Without Hope Nor Regret
This was a highly unfavourable result.
The four of them, so easily paralysed by the red biometal, had been trapped under the rubble as Ouroborus fell apart. Had what programmed instinct of self preservation been less quick, he would not have been still functioning, still here, still alive and thinking, dull as it may have been.
The ninja seemed awfully distracted, his body somewhat slowed. A large coolant loss would have been apparent, had his eyes been open, yet he just laid there, systems still restarting, his body purely limp upon the edge of a bit of some large shrapnel. As his thoughts got clearer, the artificial male reflected upon this failure, unable to deduce where his calculations went wrong.
Siarnaq had discovered that Albert was planning to use them early on, and had reported this to Aeolus in attempts to gain assistance in the man’s assassination, or at the very least form a false sense of trust. But the human male had already assumed this himself. There could be only one Megaman king, after all. And why would the old man hand over the precious title he was holding onto? The reploid followed his partner’s logic, and while he held no concern towards being used, deduced that this knowledge would be his hidden card to play when the moment came. One that would no doubt win him the game.
Yet this had not mattered at all, as despite all the precaution and knowing, unforeseen circumstances arose and destroyed his means of pursuit. The ninja had no idea what had happened to the old man, but what with the ship having fallen into the sea, and their survival rate having been so small, it was not probable that he had lived.
Thinking of survival in this calculated manner was enough to snap him back to reality, as his damage sensors finally regained their function. To this sudden regaining of senses, the reploid’s body tightened from the delayed pain, a cringe contorting what could be seen of his face. It was as if he had been struck by lightning with how the pain shot through him. Siarnaq only now noticed that his fans were whirring viciously to this movement, his air intake unsteady. It seemed this was no minor wound. Escaping from this place would be no easy task…
Steadying his breathing best he could, the reploid opened his eyes, attempting an assessment of the bloody scene. Had he been more human, the male may have ‘felt sick’ at the sight of his own coolant dripping from his sides. While Siarnaq had not been completely impaled, his back had fallen directly onto the blunt edge of a metal chunk, stabbing into him at least 10cm, he hypothesised. Another piece of it was laying against him as well, limiting movement.
Taking a moment to deduce the safest route of procedure, the ninja gathered his strength and pushed up at the adjacent metal, leaning in its direction before forcing his body to roll the opposite way. The metal crashed atop the spot he had just been as he fell to the ground with a muffled thump. It was fortunate that the sand softened the fall. He was in no shape for additional bodily trauma…
Lifting himself up to rise, his damage sensors were becoming a numbing constant as the ninja removed his scarf in order to tie it around his torso section. The artificial male had to keep what coolant he had left… And unfortunately, the ‘clotting’ effect that the Reploid coolant of 25XX had was not as efficient to that of a human. Nothing was truly equal…
Looping the fabric twice around him, the reploid halted in anticipation before tightening a knot behind him to create pressure. The only noise that came out of his mouth in this action was the electronic crackle of a voice box struggling not to utter sound. It had been a long time since he felt pain such as this… Likewise a length time it had been since he had been bloodied by his own coolant… But memories of this had been shoved to the back of his mind, and were nowhere near him now.
However Siarnaq had knowingly been pushing himself with all this movement and exertion, so in surrendering to a short pause, his body leaned against the metal he had just been clamped between, somewhat relaxing for the time being.
If only for now, the ninja finally looked beyond his immediate surroundings to the sunset that was falling. Pinks and oranges mixed in the sky as a blinding sun fell across the horizon. It was a sight Siarnaq used to behold… In a time he had locked away in his memory banks.
Just then, it occurred to him that he had been merged before they had fallen. It was inconceivable such a fact had not been noticed by him sooner, but a plausible explanation was a lack of efficiency due to coolant loss. The male settled on that, unwilling to accept that his processing was not always as to par as he preferred. Even so, this fact brought to his attention that his biometal was missing.
Despite searching his memory, Siarnaq could not deduce when he had unmerged, data scattered in bits as if damaged. He’d assess if he had processor damage later, as there was a different objective at hand.
Where was Model P…?
Coming back to himself had been nothing short of a relief for the wayward spirit inside the biometal.
As much as it pained him to admit it, he had been saved by Zero, or rather, the spirit of Model Z. He did not know if it really was his old foe or not…
But what he did know now was that he was free and unlocked like the time he had spent with Alie and Vent. At once, he had unmerged from his current host and allowed him to make his way out of the rubble on his own.
