Warning: Zero continues to use his vocabulary. Nothing above PG, though.


Sennen Yami no Rockman X


Chapter 3: Shot at by Way of Training


To say Axl's morning was not going according to plan would be something akin to saying housecats do not like getting wet.

"Ack!" A louder than normal boom accompanied the wordless gasp. "I'm late!" Followed by a soundless, collective moan as those persons unlucky enough to be caught in the middle of the most direct path from the barracks to the training center preformed impressive gymnastics to avoid an orange-haired armored blur.

Axl growled mid jump, shouting back an apology to the transporter he had just vaulted over. This isn't funny, Yami!

The former Pharaoh and now spirit on permanent time rent inside Axl's skull continued to laugh, ignorant of the patented Death Glare his current hikari was giving him.

Well, he paused so as to catch his non-existent breath, You... You can't blame me for this.

Right. Blame fate, destiny, evil magic spell casters from beyond, and all that other crap.

He paused to perform a triple jump from floor, to wall, to occupied metal crate tops, and back to floor again, sailing over cursing staffs' heads in the process. "Sorry about that!"

So he had woken up on time courtesy of his internal alarm prompt. Normality had taken a vacation directly after that.

He had scrambled somewhat when he realized fifteen minutes after said internal alarm prompt had been silenced that he and Yami were still hammering out the facts about what happened some two hundred years ago. Followed by that was a near wave of panic as he saw that Yami had somehow triggered his Copy abilities and set his own non-existent ghostly DNA pattern plus clothing as the intended target. There had been a good five minutes wasted letting Yami admire the fact Axl's body could change into just about any person he managed to get a DNA strand from. Followed promptly by Yami realizing his hair was not spiked at all and was instead obeying such a trivial law as gravity, which in turn launched him into a juvenile protest making him look like a three year old.

I still think you're mental.

I'm not the one who had a conga line trying to make since of things. Yami countered.

Yeah, but that's your fault, too!

Oh really?

Yes, really. There was an echoing crash, followed by the soft sounds of ball bearings being scattered across the hall. "I didn't do it, sorry, bye!" Axl shouted back, ducking what would have otherwise been an impressive punch to his head by a hair's width.

You're the one who dumped the whole pile of "You have been chose by destiny to save the world from Shadows gone out of control" crap on me this morning. And now Zero's gonna try and take a head-shot at me for being late! Again!

Yami was guiltless as he spoke; You were the one pressing me for details.

But I wasn't the one who took up sudden residence in my head!

Not my fault you had to finish the Puzzle in one sitting.

Axl rolled his eyes. I am not having an argument with a three thousand years dead Pharaoh about whose fault it is I'm late. Never mind the fact he stuck his Puzzle in my armor. ...How did you do that anyway?

Magic, Yami grinned as though he were a cheesier cat. Axl groaned.

Ugh. Never mind. Just do me a favor and don't distract me. Dodging Zero's shots are tough enough even when I've got room to.

Curiosity filtered through to him but that was all. Yami's presence was a subdued, observing flicker in the back of his mind where doubt would usually hold residence.

Axl took a deep, conscious breath despite the fact he was still running, collecting himself for what he knew was next. Twenty feet from the door, and he sent the silent signal for it to open. Ten feet and he had both Bullets in his hands. Two, and his systems were set for an emergency jump.

One foot inside the training center, and every last instinct he had, both technological and just good old common sense, blared a silent, deafening warning that hot plasma bullets were just dieing to meet him up close and personal.

Axl jumped. A single ball of burnt copper colored energy nicked his boot before impacting with a now shut door. Even a small nick was enough to send his balance off, causing him to flip into a summersault. Systems kicked into overdrive when Axl mentally switched his hover gear into action, extending the "wing" like blades behind which allowed for extra balance and triggering the boosters which normally acted as dash thrusters to increase their output enough to keep him airborne. Both Bullets returned fire with a volley of off yellow plasma bullets.

Every shot was blocked with an iridescent green blade, the wielder of which looking anything but happy. What was worse was the fact said blade and its owner will mere centimeters from Axl's face, already on the tail end of a downward sweeping arch.

Aw...!

There was barely enough time to sneeze much less mentally curse the severity of the situation. One seemingly suicidal order for his thrusts to cut out had gravity pulling Axl clear from the grasp of what had to be the second if not first-most infamous weapon in history.

