By Formerly Known As

Author's Notes: The story lives! --Insert creepy sound effects and manic Frankenstien-esque laughter--
Ahem. Anyway, yes, Ultimata is back from the story grave yard and being worked on as rigorously as all my other stories (in other words, who knows when you'll see a chapter update). This story was put on hold for various reasons. I became disenchanted with it at one point, disenchanted with a lot of my ideas for this story. Finally, I realized that my problem was that I was trying to put too much into a single story. The plot was getting far too complicated with too many characters and too many things happening in the sidelines.

So, suffice it to say, I've slapped my plot around into something simpler and much more do-able.

Gee, this chapter seem a bit familiar to anyone else? In all truth, this is really a chapter re-write. While I liked a lot of the dialog in the old version of this chapter (which use to be chapter four and went by the name 'Operative' before I deleted it, dropping Endless Winter into the four spot), I realized that mostly, it just didn't work. It had a random fan character who was ill fleshed out and honestly had no point in the story really (big thanks go to Stoney for pointing this out to me). So, part of the process of simplifying the story over all, I deleted the original copy of the chapter here on

At first, I planned not to have the chapter in at all. After playing Sonic Heroes, I got the idea of retrying the chapter with the Chaotix in place of the useless fancharacter. Over all, I am very pleased with the result. The characters are more dynamic because of it, the writing more detailed, and Rouge is ACTUALLY in character now!

Special thanks goes out to my editor, Xelia, for helping me beat the ending of the chapter into working and pointing out that an 'unfounded sense of nameless dread' was kind of over doing it.

Disclaimer: Sonic the Hedgehog and all related characters are property of Sonic Team. Story and writing are property of Formerly Known As. This story is set in an alternate universe, after the story of Sonic Adventure 2. However, the occurrences and story line of Sonic Heroes does not ever happen in this universe, though elements of Sonic Heroes will be present (ie, the Chaotix, only with Mighty, because he's cool). However, this is NOT a Sonic Heroes adaptation. It is what it is.

Chapter 5

Gold eyes stared at her cooly from behind a large desk. The desk was for show, something fancy and rich looking to impress potential clients, but had probably never even seen any sort of actual paperwork. To the right and out of the way stood a hulking figure, glaring menacingly from a bodyguard position. "You know, we could kill you in about five seconds. In fact, we really probably should. Do you realize that?" the one behind the desk asked, tipping his purple head to one side.

Rouge the Bat, sitting on the other side of the desk in a very uncomfortable chair, rolled her eyes but nodded her head. "I'm aware of the risks I'm taking," she replied, barely managing to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.

The chair swivelled slightly, giving her an elegant profile. "No, I don't think you actually are," came the reply in a deep, rich voice. "You're aware of the fact that I'm the best damn fighter in these parts. You're aware I'm the one best suited to the job you've outlined here. You know I don't take real kindly to G.U.N. employees."

"Former G.U.N. employee," interrupted Rouge. "I've gotten out of that business."

This received a polite incline of the head. "Former G.U.N. employee then. Regardless of your status, you have worked for G.U.N. and I am not obliged to take kindly to your likes. Nor do I take kindly to anyone who arrives here without an appointment."

"I apologize for my…intrusion," said Rouge. "But it didn't look like you had any other clients...at all, for today."

The chair swung back to face forward. Rouge was given a slight glare. "Things are not always as they look."

Rouge gave her best, most sincere false smile. "Of course not," she answered smoothly. "But I'm still offering you a case. And for a very sizable sum of money."

"We have many other clients, Miss Rouge. We are the best at what we do. We don't need to take your money." There was a lot of iron in the voice and a good deal of disdain as well.

The smile stayed on Rouge's face, though it looked like it hurt. "I'm aware of all that, sir." The sir sounded more like an insult. "However, I thought you would be willing to take this case as it is, as I'm sure you can see it is a matter of the utmost importance."

The one behind the desk laid a gloved hand on the thick folder in front of him. "Yes. I see how you might think this is a big deal."

"And you don't!?" snarled Rouge, rising up out of her chair.

The bodyguard by the desk growled menacingly, showing off his crocodile teeth, and Rouge quickly sat down. While she was pretty certain she could take the bodyguard, getting kicked out wouldn't accomplish what she wanted and they'd probably keep her money to boot.

"You must understand, Miss Rouge," the chameleon behind the desk told her in a consoling voice, as sincere as Rouge's earlier smile. "It is not our policy to get involved in situations we are not needed in." A gloved hand patted the thick file. "This could turn into a very dangerous situation. But it currently isn't one. And as such, I don't believe our interference is needed."

