"Ow, ow, ow, not so fast, my head's dizzy."
"Sorry, sir, it's just kind of important."
Zero let himself be led down the darkened hall as Janus pulled him by the hand. The red reploid rubbed his eyes sleepily. Janus had activated the emergency disconnect on his diagnostic chamber to get him out. It took quite a toll on his sensors being jacked out like that with no warning, like being shaken out of a personality. "Wait," Zero said, "So Duplex turned me into the general for what now?"
"He specifically mentioned your user account access. I'll tell you, sir. I've never heard anyone prattle and practice on about your faults and flaws. I may be a soldier, but I am no murderer. Yet, in his presence, it took all my restraint to stop from thrashing him proper."
"Who is Duplex again?"
"Round, yellow-gold reploid."
Janus stopped for a moment as he approached another hallway and dropped Zero's hand, looking for signs of the general. Zero took the opportunity to try and wake himself up by shaking his head violently. "I wish I drank coffee," he muttered.
"Tell me, sir, is it true? Because if it is, the commander-in-chief will surely seek to retire you. Probably on the spot with about forty cannons. He is the leader of military here after all. The lawmakers will likely look upon his word as true rather than yours, because he is human."
"Whatever. Let him do whatever he can. If he can prove I did any wrong I'm a mettool. He doesn't know a bit from a byte when it comes to technology. He only understands the equipment that says 'point, shoot, repeat'."
Janus laughed lightly. "True, sir." Janus stopped at a junction of another hallway. "Sir, look sharp, I think they're coming this way. Maybe you should hide?"
"Have I ever run away from a fight before? I stood my ground then and I'll stand my ground now."
"Wait, I think it might be..."
Mega Man X and some other Maverick Hunters following him marched up from the other end of the T-section hallway. Zero's friend seemed to be awake and alert.
"X? What are you doing here?" Zero asked.
"Cain sent for me, he wanted me to get you up. Mavericks are probably on the move again."
"Where do you think? The power plant?"
X nodded grimly. "We've sent out a few scouts. I don't know if they've come back yet or not. In any case, we've been called for. Good thing we don't need sleep."
"Yeah, but being cold-started out of the diagnostic chamber sure wrecks your startup."
"Cold-started? Say, what are you doing up anyway? I expected to find you in your chamber."
"There he is! Stop him!" the general, down the center hallway, pointed to Zero. The gold sheen of Duplex gleamed off the general's floodlight. Six or seven uniformed troops stood behind him, plasma weapons still holstered.
"The general seems to be in a bad mood," Janus leaned in and whispered to X.
Brandle shouted, "Zero, freeze! Arrest him. Use force if you have to."
Zero stepped back defensively into a defiant fighting stance, not willing to be handled like a pieces of haywire machinery. The other reploids with him followed suit.
Janus looked to his golden friend and pointed. "Duplex, you're mine." He winked, letting him know he was faking. If a fight broke out, Janus and Duplex could stay out of the fracas.
"You'll live a lot longer," Zero said. "If you keep your guns holstered."
The general stepped forward and slashed his hand in the air. "You impudent robot. You damned thing. How dare you try to hack into the system? You used that computer voodoo of yours to try and gain superuser access. Maybe you want to give the Mavericks all the secrets of our base, huh? You've put the entire human nation at risk. I'll make sure you're decommissioned for this. Put him in custody. If he resists, kill him."
"Hold up," Zero put his hand up. "Superuser access? Don't you think if I'd wanted to bring down the network, I'd have done it by now? And done a lot better job of it? And been gone by now? Let's think about this with a cool head, general. If this was the time for fighting, I'd know it."
"You can't arrest him," X interjected. "Cain just sent me to get Zero because of a possible Maverick attack."
"An attack, now?"
"Fine, then. We'll go bring this to Cain. He'll want to hear what I have to say
anyway. Bring him on. We'll go, all of us."