History is fuzzy on when the events of the Neo Arcadian Uprising occurred, aside from confirmation that it was possibly sometime in the 23rd century, over a hundred years after the Maverick Wars.

The city of Neo Arcadia was created after the Elf Wars, founded by the legendary android hero, X. It was meant to serve as a beacon, a symbol of the world of coexistence between humans and Reploids—but after a point in time, X vanished, leaving his city leaderless. Believing that the people needed someone to guide them through an imminent energy crisis affecting all of Neo Arcadia, a young Reploid scientist, Dr. Ciel Lambert, created a copy of X to stand in for him. However, thanks to limitations in this Copy X's programming—as well as what is purported to be a tremendous amount of stress due to the energy crisis—Neo Arcadia soon found itself suffering under the grip of a Reploid who would not hesitate to destroy his own kind in order to allow the humans to live. Once more, Reploids were returned to the repressed state they were in, before the former Maverick Hunter Sigma had begun the Maverick Wars.

The Uprising itself began shortly after Copy X took power and began to "retire" Reploids suspected of being Mavericks, or those that were old and using too many energy resources. A counter-force known as the Resistance took up arms against him and Neo Arcadia in protest of the many Reploid lives being sacrificed for the welfare of the humans. However, four separate military branches, led by the Four Guardians Sage Harpuia, Fairy Leviathan, Fighting Fefnir, and Hidden Phantom, were more than prepared to quash all attempts to fight against Neo Arcadia.

The entire battle seemed hopeless for the Resistance.

Or, at least, it did at first glance.

Before openly defecting to the side of the Resistance, Dr. Lambert oversaw the transportation of an important package from a hidden underground laboratory to Neo Arcadia proper. This "package" was none other than the preserved and hibernating body of Zero, one of X's peers from the Maverick and Elf Wars and a top-ranked Maverick hunter.

After the Elf Wars, X had started the practice of moving Zero's body from its classified location and upgrading it with new parts and protocols that would keep it up to spec until its next update. As the preparations for the latest upgrade—the "Mythos" Project—were put into motion, Dr. Lambert, chosen to be the head of the project, secretly decided to slowly bring Zero out of stasis while he was being installed into the Mythos body prepared for him by Neo Arcadia's top scientists.

On the day that Zero's upgrade was complete, Dr. Lambert executed her operation and fully awoke him, then brought down the Trans Server shield in the laboratory and had them both transferred out of the facility by the Resistance. With a fully awake and repaired Zero aiding them, the Resistance was able to mount a significant resistance to Neo Arcadia, defeating its forces time and again while Dr. Lambert created the "Ciel System" to resolve the energy crisis once and for all. By the time she'd completed her work, the real X had been found and restored to his body, prepared to return to Neo Arcadia. Before that could happen, though, Neo Arcadia was usurped once more, falling under the control of another copy of X. This second Copy X had been created by the near-immortal criminal Dr. Weil, the instigator of the Elf Wars.

Over the course of two more bloody battles, X and Zero managed to help the Resistance crush the ancient evil under Weil's control known as Omega, the God of Destruction, as well as Weil himself. Neo Arcadia itself was destroyed by Weil's orbital laser Ragnarok, fired upon the city by Weil's top general Craft, but its survivors were led to the fertile ground of Area Zero by the real X, Harpuia, Leviathan, and Fefnir, as Phantom had perished in the struggle between the Resistance and Neo Arcadia more than a year before the destruction of Neo Arcadia.

In time, the city that grew outward from Area Zero became the seat of power for what would become the nation of Elysium, one of the three great powers of our modern age. As the city grew, still nameless, X stepped down from his leadership role once more, leaving the city to the governance of Harpuia, Leviathan, and Fefnir. By unanimous decision, they named the city Arcadia, the name that it has borne since then, as a sign of respect for their leader, the sacrifices he made, and the vision he held for the future. However, the founding of Arcadia, and the rise of other nations and city-states, such as Innerpeace and Giga City, did not eliminate one of the root causes of the Maverick and Elf Wars—Reploids that rebelled against gaining human lifespans, or went berserk due to some internal malfunction. In layman's terms, these Reploids came to be called Mavericks—no longer infected by the poison of the Maverick Virus, but by blind idealism, total insanity, or a mixure of both.

Even after the establishment of peacekeeping forces like the Guardians, the Mavericks raided fringe settlements outside of the Guardians' protection, trying to consolidate forces to attack the nations that had abandoned them and rejected their ideals. Within the cities, where humans and Reploids gradually merged into a new race called Humanoids, incidents such as Serpent's Project Haven and the Game of Destiny helped to destroy the post-war idealism that their citizens held so dearly. With growing pressure from the Maverick attacks growing day by day, Arcadia was the first to implement a drastic solution—the creation of Humanoids that were meant specifically to go into the "corridor zones" between nations where Mavericks resided and fight them back. These individuals were known as Purifier Units, and would serve as the front-line fighters for a still-continuing war of dominance against the Maverick forces seeking to destabilize the world.