"That's a very dangerous point of view, sir," Rouge replied calmly through gritted teeth. "If you spot dangerous situations before they occur, you can stop them before people are hurt."

"Spoken like a true operative," came the harsh reply, gold eyes hard. "That's always been G.U.N.'s way of handling things. Take care of it before anything can happen." The figure leaned forward in his chair, gold eyes intense. "Do you know how many assignments G.U.N. sends out agents on that are 'possible' dangers?"

"I do not know every detail of G.U.N's inner workings...sir," the bat answered, voice polite, eyes glaring.

"The majority of G.U.N assignments are either for possible dangers or dangers that have arisen BECAUSE of G.U.N interference in possible danger situations."

"So you say" Rouge spat, unable to keep the scorn out of her voice.

"I say things as I see them," answered the chameleon, deep voice harsh, nearly a yell. He sat back carefully, trying to keep his emotions under control. "Here, we only interfere when things are actually in the danger zone. Other than that, we merely watch."

A dark silence filled the small office, the tension growing as the chameleon waited for Rouge to respond. Rouge, on the other hand, did not think his words deserved to be honored with a reply. Finally, seeing that the conversation was going nowhere, she said calmly, "I don't see how THAT strategy can solve problems any better than G.U.N's approach to matters."

"You were involved in the whole recent ARK incident, were you not?" the deep voice asked

Rouge was startled by the sudden change of topic, though she tried not to let it show. "Of course I was," she replied haughtily. "I was an integral part of the situation."

A cold snort from the crocodile. "An integral part in screwin' things up!"

Rouge was standing again. "How dare you!"

The chameleon was between them in an instant, ready for anything. "Please sit down Miss Rouge. My companion...did not mean to insult you. It's merely that G.U.N's interference proved to be quite...catastrophic in the ARK incident."

The bat did not stop glaring, though she kindly shared with both people. "G.U.N.'s interference at times were key to helping things move forward," she snapped, sitting down. "If G.U.N. hadn't interfered, Sonic might never have gotten himself involved in the whole affair."

Another snort from the crocodile, though it was more amused this time.

The chameleon chuckled again. "Oh trust me, he would have ended up in the middle of it sooner or later. A hedgehog that people were mistaking for him, despite the fact that the two really don't look all that much alike. Eggman smack dab in the middle of it all. The world just being in general danger. Yeah, Sonic would have jumped right into it eventually. And he might have handled things a little better in the end."

Rouge rolled her eyes and sat back in the uncomfortable chair, folding her arms. It was her turn to snort. "Like that blue buffoon could ever handle anything but beating the stuffing out of Eggman with any sort of grace."

"You think so?" the chameleon asked. "If G.U.N. hadn't been chasing Sonic and his friends all over the city, Sonic might have had his little fox friend do some research on Shadow. If he had, Tails would have made some discoveries about Shadow's past. Sonic would probably have realized that Shadow really wasn't evil, merely…having an identity crisis. Or some anger management problems. Or whatever his problem was."

Rouge snorted. "Everyone he knew and cared about was horribly slaughtered. I think that was his problem."

The crocodile couldn't stop a snort of laughter at that.

Even the chameleon smirked. "That's probably it. Anyway, as I was saying, Sonic might have discovered Shadow's past. Sonic, despite being a blue buffoon without social grace of any sort, really does have a very gentle heart once you get through all the bravado and fake smiles. It is possible that Sonic might have been able to reason with Shadow and turned him from Eggman's side to Sonic's side. All of this might have happened before Eggman ever found all the emeralds. ARK might never have been activated and Shadow might still be alive and well if only G.U.N. hadn't interfered."

Rouge just rolled her eyes. "Yeah and for all we know, a lack of G.U.N. interference might have led to Sonic being killed by Shadow if Sonic attempted reason. We all know Sonic's skills of reasoning are worse than his social skills."

This got a grin out of the other two, though they tried to hide it. The chameleon coughed into his hand. "Well, anyway, I suppose we should get back to business. Now just what was it you want us to do?"

The bat sighed as though this were a great task and flipped through the folder in front of her. "This is a pretty tricky situation, in case you hadn't noticed.. And it could become a very dangerous situation. I don't want it to and I pretty much doubt you do either. I want someone to keep an eye on things, but I don't have enough time to do it personally. Which is why I'm hiring you. Got it?"

An eyebrow arched. "And who said we were going to take the job?"

A sweet smile from Rouge. "Why you did. Just as soon as you took my money. That generally means you're hired."

"Oh really now?" The chameleon leaned across his desk. "We reserve the right to refuse any cases we want, Miss Rouge."

