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Sonic Satam X: Episode 1 V.30


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Chapter 1: Hitting rock bottom.

 

Utter despair. There was no other way to describe the mood that fateful night in Knothole among Sonic and the other children living there. Just hours ago, they received the news they had desperately hoped not to hear, but would nonetheless.

Princess Sally was the first of the young children to find out. At around 8pm, Rosie, the leader of Knothole was visited unexpectedly by Lupe, the 21 year old leader of the Wolf Pack. Once there, she told them the horrible news of Sonic's parents along with the Prowers.

"I'm so sorry to tell you this." Lupe said shaking her head angrily, trying to fight back the tears. "The mission… failed."

Sally gasped in horror, as Rosie asked, "What happened? I was told that virus was supposed to finish Robotnik's network off."

"It would have… had they not gotten caught first." Lupe answered, still trying to fight her emotions. "But… that vile Julian found out and surrounded them. I don't know all the details, but from what I could gather, Amadeus was killed in the line of fire. Jules and Bernadette were roboticized. As for Rosemary, we have no idea where she is now. All I've been told is she's disappeared."

By this point, Sally could not hold back the tears, as she asked sorrowfully, "What… what does this mean for us then?"

Lupe knelt down at her level, and responded as lovingly as she could, "Princess… it means we have lost the battle, maybe even the war."

"NO!" the squirrel princess exclaimed, now about to break down. "Say it isn't so! Are you saying we're all… doomed?"

"I don't know…" the Wolf Pack leader answered somberly. "One thing is for sure though: Robotnik has the upper hand for now and I greatly fear what he plans to do next to us all." Before Sally or Rosie could say another word, Lupe told them bluntly, "I think you all better be prepared for the worst now. For all I know, it's only a matter of time before that vile man will turn his attention to the Great Forest and tries to take you all prisoner."

At that moment, Sally finally broke down and sobbed uncontrollably on Lupe's shoulder, crying out, "This can't be happening! I was supposed to be reunited with my daddy! All of us were supposed to be reunited with our families! I… I… was supposed…"

Sally could not mutter another word, as her sorrow finally consumed her to the point of crying profusely. Lupe then tried to console her by giving the young squirrel princess a personal hug, but it was to no avail. Sally's heart by this time was completely broken.

Rosie eventually picked her up in her arms, trying to console as well, saying to Lupe softly, "You better go now. I'll tell the others the news. You be careful when heading back out, ok?"

"I will." Lupe replied. Before she left, she looked back at the still crying Sally, saying with a sympathetic nod, "Take care, Princess. Perhaps one day we'll meet again."

And with that, Lupe departed.

Rosie then broke the news to the rest of the group, including the young children. Needless to say, it hit them all like a ton of steel. Like with Sally, most of the other children also began to cry profusely, as they could not also believe the news. The only one who didn't seem that affected by it was young Antoine. However, that was only due to the fact he was the only one at that point who seemed emotionally lost from the moment they all escaped to Knothole.

Antoine's father, Armand D'Coolette, had been tragically slain in the final battle of the Great War. From that day on, Antoine became a shell of his former self. Before then, Antoine had looked up to his father as a great war hero and a rock to lean on after his mother passed away years before, hoping one day to be as strong and courageous as his father was. Now, the young coyote had lost all hope to even carry on with daily life. After being forced to leave his home, he could only carry two things with him amidst Robotnik's raid: A photo of him with his mom and dad along with his father's legendary sword, a weapon that he had used to slay countless enemies. His sword was by no means just any sword, but one with a special nanotech blade that could cut though just about any material.

Not wanting this weapon to fall into enemy hands, Armand beforehand had the sword specially programmed to respond to only two Mobian fingerprints: His, and his son Antoine's. However, after his father had passed, Antoine could not even hold the sword with pride and honor. Instead, he looked at it in shame and sorrow.

"What was my father thinking?" Antoine thought to himself in anger when holding the handle of the sword awhile back, tossing it aside. "I'm not even worthy to hold one of his dirty boots, let alone his special sword. I'm just a pathetic coward, nothing more! I'll never be even half the man he was."

Once he heard the news of the other Freedom Fighters failed to cripple Robotnik's network, Antoine could only think to himself in self-pity, I doubt I'll even be able to die with honor like he did either.

Meanwhile in Robotropolis, the mood was quite different. After defeating the last great threat of his enemies for the time being, Julian was full of vigor, savoring what now his reign over the planet Mobius.

"Isn't it marvelous, Snively?" Robotnik stated, rubbing his hands together in glee. "I finally have the planet in the palm of my hand."

"Yes, sir." Snively answered, rolling his eyes from behind. "You clearly have outdone yourself. Those wretched Mobians who tried to take you down clearly didn't know what hit them."

"Oh, you could say the whole planet won't know what will hit them." Robotnik retorted smugly. "What I did to those pathetic rebels is only a taste of what I had in mind for the rest of them. I will soon begin to mount a much more aggressive front, sending my army all over to weed the rest of those vile vermin and either make them my robotic slaves or suffer a slow and painful death." Julian then began to laugh in glee at the thought of carrying out.

"Good for you, sir." Snively said again nonchalantly. "I'm sure it won't be long before it's taken care of knowing how powerful our army is. However, I do have one main concern."

"And what would that be, my pathetic lackey?"

Snively frowned angrily at those words, but soon composed himself, saying, "Well, sir, you are fully aware a few months ago some of the Mobians escaped from the now destroyed Mobotropolis to the Great Forest to their secret bunker called Knothole."

"And your point is…?"

"Well, I don't mean to question your decision making or anything, sir, but how come you haven't captured them yet? I mean, Knothole is clearly one of their stronger safe havens. Why not just burn the whole forest to the ground to flush them out?"

Robotnik now turned his chair around and answered him with a frown, "Because I have bigger fish to fry now than flush out a pitiful number of young children." He then added with a chuckle turning back the other way, "Besides, where's the fun in that? If I capture them now, they'll only experience a small amount of fear and despair before I roboticize them. However, if I wait them out, playing mind games, they'll be in fear for days, weeks, maybe even months and years."

Julian again relished the thought of that. "And that to me is a much worse punishment than mere roboticization."

"But, sir. They could clearly use the time to get stronger and mount an attack." Snively argued. "Don't forget one of the children in Knothole is Jules' son Sonic, and I've been told he has the gift of super speed."

"So what?" Robotnik shot back. "His super speed is not going to do him much good now. I have a fleet of Swatbots patrolling the area around the Great Forest. Anyone gets close and they're going to get caught. Plus, he's just a mere child. What's he going to do now, defeat them all with a spin dash attack?"

Before Snively could argue again, Julian added, "I know what I'm doing, you pitiful lackey, so you just do your job and mind your own business. Understood?"

Snively by this point was completely disgusted, muttering under his breath, "Your arrogance will be your undoing, you pathetic tub of lard."

"WHAT WAS THAT!?" Robotnik quickly turned around and grabbed him tightly by the throat with his robotic arm. "Did I just hear you insult me?"

Snively quickly backtracked, answering with a whimper, "Oh no, sir. I was just saying that knowing your brains and power, it shouldn't be very hard."

Not entirely convinced of his answer, Julian strongly tossed him against the wall, retorting, "Don't forget I can easily turn into a paperweight if I so wanted, worm, so I'd choose my words very carefully from this point on. Do I make myself clear?"

"Perfectly, sir. I fully understand." The small lackey responded nervously.

"Good, then get out of my sight. I have things to do."

Not wanting to test his patience, Snively did just that. Once he was out of the room, he then turned to his new weapons on the far-right side of the room, none other than Metal and Silver Sonic.

"Heh heh, I shall make good use of you two soon enough." Julian said to them, patting Metal Sonic on the head. "With your new weaponized bodies, I shall finally be rid of that vile Wolf Pack and the rest of their rebellion scum."

And with that, Julian began to laugh heartily to himself, eagerly waiting to sic them on his enemies.

Back in Knothole, the mood remained for the rest of that evening dark and full of despair.

The one who took this hardest next to Sally was none other than young Sonic himself, as he had been separated from his two siblings Manic and Sonia during the invasion, being taken to another shelter after Knothole was surrounded by Robotnik's army. To make matters worse, Sonic had no idea they were, or if they were even still alive and unroboticized. He was now completely distraught inside, longing to be reunited with them and his parents. However, for the time being, he would have to carry on without them.

Needing time to think, he went to the Power Ring pool, a special pond made by his Uncle Chuck to harness not only his super speed, but even the special abilities of his siblings. From birth, Manic had been bestowed with aerial skills, being able to ride a specially made hoverboard with ease. Sonia meanwhile was given the gift of super strength. Even as a young child, she was able to lift things up to two hundred pounds without hardly breaking a sweat.

Realizing the potential in fully harnessing their special talents, Sir Charles quickly developed a special stone for each of them that was still in its beta stages. His original intent had been in case the Great War had prolonged for years on end, they could use a Power Ring from it after becoming of age to defeat their greatest enemy at the time: the Overlanders, and finally free the Mobian race from the threat of war. However, that all went out the window after Julian defected to their side and used his robotic forces to finally defeat his once allied Overlander brethren.

Ironically though, Sir Charles' hard work would not be in vain, as now his assistant in Knothole vowed to see this project through and use it to defeat their greatest foe now: Robotnik himself.

Once Sonic arrived at the Power Rings pool, he slowly sat down and looked at the water, eventually laying his head on his knees, sobbing softly to himself. His emotions eventually turned from grief to pure anger, desiring in his heart at that moment to go out and destroy every single last robotic solider to make Robotnik pay for taking away those he held dear to him. Before he could even contemplate this for even a minute, young Sally soon sat next to him. She did it so quietly, Sonic did not even know she was there at first. In fact, when she finally spoke up, it nearly startled him.

"What are we going to do, Sonic?" She asked him, her face still streaming with tears. "How can we carry on knowing we could be caught and roboticized any day now?"

At first, Sonic said nothing. He was still too consumed with anger to give her an answer. However, when she pressed him, the young hedgehog eventually responded with a sigh, "I don't know… I just feel so helpless inside. I want to get that tub of lard so bad now, but I feel I'll just be making things worse if I do."

Ironically, Sally could not help but feel the same way. She too wanted to get back at Robotnik, but had no idea how being only five years old. Instead, she lashed out in a different way. She soon grabbed part of her upper dress, intentionally tearing at it in anger.

"Sal, what the heck are you doing?" Sonic asked in a bit of shock.

"I hate this dress…" She muttered to herself in bitterness. "I wish I never had it."

"But, it looks good on you." Sonic told her. "You are a princess after all."

"What do you care?!" Sally remarked at him angrily. "What good is me being a princess anymore?! I don't have my father around. I don't have a kingdom. I don't even have a home I can feel safe in either!" She then added shouting while tearing at her dress some more, "I wish I never was a princess! All that talk of finding your prince and living happily ever after… what a load of garbage!"

Sonic could only look at the young squirrel princess bewildered, as he had never seen his childhood friend become so unglued before. She then laid her head on her knees softly sobbing to herself. Not wanting to have her lash out at him again, Sonic let her be for the time being.

Eventually, she looked up at the blue hedgehog and said with a sniffle, "I'm sorry, Sonic. I just… can't take this. I just can't… The only reason I didn't give up hope before was because I was told there was still a chance to fix this mess with the virus. I was hoping it would finally put an end to this."

Not surprisingly, Sonic had shared the same sentiment. After his parents came by a few days earlier to explain their plan, it gave Sonic a glimmer of hope they would make things right and things would go back to the way they were.

"But now? I don't know if we'll even be still here in Knothole within a week." Sally soon added sorrowfully. "I almost feel like giving up entirely and letting Robotnik do what he wants with us."

Sonic then put his hand firmly on Sally's shoulder, saying, "We can't give up, Sal, not after everything our families sacrificed to get us here."

"But what's the point of fighting it?" Sally argued. "We can't do anything about this now. We're only kids!"

Sonic sadly had no answer for that. Instead, he told her, "That may be true, but I still refuse to give up. Someway, somehow, I will get back at that vile Robuttnik and make him pay in full, no matter what!"

At this point, Sally was completely in awe of Sonic's determination. She was even tempted to tell him how much his courage helped her feel better inside. Instead, all she could do was hug him, sobbing again to herself. Ironically enough, Sonic soon embraced her as well, crying softly to himself too.

Sally eventually told him trying to fight back the tears, "I wish I knew what to do now. I feel so lost inside."

All Sonic could muster from that point on was, "Just follow your heart, Sal. Just follow your heart…"

For the rest of that night, not another word was said between them, as the pain of their loss soon hit them again full force. Instead, they cried on each other's shoulder for the next hour before eventually going to bed. It was ironically the only way they could cope with this. How long it would take them both to have any semblance of peace about it was anyone's guess.

While this was going on, Rosie gathered with the other adults in Knothole to discuss their future. There was sadly only four of them. Along with Sally's nanny, there was Argus, a muscular tiger who was King Acorn's personal bodyguard. During the raid, Sally's father had instructed him to do whatever it takes to get her daughter to safety and look after her until the threat of Robotnik was dealt with. Next was Gandar, a muscular olive-green furred lion with blonde hair. He had been one of the top soldiers in King Acorn's military, recently promoted to a sergeant to train new recruits. He had also been instructed by King Acorn to look after the Princess and the other children when escorting them to Knothole during Robotnik's invasion.

Last, but certainly not least was a tech specialist named Renee, a yellow and orange furred fox with red hair. Before the invasion, she was the main tech there under Sir Charles, doing his experiments when he was not able to do so himself.

"We are in deep trouble." Rosie eventually said after a long period of silence.

"Ya think?" Argus remarked annoyed at that statement.

"There's no need to lose our cool here." Gandar told him firmly. "It won't do any good."

"Well, what do you suggest we do then, tough guy?" Argus shot back. "In case you haven't noticed, there's a ton of Swatbots outside the entrance just waiting for us to make one slip up."

"I'm aware of that, but let's think of this rationally." The olive-green lion replied. "Robotnik wants us to be afraid. If we do that, we'd be playing right into his hands."

"And staying calm won't do that either?"

"Alright, that's enough, you two!" Rosie remarked, now fed up with their arguments. "Look, I understand it's a very dark time now for us all, but we must work together in order to stay alive and free."

"Easier said than done..." Argus muttered.

"Yes, it won't be easy." Rosie said. "But think of the young children here. If they see us in a panic, it'll crush what little spirit they have left. Do you really want to do that to them?"

Before Argus could answer back, Renee finally spoke up, asking, "Speaking of the young kids here, what do you plan to do with them concerning our safety here?"

"That's why I called this meeting." Rosie answered her. "After thinking this over, I think… it would be best for them to be trained now for possible Freedom Fighter missions when of age."

"Are you serious?!" Argus asked with arched eyebrows. "They're only five years old! What could we possibly train them to do now? They're not even fit to hold a gun, let alone protect themselves."

"We don't have any choice." Rosie shot back. "The young children here have talents, some very strong ones as well, like young Sonic for example. If we can harness his ability of super speed, it will be a great asset to our cause."

"But how can we do that?" Argus argued yet again. "None of us have that ability or know how to bring it out of him."

"You let me worry about that." Gandar told him. "I have trained quite a few soldiers in the past and I can do the same with them."

"Oh yea? What about those Seedrians?" Argus asked. "They're not even from Mobius."

The Seedrians he was referring to was none other than Cosmo, along with her big sister Galaxina and best friend Jasmine. Their race had been part of the allied forces when helping the Overlanders deal with the Black Xorda threat many years before the Great War. Ironically enough, they would then chose to ally with the Mobian forces against the Overlanders once their prejudice against any other races came full circle.

"Again, I'll take care of training them how I see fit." The olive-green lion retorted." You just do your job in protecting them from any possibly intruders. Are we clear?"

Realizing he was in a no win situation, Argus finally shrugged and said with a huff, "Alright, fine. It's not like it'll make a big difference anyway."

And with that, he departed for the entrance with a big laser rifle in hand, as part of his duties as guarding Knothole from possible intruders.

"Don't mind him." Rosie told Gandar. "It's been a long day for all of us."

"Yea, I know…" Gandar then asked Sally's nanny, "You really think I ought to be training them this early? I mean, there's only so much they can do at this age."

"I understand your concern," Rosie answered softly. "but like I said, we really don't have a choice now. The young children must be prepared to fight if Knothole gets raided. Just take it slow with them and work it up to higher levels when they're ready to move on to the next part of your training."

Gandar slowly nodded, saying in response, "Very well then. I'll give them training just tough enough for them to handle until further notice."

"Sounds good." Rosie acknowledged. After a long pause, Sally's nanny spoke up again, saying "You know, I just got thinking… they don't all have to be trained the same way."

Gandar gave Rosie an arched eyebrow look, demanding, "How do you figure?"

"Well, I just remembered something… Seedrians aren't designed for hand to hand combat. They're more made for providing support and helping keep plants and trees healthy."

"So what do you suggest they do then?" the olive-green lion asked.

"Well, since we have a limited food supply and small number of trees," Rosie deducted, "why don't they practice working on harnessing those skills instead to keep our trees healthy so we have enough to eat?"

Gandar ironically had no complaints with that idea, saying with a nod, "That sounds fine to me. You go help them do that while I train the others."