To this day, fierce, harsh battles against Mavericks take place in the corridor zones—and rarer yet, in the cities, should the city's defenses be compromised. Their goal is simple: no matter what the cost, the civilian populace must be protected from the Mavericks, even if that means fighting in an area where civilians can be hurt or killed.

These bloody, painful battles are known as Purifier Operations, and they can leave behind painful memories for those that live through them.


Arcadia

A Mega Man Fanfiction

Written by Zero-Sennin


Trigger


If there's one thing I can say that I "hate" about being a Pacifier unit, it would be this: it's the reason why I have to deal with the Bonne family far more frequently than I would like to.

As a Pacifier, it's my job to enforce the law and protect the citizens of Arcadia from pretty much anything that comes their way. Anything in this particular case refers to just that—Mavericks, Raiders, feral animals, petty thieves...and so on. Though Tron Bonne and the rest of her "family", subordinates included, fall under that last category, I'll admit—with a LOT of reservation, mind you—that the Bonnes aren't really "petty" with the crazy stunts they pull off. Not to mention that they break out of prison almost as soon as they're put into it.

You want a prime example of how crazy they are? I'll tell you what they're doing to make my day miserable today. They blew their way into a bank, stole pretty much every scrap of zenny they could get their hands on, and right this second—literally, as I'm talking to you—they're tearing down Apollo Drive in their giant hovercraft, the Gesellschaft. They're firing every cannon they've got in any direction that's vaguely close to me while I try to catch up.

Mind you, they almost got away with the actual vault from the bank attached to the back of the ship. The best I was able to do before they took off was shoot the chain that would've let them fly off with the vault, otherwise the equivalent of a wrecking ball would have been slamming into the pavement right now. To make things even better, it's rush hour, so Apollo Drive—also known as one of the major throughways in Arcadia—is stuffed with people on the ground and air lanes, coming back from lunch, going to get lunch, or just trying to mind their own damn business. Needless to say, the shots tgat miss me are flying into skyscrapers, trees, the sidewalk, other hover-vehicles, and whatever else they happen to hit. EMTs are everywhere, attending to the injured, but I can barely pay attention to anything else but the Bonnes.

I'm driving my hover-cycle just behind them, shifting from high to low as they do and avoiding the plasma fire from the back-mounted cannons. My partner Sera's in the side-car on my left, and her red eyes are focused on the back of the Gesellschaft. Her hand's morphed into a creamy-white buster rifle—cylindrical in shape, with a long, black barrel extending from one end. It's perfect for precise sniping shots like the ones she's taking at the Gesellschaft's green, stubby wings. As another salvo of shots flies in our direction, I turn the handlebars to the left, and slam my blue-armored boot down on the descent pedal. The blasts fly overhead, and I take the opportunity to gun the gas and fly under the Gesellschaft. The turn causes some of my brown hair to fly into my face for a moment, but I don't blink. Instead, I scowl at the fat hull of the ship in front of me. The damn green behemoth's too heavily armored for Sera's shots to have an effect, so it's time to try a different tactic and test if the underside is as thickly armored as the rest of the ship.

"He's gone under us! Drop the bombs!" a male voice yells, his tones deep but somewhat tinny thanks to the cheap speakers installed on the Gesellschaft. "Drop them now!"

"God damn it, Teisel," I say to myself. "You're just asking to get locked up until you forget what the sun looks like." He'd already slapped God knows how many charges of manslaughter onto his record today thanks to the cannons blowing up half of Apollo Drive. At this point in his career, his rap sheet was probably long enough to circle the earth three times and still have enough paper left over for a fourth.

Sera glances at me as I pull us closer to the Gesellschaft. Her thin green ponytail and her long sideburns are the only parts of her hair blowing fiercely in the wind; her triangular bangs stay relatively still. Her eyes are stern as always, but I can immediately tell what she's planning to do as she looks down at her buster rifle. "Switch ammunition," she says, her quiet voice almost totally drowned out by the rush of air around us. "Defuse Probe, Cement Probe. Five rounds each."

The purple bracelet on her wrist, surrounding the base of her arm cannon, flashes green for a moment, then returns to normal. She aims up at the gray underbelly of the Gesellschaft above us, which is already starting to quiver as the hatch begins to open, and fires multiple shots, spraying a solid line of fire across the bottom of the craft. All of the projectiles are small black spheres, but contact with the Gesellschaft's hull causes different reactions for each one. Half of them explode into a dark gray goo, stopping the hatch from opening further, while another half embed themselves into the hatch doors and begin to spark ominously before unleashing arcs of blue electricity up and down the Gesellschaft. Teisel lets out a squawk of rage, and I put on a tight grin as I pull the bike up to the main deck of the Gesellschaft.

