Disclaimer: Like it implies, I don't own MM,TT, or anything else that pops up. (You'll know it when you see it.)
Chapter three: Intriguing Meetings
If one where to assess an individual solely on appearance, then Slade would be classified as subtle. Indeed, unlike the super-villains of the current age Slade lacked the flashy powers and costumes. Robbing banks and labs for goods was beneath him, in fact Slade rarely ventured to do his own work. However unlike the Mob Bosses of Gotham, Slade wasn't afraid to take matters into his own capable hands. Physically speaking he was a man with few equals, along with his intellect; Slade often compared himself capable of taking down the Dark Knight himself.
Like some dark reflection, Slades own obsessive ness for perfection often mimicked the Batman's. So often so the crime lord wondered how close the caped crusaders own past coincided with his own. These general curiosities lead to the discovery of Batmans apprentice, Robin. Slade watched the boy wonders skill increase over time and became impressed. Soon afterward the plan began to formulate, convince Robin to turn. In doing so he would not only gain a powerful right hand, but also humiliate the Batman.
As to be expected Robin not only resisted, but surprisingly defied Slade on several occasion. This matter was the reason the mysterious individual sat alone in his monitor station. The most recent event had proven disastrous, not only had the Titans appeared at a most inopportune moment, but the subsequent activation of the prototype had warranted Slade's benefactor to began taking a more active role. This alone proved to be most…inconvenient.
On cue one of Slades monitors flashed to life revealing an individual encompassed in shadow. " Good evening Doctor, I trust things are well." Greeted Slade, although he found such meetings trifling, common etiquette was something Slade found necessary.
Unfortunately for Slade, his benefactor did not agree with his philosophy. " You can dispense with the pleasantries Slade, would you care to explain why you failed?"
Neither flinched at the cold glare each was giving, however if one where to enter unannounced on this private conversation they would probably wilt under the coldness in each persons eye. " A moderate setback I assure you, the Teen Titans occasionally prove to be a wild variable in my operations. However they do not pose a threat."
" So you say."
Slade ignored the jab, " Indeed, as we speak the prototype is being held at their base, and there security can be easily bypassed."
The figure nodded, " Then retrieve it."
"Plans are already being prepared. However, payment for the previous venture has still yet to be made."
" Payment will be withheld until Unit Zero is retrieved."
Slade was one to have things go according to plan, with what was just said he almost lost self-control, however his mask hid the brief flash of anger. So when he spoke his features remained the same, but the now cool voice held a deadly edge. " It would be unwise to alter the contract Doctor."
The figure moved forward, revealing an old man with moustache and gray hair. His eyes now bore directly into Slades as he spoke, " And it is also unwise to threaten me. I do not tolerate failure likely. You failed to retrieve Unit Zero, thus payment of the new model shock troops will be detained until your end of the contract is complete."
" Need I remind you Doctor that you where the one to contact me. Your current models are ineffective against the prototype. If you want it, I expect to be paid."
The Doctor smirked, " Irrelevant, the prototype is incomplete. A man of your resources should be able to come up with a solution. If not then I chose the wrong client."
If it was possible Slades faceplate grew even more menacing as he spoke, " Very well then, I accept the revision."
The old man only nodded, " It's agreed then, contact me when you have retrieved the unit. Be warned though, your reputation is the only thing that keeps us connected. Setbacks are to be expected in life, however incompetence is inexcusable."
With that the image on the screen went blank, leaving Slade alone with his thoughts. If one where to guess his mood on appearance alone they could detect none, however deep down Slade was in a very bad mood. When he spoke, his words where chosen carefully, giving no indication of his anger,
" Contact H.I.V.E., I have a task that needs resolved."
At that exact time the elderly man had abruptly ended the transmission. Grinning wickedly, the doctor replayed the meeting in his mind. Yes, he defiantly got a rise out of Slade. Silently he turned to leave, however was stopped by the subtle noise of his bodyguard.
" Are you sure that was a wise move old man?"
Stopping, he regarded the crimson-eyed figure. " A necessary risk, Slade needs to know that he is replaceable. His payment is of no consequences, I could send him my toaster oven and he wouldn't be the wiser."