"Consider it done." Rosie replied. "Anyway, I think it's best we turn in for the night. Argus is on watch, and we have a booby trap set near the entrance just in case, so we might as well get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for the young children."
 

Later that night, Robotnik received an upcoming transmission from one of his Swatbots near the Great Forest on his video screen."

"What is it?" Julian asked slightly annoyed.

"Sir, we experienced several casualties while patrolling the area."

"WHAT?!" Robotnik began to clinch in teeth in anger. "Who did this? Did you capture them?"

"Negative. The culprit was not seen by any of our visual screens and appears to have escaped."

Robotnik banged his arm rest in rage several times, now seething inside. "I want a complete combing of the area. Leave no stone unturned. Find out who did this and bring them to me AT ONCE!"

"Affirmative, sir. We shall send you the report once we have it."

And with that, the Swatbot signed off.

Before Julian could rage some more, Snively finally spoke up from behind while listening in, saying, "I told you the Mobians in the Great Forest would be a thorn in your side, sir. You should have taken my advice about it and taken them out instead of trusting mere machines."

"SHUT UP, LACKEY!" Robotnik quickly turned around and grabbed Snively again by the collar of his shirt. "I told you to watch your words around me, so I strongly suggest you drop your patronizing tone if you don't want to get hurt again."
Not wanting to anger his uncle any further, Snively said nervously to try to calm the waters, "I was only trying to warn you is all, sir. Surely you can't blame me for not wanting to take any chances here."

Ironically this time, Snively's words did the trick. Normally Robotnik would have thrown him against the wall for daring to speak his mind. This time however, he dropped him with a grunt and a shove, turning back around.

"Fine. I'll double the Swatbot troops around the Great Forest." Robotnik muttered after a long pause. "This time, they'll be so many, they won't be able to even breathe without being spotted."

"But, sir, why not just raid and burn it down already?" the small lackey pleaded. "You just heard how crafty those Mobians can be."

"I already told you, Snively… I have bigger fish to fry. I don't have time to waste my troops on an insignificant number of Mobians in a forest. I'll deal with them later once I've dealt with the bigger issues at hand."

"And, what would be that exactly, sir? You never told me what exactly these bigger fish are."

Robotnik turned back to face Snively, replying with a fierce glare, "That's for me to know and you to find out."

Before Snively could reply to that, his Uncle added, "I'm only going to tell you this one more time: Do not meddle in my affairs that's none of your business. You just do the job I tell you to and all will be good between us. Otherwise, I may just carry out that threat from earlier." He then grabbed Snively again, pulling him close to his face, adding with a look that could kill, "Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal, sir." The small lackey answered in a panicked tone of voice.

Like before, Julian again didn't throw against the wall. Instead, he said after dropping him to the ground, "I have had my fill of you for the night. Now get out of my sight before I lose my temper.

Snively quickly obeyed and did as he was told. However, he was not about to comply completely. Once he was outside the doors, he muttered angrily, "Alright, Julian… you want to play mind games with me? Then we'll play…"

The small lackey then pulled a specially made hearing device from his pocket he built earlier for just such an occasion and clipped it to the wall. Once there, he listened into his Uncle's personal conversations. The first conversation went like this after getting another update from another Swatbot unit not even a minute later.

"Status report."

"Dr. Robotnik. We are currently on the trail for the Mobian Rosemary Prower."

"Good. How close are you to tracking her down?"

"Not very close to be perfectly honest, sir. It will be awhile due to how little we have to go on."

Robotnik let out a frustrated sigh, soon saying after composing himself, "Whatever… she can't run for too long, so keep the heat up on her when hunting her down. Do not give her a moment to breathe. Understood?

"Affirmative, Dr. Robotnik. We shall search every spot on this planet until we find her. You can count on that."

"Good. Keep me up to date of any changes during your hunt."

"Yes, sir. Swatbot Unit 93 over and out."

"Now why would Julian care so much about the wife of Amadeus Prower?" Snively pondered softly to himself. "She's no threat to us. I don't understand this logic of his at all."

Before he could ponder what this was all about, he heard his Uncle leave his chair and walk around a bit. Fearing he might be heading for the door, Snively prepared to take his device and run. Thankfully though, he was heading in another direction, now looking at his two new machines Metal and Silver Sonic. He then overheard this little tidbit.

"I do have to say my genius can be sometimes scary." Julian soon chuckled to himself about it, adding, "To think I could craft two new machines due to my sheer cunning is quite the accomplishment."

"What in blazes is Julian going on about now?" Snively pondered again. "Doesn't he realize those two are…"

Before he could finish that thought, Julian spoke up once again, saying to himself, "This plan of mine is foolproof. Have Metal Sonic as the main weapon during the attack to shatter their morale and Silver Sonic organizes the troops around him to make sure they're the most effective. Heh heh… who knows? If Silver Sonic does that good of job at leading my army when raiding the bases of those pathetic Freedom Fighters, perhaps I won't need Snively to do my dirty work anymore. Maybe I'll finally be able to put him to better use… as my paperweight."

Once Snively heard that, he was completely incensed inside. He soon said to himself, "Oh, so you think you can just replace me with those two machines, Julian?! Well, I got news for you: Your little plans are now going to get a little monkey wrench thrown into them, and by the time you realize it, it'll be far too late. I promise you that, you pathetic tub of lard."

Not wanting to risk getting caught, Snively quickly left to brainstorm. He was now determined to sabotage his Uncle's plans whenever necessary.

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Chapter 2: The Training Begins

The next morning in Knothole, Gandar prepared to train the young children. Wanting to be merciful the first time out, he let them sleep until 9am. Not surprisingly, it wouldn't matter. Nobody got much sleep, especially Sonic. He could not stop tossing and turning, thinking about how much he missed his family and wanted to avenge. Sally on the other hand cried herself to sleep, but could get no more than 4-5 hours at best. Like with Sonic, her mind was a whirlwind, constantly in turmoil.

At 8:30 am, Sally could not sleep another wink, now getting up to brush her hair in a mirror on her nightstand stilled dressed in her nightgown. As she did so, she remembered what Sonic told her the night before.

"Just follow your heart, Sal."

After those words buzzed in her head for a good couple of minutes, her portable super computer named Nicole that was currently placed nearby abruptly turned on, asking, "You seem to be deep in thought about something, Princess. May I ask what it is?"

At first Sally was taken back that Nicole could sense her emotional distress. Nevertheless, she answered nonchalantly, "Just doing a lot of soul searching, Nicole."

"Of what exactly?"

Feeling too embarrassed to tell her directly, Sally instead responded, "You'll find out soon enough. So will everyone else. Let's just leave it at that."

Not wanting to press the issue, Nicole said, "Fair enough." She then added, "I know this may sound hard to believe, but I do understand what you're going through more than you think. You can always talk to me if something is troubling you."

As expected, Sally found that response of her super computer very confusing. So, she just said instead to not be rude, "I… appreciate that, Nicole, but I must handle this one on my own."

"As you wish, Princess."

From that moment on, Nicole did not talk again, as she let Sally continue to get lost in her thoughts. Once more, her childhood friend's words ran through her mind. It soon struck a chord with her to the point she said now with determination in her eyes, "I will indeed, Sonic. It's time I stopped acting like a damsel princess and do whatever it takes to help the cause."

And with those words, she did just that. She soon undid the braids in her hair, now letting her long hair down fully. She then looked at her nightgown, getting ready to change out of it. However, as she did, she asked herself with fear and hesitation on her face, "Can I really do this? Can I really just toss aside my princess heritage?"

After pondering this for a bit, she soon toughened up, saying to herself, "It must be done. No turning back now."

While she did that, the other children in Knothole ironically woke up early as well. Neither of them could sleep in either due to their broken hearts. Besides Sonic, Sally, Antoine and the three Seedrian children, there was her best friend Bunnie, a commoner rabbit girl in Mobotropolis. Unlike Sally, Bunnie was not one for fashion or girly attire. In fact, Bunnie didn't wear anything. She just felt more comfortable in her fur. Bunnie wasn't the only who shared that sentiment. Next to Sally, her next closest friend was a forest green hedgehog named Clover, a naturist girl also bestowed with super speed as well as being able to harness a plant like attack. Ironically enough, Clover lived in a forest before being escaping to Knothole along with her two-year-old little sister Blossom. They were sadly the only ones of their family to escape Robotnik's raid three months ago.

Last, but certainly not least, there was Rotor, a purple walrus with two moderate sized tusks on his face. Like with the others, none of his family escaped the raid. Unlike the others however, he was one who had a fascination for technology, even at five years old. Unknown to the four adults running Knothole, he had wanted to learn more about Sir Charles' work through Renee. Ironically enough, he would soon get his chance to do so.

As planned, Gandar gathered most of the children together at 9am, letting them eat a special breakfast of eggs and hash browns made by Rosie herself. Ironically, the only one who didn't show up was Sally. Gandar was about to call her to come out, but Rosie asked him to let her be until after breakfast due to yesterday's horrible events. And so, he did.

Once breakfast was done, Gandar addressed the other children, saying with authority, "All right, young ones, listen carefully to what I have to say."

As soon as he had their attention, he added, "I know you're all still upset about everything that's happened. However, after much discussion, we realize it's in our and your best interest to begin training you for future Freedom Fighter missions."

Not surprisingly, the news horrified most of them. Only Sonic seemed to relish the thought.

"You cannot be serious." Antoine protested in fear. "We are just a bunch of young kids. We don't know the first thing about fighting."

"That's why I'm going to train you now so you will know how to." Gandar affirmed to him. While this caused most of the young children to stir among themselves, he soon quieted them adding, "Look, I don't like doing this anymore than you do, but it must be done. We have a big situation on our hands, and you need to be ready for anything."

"You're not gonna be mean to us about it, are ya?" Bunnie asked, still nervous about the whole idea.

"Of course not." Gandar answered reassuringly. "I will be fair, but also very tough on you all. I will only push you as hard as you need to be. I promise you that, so I want you to promise me you'll trust me on this and not complain about it."

Not surprisingly, none of the kids other than Sonic wanted to answer him. The thought of being pushed hard scared most of them. When he pressed them about it, they all said with reluctant nod, "Ok then, we promise."

"Good. So, from this point on, I expect you to call me sir, understand? I am your sergeant now and we will have order and discipline when it comes to your training. Do I make myself clear?"

Again, most of the kids did not answer him. He then shouted louder, "I SAID, DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!"

That got their attention, as they soon whelped in fear, replying, "Yes, sir."

Rosie gave him a small frown, as she did not want him using that tone with them. Gandar though brushed it off, saying, "Ok, now then, I think it's time for our last recruit to join us. Rosie, go get Princess Sally at once."

"That won't be necessary, sir." said a voice from a familiar hut.

Before anyone could respond, Sally finally came out. However, she came out much differently than anyone expected. It not only got looks from the young children, but even the adults as well

"What's everyone staring at?" Sally asked nonchalantly.

"Young lady, why are you… dressed like that?" Rosie interrogated still in disbelief. "This is so not like you."

"It's my new look." Sally answered firmly. "Considering the circumstances, I think it fits perfectly."

Gandar was at a loss for words. Even Sonic could not believe what he was seeing.

"Why is everyone making a big deal about this?" the squirrel princess asked, now getting annoyed by their constant glances at her.

"Look, Princess, I um… can understand now wanting to get your royal clothes dirty." Gandar said, not trying to stare. "But… did you really have to come out of here… umm… you know..."

Sally could not take this charade any longer. She then yelled in frustration, "YES, I'M NAKED NOW! SO WHAT?!"

Indeed she was, from head to toe. Back in her hut, Sally had made up her mind she was no longer going to look or act like a princess. She was now going to be like her friends, in both attitude and appearance, thus shedding her royal garments earlier.

"Why are you getting so flustered about this anyway?" Sally asked again. "Bunnie and Clover aren't wearing any clothes either and I don't see you making a fuss over it."

"That's different." Gandar argued. "They're common folk. You're a princess."

"I must agree." Rosie chimed in. "You should not be degrading yourself like this."

Sally though wouldn't budge. She now looked Gandar in the eye, saying, "As of this moment, I am no longer a princess and request that you don't treat me like one. I am just like the rest now."

This again caused Gandar and Rosie to be at a loss for words. Sonic finally spoke up, asking, "Yo, Sal. What's gotten into

you?"

"I'm just doing what you told me to, Sonic." The young squirrel answered firmly. "You said follow my heart. Well, that's what

I'm doing. I'm now going to toughen up and help out anyway I can."

Before Sonic could answer her, Rosie tried to reason with her once more, asking, "Sally dear, are you sure you want to do it like this though? You could at least wear a t-shirt for this training."

Again, Sally wouldn't budge. "No." She answered her nanny with firm shake of her head. "I must do this like my friends. I am on the same level as they are now, both in body and spirit."

Ironically, Bunnie and Clover were both touched by Sally's humbleness to be on their level as friends. Gandar meanwhile took Rosie aside, saying, "I don't like this at all. It's just… too awkward. I wasn't expecting Sally to train in her princess dress, but completely naked? You seriously need to talk some sense into her."

After a long ponder, Rosie finally answered him," Well, she's only five years old now. Maybe it's just a phase she's going through. So, do this for now: Humor her for the time being until she gets older." As Gandar pondered this over, Rosie added, "Plus, she is right. You don't have any problems with Bunnie and Clover not wearing any clothes during their training, so why not allow Sally to do it as well? What could it hurt?"

Realizing Rosie did have a point, Gandar finally sighed in defeat, saying, "Very well then."

He soon returned to look at Sally and said to her boldly, "I'm not for this at all, but since you insist on being treated like the others, I will do just that. I shall be as tough on you as I will be with them."

"That's fine with me." Sally acknowledged, now grabbing her right paw foot to stretch her leg from behind. "As I said before, I am no longer a princess, so do what you must, sir."

"Very well then." Gandar said with a nod. "Let the training begin…"

And so began the first of many drills Sonic and his young friends would be put through. After Rosie escorted the Seedrian children to a place where they could be trained to their strengths, the others now awaited to see what the training would include.

The first part of it, not surprisingly, was calisthenics to get their blood going and have them mentally sharp. It was not your run of the mill calisthenics either, but a long and grueling one of nearly every single one, ranging from lunges, jumping jacks, pull ups on tall monkey bars, pushups, sit-ups, even doing sit-ups while upside down using their legs to push them up and down. Gandar went to no expense to get them mentally and physically ready for the harder drills yet to come. Sally soon found that out the hard way, as her new choice in life would not come without growing pains. She was not used to doing rigorous exercises, let alone doing them in her bare fur. Nevertheless, she pushed on through, determined not to quit after making her bold speech earlier.

"That's right, kids." Gandar said in a tone of authority as they did their calisthenics. "I want to see you to do fifty jumping

jacks in a row. No slacking off!"

As expected, some did better than others. Sonic thrived in it, doing any exercise thrown at him with near ease. Bunnie as well as Clover showed they had a lot of heart as well for their age, keeping a good pace during the exercise lessons. Even Sally soon showed for once a princess of royalty, she could keep just about as good of a pace. The ones who didn't do so well were not that surprising. Antoine and Rotor just did not have the athletic ability and heart of the others. It soon began to annoy Gandar to no end.

He soon narrowed his gaze on Antoine and Rotor, telling them firmly, "Unless you two have a good excuse for lagging behind, I strongly suggest you pick up the pace ASAP!"

Rotor then spoke up, saying, "Uh, you know, sir, I do believe I have one.." adding sheepishly, "sorta anyway."

"And what would that be?" Gandar demanded of him, giving the purple walrus the evil eye.

"Uh, well, you see, sir… I think my strong point is building stuff and learning electronics." Rotor explained nervously. "So, I'd like your permission to be excused of these training exercises and do that instead."

Gandar was about to lower the boom on him for his answer, when Renee spoke up instead, who had been watching the whole thing, saying, "You know, now that I think about it, I could use an assistant to help me with my work."

"Are you serious?" Gandar demanded of her. "He's only a child. He could get seriously hurt working around those things."

"Well, let's try it for a day." The red haired fox proposed. "I'll find out soon enough if he's not fit to work in a tech lab with me."

Realizing it would be one less child to give him a headache for the day, the olive-green lion rolled his eyes in defeat, "Oh, fine… one day won't hurt I suppose." He then looked Rotor in the eye and said, "All right, you heard her, son. Now get going!"

Rotor didn't have to be told twice, as he soon ran off with Renee in tow towards Sir Charles' lab. Once they were out of sight, he finally zeroed in on Antoine, saying, "And what's your excuse for not keeping a steady pace?"

Antoine not surprisingly didn't have one. Instead, he tried to play on his emotions, saying, "Well, sir, I'm just not cut out to be a Freedom Fighter. I don't have the heart and skills to be as good as my father. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's the truth."

Also not surprisingly, Gandar would not budge this time, shouting, "Don't pull that garbage with me, son!"

Antoine nearly jumped out of his shoes at his booming voice. Gandar then added, getting in his face, "Now look, you, I understand losing your father was very hard on you and you have my sympathy for that. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to let you disgrace his good name with your cowardly excuses either. I expect you to do your best, and I know you aren't even trying to."

Antoine could not even answer him on that. Instead, Gandar kept the pressure on him, saying, "I will make a solider out of you yet, like it or lump it. Do you understand?"