The gray turrets on the side of the ship track our movement, but don't fire; going by Teisel's reaction and the loud curses coming from the loudspeakers, the Defuse Probe's disabled the cannons and killed the fuses in the bombs, just as planned. Teisel and Tron will still have control of the ship, though. It's better that way, since if they lost control of something as stupidly huge as the Gesellschaft, it'd likely crash into a building, and that would be ten times worse than the damage they've already done.

Sera stands up, and her buster rifle disappears in a flash of dim light, revealing a normal brown hand in its place. She puts one foot on the outside of the sidecar as I pull up to the Gesellschaft, and then jumps out, headed directly for the larger ship's wooden deck. The moment she lands, cracking a few of the timbers, a group of Humanoids come out from hidden hatches and the red door that leads below deck. Their large red buster cannons are marked with a round white face that has black circles for eyes and a mouth that resembles a cartoon skeleton's—it's the mark of the Bonne family. They don't look scared, but I'm not worried about Sera. She's more than capable of taking them down.

I pull away from the deck and make my way to the front of the ship to distract Teisel with a few flyby attacks on the cockpit and the front cannons. I can't do much else unless I park the bike and join Sera. That means getting shot at while I try to touch down, which might distract Sera just enough for her to get shot herself.

I activate my radio implant, opening a line to my dispatcher, Yuna; it translates my thoughts directly into a message so that I don't have to try and shout over the wind. Trigger to Dispatch. I've dropped Sera onto the Gesellschaft and am engaging in diversionary fire. Gesellschaft's bombs have been disabled, and we'll need backup to get all of the Bonnes' henchmen locked down.

Yuna's familiar voice is soft as always, but since we're on the job, she's lacking her normal, teasing lilt. The tone she's using is exactly the same as the one she used as a Spotter back in the field. It brings me back just a little bit, but it reminds me that she's focused, too. "Roger that, Pacifier Trigger. A Retrieval unit is out and ready. Maintain pursuit so that we can coordinate tactics for capture."

I pull my left hand off of the handlebars of my bike as I pull toward the front of the Gesellschaft. My fingers, encased in a light gray, segmented metal, squeeze together, and my hand withdraws itself into the blue cylindrical armor that covers the space between the middle of my forearm and my wrist. Moments later, a short black muzzle pops out to replace my hand, and I open fire on the Bonne sigil plastered to the middle of the Gesellshaft's round front hull.


Sera


My feet, covered only by light-tan boots with black rubber soles, break the wood beneath them as if it were glass. Twenty-seven splinters fly up around me, and then are blown away by the powerful winds blowing over the deck. I am much heavier than them, and so I stand without trouble. As I turn to the red door that will lead me deeper into the enemy craft, I hear several small clicks, and hidden panels on the deck fly up. Humanoids, dressed in black bodysuits and wielding square buster cannons with the Bonne family identification symbol, swarm out of the hatches and surround me. They are soon joined by another set of similarly-clothed individuals bursting through the door. There are eight in total, with the lower half of their faces covered by what appears to be an extension of their bodysuits, functioning as a mask. They do not tremble as they level their weapons and aim them at me, and their postures are confident.

I cannot blame them for being unafraid, as my appearance is less than intimidating. While Trigger prefers to wear a blue suit of armor (and often forgoes the helmet that goes with it), I prefer to wear a tight bodysuit, the same color as my boots. The suit itself extends to my calves, ending just below the middle of my thighs. It also has no sleeves, exposing the pale-yellow concentric circles on my brown shoulders. The shoulder marks identify me as a Purifier Support Unit; however, the uninformed citizen is not aware of what the marks mean, and the Bonnes are not known for hiring smart henchmen.

When you tell a criminal that you are—or were, in my case—a Purifier Unit, they tend to stare at you for a moment before running off with the distinct tang of urine following them.

I notice Trigger pull the bike away from the ship and head toward the front, likely to distract the pilot while I infiltrate the vessel and apprehend the Bonnes. Immediately, I duck low and strike one of the Humanoids in the stomach with a punch, using approximately 10% of my maximum power. He staggers, and I grab his arm and swing him around me with another 10%, knocking down four of them in a single blow. I then drop the Humanoid onto the deck and charge the ones near the door, ducking under the first set of shots they fire at my head precisely 0.21 seconds after they fire their shots. When I am in arm's reach, I lash out with three single blows to each one—a right cross, an elbow strike to the face, and a backhanded blow from my right hand. I then walk over their unconscious bodies to the door, and kick it down.

The staircase that the door once concealed descends into a steel hallway that is 15.045 feet in length, lit by several standard-sized bulbs hanging on chains from the ceiling and the light streaming in from behind me. I jump down to the foot of the stairs and stride forward, heading straight for where the cockpit is likely to be.

