Disclaimer: I don't own anyone or anything from the Megaman ZX series, simple as that.
Summary: Fate clashes with destiny in an alternate world as Ashe becomes a Chosen One, but not with the Model A we all know and love. When Model W decides to choose her as its rightful heir, is she destined to follow her ancestor's path and become the world's greatest threat, or can she fight against her evil heritage and overcome the will of Model W?
Raider Airship - Cargo Hold (Mega Man ZX Tunes - Industrialism Area-E - Power Plant)
The airship shuddered and rumbled as it flew towards the distant island across the sea, the lights inside the cargo hold dimming as the turbulence outside signalled their descent. A small group of amber-uniformed mercenaries were seated around the dank hold, eager to get on with their mission of obtaining the 'legendary treasure' people spoke of being hidden somewhere inside the ancient ruins located in this area.
Raiders, otherwise known to the rest of the world as 'illegal Hunters' were experts in tracking and dealing with lost technology, and this group was no exception. One of the Raiders shook his fist excitedly as the mechaniloid auto-pilot announced they'd reached their destination.
"Alright, here we are at last! This time we're gonna hit the jackpot for sure!" Gerry said as he rubbed his hands together eagerly. Lethys, a younger human man was seated next to a female reploid named Cheryl, both of whom raised their eyebrows at his statement. The woman groaned, rubbing her jewelled forehead irritably as she glared at their brash squad leader.
"Gerry, that's what you said last time and we all know how that mission turned out..." she said, while Gerry shrugged carelessly and pulled on his helmet.
"Relax, I made sure we're properly equipped with plenty of supplies this time. It might take some time to navigate around these ruins, but we're prepared for whatever happens. This time, we're gonna beat those Hunters to the punch and bag that legendary biometal!"
"Biometal? So that's what the boss man thinks is hidden away here?" Lethys said, narrowing his eyes as he tried to remember where he'd heard that term before. Gerry nodded, while Cheryl grinned wickedly.
"Yeah, I heard it's some kind of cursed stone that eats human souls!" the reploid girl jeered, waggling her fingers at the man seated beside her. Lethys paled and yanked on his helmet quickly, trembling as the lights inside the cargo hold flickered out as a particularly strong gust of wind shook the airship.
"S-shut up! Nothing could do that," the man said nervously as the woman laughed. Gerry gathered his equipment, scratching his chin thoughtfully as he considered the women's words.
"I don't know, I heard some strange rumors about biometals. Remember that crazy incident at Inner Peace about five years ago or so? I heard that the whole city almost got completely wiped out by countless mavericks, but this strangely armored kid showed up to stand against them and wiped the lot out all by himself. I went there about a year or so ago picking up some supplies for the boss man, and overheard some kids talking about that same guy. Apparantly he used these little mechanical devices to change into different forms. I don't know if biometal does steal human souls, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did something weird like that after all. I mean, what kind of person can destroy thousands of mavericks? No human I ever heard of, that's for sure!"
"Humph, I don't care what it does, just as long as we beat the Hunters to it. I hate those smug bastards always muscling in on our goodies!" Lethys said, as the other two cheered in agreement. The cargo hold rumbled again, and ground to a halt as the airship finally landed. Pulling on their gear, the Raiders counted their numbers and came up one short. Peering around the dim hold, Gerry poked his head around the corner and spotted their youngest member standing near the exit, peering through the small glass window at the outside world.
"Hey Ashe, are you ready for your first real mission?" he said, as the silver-haired girl ignored him.
"C'mon Ashe, stop daydreaming already! This is your big chance to score some real treasure!" Cheryl called, grinning as Ashe jumped to attention upon hearing the word 'treasure'.
"Pfft, I've been ready for ages, I'm just bored stiff waiting for you old timers to get yourself sorted!" the silver-haired girl said cheekily, as Lethys laughed good-naturedly.
"Well, I hope you're prepared because this old timer is gonna beat you to the treasure!"
