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Okay, I wanted to wait until some other stories got posted before I put one of mine up, so here it is, enjoy and feel free to leave comments. Some background on this story; it was one of the first ideas for an original story after getting back into Sonic in late 2012; I worked on it and many other projects in my spare time over that spring and summer and I finally published the first chapter on the 17th of October 2013 and subsequently published a chapter every month afterward until completed. The reason I wrote this is that I wanted to do something that had more mature offerings in the vein of SatAM. Mature as in not sexual or gratuitously gory, but an engrossing story that people would find deeper meaning in and hopefully take something away from. Since the completion of One Bad Day I've been bogged down in group works and such as well as getting this site going, not to mention an every busying life. But I hope eventually to have a second Sonic based story up eventually. Rating: PG-13. Violence, mature, and graphic themes. Safe For Work. Sonic: One Bad Day All characters copyright Sega and/or their respective copyright holders Any similarities to persons living or dead is truly a miracle This fan fiction is set in the SatAM universe. As for a time period, I would say probably during the latter-half of the second season. However, it is not “canonical” to the show's greater story line and should be treated as its own story. Sally woke up on a strange cold concrete floor covered with debris to someone talking and shaking her. “Aunt Sally, Aunt Sally?” “Tails?” She said with a groan. “Aunt Sally! You're awake; I thought you were dead!” From the splitting headache she wished she was. Sally pulled herself onto her knees, still supporting her body weight with one arm while she had a hand to her forehead. Still disoriented she sat up and looked at her surroundings. She gazed around to notice she was in a holding cell of some kind; it was fairly dark with the only light source just beyond the room. She quickly snapped around she noticed that her and the surrogate nephew Tails where the only ones present. “Are you okay Aunt Sally?” Inquired a worried Tails as he moved into her line of vision. “I think so, do you know where we are?” “No.” He replied. “Are you okay? How long have you been awake?” “Just hungry Aunt Sally. I've been awake for a while.” Instinctively she groped for NICHOLE in her boot; she wasn't there. Swiftly, she checked all over her person and all over the floor, but NICHOLE wasn't there either. Her mind was still in a haze; everything felt kind of dreamlike. Thinking back, the last thing she remembered was taking Tails on one of his survival training missions. They were camping deep in The Great Forest; Tails was asleep. At that moment it all came back to her: she remembered hearing something like a Buzz Bomber flying close by. After putting out the campfire she huddled up over Tails she pulled out NICHOLE to find out what was stalking them. It was then she heard a noise and pain in her shoulder like an insect bite. After that the next thing she recalled was waking up here, but where were they? This place was unlike anything she or Tails had ever seen; there was absolutely no sound, in fact every noise they made seemed to echo endlessly. The room they were held in was roughly 20 meters by 10 meters and a little over 2 meters high. One of the long sides of the wall was lined with metal bars with a hallway on the other side; everything else was made of deteriorating cement; in fact much of the debris was from it crumbling. Sally checked her shoulder for the insect bit; it felt very much like a wasp sting, she turned to Tails, “Is there any place that hurts like a bee sting?” He pointed to his stomach and neck. After examining the area she noticed what appeared to be needle marks. “Great, it looks like someone tranquilized us and are now holding us prisoner.” “Do you think it's Robotnik?” Asked Tails. She shook her head, “I don't know; Robotnik usually has machines running all around and guards posted. Besides, if he caught us I think that we'd be a higher priority to Roboticize.” “It doesn't matter, Sonic will save us!” “I hope you're right, but I'm not waiting around if I can help it.” Sally got up onto her feet; she was very wobbly from the effects of the drugs, but was able to regain balance. She then walked over to the bars to peer out and see what lay beyond. The eerie silence was deafening, and nothing could be seen past what the hall light illuminated; it was pitch-black. Her and Tails quickly took to finding the lock; if the lock was is the same condition as the rest of the building, getting out shouldn't be a problem. However, they immediately noticed that something was different about the metal bars: they weren't deteriorated in the slightest. Tails piped up, “The metal is new! Look! The bars have just been built!” “I think you're right, look at the fresh boreholes in the cement.” After traversing the entire span of steel bars Sally and Miles realized that there was no lock or even anything that resembled a door. They quickly scanned the room and there was no obvious door to be found there either. “Why would they make a holding cell without a door?” Sally muttered to herself. Both Sally and Tails took to examining the room; there was still no door to be found and nothing of value amongst the junk on the floor, or at least that's what they thought. Amongst a pile of rubbish Tails found something he'd not seen before. “Hey, take a look at this Aunt Sally! I found something.” She approached the young fox as he held the item out to show her; when Sally saw the barrel pointed right at her she instinctively dove to one side. It was a pistol, but not like the ones most knew of today, but just as deadly all the same. “Miles Prower! Put that thing down!” She commanded. “Huh? What's wrong Aunt Sally?” “Tails, that's a weapon.” “Really? Are you sure; it looks kind of old.” “You're right it is old, it's from ancient times; it fires a projectile.” “Oh, I saw Rotor working something like that to take out swatbots. Sally! We can use this to get out!” He pointed it at the wall and fired. “Tails! No!” She jumped on top of him and held him against the floor as the round ricocheted around the room. Tails' eyes were wide open and his heart beat like a jungle drum, “I don't understand; what was....” She interrupted him while pulling the weapon out of his hand, “Tails! That does not work like the ones Rotor made; it fires a dumb projectile!” “I'm sorry!” She held up her hand, “It's okay, you didn't know.” Sally examined the pistol; strangely enough it was still operable and two rounds left. She stuck it in her boot where she would normally holster NICHOLE; for some reason she would've felt safer with her pocket computer than that weapon. But at least when whoever it was keeping them showed up they would be in for a surprise. They both huddled together up on the far wall waiting for their captors to show themselves, but the minutes just passed by. Tails spoke up, “Aunt Sally, I'm really hungry.” “I know sweetie, I wish whoever is holding up would at least give us something to eat let alone show themselves.” “But my tummy really hurts.” Sally pulled him in close, “Don't worry, Sonic will find our camp and come to the rescue, just like he always does.” Tails' smile seemed to brighten up the room a modicum, which was a respite to the dreary situation. Sally always tried to keep a positive exterior in every circumstance; after all Sally was one of the leaders, and her apparent emotions would transfer to through the ranks. It was not only a tactical strategy, but her duty as princess and active leader of the free people to always view a hopeless situation with a positive stalwart resolve; never giving in to negative emotions. As the time flew by she pondered who their captors could be. The obvious suspect would be Robotnik, but this was unlike him. About that time Tails started wincing and then doubled-over in pain. “Oh my Gosh! Tails!” Exclaimed Sally. Tails lay there on the floor in a fetal position clasping his midsection; she noticed that he was hot to the touch as well. As he started screaming in pain a monitor on the far-side of the hallway flickered on; it was Robotnik. “The large rotund man laughed, “Heh, heh, heh, heh.... Snively was right, this is starting to become entertaining.” “Robotnik! I thought I smelt your stench!” “Tut, tut Princess, you shouldn't use that tone. You're speaking to your overlord.” As Tails screaming started to increase in intensity Sally turned her attention back to him. She was frantic; she couldn't bare to see him in such agony, but there was nothing she could do, with no other apparent option to her, she swallowed her pride and turned to Robotnik. “Dr. Robotnik, there is something wrong with Tails, I need your help.” With a look of pride and superiority of his face he replied, “Oh my dear Princess, why would I do that? The test has only begun.” “Oh my gosh, what did you do to him?” “Why, I'm just returning nature back to its correct order.” “I don't understand, what do you mean by correct order?” With a patronizing smirk he then continued, “I am reestablishing man's' dominion over nature, my dear rodent princess.” “Whatever you're doing to him, do it to me instead! Let him be! He's just a young kit!” “But that wouldn't be... entertaining.” “You sick bastard! How can you do this to a child?!” “Child, child! Where I come from his kind is nothing more than common vermin hunted for sport. That's his lot in the universe.” With tears running down her face she begged, “Please Robotnik, let him go; experiment on me instead! I can't bare what you're doing to him. If there is anything good inside of you, please!” This only seemed to feed his cruelty; with a thunderous laughter he replied, “Rodent Princess, while it might be amusing to see you chittering about and scurrying around gathering nuts for winter, I think that fox will be more interesting to observe.” At that point she realized what the nefarious doctor was up to: he was somehow attempting to remove Mobian sentience, essentially turning them back into an animal life forms. Why would he be doing this, wasn't turning them into living robots enough? Sally sat there stroking Tails' head; trying the best she could to ease his suffering. While she was worried about what Robotnik was up to, she couldn't help but be concerned about what this could possibly do to Tails. “Dr. Robotnik,” she asked, “can you tell me exactly what is happening to him?” “I'll tell you what your limited rodent mind can comprehend: we are suppressing the noble human DNA, thus allowing his primitive traits to express themselves. Things are about to get interesting for you in there, at least I hope so.” “What do you mean? You don't even know what is going to happen?” “That's what this test is for; he is subject zero. If this test fails, there is always more of you out there. If he is not strong enough, you will get your chance. Then if you prove yourself strong enough I might even make you my pet; you'll be cute sitting in a cage next to Cluck.” “Why did you choose him? He's a child! Even you have to....” She was interrupted by Tails convulsing; his muscles began to stiffen. He look up at Sally with confused eyes and his mouth agape, totally unable to make a noise; this was more than she could bare. She looked up at Robotnik's face on the screen; pure rage went through her entire body. Without even thinking she pulled out the pistol and shot it at his image, destroying the screen. “Now that was very un-princess like, rodent. If you think destroying that screen has somehow ruined the test you're wrong... I can still observe you.” While he was right, it felt good to remove his image from the room. She re-holstered the gun and her attention returned to Tails. She kept a tight hold of him as she felt his muscles continue to convulse. Whatever was happening at least he would know he wasn't alone; she was glad Robotnik put them together in the cell. She felt so powerless throughout the whole ordeal; every time Sally made eye contact with her surrogate nephew she felt like her heart was being torn right out of her chest. She kept up hope that a miracle would happen; maybe Tails was right; Sonic would come in, charging to the rescue. She kept her ears tuned for the crack of his tell-tale sonic boom, hoping and praying for something. All of a sudden Tails' muscles stopped their spasms; he went completely limp and stopped breathing. She checked for a pulse; there wasn't one; she promptly started resuscitation to no avail. He was dead. She pulled his body in close and started to sob, out of all the rotten things that evil, sadistic man has done to her; this was the worst. She swore on everything she held dear that Tails would be avenged. Robotnik would have to have something come in to do whatever he did to Tails to her. She was not going to go down easily; she would make him pay. As she sat there thinking about Tails and how she would avenge his death all of a sudden he sprung back to life; sally checked for a pulse; he had a heartbeat! A groan rose from his chest, but as she looked him in the eye instead of the bright azure colouring she peered into a pair of wild looking orangish-red eyes; she was gazing into the eyes of a predator. “Tails? Oh my gosh!” As if something deep inside Sally was screaming “danger” she instinctively recoiled as some innate fear overcame her. What lay in front of her was no longer the cute pre-adolescent boy named Tails, but a dire fox; he was no longer a Mobian. “That's right, Princess. Heh heh heh..., it looks like you'll get your wish: you have become part of the test.” she heard Robotnik say over the intercom. He continued, “It's a whole new game now! He is no longer one of you; in the cage now with you is now a hungry predator. Oh yes, and by the way, I made a present just for you, seeing as you care so much for your nephew and want the best for him: I bestowed on him certain 'gifts.' Not only did I let him keep the freakish two tails, but also greater size, stamina as well as an appetite to match. Are you aware what a fox's normal diet consists of? Yes, rodents, like you; he's hungry and Tails' first meal will be ground squirrel. Die well Princess; your nephew wants his dinner.” Sally couldn't believe what she saw before her. Tails stretched himself up onto his feet, throwing aside the shoes and ripping off his gloves in his teeth. With the gloves removed it revealed that he no longer had hands but clawed paws. He stood up on all fours, like a common canine and started to sniff at the air; he almost spotted her immediately. At first he tilted his head from side to side and began to stare her down; sizing her up. Sally didn't really know what to think; was he going to attack her, will he be afraid of her, or was there something of the boy she knew still in there? It didn't take long for his intentions to become clear as he flattened his ears and bared his teeth. Tails coiled himself near the floor; readying himself to pounce. While she was far from a helpless ground squirrel, in actuality they were close to the same size, and he had teeth and claws. “I'd start running if I were you! Heh, heh, heh!” Growled Robotnik. Sally made move to the left, and Tails seemed to anticipate her movement. He launched himself surprisingly high into the air, and came down right on her shoulder. She swiftly rolled over, and almost escaped unharmed until he sunk his teeth into her right shoulder rending the flesh wide open. Sally screamed aloud in agony, but was still able to pull away and start running. She knew she had to stay away from him somehow, but she had to find a way to out manoeuvre him. Sally spied the bars on the one side of the cell and determined that it would be a great place to get out of Tails' reach. After a few attempts were blocked she knew that a new strategy was in order. She got close to the opposite wall, leaped high in the air and vaulted off the wall in the direction of the bars. Being that she was of sciuridae ancestry only aided the fact that Sally was skilled in acrobatics; she flew through the air with flawless ease and was able to secure herself to the bars. It was at this point she felt the pain from Tails' bite fully set in. While she hung there catching her breath Tails started to pace back a forth. This only lasted for a few seconds until he once again launched himself at her. For the most part she was able to avoid his attack, but eventually he caught her by her left boot. He started violently tugging down and shaking her; in one quick move she divested herself of the boot and once again clung to the metal bars whilst he tore it to shreds. Sally thought she might have bought herself some time to get a grip on the situation when once again Robotnik's voice came over the