And this is 'feralverse.' I meant it to be utter crack, but it went and stole the plot ideas I'd wanted to use in a serious fic because they were shiny, and I decided to just let it because it turned out cool if not what I had in mind at all.

This is only the first part, it goes on for quite a lot more pages in the notebook. The style of this part is very confusing and random because I wanted to convey the sheer WTFness and lack of comprehension that the poor onlookers experienced. This is really stressful and their thoughts are racing, apparently on a course with hurdles since they're also jumping around like crazy. I swear the style is less confusing after this chapter: I mostly stick with X's POV and it's mostly chronological except when he's trying to remember stuff to help figure things out. It's a bit confusing, but that's because he doesn't understand what's going on either.

If you continue beyond this chapter you will be rewarded for your suffering by many random things including: ninjas, tabloids, TMI, aliens, 1984 references, top secret pie recipes, X's throne, and the secret of Zero's perfect, tangle-free hair. And hopefully an explanation of what the hell is going on, although I'm not making any promises about that to either you or X because the only character who understands all of it has never, in any version of… Um, no, that would be a spoiler.

Disclaimer: Nope, don't own anything Rockman related except for some of Capcom's products. Like the OVA in which Blues briefly demonstrates the 1337 skills he considers superior to Dr. Light's.

When Zero had been found with all that combat skill and no higher brain functions it had been assumed that he'd been one of the poor souls built for the short-lived combat arenas. They were stamped out damn quick, but not soon enough for those whose lives had been gambled with and on. A reploid that was closer to a mechanaloid, barely sentient, wouldn't try to escape, and why else would he have all those fancy custom systems? Even if the bastard who'd built him had done the work himself, that sort of thing was really freaking expensive.

At least, that was the theory, but then it turned out that his main function, despite how he'd acted on his rampage, wasn't fighting. Arena combat might have been a secondary function, but he had another one. Bodyguard.

Reploids had free will. In fact they had even more free will than humans did since they couldn't change their instincts. Humans were sort of like the old Robot Masters had supposedly been, except without the risk of being reprogrammed. That meant that when Zero was running the OS Cain installed and was sentient he acted pretty normal. That was why it took Dr. Cain and everyone else so long to find out about this even though they'd been putting him under the microscope since he was brought in.

Oh, sure he was protective of X, but who wasn't? He wasn't just the father of them all but the nicest guy on the planet. They were protective of him and he was protective right back.

Which was actually the problem.

Zero's problem, on the other hand, or one of his many problems, was that when he was running Cain's OS he couldn't use any of those fancy custom systems.

When they put Zero in a very secure observation room and let his old OS reactivate so Zero could try to get control of it no one expected what happened. Nothing. Given the, oh, trail of bodies that had happened last time this was in control of Zero, and according to the reading the instant this one went on Zero's went off, this was weird. He just sat there calmly and looked at the observers without paying any attention whatsoever to attempts to talk to him. They'd wanted to see some of his abilities in action, but nothing happened.

The next time they tried this they got way too much of a demonstration. X had been there the first time to make sure Zero would be okay, but this time he'd had a meeting he needed to get ready for. The instant Zero was switched over he dashed to the wall, cut a circle through three feet of alloy with monofilaments hidden in his hair, punched the circle through to the other side and went through the hole that left right after it. Nothing else slowed him down either and he was out of Irregular Hunter Headquarters embarrassingly quickly and frighteningly easily.

They'd used tracers, they had the third best security system in the world, they had teleport shields, and they had no clue where the most dangerous irregular in history was. While everyone was scrambling either to cover their asses, figure out what went wrong or plan how to recapture him when the carnage revealed where he was without getting more units wiped out there was a call.

X was utterly outraged that Zero had been allowed to wander around loose in this state, and could someone come to X's rooms to pick him up? His being here like this was making it rather hard to get work done. Also, what should he do to snap him out of it?

When panicked security charged in with charged busters they had an instant to be shocked by the sight of the dangerous irregular lying on the couch with his helmetless head in X's lap being pet like some homicidal psycho jungle cat before they were shocked unconscious. What was that blond mop, a Swiss army knife?

Zero then stalked over, crushed their busters, kicked them out the door, and laid back down to be pet.

X turned on his com so his voice came out the intercom next to his door, since he at least knew better than to startle Zero like yelling would have. He asked if they were okay, and what on earth they had been thinking?