"Don't get too excited, we don't know what's out there yet. These ruins might not be so abandoned according to this scanner," Gerry remarked, holding up a small device in the palm of his hand. It showed a map of the island across its screen, pinpointing a strange energy frequency resonating from the center of the ruins. Smaller energy signals were scattered across the land, some of them moving around. Almost certainly mavericks or rogue mechaniloids, given how long it had been since anybody was here. Lethys scratched his cheek absent-mindedly, staring at the strong signal the strange frequency was giving off.
"Do you think that's where the biometal is located?" Cheryl said, equally puzzled over the strange frequency signal. It was nothing like they'd ever seen before, and unnaturally strong. Gerry paused, looking some hesitant before shrugging his shoulders and unstrapping his rifle.
"Could be, or at least somewhere to start looking first. At any rate, we can expect trouble. Let's move out!"
Mysterious Laboratory - Undersea Base (Mega Man ZX Tunes - Babel Tower - Serpent's Demise)
"So... the Raiders think they can just stroll right in and steal away my Model A, do they?" remarked a shadowy figure to himself as he studied the numerous screens situated around the room.
Inside this large laboratory hung countless numbers of metallic fragments, each and every one large shards of jagged machinery. Crystalline red orbs littered a number of these fragments, glaring down like eyes as they too appeared to watch the goings-on at the distant isles. Their green circuits pulsed gently like a thousand heartbeats, and the shadowed being looked up at them with a vague pleasure. Turning his attention back to the screen, his considered how best to handle this situation. Had he not been so concerned with the recent intrusion into one of his other bases, he would simply have sent Prometheus to the island to deal with the intruders, but Pandora had failed in her mission and couldn't even dispose of that defective correctly. He didn't dare set her brother against the Raiders, especially when he wanted Model A's true data to be kept secret for as long as possible...
Activating a link on the nearest terminal, the figure waited as the line booted up and reached its recipient. The sounds of hissing flames came online as one of his creations stirred, responding to his call.
"Buckfire awaits Master Albert's orders!"
"Buckfire, there's a small group of intruders at the island base where Model A is hidden away. I need you to teleport there and dispose of them, or better yet, lure them to where Model W is located and feed them to it. They mustn't be allowed to obtain either biometals!"
"Buckfire hears and obeys! Buckfire make sure Raiders do not leave alive!"
"See that you don't. DAN-000 out..." the man finished, before looking up at the Model W fragments scattered above him.
"Soon, Model W... soon you shall be restored to your former glory. Every fragment will be united once again, and forged stronger than ever before!" he laughed. The crimson orbs glinted at the prospect of regaining their original power; fragmented and weakened as they were now. It had been a long wait, hundreds of years even, but it seemed as if their inactivity was finally at its end. Several of the orbs glinted again, watching the still-playing screen with growing curiosity. Had Albert been watching them more closely, he would have noticed their transfixed gaze upon the smallest of them all; the silver-haired girl with burning green eyes.
Ancient Ruins - Archaeological Dig Site (Mega Man Zero 2 OST - Imminent Storm - Suspicious Events)
Gerry led the small group through the ruins cautiously, keeping his trusty rifle trained on everything that moved. Torrential rain lashed down fiercely across the overgrown land, soaking them all as they tried to keep moving at a steady pace. As Gerry suspected, the ruins weren't as abandoned as the Raiders had previously thought; mavericks roamed the land, as well as rogue mechaniloids. Surprisingly, the majority of the irregulars were in a heavily-neglected state as if placed here long ago, only to activate in the event that unwelcome guests trespassed across the land.
Easily taken care of due to their weakened state, the Raiders wiped out the pockets of feral machines that showed up and pressed on deeper into the ruins. Gerry was an experienced tracker, and able to navigate through the rough terrain easily. Lethys and Cheryl weren't quite as experienced as the older man, but they were alert as they studied the area and noted interesting-looking objects they could possibly pick up on the way back if they had the time. Whoever had lived here had obviously used this place as temporary store-houses or possibly even a laboratory, before the ravages of the elements reclaimed the land over the years. For several hours, the Raiders travelled until they had almost reached the center of the island where the mysterious frequency was detected.