Once he had a foot on the ground, Axl pushed himself into a roll, gaining distance from his current adversary's position. Straightening out from the roll led him to jumping up once again, this time only a few inches as he turned back to face the now charging fighter. Plasma bullets sprayed outwards only to be deflected with nothing more than gentle wrist flicks.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Zero shouted his question, pushing Axl into a retreat towards a wall with a well timed flick of his blade.

"I'm late, I know, I'm sorry!" Axl yipped his apology. The orange haired Hunter jumped back, performing a set of triangle jumps to reach the relative safety of the ceiling.

"While you're pretending to be a bat, take a look around and tell me what's wrong with this picture!" Zero hollered, being kept from following by being too busy deflecting the boy's weapons' fire.

Axl paused in his firing -- probably one of the more intellectually lacking moves he had made thus far -- to get a clear view of the training arena. Finding it empty left him to blink, followed a moment after by a sharp curse.

"I wasn't just late. I missed the whole session!"

"Damn straight, n00b!"

Startled into a momentary lack of movement by his sempai's use of 1337 Speak, all Axl could do was stare as the red armored blond warrior jumped off the wall below him, managing to gain enough height to strike Axl in the forehead with his saber. Gravity took its course again, sending Axl crashing to the ground. Zero landed in a shallow crouch, his hair finding its way over his left shoulder.

"Not only that, but I had to stay here, waiting for you to get your sorry ass out of bed!" Zero half shouted, half growled, standing up and walking towards Axl, returning his saber to its proper place behind him with one well-practiced motion.

Axl, are you alright? Yami's voice was intent, his concern obvious.

Axl blinked, looking up at the Red Hunter as he offered his hand, his blond hair forming a corona-like halo behind him.

I am going to rip that... blond... idiot...? Axl? Why are you laughing?

"You know I hate it when you do that, Zero-sempai." Axl laughed, grasping Zero's forearm. While at the same time Yami mentally gagged on his own intangible tongue. That's Zero-sempai!

"Yeah, and you know I hate having people show up late to my training sessions. Especially people from my unit." Zero countered, pausing just long enough to hall Axl back to his feet. "You lasted three minutes this time, kid. You're getting better."

Axl smirked, "Yatta!" giving his commanding officer the victory sign.

Zero whapped the boy upside the head. "No parties until after you manage to get to a week's worth of training sessions on time."

"Aw, why not?" His lower lip was sticking out just enough to be cute. Zero rolled his eyes. Laughing, the Red Hunter put his arm around Axl's shoulders in a friendly hug.

"Come on, kid. Let's get some lunch."

And in between bites, could you please tell me what in the name of Osiris' Netherworld is going on here!? Yami's voice was an indignant, terrifying roar filled with concerned confusion.

Oh, sorry about that. Axl blushed ever so slightly in embarrassment. Whenever I'm late to a session, Zero-sempai makes me stay afterwards for a one-on-one training drill. If I break my previous time record for staying "alive" by at least a minute, then he buys lunch. If I last less, then not only do I have to buy lunch but I have to show up to X's unit's training session as well as Unit Zero's -- that's Zero's unit. And if I show up late to that, too, then he hands me over to the disciplinary unit headed by Signus himself. Let's just say I've never been late to X's sessions.

But... But he was trying to kill you!

Nope.

Well it sure as hell looked like it!

Axl shrugged, using the motion as an excuse to throw Zero off. Zero-sempai's just trying to make sure the Mavericks don't get a chance to return the favor I dealt Sigma and Lumine.

He felt the three thousand year old spirit twist his answer about as though tasting it. It was with a hint of repressed anger -- either that, or wounded pride -- he replied with, I still don't like it. You're a child.

Ah for crying out loud. Axl rolled his eyes in exasperation, his expression otherwise neutral. I'm a Reploid! I can handle myself a lot better than any human who tries to go out hunting, thank you very much.

The note of wounded pride ebbed away under a tone of curiosity. What's a Reploid?

It took everything Axl had not to face plant in the middle of the hall.

You are so getting an Axl-style history lesson when I'm off duty.

For some reason, Yami had the distinct impression an Axl-style history lesson was not a good thing.