Siarnaq, as it seemed, had made it out of harms way, and he himself had remained hidden nearby until the ninja realised he had unmerged.
Model P was angry.
He was angry at being sealed away by Albert.
He was angry that he had finally done some good in the world, only for him to fall right back into the clutches of the enemy.
He was angry that his biomatch - his true one - was that of an unhinged reploid not even worthy to use the powers he possessed. The temptation to abandon this wrench was high.
Yet, before he did… he’d make it clear that he was not someone to play games with… and give this washed up kid the message he deserved.
Floating up and over to the pink eyed male, Model P hovered near his face, behind him.
"Ninjas must always be on their guard. Never missing a single hint or clue. To process that which others may not see. You are blind, foolish boy."
Escaping a Phantom
Copy carefully sat at the edge of the roof. He gave himself enough room to extend his legs on the roof so his legs weren’t dangling over the edge. Phantom would probably have a say about that.
"Make this clear then, you’ll allow me freedom from being watched if you know what locations inside the castle I’ll be in, you give your word? What if I wanted to travel outside go watch the civilians, maybe in disguise. Would you permit me then..?" He wondered what the other would say.
"Your devotion to me is… admirable." Phantom was utterly devoted to X, the original and to him, the copy.
"Would you still follow if something happened to me? In a sense that my actions made you uneasy, what say you then?" Copy asked, looking out at the darkening sky, then at what was below them. "Would you overwrite your purpose programming and serve a new master? Afterall, as leader it is not uncommon that I should perish someday first, if a conflict so great arose. I’m curious." Copy seemed to have no worry over himself that he would someday perish. Well, while alive the smaller cared more for the ‘what ifs’ of his musings.
The questions being asked of him today were rather… loaded. Phantom was not really sure what to make of the sudden change of pace. As always, though, he took it in stride, and did his best to answer them.
"If you need personal time, simply let me know," the Guardian replied calmly. As long as it was known where his master was, then there would be no problem with allowing him personal time. That was how he himself worked, after all, and not letting his master time to himself would make him a hypocrite.
"If I know where you are inside the citadel, then there would be no reason to watch you," the ninja replied, "as for being among citizens… that is another matter entirely that will need discussion."
X could’ve been mobbed, then, among them, and Phantom was resident to allow that.
"I will let you know as soon as a decision has been made," he replied dutifully.
His other question caught Phantom slightly off guard. Why would his master suddenly ask such questions of his loyalty? It was strange to him… for Master X had never once asked such questions of him. After all, his sole purpose for creation was to be by his side as his shadow.
"As you are the light, I am your shadow, Master X," the black Guardian replied almost stubbornly, "I was created to serve you. Should your actions become something to question, it is also my duty to guide you in the times you fall into darkness, to bring you out again. What kind of loyalty would it be to simply abandon you for a new purpose in the time you might need me the most?"
It was avoiding the question, somewhat, but also answering them.
"It is unlikely you will perish before me. That is something that I simply won’t allow, Master," the ninja replied.
Escaping a Phantom
"Did it not feel… Good to leave the castle?" Copy watched the bow with curiosity. Did Phantom like to sight see? Or was he as work oriented as the Sage? "Must I be guarded so closely?" It was not the first time he’d asked this question to the other.
"You are quite perfect in what you do." Copy admitted. Didn’t the original X get bothered by always being watched as well? "I’m sure a few breaks could be in order, however." It was a rare time when Copy allowed questions rather than ordering the other outright to leave him alone. Phantom deserved more respect than that.
Copy turned away, facing back to the view of the city, the sun almost down with only a sliver of bright light on the horizon. He moved dangerously close to the edge of the roof they were on.
Phantom took the change in topic in stride, and listened as his master asked him some strange questions. Did it feel good to leave the castle? Did X need to be guarded so closely? Well… there were answers for that.
He bowed to his master again and said, “thank you.” It was always nice to be appreciate.
"In regards to your questions…" the ninja had to think for a moment, but it did not take him long to speak again, "I very rarely leave Neo Arcadia, Master. I am always within its walls due to the nature of my position. Therefore, my experience is limited in as much. I have only ever left on work related nature that required my personal attention."
Which, of course, was rather rare.
