The Maverick Prince

The city burned, the air orange with smog reflecting the blazes. There were bodies in the street, all dead. No, one was moving. One was trying to run away. He was to eliminate all of them, wipe the face of the Earth clean to end the corruption. He fired at the fleeing figure, killing the human. They would all be gone and he wouldn't have to deal with their annoyance any more.

Annoyance… he stood there for a moment, his long hair being blown in the wind. Were the humans really annoying? He didn't mind them much. Yet another thought believed them unworthy of the Earth, something to fight against. It was from an older part of his mind that he was afraid of. Sometimes, letting that part of his mind go unrestrained was like true freedom. Other times, it was madness to do so. But what part of himself was true?

"Stop right there!" a voice called out, a fierce and strong authority. He turned. "It's you again," the authority said.

It was him again: the blue armored hero X. His eyes were harsh, angered at the destruction, angered at the deaths. For some reason, he was on their side. And against him, even if they were the same in being not human. He felt… a snarl coming to his face, a hatred that was instinctive… fear, a fear of pain worse than death, agony that never seemed to end. His mind was breaking in two, but he faced the hero.

And charged for the growing blue shine. It formed a blast more powerful than it should be, and…

And he screamed, "Stop!" He collided into something hard, while something else tried to restrain him. He was trapped? But X was there and... he was going to suffer all over again.

Yet the pain he felt was barely there, nothing like it should have been facing against X's charged buster. And it was quiet. No fires, just a gentle hiss all around him. Still tensed, he opened his eyes. There was a clear curved cover above him, and a gray concrete ceiling past that. Some mechanisms were moving around him, not letting him go while he was like this. Just a dream. Again. Why couldn't he have nice dreams more often? He tried to relax to the point where the sleeping pod would feel it safe to let him go, but he was shaking, just about crying.

After about ten minutes, he finally calmed down enough that he was let go. Sometimes he thought of removing the restraint orders. Then again, he immediately recalled times when he had managed to break through the cover of a sleeping pod and crash into a wall after such a frightening dream. It was better this way.

He got out of the pod, feeling weak in the knees. Still, he made himself go over to the kitchenette area and get some coffee started. He was grateful to the one who had been kind enough to upgrade him so that he could drink and eat things. He found it a comforting thing to do. Especially when he made the food or drink himself. It was an indulgence that no one could deny him.

While he was waiting on the water to boil, then the coffee to brew, he considered what to do today. He was inclined to stay within his apartment. His apartment was safe; he could work on his sculptures, or the paintings. On the other hand, he had planned on doing things elsewhere. He turned on a radio, to keep the silence from being overbearing. But as soon as he did, he heard it. X's voice.

"The situation is under control," he said, in what would normally be a reassuring tone. "They had larger plans, but we managed to catch them in time…"

After a second being frozen by that voice, he slammed his hand down on top of the radio. Unfortunately, it had been an old model, barely working as it was. It got smashed under his impact. It emitted a screech in retaliation, then went silent.

He stared at it until his kettle started whistling. He shut the burner off and went to pour it into the filter with the grounds. The familiar greeting of a good morning came to his senses when the hot water hit the grounds. But that only stalled the inevitable memories that came forward.

...

A passageway of harsh lights and deep shadows. He walked just behind a reploid that was a full head taller than him. As he led the way, his violet cape shifted. He spoke of their guiding light, the one who had made it all possible. But he was only a copy of that light.

Possibly the only battle he had ever enjoyed. At least while it was going on. Their enemy was skilled, so was he, but he ended up defeated: motionless, powerless, helpless…worthless…

A strange image that caught his attention. It was soft, peaceful, and beautiful, unlike everything else so far. What was it? Why did it speak to him? Could he hold onto that strange beauty? But it had been destroyed to violence as well.

An image on the screen that spoke of doom to them all, the end of life on Earth. Someone wanted to erase all organic life, not caring or seeing the beauty of it. And that someone was the one who had made him. Was that legacy going to pass to him?

...

A splatter of hot water on his skin brought him back to the present. He put the kettle down and started cleaning up the mess he had made while lost in thought. Then he leaned down and took a sip out of his coffee, to make sure it wouldn't spill when he picked it up. He didn't always have it black, but this morning seemed like a black one.

