A/N: Mannnn this chapter is long. Took long for me to write too; I hope the length of this chapter makes up for that. Sorry if it's repetitive, but I'm trying to emphasize how much Manic was tortured in between the time he was caught to the time he was roboticized. Hopefully you'll understand why he chose to be roboticized; if you don't, I am SO gonna kill myself.

I was kinda surprised that no one commented on me mutating poor Knuckles like that… but oh well.

This chapter is explaining what happened in between the time Manic was captured and up to the time he was roboticized. I reckon it needed explaining, at some point.

Disclaimer: Sonic and all other related characters belong to Sega… I think.

As Manic opened his eyes he was immediately blinded by a light overhead. Panicked, he tried to sit up then realized his arms and legs were chained to… to whatever he was on. He turned his head and looked. He was sitting on a cold metal pallet, arms and legs pinned down by strips of titanium so that he lay spread-eagled.

"You're awake. Feeling better?" a voice boomed around the room. Manic tried to lift his head and realized his neck was chained down as well as his arms and legs.

Robotnik, his mind said instantly.

Manic didn't answer, a snarl coming over his face. He tried to move and, finding the bonds to be too strong, struggled and strained, finding it difficult to lean up when his neck itself was being held down. Every time he moved up, the bonds pressed against his windpipe, making it difficult for him to breathe.

"Aren't you even going to thank me?" the voice asked again.

"Thank you? What the hell for?" Manic spat furiously, finding to his irritation that he couldn't break the bonds.

My amulet! he thought suddenly, panicked. Trying to look down at himself, he couldn't quite see whether he was still wearing it or not.

Robotnik's voice cackled over the microphone. "For saving your life! Or have you not noticed that you're not dead?"

Dead…?

Memories came flooding back. Robots… a fight… he was injured… his lung… Robotnik carrying him away… Sonic running after…

Sonic!

"What did you do to my brother and sister you sick bastard?" Manic shouted, seeing Robotnik's face past a thick window panel.

"DO?" Robotnik asked. "I did nothing"

"You LIAR!" Manic struggled furiously against his bonds.

"Is that how you thank someone who saved your life? Call him a bastard and a liar?"

"I'd rather go to HELL than be saved by someone like you" the green hedgehog spat.

"Aw, now you've hurt my feelings" Robotnik said tauntingly. "And such a mouth… tut tut now. Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

"Don't you dare talk about my mother!" the normally levelheaded Manic exploded.

"Who? You mean Queen Aleena?" Robotnik made a chuckling sound. "That slut"

"Shut up!" Manic shouted.

"You know what she was before she became Queen? Nothing. She was a nobody, just a prostituting whore" Robotnik cackled. "Lucky break for her when daddy dearest came along then, huh?"

"Your parents were both like that," Robotnik whispered into the microphone, loud enough for Manic to hear. "Your mother was a whore. Your father… he went to whorehouses. You know how many women claimed that he was the father of their children? Guess it was just a lucky stroke that your father picked your mother"

"Shut up shut up shut up!" Manic screamed, rocking on the pallet violently. He wanted to cover his ears, scream, anything to block out HIS grating, tormenting voice.

"What? Don't like what you hear?" Robotnik taunted, his voice rebounding around the cold, ice white room. "You know, Manic Hedgehog, you ARE quite the freak. Your mother was purple; your father was blue. Pink fur came from your mother's side. You were the freak, the GREEN one. You were the misfit"

"Shut up…" Manic whispered, tears springing to his eyes.

"Ever wondered why your siblings got sent to such nice homes and you didn't? Because your mother didn't want you. Because you weren't one of them. Because you, and your green fur showed to the world that your precious MOTHER wasn't as she seemed. She was a prostitute. It's impossible that your genes came from either your mother or father, can't you see that? She wanted to get rid of you. But no, you had to come bouncing back" Robotnik said, lying. But Manic didn't know that.

"Shut up Robotnik! I am not a freak, I'm NOT!" Manic shouted.

"My, isn't SOMEONE in denial" Robotnik smirked. Manic suddenly noticed that his breathing didn't feel quite… right. Not quite as… syncopated as it should be.

"What did you do to me" he asked quietly.

"I fixed your lung" Robotnik said with an air of pride.

