Hello everyone! Sentinel07 here with Chapter 6!
Hope you all enjoy this one! There weren't many reviews for the last chapter. Perhaps this chapter will catch your attention better. Fingers crossed!
Now, for reference:
Words in italics show a character's thoughts
Words in italics and bold indicated a transmitted voice
Words in bold represent a computer's voice.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Mega Man series. That belongs to Capcom (for better or for worse).
Now then, let's begin!
Chapter 6: The Reckoning
Over the next couple of days, Zero did odd missions in an attempt to find Elpizo. Sadly, most of the time, the trail ended up cold with him already long gone. That being said, indications heavily implied that he was going to sneak into Neo Arcadia somehow. Quite honestly, Zero couldn't figure out what he was looking for. Was Elpizo just looking to get into the city, or was there something darker looming beneath the surface?
In addition to all of that, he had been handling Ciel as well. Ciel was able to work with Cerveau, creating the very chip she was hoping for. Needless to say, Trey wasn't quite happy about it, but if it helped Ciel out, who was he to stop her.
Alouette was equally worried. The little Reploid girl hardly wanted to see her big sister taking risks like further messing with her body like this. However, Zero assured her that Ciel knew what she was doing. At least, he hoped that she did. Still, Ciel went through with the whole thing the other day, and she was still whacking her head a bit that morning.
"You know, the more you do that, the more I'm becoming convinced that something is wrong." he deadpanned at her.
"Oh it's alright." Ciel smiled at him. "Just a couple of kinks here and there, so it's not too bad."
"For someone who nearly threw me out of the medical room when she found out, you're awfully calm about this." spoke Zero.
That comment caught Ciel a bit off guard, as she kind of fumbled for an answer, her face turning a little red.
"Well….I guess I just figured that I might as well make the best of it. I mean, too many people here depend on me for me to worry about my problems. You and the others are the ones who risk your lives out there on the field." said Ciel.
Zero shook at his head at her response though.
"Most of the soldiers feel inspired because of you. If you're not feeling well, then the other soldiers can sense it. What I'm saying is that you do need to take care of yourself. I've seen what happens when a leader taxes themselves too much." spoke Zero as he took a sip of his Reploid coffee.
"Thank you Zero." smiled Ciel. "I'll try that. On the bright side, I do think it's working. My head doesn't hurt as much anymore, and I seem to be able to move much better. Trey still insists on the therapy though. He said that maybe another week and I should be good."
"That's good. If I understood correctly, your muscles should be adapting. You haven't broken anything yet." noticed Zero.
"Heh, that's true." Ciel giggled a bit. "To be honest though, if this chip works as well as I hope it does, it'll help me complete the Ciel System even faster now."
"How so?" asked Zero.
"The chip helps me see keep all my thoughts in order, kind of like amplifying my memory in an odd way of speaking. This way, I shouldn't have a problem remembering something, and with all the data in front of me, I think I can finally get it done." Ciel said with some excitement.
Ciel truly seemed to be getting back to her more optimistic tone, something that Zero liked seeing. He didn't like seeing her sad, although he never told anyone that.
"So, what will you do once the Ciel System is complete?" asked Zero, taking another swig of coffee. Ciel gave him a thoughtful look.
"I don't know. Maybe I'll finally get my vacation time. I hear the beaches are nice at this time of year." she lightly giggled to herself. However, she noticed a blank look on Zero's face, as if he had no idea what she was talking about.
"I don't think I'm familiar with "vacations" or "beaches"." Zero replied bluntly.
"Well, guess I'll have to show you sometime." Ciel smiled at him.
"Lady Leviathan, quit squirming!" implored one Reploid mechanic.
"Ow!" Leviathan cried out.
Leviathan was currently in Neo Arcadia Castle's medical room, being tended too after her recent battle. In Zero's last mission, not long after he fought Fefnir, he was sent to a mostly underwater computer room. For obvious reasons, Leviathan was sent there to investigate about Elpizo's whereabouts. However, she wasn't the only one there.