loudspeaker. “That's not very nice of you. Get down there and feed your nephew! Muahahahaha!!!” At that moment the bars went electric; she tried to hold herself despite the shock. Unfortunately, she couldn't bear it for very long and ended up falling back on the floor where Tails awaited her. She knew she had to get moving again, however the electric shock had stunned her body just enough for Tails to get on top of her. Sally's instincts kicked in and she pulled herself into a fetal position and covered her head and neck with her hands. While it did offer some protection from his onslaught, it didn't stop him from inflicting more damage. He sunk his fangs into her left side of her chest, snapping a couple of ribs in the process. The sudden pain gave her a shot of adrenalin that gave her the ability to escape once again. The chase was on once again; her senses were starting to falter starting with blurry vision due to blood loss; Sally knew she make a stand soon. She could feel his breath closing on her back; she quickly whipped around and delivered a devastating knee to his muzzle. Success! She stunned him. Taking full opportunity of the situation she set to knock him out; Sally readied herself to deliver a kick that would hopefully do the trick. She definitely did not want to kill him, but she needed to deliver just enough to render him unconscious. Sally quickly approached the stunned two-tailed fox, leaped slightly in the air and landed her right heel against the side of his head, which sent him reeling. Not leaving anything to chance she jumped on his back and clasped her arms around his neck. She immediately realized that he was still awake when he started to buck. With all of her strength she held on attempting knock him out by choking the air out of him. It seemed to work for a short while until she lost her grip and fell off. Tails sat just under two meters away gasping for breath whilst she gathered herself once again. Her blood loss was continuing and with it her strength was fading. She was barely able to squeak out, “Sonic, where are you?” “He's not coming Princess. Your life is about to end; I would advise that you make your peace with whatever rodent deity you worship.” Said Robotnik with a certain glee in his voice. “Damn you to Hell, you sick bastard!” She said with the utmost hate and disdain in her voice. “My, My....” “You shut your mouth! Shut the hell up! Why are you so cruel?! What did we ever do to you? None of us ever deserved what you have done to us!” Robotnik sat there smiling, he knew he'd broken the mighty Princess Sally Acorn of Mobotropolis. A chuckle under his breath grew into gales of laughter. Sally stood there, humiliated, bleeding to death, and was barely able to stand on her feet. “So, this is how it ends?” She thought to herself. After everything her and the Freedom Fighters had fought for, this is how she would die. A spark of anger suddenly ignited inside of her, “No, I can't lose!” “What was that?” “No, Robotnik I can't let you win! I won't let you win!” His laughter became more deafening than before; between laughs he said, “How's that? You're a caged squirrel about to be devoured.” “You might be able to kill me, but Sonic and the Freedom Fighters will get you. After Sonic learns what you did hear I doubt he will show you any mercy!” “Princess, after these tests are complete there will be nothing left in my way; all of you pestersome creatures will be normal animals!” “You underestimate us, we will....” At that moment Tails turned back towards her; Sally once again scanned the room looking for a refuge. The only handholds of any kind were on the metal bars, but she didn't want to get electrocuted again. Not a lot of time was given to her before he came at her again. She made a move for one of the upper corners of the concrete walls; Sally hoped that she could brace herself up there. Unfortunately the in her weakened state Tails easily caught her by the thigh on her right side and flung her to the ground. She happened to see the pistol in her remaining boot; without a second thought she pulled it out and clocked him upside the head. After the dazing hit she was able to get to her feet and made her way to the wall. She was fighting to merely stay awake as her lifeblood trickled to the floor. She pointed the pistol at the fox as he readied for the final attack. “That's more like it Princess! Do you kill your beloved fox-boy or let him end your suffering?” She had just enough strength to hold the gun still and take aim through her failing eyesight let alone retort with something witty. She stood there for what seemed like an eternity. Could she kill Tails even in self-defense? Could she live with herself? Every time she looked at this ravenous beast she could only see that cute little boy she helped raise from a baby. Even if she wanted to squeeze the trigger her finger wouldn't respond; it was a line Sally couldn't bring herself to cross. As the two-tailed fox lunged at her she dropped the pistol and held her arms open, welcoming him in for one last embrace. As his teeth sunk into her neck whilst he jerked her to the ground everything went black. Fan Fiction: A Bad Day: Part 2 of Fan Fiction All characters copyright Sega and/or their respective copyright holders Any similarities to persons living or dead is truly a miracle This fan fiction is set in the SatAM universe. As for a time period, I would say probably during the latter-half of the second season. However, it is not “canonical” to to the show's greater story line and should be treated as its own story. Everything felt surreal to Sonic; he kept expecting to wake up, for the nightmare to end. He sat there in the medical hut with his head in his hands he tried to put what happened the prior night out of his mind. He was suddenly shocked out of his stupor by a familiar voice; it was Bunnie. “Hiya Sugarhog.” She said with a less than cheery note in her voice. He pulled his head out of his hands and looked up, “Hi Bunnie.” She didn't look very well; her eyes were puffy and red from all the crying and her fur and makeup was an unusual mess. “Couldn't sleep?” asked Sonic. “Naw, by the looks of it aw reckon you didn't either.” Sonic shook his head, “I just can't get it out of my head. Robotnik was always a total cruel jerk, but... what the hell did we see last night? What in God's name happened to Tails? Uncle Chuck doesn't even have a clue; I'm telling you there's something mondo serious going on and without... Sally....” Sonic became choked up while tears ran down his face. Bunnie held him close while being overtaken by tears herself, “I know Sugarhog it's okay, I'm here....” A day earlier; after fruitlessly searching for Sally and Tails one search team of four Freedom Fighters led by Sonic found their campsite. Rotor and Hamlin went in to check out their equipment while Sonic and Bunnie searched the perimeter for signs where they might've gone. “This doesn't look good.” Hamlin muttered under his breath while picking up one of their sleeping bags. “No kidding.” Replied Rotor overhearing his comrade's comment. “Let's not get too worked up, it doesn't mean anything bad happened to them; they could be hiding nearby.” “Well, wherever they went they sure left in a hurry; all of their equipment is here, see, she even left NICHOLE!” Rotor sprung to attention and yanked NICHOLE out of Hamlin's hand, fast enough that his trademark yellow cap fell off his head. “NICHOLE! Where'd you find her?!” A shocked look came over Hamlin's face, “Right there next to her knapsack, I thought you said....” “She wouldn't have left without NICHOLE, unless; Sonic! Bunnie! We found NICHOLE!” They came over running as fast as possible, of course Bunnie arrived slightly after Sonic. “NICHOLE! Where's Sally? Where's Tails?” Inquired Sonic. “Sally is no....” “Don't give me that crap! Speak ENGLISH!” “You got it, my main Hedgehog.” “That's better, now show me what happened to them!” The team beheld a holographic image of Buzzbombers swooping in and shooting them and then making off with their lifeless bodies. “Oh my gosh! They were shot!” Yelled Sonic and Hamlin. “Hold on a second,” interjected Rotor, “Replay the video NICHOLE.” “Look! Those aren't energy weapons they're equipped with! They shot them with darts!” “What do you mean?” Asked Sonic. “They might've just been captured!” Bunnie piped up, “If that's the case they all might be gettin' ready to robotisized them!” “We better high tail it to Robotown!” Rotor shook his head, “Hold on, something's wrong, Robotnik doesn't normally use knock-out darts when capturing Mobians.” Sonic started tapping his foot, “Whoa up, what are you getting at? If we wait too long we might be too late.” “I don't think Robotnik is intending on Robotisizing them. NICHOLE show us the video again. See, look at the direction the buzzbombers went with them; that's toward the Great Unknown!” “Wow, you're right Sugah-Rote! What could he be up to out there in the middle of nowhere?” Sonic shook his head and looked in the direction of the Great Unknown, “I don't know, but I'm gonna find out! Rote, you and Hamlin jet back to Knothole; Bunnie and I will find out where those buzzbombers went.” With that, they all shook hands and headed out. With the help of NICHOLE's directions and since the buzzbombers flew over the terrain in pretty much a straight line they were able to find what they were looking for quite easily. Out in the midst of an arid valley in The Great Unknown they spotted what was left of a group of crumbling derelict buildings; a remnant of pre-history. All sorts of things from that ancient era littered the area half-buried in the dusts of time. Despite the surreal scene Sonic was on task; he set Bunnie down and flipped NICHOLE open. “Show me where Sally and Tails are!” “Scanning....” Sonic set there tapping his foot impatiently, “Come on! Get the lead out!” “Now don't go losing your head Sugah-Hog, NICHOLE is doing the best she can.” About that time NICHOLE responded with a holographic image of the scan, “Two life forms located in the building to the south-west; ten meters away. They appear to be two stories below ground.” Without even a second's thought he grabbed Bunnie by the arm and hightailed it toward the building in question. As they were about to find a way in they were interrupted by a squad of swatbots. “Looks like we found what we were looking for... Bunnie, I'll take care of swatbutts, you find a way in!” They bumped fists and Sonic took off in a more ernest posture; he was quite serious at the way he manhandled the swatbots; he wasn't telling his normal jokes or playing with them. Meanwhile, instead of wasting time looking for the door Bunnie made one of her own by driving her robotic fist through the ancient crumbling cement. Once inside she beheld what appeared to be a laboratory there were all sorts of equipment some of which she recognized and some she didn't that was all covered by a thick layer of dust. She was shaken back to the task at hand by hearing a muffled scream and a commotion echoing throughout the ancient walls. “Hold on y'all, I'm on my way!” Following the sound of the fracas Bunnie hurried down a flight of stairs. She was like a juggernaut; every time an obstacle got in her way it was immediately smashed to pieces. As she came to the second flight of stairs she heard another scream. “I'mma comin' guys!” She yelled. After clearing some rubble out of the way Bunnie got to the point where she accidentally used her organic arm to bust the door leading to the staircase down, but she was so focused that the pain didn't register. Even though there wasn't much light on that floor, she followed the sounds with her finely-tuned ears. It wasn't long until she found the source of the noise, and a second later she wished she hadn't seen it. Bunnie gasped, “Dear Lord!” There in a cell she saw a dire fox standing over Sally's brutalized body. As soon as the fox noticed her presence it lowered its body, bared its teeth, and growled staring right through her with its orange predatory eyes. At that moment she heard a familiar chilling voice, “How... wonderful... I have another sacrifice for my new pet!” “You shut the hell up you sick bastard!” She screamed as she pummeled her fist through the cage wall, ignoring the electrical jolt. The fox jumped back as she lunged at it; she then took a defensive posture between Sally's body and the beast; Bunnie and the fox squared off for an impending engagement. Bunnie wanted to check on Sally, but both her and the monster where in the midst of an uneasy standoff. As she quickly sized up her adversary she noticed that it had two tails; her jaw almost hit the floor with a gasp. “Oh my gosh! Tails!” Robotnik interrupted, “Yesssss, that's very astute. And here I thought I'd have to connect the dots for you. Why, oh why are you not leading that ragtag group? I swear if she hadn't witnessed him transform before her eyes The Rodent Princess would've been killed without knowing who it was that did the deed” “What in Heaven's name did you do to Tails?” “Just returned him to back to the way nature intended, just as you, that is... if you happen to survive, will experience. With the assistance of your half-robotic body perhaps you'll stand more of a chance, but on the other hand you will most likely die with your Junior Freedom Fighter's teeth around your neck in a loving embrace, just like your Rodent Princess.” Bunnie realized that all Robotnik was doing was trying to get inside her head; she had to block him out and focus. She had to stop Tails and somehow get Sally out of there; Sonic should be finished with the swatbots soon if not already, so she should have his help soon. “Okay Bunnie-Bot let do this!” Bunnie said to herself as she moved to engage Tails in battle. “Be careful rabbit, remember... Heh, heh, heh: the fox always gets the hare!” Sneered that foul man's voice over the loudspeaker. Tails seemed to be taken off guard by her attack expecting to be the aggressor rather than the one attacked; he was on the defensive attempting to repel her attack. As she swung her metal arm at him he caught it in his mouth, which was exactly what Bunnie wanted. For with him being held in place by her arm she could place pinpoint attacks without him dodging them. She proceeded to throw an uppercut to his throat followed by devastating knee to the side of his head just behind the ear in less than a second. She was about to throw a coup de grâce when she realized that it wasn't necessary; he was already out before his body hit the floor. She ran to Sally's side; it didn't look good: blood was everywhere, she had various open wounds all over her body, but the one on her neck was the worst. Amazingly enough she was still breathing and had a weak pulse. As she took what was left of Sally's vest to make a makeshift bandage she heard Robotnik proceed to yell at Snively. At this point she didn't care what that evil man had to say; Sally and Tails was all that mattered. “There ya go Sally-Girl, we'll fix you up.” It wasn't long until the blood started to seep through Sally's vest, turning it a royal purple colour. Without a second thought she ripped her leotard off and placed it on Sally's neck wound. “My word, I do declare; it's not the time for you to die, now you just get it outta your head. Sonic is just outside and he'll be right here soon and you'll be home in no time.” She took a deep breath looked up and said, “Hurry Sonic, it's now or never.” It was only a minute or so later, but it felt like an eternity when Sonic came around the corner to find them. “Sally! Oh my God!” She stood up and put a hand on either side of Sonic's head and looked him in the eyes, “Sonic, listen to me. Now is not the time for hysterics, okay. I need you to run Sally as fast as you can back to Knothole.” Sonic happened to notice that Bunnie's clothes were gone and quickly made a move to avert his eyes, “Sorry Bunnie, I wasn't looking.” As Bunnie moved back to Sally she replied, “Sonic, there's no need to be embarrassed, it's not like my fur fell off.” Bunnie then picked Sally up, “Now you'll have to be careful not to move her head, her neck is severely damaged.” Sonic looked around the room only seeing the furry bulk laying on the floor. “Where's Tails?” Sonic asked; trying to fit a word in. “Don't you worry about it, I'll take care of him! Just go, go now!” Sonic took off like his tail was on fire; after getting to ground-level he pulled a ring out and pushed his speed even further. As he ran he gazed on Sally's unconscious face, which only made him run faster leaving tears intertwined with his normal vapour trail. Fan Fiction: A Bad Day: Part 3 of Fan Fiction All characters copyright Sega and/or their respective copyright holders Any similarities to persons living or dead is truly a miracle This fan fiction is set in the SatAM universe. As for a time period, I would say probably during the