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About Me

Found 14 results

  1. I'll start this topic with an old pic that combined Sally and Solaire:
  2. Another fun thought experiment. Unlike Satam Reconstructed where you reconstruct and improve upon ideas from the original writers and artists of the show, this section is all about redesign. Start with a story element of the show and retool it in a new and way exciting way. I will throw the first morsel of food for thought: How would you do the Coupe differently?
  3. Knew these existed, but finally found them online: http://www.milkcapmania.co.uk/Wackers/812-Sonic-the-Hedgehog.html http://www.milkcapmania.co.uk/World-POG-Federation-WPF/Canada-Games/63-Kool-Aid-Sonic-The-Hedgehog.html http://www.milkcapmania.co.uk/Wackers/1094-Sonic-The-Hedgehog-Auchan.html Kind of a real Blast to the Past.
  4. Here is a fun thought experiment from my good old days at FUS: You ask a question about a plot point, issue, or anything that left you confused or nit-picking from the original Satam series. Then, everyone else tries to come up with an interesting, exciting, and intelligent answer for it. It's not a game about criticizing - it's all about improving. I'll go first, revisiting my very first old question and spinning off of it from there. In a world where the majority of the population is Roboticized, why does Robotnik consume so much resources and builds so much industry? What needs are being met by all this industry in a world with only Robians (who don't sleep, eat, drink, buy yo-yo's, ect.)?
  5. As the title states, a place to talk about under-appreciated gems & guilty pleasures, but SatAM specific.
  6. [Edit Note: Stunning revelations, news, commentaries, reviews, eceterra across the net - it will be all here. - Red Stranger.] I shared this at FUS and thought y'all might find it interesting too... What's up With: Sonic the Hedgehog SatAM Cartoon! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1A77GkEpiQ
  7. The following thread is for all discussion of The Princess and the Demon, a story that can be found here: In addition, the opening post contains a series of appendices that I have written for the purpose of fleshing out my personal take on Mobius. These appendices are by no means final, and will be expanded on over time. Please note that, though the story and appendices are based on the SatAM continuity, they are not meant to be set in it. This is essentially an alternate universe story. THE APPENDICES A GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF THE PRINCESS AND THE DEMON APPENDIX A: LORE AND CULTURE Section I: Aethyr Aethyr is an invisible, omnipresent form of energy. It is metaphysical in nature, originating from a separate, parallel plane of existence, generally known as The Pure Aethyr. Dimipists generally agree that this plane is spiritual in nature and, like everything else, made by the Creator, while skeptics have sought to prove a purely natural explanation for the phenomenon. Whatever its origins, Aethyr is difficult to harness but capable of producing extremely powerful and versatile effects, many of which are otherwise impossible to achieve. Aethyr can be harnessed by two types of people, Ierokast and Mages, and certain crafted objects, known as Artifacts. In addition, though they cannot directly wield it, Anointed have a degree of Aethyr that passively flows through them. An Ierokast (“Holy Judge”) is an individual with the innate ability to channel Aethyr into a supernatural power. Dimipists believe that this ability is a gift from the Creator, and that Ierokast are meant to help guide a city, nation, or even all of Mobius through times of crisis. Ierokast are very rare: no more than one has ever been known to exist at a time, and centuries may go by without one being born. Each Ierokast throughout history has had a different, unique power. Some have an enhanced attribute, such as strength or wisdom, while others are granted an entirely new ability, such as telekinesis or weather manipulation. An Anointed is a member of a bloodline whose body carries a passive amount of Aethyr. According to Dimipism, these individuals have been blessed by the Creator and are meant to fulfill roles of leadership. The Ierokast Samuel, for example, reportedly caused Lenora Acorn to become an Anointed when he invoked the will of the Creator in declaring her to be the first monarch of Theiapele. While many non-Dimipists are skeptical of the story’s authenticity, there is no denying that each studied Acorn monarch has proven to have the physical properties of an Anointed. While Anointed status is passed genetically, it is strongest in firstborn offspring, becoming increasingly weaker in successive children. In the case of royal Anointed, such as the Acorn dynasty, this has the effect of the status remaining close to the throne as generations pass, rather than being widely distributed amongst nobility. Anointed have generally been observed to demonstrate personality traits well-suited for leaders; they tend to be very intelligent, charismatic, and determined individuals, though it is possible, if rare, for non-Anointed to match or even exceed them in these respects. In addition, Anointed can wield Artifacts attuned to their lineage, and their blood can be used in the creation of Mages. Aethyr Artifacts, commonly referred to as just Artifacts, are constructed devices capable of harnessing Aethyr in a specific manner. Creating even a ‘simple’ one is an exceedingly difficult process, one that requires a blend of expert craftsmanship, scientific genius, and deep spiritual understanding. Most Artifacts throughout recorded history have been created by the Jiahang, who, of all the nations of Mobius, have the culture most closely tied to Aethyr and its manipulation. In other parts of the world, Artifact creation has increasingly become a lost art, one viewed with fear and suspicion by many. An individual crafting an Artifact must choose whether to make the device Bound or Unbound. Unbound Artifacts can be used by anyone, while Bound Artifacts cannot be activated unless wielded by the type of person they are attuned to during creation, a selection limited to Ierokast and Anointed. While Ierokast-attuned Artifacts can be used by all Ierokast, Artifacts attuned to Anointed discriminate based on bloodline. If an Artifact was attuned to the Acorn line, for example, someone from another Anointed lineage would not be able to wield it. Bound Artifacts are more secure and powerful than they would be if Unbound, while Unbound Artifacts are usable by far, far more people. Normally, only Ierokast are capable of channeling Aethyr through their bodies, and even they are limited to a single or small set of abilities. However, through mysterious occult practices, reportedly including demonic pacts, normal individuals can be imbued with the ability to manipulate Aethyr. With enough study and discipline, these Mages can produce a wide variety of magical effects. However, because the Aethyr they use is forcibly ripped from its plane instead of flowing naturally, as with Ierokast, it becomes twisted and corrupted. The ‘spells’ of Mages thus tend to be violent and punitive in nature, and are generally agreed to be evil. Using such magic takes a toll on the user’s mind; the result, combined with the costs of becoming a Mage to begin with, is that actively practicing Mages are invariably wicked…and often insane. Becoming a Mage requires the blood of an Ierokast or Anointed. While the ‘ascension’ ritual involved only requires a small quantity, the power of the Mage being ‘reborn’ is proportional to the amount of blood used. Tragically, this has resulted in the abduction and murder of many Ierokast and Anointed throughout history in the name of creating Mages. Ierokast and Anointed that become Mages themselves have the capacity to become exceptionally dangerous, though such cases are very rare. ‘Corrupt’ Artifacts can be made by combining techniques used in Mage ascension rituals with those used in more conventional Aethyr Artifact creation. Such devices are generally more versatile than other artifacts, but their construction requires Ierokast or Anointed blood, as with ascension rituals. Corrupt Artifacts possess an inherent degree of instability and cannot be Bound. Section II: The Mobian Calendar A year on Mobius consists of 404 days. There are 8 months, each consisting of 40 days. The ordered months, and their translations, are as follows: Vrokeri (“Waxing Rain”) Vroparak (“Waning Rain”) Iliokeri (“Waxing Sun”) Ilioparak (“Waning Sun”) Synkokeri (“Waxing Harvest”) Synkoparak (“Waning Harvest”) Chionikeri (“Waxing Snow”) Chioniparak (“Waning Snow”) In addition, the middle day of each season is considered separate from any month. These days, located between the ‘Waxing’ and ‘Waning’ months, are traditionally holidays observed through festivals and celebration. They are: Vrofaltezza (“Height of Rain”) Iliofaltezza (“Height of Sun”) Synkofaltezza (“Height of Harvest”) Chionifaltezza (“Height of Snow”) Section III: Mobian Religion Dimipism (“Belief in the Creator”) has, for most of recorded history, been the dominant religion in Theiapele, Jiahang, and parts of Trivarié. It is a monotheistic belief centered around the deity most commonly referred to as the Creator, a benevolent, all-powerful god responsible for the existence of the universe and everything ‘natural’ in it, life included. Dimipists worship the Creator, out of both reverence for His divinity and gratitude for providing in their daily lives. The religion draws a distinction between the bodies and souls of people, claiming that, though the former are made through biological processes, each is directly imbued with a unique soul specifically designed by the Creator for a purpose. Upon a person’s physical death, his or her soul is believed to be drawn into The Pure Aethyr and carried before the Creator, though what happens after this is the subject of frequent debate amongst various sects of Dimipism. Such conflicting beliefs include the soul entering paradise, being judged for its actions in life, becoming part of the Aethyr to guide future generations, and being absorbed by the Creator, thereby joining a massive collective intelligence. While no other modern religions exist on such a large, organized scale, Mobius is home to a number of other beliefs. Worship of ancestors is common in Isenvalk and northern Trivarié, while various cults have risen and fallen throughout history, ranging from heretical spinoffs of Dimipism to the shadowy attempts to consort with ghosts and demons that gave birth to Mages and the Order of Ixis. The Mandara are thought to have practiced a polytheistic religion, though, as with most aspects of their culture, records of it are scarce at best. Atheism is dominant in the Elleteren Empire and was common amongst the humans of Fabrastrum. Other humans tended to practice beliefs passed down among their people from before they settled on Mobius, some of which are similar enough to Dimipism that attempts to reconcile the two practices have been made by certain theologians, both human and Mobian. APPENDIX B: HISTORY OF NATIONS Section I: Theiapele (“Divine Liberation”) The constitutional monarchy of Theiapele has its roots in the band of former slaves that, under the leadership of the Ierokast Abner, escaped the Mandara in the year 0 EL, just prior to Sidon’s destruction, and sailed to the main Mobian continent of Chora. The civilization that arose from their descendants was small and fragile, caught between Chora’s two rival superpowers, Jiahang and Trivarié. Through the strength and leadership of the Ierokast and a unifying faith in the Creator, they endured, eventually shifting from a nomadic lifestyle to living in small, agricultural towns in the southern portion of the continent. Allying themselves with Marecianti in the archipelago to the south, the Theiapelens were careful to remain neutral in the series of intermittent conflicts between Jiahang to the northeast and Trivarié to the northwest. In 1268, shortly after the mages of Jiahang went rogue and attempted to conquer both of the warring factions, the famed Ierokast Samuel, acting in the name of the Creator, anointed Lenora Acorn as the first monarch of Theiapele. Out of respect for Samuel and reverence for the Creator, the Theiapelens rallied to their new queen, who led them in battle against the mages. The sudden entrance of Lenora and her fresh troops into the conflict turned the tide and led to the mages’ defeat. The gratitude the people of both Jiahang and Trivarié held toward Theiapele allowed Lenora to serve as a neutral go-between and achieve the unthinkable by brokering a lasting peace between the two rival nations. In 1322, several decades later, Lenora’s son, King Geoffrey I, oversaw the creation of a new capital city for Theiapele: Mobotropolis, so-named in celebration of the newly unified world. The establishment of the majestic city marked the dawn of a golden age for Theiapele, in which it rapidly grew into a respected world power. During this era, the Theiapelens were perhaps best known for their legendary diplomats. For centuries, whenever international tensions threatened to spark armed conflict, it was they who proved key to maintaining the peace, such as with the secession of Isenvalk from Trivarié. By far the most renowned case of Theiapelen peacekeeping occurred in 2142, following the landing of the Dawnbreaker on Mobius. The human colony ship was, to the people of Mobius, the first confirmation of extraterrestrial life, and word of strange, alien creatures