Chapter Nine

Fiona first met Miles about three months after Robotnik's defeat, when he was thirteen. She had been sixteen at the time, but still took a liking to him. However, when her friend Nic the Weasel found out that Fiona was spending time with Miles, she tried to kill him in a fit of jealousy. Horrified, Fiona left Nic forever.

Tails, as he was then called, had been strangely shy to her, and the truth eventually leaked out: he had one fallen in love with a robot duplicate of herself on an island far out to sea. The robot had been working for Robotnik, however, and almost led Tails to his death. This enthralling story did nothing to discourage Fiona's feelings towards him; after that they were closer than ever.

Before Fiona met Miles, she had been a complete bitch, and she knew it. She still held a small old grudge against Sonic for putting her through a terrible ordeal when fighting Robotnik; but for the sake of the close friendship between him and her mate, she said nothing about it. Miles's gentle nature had eventually placated her attitude for the most part, however, and today she was a vixen in the literal sense alone.

She didn't know why she was up this early, but Miles was away at the meeting and he had mentioned a possibility for duty. He had assured her that he would be safe, but she still felt a twang of concern. Knothole had not been in a state of war for fifteen years. She just hoped that everything would be okay.

Tails wouldn't wake up for another hour, most likely, and Fiona had already eaten breakfast. The house was clean, and her kit's breakfast couldn't be cooked yet. She was just pondering what to do when the problem was solved for her.

Opening the door, Fiona was surprised to see Rotor. His meeting was not supposed to have ended this early.

"Rotor! Come on in. Would you care for breakfast or something? How was the meeting? Do you know where Miles went to? He was supposed to come back right after the convention."

A quick smile flashed across Rotor's face. "I'll answer your questions in order. One, no thanks, I've already eaten. Two, the advisors accepted my plan, which brings us to three – he's out enforcing that plan."

Fiona jumped in surprise. "Enforcing? Is he in danger? Why didn't he come tell me? Where is he? What is he doing?

Rotor almost laughed. "You sure do ask a lot of questions. He's in very low danger, Fiona, no more danger than he is ever in on his daily rounds, except that he'll be flying close to the fortress. I'd love to inform you of the entire plan, but I didn't come to chat. You appear to be idle. Would you mind doing something for me?"

Anything that would relieve the tension and boredom, Fiona thought. "Sure."

Two minutes later she was following Sabrina, and it appeared that the princess didn't have a clue that Fiona was there. Sabrina seemed deep in thought as she climbed the steep entrance slope. Fiona had to be exceedingly silent at this point; there were no trees for her to take cover behind. Sabrina came up into the open sunlight; behind her, Fiona did the same.

Now for some reason Sabrina seemed nervous. She looked left and right, and tried to listen for any noises. Fiona, in the brush less than fives feet from her, kept perfectly still. The brush was dark red, with smaller black bushes growing from it, so even at a close glance, it would be hard to spot the fox hiding in the bushes. She knew something was very strange; she just had to wait it out.

 Then, when satisfied that she was alone, Sabrina walked out through some bushes at the other end of the small clearing. Fiona followed her, silently. She blessed her almost feline ability to do this; even Miles might have had trouble here with two large tails to get caught in the brush. Knothole's population mainly consisted of canines and rodents; though a small family of ocelots did live somewhere amongst them, and there was an old crabby cat somewhere who rarely came out of his house. It was possible that Fiona was the best in the whole village for this task. Well, Rotor had made a good choice then.

            What she saw next made her rub her eyes and look again. She was certainly not seeing double. Sabrina was lying on the ground, bound and gagged – and Sabrina was standing in front of her, opening a small packet of powder. Which one was real? Who was the imposter? It wasn't extremely hard to tell. Why would the real Sabrina have tied up an imposter and not told anyone?

            Fiona always carried around a dagger; she liked to take caution. She had polished it two days ago, but hadn't used it for purposes other than to slice food for almost seven years. She was also talented in martial arts; though not extremely strong, she could put up a fight. The question was whether to attack or run back down and tell someone? Fiona thought about this for a minute, and decided to handle this one herself. The charlatan couldn't possibly be much older than the real princess.

            Within three seconds, Fiona was out of the bushes with her dagger at the fake Sabrina's throat.

            Very strangely, the imposter began to laugh.

            Fiona knew that she must have just made a huge mistake.

            The blow could never have come from any twelve-year old hybrid squirrel-chipmunk. Even glancing, it sent Fiona flying back ten feet and she was almost knocked senseless. It was not flesh that had struck her either; it had been metal. Cold, hard metal. The pretender was a robot!