latter-half of the second season. However, it is not “canonical” to to the show's greater story line and should be treated as its own story. Sonic had finally made it to the Great Forest and was dodging trees the whole way; barely missing them. For some reason the smell of the forest always calmed him down, but not this time. A feeling of relief came over him as he blew past one of the Freedom Fighter guard outposts; the faceless guard rang a bell alerting Knothole that they were back. He had never been so relieved to see that primal village he called home, maybe, just maybe he prayed they might be able to save Sally. He quickly checked to see if she was alive; she was, but barely. When Sonic finally made it to the village centre he was so confuse that he didn't know where to go. He was elated to see Rotor step out of the door of the medical hut and waved him down, “Over here Sonic!” Bellowed Rotor while waving his paw. As Sonic approached Rotor told him, “I didn't know what we'd be dealing with, so I brought Uncle Chuck, I hope that's okay?” When Sonic got close enough for Rotor see Sally's broken body he went white and fainted. Sonic passed by Rotor's unconscious body and proceeded into the medical hut. Both Rosie and Uncle Chuck were there and both gasped in horror at what they beheld. “Dear Lord,” exclaimed Rosie, “What happened to Sally?” “I don't even know, but she's in bad shape. I think it was this mondo big monster dog that Bunnie wasted that did this to her! She lost a lot of blood!” Chuck hollered into the back, “We're gonna need some blood for transfusion! Sally's blood is A positive!” While he proceeded to the table, Rosie asked him, “Did you find Miles?” Sonic shook his head as he gently set Sally down on the table, “I'm tellin' you, I don't know. But I think Bunnie knows, she said she'd take care of him, wherever he is.” Uncle Chuck and Rosie quickly went about compressing Sally's wounds and checking vitals. Chuck began to get annoyed at Sonic who was, even more worked up than normal and milling about. Frantically Sonic commented, “I got Sally here as fast as I could, she'll will be okay, right?” “Sonic,” replied Uncle Chuck, “I don't know yet, you just got her to us. Give me some time!” Sonic looked on her ravaged body and burst out in tears, “But... do you think I wasn't fast enough? Please save her!” While he had her eye open and was shining a light in Chuck looked up at Sonic, “Sonny, would you calm it down? You're only making things worse.” He breathed an exacerbated sigh, “Is there anything I can do; do you need any of my blood?” As he went back to checking the wound on her neck he said, “I suppose you are compatible with your universal blood type and we'll definitely be needing more, so don't go anywhere. Though, right now I do need you to hold your finger here.” Pointing at a spot on her neck. Sonic nodded and was about to follow his instructions as Chuck interrupted. “Oh, take those gloves off and sterilize your hands first.” He turned to Rosie, “You got a unit of that blood yet?” “Yes,” she replied, “But not much.” Sonic hurried over and doused his hands in alcohol and prepared for whatever Chuck needed for him to do. While it made Sonic feel good that he was doing something to help out with Sally, he couldn't help but worry for his fallen friend and comrade that he loved dearly; it was all he could do to keep from being emotional. He came back over just as Sally was being hooked up to a unit of stored blood. As he placed pressure with his index finger where Uncle Chuck directed him he could feel Sally's weak pulse throb underneath and each shallow breath she took. He looked to she what his Uncle was doing and almost retched at the sight of Sally's rent neck tissue being pulled back revealing all the damage that monster had done to the interior tissues. He had to look away and couldn't for the life of him understand how Chuck could stand it. Sonic cursed Robotnik and his monster that did this to his closest of friends; his emotions started to go wild inside his mind. Every time he thought about Sally he became overwhelmed by grief and sadness, which then turned into anger and rage directed at Robotnick and that terrible monster, which would bring him back to Sally, and the whole emotional joyride would start all over again, but each time it was more severe. Rosie could see that Sonic was being tore up inside; she walked over to him, grabbed Sally's hand and put it in Sonic's unoccupied hand, “Sonic, you know, Sally could use some encouraging words, and I couldn't think of anyone more that she would like to hear from.” Sonic looked up at her with a confused look, “But she's out cold, she can't hear me.” “Don't be so sure about that, right now she needs you.” “But what do I say to her?” “You already know what to say; she needs you.” Rosie's words calmed Sonic down; for the last decade or so she was all he and his friends had as a mother figure; she probably knew him better than almost anyone on Mobius. Sonic turned to Sally, trying to avoid looking at Uncle Chuck working. “Hang in there Sal,” he said, “You'll be good as new, Chuck will fix you up!” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath; he knew those were hollow words. Sonic had seen people with lesser injuries perish. For the first time in his mind he realized that Sally might not make it and actually entertained the idea of continuing without her. Sure, he had other friends, but there was always something special about Sally. Even though they disagreed and argued a lot they were more than just comrades in arms fighting for not only their lives, but their souls as well having watched so many they loved get robotisized or killed. Sally was a rock for him to lean on; she let him know when to let up, when he had gone too far; he couldn't imagine life without her. In that moment he was shocked out of deep contemplation by Uncle Chuck, “Okay, I've done all I can now. Sonny, let's get you on a table and hooked up before this unit of blood is emptied. I'm gonna have to work on stopping the lesser bleeding after she gets some new blood in her.” Sonic nodded, “Sure Unc!” Chuck then turned to Rosie, “We'll need to get more blood ready, oh yeah, and please go find compatible donors!” Rosie nodded and went through the back doors. About that time a helper came in with a repurposed wooden table for Sonic to lie down on. Sonic looked at his Uncle with a confused look as he leaped onto the table. “What's the problem Sonic?” “Nothing, but I said that I'll give Sally my blood, why do you have to bring in more people, won't mine be enough?” Chuck smiled, “I'm sure you would give her all she needed, but she'll be needing more than what you can give.” After Sonic lied down on the table he noticed that he could no longer reach Sally's hand. He immediately leaped off and proceeded to push the tables closer and jumped back up. He then took hold of Sally's left hand in his and gently caressed and squoze it as the needles went in their arms. Normally he wouldn't voluntarily be in such an inert state for this span of time, nor was he too fond of needles, or medicine in general for that matter, but he was making an exception in this case. He was bound and determined to do this for Sally. Sonic laid there watching as his life-blood drained through the tube and other medial apparati into Sally's arm. He then looked over at his Uncle checking on her many wounds, but mostly paying attention to the one on her neck, which was the most life-threatening. Many helpers kept coming in and out, changing her bandages and sewing up the gashes. Sonic once again squoze Sally's hand, holding back his tears. While it felt good to actually be doing something to help, this was far from what he was used to; running to defeat an enemy wouldn't save her in this situation. He felt his muscles twitch as if they were driving him to act, but he had to exercise his control; he remembered all those times Sally told him to be careful, which brought a smile to his face. This time though he was the one telling himself to be careful, he could hear Sally's giggle in his mind as tried to control his body's movement in check, which was quite difficult in reality. Sally never understood how much energy it took to control himself, and sometimes it was just easier to 'act.' However, there were instances that he ignored her just so he could get her undivided attention; he liked attention, but absolutely loved Sally's attention even if it was dressing down in front of God and everyone. There were probably better ways he could gain her attention, but that was the best and the easiest other than maybe stealing a quick snog with breath ripe of chili dog with the works. He could almost hear her squeaking with disgust as he lay there next to her; that thought brought a broad grin to his face. He squoze a little firmer and said, “Sally, I'm here. I won't leave you no matter what. We can't do this without you, we need you... I need you.” Sonic blushed and was a bit embarrassed that everybody might have heard him, but it quickly faded as he realized that only she mattered. At that moment he felt Sally's hand tighten around his! “Unc!, look! Sally just squoze my hand!” Chuck smiled, “Sonny, you're doing a great job. She knows there is someone she loves who is there for her and wants her to live on.” A lump grew in Sonic's throat and tears came to his face as he calmly sunk back into the table; “Yes!” he thought, “I'm not going to have to go on without her.” After a short while Sonic heard some commotion outside; it was all he could do to not jump up and run out and see what was going on. “Uncle Chuck, what's going on out there?” He looked at Sonic and replied, “I don't know.” Chuck didn't move away from Sally; he remained dutiful even though Sonic could see he wanted to go and see as well. A couple of seconds later Rosie came running in, “I need some tranquilizers!” “Why, what's wrong?” Inquired Chuck. “It's Miles! We need to keep him unconscious!” “I don't understand.” “I can't explain, just give something that would keep a large animal asleep!” He nodded and gave her a jar off the shelf, “Now watch the dosage, too much of that could make him hear the beat of angel's wings!” Sonic was confused by the exchange, “What the heck is going on? Where's T2?” Rosie replied briskly as she hurried out the room, “Sonic, it's too hard to explain.” “For God's sake! Would someone just tell me what's going on!” “Sonic I need you to calm down! Rosie is taking care of whatever is going on out there and right now I need you to focus on Sally!” At that moment Sally's eyes popped open as she gasped and started coughing up blood. “I need some help in here, now!” Chuck yelled at the top of his lungs. “Dear God, what happened to Sally!” “There must be some internal injuries I didn't know about.” Chuck administered an injection, which put Sally back under. “Okay, I'm gonna have to operate. Sonic, we need to unhook you now and have you wait outside.” Sonic was escorted out as he saw them start to shave the hair on her chest; once again his hopes of her recovery were dashed. He decided that if he couldn't be with Sally, he'd then see about Tails. As he walked out he saw them putting that beast that hurt Sally into a cage. Sonic's eyes burnt red at its sight; he readied himself to tear into it with all of his pent-up rage, when Bunnie grabbed him. “Sonic, Sonic. What's the matter Shuga-Hog? How's Sally-Girl?” He looked at her and yelled, “What in God's name were you thinking? Why did you bring that damn thing here?” “Sonic, calm down...” “Calm down! That's what everybody has been telling me all day, I'm sick and tired of being 'calm,' now, let me at that thing!” Bunnie grabbed Sonic by the arm quite roughly, pressed her muzzle to his and gritted her teeth at him, “Sonic! That's enough! Y'all are goin' ta listen ta me now! Understand?” Sonic's eyes grew wide, he'd never seen Bunnie get so angry. “I'm tellin' ya, that monster is yer little buddy Tails. Robotnik did somethin' ta make him like that. Now, Y'all ready ta tell me 'bout Sal? I've had jus as bad a day as y'all and am in no mood for your crap, understand?” A surprised and shaken Sonic replied, “Umm, yeah, Sally is in surgery right now, she lost a lot of blood and Uncle Chuck said she had internal injuries.” “And y're not in with her?!” “Look, I was in there and gave her my blood; Chuck only made me leave when he started to operate.” “Look, Shuga-Hog, I'm sorry...” “It's okay Bunnie, we've both been through hell today; I've been enough of a jerk for the both of us.” He gave Bunnie a hug and then turned toward Tails. “What do you think happened to the Big Guy?” “Search me, I haven't the foggiest. I reckon it's best ta leave it ta Uncle Chuck. By the end of the day we're going ta be appreciative of that metal body of his.” Sonic smiled, turned away and started to walk. “Where'ya off ta?” “I need to clear my mind, I have a mondo migraine.” It wasn't long until he realized that walking wasn't helping, which led him back to the medical hut. Everything felt surreal to Sonic; he kept expecting to wake up, for the nightmare to end. He sat there in the medical hut with his head in his hands he tried to put what happened the prior night out of his mind. He was suddenly shocked out of his stupor by a familiar voice; it was Bunnie. “Hiya Sugarhog.” She said with a less than cheery note in her voice. He pulled his head out of his hands and looked up, “Hi Bunnie.” She didn't look very well; her eyes were puffy and red from all the crying and her fur and makeup was an unusual mess. “Couldn't sleep?” asked Sonic. “Naw, by the looks of it aw reckon you didn't either.” Sonic shook his head, “I just can't get it out of my head. Robotnik was always a total cruel jerk, but... what the hell did we see last night? What in God's name happened to Tails? Uncle Chuck doesn't even have a clue; I'm telling you there's something mondo serious going on and without... Sally....” Sonic became choked up while tears ran down his face. Bunnie held him close while being overtaken by tears herself, “I know Sugarhog it's okay, I'm here....” Sonic got up and walked over to the door to the operating room; he cracked it open to peer in. He saw his Uncle frantically working, and could see a worried look on his face. Sonic was about to step in when Rosie noticed him and was proceeding to usher him out when Uncle Chuck looked up at him. It was a look of horror and almost shame; like he knew death was inevitable and feared what Sonic would think of him if Sally died on that table. Sonic palate went white; it felt like his heart dropped through his feet to the core of Mobius. He ran out into the waiting room and proceeded outside where he bumped into Antoine. “Watch where you are going Sonique! Have not you already done enough on this day!” “What are you talking about?!” “You taint her with your hideous disgusting bodily fluids! I cannot dare to think about it!” “Watch it Ant, I've had a bad day; you don't want to rile The Hedgehog!” “Ha! I say to vu, You are a disgusting freak of the nature and there is non way that she could e-vair be with somethings like you. The Princess doesn't love you; she needs yourself to fight the Robotnik! If I was gifted as you... Sonic burst out laughing, “You'd be a walking cataclysm for Sally and us Freedom Fighters; Robotnik wouldn't have to lift a finger to defeat us!” Antoine gasped, “How dare you insult me!” “The fact that you exist is insult enough for two of you!” Antoine gripped his sword, “How dare you!” “Careful Ant! You pull that pocket knife and it gets real! I won't hold back!” “I am a Royal Guard! How dare you threaten me!” “You're not fit to guard a member of the House of Acorn! Hell, you're not even fit to clean the outhouse! You must be talkin about your dad right? He was the Castle Guard, not you; you gave yourself that title. If your dad could see you now he'd die of embarrassment! And that's all you are: one mondo embarrassment! Your father, who was a real castle guard, would be appalled if he could see you. I bet if he could see you now he'd disown you; there's no way that you could be a product of his genes! Whoever was your real father must've been some sorry excuse for a Mobian!” Antoine shook with rage; as he jerked is sword out of its scabbard Sonic head butted him right in the muzzle. “Mon Dieu! You have broken my nose you dreadful Hedgehog!” In reality Sonic was holding himself back. The head butt was a result of Sonic keeping himself from curling into a ball and potentially killing Antoine; lowering his head was just the first step of such a move. The fact that he was able to restrain a move that was second-nature to him told a lot. Sonic stared Antoine right in the eyes; they burned bright red with intense rage. Upon seeing this Antoine screamed in terror as he bashed Sonic in side of the head with the flat of his blade, then turned to run. Sonic