*****Flashback (The other day) *****
Leviathan was swimming around the submerged computer area, searching for any signs of the rogue Resistance Commander. However, as her search went on, the distant sounds she heard made it obvious that she was going to have company, and only person would dare come out here. The very thought a little smile to her as she clutched her spear.
Eventually, Zero blasted open the door leading to the submerged room.
"Another submerged room. Good thing I don't need air." Zero said to himself.
However, almost immediately, Zero felt an ice shot aim right for him, causing him to roll to the right as the ice shot blasted the ground around him.
"Awww, you dodged it! Tee hee!" Leviathan giggled as she swam down to just above Zero.
"Leviathan…" Zero spoke.
"You remembered me?! I'm so flattered!" Leviathan giggled with a rather fake fan girl voice. Zero just sighed.
"Can we cut to the chase, Leviathan? I've got more important things to deal with." Zero spat out, his Z-Saber charging in his hands.
Almost immediately, Leviathan's eyes hardened, a more sinister grin adorning her face.
"As you say."
Zero flinched a tiny bit as Leviathan's voice did a complete 180, as she instantly swam up to him, causing him to block her spear with his sword. Leviathan smirked at Zero as she twisted her spear, knocking the Z-Saber to the side and getting a direct shot of the spear to Zero's head.
"Augh!" Zero jumped back, clutching his face from the hit. He hadn't sustained too much damage, but he couldn't take too many of those. Leviathan was far more deadly than her appearance indicated.
"What's wrong, little boy? Too tired to play?" Leviathan grinned at the red warrior. She twirled her spear in front of her, creating ice shards that began to rain down on Zero.
Zero looked up in time to dodge the ice shards, bringing out his Z-Buster and firing through the water. Leviathan worked best at long-range when it came to fighting in the water. If he was to win, he'd either have to shot her down, or get close somehow.
"This is why I hate the water." Zero groaned as he dashed forward, blasting shots from his buster gun.
Leviathan swam gracefully through the water, dodging the majority of shots before firing another round of ice shards. The shards impacted the ground as Zero had to jump left and right to avoid them. He couldn't dodge forever. He had to get on the offensive to defeat Leviathan.
Suddenly, Zero felt a strong arm wrap around his neck, hoisting him into the air. He struggled to look back and see Leviathan holding him up.
"Come to mama, little boy." she grinned at him.
Zero gritted his teeth and shrugged the ice user off of him, descending to the ground as he fired buster shots at her. Leviathan blocked a few with her spear, although some impacted her body, reeling her back a bit. Zero noticed that and continued to fire, not giving Leviathan a chance to react as shots blasted her body.
"She's stunned. I might have an opening." imagined Zero as he dashed as much as he could on the ground, getting as much momentum as he could as he brought his sword out. He jumped quickly into the air, dashing towards Leviathan. She tried to block the attack, but Zero's sword slipped by her spear, slicing through her left hand.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" she cried as she fell down to the ground, trying to clutch her ruined left arm.
Zero knew that this was his chance to end it. He landed back on the ground and put all he had into his thrusters, dashing forward before Leviathan had a chance to react, dealing a decisive slash down her chest.
As Leviathan cried out in pain, she fell back down, her "blood" starting to ooze from her destroyed parts. However, to Zero's surprise, she actually laughed lightly.
"Ha ha ha ha….well done Zero…..I really got caught up in that…so much that I lost any trace of Elpizo….Harpy's going to kill me big time for that." she laughed.
Zero just watched the female Reploid, not sure how to handle it as she grinned at him.
"I'll…..I'll do better next time…..count on it…." she muttered as she teleported out of the submerged room.
As a result of the battle, Leviathan suffered many injuries to her body, including having to repair the slash wound in her chest as well as her dysfunctional arm. Needless to say, she was flipping mad right now, and made sure everyone knew about it.
"For crying out loud, if you're going to lose, at least lose with honor!" growled Fefnir, who was for the most part recovered from his own bout with Zero.
"Oh be quiet. You lost as easily as I did." spat Leviathan as she actually calmed down enough for repairs to continue on her left hand.
"Maybe, but you don't see me throwing a tantrum. I accept defeat with honor." boasted Fefnir.