As I pass through a crosswalk where the hallway intersects with another one, I hear footsteps draw closer to me on both my left and my right, clanging loudly on the metal floor. The echoes of the footsteps makes it difficult to count, but there are at least seven hostiles rushing me from each side. I raise my hands, pointing them down both corridors, and morph them both into buster rifles. Without aiming, I fire a single shot down each hallway. The shot on the left travels 4.40 feet before hitting a target; the one on the right, 6.51 feet. I wait until I hear the hissing sound of gas flooding the hallways, and the sound of unconscious bodies hitting the floor with loud clangs. Once I hear all fourteen bodies drop, I continue walking forward and dismiss my buster rifles. I also turn off my passive respiratory functions so that the sleeping gas probes that I just fired will not accidentally compromise my system.

Not far from that intersection is a door with the Bonne mark on it, and a rectangular hole with a thin metal banister around it, on the floor to the right of the door. I look down the hole and see that it has a staircase that leads down to the lower decks. After taking a moment to fire more gas probes down there, I kick the door down, and walk into the cockpit. The wall in front of me is filled with monitors viewing the outside of the craft. The largest monitor is the front view, which allows me to see Trigger's messy shock of brown hair, and his fierce green eyes staring back at the camera as he fires shots from his right-hand buster cannon at the Gesellschaft. The other monitors are focused in all directions, providing views of the skyscrapers that the Gesellschaft is darting between and the other hovercraft that are being forced out of its way.

The loud bang of the metal door hitting the metal floor causes the other occupant of the room aside from the pilot to flinch and stare at me in annoyance with her angry green eyes. She is a young woman approximately seventeen or eighteen years old. Her brown hair is styled to flow out stiffly from behind her head, and she wears a pink T-shirt. She has a pair of large round earrings that look like the Bonne sigil, and a matching brooch on the chest of her shirt, as well as pink boots and gloves, a short black jacket, and matching black tights. This is Tron Bonne, the mind behind the Bonne siblings' machinery. In the past, she has been particularly...difficult during arrests of the Bonnes, and I have often seen her looking at Trigger with an amorous eye before applying verbal abuse to him or myself to divert attention.

It...irks me, for reasons I would prefer to not elucidate on.

"Teisel, the girl cop's here," Tron says, her voice flat. "We lost again."

The large red pilot's chair swivels around, and I come face-to-face with Teisel Bonne for the tenth time in the last four months. His silver-gray hair springs wildly from his head, and he wears green-and-black body armor—not of military make, but likely strong enough to withstand a few of my strongest blows, particularly if his sister was the one to engineer it. His eyes have been replaced by red-orange enhanced-sight units, but the emotion on his face is clear as his jaw slackens. "What?! How did you get down here so quickly?!" he shouts, his normally gruff voice rising in pitch to a shriek. It is a stress reaction, but I still find it annoying despite dealing with it for the better half of two years, seven days, three hours, two minutes, and twenty-five seconds. "The Schwarzgruppe should have been able to hold you off! We trained them specifically to handle you!"

I do not waste breath telling him that he could find monkeys better trained to battle me than his henchmen, and instead form my buster rifle, pointing it directly at his face. "Surrender, or I will gas this entire room and land the Gesellschaft myself."

Teisel snarls, but it slowly dies off as I push the rifle closer to his face. My mouth is set in the same line that it always is, but my eyebrows draw closer together very slightly, and he gulps, knowing that when I have done so in the past, either pain or gas probes have followed shortly. We have had seven standoffs like this, and when either Trigger or I have been forced to this level of action, Teisel has capitulated without argument.

If only we could apply that success rate to actually keeping the Bonnes in prison, this entire situation would likely stop recurring.

Teisel finally says, "Fine, I'll do it," and turns back to the controls. The view on the front screen begins to shift, but I pay it no mind because I see Tron start to inch away out of the corner of my eye. She does have a particular talent for being particularly evasive when it suits her needs, and while I might allow her a moment to run before gassing her in normal circumstances, I am not in the mood for games right now.

I say aloud, "I can see you, Tron."

Tron freezes, likely remembering what has happened when she has attempted to flee in the past. She then sighs and sits down on the ground, puffing her lower lip outward. "Damn cop," she mumbles to herself.

I say nothing as I feel the Gesellschaft start to decelerate. The front view-screen no longer shows Trigger; he must have pulled back from the craft altogether. Instead, Teisel is headed for an unoccupied landing pad on a nearby skyscraper. A slight buzzing comes from my radio implant, and moments later, I feel a sense of approval wash over my mind. I know from experience that this is not my own emotion, but a sensory impression that Trigger has sent me. There are no words to accompany it, but I know that he is congratulating me on a job well done. I do not respond 'verbally', but send my acknowledgment across our link as an impression in kind.