The shadowy figure snorted, " I thought you already sent him that with those pathetic excuses for robot troops he currently has."
A deep laugh echoed the room as the Doctor bellowed lightly, " You may have a point, but tell me. That's not why you're concerned now is it?"
It was the red eyed shadows turn to laugh, " Hardly, you never programmed me to give a rats ass ether way. I just don't trust the Human, in fact given a chance he wouldn't even be in one piece if it was left up to me."
" If it was up to you I wouldn't even be in one piece now would I?"
The figure remained silent.
Smirking he continued, " In any case your opinion is justified, in fact I'll leave the matter of keeping an eye out on my business partner to you. If he betrays, do what you wish."
A feral grin could plainly be seen as the figure in the shadow grew more menacing. Seeing this the doctor raised a finger, " I'm warning you, only if Slade betrays me. Unit Zero is too valuable for you to go off on a killing spree. I can't have you making public appearances, you know he'll show up then. And then my plans would get complicated."
" Please, I can handle him. You're making an awful big deal of this new Toy of yours."
" Of course…" replied the old man, "…he is my greatest creation. I will not let him be taken from me so easily."
The figure in the shadows visibly frowned as the Doctor walked over to a workstation and began the boot up sequence. On the screen the familiar figure of the crimson reploid could be seen along with several smaller schematics. Noticing that his bodyguard was still standing near him the old man scowled, " Don't you have work to do?"
The figure only looked at the old man with distaste, " Whatever you say…Dr. Wiley."
Three weeks had passed sense the battle with the mysterious reploid. As soon as the Titans had returned home Robin immediately had a holding station set up to place the pod along with its occupant in a safe location. Not to protect it against possible thievery, though it certainly was a possibility. No the Titans biggest fear was Zero reactivating while they where unaware and kill them.
Not only would one Titan guard the reploid while monitoring for any unusual activity, but also ether Robin or Cyborg could be found going threw the pod with a fine toothcomb. Each one searching for clews regarding their new guest, and what they found did not bode well on their confidence.
However super killer devil robot from hell be damned in Beast Boys opinion. He was just plane tired. To emphasize the point the green teenager let out a stifling yawn as he stretched.
" Man…can this get any more boring?"
Beast Boy had the luck of getting stuck watching the night shift. Because of his unique ability he could easily transform to a nocturnal animal and brave the dull nights. However his shift was due to end in another hour and Beast Boy could hear his bed calling him.
Emitting another yawn Beast Boy glanced at the monitor showing the prone form of Zero lying on a scanning station with various machinery running.
The changeling pouted, " Even he gets to sleep, this sucks. Creepy factor aside, I would kill to be in your position right now." Looking up at the clock Beast Boy yawned again, " Oh well, in 45 minuets you wont be my problem anymore."
Swiveling his chair Beast Boy grabbed his portable game station and flipped it on. Immediately the screen flashed with pixilated goodness as the teenager began to button mash his electronic opponent to pulp. Slowly the Beast Boys eyes unknowingly grew heavy, and soon he was fast asleep. As luck would have it the individual they had kept close watch on just a room away began to wake.
System Repairs Complete…
Booting Primary Sensor Net…complete
Motor Response at 100%
Scanners at 100%
Armor Restoration Complete…
Booting Unit Protocol….Incomplete…
Uploading emergency protocol…OVERIDE
== SYSTEM ERROR==
Uploading Second Chance…Complete.
Unit Zero Online…
Slowly Zero's eyes opened, and for the second time the crimson reploid found himself staring at unfamiliar surroundings. Only this time the painfully sharp pressure in his head was no longer present. Something he felt he could do without, however what was odd to him was the fact that he was alone. More to the point he was alone without any given orders.Strange
Slowly getting up Zero swung his legs to the side of the rest station and sat there pondering the unusual events. Normally, when his systems where not active they where ether in a state of reconfiguration, or given a task to complete. Even the forced activation three weeks ago he was given orders. Although his memory was showing fragment images of the event, Zero knew something was amiss. The only logical option available was to locate an individual and ascertain the given situation, if the very least shed light as to why he was prematurely activated.