He bit his lip, still looking down. A guiding light, like the star Polaris, as his creator had said. He had eventually taken that for his name, even if he wasn't worthy of it. Sometimes he felt like he wasn't worth anything at all, even this coffee. But darn it, the coffee never judged him. He picked up the mug up and took it back to an arm chair, where he curled up and tried to figure out what to do today.

Sometime, at some point, he had been meant to kill X. But that was flushed out of his system now. There was no way he'd dare do that. Instead, he had a fear of X that was so strong that there were days when it crippled him almost as bad as that shot from Zero had. Some black mornings like this, he did nothing but hide, safe from his fears, safe from discovery. He was almost certain that if they discovered that the copy of Zero from the second Sigma War had survived, they would be back to finish the job. Even if his fear of X insured that he wasn't going to do anything worth getting killed over.

But no. He'd done that for years now and he wanted to change that. He wanted to stop hiding. Sometimes he could almost work up the nerve to do it. Just twelve hours ago, he had actually been considering moving, leaving the underground complex that he had stayed in all his life. He was going to be that daring. But then, he had one of those nightmares that made him want to stay in the shell of this apartment and never ever come out.

And that's when the telephone rang.

Polaris stiffened, then got out of his chair and went over to the phone. That stirred up another fear. They usually didn't call him unless something was wrong. But that was part of the deal, wasn't it? They said nothing about his very existence and he took care of certain problems that they could not. It was time to pay his rent. Setting his coffee mug down, he picked up the phone. "Hello, this is Polaris."

"Good morning," it wasn't. "Polaris, we need you to clear out the tunnels again. The Nightmares have returned."

Them. He hated dealing with them. "Okay, give me a few minutes and I'll be there," he said.

"Thanks, we'll be waiting."

He hung up the phone and sighed. But if he did nothing, they might even infiltrate his apartment, ruining his safe zone. He drank the last of his coffee, then set the mug on the counter. Then over to his closet, where he hid his armor pod. Reluctant but making himself do his job, Polaris took off his clothes, then stepped into the pod and let the armor form around him.

It was old, to be honest about it. He hadn't changed it much since he had been built. Through many more wars (that he had hidden through), technology had advanced by large degrees. This wouldn't last long against modern opponents. However, it served well enough in the tunnels and against the Nightmares. Just so long as he was careful not to take any serious injuries while fighting those free forms.

Once he had his black armor on, he checked the weapons it had, making sure the viral neutralizer was still on his buster. Then he left his apartment for the main office.


What follows is an extensive possibly excessive author's note. If you're interested in the writing process and the history of this fanfic, then read on. If you're interested in continuing the story, go ahead and hit the Next button for Chapter 1.

All of my fanfics are done because I love the stories and I love the sources. But this particular fic is quite special to me. Perhaps because of how long I've worked on it, or perhaps it has a unique flavor for this particular fandom. If you've read this before, you know what I mean. If this story is new to you, then I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.

It all started in another fic. Maverick X Files, actually, a weird crack-ish fic that flipped good and evil roles for a lot of characters (I say crack-ish because I'm getting convinced that I can't write true crack, only crack ideas that turn dramatic). It had a parallel history going on, including a parallel Black Zero named Nocturne. He was intentionally made to be annoying and did well in that aspect. He was emo, spoke in purple prose, was overdramatic, had no courage, and spent a lot of time whining and moping, when he wasn't stalking another character.

And yet, there was something about him. Maybe it was the fact that he aspired to be a poet. Maybe it was because I gave him a chance at doing one awesome thing (the X5 shuttle flight) only to steal the show with something even more awesome. Whatever it was, I felt a little bad for how Nocturne turned out. I left him that way, but I also extracted his character to start another fanfic project.

I revamped his character so that he was far less annoying and more relatable. I cut out his purple prose and whiny tendencies. I also changed his love of poetry over to art, in part to further pull him away from Nocturne. Lastly, I changed his name to Polaris and started to search for a plot.

At the time, I was pretty active over at the Bob and George forums. I posted my fic, and read others. One thing I noticed was that many stories were action and war oriented, with not much thought given to character development or times of peace. That gave me the idea to try out writing what the life of an ordinary reploid would be like. But the free character I had was not ordinary, being a copy of Zero.

So I had the theme an extraordinary reploid trying to live an ordinary life. That put him against Sigma, which gave me the start of a plot. Happy with that, I started filling out the idea, adding in a clone of X in for parallels. I named the project Copycats and started writing. And Copycats was fun to write; I had all kinds of scenarios to put the two clones through.

