A/N: Hello everyone! This time, this story in dedication to a very good artist on deviantart, chibiirose. For those who don't know, she suffered an accident last year that incapacitated her for a while. According to her journals, she's on her way to recovery though.

Sword: But to help, we thought we'd do a funny story to cheer her up!

Pen: Why?

Sword: Laughter is the best medicine.

Pen: *facepalms*

We're going to attempt to do that. As always, Sonic and all related material belongs to Sega. The story, Sword, and Pen belong to me. Please do not use without permission. Thank you.

Guard Duty

"Is this really necessary?" Sonic asked as Tails clasped the metal bracelet to his leg. A red bulb on the bracelet blinked every few seconds and although light as a baseball, the full weight seemed to drag him to the ground with each step.

"Yes," Knuckles said, checking the Master Emerald one last time. Satisfied, he traipsed down the altar steps. "Can't have you running off again."

"C'mon," Sonic said, punching his shoulder. "I was scoping out the island last time. Making sure Eggman wasn't on his way."

"You left the Master Emerald alone. You never leave the Master Emerald alone," he said.

"Look who you're talking to. I would've been back in a second. Besides, I needed to stretch my legs." He lifted one of his knees, pulling it to his chest.

"Rouge could've stolen it," Knuckles said. "She's very sneaky."

"Well, it doesn't take much to get past you," he muttered. Knuckles glared at him and he held up his hands. "Okay, but really?" He pointed at the bracelet. "A tracker?"

"Not a tracker," Tails said, aiming a remote at the Master Emerald. He pressed a button and on top of the great gem, another red light appeared, syncing with the bracelet's light. "It's a shock bracelet."

"Like with pets?" Sonic crossed his arms and frowned at them. "I'm not some dog in the front yard."

"No, you're a temporary guardian," the red echidna said. "I expect you to do a good job. Tails left enough range for you to go to the hut." He swept an arm at his little shack facing the altar. "Help yourself to the food, but keep your eye on the emerald." Then he headed off to the circling jungle around them.

Sonic groaned and turned to Tails. "Tell me why I can't go with you? I can track down Chaos Emeralds as well as Knuckles."

"Because this one is buried underground," the little fox said. "Unless you can dig through rock, we need him. Relax," he smiled and tucked away the remote. "We won't be gone long. I do have to warn you not to go more than five hundred feet from the emerald." He wiggled his toes in the grass, his guilty eyes shifting elsewhere. "Knuckles was specific that the shocks be pretty powerful."

"Great," he said. "Any chance it'll fry the bracelet off?" Tails shook his head and followed Knuckles. Sonic cupped his hands and yelled after him. "Hurry back!" Then they were gone and he was alone. He kicked a pebble near the altar steps and strolled around the gem, hands behind his head.

What to do? What to do? He eyed the hut. Neither food nor sleep appealed to him. What he really wanted to do was run. He tried jogging rings around the altar, speeding up more and more until he tore up the ground, kicking it up into large mounds on the grass to the sides. He sank deeper in the earth and realized he could create a small moat.

Huh? How come Knuckles never thought to do this? A moat would be the perfect defense. Make the trail a little wider and one wouldn't have to religiously guard the Master Emerald. Guess ol' Knucklehead never stopped long enough to come up with that.

Before he patted himself on the back, Sonic's foot broke through the thinner side of the island. His leg dropped into cold, windy air and he fell face-first into the dirt. Quickly, he pulled himself out and scrambled away from the gaping hole. Oh, right. Floating island.

Afraid that more of the ground might give way, Sonic hopped out of his empty moat and positioned himself next to one of the mounds. He revved up his feet and ran in place, kicking the dirt back into the ringed hole. After doing the same for every mound, he stamped out the dirt, trying to make it even with the rest of the ground. So much for that.

Out of ideas to pass the time, his gaze drifted to beyond the hut. The jungle, where there was room to run, bounce off trees, and freedom. He was drawn to it. But as he passed the hut, he stopped short. Five hundred feet, Tails words echoed in his mind. A powerful shock waited for him if he passed it.

Yet what was a shock to him, Sonic the Hedgehog? He had battled the best, faced down the worst of the worst, and emerged with all manner of injuries. He recovered from all of those with no problem. Boldly stepping forth, he braved the five hundred foot limit, unafraid of whatever pain it could cause. He laughed in the face of—

Zzzzap! Pow! A powerful wave of electricity shot through his legs, into his stomach, and extended to his head and arms. The bracelet fizzled and launched Sonic backwards several feet onto his tail. His spine and nerves tingled as the electricity buzzed through him, holding him in place for a moment. When the feeling returned, an intense wave of pain rushed from head to toe and bounced back.