It was Ashe who first sensed they were being followed, and she whistled lowly to attract Gerry's attention. Instantly the man paused, pretending to be busy looking at his surroundings while keeping an eye on his scanner. Sure enough, there was something hiding nearby, its energy readings almost concealed thanks to the heavy rain scrambling the signals around them. Just ahead in the distance was an old-looking tower, the most likely location of where the strange frequency was coming from. Lethys and Cheryl gazed around the ruins nervously, before the reploid girl looked up and gasped.
There, standing atop the nearest pillar of twisted metal was the strangest-looking maverick that Ashe had ever seen. Silhouetted against the stormy grey skies, the unusual-looking being jumped down and landed lightly before the small group. Standing almost eight feet tall, its height was exaggerated even more due to the blade-like horns adorning the top of its ruminant-like face. Snorting and wheezing upon its discovery, the deer-like maverick kicked its flaming heels and pointed aggressively at the group, its emotionless eyes staring coldly at the Raiders before it.
"Raiders! You not welcome here in these lands! Penalty for trespassing is death!"
"Figures there had to be at least one real maverick here... spread out quickly and get some distance between all of you. It doesn't sound particularly smart so with the four of us around, it ought to have trouble picking us off one by one..." Gerry whispered, though Buckfire's sharp ears caught his words and whinnied furiously at the insult.
"Me not maverick! Me Pseudoroid! Me Buckfire! Buckfire will pummel you all into ground!"
WARNING! MAVERICK DETECTED! (Mega Man Zero OST - Crash - Boss Theme)
Lethys and Cheryl darted around Buckfire's left, while Gerry and Ashe moved around Buckfire's right in an attempt to circle around the Gaxelleroid and make use of the cover offered up by the ruins around them. Buckfire watched them run cautiously, eyeing their weapons as their plasma bullets ripped and tore through the air around him. Dashing around the area, the deer-like maverick dodged the majority of the bullets shot by the humans and snorted angrily as his light-weight hull was nicked by their stinging pellets.
Jumping up into the air, Buckfire shot down to the ground with a crash, his flaming heels leaving trails of smoke and embers across the wet grass. Lethys rolled across the ground, narrowly avoiding being crushed to death by the Pseudoroid's powerful legs while Cheryl took her chance to pepper Buckfire's face with her buster gun.
"Y-yowch!" Buckfire howled, rubbing his snout painfully as both Lethys and Cheryl scrambled to safety behind a fallen pillar of gnarled metal and vegetation. Gerry continued to focus his fire on the maverick's back, his bullets barely denting the maverick's orange-brown hull. Ashe also fired away, stopping when the deer-like irregular turned around to focus on them instead. Being so large, Buckfire had trouble navigating through the small area, and had hoped to catch them unawares until they'd at least reached the tower nearby. Here with so much cover, the speedy little humans had the advantage of being able to keep moving around while the debris stopped him from skimming across the land so quickly.
Snorting in frustration, Buckfire turned and dashed off deeper into the ruins towards the tower still visible in the distance. Lethys went to rush after the escaping Pseudoroid, but Cheryl held him back before he could follow after Buckfire who was rapidly becoming a fading light in the misty atmosphere.
"Aww, he's getting away! C'mon, let's finish that maverick off before he gets any bright ideas about ambushing us again!" the young human male said, as the reploid woman shook her head.
"I don't know, that maverick was nowhere near ready to give up so easily. It seems like he wants us to follow him to that tower up ahead..." Cheryl said, looking at the path ahead while Gerry nodded in agreement.
"Right where that odd frequency is located... seems like we have to go there anyway, so the sooner we get there, the less time that maverick has to rest. If nobody's hurt then stir your stumps because that maverick's in for a beating!"
"Right!" the others said, readying their weapons as they followed Buckfire's trail towards the ancient-looking tower looming ahead.