Then I got to introducing the climax where I would make them face off against Sigma and I realized something. I hated the X clone. Normally, I rather like X's character (and it shows in other works). But this clone was trying too hard to be badass. He had passed over into Gary-Stu territory in that I was having trouble coming up with a suitable challenge for him. He just fixed things all too quick. I decided that he had to go. On the other hand, Polaris had grown suitably deep enough that he felt like a real person to me. He would stay.

This led to major plotholes. Polaris led in the most interesting scenes. However, the X clone was the one instigating a lot of the incidents and plot. Polaris isn't as spineless as his predecessor Nocturne, but he does tend to drag his heels when it comes to change. He needed other characters to nudge him into moving.

Thus came the first major reconstruction of the story. I started up a new file, named it Maverick Prince, and began rewriting. This time, things went smoothly. Other characters cropped up that could move things along without overpowering the story. I even managed to integrate the X clone into the story (although the fact that he shows up as a mutilated corpse should tell you how strongly I felt about him). When I got far enough along, I began posting it in little bits on the Bob and George forums. And people liked it, leading to a loyal following. I finished off the story, happy with how it turned out.

And then the webcomic Bob and George reached its conclusion. The forum stayed fairly active for a while, so I stayed. But the forums got set to downgrade due to the slowing traffic and something occurred to render certain posts into gibberish. The worst part of it? It was longer posts, like those in the Fanfiction forum, which got turned to gobbledygook.

I lost 4 novel-length fanfics in that incident, including Maverick Prince.

As you can imagine, that was upsetting. I left the forums not long after, it seems like, and started to write for other fandoms. People eventually found me again (it's the name) and I got the request to repost Maverick X Files somewhere else. When I started fanfiction, I hadn't backed them up, figuring they were 'just fanfics'. But I did have an early form of Maverick X Files on hand (long story, involves a series of old cranky computers). I adjusted that and posted that on this site. But I didn't have copies of the other three and I didn't know how to fix the gobbledygook. So I kept working on other things.

But Polaris never quite left my mind, even if his story was electronically shredded. I started using him in text RPGs. I kept coming up with ideas for him, especially his background during the timeline of the X games. And I wrote those down, even though I wasn't sure if I'd get to use them. I even pulled his personality and transported him over to a whole different fandom, making him into a human in the Pokémon world. That fic, Six Spirit, turned out quite well. Still, it wasn't Maverick Prince and I missed that story the most.

Then another old fan found me and said he had managed to recover the longest fic, Child's Play. It only needed a few fixes, so I did those and posted it as it was. Encouraged to have two of those old fics back, I looked into the other two.

Maverick Prince was in sad shape. I guess about 70% to 80% was lost. Weirdly enough, a few very important scenes were left completely intact on the B&G forums. Also, I still had a copy of the original version, Copycats (it took searching three computers and two boxes of diskettes). And there was enough structure left to the forum copy, plus great posts from reviewers and fans, that were just enough to reconstruct the story. So I started that.

But in the time between the second version and this third version, some ideas I have about the MegaMan universe changed. I still read many other fics of the fandom, including some quite brilliant ones here. Those have made me rethink how things work, and thus how this fic works. Plus, there were those background ficlets I'd collected, and some scenes I didn't like as much when I saw them again, and I thought some things should be changed around…

If you've read Maverick Prince before, then some parts of the fic may be very familiar. But a lot has changed too. I adjusted who knows what about who, key relationships, key scenes, the order of events, even a number of supporting characters and some symbolism. There are a lot more flashbacks, which are scattered throughout instead of being clustered to one area. Some of the mechanics of things have changed, some knowingly and some unknowingly (one of the most detailed info-dumps was totally lost). Having more experience and feedback on my action scenes, it's even a little more action-y than the published second version. It still keeps that same uniqueness, though, the relatively calm and easy-going slice-of-life fic in a fandom of action-oriented fics.

I am very happy to be able to present, once again, The Maverick Prince.

By the way, if you're wondering about that fourth fic, Final Request, it would be even harder to salvage on my end. One issue that it has is that I borrowed a bunch of characters from other Bob and George fanfic writers and any effort to recover it would have to be able to recover the credits to other authors. It's unlikely for me to be able to get it back.