Sonic gave a high-pitched squeak and a low, careful, "Oooo," noise. Soon, it grew into a full-blown "Owwwww!" He sat up, but that made the pain worse. He tried to move slow and every inch was a struggle, a fight not to collapse under the sting. Moving fast delayed the pain for a few seconds before it caught up to him, knocking him over. He twitched and shook on the ground, rolling in the grass.

Eventually, the stings and pain subsided, though his skin was very, very tender. He lifted himself up and kept his limbs straight out, wary to touch a hair on his body. He wondered if Knuckles and Tails had stuck around for a while to watch and see if he attempted to leave. Sonic wouldn't be surprised if somewhere, someplace, the echidna was having a good laugh.

The tips of his toes tingling, he crept up the altar and gently sat down beside the emerald. He hated having nothing to do. Already, the sense of being caged and trapped like a pacing animal set in, gnawing at his bones. He needed to run like he needed air.

The Master Emerald pulsed silently, spinning in the air above its hollowed bowl in the rock altar. Sonic glared at it, the emerald enjoying an afternoon of leisure and rest, as it always did. "I hate you," he said. Slapping himself, he walked down the steps. Now I'm as crazy as Knuckles. Next thing I know, I'll be arguing with the thing.

He wondered how long it would take for them to return. Surely with Knuckles' inbuilt tracking sense, finding a Chaos Emerald should be easy. The echidna would want to rush back home to his precious emerald anyway. Climbing an old tree that leaned heavily from side to side, Sonic scoped out the surrounding area, hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Won't be much longer. His eyelids drooped and he yawned. May as well take a nap while I wait. He scooched over in the tree so it stood up and wouldn't drop him.

Minutes later, the trunk of his tree drummed with rapid-fire thock!s followed by splintering crack!s that jolted him straight. Before he looked down, the tree fell outside of the boundary line. Again, his bracelet activated and Sonic was thrown sky high toward the altar. He slammed headfirst into the Master Emerald and slumped to the ground, tumbling down the stairs.

Lifting his head, dazed and confused, Sonic spied a bird tweeting and flying into the jungle. Stupid woodpecker. Or whatever it was. He groaned and rose to his feet, cracking his spine, then limped to his fallen tree. His entire brain felt fried and charred, as if he plugged his quills into a power socket.

The trunk had been drilled through by a sharp, piercing object. Yet the wood thick, too thick for a mere bird.

Sonic spun around to the jungle on all sides, fists clenched and planted his feet. Unless that bird had robotic parts to it. "Where ya hiding, Egghead?" he called out. Nothing moved. "Why don't you show me your latest robot so I can thrash it?" A squirrel ran down one tree and up another. "Or are you too scared to face me?"

No sign of the evil doctor. Maybe his weight helped snap the tree? Had he been that deep in sleep and hadn't heard it breaking? Surely, he would've heard it, even if it cracked little by little, right? Sonic backed up slowly to the altar. He didn't like this. There were too many ways Robotnik could attack and entrap him. And since he had to stay near the emerald, his options were limited. Think, Sonic. What would Knuckles do? He sighed. I can't believe I even asked that. No, what would Tails do?

Tails protected his laboratory and gadgets from intruders through traps and security systems. Sonic looked around and his eyes landed on the fresh dirt ring. He smiled, an idea forming. "Guess it was just a woodpecker, after all," he said, hopping down from the altar. Standing in front of the steps, he revved up his feet and built up a mound of dirt in front of the stairs, leaving a hole hidden right behind it. Then he jumped onto the mound and ran across it, spreading it thinner to cover more area.

Doing the same for the other three staircases, Sonic stood on top of the altar and surveyed his work. Robotnik's minions, which he always brought, were simple and easy to trick. They would fall into the holes without a doubt. But what of Robotnik himself? What if he attacked from above in his Egg Mobile?

Dangling vines hung from some of the jungle trees. Sonic ripped them off and laid them out in rows. He rushed into Knuckles' room, searching for some twine. He found some in his bedroom nightstand, along with a rock sitting next to a lamp. It was an ordinary rock, rough and craggy, but if it was important to Knuckles…

Twenty minutes later, Sonic had fashioned a net and attached the four corners to each of the four pillars atop the altar. At the base of the pillars were a series of slingshots, each loaded with a rock ready to fire as soon as someone touched the net. Knuckles' rock was loaded in one. Serves you right for the bracelet, Sonic grinned to himself.