snapped, he instantly responded by grabbing ahold of Antoine's sword hand, twisting it as to disarm him. He then spun Antoine around, swiftly driving his knee as hard as he could deep into Antoine's groin followed by an uppercut to his jaw. This sent Antoine reeling to the ground screaming in excruciating agony. Sonic knelt down, picked up Antoine's sword, and looked it over. “Look Ant, I have your little knife; Was this your dad's too, or was it something he gave to you to play with? If it's anything like its owner it will won't cut melted butter and will cause nothing but trouble for its wielder.” Sonic held the sword at eye level, “What a piece of useless junk!” he muttered as he shoved it in the ground and proceeded to snap it off then threw the hilt and the rest of the broken blade into a nearby shrub. “...and that sword's garbage too.” Antoine lay on the ground in a quivering ball in the throes of pain, shrieking and moaning; Sonic sauntered over and pushed him over onto his back. He then placed his sneaker on Antoine's throat and applied pressure. Ant was barely able to speak, “What, what are you doing Sonique?! I am sorry! I am sorry! Oh! Please stop!” “Shut the hell up you yellow-bellied coward! How could trash like you have the gall to pursue a woman like Sally! Even if you were a prince and she was a commoner she'd have nothing to do with a toad like you! You make everyone sick to be around you, just the sound of your voice makes us all want to be robotisized just so we can be free of you! In fact, maybe I should run you to Robuttnick now, but I doubt he'd accept such a miserable specimen as a slave. You'd do more damage to him as a mindless slave than you have ever done as a Freedom Fighter!” At this point the commotion started to attract the attention of a crowd who were horrified at what they were witnessing. Sonic heard a voice off to one side, “Sonic stop! You're going to kill him!” He turned to see Rotor approaching. When Rotor caught a glance from Sonic's brightly burning eyes he stopped dead in his tracks, then continued his approach. “My gosh Sonic, what's gotten into you? We're all upset at what happened; we all love Sally and Tails, but it's not driving us to be at each other's throats. Sonic, hasn't there been enough violence today? Come on, we're all Freedom Fighters here!” “We would've already defeated 'Buttnick and had Mobitroplis rebuilt if it wasn't for this liability! He's done more damage to us than ten Robotnicks! I have no idea why you call him a friend? He just screw things up and does damage to the cause!” “Sonic, let him go.” “You and what force of nature?” “Sonic, you're a hero. If you keep this up you'll kill him; there'll be no going back. You'll eventually calm down and not be able to live with yourself; his death will be a blight on your soul.” Rotor put a paw on Sonic's chest and cautiously pushed Sonic and Antoine apart, “I know I'm no match for you, but I will not allow two of my best friends to hurt one another.” There was a short pause the red faded from Sonic's eyes. He looked at Rotor and said, “I'm sorry, I don't know what happened man; everything is just so crazy.” “It's not me you should be apologizing to....” Countered Rotor as he motioned to Antoine. Sonic had a sickening feeling in his stomach when he looked down at Antoine on the ground holding himself still in intense pain. He knew Rotor was right; he had gone too far. He didn't really care for Ant all that much, but he still was a comrade and he never thought that he would ever inflict violence on another Freedom Fighter. He was even having trouble remembering what had transpired; the memories were like looking through very old glass. He could see things as they happened, but they were distorted. And that damn headache was back again. Sonic offered his hand to Antoine to help him up. “Aaaaaa!” Screamed Antoine as he fell into a defensive posture. “Cool it Ant, I won't hurt you. I'm sorry. I acted like a totally uncool jerk. Will you forgive me?” Antoine looked at him with suspicion and turned to Rotor who nodded. He then took Sonic's hand and came to his feet; he was a bit wobbly. Rotor look at him and said, “Maybe we should get you to see the doctor?” “No, I am fine.” Antoine replied as his arms were set on their shoulders. “Okay, if that's what you want.” added Sonic, “Oh yeah, and sorry about your sword.” “My sword! What did you do to it?” “Um, I sort of broke it....” “That was a family heirloom you fuel!” “Look, I'll go get it and I'm sure Rotor can fix it.” Sonic looked over at Rotor expectantly, who replied with raised eyebrows. “You can fix it, right?” Sonic asked with a desperate look on his face. “Uhh, I guess so....” Antoine doubled over and let out a moan, “Ooooooooo... Maybe I should be seeing that physician....” “You definitely need help Ant.” Sonic replied as he shook his head. When they entered the medical hut Bunnie hopped to her feet. “What in the heck happened?” “Um...” Rotor spoke up, “Antoine and Sonic got into a scuffle.” As they approached the doors Sonic felt a horrid feeling of foreboding. He didn't know what shape Sally was in or if she was even alive; he couldn't step through the doors. “Bunnie, can you help Ant on in? I've got somewhere to go.” She could tell that thing were getting to him besides the shame of beating up a fellow comrade. “Is somethin' botherin' ya Shugah-Hog?” “Yeah, I'm worried about Sally. I'm worried....” “Say no more, it's okay.” Instead of putting his arm around her shoulder like he was with Sonic, she just picked him up and carried him in, just like Sonic normally carried Sally. Her jostling him about bothered him a bit. “Ow, ow, ow! Be careful with myself.” “Don't worry your little cute coyote self, I don't bite... that hard.” She giggled and gave Sonic a wink as she took him through the doors. “Well, it looks like Ant will be okay, where are you off to Sonic?” As Sonic walked out he replied, “I don't know, but I need some time to let this all sink in.” He really wanted to just run away as fast as possible or just go and give Robotnik some Hell, but he couldn't leave Knothole for fear that Sally might need him. His wandering around the village eventually led to where Tails was being kept. He could see the grotesque vulpine form in the cage; there was no way that could be his little buddy in there. He approached the cage and noticed that Larry Lynx was guarding it; he could tell that he was quite nervous about both Tails in his current condition and Sonic's presence, but he still saluted as Sonic approached. In a village the size of Knothole news traveled fast and by time everyone knew about what happened with Antoine. “It's okay Larry, I just want to see Tails. I won't give you any hassle.” Larry nervously nodded his head, but kept a firm watch on Sonic, shaking the whole time. “How in the world can this be you?” Sonic said looking at the hulk in the cage. As he reached in and stroked Tails' head Larry spoke up with concern, “Um, I wouldn't do that Sonic. What if he wakes up with your hand in there?” “Rosie put him under with something strong Unc gave her, he won't...” At that very second Tails sprung to life and almost took Sonic's hand off; if it was someone slower he would've become an amputee. Larry took aim and shot Tails with a dart, which sedated him just enough that they could administer another dose to put him under. “There, that ought to do it.” Sonic said with a nod. Larry was hyperventilating,“I hope so, I'd hate to have him get loose in Knothole.” Sonic noticed something odd with the cage's door, “Whoa, Larry did you notice that his cage was left unlocked?” Larry's eyes bugged out and he went white, “I don't know how that happened.” “Just double and triple check from now on, okay.” Larry nodded as Sonic patted him on the shoulder. Sonic was about to start walking again when he spotted Uncle Chuck approaching. After the what he saw earlier in the operating room Sonic expected the worst; he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, he was dreadfully afraid that he was about to get bad news; that of the worst kind. “Sonic...” said Uncle Chuck as he put his paw on Sonic's shoulder, “It's okay Sonny, Sally should be fine for the time being. But I need to jet back to the city for some equipment.” Sonic felt like a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders; he almost jumped out of his shoes at the news, “Sally's not dead! Oh, thank God!” “Yes, but don't get too excited, she's not out of the woods yet.” “What do ya mean by out of the woods, Unc?” He replied getting very serious again. “There's a good chance she'll survive, but with all that damage Sally took to her neck from the bite will leave her body paralyzed if nothing is done.” “Whoa, that's no good, you have a plan right?” “Like I was saying, I need to go back to the city to get some more equipment.” “...And that'll keep her from being paralyzed?” Chuck shook his head, “That's what I'm hoping. I can't bare to think what she'll go through not being able to move.” “Well... at least she'll be alive, right? That's something.” “I don't think you understand, Sonic. For Sciuridae like her it would be hell trapped in her body like that; you can understand that.” Sonic took a deep breath, closed his eyes and asked, “So, what are the chances she'll be back to her normal self?” “Sonny, I don't know if she'll ever fully recover no matter what I do. Besides, don't you know that 90% of all percentages are made up on the spot.” Sonic chuckled, “Seriously though Unc, do you think it'll work?” “All I can say is that it's better than nothing, at least this way there'll be a chance. I'm bound and determined to do my best to see that Sally makes it through this.” Said Uncle Chuck whilst he shrugged his shoulders. Sonic turned back to the cage, “So what do you think of the Big Guy here?” Chuck walked over to the cage joining Sonic, “I haven't had a chance to go over him, but from what I know Robotnik put something in him to cause this to happen. If I'm guessing it's probably a mix of chemicals and some of his of his other technologies. Whatever it is Robotnik has been very quiet about it, I've not heard of or seen anything like this, even through all of my surveillance.” “Do you think anything can be done for him?” Chuck stood there in contemplation then said, “It would help if I knew what it was that he put in him.” “So, would it help if I went and got a sample for you.” Chuck nodded, “Yeah, that would be a good start.” “Then do you care if I hitch a ride with you in the hover unit to the city?” Sonic asked with a grin on his face. “Sure, but I'd like it if you brought someone else along as well, but I'd definitely leave Antoine behind.” Sonic started laughing, “Yeah, no kidding, he's totally worthless on missions. He'd just screw things up as usual.” Uncle Chuck turned towards his nephew with a stern look, “That's not what I was talking about; like Tails he's a canine Mobian, but of the Latrans variety. If he happened to get infected by whatever got to him you might have another one of him.” He said as he pointed towards Tails. “Good point. I still want to keep the team small, so that means Bunnie is a definite. I'd also like to bring Rotor along; without Sally and Tails he's the only one that could deal with the computer systems.” Chuck nodded, “I see what you're saying, but having a giant angry walrus to deal with might not be the best thing to deal with.” Sonic turned as to head back to the medical hut, “I know, but I don't think we can do this without him.” Chuck turned to join him, “Alright then, just be aware that is a possibility.” Sonic nodded. “Is it okay with you if I go see Sally before we split?” “I suppose so, but make it quick. We should be heading off as soon as possible.” “Can you go get Bunnie and Rote and fill them in for me?” Sonic said as he made tracks for Sally. “Sure!” Yelled Uncle Chuck hoping that his answer reached Sonic. Sonic busted a move back to the medical hut and proceeded in to the operating room to see Sally. There he saw her on the table with her body covered with a heavy blue blanket. To his shock he saw tubes coming out of her neck that went to several machines and other apparati carrying various fluids to and from. The one that caught the most attention was the one that appeared to be breathing for her. He took her hand in his and gently stroked the fur on her cheek. “Sally, if you can hear me I need you to pray for Bunnie, Rote, and me; not only for the mission we are about to do, but so I can control myself. I'm scared I'm loosing it. If you saw what I did to Ant earlier I could only guess what you would have said and done; it was mondo uncool what I did. You know me Sal, I can just brush that little toad off; he's nothing to me, I've saved his butt so many times I can't count. So why did I pick a fight with him? It's not like me; I just don't know anymore. Today has totally been one crazy mother of all days, maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and everything will make sense again. I so can't wait for today to be over. When we get back I'm taking you somewhere special.” Sonic sat there for a few seconds in silent prayer, placed Sally's hand back under the blanket, then leaned in and gave her a kiss. “I love you Sally,” he said with a heavy sigh as he walked out and met up with Rotor, Bunnie, and Chuck. “You ready?” Asked Chuck. With a gleam in his eyes, Sonic belted out, “Let's do it to it!” Chapter 4: Sonic felt a weight on his shoulders as he stepped inside the hover unit; he never liked being inside any contraption, it was too confining. Sonic gulped, took a deep breath and proceeded to enter. Both Bunnie and Rotor started to follow him in and spied a discolouration on his quills. “Sugah-hog, what the high heck did you get on your back?” Exclaimed Bunnie. “Huh?” Inquired Sonic with a confused look. “Right there, you got something purple all over your quills.” Added Rotor, who proceeded to touch them. Sonic began spinning around like a puppy chasing its tail futilely trying to see what his friends were going on about. “I don't know Rote,” added Bunnie, “I think it's more of a dark reddish maroon if you ask me.” Rotor shook his head, “No, it's more of a violet colour” Bunnie turned to him with a disgruntled look, “It's a crimson!” “A purplish-crimson then maybe?” Added Rotor with a shrug. “Would you two stop arguing about colour! What's on my back!?” “Y'all need ta hold still now and I'll take a closer look.” Bunnie took to combing through his quills, trying to identify what substance have gotten on them. “Whoa! That's odd.” Exclaimed Rotor leaning in. “My oh my, that's certainly strange.” Added Bunnie. “Okay guys, enough is enough! I'm not an experiment!” Bunnie took hold of a quill and yanked it out.” “Ye-ow!” Screamed Sonic. “What in God's name did you just....” Sonic stopped in mid sentence upon seeing his quill in Bunnie's metal hand. It was blue at the base, turning purple then gradually becoming redder until becoming dark red at the tip. “...What the hell? This is mondo weird.” Muttered Sonic as he swiped it from her hand. He rubbed it between his fingers to see if anything came off and nothing came off. He put it in his mouth to taste it; there was nothing out of the ordinary about it other than the colour. He tried to break it open. “Rrrunnnngggg!” He grunted as it refused to give. The quill was much stronger than any he had ever had on his person, while they were strong normally this was ridiculous. He handed it back to Bunnie, “I don't know what to think, can you break it?” Bunnie nodded, “I'll give it a go. Y'all need to back off, somethin' might go flyin'.” Bunnie stuck one end into a rock and proceeded to snap it off. It shattered into many pieces at the fracture point sending shards in the direction of the break, which luckily didn't hurt anyone. They all ran to see what happened. Sonic looked into the core of the quill, it was the same as the outside; the colour and hardness went all the way to the core, which slowly faded back to his normal blue hue. Sonic shook his head, “What the heck? And you say that all of my quills are like this?” Bunnie and Rotor nodded, she answered, “I wouldn't be lyin' to y'all, ya know that, 'specially with somethin' like this in a time like this.” Rotor piped up, still examining the now blue quill, “But what could've caused this?” “Would you three get the lead out, we don't have a lot of time!” They heard come from the hover unit. “Yeah Unc, we're we'll be right there in a Sonic Second!” As they start to head over to Chuck and the hover unit Rotor pipes up, “Do you think it's wise for you to head into the city?” Sonic glares back, “What's that supposed to mean?” “Well...” Bunnie interrupts, “Sugah Hog, don't y'all be gettin' your quills in a twist, y'know we all care fer ya. And ya have ta admit this is somethin' we've not seen before in ya.” Rotor nods, “It's true