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<i><b>Disclaimer-</b> Capcom owns Mega Man X, I don't. Rats. This short is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association for language and implied violence. The piece is set after Mega Man X4, in case you're wondering. Of course, I've only beaten X1, so there may be some slight story anomalies. Shouldn't be anything major, though.</i> <align=center> <p align="center"><b>Promises To Keep<br> by: Ellen Brand</b></p>

<p>Does every reploid end up a Maverick in the end? I have to know. It's been a question burning in the back of my brain since the last defeat of Sigma, with the destruction of his Final Weapon. Is it our fate, our destiny? <p>I'm not concerned so much for me. Maverick? Been there, done that, and I never repeat myself. That's for guys like Sigma. If it were just a question of my own fate, I could ignore it. I'm the type that lives for the present. I always have been. No, it's not me I'm worried about. It's X. <p>Ever since the fiasco with the Repliforce, I've been unable to shake the worry. I had to kill two people I cared about… one was a woman I might have had forever with. Why? Because if I hadn't, Sigma would have destroyed everything. I had to do it, I know that… but I still have to live with it. Too much of the blood on my hands belongs to friends already. I don't want to add X's to the stain. <p>He made me promise, after one of the many times we took Sigma down, that I'd destroy him if he ever went Maverick. At the time, he was borderline hysterical, considering he'd had a very near brush with becoming the host for the virus that caused this whole mess. I would have said anything to calm him down, and it was an easy thing to promise. I mean, X, go Maverick? I'd have an easier time accepting Chill Penguin as a ballet dancer. <p>I promised him without really thinking about it, and now it's come back to haunt me. How can I kill my best friend, the person who taught me what friendship is really about? But if he goes Maverick… how can I not? <p>Nobody at Maverick Hunter HQ really understands the threat posed by X going Maverick. Oh, sure, they know that Hunters aren't immune, and that when one goes, he's ten times the threat of a normal Maverick. Nobody here's likely to forget Sigma any time soon. But they don't understand that with X, the danger goes up even higher than that. <p>You wouldn't think that was the case. After all, if you look at his stats, X isn't very impressive, as Hunters go. There are stronger Hunters, and faster ones. A full fifty percent of the Hunter population outclasses him in terms of weaponry. His X-Buster is a thirty-year-old design, based on an even more archaic model which had its roots in a WELDING cannon! And God knows that there are tons of reploids who outrank him here in the organization. But despite all of that, there's a reason that his name is known all over the world, to humans and reploids alike. <p>Quite simply, he's the best. Oh, not if you look at his statistics, I know. He's average on paper, doesn't stand out in any one category. He doesn't win in spite of that, though… he wins because of it. Ask any biologist, and they'll tell you that when it comes to evolution, it's not the specialist organism that survives. X is a generalist, able to adapt to any situation, and that's rare among the Hunters. But it's without a doubt the best strategy. For any special ability, there's always a trade-off. Sure, hyper-speed will help you go toe to toe with Overdrive Ostrich, but for that speed, you lose strength. And without strength, how are you going to stand up to Flame Mammoth? That's why Hunters work in squads, but it's a fact that one reploid can often get places a squad can't. <p>As for rank… well, if MHHQ were run solely on merit, X would be running the place inside of a week. It's not that simple, though. He has no ambition; as far as he's concerned, life is for living and power is for the suits. Besides, he hates being responsible for anybody but himself. Cain had to fight tooth and nail to get him to take command of a unit, and if it hadn't been the unit I left behind, he probably wouldn't have done that. He had this silly idea that he owed it to me, somehow. <p>So when the best of the Maverick Hunters goes rogue, who do you send after him? X is more than a match for any Hunter we've got; he's proven that a hundred times, in every training bout he's fought. Do you send a squad? A whole damn army? Still no good. Wading through armies is X's trademark. Just ask Sigma. <p>If anyone's going to take X down, it has to be me. I know how he thinks, I know how he fights. I'm practically the only other generalist that Maverick Hunter HQ has to offer. Besides, X is my friend. I owe it to him to try, and I know he wouldn't want to live that way. And then there's that damn promise. <p>Maybe I'm worried about nothing. X isn't like other reploids, a fact that we all tend to forget most of the time. He was created by Dr. Light, the genius roboticist. The rest of us are all just pale copies of his design. Even me, although the identity of my creator is still a bit in doubt at this point. <p>X was created by the only person on this planet who knew what he was doing, in terms of reploids. Maybe that will keep him from going Maverick. Maybe it will make him immune to the virus. <p>X can't go Maverick. That's what I keep telling myself, over and over, until I almost believe it. I HAVE to believe it. He's my best friend. <p>I made a promise. <p>And God help me, I don't think I can keep it.