Touzoku released a sigh of relieve. Not only was his yadonushi on a date (although he would deny that fact to his grave and quite probably beyond, the suborn headed idiot that he was), but from the way the Shadows pulsed and waved in a mix of happy contentment throughout the building, he could bet the Pharaoh and his current Light were getting along without a hitch.

X-kun attempted to say something that wasn't exactly romantic while still managing to let a few of his emotions slip. Touzoku could only wince.

True, it was his immortal duty to guide and protect his yadonushi through the Shadows and Hell known as life. No one would argue, however, that even that duty had its limits, and giving advice on dates with a women everyone but you knew you were in love with was one of those limits.

Another attempted comment, this time made by Alia. A counter comment so cliché it hurt zinged past.

"Hathor help us, X-kun," the King of Thieves winced, making sure to keep his voice down, "You're worse than Yuugi-kun."

And to think he had another two hours of this to look forward to. Joy.


Taking a history lesson from Axl was like asking a four year old for directions. It was possible in a gone-to-the-dentist-to-get-a-tooth-pulled kind of way, but still possible. Not to mention more entertaining than any dentist's drill ever could be.

"There are two ways to learn about history, Yami. One way's to live it, while the other one is to play through all the different videogames they've made about it." Axl nodded his head sagely at his own words, standing in front of a full body mirror. Yami's ghostly form stood besides him, one hand nursing an already forming headache.

"Axl-san..."

"Just wait. You're gonna like this part." Axl sniggered promisingly. Yami gave him a Look. "No, honestly, you will! You see, I'm a Copy Reploid. That means I'm a machine with the ability to copy a person or Reploid's DNA so that I can look exactly like them. People are a little trickier since you have to set in fabric types for clothing which is why I don't copy them so often, but it is possible."

Yami blinked, "A machine? Like a computer?"

"Do I look that dumb to you?" Axl demanded teasingly. Yami blushed, quickly looking away from his charge.

"I meant no offence, it's simply..."

Axl laughed, cuing Yami to give him another kind of look, this one spelling out his confused relief. "I'm just teasing," Axl laughed. "Besides, there're people in this era who don't believe it, either."

"A machine with a soul," Yami nodded his head slowly. "That is something hard to wrap one's mind around."

"Like magic?"

Yami smiled at his Light. "Like magic," he agreed. Another few moments of blissfully pleasant silence wrapped around them, only to be broken with another question. "So then... This... Copying ability you spoke of? Is this what you used this morning?"

"I'm not really sure what happened," Axl admitted. "I think, somehow, I got a copy of your DNA, or at least something really close to your DNA, and that when you took over, the DNA Copying Center took it as an order to shift form."

"Which means...?"

"It means, if I can set your DNA to a secondary default setting, whenever we switch, you'll look like you and I'll look like me."

Having not understood half of what Axl had just said Yami simply nodded vaguely. It had been the Kaibas who had done all of the technical computer-related stuff. Yuugi had occasionally meddled with them, but only for the sake of online games or school projects.

Axl rolled his eyes, "Just watch."

Taking one deep breath, Axl closed his eyes, centering himself for what would undoubtedly be one of the harder shifts he had ever done. First, there was the issue of locating two separate files: Yami's DNA, and the database he kept on hand regarding different clothing styles.

His internal computer bleeped at him, causing him to tilt his head to one side in confusion.

"What's wrong?" Yami questioned, his ghostly hand feeling surprisingly solid on Axl's shoulder.

"Null return on search Yami -- DNA dot CopyMatrixExecutable... I know you're listed in there somewhere..." Axl's brow furled into a cute look of concentration. "Hey, wait. You don't have a second name, do you? Like Atemu?"

Yami blinked. "That was my mortal name from when I was Pharaoh of Egypt three thousand years ago."

Axl smirked. "So that explains it!"

"Explains what?"

Yami's hikari opened his eyes, a warm, excited smirk making his features all but glow.

"Got it,"

A brilliant white light silently exploded into being, its origin seeming to be Axl himself. Out of instinct, Yami put his hand over his eyes as the light swept through him. He felt Axl grab a hold of his wrist, yanking him into control of their shared body, just in time for the glow to settle.

And left Yami standing, jaw agape, looking at himself in the full body mirror.