Sonic, I would like to know what is happening to you; what if it's something really bad; I'd hate to have you away from home, especially in Robotown!” Sonic hits his fists together, “No Rote, I have two friends that need my help and if I stayed behind I couldn't live with my self; weird condition or not!” “If you say so.” As all three of them got buckled into their seats Chuck asked, “So, where am I droppin you three kids off at? As I said before, I haven't head anything about this project, so I've no clue where to start lookin.” “As close as you can get to Robotnik's command centre!” Sonic said with a forceful tone. Rotor shook his head and raised his paws with shrugged shoulders, “But we don't know....” “It might not be there, but I'm sure we'll find what we're looking for if we start there!” Sonic, for some reason, was having a slight bout of claustrophobia as he stared out the window. He watched as the towering greenery and sylvan glades gave way to wasteland and industrial sprawl. He felt happy that didn't have to smell the chemicals and smog; for the first time was happy to be in the confines of the hover unit; the vehicle's filtration system took care of most of the pollution and Bunnie's perfume masked what was left. While the others talked amongst themselves he pulled NICHOLE out of his pack and just stared at the device sitting there in his hand. He sat there feeling the textures, lines, and creases of Sally's handheld computer. He thought to himself: “You should be with her, not me. Why in the hell is this happening.” Bunnie looked over at Sonic and put her organic hand on his shoulder, “It'll be okay Sugah Hog, you go lettin it get you down too much. This maiht seem like yer world is fallin' to pieces, but if y'all let it consume ya there'll be no hope.” Sonic cleared some tears from his tear swollen eyes, “What are you goin on about Bunnie? I'm fine.” Bunnie shook her head, “Sonic, y'all can't go on lahk this. Yer gonna eat a big ol hole in yer heart.” He shot her a slight glare, “Well then, what do you want me to do?” She pat him on the shoulder again, “Y'all need ta be usin this to give ya strength, strength ta do what's right!” Sonic looked down at NICHOLE, “I'm sorry Bunnie, you're right, but it's hard for this not to get you down in the mouth.” “Jus ya remember Sugah Hog, I'm here for y'all, we're all in this together.” Sonic let out a deep sigh as he took her hand, “Thanks, I'm sure I'll be needin' all the strength I can get.” She warmly smiled, “And we'll be givin' ya all we can.” The hover unit came to a stop, “Okay kids, this is where we stop; I'll be getting my equipment and running back to Knothole. I'll send someone back with the hover unit to pick you up when you're ready.” Said Uncle Chuck. “Cool Unc,” Replied Sonic with a hug, “Be mondo careful.” He nodded, “I will and you kid be safe as well, I shouldn't have to remind you that this is hostile territory.” “You said it.” Interjected Rotor as Chuck disappeared into a building. As they disembarked Rotor asked Sonic, “Do you know where we're going?” “Yeah, I'm looking for 'Snidely and 'Robuttnik;' they are the ones who did this, so out answer is wherever they are.” He replied with a scowl. “Yeah, but where do we find them? They might not be in the Citadel right now.” “Rote has a point Sugahog.” Said Bunnie. “I suppose you're right.” Sonic snapped his fingers and flipped open NICHOLE. “What's up Hedgehog my man?” The computer asked upon bein opened. “NICHOLE, can you do a scan for living things, ya know things that arent robots or building?” “You got it.” As the holographic RADAR map popped up they all looked shocked as they saw a large grouping of life forms appeared very close to Robotnik's Citadel. Bunnie spoke up, “What in high heaven's name is that? There's not that much life in the city, especially sittin' so close to Robotnik's headquarters.” “I don't know, but something is very fishy about this. I don't know about you, but it might have something to do with what's going on and it's on our way.” “...Yeah.” Added Bunnie deep in thought. They didn't travel too far when they got the hint that something definitely was out of the ordinary. Sonic was the first to detect a foul odor in the air; it wasn't like the normal cocktail of chemicals and pollution they were used to smelling in the air of Robotropolis. It was a ghastly; it smelt like a concoction of rotting waste and meat and burnt material. They began to see large flakes of grey ash filter down from the heavens like a surreal snowfall. The vile stench and cloud of ash only got worse as they approached the area with the life signs. Rotor spoke up and broke the uneasy silence. “I really don't like the looks of this Sonic, do you think...” “Please Sugar Rote... we're not going there. It could be anything” Interjected Bunnie, although she and the others were thinking the same thing and in the pit of their stomachs knew what was going on, but kept reassuring themselves that it was something else. They rounded a corner and saw the glow of an electrified fence, Sonic and the other hurried to see what it was. The horrific miasma was almost enough to render them unconscious as they beheld the source of the stench. Inside a holding pen were more than fifty emaciated Mobians of almost every type; you couldn't tell if some were dead or not. Most had lost huge patches of their fur and you could see sores and and all kinds of pestilence everywhere. Bunnie and Rotor immediately coughed up the contents of their stomachs and it was all that Sonic could do to not join them. He looked through the fence to see if he recognized anyone, and that he did; he noted a handful of them were the refugees from Lower Mobius. This was very odd and against Robotnik's normal order of things; upon capture he would always place them in a holding cell and process them through the robotisizer. None of them would ever stay in one place so long and in a single, large group; what could Robotnik be up to? He thought to himself. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, Sonic scanned through them to see if he could spot Griff, but he was nowhere to be found although he was able to pick out Dirk the warthog, Griff's second in command. He was still wearing his palace guard uniform but it was so soiled that you could barely make out that he was wearing it. One of his tusks was missing and most of his fur coat was either matted or missing. He picked up a small stone and gently tossed it through the fence at him to gain his attention; it didn't work. He picked up a few more and threw them in rapid succession, this time right at him. The first couple just bounced off his head and didn't phase him at all; Sonic began to wonder if he even was alive at all until a couple of more smacked him upside the head that were thrown with a much greater velocity. Dirk blinked and turned slowly in the direction of the stone throw; at first he didn't see Sonic and the others, who were trying to regain their composure on the other side of the fence. Sonic frantically waved his arms finally caught Dirk's attention; his eyes widened and he leaped up with excitement. He ran as fast as he could to the side of the fence and saluted Sonic, “Oh my gosh, are you really there or are you just another mirage?” He reached out to touch him and received a shock from the blue and white electronic cage. Sonic look through at him not knowing what to think, was he really this bad off? “Dude, quit foolin around, it's me Sonic, the Blue Blur, hero of Mobius.” Dirk shook his head still not believing what he was seeing. “Please don't be an illusion, I want to believe this.” Sonic punched the fence getting a shock of his own, then threw another stone and hit him in chest. “There, do you still think I'm a figment of your imagination?” He shook his head, “No, I think you are real. I'm sorry, but we though everyone had been caught and that the world has more or less ended for us Mobians. I haven't seen anybody new come in for months now.” “Dirk, look at me, we're still here, the world is still here; we had no idea whatever this is was going on until just now. What gives? Do you know what is going on?” “No, not really. They just keep taking us one at a time into that lab.” Dirk pointed over to a building adjacent to the fenced area. “I've been told that they inject them with something and they never survive.” “Are you telling me that they are putting you to death one at a time, isn't that a mondo waste of time? If he wanted someone dead it would be easier to just have the swatbots shoot them?” “You don't understand Sonic, they're trying to do something to us, not kill us.” A shocked Bunnie stood up, her eyes narrowed, “Oh, my gosh! Sonic, do y'all think this might have something to do with Tails and Sally?” She turned to Dirk, “Do you notice anything strange about it, do the people act odd or have strange changes in their bodies?” Dirk shook his head, “I don't know, the ones they take are taken into that building and when they come out they incinerate their corpses. But come to think of it about two months ago when they they took that cat Eugene in and were heading to the furnace his wife Mary ran up and threw back the sheet; we all saw a huge lump of fur and flesh that was unrecognizable.” Sonic gave Bunnie a hug, “That's it! This has to do with it; we might be able to fix Tails.” “You're not telling me that this happened to Tails? But he's not dead?” Asked Dirk. “No he's not dead, but he's more of a beast than my little buddy.” “Oh my, I take it this just happened? That would explain what they've started doing.” “What do you mean?” “They started looking at all of us for mutations and took everyone with the slightest oddities and have moved them to 'the front of the line'. In fact they've already taken quite a few just today.” Bunnie turned to Sonic, “Robotnik must be tryin' to exploit those mutations when it worked with Tails. “ Sonic's eyes became bright, “Yeah. Okay then, hang on Dirk, I'm going to get you all out of there. But the way, I don't see Griff, I take it he was one that they already....” Dirk shook his head, “No, he died shortly after we arrived. You see, when Robotnik invaded Lower Mobius Griff didn't want the power rock to fall into his hands, so he did the only thing he could... he ate it.” Sonic's eyes widened, “He didn't... oh my gosh! So where is the rock now?” “Well, that's kind of hard to know. You see....” “The power rock didn't fall into Robotnik's hands, did it.” “No, no. After Griff swallowed it he started acting odd, like he was on a drug that made him very hyper. It wasn't long until he just fell over dead.” “You didn't answer my question, what happened to the power rock?” “His body got thrown in the incinerator, so I'm guessing it's either destroyed or still in there.” Sonic nodded, “Okay then I'm going in there to make sure.” “How are we all gonna be doin that?” Asked Bunnie. “They've got security commin' out the wazoo and you aren't immune to heat and fire.” “We take this place out, Freedom Fighter style.” “That's jus' crazy. We have no intel on this installation and Robotnik will have reinforcements here in a sonic second.” “Then we'll be quiet about it this time.” Sonic turned back to Rotor and Bunnie, “Okay, I'm going in guys; I need you two to snoop around and find where the control room is. You know what to do!” They all nodded and shook hands; in unison they declared: “Let's do it to it!” Dirk with a puzzled look asked: “How are you....” In that very second Sonic handed NICHOLE to Rotor, spooled himself up and leaped over the fence and stood right beside him. “Oh.” Added Dirk with a grin. “Okay then; take me to this incinerator.” Dirk quietly led Sonic across the compound to were corpses were lined up almost like they were queuing up. It was up to the prisoners to do the grunt work and put their comrades in; of course some refused, but that only led to more stench and unhealthy conditions, which was perfectly fine as far as Robotnik was concerned. As he approached the horrid stench became almost unbearable, even for Sonic; he held his nose in disgust. “How do you guys stand this odour?” Asked Sonic. “It's beyond terrible. And your friends and family, all dead.” Dirk replied with a frown, “I guess we got used to it.” Dirk looked over at Sonic and noticed the discolouration in his quills and fur, which was intensifying. “Whoa, what's going on with you?” Sonic shook his head, “I have no idea; it just started happening today.” Dirk looked up and pointed to the incinerator, which was ominous, even in its current 'standby' mode. “There it is.” Sonic could sense the power rock was somewhere close, and indeed, it seemed to be coming from inside. Sonic spied all around to see if anyone was looking; he carefully opened the door and peered into the jaws of the beast. It was terrifying; even with the gas burners barely on the heat was intense. Sonic leaped up on the platform inside and looked back out at Dirk. “Do me a huge favour Dirk, don't close this door and don't let ANYONE turn this thing on.” Dirk nodded, “Just hurry.” “You know who you're talkin' to right?” As Sonic started searching around through the ash inside someone noticed his presence on a closed-circuit monitor. The man's light blue eye flashed with delight as his finger pushed a couple of buttons. “Oh, you stupid Hedgehog, let's see if you can survive 4000 degrees of heat and flame!” Snively laughed hysterically as he cranked the heat up. Just as Sonic found the rock the door to the incinerator automatically closed and Sonic could hear the gas huffing as the burner jets flashed to life. He beat on the door and screamed for Dirk. “HEY MAN, LET ME OUT! IT'S GETTIN MONDO HOT IN HERE!” Snively continued laughing, “Hedgehog, priority one... no more!” As the gas valves opened to full Sonic turned around only to notice he was no longer holding the power rock. Chapter 5: Sonic screams in terror as he sees the an electrode spark and is instantly enveloped in flame. Dirk and the others quickly run to the door searing their hands on the red-hot handle as the furnace burns much brighter than normal. Dirk screams in agony, “Bunnie, we need you here, pronto!” Bunnie, who was already on her way, grasps ahold of the door with her metal arm. “Stand back fellas!” As she pulls the door explodes into many pieces as flames shoot out. Bunnie dives to the side, just avoiding being incinerated herself. Both Rotor and Dirk run to her side and pull her out of the way. Bunnie coughs, her metal body parts blackened and her fur and whiskers blackened and singed. All three of them look up at the gaping maw of the crematorium roaring flames into the night air coming to terms that their friend is dead. Rotor shakes his head as tears pour down his face. Bunnie starts to sputter and goes into full-on fits of grief, she grabs ahold of Rotor and they both sob uncontrollably. “This isn't fair... we almost lose Sally, Tails is a monster and now Sonic....” Rotor strokes her head softly, “It's okay, we'll pull through... somehow.” Bunnie's sorrow turns to rage as her ears twitch and catch the sound of Snively's laughter; she instantly recognizes him, she quickly gets to her feet and heads in the direction of the laughter with her turquoise eyes burning bright. “Go on, laugh it up, enjoy it while y'all can.” Rotor gets up and follows with a stern look to him as well, “Bunnie? What is it?” “Snively.” She replied through her gritted teeth. Dirk runs over to catch up, “What's up guys? We need to be getting out now, not heading to the commandant's office! You're gonna get caught!” Rotor shakes his head and undauntedly continues toward the office, “We're about to pay an old acquaintance a visit, and we still need to get a sample of whatever it was that they put in Tails.” As she steps into the light an alarm sounds at the same moment two swatbots pop out. “Halt!” They command, “You will proceed no further!” They scan, “Freedom Fighters, high priority!” Bunnie lunges forward, jumps in the air and kicks both of their robotic heads off in one swift move. She leans down and picks up one of the swatbot's heads. “Shut the hell up!” Bunnie yells as she pulverizes the alarm with it. This is all done and over with in a matter of seconds, both Rotor and Dirk don't even have the chance to react; even Rotor is taken aback at the ferociousness of her attack, which is unlike her. They approach the metal door with a reinforced glass window covering the top third of it. Through the door they spot Snively still reveling in gales of laughter; this is too much for Bunnie; she wastes the door. It goes flying inward, the reinforced hinges barely holding it from flying across the room. The control room was very clean and tidy in contrast to its surroundings outside; it could actually be mistaken for a modest hospital instead of a place to perform horrific acts on people in the name of science with all of it's antiseptic, white