny!" the black-and-white spider-accented figure spoke. Vent was about to blast the guy into next year for attacking him from behind, but the glowing red of his eyes and wafting miasma reminiscent to Giro's when he was being manipulated by Serpent's Model W prompted him to act with some degree of care.
"Charge SHOT!" Vent called out as his X-Buster whirred, energy charging before the sphere in the barrel suddenly changed from blue to purple, firing a large spreading shot that left his opponent no room to dodge. "Whoa... This never did that before."
"There!" The next moment, the black-clad combat reploid called out from the smoke as he threw another card at Vent, who narrowly dodged. A second after one of his hairs was trimmed, the projectile detonated, Vent transitioning from the explosive momentum into a roll before he fired off another shot, Spider taking to a sprint. Parallel to one another, both Vent and his opponent fired blasts at one another mid-sprint, the ground around them peppered with explosions before both suddenly stopped.
"Take this!/Hyah!" the both of them called out, Vent leveling his X-Buster while his opponent leveled his card suites at him. The next moment Vent released his new Charge Shot at his opponent, who in turn fired off a spray of cards like a machine gun, the projectiles colliding in mid-air and bringing up a wall of smoke between them.
"Time for a fight!" Vent's opponent called out just as the smoke began to clear, his figure beginning to disappear right as the last vestige of concealing smoke cleared away. Leveling his X-Buster at chest-level, keeping his ears open for the telltale sign of reploid footsteps, the sound of a card-dispensing mechanism going off prompted X to fire a charged shot under his armpit, bandid-style, at the space behind him, catching his opponent's crossed arms and nullifying the cloaking field. "You're pretty good," he complimented. "But not good enough!" he retaliated with a trio of exploding cards, all of which caught Vent in the chest and threw him backwards.
"You know, you're making it really hard to go easy on you," Vent grunted out as he got to his feet, leveling his buster at his opponent, who appeared to be just as banged up as he was, but maintained a western gunslinger stance like a cowboy waiting to draw his six-shooter in the midst of an old-fashioned Mexican standoff.
"Take this! The final card!/NOW! Eeeyah!" Spider called out as he fired a quintet of cards at Vent, who in returned fired a charged shot through the air, both attacks impacting and forcing the two to roll with the punches before once again leveling their weapons at one another. Keeping their eyes trained on one another, the duel's end was signified when Vent's opponent fell to his knee.
"I'm... drained..." he panted out, the miasma wafting off his body dissipating and his eyes ceasing to glow, whatever malevolent force acting upon him having been dispelled. "Hey... Kid... I never... quite got your name," the figure spoke out, now that he no longer had to fight against his own volition. "You remind me... of a friend of mine."
"The name's Vent. Chosen One of Biometal Model X," the brunette panted out as he lowered his buster arm.
"Nice to meet ya... kid... Name's Spider, a bounty hunter... or at least I was while I still had a body of my own," the now-named Spider stated. "Listen... Some messed-up stuff is going on, both in your world and in Cyberspace. If you'll have me, I'd like to repay the debt I owe you."
"Sure..." Vent said walking up to his kneeling opponent, extending his hand. "I could always use another gun on my side," he said as Spider clasped his extended hand in his own, the bounty hunter's body suddenly exploding into particles of golden light before they crawled up Vent's arm in a trace of circuits. Clenching and unclenching his hand, a door of light suddenly opened in front of him, the brunette taking his chances and lunging forward.
"Man... I know the kid can't really control himself at times... but it's starting to get really old having Neal thrown off his rocker every time he gets angry," Aile sighed as she got to her feet, the area she was in resembling a stone temple from ancient Japan, though a number of large claw marks throughout the area raised cause for concern. "Well, at least I have my clothes back, so that's a start. Am I alive?" she questioned, striking herself in the side with her fist and grunting in satisfaction when she felt that. "Yep. I'm aliIIIVE!" the now-blond suddenly shrieked when a flurry of blue energy stars flew through the air around her, trimming a few polymorphic strands and prompting the Guardian to draw out her Z-Saber. Something different about it was that now the handle was more streamlined, and instead of bearing a large triangular blade, the blade of energy was now shaped like a katana, and seemed to be sharper. 'Is this the result of the upgrade Fleuve and Neal's Biometal have been conducting?' the now-blond questioned as she took in the sight of her opponent.
