Zero stepped off the trans server and looked around. Odd. Usually the Resistance Base was bustling with Reploids, but now it was quiet. Too quiet. He activated his saber and walked out into the hall, sensors on high alert. Still no sign of anyone. If the base had been attacked in his abscence, if there was no one left … Ciel, Cerveau, all those he had just met since waking up, who had taken him in and guided him in this strange new world. He could almost hear their laughing voices.
He actually could hear someone's laughing voice. Several someones, in fact. It sounded like it was coming from the direction of the base's desert entrance. He rounded the corner past the lift, and there were what had to be at least half the Reploids on base, all gathered around something. Although Zero couldn't see her, buried as she was within the group of taller Reploids, Alouette's piping voice rose up above the general murmur. "It's my turn now! Perroquiet, you've had it long enough."
Cerveau glanced down the hall in Zero's direction, then did a quick double-take as he saw the other Reploid. A guilty look flickered across his face before he masked it with a smile. "Zero," he said loudly. "Welcome back! We didn't expect you to return so quickly."
Almost as one, the rest of the group looked up in Zero's direction. There was a pause, then a chorus of, "Oh, hello, Mister Zero," "Good to see you back in one piece," "Nice to see you again," and a quavery, "Eh, who's that?"
"It's Mister Zero, Andrew. He's back."
"Um, hello," Zero responded, sheathing his saber. "What's going on?" Then, looking around and seeing every single one of the base guards among the crowd, he added, "And who's watching the other entrances?"
"Oops, gotta go," said the north gate guard, running off past Zero.
Zero glared at the other guards. "We're good," said the redhead who usually watched the rail line. "Most of us were smart enough to get someone to cover us."
"Hm," Zero responded. He elbowed his way in through the crowd, most of whom still hadn't moved. At the center was Perroquiet, who was furiously mashing the control panel of a small tablet computer. Zero tried to peek over Perroquiet's shoulder to see what he was doing. "What do you have there?" Zero asked.
"Gyah!" Perroquiet exclaimed, jerking up from his hunched-over position. A little "pew-pew-pew" noise, followed by downbeat music emitted from the tablet's speakers. "Nuts, that was my last life." Then, suddenly realizing who he was taking to, he exclaimed, "Oh, Mister Zero, sir, hi." He whipped the tablet around behind his back.
What could be so secret? "Can I see that?" Zero asked.
"Um, no, I mean, yes, I mean, maybe, but no, because you have to ask Cerveau first because he programmed it," Perroquiet babbled, backing away as he talked.
"Ah." Zero said, turning to ask Cerveau. However, the engineer was nowhere to be seen.
"Zero, I was going to go next, but you can have my turn," Alouette volunteered, deftly taking the tablet from Perroquiet's hands and handing it to Zero.
"Alouette, no," Perroquiet said, as Zero turned the tablet so it was right way around.
Zero frowned, hitting buttons and watching the little red and yellow figure on screen jump up and down. "Hm. That supposed to be me?"
"Yes," Alouette said, ignoring the glare Perroquiet darted at her.
"Hm," Zero repeated. Two minutes later, he handed the tablet back to Alouette. "Good game. Beat the first level for you."
"Yay! Thank you!" she said.
"What? Let me see that," Perroquiet said. "Aw, how'd he do that? I couldn't even get past the mini-boss! Hey, Mister Zero, how'd you —" but Zero was off, long blond ponytail bouncing behind him as he headed back towards the lift.