interior and the stainless steel instruments. Snively falls over in his chair as they enter, he greedily grabs for a pistol, but in an instant Bunnie places her metal foot on his hand and applies weight. “No you don't!” Bunnie bends down and wraps her metal paw around his neck and lifts him high. “I aughtta break your scrawny little neck!” Rotor grabs her arm, “Bunnie, stop, this isn't the answer. And we also need information out of him.” Rotor walks over to the control panels, “First, let's turn that blasted machine off.” He turns the control for the gas and flips a couple of switches. The crematorium powers down and flames die out. Although even from where they are they can still feel the heat from it. Rotor motions to the chair, “Have a seat Snively.” “Mah pleasure,” Bunnie slams him not too carefully. “Y'all have any last words?” Snively coughs and tries to regain his breath. “You... (cough), it won't do... (cough), you any good. That rodent is ashes; the Hedgehog is no more!” He starts to laugh again uncontrollably. Bunnie pulls back her paw and breaks his nose with one lightning-fast wallop. Rotor looks at her with surprise, “No Bunnie, this is not our way.” She crosses her arms and glares. “I suppose yer right, but I declare! A monster like him should be treated as such. Aren't you mad? He burnt our friend to death, and look out there... look at the horror he's guilty of!” “He's still a living being, if we sink to his level we'll end up being him. Do you really want that?” She sighs, “No, you're right.” Dirk pulls out some computer cables and helps them tie him up. Rotor looks Snively right in the eye, “Now, where is the concoction you injected Tails with? And do you have an antidote for it?” Snively leers, “Stupid, stupid animal. Why would I need an antidote when I have all these willing test subjects?” Rotor raises and eyebrow with anger in his eyes, “What if I accidentally expose you to it?” Bunnie puts her metal paw on his head, “That sound like a great idea ta me.” Snively shrieks at the same time a commotion sets in outside amongst the refugees. They all hurry out to see what's happening, “You stay put now. We'll be right back to finish this.” Rotor points to the well-tied-up Snively as he heads back out. Bunnie arrives to see the outline of a figured climbing out of the furnace, she runs fast with her heart pounding and excitement building. “Sonic!” She squeals at the top of her lungs. Sonic barely has a moment to stand up and he's tackled by an over-exuberant Bunnie. “Oh Sugah-Hog!” She says whilst picking him up. “I declare, you gave us all a fright, that's fer sure.” She looks him over and notices not only does he not have a single mark on him or even smell of burn, but all of the crimson is gone from his quills. “Oh my Gosh!” “What Bunnie?” “How is this possible? You should've been... but you're....” He puts a paw on her shoulder. “I've learned that's it's never a good idea to question a miracle.” He taps the side of his head, “Dang I forgot the power rock in there; it must've slipped out of my hand when the door shut.” As he's about to hop back inside Rotor and Bunnie grab him. “Whoa up there, there's no tellin' what saved yer hide before is still workin'.” “Yeah,” adds Rotor, “That thing is still too hot, even for you!” “But, the power rock.” Rotor shakes his head, “It can wait.” Bunnie smiles, “Besides, we all have somethin' or rather some one I recon y'all will want ta have a little chat with.” “Robotnik?” “No.” Replies Rotor. “Snively!” Sonic cracks his knuckles. “Lead the way; I have a bone to pick with that runt.” Sonic tromps over in the direction of the control room with the rest of them in tow. He purposefully opens the door and walks in. Snively gasps, “You... you're dead! I saw you....” “Didn't you ever learn you're not supposed to believe everything you see?... Snidely.” Snively squeals: “You'll not get away with this! Reinforcements are on their way!” Rotor interrupts: “If they were coming they'd already be here. You didn't call out in time for them, and now....” Rotor takes NICHOLE and plugs her into the computer. “...They won't be coming at all.” He smiles as he pushed a couple of buttons.” Sonic and Bunnie move in on Snively, he gasps with terror on his face. “What, what do you want?” Sonic gestures to refrigerated shelf with hundreds of containers. “Which one did you inject into my little buddy.” “Little buddy?” “Tails! The little two-tailed fox you turned into a monster!” “I don't know what you're talking about.” Bunnie places her robotic paw between his neck and shoulder with an angry look. Snively raises an eyebrow, “Don't try to threaten me, I know you would never harm another living thing. You might as well take me prisoner, it'll be far more pleasant than dealing with Uncle Julian.” Bunnie grips slightly, “Yer, wrong. That doesn't include little monsters like yerself that do bad things to children.” Snively looks back at her with a look of superiority; daring her to do something. She spins him around in the chair and glares with fire in her eyes. “Ayve done had enough of the likes of you!” She takes ahold of him very tightly with her robotic paw, Snively shrieks in pain, “Now listen here: aye don't have time fer this. Either you'll tell us what we want to know or I rip off yer teeny pecker and feed it to the roboticizer!” Both Rotor and Sonic look shocked as she squeezes even tighter. “Alright, alright! But promise that you... (He screams)... Wont hurt me anymore!” Sobs Snively. Sonic nods, “You have our word, right guys?” Bunnie and Rotor both nod. Sonic nods at Bunnie and she lets go. “It's the one under sample TTT-4739! Let go, let go!” Rotor walks over to the cabinet, finds a few jars and puts them in his pack. Sonic stares Snively down as he's still writhing in pain, “Now, question numbero dos: why are you doing this? And why did you do that to my friends? Actually that's also question three. And I wouldn't get all clammy again, Bunnie and I aren't in the mood if you know what I mean. And if yer lying to us... all promises are off, understood.” Snively nods, still smarting from the pain, “I found that ancient complex in The Great Unknown. We think they were working on something to both enhance and retard as well as augment aspects of the sentience and humanlike traits of you Mobians.” They all look shocked, Rotor interrupts, “So, what you're saying is that this didn't start with you, someone else started it?” Snively nods, “That is correct, we weren't sure why they were undertaking the research, but it was fascinating. Both myself and Uncle Julian believe that we might have stumbled upon why you animals gained their dominion over Mobius. I told him this was a golden opportunity as a means to his end of global domination and putting you animals back in your proper place, but he stubbornly preferred his robotization.” Sonic taps his foot, “Get to the point Snidely! I don't have all day and I don't need a history lesson.” Snively gulps, “Well, later he decided on testing it at my request when I showed that it might able to be made into an aerosol and dispersed over the planet, but no matter what we tried it always ended up as a failure that wouldn't do anything or would kill everything if released into a vapor, including us. That is until we found the mutant gene in that friend of yours with the two tails. We engineered a new formula around that protein and it worked; he became subject zero. Both of us decided to leave the Princess and the fox together as a test, and it worked flawlessly, that is, until you showed up. How's she and the fox doing by the way?” Rotor kicks his chair, “I'm not sure, but this is a start to writing your wrongs.” “One more question, where's Robuttnik!” Added Sonic. “In his bed, asleep.” “Thanks.” Sonic walked over to the cabinet and grabbed one the containers labeled TTT-4739 and a syringe; he puts them in his pack. He walks to the opposite door, “You guys clean this up, none of this survives, understood? Oh, and don't forget the Power Rock.” “Sugah Hog, where y'all going?” Asked Bunnie. “I'm gonna meet and old friend and shoot the breeze.” “Sonic....” “No, he went too far this time.” He smiles and held his fist out for one of their signature handshakes. Both Bunnie and Rotor sighed and shook his hand. “Be careful Sonic.” “Yeah Sugah Hog, revenge isn't worth yer life.” “This isn't revenge Bunnie, he has to be stopped.” She nods, “Let us tag along.” “No. I need you two to get this uncool nightmare shut down and permanently, get these people to safety, and get that stuff back to Knothole. Be quick about it too, we don't know if what happened to him is time sensitive.” He glares at Snivley. “Don't look at me, you took the test subject before the experiment was completed.” Sonic points at him with red eyes, barely able to enunciate; all he gets out is, “Take care of him.” “You promised you wouldn't hurt me! I followed through with my side!” Rotor holds his hand up and smiles, “You're right. We promised, and we will honour our word.” Snively smirks back. Rotor points to the prisoners outside in the holding area.“...But they didn't.” “Wait! Wait! Please, take me away!” Sonic winds up his fist, “What did you do when Sally and Tails asked you for mercy? Huh? What about when those people out there asked you for it?” Sonic twangs Snively's nose, “That's what I though. I'll leave it up to them. May God have mercy on your pathetic excuse for a soul.” Snively screams in terror. Sonic turns back to his friends, “When I'm done I'll swing back through to make sure you're okay and retrieve the power rock; that furnace should be cool enough by then.” As Sonic turns to head out Bunnie and Rotor give him a hug. “Good luck Sugah Hog.” Says Bunnie. “And be careful.” Adds Rotor. “Thanks, I will be.” Sonic grabbed NICHOLE and walked out and heads towards Robotnik's citadel. It was quiet and dark night, just like many other nights in that pollution ravaged metropolis. A light sprinkling of acid rain began to fall; he could hear it rapping on the metal and concrete structures. For some reason the sound was quite soothing to his rattled nerves; he had to fight from becoming lulled by the soft rhythm. Robotnik was predictable as ever, his patrols and spy orbs were easy to evade. He normally would've played with them, but today he was focused and on a mission. Robotnik had been a mondo jerk before and deserved being brought to justice, however, at times Sonic felt like he was merely picking on a bloated, sorry excuse for a man. Plus Robotnik's temper was so much fun to play with and he was pretty dangerous. In the past Sonic had many an opportunity to kill him, but that was a line Sonic never wanted to cross; after recent events he wished he had done the deed. His love and best friend, Sally and Tails, wouldn't be twisted, mangled, and in Sally's case on the verge of death. That's not to mention the countless others who have been Roboticized, killed, or sent through this unfathomable procedure, whatever it was and they paid with their lives. If only would've taken him out back then; none of this would've happened. Sonic looked up to see Robotnik's citadel, which as always dominated the skyline of the city. He sighed, but remained focused. How was he to do this? A smash and grab, letting his legs do the work, or go in sneaky like? Sneaking around was never his strong suit, but the endless waves of swatbots and the fact that he didn't want to give Robotnik advanced notice of his attack led him to choose the latter. The last thing he wanted was for the titanic sloth of a man an opportunity once again escape; this time it was going to be one on one and there'd be no escape... for either of them. Sonic had been in the citadel many times, so he knew the layout of not only the service ducts and ventilation shafts, but the general locations of the patrols and with NICHOLE's help he'd be able to avoid conflicts and perhaps even shut down his security. Sonic said to himself as he entered an outside air duct, “I need to take care of security first.” As he crawled down up the vent Sonic flipped open NICHOLE, “Hey NICHOLE, is there a way to shut down the security like Rotor did back there?” After a second NICHOLE replied, “It is possible... you must find a network service post.” “A what? Come on NICHOLE!” A holographic image popped up, “One of these. According to schematics you should be able to find one easily.” “English NICHOLE, in English!” “They will be easy to find; I can show you where.” “Cool, and this will shut down all of his security?” “Not all, only alarms, cameras and other sensors. Autonomous security will be unaffected.” “NICHOLE!” “Sorry, Swatbots and other robots will still be active.” “You should've just said that in the first place.” “My apologies.” “It's fine, which was do we go?” A holographic map appeared, “I can show you where to go.” Sonic followed her directions like a man possessed. Staying focused on his personal mission to avenge all the death and suffering of his friends and comrades; Robotnik would pay. Upon locating one of the network service posts he plugged NICHOLE in and she began to hack into the building's security and was able to shut it down. “We good to go NICHOLE?” Asked Sonic. “You're good to go.” She replied. “Awesome!” He turned around to do one of the signature handshakes with Sally; it hit him once again like a load of bricks; she wasn't there. His quills once again turned a purplish red and his eyes burned bright, “Alright NICHOLE! Let's do it to it!” Sonic stealthily scampered through the silent corridors; only every so often a utility bot or a scant few swatbots might be seen; it was eerie to be there without all of the alarms and not hearing “hedgehog: priority one” at every turn. Sonic eventually made his way to the control room and spied Robotnik's seat of power: his big green control chair that served as his throne. Sonic sat down for a second, he was curious. “Hmmm, I see why he likes to sit here,” He said to himself, “It's quite comfy.” He began playing with the controls that manipulate the chair's orientation as well as firmness and height. “Wow, if he built everything with this quality I doubt we would've had a chance.” Sonic shook his head, “Everything he makes seems to blow up in flame and smoke.” He eyes the chair suspiciously. “Ya know, I better be careful.” Sonic leaped to his feet and flipped open NICHOLE. “Okay NICHOLE, we're at the control room; where's the big round guy's bedroom?” A map popped up in hologram with a flashing red dot, “Here, Sonic. Don't worry, I'll give you turn by turn directions.” He eventually ended up at two big doors that were slightly ajar. He quietly leaned his head in to see the large mass snoring away lying on a down bed, beneath satin blankets. Sonic began snooping about rifling through the big man's belongings; bored, his attention turned back to Robotnik. As Sonic approached he spied a pistol lying on the nightstand. He smiled as he picked it up the temptation was too great; he would use Robotnik's own personal weapon to do the deed. Sonic lowered the gun, taking aim at the hulking mass; he remembered everything he had done; all the people he'd hurt. From turning almost the entire population of Mobius into metal zombies, none the less including his friends and family, all the comrades who paid with their lives or worse not to mention the sick things he did to his best friend and his lover. It would finally be over. All he would have to do was squeeze the trigger; of all the ignobility the great Julian Ivo Robotnik would meet his death lying in his bed, asleep... never to know who killed him. Sonic's eyes burned bright and his quills turned crimson red; he could kill him with the squeeze of a trigger. “No,” Sonic said as his quills and eyes continued to change. “He has to suffer!” Sonic pulled the energy clip out of the pistol, climbed up on the wardrobe, and knocked on it. Robotnik stirred, his red glowing mechanical eyes piercing the darkness; he almost immediately spied the blue hedgehog, who cleared his throat. Robotnik bolted for his gun, which to his surprise wasn't there. Sonic held the pistol up for show, “Lookin' for something 'Buttnik?” “Security!” “Hush Robuttnik. They're not coming; you'll have to do it this time one on one.” “So, you intend on ending it like this, rodent?” “Actually, no. I want you to get up so I can make you suffer like you've made this planet suffer!” “And why would I do that? I don't take orders from you!” “It won't be said that I defeated you while you lay in bed like a beached whale! I want more out of this, I want your blood!” “Oh... big words from such a... small figure; you had many, many chances in the past, but you never took them. You don't... have it in you. It would blemish that bleached white soul of yours.” “That was then, this is now!” Sonic snapped back. “Really? Why... the change of heart. Tell me... have I rubbed off on you?” Sonic's