With plan of action in hand, Zero moved himself off the metallic table and onto the floor making his way towards the door. However upon closer inspection he found the exit to be locked. Reaching out with his hand, the reploid placed it on the scanning lock. As it read the palm it began to glow, sending indigo colored energy traveling up Zero's palm in a vein like pattern until it reached the blue jewel housed dead center on his helmet. Information flew across Zeros eyes as he processed the data, rewarding him with a quiet 'click' indicating the door was now unlocked.
Upon exiting the room it didn't take long for Zero to find someone. To his immediate right slumped drooling across a consol board was a sleeping Beast Boy. The blond reploid regarded the Teenager with indifference as he made his way over. Tentatively Zero raised a hand and placed it on Beast Boys shoulder, shaking him gently. However the green changeling refused to wake, causing crimson hunter to look on with curiosity.
Zero repeated the action, this time with more force.
Beast Boy shifted as he moaned slightly, " Go away and let me sleep…"
Mistaking this as an order, Zero did just that.
Breakfast time in the Tower normally consisted of fending for ones self. Even though they where Superheroes, this did not alter the fact they where also teenagers. And like any teenager, certain characteristics where dominant.
Like lack table manors for instants.
" Oh yeah, nothing like a double decking dose of roast beef hash special with eggs!" Quipped the now full Cyborg. " Beast Boy wonders why he's so skinny, I'll tell you why. Its because he doesn't eat meat! Seriously, what kind of Man's man doesn't eat meat!?"
As if to emphasize the statement Cyborg raised one of his arms and flexed.
Across the table, Raven quietly put down her cup of tea, " One would think your trying to overcompensate for something the way you keep talking."
Cyborg immediately shifted his attention towards the sorceress, who up till now had remained silent. " I'll have you know I am fully functional in THAT department…" a smirk started to show, "…and I'm secure with my god given assets."
Starfire who up until now had been blissfully eating Pop tarts, now turned her attention towards the conversation, " What exactly is your department asset? I was unaware that they sold it in the mall, it would be good to know incase it stopped functioning."
Raven smirked, and somewhere a building exploded, thankfully it was empty.
Cyborg's jaw hung open as a blush threatened to overtake him, " It will not break! Robin, you explain this to her I'm not… Robin?"
Everyone at the table turned their attention towards the boy wonder. Robin sat silently at the edge of the table, idly munching on a slice of toast along with a cup of coffee while staring off into space completely ignoring the morning conversation. The sudden silence however alerted him that something was amiss, turning his head he noticed Starfire, Cyborg, and Raven all staring at him.
Robin blinked," What?"
" You ok man? You've been awfully quiet lately." Commented Cyborg.
The boy wonder smiled slightly, " Yeah I'm fine, just thinking about work."
Raven poured herself another cup of tea, " You realize too much work is bad for your health."
Robin grinned, " Yes mom."
The sorceress shot a dirty look but said nothing.
" So what is it this time, Rob? Slade? Our Buddy down stares? …Or is it a woman?" The last part of the sentence Cyborg leered to add the affect.
However Robin being the student of Batman missed the joke completely, " I'll take Mysterious Androids for 200."
" Damn…" Grumbling Cyborg pulled out a twenty and handed it to Raven, then looked over to Starfire who was eying him expectantly. Sighing, he got up and headed over to a locked cupboard and pulled out a jar of mustard, handing it to the Tamaran princess, who happily accepted the contents.
Robin raised an eyebrow, " Am I that bad?"
A resounding " Yes." Was heard. Shaking his head the boy wonder took a gulp of coffee, " Habit I picked up from the Bat, sorry."
Cyborg nodded, " So what has you in a funk this time, wait let me guess. It has something to do with the scan we did earlier this week right?"
Robin nodded, " Those where not robotic neural pathways, they where too complex."
" Robin did you not speak with an export on robots last week?" asked Starfire.