Realizing he was in a no win situation, Antoine sheepishly nodded his head.

"Good." He then turned to the others, saying, "all right, no more standing around. Let's get back to work!"

And with that, the training continued. Once the calisthenics were over, they were put through boot camp drills after a short recess. The first one was a mile run around Knothole to work on their agility and stamina. Since Clover and Sonic were bestowed with super speed, they would run separately after the others. Antoine, along with Bunnie and Sally would go first.

"Alright, now I want you to give me your very best." Gandar told them. "On your mark, get set, go!" He immediately blew a whistle right after saying that, and the run was on.

Like before, it would be anything but easy, as they had to run on not only grass, but dirt as well, even having to jump over fallen tree stumps as part of it.

"Mah stars, this is exhausting." Bunnie exclaimed gasping for air while running around.

"You're telling me." Sally chimed in while also panting heavily. "My feet are killing me."

Gandar though wouldn't ease on them, saying, "C'mon now, pick up the pace! Remember the old saying, "No pain, no gain."

"That's easy for him to say." Antoine muttered indignant while trailing far behind. "He's not running with us."

Once again, Gandar was getting annoyed at the young coyote lagging behind. He soon shouted at him, "You know you can do better that, son! Make your father proud. Show him how tough you can really be!"

That sadly only made Antoine less motivated, as he was tired of his sergeant putting this much pressure on him. Eventually, they finished the run, with Sally beating Bunnie by five feet. Gandar at this point could not help be impressed by the young squirrel's determination.

"You got a lot of heart, Princess." Gandar told her. "Even if I'm against you training like this, if it makes you work this hard, then maybe it's not such a bad idea after all."

"Thank you, sir." Sally answered, trying to catch her breath. "And please, just call me Sally. I don't want any royal titles."

Before Gandar could answer her back, Bunnie asked, "Hey, what about me?"

"Oh yea… sorry." The olive-green lion muttered sheepishly. "Good job, young rabbit. You got some strong legs there I can see."

Bunnie could only giggle at that remark, saying, "Hey, it's in my genes after all."

Thirty seconds later, Antoine crossed the line. Gandar could not even congratulate him. Instead, he shook his head in disappointment.

"What? I tried hard this time!" he exclaimed frustrated. "I REALLY DID!"

"No, you didn't, son." Gandar retorted, now more saddened than angry with him. "I can tell when someone is trying. I have recruited many solders in the past. I can read their body language and eyes. And yours is one of defeat. You don't want to be here, nor do you even want to try to live up to your father's good name. You just don't care. It's time for you to stop pretending and admit that."

At this point, Antoine could not take his sharp tongue anymore. He then kicked dirt in his sergeant's face, shouting with rage, "That is it! I've had enough of this! I'm tired of you kicking me around like a dog!"

"Don't you talk back to me, son!" Gandar roared with indignation after rubbing his eyes. "I am your sergeant and you will respect me. I'm doing this for your own good."

Antoine though would have none of it, as he stormed off in disgust.

"And where do you think you're going?"

"Away from you." The young coyote declared at him. "Go find yourself another sap to order around. I QUIT!"

"You get back here before I do something I'll regret!" Gandar ordered. "I will not have you disrespecting your father's reputation with your childish antics."

Antoine finally turned around and glared at him angrily. "Who are you to talk about respect when you don't even bother to join in our own training? You're not even setting a good example for us to follow." This statement ironically left the olive-green lion speechless, as Antoine added, "Also, If you knew anything about my father, he was a man of great compassion, something you clearly don't have!"

Again, Gandar had nothing to say in response. In a way, he knew Antoine was right. He sadly had not shown much compassion during the training. Before he could find a good answer for that, Antoine stormed back to his hut.
Gandar at once tried to talk with him. However, he bumped into Rosie, who was now heading back.

"Oh, Gandar. How's the training going?"

"Not as good as I had hoped." Not wanting to explain, he asked her, "So, did you find a way to utilize those Seedrian children's abilities?"

"I sure did." Sally's nanny answered with a smile. "Turns out, they get stronger by absorbing a lot of sunlight and water. So, I just told them to soak in as much as they can to help us keep our home full of healthy trees and plants."

"Glad to hear it." Gandar remarked softly. "At least they're putting their skills to good use."

So, um… what exactly happened during your training?" Rosie inquired.

"Yea, I think I might have been too hard on Antoine." He replied sheepishly.

"Goodness, why did you do that?" Rosie asked with a frown. "You told me you were going to be fair with them when pushing them."

"I thought I was… but, I guess I was expecting too much from him all things considered." Gandar said with a sigh. "I get the feeling he's dealing with a lot of bitterness from the way he talks about his father."

Rosie now looked at him disappointed. "Yes, Antoine has been very depressed since his father passed. The past few months, he hasn't even eaten much either. I think it's really weighing on him losing the one he respected so much."

"I suppose I should asked you for your personal advice on how to handle the children before the training since you know them better than I do."

"Yes, you should have, Gandar." She told him firmly. "However, what done is done. I think you should let Antoine be for now and make up with him tomorrow. For now, just ease up a bit on the other children. It's only their first day of training after

all."

"You're right. I do need to start them off slow and work it up the level I truly expect from them." The olive-green lion acknowledged. "Ok then, you have my word I won't push them too hard from this point on. I don't want them to get discouraged and quit."

"Good for you." Rosie said with approval. "Ok then, go ahead and continue their training. I'll try to talk with Antoine after he cools down a bit."

"Yes, ma'am." And with that, Gandar walked back to the other kids.

"Everything ok?" Bunnie asked concerned.

"Not exactly." Gandar explained. "Antoine won't be training with us for the rest of the day."

"That's not fair." Sally muttered. "He should be pulling his weight like the rest of us."

"Yes, you're right, Princ… I mean, Sally, but Antoine doesn't seem to have that determination like you have. Maybe one day he will. In the meantime, I just want you to know from this point on, I'm going to be setting a much better example for you once we do the next drill."

"What do you mean?" Sonic asked, now curious.

"Well, I haven't done my part to train with you." Gandar explained to him with guilt in his eyes. "After all, I am your sergeant. I need to show you how it's done."

"Yea, I was going to ask why you weren't joining in." Sally said sheepishly, "But I just thought it was best to suck it up for now and ask another time."

"Well, rest assured, I won't be doing that any longer." Gandar stated. "We are a team and I will lead you as best as I know how."

After hearing that, the children couldn't help but smile, as they felt he wasn't just lording over them now.

"Ok then, enough of this sappy stuff. Sonic, Clover. It's your turn to run. And since you two have super speed, I want you to race each other for ten miles around Knothole. Do your best and may the best hedgehog win."

"You got it, chief." The blue hedgehog with a thumbs up. He soon looked at Clover, saying, "You ready to eat my dust, girl?"

"We'll just see about that, boy." Clover answered with the same confidence.

Gandar then held a starting flag, shouting, "On your mark, get set, GO!"

Once the flag fell, Sonic and Clover revved up their legs and blasted off, running against each other with great competitiveness, trading the lead back and forth.

"Whoa, look at them go." Bunnie exclaimed watching excited.

"Wow, I didn't know Clover had that kind of speed in her." The young squirrel remarked. "She seems to be really in her zone."

"Hee hee, sounds like Sugarhog might have found a kindred spirit." Bunnie quipped, teasing Sally about her friendship. Sally was tempted to retort back, but decided to let it go this time.

Within two minutes, Sonic and Clover finished their run, with Sonic barely edging her at the line. It was a photo finish to say the least.

"Mah stars, did you see that? Clover girl nearly beat Sugarhog."

"She's a lot faster than I give her credit." Sally stated impressed.

Even Sonic was impressed as well. He then looked at Clover while trying to catch his breath, "Dang, you got a lot of guts, girl. I thought I was going to blow you into the weeds.

"Don't underestimate me just because I'm a female." The forest green hedgehog answered with a sly smirk. "I can be just as tough as you are."

"I can see that. Well, I look forward to racing you again." Sonic told her, now extending his hand to shake hers.

Clover soon extended her hand as well, as the two of them now mutual respect for each other. Gandar meanwhile soon walked up, clapping at the results of their race.

"Well done, you two." He said with a warm smile. "Now that's what I call heart. I hope to see more of that in the next drill."

"What is the next drill?" Bunnie inquired out of curiosity.

"One of the toughest of your training sessions today: The obstacle course."

As the children looked on wondering what that was all about, Gandar told them, "It won't be easy, but rest assured, I will go first and show you how it's done. So make sure to pay attention, ok?"

"Yes, sir." The children responded with an enthusiastic nod.

Gandar then took them towards an obstacle course he had set up to train other recruits, consisting of a rope climbing up some walls, swimming from one side of the lake in Knothole to the other as well as jumping some hurdles before heading back to the start finish line.

After he explained this all to them, Sonic was smirking at it, saying, "Sounds like my kind of drill."

"Yes, but this time, I don't want you and Clover to use your super speed. It defeats the purpose of this exercise."

Sonic was not as enthused once he heard that. Nevertheless, Gandar made good on his word, as he showed them how to it. Needless to say, even he didn't exactly breeze through it due to being one of the more difficult drills of their training, but gave them a good example on how to beat it nonetheless.

Once he finished, he said now trying to catch his breath, "Alright, that's how it's done. Now let's see you do likewise."

"Just leave it to me." Sally replied with confidence. "I'll go first."

"Very well then." The olive-green lion nodded. "Show us once again how tough you really are."

The squirrel princess would do just that. Once Gandar waved the flag, Sally was off, getting a good jump off the line, speeding off towards the rope climb drill. Once there, she would again show her determination to be tough. She quickly climbed up the rope and over the wall, soon racing off towards the lake, diving in full speed.

"Wow, look at her go." Bunnie remarked with impressed. "Sally girl's sure got a lot of spirit I have to admit."

Like before, Sally kept the pace up, swimming for thirty feet jumping out and running back another fifty feet to the start finish line, gasping for air near the end.

"Well done, Sally." Gandar praised, handing her a towel to dry off. "I'm very proud of you."

"Thank you, sir." She replied, still catching her breath. "Just wanting to do my best for you and everyone else."

"Well, you have done that indeed." The olive-green lion acknowledged. "I'm very impressed with your humble attitude today."

Even Sonic couldn't help but be impressed. He was not seeing the same princess who was sobbing on his shoulder last night.
"

Nice one, Sal." The blue hedgehog told her, giving her a thumbs up. "But I'll show ya how it's really done once I get started."

Needless to say, Sally couldn't help but roll her eyes a bit at that. Gandar meanwhile responded with a slight scolding, "Now, Sonic, I don't want to hear any bragging until you actually deliver first. You need to walk the walk before you talk the talk."

"Don't worry about me, sir." Sonic responded with the same arrogance. "I was built for this kind of thing."

"Well, I hope you're right, son." Gandar told him. "Just remember you have to do it without using your super speed. I'll be watching closely."

"Yea, yea, I know. Just get the flag ready and let's get it going."

Not wanting to argue with him over this, Gandar did just that. He quickly raised his flag and dropped. Like with Sally, Sonic was off in a flash, running as fast as he could to the rope climb drill without using his super speed. Unlike Sally, Sonic would not climb it up as fast as she did due to his inexperience of having to do it all without his special talent.

"C'mon, son, pick up the pace!" Gandar shouted. "You're falling a bit behind."

Not wanting to be humiliated of being slower than Sally, Sonic did just that, running fast again to the lake. Once he got to the lake though, he was faced with one of his big weaknesses: His inability to swim.

"Doh man, this is not fair." The blue hedgehog complained, now jumping in. "Why can't I use my super speed here?"

Since Sonic was able to run on water with his super speed, he did not need to swim. However, since he couldn't, Sonic lost a lot of time, trying to get to the other side.

"What's the matter? It's not that deep." Gandar exclaimed by the sight of it. "Just use your arms and legs to paddle."

"Easier said than done." Sonic muttered.

Eventually, Sonic was able to do that and jump out, running towards the finish line. As expected, he was over twenty seconds behind Sally's time.

"So much for showing me how it's done." Sally quipped with a sly smirk.

"Hey, swimming is not easy for me." He shot back, trying to dry himself off. "Cut me some slack."

Gandar then handed him a towel, saying with a frown, "Well, Sonic, I think I'm going to have to teach you how to swim on top of your other training."

"Can't I just use my super speed when I have to deal with water, sir?" Sonic suggested. "It's not like I'll ever need to run at this slowmo pace."

"Son, it's time you learned an important motto I was taught during my years in the military: "Always be prepared"

"How am I supposed to do that?" the blue hedgehog argued with a frown. "There's no way to be prepared for everything."

"That is not true." Gandar told him. "Yes, there will be occasions where you will be taken by surprise and won't be fully prepared to deal with it. At the same time though, you need to be as prepared as you can in order to handle it in the most effective manner. That's why you need to learn how to do things without your super speed. There may come a time when you will have to do that when on a mission."

"Bah, I doubt it." Sonic replied, blowing him off. "They'd have to make it so I couldn't run fast for that to happen."

Gandar was tempted to rebuke him for his arrogance, but he thought better of it after his encounter with Antoine. Instead, he said firmly, "Well, I'm not going to take that chance. As your sergeant, you will learn how to improvise when necessary. Understood?"

"Yes, I read you loud and clear, sir." Sonic answered, rolling his eyes.

Realizing the best way to deal with his attitude was by letting the others run, the olive-green lion did just that, saying, "Ok, next up: Bunnie. Let's see you show us how it's done."

"You got it, sir." She replied with enthusiasm, running to the starting line.

Once she was in place, Gandar raised the flag, dropping it after a three second pause, and the young rabbit was off. As expected, she also got a good jump off the line, running towards the rope climb drill full speed. What wasn't expected however was how much agile she was when climbing up. She used her arms and legs to get up and over in record time, now racing off towards the lake

"That's it, girl!" Gandar said with a cheer. "Show us just how strong you really are."

Bunnie would do just that, as she quickly drove in, using her strong legs to paddle across, getting out even faster than Sally did, now racing towards the finish line.

"Wow, she might even beat my time." Sally stated, watching in awe.

Indeed she would. Bunnie sprinted to the line three seconds ahead of her best friend, and not even that much out of breath either.

"Great job, young one." Gandar said with glee. "You got a lot of stamina in you."

"Daw, shucks… it ain't nothing at all." The southern belle rabbit answered with modesty. "I just did my best."

"Now that's a great attitude to have." The olive-green lion stated with a nod. "We could more of that around here."

Needless to say, Sonic was not that thrilled to see him get beat by two girls, as he frowned at the whole scene, silently pouting inside.

"Ok, last, but certainly not least, Clover… you're up!"

Unlike the others, Clover didn't even answer Gandar. She just walked to the starting line and gave the nod for him to start the obstacle course. Not wanting to waste any time, Gandar did just that. He quickly raised the flag and dropped it again after a three second delay, taking off a split second later.

As expected, Clover would beat Sonic's time with ease due to her not struggling in the water like he did. However, she would not beat the others due to her inexperience of doing drills without her talent. She would instead cross the line five seconds behind Bunnie. Nevertheless, Gandar had little complaints about her run.

"Not bad, girl. Not bad." Gandar stated with a nod of approval. "I can see you two need some work learning how to do runs without your super speed, but other than that, I'm impressed."

"Well, I certainly am willing to learn how to, sir." The forest green hedgehog girl answered him. "I want to be prepared for anything like you said."

Again, Gandar was impressed by her humbleness. He soon handed her a towel, saying, "I shall do that in due time. You'll make a fine Freedom Fighter once you get my full training."

"Hey, what about me?" Sonic said, now indignant.

"Yes, you'll make a good one too." Gandar said, now looking at him with a frown. "But if you want to be a great Freedom Fighter, you're going to have to learn some humility and not rely on your talents alone."

Not surprisingly, Sonic did not want to hear that. He was already humiliated enough being beat by three girls.

After a long pause, the olive-green lion said to them, "Well, considering this is your first day and you are all wet now, I'll let you have the rest of the day off.

"You sure that's a good idea, sir?" Sally asked. "We could go again after we dry off."

"Nah, I want to work you up to it." Gandar explained. "So, go ahead and have fun now. We'll pick it up tomorrow. Rosie should have lunch soon."

Not being one to argue over that being just young kids, they all did just that. Even Sonic, though his having fun would mostly include improving since he did not want to swallow another humiliation like that again.

Once they all scattered, Gandar went to see Rosie, who was now making sandwiches and soup for everyone.

"Oh, hello, Gandar." She greeted. "Aren't you supposed to be training the children?"

"Eh, I let them have the rest of the day off." He explained sheepishly. "Like you said, it is only their first day. No point in over doing it."

"I see. Well, I suppose that is for the best." Rosie stated. "As long as they improve everyday, that should be good enough for now."

"Yea, but I still do wonder if they'll be ready in time when Robotnik decides to raid us." Gandar muttered with a frown. "I'm still very concerned about that."

Rosie couldn't help but admit that as well. Nevertheless, she said, "Well, let's not speculate for the time being. We have a big trap set near the entrance to keep them at bay and escape should it come to that."

"I hope you're right about that." He said with a heavy sigh. After a long pause, he asked, "So, did you talk with Antoine?"

"Yes, I did." Rosie replied. "Needless to say, he's still sore about you for what you did, but I did get him to promise me he would hear you out after he cooled off, so just be gentle when you do. He's not like the other children. I hope you'll keep that in mind."