"Tch, well I guess if your "pride" is intact, then nothing seems too bad." Leviathan grinned at him. Fefnir growled at her.
"Watch your mouth, girl! I will challenge Zero again soon, and when I do, I will be the one victorious!" Fefnir declared, his arm cannon even glowing a bit.
"Oh, so you're going to get your butt kicked by him for the fourth time?" Leviathan giggled at him.
Meanwhile, Harpuia was shaking his head as he watched the video surveillance on the medical room, sighing all the while.
"Sometimes, I swear that I'm surrounded by idiots." he groaned as he clutched his shoulder.
Following the computer base incident, the Crystal Cave became the next battleground. Harpuia sent himself there as Zero was traveling through, after realizing that Elpizo had pilfered a Neo Arcadian IFF beacon. As confused as Harpuia was towards that situation, he knew that he had a chance to at least kill Zero in the end. The two of them engaged in great combat as well, although Zero once again emerged victorious in the battle, causing Harpuia to retreat.
Harpuia's damage wasn't as severe, only a minor malfunction on his left shoulder. Still, his pride was a bit wounded, and he looked forward to redeeming that with his next opportunity.
Soon after a food break, Ciel was back in her room, continuing her work on the Ciel System. As she had hoped, the chip was really helping her brain function, and she was honestly able to think more clearly than she ever had before. She was honestly beginning to wonder if this whole event was a blessing in disguise. While she didn't have a human heart anymore, the capability she had to help the Resistance's cause seemed higher than ever.
Of course, when Zero immediately entered her mind, she wasn't so sure.
She could tell that Zero looked down when someone mentioned her condition. She could even see his hands clutching each other at times. It was times like that that made Ciel wonder. Was it guilt that he couldn't protect her on the ship? The last thing Ciel wanted was for Zero to blame himself for her condition. The red warrior already had enough on his plate without her.
Still, such thoughts often caused Ciel to clutch her chest a bit. Even though there was no heart there, she still felt as if something was beating rapidly, and her face flushed with such thoughts.
This brought her back to a previous conversation the other day, following Zero's recent mission in the Crystal Cave, which followed after the Computer base.
*****Flashback to the other day*****
"So, Elpizo has obtained a transport, the security code from the computer base, and an IFF beacon." Ciel went over the report she obtained.
"That's what it appears to be. I guess it's obvious that he's trying to bust into Neo Arcadia." said Zero. "But why the high-security stuff?"
Ciel gave it some thought. It was the middle of the night right now, and most had retired to bed. Still, Zero wanted to figure out Elpizo's ultimate objective before he continued. After all, they were down to the last known use of the Trans server.
Ciel constantly yawned as she went over the reports. She was all ready for bed before Zero wanted this last-minute discussion. He apologized, but he wanted this figured out before the next mission that morning.
However, though she looked tired, Zero could sense an obvious distress on Ciel's face, which became more evident as she read everything.
"What is it, Ciel? Do you know something?" Zero asked.
"It's just that….when you mentioned the high security…I thought of something, and it's not good." said Ciel.
"And what could that be?" asked Zero.
"Zero, do you know where X is?" asked Ciel. Zero's eyes widened a bit at the mention of his old friend.
"Well….wasn't he sealed somewhere? And that's why he's a cyber-elf?" Zero said.
"Yes, he was sealed away. He did so to prevent a great power from destroying us. We call it the Dark Elf." said Ciel, catching Zero's eyes.
"The Dark Elf? I heard rumors, but I never got to confirm any." spoke Zero.
"It's very real. If she is Elpizo's ultimate objective, then we're in trouble." spoke Ciel, fear becoming more evident in her face. However, Zero soon put a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry. This Dark Elf won't be hurting anyone, least of all, you. I vow on that." spoke Zero with the most serious voice Ciel had ever heard him speak.
"Oh Zero." she sighed to herself as she continued to work. Maybe she could keep her mind off of it.
Meanwhile, in the Forest of Notus
Zero felt the familiar feeling of teleportation leave him as he emerged from the ground.
"So this is where Elpizo was reportedly seen?" asked Zero.
"Correct, and fairly recently too." reported Rouge.