"I… my breathing…"

Robotnik made a 'heh' sound. "Robots. Go figure.  You tell them to perform a SIMPLE operation and they bungle it up. Good help is SO hard to find"

Manic bit down his retort that the 'good help' was so lousy because it was Robotnik who had built them. "What did you do" he asked, more as a statement than a question.

"Simple mechanics" Robotnik said.

"My lung is… mechanical?"

"Yes. You are now breathing… artificially, shall we say?"

"Artificially…" Manic said woozily. "I… I should be dead"

"Oh bravo" Robotnik said sarcastically. "Did you figure that out by yourself?"

"What metal?" Manic asked.

"What?"

"Metal. Repair my lung. Which" Manic asked.

Robotnik paused for an instant and Manic thought he had left. "Low carbon steel" he answered after a while.

"Steel," Manic said quietly. "That will kill me"

"No it-"

"Don't try lie to me Robotnik. Steel. Ferrous, meaning it has iron content. Iron rusts. Steel rusts. Lung. Oxygen. Water Steel rusts in oxygen and water" Manic looked at Robotnik's brooding face in the window. "The rust will circulate around my body in my blood. And I will die"

Robotnik frowned then chuckled. "I have to give you credit hedgehog, you're not as stupid as you look. And considering your heritage…"

"What do you want with me?" Manic asked quietly, interrupting him. "You 'heal' me by making me an artificial lung of materials that will kill me. I know you; you didn't just heal me to kill me again, not this way. You would have left me bleeding and tortured me to death. You wouldn't roboticize me, not the 'spawn of Aleena'."

When there was no reply Manic glanced at the window panel to see that Robotnik had left.

A long while later Manic turned his head at the sound of the door. His eyes stung and tears sprung every time he blinked from being forced to stare into the bright light for lack of another place to look at and his whole body ached from being stretched into such an uncomfortable position. He had tried to close his eyes and perhaps sleep, but the light pierced right through his eyelids.

There were some clicking noises and Manic felt something loosen around his foot. He swiveled his ankle. It was moving!

He kicked out experimentally.

"Don't move another muscle hedgehog. Robotnik told me to shoot you if you put up any resistance" Manic heard a voice hiss. As someone moved to work on his other ankle he caught a glimpse of a hulking orange body and blonde hair as it bent down.

Dingo.

Meaning that the other person…

Sleet. Holding a laser gun, probably aimed at my heart. He always did seem to like the thought of innards bursting everywhere.

For some reason that he didn't know Manic found that quite amusing. He almost retched smelling the putrid stench of the orange dog as he leaned over his face to try and undo the bond around his neck, fumbling with the keys.

"Hey hurry up dog breath otherwise I won't NEED your friend to go and blast me to death" Manic said. He wanted to move so badly, wanted to leap up and scream, but he knew his neck was still tied down plus Sleet's gun was probably still aimed at his heart. There was a click and Manic let out a small sigh as the tight band around his neck fell away.

"Sit up" Sleet ordered. Manic did as told, bright spots clouding his vision. When the room darkened again he saw that Sleet did in fact have a gun aimed at his chest.

How'd I guess, he thought dryly. Sleet motioned with his handheld laser gun to Dingo and Manic felt his throat being grabbed roughly from behind. He made a choking sound.

"Shut up" Sleet commanded. Dingo connected the titanium band together and walked to Sleet, who took out a remote control and pressed a small green button. There was a beep and Manic noticed a red light on the neckband go on. Sleet relaxed his hold on the gun.

"You can move now. But one wrong move…" he hovered his thumb over the control. "And say goodbye to your head"

Couldn't just be content with the heart, ohhhh no, now it's the head too, Manic quipped to himself wryly. He had no idea why he seemed to be making so many jokes. As far as he was concerned, this was nowhere NEAR a funny situation.

Manic felt something lie, cold and hard, on his chest. He looked down. It was his drum shaped amulet. He was surprised that Robotnik hadn't stripped him of it and burnt it to metal waste. To be safe, he quickly took it off, making sure that Sleet and Dingo didn't see what he was doing –they were walking towards the door- and pocketed it. He felt his neck and the neckband around it. His neck felt sore, the skin a bit torn from the roughness of the bonds. Luckily enough though, the neckband was relatively loose, though not loose enough for him to slip his head through. He fingered the band tentatively.

Should be quite easy to pick… his hand went instinctively to his waist, then discovered that although Robotnik had not taken his amulet he HAD removed his pouches.