Trigger does not reply once it reaches him; I only know that the message reached him because my sensors receive the nonverbal reply that he sends. This is fine; in some ways I prefer it when we communicate silently. It reminds me of our Purifier Operations, of the times when it was simply him, me, Yuna, and Juno against the Mavericks.

Times when matters were more dire, yet infinitely less vexing, than playing the part of law enforcer in this city.


Trigger


The Gesellschaft eventually lands on the skyscraper that it was heading for, and its stubby black landing gear deploys from the undamaged parts of its underbelly as it touches down on the slightly elevated landing pad. I turn on the auto-park feature of my bike and hop off when I'm a couple of feet above the rooftop proper, and stand in front of the landing pad while the Gesellschaft's engines audibly power down. Moments later, a panel on the left side of the ship opens up, and a gray ramp extends down to the landing pad; a long set of stairs pops up from the ramp, and Teisel and Tron Bonne both emerge from the Gesellschaft and walk down the staircase with their hands bound behind their backs by Light Cuffs. Sera's following behind both of them with her buster rifle trained on Tron's back. Once they step off of the exit ramp, I stride over to the edge of the landing pad and step up nonchalantly. My right hand is still in buster cannon form, and both Bonne siblings eye it cautiously. They know better than to try anything with me, though. They've been busted.

"Hey, Teisel," I say to him. I'm smiling, but despite that, I know that the annoyance I've been hiding since the chase started is probably about to come out in the worst way possible. "You know, I was in the middle of a break when you and your sister decided to go and rip into that bank. Your lack of consideration for other people is a little frustrating." Something throbs on my forehead. It's a vein, I can tell. Sera's giving me a very specific look, too, the one telling me that I need to calm down. That look, and the funny pulling sensation just above my jaw, tells me that the corner of my mouth is twitching a bit too much to keep my smile stable.

"Says the idiot who couldn't be bothered to just disable us earlier," Teisel replies, his face twisted into a sneering grin. "Back at the bank, you had a full five seconds to hit the Gesellschaft with one of those shots that killed our bombs and cannons just now. Why didn't you do it while we were still grounded, instead of letting us take off and hurt all of the poor little civvies that got in the way?"

The twitching stops, but now my face feels extremely tense as I try not to scowl. It's frustrating to admit this, but he's right. The pursuit is what's going to cause the most problems down the line, in terms of casualties and maybe even fatalities, not to mention property damage. In optimal circumstances, I wouldn't have engaged in a chase, let alone allowed it to go on as long as I did.

What he doesn't know (and what Tron probably does, given that she knows firearms and machines like the back of her hand) is that Sera's probes are relatively short-ranged, since they can't utilize the self-propulsion mechanisms that most live rounds have these days. When we first arrived at the bank, the Bonnes' henchmen laid down cover fire that kept us from getting close enough to tag the Gesellschaft, and they were backed up with several rounds of cannon fire from the ship. Considering the armor plating on every part of it that wasn't the underbelly or the wings, the only spots Sera could have hit from our vantage point—the top part of the hull and the wings—would have reflected the probe easily.

Sera and I may have been Purifier units once, but that didn't make us invincible. And the Bonnes, thanks to Tron, had some very dangerous firepower on their side, the bumbling of their henchmen notwithstanding. If we'd made a mistake while trying to get closer under that rain of fire, one of us could have been critically injured. We were smarter soldiers than that, even if we weren't soldiers anymore, and I—no, we—had already lost Juno because of a bad decision I'd made. I wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.

"I don't need to answer to you," I say. Before I can continue, the familiar hum of hover-vehicles interrupts me. I look up, and see several squad cars getting ready to touch down from the blue sky above us. "Anyway, now that this farce is over and done with, you know the drill. Get your little toadies out here so they can be processed."

"Your girlfriend here put them all to sleep with her gas probes before she even came into the cockpit," Tron says with a scoff. "A bit trigger-happy for a Pacifier, isn't she?"

"Well, my partner didn't do the same to you this time, so I wouldn't whine," I reply. "Unless you like to take naps face-first on concrete, or something." I manage to grin again, and Tron's face flushes red. The first time we subdued the Bonnes, Tron had gotten a bit too lippy with Sera, and so my partner, favoring direct action, gassed her, Teisel, and their posse on the spot. Since then, Sera's been all too happy to do it again, especially when Tron's running her mouth non-stop. And considering that Tron actually likes to annoy people by taunting them constantly, well..I shouldn't need to say much more about what that means when Tron exhausts Sera's reserves of patience.

I then notice that Tron is looking at me in a not-so-angry way, and that her blush is growing larger. Sighing, I turn away from her, pretending that I didn't see it, and I'm hoping Teisel didn't notice it either, because if he did, he'd probably manage to kill me out of sheer rage for snaring his sister's heart.