The one that had thrown the energy stars at her appeared to be an high-end speed-type reploid, her exposed biceps bearing fishnet-like accents, her neck and thighs garbed in black spandex, her armor colored pink with hot pink and gold accents. Her feet were clad in knee-length pink go-go boots with hot pink ankle bands bearing green jewels in the sides, cross-shaped blue gems inlaid in golden trim around her knees. Her forearms and shoulders were clad in pink armor with light pink accents and yellow decoration, a four-pointed blue star with embedded blue gem in the center of each, her hands clad in white gloves with golden knuckles. Her curvaceous body was accentuated by a pink bodysuit with white trim, a golden necklace and band around her neck and under her bust, a pair of yellow buttons over each side of her chest. Her hair was colored the same as Pandora's, but with a messy fringe and spiral-shaped loch over her eyes, her hair seeming to defy gravity in a long tail that curled upward like a squirrel's tail. Situated around her head was a pink-colored helmet with a matching jaw guard, an articulated horned helmet with three blue lenses with gold accents and a pair of hot pink horns with blue accents set on a pair of hinges. Overall, her armor was styled like a kunoichi's, with the exception of the go-go boots in place of ninja-tabi.
Mega Man X: Command Mission Soundtrack – Pleasant Thief Marino
'Those eyes... and that miasma... Is she being controlled like Giro was?' Aile asked herself as her opponent strode towards her, purple miasma rising off her shoulders with eyes glowing an ominous red.
"I don't care who this Rebellion Army is. All I know is I'm not gonna stand by while they steal stuff I could be stealing," the green-haired Reploid before Aile spoke in a half-monotone, half-playful tone, though it seemed like her mind was somewhere else. The next moment she drew a pair of energy knives from the Shishi-like ornament floating near the small of her back, the Model Z Chosen backpedalling as the kunai-shaped blades slashed through the air in front of her. "Ready or not!"
'Whoa, so fast!' Aile awed as she batted the precision-aimed strikes away with ther Z-saber, which due to its recent modifications had changed in appearance from the blade Giro once used. The handle was now streamlined and silver, the blade a long shaft of green energy curved like a katana for an improved cutting dynamic. 'For some reason...' the now-blond thought to herself as she and her opponent clashed blades, sparks lighting the chamber they were in. 'I'm getting all fired up,' she said as she managed to overpower her opponent's cross-guard and get a slash in across her opponent's stomach.
"Hey, that hurt, buster," Aile's opponent spoke holding a hand to her wounded stomach, before a smile suddenly tugged at her lips. "Now the real fun starts!" she spoke on one foot with the other leg bent at the knee, the woman forming a handsign before a bright light enveloped her. When it cleared, the pink parts of her armor had then changed to black, the hot pink silver and her hair a blond like her own, the bodysuit over her thighs gone revealing muscular legs. "Hyah!"
'Man, I thought she was fast before, but this is just ridiculous!' Aile thought as she struggled to keep up with her opponent's pace, the black blond-haired blur nothing more than a mirage as she barely avoided having critical spots on her armor slashed through. 'I'm not fast enough on my own. The only hope I have is to wait for that one moment... that changes everything,' the now-blond told herself as she endured the rain of blows that came. After a few minutes, the girl on her last legs, the kunoichi-like Reploid suddenly backflipped away, three-eyed visor falling over her face as energy began to build.
"Here goes!" she called out as she put her right hand to the ground, left leg bent and right out to the side, her left hand behind her. The next moment before Aile's eyes, two copies of her opponent appeared beside the original. When the three leapt into the air in a front flip, Aile held her sword at her side and prepared to swing, the three copies dive kicking towards her. In a flash of light the opposing forces clashed and were soon on opposite sides of one another, Aile post-slash while her opponent crouched on the ground post-kick with her armor returned to normal. A few seconds later... "How can this happen?" Aile's opponent asked as she fell over, the dark miasma leaving her body, Aile walking over to her defeated opponent's side and rolled her over onto her back. "Hey... Sorry 'bout that. Don't quite know... what got into me," the kunoichi-like Reploid said rubbing her eyes as though she were waking up from a nap.
"It's alright. You weren't in control of yourself," Aile reassured as she helped the now pink-armored opponent into a sitting position. "The name's Aile, Chosen One of Model Zero. What's yours?"
"Marino... the Pleasant Thief," the now-identified Marino returned, Aile wondering if by "Pleasant Thief", if she were something like Robin Hood. "Whatever these guys did to me... really messed me up... Mind givin' a girl a place to lay down for a bit?"
"Sure thing, Marino," Aile said taking hold of her opponent's hand. Before she could throw it over her shoulders however, the self-proclaimed thief's body dissipated into golden particles, which soon transformed into a golden star-marked egg before flying into Aile's chest. The next moment a door of light opened before her, and not wanting to stay in that claw-marked space any longer than necessary, she ran out of it as fast as she could.
