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Chapter 2


Gettin' rid o Zero's Blues


21XX A.D.

"I can't believe it!" Mega Man X yelled out loud. He slammed his fist into the end table next to the couch he was sitting on. "I just can't believe it! They made another touchdown! There goes the ten bucks I bet on the other team." The last part was muttered under his breath. X looked nothing like what the public saw. He wore no helmet, letting his black hair do that wave it alleyways did. He also had a light blue tee shirt on with the sleeves torn of and a pair of Levis which were torn at the knees. He looked down at his worn out tennis shoes and wandered how it was that he could never keep his left shoe tied.

"What're ya watchin'?" If the voice that sounded from behind him without warning surprised him, X didn't show it.

"Hi, Zero. I'm watchin' my ten buck go down the drain is what I'm watchin'. Wanna join me?" X took a glance at his friend. Zero stood behind the old couch X was on and looked ready to go out. His crimson armor was shining from the glare of the overhead lights, his gelded helmet was on, pushing his knee length blonde hair out of his face, and his Beam Saber was strapped to his back. He looked ready for battle except for one thing. He didn't have that spark of liveliness that he seemed to posses in all the years that X had known him.

"No, I'm goin' out on patrol," Zero answered, not an ounce of emotion in his voice.

"Aw, c'mon, Zero! It's our day off," X pointed out. Then he added, "Besides, the Mavericks haven't attacked for months--over a year!"

Zero just gave his friend a sidelong look before heading out the door to their living quarters. X sighed, then turned the television off. He suddenly didn't feel like watching Football any more--he would find out how the game went the next morning anyway. "Zero," he thought to himself. "There's been a major change in you from the Zero I knew for years."

X thought back to when he first met Zero. Back then, X was constantly falling into serious states of depression. He had no memory of his past--all he knew was that he was created by the late Dr. Thomas Xavier Light--and he felt responsible for all of the damage being done by the Mavericks, Reploids bent to the destruction of the human race. If Dr. Cain hadn't found X in that stasis capsule, then Reploids wouldn't be created; much less go Maverick. Sigma was leading the Maverick hunters back then and they had been kept more or less in check, but X felt guilty anyway.

Then came Zero. X was sitting at a table in the cafeteria set up for the human Hunters deep in one of his depressions when the "Crimson Dynamo" appeared with his "cooler than thou" attitude and his cache of insults. That brought X out of his depression and straight to annoyance and then anger. The two Reploids got involved in a fierce fist fight then and there. Zero would have won if the fight hadn't been broken up by Storm Eagle and Spark Mandrill (two of the top Hunters who worked directly with Sigma himself). They got taken to Dr. Cain, who made them roommates as their punishment.

Well, there was something about having to put up with each other "twenty-four seven" that made the two tolerate each other and, eventually, become inseparable. Dr. Cain decided that putting those two together was a good idea. X went into his depressions much less and even began having fun. Then, everyone's worst nightmare came true. Sigma went Maverick, and he took a good portion of the Hunters with him.

X then decided to go out, one Reploid among many, to try to defeat this threat. He didn't even get past Vile. Luckily, Zero saved his hide and X managed to eventually defeat Sigma's eight Maverick Masters. At Sigma's fortress, Vile managed to capture Zero and defeat X. Zero ended up sacrificing himself so the other Reploid could stop Sigma. X did defeat Sigma, but ended up wandering if it was worth it.

Six months later, a new group of Mavericks started terrorizing the world. By now, X became the leader of the Hunters and he, of course, went to stop the threat. In the midst of battle, X came across three new Mavericks called the "X Hunters". They each one of Zero's body parts and X managed to win them, revive his friend, and defeat Sigma, who was alive and well.

X and Zero became partners once again and together won two more wars against the Mavericks. But at the most recent one, almost a year ago, Zero lost a friend--Iris, a female Reploid. X figured that Zero loved her or something because he took her death especially hard and he never came close to getting over it. "The irony of the situation just kills me," X thought. "When we met all those years ago, I was moody and depressed and you pulled me right out of it. Well, now it's my turn."

X was brought out of his musing by the blaring of the telephone on the end table next to his couch. "X here," he said cheerfully into the receiver. "Doc Cain?...Their finished?...That's great!....Well, no. He went out. I think I know where he is, though...I'm goin' right now....Yeah, see ya soon, Doc." With that X hung up the phone and disappeared through the doorway in less than a second.