"Yea, I know." He sighed again. "I just don't understand him though. Antoine looks up to his father a lot. Heck, even I do too, but it's like he wants nothing to do with fighting or even being a brave solider like Armand.

"Can you really blame him for that?" Sally's nanny asked. "I mean, his father was tragically slain because of his choice to be a soldier. Perhaps Antoine feels like if he tries to follow in his father's footsteps, he'll end up just like him."

"No, there's more to it than just that." The olive-green lion argued. "I can sense something more personal, like he's afraid if he follows in his father's footsteps, he'll bring shame and dishonor to his name."

"Hmm… it could possibly be both." Rosie acknowledged. "Who can say for sure? One thing I do know: being too tough on Antoine won't do any good. He just lost his father three months ago. He's still dealing with that pain, and I think you need to let him deal with that first before he gets your personal training."

Gandar could not argue with that at all. "I suppose that is true. Are you saying I shouldn't train him at all until then?"

"No, what I'm saying is take it slow with him." Rosie explained. "Let him go at his own pace for now and don't pressure him until necessary. Give him time to grieve and make peace with it first before he does all out training. Even you know the importance of being in the right frame of mind when preparing for missions."

"Very well then." Gandar replied. "So, when will lunch be ready soon?

"It'll be done in about twenty minutes, so if you want, go ahead and wait at the table for the time being. I'll call the children when it's all ready."

Being a bit beat from the earlier training, Gandar would just do that. While he took a little rest, Sally, along with Bunnie and Clover were doing the same as well, as they relaxed near the Power Ring Pool, dipping their paw feet in it to cool off after a hard session.

"Well, that was certainly interesting for our first day's training." Clover commented, enjoying the water sloshing around her toes.

"Indeed." Sally chimed in. "I wasn't expecting us to train that early, but I was ready to do so just in case."

"Speaking of training, I didn't know you had that much spunk in you, Sally girl." Bunnie said impressed. "I thought you would be more like Antoine about it. No offense."

"None taken." The squirrel princess replied. "Well, I was like that at first, but… I knew I couldn't just cry about it. What good would have that done? So, that's why I made up my mind to toughen up and toss aside my princess heritage for not only my sake, but yours as well."

"Hee hee, sounds like that's not the only thing you tossed away." Bunnie giggled, poking at Sally's tummy playfully.

At that point, it again dawned on Sally the choice she made of living just like her friends, making her feel a bit embarrassed inside.

"Don't take it personal, Sally girl." The southern belle rabbit said a smile. "If anything, I fully admire you wanting to be on our level."

"Same here." Clover added with a nod. "Nothing personal, but sometimes I did feel a little intimidated by the fact you were a princess and we were just common townsfolk."

"Well, I hope I never made you feel I was better than you," Sally explained sheepishly. "because I really am sorry if I did."

"Well, maybe you did a little, but it's ok." Clover told her with a warm smile. "I knew you were proud of your princess heritage, which is why I didn't hold it against you."

"Thanks." Sally said smiling back at her. "I appreciate that."

After a long awkward pause, Bunnie finally asked, "So, tell me, Sally girl. How does it feel living without clothes like we do? Just curious is all…"

Not surprisingly, this was one question Sally did not want to address since it was embarrassing enough to let everyone see her that way. Nevertheless, she answered with a sigh, "Honestly, it's kind of a mixed feeling. I mean, I don't like everyone looking at me differently because of it, but at the same time, I kind of like it too. I don't know how else to explain, but it just feels good having the wind blowing around my fur and feeling the grass between my toes."

Bunnie again could not help but giggle at that, saying, "Yea, it's feels pretty liberating, don't it? It's a big reason why I like living this way too. She then added teasing again, "Who knows? Maybe you'll want to stay like this. It is a good look on you. I bet even Sugarhog would agree."

Sally again could not help but blush at the notion of that. Clover soon added, "Well, whether you stay like this or not is your choice, Sally. As much as I appreciate you wanting to be on our level, I wouldn't want you to throw away your royal heritage for good. It just wouldn't be right."

Even Sally couldn't deny that. So, she said after a long pause, "Well, I doubt I'll live like this forever, but for now, I'm going to since I want to know what it feels like so when I do go back to my princess duties hopefully one day, I won't ever feel like I'm above those I rule over."

"Yea… I really hope you get to do that, Sally girl." Bunnie stated softly, looking at the ground a bit solemn.

"Same here." Clover chimed in with a nod, now starting to feel a bit sad inside as well. "I think that would be... just... great."

Not surprisingly, talking about this subject hit Sally and the others very hard. They quickly remembered their current situation they were in, making them feel heartbroken again over their losses. It got to the point there was silence for over ten minutes, as they all began to softly cry to themselves just thinking about it.

Eventually, Sally spoke up, saying after a sniffle, "Sorry, I shouldn't have brought that up now."

"It's ok, Sally girl." Bunnie replied, wiping away her tears. "We'll get through this… somehow."

Clover soon wiped her tears away as well, saying, "At least we still have each other. That's something we can be grateful for."

"Yea, you're right." Sally acknowledge with a faint smile. "I'm really happy to have you both for friends."

"The feeling is mutual on that, Sally girl." The southern belle rabbit said, putting a hand on her shoulder.

The three girls then stood up and hugged each other tightly in unison. Despite their inner turmoil, their bond as best friends gave them the strength to carry on.

After a long period of silence, Bunnie finally broke the silence, saying to Sally with a mischievous grin, "Hey, want to know one of the funnest things you can do in your bare fur?"

"Uh, what is it?" Sally asked, looking at her friend awkwardly.

"TICKLE FIGHT!"

The split second after that was said, Bunnie tackled Sally playfully, grabbing her ankles and tickling the bottom soles of her paw feet aggressively.

"H-hey HEY, stop it! AH HA HA HA!"

Sally tried to get away, but Bunnie had a firm grip on her, keeping her pinned down. Clover soon joined in the fun too, now tickling Sally's tummy playfully.

"Oh c'mon!" Sally protested halfheartedly, trying hard to keep from laughing. "Two against one, that's not fair!"

"All's fair in love, war and tickle fights, Sally girl." Bunnie shot back, keeping the intensity up.

Realizing she was in no position to get away, Sally decided by get even by tickling them on the sides when they weren't expecting it, getting them to flinch. Once she got that opening, Sally soon returned the favor, now pouncing on both Bunnie and Clover, targeting each one on their ticklish spots just as aggressively.

"That's the spirit." Bunnie said, enjoying it fully while squirming around.

Even Clover couldn't help but enjoy it as well. In a weird way, it got their minds off their problems and had a moment where they could just have fun again and be kids. After everything that had happened in the past three months, it was something all three of them were grateful to have for the time being.

Meanwhile in the Great Unknown, Lupe eventually made it back to her home. It had been a long and dangerous journey to put it lightly. Her comrades and friends were on pins and needles the whole time until they one of the younger members saw her coming up from the canyon walls.

"There she is!" young Leeta shouted. Her and her twin sister Lyco, who were eight years old soon rushed out to greet her along with the rest of the pack.

Besides Leeta and Lyco, Lupe's team consisted of Lobo, her current boyfriend and second in command, a brown and gray furred Mobian Wolf. Next was Reynard, another brown furred Mobian. He was one of the main soldiers on the front lines. Then Canus, a white and blue furred Mobian responsible for cooking and feeding the troops. Last, but certainly not least, was Drago, one of the more recent recruits added to the pack. He also was one of the main solders that were on the front lines due to his athletic ability and natural strength.

"We were so worried about you, Lupe." Lyco said, hugging her tightly. "We thought those bots might have gotten you. You've been gone for over twelve hours."

The Wolf Pack leader soon returned her embrace, replying, "Sorry to worry you, young one, but I had to take it slow in order to avoid detection."

Lobo, her boyfriend, soon gave her a hug as well. However, he was more upset than relieved. "You should have let me go with you." He told her with a frown. "What you did was extremely dangerous."

Lupe though held her ground, answering with a frown of her own, "You know why I didn't. You would have been caught. We only have one optic camo suit to spare, and even that was no picnic. I even had to take out some bots with those special arrows as a diversion to keep from bumping into one."

Before Sir Charles had been roboticized, he had given some of his inventions to the Wolf Pack to help protect their home, with not only an optic camo suit, but even one hundred high tech arrows that could emit a strong electromagnetic pulse when hitting something on impact. The Wolf Pack were not one for using high tech equipment, but after Julian's invasion, they

realized they had no choice in order to survive.

"I could have handled them." Lobo shot back. "I'm not one of our best fighters for nothing."

"STOP IT!" Lupe shouted at him rebukingly. "This is no time to act tough. Robotnik's forces are a lot stronger than you realize." She then added in tears, "I don't want to lose you, Lobo. I need you more than ever now."

"After hearing that, Lobo quickly softened up, saying with a sad look in his eyes, "I don't want to lose you either. That's why I wanted to go with you. I couldn't even sleep last night because I was so worried about you being caught."

Lupe could not help but be touched by his words, as she hugged him once more, saying with a sniffle, "I'm sorry, Lobo, but I had no choice. Princess Sally and the others needed to be told what had happened during the last mission."

"I know… still can't believe it failed like that." After a long pause, Lobo asked Lupe, "So, did you ever find out what happened to Jules and Bernadette?"

Lupe shook her head in sadness, answering, "No, all I could find out before escaping is they're roboticized slaves now. What role that vile man has them doing now, I have no idea, but whatever it is, it cannot be good. "

Lobe softly groaned in anger. "I swear when I get my hands on that Robotnik, I'll tear him limb from limb."

"I know how you feel, but we can't do that for the time being." Lupe reminded him. "Our base needs to be reinforced before we even think about doing a military strike on Robotroplis."

Lobo couldn't argue with that, muttering soon after, "We should probably prepare for a possible raid as well. Knowing what the despicable Overlander has done, I have a bad feeling he'll be coming after us before too long."

Hearing this put the young wolf twins Lyco and Leeta on edge, as the thought of being caught and roboticized severely frightened them. Lupe soon saw the look of distress on their face kneeling down at their level, telling them "Don't worry, young ones. We'll make sure you'll be in the most secure part of our home should that happen.

"But what about you?" Leeta asked, still deeply concerned.

Wanting to put their minds at ease, "Lupe responded, "We'll be fine. Just try not to think about it, ok? It doesn't do any good to worry."

"Well, ok then, but we'll be more than willing to help if you need us." Lyco told her.

"I'll keep that in mind." The wolf pack leader said to them with a nod. "Anyway, why don't you go help Canus make lunch for everyone. I bet I'm not the only one starving now."

"Yes, ma'am." The young wolf twins answered. And with that, they ran off to carry out their duty.

"I hope you weren't serious about having them help with the defenses." Lobo told her with a slight frown. "They are clearly not ready for this kind of work."

"I know that." Lupe acknowledged. "But, like with Sir Charles' technology, we may have no choice in the matter. Better to have them prepared if worse comes to worse."

"Well, I sure hope it doesn't come to that." He told her. "We've had more than enough casualties for more than one lifetime."

Lupe could only nod in sadness, as she too could not bear to think of losing anymore of her pack.

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On 12/29/2016 at 2:22 AM, Prince By-Tor said:

Been loving this; I've been reading it on DeviantArt.

Concepts are well thought out, prose is much more dense than the dialogue-airy prose of many fan-fictions. The characters have high stakes and clear motivations that define their conflicts. There are also new exciting new concepts that revise characters in new interesting lights. So far this has been some of the best material on the site. We might have to award someone for their efforts.  ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 3: Sally's first day/Preparing for war

 

Back in Knothole, Rosie soon finished making lunch and called everyone to the table.

"Hope you're all plenty hungry." She told them, as they came in, "Because I've got a lot of turkey sandwiches with chicken soup."

"Oh, I'm hungry enough to eat a horse." Sonic quipped, licking his chops at the food.

"Well, since you do eat like a horse." Sally teased, "I would think it'd best if you didn't."

"Ha ha, very funny…"

"Now, children." Rosie told them firmly. "I don't want any harsh words at the table, ok? I want this to be a nice meal for us all."

"Yes, Rosie." Sonic and Sally said with a sigh.

Sally's nanny then noticed one was not present, none other than the young coyote himself.

"Huh… that's strange." Rosie said. "Antoine at least comes out to eat. I wonder why he hasn't this time."

"I'll go call him." Gandar offered.

"No, I think you better not." Rosie told him. "I bet he's still upset about before."

"Well, he needs to eat something." The olive-green lion remarked with a frown. "It's not healthy for him to skip meals on top of staying in his room all the time."

"Yes, but let me bring him something later." Rosie suggested. "I'm sure they'll be some left over and maybe I can get him to talk to me more about what's bothering him."

Gandar shrugged in submission, saying, "Fine, do you want. Anyway, no reason we can't eat now, so let's dig in."

Rosie couldn't argue with that, as she said, "Well, you heard him, everyone. "Let's eat."

They didn't have to be told twice, as everyone began to chow down, enjoying every bite of it. The young children enjoyed it even more due to how exhausting their training had been.

After ten minutes of silence while eating, Gandar soon asked Renee after finishing his meal, "So, tell me… do you still think Rotor should be helping you with your work? I don't have a good feeling about it."

Renee soon swallowed a bite of her soup, answering, "Well, this may surprise you, but I actually think Rotor did pretty decently for his first day."

"You're kidding me, right?" Gandar asked with arched eyebrows.

"Believe it or not, I'm serious." The red-haired fox told him firmly. "Yes, he made a few small mistakes here and there, but I was surprised by how easily Rotor learned from them and got better as the day went on. He is very teachable and was soaking up what I taught him like a sponge. So, if anything, I'd say he should be given some more time before taking him off of tech duty."

Gandar then looked over at Rosie, saying, "Surely you don't agree with this, right? I mean, he's just five years old. He's too young for this kind of work."

Rosie pondered this over, eventually saying, "Well, while I'm not completely for this idea, I do trust Renee's word on it. She knows tech better than any of us, so if she says Rotor is worthy of being her apprentice, I say let him do it until proven otherwise."

"but, but, but…" the olive-green lion soon sighed in submission. "Oh, fine… but I swear, if he makes one big mistake that hurts us all, he's going back to boot camp training like the rest of them. No ifs ands or buts about it."

"Fair enough." Renee acknowledged. She then turned to Rotor, saying with a wink, "I guess we'll have to make sure that doesn't happen, am I right?"

Not wanting to jeopardize learning something he loved, the purple walrus nodded his head in agreement with a hard swallow.

Everyone soon began to return their eating. It was then Rosie noticed Sally was still not wearing anything like her other friends, even eating a bit like them too. She was tempted to say something about it, but decided to let her be for the time being.

She soon thought to herself: She is only five after all. No reason to worry about this for now. Plus, she seems happy being like her friends. So, maybe in a weird way, it'll be good for her growth as a young princess.

Lunch soon finished, and the group left to continue their daily tasks. Before the young children did though, Sonic went to talk with Sally and her friends.

"You got something to say, Sonic hedgehog?" Sally asked, expecting him to say something negative to them.

"Yea, I do." He then surprised them all, saying, "Well, as much as I don't like admitting this, but you did all beat me fair and square on the obstacle course, so I just wanted to say… you girls really are something. I'm impressed."

This left them speechless, as they were not expecting that.

"Wow, I guess you can learn some manners after all." Sally teased him again.

"Ha ha, real cute. You're one to talk, wearing nothing but your fur now." Sonic shot back.

Sally soon blushed at him acknowledging that, as this was still something she was not used to hearing. The blue hedgehog then said, "I'm not here to pick a fight. I just wanted let you know that I'll be ready next time we do training. You girls won't beat me so easily tomorrow because I'm gonna be working on my own training for the rest of the day."

Sally was tempted to try to trash talk him about it, but instead said with a smirk, "Well, tomorrow should be a fun competition then, won't it?"

"Indeed it will be." Sonic answered with a smirk of his own. "Anyway, I gotta juice now, so I'll see you all then." Sonic started to rev his legs and take off, but soon stopped abruptly, deciding to tease Sally back from her ribs earlier, saying with a thumbs up, "Oh yea, by the way, I like your new style, Sal. Looks really good on you."

Again, Sally blushed at his words. Before she could respond, Sonic blasted off in a flash.

"Hee hee, I was right." Bunnie giggled, teasing her as well with a slight elbow jab. "He does like ya better this way."

"Ugh… why did I ever decide to do this?" Sally demanded with a groan, placing her hands over her face.

"Ah, don't let it get to you, Sally." Clover told with a smile. "Everyone is still used to it, as I'm sure you are as well. Just grin and bear it for now."

Realizing she would look even more foolish to back out of this new decision of hers, Sally answered with a heavy sigh, "Very well then. I suppose I can do that."

"Hey, Sally girl. You want to take a swim with us in the Power Ring pool later tonight?" Bunnie offered. "I bet it'll help take your mind off of this."

Realizing she didn't have much else to do, the red-haired squirrel nodded her in agreement.

"Great, we'll see you then." And with that, Bunnie ran off with Clover for a friendly game of tag around Knothole. Sally would have joined in, but had recently declined their invitation during lunch since she too wanted to do some personal training of her own for the rest of the afternoon.