"Neal? Aile? Vent? Anybody?" Pandora called out, the area she had found herself in after waking up resembling a large forest with metal trees, the path she was walking down leading to a large room built out of one of said trees. Entering the large octagon-shaped room, the door behind her suddenly closed, the model Cp Mega Man bringing up her guard when she recognized another presence in the room alongside her.
Sitting atop a stool-shaped pedestal in the center of the room was a petite female reploid with blue eyes and blond hair parted aside from her face, the back styled to resemble a pair of wings, making her look like an angel. Her armor was lightweight in appearance and colored white with blue accents, a heart-shaped panel located on her chest, the skirt stopping mid-thigh, siren-like lights on her forearms and knees, and the hat with a red medical cross atop her head gave off the impression she was a nurse-type Reploid, her dainty hands obviously not meant for combat. What caught Pandora's attention however was the miasma that wafted off her body and made her eyes glow red, though the Reploid in front of her seemed to be trying to reign it in, though the knocked-over crates in the room told a story of how things were more than they appeared.
Mega Man X: Command Mission Soundtrack – Apprehensive Cinnamon
"Who are you? What is this place?" Pandora asked bringing her weapon to her hands, though held it in a non-threatening way so as to not antagonize the only other person in a seemingly-locked room.
"Yes, I'm Cinnamon. Hello!" the blond-haired girl said hopping off her stool and placing her hands together as she bowed at the waist, her body shaking as her eyes flashed from blue to red, the miasma wafting off her body as though she were holding back. The next moment her eyes turned ominous red and remained that way, the blond-haired Reploid bringing her hand back before it collided with Pandora's cheek with a loud *SLAP*, the green-haired girl sent flying across the room and collapsing a number of crates.
'Owww... What's with those hands? It's like I was hit with a crowbar,' Pandora groaned as she rubbed her sore face, her opponent now taking what would normally be a non-menacing stance with her hands folded in front of herself, though the slap from earlier ruined it.
"Sorry, but I did warn you," the blond Reploid replied, her voice now sounding like a hollow recording.
"Alright, blondie, you want a piece of me?" Pandora said as she brandished her Cp-Staff before transforming it into its rifle configuration, her white armor turning to blue before firing a charged shot at her opponent's feet, freezing them to the ground. Before the greenette could follow through, Cinnamon's hands were suddenly replaced with large silver drills jutting out of yellow bases interchanged at her elbows, and the ice was shattered. Cinnamon than ran at her, Pandora converting her rifle to a trident with a flourish before catching the two drills between the prongs of her trident and forcing them to the ground where they made a loud *SKREEEEEE* noise as they bit into the ground. Pandora then elbowed her opponent in the forehead eliciting a loud- "Ow!" –as she recoiled. Once again her arms interchanged, this time with purple syringes filled with some kind of orange fluid. 'Oh, I do not want to get hit with whatever that stuff is.'
And thus the fight went on, and despite her opponent not being a Combat Reploid, she was able to keep Pandora on the defensive. Cinnamon's injector-like weapons on her arms aimed in thrusts at Pandora's body, the greenette sidestepping each one or deflecting them with her staff, not wanting to find out what that stuff would do to her if she contracted it. Cinnamon then changed her arms into red box-shaped boxing glove configurations decorated with pink hearts, and Pandora had to Dash away from the strikes that crumpled the metal boxes lining the walls like wet tissue paper. Turning her Staff into a spear, Pandora slashed across Cinnamon's back, eliciting a feminine- "Aaaah!" In retaliation, Cinnamon's arms then changed to yellow and orange-handled red mallets with green gem accents, which she proceeded to strike Pandora repeatedly in the head, a number of *DOKI-DOKI-DOKI* sounds ringing through the air as the toy-like mallets struck her with a deceptive amount of strength. Batting the hammers aside, she then backstepped as her armor turned yellow, and she charged an electric bolt from her rifle, which Cinnamon dodged as she ran at her. Her arms then changed to green spheres hovering past her wrists with white blue-accented horseshoe shapes on them, and to Pandora's surprise her Attribute Change was nullified.
'Tch, looks like I still need some practice with my Biometal,' Pandora hummed as she stepped back from her opponent. The greenette's Charge Attacks when her armor was white were non-elemental and mostly concussive in nature, and while her Attribute Change allowed her to use attacks of the Fire, Ice, and Lightning elements, she had to remain stationary in order to Change, which in a real fight she may not have the time to do. 'When Neal and I move through the Outlands, I'll have to see about training against some of the wild mechaniloids present there.'
"Transfoooorm!" Cinnamon suddenly called out as she was enveloped in light, her white blue-accented nurse-like outfit suddenly turning into a black white-accented maid outfit complete with the frilly hat. What also stood out was that in place of her hands were large cat-like paws, her forearms bearing dark blue sleeves with white cuffs and pink ribbons with white stars, reminiscent to a school uniform.