********


Meanwhile, deep under the city, hidden among abandoned subway tunnels, sewer drains, and other such hidden catacombs, two feline-like Reploids sat at a beat up old card table playing poker. Neon Tiger put his hand of cards face up on the table. "Full House! Beat that, sucker!"

Slash Beast looked at his companion's cards for a second, then placed his hand. "Four Aces. Guess I did beat it, huh?"

Neon Tiger stared at the cards on the table with his jaw dropped. Then he glared at Slash Beast as he collected all the chips. "Hey, you cheated!"

Slash Beast looked at Neon Tiger with an amused grin on his face. "What makes ya say that?"

"THESE!!" Energy claws unsheathed themselves from the slots on Neon Tiger's wrists.

Slash Beast knocked the table over, showed Tiger his own claws, and growled, "Don't even GO there!"

There would have been a heavy, heavy fight right then and there if Neon Tiger didn't stop suddenly and ask Slash Beast, "Did you hear something?"

"No I...Waitaminute!! Someone's coming!" By now the sound of metallic footsteps could be heard coming toward the felines. "HALT, who goes there?!!" Slash Beast yelled out with just a slight crack in his voice.

"And what's the password?" Neon Tiger added.

Vile appeared from the shadows followed by "Jello Man" (what all the Mavericks call Double's true form when Double himself is out of earshot), who had a humanoid robot and a robo-wolf draped over his shoulders. "I don't have time for this crap!" Vile screeched. He turned to Neon Tiger, who visibly shrank beneath his superior's glare. "Now, let me IN!!!"

"Y,y,y,yes sir, Mr. Vile, sir!" a now meek Neon Tiger stuttered as he hit the sequence code that opened the door. Vile--inwardly smiling at the fear he inspired in his companions--stormed through the doorway, followed by Double.

On the other side of the door was a large room that was a complete turnaround from the hallway Vile and Double were just in. While the hallway was made completely of brick and seemed to be falling apart, this room was a well-kept, high-tech, laboratory. Standing across the room from the two Reploids, working on the keypad in front of a huge monitor, was a rather tall Reploid with white hair and a lab coat covering his armor. "Hey, Dr. Dee!" Vile called out to the Reploid, who turned around with annoyance clearly etched in his face.

"Vile, I told you not to call me that!" Dr. Doppler said to the Violet One. "Sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of rebuilding you--AGAIN." Doppler turned back to his keypad, without looking back at Vile. Doppler was the only Reploid (besides Sigma, of course) that didn't fear Vile. Sometimes it amused him, sometimes it irritated him.

"Yeah, yeah, I've heard this whole thing before," Vile said with a roll of his eyes, even though no one saw the gesture. "Now, could you be a good scientist and call Sigma for me? I've got something here that he might just be interested in seeing. Double, you can drop them now."

Double gladly got rid of his cargo. "Gee, those things are heavier than they look," he complained. "Why did I have to carry them any--" Double stopped as soon as he saw Vile's shoulder cannon aimed at him. Double quickly changed back to his "regular" form and started to back away from Vile towards the doorway. "Oh, I see. Well, I think I left the iron on in my room. See ya!" Then he was out of the door as fast as he could.

Vile grinned as he watched the little Reploid go. He would never actually hurt the little guy. Double was one of the few Mavericks that Vile liked and respected. "Was that little stunt really necessary?" a cold voice asked behind him. Vile turned and saw one of the few things that struck fear in his mechanical heart. On the huge screen, reaching from almost the floor to the ceiling, was the face of the center of all the Mavericks. Sigma.

"Oh, ah, I was only teasing the little guy." Vile managed to stutter. "Besides, I kinda need to talk to you"--Vile glared at Dr. Doppler, who was watching Vile's terrified reaction with not a little amusement--"ALONE!"

Sigma looked at his second in command, then looked at the robots that were crumpled on the floor. Finally he said, "Oh, all right. Doppler please leave me so I could talk to Vile privately." The request was made with nothing but politeness, not a hint of threat in the words. But there was something about the way he SAID those words that made Doppler want to get out of the room as fast a he could. Sigma studied the two forms on the floor more carefully. Vile could see a grin--or was it a sneer?--form on the images face.

"Vile, you have stumbled upon a rather interesting discovery. I recognize them."

