Chapter 17: An Unexpected Guest

Location: Soleanna Forest Zone

Three hours later...

NICOLE stood by the Freedom Fighter Special, watching as the Dropship lifted off and headed back in the direction of the city. Utilizing a Power Ring from the X-Tornado, she had manifested her physical form, allowing her to enjoy the unspoiled wilderness of the Soleanna Forest Zone, in the same way her friends did. She was also scanning the Terran's communication network, waiting to hear from the Daedalus, while at the same time running a diagnostic on the Freedom Fighter Special.

"Kingdom Valley," Amy said, "sounds romantic."

"Only if you love crumbling ruins," Rotor remarked as he lay on his back staring up at the clouds in the sky.

"Bet Knuckles would like it down here," Mighty said.

"S-so why do you think Eggman c-came down here?" Ray asked with a stutter.

"Looking for new property no doubt," Sally surmised, "with New Megaopolis in ruins he's probably decided to set up shop elsewhere."

"Their technology is definitely impressive, maybe even superior to his," Tails stated.

"You really think so?" Amy asked.

"Just before we managed to rescue their Princess, Eggman's robots were launching an attack on the city through the desert. Nineteen marines were holding their own, outnumbered by overwhelming force, but holding their own," he explained.

"Do you think they'll ally with us?" Chris asked.

"Even if they don't join our alliance, we'll have still opened diplomatic relations with them," NICOLE stated.

"It's the best case scenario if they don't," Sonic said from his position atop the Freedom Fighter Special.

The hedgehog was lying atop the aircraft, allowing the heat radiating from the hull to seep through his cobalt blue fur.

"Say...Rotor, I'm picking up an obstruction in the FFS' ventilation system," NICOLE informed.

"Oh what now!" the walrus grumbled, climbing to his feet.

He stalked over to where NICOLE was standing and studied the holographic display that she had manifested for him.

"It's not Cream again is it?" Sonic asked, peering over the side of the aircraft.

"It can't be her," Sally said, "We knew exactly where Cream was before we departed from Mobotropolis."

"It does appear to be anything that could affect the FFS' performance, but I'd rather determine what's wrong now rather then later," Rotor stated.

"NICOLE, you'd better send a transmission to the Daedalus and inform them of the situation," Sally suggested.

"Understood," NICOLE replied, opening a link to the battlecruiser, "Daedalus, this is the Freedom Fighter Special. Be advised that we have encountered technical difficulties and are working to resolve them as soon as we possible."

"Acknowledged, Freedom Fighter Special."

Rotor headed into the aircraft to see if the damage extended to the interior of the, while Tails had already airborne to check the exterior. With AVA in hand, Rotor scanned where the ventilation system was mounted in the ceiling a picked up the obstructing. Except the scan indicated that it was producing a temperature of 98.6 degrees, confirming that it was in fact biological.

"Alright, show yourself this instant," Rotor demanded.

It was too large to be anything other then humanoid, and the sudden movement following his declaration more or less confirmed that. It moved in the direction of the cockpit before there was a loud crash and the walrus watched as a brown and orange badger suddenly fell through the vent.

"Sticks? What are you doing here?" Rotor demanded, a little too harshly in his own opinion.

"Hiding from the government agents wiretapping my houseplants," she replied, picking herself off the floor.

"O...kay. Glad you cleared that up," he said.

"Who's that?" Chris asked, stopping next to Sonic.

Hearing the crash had brought the hedgehog running, but so far all things appeared to be well in hand.

"Oh that's Sticks, she's...unusual," he explained.

"Well that's...vague," Chris said.

"It's the best way to describe her without being insulting," the hedgehog replied with a shrug, "Good thing Amy's here, she's been helping Sticks adapt to civilization."

"Is everything alright?" Sally asked boarding the aircraft.

"Everything's fine, Sally," Rotor stated.

"Should I inform the Daedalus that we've resolved the situation?" NICOLE called out.

"How bad is the damage, Rotor?" Sally inquired.

"Hmm..., nothing that will keep us grounded," he replied studying the vent.

"Go ahead, NICOLE," she said.

"Daedalus, this is Freedom Fighter Special. Technical difficulties have been resolved and we'll be lifting off shortly."

"Acknowledged, Freedom Fighter Special. We've got escort craft en route," the voice stated.

A pair of A2 Viking Armored Mechanical Hybrids were launched from one of the Daedalus' hanger bays and immediately headed for their location within the Soleanna Forest Zone. Dropping into a hover, they immediately transformed into a mechanized walker mode, marching a short distance to their position.

"We're ready to leave when you are, ambassador," One of the pilots stated.

"Alright everybody, let's get a move on," Sally declared.

While the others boarded the Freedom Fighter Special, Sonic and Chris headed back to the X-Tornado, Tails having already strapped himself behind the controls. Both vessels took to the air several minutes later and headed in the direction of the Daedalus, followed shortly thereafter by their escorts.

Location: The Daedalus

Ten minutes later...

Fleet Admiral Raymond Gaskaville stood within the cavernous hanger bay, awaiting the arrival of the emissary from the Republic of Acorn. Babysitting an ambassador wasn't exactly the reason why he had joined the Terran Republic Navy, but it wasn't his place to question orders. A pair of Goliath Combat Walkers stood guard nearby, its pilots prepared for anything.

"Admiral Gaskaville, the bridge reports that the Valkyrie Vixen has docked," the dark haired woman beside him reported.

"Good. I want Lieutenant Breanne sequestered for a full debriefing in one hour," he stated.

"Understood, Admiral."

He turned his attention back to the opening of the hanger by and watched as two aircraft pulled inside, escorted by the Vikings he had earlier dispatched. A field of energy activated, cutting themselves off from the exterior of the exterior of the battlecruiser. He was required to wait several more minutes before the ambassador emerged with the rest of her entourage.

"Greetings, ambassador. Fleet Admiral Raymond Gaskaville," he introduced, "Welcome aboard the Daedalus."

"Thank you, admiral," Sally said.

"There is some paperwork that you and your companions will need to fill out before we reach Central City," he stated.

"What kind of paperwork?" she asked.

"For the issuing of official government documents," Admiral Gaskaville stated, "we'll need names, birthdates, and place of residency."

"'s just the basic bureaucratic nonsense," Sonic commented.

"Sonic!" Sally snapped.

"The PMO will have them ready by the time we arrive," Gaskaville said, ignoring the hedgehog's outburst, "Ms. Hawke will see to each one of you alphabetically."

"If you'll all follow me, we can get started," she said, gesturing towards the door.