using incredibly advanced technology spread like wildfire, leading to mass panic and confusion. Some thought the humans to be gods or demons, leading to separate calls for their veneration and destruction. The latter were joined by groups fearing a planetary invasion or seeking to acquire mysterious, powerful new forms of technology. Violent confrontation with the ‘invaders’ seemed inevitable. Yet the Trivarié military was able to quarantine the territory surrounding the Dawnbreaker, keeping vigil while a small team of Theiapelen ambassadors, accompanied by a single representative from each of the other nations, attempted to communicate with the aliens. Courageously lead by Queen Esteri III, the diplomats painstakingly learned simple means of conversing with the ship’s own representatives. After three long, tense months, a fragile understanding was reached, and war averted. Tragically, the Golden Age of Theiapele ended scarcely a century later in 2247, when King Isaac II was assassinated by members of the Order of Ixis, a secret cult of mages descended from survivors of Queen Lenora’s purge centuries prior. The assassination was long in the making, preceded by years of planning and infiltration, and coordinated with simultaneous attempts on the lives of political leaders throughout Chora. It is believed that the Ixis mages sought to create widespread chaos and mistrust between nations whilst harvesting Anointed blood to bolster their ranks. Notably, only the leaders of Jiahang, the nation that had given birth to mages to begin with and remained the world leader in arcane knowledge, were not targeted, creating an obvious suspect likely intended to bear international blame. Though most of the assassins found their marks and all of them managed to escape immediate reprisal, vanishing through magical means, the Order of Ixis ultimately failed to either ignite war or seize power in the wake of its attacks. After saving the Theiapelen heir, Princess Amelia, from the assassin that murdered her father before her eyes, the Ierokast Cornelius called for international cooperation, directing anger away from Jiahang and toward the mysterious assailants themselves. Over the next decade, the Order of Ixis was uncovered, uprooted, and eradicated. Its teachings and artifacts were burned and its members put to the sword, though many mage-hunters were slain by their magic in the process. In the end, only Ixis Lazaar, the leader of the cult and murderer of King Isaac, remained, having retreated into his fortified lair deep beneath Mobotropolis. Only Cornelius himself dared pursue the wizard into those accursed catacombs. Neither ever emerged. Legend has it that Cornelius successfully made it past the labyrinth’s myriad traps and arcane guardians, reaching the heart of the lair and engaging Lazaar in a final, terrible duel. The two nemeses mortally wounded one another, but the wizard placed himself in a magical slumber, allowing him to heal and await a disciple strong enough to find and awaken him. Cornelius had no such recourse and succumbed to his wounds; his death would seemingly herald the end of the Ierokast, for none were born for nearly a millennium afterward. The Order of Ixis was vanquished, yet it left a terrible legacy. Amelia Acorn, now Queen, was so deeply traumatized by witnessing the death of her father that she became consumed by paranoia, convinced that the mages were not truly defeated, that countless more could be hiding in plain sight. It was a suspicion shared by many at first, and the public was encouraged to report anyone who might possibly be a mage. Accusations ran rampant as neighbor turned against neighbor, whether out of fear or hidden grudges. Homes were ransacked by guards looking for evidence; citizens were imprisoned without trial. For the first time in history, the Theiapelen monarchy violated the people’s rights established in the constitution, doing so in the name of peace and security. There was little protest at first, so widespread was fear of mage insurgents. But as years passed without so much as a single confirmed mage being found, unrest began to build, while Queen Amelia descended further and further into madness. Mobotropolis and other cities throughout the land were placed under martial law. Strict curfews were enacted, and anyone entering or leaving a city or the national border required extensive authorization papers. Protestors were arrested on sight, assumed to be mage sympathizers or even mages themselves. “The Mad Queen”, as she came to be known, ruled with an iron fist and soon turned her fearful gaze beyond her own borders, to Jiahang and the human city-state of Fabrastrum. Amelia was not convinced that Jiahang had merely been a scapegoat during the Ixis Assassinations, while Lazaar himself had been a human. That Jiahang had contributed significant resources to the mage purge under Cornelius did not matter to her; nor did the fact that Lazaar was the only human mage on record. Neither nation was to be trusted, and all trade with them was suddenly banned by her edict. When the Archduke of Trivarié criticized her for such rash actions, she extended her ban to his nation as well. The economy of Theiapele quickly began to suffer, and with it her people. Soon, even Amelia’s most loyal supporters began to privately question her. The final straw came when Amelia began ordering soldiers into the catacombs beneath the capital to search for Lazaar, whom she insisted was still alive. A full squad of troops reluctantly entered the tunnels that Cornelius had braved years prior. Only one returned, traumatized and wounded, frantically recounting the gruesome deaths of her comrades, all of them victims of the lair’s defenses. When Amelia ordered the survivor executed, claiming her to be Lazaar in a magical disguise, the military at last turned on the queen. Without so much as an objection from her guards, Amelia was arrested and thrown into an asylum, where she would spend the rest of her days cursing her ‘traitorous’ people. Her son, Geoffrey V, took the throne, while the entrance to the catacombs was walled up and quarantined, eventually falling into legend as the mysterious “Forbidden Zone.” A decent man, Geoffrey V, having grown up in an atmosphere of fear, was nonetheless a cautious ruler. His mother’s trade bans were relaxed but not altogether removed; the same went for the tightened security in cities. Those unjustly imprisoned were quickly given fair trials and the specter of open revolt soon faded, but it ultimately took several generations for the domestic state of Theiapele to begin to resemble what it had been prior to the Ixis Assassinations. The nation’s reputation abroad did not heal so easily. The human colonists, already a tiny minority, had always been looked upon with suspicion and mistrust by much of Mobius. Theiapele had been their greatest ally and advocate since the days of Esteri III, yet Amelia had shattered that alliance in her demented fury. The already reserved humans drew in upon themselves even more, largely remaining within the walls of Fabrastrum and trading with Mobians only when necessary. To the other nations of Mobius, Theiapele lost its reputation of being the great peacemaker of the world, the famed Acorn dynasty forever tainted in the eyes of most. The reign of Queen Amelia and the years immediately afterward became known as Theiapele’s Dark Age. Gradually, the scars it left began to heal, and the nation enjoyed centuries of peace and relative prosperity. Yet international tensions began to slowly rise once more. The Ixis Assassinations reignited animosity among the people of the Elleteren Republic toward Jiahang, from which they had seceded in 1461, out of protest of all arcane study once the danger posed by mages became known at the end of the Trivarié-Jiahang Wars. In 2401, the republic declared itself an empire, a restructuring done in the name of security. Many domestic policies similar to those of Queen Amelia were enacted, yet they were welcomed by the populace out of nationalistic fervor. As the centuries passed, the Elleteren Empire began increasing its militarization, ostensibly to support the colonization of remote islands, while investing heavily in local technological advancements. The nation courted Fabrastrum at every opportunity, seeking its technology, but this only caused the wary humans to further isolate themselves. Marecianti, which had increasingly become corrupt and greedy, developed strong ties with the Elleteren Empire, hoping to profit from its rapid growth. The shift hurt Theiapele and Trivarié, which began to rely more and more on one another for economic support. Eventually, Marecianti and the Elleteren Empire entered into a formal alliance with one another, pledging support in times of peace…and war. In response, Theiapele and Trivarié created their own pact, promising the same to one another. Though few would admit it, most feared that war was inevitable. The Theiapelen Diplomatic Corps attempted to diffuse tensions between the Elleterens and Jiahang, but failed miserably, having seen the looming danger far too late to be of any use, particularly with their still-disgraced reputation. As the Theiapelen diplomats headed home in defeat, Jiahang, fearing for its safety, turned to Theiapele and Trivarié directly, and was soon admitted into their alliance. Meanwhile, the people of Isenvalk reluctantly joined the Marecianti-Elleteren alliance. Though traditionally isolationist and fiercely independent, they had long feared being reabsorbed by Trivarié. With the Trivarines now possessing two major allies, the Isenvalkans saw entering into an alliance of their own as the only means of ensuring independence. The stage was set for a conflict unlike any Mobius had ever witnessed, one spanning the entire Choran continent and its surrounding islands. Three nations arrayed against three others, with only tiny Fabrastrum steadfastly remaining neutral. Then, in 3214, the second year of the reign of King Maximillian Acorn II, the dam finally burst as Elleteren troops invaded the Jiahang border. The Great War had begun. Section II: Sidon (“Chains”) Coming Soon! Section III: Marecianti (“Merchants of the Sea”) Coming Soon! Section IV: Jiahang (“Navigators of the Mists”) Coming Soon! Section V: Trivarié (“Varied Tribes”) Coming Soon! Section VI: Fabrastrum (“Forge from the Stars”) Coming Soon! Section VII: The Elleteren Republic/Empire (“Against Aethyr”) Coming Soon! Section VIII: Isenvalk (“People of the Frost”) Coming Soon! APPENDIX C: TIMELINE OF HISTORY The following chronology is based on the Theiapelen Reckoning of history, which is centered around the escape of Mobian slaves, the first Theiapelens, from Sidon under the Ierokast Abner. Years prior to this event are denoted as being part of the Era of Bondage (EB), while years after it are part of the Era of Liberation (EL). Circa 2000 EB: The Mandara organize their continent into the empire of Sidon. Circa 1900 EB: The Mandara establish their first outposts on the continent of Chora to the east. They also begin raiding Mobian villages in Western Chora and sending captives back to Sidon as slaves. 1517 EB: Jiahang is founded in Eastern Chora. 980 EB: The cities of Western Chora unite to fight off Mandaran raiders, becoming the nation of Trivarié. 212 EB: The existence of Aethyr is discovered in Jiahang. 42 EB: Birth of Abner, the first known Ierokast, into Mandaran captivity in Sidon. 1 EB: Abner receives a vision from the Creator in which he is instructed to free his fellow slaves and depart Sidon. Start of the Mandaran Civil War. 0: Aided by the Creator, the chaos of the Mandaran Civil War, and a small group of Mandara sympathetic to his cause, Abner leads a contingent of 3000 Mobian slaves out of Sidon on boats. Shortly afterward, all of Sidon is destroyed through unknown means, commonly thought to be either divine wrath or the unleashing of a terrible weapon as a result of the civil war. 1 EL: Abner and his fellow former slaves continue making their way east across the ocean, toward the main Mobian continent of Chora, relying on small, uninhabited islands for rest and food. 2: The former slaves at last reach the shores of Chora, where they declare themselves a new nation, Theiapele, in honor of their freedom provided by the Creator. 97: The nation of Marecianti is founded in the archipelago south of the Choran mainland. 525: Beginning of the Trivarié-Jiahang Wars. 809: Theiapele establishes an alliance with Marecianti. 1064: The Ierokast Lucien rebels against the Creator and, through foul craft, becomes the first Mage. 1185: Birth of the Ierokast Samuel. 1239: Birth of Lenora Acorn. 1266: The Mages of Jiahang go rogue, declaring war on their homeland while continuing to fight against Trivarié. Beginning of the War of the Mages. 1267: Jiahang and Trivarié agree to a truce in order to focus on the Mage threat. 1268: Samuel anoints Lenora as Queen of Theiapele. The Theiapelen people pledge their allegiance to her. 1269: Queen Lenora leads Theiapelen troops against the Mages, turning the tide of the war. 1271: End of the War of the Mages. Theiapele, Trivarié, and Jiahang emerge triumphant. Surviving Mages go into hiding and eventually form the Order of Ixis. 1280: Lenora brokers a treaty between Trivarié and Jiahang, ending their many centuries of intermittent fighting. 1322: King Geoffrey Acorn I founds Mobotropolis. 1461: The Elleteren Republic secedes from Jiahang. Despite high tensions and widespread protests, the transition is a bloodless one. 1749: Isenvalk secedes from Trivarié. The parting is largely amicable, in part due to the efforts of Theiapelen diplomats. 