They actually were okay after a few seconds to reboot, which was yet another really weird thing. "Thank you for not killing them," X as telling Zero. "Don't worry, I won't let them hurt you." It was sort of like the tone of voice humans used to calm down children or pets.

Zero's reaction to the idea of the killing machine that he was needing a half-trained rookie to protect him, Dr. Light's creation or not, was a snort.

X laughed. "You're not worried about them? Well, it took Sigma to bring you here, after all." Was it a good idea to remind the irregular who had beaten him? What if he wanted revenge?

Another snort dismissed Sigma as a threat, let alone something he needed to get revenge on.

"Oh? If you aren't afraid of anyone, why won't you go back to normal?"

X thought Zero was the one who was frightened here?

The officers were wondering what to do. They would have tried sending in an unarmed and heavily armored medic who could try to shut down this personality again, but monofilament, for crying out loud. Who the hell was suicidal enough to use that as a weapon? The incredibly thin yet strong filaments of the material the space elevator used were bad enough without a mono-molecular edge: it was hard for even a reploid to break it. Add a cutting edge so sharp it was only one molecule thick, and you were looking at something where one slip could cut your head off.

It had industrial applications and some people had used it in the kind of security systems that guarded something so important they didn't care if people trying to broke in lived or died. It was rare now since the inevitable accidents had happened, but they still knew how to spot it.

Who the hell was crazy enough to install something like that onto somebody's head?

But then, to Zero's maker he'd just been a thing.

They had no idea why it wasn't cutting off the rest of his hair. Not to mention slicing his body into itty bitty pieces.

And X was petting that hair.

There was serious debate about if there was a way to kill Zero without harming X at that point. They didn't have much in the way of other options. Sending in a friend of Zero's to try to beckon him away wasn't an option because he didn't have any other friends. He'd wiped out two entire veteran units and a ton of other hunters. They'd had friends who were Zero's enemies, fixed or not.

Some people had pointed out that Zero hadn't chosen to be nuts and tried to make friends with him. It didn't work because Zero was not willing to do anything but train, do other missions, and work himself into exhaustion so he could be in sleep mode without nightmares. Assigning him a light workload didn't help since he'd ask people if there was anything they could have him do. Telling them not to give him work made him go train. Barring him from the training rooms resulted in him doing agility practice and so on in the gardens.

He actively avoided any interaction that wasn't related to work. It wasn't that he hated people, it was a combination guilt trip and way to make it easier on everyone if he had to be taken down again. His efforts to atone and regret for what he had done earned him a lot of sympathy, and it was hard to hate someone who wanted to take paperwork off your hands.

Then Sigma had assigned him to train X because there was no one else that good who wasn't in command of something. With irregular activity on the rise there was no way X would let someone be pulled from an important job just to give him basic training. He felt terrible about being given that sort of special treatment. While how people treated him because he was a celebrity was quite often ridiculous and embarrassing, giving him special training because of who he was was actually vitally important. Not only would it make everyone else feel better knowing he could defend himself, but he was Dr. Light's creation and Megaman's younger brother. No living reploid had systems comparable to his. Special training would be well worth the investment.

Zero understood all of this, but objected very strongly to him being the one to train X because of the danger. What happened if he lost it during a training session with live weapons? Sigma had made it clear that was an order, X had asked what was wrong, and suddenly Zero had someone determined to help him develop some semblance of a social life that he was stuck with because of his commitment to the hunters.

The ones that didn't like him snickered. The fact he was clearly in torment made it hard be jealous of him. For them it would have been a huge honor. For Zero it was purgatory.

He was dragged to lunch in the actual mess hall. Forced to come to the official on-base parties (They improved teamwork. Seriously. Or that's how they were listed on the budget.) and other social events. He had to spend almost the entire workday with someone who was relentlessly optimistic in the face of all odds and determined to help him come of his shell no matter what.

Some people thought how hard Zero trained him was vengeance for this, but Sigma silenced the mutterings in the ranks by telling the base gossip that he'd ordered Zero to train X this harshly. X had to learn fast, or he might die. If he couldn't handle a drill sergeant, he hopefully would realize that was a sign he should go back to the lab. Where it was nice and safe.

Oh, so that was Sigma's plan.

