Iris took a look at Zero and laughed, loud and hard. "Zero, could you close your mouth?" she gasped. "You look like a fish!"
Zero closed his mouth and finally got over the shock enough to notice his surroundings. It was a standard issue Maverick Hunter Robotics Lab, recently cleaned out of all the useless and irreparably damaged parts. Standing behind Iris was an old man. He was bald as a que ball, but he had a full white beard. He was leaning on a wooden cain. Next to the old man was a tall Reploid with yellow armor. This was Colonel, another Reploid Zero hadn't expected to see. Finally, Zero looked at Iris again, ran over to her, and gave her a bear hug that lifted the surprised Reploid right off the ground. "OhmanIdon'tbeleivethisImissedyousomutch!" Zero rattled on happily.
X leaned against the wall and watched his friend with a small smile. This was the first time in almost a year that X saw Zero smile, much less get excited over anything. Zero finally put the dazed Iris down and looked over to Dr. Cain. "How..?" was all he managed to say.
Dr. Cain chuckled. "I think you should ask X," he answered with a grin.
At Zero's inquiring look, X went into his story: "Well, as you may or may not remember, Zero, I had to lead a team of Hunters up to the spot the 'Final Weapon' exploded to evaluate casualties, assess damages, as to salvage any usable material."
"I sorta remember," Zero said when X paused.
X grinned. "Well, while we were up there, I discovered an exceptionally large chunk of melted steel. Upon investigation, I found that it was hollow. Well, it was an easy matter to cut a hole in it large enough for me ta get through. Inside, I found a small section of the fortress that actually wasn't too badly damaged; and guess what two items of interest I found floating around in there."
Dr. Cain continued for X. "X brought the remains of Colonel and Iris here and asked me if I could revive them like I did you. I examined them and figured that I probably could, but they were much more damaged than you were when I had to revive you. It took me six months to repair their bodies, but that was the easy part. I spent the remaining six months running tests to make sure that they were actually Colonel and Iris."
"What do ya mean, doc?" Zero asked Dr. Cain.
"I mean that I repairing them and activating them could have resulted in different Reploids in the same bodies. Remember, Zero, every Reploid has their own unique personalities."
"Oh," Zero replied.
"Well, it was a long shot, but we're here," Colonel said, cheerfully.
"Yes," Zero agreed, "You're here. Especially you, Iris." Then he had her in another bear hug.
X casually sauntered over to Dr. Cain and Colonel. "I think we'd better split before they
kiss or somethin'," he whispered just loud enough for them to hear. Then he looked up and added,
"Oops, too late!"
"What I want you to do, Wily," Sigma said, "is build me a new body!"
Wily looked a little surprised at that. "That's all?!! Of course I could do it, but why do you want ME? Couldn't HE build you one?" Wily pointed to Dr. Doppler, who seemed to shrink when Sigma glanced at him.
"He already has," Sigma replied. "And it got destroyed by my worst enemies, X and Zero!"
Sigma had Wily's full attention now. "Did you say 'Zero?'" Bass asked.
"Yes," Sigma answered. "Why would you be interested in him?"
"No reason," Bass replied casually, but, deep inside, he began to wonder.
Sigma turned to Wily. "You've had a reputation for building the biggest, most deadly war machines ever. No one had been able to build better before or since." Wily seemed to glow with pride at that. "Dr. Doppler will take a few days to show you how our technology works. In fact, he is rebuilding the last few Reploids needed for our army and he could use one of them as an object lesson." Doppler's face darkened a little. Surely Sigma didn't expect HIM to work with a human. Sigma continued. "I want my body done in three weeks."
"Three weeks?" Wily asked in curiosity. "I could easily build a body for you in three weeks, but why do you need it then?"
Sigma sneered. "It's a surprise; isn't it, Bass?"
Bass was almost out of the room with Treble when Sigma asked the question. He just
gave Sigma a sidelong glance when he answered, "Yeah, whatever." Then he was out the door.
Several days later, Wily practically ran through the door to Sigma's computer lab. Dr. Doppler was tending the computers that Sigma inhabited, as usual, and the two scientists glared at each other for a few seconds. Sigma was actually amused at the competition the two seemed to have developed.
"I did it!" Wily shouted triumphantly to the face on the screen. "I have DONE IT!"
Sigma noticed the CD Wily was holding but he asked anyway. "You've done what?"
Wily hurriedly installed the disk and replied, "I finished the schematics for your new body is what I've done! Look for yourself!" Sigma's face was replaced by schematics for a deadly robot. Even Dr. Doppler had to admit it was the best Sigma body he had ever seen. The schematics shrank down to the bottom left corner of the screen and Sigma could be seen again. "I must say, this is a most impressive body. It has my approval. I want you to get started right away!"