"Understood. Commencing mission now."
The Forest of Notus, where Zero had been sent to, involved ancient ruins that the Resistance was researching at one point. For some reason, Zero couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen here. Still, that was what he was here for after all.
With nary a word, Zero raced into the forest, using his navigation systems to locate the upcoming ruins. Still, with such little Human activity around these parts, Reploids were all over the place, from spiked ones to Reploids who resembled little bugs.
Still, Zero slashed and shot his way past them, jumping through the trees as he could feel the ruins getting ever closer. The Reploids were small fries, so they were hardly even worth mentioning.
However, right before the ruins, he was met with a surprise.
There stood the former Resistance Commander, still sporting his same look from before. However, Zero could hardly recognize him from the aura he gave up. There was malice, and a huge desire for power, almost maddening in the wake of it. On top of it all, two cyber-elves were floating around him.
"Well well, if it isn't Zero. You did such fine word during the Operation." Elpizo clapped slowly and sneered at him.
"Elpizo, enough of this cat-and-mouse game! You should return to the base. You can't do anything on your own." implored Zero. Elpizo just looked at him, chuckling softly.
"Really? You really believe that I have no power on my own? Ah, but that is where you are wrong. Thanks to these baby elves, I have something grand in store." chuckled Elpizo, gesturing to the light purple elves floating around him.
"Are you referring to the Dark Elf?" asked Zero. Elpizo sneered again.
"You've done your homework, as one would expect from the great Zero. Yes, the Dark Elf is the one where I obtain greater power. I've searched all around these parts, looking for any bit of information I could obtain. Now, that very power is within my grasp!" Elpizo laughed at his words, irritating Zero a bit.
"Elpizo, you've gone mad!"
"Oh, not mad. Perhaps a little angry, and maybe a wee bit impatient to get the show started." Elpizo chuckled again before pointing his arm at Zero.
"By the way, how is the status of Ms. Ciel? I heard of her tragic injury." Elpizo smirked. Zero began to wonder if he knew about Ciel's condition. Then again, if he didn't know, perhaps Zero telling him could give him second thoughts.
"Ciel is just fine. She has recovered from her injuries and is running the Resistance again." spoke Zero.
"Ah, of course, but is she truly "recovered"?" smirked Elpizo.
"What do you mean?" asked Zero.
"I mean, is she really the same person who left the base to join you on that airship?" Elpizo spoke to him, a darker grin forming on his face, one that was starting to worry Zero.
"She is the same person she's always been. The only difference was that extensive measures were taken to ensure her survival." said Zero.
Then, out of the blue, Elpizo gave a great laugh, one that would the Joker would be proud of.
"What's so funny?!" spat Zero.
"Everything is funny! Ha ha ha ha ha!" Elpizo continued to laugh before calming down a bit.
"Of course she's alright, except for one convenient fact….that you ended up making her a Reploid!" Elpizo manically grinned at Zero, making him flinch at his words.
"What?!...No, that isn't true. She may be a bit different, but she's still the same Ciel." said Zero.
"Oh Zero, poor Zero. It doesn't matter right now, does it? For all intents and purposes, Ms. Ciel was killed by those Neo Arcadians aboard that aircraft. The Human she was before is no more. Heh heh heh heh!"
And with that, Elpizo dashed away, likely on his way towards the key in the ruins.
"Wait! Blast it!"
Zero saw Elpizo dash over a deep canyon that separated most of the forest from the ruins, causing him to use his chain whip to dash across the gorge, gripping onto the other side wall.
"What does that madman think he's doing?" groaned Zero as he climbed the wall. Elpizo had brought into question Ciel's own humanity. In Zero's eyes, that was unforgivable.
As he got up, he saw the ruins in front of him. Dashing forward, he entered with no hesitation, as he had to catch up to Elpizo by any means necessary, and that meant quickly disposing of the ruin's Pantheons and other such Reploids.
"Out of my way!" roared Zero as he slashed straight through a pack of Pantheons. He was in no mood to deal with these small fries. He was a warrior on a mission.