'What will she do now?' Pandora questioned. Those claws looked sharp, and despite how they were mounted on something most would consider adorable, she wasn't going to risk trying Attribute Change if the seemingly-innocent nature of her default hands were any indicator of what she could do.
"On target!" Cinnamon called out as she ran at Pandora and slashed with her cat-like claws, Pandora dodging as best she could, though the fifth slash in the combo managed to nick her arm. Backpedaling away, Pandora suddenly felt her energy drop, as though the blond's attack had weakened her somehow.
'I won't always have someone there to rescue me,' Pandora thought to herself as she shook off the lightheadedness washing over her. 'I'll have to start fighting for myself,' she said turning her Staff into a spear and running forward, stabbing the end into the ground and vaulting over her opponent's head as she ran underneath. Transforming her Staff into a rifle, she fired a Charge Shot and fired it right into her opponent's back before she could turn around, throwing her through the air and into a wall of crates off to the side with a loud *CRASK* as crates tumbled to the ground around her.
"Professor... I failed you," Cinnamon groaned as she fell to her knees and slumped forward, the miasma leaving her body as whatever was controlling her was dispelled, her armor returning to normal. "Oooogh..." the blond groaned as she held her head with her hands. "Why does my head hurt? Where am I? Who are you?"
"My name is Pandora. You've already introduced yourself," the greenette responded.
"Oh? Well then it's nice to meet you," Cinnamon said getting to her feet and dusting off her skirt, only to fall to her knees a moment later. "Ohhh... I'm too tired to walk. Can you help me up, please?"
" . . . Alright," Pandora returned after a moment, grasping the blond Reploid's hand and helping her up. As soon as Cinnamon was on her feet again, her body glowed before breaking apart into golden particles, which soon coalesced into a golden star-marked Cyber Elf Egg, which then flew into the greenette's chest. Before she could question what had just occurred, the door opposite where she had entered open, a brilliant light pouring into the room, which she ran into.
"What is this place?" Neal asked as he walked down a tan-colored metal hallway, the way behind him enveloped in darkness, leaving him only the path forward. "Well at least I've got my clothes back, so that's... something..." he hummed as he came upon a bulkhead at the end of the hall. Looking behind him, the path he'd taken was completely black, and if he was still in cyberspace, he didn't want to risk falling off the "stage" as it were. His comm. link wasn't working, so the only thing he could really do was walk up to the door, which opened in his wake allowing entry. Stepping into the room, the sound of running water met his ears, the now-blond teen walking into a large stadium-like room with a large platform supported above a pool of water below, waterfalls lining the walls around him. "This somehow feels like the end of the level where I happen to run into the stage's Boss."
WARNING WARNING WARNING
"And heeere it is," Neal groaned rubbing the bridge of his nose as the big red warning flashed across his visor, heavy-set footsteps causing the ground to shake, making Neal reluctantly look up to see what it was he'd be facing. 'If it's anything like Fistleo, I'll probably have another scar somewhere on me by the time this is all over.' "Ohhh... shit..." he squeaked as he craned his neck as his opponent strode towards him. "Just who did I walk in on this time?"
The figure approaching him was clearly a combat-type Reploid, his height at least twice that Neal's own, weight and size several times so, his tank-like stature and the massive beam axe being carried over his shoulder intimidating on their own. The Reploid's body was clad in a black bodysuit with white accents bearing a stylized yellow M in the middle like a belt, miligary green armor over his chest, shoulders, forearms, and legs. His feet bore yellow accents and large tan-colored knee guards bore a quartet of yellow bolts apiece, his with large unit of chest armor bearing a yellow crest in the middle flanked by two large red gems and white lining along the bottom. His shoulders were the same shade of green with large ivory spikes jutting out to the sides and large blue jewels on the fronts with X-shaped yellow settings, his forearms covered in military green armor with additional tan-colored yellow-bolted reinforcement, a number of vent-like holes lining the area around his wrists, golden knuckles placed upon powerful-looking hands. The green yellow-accented dragon-like helmet, black faceguard revealing only his eyes, and the massive red wings upon his back made Neal feel like the knave that had walked into the dragon's den.
Mega Man X: Command Mission Soundtrack – Massimo of Steel
"Me? Ha hah! I'm Massimo. Call me Steel Massimo!" the hulking figure bellowed haughtily.
"I somehow doubt your talking to me or just being made to say this, based on that red in your eyes and the miasma coming off your body," Neal said aloud as the ominous red eyes and purple miasma wafting off Massimo's body caught his attention. 'I've been in his shoes before, so all I can really do is wear him down and maybe knock some sense into him,' he said drawing his E-Rapier. 'I just hope with his height and size he's as slow as-'
"Gaaah!" Massimo roared as he suddenly shot forward at speeds something his height and size should've have been able to achieve. Boot-mounted hoverjets or not.