" Just a few people over at Star Labs, and they where as surprised as us. I contacted Batman a few days ago; he said he has suspicions but wouldn't go into it. However he did say he'd contact one of Justice Leagues members to come over to take a look at it."
" But it's going to be awhile I assume." Inquired Raven.
Robin sighed, " Two weeks at the least, their Robot expert had his hands full at the moment."
Starfire noticed Robin's mood once again turning dark, however something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. " Well, we could always ask our guest. He is standing at the doorway."
Starfires comment caused everyone to turn his or her heads in shock and confusion. There in the doorway stood Zero, eying each of them impassively. Not a sole moved, afraid of what might happen. Indeed, they where caught with there preverbal britches down.
However Zero made no indication of movement, and for fifteen minuets tension filled the room. Starfire cleared her throat lightly drawing Zeros attention. Slowly she stood and held out a plate.
" Would you like a Frosted toaster pastries?"
If it were possible everyone would have face vaulted.
However Zero surprised everyone by reaching out and accepting the pop-tart, then examined it from different angles. When he was finished Zero again gazed back at Starfire, his expression saying ' Ok, now what?'
To her credit, Starfire picked up on the young hunters confusion. Smiling the Tamaran pulled out a chair indicating for him to sit. Not taking his eyes off hers, Starfire then made hand motions of how to eat the toaster pastries. The rest of the roommates watched with tension as Zero tentatively took a bite.
The silence continued as the Titans where transfixed to Zero who chewed then swallowed the morsel of food. Arching an eyebrow he regarded the pop-tart,
A great sigh of relief was emitted as the people at the table visibly relaxed slightly, then nearly had a heart attack as Beast Boy rushed in yelling at the top of his lungs.
" DUDE WHERE ALL GONNA DIE!!! The super killer devil robot from hell escaped and… is eating a Pop-tart?" If it were possible Beast Boy would have fainted, however at the moment his brain was frantically trying to catch up with current events.
Pointing to each Titan and then Zero Beast boy tried to form coherent speech, " Buh...how...pop...kill…wah…"
Needless to say it failed.
" Indeed," quipped Raven, " How did he get all the way up here? The monitoring equipment should have sounded a general alert if he showed signs of activating. And if that failed the person on guard should have hit the alarm."
The glare Beast Boy was getting caused him to wilt, " Uh…I was taking a wiz?"
A buzzard sound was heard from Cyborg, " Try again."
"Ok OK FINE! I fell asleep are you happy? But why is HE eating pop-tarts!?" Beast Boy was on the verge of another rant, " I mean this is the guy who broke my friggen jaw! Not to mention kicked, flipped, frap eyed, and shot everyone in this room a new one!"
" Well for starters your still breathing," said Robin. " I'll admit that he did catch us by surprise just now, however he didn't attack. The Pop-tart was Starfires idea, it's working so for now let's not push our luck."
" Excuse me, but is it not rude to talk about an individual as if they are not present?"
Everyone turned towards Starfire who was still next to Zero, despite everyone's apprehension. " You all speak of Zero as if he is an object."
Cyborg arched an eyebrow, " Sense when did you become his friend Star?"
"It is not right friend Cyborg, we do not treat you like a house hold appliance." Replied the now slightly agitated Starfire. To everyone's surprise, the Tamaran princess continued to hold her ground, " Although Zero did attack us, he is not doing so at the moment. Robin said it before to give someone…" Starfires brow knitted trying to remember the phrase.
"The benefit of doubt?" asked Raven.
Starfires eyes brightened, " Yes, that is the phrase I was looking for, thank you." Turning her attention back to her audience she continued, " We have yet to ask Zero of his feelings on the matter, furthermore he could have attacked us all while we have debated."
" I do not mind."
At once everyone turned to the new voice sitting, appearing to be preoccupied with the breakfast of champions. Robin quickly decided to press further, " Could you explain the statement you just made?"
Zero, who up till that moment had been content studying breakfast pastries, put down the Pop-tart and turned his head towards Robin. " Starfire inquired to my personal preference of your previous conversation. I stated that I do not mind."
" Why is that?" asked Robin.