Dammit… Manic swore, knowing that even if he had his materials Sleet and Dingo would probably see him, and it was much too risky trying to pick something that he couldn't see.

Especially when it could easily blow his head off if he made one wrong move.

"Come" Sleet commanded. Manic considered disobeying then decided against it. Better not to take a risk.

Sleet smirked triumphantly at him as he walked past. Manic scowled and stood straight, head high like the every inch of royalty he was, trying to keep some of his pride intact. Before he knew it there was a sharp pain in his back and he was on the floor.

"Arrogant little thing, aren't you? Not so good without your precious siblings here to help you though, are you?" Sleet sneered, Dingo grinning beside him. Manic rolled onto his back.

I won't say anything. I will NOT let them succeed.

He put his palms on the floor and shifted his weight to the balls of his feet, slowly getting up. Sleet glanced at Dingo. Manic felt Dingo's boot rest gently on his forehead before giving him a hard shove backwards, sending him sprawling on the floor again.

"Come on, get up then" Sleet challenged. Manic wanted to scream. How dare they do that to him? If only he didn't have that stupid collar around his neck, then he'd show them…

He half expected Sonic and Sonia to come crashing in at any point. They always turned up at these sorts of moments.

And then everything will be fine, completely fine… we'll show these morons, and everything will be okay…

They didn't come. Glaring at his tormentor Manic tried to get up again. He kneeled on one leg, his other foot flat on the floor. He put his hands on his risen knee and struggled to rise. Dingo put a large hand on his head and pushed down. Manic leaned heavily on his knee, Dingo's weight adding to it and tried to push himself up but Dingo's weight and strength helped him push the green hedgehog down easily. A hot wave of anger and humiliation rose through Manic, flowing to every pore of his body, crackling around him in an aura of lightning. His cheeks flushed furiously, but he refused to give up. His pride wouldn't let him.

Then Sleet started laughing.

Something in the hedgehog snapped.

Manic slipped his knee down, making Dingo suddenly jerk forward because of how he was leaning on him. Slapping his palms flat on the floor he swung his legs around in a low kick, tripping over the large dog, a mid-defensive attack he had learnt from his sister. Dingo fell straight onto his face with an 'oof!' Using his hands again, Manic pushed himself so he flipped forward onto his feet. He lunged forward, fist flying forward at Sleet's face…

And froze just an inch before impact as the wolf smirked, his finger wavering dangerously close to a red button on the control.

"Do you REALLY want to be blown up THAT badly?" Sleet taunted. Manic's face contorted into a snarl, but he reluctantly relaxed his hand.

"Ow! Sleet, that hurt" Dingo whined.

"Pity your brother isn't here, isn't it?" Sleet taunted, ignoring his friend. "Sonic the hedgehog. You know, you probably wouldn't still be here if he had come along by now"

Sleet looked around in mock surprise. "But wait… he's not here. And why would that be?"

Manic looked away, refusing to reply.

"Because he doesn't care about you," Sleet answered himself sneeringly. "Obviously. He would have come CHARGING in by now if he did."

Sleet snickered. "Some 'siblings'. Always sticking together, such a perfect family… living in your naïve little world, thinking that everything would be just fine as long as you stuck together, you and him and her. Obviously not though, seeing as how they don't care about you"

Manic frowned.

"You don't believe me!" Sleet said disbelievingly. "Think about it hedgehog, THINK! You know your brother and your sister. They would DIE for you, right? If so, then why aren't they here right now? If your sister were in your position, wouldn't you and Sonic have saved her by now?"

Manic didn't want to listen, but somehow, it seemed… right.

No. No, Sonic was injured, so was Sonia. That's why they're not here.

"Didn't you see how he ran when you were being taken? He could have run much faster than that, and you know it. Why didn't he run fast enough though, if he could have? He wanted you to die. He thought Robotnik was going to kill you, and so he left you to die"

No.

"Yeah" Dingo chimed in. "And if it weren't for that Sonia you wouldn't 'ave even gotten into this in the first place, right, Sleet?"

"If she hadn't been caught by that robot you wouldn't have gotten shot" Sleet said.

"It wasn't her fault" Manic said for the first time.

"Oh yes it was. She was clumsy, and she got caught, but YOU had to pay the price"

"She probably could've gotten out by herself," Dingo said. Sleet smirked.

"Yes, she could, and Sonic knew that, but he still went to her first. He doesn't care about you," he said.