eyes flashed bright red with rage. “Did I touch a sore spot?” Robotnik asked pointedly with a laugh. “You hurt Tails and almost killed Sally you sick monster!” “Oh, come on... I'll take the blame for that troublesome fox, but...” Robotnik chuckled “...it is he that bares responsibility for her near-death experience.” “Shut up before I make your bed your final resting place, or maybe the bathroom would be more fitting! Don't think I won't do it either! This is all your fault! Everything!” Robotnik chuckled again, “Again with the big talk from the little blue animal.... Yes... that you're nothing but a little pest.” Robotnik moved to get out of bed, gathering his normal attire. “I only get up and put on my clothing because I choose to, not because of you.” Sonic glowered at the large man as stood up; he was very menacing, even in his night clothes. Robotnik turned back to Sonic, “Do you mind looking away while I dress?” Sonic laughed, “What kind of a fool do you take me for, 'Buttnik?” “It's not that, I'd just like some... privacy.” “Yeah, it's that way for your kind, isn't it; us 'animals' can control ourselves and are proud of our bodies. It's almost like you have some kind of shame if you don't wear your trappings.” Sonic chuckled, “But with that body I'd be ashamed too, I mean... just look at you.” Robotnik replied in anger, “Fine! I'll take care of you once and for all hedgehog!” Sonic laughed even harder, “I've heard that before, how many times now? Let's just say I won't be turning my back on you; you're the definition of untrustworthy.” As Robotnik disrobed and donned his normal outfit, Sonic tapped his feet, “Come on tubby, I don't have all day!” About the time Robotnik was done he turned to Sonic and asked, “Well rodent, what are you planning on doing with me?” Sonic whispers to himself, “Now that I think about it, maybe the night clothes were a better choice, oh well.” He yells at the big man, “You're going to pay for your crimes; everything you've done to this planet and my people!” “Oooh, I've heard this before rodent, many times before and they all failed and so will you. You've been nothing but an annoyance for me; you've been fighting me for many years and you have only failed.” Sonic placed the energy clip back in the pistol and hopped down, “Just keep talkin' all you're doing is making your death come sooner!” He said with a grin. “So, it was a bluff after all, but you're too afraid to face me without my pistol... I don't blame you.” Sonic took ahold of the gun and snapped it and then threw it on the floor, glaring daggers at his nemesis. Robotnik grinned, “That's what I thought, you're too predictable rodent.” In that very second the big man whipped another pistol out of his belt, pointing it at Sonic. However, in that split second he lost track of the blue hedgehog only to find him taking the gun from the big man. Robotnik gasped and turned to run. “My lord, you do run fast for such big a tubby guy, but not fast enough.” As Robotnik made for a control panel on the wall Sonic sped up to catch him; the big man pushed a button, which activated various lasers across the room. Sonic quickly flew around the room, taking them out as Robotnik made for a hasty escape. Enraged Sonic yelled, “No you don't!” Sonic started to run, balling up and made for Robotnik's legs. With the gruesome sound of snapping bone, and the tearing of sinew, ligaments, and tendons the man fell to the floor in excruciating agony, screaming in pain. Sonic laughed hysterically, “You made a lot of noise when you fell my friend, fat man! I'm surprised you didn't collapse the floor!” The adrenalin was coursing through Robotnik's body, he didn't hear a word Sonic said, but kept writhing on the floor holding his broken leg. Sonic launched himself up into the air landing on and systematically breaking both of his arms, first his organic one and then completely shattering the robotic one. Sonic hopped up on his belly and looked down upon the fallen dictator, “Oh, you've fallen and you can't get up!” He continued to laugh. “Hold on! I'll call for the fire brigade to rescue you!... Oh wait a second, you roboticized all of our medics, oh, and the hospital is now a swatbot factory... too bad, I guess no one's coming to save you.” He shook his head in a mocking fashion of exaggerated and sarcastic faux concern. “Well, well... whatever should I do with you? There's absolutely no way I can carry your fat butt to court. I guess I'll just have to put you down like the morally bankrupt and broken man that you are.” As Sonic lowered the gun at Robotnik's skull the big man chuckled through the pain. “Come on 'Buttnik, are you about to spring another trap on me? It won't work, it'll never work, you're banjaxed bub, it's over, curtains, your swan-song!” “No, it's not that... in a way this defeat has some sweet savour for me....” “Come on, share with the class... what's you talkin' about?” Robotnik laughed, “Don't you see yourself, you've become me... no... beyond me. I wasn't too sure of it when I saw you in the shadows on top of my wardrobe, but not I see it... oooh do I ever see it.” “What are you talking about?” “Did you happen to look at the colour of your fur, your extreme aggression?” He laughed “That's a noted side-affect of the cure me made... it was one of the ways it manifested on some of the failures.... I've never seen an experiment survive as long as you... with those symptoms... your powers must be keeping you alive... too bad for the regular rabble.” Robotnik laughed, “It was pretty bad, to look at; after an hour their fur would change colour, followed by spurts of growth in various parts of the body, which usually involved skin being stretched until it tore... it wasn't long after that when a mold like substance would permeate the body followed by a very painful, violent death.” Sonic lowered his pistol for a second, “What does that mean for me? Tell me!” “You're bound to kill me anyway, but what I say will far outlive this body and cause more damage to you than I could ever do to you physically.” “Then tell me! Why did it happen that way with Tails?” “The kit was special, far more special that you it would seem; we almost had a breakthrough.” “So, I should be....” “Yes, you should be dead. We had a lot of failures; I usually don't like trial and error, but when I had so many test subjects... I didn't mind.” “All this for your petty desire to control people's lives!” Snapped Sonic back at Robotnik. Robotnik coldly replied, “So little you understand, I was returning the world back the way it's supposed to be, man's dominion over the Earth!” “Come on man, you don't buy that crap, do you?” “I was there! I saw it!” “You're crazier that you look, buddy. Tell me, how did I get infected?” “Do you remember when you rescued your dying princess and that beast of a fox?” Sonic gapes with surprise. Robotnik laughed, “Indubitably, you were shot with a dart by a stealth bot; Tails as you call him, was our first subject to survive; subject zero if you will, and you apparently are subject one... I couldn't resist the... opportunity. But I still don't know how you can still be alive... or fully changed by now, you must be very strong or something's wrong with it.” “Maybe my juice is too much for your poison. It's just one failure in a long line of failures!” “Failures? Ha! The city is still mine; all of the citizens are still mine; the King is banished to another corner of the multiverse; your people are few and scattered about like infinitesimal grains of glass when a saucer breaks! Foolish Hedgehog, killing me is no victory for you, no... it's a victory for me! I made you become me! You are me Hedgehog!” Robotnik laughed through the continuing pain. Sonic places the gun at point-blank to his head, “I'm not like you Robuttnik!” Robotnik laughed harder, “Oh... but you are... don't you see the irony here? You're about to kill an unarmed and injured man.” Sonic pulls the weapon back, he realizes that Robotnik is right. Robotnik smiled imperiously, “Good boy, now... put that gun away like an obedient rodent.” Sonic glared, “Why... why is it that you feel the need to assert yourself; to control people? Who died and made you God?” Robotnik sneered, “Oh, but I am god! In a world populated by animals, even talking ones, a Man is god!” Sonic with a burst of anger replied, “You are nothing! All you do is usurp and take; you take, you hurt, you enslave, you are a....” Robotnik interrupted, “Behold my great city of Robotropolis! Both the city and citizens I have made in my image! I built it all of my might... of my great power and superior intellect! Everything in this city where I dwell is and will be an eternal symbol of my majesty, my glory! You see rodent; no matter what you do you cannot win! I am your god!” Robotnik resumed his laughter. In utter disgust Sonic pulled the syringe out of his pack, placed in it the concoction from the laboratory, and raised it above his head, “Hey almighty fat ass! Let's find out if this stuff works on a 'god' such as yourself.” Sonic then plunged the needle into Robotnik's chest, emptying the contents. Robotnik's mechanical eyes widened with fear, “No!” To be Concluded.... Chapter 6 Robotnik began to spasm and lurch in excruciating pain. Sonic immediately backflipped off of Robotnik's stomach as the big man's clothing started to stretch and rend. “Ew! Grodie!” Exclaimed Sonic as he beheld blackish blue feathers driving their way through Robotnik's flesh with blood oozing out. His metal left arm fell off on the ground lifeless and grew into a stub. In that very second his fingers on his organic arm started to to grow and become scaled and his fingernails began to resemble claws. In an instant Robotnik's ocular implants fell out of his eye sockets with a clack-clack and rolled freely on the hardwood flooring. “What... what did you do to me Hedgehog! Damn you, damn you to H... aaaaaa!” Bellowed Robotnik as his words became incoherent shrieking and then mindless grunting and animal like sounds. Robotnik's jaw broke with a loud crack, bone breaking through his facial skin from his nose down to his chin; it took the form of a beak as all of his teeth rattled in the ever-growing pool of blood on the floor. His bones began to crack and reform and a huge set of tail feathers shot out of his back spraying out more blood in a fountain. Robotnik stretch and pop even more as his boots burst showing avian talons had replaced his back feet. He looked at Sonic with his empty eye sockets as he slumped to the floor in one final heave. Sonic walked over an gave the bulk of flesh and feathers a kick; it didn't respond. All of a sudden Robotnik sprung back to life with the last few remnants of his clothing dropping to the floor. Within less than a minute after being injected the serum transformed him from a man into a mindless beast. This creature was no longer Robotnik, all of his intelligence flew out the window. It lifted its head and stared at Sonic with new, birdlike eyes; this indeed was no longer his former foe. He was like some strange bird but he was lacking wings and walking on all of his taloned feet, albeit still missing his left arm; it appeared that his arm that had been roboticized did not grow back for some reason. “Love the new look 'Buttnik! It's so... you!” The three-legged creature lunged at Sonic; he easily dodged the attack, jumping back up on the wardrobe. “Come on Big Round Guy, you're slower now than before!” The beast shook its head in anger and launched another attack bowling into the cabinet, splintering it into many pieces right after Sonic leaped and landed on the bed. “Over here lard butt!” Said Sonic with a laugh. The beast poked its head out of the rubble and charged once again this time it went through the wall and fell many meters to the ground, shrieking and then crumpling on the ground below with a sickening crunch, motionless. Sonic peered out looking down at the creature, who was miraculously still alive with one of its three feet broken and its beak askew. After a minute it as barely able to hobble off into the city, nursing its serious injuries. Sonic shook his head with a grin, “The little birdie fell down. Wow, 'Buttnik, too bad you didn't engineer wings into that nasty stuff. How the once-mighty have fallen.” Sonic sighed gazing out of the hole in the wall at the smoke and chemical oozing city as the acid rain began to pour. “Yeah, looks like you made this into your image... I hope it will just become a nasty memory, like you.” He walked out on the ledge and climbed his way to the spire on top of the citadel to get a better look; the man did all of this was no longer a man, but an unintelligent beast, but the city kept on moving just like it had been for the last 10 years. It was so surreal, the head had been lopped off, but the life-choking monster still remained intact. About that time the sun peaked over the hills to the east overpowering the clouds with its light, ending the day from Hell. Sonic sighed as he thought about everything that transpired that day; Sally was almost killed and Tails being turned into a monster, the death camp, and this weird drug they found that was turning people into monsters, it certainly was a bad day. He sat there ashamed of his actions throughout that day; he took out his aggression on his friends and almost killed Antoine. Snively is probably dead and Robotnik is now a wild creature running around the city and countryside doing God only knows what. “How can I go back and face them? Robotnik was right, I became him.” NICHOLE came on, “No, Sonic. You did what you had to, nothing more, nothing less.” Sonic heaved a deep breath and began climbing down the spire, “That's not how it feels Nichole, I was a total dork. Why did I allow myself to lose control and do those things?” NICHOLE replied, “It was stressful for you and you were under the influence of that drug, you acted up based on the stimulus.” “That's just an excuse Nichole.” “On the contrary Blue Blur, no matter how you might 'feel,' it's the truth and you need to accept it. Perhaps you should apologize.” “You think they'll forgive me?” Sonic replied as he re-entered Robotnik's bedroom through the gaping hole made by what Robotnik became. “Certainly.” “Maybe I should give it some time?” “I disagree Sonic, you'll only make it worse; they'll worry for you.” “Even after what I did?” “They love you Sonic and they want nothing less than to see that you're alive and well.” Sonic cracks a smile, “Okay then... we need to get back through those defenses, they're still working after all; do you think you can do your magic again?” “You got it, my main man, take me to the master control room.” “The what?” “The room with the big chair.” “You don't have to tell me twice!” Sonic winks. Sonic stealthily scampered to the master control room, sat down in Robotnik's big green chair, and plugged Nichole into the interface as he looked at all of the buttons and monitors flashing before him. He tried to see if there was one on laboratory, there was, but he couldn't get a good look and he didn't want to start pressing buttons and cause something bad to happen. Sonic looked down at Nichole, “It'll sure be great to have all the defenses down for good, huh Nichole.” “Sonic,” She replied, “I'm afraid all I can is temporarily shut it down again, even from this spot; Robotnik has many contingency subroutines running at all times.” “You mean he has safeguards in place to stop people like us from doing this.” “Correct, my main hedgehog.” Sonic jumped up, “So, how long do we got?” “15 to 30 minutes.” “I can work with that.” Said Sonic as he hurried out of the citadel, “But first we gotta check in on Bunnie and Rote, and help the prisoners to safety.” “Don't forget about the piece of power rock.” “That goes without sayin Nichole! But thanks for the reminder.” He and Nichole continued through Robotropolis, it still functioned like a beheaded corpse going about the more mundane, automated activities. Even without Robotnik at the helm it was still a horrifying place to be, maybe in some ways more terrifying. It wasn't long before Sonic and Nichole approached the laboratory and prison camp, things seemed eerily silent; there was no sign of his friends or the prisoners. “They must've busted back to Knothole! Huh Nichole?” “Agreed Sonic.” He quickly sped over to the entrance of the crematorium and peered in, Sonic looked for any faint glow of the power rock fragment, but he couldn't see it, so he leaped into the the still warm furnace; he began to feel sick as he ran his fingers through the debris, digging through the ash and bones at the bottom of the firebox, but he only found more and more remains of tormented comrades-in-arms and no trace of the missing power rock. Sonic became flustered, “Where the heck is it? It was in my hand and then... I must've dropped it.” Nichole spoke up, “Sonic, I could perform a scan for the rock's energy