The conversation ends as the cars land and white-armored Pacifiers surge out of them. Sera and I change our busters back to normal as the crowd of officers surrounds us and the Bonnes; a short Pacifier leads the two crooks away, while the majority of the group charges up the Gesellschaft's ramp to apprehend the others. "And this time, Teisel, you'd better not count on Bon to break you out," I call to the Bonnes as the Pacifier stuffs them into the back of one of the transport vans. "He's already on lock-down himself, and he's not keen on getting locked up with you guys either, so it looks like you'll be sitting pretty for a while."

I can see Teisel tense up as the door to the van closes with a loud thump. His words afterward are muffled, but the window is transparent enough for me to see the spittle flying from his mouth, spattering the plastic, and the extended middle finger of his right hand being pointed in my direction. Bon's the gray sheep of the family, helping out on occasion with heists or raids, but every now and then he'll just sit on the sidelines and let his family deal with whatever they get into by themselves. Right now, he's on house arrest with a foster family for some other offense, and he's been quiet since the judge threatened to send him off to juvie if he offended again. Just mentioning Bon tends to set Teisel off, mostly because Teisel is actually terribly fond of the little jerk and doesn't like it when other people insult him.

"You should really stop provoking Teisel like that, Trig," Yuna's voice tells me, coming in over my implant. She's using my nickname, so I know that me, Sera, and her are more or less done with the official part of this little mess. As for how she knew I was taunting Teisel, she probably was tapping security feeds from the cruisers on site, which would give her full audio and video from multiple angles. "At some point he's going to really take it out on you."

Yuna, I'm a Mega Man, I tell her. Teisel Bonne is an untrained criminal, and a regular-spec Humanoid on top of that. Without Tron's weapons and machines backing him up, all he's got left is his body. You've seen me take apart Mavericks built like shit brick houses with my bare hands, and you could probably do the same thing.

"Fair point. Anyway, you and Sis need to get back here and get cracking on this paperwork. You know how it is once you've collared 'em."

I know how it is, and I hate it. Doing Bonne paperwork is a pain in the ass because I've got to reference another load of case numbers in order to properly write up the number of total charges that they've racked up—and since Tron and Teisel are obviously not the same person, they each have their own individual records, which pretty much doubles the work. If Bon wasn't on house arrest, that doubling would become a quadrupling. Since he's still a minor, I have to access a different set of reports to add on his documentation.

I put a stop to that train of thought before it depresses me—and by that, I mean I derail it while it's traveling over a bridge so that it falls into a gaping cavern below. I'll get Sera and head back to HQ now. Call in for tacos and Sprite. I could use the boost.

"Sure thing, Trig," she says, and I hear the smile in her voice. "See you soon."

Sera looks over to me as she pushes her way through the Pacifiers that are still flooding into the Gesellschaft. A question is in her eyes, and I say aloud, "I just got off the horn with Yuna. We've got to go back to base and fill out the Bonnes' processing papers."

Sera's mouth twitches slightly, and for a moment her entire body sags from its picture-perfect posture. It really says something that Sera, of all people, gets tired whenever Bonne paperwork is brought up. "Tedious." Her voice is actually bitter.

"Yuna's ordering tacos and Sprite, though, so it's not a total loss," I say, walking over to where my bike is parked. Sera rolls her eyes, and I shoot a flat stare over my shoulder in response. "Don't pretend you don't want any. I know you better than that, Sera."

Sera says nothing as I sling myself onto my seat and she slides into the sidecar, but I can tell that she's grateful that food will be waiting for us. Eating together has always been special for me and Sera; call it a holdover from the old days out in the field, where mealtimes were the best time to get to know people, and relax for a little bit. If you tried approaching anyone else at any other time, they'd be busy doing something to prepare for the next fight, whether that was running drills, training, or going to a debriefing.

And, sometimes, they'd be busy lying on a bed with a plain white sheet covering them head-to-toe. Oil oozing down the frame, spattering the floor. People standing over the bed, staring down blankly at what their friend used to be...and remembering that it's their fault that said friend ever got into that condition.

I realize that my thoughts have taken a thought for the morbid far too late, and grimace, trying to push away the image I'd just conjured up of the last time I'd ever seen Juno.

My dreams are going to be really shitty tonight.

Great.


Yuna


When Trig and Sis come back to the office, I can tell that something had struck a nerve with Trig at some point since I last talked to him. Something bad.

Normally, when Trig looks at you, his eyes are sparkling and green and focused. You can tell that he's paying attention to what you've got to say, and you feel really flattered by it if you don't know him that well. By the time you sit down and talk with him, though, you realize that he pays that much attention to pretty much anyone that's not talking nonsense. But when something's bugging him, all of that is just gone, and you're staring at a pair of really empty dull green mirrors.