2142: The human colony vessel Dawnbreaker lands on Mobius in Trivarié near the Elleteren border. Despite widespread panic, negotiations between the ship’s crew and Mobian ambassadors led by Queen Esteri Acorn III ultimately prove successful. The Trivarines cede a modest amount of land to the newcomers, where they establish the city-state of Fabrastrum. 2185: Birth of Lazaar. 2199: Birth of the Ierokast Cornelius. 2240: Members of the Order of Ixis begin putting plans in motion to assassinate key leaders in most nations. 2247: The Ixis Assassinations occur across Choran. Lazaar murders King Isaac Acorn II. Cornelius saves Isaac’s daughter, Amelia, and leads the nations of the world in uprooting the cult. Beginning of the Ixis Crisis. 2258: Lazaar, the last known surviving Ixis Mage, places himself in magical stasis deep beneath Mobotropolis after killing Cornelius. Official end of the Ixis Crisis. 2259: Queen Amelia begins enacting totalitarian policies throughout Theiapele out of a paranoid obsession with Mages. 2275: Amelia bans Theiapelens from all trade with Jiahang, Fabrastrum, and Trivarié. 2279: Amelia is arrested by her own military, ending the tyrannical reign of “The Mad Queen.” Her son, Geoffrey V, takes the Theiapelen throne and begins the process of undoing the harm she caused. 2401: The Elleteren Republic is reorganized into an empire. 3164: Birth of Charles Hedgehog. 3188: Birth of Maximilian Acorn II. Charles Hedgehog begins studying the creation of Aethyr Artifacts in Jiahang. 3197: The Elleteren Empire and Marecianti enter into a formal alliance, pledging to support one another in the event of war. 3201: Theiapele and Trivarié sign an alliance. 3204: Charles invents roboticization, but abandons the technology after discovering its mental effects on subjects. 3206: Theiapelen diplomatic attempts to decrease tensions between Jiahang and the Elleteren Empire fail. Jiahang joins the Theiapelen-Trivarine alliance. 3209: Isenvalk joins the Elleteren-Marecianti alliance. 3212: Maximillian II becomes king of Theiapele and marries the archaeologist Nicole. 3214: The Elleteren Empire invades Jiahang, beginning the Great War. 3219: Births of Princess Sally Acorn and Sonic Hedgehog. Queen Nicole dies in childbirth. 3222: Charles, suspecting his nephew to be an Ierokast, begins designing Power Rings for Sonic. 3223: End of the Great War. Charles creates an Artifact that functions as a Power Ring generator. 3224: Julian, now calling himself Robotnik, conducts a mechanized coup in Mobotropolis, quickly conquering and roboticizing most of the Theiapelen population and declaring war on the rest of the world. King Maximillian II is banished into the Void. Princess Sally, Sonic, and other refugees from Mobotropolis escape to the hidden sanctuary of Knothole, deep in the Great Forest. 3233: Princess Sally organizes a team of freedom fighters from volunteers in Knothole and begins a guerilla campaign against Robotnik. 3235: Events of The Princess and the Demon.
  8. What happens the Day after Doomsday? Sonic The Hedgehog: Edge of Tomorrow seeks to answer the above question in detail. Edge of Tomorrow is a direct episodic spin-off of Satam (Saturday Morning Sonic), the cult-classic Sonic cartoon that defined the distinct American/Western sonic canon. Satam was known for contributing the most substantial lore within the Sonic franchise and is still the inspiring foundation for most stories outside the rather sparse and vague Segasonic narrative such as Fleetway's Sonic The Comic, Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic Underground, and fanworks like Sea3on and STC-O. Staying utterly faithful to its source material, EoT continues the morning after the infamous cliff-hanger episode Doomsday then meticulously explores and expands on the unique world of Mobius Satam founded. Though Doomsday abruptly capstoned Satam, EoT continues the narrative seamlessly with its own first episode Day After Doomsday. From here onward, EoT expands on the unique and nostalgic world of Mobius fans were first introduced two decades ago. There will be new arcane secrets to discover, old and new villains to face, and a narrative that has grown and matured with its old audience. Come see the old familiar Freedom Fighters in new exciting situations as they find their place in world much bigger than Robotnik, and much more complex than the safety of Knothole and smog of Mobotropolis. Crank your old CRTV back on, or come to the series fresh-faced as a young fan after a Satam You-tube/Netflix binge; this is not just a mere third season of Satam, this is a fully fleshed out episodic continuation with several seasons in the making.
  9. What is your favourite episode from the good old Saturday Morning Sonic the Hedgehog show.
  10. "Hey, Tim! Hurry up with those dogs," Carl's voice bellowed from the back. "Ah, coming boss." The beagle Mobian was in a frenzy as he finished up dressing the chili dogs with relish and mustard. Those family rushes are always such a hassle, he thought, handing, the bag filled with a dozen chili dogs to the rather portly warthog, "Sorry about the wait, sir." The warthog smiled and snorted, "Well, at least you got ‘em done." After handing out the order to a family of beavers, Carl turned to the blonde beagle, who looked rather tired and seemed to have his thoughts elsewhere. "Snap out of it, Tim." Tim shook from his manager's booming, rough voice. "Sorry about that, Carl; just been thinking about the holidays." "Well, you can't go worrying over everything, Timmy, and you really have gotta focus on work." The warthog's eyes shifted downwards. "Sorry about that, I’m just really nervous tonight with… you know… with Beth and everything…." Tim's ears and head drooped as he ground his heels slightly. Carl could only soften his expression, "Look man, you're young. You got all the time in the world to propose to her; she'd understand, she seems like a nice girl." "No, she is, but this is what I want, and you know it's just jitters is all, worried about the future." "Look, Tim, you can't go worrying about all that, I mean... it took me time to figure out what I wanted to do, and look where I am now!" Carl grinned and raised his arms at his establishment. To Tim, it was no more than a greasy hot dog stand; he could only give a puzzled and uncomfortable look on his face. The warthog continued, "Now, I know it's not grand, but it's what I ended up with. Life is how you make it, and whatever you make of it; I know this doesn't seem much to you, but hey, it makes me happy." Tim gave Carl a reassuring smile, "Thanks man, I'm gonna miss this place." As Tim gathered his backpack and headed off, Carl gave out a kind, yet loud, farewell, "Good luck, Tim! Don't forget to bring the pups over here when they're grown!" Tim could only blush and walk faster away from the Hot Dog Stand as people looked at him with giggles and smiles. As Tim walked along the grass in the cold winter night, he noticed a few strange sounds around him. He stopped briefly and turned around… no one was there. "Man, I really got to work morning shifts in my next job," he sighed to himself. As he continued walking, he heard clangs and footsteps, Though he increased his gait, the footsteps drew in closer toward him. He dared not to look behind him and quickened his pace much faster. Tim then heard a loud crunch, causing him to sprint as far as he could. He turned corners around the buildings and businesses, the footsteps getting further away. He then ducked behind an oak tree in the nearest park and slowly peered around him, with only the plastic playground and benches to keep him company. He gasped, his heart pounding loudly in his ears; the faint smell of what could only be motor oil was still in his nostrils. "What… I don't… I don't even want to know what that was…." He could only mutter to himself as he was slowly reassured that nothing was after him, "Maybe that was all in my mind, I mean like a bad dream, right?" The park was still empty with the biting winter cold on his fur; he shivered at the breeze blowing towards him, "Y-yeah, just my imagi- AKH, AAHH, KLAH!!!" A choking pressure was put on his throat. His breaths shortened. As he tried fighting what was assaulting him, he was slowly being dragged away, his windpipe being compressed he was unable to scream for help. The cold embrace from these hands was all he felt before he managed to let out a shrilling cry…. Sonic: Age of Mobius Coming Soon to Free Scribes of Mobius -------
  11. As the guerilla war against Robotnik and his mechanized legions drags on with no end in sight, the burdens of leadership begin to take their toll on Princess Sally. When an all-too-routine sabotage mission encounters an unexpected complication, she finds herself alone in Robotropolis, where she undertakes a harrowing journey that brings her face-to-face with her most terrifying adversary, a cunning and ruthless being that threatens her very soul. Content Rating: T (Violence, mild language, and dark thematic elements) Disclaimer: This thread is for story updates only. A discussion thread, which also features a set of appendices detailing this story's setting, can be found here: The Princess and the Demon Chapter I: Song in Shadow Sunset. A decade ago, the sky would have been awash in a dazzling array of blues and violets, their cool hues intermingling with the fading orange and gold embers of Mobius’ sun in a dance that had inspired countless minds over the course of history. The dance was at once fragile and immortal, fading after only an hour or so yet always restored to life the next evening, each revival bringing with it subtle new movements that left the end of that day unique. It was a testament to the pure, elegant strength of nature that these daily occurrences remained moving, inviting those who witnessed them to lay down the duties and sophistications of society, if for only a moment, and enjoy simple beauty. Even as a small child, Princess Sally had loved watching sunsets, had felt the brush of their power. On days when he was not burdened down with his duties, her father would often take her out to the palace balcony to watch the wondrous dance in the evening sky. He would set her on his shoulder as they looked out over the expanse of their kingdom, their home. Sometimes they talked; sometimes they remained silent, content to simply be with one another. On evenings when her father was busy, Sally would at times still go to the balcony alone to gaze out at the horizon. The sunsets were most comforting on bad days in particular. Whatever had happened, whether a scrape on the leg or an argument with Sonic or her father receiving upsetting news that she wished she could understand, Sally could take solace in the sunsets. They always appeared, no matter what. The events of the day could not change them. Nor could they change her life. Whatever happened, she would always be with Daddy, always live in a beautiful palace, always be best friends with Sonic, always be safe. These things were as sure as the setting of the sun appearing in the evening sky. Now, no glimpse of the sun could be found. The last echoes of the multicolored dance had here been long since silenced, their eternal cycle of revival snuffed out. Across the rest of Mobius, the cycle continued unabated, the brilliant tapestry of the sky shifting and changing as it ever had. But here the reign of the sun had been usurped, the light of the great star overthrown and cast down. The sky had a new lord now, a thing of smoke and fumes, one that endlessly stretched the ghostly fingers of its black hand outward, so that with each passing hour more of the world was befouled by its taint. Again and again, the downcast starlight attempted to end its exile, to break through the fastness of its enemy and be reunited with the world below. Yet no ray could breach the dark veil that lay enshrouded above Robotropolis. Though divorced from all heavenly light, the city was not beholden to absolute, perpetual night. Here and there, the dim, pale glows of lamps and spotlights could be seen, providing some small measure of sanctuary against the blackness threatening to engulf everything nearby. Yet they offered no warmth, no comfort, their hues sickly and cold. Far worse were the gouts of flame that tore through the air in mechanically precise intervals, bursting from towering smokestacks and open waste pits. The columns of fire rose roaring with tremendous force, the surrounding air trembling and distorting in their wake. Almost blinding in their intensity, the crimson torrents issued forth tsunamis of searing heat that lay waste to everything around them. Near the furnaces of Robotropolis, no life could endure. Yet as they rose in all their terrible might, the flames dared challenge the usurping lord of the sky, the veil of smog smothering the city. Against that impenetrable fastness, even they were as insignificant, stinging insects to be crushed under heel. The fires were swallowed up, their light quenched without as much as a shift in the fumes they strove to pierce. The luminance cast forth by the fixtures and fires brought into dismaying clarity the state of their surroundings. Enormous steel structures stretched beyond the eye’s reach in every direction, some only a single story, others towering dozens of meters into the air. All were jagged and angular in their construction, products of geometrically precise designs that factored in not elegance and aesthetic, but efficiency and output. They ranged from power stations to factories, computer mainframes to waste disposal