While Sally went to do that, Rosie soon took a plate of food to Antoine's hut, who was still laying on his bed deeply depressed.

"Antoine? You ok?" Rosie asked after opening the door. "You didn't come for lunch."

"I'm not hungry." He muttered softly, looking away from her. "I'll.. get some food later."

"Oh… well, I brought you a plate." Sally's nanny told him. "I'll leave it on your stand. Just bring me it back when done, ok?"

"Yea… sure thing." Antoine still could not look at her. Feeling compassion for him, Rosie soon told the young coyote, "Hey, it's going to be ok. Don't let what's happened keep you down. We can still make the best of it."

Antoine was in no mood to answer that. After a long period of silence, Rosie again said with compassion, "Anyway, like I mentioned before, if you ever want to talk about something, I'll always have a listening ear. Hope you'll keep that in mind."

"I will… thanks."

Realizing she wasn't going to get anything else out of him, Rosie closed the door and let him be. Once she did, Antoine punched his pillow in anger several times. He felt awful about how he was acting around Rosie.

"What is wrong with me? I'm just being a big baby now." He muttered in disgust. "If my father saw me like this, he'd hang his head in shame."

Ironically enough, he even secretly admired how Sally had handled the training that day.

"She has lost a lot more than me, and yet was able to find the courage to carry on."

It was then Antoine sat up in heavy thought. "What do I do? Can I really just go back out there after everything that's happened?"

Antoine sadly could not answer that question now. Instead, the only thing he could think of was some personal soul searching.

"Why does this have to be so hard?" He muttered to himself disgusted. ""If the princess can toughen up after everything's she's been through, then what's my excuse?"

Again, the young coyote could not make himself answer it. Instead, all he can do was clinch his fists in anger, feeling like a total coward for his lack of courage.

"Oh, father, I wish you were here to tell me what to do. I need your help more than ever now."

Sadly, Antoine knew he was going to have to figure out this on his own, and it would be awhile before he did so. He was that conflicted about it.

Later that night, Sonic and Sally finished their personal training once it got too dark out. She then went to join her friends in the power ring pool.

"Hey, Sally girl." Bunnie greeted her warmly. "Glad you could make it."

"I wouldn't miss this for anything." She replied with a smile.

The squirrel princess quickly jumped in, joining in on their fun. Like with the tickle fight, they didn't talk a whole lot, but they didn't need to. They just enjoyed each other's company, having child like fun in the water for over an hour, laughing and giggling nearly the whole time.

"I can't believe I never joined you both in this before." Sally said, giggling happily near the end of it. "This is a lot more enjoyable than I ever thought."

"Hee hee, see what you missed out on?" Clover teased, splashing her playfully.

It was then Sally realized she had made a wise choice concerning her new way of life. As much as she still wished she could act like a princess, she realized what she needed now more than anything was just that special love and bond from those she called her best friends. It gave her hope that despite everything that had happened, she still had things to be thankful for. She even began to tear up inside at the thought of it.

"What's wrong, Sally girl?" Bunnie asked with concern. "Did we say something wrong?"

"No, not at all." The red hair squirrel replied embarrassed, wiping away her tears. "I'm just… really happy now."

Neither Bunnie or Clover could understand what she meant by that, but decided to not ruin the moment for her. Instead, Clover said with a smile, "I'm glad you are, Sally."

The two of them soon gave Sally a group hug from each side, as she soon joined in, smiling big the whole time. Neither of them cared their fur was soaking wet. Like before lunch, they just enjoyed the moment.

After they got out of the water, realizing how late it was, Sally soon dried off with a towel, saying, "Well, just know any activity you want to do from now on, count me in."

"We'll be sure to do that, Sally girl." Bunnie replied with a smile., now drying off as well. "Anyway, I'll see ya tomorrow morning, my friend."

"Ok then. Sleep well." Sally replied.

"You too." Clover chimed in with a nod, now leaving as well.

After they went their separate ways to their huts, Sally soon made it back home, now dried off enough to sleep on her bed. It was then Nicole again turned on unexpectedly, saying, "Hello, Princess. How are you?"

"Nicole? Seriously, how are you doing that? The red-haired squirrel asked, now starting to be a bit disturbed.

"I am a super A.I computer after all." Nicole informed her. "It should not surprise you of my capabilities."

"I know, but I don't remember you doing this before." Sally argued.

"Well, let's just say I could have, but didn't feel the need to until now."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sally asked, now more disturbed than ever. "Is there something you're not telling me?"

"One day I'll explain it to you, but for now, do not trouble yourself about this." Nicole told her. "Like you told me earlier, this is something I have to deal with on my own for now."

Sally was now starting to wonder what was truly was going on with Nicole. Before she could ponder it too much, Nicole asked, "So, it sounds like you had quite a day, Princess."

"Yea, I did." The red-haired squirrel acknowledged with a nod. "But I rather you didn't call me that. I'm just Sally now, ok?"

"As you wish, Sally." Her A.I computer than added, "You seem happier now. Did it have to do with your new choices?"

Sally again was perplexed how Nicole could sense her emotions, but this time didn't press the issue, saying with a smile, "Yea, I know it may sound hard to believe, but… I truly know now I made the right choice. Being on my friend's level is just what I need now to cope with life in Knothole."

"I do not understand what you mean by that," her super A.I computer commented. "but I suppose it is none of my business."

"Well, maybe one day I'll be able to explain it to you, Nicole." Sally said. "It's something I don't fully understand myself. I just feel happier doing so."

"I hope you do, Sally. I would like to know more about that feeling you have experienced."

Sally could not help but sense Nicole's words this time felt a bit saddened, puzzling her a great deal. Again though, she decided to not press her super computer about it. That and she was very tired from her busy day. And so, she prepared for bed.

Seeing her nightgown on the bed, Sally was about to put it on, but for some reason, hesitated to do so.

"Well, maybe I could go without it for one night." Sally said softly.

"Are you really thinking of sleeping like this as well?" Nicole asked. "This is not like you at all."

"I know, but… for some reason, I just feel happier being like this." Sally replied softly. "Plus, I've gone the whole day without any clothes, so what's a few more hours in bed going to hurt?"

Nicole gave out a monotoned chuckle in response, saying, "If you feel happier being this way, who am I to judge?"

Even Sally could not understand herself about this decision, but chose to not to look too deep into it. For now, she would just go with the flow.

"Anyway, see you in the morning, Nicole."

"Good night, Sally."

And with that, both Nicole and Sally went to sleep. Unlike last night, Sally did not have much trouble sleeping this time around. It was as if she was much more at peace about her fate in Knothole compared to the last three months. Either that or was learning to grow up at a much faster rate than before.

Whatever the case may be, one thing was for sure: Sally now felt stronger inside, both in mind and spirit.

Later that night, Robotnik got an update from his secret mission. A Swatbot soon came on his video screen to give him the news.

"Status Report." He instructed.

"Dr. Robotnik, we have pinpointed Rosemary Prowers' current location." The Swatbot informed.

"Really?" Julian soon chuckled evilly to himself. "Where is she?"

"In this abandoned warehouse, sir." The Swatbot answered, pointing towards it, now moving the camera in that direction.

"Well, what are you standing around for?" Robotnik demanded with impatience. "Go get her!"

"No need, sir. I already have sent three dozen troops inside. They should be bringing her out very soon."

Robotnik was still not satisfied with that answer, but nonetheless let it go, adding, "Make sure they seal off all the escape routes. DO NOT let her get away."

"That is why I'm standing out here, sir." The Swatbot reiterated. "There is only one other way out besides the main entrance, and that has a perimeter standing by. If she goes out either way, she'll be caught and surrounded."

"Good. I cannot wait to finally have that Mobian in my clutches." Julian said with eager delight. "Once I have her in my clutches, she'll make one of my forces in the making very powerful one. Heh heh…"

As before, Snively was listening from the outside, wanting to learn more about why his uncle was so determined to capture her.

"The warehouse is only three stories high." The Swatbot reiterated. "With one fleet on each floor, there is no way for her to get away undetected."

"You had better be right about that." Robotnik warned. "I will not tolerate any incompetence here."

"Relax, sir. We should have this all wrapped in about…"

The Swatbot could not finish that line. Without warning, a massive explosion was heard from inside the warehouse.

"WHAT WAS THAT?!" Julian demanded.

"Hold on, I'll check, sir." The Swatbot went to inspect the area, then said ten seconds later, "Sir, it looks like the building was hit by a…" Before he could finish that line, all the Swatbots on the outside were hit by a massive EMP wave, frying them all along with the camera. Within moments, Robotnik figured out what just happened, banging his arm rests in a furious rage.

"CURSE THOSE VILE MOBIANS!" He shouted seething, "It was a trap! I should have known!"

Indeed it was. Ari's Freedom Fighter team had lured a big chunk of Robotnik's forces with a decoy of Rosemary to destroy them in one swoop after learning of Julian's plan to capture her.

Robotnik soon let out a yell so loud in anger, even Snively had to cover his ears. "I swear I will get them for this!" he hissed. "If they think they can take advantage of my aggressiveness, they have another thing coming!"

Not wanting to make it too conspicuous, Snively waited another two minutes before entering in, saying, "Sir, is everything ok?"

"What are you doing in here?" Julian demanded.

"Well sir," Snively replied, playing dumb. "I heard a scream and just thought I check up on you to find out why."

"None of your business!" Robotnik shouted at him, grabbing his nephew by the collar again in one strong swoop. Snively was now worried he might have given himself away. Instead, Robotnik told him firmly, "When I want you in my lair, worm. I'll call for you. What I do or say in the privacy of it is again NONE of your business!"

"I meant no offense, sir." The small lackey explained nervously. "I was only concerned about you and our operation is all."

"SHUT UP!" Robotnik once again threw him against the wall in anger. "I'm not in the mood for any of your pathetic excuses!"
Julian soon walked up to him, saying as intimidatingly as possible, "This is your last warning, Snively. You barge in here without my permission one more time, I'm turning you into a paper weight as painfully as possible. Do you understand?"

Snively soon shrieked in horror, answering, "Yes, sir. I won't let it happen again."

"Then get out of my sight before I change my mind!"

The small lackey didn't have to be told twice. He quickly ran out the door as fast as he could. Like before, Snively was again incensed by this treatment.

"Just you wait, Julian…" He said to himself, seething inside as well. "When I begin to sabotage your plans behind the scenes, I'll make you ever regret treating me like this. And then once you're weakened, I'll make my move to remove you from power for good!"

Before he ran off, Snively listened in one again to get any additional info on his uncle. This time, Robotnik called another Swatbot unit.

"Yes, ?"

"Assemble twelve dozen Swatbots and a half dozen Mega muck carriers outside my lair on the double." Julian instructed. "It's time I dealt with these vile pests, starting with the Wolf Pack in the Great Unknown."

"As you command, sir." The Swatbot acknowledged. "I shall have them ready within the hour."

"Good. You have your orders. Now carry them out."

And with that, Robotnik turned off the screen, preparing to devise his battle plan to take down his enemies in that region. Snively meanwhile finally put away his hearing device, now in deep thought.

"So, Julian is finally going after them, eh? Well, I think I know the perfect way to sabotage it." He said with an evil grin. "That disgusting tub of lard won't even know what hit him until it's too late."

Snively then ran off to brainstorm once more. He didn't know how long it would take to carry out the full extent of his plan, but he was determined to be a constant thorn in his uncle's side nonetheless.

The next morning in Knothole, Gandar got up around 7am. This time he was going to only let the children sleep in until 8. However, before he would get them ready for drills after breakfast. He would first stop by Antoine's hut, waiting for him to get up. Once he saw he was awake and dressed, he casually knocked on his door.

"Antoine? It's me, Gandar. May I come in?"

Antoine not surprisingly was not in the mood to do so.

Look, I just want to talk is all. Can you let me do that at least? I won't yell at you this time. I promise."

Remembering his word he gave to Rosie, he quickly sighed in defeat, answering, "Very well then."

After Antoine opened the door, Gandar said, Let's talk over here." ,pointing to two chairs next to his bed.

Antoine slowly complied, now sitting on the chair on the left. Once Gandar was sitting on the right one, Gandar looked away sighing. He was not looking forward to this part.

"Look, son. I didn't mean to make you feel like dirt yesterday. I just wanted you to do your best is all. Surely you can understand that, right?"

Antoine did, but nonetheless did not budge, retorting, "Zat is still no excuse to not set a good example for us. We're only young kids after all."

"Yes, yes, I know." Gandar said, still not looking at him. "I guess I thought I could train you all similarly to my solders from my days as a sergeant in the Acorn army. But, I guess I got a lot to learn about how to handle young children."

Antoine this time did not answer, but only nod his head in agreement.

The olive-green lion finally said, now looking young Antoine in the eye, "Anyway, I just wanted to say… I'm sorry. I was a little too hard on you and I deeply regret it now."

You were more than a little too hard, Antoine thought to himself with a frown. He was tempted to say that it out loud, but didn't want to be rude since he had gotten an apology.

"Also, I'd like you to try again with the training." Gandar said after a long pause. "I understand you're still grieving over your father and I don't want to make things harder for you than necessary, but… we all need you as part of the team."

After hearing that, the young coyote softened up a bit. Gandar then added, "If you rather not, I'll understand for now, but I'd really like you to consider it at least. Can you do that for me?"

Again not wanting to be rude, Antoine answered with a sigh, "Well, I might. Could I give you my answer after breakfast?"

"Sure thing." Gandar said with a slight smile. He soon added trying to get his trust, "Anyway, did I ever tell you I got to be trained by your father when I was a young private?"

"Really?" Antoine was now intrigued, "Was he as hard on you as you were with me?"

"Yes and no." Gandar replied with a chuckle "There were times he was very hard on us, but other times he showed his softer side, showing that while he was a great warrior who expected perfection, he also had a heart for us all. We weren't just another solider to him, but someone he cared about and wanted the best out of. I couldn't help but greatly respect him for being able to balance those two when training me."

Antoine could not help but admire his father even more now. Gandar then added, "I guess I need to be more like him when it comes to training you young ones. So, I just wanted to let you know if you do train with us again, I promise you I will set a great example for you to follow. I won't expect any more out of you than I already do myself."

Antoine was tempted to give him answer right there, but wanting to think it over for a while longer, he said to the olive-green lion instead, "I appreciate that, sir. I shall make my decision very soon."

"That's fine." Gandar soon stood up, offering his hand to Antoine to shake it, saying, "Pals?"

Antoine didn't answer him back, but shook his hand nonetheless to again not be rude, which Gandar took as a yes nonetheless.

"Anyway, I better go get the others. See you at breakfast."

And with, Gandar walked out. Once he was gone, Antoine felt even worse inside than after Rosie had left yesterday. He soon walked over to the mirror in his hut saying with disgust, "I have to try."

He then added, looking up, "I won't shame you again, father. I may not ever be as strong and kind as you are, but I won't run from this any longer. I will try as hard as I can and make you proud of me one day."

After a long pause, Antoine soon looked at his father's sword he had placed on his wall, declaring with firm resolve, "I will even learn how to wield this blade you entrusted to me someday as well. And when I do, I will finish the job you were not able to."

Antoine could not help but tear up at that last part, as it was a painful memory he did not want to think about. Nevertheless, he composed himself, now picking up the sword still in its sheath by the handle, trying to swing it like his father had done so masterfully in the past. Sadly, he was not able to do so for now. The grief of losing him was still too strong. Instead, he could only take a few weak swings before dropping it and softly crying to himself. Realizing he wasn't ready for it just yet, Antoine put it back on his wall, feeling foolish for even attempting to use the sword. Nevertheless, he made up his mind he would find a way to get past his grief and continue his father's legacy with that very weapon one day down the road. He didn't know how long it would take, but Antoine would not back down now.

"I must do this…" he stated, fighting back the tears. "For him."

While this was going on, another young child of Knothole was dealing with their own struggle to cope with life, none other than the Seedrian Cosmo.

From her earliest memories, Cosmo had never known a time of peace due to being born during the Great War. Her father, Lucas, had been the main leader of the Seedrian clan when they formed their alliance with the Acorn Kingdom, now fighting their former comrades, the Overlanders. While Julian's technology had played a major role in the victory, the Seedrians nevertheless provided solid allied support, keeping their food supply strong, even some using some of their special abilities to help as well.

Depending on the breed and gender of the Seedrian, they could learn up to three unique abilities, ranging from being able to use chaos energy, growing an exotic flower known as the Krudzu, an aggressive Venus fly trap shaped plant capable of eating metal as well as spreading rapidly in a very short period of time when planted in the ground. On top of that, it is one of the more smarter breeds of flower, being able to burrow underground for long periods of time and use sneak attacks when metal like beings such as robots came too close. The last Seedrian special ability was a solar force field, capable of deflecting numerous explosives and other weapons within a short period of time. While this skill was mainly predominant in male Seedrians, a few female Seedrians could also be bestowed it too depending on their genetics.

After the Great War was over, Cosmo and her family were considered royalty among the Mobotropolis citizens. Ironically enough though, despite their fathers' close friendship, Cosmo and Sally did not have the same kind of relationship. While both mutually respected each other, their friendship was considered acquaintances at best. Sally preferred being with Mobians like Bunnie and Clover more while Cosmo was more comfortable with her sister Galaxina and her best friend Jasmine. The closest Mobian friend Cosmo had next to her Seedrian kind was Clover due to her also having plant like abilities.