He offers me a listless greeting as he passes by my cubicle, heading straight to the back where his is located. For the brief moment that he looks at me and raises his hand, I see my own brown face and green hair dimly reflected in his dark eyes before he's gone. Sis follows behind him closely, and I take a moment to send a query message to Sis. She stops walking when she receives it, then turns to me for a moment and responds, tersely as usual. Flashback. Probably related to Juno. Cannot be certain; he will not talk about it. He is only broadcasting concern about the paperwork for the Bonnes.

I nod my understanding, and Sis continues to her desk. With a sigh, I lean onto my desk and rub my temples. If it's a Juno-related thing, then Trig's going to be a miserable pile of angst for the rest of the day—and if he's accidentally letting his emotions slip onto the relay he shares with Sis, then he's really in a bad way about it, too. Frankly, I'm not better. If I get in the mood to reminisce about Juno, I start looking for as much alcohol as humanly possible, and when I get hammered, the buster comes out and shots are usually flying. Sis has had to knock me out more than once when I get on a nasty bender.

It's times like this that I wish I could be out in the field with them to help kick Trig in the butt when he gets all mopey, but to be honest, that's more Sis's place than mine. She and Trig have always had that kind of relationship—probably because of how similar they are on the job, with their relentless focus and stoicism. Plus, Gatz and Geetz are kind of terrible dispatchers, compared to me. They need someone to keep their lazy asses in shape on the administrative side of things, and Sis and Trig are more than enough to handle the kind of wimps that normally run around causing trouble in the city (case in point, the pain-in-the-ass Bonnes). Putting all three of us on active duty, considering that we used to be Purifiers—and that we're Mega Men on top of that—would be a bit overkill.

And, to be honest, I don't think that I'll ever be able to aim a buster at someone else again. Not since...not since the last time I actually had to use one. Not since Juno...left us.

I shake my head, and clear out those thoughts, causing my green 'pigtails' to wave around and smack the clear walls of my cubicle. While I get my head back on straight, a brown-skinned man with forest-green hair peers down at me from the cubicle wall in front of me, staring down with confusion in his red eyes. "You all right, Yunie?" he asks, his brow furrowed in curiosity. "I heard something hit a wall."

"My name is Yuna, Gatz," I remind him, glaring in annoyance. "And yes, I'm fine. I just hit the cubicle wall again."

Gatz shrugs. "You really ought to get natural hair for those," he says, pointing at my pigtails. "It would make moving around a hell of a lot less awkward."

I roll my eyes. "If I wanted to, Gatz, I would have. Use your brain already." To be honest, I don't consider the pigtails to be actual pigtails. They're just ornaments attached to my head that happen to look like pigtails. As silly as they look, they've been with me since I was built. I can't really bring myself to get rid of them. I wouldn't feel the same if they weren't here. Though, I must admit, there were a couple of times back in the old days where I'd look at the twenty new holes that some asshole Maverick shot through them after a firefight and wonder if they were really worth keeping around.

Gatz's head disappears, and I hear his fingers dancing over his terminal keys. He's finally gone back to work, and that suits me just fine. He's not really rude, per se, but he tends to be really nosy when he ought to mind his own business, and that's part of why he's got such a bad rap as a dispatcher—he's always gossiping instead of working. Geetz is a lot easier to deal with, but most of the time he pays more attention to Sis than me, and she's a lot less polite about getting him to leave her alone when he gets too persistent.

A black shadow passes over me for a moment, and the next thing I know, I hear thumping and crashing in Gatz's cubicle as he shouts. I can tell without looking that Geetz is the one that caused the ruckus. Sis tends to just throw him when she decides that enough is enough, and he usually winds up in Gatz's cubicle because she doesn't feel like doing the calculations to throw him into one of the others.

I manage to smile a little bit. When Sis does things like that, it reminds me that she still lets herself feel. Before we came to Arcadia, whether it was with Trig or Juno, Sis always had a smart-ass remark for them if they were getting too cocky, and she was way more open with herself. Once Juno...once Juno was gone, she just turned into a machine. Not a smile, not a laugh, not a frown. Nothing. After we were all discharged and came to Arcadia with our Pacifier assignment, she started to open back up again, but only when she wanted to. Even now, she doesn't emote unless something really gets to her. Trig and I do our due diligence and go to the counselors when we have trouble, and we make sure that Sis goes too, when she needs to.

But it's hard. It's hard, and not many people understand.

Maverick attacks, for the people living in the cities now, are not a reality. Cities were big hotspots for trouble during the Maverick Wars, yes, but that was when a Maverick was created through a virus, not because of dogma. Nowadays, aside from when a Maverick manages to compromise security, there are no attacks on the big cities. Out on the fringes—the border towns, the corridor zones, even frontier cities and colonies—you live, eat, breathe, and sleep Maverick attacks. And when you grow up in that environment, when you fight in that environment for twenty-five years, when you are made to fight in that environment, it molds you almost fundamentally. There are just things that city-born people don't understand about what you went through if you were born for Pacifier Operations like me, Sis, Trig, and Juno.