"That's a lie," Manic said, his voice shaking.

"Is it?" Sleet asked. "Is it really?"

Manic had nothing to say to that.

Sleet and Dingo led the green hedgehog to a dark room. Manic saw Robotnik sitting in a chair, deep in thought.

"We brought him boss" Sleet reported.

"Excellent, excellent" Robotnik said, swiveling to face them.

"What do you want with me," Manic asked, his voice soft and low. Robotnik stayed silent a while, contemplating his answer before he spoke.

"I have to give you credit. I thought you despised robotics. I never thought you'd know about metals and their qualities"

"You didn't force me here just to tell me that," Manic stated. "Why don't you just get to the point?"

"How did you know about metals?" Robotnik asked. Manic stayed silent, not wanting to reveal anything.

"You were brought up by that thief, weren't you… what was his name? Farrell?" Robotnik asked suddenly. Manic started at the name.

Farrell… he remembered the creature with a painful ache in his heart. The one who had brought him up and taught him the skills he knew now since he was just a baby. Farrell had been a thief and had therefore obviously passed his knowledge of lock picking, pick pocketing, disguise, hacking and mechanics. Manic had picked up on it like a pro, to Farrell's great delight.

The green hedgehog missed Farrell. Sure, he was a thief, but he wasn't a BAD one. He brought Manic up like a relatively normal child, letting him play and do things that ordinary children did. He hadn't tried to indoctrinate a sense of duty and stiff obedience and discipline into the hedgehog as others may have thought. Manic had admired Farrell, ever since he had gotten old enough to understand the word. Farrell, who seemed to know all the answers to the world; laid-back, kind, caring Farrell. He could be gentle and harsh at the same time, honest and sly at the same time.

Robotnik smirked at the expression on Manic's face. "Ah yes. The master thief"

He looked at Manic eye to eye, a serious expression on his face. "He probably would still be with you if not for your brother and sister"

Manic remembered that day clearly. He had often had nightmares about it. Hearing the most beautiful music in the world, going to see what it was, telling Farrell he would be right back… then returning to find Farrell, roboticized and gone. He didn't remember ever feeling more lost than he had at that moment. Manic clenched his fists.

"Thanks to you. You roboticized him" Manic said, feeling his temper rise.

"Would you like to see him again?" Robotnik asked, his voice surprisingly soft. Manic started.

"What? Farrell? See him again?"

Robotnik nodded, his face deadly serious. Manic frowned at him.

"What's the catch?" he asked suspiciously.

"No catch. You see him for five minutes, then he leaves"

Manic scowled at his, still distrusting. "Do… do I have your word?" he asked.

"Yes" Robotnik said solemnly. Manic looked to one side then nodded slightly. Robotnik lifted a small panel on the immense keyboard behind him and pressed a button.

"Come, one-sixty-two" he said. Manic stood frozen to the spot, looking tensely at the door. He wasn't quite sure what to do. If Robotnik was telling the truth, he would see Farrell again… finally. If he wasn't… but he gave his word, and Robotnik was many things, but he didn't break his promises.

Much.

There was a 'shoom' as the mechanicals doors slid open. A robot walked in and Manic's heart constricted.

"How may I serve you?" Farrell asked, his voice tinny and mechanical. Manic forgot completely about Robotnik, Sleet and Dingo.

"Farrell!" he yelled joyously, flinging himself onto the robot's neck. Sleet raised the control. Robotnik gestured by holding his hand out and lowering it slowly, and Sleet obeyed. The three watched silently.

"Oh man, you don't know how much I've missed you, I've got so much to say and tell you…" Manic cried, holding tightly onto the robot's neck. It didn't respond. Manic let go and looked at it.

"Farrell?" he asked, half laughing half crying with joy. Farrell's head stiffly turned to look at the hedgehog.

"Target sighted. Destroy" it said simply, lifting its arm to point it at Manic's face, guns coming out of the back of its forearm.

"Wh- what? Farrell! It's me… Manic! Remember?"

"Destroy" it repeated.

"No" Robotnik commanded, his voice low and clear. The Farrell-robot complied and lowered its hand.

"Don't you remember me?" Manic asked shakily, eyes pooling with tears. Farrell stared at the hedgehog expressionlessly, as if it didn't know what else to do.

"Farrell… it's me… Manic… remember? The kid you took in? I… I was just a baby. You taught me everything I know now… don't you remember?"

