[NOTE: This story is an AU reboot of the Megaman X series told as a cohesive adventure. Characters you like will be different or not present at all. Characters you don't like may be emphasized. The story will become more unique as it develops, and is currently intended as a 5-story arc, if completed.]
Prologue: "The Highway"
The air was loud with explosions. They went off like single bullets from an automatic gun. Screams and destruction punctuated the small gaps that attempted silence. Smoke was starting to stain the sky over the entire city.
Reploids and humans were mixed in their flight from the attackers. Hover-drones were rushing down to bash vehicles off the road, and armored walkers were firing missiles and blast-waves, chewing up the road itself. Even demolition bots had been somehow coopted into the fighting, sweeping in with their propeller heads and ramming their spiked pistons down into the roads.
Hidden from the battle, Dr. Cain's hands gripped the edges of the console showing him the destruction across the city. "...Sigma's forces. This was a coordinated military assault, not just a handful of Mavericks."
"Maverick Hunter squad 17 reporting," a strong, controlled voice chimed over the comm. "Dr. Cain, we're sweeping the South side, but there are a lot of battle droids involved. Are the other squads doing alright? This is getting hectic. I can break off to assist."
"No, Zero. Stay where you are for now. I have the other squads en route. The source is a sky-carrier still hovering over the far side of the city."
Dr. Cain's display zoomed to the most damaged edge of the city, and showed a large, shark-like ship with massive hemispheres embedded in either side.
"I thought that looked out of place. ...So Storm Eagle turned?"
"Sigma's air-commander, yes."
"Have we located Sigma's whereabouts?"
"Then that's our first-!"
Zero was cut off by an explosion over the comm.. Dr. Cain watched it warily until Zero's voice returned.
"We'll talk more later, Doc."
Dr. Cain gripped the side of his head, his aged face scrunching with grim frustration. How could I miss this? Sigma was the best Maverick Hunter we had. These Mavericks... why can't I find the cause?
"Doctor Cain, it's a war zone out there!"
Caught, the doctor twisted, and his expression faded to a sad one as his eyes locked on X. The unique Reploid was half-inside the doorway, his blue metal body tense. Blue-green eyes were bright with urgency.
"Yes, X, it is. We've got the squads deployed. They'll... they'll have this cleaned up soon."
X's frame sank slightly, and he stepped fully inside. Looking up at the display, he had to finally look down to the side. "So it's true. Sigma's group are now Maverick?"
Dr. Cain grimaced, turning back to the console. "...Despite all my best efforts, yes. I'm... I'm sorry, X. I never knew my attempt to build on your legacy would cause these... catastrophe."
X looked up again. "Only a small fraction of Reploids have ever gone Maverick, Doctor. The fighting itself is the tragedy, nothing else. This is too serious this time. I have to go out and see what I can do."
"No, X! You're not made for combat! You're too valuable to us all. You're Dr. Light's true legacy! If we lose you, we lose far more than just a few-!"
"Just a few what!"
The sudden fury in X's face stunned Dr. Cain silent. He stared, wide-eyed, at this normally gentle, mild-mannered robot.
X continued, his arm snapping out. "Reploids are dying out there, too, Doctor! Everyone is dying! Dying because of something made in my example! I'm not watching silently anymore, Dr. Cain!"
And he was gone through the doorway, only the thump-hiss of his hydraulic feet echoing in Dr. Cain's ears.
Dr. Cain slumped against the console. "...But if you go Maverick, we're truly lost, X. Dr. Light himself was terrified of that. Terrified to his last breath."
X ran out onto the street, and drove himself toward the explosions. It didn't take long as he wove through the abandoned or destroyed vehicles. More and more wreckage became part of the path before he saw something, and skidded to a halt. One of the buildings to his left was all but gutted by the detonated remains of an assault walker bot.
He didn't know why he felt so compelled to check. He ran into the gaping hole that used to be the door, and quickly glanced around.
His eyes widened, pained, as he saw a hand just around a corner of a wall, blood still pooling out around it.
Then the hand twitched.
X ran. Skidding around the turn, he found a human woman there. He knelt down, brushing some hair from her face. "Ma'am?"
Her eyes weakly peeled open, and then she jerked, shoving away from him.
He raised his hands. "Easy, easy! I'm not going to hurt you!"
"A-are you... one of the ones... attacking?"
X shook his head, and carefully reached over, starting to pick her up into his arms. His eyes found her stomach next, and he couldn't hide the pained shock in his face. The woman's gut was in pieces.
Looking into her eyes, he shook his head. "N-no... I'm... I'm here to help."
She seemed to grow very calm. "Oh... I guess you just... couldn't help... me..."
The woman smiled gently for him, and then went limp in his arms.
X sank between his own legs, still holding her. His face was slack, eyes wide, staring past her as blood poured down his all-too-hard frame.