The smile never faltered. "Then give me back my money. If you refuse, I know a lovely lawyer who will be more than willing to help and I'm sure you'll find that I'm in the legal right here, boys." She stood smoothly, all business, crossing to the door. "Now, if you don't mind, I really AM a very busy woman. I expect daily updates on how the situation is progressing. If I don't get them, I expect my money back. Ta, boys, I'll be in touch."

She was already nearly out of the door by now, only taking the time to give them a little wave before she shut the door. It wasn't until she was down the stairs and nearly out of the building that she let herself smirk. "I love my job."

Back in the office, a stunned silence held sway.

Finally the crocodile spoke. "Uh...Espio?"

The one behind the desk blinked and looked at his companion. "Yes, Vector?"

"Did we just get owned?"

The chameleon sighed and his head hit the desktop. "Yes, Vector, I'm afraid we did."

Vector stood, blinking as he absorbed this information, reviewing the entire conversation in his head. "Well...that really stunk!"

Espio moaned. "Tell me about it! I can't believe that sneaky bat conned us into taking a job from her!"

"Yeah, how did THAT work anyway?! Heck, I don't even know what job we've been conned into doing it went so fast!"

A gloved hand grabbed the folder that the bat had left behind. "Don't worry, we have all the information here," Espio said, pulling the folder over to him. "And it looks like one hell of a job."

"Yeah, she talked about trouble and things becomin' a problem a lot. Do you think this whole thing...whatever it is, is as damn bad as she says?"

There was a long pause as the chameleon considered this. "If this information is correct...and for all the money she paid us, I expect it IS correct...then this really COULD become a problem." Solemn gold eyes met Vector's. "A really serious problem. I think we should watch the situation, regardless of how rude she was...and we DID already take her money." A glare followed this.

The crocodile had the grace to look vaguely chagrined. "Yeah well...Rent was due."

Another sigh. "When will you stop thinking with your wallet, Vector? We shouldn't just jump into any case that pays."

Vector growled slightly. "Yeah, well, I'll stop thinking with my wallet when you start paying all the bills for us, Espio. We need cash and if you think we should watch this whole thing anyway, I don't see why we shouldn't take the nice bitch's money."

The door behind the office abruptly burst open and a ball of energy and stripes zipped in. "Hi guys! What's going on?! Who's a bitch?! Where's a bitch?!"

"Charmy! How many times have I told you not to use that language!!"

The smile the bee gave Vector was the picture of innocence. "But yoouu always use it, Vector!"

"That ain't the point! You're not even suppose to know that language, let alone use it!"

"It's not really any surprise he knows it, Vector, considering how much you always curse," Mighty put in calmly, following the bee into the room.

"Well who asked you?!" the crocodile snapped.

The armadillo just smiled and grabbed the folder from Espio, grunting as his shell clacked against the back of the uncomfortable chair. "So this is our new case then?"

Espio nodded. "This is the lovely case that Vector has so kindly burdened us with this time."

A grunt from the crocodile as he tried to catch the bee who was buzzing excitedly somewhere near the ceiling. "Hey, don't lay all this on me! You're the one who agreed to see the bi—bat."

"The bitch, the bitch, the bitch!"

"Charmy, knock it off!"

Mighty flipped through a few pages, eyebrows arching as he read a few lines. "Espio...is this stuff accurate?"

The chameleon nodded slowly. "We don't have any reason to believe it isn't true..."

The armadillo stood, and walked back into the apartment beyond the office. Even Vector and Charmy stopped to watch him go.

"Hey, Espio, what's up with him?" Vector asked. "I mean he seemed...moodier than normal...even for him!"

The chameleon shook his head. "Just...something. Worried about a friend. Don't worry, it will be fine."

Vector scratched his head. "Well...if you're sure, Espio."

The chameleon nodded and stood. "I'm leaving you two in charge of the office. If you need me, I'll be looking over that file with Mighty. Call me if anyone comes in."

Vector nodded while Charmy shouted, "WHEEE! I'm in charge!!"

"Now wait a minute," yelled Vector. "If anyone's in charge in here, it's me, not you squirt!"

"Nuh uh! Espio said I was in charge!"

"He said we were both in charge!"

"Which means I'm in charge!"

Espio smirked and rolled his eyes, listening to the two argue for a moment before following Mighty. He shut the door the office and leaned against it with a soft thud, chanting a mantra under his breath. Using the mantra, the chameleon focused on pushing away the unfounded sense of dread that had settled in his stomach ever since Rouge handed him that damn packet of information. After a few moments of reprieve, he sighed and went to find Mighty. Looked like things were going to be rather hectic for a while. Not that things were ever very peaceful around here.