He had fought for years, yet there was no rest for him. He had many more battles ahead. Neo Arcadia was just beginning to flourish. His old friend had been long since sealed and X couldn’t rely on him. He was utterly alone and had been for years now.
Yet the world had turned to him; asking him to take up the burden of leadership, asking him to bear the trials of the world and with X being X he accepted. Yet even as humans and Reploids began to raise him up in reverence as their ‘hero’ and even as ‘Master X’ he had to continue to battle. But it didn’t bother him anymore.
And that was the worst thing of all. When it no longer hurt to kill. He could easily squeeze the trigger and end a life. X became well aware that he was… Losing his humanity- losing what had made him so…. Different over so many other Reploids. This was when he realized that… He was ready to die. He was tired. He’d fought too many wars. He’d been alone too long. He was ready to just slip into eternal rest…
Still, X wasn’t allowed such a mercy. He couldn’t… Not when there were so many lives still depending on him. The ex hunter had no idea that his depression was beginning to fog his once clear vision and he was starting to make foolish mistakes. He was starting to do stupid things, but he was still loved and overall X performed his job well.
When the scientists of Neo Arcadia had proposed four high grade Reploids directly based off of X’s DNA code he’d almost said no. However, they’d urged him to reconsider; to give them a chance to explain their reasoning. Their argument had been valid; powerful even and so X had given his consent. They were to be his children.
While they were being built X hadn’t paid them much thought, his mind focused on the front lines. Maverick attacks were relentless and if he didn’t keep on his toes surely…But as they grew closer to completion he found himself wondering… What would they be like…?
In one sense he… Wouldn’t be alone anymore if things went well. He’d… Have a family. But if things went poorly… He… He didn’t want to feel that again. Alia, Signas, Douglas, Axl, Layer… They were just a handful of names that he could list off the top of his head. He’d thought… Surely they’d have made it. He was wrong.
Clad in his robes X wandered the halls of his great fortress his head for a change not on the battles on the frontier, nor the cleaning attempts but instead on the potentials that could happen with these newly built Reploids. They were to be awoken in just a few hours.
“What should I do…?” X wondered to himself as he leaned against a pillar, his head bowed.
Thankfully, many of the guards and servants knew better than to disturb him when he was so troubled. Otherwise, he’d have had to shoo them away as they worried about their ‘beloved master’. X still felt uncomfortable about the title even now.
His thoughts were scattered and his mind raced. But ultimately he was well aware that the risk of death was high-even for Reploids based off his DNA… If they somehow managed to survive… If they all could pull through the Elf Wars… If they could bring peace together… X… X would tell them everything.
They might have hated him for his cruelty, but…It was possible that X himself could die before them. If he did… Well, this way they would suffer less as well. Yes, this way would work for the best.
Decision made X pushed himself off of the monolithic pillar. Each step X took echoed hollowly in the empty halls of Neo Arcadia’s core. If X had glanced down at the black floors he could have observed his weary face in the black tiles. This was his sanctuary. A place that only he and a handful of others; Mostly repair drones were allowed and deep in the heart of this shelter was his ‘throne’. It was an overly ornate piece of furniture with a large library downloaded into the arm rests. That was his destination. A place to study and plan for the future.
X had little intention to even be there when his ‘children’ were activated. It’d possibly help form an attachment that… None of them could have afforded. However, as the golden door slid open X realized that his chair had an intruder… A highly… Strange Intruder.
His armor was battered, charred in spots and chunks were even torn off but the armor itself was still unmistakably a blue hue.
“What…? This can’t be…” X shook his head as he stumbled back.
The figure on X’s throne merely beckoned X to approach with a weary gesture and X couldn’t help but feel drawn to him.
What could have happened to him…His eyes were…As battered as the intruder’s body was, as damaged as he was he knew Old X would prove no match for the much younger counterpart… But It was his eyes that chilled the city’s leader.
X had felt weary, battered and drained but this figure… He had seen things that X couldn’t have even begun to imagine and his heart clenched in fear.
“X… If it isn’t apparent… I’m you.” His counterpart stood and approached him.
They were indeed frighteningly similar. The same height, eye color, armor type, weapons, and voices.
“And…. I’m here for one reason.” The deadened gaze in the much older version of himself sent chills down His spine.
What did he mean…?
“What are you-” X began but as he started to speak a fist came flying out of the blue and struck X’s left temple, sending the Master of Neo Arcadia sprawling.
For being so battered this damaged X still could hit like a tank and X forced himself to roll onto his back to face the (obviously) angry Old X.
“You… I am such a fool! Those four children who are about to awaken are the most precious beings that will ever enter your life and you’re going to just…” Old X snarled before striding over to him.
X was stunned. He hadn’t expected to meet another version of himself… He also hadn’t expected to be pummeled by said alternate of himself either. Yet both things were happening. Needless to say he felt a need to defend himself from his angry older self.
“Hey, I’ve got a brilliant plan! Why don’t we punish the idiot responsible for the elf wars by giving him an immortal body huh?” Old X snarled as he ducked under X’s fist and retaliated with a right cross of his own.