The robot continued staring.

"Stealing food? The picnics? The jewel robbery? You didn't want me to come, but I did, and I almost got you killed…" Manic trailed off, staring helplessly at the emotionless automaton in front of him. It looked so much like Farrell. It had to be him… but it couldn't be. Farrell would never have forgotten the picnic. They had sneaked into a mansion and stolen food, then had almost gotten caught by the guards and had had to dress up as women to escape. Farrell would never have forgotten it, never. And they had eaten like kings afterwards.

Nor would he have forgotten the 'jewel heist', as he himself had dubbed it. Manic had almost gotten them both killed, and when they were both safely back home Farrell had almost killed Manic himself.

"Oh god… don't you remember ANYTHING…" Manic said, tears leaving salt trails down his cheeks. He moved forward and wrapped his arms around the robot's cold steel body, just holding him. The robot stood as if frozen to the spot, not moving at all.

The old Farrell, the one Manic knew and had grown to admire and love would not have just stood there. He would have wriggled out the embrace uncomfortably, joking and laughing about Manic being 'too sentimental'.

It almost broke Manic's heart, to know that finally, he had Farrell again… but he didn't remember, even recognize him.

"What happened to you…" he whispered. Robotnik looked at the time on the computer screen.

"Time's up" he announced. "You may return now, one-sixty-two"

Stiffly, Farrell turned and walked to and out of the door, walking easily out of Manic's weak grasp. Dingo wiped a tear from his eye.

"Aw, how touching" he said. Manic whirled around angrily.

"You lied to me! You said there were no catches!" he said accusingly.

"I said there were no catches. I didn't say anything about him still remembering you. It wasn't a trap, was it?"

"What the HELL did you do to him?" Manic shouted furiously.

"Roboticized him" Robotnik shrugged. "He was one of my older ones. Nowadays, I can make robots that retain their older feelings. At the time your darling Farrell was roboticized, they became loyal to me immediately, with no feeling towards anything else"

"Change him then, dammit!" Manic yelled, fresh hot tears of rage and loss springing to his eyes.

"Too dangerous. I could end up killing him" Robotnik said. He shook his head. "A pity really. He could be very useful to me, him with such an expert knowledge of mechanics"

"Why did you do it?" Manic asked, his voice shaking. "Why did you have to roboticize him? He was one of the best people I've ever known… why did you have to roboticize him?"

Robotnik shrugged carelessly. "I had just updated my roboticizing technology. I had to test it on SOMEONE"

"Why him… you uncaring bastard…" Manic bit his lower lip to try and stop the tears. He clenched his fists tightly and looked away so they wouldn't see, his whole body shaking on the spot.

"It wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for you siblings you know" Robotnik said matter-of-factly. "If you had never met them you never would have left Farrell alone"

"You roboticized him," Manic said, choking on emotions swarming to explode out of this throat.

"They made you leave him"

"You roboticized him," Manic repeated, refusing to listen to anything Robotnik said against his siblings.

"And what did they do about it? Nothing. Remember what your sister said, right after you had joined? 'I'm all alone'. You had to comfort her then, didn't you? And then after her, Sonic. He tried to hide it, but it came out eventually. Did anyone care about you? What you felt?"

There was a part of Manic that told him it was true.

"And now where are they?" Robotnik let out a loud, derisive 'hah'. "Not here, when you most need them"

"You're stopping them" Manic said. Robotnik arched an eyebrow.

"Alright then. I'll be fair, shall I?" he said. He turned in his chair and typed in something on the keyboard. On the screen Manic could see the front door of Robotnik's fortress, all the robots turning and walking in, leaving it unguarded. Manic stared disbelievingly.

"It's not guarded now," Robotnik said. "All that's left are traps that I've set up, of course. Can't let them get in THAT easily"

"Why are you doing this?" Manic asked carefully.

"I just want to show you the truth," Robotnik said. He looked at the computer screen. "If they really cared, they would be able to break through, wouldn't they?"

"You injured Sonia"

"Ah-ah. I did no such thing. Your brother did that, creating that tornado. And since when has something like that stopped him? If you were dying of disease and Sonia was here in your position right now, would Sonic be looking after you, or tearing across the country looking for HER?"

Manic didn't say anything.

"Why are you even doing this? What's the point? They save me, sure, but I'm still going to die" Manic said. Robotnik regarded the green hedgehog.