"...I'm... so sorry..."
He squeezed her close, his frame shaking so much it rattled.
An explosion outside made him freeze still.
His helmet lifted enough to let his eyes focus outward, and his face was etched into rage. With pupils dilated to points, the blue-green irises seemed to intensify.
"Life is so cheap to us, isn't it?" he rasped out.
The woman was set down gently, and the thump-hiss echoed rapid-fire as X blitzed out of the building.
A hover-drone was just zooming down over the nearest car when it sensed movement. Twisting, its optics and mouth flashing with a building charge to attack, it only registered a white fist before its body was shattered into sparking wreckage.
X landed from his jumping punch, and charged ahead. His eyes locked on the air-carrier hovering so far away. He sped up, leaning full into his sprint, and his eyes glanced around quickly. Maps and positional data overlaid with his vision, and he saw that the aerial highway would get him closer to the ship than anything else.
Another trio of fliers came zooming down at him.
X spotted them, and his eyes sharpened. He gripped his left forearm. Dr. Light... you gave me this weapon, but I know you didn't want me to use it. Forgive me... I have to! His eyes blazed up, and his left hand snapped into a narrow shape before vanishing inside the bulbous forearm.
He saw that woman's weakening face, and his arm snapped up. Golden energy bled out of the barrel that used to be his wrist, and he opened fire.
The first few shots went wide, but the pulsing orbs of energy struck true with the next volley. The fliers blew apart in melting chunks of metal.
Already, his internal systems were activating in ways he'd never felt before. Targeting systems, energy pathing, internal cooling, it was all adapting to his new needs.
As he hand-flipped over a rail to get onto the highway proper, X thought, Thank you, Dr. Light. I'm sorry this had to happen, but thank you for giving the ability to protect the innocent, to protect life.
X kept running.
A spike wheel came whirling out of the wreckage of a vehicle, and X fired at it, whittling it down to a few chunks of smoldering machinery.
As he cleared the first hill of the highway, he saw an assault walker. It spotted him, and braced, the missile bays snapping open.
The energy networks that had opened up told X what he needed to know.
With a building shout, he drew his X-buster back, and energy started to pour into the barrel as well as ripple and flow over his entire frame.
The walker fired twice. X dove to the left of the first missile, then rolled under the second, and rose up spinning.
"You're not killing anyone else!" he roared, ramming his cannon forward, and firing at last as energy bled off his body.
The air pulsed with force, and a massive blue-white storm of power erupted from his shot. It flew out, barely held together, and collided with the walker. The walker was blown in half, a good portion of its central structure completely liquefied and vaporized.
X leapt through the falling pieces, already charging more power, and kept running.
Fliers and demolition bots were blown apart, littering the path X chose just as much as the ruined cars and transports.
He just kept running, his legs ramming him forward. He needed to reach that sky-carrier!
The air suddenly roared under the chop of a rotary engine, and X skidded to a halt, looking up as he reached a portion of the highway that had lost its guard-rails entirely.
A hornet-class transport swept down in front of him, the air blasting away as the insectoid air-assault ship locked its nose cannon on him, and opened fire.
X dove to his left, firing at the same time. Another air-shocking blue-white blast wave flew out as his feet barely left the ground the bullets chewed apart.
The hornet took the blast to the face, but it was heavily armored. Even so, the raw force shook the assault craft backwards in the air a bit. The 'stinger' of its body aimed down, and rolled out several silver orbs.
The orbs let legs roll off their bodies, and stood up, marching for X as well.
X growled, and charged forward as he pulled more energy into his body. "You're not dropping me that easily!"
He lunged out, as if punching, and fired again, almost point-blank to the first walker.
The blast-wave tore the walkers apart, and hit the hornet full-on again. This time the Horner sputtered, and the propelled blew off the top from cracks in the frame. It crashed down, and the sudden weight shocked the structure of the highway.
X felt the dangerous shake of fracturing metal and cement, and leapt onto the carcass of the hornet, running along as the highway started to collapse beneath it. He lept free, and crashed to a crouch just beyond the gaping hole.
He glanced back over his shoulder, exhaled sharply, and then ran on ahead.
The highway was weaker the further he went. Pieces started to give way beneath him, even as more fliers came rushing down to ram or blast him. X blew them apart in waves, and leapt from chunk of highway to chunk.
Looking up after another landing, he allowed a bit of satisfaction to mark his lips with a smile. The sky-carrier was right there. He was almost on it.
Leaping over another gap, he saw a robotic car steering for him, a gun mounted to the hood, a droid aiming it.
X firmed, building energy, and ran straight for it. "You're not getting past me to hurt more people!"
He fired without pausing, still racing straight for the attacking vehicle.
Before it could even fire, the vehicle was blown open, the lowest portion of the frame gliding along on loose wheels. X stepped on it as he ran forward.