Ancient Ruins - Crumbling Tower (Mega Man Zero OST - Infiltration - Aquatic Stage)
"Well, looks like our friend is definitely waiting for us inside. Keep your weapons ready at all times, there's no telling what's inside this tower, least of all if there are traps and other mechaniloids designed to keep intruders out."
The rusted metal doors to the tower lay in scattered pieces inside the corridor, a heavy kick having smashed the frame apart and partially melting the heavy metallic panels. Cheryl stared numbly at the broken pieces, while Lethys paled again at the thought of what Buckfire's kick could have done to him had he not rolled away in time. Droplets of rain led the way inside the dark corridors, showing which direction Buckfire had gone inside the facility. Leading the way as he usually did, Gerry held a torch in one hand while holding his rifle in the other, his eyes flickering here and there as he kept a watch out for trouble. Ashe walked alongside Cheryl quietly, feeling unusually nervous the further inside they ventured.
Having lived with the Raiders for as long as she could remember, Ashe been excited about going on her first real mission for months. Unlike the Hunters, where young adults were accompanied on their missions alongside older members, they all had to follow the strict orders of Legion HQ and weren't usually given much responsibilty until they were of age. Even then, Legion was demanding of the spoils, using the excuse of obtaining that lost technology to better improve the rest of the world. The Raiders worked very differently and had their own ideals for such technology, especially since they were the ones who had to bust their asses reclaiming the valuable treasures and information hoarded by the mavericks that roamed Outlands; dangerous areas rendered uninhabited or inhospitable to citizens thanks to the feral machines.
While members as young as Ashe were a rarity, she was as just valued as their older mercenaries, and given a fair share of the spoils as long as she did her fair share of work. While the older members would look out for her safety specifically, she had gained much more experience and knowledge on the field than she would have done living safely with regular citizens or even with the Hunters themselves. Just shy of sixteen, Ashe was already considered an adult and was just as capable with a weapon as anybody else. Still, despite her years of training, there was something sinister about this place that she just couldn't shake. Idly she noticed that Lethys and Cheryl looked equally unsettled, jumping at flickering shadows and the creaking metal of the building echoing around them.
"There...!" Cheryl said, spotting Buckfire's glowing eyes peering at them through the darkness ahead. Raising his weapon, Gerry prepared to fire but the deer-like maverick turned on his heels and jumped up onto the second floor, clearing a whole level of stairs at once. At once he vanished into the gloom, causing the Raiders to curse in annoyance.
"Damn it, he's playing some stupid game with us!" the older man growled, not liking what the maverick was doing. Unlike most irregulars who attacked mindlessly, this one acted strangely, as if he wanted them to follow him even deeper for whatever reason. Climbing up the stairs, Lethys and Cheryl took the lead slowly as the stairway rumbled and cracked. The ancient tower wasn't as sturdy as it used to be, and even the weight of one person going up at a time caused strain on the crumbling architecture.
"Alright, be as careful as you can while we're up here. This place is falling apart and we don't want anybody getting lost or falling through the floor somewhere."
As they ascended the second and even the third floor, Buckfire seemingly showed up at random, guiding them through the sprawling corridors of the blackened tower. Cracks in the walls and windows showed dim light shining through, though the rainfall remained as heavy and unforgiving as when they'd entered. Again, Buckfire waited near the bottom of each stairway, and leapt up to the next level before anybody could fire off a shot at him. Each level they climbed grew darker and more neglected, and by now, even Gerry's torch could barely light the way. The ancient flooring groaned sharply underneath their feet, and even their group leader appeared to be having second thoughts about continuing any further.
"Look, this corridor splits off into two paths!" Lethys said, shining his own torch ahead to help light the way. Sure enough, there were two paths, one heading left while the other veered off sharply to the right. Gerry shined his torch down both corridors, but there was no telling which way their quarry had gone. Flicking out his scanner, the frequency detector was going absolutely haywire. Without the maverick's telltale droplets guiding the way as he'd dried off long ago already, there was no telling which pathway Buckfire had taken.
"I'm getting a bad feeling about this, guys. Maybe we should get out of here and head back to the ship..."