"I can save you. You can live" Robotnik said eventually.

"What?" Manic couldn't believe his ears. Was this actually Robotnik? It was so unlike him…

"You won't have to die" Robotnik repeated.

"What do you want in return?" Manic asked warily.

"Nothing"

"Yeah, right"

Robotnik glared at the hedgehog.

"Okay, HOW would you save me then?" Manic asked.

"Roboticization"

There was an obvious silence.

"Ohhh no. No way. You're mad" Manic laughed scornfully. "As if I'd choose roboticization!"

"It would save your life" Robotnik said, surprisingly enough not offended. "And it's painfully obvious that your brother and sister aren't coming to help you. You know I'm not going to just let you walk out of here"

"They'll come" Manic said.

"You'll be stronger. Faster. And you'll still keep your memories"

"No 'brainwashing'?" Manic asked, intrigued. Mechanics had always intrigued him, and though he had never told anyone, he had had a secret interest in robots.

"No brainwashing"

"What's the catch," Manic asked curiously. "I know you're not trying to make me into some sort of ultra powerful robot just to be nice"

"You work for me. No contact with your siblings, or any of the Freedom Fighters"

Manic laughed. "You're nuts if you think I'd let myself get roboticized for that"

"You would live" Robotnik reminded.

"I'd rather die," Manic spat. Robotnik shrugged.

"Have it as you wish," he said, turning in his chair the face the computer, making a small gesture at Sleet and Dingo. Manic stood, not quite knowing what to do, staring at the door. There were no robots outside. Robotnik hadn't lied; it would be child's play to get in. Manic could have just strolled in easily himself. He could have ran out too, except he wasn't quite sure whether Robotnik wanted him alive or not. Sleet still had the control, after all.

It was only a matter of waiting, then.

Manic was suddenly grabbed roughly from behind and lifted off the ground.

"Hey! What…" Manic struggled against Dingo's grip, seeing the dog's muscular orange arms gripping his sides. He felt embarrassed, realizing not for the first time that day how weak he really was without his amulet.

"Put me down!" Manic kicked and struggled, but to no avail. Dingo carried the green hedgehog to a door and threw him in, slamming the door behind. Sleet glanced at Robotnik to see if he had any more orders. The rotund man sat in his chair, frowning thoughtfully at the computer screen. Then his mouth quirked up into a smile that sent shivers down the gray wolf's spine.

"I did ask" he said and pressed a button, then started laughing as a 'pshhhh' noise entered the room, accompanied with banging, shouting and coughing.

The first thought that went into Manic's head was this is it. I'm gonna die.

The second thought was I'm not dead.

Surprised, he relaxed his fist and lowered it from the door. When he had first heard the gas he had instinctively dropped down low to the ground. It was a light sky blue and semi-transparent, and had spread quickly around the room. Manic had started banging frantically on the door and shouting for them to let him out while trying not to breathe any of the gas in, so sure that Robotnik was trying to kill him. He took his hand away from his nose and mouth. The air was surprisingly cool, pleasantly so in fact, and smelt of fresh mint. Manic looked around suspiciously, not taking in too much air just in case. It was too unlike Robotnik to…

"AHHHHHHH!" he screamed, falling to the floor.

My head!

It felt like it was going to explode. Thousands of voices shouted at the same time, demanding to be heard. Memories flashed in front of his eyes, some of them he was certain weren't even his. Faces zoomed past him, swirled around him, ones he didn't know and ones he did.

"Go away…" he moaned, closing his eyes shut. Faces jeered at him, laughed at him, their voices mingling, getting higher and higher, louder, louder…

"Manic"

The voices dimmed and Manic dared to open his eyes.

"Sonic… Sonia…" he said, relieved. The pink hedgehog looked coldly down on him.

"You're a disgrace," she said.

"Wh… what?"

"You're a disgrace," Sonic said. "A disgrace to us. Sewer scum"

"You were always different. You never fitted in" Sonia sneered. "You have no idea how many times we tried to get rid of you"

"But you kept coming back" Sonic said.

"Look at you. Green fur. How could you possibly be related to any of us?"

"Freak"

They're not real. They're not real, Manic thought to himself. Almost as if in response, Sonic walked up to him and punched him hard in the face. Manic flew back and sprawled onto the floor.

"'Real' enough for you?" the cobalt hedgehog sneered.