            Then it was on her, throwing punches left and right. It couldn't let her survive, now that she knew. Fiona did her best to evade the powerful hits, but the robot was too fast. It would all be over in another five seconds.

            Suddenly the robot was off of her, and Fiona didn't waste any time. She didn't know what had caused the robot to suddenly stop, but she didn't bother looking. Fiona made a mad dash for the tree stump, and slid down as fast as she could.

            Two minutes later, all past rancor was forgotten and Fiona was racing through an explanation to Sonic, who in turn had to rapidly make a decision. Sally was monitoring the derobotization plan to make sure that everything went smoothly, so it was up to Sonic. The cold war had quite suddenly turned hot, and nobody was prepared.

            Fiona felt herself losing consciousness. Sonic was just not up to the task of making this choice. He didn't even have any clear options. This was really bad.

            Then Knuckles, who had been talking with Sonic before Fiona arrived, spoke.

            "I'll go. Give me a partner, and we'll take out this thing. There is no way that we can afford to halt the plan. And I think I know the partner that I want."

            Fiona smiled. Somehow Sonic always managed to escape decisions.

            Then she collapsed.

Chapter Ten

            Adeline would be up any second now. Bunnie couldn't believe that the Board of Education still wanted children ready to attend school on an day like this. Wasn't there a war going on?

            The fruit basket was on the other side of the kitchen. Bunnie reached twenty feet with her extendable arm and grabbed an apple. She was very glad that she had decided to keep this arm robotized; it was extremely useful in many situations. Anytime that someone in Knothole needed something really heavy lifted, they would hire Bunnie. Who in turn usually didn't charge very high fees; it was always a small thrill to be able to lift a half-ton boulder.

            Adaline appeared in the kitchen and vaulted herself into her chair. Sometimes Bunnie could not believe how much energy her twelve-year old daughter had. She could run for three hours straight and still be up for two more, She might not be the fastest creature in Knothole, but did she have endurance.

            "How's your brotha' doing up there?" Bunnie asked.

            Adaline shrugged. "I dunno. I didn't see him."

            Bunnie gave Adaline her breakfast, then went to the foot of the stairs. "Randall?" she called. Usually the fourteen-year old was the first of all three of them to awaken. Bunnie felt a twinge of concern when, two calls later, there was still no reply.

            Upstairs, Bunnie looked in both rooms. Their house had a large bottom floor and a smaller top floor, where the two children slept. But Randall was nowhere to be seen.

            Adaline had somehow already finished eating and was now hurrying back upstairs to do whatever she had to do. Bunnie looked around on the bottom floor of the house as well. No Randall. This had never happened – Randall was the absolute epitome of conduct. It would take something very strange – or very important – to pull him out of the house like this.

            The doorbell didn't even ring; Knuckles just knocked it in. "C'mon, Bunnie, hurry! You've gotta come! This is important; I'll explain later! Just come!"

            Bunnie hesitated. "Does this have anything to do with Randall?"

            The echidna paused as well. "Who?"

            "Mah son. Ah can't find him anywhere; Ah don't know what's happened!"

            "There really are far more pressing matters at hand at the moment, Bunnie. Like the fate of the world as we know it. Come on!"

            As they ran, Knuckles began to tell Bunnie what was happening.

            "…so Fiona followed her, and discovered something shocking – brace yourself – the Sabrina that we've know for – well, nobody knows how long she's been here – I should really say "it", shouldn't I, they don't really have a gender – but –"

            "What did she discovah?!" Bunnie cried, losing patience.

            Knuckles managed to finally tack on the end of the sentence. "She's a robot, Bunnie. No, she hasn't been robotized; the real Sabrina is still up there, but she's tied up. We have a robot duplicate on our hands here, who probably has Sabrina hostage. But we're it, Bunnie, we're the commandos now. Our mission is to put that machine out of business as fast as we can, and get back down here to celebrate when that bomb goes off."

            Strangely, the severity of the situation didn't sink in at once. The two were now climbing the steep exit topsides as quickly as possible. Now Bunnie wished she had her robotic legs back; she could be up there in a matter of seconds. All thoughts of her missing son were momentarily driven out of her head; Knuckles was right, this was more important now.

            Breaking out topsides, the pair saw absolutely nothing. The silence was eerie.

            Bunnie cocked one ear to listen closely. There seemed to be a high pitched whine in the air; thought from which direction it was hard to figure out. Knuckles also seemed to be listening to the hum. He was standing stock-still, trying to get a bearing on the direction.

            "You heah it too, sugah?" Bunnie asked.