centers. Like organs in a body, each was crafted with a singular purpose, working in mechanical unison with the others to form the massive organism that was Robotropolis. Yet if the city bore any similarity to life, it was out of twisted mockery, of parody, for its streets harbored none of their own. Shuttles and surveillance drones flew through the empty air, weaving birdlike between buildings and bridges. Small mechanical creatures, failed experiments constructed and cast away over the years, scurried and clambered like rodents along walls and through crevices. A thin layer of dust and ash covered most surfaces like moss. To witness Robotropolis was to look upon something alien, a place so perverted and mechanized that it seemed otherworldly, as though some colossal giant had snatched the city from a planet equally metallic and lifeless and hurled it across the stars toward an unsuspecting Mobius. Yet the city had not always been so. Once, it had been filled with verdant gardens and flowing fountains, whitewashed buildings that curved in gentle slopes. Great trees dotted the landscape, their soaring branches blooming with flower and shading the carefully crafted terraces and parks below. Arching wooden bridges spanned bubbling streams that meandered to and fro, their clear waters filled with fish dazzling in color. In orderly rows lay houses masterfully hewn from rough stone into intricate, unique shapes, their interiors lined with wooden panels and ceramic tiles. Above them towered the Ministry building, a monumental ziggurat of eight levels. Flights of stairs ascending to the peak lined each of its sides, flanked by gardens along the walls. Most magnificent of all was the royal palace, a pair of interwoven stone towers that gently curved ever upward, one culminating in a dome that housed the glittering throne room, the other in an arched bell tower used to signal the arrival of holidays and festivals. The palace was situated upon a network of bowl-shaped terraces, down which cascaded a series of shimmering waterfalls that merged with the river below. Mobotropolis, the city had been christened, The Jewel of Mobius. For Sally and millions of others, it had been far more. It had been home. Tattered remnants of this former glory could still be glimpsed in the outlying reaches of the city. Here, an old boarded up restaurant sitting between a pair of watch towers. There, the shattered stone walls of what was once someone’s house, lying in a crumbled heap amidst charred ashes that had perhaps been furniture. Shards of playground equipment covered in rust, strewn tangled about outside a weapons plant. A child’s toy, coated with dust, lying where it had been dropped years ago as the robotic police force suddenly turned on all that lived... “Yo, Sal! Hedgehog to Sal! Ya read me?” Sally snapped out of her reverie, annoyed at the interruption. “What?” She looked over at Sonic, the source of her newfound frustration. The two were lying prone on the roof of a three story warehouse overlooking one of the city’s many computer hubs, a small squat cylindrical building surrounded by an electric fence. “You were starin’ off inta space. Just two minutes ‘til Bunnie’s supposed ta give us the signal.” Only two minutes? Sally frowned. That was absurd. She had been keeping track of time, despite her musings, and they still had nearly a quarter of an hour before the signal was due. She glanced down at the chronometer counting down on her wrist, its red digital digits shifting to indicate exactly one minute and forty-six seconds remained. Oh. The squirrel closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to regain focus. “Sorry. It’s just…this place. It still gets to me sometimes.” Sonic offered a gentle smile, his tone softening as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “I hear you. I miss home too. But ya gotta stay focused while we’re out here. You know that as well as I do.” “Better, on most days.” Sally managed a grin and the two shared a soft laugh, their thoughts briefly turning toward past missions together, the scores of trials and triumphs, narrow escapes and bitter losses, that had come to define so much of their young lives. They remained quiet after that, Sonic watching the countdown silently approach zero, Sally turning her eyes once more toward their objective. Between the hub below and the fence encompassing it was a courtyard; every few seconds, its dull metallic surface was broken by a faint blue shimmer that quickly moved from one end to the next, the only sign that the building was protected by an alarm grid. Supplementing the grid were two rotating security cameras, as well as half a dozen SWATbots patrolling outside the fence. All in all, the hub was lightly defended, as it did little more than help funnel data between two much larger facilities. If NICOLE’s analysis was correct, however, it held a critical weakness, one that made the building the target of the night’s raid. The countdown reached its terminus. A moment later, the building beneath the two Freedom Fighters shook slightly. Perhaps a kilometer away, the night was torn asunder by an explosion, a luminous lance that soared above the surrounding cityscape. The brilliant beacon was a shimmering mixture of oranges and golds, its gradient tapestry interwoven with the blues and violets of chemical smoke. For a moment, the light was as a glimpse of the sunsets of old, the multicolored radiance a remnant of what once was that dared reach out and reclaim its home. Yet within seconds the light faded to waning embers, replaced with the pale, cold glow of searchlights as blaring alarm klaxons filled the air. The SWATbots patrolling outside the hub turned and raced off toward the source of the anomaly. “Man, Rote’s outdone himself with the ol’ firecrackers this time!” Sonic chuckled, the warmth in his voice coming through even amidst the screech of alarms. Sally nodded, wishing she could share her friend’s enthusiasm. Rotor’s craftsmanship was indeed impressive, the walrus at times seeming as much an artisan as he was an engineer. But even he could do only so much with their limited resources. These explosives generated a great deal of noise and light, but lacked enough heat or force to inflict any significant damage. This rendered them useful only as distractions. Nuisances, not genuine threats. If only- Sally’s thoughts were cut off as the alarms were joined by a growing droning sound. Squirrel and hedgehog pressed themselves flat against the warehouse roof as a squadron of gunships thundered overhead, wheeling to circle the site of the blast like some hideous flock of carrion. They would find no prey, however. Bunnie was long gone, headed to the rendezvous point on the outskirts of the city. Her task was complete. For Sonic and Sally, clambering to their feet after hours of waiting, the night’s endeavor was only just beginning. The couple turned to one another, each extending a hand that moved to touch and dance about the other in a series of quick gestures that bore the fluidity of years of practice. The handshake was an old one, created what seemed a lifetime ago by two small children who had not the slightest inkling of wars or coups. It was a bastion of familiarity in these terrible times, an artifact of lost innocence and an emblem of a friendship that had survived the fall of a world into ruin. Equally old and meaningful were the words that followed, a simple phrase that had come to underscore so much of their struggle for freedom from the tyranny befouling their former home. Five small words that carried with them no small amount of courage, an unshakeable confidence shared by those who spoke them. “Let’s do it to it!” The actions performed next were nearly as familiar. She, unwinding the coil of rope and lowering it over the rooftop edge, her hands swift and sure. He, tying the rope’s end to a fixture, threading back and forth to weave a knot steadfast and strong. Then they descended, the champion going before his princess, gliding soundlessly into the murk below. How many times before had they done this? Descended into the mouth of oblivion on some daring venture, some fool’s errand, hoping to thwart the tireless machinations of their great enemy, dreaming to purge that festering blight and bring healing to a dead land? Dozens? Hundreds? It was uncertain, the memories a blur of breathless tension and fearful adrenaline. There were moments that stood etched out in stark clarity, tangible triumphs and dismal defeats. The destruction of a foundry punctuated by a narrow escape, her arms wrapped around his body as he outraced tongues of flame. The loss of a gentle mentor known for years, his arms wrapped around her body as she wept tears of grief. Yet most of their raids, though dark and deadly, were strangely unremarkable. They had become routine. Routine! The thought struck Sally as both ludicrous and terrifying. How could such acts, journeys into a twisted, alien realm that had only moments before overwhelmed her with its very visage, bear any semblance to the mundane? The answer, sadly, was too clear for any hope of escape into the refuge of uncertainty. They had changed. Years of enormous hardship had taken their toll on the people of Knothole, leaving scars deep and beyond healing. None had truly escaped the death of Mobotropolis, the hideous tide of mechanization that had consumed the city. The Freedom Fighters were themselves constructs, children tempered by the loss of all they had ever known, by years of hiding in evil’s shadow, until they were forged into combatants, colder, harder, capable of fighting to reclaim all that once was. Such a goal could never be realized. Even if Mobotropolis was rebuilt, restored to all of its former beauty and glory, its people freed, its enemies utterly destroyed…the world would not, could not, return to the way it was. Memory would linger. Through it, the pains and hurts would endure, the taint of the usurper never truly cleansed until all who witnessed it returned to dust. Even if… She, Sonic, and the other Freedom Fighters would be hailed as saviors, the great heroes of the age, but what then? They, who had grown up orphaned, cut off from society, without so much as a formal education, would be expected to acclimate. Live by a set of norms that would never truly be their own, however much they yearned for them to be. It was a bitter irony, that they should be denied even in triumph that which they had fought so long for. Worse still, she herself, sole heir to the throne, would be expected to lead, to rule. To govern a society she could never again truly be a part of, to be the protector of a peace she would never know. A queen was a paragon of all that was good, the embodiment of what one should strive for. A queen was kind, not critical, governed by courage, not fear. A healer, not a fighter. Young girls would look upon her with awe and wonder, at night whispering to their innermost selves, “I wish I was like Queen Sally.” And what would they be idolizing? A wall. A shell of smiles and hugs and waves surrounding a broken woman old before her years, a relic from another age unable to banish the fears haunting her mind. The real Sally would never be a queen, merely a dressed up imitation trying in vain to match her forbearers. Even if… Stop it, Sally ordered herself as she angrily clamped down on her thoughts. That was despair talking, a viperous nest of fears unallied with even the faintest whisper of reason, more poisonous than any of the sickly fumes eclipsing the sky above. It had become increasingly problematic as of late, a whisper of malice breathing ruin into the edges of her mind when she dropped her guard. She hated it. Perhaps this raid would help. Another victory, another blow struck against the usurper. A reminder that their cause was not hopeless, that they were that much closer to winning this war. Yes, tonight’s triumph would help. The two Freedom Fighters completed their descent and dropped to the ground. Perhaps a hundred open meters separated the fence ahead from the warehouse shadow in which they stood. A hundred meters without cover, of breathless vulnerability. A passing security drone would spot them in an instant, turning painstakingly planned actions into frantic attempts to survive the next few minutes. Stratagems would crumple into instinct, hope engulfed by terror. A mere hundred meters, yet so much hinged upon them… Then a gloved hand wrapped itself around her shoulder, its warmth permeating through the fabric, evaporating the unease in her heart. She turned to her best friend and smiled, gratefully allowing him to sweep her up into his arms. She rested her head against his chest, heard the pace of his heart quicken as his body tensed. Her arms tightened across his back. An intake of breath. Then he began to run. A hundred meters of fear and vulnerability vanished in an instant. The entire crossing took only two, perhaps three, seconds, but it was enough for Sally to savor. The world around her lost its focus, its potency, becoming a blur. The only visible constant was the one holding her, his cocky smile betraying the wellspring of confidence that resided at his very core. It was during those moments, when he ran with her in his arms, when everything else ceased to be, that a rare peace came over Sally. The walls of her soul were lowered, allowing the exhausted, suffocating girl within to draw life-giving breath. She heard not even the faintest echo of the shadowy whispers that had beset her for so long, that she had built those horrible walls to withstand. Fears spawned from seeing her world devoured by