"I was created to be your shadow, Master," the black reploid responded to the second question, "it is my duty to always be by your side.
"However," he felt the need to point this out, "if you require time to yourself, then arranging that is important. As you are our leader, leaving unannounced and disappearing again would only cause a panic within the government. That is why it is important to know where you are, and the reason you are guarded."
He hoped that answer was satisfactory. Despite being rather private himself, someone always knew where he was even when he needed time alone to himself. And it was important that someone did, in case of an emergency.
Escaping a Phantom
Quick and efficient the other was.
Still, the smaller had to cover his own tracks.
"I suppose the only way to deal with it… Without damage to the vents is posting a few mobile camera’s." Copy suggested. "To be honest I was concerned over them and found to my surprise that I fit through most of them. I guess you can say by curiosity I’ve been… carried away mapping them. You’ll find coloured paths marked there." Copy waved Phantom to come down from his perch with a slight motion. It irritated him how tall everyone else was at the best of times, but Phantom was one of the few of rank that was comparable to his height. If only he didn’t perch like bird all the time in high places.
Copy watched as the others scarf moved as if it had a mind of its own. He could have sworn the breeze passed minutes ago.
"…" Copy waited for Phantom to carry out his original reason for seeking him.
The Guardian nodded once again to his master’s idea. It was certainly another idea that could be used for the more civilian area instead of the temples…
Phantom paid attention as the smaller reploid gestured for him to come down, and so, he jumped down swiftly from his perch and landed beside the leader of Neo Arcadia.
The fact that he had mapped it out was certainly interesting. There was, of course, blueprints of the temples available, but he didn’t question further. Instead, he realised that his master was waiting for him to do his report, and thus, he delivered his original intention of finding the elusive reploid;
"I looked into the issues surrounding the fires and the explosions," he began, "There was no evidence of foul play, master. It seems as though some of the pipes had rusted, and the fires caused by a build up of gas. Both issues have been looked into and an investigation has been done into the safety of other areas that may have been neglected by time."
He felt better now that he had completed his ‘mission’ of delivering his report. With his master found, now he could keep an eye on him, as was his job.
"That concludes my report, master X," he said with a bow.
Escaping a Phantom
He would have laughed at that ignorant response. Well, maybe Megaman X would have in humour. But it wasn’t quite funny. Stay in the tower? That was the problem he wanted to be outside the tower… with no supervision.
"Indeed, why don’t I?" Copy started with a relaxed tone, brushing off his top then finally standing. He dropped the vent door, cupping his hands behind his back, then casually turned his body to the Guardian. He looked distastefully at the open vent.
"Here’s the real answer to your poor response." Copy paused looking at the Phantom directly now with quite the stare. "No, I am not satisfied Master X, I had not known the vents were a security breach, that for sometime now anyone could used to traverse the castle, especially your own quarters, Master X."
Copy X then moved his eyes off the other, speaking more kindly. “Silly, isn’t it, yes?” Just as he was directing blame, he wasn’t at the same time.
While harsh, Phantom took the comment in stride and merely bowed his head. While it was true the ventilation shafts could be used as a security breech, they were necessary for, well, ventilation. Though, Phantom supposed that turrets could be set up in the ventilation if his Master wanted as much.
"Very well then," he replied and also stood tall, "I’ll see to it that all said security breeches are fixed," he replied dutifully.
It still didn’t explain why his master was in the shafts himself, however, but he was not going to press his luck asking.
Instead, he merely sent out orders to his division via the bulletin board. Once done, he then shook his head.
"It is not silly to care about security," he replied softly.
Escaping a Phantom
"Hmm." A breeze went by and Copy’s face looked as peaceful as ever in his fantasy world where only he and the lights below existed.
That was until he felt it. And it felt like a million piles of scrap heap had landed on his being. Wait. That would be better than this. At least he’d still be alone with the scrap heap on top and…
"Ph… F—ound me, did you?" Had it been anyone else, he’d be ready with his weapons out. However, Phantom posed no harm.
Copy’s red helm crystals gave a soft quick glow, evidence of the smaller one being alarmed initially by his guest, even without turning his face to the other.
Like a child, Copy looked at the vent door in his hands, picking at the metal, pondering what to do.
"How satisfied are you with your performance?" He demanded suddenly, with all the air of seriousness that a leader could muster.