When you lose someone who does understand that feeling, the world feels a little smaller, a little emptier.

I get up from my desk and leave my cubicle. Three cubicles down and two to the left, and I see Sis sitting down, her face flat as usual while she fills out some paperwork. The taco and soda that I ordered for her and Trig while they were on their way back sit next to her terminal screen. The soda's half-full and the only thing left of the taco is a greasy wrapper and a few chunks of meat. I magnify my vision slightly and look down at her paperwork, and I see that it's related to the Bonnes. Sis looks up after I've been standing in front of her desk for a moment, and he expression brightens.

"How are you doing, Sis?" I ask her, sitting down in a chair so that I can face her directly.

Sis puts down her pen and leans back in her chair, closing her eyes. "Bonnes' paperwork is annoying. Geetz was making my headache worse. Sorry for bothering you."

I wave a hand around, causing one of my transparent purple bangles to slide down my arm a bit. "It's fine. Maybe I ought to try throwing Gatz around, though. He might take a hint after that."

Sis opens her eyes and shrugs, then picks up her pen and starts writing again while keeping her eyes on me. Since we're machine-based Humanoids, little things like that are easy for us to do. Our perception is high enough that we can be aware of multiple things in our field of vision. "Tell Trigger. He will handle it for you."

I really do love my sister, but sometimes she suggests the worst ideas. Asking Trig for that kind of favor is like a little girl asking her big brother to beat up someone because he called her ugly—it's kind of justified, but big brother/Trig would probably beat the poor bastard until he started crapping bricks, and God only knows the administrative and PR nightmare it would cause for the department if their hotshot ace Pacifier, still privately recovering from an emotional breakdown, decided to mercilessly beat the daylights out of one of his fellow workers. "I don't want Gatz dead, Sis. He's not that bad. Just kind of gawky and nosy, is all."

"I can be delicate about it," Trig says from his cubicle, and I smack my head into Sis's desk. We weren't talking that loud, but again, we're machine-based Humanoids. We've got good senses in general. So, of course Trig would be using his exceptional hearing to listen in on what's supposed to be a girl talk session because he has no sense of propriety. "What's a broken leg here or there? He'll heal fine."

I lift my head and massage my temples. The only thing more annoying than listening to him say such silly things is knowing that he says them to get a rise out of me. "Trig, that's called battery," I say. "You'll actually get in serious legal trouble for that." Thank god Gatz can't hear this right now or I'd fling myself out the nearest window and spare myself the embarrassment. In terms of physical fitness and durability, they're roughly on our level, but our combat training pretty much makes it impossible for either of them to match us in a straight fight.

"I am a policeman, you know," Trig replies. "It's not like my job is to know these things."

"It is not," Sis says, continuing to write. Her tone is laced with a dullness that pretty much screams now you're just being a dumbass on purpose and it's not cute, Trigger. "Unless you are a lawyer now, too."

Trig barks out a laugh. I can almost imagine the stupid grin on his face, and wonder if it actually does anything to make him feel better when he feels upset. It probably doesn't, but I don't like being the negative, depressive one in our little power trio. Sis usually does a good enough job of that.

An alert flashes in my peripheral vision, and I enlarge it to read it. It's a reminder that I have some reports to file in the next hour. I get up with a tired groan and head back to my cubicle, sending Sis an apologetic non-verbal message on the way out. She replies with understanding, and I manage to lift my head as I enter my cubicle and sit down at my desk.

If Sis and Trig can get through this, so can I. I just have to think positive~

The over-cheerfulness of my own thoughts makes me laugh as I start to fill out the forms. My heart lightens, and I forget my earlier brooding on the past. What's done is done. The things we went through were painful, but they've happened already. There's no point in dwelling on them forever.


Author's Notes:

I've been kicking around this little short for a while, but it wasn't until recently that I was able to really go anywhere with it. I've always wanted to write a Mega Man story, and one of my first projects on the internet was actually a sprite comic with the premise "what if Zero had sided with Neo Arcadia after the events of Mega Man Zero 1?" I've sort of reworked the premise because the initial one was not very well thought out, but this story runs with the idea that Zero was awakened 'properly', and from there things evolved into what they are now.

This story was getting unexpectedly long on me as time went on, so I decided to cut it here (as opposed to where my current drafts are at right now) and leave the reader with a few things to question and wonder about. The main thing I really wanted to do with this story was touch on each character's individual viewpoint of events and use their personalities to characterize how the narrative flows-Trigger and Yuna are relatively relaxed, while Sera is rigid.

I think that as a whole, though, Trigger and Yuna sound maybe a little too alike for there to be a very big difference between them, but I'm not entirely certain. I'm never quite as satisfied with first-person as I am with third-person.

If there are any really pertinent questions that come up in reviews, I'll edit answers to them into this section every couple of days for the next month or so. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it.

~ZS