'OHCRAP! HE'SNOTASSLOWASHELOOKS!' Neal cried into his mind as he dodged an overhead axe strike that would've meant the end of him, a large crease made in the metal floor. "Holy crap I'm so fucking screwed!" he said whipping out his A-Gun and firing rounds into the massive Reploid's side flank.
"Hah! That tickles!" his opponent responded in kind as the projectiles impacted his side with seemingly no visible damage, apart from a cluster of small indentions in the armor.
"And I don't have any trouble believing that," Neal thought with a bead of sweat rolling down his temple as he stepped backwards, his opponent once more walking towards him, footsteps thundering through the closed space. 'That axe of his is bigger than I am, my E-Rapier won't stand a chance,' the now-blond gulped at the size of the weapon Massimo once again brought down on him, both its reach and damage greater than anything he'd ever fought before. 'Of course, I've only been at this Mega Man gig for a month or so, so it'll probably grow worse,' he lamented to himself. 'My A-Gun barely put a dent in this guy's armor, so that just leaves me with...'
"Yah!" Massimo roared as he once again shot forward, this time bringing his axe back for a horizontal slash. Dashing forward, Neal bent backwards and slid across the ground on his knees, the shaft of Massimo's axe grazing his visor as he slid under the hulking figure's legs, the Pile Bunker in his right hand charging before it reached its peak.
"HIKEN!" Neal roared as he spun back to his feet and slammed his Pile Bunker into his opponent's back, a ring of fire rushing out the impact zone with a loud *FWOOM*, the force behind the attack throwing Massimo a few feet forward as the kinetic energy was released into his frame, as opposed to being torn in half like anything else would've.
"This is nothing!" Massimo growled as he turned around, the only sign of damage being a knuckle-shaped line of indentions in his back that smoked slightly, the metal hot from the heat of the EX Skill received from fighting Fistleo.
"And somehow, I have no problems believing that either," Neal squeaked as the imposing Reploid once again strode towards him.
"Giving it everything!" Massimo then roared as his body was enveloped in a bright light. When it cleared, the massive Reploid was now covered head to toe in golden armor glinting in the light, and if at all possible he looked even more imposing than before. "Stay DOWN!" Massimo roared as a corona of fire-colored energy condensed between his wings before he leaned forward and fired a massive beam. Unable to dodge from close range, the now-blond crossed his arms before the attack struck him.
"Neal!" TK-31 cried as the Passionate Mega Man was driven into a wall up to the front of his shoulders, his arms crossed uselessly in front of himself as he made a human-shaped indention in the wall, his armor smoking and some of the polymorphic hair scorched.
"Hello, TK, have you done your homework? 'Cause if you don't, Prairie will KICK my ass..." Neal garbled out, clearly delirious from that last hit.
"...A-Are you okay?!"
"Yeah. Seems he threw my nervous system out of whack there. Can't quite feel the pain..." Neal answered deliriously. "There it is... Ahhhhhgh," he groaned weakly.*10*
"Neal-dono!" Kyudoka cried out as she appeared in front of her master and drew back an arrow, firing it at Massimo's face, only for him to guard it with the flat of his axe. As the diminutive Hacker-Type assaulted the massive Reploid under a storm of arrows, keeping him at bay, Jet appeared and began to alternately try to pull Neal out, while Nikola tried to recalibrate his nervous system from after that last hit.
"Dude, you got fucked up," Jet grunted as he once again pulled on Neal's collar, before allowing Nikola another chance to zap him. This time the brunette's dopey-looking expression changed to a confused one.
"What happened? Where am I?"
"You took a death beam to the face, dude," Jet said pilling on him once again. "Think you can help me out, 'cause you're kinda stuck." The next moment Kyudoka cried out when Massimo guarded his face with his forearm before smacking her aside with the flat of his axe.
"Nikola! Sicc him!" Neal called out as he began to struggle his way from the him-shaped crater.
"I'm not a dog!" the cyber elf protested, but nonetheless rushed forward before zapping Massimo, the larger Reploid stunned as electricity arced off his frame, Neal managing to pry himself out of the wall before Dashing over and scooping Kyudoka into his arms.
"Geez, this is getting us nowhere!" Neal cursed as he once again fired off rounds with the A-Gun while Nikola continued to zap Massimo, both their attacks having little effect. "Kyudoka, this guy have any weakpoints?"
"The only one would be... the marks on his back from earlier," the Hacker-Type elf managed to answer before turning into blue particles and returning to his body. The next moment Nikola got axe-smacked too, weakly flying up to his owner before going the same way Kyudoka did, leaving just Neal and Jet against Steel Massimo.