This older version of himself knew every trick in the book and then some. X frowned even as he ducked under a barrage of strikes. He’d have asked how he’d known that that was what the Neo Arcadian leadership board had requested and X had agreed to the proposal. But it was apparent that…
“He’s done wrong and needs to face justice.” X replied coldly as he attempted a leg sweep.
However, Old X was ready and dashed back out of range before vaulting off the walls in an attempt to grab X’s helm with a clawed hand.
“Reality check: That won’t work!” Old X growled as X was forced to dive to one side.
The two stalked each other for a few moments; Old X glaring at his younger self.
“Here’s another fantastic idea; why don’t we use our own body as a seal for the dark elf and let Neo Arcadia fall into a panic? That’s a great idea too isn’t it? Got any other excellent plans stuck in that thick skull of ours huh, X? It’s not like people look up to you now, is it?” Old X snarled even as X managed to kick him in the chest.
X couldn’t help but flinch at the observation.
“But…” X began to protest.
Old X shook his head before he kicked X’s chest twice in quick succession.
“Don’t you get it, X? I’ve wanted to die just as long as you but I keep on living because of those four. They gave everything for me and I can’t let their sacrifice be in vain. Not now… Not ever! And… Because no matter how much I tried to deny it I always loved them… From the very first moment I saw them.” His voice wavered.
X flinched as he considered ordering the immediate cancellation of the project. He could have it stopped before they awoke after all…
The old X’s eyes narrowed though.
“Don’t be stupid. You’d regret it even more. Without them, Wiel, Omega…. They’ve already won. I know you’re scared of opening back up. I was too… But… Losing them… Was because I… I didn’t open to them.” Old X struck again; throwing him off balance.
X’s heart attempted to harden. He had to stay the course. Yet, this older version of him read him like a book. Not that it was difficult to understand why.
“Let me put this into perspective, idiot. We decide in our infinite wisdom to send Weil and Omega off into Space as ‘punishment’. Next, instead of ordering Neo Arcadian Scientists to work on energy research and a way to cure the dark elf we simply seal her using our own body. Brilliance. Sheer brilliance.” X could feel the sarcasm dripping from Old X a mile away and it was worse as he was merely a few dozen feet away.
X went to protest but Old X beat him to the punch. Quite literally.
“Stop it. Like it or not, X, you are needed. If for nothing more than those four Reploids about to be born into this world.” the older version of himself sighed before he flung himself at X again.
“Pick yourself up for a change!” Old X roared even as X smashed his fist into the fragile shoulder plating, sending fragments flying across the throne room.
Again and again Old X pointed out obvious flaws in X’s plans, kept calling him ‘Moron’ and ‘Idiot’ for good measure.
Twenty brutal minutes passed before the two’s fight finally ended. Old X was lying against a gray pillar and Neo Arcadia’s Leader leaned against his throne as he pondered what he’d heard as they fought.
He slowly took a few deep simulated breaths before he approached the badly damaged version of himself. The words of Old X kept echoing in his skull, repeating over and over again. They mocked him and ridiculed his carefully constructed plans. Yet… When X listened to them mocked by his older self… It made horrifying sense and he saw a very different picture than the one he’d planned.
Had X been so wrong after all?
“I’ll send someone to repair you.” X offered, however the older version of himself shook his head.
“No need. I don’t belong in this time. I’ll fade from existence soon enough. I knew the risks.” Old X replied firmly.
X’s eyes widened before he dropped to his knees and grasped the hand of the severely damaged version of himself.
“So… You wouldn’t make the same mistake I did… I’ve… Lived with regret for the last three centuries. I didn’t… Realize how much they meant to me… Until it was… Far too late. I tried to give them the world but… They figured out my plan…Those brave Guardians…” Old X’s eyes had filled with tears even as he started to fade.
Temporal mechanics weren’t something X was familiar with but… Even he was well aware of the result of two of the same people existing in the same time. The one that wasn’t supposed to would…
“Love them… Love them as I never did.” Old X pleaded before fading from X’s grip.
Meeting another him hadn’t been something the master of Neo Arcadia had planned on. However, to ignore such a terrible future, one that all that he and Zero had worked on…
Well, to let such a thing come to pass was one he would not let occur. For a moment, a long one, X stared at where his aged counterpart had been just moments before. Then, regretfully, he shook his head wearily before he exited the throne room, and headed towards the reploid R&D labs where the four… Where his… his children were being created.
Before, it had been out of need that they were created, to serve him and the nation to the best of their ability. Yet… Was it possible that they could be more…?
Shaking his head slowly once more, he weaved through the halls, waving off attendants as he did so. No, his only need was to meet them. Four on the verge of awakening…
"Master X! What are you doing here sir?" A scientist working on Leviathan asked, putting down the tool that she’d been using to finish configuring her armor.
"I… Decided that I should be here when they awoke. After all, they do have my DNA.”
Of course, there was more to it, but it would suffice for a reason… For now. The Scientist shrugged her shoulders before speaking.
"Very well master, Fefnir and Phantom should be activating any minute now." The woman pointed over to another section of the room.
"Then I’ll start there." X agreed, heading over to the future guardians.
"Good morning." He greeted as they slowly awoke, one by one.