an unending mechanized night. Loneliness gnawing at the void the loss of her father had left, the scars of time’s passage not quite covering the rawness underneath. Doubts about her worthiness as a leader, her ability to truly be the unshakable pillar of strength so many needed and sought in her out of trust in blood. All of them were silenced. In their stead, a rising melody began to flow through the edges of her mind. Wordless, it was swift and erratic, seeming a barely controlled chaos ever on the verge of discord. Here, a note struck too soon by eagerness. There, a moment of hesitation and faltering, almost imperceptible as the sound shifted to shroud its shame. Yet beyond the roughness there lay power, a strength maintaining cohesion and ushering the music ever forward. It grew in volume, cascading deeper and deeper until all of Sally was awash in the melody. Its notes rippled through her thoughts, sifting out embedded anxieties and carrying them away like so much detritus, leaving behind calming reassurance. But then the music was challenged. Beyond Sally’s mind, a besieged bastion at last receiving relief, there existed a world of flesh and metal. A fallen world, choked by smoke and shadow, in which drops of blood and sweat mixed with ashen dirt as the flesh was beset again and again in its struggle to check the metal’s spread. As the body holding her own came to a halt, that terrible world was suddenly brought back into focus. As she left his arms and stood on her own, the whispers begin to build again. Fears. Loneliness. Doubts. All of them threatened to renew their assault and ravage her mind, now naked before them. Instinct, touched by traces of panic, demanded the walls be raised again immediately, that everything be shut out, that the mission could not afford her acting in a compromised state. Only cold, dispassionate logic could withstand the world around her. Yet the melody remained, flowing around her and acting as a bulwark against the renewed torrent of bile. Bitterness lanced against it with a terrible fury, only to be deflected, leaving her unscathed. Reminders of countless failings were hurled with ruthless precision at her heart, yet all were splintered ere they reached their mark. With every blow the music weathered, however, it waned slightly. Slowly but surely, it was weakening, and Sally knew that Sonic was facing a similar assault of the soul as all the vile potency of Robotropolis renewed itself around them. For a single, agonizing moment, it seemed that his melody, flawed and rough as it was, would fail entirely, that both of them would be swept asunder by the noxious tide. Doubt would cripple them. Fear would poison their innermost hopes. Years old scars would burst, sending the dammed up pains of the past forth to drown them. Then Sally added her own voice to the melody. It was small and soft, lacking the raw passion and intensity that so defined the music of her dearest and oldest friend. Yet it held an equal strength. Where he bordered on chaos, she was careful precision. As he soared in crescendo, she was a soft backdrop, subtle and complex, ever shifting in her nuance. Her carefully calculated dance of notes touched where his faltered, seamlessly healing the gaps in the melody. Where she hesitated, his chorus held true. They were in absolute harmony, perfect counterpoints to one another. The music surged outward, overtaking the vicious onslaught. Even with all the terrible might of the surrounding world fueling them, the whispers of fear and doubt were as nothing before the melodious union. They were instantly purged from both minds, leaving only a calm as each healed the damage the other had suffered. Gradually, the melody faded in volume as Sally and Sonic, for now freed from the wars of the spirit, turned to the outward task they faced. Yet the music did not cease, instead forming the rhythm through which their bodies flowed from one motion to another. Running parallel to the fence just outside its base was a thick insulated cord fastened to the ground every two meters by metallic bolts. A few seconds of following the cord revealed that it was connected to a metallic box perhaps a third of a meter tall; save for an unlabeled panel screwed in at the top, it appeared featureless. “This what we’re after?” Sonic whispered uncertainly. The squirrel nodded, setting her backpack down before reaching into it and withdrawing a makeshift screwdriver. “It may not look like much, but this device regulates power to both the fence and the alarm grid behind it, making it my ticket in.” As Sally began deftly removing the screws holding the panel in place, Sonic gave a theatric sigh. “Alas, that to smash it would be of no avail, for the alarms would hinder any chance to prevail,” he bemoaned, his voice nearly compromised by the tremors of laughter threatening to escape his longsuffering tone. The princess looked up from her handiwork with a raised eyebrow. “Trying our hand at poetry again, are we?” she asked with a mix of mock suspicion and genuine curiosity. Sonic’s face tinged slightly at the question, his right hand nervously rubbing the spines behind his head. “Well…I ah...ya seemed ta like it back when we were in Lower Mobius a couple months ago. The idea of it, anyway. Did a bit of practice here and there since then. Just trying to…” His words drifted into silence, and Sally quickly returned her gaze to the panel, both to look away from Sonic’s blushing, sparing him further embarrassment, and to hide the warmth that could now be glimpsed on her own face. “I’m not sure any of the great Mobian bards ever used the word ‘smash’ in their works, though I must say that’s quite the improvement over last time,” she replied after a moment. She hesitated again, the humor in her voice shifting to sincere warmth. “…and it’s quite thoughtful of you. Thank you.” A quiet tinged with awkwardness filled the air as the last of the screws was removed and Sally detached the metal plate. Beneath it was a complex array of wires and circuitry, all of it so tangled and densely compacted that making sense of the components would take hours…for an organic. Reaching into an inner pocket of her vest, the princess withdrew her most valuable possession and flipped it open. “NICOLE,” Sally whispered, “Please scan for input slot. Maintain response volume at ten percent.” “Acknowledged, Sally,” the computer replied in a feminine tone equally soft, a green glow emitting from one of its sensors as it analyzed the device below. Only a few seconds passed before the sensor’s light narrowed into a tight beam aimed at a grooved cylindrical opening, an image of which was displayed on NICOLE’s screen. As the computer reported its success, Sally reached into her backpack and withdrew a bundle of adapter cables, all of them identical on one end. Using the display as a reference, she quickly located the appropriate one and connected NICOLE to the input slot. The image vanished as data began to stream across the computer’s screen. “Uplink…complete,” the computer dutifully reported. “No security measures in place. However, overt interference with power distribution will trigger an alert. Awaiting command, Sally.” “Figured as much,” the squirrel sighed before pausing in thought. “…you said overt interference. Could you trick the system? Mitigate the current of electricity so that it flows at a slower rate, then project a phantom current masquerading as the rest of the wattage? That would give the fence and alarm grid sufficient power to avoid setting off the contingency alarms, but not enough to actually function. Run simulation and report.” NICOLE made no reply, its lights dimming as every bit of the machine’s considerable processing power was delegated to analyzing yet another of the unorthodox stratagems conceived by its owner. As the device in her hand warmed a few degrees from the strain, Sally gazed up at the fence looming before her. Standing perhaps half a dozen meters tall, the obstruction’s height more than quintupled her own, quashing any hopes of being vaulted over. She would have to climb. Yet even without searing streams of lethal energy writhing over every shard of the metallic fastness, the act would be dangerous. The metal links comprising the barrier were tightly interwoven, scarcely leaving room for purchase. Footholds were impossible altogether, leaving only her hands to support the full weight of her body and pack. To the untrained eye, the fence held no further defenses, for its summit lay bare, bereft of any tangled mass of barbed wire or rows of spikes jutting upward like sabers. Yet these omissions were predatory illusions, designed to lure intruders into hapless complacency. Each of the metallic links was honed to a fine edge, forming a tower of tiny blades. Any attempt to grasp them would result in the piercing of flesh and tendon, blood raining onto the ground below and cries of anguish filling the air above. “Never boring out here, is it?” Sonic murmured wryly, his eyes on the same structure. “Rarely so,” Sally whispered, her anxiety again abating at the sound of her friend’s voice. As she turned toward him, his admission moments earlier rose to the surface of her mind, casting ripples that refracted into shifting thoughts dyed with a myriad of emotions. It was true that she had long held an appreciation for poetry, that most subtle and nuanced manner of the arts. Among the handful of texts she owned was a volume of such works, a compilation spanning centuries, its yellowed leaflets preserving the distilled currents of a hundred souls long departed. Each poem was a gateway painstakingly carved with the instrument of language, through which the currents freely flowed into her own mind, bringing with them memories and emotions, images and musings, all of them as vibrant and real as they had been when first wrought into strokes of ink set upon a page. Together, they formed a shimmering tapestry heralding in joyous adulation the very spirit of her world. Yet that world had been rent asunder by unspeakable atrocity, and as the passage of years bestowed upon the young exile ever more understanding, the comfort offered by these glimpses into the past waned. For her wondrous culture, proud and fair, regal and beautiful, was no more. That which had over countless years been crafted was crushed under heel in a terrible instant. To the glories of old, no monument was left save a few tattered books salvaged from a mutilated ruin. How could such fragile assemblages of parchment possibly be enough to save what was on the verge of being lost forever to the mire of time? By themselves, they were woefully inadequate, for it was only through the touching of souls that their strength was made manifest. But through this coupling, culture was passed on. Through the gateways of art, the lifeblood of past generations flowed into new minds still alive and vibrant. Through the lives of those so touched, a world could be reborn. Sally felt the gentle stirrings of hope at the thought, yet as she studied Sonic they were met with uncertainty. Poetry was among the last things she would normally associate the hedgehog with. It was not that he was unintelligent; her friend was far more cunning than she suspected he gave himself credit for. Rather, his heart lacked patience. He was a being of action, ever in the moment, his mind seeming to analyze the world around him at a speed no less astonishing than that of his body. Matters of subtlety and introspection were something else entirely, and he appeared loath to dwell on them. Whatever interest he held in poetry was clearly for her sake. That he should so pursue a subject far beyond the realm of comfort and familiarity spoke greatly of his commitment to their budding relationship. It was a humbling thought, one answered by warm assurance, a certainty that the hedgehog’s venture could nonetheless awaken him to a new facet, unseen yet resplendent, of the cause they had long risked so much for. Assurance gave way to determination as an idea began to coalesce within her mind. “Uh, Sal?” “Mmm-hmm?” the princess murmured distractedly, her focus lingering on how to best approach the matter. “You’ve been starin’ at my face for over a minute,” Sonic noted, an inimitable grin spreading across his face. “See anything you like?” That got her attention. “I’m afraid not,” Sally replied dryly as she rummaged through the collection of playful jabs one invariably accumulated over a lifetime of knowing the wisecracking hedgehog. “I was just looking in vain once again for some shred of humility. I seem to suffer from this nagging delusion that I’ll see it one day.” “Maybe you should get that checked out. Poor eyesight is a terrible thing to live with,” Sonic shot back. “Oh, I agree. Hearing, on the other hand, I could manage without. At least then I could get a decent stretch of sleep without being subjected to that cacophony always coming from down by the bridge.” “Hey, don’t be slammin’ the beauty of rock, Sal.” “Is that what it is? My mistake. I had assumed it was two animals clawing one another to death…again and again and again.” “Some people just can’t appreciate the classics,” Sonic sighed, “Though I don’t see how you can’t sleep with all that poetry ya read. Whadda ya see in that stuff?” The flash of hurt that skimmed across Sally’s mind must have been betrayed in her expression, as Sonic’s smile vanished. “Whoa, sorry, Sal. I shouldn’t have brought that up.” He closed his eyes in frustration before softly muttering, “Probably shouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place.” Taking a deep breath, Sally took one of Sonic’s