Nevertheless, like with Sally, they did not have close ties either. They only spent time together sparingly. Also like Sally, Cosmo had no idea where her father currently was. Both had disappeared after Robotnik took over. While having her big sister and best friend around kept her morale up, it was not enough to keep from being depressed at times. On top of that, she felt completely inadequate compared to them.

Her best friend Jasmine currently had seemed to easily pick up the abilities of keeping plants healthy after soaking in a few hours of sunlight. Her big sister Galaxina on the other hand appeared to be on the verge on learning the rare female Seedrian skill of a solar force field, though it was for now in its alpha stages at best for the time being. Cosmo meanwhile struggled to even to do the basic skill of healing plant seeds.

"Why can't I help like them?" Cosmo pondered to herself with bitterness. "Am I really that weak?"

Rosie, who was currently in charge of helping the Seedrians develop their skills had noticed Cosmo's struggles the day before, tried to encourage her as best as she knew how. Needless to say, it did not help much. Seeing her friends that much more skilled discouraged her a great deal.

"If I can't even be nearly as good as them, then what's the point of me even training? I'm just wasting my time."
Cosmo was at the moment very tempted to give up and instead sulk for the day. However, after seeing how kind and compassionate Rosie had been with her, she knew she couldn't do it just yet.

"Sally's guardian tried really hard to help me keep my spirits up when I was feeling down." The young Seedrian said with a sigh. "I owe it to her to work at it for at least a little longer."

After Cosmo made up her mind to give it another shot, she still wondered if she was wasting her time.

As much as I appreciate Rosie's encouragement, Cosmo thought to herself, it's sadly not going to last to keep me motivated. I'll need something else to give me that confidence to keep going.

What that was, Cosmo didn't know, but chose to just grin and bear it for the time being.

Twenty minutes later, Rosie woke up and went to make breakfast for everyone. While there, Argus soon walked over to give her a report after his night watch shift was over.

"We got more trouble." He reported sullen.

"What do you mean?" Rosie inquired with concern on her face.

"I just did a quick glance from one of our tree scopes and… Robotnik's upped his game. There's now at least twice as many Swatbots patrolling around the Great Forest as before. Maybe even more."

Rosie quickly gasped, asking, "Are they planning a raid?"

"I don't know…" Argus answered, shaking his head. "But… it can't be good. I think Lupe might have inadvertently tipped them off of her visit after leaving."

At this point, Sally's nanny was very distressed inside, trying to think of how to deal with this. She soon composed herself, saying, "We might need to add another booby trap near the entrance just to be on the safe side. I don't think one is going to be enough now."

"That's what I was thinking too." Argus acknowledged. "Have Renee get on it after breakfast."

"Ok then. You go ahead and get some sleep now." Rosie told him. "You must be exhausted."

"Yea… it's a real chore being on night shift duty, but… someone's got to do it. Anyway, I'll see you after I catch a few winks. Let me know if anything changes during that time."

"Will do." Rosie nodded.

And with that, Argus went to his hut to get some well needed sleep. Once he was out of sight, Rosie could not help but fear what Robotnik might be planning next. "Do I dare tell the children about this?" Sally's nanny asked herself. "They're already deeply troubled enough as is."

After thinking it over long and hard, Rosie finally came to the conclusion she couldn't. "It would only distract them from their training and worry about something even I don't know what will happen next. I'll just tell the other adults here for the time being"

With that settled, Rosie continued her breakfast preparation, this time making everyone cereal with toast and some fruit.

Eventually, it was 8am, where Gandar blew a whistle to wake up the other children.

"Alright, wake up, young ones…" He told them firmly. "We got a big day ahead of us."

Not surprisingly, it even awoke some from a deep sleep, jolting them to sit up startled.

"Mah stars… morning already?" Bunnie moaned softly, rubbing her eyes. "That training must have really wore me out yesterday. Ah'm still sleepy."

Even Sonic was jolted from it too, though his reaction was more of the opposite, racing out of his hut in anticipation.

"Oh yea, I've been looking forward to this." He stated with a smirk, stretching his legs. "Let's get to it."

Gandar could not help but chuckle at his enthusiasm. "We'll get to it soon enough, but how about a hearty breakfast first? You'll need it to keep you going."

Sonic didn't have to be told twice, heading over to the breakfast table. The rest of the children soon followed suit, coming out with five to ten second spans of each other. Ironically this time, Antoine was not one of the last to come out, as he had been waiting to give his answer about training to Gandar. The same could not be said for Sally. As before, she came out last in nothing but her fur like the day before much to the disapproval of the other adults there. However, like yesterday, they again decided to not make an issue about it for the time being.

By this point, Sally was starting to get used to it, even intentionally ignoring some of the awkward glances that came her way.

"Well, now that everyone's here, dig in." Rosie told them.

As they all did so, Gandar waited about ten minutes before bringing up the question.

"So, have you made up your mind, Antoine?" He asked the young coyote. "I need to know now."

Antoine soon composed himself, answering with a sigh, "Well, I admit I'm not completely eager to train now, but I want to try, sir. So yes, count me in."

"Excellent." Gandar said with a beaming smile. "You won't regret this. I assure you of that."

Antoine deep down was already regretting it, but refused to give in to his fears nonetheless.

Halfway into breakfast, Rosie took Gandar and Renee aside, wanting to talk with them privately about Argus' report. Not surprisingly, it did raise a few eyebrows from the young children.

"What that's all about?" the blue hedgehog pondered with suspicion. "That's not like them."

Even Sally could not help but wonder why her nanny insisted on a private conversation with the rest of the adults there. Nevertheless, she shrugged it off, saying, "Well, if it was something important, I'm sure they would let us know."

Sonic though wasn't completely convinced of that. "I don't know, Sal… I got a hunch it's something big and they don't want to tell us."

"Now let's not go borrowing trouble, Sugar." Bunnie told him. "For all we know, it could something that's none of our business."

Sonic still wasn't entirely convinced, but reluctantly complied, continuing his breakfast. Ironically though, his suspicions would be proven accurate. The second Rosie told them what Argus had found out, they too were horrified about it.

"Are you absolutely sure about that?" Renee asked with fright.

"Unfortunately so…" Rosie answered sullenly. "Robotnik has increased the number of troops outside our home. For what reason, I don't know, but it's not a good sign."

Gandar could only shake his head in disgust. "Just great… that monster is not even going to give us a chance to train the young ones to be able to fight back. I'm probably wasting my time helping them now."

"Don't talk like that!" Rosie scolded him. "We don't know what Robotnik has planned, so we can't panic over it just yet."

"And what do you suggest we do then?" The olive-green lion argued. "I don't want to frighten the young children anymore than you do, but they need to know about this."

"That won't do any good." Rosie replied firmly. "They need to focus on their training, not worrying about a raid."

"Are you suggesting we don't tell them about this?" Renee inquired with concern. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Until we know for sure what Robotnik has planned for our home," Sally's nanny argued, "telling them about this would only do more harm than good."

Ironically, neither Gandar or Renee could argue with that. Gandar soon let out a reluctant sigh, saying, "Alright, fine, I suppose that is a good point, but the second we do know what Robotnik is up to, you must tell the young ones to get them ready."

"Very well then." Rosie acknowledged. "In the meantime, just tell them we were discussing how to train them for the day. I know they won't buy it entirely, but make it sound convincing. The last thing we need is to have them completely afraid now."

"Alright then, I'll do my best." Gandar replied.

"Well, what about us?" Renee inquired. "How do you think we should handle this?"

"That's why I called you aside." Rosie explained. "As a good way to disguise our true intentions, I want you to show Rotor how to make a homemade explosive device."

"You can't be serious!" the red-haired fox protested. "He's too young for that kind of work."

"I'm not saying have him do any of the complicated stuff." Rosie argued. "Just give him a few basic pointers about it to help him learn what it takes to make one when of age."

"I don't like this idea at all." Gandar stated with a frown. "Rotor could blow himself up if he's not careful."

"Like I said, Renee will take care of most of it." Rosie argued again. "Rotor will just sit and watch, getting some experience. Besides, we don't have any choice. We must build another bomb around the entrance to deter Robotnik's forces just in case. This way, none of the children will know its true intent."

Renee was still not entirely convinced of this idea, but eventually complied, saying, "Very well then… I suppose when you put it that way, it must be done."

"Desperate times call for desperate measures." Sally's nanny told her with a somber look on her face. "Just make sure Rotor doesn't handle any of the explosive material and it should go smoothly."

After Renee again complied with that order, Gandar said, "Anyway, let's head back. The children most likely are wondering why we are talking like this."

"True, but as long as we make our plan sound convincingly," Rosie explained, "they shouldn't have too much suspicion."

Neither Gandar not Renee were entirely convinced of that, but would obey Rosie's wishes on that. They soon returned back to the breakfast table. As expected, the children asked them what it was all about.

"Oh, don't pay much attention to that." Rosie answered with a warm smile. "It was just business stuff about Knothole."

"You sure about that?" Sonic asked with arched eyebrows. "I don't know… it looked pretty personal if you ask me."

Gandar chuckled, patting the blue hedgehog on the head, "You got quite a creative imagination, son. Trust me, everything's fine. Rosie just wanted to ask me what I had in mind when training you so I don't push you kids too hard."

Rosie soon took that idea and ran with it, adding, "Well, you can't blame me for making sure he's fair with you all, am I right? We don't want any of you feeling discouraged like Antoine was yesterday."

"Then why did you take Miss Renee aside?" Sally asked, not entirely buying that.

"Oh um… well, I just wanted to know what she had in mind when training Rotor today." Rosie explained. "I am the leader here after all. I want to make sure I know what's going on with all of your training."

"Really? Well, what do you have in mind for me?" Rotor asked the red-haired fox with curiosity.

"Well, after thinking it over, I think I'd like to give you some lessons on how to build explosives." Renee told him. "Would you like to learn how to make them?"

"Really? You'd let me do that? Oh wow… that sounds great!" Needless to say, Rotor was deeply excited about it. Sonic however was still not convinced of their answers.

"You're just fibbing to us." He said with a frown. "There's something else going on." The other adults began to look on deeply concerned, as Sonic added, "You must think we're pretty stupid to buy that baloney."

"I won't have you being disrespectful here." Gandar told him with a frown. "Do you really think we'd lie to you about this?"

"Yes, I do." The blue hedgehog shot back. "Letting Rotor learn to build explosives now? What fools do you take us for?"

"Sonic, I'm not lying here." Renee confirmed to him. "I really am going to let him help me build some."

"Why didn't you let him yesterday?" Sonic argued back. "He told me you guys you just did basic tech stuff."

"That was lesson one." Renee explained sheepishly. "Building explosives is lesson two."

Sonic's suspicions were still high. Gandar finally intervened, saying firmly, "Now look, you, I want you to stop getting all suspicious about this. We would not lie to you about something if it would harm you later on."

"You promise me that?" the blue hedgehog interrogated, now looking him directly in the eye to read his body language.

Gandar at first struggled to meet his gaze, but quickly did just that, saying to Sonic firmly again, "Yes, I promise you this. Now I want you to promise me you'll trust us to do what's best for you all."

Sonic did not want to do that, but not wanting to back out of a promise that he got from him in return, he slowly nodded his head, saying, "Ok, I promise, sir."

"Glad to have that cleared up with you, son." Gandar said with a slight smile. "Ok, let's finish breakfast so we can get started on our training."

Ten minutes later, breakfast was finally finished. Once the table was cleaned off, the children went to their designated training spots, preparing for another day of hard work.

Once Gandar and his group of children arrived, he prepared to train them, starting off with another round of calisthenics. However, he inadvertently got lost in his thoughts, as Rosie's news was still deeply troubling him. It got to the point even Sonic could sense something was bothering him.

"You know, sir, you don't have to hide anything from us." The blue hedgehog told him bluntly. "If there's something we need to know, we can handle it."

Gandar quickly snapped back to attention, saying with a firm look, "I thought you promised to trust me not to lie to you about stuff."

"I did, but you're acting weird now, sir." Sonic answered. "I can't help but wonder."

Wanting to cover it up, Gandar said, "Don't mind me. I have my moments of feeling sad like you do. You can't fault me for that, right?"

"No, I suppose not, if that's what you're really doing."

"Yes, I am, Sonic. Anyway, enough of this silly chitchat. Let's get to training."

Sonic could not help but feel more suspicious by the minute, but reluctantly complied. They soon all got into their stances, as the olive-green lion now looked at them with firm resolve.

"Ok, young ones, let's do it to it!"

And with that, their second day of training was underway

To be continued...

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On 3/16/2018 at 12:30 PM, TheRedStranger said:

Any news on Chapter Four X?

Sadly, not much. Hit a real wall as of late. Basically trying to figure out to write the part where the young children are training and go from struggling at it at first to getting better and better as time goes on.

I can post the WIP Chapter 4 if you want though if you haven't seen it yet.

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On 3/17/2018 at 9:56 PM, SonicSatamX93 said:

Sadly, not much. Hit a real wall as of late. Basically trying to figure out to write the part where the young children are training and go from struggling at it at first to getting better and better as time goes on.

I can post the WIP Chapter 4 if you want though if you haven't seen it yet.

Do it, we would like to see it.

 

Keep posting dude, you have some good stuff and good insight in the other topics.

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Chapter 4: Training continues/Mysterious informant

 

Like yesterday, they began with a rigorous one hundred set of jumping jacks. Unlike yesterday, Gandar now joined in, giving them an example to follow. Not surprisingly, Antoine still struggled to keep up with the others.

"C'mon, son… I know you can do better than that." The olive-green lion said firmly, looking him in the eye. "Just do like me. You can do it."

Seeing Gandar's example gave the young coyote the courage to press on, now trying as hard as he possibly could. Even though he was still lagging behind, Gandar didn't press him on it for the time being.

"Ok, onto to the next drill." Gandar said after they finished. "Fifty push ups. Let's go!"

The young children quickly got into position and did just that. To help Antoine out, Gandar laid down next to him while doing his.

"See? It's not hard, son." The olive-green lion said, doing some on one hand. "All it takes is heart and courage."

Ironically, Antoine felt discouraged hearing that due to how little he had of each. Nevertheless, he refused to quit this time, eventually picking up the pace little by little.

"That's it!" Gandar said with a beaming smile. "Just keep telling yourself, "No pain, no pain… let the mind control the body, not the body control the mind."

Antoine tried to follow that advice, though it would not come easy. His body was already starting to ache after twenty pushups. Even so, he willed himself to press on, eventually making it to fifty nearly exhausted.

After giving them a small breather and some water to refresh, Gandar said, "Ok, time for fifty sit-ups. I'm going to pair you into teams of two this team. Sonic, Bunnie. You're team #1. One of you does sit-ups while the other holds their legs down until they finish. Antoine, Sally, you're team #2. Clover and I will be team #3. Let's see who can do theirs the fastest. Ok, let's go, go, GO!"

Within seconds, they all formed their stances.. Sonic went first on his team while Sally went first on her team and Gandar started off for his.

"Oh yea, I've been waiting for this." Sonic said with a smirk. "This time I'll show ya why I'm the best here.

"I guess I'm going to have to knock your pride down a peg again." Sally quipped, smirking back.

"Less talking, more sit-ups!" Gandar barked.

The young children quickly complied, as they all did their job. Not surprisingly, Sally could not help but notice some odd glances from Antoine while he was holding her ankles down, making her frown at him.

"Would you please just focus here and quit staring at me for once?" She asked annoyed.

"My apologies, princess, but I've been meaning to ask you… why are you training like zis? It is very odd."

"Why do you care?" She shot back frowning. "I can train anyway I want. It's no concern of yours."

"Well, no, but, don't you feel at least a little bit embarrassed training um… au naturel?"

By this point, Sally was getting fed up by all of this unwanted attention. She soon let out a fierce grunt, answering bluntly, "I'm naked and proud of it. If that bothers you, then too bad."

Antoine was a bit speechless at her words. "Zis is not like you at all, Princess."

"Well, I'm not a princess anymore." She shot back. "So either help me win this competition or I'll make you train naked with me."

This no doubt freaked him out, saying, "You wouldn't dare…"

Gandar finally spoke up, saying with a chuckle while doing one sit-up, "Well, if you don't stop bothering Sally about this, I may just let her do that, son. So I strongly suggest you get back to work and end this pointless chatter."

Antoine didn't have to be told twice, now focusing on the task at hand. After the first set was done, it was nearly neck and neck with Sonic ahead by one pushup. Gandar could have pulled way ahead due to being much stronger and faster, but went easy to not discourage them. Eventually, Bunnie along with Antoine and Clover got into position to do their sit-ups.

"Alright, give me your best, Antoine." Sally told him. "Don't let me down."

Due to him having a bit of a crush on Sally, Antoine did just that, even avoiding eye contact with her to keep the awkwardness to a bare minimum. Bunnie meanwhile kept up Sonic's lead by showing off her strong athletic abilities. Even Clover kept a steady pace, staying within one to three push ups of the young rabbit's pace.

Not wanting to lose, Sally said to the young coyote, "C'mon, pick it up! I know you can do better than that!"

Sadly, Antoine could not. As hard as he tried, Bunnie and Clover were just better at it, finishing ahead of him with the young southern belle rabbit winning by half a pushup.