Wily was out of the room in seconds. "Why do you put up with that...human?" Dr. Doppler had to ask.
"Because he is a useful human," Sigma answered. "At least for now..."
Bass was finishing up patrolling the halls with Treble and Vile, and were at the vertical passage that led up to the only hall to Sigma's computer lab when the hidden elevator in the wall opened up and Wily ran from the elevator down the hall at full speed. "Woah, what's his rush!" Bass asked to no one in particular.
Vile leaned against the wall and answered, "I dunno." In the few days Bass had been in this particular time period, he and Vile became best pals.
"Vile, I got a question for ya," Bass said casually. "What's this vertical passage for anyway?"
Vile grinned. "I think it's Sigma's last defense against intruders."
"Seems rather pointless to me," Bass said.
Vile grinned. "Ta tell the truth, so do I." Vile paused for a second and said, "Race ya to the top...the hard way!"
"You're on!" Bass said, and in seconds the two were climbing up the wall, leaving Treble
to curl up in a ball and sleep in his favorite dark corner.
Weeks passed and X was pleased to find that his old friend Zero had returned. Now X, Zero, Colonel, and Iris were taking four hover bikes and were patrolling the city for Mavericks. None of them took it very serious, however, and Zero and Iris thought of it more as a date than anything else.
X pulled up next to Colonel. "Think they're havin' fun yet?" he asked as he pointed to the Reploids in front of him.
"Definitely," Colonel answered.
Any other friendly conversation was shattered as Iris shouted "Look out!" X looked ahead of him and saw a circular vortex of purple energy right in front of him. He and Colonel veered just before they flew into it. Every one got off their bikes and examined the vortex closely. Before anyone could say "Hey!" two robots, about four feet tall, and one Robo-Dog fell on X and Zero. Everyone looked at the two newcomers in surprise and forgot all about the portal as it disappeared.
X pushed the blue robot off of himself as Zero did the same to the red one and the dog. "What's the big idea?" X asked the blue one. Then he got a good look at his face.
"Hey! You look like me!" they said together. "I look like you?! You look like me!"
Protoman put a restraining hand on his brother's shoulder. "Hey bro, chill out!"
"Yeah, X. Don't blow up or anythin'!" Zero said to his friend.
"Protoman, how can I 'chill out' with an obvious fake in front of me!" Mega Man almost screamed.
"I'M the fake?!?!" X screamed. "You're the fake!!"
"Look, all I know is that we were fighting Bass, he made a portal of some kind, threw my creator and my sister inside, and we ended up here!"
Protoman suddenly got suspicious. He walked over and elbowed Zero in the ribs. "Hey buddy," he said, "what year is this?"
"About 21XX, why?" Zero replied.
Protoman would have gone pale if robots could. "Five minutes ago it was 20XX!!"
"What?!?!" Zero exclaimed. "That was almost fifty years ago!"
"Exactly!" Protoman answered. Zero and Protoman looked at Mega Man and X arguing, then looked back at each other. "Should we?" Protoman asked with a grin.
"Definitely," Zero answered with a grin of his own.
Seconds later X and Mega Man was on the ground with Zero and Protoman pinning them down respectively. "What's goin' on here!?!?!?" X and Mega Man yelled simultaneously.
"Relax, Rock," Protoman said to his brother. "He's not a fake!"
"And neither is he!" Zero said to X.
X spoke both his and Mega Man's mind when he said, "All right then, what happened?"
"We got sucked forward in time!" Protoman answered.
"What!!!" X and Mega Man screamed.
A few minutes later introductions were all made and Protoman explained what happened to himself and Mega Man. "So, if Dr. Light and Roll got thrown in before you guys," X asked, "then why aren't they here?"
Mega Man looked at the ground, shame showing clearly on his face. "I don't know."
"Are ye sure it was Bass that created that portal?" Zero asked.
"Of course," Mega Man answered. "How do you know him?"
"Well," Zero said sheepishly. "I never told anyone this but..."
"Guys," Iris interrupted. "We've got bigger problems than that right at this moment."
"Oh, yeah?" X asked. "Like what?"
Protoman pointed down a street behind him. "Like that," he said casually. Gathering a short distance away were a bunch of humanoid robots whose designs were seemingly based on animals. "Mavericks!" X gasped.
"....And that..." Protoman continued pointing down another street. "...And that!" The little group of robots were all surrounded by Mavericks.
"Oh, crap!" was all X could say.