"So... Got a plan?" Jet asked warily as the massive Reploid they were fighting stalked towards them, a few wisps of smoke rising off his frame where Nikola zapped him earlier.
"I noticed one potential flaw through the course of this fight, but for the moment I have just this one plan," Neal said before grabbing one of Jet's "ears" and whispering into it. "Break!" he shouted a few seconds later as he rushed Massimo with Jet right behind him. Dodging an overhead strike that left another crease in the floor, Massimo brought his axe back for another horizontal swing while bending at the knees. The speed of his axe however was slowed when Jet grabbed the back end and pulled, Neal brandishing the E-Rapier with one hand and pressing the Pile Bunker against the blade with the other. Blocking Massimo's attack despite the overwhelming power behind it, Neal was pushed around half-circle behind Massimo's left shoulder.
"What?" Massimo said in shock as Neal rushed his back with Pile Bunker charged.
"Take this! And that! And one of these! And some of those! Ha!" Neal shouted as he began repeatedly striking the small of Massimo's back where his first meaningful attack landed, Massimo attempting to turn and face his opponent, only for Neal to be two steps ahead him and deliver yet more damage from his fire-augmented Pile Bunker attacks. After a few moments Massimo fell to his knees, and hopping onto his back Neal drove the E-Rapier between his wings.
"Can't... move..." Massimo groaned as he fell forward, the red glow of his eyes and the miasma wafting off his body dissipating.
"Hey... Massimo, right?" Neal asked from his position on his opponent's back. "You still brainwashed or not?"
"No... I'm not," the massive Reploid returned. "You know, for a little guy, you sure to pack a wallop."
"I'm not that little," Neal groaned as he hopped off his opponent's back and offering a helping hand. Even though he put the full of his E-Rapier into his opponent's back, the blade only went halfway, so the damage couldn't have been that bad. He still had no way of knowing if he was still in cyber space or not, after all. "Anyway, what was with the purple aura and red eyes."
"I'm not sure. My memories are drawing a blank," Massimo said as he got up into a sitting position and rubbed his head. "Last thing I remember is being back in Cyberspace talking with X, and Zero. Next thing I know, I'm here with you."
"Wait, so someone's extracting Cyber Elves from the Reploid's afterlife?!" Neal blurted out the first idea that came to his mind.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Massimo said closing his eyes, body beginning to glow gold. "All I know for sure... is that what happened to me, and maybe the others, won't stop any time soon," he said as his body burst into golden particles, which then coalesced into a golden star-marked egg. After said egg flew into Neal's chest, appearing on his visor as an addition to his Cyber Elf inventory, a glowing white door appeared in mid-air, and with more water pumping into the room than was being drained out, the now-blond rushed through.
Whether by fate or coincidence, all parties once separated were brought back together upon exiting the door of light that had once isolated them all. Rubbing the spots from their eyes, Vent, Aile, Neal, and Pandora all stepped into a large blue-tinted lobby-like space, doors to a black void closing behind each of them. Everyone was battle weary but still standing; whatever it was they had just encountered, it was over now.
"Ev-*kshhh* ple-*kshhh*" a voice laced with static cried out over their comms before the transmission began to clear. "If anyone can hear me, please respond!"
"Commander, Commander do you read?" Aile said tapping the side of her helmet.
"Guys, where 'were' you?!" Prairie cried exasperatedly. "The four of you have been off the radar for two hours! We thought we had lost you when that old server collapsed."
"Two hours?!" Vent blurted out in shock. "But that fight only took a few minutes."
"Same here, and I still have no idea what she meant at the end," Aile thought patting her chest where the Cyber Elf Egg had settled.
"Did all of us become subject to time dilation while in those isolated nodes?" Neal spoke aloud, still remembering his encounter with that massive dragon-like Reploid.
"It would appear so. Remember, cyberspace is completely uncharted territory. The conventional laws of time, space, and physics may not apply there," Fleuve's voice spoke out.
"So then where are we now?" Pandora asked looking around.
"It would appear we are where we intended to be. Legion HQ's record storage node. Coincidentally, past all security measures and fail safes, given we are now in the area of cyberspace 'meant' for data acquisition," a cultured-sounding voice spoke from behind Neal. In a flash of light, a tall, young man bearing a royal air appeared at the teen's side. His attire consisted of a high-collared fuchsia coat bearing golden accents with a cyan shirt and black tight pants, fuchsia shoes with golden bands around the ankles, completed with white gloves. He wore a tan-colored helmet that covered the right side of his face, and atop it was a headlight that bore some resemblance to a beret, long curly blond hair flowing down his back. What stood out the most however was that portions of his body were pixelating every couple seconds.