"No way, we've made it this far, no sense giving up just because it's a little dark. Stupid maverick's just playing mind games with us."
"A little dark is nothing to be concerned about, sure, but a whole lot of it? Even biometal's not worth this."
"Shut up and stop being such a pussy. Head back if you want, but we're heading on."
"Awww, why you always gotta be like this..."
"Stop whining, you big baby. Gerry, take Lethys with you, I can't stand his belly-aching any more. I'll go with Ashe and take the right path."
"Whatever you say. If you ladies get into trouble, scream. We might come."
"Very funny. C'mon Ashe, let's show the boys how it's done."
Taking the right path, both Ashe and Cheryl moved slowly through the corridor, listening out for movement more than relying on their eyes. It was absolute black now, even their twin torches barely able to light the way past a few feet. Around them, the sounds of the thunderstorm could be heard outside, while more distantly was the fading sound of Lethys' whining as he and Gerry followed the left path. Even Cheryl felt a little unnerved by the eerie silence, and suddenly their team-mates complaints didn't sound so unwarranted now. Opening her own scanner, the reploid women frowned as the bizarre frequency was now at the strongest it had been. The map inside the tower was scrambled, showing nothing ahead and detecting no signs of life around them at all, organic or otherwise.
Ashe's foot knocked something, causing both girls to jump at the loud sound and look around. A piece of metal, orange-red in colour was lying on the floor, perhaps a piece of Buckfire's armor having dropped off from their earlier scuffle. Scorch marks covered the floor, the metal still warm to the touch as both Ashe and Cheryl bent down to touch the marked floor.
"Looks like our friend came this way alright. We must almost be at the end of this place, I've lost count of how many floors we've climbed as there aren't even any windows anymore to show how high we are..." the reploid woman said, while Ashe readied her Buster. The corridor widened slightly, and a faint red light could be seen glinting in the distance. Picking up their pace, both girls walked briskly ahead, the crimson light almost enthralling throughout the endless gloom.
(Mega Man ZX Tunes - Fate - Deep Seated Grudge - Boss Encounter)
At the end of the corridor were two rooms located side by side One room appeared empty, while the other was filled with an intense red glow. Walking inside, both reploid and human women looked around the room carefully, watching out for any hiding places Buckfire could be waiting. There were no exits in this room other than the one behind them, the room filled with trashed equipment as if somebody had already been here long ago. Wiping a coating of dust off the surface, Ashe examined a strange-looking piece of equipment, looking almost like a capsule used to monitor the health of reploids. The glass was stained and cracked, no longer capable of housing anybody, but considering how old it appeared, it looked far more advanced than any type of monitoring equipment she'd ever seen. Just what was this place, and what had it been used for?
"Look up there!" Cheryl said, her eyes wide. Whipping her head upwards, Ashe finally spotted the source of the crimson light.
Hanging from the ceiling was a twisted chunk of metal unlike anything they'd seen before. Thick and white, it hung suspended on thick black coils of wire, while a large red orb glowed in the center of its formation like some grim adornment. More black coils were embedded in the surface of the walls, as if it had been growing here for a very, very long time. Green circuits glowed faintly, pulsating as if the thing was alive. Fear and disgust rippled through both women as they gazed upon the twisted amalgam, unable to make sense of what it was exactly other than being the obvious cause of the mysterious frequency.
"What is this thing? Is this the biometal that Wolff sent us here for?" Ashe whispered.
"I don't know... whatever it is, we ain't gonna be able to drag that back to our ship, let alone take off with it."
From out of seemingly nowhere, Buckfire lunged out from behind the wreckage nearby and headbutted Cheryl as hard as he could. The reploid women went flying across the room, having shoved Ashe down to the floor in order to prevent her from being body-slammed too. The human girl cried out as her friend tumbled across the ground, the rusted metal flooring underneath her giving way as she plummeted down to goodness knows how many levels below. Whinnying in delight, Buckfire danced and kicked his heels, having successfully gotten rid of one of the intruders - namely that impudent female who shot at his well-designed face.