He sat atop of the Master Emerald and kicked up his feet, admiring his work. Not bad. I might be as good as Tails.

One of the slingshots fell over and Knuckles' rock rolled out of it. Almost as good. He swung himself off the emerald and picked up the rock, tossing it up and down like a baseball. He climbed onto the emerald, continuing to throw the rock at the net, barely missing it.

"How long have they been gone?" he wondered aloud. The sun was still high in the sky, but it seemed like a day already. Sonic sighed, wishing he had brought a watch. Why wouldn't Knuckles at least have a sundial out here? "Think I can carve you into one and you'll tell me the time?" he asked the rock, pausing mid-throw. No answer, of course.

He rolled onto his stomach and peered out at the jungle. "What I should really worry about is that Eggman's waiting out there. That's what I should focus on." Sweat poured into his eyes, making them twitch. He wiped his brow, but the twitch continued, tiring his eyes. Hanging his head, he raised the rock to his face. "And you and all your buddies are going to help me stop him. He won't take the Master Emerald. Not on my watch." Realizing he was speaking to the rock, he groaned and lay spread-eagled, baking in the sun. "Guess Knuckles doesn't have a sundial out here because it'd drive him crazy, watching the time tick away while he's stuck here."

"He's already crazy, trust me," a voice said behind Sonic. He spun around, raising the rock. A figure descended from above, landing gracefully on the steps. Rouge. She pulled her arm-length gloves tight and crossed her arms, her form-hugging suit squeaking like tight leather. "Are you going to throw your new best friend at me?"

"What?" He eyed the rock and dropped his hand. "Sorry. I'm a little jumpy. Eggman is sneaking around out there. Or was that you sneaking?"

"Please, Blue Boy. I have plenty of other gems to steal besides this one. It's not like I stalk it every night." She grinned, a little too wide for Sonic's taste. Almost like Amy when she would tell him it was "fine" he missed a date with her. He briefly thought maybe the Master Emerald just made everyone around it insane to some degree.

"Anyway, where's Knucklehead at?" she asked. "It's not like him to leave his precious stone."

Sonic almost spilled what Knuckles was doing, but thought better of it. They didn't need to have Rouge after a Chaos Emerald, too. "Helping Tails with something. He left me in charge here."

Her jaw dropped. "Really? He trusts you to cover his watch?"

"Of course," Sonic said. She waited for a moment and he sighed, adding, "Tails attached a shock bracelet to me. I can't go too far from the Master Emerald."

She nodded, as if expecting as much. Then she walked closer, circling the emerald and admiring it. Her eyes lit with a sparkle that set Sonic on edge. She picked out the device on top of the Master Emerald and rubbed her chin. "Hm, looks pretty simple."

"What are you up to?" he asked.

"Seeing if I could disable this, set you free," she said. "Unless you want to stay tethered to it?"

"Of course not," he said. "But what do you want in return?"

"Isn't it obvious?" She patted the gem. "You can just tell Knuckles that Eggman showed up."

"And ruin my reputation?" Sonic grinned. "Not on your life."

"Which isn't ruined already by talking to rocks?"

He hefted his rock in his hand. "Hey, these boys are going to help me stop Eggman. And you." He spread his legs and raised his fists, one clutching the rock. "Now, step away from the emerald."

"I think the sun's getting to you. You're starting to sound like Knuckles," she said, floating down to the ground. "I'm not leaving with the Master Emerald."

Sonic grinned and rushed her suddenly, ramming her with his shoulder. She yelped and tumbled down the steps and into one of the holes. Pumping his fist, his victory was short-lived as she flew out of the hole and flapped her wings right above the altar. Oh, right. Bat.

"You know, at least Knuckles is a gentleman and waits until we're both ready," she said.

"Probably why he always loses this thing," Sonic said. "But I won't." He jumped up and pulled on his net, activating the slingshots. They launched stones of all shapes in Rouge's direction. She swiftly dodged them one by one, giving Sonic ample time. He climbed into his net, bounced on it, and sprung into the air. He curled into a ball and hit her in the gut.

Rouge recovered and lifted her boot, slamming Sonic back into the net. The vines snapped and he landed on the emerald, his back caving in and possibly breaking something. Gonna feel that tomorrow.

"I'm pretty fast myself," Rouge said. Much to her surprise, Sonic hopped up. Hunched over and holding his ribs, yet up.