"El... TK-31... How are you outside the Biometal?" Neal asked as he moved to poke the former Reploid, only for his hand to pass through him. As though he were as immaterial as a hologram. In this case he wasn't.
"Given my nature as a cyber-elf, it only makes sense that I could gain some form of corporality while within this space," TK-31, known to some as Elpizo, spoke as he looked his body over. "Commander," he then spoke through Neal's comm. as he inwardly chuckled at the irony. "I need you to patch the ProgramData through to me. Since beurocracy was my specialty back when I had a body of my own, it should be a simple task of acquiring Chosen 05's electric dossier and transmigrating it into a more recent timeframe of the global census."
"Very well then. Since we have no idea how long it will be until someone discovers your presence there, it's prudent that we move quickly," Prairie's voice spoke out, a cluster of data forming in front of Elpizo, one resembling a pair of padded white gloves to the rendering software, while the other resembled a manila folder, a HU Number printed on the tab.
"And what are these two pieces for?" TK-31 queried.
"The first is so you can handle the electric dossier in question without leaving traceable data on it. The second..." Prairie paused. "Is to be inserted alongside it within the current census' databank."
"I understand completely..." Elpizo spoke as he placed the file inside his coat, having already deduced what the folder contained, though he would not look. "Come along, everyone. It would not be prudent to overstay our welcome, hm?" he asked as he lead the others along.
Leaving the foyer-like space, which was likely the cyberspace for one of the consoles for the HU Number Database, the group was lead into a large blue-tinted room, rows upon rows of file cabinets expanding as far as the eye could see in all directions meeting their eyes. Coming upon what looked like a floating platform, TK-31 took what appeared to be a bike's handlebar before pulling back on a lever, the navigation software rising into the air with them on it, before Elpizo shot forward. Singular eye darting around for a few moments, TK-31 stopped at a seemingly random shelf, the others practically flying forward while he placed the glove-like programs on his hand. Throwing the cabinet wide open, TK-31's identifiably-obscured fingers danced along the tabs of the files before plucking one out. Holding it towards Pandora, a green MATCH banner appeared across the file, confirming that the correct one had been drawn. Closing the long drawer, the navigation software shot forward once more, and they gained altitude. Within the course of a few minutes, the group reached what appeared to be the highest row of shelves in that bank, coming upon the last file.
"Here we are. The most recent census for this planet," TK-31 spoke as he opened the file wide, transplanting Pandora's file into the P-Section, categorized by first name, before rifling back a few more. Tapping his fingers between a few of the files, he eventually opened a small slat before taking the file from his coat and gingerly placing it therein. Closing it, he looked around before giving off a contented sigh. "Commander. The data has been translated as per mission parameter. No alarms have been triggered, and all data should be concurrent."
"Excellent..." Prairie spoke with a hint of relief in her voice. "Prepare for extrication back to base. Good job everyone," the blond spoke as, like when riding a Transerver Platform, everyone was whisked away in a burst of light, no traces of their existence leading back to the Guardians.
Mega Man X Command Mission Soundtrack – Liberion's Fate
Meanwhile, far beneath Legion HQ in an expansive underground facility that few people knew about, counting upwards in the single digits, the aged form of Dr. Syracruse sat in front of a wall of monitors. As he sat back in his chair, a pot of coffee long since cold at his side, he observed as the content of a number of Cyber Elf Processors, devices meant to draw out the power of the electronic sprite-like beings into combat-applicable format, were emptied one by one. The only indicator that something had invaded their cyber space was the sudden erasure of one of their electronic countermeasures, before any and all traces had disappeared entirely.
"What is going on?" Syracruse pondered as he tapped his fingers together as the four banners of NO DATA FOUND flashed repetitively. "Legion is protected by some of the best net security on the planet... How could four Cyber Elves held in secure servers just... disappear like that?"
Little did he, or anyone else know, that those clusters of data weren't the only ones tampered with. Important files centuries-old had been transmigrated into new locations, and new data pertaining to an entity that as far as the governing body of the planet was concerned "no longer had any right to exist", was seamlessly introduced into the system. "The perfect crime" since when backtracking had been applied, the signal source had been found to be bounced off multiple satellites and sent out of several different servers worldwide simultaneously.
"It matters not, Dr. Syracruse. With the data acquired from our initial test batch and the perfected means of forcefully extracting Cyber Elves from their homes, what is the loss of a few weak clusters of data to what we can acquire now?" a synthetic voice spoke to the man as automatic doors opened behind him. Looking over his shoulder, the aged human doctor felt a shudder run up his spine as the recently-resurrected entity strode up to him. Said entity was over six feet tall and humanoid in shape but purely mechanical in composition, its bulbous spherical head armed with one of the most powerful portable supercomputers on the planet casting a dim pink light onto the room. Most of its features were obscured in the darkness, the only visible aspects of it in the darkness being its glowing yellow eyes and a suction cup-like mouth.