"HUH!?!?" Vile was suddenly very surprised. "How could you recognize 'em!? I've never seen 'em!"

"Didn't you study your history, FOOL?! These are possibly the most evil, deranged, and powerful creations built during the Wily Wars! These robots are..." Sigma paused for dramatic effect then continued slowly; "Bass...and...Treble!" Vile gasped as he looked at the two robots with newfound respect.

Bass started to stir. Slowly he opened his eyes and saw the face on the huge computer screen. "What the...!?!" Bass gasped as he jumped to his feet.

"Relax," Sigma said to the little black robot. "We're on the same side. In fact, I believe we could be of help to each other. Let's...bargain, shall we?"

"Uh, I guess so," Bass said, stunned. He didn't notice Treble wake up.

Sigma smiled. "Good, then let us begin..."

*********


X flew from the Maverick Hunter Headquarters garage on his hover bike and punched up the speed even more. "Yeah, I know where Zero went," he thought to himself. "It's the same place he goes every time he goes on 'patrol.'"

X turned and waved at some of the humans who were watching him go with open admiration in their eyes. X now looked like the hero all the humans knew and loved. His blue armor was gleaming in the sunlight, his green eyes were watching everything from under his helmet, and he had a look of determination about him that only true heroes ever seem to adopt. Only, instead of being determined to win a war, this time, he was determined to get his best friend back.

It didn't take X long to reach his destination; ten minutes at most. He parked his bike next to one identical to his and got off. Standing about ten feet away from him, X could see the back of his friend. This spot was where Magma Dragoon let the Sky Lagoon drop into the city. The Sky Lagoon was a Hunter base; a flying fortress. Zero saved Iris from certain destruction at this spot. There was now a plaque built into the sidewalk commemorating all the humans and Reploids who lost there lives here and Zero considered it Iris' grave.

"Leave me alone, X," Zero said without turning around as X approached.

"'Fraid I can't," X said. "Y'see, I'm not about to abandon my best friend in his hour of need." Zero turned partway and glared at X out the corner of his eye.

"X, I'm not in the mood for this."

X kept his face and voice deadly serious. "I don't care. I've got something back at the headquarters that you just might be interested in seeing."

Zero turned back to the plaque. "X, I'm not in the mood for surprises. Now, I ask you again, leave me alone!"

X grinned. "Zero, if yer not coming with me, I'll just bug you until ya do."

"Do your worst." X's grin got even wider.

****************


Bass had now fully recovered from the shock he had been given and could now see that Wily really would like this Sigma character. "Are you sure you know what to do?" Sigma asked as Bass (in his Super Adaptor) created another time warp.

Bass turned to the computer screen and said, "Don't worry your little head, Siggy. I'll fulfill my part of the deal if you do yours." With that, he was gone. Vile watched him go with a great deal of respect mingled with amusement. No one, Vile included, EVER corrupted the name of Sigma when he was in earshot. NEVER. Sigma simply glared at the spot the warp had been for a second, then recovered his composure when it opened again.

Emerging from the warp, instead of Bass, was a blue and yellow craft resembling an egg and eight robots. No sooner did the warp close than it opened again and Bass came out of it again. The egg opened and an old man with a mustache and wild hair coming out of the sides of his head stepped out, then stopped, with his mouth gaped open.

"Greetings Dr. Albert Wily," Sigma greeted. "I am Sigma and I believe our goals are very similar. I have summoned you here to make a deal. If you help me conquer my time period, I will help you conquer yours."

Wily got over his shock and peered at the pixilated face on the computer screen. "How do I know I could trust you?" he accused.

Sigma simply answered, "You don't."

Wily grinned. "My kind of guy. So...what do you want me to do..?"

***************


X cheerfully led a blindfolded Zero down one of the halls in Hunter HQ. "I don't know how I let you talk me into this," Zero grumbled.

X chuckled. "Just relax, Zero. You'll thank me for this. Trust me." Zero just mumbled something incoherent. "Here we are," X announced. Zero heard the distinct noise of an automatic gate opening, then felt X lead him in. Then his blindfold was ripped off his face and he was blinded by the light that invaded his optic sensors. When he could see again he gasped. Standing in front of him was a female Reploid about a half a foot shorter than himself. She had brown hair done up in a pony tail that went down almost to her waist and wore red armor. Standing in front of Zero was....Iris!