            "Yeah. And I think its from – that way."

            He pointed with one gloved hand towards a particular region of the surrounding forest. Bunnie had already began to run towards it, readying her robotic arm for combat. Damn, it had been absolutely forever since she had last had to fight a robot. She hoped that Knuckles wasn't as scared as she was; but she saw him next to her; charging straight through the bushes with her. He still wasn't quite his normal arrogant self though; battle always altered one's personality.

            Quite suddenly, they broke out into a clearing.

            Sabrina was standing in the middle, back turned to them, pointing at something on the ground. Quickly shifting for a better look, she almost screamed out loud. Another Sabrina was lying there, tied and unconscious, and Randall was there on the ground with a green light passing slowly over his body. The robot – for that was obviously what the standing Sabrina was – was shooting it at him from her arm. Bunnie knew that light. It meant something awful beyond belief.

            Knuckles launched himself at the robot with a roar. It turned and lashed out with an arm; not jerkily like a normal robot, but perfectly fluid. Knuckles just managed to evade it; then came in again.

            This time he got in a punch; but it was costly. As his fist struck the robot's head, it simply dropped a fist directly onto the crown of his head. Bunnie watched him go out like a light. She was all that there was now. And luckily, she was always prepared.

            "Hey there, sugah! Ah'm thinkin' right about now of givin you a taste of this here cannon that Robotnik once so graciously gave me. How dare you do that to Sabrina – an' mah son…"

            The robot looked directly into Bunnie's cannon – and laughed.

            "You can't do it," it said, "you know you can't possibly do it. I'm the king's daughter – or, at least, an pretty damn good copy. It's foolish mortal nature; you and your stupid consciences."

            With horror, Bunnie realized that it was right. She knew what the figure in front of her was, all it would take was one flick of the trigger, but she simply couldn't. To her eyes, it was Sabrina who stood in front of her, and her eyes wouldn't let her hand finish the job.

            The robot was now advancing slowly; and Bunnie knew that it was over. It would knock her out, then robotize her, Knuckles, and finish the job on Randall. All because she couldn't pull a trigger. Bunnie stared directly at the robot's face, trying, somehow, to get a shot off.

            Suddenly, Bunnie saw something. Knuckles's punch had not been entirely ineffective; a small loose circuit was protruding for the robot's forehead. Concentrating as hard as she possibly could on that circuit, Bunnie tensed and tried to keep her focus as the robot came closer. She kept all concentration on that one little wire – the one thing that gave her eyes the go-ahead to fire.

            Once again, the robot laughed, a cold, sinister laugh. "My name is 0147F. And it's the last name that you're ever going to hear, bunny rabbit."

            Through gritted teeth, Bunnie very quietly and very coldly managed to get six syllables out: "That's Bunnie Rabbot, sugah."

            She didn't fire; instead she slammed her robotic fist directly into the robot's face. An expression of shock was the last thing that she saw before her fist connected and reduced 0147F's countenance into a mess of wires, broken circuits, and smashed silicon chips.

            The robot slowly toppled, but Bunnie was already next to Randall. She was crying freely; his entire lower body and left arm was reduced to metal. He was exactly as she had once been,  except fully unconscious and unaware of his plight. He had been spared the revulsion of seeing himself go through the procedure, at least.

            Bunnie suddenly realized with horror that the derobotization bomb was going to be set off in less than five minutes. Any chance of Randall's being derobotized within the next decade would vanish. She blessed her arm again as she effortlessly picked him up, along with Knuckles and Sabrina, and sped back towards the town.

            She was carrying three people though, and could not move very quickly. At the end of the long slide down to the town, she lost her grip and all three of her comatose passengers were scattered around. Quickly, Bunnie picked them all up and continued to race for the center of town.

            When she arrived, all Knothole was turned out. Miles had already returned, and Sonic held a large red button in his hand. The crowd began to count down from thirty. Twenty-nine. Twenty-eight. Twenty-seven…

            "STOP!"

            It was Miles, who noticed Bunnie racing towards them. The crowd parted and formed a circle around Bunnie, who lay down Knuckles, Sabrina, and Randall. Collective gasps went up from everyone around as they noticed Randall's plight. Sally, standing next to Sonic called out to the extremely perturbed crowd for silence.

            "In face of this casualty, the plan must be abandoned. We shall immediately carry out our alternative plan. Minister, if you should call together your troops –"

            But nobody was listening; all were staring at Randall. Children hid behind their mothers' legs; people whispered to each other, and, in the middle of it all, Randall suddenly began to stir.