"I suppose you're right..." Dr. Syracruse hummed as he drummed his fingers on his desk as he shut off the feeds, the red strobe-like lights beginning to irritate his aging eyes. Despite humans being able to replace their eyes with advanced cybernetic implants, the inescapable gnawing of time was a major contributing factor in the ability to regain sight once it was initially lost. 'Sometimes I really envy reploids. They need an eye replaced, they just pop a new one in without any problems.'
"See, now you're getting the right idea," the synthetic bulb-headed figure spoke, his mind already running through the calculations needed to draw out the next batch of Cyber Elves out of cyberspace. Now that they had confirmed successes in forcefully extracting Cyber Elves from their world into this one, they could do so and then modify them to their heart's content now that they knew what they were doing.
"Quite..." Dr. Syracruse hummed to himself having lost interest in the situation. For the longest time he knew something rotten was going on within the government, but his scientific curiosity had prevented him from acting against it. Now, the theories which he had worked so hard to validate in college, were likely being used to bring about an end to humanity.
And he was completely powerless to stop it.
"Also, that reminds me for whatever reason…" the bulb-headed figure spoke as he looked out the lab window, staring out at a platform situated above a massive expanse too great for him to see the full scope of. "What of this Thomas fellow? This metal framework that has been going up... He's been staring at it for days on end," he said motioning to the platform's only occupant, the broad-shouldered man simply staring out at a massive skeleton-like shape taking form, as he made grandiose motions with his hands.
"He is quite methodical I suppose," Dr. Syracruse stated as he stroked his chin. "While I had assured him that the programming of the labor force for the Skeleton of that machine of his had been calculated and re-calculated numerous times to the point of perfection with only the strictest of tolerances, he still insists on overseeing the construction of his project's base with his own eyes."
"Well, as a Computational Humanoid Reploid," the bulb-headed figure said making more grandiose motions to the point that it would be considered comical. "I can understand the need to ensure absolute perfection, if this weapon is to perform as projected."
"Maybe. However, I fear I may only ensure my own spot in Hell if I don't at least try to talk him out of doing… this," Dr. Syracruse said motioning to the hulking shell of bone taking form in front of him.
"Now now now Dr. Syracruse. Whatever could you fear death for?" the reploid at his side asked. "Countless have already been resurrected, so why worry about death of all things. I myself am the result of true reploid immortality, and with how similar to us humans have become, it is only a matter of time before eternal life is no longer some mere dream, but a reality."
'That is what I am afraid of,' Dr. Syracruse thought to himself with a shake of his head. He could only hope that the four Cyber Elves that had once been captured and exploited, had been placed into the hands of those who would not abuse their power.
On note of the dates, none are ever officially given for when the Sage Trinity are formed or when the Equality Laws are taken into effect, so I'm simply acting around what it is that I know. For those of you that recognize the descriptions use for Chosen 02-05's "cyber forms", the absence of the "crests" on their bodies are completely intentional. As for the viruses the group encountered, if you hook a Mega Man Battle Network game into Mega Man ZX, you can encounter Battle Network viruses while in Cyberspace; as such I decided to reiterate those encounters. Lastly, I don't exactly plan on making anymore chapters like this one (the Cyberspace setting), so if it wasn't to your liking, then you don't have to worry about it happening again. This is likely a one-time thing. As for the new characters introduced towards the end, I've left plenty of hints, which will be cues for things to come.
*1* Masse & Lune are the French words for "Earth and Moon", following the trend of the other Guardian's names, which are in French.
*2* Bass_EXE from the MegaMan Battle Network series.
*3* MegaMan_EXE from the MegaMan Battle Network series.
*4* The reason I say "streamlined Mettuars" is because the EXE versions of the Mettuars don't have the additional bumps and ridges that the X and ZX Mettuars do. If you look between the two, you'll be able to see the evident differences.
*5* Slur_EXE from the RockMan_EXE: Stream anime.
*6* ProtoMan_EXE from the MegaMan Battle Network series.
*7* This phrase was first coined by the character David Xanatos from the 1994 movie, "Garoyles".
*8* SwordMan_EXE from MegaMan Battle Network: Transmission. The stage is the same as in-game.
*9* A quote from Bass_EXE when you fight him in MegaMan Battle Network 6.
*10* This dialogue was paraphrased from Team Four Star's Dragonball Z Abridged, episode 20.