Phantom didn’t even blink as his master reacted to his presence. His red cape fluttered a little in the breeze, and he watched as his master’s crystal glowed.
He nodded once to the question, and then finally blinked at the second. Satisfied with his performance? That was an odd question.
"I achieved my goal, so yes," he replied, though there was a slight bite to his voice again.
"With all due respect, Master X, if you need time to leave and be on your own, why do you not stay in the tower and ask for no disturbances?" that is, after all, what he used to do, "unless… there is something in here that requires your personal attention?"
He tapped the top of the vent.
Escaping a Phantom
Copy X paused as he shifted through a particularly small vent. He was getting a slightly terrible feeling tonight. But there was no way to find out without getting out of such an inconvenient space. To his relief the rest of his current path directed him up. The reploid chose his favourite roof exit, one that gave him the least grief in his exit.
In minutes the smaller unscrewed the vent door that lead to freedom. He crawled out with much relief, not standing up right away. Copy X sat where he was, as soon as he was not in a crawling position, then looked out onto the city. He held the vent door in his hands, careful to not make loud sounds.
"…Finally." He spoke quietly with rare emotion.
The Guardian near remained unnoticed. After all, Copy X never had a reason to worry before. And the Phantom, true to his name, could never be detected when he didn’t want to be.
The ninja, unfortunately for his ‘father’, had already beaten the leader of Neo Arcadia at his own ‘game’, so to speak. The Guardian was standing behind Copy X, but on a high pillar away from where his master was.
He couldn’t help but wonder still if his master had often done this before, or if this was an entirely new habit.
As such, he silently made his way down closer to the other reploid before he landed on top of the recently vacated vent. He remained silent as he crouched there, merely watching for a while.
Until he decided to unmask his energy signature, that is.
Escaping a Phantom
"Oh shut up," Fefnir’s instant reaction to the snide remark was predictable and apparent.
As to his question, the Fire Guardian huffed and shrugged his shoulders, “nothing more than the usual - though he seems to have taken a liking to hiding in walls, if the signature I’m getting is right. Might wanna try that.”
With that, the taller reploid sidestepped his older brother and walked onwards, “have fun finding him if it’s true!”
Suitably pleased that he had probably annoyed his older sibling to no end, Fefnir giggled to himself and left the ninja to his own devices.
Though, even after saying it he still wondered why Master X was hiding in HIS temple, of all places.
The vents went on for miles, or it seemed as such. Copy X stopped for breaks when he was able to be upright leaning his back against the tight space of the vent he was in.
He’d marked the vents with stickers, red meant he was still in Fefnir’s territory, Green path would lead him to places in Sage’s and so forth. Currently he was trying to inch closer to the green paths, as those places led to the vents on the roof.
At moments there would be vents on the roof of offices and hallways. Copy would peer carefully to see if anyone below could possibly read him. Masking his signature was a tricky business as it was quite a strong and unique one. When it counted, he could mask for a short time.
Such as when a Guardian was nearing. He’d felt Fefnir alarmingly near. How was he done with his errand already? Was there not enough for him to do?
"Ah…" Copy took a breath.
He just had to get… closer to the roof.
Phantom had not expected the answer he had got. Hiding in the walls? Their master? That was strange, unexpected, and even more so that Fefnir dismissed it as normal. Maybe he thought that their Master had an odd streak?
It was certainly out of character to how he had acted before he vanished, but then, who knew too much about what X did when alone. For all they knew, he had hidden himself away in the walls just to hide from people.
As it was, when alone, the ninja turned to the walls as instructed. While he didn’t find his master’s signature, there WAS something in the ventilation system. A reploid was certainly up there.
Tilting his head to the side, Phantom had to wonder as to why his master, if it was him, was going to such lengths to hide. Was he really that desperate to be alone?
The Guardian poofed away with a puff of smoke as he went to investigate. Like all reploids, he could also mask his own signature, and was a master at doing it, as he should be. He did so now as a precaution so he himself was not bothered, and then got to the highest place on the temple to watch the signature move to see where he may or may not come out.
And now, to wait.
Escaping a Phantom
Having recently returned from dealing with the fires in the residential district (or rather sent units there to deal with it and merely went to check on them that afternoon), Fefnir was now returning to his temple to check on things there.