            "Wha – what is… what happened?" were his first words. Then he stared at his legs and stopped dead. Slowly, he moved one leg, then the other. His arm too, he flexed and stared at as if he simply couldn't believe this could possibly happen to him. It brought tears to Bunnie's eyes, though she had already been crying. Antoine suddenly appeared next to them, and was speechless. Everyone in the crowd was completely silent for a moment.

            "It's okay." Bunnie said into the void of sound. "Everything's going to be okay. We're calling back the bomb; we'll have you derobotized befo' you know it…"

            "The bomb?" Randall asked, looking confused. "The bomb… the derobotization bomb… the meeting this morning… no!"

            And before anyone knew it, Randall had stoop up and leapt at Sonic, who was in the act of disarming the controller. Bunnie watched as her son ripped the controller out of her king's hands and pressed the button as hard as he possibly could.

            There was complete and total silence for almost thirty seconds.

            Randall turned to Bunnie with tearing eyes. "Just like you were, right Mom?"

            "Yes, honey,"  she said, hugging him with their tears mingling together. "Just like me…"

Epilogue

            It was a devastating blow. Miles returned the next day with the report that hundreds of small animals were returning to their natural habitats and the cave was entirely empty. There was no doubt about it; the victory was complete.

            That same day he flew Knuckles back to the Floating Island. The Chaotix were repairing all damage done there by the small attack, and Knuckles wanted to help. He stayed around just long enough for the celebrations of the ending of the short war.

            Sabrina was alive, though very weak and traumatized. Knothole's best doctors were working on helping her and Fiona both recover. Neither were in critical condition; both were expected to have no lasting effects.

            Antoine resumed his position as a member of the Royal Guard and was given a medal for his services in location the entrance to Snively's fortress. He was somewhat surprised. Rotor, Miles and Bunnie all also received awards for their different contributions to the cause.

            It had been so quick, Sonic reflected. Life was totally normal again. It was the second quickest war in Knothole's history, having lasted only slightly over two weeks since the original sighting of hostile forces. Somehow it seemed like it should have lasted longer, or have been harder, or something.

            That evening, Sonic was sitting in the royal bedroom, still in thought. He had done almost nothing throughout the entire conflict except pretend to give direction and reassure the populace. Was he truly only a figurehead, or could he be more? As a teenager, he had been the first into any conflict, leading the charge and usually coming out the hero. Were those days over?

            Sonic made a mental resolution. If there ever was another war, if Knothole was ever thrust into another conflict, he would take no less risk than anyone else. After all, wasn't a king expected to be an example for his subjects? He simply did not feel right about letting his buddies doing his job for him. He was Sonic the Hedgehog, and nothing was going to stand in the way of his duty. Especially not a crown.

            "Sonic?" Sally broke him out of his complex thoughts.

            Sonic closed his eyes and shook his head. "Did I do anything right, Sally? Anything at all? Miles found the stronghold, Rotor came up with the plan, Bunnie was the one -"

            "Maybe you didn't do anything spectacular, Sonic, but how about thinking of it a different way. This may have been the first time that you didn't do anything wrong on a mission."

            Sonic chuckled, but soon frowned again. "I just feel like –"

            Sally kissed him. "Did anyone die?"

            "No…
            "Was the mission accomplished?"

            "Well… yeah."

            "You seem to be under a bit of stress, King Sonic Hedgehog. And I could have sworn that I gave you a rain check for some… stress relief."

            Sonic smiled and closed the door.

            It was a clear night over Robotropolis. The moon shone softly on the tops of buildings, but in an alley deep in the city's bowels, darkness prevailed. A small figure clenched his small human fists. He gritted his human teeth. He swore one thing forever against all who were now peacefully resting far away. A single guttural word left his fully human throat.

            "Revenge…"

Author's Note

            This story was created using characters from SEGA and Archie Comic Publications. Any other characters that appear in the story were created in the mind of the author. Please ask me before using these any of these characters. My e-mail is redfox742@yahoo.com. Also e-mail me if you particularly enjoyed this story, or have any suggestions for my writing.

            Special thanks goes out to MTP for his continued support, as well as to Sonic HQ for information on characters.

            This story takes place in a hybrid universe combining the universes of SEGA and Archie. For example, SWAT-bots are the main minions of Archie, while SEGA's "enemies" are a wide variety of robotized animals. Both are mentioned in this story.

            I hope that you took pleasure in reading this story. I intend to continue writing fan fiction, especially a sequel to this tale. I do not know when it will come out, but I am working in much of my free time, so it should not be too long.

            Thanks again for reading!

- Darren McRoy "RedFox", November 2002