signature if that would help.” “Thanks Nichole, do it to it.” She proceeded to scan, but the energy signature was emanating, but instead of coming from the heap of remains, it showed as coming from Sonic's body. Sonic looked amazed and worried, “What the heck? Nichole, did I?...” “It appears as if you absorbed the power rock fragment.” “How is that possible?” “To put it in plain English, Sonic, the power rock is a crude, raw energy. Sir Charles' device refines the energy into an easily useable form.” Sonic understood, “...The power rings. Somehow when I was in danger my body must've sensed it and absorbed the energy.” “Correct.” Flashed Nichole. “So, I got a super-mondo-concentrated shot of energy?” “Again, correct.” “And... is it still... ya know, going.” “Indeed, it is; also it is what protected you from the serum Robotnik and Snively concocted.” “Well, that's nice to know.” Sonic said as he hopped outside, dusted himself off, and said a prayer. “We head back to Knothole Sonic?” “You got it right Nichole, we're done here... for now.” Sonic plopped Nichole into his pack and jetted out of town in the direction of The Great Forest and Knothole. As the scenery turned from the depressive urban waste to the green fields and finally to forest he finally felt a sudden feel of calm overtake his weary mind, but there was also a definite feeling of foreboding. Sonic still worried for Sally, Chuck said that she would probably live, but what about the damage that he was talking about? Uncle Chuck was right, there's no way that Sal would survive mentally as a paraplegic. She certainly did live up to her Sciuridae heratage; that girl was limber and one hell of a gymnast. Sonic blushed and shook his head as his thoughts turned to Tails; what about him, would he be living the rest of his life as a stupid beast, or would Chuck be able to heal him too with that serum? All Sonic knew was that the answers to his questions lie up ahead for better or worse. Sonic waved as he passed the familiar lookout in the tall oak tree manned by both Antoine the coyote and Isaac the flying squirrel. Antoine waved as Isaac leaped down and swiftly glided at seeing his friend coming home, his blonde hair and brown fur glinting in the morning sunlight. Sonic saw him and slowed down so he could catch up. “Sonic! You made it! We were all worried sick!” Said Isaac with a smile. Sonic smiled back with a worried look still on his face, “What about Sal and Tails? Any word yet?” Isaac shook his head, “Not a lot, Tony and I have been on guard duty all night and we've been praying. But I heard that Chuck and the others have been working hard and made some breakthroughs; nothing definite though.” Sonic looks surprised and kind of relieved, “What kind of breakthroughs? For Sally, or Tails?” “I think it's both, at least that's what it sounded like.” Sonic's step lightened, “Wow! Really? Way past, Ise!” He nodded, “Thanks, I'm gonna juice ahead and see what's going on for myself.” Isaac smiled, “Sure, just make sure you keep me in the loop, okay.” “Will do.” Replied Sonic “My shift should be over soon; I'll catch up with you then! Sonic gave him a thumbs up, turning on the afterburners and then buzzed into the village proper with a definite spring in his step. Sonic made a b-line for the medical hut and met Bunnie just outside the door. “Bunnie!” Bunnie grabed Sonic in a hug, “Whoa, Sonic! You're okay; I thought ya mighta bought the farm.” Sonic hugs her back, “Me, nah, you should know me better than that.” “Sugah, after today I don't take anything fer granted, especially after the day we had.” Sonic nodded, “Ya got that right. How's Tails and Sal?” “That's what I'm trying to find out fer myself. Oh, yeah, did you find the power rock? We looked all over and came up with a zero.” Bunny shrugged her shoulders. Sonic sighs, “About that... I think I might've absorbed it, at least that's what Nichole says.” Bunnie raised an eyebrow, “Absorbed?” At that moment the door to the medical hut opened and out stepped Chuck, “I heard about your exploits today, and Nichole's right, you took all the energy in; it probably saved your life.” “No kiddin' Unc, I thought I was ashes for sure.” “Someone was lookin' out for you Sonny, so how did the rest of the mission go? I hadn't heard about anything after how you all freed those people from that camp.” “By the way, where are they Unc? I thought Knothole would be swarmin'.” Bunnie interjected, “Some are here, but most wanted ta return ta Lower Mobius. What we have here are those that were captured elsewhere.” “Cool,” Replied Sonic, “As long as they get help, speaking of which, Unc, what about Sal and Tails?” “Ya best come with me and see fer yourself.” Sonic and Bunnie followed them into the waiting room and there beheld Tails, the same laughing preteen fox that he was used to seeing and not the brutish hulk that he last saw. With tears in his eyes Sonic picked Tails up and gave him a huge hug, “I... I never thought I would ever see you again big guy.” Tails hugged him back but quickly pushed Sonic away in embarrassment, “Sonic! I need to breath.” He giggled. “Sure Tails. It's just after this morning....” Chuck put his hand on Sonic as Tails looked at him puzzlingly. He cleared his throat and interjected, “What Sonic is trying to say is that it's great to see you on your feet again after you got so sick.” Bunnie whispered in Sonic's ear, “Tails doesn't remember a thing other than being attacked by the buzzbombers while they were camping.” Sonic sighed with relief and whispered back, “It for the best; that's too much for such small shoulders to bear.” Bunnie nodded as Rosie walked in, “Sally is ready to see you Sonic, she wants to see you.” Sonic felt a tugging and tightening in his chest, the last time he saw her she was bleeding profusely and seemed to be on death's door. Her neck looked like hamburger and that was just the worst of her many wounds; he couldn't fathom how she could be healed; could she really be back to normal like Tails? No, he couldn't believe that he'd be that lucky. “She's awake? Is she... ya know... okay?” Shakily asked Sonic. They all put their hands on Sonic's shoulder. Chuck said, “She's a lot better Sonny. Believe me, I did all that was mobianly possible.” “I know you did your best.” Chuck and Bunnie smiled. “We ought not keep a girl waiting.” Said Bunnie. Sonic smiled as he pensively followed them doors. The sight of Sally almost dying and the look on his Uncle's face the day before still haunted him; he feared that she'd still be that way. He closed his eyes as he entered the room and remembered Tails; Tails was okay, so Sally must be okay. “Sonic....” A familiar, but at the same time strange voice said; Sonic slowly opened his eyes. He beheld Sally, she was... alive, and walking. She wasn't paralyzed! But there was something different about her voice. Sally hobbled forward on crutches, with bandages wrapped around her wounds and wearing loose fitting trousers; Sonic looked at her neck, which was by far the worst wound, not only was there a bandage, but she also had one of Bunnie's silk scarves on, covering the wound. Sonic ran up to touch her, but held up as Rosie put her hand in front of him. “Careful Sonic, she's very weak.” Sonic nodded, but still felt compelled to hurry toward her. They took each other's hands, still holding a slight distance between them. Sonic quivered as he spoke, “Sally... are you....” Sally smiled, “Yes Sonic, Chuck saved my life, but things... he and I had to make some sacrifices.” Her voice was different, not normal, but still similar. Sonic's eyes widened, “Sacrifices? I don't understand.” Tails ran up with concern, “Aunt Sally! Aunt Sally! Why... why do you sound like Nichole? Did something happen to your voice?” Sally let go of Sonic's hands as she looked down at Tail, unable to kneel down she still tried to get as low as possible. “Tails, I....” Chuck spoke up, “She got hurt while you were out with that bad cold, she'll be fine; there's no need to worry yourself boy.” Tails raises an eyebrow to Chuck Chuck nods to Rosie and she places a hand on Tails' shoulder, and bends down, “Sweetie, let's go get a treat; I have some mint cookies for you.” Tails pulls her out the door, “That's my favourite! You're the greatest.” Sally heaved a sigh of relief, “I'm glad he doesn't remember what happened; he doesn't right?” Chuck shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, “I can't totally say one way or the other. I mean, it doesn't seem like it at all; I wish I could be more definite. He woke up after reverting back like getting up from bed.” “Spooky.” Sonic said, “I certainly hope so.” “He's not to be ever told about what happened... ever.” Said Sally. “Ya got it Sally girl.” Answered Bunnie. Chuck nodded, “That's a prudent course of action, but let's keep an eye on the little guy in case something might come to the surface.” Chuck's metallic eyebrows scrunched in contemplation. “What is it Unc?” Asked Sonic. “I dunno, it's just that concoction... I've been going over the makeup of this drug, and what Robotnik injected Tails with was modified, and not very well either.” “What do you mean? Unc?” “I don't think Robotnik created it, I mean the base formula, but they modified it.” “How so? What was it supposed to do?” Asked Sally. “I'm not entirely sure, but I know it wasn't originally supposed to turn Mobians into monsters; in fact in shouldn't have much of an affect on us at all.” “Then what in the high heck was it for?” Inquired Bunnie. “Man.” “Man? I don't understand.” Said Sally as she rubbed her chin. “You know Robotnik's kind.” Answered Chuck. “From all I can tell it's made up of synthetic hormones and RNA re-sequencers to not only activate existing introns, but at the same time cause a sped up mutation in them. What they did was sloppily alter it so it would work on us Mobians and cause a more devastating mutative affect.” “Like with T2, right?” “Yes and no Sonny, in a way what happened to Tails was best-case because of his already somewhat mutant genetics.” Bunnie piped up again, “Yeah, that half-pint wretch Snively said jus' that; that's why they were experimentin' on all of those poor people back there.” With a solemn look on his face Chuck nodded, confirming what she said. A half-grin came over Sonic's face, “Well, at least 'Buttnik got a taste of it.” Everyone looks at Sonic with surprise. “You did what?” Asked Chuck. Sonic stuck out his chest proudly, “I stuck him with some of the stuff he gave Tails after I, well... stopped him.” “And what happened?” Queried Chuck as they all drew closer to Sonic. “He almost immediately turned into some weird avian beast that was feral, like Tails was. He tried to get me, but I was way too fast for him.” Sally's eyes bugged out; she shuddered as she grasped at her arms folded against her body, “Oh Sonic... that's....” Sonic put his arms around her gently, “Sally, I'm sorry.” She untensed, looked up and smiled at him, “No, I need to know what, we all do.” Sonic nodded, “Well... he ended up crashing through the wall and fell to the ground. He was injured, but I let him go... probably another brain-dead decision, huh?” Bunnie smiled too and put her paw on Sonic's shoulder, “After ta-day... I sure wouldn't be sayin' that, that's fer sure.” “She's right Sonic.” Added Sally, “Even though he deserved worse, you held back. Sonic... you have nothing to feel....” “Hmmmnnn.” Uttered Chuck as he pondered something, “You say it happened almost instantly, well, Sally told me that it took a while with Tails. Yeah, it probably worked better on him being that the original formula was meant for his species.” “Really? What do ya think it originally did?” Asked Sonic. “As I said, I haven't the foggiest, but I can tell ya the reason he probably turned out like he did was because of all the messin' around with the formula he and Snively did to it.... But if I was a betting man I'd say that that formula was to turn their kind into another form....” Sally looked at Chuck, “You think?” Chuck nodded. Sonic made a retching sound, “Way past disgusting Sal!” “She's probably right Sonic, we share many genes with mankind, and that's a fact. It's not too much a leap of logic to think that we are more connected than we believe.” “I dunno Unc, that seems just too....” “Out there... it's hard to believe. Mobians and man... related?” Added Bunnie. Chuck Nodded, “I can't tell all of that for sure, but I can tell ya that this elixir in its original form would change a man into a Mobian. In time I could probably reverse the affects of the concoction on him, ya know, turn him back or into a proper Mobian.” Sally rubbed her neck, “Well, maybe it should be something we should look into later... but for right now....” Bunny smiled, “Right now we all got some tender wounds to lick.” “Ya got that right Bunnie.” Sonic gives her a hug and leans his head on hers. “It'll turn out okay Sugah, just looket what we all been given back already. Robotnik's gone now... and for good; we have our friends back.” Sally placed her paw on Sonic and Bunnie's shoulders, “And those we lost will be remembered.” Sonic nodded sucking up the emotions, “Thanks guys, but I'd certainly feel better not having some mindless beast roaming about.” Chuck smiled, “Well, we'll have to keep an eye on him in the meantime, but in time I could have him back to....” Bunnie and Sally winced as Sonic interrupted and walked over to Chuck, “I'd rather have him as a mindless bird beast to be honest.” Uncle Chuck grins, “I could also probably make him into a full Mobian too.” Sonic sniggered, “Boy, would that be heck for him.” “Talk about a fittin' punishment.” Bunnie added. Sally hobbled up and joined Sonic as she put her arm around him, “But all that can wait. Like Bunnie said, we need to tend to our own first.” Sonic sighs with a nod, “I couldn't agree more.” Sally ran her paws through Sonic's quills with a passionate kiss. Bunnie smiles as she turns to take her leave, “Speakin' of which, I reckon I should tend to Rotor; he's gonna need some help too.” Chuck joins her, “I best do some following up on Tails; I ought ta make sure there's no relapse.” Sonic turned to them, “Oh you don't have to leave on our account.” “Aw, don't y'all worry 'bout that; that boy really need some help; today's been awful hard on 'em.” She winked as she walked out and Sally smiled back. “And don't you worry about me either,” Added Chuck with a wink, “I wasn't kiddin', Tails needs some extra care after what happened.” Sonic sighed, “You got that right... that poor boy.” The door closed with a click as Bunnie and Chuck exited the room; Sally and Sonic were now all alone. This was the first time the both of them were by themselves since that morning when Sally was in danger of loosing her life, bleeding to death on the table. Sonic stared at the operating table as she reached up at touched his chin with her finger and turned his head to face her. Sonic slid his hand up to Sally's shoulder as she made eye contact; her blue eyes had a quality he'd never seen before. They pensively pulled close and kiss; Sonic instinctively runs his paw up the back of Sally's neck and accidentally caused her neck scarf to fall to the ground revealing her bionic implants and bandages. Sally gasped as the silk slid down and fell to the floor and she moved to cover her neck. “Oh God, did I hurt you? I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.” Sonic said frantically. Sally sighed, “No, I'm fine. It's just....” Sonic bent down and picked up the scarf, “What Sally.” “I'm... Sonic... am I really that vain?” “I don't understand, Sal. You're not vain, you never....” Sally chokes up as her artificial vocal cords adjust to her upset mood, “I tried for all this time to be... superior.” Sonic came back up to hug her, “There, there Sal. It's okay, I'm here.” “Sonic, I thought I supported Bunnie through it all, but I had no idea....” Sally sobbed, “How did she live with it for so long? How can I?” Sonic held her tight, “We'll get through this together, I promise; you're not going it alone.” Sally touched the metal on her throat implant. “Thanks Sonic, I never had to deal with anything like this before... it's just so... different.” He gently tied the scarf around Sally's neck, “Sal, you look fine and in time things might change and it could be less noticeable, and who knows, we might be able to completely fix it; you know Unc, after all.” She sighed, “You're, but we've been saying the same thing to Bunnie....” “Sal... with Robotnik outta the way you know that it's closer to happening than ever. You can't afford these negative thoughts.” He wiped the tears from her eyes. She smiled, “You're right... we need to take it as it comes. After all, I guess we finally won, didn'y we.” “We sure did Sal. And don't you forget it!” He replied with a triumphant look on his face. “So... what's next for our heroes?” She sighed, “Now the real work begins I suppose.”