"You're a lame excuse of a hedgehog. You shouldn't even have been born. You were a mistake. Mother tried to get rid of you, but you just HAD to come back" the pink hedgehog said, walking up to her green brother.

"Go away! You're not real!" Manic burst at the two. They shimmered and, to Manic's surprise, disappeared. The hedgehog stood in the room, breathing hard and sweating. He felt something on his shoulder and looked up.

"Farrell…" his eyes filled with tears at his old mentor. Unroboticized.

"You disappoint me Manic," the creature said sternly.

"You're not…"

"Not roboticized," Farrell said, his tone bitter. "See what I've become? I'm a slave to Robotnik now. And why? Because you went off for your brother and sister"

Manic remained silent and Farrell continued.

"We could have still stayed together. We were such a good team. You had so much potential… and now you're wasting it all. On what? On two creatures that don't even appreciate you for who you are. They only use you because you're so skilled. They hate you otherwise; that much is obvious. You could have stayed with me. We could still be together. Instead of me working for ROBOTNIK!" Farrell spat out the last word angrily like it were a germ.

"I'm sorry" Manic whispered. Farrell's face softened.

"It's alright, it's not your fault. It's THEIR fault. They split us apart. They ruined it all"

"They're my siblings"

"Some siblings!" Farrell shouted. "If they were so great, why aren't they here? Why haven't you been rescued? Why were you even KIDNAPPED in the first place? If your brother was so fast he would have been able to save you, wouldn't he?"

Manic sank to the floor and huddled his knees up to his chest. He buried his head and looked down at the floor.

"Wouldn't he?" Farrell asked, louder and more demanding.

There was a long silence. Manic's body started to shake as the long held back tears spilled from his eyes. Outside, Robotnik turned off the gas and the sky blue started to dissipate in the room.

"Should we go get him boss?" Sleet asked. Robotnik held his chin in his hand, stroking his moustache thoughtfully. He held up a hand as Dingo went forward to open the door.

"No. Leave him. Let him come to us" he said, watching.

As the proud, defiant emerald prince finally cried.

Manic walked into the room.

"Ah, you're back" Robotnik said.

"Enjoyed it, didn't you" Manic spat. Robotnik quirked an eyebrow.

"Quite. So what's your decision?"

Manic looked down.

"Life… or death?" Robotnik asked, his voice deadly calm. When the hedgehog looked up at him his heart leapt, thrilled. The man had never seen deader, icier and dark eyes, never. It half scared him.

"Life"

"The process will hurt, but after that you'll be fine. I'm equipping you with the best that I have, and-"

"Just start the thing" Manic said wearily. Robotnik pressed a button and the large machine door shifted open. Manic hesitated.

"What guarantee do I have that you won't kill me in the machine?" he asked.

"Why would I waste my materials like that?" Robotnik asked scornfully. Manic looked at him warily then walked to the machine. As he approached it he watched Robotnik carefully until he was sure that the man wasn't watching him; too busy typing into the computer. Then, quickly, he ripped his pendant off his neck and threw it under the machine.

Just in case.

Then he stepped in.

Through the glass he could see Robotnik punch in the final commands then step back to watch. Metal bonds came out of the machine and strapped him tight so he couldn't struggle, and in that instant he felt a flash of panic.

Live or die… Robotnik's words came back to him.

This is what I want, he thought firmly. A pale green gas filled the machine and he shuddered.

This is it. It's finally happening.

This is what I want.

Fire suddenly burst up. Manic burned. He screamed in the pain, and in that instant thought he was going to die. Then the fire disappeared, and it was almost worse. Before, it had been a numb pain. Now… every pore was burning, scarred, scorched. The gas came back and his skin felt better.

This is what I want.

The metal flew down to his body from the top and bottom, swirling like a silver liquid, flowing smoothly around his body, covering him in a shiny silver armor.

This is what I want.

The metal bound tighter, touching his already burnt skin. The now rough texture made it harder for the metal to slip about. Manic almost fainted from the pain.

This is what I want.

Tiny wires came out from the metal, attaching itself into his skin. Tiny needles, everywhere, piercing, probing.

This is what I want.

The liquid metal rose over his head and a new wave of pain instantly hit him.

This… is what… I want…

Flashes of him and his siblings raced through his mind; them playing their music, then escaping Robotnik, them relaxing and laughing as Sonic stuffed three chilli dogs in his mouth…

A single tear rolled down his face.

And he screamed.