hands in her own. “No, I’m glad you did. Sonic, I…I’d like us to start reading poetry together. It wouldn’t have to be very often, just here and there. I’m already familiar with the poems in my book, and I think if I could help you understand them more, you’d start to enjoy it...” She trailed off, nervousness finally staying her tongue. Sonic said nothing, but the doubt in his eyes was clearly visible, leaving Sally to berate herself in silence. That approach had been foolish. Too blunt, too forward. Now her idea was on the verge of failing entirely. It would be best to lower the tension before trying again. “Oh come on, Sonic,” she continued after several moments of careful consideration, adopting a playful tone tinged with coquettishness. “How can a girl possibly resist someone versed in the fine arts? You could become a man of culture. We’ll start with poetry, then move on to ballads as we make our way to classical music. Perhaps some formal dancing lessons after that, maybe with a suit…” With each passing statement, Sonic’s expression became more pained, his skin blanching and eyes widening in horror, until at last he could stand no more and stuck his tongue out, a mock retching noise escaping his lips with great fervor. “If all that stuff was so important, you’d have fallen for Ant ages ago,” he glowered. At that, Sally found herself making a face mirroring Sonic’s, her confidence returning as both of them laughed quietly. With another glance at the fence before her, she reached into her pack and withdrew two long strips of thick white cloth of a soft texture that belied the durability of the fabric. Several layers of the material would, when properly wrapped, prove sufficient to protect her hands from the razor edges of the fence’s links, making the climb before her possible, if still difficult. She held her arms out as Sonic took the cloth and began gently wrapping it around each hand. As he carefully wove his shield around her, a stalwart barrier against which the daggers of the surrounding world could not avail, their shared melody began to build once more. The filth and corruption around them faded into insignificance, and as the seconds seemed to slow even time was made powerless. The harmonious song freed their minds from the shackles of the present, from the incessant demands of the now, and Sally found her awareness gently drifting into the then, the realm of memory in which emotions and events were crystallized, immortal and unchanging though they be shrouded ever more by time’s passing. The scene upon which her focus settled was yet to be so marred, its nuances remaining illuminated in perfect clarity. She sat on a bedside holding a book, its cover worn and pages yellowed with age. Beside her lay Tails, carefully tucked in yet still awake, his attentive face illuminated only by the pale shafts of moonlight gleaming through the hut window. The eyes of the young kit were wide as she continued the story, a lengthy tale that they had been reading for nearly a week. It was one of daring adventure and fantastic deeds, of fearless heroes facing vile monsters. The recounting was brought to life as she read it with dramatic intensity, her voice shifting to assume the roles of knights and nobles, witches and warlocks. Standing beside her was Sonic, who acted out the events of the story with equal enthusiasm, his silent movements punctuated at times by the roar of a creature or the sound of clashing steel. Sincerity amply compensated for any lack of realism in their performances, and Tails remained enthralled for over an hour. At last, however, his eyes gradually drifted shut as the needs of the body gently set the pleasures of the heart aside for another evening. Sally smiled lovingly at the recollection before narrowing her thought further, turning her intent toward the story she had been reading, poring over what she knew of its history and meaning. Parallels began to emerge with her earlier musings; she drew upon these, carefully weaving together the threads of two disparate matters into a unified whole. Satisfied with the conclusion she had crafted, the princess withdrew from the world of memory, bringing with her the fruit of her journey so that it might be presented in triumph to the one before her. “Sonic, what do you think of the story we’ve been reading to Tails the past few nights?” she asked softly. “Ya mean Sir Samuel and the Seven Seals?” he frowned in confusion. “Mondo cool, as far as books go. Plenty of excitement and all, but there’s more to it than that. I’ve probably heard the story a dozen times now, but it still moves the ol’ feelings.” His tone became wistful as he continued, expression turning upward in a sad smile. “I remember Uncle Chuck getting choked up at certain parts back when he read it to me, even though he said he’d been reading it since he was a kid. Guess it’s a classic.” “Exactly. Sonic, that story was first written over five hundred years ago, yet the passage of time has claimed none of its potency. It remains powerful because it was deeply rooted in a culture dating back even further, a wonderful assemblage of traditions and ideals passed from one generation to the next that shaped countless aspects of life. Our culture. It’s such an important part of who we are. But now...” She gestured to their surroundings, the lifeless steel husks jutting in cold mockery from the ruins of their former home. “…that culture is on the verge of being lost forever. We’re the only ones left that can change that, that can pass things on until...” Words choked in her throat. “…until this can be undone.” As she spoke, her words enkindled a glittering light in Sonic’s eyes. “But to pass that culture on, we have to learn as much of it as we can, right? Including poetry. I hear ya Sal. Although…music’s a part of culture too, ya know. Seems to me that rock’s just as important as poetry. Just ‘cuz it’s newer doesn’t make it any worse.” At the comparison, Sally felt the emergence of a tendril of distaste, spawn of a shadow of arrogance that had long lain bound within the darker recesses of her heart, locked away in a vain attempt at confinement. From this suppressed prison, disdain sprung up with terrible speed, penetrating consciousness and discoloring her mind with its venom. Music? What he referred to was nothing of the sort. Music was elegant, a harmonious family of layers dancing around one another with grace and precision, intertwining to form arms that gently embraced the mind, freeing it from the mire of the surrounding world. Resting in this soft touch of notes and rhythms, the soul was carried into realms sublime and fantastic, some rich with history and ancient wonder, others flowing with powerful currents of emotion. All were glimpses into that evanescent, incomparable paradise that was beauty. ‘Rock’ was far removed from this tranquility, as barren desert from life-giving streams. No gentle embrace, it threatened to smother the mind with its chaotic discord, drowning efforts at even rudimentary thought. Yet as Sally stood before the event horizon of dismissal, on the verge of casting the suggestion into that chasm from whence no ray of thought could reemerge into the light of consideration, she gave pause. These words had been spoken by her dearest friend in sincerity. What right had she to so quickly toss them aside? After all, there clearly existed some basis for his belief, obscured from her though it was. Seeing but one recourse, she turned aside, clutching Sonic’s words tightly as she ventured once again into the world of memory. A far cry from her reminiscence of Tails’ bedside, the recollections she now touched were harsh and grating, a dozen instances of coarse noise flitting around her like a swarm of stinging insects. Steeling herself, she pressed forward, studying the noise for any deeper meaning, any semblance of cohesion. There it was. A faint shimmer of harmony glinting for a moment as it breached the surface of the turbulent sea of erratic beats. Before it could vanish beneath the currents, Sally seized it, scrambling atop the coherence and using it as a vantage point from which to gauge the surrounding noise. Gradually, parts of it began to coalesce, forming small islands of motif and melody. They remained isolated, with most of the sounds still seeming shrill and chaotic by her reckoning, but their very existence was enough. This was indeed music, borne of deliberate craftsmanship, questionable though it might seem. It was not some arbitrary array of arrangements, conjured up with no thought beyond the desire to satisfy the spontaneous caprices of the moment. There was design underlying the sounds. With such thought came intent, purpose. Meaning, the will to convey something more. Culture, then, could still be communicated through something as unlikely as rock, for the minds of those who wrought such music were as pervasively shaped by it as any. As Sally gradually uncovered the wisdom of Sonic’s words, the conceit that had spread through her mind was finally checked, its inky black tendrils pierced by radiant lances of understanding cast downward from her higher consciousness. These lances, refined and focused, were joined by a wellspring of unfettered love rising up from the utmost core of her soul. Where they met, brilliant beacons lit up, their rays refracting this way and that as they tore through veils of condescension and interwove with one another, forming a wall of light that suffered no ill thought. As the network of lights expanded, the arrogance within her mind was forced ever backward, until at last it was confined once more to its prison deep within her subconscious. Though not utterly purged from existence, it was at least subdued…for the time being. “You’re right, Sonic,” Sally finally replied after several long seconds of contemplation and conflict. “I may not understand your preferred forms of music, but that doesn’t make them any less a part of our culture.” “Yeah…about you not understandin’…” Sonic’s words were at first unusually uncertain but found their footing as he continued. “I agree ‘bout our culture needin’ to be saved ‘n’ all. An’ if me learnin’ poetry’s an important step toward that, couldn’t the same be said for you learnin’ rock? We could teach each other.” As Sally’s newfound understanding of rock as a legitimate and meaningful form of art had yet to blossom into full-blown, eager acceptance, the suggestion was met with an arched eyebrow. Yet after a moment she found herself nodding in agreement. Such a pursuit would, at one time, have doubtless been deemed far too lacking in dignity for one of her station, yet the notion of social propriety had long seemed increasingly irrelevant and absurd in the face of the dire circumstances she and her fellows had to contend with on a daily basis, despite Antoine’s insistences to the contrary. Moreover, it was only fair that, having asked of him, she give in return, especially if it helped achieve the same end. And if it meant that she simply had to spend more time alone with her now-more-than-best friend in situations that did not involve them being pursued or shot at, well… With the final tug of a knot, the hedgehog finished tying the strips of cloth around the princess’ hands, his handiwork leaving each with a fair degree of dexterity and surprising but welcome amount of comfort alongside the considerable protection afforded by the carefully layered white wrappings. Rather than withdrawing, Sonic shifted his own hands so that they were clasped in hers, their fingers intertwining as much as the fabric would allow. The two drew close to one another, silent, their shared melody washing through them as they basked in the contentment each found in the other. Though on the doorstep of a separation that would leave each alone and threatened by unnamable horrors, they allowed no cloud of fear to plague their minds, no tempest of anxiety to trouble their spirits. Theirs was the tranquility that can be found in the hearts of even the fiercest storms. Closing her eyes, Sally allowed herself to be wholly submersed in the moment, trusting in Sonic for protection as she savored its nuances, carefully distilling them into memories that she could draw strength from during the trials ahead. The feel of his hands beneath his textured gloves. The subtle, nigh imperceptible rhythm of his heartbeat. The soft, warm current of his breath, tinged ever so slightly with the fragrance of his last meal. A current that seemed to draw closer…and closer…with every passing moment… She smiled in anticipation. “Simulations complete, Sally,” NICOLE’s monotone, emotionless voice announced, intruding upon the silence as the sudden clap of thunder on a calm summer’s day, heralding the inexorable approach of forces unwelcomed. In that moment of tranquility’s breach, the melody faltered as all ‘round them the cold and gloomy structures of lifeless metal, wretched monuments to the depravity of the usurper, whose soulless treason and foul craft twisted and perverted the jewel of a world into a barren husk, a festering mockery of life, were unveiled once more with terrible intensity. Rolling her eyes, Sally leaned forward and planted a kiss on Sonic’s lips anyway, the soft touch, though brief, providing enough measure of comfort to calm her startled nerves as she steeled herself yet again against the alien but all too familiar surroundings. “Right. Back to business at hand,” she muttered, glancing down at the small computer. “Report, NICOLE.” “Analysis indicates that your hypothesis was valid, Sally. Decreasing the electrical current flow of the device in question by ninety-eight