"You...!" Ashe hissed, struggling to get up off the filthy floor. Hatred for every maverick burned throughout her, the twisted machines being the cause of her having to grow up without a family. As well-meaning as the Raiders had been, Ashe had never truly had a family or real identity, not knowing if Ashe was even her true birth name. Wolff had found her at a destroyed village years ago, the only survivor of a widespread maverick raid. While he never tried to take the place of her father, he'd taken the girl in and ensured she grew up educated and capable of looking after herself. Cheryl was one of the few who truly looked out for Ashe's well-being, the reploid women being almost like a sister to her over the years.
And Buckfire had probably just killed her. Just like the other mavericks who killed her family years ago...
"You... stupid... machine. I'll tear you apart... even if it's the last thing I do!" she snarled, her blood boiling with rage. Buckfire, as emotionless and unfearing as he was couldn't help but cringe slightly at the hateful tone in her voice. While he wasn't a stranger to killing people, such hatred and anger directed towards him personally was very uncommon, especially coming from such a young child. Nonetheless, he snorted impudently and prepared to charge again, troubling himself no longer with such thoughts.
Above them, the red orb of the hanging biometal suddenly glowed intensely, flooding the room with crimson light. Responding to Ashe's hatred and rage, the green circuits burned crimson, shining so brightly it almost blinded them both as the entire tower began to tremble. The thick coils of wire slithered around like black serpents as Model W roused itself from its long slumber at last, the rich emotions underneath a meal far too enticing to pass up. Buckfire froze, trembling at the power resonating from the dreaded Model W as it finally awakened. He couldn't teleport it away now however, not while it was beginning to feed.
Ashe was paralyzed, white-hot agony searing throughout her body as she felt her hatred and anger being siphoned out of her very being. Far from shocking or upsetting her, it enraged her even more that anything could dare to try and stop her. She would destroy Buckfire, red light or no red light, and so she screamed in defiance. Model W pulsated, responding even more fiercely to the intense emotions the girl was willingly throwing at it. For such a young girl, she had so much pent-up anger, almost too much to drain in one go. Still Ashe raged on, focusing directly on the still-watching Buckfire as the Gaxelleroid tried to make sense of what was going on. Taking a step forwards, the silver-haired girl resisted the will of Model W and carried on stalking towards the prone maverick, causing Buckfire to step back against the wall worriedly. Model W continued trying to drain Ashe's emotions, the girl seemingly uncaring of its power as she shrugged off its siphoning powers at last and sprinted towards the deer-like Pseudoroid.
Buckfire's nerve broke at last and he fled, dashing out of the door and vanishing into the darkness. Ashe screamed in fury, more loudly than she'd ever done before. Cheryl was gone, and Buckfire had escaped without punishment. The silver-haired girl continued to scream, Model W screaming along with her as it felt her grief and rage as intensely as she did. At that instant, something strange happened as it sensed something else deep inside the girl, something deep down in her DNA calling to it enticingly. Resonating again, Model W's ruby-red core trembled, and shattered into thousands of pieces. At once, Ashe's screaming stopped short, and she looked down to see that one of the blood-red shards had pieced her chest. Not just red due to its ruby-red tones, but red as her lifeblood welled out of the injury and trickled down the mortal wound.
"Ugh..." she muttered, sighing as the light in her green eyes dimmed as she fell to the ground. Moments later she lay motionless, her eyelids fluttering shut as coldness enveloped her. Another sigh, and then she moved no more.
(Mega Man Zero OST - The Ruins Of Lab)
Cold. It was bitterly cold, drifting through this endless black haze. Far darker than the path she and Cheryl had taken earlier before finding the room where the biometal had been hidden. Where was she, where were the others? Was she dead? It certainly seemed that way, what with her heart being pierced by the shards of the hanging amalgam... and yet there was a vague sense of awareness that hadn't yet diminished. There was no pain, not anymore, though there hadn't been much even before she passed out. Stirring faintly, Ashe cracked open her eyes to try and make sense of what was around her.