The Fire Guardian had not noticed any kind of ‘infiltration’ by means of looking at the walls and seeing panels of metal being disturbed, but he HAD noticed his master’s energy signature lingering around his temple in rather odd places at times. He had been curious about it once and gone to investigate, but despite the signature being present in his temple…. Fefnir couldn’t make heads or tails of it being in the WALLS.
He had dismissed it as a prank but instructed Anubis to keep an eye on it in case it was something sinister.
Said Lieutenant General had not seen anything odd except seeing the signature come and go, and so, Fefnir had assumed that his master simply had an odd hobby.
Speaking of odd, Fefnir was happily walking by when his least favourite sibling showed up. With a grumpy look and wondering what Phantom could possibly want with him, the Fire Guardian said, “hey, Phantom, what’s up?
Realising too late that Fefnir would probably ask what he was doing in his temple instead of him simply passing his younger brother by, the ninja decided to humour him and said, “I would say the roof, but I assume you mean what I am doing here.”
Who said he didn’t have a sense of humour? Definitely not Phantom.
"I am curious as to if you’ve noticed any odd activity lately," the Shadow Guardian asked, "regarding our leader."
Escaping a Phantom
It was never too late in the afternoon to begin this activity. The trick was all timing. However, with an opponent that moved the same as a passing shadow, Copy X had only been successful about 10% of the time for a full evasion.
The week had been tiring to say the least. The humans in quarter A had safe water drinking issues when a pipe decided to burst on its own just to spite his ever list of growing problems. He’d sent a few lower ranks to take a look. Next, a few fires had happened in the disposable scrap area, which wasn’t too much of a concern, unless of course the piles decided to join each other and then the fire became more than a bit of a problem. He’d promptly sent the fire Guardian on that task. It was a manner of small incidents that had lead to Copy’s decision that enough was enough for that next week.
Responsibility be damned.
Ah, and of course today was the day Phantom had recently returned from an expedition, one that took much effort to get the Phantom to even take. The Guardian had pinged him for some routine news to be delivered promptly. Well, that gave the smaller one a window of warning.
Master X, walked down the usual main hallway passing a few middle ranks. While his face remained blank, he still gave a nod to a few officers in acknowledgement. The first step of evasion is creating a walk path of where reploids had seen him last, a false trail to where he was really headed.
Remaining in his personal wing would be too obvious and passing Leviathan’s would be…not in his interest. However it wouldn’t be unusual to be seen down Harpuia’s or Fefnir’s environments. What luck it was that he’d passed neither Guardian on his way out of Harpuia’s territory into the flame Guardian’s.
There were sections of this wing that were in a bit of disarray, metal patched and repaired because of… accidents. However some were not. These patches could fit the young leader’s body through on purpose. Thus, was the way Copy could traverse through certain vents to go outside unseen. It was not as clean or as quiet as he would have hoped, but it would do.
Copy X unscrewed a few loose bolts from a piece of thin metal, it moved aside with little effort. He looked back for a moment, then closed his eyes listening to anyone who might be coming to this deserted hallway. Detecting nothing, the smaller crawled inside the secret passage. Once there, he picked up the metal patch he’d unscrewed and bolted it back from the inside.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was the method that had been working well for him. Unless someone was staring at this certain patch long enough to notice that the bolts were backwards, well. Copy was going to keep doing it until it failed him one day.
While Phantom had sworn eternal allegiance to Master X and all that came with it, he couldn’t quite fathom what the purpose was of investigating the behind the scenes of who or what was responsible behind the recent incidents in the residential districts in person. The master had insisted that he go, not one of his units, and the Shadow Guardian had been all but baffled by it.
But, as the ever loyal ninja he was, he had gone to do just that upon X’s orders. He had returned soon enough, of course, and went to find his master, also as per his instructions…
… only to find the short reploid missing.
Unsure as to why his master had vanished, the Guardian went to find his master, but he was in none of his ‘usual’ locations. He was growing inwardly rather irritated, as, of course, it was his job to guard Master X from all threats.
And to not know where he was was very bad for his position.
His search took him near the more unlikely locations, such as the Temple of Flame.
He didn’t spot Harpuia on his way there though the Wind temple, so he assumed his brother was out in the field and working. Fefnir, on the other hand, he spotted walking his way and looking rather proud of himself.
"Fefnir," he greeted, and the slight clip in his tone gave way to his annoyance.