point seven zero two four percent will render nearby security measures effectively inoperable without triggering any contingency alarms,” the machine tonelessly droned. “However, to maintain a reduced current, this unit will need to remain connected to the port it is currently attached to.” The princess resisted the urge to slap her palm against her forehead as she inwardly cursed her shortsightedness. How could she have been so foolish? Of course NICOLE would have to be left behind for such a plan to work! Without the small computer, her task in the building before her would be far more difficult. Perhaps…no, it would not be impossible, she reassured herself as she hurriedly flew through the world of memory, quickly reviewing her experiences of hacking various computers throughout the fallen city. “Think you can pull this one off without NICOLE?” whispered Sonic, who, though not well versed in technical matters, clearly held similar reservations. “I…I think so,” Sally breathed, “It won’t be easy, though, and will doubtless take far longer than originally anticipated. Instead of a few minutes, we’re talking hours. Maybe even a day or two.” “Days?! Ya can’t stay in there that long!” Her smile bore a reassurance that she did not feel as she closed her pack and hefted it onto her shoulders. “I’ve got enough water and provisions in here to last for a few days. As for the increased risk of detection, security inside the building is pretty minimal according to the readouts we sliced last week. Once I gain access I should be fine.” “But what about getting out? Ya know I’m more than happy to play the ol’ distraction card, but even I can’t keep it up forever. And then there’s NICOLE. We can’t just leave her-” “It,” Sally automatically corrected. “Whatever. We can’t just leave it out here. But if I take it, those security measures go back up.” “Meaning I won’t be able to get out the same way I got in,” Sally nodded grimly. “I know. It just means I’ll have to get a little…creative. When we were staked out on top of that warehouse, I noticed a hatch on the roof of the hub. If I can get up there, I should be able to escape using that zipline launcher Rotor worked up.” Sonic crossed his arms and began tapping his foot, an absentminded gesture he often performed that betrayed his anxiety. It was usually brought upon by impatience, but the worry in his eyes suggested that was not the case this time. “I still don’t like it, Sal. Maybe we should just call this one off. Hit the hub some other time or just find another target.” The possibility was tempting, she had to admit. Journeying through Robotropolis was all the more miserable and terrifying when alone, and the prospect of spending days holed up by herself within the wretched city lay heavy on her heart. That alone was far from sufficient cause to abandon the mission, of course. They were at war, and certain actions had to be undertaken, however unpleasant. The chances of victory were poor enough without personal fears complicating things. But though she was no coward, neither was she foolhardy. The parameters of the raid had changed, rendering her carefully crafted plan useless. To proceed now was to cross the threshold of uncertainty, to burden herself with unnecessary risks atop the staggering weight of dangers already present. And for what? Success here would not win the war. At best, it would be only a minor triumph, an infinitesimal step on the impossibly long and arduous road to the ever waning flicker of hope that was true victory. But that was her path. Though it seemed to diminish day by day, hope of victory was not lost altogether. It could not be lost, not while she pressed forward. Not while she pushed herself beyond the meaningless illusions that were her limits. Not while she held the courage to give everything of herself so that others would not have to. “No. I have to do this,” Sally firmly stated, the fiery determination fueling her heart seeping into her words more than she intended, leaving them hard enough to cause Sonic to flinch and cease his tapping. Seeing his reaction, she softened her tone, taking one of his gloved hands in her own and managing a wry smile. “Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the voice of caution and restraint. You’re always taking risks like this.” Rather than giving a witty retort as she had expected, Sonic simply closed his eyes and sagged in resignation. “It…it’s not the same. When I go out there and take all those chances you’re always callin’ ‘crazy’, I’m by myself. I’m not puttin’ anyone else in harm’s way, so I can afford to push myself a little further. ‘Cause every bot that I toast or at least draw away is one that…that’s not aiming at…” His voice faltered into nothingness, leaving a somber silence lingering in the air. Sally made no attempt to hide the moisture welling up in her eyes as she saw mirrored in Sonic the same agonizing helplessness that had beset her so many times before. It was a feeling that Sonic himself engendered more often than not as his reckless heroics left him hurtling headlong into great peril far beyond her control. Beyond her aid. Beyond her reach. To knowingly inflict that very feeling upon her closest friend was heart-wrenching, and for the briefest of moments the temptation to simply give up and return home resurfaced. Yet it was stilled as quickly as it arose. For in war there could be no security, no comforting assurance that those who fought at one’s side were safe. What recourse was there? To force those one cared for to stay behind, to prevent them from joining in the conflict? None of the Freedom Fighters would settle for such a thing, least of all she and Sonic. To abandon the war entirely, to remain in hidden sanctuary and hope to wait out the storm? Sanctuary could not endure forever, not in the face of the tide of evil spreading ever outward from Robotropolis, a tide that would soon engulf all the world unless checked by those possessing the courage to strike at its festering heart. No. There was no recourse. Painful though it was, the helplessness that came with allowing others to put themselves at risk was a necessary evil, one that even Sonic must accept. Sally felt the coolness of tears running down her cheek fur and suddenly found herself locked in a tight embrace, desperately wishing that the logic coursing through her mind didn’t have to make such terrible sense, that she could just run away with Sonic and be free from this awful, awful war, that she would wake up and escape the nightmare that had been the last eleven years. As they held one another, her breathing gradually steadied, the despair threatening to overtake her replaced with calmness and conviction. Peace found her, covering her heart with a gentle touch as pure as newfallen snow. Even the sudden tramp of mechanized feet in the distance, heralding the return of the contingent of deadly SWATbots guarding the hub, could not threaten the peace filling Sally as she turned and ordered NICOLE to begin regulating power to the security emplacements surrounding the structure. It simply meant that it was now or never. As the shimmer of the alarm grid faded from the courtyard, Sally flashed a sincere grin. “I’ll be headed back home before you know it. We can start our lessons as soon as I return.” With that, she turned to the looming fence and began the climb. Scanning the jagged bulwark for chinks in its razor mail, she found a gap of suitable size and carefully placed a hand inside the deadly maw. Ridge upon ridge of cold metal, each as sharp and potent as any cruel instrument of bloodletting forged in the days of old by barbarous warmongers in open furnaces beneath the moonlit winter sky, set against her fingers in predatory earnest, seeking to pierce and rend flesh and inflict upon her mind a blinding, all-consuming agony that would devour her every thought and forever eclipse any hope of comfort. Yet their ravenous fangs were blunted, their vicious onslaught splintered, for their malice could not avail against the anointment of protection encircling her hand, the steadfast ward of care covering her fingers. Guarded by her gifted shield, she found purchase even within that den of evil, binding it to her will so that it might betray its murderous architect and serve her by supporting her body in its pressing time of need. Then she did it again. And again. Higher and higher she clambered, with each new handhold weathering a fresh assault, the cloths protecting her suffering flurry after flurry of scars yet never yielding an opening to the enemy. But though uninjured, she was not wholly spared from the bitterness of pain. Unable to utilize footholds, she had to rely entirely on the strength of her arms to carry her weight. Chiseled by long years of labor and toil, her body was a capable instrument, one well-maintained and kept in fit condition. Yet the strain, worsened by the burden of her laden pack, was still considerable, squeezing out of her pores beads of sweat that matted the fur of her forehead and covered her fingers, threatening to loosen her grip and send her plunging to the ground below. Though only halfway through the ascent, she found herself drawing breath in short, ragged gasps. In each of her arms, there ignited an aching fire that burned more fiercely with every movement. The insistent pain demanded her full attention, leaving each passing thought blurrier and more difficult to muster. Concentration waned as higher mental faculties seemed to abandon her until she was overtaken by a mindless numbness as she inched forward, a humiliating baseness that mockingly scoffed at the intellect she so prided herself upon, at the foolish delusion that Princess Sally Acorn was anything more than a worthless mound of flesh being pushed to its very real limits. All the while, her senses were unimpaired, senses that continually sent urgent messages past the fires of immolating pain surrounding her mind. These dark tidings warned of marching footsteps growing ever louder, of the coming arrival of evil’s agents, bringers of death armed with terrible devices capable of annihilating her exposed form. Within moments they would be upon her, and all hope would be lost. She would perish. Leaderless, the Freedom Fighters would inevitably be crushed. All that she had ever loved, ever fought for, would be purged into nothingness as her world fell into eternal shadow. Not on my watch. Icy determination filled her veins, quelling the fires of pain as her mind reasserted its dominion over the rebellious shell that housed it. Her pain held no true meaning; it was merely a message, a signal that her body was strained at the moment. That was of no significance, for she had made it through far worse in the past and could therefore endure the current trial. She was uninjured, thus the pain was not indicative of any danger. Just…just a lack of comfort, one that would soon pass. Yes…the pain was meaningless. As she swung an arm upward toward the next opening, her eyes alighted on the tattered yet still resolute fabric guarding her hand. At the reminder of he who had wrapped it, still faithfully watching below, her fears of the oncoming foes were assuaged. They could not threaten her, not while the greatest champion Mobius had borne witness to in a thousand years stood before them undaunted. The peace she had felt earlier, driven to a deep recess within her heart as the climb intensified, reemerged, its warmth filling her once more and melting frozen resolve into life-giving waters that washed away the last vestiges of fear and pain. There occurred at that moment a curious thing. Though evil held sway over so much of the surrounding world, Sally felt a sense of rightness welling up inside her, as though being where she was just then was in accordance with some great plan ordained in the unfathomable reaches beyond the realm of time and space. She realized it was probably nothing, merely an inexplicable errant thought. But still…to think that she, bearer of great responsibility in tumultuous times, was despite all her failings and faults ultimately doing what she should do was comforting. She often wondered what her father would think of what she had become, but as she reached the top of that fence, exhausted, a tiny beacon of defiance in a twisted city of unending night, she knew beyond any shadow of doubt that he would have been proud of her. Really not the time for this, Sally-girl, she reminded herself as, blinking back tears, she swung her lower body up and over the wonderfully smooth top of the fence, rotating so that she was now poised to drop down to the other side. Taking a deep breath, she let go, curling into a ball as best she could and rolling to minimize the impact. It still knocked the wind out of her, and it was all she could do to press herself flat to the ground as she gulped lungfuls of air. She had made it. Not a moment too soon, it seemed. Even as she struggled to steady her breathing, the sound of her gasps, though seeming far too loud as to possess anything so much as remotely resembling the degree of subtlety befitting a covert situation involving the rapid approach of enemies, was suddenly dwarfed by a declaration as lifeless and metallic as the amalgamation of transistors it issued from. “Alert! Target Priority One has been sighted in Robotropolis Sector 7, Quadrant 3! All security units within adjacent sectors are required to assist in capture of tar-GZZZT!” The SWATbot’s words were interrupted by the sound of breaking glass and a burst of static that made Sally’s ears ring and spine tingle. Looking up from where she lay, she saw that the