Hundreds of red eyes glared down at her through the darkness, an endless sea of crimson orbs surrounding her. Their gaze was harsh and cold, scrutinising her much too intensely for her liking. Faint whispers echoed throughout her mind, the words too faint to make sense of other than that it sounded as if hundreds of people were whispering to her at once. Some voices were angry, some sounded sad, some were cold and many confused. Some called for help, crying and begging for help, while others blamed and cursed her. The voices only grew louder as Ashe tried to blot them out, desperately trying to ignore the accusing words as the red eyes appeared to grow closer and closer. The blackness faded into a sea of red, as if she were flowing through rivers of flood. The voices turned mocking and high, strange laughter calling out as they sang out together as one in a high-pitched whine.
"Stop!" she cried out, clenching her fists to her head as she tried to ignore the painful sound. Just when she thought her head was about to explode, the red eyes widened and shut themselves quickly as a strange white light emerged. Blessed silence fell as the voices also retreated, unable to stand the prescence of the glowing orb floating gently before her. Warm and comforting, the orb pulsed gently and waited for her feelings to settle down before doing anything else. Calming, Ashe gazed upon the orb, marvelling as its beauty as rainbow lights shimmered off its surface. It was beautiful to behold, though there was something also sad about it.
"Ashe...?" it called faintly, sounding concerned for her. The silver-haired girl blinked in surprise, trying to lift her head to look at the hovering orb properly.
"H-how do you... know my name...?" she whispered to it, her chest burning with pain as she tried to talk. The glowing light hushed her, seeming to inspect her injuries. Slightly jutting out of her chest where her heart was located was the red shard of Model W's core, glowing inside of her. The bulk of her Raider's outfit hid it to all but the most knowing eyes, as the shard seemed to worm its way inside the open cavity of her flesh. Ashe gasped in agony, clenching at her chest as the cutting shard burned painfully, and the orb resonated again, trying to take away the pain. It seemed to work, as the shard settled its movements down. The wound closed up, flesh and blood knitting together to seal the wound. Breathing heavily, Ashe slowly managed to sit up as the orb began to grow dim.
"I... can't stay here much longer but... remember... you are not alone. There is good inside of you, Ashe... do not let Model W win..."
"Tell me who you are? And what's Model W?" she asked, as the orb faded away. Darkness returned, but the eyes and the voices remained silent for the time being. Distantly Ashe was aware of somebody calling her voice, and the coldness faded away as warm hands touched her face.
(Mega Man ZX Tunes - Whispers of Relics)
"Ashe? Ashe? C'mon kid, wake up already!" Cheryl whimpered, patting the young human's face.
When Buckfire had attacked earlier, the reploid girl had fallen down several levels and was knocked offline momentarily. When she rebooted and came to, she recognized the stairways around her, and finding the same path again had only taken minutes. However, seconds counted against mavericks, and Cheryl's metaphorical heart had been in her mouth through the whole journey. Just as she'd reached the uppermost level, Buckfire had charged past her in absolute terror, howling in fear as he leaped down the stairs and out of the building as fast as he possibly could. There'd been no sign of the others, and the reploid girl entered the red room only to find Ashe sprawled out across the floor, seemingly dead.
"Wake up, Ashe... don't do this to me, kid..." Cheryl begged, breathing a sigh of relief as the silver-haired girl finally stirred at last. Her Raider's uniform was spotted with dried blood, though thankfully the human girl didn't seem too badly injured after all. Cracking open her eyes, Ashe squeezed them shut as if fearing seeing what was above. Cheryl helped her sit up, preventing the girl from getting up too fast as she swayed dizzily.
"That Model W... where's it gone?" the silverette asked, as Cheryl tilted her head curiously.
"Model W? Is that what that hanging thing was called?" she asked, looking up towards the ceiling. The thing was gone, leaving nothing behind except the embedded walls where it hung from those colossal wires. There was a number of ruby-red shards littering the floor, as if the thing had fallen and smashed, but there was no way that could have happened as there was no other sign of its existance...