"Oh yea, score one for the hedgehog." Sonic said, pumping his fist in the air.

Not surprisingly, Sally was annoyed at this, looking at Antoine with disappointment.

"What, I did my best, Princess." He quipped. "It's not easy doing this."

Before Sally could retort back in disgust, Gandar stepped in, saying, "Now let's not have any bickering about this. As much as I'd love for you all to excel to the highest level, you all are different and have different talents and skills. So, as long as you give me your best, that's good enough for the time being."

Sally still was not satisfied by that, but not wanting to make a scene, she said to Antoine with a sigh, "Very well then. I appreciate you trying at least."

Hearing this made the young coyote smile a bit, saying, "It's no trouble at all, my princess."

"It's Sally." She told him bluntly. "I don't want any more of this princess talk from you until further notice. You got it?"

Wanting to please her, Antoine quickly nodded in compliance. Gandar then spoke up, saying, "Anyway, that's enough standing around. It's time for the next round of calisthenics!"

 

While that was going on, Rotor and Renee began their daily work. As Renee got out the supplies to do so, the purple walrus asked her, "So, uh… what kind of explosive are we going to be building?"

"The electromagnetic kind, my young apprentice." The red-haired fox answered, starting to assemble it with her toolkit. "So, make sure to pay close attention. One of these days, you will be making these yourself."

Being fascinated by this, Rotor had no problems with that whatsoever. He watched very carefully as Renee began to assemble a laser triggered EMP bomb the size of a small boulder a few dozen feet up from the first trap. Not surprisingly, he had a few questions about it.

"So, uh… just curious, but how long will this take to build?"

"Well, considering how delicate and intricate this kind of explosive is, Rotor, it'll take us at minimum three to four hours."

"That long? How come?" he asked puzzled.

"We have to make sure all the wires and parts are assembled properly." Renee explained. "Otherwise, you risk having the bomb exploding on you while working on it. And even though this one is not a standard explosive, you could still do great harm to yourself. Any kind of explosive is not to be taken lightly when constructed. You must treat it like you would a small infant."

"Wow, I had no idea how complicated this kind of work was." Rotor stated, feeling a bit overwhelmed.

"That's why you're only going to do the light stuff of it for now." Renee reiterated. "We can't afford to have something go wrong with this one."

Rotor couldn't help but wonder what she meant by that last part, but not wanting to make things awkward like Sonic did earlier, he instead asked, "So, will I be learning how to build other kinds of explosives too?"

"Huh…? Oh yea, of course." The red-haired fox answered a bit sheepishly. "But I want you to focus on learning this one first, and then we'll talk about building other kind of explosives."

"Cool. Which ones exactly?"

Renee was again caught off by this questions, but to keep his suspicions at bay, she answered, Oh, um… the standard pipe bomb, electromagnetic grenade, and when you're at a higher level of bomb building, I'll even show you to make the most advanced one of all: a red phosphorus grenade."

"Ooh, I like the sound of that last one." The purple walrus stated with giddiness. "What does it do?"

"Well, think of it like a standard smoke bomb, but a much more advanced one." Renee explained. "On top of blinding Mobian and Overlander vision, it can blind machines like Swatbots with infrared vision too. Basically, it's the ultimate deterrent when it comes to vision."

"Oh, I can't wait to learn how to build that one." Rotor said, still excited. "I hope they'll be enough supplies for me to practice on when of age."

"Don't worry about that." Renee told him. "Sir Charles brought a huge supply of metal parts, wiring and bomb mechanisms to Knothole a few months back. We have enough for quite some time."

"Really? Huh… so why did Sonic's uncle bring that much here?" Rotor asked puzzled.

"Well, the Great War was still going on and It wasn't going good for either side." Renee answered. "It was pretty much a stalemate for months on end, so wanting to find a place to develop his research to help the Acorn Army get an advantage; Sir Charles chose a place that was unknown to the Overlander troops to do it without worry of being bombed for the time being."

"That is very interesting." Rotor said. "Sounds like he had quite a few projects going on here from the looks of it."

"More than you even know." The red-haired fox told him firmly. "And had it not been for that traitorous Julian and his vile nephew interfering, they no doubt would have been developed a lot faster than now."

Rotor could not help but sense deep anger in Renee when saying that. Even the purple walrus was emotionally disturbed thinking about it.

"I sure hope Sir Charles is still alive and well, even if he is a machine now." She added with a deeply saddened expression on her face. "I really miss him. He was a great mentor and friend to me."

It was then Rotor noticed Renee abruptly stopped working and began to softly cry to herself, making him realize just how close the two of them had been before. The purple walrus eventually put his hand on her shoulder, saying with sympathy,

"Well, at least his work was left in good hands. I know you'll carry on his legacy until he can be brought back to us."

Despite his brash words, Renee could not help but appreciate him trying to encourage her to keep going. She eventually wiped her tears and gave him a warm hug, saying, "Thanks, I needed that."

"Hey, what are apprentices for?" he answered with a humble smile.

"Well, I'd say you'll be more than an apprentice to me at the rate you're going." Renee remarked, smiling back at him.

Ironically enough, Rotor did not feel the least bit awkward about this. Despite their difference in age, he could already sense they were starting to bond like she had with Sir Charles during their time together when working on his projects.

"Anyway, I think that's enough sentimental stuff for now." She said. "We got work to do, do we not?"

"That we do, Miss Renee." Rotor acknowledged with a nod. "Let's get to it."

 

Meanwhile, Rosie continued to help the Seedrians during their special training. This sadly was not easy for her due to having duties of monitoring the others' activities on top of having to babysit Clover's young sister Blossom. Nevertheless, she knew someone had to run things, so she multitasked to the best of her ability.

While nursing the young hedgehog girl, Rosie again couldn't help but notice the struggles of Cosmo as the others practiced mastering their Seedrian given abilities. Jasmine was now getting even stronger with her seed healing skills, causing one of the nearby fruit trees to flourish and even grow a bit. Galaxina continued to improve trying to learn the solar force field skill.
Cosmo on the other hand? As hard she tried, she could barely implement the basic seed healing techniques on a nearby rosebush. After struggling to help it flourish like Jasmine had with the tree, she soon collapsed in exhaustion, eventually sobbing to herself in pity.

"Hey now, don't be like that." Rosie said, walking over to her. "You did your best."

"What good is doing my best when I fail so much?" The green haired Seedrian retorted, now sitting on the ground, laying her head on her knees. "I'm just wasting my time. I should quit now and save myself the trouble. I'll never be as good as my big sister and best friend."

By this point, even Galaxina and Jasmine  stopped what they were doing and came to her aid, feeling deep sympathy.

"You don't have to be as good as us." Galaxina told her with a warm smile. "It's not a competition."

Jasmine soon added as well, "It's possible you're a late bloomer. It's happened before to our kind."

"You really think so?" By this point, Cosmo didn't know what to think, still feeling completely discouraged inside.

"Well, I don't know that for sure." Jasmine reiterated sheepishly. "But one thing I do know: you're not a loser or failure in our eyes, Cosmo, so I don't want you to ever think of yourself as one. You hear me?"

"What else am I supposed to think though?" Cosmo argued. "I can't even do basic Seedrian stuff now."

"That doesn't matter to me." Galaxina told her. "I just want you to be you, little sister."

"Same here." Jasmine added, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry about what you can and can't do for now. You just be that person we both grew to love. When the time is right, I'm pretty sure you'll develop those skills just as good as we can."

Despite her inner doubts, Cosmo was deeply touched by their words, soon hugging them both tearfully. Even Rosie could not help but feel happy seeing them bond.

"Thanks. I really couldn't be happier to have you two in my life." Cosmo said with a sniffle.

"The feeling is mutual, little sister."

After they finished embracing each other, Jasmine said to Cosmo, "Anyway, go ahead and try again. Even if you still struggle, don't give up. You'll only be a failure if you stop trying."

"Well, ok then." Deep down, Cosmo was still feeling pessimistic about her worth as a Seedrian, but wanted to show that their faith in her was not in vain. And so, she buckled down and continued to practice at her Seedrian skills to the best of her ability.

Even Rosie could sense Cosmo's change in attitude. Seeing they could take care of themselves for the time being, she went to put Blossom down for a nap while preparing to make lunch for everyone.

 

Meanwhile in the Great Unknown, Lupe and her team continued their daily tasks of strengthening their base. Just then, an unknown small flying device came soaring to them. It swooped in so suddenly, it nearly caught them all off guard to the point of panic and fear. Lobo though readied his spear to destroy it.

"Wait…" Lupe told him, holding him back with her arm. "Let's see what it is exactly first."

"Are you crazy?" he demanded of her. "That thing is obviously from Robotnik. He probably sent it here to spy on us!"

"But why have it get our attention like this if that's the case?" Lupe argued. "You know he's craftier than that if he was trying to scout our base out."

Lobo couldn't deny that was true. Nevertheless, he said, "It's still too dangerous. I say we destroy that thing just to be safe."
Before Lupe could argue back, the mysterious metal flying device soon spit out a small piece of paper, where she slowly knelt down to pick it up.

"What does it say?" Lyco asked, still in a state of fear.

The paper read the following message:

Greetings, WolfPack. I don't consider myself an ally of yours, but I know it's in my best interest to help you now, so I'm sending this message this to warn you: Julian is planning to raid your base tomorrow night, so I strongly suggest you ready your defenses before then because you're going to need them all.

"A raid…? No!" Both Lyco and Leeta looked on in a deep fright.

The message continued saying:

Enclosed is a list of battle codes as part of his formation attacks to help further put the odds of survival in your favor. Memorize them well for your sake. The small flying device then spit out another paper with that info and quickly took off after Lupe picked it up. As she read it, Lobo frowned greatly, exclaiming, "What kind of nonsense is this?! Is this some kind of sick prank? None of our allies use such methods to warn us about a possible attack."

"You're right." Lupe said with a frown of her own. "They don't, but something tells me this is no joke. It's way too detailed. That and no enemy of ours would warn us of an attack unless it had something beneficial to them."

Lobo couldn't argue with that. "Then what in the heck is going on?" He asked with puzzlement on his face. "Are we supposed to really believe this mysterious informant? We have no idea who they are or why they're helping us."

After Lupe pondered it over some, she soon answered somberly, "Normally, I wouldn't, but considering the catastrophe it would bring to us if this is real should we choose to ignore it, I say we have no choice but to heed it. Too much is at stake now."

As Lobo soon pondered this himself, Lupe meanwhile looked over and saw the fear in Lyco and Leeta's eyes. She slowly knelt at their level, saying with compassion, "Fear not, young ones. We'll be fine. Just do what I tell you when the time comes and everything should work out."

"How can you be sure?" Leeta asked with a whimper. "We… we might end up being killed or turned into robotic slaves."

"We have the upper hand for the time being." Lupe explained. "We know of their coming and we will be ready for it. So, if all goes according to plan, none of us will suffer such a fate."

The wolf pack twins still looked on frightened, as Lupe added, "It doesn't do any good to worry. Just be ready to help when the time comes, alright?"

Leeta and Lyco softly nodded their heads slowly at her in response.

"Now then, run along, young ones." She told them. "I'll call you when needed."

As they did that, Lupe soon turned to the others, now saying with fierce vigor, "Alright, you heard the message, everyone. It's time to defend our home from that creep Robotnik at all costs!"

The others soon nodded with thunderous yell, raising their weapons high in the air.

Lupe then gave out the following orders: "Lobo, Canus… you two ready the boulders at once. Have them stationed near the top of the cliffs, but out of sight from the vision of the group troops. Reynard, Drago, you two bring out the traps on the ground level, have the landmines and trap doors placed in the most strategic spots and ready to activate on my signal."

"What are you going to do?" Lobo asked her with concern.

"I'll try to be a stealth diversion by using Sir Charles optic camo suit and specially made arrows." She explained. "It should give you guys plenty of openings to attack."

"No! It's too dangerous." Lobo protested. "Allow me to do it."

"I appreciate the thought, but I must decline." Lupe told him. "Robotnik would definitely target me since I'm the leader of the group. This way, I can play mind games with him. Also, I'm more nimble and agile too, so I'll be able to optimize this role better."

"I suppose that's true. Well, promise me you won't do anything crazy or too risky at least." Lobo replied with a frown.

Lupe soon put a hand on his shoulder, saying with a soft smile, "Hey, you know I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize this. Trust me."

Before Lobo could answer back, Drago now spoke up, saying, "Uh, I don't mean to interrupt or anything, but what about a possible aerial strike?"

"He's right." Lobo acknowledged. "Do we have anything for that?"

"Well, we do have a high powered mounted crossbow that can fire those specially made arrows in reserve." Lupe told him.

"But it would sadly be a sitting duck against an aerial attack, so we would need to keep it out of sight and use it only as a last resort."

"Agreed." Lobo nodded. "I'll get it out and ready it for battle."

As Lobo went to do that, Lupe said to the rest, "Ok, you have your orders, now let's get to it!"

Lupe's comrades didn't have to be told twice. They soon spread out with haste. After the wolf pack leader was by herself, she couldn't help but wonder who sent that not.

It really doesn't make sense, she thought to herself. Just who would send us this message and why exactly? The kind of info they brought us is very confidential, but how did they access it so easily knowing Robotnik's security? It's almost as if…

Lupe could not finish that thought, as the idea of that happening was too much to take in.

No, it can't be! She thought to herself, brushing it off. I mean the whole idea of someone like that helping us? Absurd!"

Realizing there was no time to figure this out, she quickly ran off to get Sir Charles gear and prepare it for battle.

"Well, whoever sent us that info." Lupe said to herself as she did that, "They certainly have my thanks. I'll make sure to put it to good use."

As she readied her gear, she eventually looked towards the West towards Robotropolis, saying with a fierce glare, "Robotnik, this time, we're going to hit you where it hurts. Mark my words..."

 

While this was going on, Robotnik made a video call to Commander Abraham Tower, the leader of the organization known as Guardian Units of the Nation.

“What do you want, Julian?!” Abraham Tower demanded, glaring at him as fiercely as possible.

“My, my, such a hostile tone.” Robotnik retorted. “Is that anyway to greet someone who only wishes to talk?”

This only made the Commander glare even angrier at Julian, saying with his teeth now fully clenched, “After everything you put us through, you have the nerve to demand respect? You don’t deserve anything from us but a painful and agonizing death!”

“I’d watch my tone if I were you, Commander Tower.” Robotnik told him with a taunting wagging of a finger with his right hand. He then added with a glare of his own, “Don’t forget, I own you and your pitiful group now. I only let you keep your position because you are still of some use to me, but that can change on a moment’s notice if I choose to, so I strongly suggest you don’t push your luck with me.”

Seeing Julian wasn’t bluffing in the slightest, Commander Tower quickly composed himself, saying with a sigh, “I understand. It won’t happen again.”

“That’s better.” Julian said with a smirk. “Now then, the reason I’m calling you is to inform you soon I'll m going to doing a raid of the Great Unknown to weed out a pathetic rebel group known as the Wolf Pack.”

“Why are you telling me this exactly?” Commander Tower inquired with furrowed eyebrows.

“Because I want to make sure you don’t get any ideas about possibly helping them.” Julian answered.

“Why would we bother?” Abraham Tower asked, furrowing his eyebrows further. “You know as well as I do we hate the Mobian race.”

“True, but I don’t put it past you that you might ally with them if it was mutually beneficial.” Julian told him bluntly. “I’m not foolish enough to believe you wouldn’t put your prejudice aside if it meant taking me down.”

Commander Tower could not refute that accusation. As much as he and the Overlanders that resided in Central City hated the Mobian race, they hated Julian even more so. Abraham then said after a long pause, “I assure you we have no desire to interfere here, Julian. This is your business and we will respectfully stay out of it.”

Not fully convinced, Robotnik told him bluntly, “For your sake, you had better not be lying to me, Commander. If I ever do find out you allied with even one of these Mobian rebels, you’ll quickly live to regret it.”

“I understand Julian.” Abraham Tower replied, trying to keep a straight face.

“Good. Oh yes, one more thing. From this point on, you will address me as sir, Abraham.” Julian said. “Since I am now ruler of this planet, you will refer to me with a title of respect. No ifs, ands or buts. Do I make myself clear?”

Abraham again gritted his teeth in fierce anger, but not wanting to test Julian’s patience, he answered as calmly as possible, “Crystal clear, sir.”

“That’s a good boy.” Robotnik said with a smirk. “Anyway, I have things to do. Carry on.”

And with that, Julian disconnected the call. Not even three seconds later, Abraham Tower could not restrain himself any further and banged his desk in fierce anger over and over, saying with rage, “Curse you, Julian! I swear one way or another; I’m going to make you pay for what you’ve done to us!”

After Robotnik had turned his robotic army against the Mobian race to enslave them and turned their capital into his headquarters known as Robotropolis, Julian had permitted only one place for his Overlander brethren to reside without threat of attack: the city known as Central City. Nevertheless, it didn’t come without a price. The Overlanders had to do Julian’s bidding no matter what it was. He even set up a huge Swatbot patrol there to keep the citizens in line. Any that attempted to rebel would be roboticized and turned into a decoration for Robotropolis.

Not long after the Commander had banged his desk in anger, his 2nd in command, a lieutenant named Hugo Brass, came into his office, asking, “Sir, is something wrong?”