He was... Well, he was himself. Only adorned in a black sleeveless shirt, deep purple jeans, black armbands, wristbands, and a single black dog collar with a silver studded buckle secured just tight enough around his throat to be comfortable without falling off. The jeans were unique, too, having two leather belts wrapped through the belt holes. Around his neck as it always had been was the Sennen Puzzle, the dark leather strap serving as a necklace cord making its way over his new dog collar.

Even the fact his hair refused to perform its normal gravity defying grace, instead hanging pathetically down to his shoulder blades in a tri-colored waterfall, was a mute point. For the fist time in two hundred years, he was back in a comfortable black-and-leather outfit the likes of which he had only known when his aibou had taken his flakey fashion advice.

"Huh. I think I'd need a live DNA sample to get your hair right."

Fighting down nostalgic tears, Yami nodded his head negative, his eyes not once leaving his own image. "No... No, Axl, this is..." He smiled as he looked at Axl floating next to him, a shaky, true smile of delight. "This is perfect. Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet!" his hikari returned, smile warning of imminent sugar. "We've got an arcade to hit up!"

"An arcade?"

"Yes, an arcade. How else do you expect to go through a history lesson? With data-file books?"

Yami couldn't help himself. Still admiring his own reflection, he laughed. A long, heartfelt laugh, "I think I'll take the arcade!"


Trench coats.

Heaven only knew why, but for some reason, Zero was enamored by them. They always felt like the right things to wear no matter what the weather. When the wind slipped through them just right, it almost felt like he had wings. Water seemed to ignore them entirely. Stains anywhere from beer to coffee avoided them like the plague. Sometimes, it almost seemed like they sat up and begged for him.

But for the moment, standing just outside of London Fog 21XX, they were just darn annoying.

"They're asking how much for last year's model?" Zero pulled the collar of his favorite deep red trench coat a few inches higher, huddling into it as though it were a blanket. "Damn highway robbery..."

Sighing, Zero returned to walking down the crowded boulevard. It was a Friday, he mentally moaned, and a holiday to boot. Children had been let out of school early in remembrance of those lives lost when Eurasia crashed.

Dodging sugar happy twelve year olds, Zero sighed, tucking himself deeper inside his coat.

It was the stupidest reason humanity had come up with yet to hold a party, ranked right up there with America's old Columbus Day. Yeah, having a party commemorating a guy who missed finding your home continent by over a hundred miles was a great reason to party.

Zero stopped walking.

What was he doing, anyway, besides standing out in the middle of downtown Tokyo and moping in an attempt not to mope about her? If he was going to mope, he might as well head back to base with a few cases of bear and grab X. X was great at moping when he really got into the mood. Second best guy at it next to Zero himself. Best guy completely when it came to distracting him from thoughts of her.

An internal alert cut Zero's plans short. There was a Hunter from his unit nearby -- less than a hundred feet.

Zero felt an eyebrow raise itself in disbelieve as the signal's identity pinged. Axl? What's he doing all the way down here?

With nothing better to do with the government enforced holiday, Zero did an about face. Besides, bugging the kid could be fun, and beat the hell out of moping.

Three blocks inside what was teasingly called Kiddy Sector, his internal scanners pinged Axl somewhere in the vicinity of Maverick Wars Villa.

Somehow, Zero wasn't surprised. Maverick Wars Villa was nothing more than a ten story building filled from end to end with all of the two bazillion different variations of every Maverick War that had taken place. He'd caught Axl out-of-armor sneaking into base after curfew on occasion, his pockets stuffed with the fake gold tokens accepted only at the Villa. When Axl had claimed he was doing background research into the past six Wars, Zero had given him The Look, patented, trade marked, and all.

The place was one of the few with no bans on any type of person coming in. Reploid, human, it didn't matter to the Villa so long as you had cash to trade for tokens. Zero accepted that fact, and the fact that over half their games sucked, with a grain of salt, warning Axl that if he were ever caught here again outside curfew than X would be brought in.

Zero chuckled at the old memory. X would have had a power surge just looking at the place and outright keel over if he ever played one of their games, a fact Axl apparently knew as well.

Walking inside, Zero teasingly though over the idea of extending the threat to cover training sessions.

Nah. That'd be too evil.

Two hours later left him orange haired teen-less, amending his thoughts from Too Evil to Poetic Justice.