"Psssht... Cher... Ashe... do you read...?" came Gerry's voice on Cheryl's communicator. Flicking it open, the reploid Raider accepted the transmission and answered back.
"Yeah, we're here. That odd signal cleared up at last - turns out it was some weird biometal although there's no sign of it now. Did you find anything?" she asked, as Gerry and Lethys confirmed that they had. Inside the rooms where they'd gone through, there was one little mechaical device locked away inside the very last room. Lethys had managed to crack the capsule's code, unlocking the inactive device before obtaining it.
"Well, that's a shame what you found is gone, although from the sounds of things, it would have been too big to take back anyway. If that maverick's gone, I guess there's no need to stay any longer. Meet you back at the entrance and get ready to depart ASAP."
"Roger that," the reploid girl said, shutting off the link before checking Ashe over one last time. The girl clutched at her chest as if it pained her, but colour had flooded back into her face again as she managed to get back up onto her feet. Cheryl hovered anxiously for a moment, before deciding that Ashe must be okay if she was able to move.
"You sure you alright, kid? You must have been hit pretty badly."
"I'm fine, it's just a scratch. I'll get it taken care of once we're back at camp," Ashe said, looking tired and disappointed.
"If you're sure..." Cheryl said quietly, before helping the girl to her feet. Moments later they left the room, and strangely it was brighter than when they'd first entered earlier. The way back was much more easily lit, and it wasn't long until they met the two men waiting downstairs near the entrance. Sure enough, Lethys gleefully showed off his treasure, seeming elated that he'd gotten ahold of the prize before anybody else. The object he found was quite unlike the Model W from the red room, almost looking like a tiny blue and white face with pointed white 'ears'. It resonated with a strange frequency, similiar to that of Model W except this one didn't throw the scanner out of loop.
"All that trouble for this tiny thing? Hope Wolff thinks its worth it because that was totally not a fun mission."
"Aww c'mon, what's life without a bit of excitement?"
"I can do without the excitement that involves being thrown down multiple floors, Luffy."
"Shut up, how many times have I told you not to call me that?"
"Too many times to count, but I'm calling you that as often as I want."
"Pfft, you girls are no fun at all..."
Ashe felt jumpy and skittish all the way back to the airship, and had the strangest feeling that somebody was watching her. Not only that, but her chest itched and burned where the shard of Model W had impaled her. Faintly she could feel it stirring inside of her, alert and aware as it reached out to feel the emotions all around her; Lethys' glee and Cheryl's annoyance. After an hour of solid walking, their airship finally came into view at last, untouched and where they'd left it. Stashing their booty in the cargo hold, Gerry called Raider's HQ and let Wolff know of the successful mission, their leader acknowledging the capture of the fabled biometal. It was time to go home and kick back, and get ready for another night of celebration. As the airship took off and began flying back to the Oil Fields to meet up with the rest of the crew, Ashe seperated from the other team members to examine her wound more closely.
The jagged gash had almost healed completely, appearing scabbed and raw-looking. The source of the pain and itchiness no doubt, though Ashe knew better than to pick at it. As far as she knew, Buckfire hadn't taken that Model W with him, and that the one tremendous fragment of biometal was now nestled inside of her, feeding off her lifeforce and emotions like some parasite. Too tired out to care any longer, the silver-haired girl rested against the wall and closed her eyes for a bit, hoping to catch a quick nap before the ship docked back at the arid Oil Field and having to brief up on the horrible mission. At least they hadn't left empty-handed, but Ashe couldn't help but feel disappointed that she hadn't been the one to find the little biometal as opposed to the malignant Model W instead...
Author's Note: So there we have it, an alternate world where Ashe grew up not as a Hunter but one of the Raiders instead. How will Mega Man ZX Advent play out with Ashe entering the Game of Destiny as the lone player using Model W itself? Is she destined for the path of evil like the other users of Model W have come to follow, or can she overcome its evil heritage and use its power for good? I'm open to all suggestions and possible OC's, though I'm planning on Grey being the user of Model A.