The sun behind her, she was a dark blot to him in the skyline, like one of Robotnik's machines. Maybe she was working for the doctor. She usually played both sides to get what she wanted. Either way, Sonic had to stop her.

He grabbed one of the broken vines and jumped off the emerald. He swung around the pillar the vine attached to and threw himself into the air. He struck Rouge in her side and plummeted. Again, he latched onto the vine and went hurtling through the air, focusing only on knocking her down.

Rouge flew far from the altar, keeping her distance from the hedgehog "Forget it!" she shouted. "I'll be back when someone less rabid is here."

Sonic stopped and panted, watching her fly off. "That's right!" he said. "And if you're running to Eggman, tell him he'll have to try harder!" He wiped the drool running down his chin and the full pain settled in. He rolled off the Master Emerald and onto Knuckles' rock, a pointed part jamming into his back.

However, rather than increase the pain, the rock actually helped null it. Maybe it pushed against the right nerve. He tried sitting up and the pain returned. So, he grabbed the rock and pressed it into his back, relief flooding through him. Then he limped to Knuckles' hut.

"That should about do it," Sonic said, ripping the bandage tape and putting the roll back into the first aid kit. He pulled the rock out of the tape and tightened the spot it had been in. While the tape wasn't as good as the rock, he was able to move more. "Thanks for the help," he said, patting it like a pet.

Sonic leaned in the kitchen chair and glanced out the window at the Master Emerald. Rouge hadn't tried again for the emerald, although with him injured, it was the perfect opportunity to strike. He grimaced at the situation. First Eggman, now Rouge. He hated to admit it, but he needed help to stave them both off. Yet Knuckles had no phone or any way to contact the outside world. Sonic would have to make do with what the echidna had around.

He grabbed the rock and set it in the center of the table. "Okay, let's say you're the Master Emerald." Scooping up some dirt from the floor, he sprinkled it into four little piles. "Those are the walls I made earlier and a hole for each." Drumming his fingers, he rested his chin on the table. "This is going to be hard."

What kind of talk was that? He was Sonic the Hedgehog. "We can do this." He held up the rock and nodded at it. "We won't let them take the Master Emerald from us!"

Grabbing various other items, Sonic laid out his plan on the table. "Alright. We'll cut down a few trees and sharpen them into spears." He placed a few toothpicks on each side of the rock and rubbed his chin. Then he snapped his fingers and pointed at the rock. "Spiked barriers! Yes, that's what we need! And maybe a catapult." He set a spoon near the rock. "You don't mind your brothers being launched, do you?" Sonic chuckled and patted it. "This is going to be perfect," he said, continuing his plan.

Tails tossed the ruby Chaos Emerald from hand to hand. Their excursion had been easier than he thought. The sun was sitting on the horizon in the distance as they disembarked from the Tornado and strolled to the altar. "Thanks again, Knuckles."

"Anything to keep it out of Eggman's hands," the echidna said. "I'm just glad to be back," they turned a corner and froze, "home?"

The altar had been transformed into a fortress. Large dirt mounds sat behind wooden barricades lashed together with strong vine. Sharpened trunks stuck out from each like spears to run oncomers through. The steps to the altar were coated in slippery moss and leaves. Nets draped the altar top on all sides and above, shrouding the Master Emerald from view. A hole was cut into the net on top for a shoddy catapult, already loaded with a pile of rocks.

"What on Mobius happened here?" Knuckles shouted. He walked forward, but Tails held him back and pointed at their feet. The fox kneeled and lifted a thin rope from the grass. As he did, a net shot up in front of him and swung high in the air from a tree branch, capturing nothing.

"Sonic?" Tails called out. No answer. "Sonic, we're back." They carefully proceeded forward, stepping around the barricade.

"Did Sonic do this?" Knuckles asked.

Tails shrugged. "I don't know. Sonic!" A bird chirped in the distance. "I don't like this."

"He's probably sleeping. That lazy hedgehog never hears anything when he's asleep." He gave a mighty yell. "Sonic!"

"Not so loud," Tails said. "Someone else may be here."

Knuckles clamped his mouth shut and they treaded lightly to the altar, mindful of any more traps. The echidna stopped past the dirt mound and craned his head. He tapped his temple and Tails understood. They listened close and heard a faint whispering nearby.

"It looks like them," the voice said. "But it could be one of Eggman's tricks, Rocky."

"Rocky?" Tails muttered.

