Melody of the Future

by Tatsurou

Chapter 2: Scientific Egos

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Dr. Cain was fascinated by everything he was learning from studying X. Admittedly, the studies weren't going as fast as he would have hoped, mostly due to X's preoccupation with Octavia. While this was perfectly understandable, it was frustrating to the scientist in Cain...especially when he barely had a chance to find new data to study and collate before Octavia needed more attention.

As a result, he had contacted several other scientists to back him up in his studies. While some shared his mindset about the value to the future of the world - and robotics - X represented, not all were so idealistic, and some weren't as softhearted when it came to Octavia.

It was quickly discovered that when X had stated he would agree to being studied as long as it didn't interfere with his taking care of Octavia, it was no empty statement to be overridden...any more than his ability to make his own decisions was empty boast.

"Will you make that creature be quiet?" one scientist shouted as Octavia set up a racket as he approached. "I'm trying to collect data here!"

X's eyes narrowed. "You can wait until she's calm," he stated firmly, turning to tend to Octavia.

"Don't move, I'm trying to scan!" the scientist ordered, moving forward again. As Octavia continued to wail, the scientist's patience ended. "Shut up!" he shouted at the filly.

As Octavia whimpered, burying her face into X's chest in fear, X's eyes flashed with a steely glint. "Get out," he ordered the scientist firmly.

"What?" the scientist demanded. "How dare you, a robot give orders to a human? I'll have you know-"

Before the scientist had finished his first sentence, X's eyes began to glow white. Several nearby mechanaloids rose up, marched forward, and seized the scientist.

"What?" the scientist demanded. "What's going on?"

"Before the End Times, as history calls them," X explained, "there were robots designed to control large numbers of other robots remotely. They were referred to as Robot Masters. I possess that remote control circuitry. I can command any properly functioning Mechanaloid in my vicinity. I am also not some mindless machine, bound by the Laws. I don't have to obey a human if I don't choose to. I agreed to be studied by Dr. Cain because he was respectful, to myself, to Octavia, and to the legacy of my creator. You are none of these, and violated the terms of the agreement: no studies that disturb Octavia. When I told you to get out, it was not a request."

Even as the scientist screamed curses, the Mechanaloids threw him out, sealing him out of Cain's lab. X, meanwhile, turned back to comfort Octavia, commanding several nearby Mechanaloids to play musical instruments for her entertainment as he sang to her. As she calmed down and smiled again, she seemed to be unusually fascinated by the cello.

X's willingness to defy humans had caused a bit of an uproar at first, and several scientists wanted nothing more to do with the project, now fearing what X was capable of. Those that remained, however, were as dedicated as Dr. Cain, and were determined to learn all that they could.

One of the female scientists discovered - quite accidentally - that Octavia didn't object to being held and fussed over by people other than X if they approached her right. This allowed work to go much faster, as Octavia soon grew as fascinated with the data they gathered as the scientists were when she was allowed to watch the data gathering process.

As progress became more rapid, some of the scientists turned their attention to Octavia herself. She was nearly as interesting as X, though for different reasons. She generated a unique energy field unlike anything of existing Earth records, though it was relatively weak at the moment. Genetic analysis proved inconclusive, though small tests of physical activity proved...enlightening.

"Alright, Tavi," Dr. Adeleine Ciel(1) - the first human to have succesfully handled the filly - said softly. She'd discovered quite accidentally how fond of the nickname Octavia was...if it came from a female. "We're going to run a few tests to see what you're capable of, alright?"

Octavia cooed curiously as she titled her head, sensors covering her body.

Adeleine pushed her glasses up as she rubbed her nose, trying to think of a way to explain this. "...You know how we're gathering all that data on X?"

"Ga!" Octavia called happily, clapping her forehooves together.

"Well, now I'm going to collect some data on you!" Adeleine replied. "Doesn't that sound fun?"

Octavia squealed happily, clapping her hooves together.

"Alright." Adeleine wheeled out a pressure device with a cushioned pad on the front. "When I say to, I want you to punch the pad as hard as you can without straining yourself...alright?"

Octavia nodded eagerly. She turned to face the pad, sensors all over her body sending data to Dr. Ciel's recorder.

Adeleine gazed down at her tablet, making sure the data was being received. "Alright...now."

Octavia pulled back her hoof. The sensors indicated her unique energy field was surging and focusing in her hoof. When she struck the pressure pad, it broke. Octavia looked up at Dr. Ciel with a wide smile.

Adeleine blinked, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "...Right...well...that was different..."

Results revealed several things interesting about Octavia. For one thing, the unique energy field - which defied analysis - could be used by Octavia to enhance her physical abilities in various ways, the most interesting of which being when they left her near a cello sized to her frame...and a few moments later she was playing music. She seemed to have a good ear for music, as the only sour note came when she lost her balance and the cello nearly landed on her.

It wasn't until several months after the study had begun, when Octavia's first few baby teeth began to come in, that a surprising fact became apparent...

"You said you'd learned something about Octavia?" X asked. "Is...is it bad?" His worry was palpable in his voice.

Dr. Ciel smiled softly. "Not bad, per say, but...unexpected. Her rate of cellular degradation is...unusually low. Each individual cell in her body survives...nearly ten times as long as a human cell. Also, there appears to be much less degradation as a result of cellular division when it occurs. All in all, this adds up to an incredibly slow rate of aging."

"Is that normal?" X asked. He then chuckled. "I guess it's hard to generalize a 'norm' from a single data sample..."

"Actually, I'm pretty sure it isn't," Adeleine replied. "While her unique energy does seem to self-correct cellular degradation much better than human biological systems do...the way she reacts to stimuli - and the way her brain is developing - seems to indicate that her race would normally develop faster than this. My current working hypothesis is that this is a result of her unique energy interacting with the bio-stasis fields she was under the influence of while she was in the capsule with you...bio stasis that was, in and of itself, an incomplete prototype and untested in functionality."

"So...what does this all mean, exactly?"

Dr. Ciel chuckled. "Well, in essence...if my theory is correct, the effect will eventually cycle out and she'll return to her normal aging rate after she hits physical maturity for her species...which I estimate to happen in about 200 years."

X scratched his chin as he thought about this for a time, then scooped Octavia up into his hands. "Well, Octavia, it looks like I'll be stuck looking after you for quite a long time, won't I?"

Octavia giggled happily. "Da!" she called joyously, reaching for him. "Da!"

Smiling, tears in his eyes, X pulled her into a loving embrace.

Adeleine Ciel sighed as she wiped her glasses. Hope you help him keep that optimism, Tavi, she thought silently. Something tells me...he's going to need it.

(1) For those wondering, yes this Dr. Ciel is a distant ancestor of the one from the Mega Man Zero series. I just thought that would be interesting to throw in there.

Next Chapter: Major Players Estimated time remaining: 12 Hours, 58 Minutes
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