X did very well though. This surprised those who had only met him briefly and come away with the impression that he was a hothouse flower, someone whose brightness and inner beauty would be crushed by the hard cold reality of combat. They either wanted to keep him sheltered or considered him a pansy who wouldn't last five seconds.

The base gossip had told him all about this and X had sort of liked the nickname because the word pansy meant thought. The flower was named that because of the resemblance to a human face, head bowed and absorbed in contemplation of something. Because of that it had been the symbol of some humanist and free speech organizations, and humanism wasn't a racial superiority thing as the name suggested, it meant believing in the worth of individuals.

Then he'd been told an old word for pimp was also descended from the name, and putting it on people's eyes made them lust after you like crazy. Then he'd gone on to mention that it could also mean effeminate or homosexual, and everyone knew young human chicks went crazy for prettyboys like X, and it went even further into the gutter from there until X found an excuse to escape before he blushed so much it stayed that way.

People also went nuts for celebrities, which X was, and heroes, which everyone assumed he would become. When you remembered that X was the brother of the legendary Megaman, his decision to fight to protect was almost what was expected of him, so people who didn't know him thought it was something natural instead of the product of something so terrible.

He'd joined to save lives: that was what the people who knew him knew. Nothing would stop him from trying to keep anyone else from dying.

These were the sorts of things that were running through everyone's heads as they waited, trying to figure what they could do and unable to stop thinking of why this was so dangerous and how terrible it would be to fail X.

Finally, it occurred to Rho to go drag Sigma out of his recharge capsule in the hopes he'd be able to deal with Zero again. Sigma had just gotten back from a mission before this started, was scheduled for fourteen more hours of rest and repairs, and disliked the concept of denying people the rest they needed to do their jobs just because other people weren't able to do theirs. It wasn't that being woken up made him cranky, he just tended to use people who woke him up for stupid reasons as examples to everyone else of why this was bad.

Rho being Sigma's brother didn't make him immune to this, it just meant that Sigma held him to a higher standard and so he'd really get it if this was pointless.

X being in trouble was something Sigma definitely wanted to be woken up for, so he got up, drained yet another energy tank to stave off the need for sleep and dragged the details out of Rho on the way while everyone thanked god he was going to take care of it.

When he arrived he looked cautious but not actually worried. Everyone watched as he stood in the doorway, letting Zero get a good look, and then dropped his beam saber. Instead of being killed by the irregular, he was granted entrance by a regal nod.

"Hmm." Sigma nodded. "I thought so."

"Thought what?" X just seemed curious, no more worried than Sigma was.

"When I fought him he attacked as long as I was armed but when I lost my weapon he eventually stopped attacking and ended up collapsing to his knees and clutching his head instead of finishing me off. The crystal on his forehead was glowing, so it seemed pretty obvious that it was why he was in pain. I didn't have much time to think because at that point if he attacked again I would have lost. I went with my gut feeling that the crystal wasn't why he'd stopped attacking but was punishing him for not killing me and smashed it. There was this big flash of light and when my optics started up again after shutting down to avoid being burnt out he was in sleep mode. I didn't knock him unconscious. He went to sleep."

"I remember, I helped Dr. Cain treat him when he was brought in. He was running on his last reserves. So you think this supports the hypothesis that the crystal was some kind of control device too?"

Sigma shrugged. "You're the scientist, but with the crystal he ran around killing everything in his path and without it he lies around and does the minimum necessary to maintain a peaceful environment. It's pretty obvious, although that doesn't necessarily mean it's true."

X sighed. "Dr. Light invented reploids so we couldn't be controlled the way his other children could. The idea of someone doing that to someone based on his design, on me… At least what we think it was wouldn't work on a normal reploid. We can rewire our pain systems so something like that wouldn't be able to work. Since Zero was only semi-sentient then he couldn't think of doing that." His eyes were full of pity as he looked at the person who was his teacher, commanding officer, and child. "Is that part of why you're so determined to help the hunters? So this won't happen again?" Something X saw seemed to confirm that. "Don't worry. It won't happen to any of us. It simply wouldn't work. You don't need to worry about us."

When X said that Zero's whole body stiffened and the security tapes showed a textbook example of the situation normally experienced only after a really wild party.

Where am I? Who am I lying on? What the hell did I do? All those worrying questions were made far worse by Zero's first sight upon regaining consciousness being his boss.

Zero scrambled to panicked attention while X heroically suppressed the urge to laugh.