"How long has it been? Should they have been back by now?" The rambled whispers lowered until a pair of eyes blinked open in the stone of the altar. Tails and Knuckles jumped as Sonic emerged, his body painted the same as the stone. A rock sat on his shoulder and he took it off as he wiped the paint from his face.

"Sonic? Is that you?" Tails asked.

He raised a finger. "I'll ask the questions. Need to make sure you two aren't working for Eggman." He hummed to himself, sticking his fist underneath his chin.

Knuckles leaned over to Tails. "What happened to him?"

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe something happened while we were gone."

"Want me to take him down?"

Tails shook his head. "No. Play along for now. We need to determine what's going on."

Sonic eyed the rock and smiled. "Good idea. Prove you're the real Tails and Knuckles."


"Tell me something only the real Tails would know," he said.

Tails scratched his head. "You like chilidogs?" Sonic tapped his foot. "You're my big brother. We've gone on plenty of adventures."

Sonic didn't seem impressed. "Anything else?"

"And I'm," he groaned and closed his eyes, hating to admit this, "scared of thunderstorms. When one comes by, you have to calm me down."

The hedgehog relaxed a little and faced Knuckles. "Your turn. Prove you're the real Knuckles."

"I'll do better," he said, cracking his fingers. "I'll throw you off the island and prove hedgehogs can't fly if you don't drop the crazy act and get out of my way."

Sonic nodded. "Yup. You're Knuckles."

"Sonic?" Tails asked. "What happened while we were gone?"

"Oh, nothing much. Rouge came by, but I fought her off. And Eggman was sneaking around." At the name, he raised onto his tiptoes, studying the jungle for a moment. "He never showed up though. Too scared."

Tails inched closer to him. "Did you cross the boundary at all?"

"Twice," Sonic said. "Why?"

Tails sighed and glared at Knuckles, taking the echidna aside. "You wanted to put the electricity that high. Had to have it that way. I told you a little shock would've done fine. Now look at him." Sonic cocked an ear to the rock and laughed at it.

"Look, Sonic probably lost it because he was cooped up here," Knuckles said. "You know how staying in one place too long drives him crazy."

"The shocks didn't help."

"He could've not crossed the boundary." He avoided Tails' upset look and eyed Sonic. "Is it permanent?"

He shook his head. "Doubt it. I'd say it's temporary. He'll be back to normal tomorrow."

"Fine. Next time, you can choose the voltage."

"If there is a next time," Tails said. He went back to Sonic and took his hand. "I think we better get you home. You've had a long day."

Sonic stared into space for a minute and then pulled Tails along to the altar. "Alright. Just let me check on the Master Emerald one last time." He guided the two around the moss and leaves and up to the emerald. Knuckles was pleased that the Master Emerald was unharmed. Sonic had actually done a good job keeping it safe.

"I'll see you later," Sonic said to it, slapping its side. "Be good for Knuckles." He set his rock on the ground next to it. "Rocky, don't fight with it like you did while I was working on the barricades. I won't stand for it and neither will Knuckles. Got it?"

"Sonic," Tails tugged his arm, "let's get you home." He threw one last dirty look at Knuckles, who gave a lame shrug in return. They bid farewell to Knuckles, leaving him in the middle of the makeshift fortress. He listened to Sonic describe all the plans "Rocky" had for protecting the Master Emerald until they were out of range.

Scrutinizing the Master Emerald again, Knuckles plopped down beside it and looked around at the defenses. He snorted to himself and smiled. "Amateur." He would take all the defense down in the morning and set up some actual traps and alarms. For now, he leaned on the Master Emerald and folded his hands on his stomach.

"He isn't cut out for it. Okay, maybe the shocks moved things along faster, but it was being stuck here that did him in. I mean, really? Thinking Eggman was sneaking around?" He looked at the rock, picked it up, and set it on his knee. "You would've seen him coming a mile away, Rocky." Then he patted the Master Emerald. "Don't take it personally, Emme. I'm sure Sonic didn't mean to call you an 'it.' Probably was so wrapped up in his defenses that he didn't ever listen to you." He snapped back at the rock. "Hey, Rocky! What did Sonic just tell you? No fighting!"

A/N: Originally, we made this a little more ambiguous, but wasn't sure if the insanity and the end would come across. So we fleshed it out more.

Pen: You would know all about insanity.

Sword: I'll get you for that! En garde!

Hey! Watch it! Hope you all enjoyed it. Please let us know what you thought of the story. Thank you for reading. See you later. Sword! Pen! No fighting!