"My personal preferences and desires are irrelevant."
"Because?" quipped Beast Boy, who currently forgot the previous argument.
Zero's attention turned towards the changeling, his seemingly cold lifeless blue eyes bore directly into his, causing Beast Boy to shiver, " I am just a machine."
"Maybe…then again, maybe not." The majority attention was now turned towards the enigmatic Raven. Who up till now had opted to observe the crimson hunter in silence. "If you where just a machine, then I would not be able to sense the emotions you emit."
"Are you saying that he's more than just a sentient robot?" Asked Robin.
" I'm not sure, all I know is that when we fought I felt his emotions. Granted they where basic, almost primal." Raven by now was looking into her tea cup, her own reflection looking back as the sorceress tried to collect her thoughts on the matter, when she felt confident enough she continued, " I can feel the presence of life, and its in him. It's different, but defiantly there. If he was just a robot, then he would be a blank to me."
Zero nodded instead of casually staring blankly to the sorceress. This was noted by Robin who now, after hearing Ravens statement wondered if the display was merely an elaborate program designed to mimic human emotion…or something more.
" What you sense is Metatron." Responded Zero
" Metatron?" Cyborg was now blinking, his curiosity piqued, "Isn't that the mineral discovered by Dr. Thomas Light thirty years ago?"
Robin nodded, " Yes Light, along with another discovered it when a meteor crashed into the Mediterranean. One of its properties was a unique energy signature. Originally it was hoped to be a new energy source, but it was proved too unstable. The exact history of it is a little fuzzy to me at the moment."
" But how does a mineral connect to friend Raven sensing Zero?" enquired Starfire.
" Metatron's energy qualities in its raw form are volatile. And from what I can recall the properties of Metatron have never been fully understood." Cyborg explained, " In fact some of my systems are a byproduct of Metatron research. So what Raven maybe sensing is some weird type of empathic radiation."
" Then how come I've never sensed this in you Cyborg?" Asked Raven dryly.
Cyborg Sweated, " Uh well that is…dammit how should I know! Its just a theory jeeze!"
The discussion could have lasted however a new voice suddenly broke into the kitchen.
" Then perhaps I can help shed some light on the subject."
Beast Boy jumped about three feet, " My god! What is it with the security system lately!? Doesn't anyone bother to knock!?"
The changeling shot a glare at Cyborg who slammed his hand on the table, " Hey don't give me that look, my system is running fine."
The figure standing in the doorway laughed, " Sorry about that, I guess I should have knocked. But the Allied Recognition System let me in, so I assumed that you knew. Sorry."
"Wait…" Robin was now standing as he realized whom this person might be, " The ARS let you in? That means you're with the Justice League…"
The figure nodded, his face still smiling. " That's right, I was told you needed a Robotics Expert."
The figure entered the room letting the full light reveal himself. The individual Appeared to be somewhere in his twenties, standing tall fully decked head to toe in blue armor. A red jewel was adjourned in the middle of his helpmate, much like Zero's. His 'Boots' reflected a lighter blue, having another red jewel where the kneecap would be. His midsection sported a bodysuit that sported a darker hue. His arms and chest armor had the same coloring as the legs, along with yet more of the red jewel near the elbows, along with something similar near his hands. The figures eyes where of an emerald green that held a soft inner calm, However those who knew him would vouch for his warriors prowess.
" Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Megaman…Megaman X."
AN: Don't shoot! I'll explain. Yes you did read correctly at the Metatron bit. No this isn't a ZOE fusion ether. However I am using the Metatron for the sci-fi element. Not to worry, we wont have a Zero-turned Jehuty zooming around pulling Vector Cannons out of subspace and blowing things to hell and a hand basket…although it is tempting. It may be explained partially in the next chapter, I'm not sure. If not then later on during the 'revelations' story arch. But for now put away the pitchforks.
See? I bought X into the story! Although it's only a cameo appearance. But it does pave way to the prequel that will eventually make its way on the site…just not now mwaha. And for those confused by X's description, I'm using the look Capcom gave him for Command Missions. I felt that it gave him a more mature look.