Looking up at the belly of the ship, X nodded, and ran harder. He saw a hill further ahead, just off the highway. With the way the carrier was flying, he could use that to get closer enough to jump aboard.
Zero dropped down to a crouch near the highway, his brow creased. Touching his white audio-sensor, he spoke, "Dr. Cain? What squad was handling the highway?"
"...I didn't send a squad there yet."
"Well someone just cleaned it out fast. And you sound concerned. What's wrong, Doc?"
Dr. Cain grimaced. "...X just took off. He took the highway... He's going for the carrier."
Zero's eyes widened. "Why did you let him! He'll get killed out here, Doc! These droids are one thing, but there are Mavericks out here, built for combat!"
"I COULDN'T! Go after him, Zero... he has to live."
Zero cut the line and his feet burst with thruster-power, rocketing him down the road. "Hang in there, X."
[On the Highway]
Before reaching the hill, the carrier opened its bay, and let the ramp down. X looked up, and his eyes widened at the massive shape leaping straight down at him. With a shout, he dove to his right, tumbling harshly.
A power-suit crashed down, cracking the ground violently. It rose up, and turned, revealing a Reploid in full armor, with a visored helmet, and a cannon mounted on his own shoulder.
"Well, well. Look what we have here?"
X grimaced, standing up. "Vile... Why did Sigma turn Maverick! Why are you attacking innocent civilians like this!"
Vile chuckled. "Like I have any need to tell you? I'm glad you're out here, though, X. Time to die!"
The suit suddenly burst forward with a hydraulic roar, and X tried to jump back. He wasn't fast enough. The large fist slammed into his trunk, and sent him flying as he shouted from the pain.
X hit the ground harshly, skidding and flipping over himself. Vile was charging already, and X strained to get up, his chest-plate already dented and split in several places, light leaking out.
This time, just as Vile was about to hit, X rammed himself forward, under the attack, and rolled out behind the machine. Building energy as well, he fired into its back.
The machine pitched forward, but spun around at the waist, and Vile's shoulder-cannon aimed down.
"You don't have what it takes for war, kid. Shoulda stayed home."
A rippling sphere of gold light fired off from Vile's cannon, and X tried to leap back, but it hit dead-on.
A containment field surged over X's body, and he cried out, crashing down to his hands and knees, grimacing as his body shook.
Vile reached down with the power suit, and clenched the blue robot around the torso. Hefting X up, he started to squeeze. "So much for Dr. Light's legacy, hm?"
X strained, trying to lift his left arm, but his body was stunned, and physically restrained as it began to crack and warn of critical damage in his core systems.
Vile paused, and X heard the building hum of rising energy.
A pulse-shock sounded, and Vile started to rush backward, letting X go, but not before the blast-bolt struck the power-suits arm, blowing it clean off. Glowing-hot metal and parts flew out as the limb crashed down.
Zero rocketed into view, standing ahead of X, more energy building over his buster-cannon
Vile chuckled again. "Saved by Zero, of course. Just needed to buy some time anyway. Take care, Hunters. Kill you later." The power suit leapt up right as Zero fired, his shot flying under its feet.
The suit landed rushing away at top speed, the carrier catching it up in the loading platform.
The constraining field finally faded, and X just bowed his head as he knelt there.
"Trying to get yourself killed, X?"
Zero sighed, and let his hand reform. "You're not built for combat, X. Vile is designed as a war machine."
"I'm fighting this time, Zero. With or without your help."
"Dying you mean?"
Zero growled, rubbing the back of his helmet. "...Look, X. You're unique, and your body has systems none of us understand. ...Are you serious about fighting?"
X looked up, meeting his eyes.
Zero's face slackened. That's an edge I never saw before. X... what happened to you this time? "...If you use all of the systems you were designed with, you'll get stronger. Maybe even as strong as I am," he added with a smirk to cover his little slip of expression.
X's eyes eased, and he smirked, bowing his head again. "I'll work on it."
Zero offered his hand. "Come on. Let's get you repaired... then I'll show you some pointers, okay?"
"Long gone, X. Pick your battles. Call that lesson one."
X's face turned bitter at the ground, but he slowly reached up, and let Zero pull him to his feet.
Zero blinked. "...Blood?"
X looked down at the red still staining him from the woman in the building. "...The Maverick problem is my problem now. I won't rest until this is settled."
Concerned, Zero asked, "Are you sure you're okay?"
X met his eyes with that edge again. "No. And I don't think I will be for a long time, Zero. Let's go... I need those pointers."
"And, you know, to stop leaking fluids out of your chest plate."
X chuckled, holding a hand to his damaged from. "That, too, yeah."
Sharing the humor, Zero was interrupted by something, and he tapped his audio-sensor. "Ah, we've got transporters back up. Ready?"
The pair vanished in flashes of blue and red light, bolting into the sky.