"Nobody's gonna believe what you're saying, you know," said Alex Kidd, stretching his arms and yawning as they walked up the path to Sega's heavily fortified Supreme Headquarters, "You'll just be reprimanded for having a negative effect on morale. Probably sent for a psych evaluation, too."

"For saying I've just returned from the future, or for saying we're losing?" asked Classic Sonic, grinning. Even though he was back in his own time period, he kept accidentally thinking of himself as Classic Sonic. He missed his future counterpart already.

"Both," the young man shrugged, "It's our job to be heroes, not to give strategy advice, anyway."

"But heroes are supposed to win. So I've got to make sure we do. I was lucky to be given this information, so I have to make sure I use it properly. I even know some of the specific details of the enemy's strategy, so some of them might give us important intelligence. They can't pull surprises on us if I know what's coming," he said. It had been emotional torture to ask Modern Sonic for all the details he knew about how exactly they had been defeated but he now knew a few things Nintendo didn't want him to know.

Alex Kidd looked him directly in the eyes, daring him to keep a straight face. "You're serious about this, aren't you? You really did travel forwards in time," he said.

"We're important people, you know, I think they would have to listen to us if we got public opinion on our side."

"We won't inspire anyone if we tell them that we're losing."

"We can make defeat sound cool. The last desperate resistance of an oppressed nation. An elegantly fallen exiled Prince. That sort of thing. I've seen it work on Moebius," he hoped that the 'exiled Prince' part would especially appeal to Alex Kidd.

"Um... Robotnik was invading Moebius. We're the invading party in this situation, remember?"

"Okay, so maybe I'll have to work on this a little..."

"The Smash Tournament?" echoed Tails, frowning as he looked at the poster in Modern Sonic's hand, "Isn't that dangerous?"

"I've seen those guys fight before, and I reckon I could take them," Sonic scoffed, "If a chimpanzee can win, a Hedgehog can win!"

"That chimpanzee and I have been exchanging notes for a new battle walker. He's at least as intelligent as I am," warned Tails, "I don't think you should do this. Fighting in some cage match isn't our style!"

"As opposed to living our entire lives in a cage?" asked Modern Sonic, "I've heard you can win your heart's desire if you become the Champion of the Super Smash Arena. They'd have to give us our freedom!"

"Well, I think the 'heart's desire' thing is probably just a rumour, but it's traditional for prisoners to earn their freedom in an Arena. The games certainly are a Nintendo national obsession, so we'll become big news! They'll have to take us seriously if we're plastered all over the headlines, on the same pages as their heroes!"

"Exactly. And it's not actually like I'll be thrown to the lions. Not that I couldn't beat up a lion," he added quickly, "But it's all special effects and clever tricks. They have the best medics on hand at all times in case someone gets seriously hurt. Their own heroes have to compete in these Tournaments as well, after all! They only just decided to let foreigners in the Tournament at all. It's our duty to go, just to represent Sega!"

"Classic Sonic would be mad at you if he knew," Tails pointed out, "He'd call you their Arena slave or a performing monkey or something."

"Then I'll have to make it up to him," said Modern Sonic, folding his arms, "I'm going to win, Tails. I'm going to win our freedom!"

Sonic leaned on the railings and looked out at the stars. He wasn't sure if they were the actual night sky or an illusion but he had to try and look, just in case he could really see it. Planets didn't move that quickly, so unless the Time Stones hadn't quite sent him back to the right time, there was a good chance that it would still be there.

As the sky grew darker, it appeared: a magnificent blue and green jewel, and besides it, a twin planet, a metallic orb that pulsed with a corona of red light. Both were lit up by the glittering rainbow Time Stones as they guided the Miracle Planets on their way through the cosmos, towards whatever eventual destination had been planned out by the strange intelligences that watched over them.

Sonic wished them good luck.