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Dark Hunter:
a Tale of Maverick Hunters after Rockman
by Ben Roberts

Prologue

Smoke bled from the gaping wound in the Maverick's back.

Morghwyn straightened up and shook his head. This had been another "Kuwanger" model, and not very difficult to destroy. True, it had that damnable line-of-sight teleport device, but aside from that, its attack pattern was elementary for anybody who had been through the Rockman simulators.

Of course, participation in the computer-generated re-creations of Rockman's battles against the ancient Robot Masters was required in the first three months of training. There were even some new simulations now that re-created the already legendary Maverick Hunter X's battles against--

Morghwyn shook his head, angry at thinking of that again. It would do him no good to dwell on old hurts. He gazed back down at the destroyed Kuwanger maverick and closed his eyes. He wouldn't be needing the item-replicator chip that allowed his Hyper-Cannon to copy certain maverick weapons--he had killed several Kuwangers before, and all of them used boomerang blades.

Too many, he reflected bitterly. Too many deaths. I can't even remember all the Mavericks I've killed. Then again, it had been seven years already. For seven years now, he had been destroying mavericks. For seven years, he had been a Hunter in the 235th Maverick Hunter Squadron, based in London.

Brushing ashes from his sable and crimson armor, Morghwyn pushed long, gold-brown hair from his eyes that had fallen out from under his helmet. The humane thing to do after killing a Maverick was to blow it up, so that the corpse couldn't be resurrected by some lunatic like--

No!! Morghwyn bit down on his tongue so hard that it punctured the synthetic tissue there and released a stream of greenish coolant fluid. It was never anything but trouble to get back into that internal argument again. Dead was dead, for better or for worse.

Charging up his Hyper-Cannon to release a blast capable of completely disintegrating anything in its path, Morghwyn wondered at his own power. Seven years ago, he never would have dreamed in his wildest imaginings that power on this scale would be required just to survive in a battle against Mavericks.

Of course, seven years ago, there had been no such thing as a Hyper-Maverick, either.

A bitter wind swept across the ceilingless room and twisted the blackened ashes of the blasted Kuwanger into haunting swirls. The low but insistent moan of the crisp autumn wind masked the sound of Morghwyn's departure in a bolt of black and scarlet fire.

In the distance, over the sea, a storm twisted the waters into treacherous waterspouts.

Disquiet hung in the air . . .

Continue to Chapter 1--End of an Era
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