machine was convulsing uncontrollably, a glowing golden band jutting out from its shattered red visor. “Sheesh. You metalheads talk too much,” Sonic quipped as he gracefully danced around the crimson beams of searing lethal energy the five remaining machines began firing toward him from their wrist-mounted cannons. “After all, all talk and no play makes for a dull bot!” A second torrent hurtled at the hedgehog with equally unsuccessful results. “And dull is right. You guys are seriously boring tonight. Let’s fix that.” Weaving through the hail of fiery darts with an ease that Sally still found astonishing even after all these years, Sonic jumped atop one of the steel sentries even as he asked, “How about a game of tag?” Leaning forward, he began mockingly rapping with his fist on the visor of his unwilling mount. “I’ll let you guys figure out who’s ‘It’.” Without hesitation, the four machines not being ridden by a supernaturally agile Freedom Fighter opened fire once more on the hedgehog, only for their target to leap out of the way, leaving the guard he had been atop exposed to the assault. Though most of the bolts sailed harmlessly over the SWATbot’s head, one punched through its visor and clean through the back of its head, leaving a perfectly round hole from which smoke began to pour as the machine toppled to the ground. “Well whadda ya know, that’s correct! Now you’re getting into the spirit!” Sonic cheered, clearly enjoying himself despite the gravity of the situation. As usual. His reckless enthusiasm had often irked Sally, but now it caused her mouth to twinge upward in a small smile. She was still worried, of course. Watching one’s dearest friend come under fire had a tendency of instilling at least some minute degree of anxiety in most individuals, and she was no exception. Yet that fear was kept at bay, confined to a small part of her mind by confidence in his ability and the assurance that he was still following the plan. For all the chaos of Sonic’s actions, they remained within parameters that Sally, having set them herself, understood. Understanding did not quite equate to comfort, but in such situations it was the closest approximation she could reasonably expect to have. Moreover, she had to admit, if only to herself and not anyone else, least of all Sonic himself, that there was something inherently enjoyable about watching him in such moments. Witnessing the destruction of machines that were foremost among the instruments used to overthrow her civilization from within was rather cathartic, naturally, but it seemed that there was more to the sensation welling up within her than grim satisfaction. Joy? Pride? Hope? Perhaps it was a blend of all three that she felt, lying prone and motionless, watching the boundless confidence and exuberance that dwelt within Sonic’s spirit boldly proclaiming themselves in a fallen city that for more than ten long years had been starved of the laughter now flowing from his lips. “But what’s up with this ‘Target Priority One’ stuff?” he was saying, running headlong toward a SWATbot and delivering a jumping kick that, strengthened by the force of his momentum, sent it careening into another. “You guys used to call me ‘Hedgehog Priority One.’ You’re so impersonal these days! After all we’ve been through, I was sure our relationship was better than this.” He was answered by a salvo of bolts stemming from a new direction, where over two dozen recently arrived SWATbots, flanked by a pair of hovercraft, were marching toward him. “Hedgehog, Priority One!” the machines droned as they realigned their aim. “Now that’s more like it!” Sonic grinned. If he was put off in the slightest by the arrival of enemy reinforcements, he did an admirable job of concealing it. Darting through the now far more intense maelstrom, he reached the still convulsing form of the first SWATbot he had neutralized and withdrew the Power Ring lodged in its head. As he did so, the cannon beneath one of the two gunships began to glow with an almost blinding intensity. An instinctual cry of warning welled up in Sally’s throat, yet through sheer agonizing willpower she stayed her tongue. He knows what he’s doing, she tried to reassure herself. Taking action would in all probability accomplish naught save their own deaths. Her trust was rewarded as Sonic darted away an instant before the gunship’s charged blast struck the ground where he had been standing, creating a brilliant explosion that thundered in Sally’s ears and forced her to squeeze her eyes shut. For a split second, the surrounding air rose sharply in temperature and even behind closed lids her eyes began to water. When she opened her eyes a moment later, she found that the paralyzed SWATbot was gone, completely vaporized, while the ground within a two meter radius of the impact had been reduced to a smoldering crater. Sonic himself had been thrown to the ground perilously close to the fence, the Power Ring still clutched in his hand. Though he was on his feet once more in an instant, for the first time since the skirmish had begun the hedgehog looked worse for the wear. His body was caked with soot and sweat, his posture tense and his breathing heavy. Glancing behind him, Sonic must have seen the concern in Sally’s eyes. He winked and offered a grin that still bore the confidence his entire body had been brimming with seconds before. Raising the Power Ring high above his head, he whispered “Love ya, Sal.” I love you. He had spoken those beautiful words to her before, yet each time he breathed them they were welcomed by an opened heart that treasured each precious syllable with the tender care a mother gives her newborn. An observer somehow privy to the innermost chambers of her spirit might have found it odd that she would treat these three words, each worn to the point of being mundane after centuries of frequent use in common parlance, with such emotion. But Sally knew far better than to think them as being within the same spectrum as the ordinary. Individually their radiance was hidden, but together? Together they outshone the stars. Together they formed a discovery of incomparable worth, an epiphany that cast into perfect clarity the answers to innumerable questions she had long been asking in vain without even knowing. Together they made her spirit soar upward in a glowing dance toward the heavens that grew until it seemed to touch everything that was good that had ever existed and ever would exist in all of Creation. Joy, laughter, compassion, and so much more swirled around her as they joined in the resplendent celebration, and with her in the center of it all was love. She yearned for nothing more than to rush toward him, wrapping him in her arms and speaking those same wondrous words to him, at once whispering them in his ear with gentle grace and shouting them from atop the highest mountaintop in the world with utter abandon. And yet she could not. It seemed, in that moment, the most severe transgression ever committed in history that she should be barred from doing so. But, just or not, she was. She had a job to do, and as always duty came before her own desires, however deep they ran. And so she remained silent. She remained silent as the golden glow of the Power Ring Sonic held spread across his entire body, steadying his breathing and easing his posture as it filled his being with strength. She remained silent as the group of mechanized terrors before him opened fire once more, only to find him tearing through their ranks as he hurtled forward, the air behind him thundering with the clap of a sonic boom. And she remained silent as he sped out of sight, leading the entire contingent of foes away so that she might succeed at the task before her. When Sally was certain that the last of the SWATbots were gone, she clambered to her feet, undoing the cloth around her hands as she eyed the structure before her. There was still the matter of the pair of security cameras guarding the door, one on either side of the entrance, but experience had refined her ability to deal with such things down to an art. Mass production may have rendered the cameras all equally efficient, but it also left them all equally predictable. The emplacements in question were of a model that was entirely automated; due to the sheer number of cameras installed throughout the city, only those in high security areas were designed with separate monitoring SWATbots in mind, a setup that, though more thorough, was far more costly. Automated cameras such as these signaled an alarm if tampered with or if heat signatures were detected, the latter feature preventing the various forms of robots from setting off alarms themselves. However, the hardware for the thermal sensor package was rather heavy, limiting the speed at which the cameras could rotate. Though the presence of a second camera with a field of coverage overlapping that of the first helped compensate for this slow rotation rate, it ultimately left brief but very real blind windows that could be exploited. Doing so required preparation, of course, a combination of time, a hidden observation point, and technology that could triangulate the cameras’ fields of vision, but Sally had possessed access to all three whilst waiting atop the adjacent warehouse with Sonic. It was only a matter of pulling it off. She waited until the left camera had completed two-thirds of its outward arc, then, taking a deep breath, sprinted forward, crossing the span of the courtyard in a carefully memorized pattern that left her directly beneath the right camera, a permanent blind spot that allowed her to catch her breath. Once the camera was in the appropriate position, the squirrel quickly shuffled against the wall of the building and reached the door itself. With a full three seconds to spare, Sally deftly entered the keycode she had spied one of the maintenance robots using to gain access and dove into the doorway as the hatch hissed open. Safe for the moment, she turned around and gazed out at the distant surroundings beyond the fence, where she could just make out the flashes of light and echoes of yelled taunts that signified Sonic was still joyously eluding his pursuers, still surviving an assault that would have killed anyone else and doing so while laughing. A single tear drifted slowly down the cheek of the princess as she smiled sadly and whispered, “I love you too, Sonic Hedgehog.” For the thousandth time, Sally wondered how she could possibly ever be worthy of him. He was Sonic Hedgehog. Living legend. Champion of the free peoples of Mobius. Hero entrusted by fate with power that defied comprehension. And she...she was Sally. Leader by right of blood, not of merit. Prisoner to a host of fears and doubts. Tactician whose foolishness had already cost eight courageous men and women everything. With that, the walls around her heart arose once more as doubt set in again, the shared melody keeping it at bay for now nothing but a memory. Still, memory held some measure of power, and after a moment of concentration she was able to rekindle part of the peace she had felt earlier. She was alone in Robotropolis, cut off for the time being from all aid, yet the breath she had drawn while protected by the melody had been a deep one, enough to replenish her spirit for some time. As the entrance hatch slid shut, entombing her in darkness, Sally assured herself that the love she clung to, for Sonic, for Tails, and for her people, would grant her the strength to see this through to the end. It would have to.
  12. 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.”
  13. Okay, it sounded like everyone liked the idea of making a thread dedicated to smoothing out where each episode of season ,1 and later perhaps season 2, would go. So far we have: 1. Heads or Tails - The pilot episode with many new 2. Sonic Past Cool - The feel of this one is very child like and you can tell that the FF are learning the ropes. 3. (4) Sonic Boom (thanks for the input Ishpar!) - With the passing or robotization of cat we see the FF passing the torch to the next generation 4. (3) Harmonic Sonic - Other than the pilot, this one fits the rest of SatAM the least in many aspects. Did Sonic and Rotor eat some bad mushrooms with their fish? Who knows. 5. Sonic and Sally - Shows the first real seriousness of their relationship going beyond courtly love/infatuation. 6. Sonic Racer - Really, this episode could be anywhere mid season. We see them sabotaging Robotnik's hydroelectric energy production. 7. Hooked on Sonics - Sonic and Sally's relationship blossoms; Antoine's jealousy hits a crescendo. Also, we learn more about ring generation and that Robotnik can use their energy, which he seems to nee. 8. Warp Sonic - We understand that a stone powers a machine that creates the rings. Sonic gets too clingy as does Antoine; Sally rebuffs them. 9. Sub Sonic - Robotnik still extracting oil and at a voracious rate 10. Super Sonic - First encounter with "Magic" and an active crystal (Lazaar's computer) 11. Sonic and the Secret Scrolls - After the encounter with Lazaar, Sally looks into the legend of the scrolls; as does Robotnik. 12. Sonic's Nightmare - This shows Sonic's inner demons coming into play; specifically not being able to save his friends and family, including Uncle Chuck. 13. Ultra Sonic - Oil is being depleted and Robotnik is needing another energy source; active crystals. Also, we find Uncle Chuck for the first time, which is something Sonic would not be willing to let go, which would lead to Sonic Conversion; episode 2 of season 2. Anyway, discuss!
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