Not wanting to go into detail about it, Abraham Tower merely answered him disgusted, “Oh, just that vile Robotnik making more demands on us is all.”

“I see.”

After a long pause, Abraham Tower said with deep anger, “There’s got to be SOME WAY to take down that monster.”

“Sir, I want him taken out as badly as you do.” Hugo Brass reiterated. “But there’s nothing we can do at the moment to even consider rebelling. The Great War sadly ended up killing most of our numbers. We barely have enough soldiers to defend our own city.”

“Yes, I know that!” Commander Tower said, now completely losing his composure. “I don’t need you to remind me how bad the situation is!”

“Commander, I meant no offense. I was just stating the facts.” Hugo Brass told him. “With all due respect, sir, getting angry isn’t going to help the situation. We need to keep a level head and try to think of a plan that will help us be free of Julian’s clutches.”

Realizing he was right, Abraham Tower again composed himself, saying, “My apologies, Hugo. I don’t mean to snap at you, but I just can’t take much more of Julian’s dictatorship.”

“I understand, sir.” Hugo replied. “That is why I think we should consider forming an alliance with the Mobian rebels to fight back.

“Are you insane?! We can’t do that!” Commander Tower told him sharply. “Julian just warned me earlier there would be dire consequences if we did!”

“What other choice do we have, sir?” Hugo argued back. “You really think if we play nice, Julian’s going to keep his word about leaving us alone? You know better than that. The second our usefulness is gone, he will dispose of us just like he did of most of the Mobians.”

Abraham Tower knew again Hugo was right about that last part, but due to his extreme prejudice of the Mobian race, he doubled down, saying, “It wouldn’t work even if we did. They’re scattered across the planet due to Julian hunting them down. He’d quickly find out about the alliance and squash it.”

“Even so, we have to at least try, sir.” Hugo reiterated. “We do nothing, we’ll definitely lose everything. At least if we try our best, we have a shot at taking back our freedom. Don’t let your fear keep you from doing what is right for us all.”

“That’s enough, lieutenant!” Commander Tower told him sharply. “We are not allying with those filthy creatures and that’s final!”

At this point, Hugo Brass could only look at his leader with disgust, saying, “You’re going to regret this, sir.” He then walked away adding, “If you’re that content being Julian’s lapdog, be my guest, but I’m going to find a way to put an end to this madness one way or another. Good night to you, SIR.”

And with that, Hugo walked out, slamming the door behind him. Normally, Abraham Tower would have reprimanded him for such a rebuke, but deep down, he knew Hugo was more in the right than he was. After another long pause, Abraham Tower asked himself with a shake of the head and a sigh, “Is forming an alliance with those mutants really the only way to get our independence back? There’s got to be another way.”

 

While he thought this over, one of the newer recruits, a female solider by the name of Topaz was in her quarters, mulling over some paperwork before calling it a night. As she did so, she began to sigh in sadness.

“To think at one time this was my dream to become an elite G.U.N officer.” Topaz muttered to herself. “And now… it’s turned into a nightmare.”

Even as a young child, Topaz had dreams of one day working for G.U.N. She had been one of the top of her class as a graduate, working hard to one day achieve her goal in life. Unfortunately for her, the timing of it could not have been worse. Before she turned 16, the Great War was in full swing, causing a massive shift in her training, going from a possible peacekeeper to a full-fledged solider.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the war began to shift in the favor the Acorn Republic, causing her training areas to be moved several times due to the Mobians invading and destroying it. Then, to top it off, just days after graduating, Julian invaded Mobotropolis and soon after took over as the new dominant power of the planet.

“What have I gotten myself into?” Topaz asked herself while putting her hands on her face. “I wanted to help bring peace and unity to the planet, not this.” Like Abraham Tower, she too wanted to do something about Julian’s reign of terror, but felt completely helpless.

“What’s the point of being a G.U.N solider if I’m just going to have to do Julian’s bidding?” Topaz asked again of herself, now fully disgusted. She was so disgusted in fact, she even thought about quitting. She quickly thought better of it however, realizing that would only complicate matters. Not to mention there was no other place for her to go without fear of being captured and roboticized either.

“No matter what I do now, I’m in a serious pickle.” Topaz muttered again. After a long pause, Topaz decided to sleep on it, as she was very exhausted from her day’s work.


A few miles away, a shadowy figure slowly walked towards a mausoleum that was known as the personal burial site of the Kintobor family. It was past closing time to visit, but this individual had done so intentionally, considering its past history with the city. It then quietly broke in, using a special hacking device to open the door without triggering the alarm, quickly shutting the door behind him.

As the figure got closer to the tombs, it finally pulled back the hood he was wearing around his face, revealing it to be none other than Snively. Snively first walked towards his mother’s tomb, putting his hand on it to touch it. As he began to do so, he began to shed some tears, thinking about how she died.

“Why did those filthy Mobians have to kill you?” Snively asked himself, with more tears streaming down his face. “You were the glue that held our family together.”

Snively’s mother, Miriam Kintobor, was one of the many victims of the retaliation air strike by King Max after his son Elias was assaulted and assumed dead. It was her death that primarily led to Colin declaring war on the Mobian race. 

After a few minutes of this, Snively moved over to his father’s tomb to touch it as well. Unlike his mother’s, Snively had more resentment than grief towards his father’s passing.

“You never once treated me like a son.” Snively said with bitterness in his voice. “My whole life, I was always second rate to you. You ALWAYS favored Hope over me. It’s your fault why I helped Julian in the first place. At least he treated me with some kindness.”

Ironically enough, Snively deep down regretted helping Julian after knowing his true intentions. Nevertheless, for that brief time his uncle was kind to him, Snively felt appreciated and loved, something he had longed for from his father from his early childhood, but never received.

“Even hours before you were to be executed for your war crimes, you still wouldn’t reconcile with me.” Snively added, now with a heavy frown on his face. “You went so far as to say you never had a son.” He then added with fierce anger while slamming his fist on his tomb. “Well, I hope you’re happy, dad!"

While Snively did indeed hold a deep hatred towards his uncle for manipulating and abusing him, he strangely enough hated his father even more so. Even now, a part of Snively wanted to do something to punish him for all the neglect he had gotten from him.

Eventually, his eyes shifted toward his sister’s tomb, or to be more accurate, her empty tomb. Her body was never found after her battle with Snively in Robotropolis. To add insult to injury, Hope’s name was removed from it after she helped the Mobians last failed assault on Robotropolis. Abraham Tower had warned her she would lose her rights to the tomb if she helped them. Hope however didn’t care about that anymore, wanting to strike back at Julian by any means possible. True to his word, Commander Tower carried out his threat, even branding her a traitor like Snively.

Snively walked over to the empty tomb. Even though Hope’s remains weren’t in it, he still envisioned her being there due to the fact he believed her to be dead after their last encounter. As with the other two, he began to touch it, even trying to reminisce of the good times he had with her. Unlike the other two tombs however, he literally broke down sobbing while thinking about her.

“Oh, Hope, I’m so sorry…” he said, trying to keep from crying further. “I never wanted any of this to happen. All I really wanted was for us to live together as a family, even rule the planet as brother and sister. But… you… wouldn’t…”

Snively could not muster another word, as the memory of what happened to her hit him with full force. Unlike Colin, Hope was one of the few who actually treated Snively like someone who mattered to him. That is, before he was found out in helping Julian sabotage the war efforts. Snively had been against that idea from the start, but his uncle had talked him into it, saying it was the only way to get him his chance to prove himself.

“Why did I ever listen to Julian?” Snively asked himself with remorse. “It’s because of HIM everything went wrong!”

After Snively was forced to flee with his uncle to Mobotropolis due to being branded a traitor, his relationship with Hope began to sour, especially after Julian had taken over. Julian had even forced him to kill someone Hope cared deeply about, eventually leading to their fight to the death in Robotropolis.

“If you only knew how much I wish I could take back all the pain I caused you…” Snively said, his voice still raw with emotion. Even at that moment, he still couldn’t shake the last image of her out of his head, let alone that look on her face towards him. It was one of pure hatred. Even her final words before her mech exploded were full of venom.

“I HATE YOU! You are a disgrace to our entire race!”

Colin’s last words had cut Snively deeply, but Hope’s last words cut him even more so. Never once did he believe the two of them would be at odds, especially to that degree.

“I cared more about you than anyone.” Snively said, sniffling. “How could you say such words to me?”

For the next few minutes, Snively continued to cry silently, as that memory was still too painful for him to endure. Eventually, he composed himself, saying while wiping away his tears, “You’ll see, Hope. I’ll prove to you that I’m not the horrible person you thought I was.” He then added with vigor, “One day I’ll make things right. Julian will fall and I’ll restore what he has destroyed. I promise you that.”

Soon after saying that, Snively donned the hood of his cloak around his face again and slowly walked out, more determined than ever to take Robotnik down by any means necessary.

 

Later that evening, in a cave way off the beaten path of the Great Unknown, the widow of Amadeus Prower, Rosemary, sat down deeply troubled. She knew Robotnik was hunting her and she knew why as well. To say she was emotionally distressed would have been a huge understatement. In a span of a few days, any semblance of a normal life was gone. She watched Amadeus die in her arms after the final siege failed, even forced to give up her daughter Zoey to another shelter due to not wanting her to be caught in the crossfire.

Rosemary eventually pulled out her last photo of her with her husband and daughter before all this happened, looking at it to the point tears began to soak the photograph in deep sorrow. She even held it against her chest, trying to console herself.

“I miss you so much, my love…” Rosemary said while sobbing. “I don’t know how I’ll go on without you or our child.” She then added, even more emotional than before, “Or should I say now… our children.”

Not long after saying this, she heard footsteps coming. Fearing the worst, she pulled out a high powered laser rifle she had brought with her just in case she needed to protect herself. Thankfully, she saw a familiar shadow, saying to her, “Relax, Rosemary, it’s just me.”

The person who was coming in was none other than Ari, a leader of one of the Mobian rebel groups.

Rosemary eventually let down her guard, saying with a sigh of relief, “Sorry, but… I can’t take any chances. I know Robotnik will stop at nothing to hunt me down.”

“Believe me, I understand.” Ari said. “That is why I’m using his aggressive hunt of you as a means of doing some serious damage to Robotnik’s Empire.

“I doubt it’ll last for too long.” Rosemary replied somberly. “Eventually, Robotnik is going to find out they are red herrings and no longer go all out about this. He’ll even start setting up counter ambushes if I had to guess.”

“Perhaps, but I believe Robotnik will keep it up for some time.” Ari replied. “You have something he desperately wants and I know he will do whatever it takes to capture you to get it.” He then added after a brief pause, “Besides, we need to keep his focus away from the Great Forest so the kids there can grow up and help us take back our planet.”

Rosemary couldn’t help but agree with that, though she did say, “I should have sent Zoey there instead of that other shelter. She’d probably be safer there.”

“I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong about that, Rosemary.” Ari corrected her. “Robotnik doesn’t know the current location of the shelter Zoey currently is in, but he does know about the Great Forest and its shelter Knothole. If he knew your daughter was there, he would no doubt raid it now, assuming she might have the same DNA as you do to use for his evil purposes.”

“Good point…” Rosemary then lowered her head, asking, “Why did I have to be cursed with this? I never wanted to have these special genetics.”

“Don’t talk like that.” Ari told her. “What you have is something very special, something that could even help our war efforts should they drag out.”

“If I’m able to last that long…” Rosemary retorted.

“Well, I assure you I’ll do all I can to keep you safe.” Ari reassured her. “Even the other Freedom Fighter leaders have agreed to keep an eye on you after learning of your special DNA.”

“While that is nice of them, it won’t be that simple.” Rosemary replied. “Not to mention there’s another problem too.”

“What’s that?” Ari inquired.

At first, Rosemary didn’t say anything, as she didn’t know how to tell Ari, let alone how much it was hurting her knowing about this as well. The ram though pressed her further, wanting to know what was troubling her. Eventually, she caved with words that nearly left him speechless.

“I’m pregnant, Ari.” She told him bluntly.

“Y-you’re not serious.” Ari said, looking at her in shock.

“I was I wasn’t, but after feeling some ill effects last night, I took a pregnancy test just to see if it was something else.” Rosemary explained. “Sure enough, it came back positive.”

“But… how?” Ari asked, still very dumbfounded by this. “We’ve been so busy preparing for the siege.”

Rosemary looked away a bit embarrassed, finally confessing, “Yea, about that… during one night of preparation in Knothole, Amadeus and I… got restless after finishing our tasks for the evening that we… had a roll in the hay to put it lightly.”

“I… see.” Ari then decided to change the subject due to how awkward it was getting, asking her, “How did you feel once you found out?”

Rosemary gave him a bit of a dirty look, retorting, “How do I feel? Did you really just ask me that? What do you think?! I’m a widow on the run separated from my daughter and now I have to deal with 9 months of bearing another child while trying to stay hidden! It should be obvious to you how I’m feeling!”

“Ok, sorry… I was just trying to show empathy is all.” Ari replied sheepishly. “I wasn’t trying to upset you.”

“Well, no offense, Ari, but I don’t believe you have any idea what it’s like for me now.” Rosemary said, still frowning a bit at him. “You didn’t lose the love of your love or have to be separated from a child you raised yourself.”

“Yes, I know that, but I do know what it’s like to lose friends and comrades you care about.” Ari argued back. “It may not hold the same weight, but I do know the feeling to a certain degree.”

Realizing Ari had a point, Rosemary softened up a bit, saying, “Fair enough. Maybe we should change the subject here.”

“Very well then…” Ari replied with a soft nod.

After a long pause, Rosemary asked Ari, “So, how is my late husband’s unit doing at the moment?”

“Oh, you mean the Freedom Fighter Commandos?” Ari inquired. “Last I checked everything was still good on the com. They’re mostly checking the area around you for any or Robotnik’s spy drones trying to seek your location. So far, there’s nothing to report.”

“Well, while that’s good to know, it’s only a matter of time before they encounter them.” Rosemary said with a somber sigh.

“Perhaps, but we’ll be ready for them should they arrive.” Ari reassured her.

Seeing Rosemary still discouraged, Ari said to try to cheer her up, “Hey, c’mon now, don’t lose faith. The Freedom Fighter Commandos are some of the finest soldiers your late husband trained. They can handle this no sweat.”

“I really hope you’re right about that.” Rosemary replied, not convinced.

“Anyhow, I better go inform them of your current predicament.” Ari said after another awkward pause. “They’ll need to know about your pregnancy so they can prepare to escort you whenever necessary.”

Before Ari could take five steps, Rosemary said to him, “Actually, I rather they didn’t know about this.”

“But they need to know about this.” Ari argued back. “How else can they protect you to the best of their ability if they don’t know all the details?”

Seeing Ari had a point, Rosemary finally caved a bit, saying, “Ok, fine… you can tell Tatiana at least being a woman herself, but I rather the others didn’t know until I talked it over with her first.”

Tatiana was the sole female member of the Freedom Fighter Commandos, a brown female tigress who was also a deadly marksman with a sniper rifle.

“As you wish…” Ari replied with a nod. “Be back in a bit. If anything comes up, don’t hesitate to alert me or the Commandos on the com.”

Rosemary gave her a nod in return, as Ari walked out to fetch Tatiana. After he was out of sight, the young fox widow briefly walked out of the cave to look up at the night sky. While she looked at it still deeply troubled, she asked herself, “Is this going to be my life now? Am I always going to be on the run?”

Deep down, Rosemary didn’t know what the future held, but one thing she did know: The hunt for her would not cease until Robotnik was dead or she was.
 

To be continued...

 

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On 5/11/2020 at 1:59 AM, SonicSatamX93 said:

Chapter 4 is finally finished. I finally got a spark of creativity and decided to roll with it. Hope you all like it.

Excellent! I will spread it around for you. It’s good too have fan fiction when the world is in lock down. I expect the ‘official’ stuff to slow down.  And, people have no excuse to avoid reading. 😁

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On 5/12/2020 at 11:29 PM, Akessel92 said:

Interesting take on sonic Satam lore. I have now only read the first three chapters but i can see you have something pretty good. Keep it up.

Anything in particular you have liked so far?

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12 minutes ago, TheRedStranger said:

Anything in particular you have liked so far?

I guess seeing that it begins not just how Satam and Archie began their series or starting off on how Robotnik took over but rather in the aftermath and have the characters beginning the arcs on the lowest point possible. 
 

I also began reading the fourth chapter and saw how he brought Ari into the fold. Oh and I’m not surprised that Rosemary prowrer who’s a fugitive and pregnant with Tails isn’t surprising what is that she has a first born daughter.  I am curious as to whom she is. 

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On 5/18/2020 at 1:00 PM, Akessel92 said:

I guess seeing that it begins not just how Satam and Archie began their series or starting off on how Robotnik took over but rather in the aftermath and have the characters beginning the arcs on the lowest point possible. 
 

I also began reading the fourth chapter and saw how he brought Ari into the fold. Oh and I’m not surprised that Rosemary prowrer who’s a fugitive and pregnant with Tails isn’t surprising what is that she has a first born daughter.  I am curious as to whom she is. 

I won't reveal who exactly she is just yet, but I'll give a hint: She wasn't named Zoey by accident or chance.

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