He was so focused on the mission that he just blasted through the doors without a seconds hesitation, including running through a door that housed another Neo Arcadian warrior, one shaped like a frog for that matter. However, Zero couldn't care less about it as he blasted open another door, leading to a small room that housed a glowing eye symbol, with Elpizo standing right in front of it.
"Heh heh heh heh, at least I've broken the seal on the Dark Elf. With this power, I will become even greater than you, Zero." grinned Elpizo as he turned around to face Zero, who was flipping mad at him.
"Elpizo, before I stop you here, you will take back your words towards Ciel." Zero said as he aimed his Z-Saber threateningly at Elpizo.
"What? You mean the whole fact that she's essentially a Reploid at heart now? Well, that's technically true, correct?" grinned Elpizo.
"Stop repeating yourself." spat Zero.
"Oh, don't worry. There won't be much need for words once this is done. However…." spoke Elpizo as he offered his hand out. "I do thank you for your news Zero. I heard the rumors, but it's nice to have complete confirmation. It's made things totally clear for me."
"Like what?" asked Zero.
"That Neo Arcadia is the true villains here. I won't use this power for evil, but for world peace, and for Ms. Ciel too. Are you telling me that you feel no anger?" asked Elpizo, causing Zero to flinch at the question.
"Are you telling me that you don't resent them at all?" smirked Elpizo. "They nearly killed her on that airship. It's Neo Arcadia's fault for this, and you don't blame them?"
Zero's face softened as that question hit him. Did he truly not resent Neo Arcadia for nearly killing Ciel? No, that was not the case. Not for Zero.
"That….was a result of my lack of vigilance. I allowed it to happen, so it's my responsibility." spoke Zero.
"That's admirable, truly it is." smiled Elpizo. "Don't worry. Soon our troubles will be over. I will obtain the Dark Elf's power, and I will annihilate Neo Arcadia! This I swear!"
As Elpizo declared that, he and his baby elves vanished, leaving just Zero and the activated seal.
"Rouge….beam me back." spoke Zero, as if he felt defeated.
"….Understood Zero." spoke Rouge as he felt himself being teleported out. As he did, a long cyber-elf hung around the room. A very familiar one.
"Zero…" spoke X as he left the room. However, one other presence heard everything that transpired within that room.
"Ribbid. What news. I need to report this to Master Harpuia. Ribbid." spoke Burble Hekelot as he too teleported out of the ruins.
"Transporting back in 3…..2….1!"
Zero landed back on the warp pad back in Resistance base. Despite being successful in locating Elpizo and discovering his motives, Zero didn't feel like it was a mission accomplished.
"Zero, do you require assistance?" asked Rouge from her seat.
"…..No….I'll just be in my room." spoke Zero, as he left the room without another word. He passed by Alouette along the way, who asked him to play with her.
"Mr. Zero! Did your mission go okay? Can you play with me for a bit, please?" she asked hopefully. Zero looked down at her and put his hand lightly on her head.
"Maybe later." he spoke as he walked away, leaving the little Reploid girl confused.
Zero entered his room, sealing the door behind him as he took his helmet off and rested on his bed, with Elpizo's words rapidly surging through his mind. He thought that he really knew what he thought, and now he wasn't so sure.
"I see." spoke Harpuia as he and the others finished hearing the recorded conversation from Burble's databanks.
"Unbelievable. Could it really be true?" asked Leviathan.
"Impossible! How could such a thing work for a human?" asked Fefnir.
"Well, with Dr. Ciel, sometimes the impossible is possible." spoke Harpuia as he got up from his seat. Leviathan and Fefnir watched as he walked over to a window, showing him the rousing citizens in Neo Arcadia as he sun began to set.
"What do we do now?" asked Leviathan. Harpuia looked over the skyline once again.
"For now, we wait. We have our answers, but we have another threat that must be dealt with. Once the rogue, Elpizo, is brought down, we will deliver our justice upon the Resistance."
Phew, what a big one. Sorry if you don't like me essentially not detailing Zero vs. Harpuia, but I didn't feel up to it.
Sometimes I wonder why I put up with 4000 word chapters. My neck feels stiff every time.
Oh well. PLEASE review and let me know what you think.
Sentinel07, over and out!