Characters from Sega: Rouge, Knuckles. Robotnik/ AKA Eggman

Fan characters: Thalia Evans, Koji Okida, Shade Phoenix, Azure, Balthazar the badger

STC characters: Commander Brutus

Characters from Sonic X: Topaz, Chuck ThornDyke

(Characters copyright to their respectable owners Sega, Fleetway Etc.)

Reign of terror saga:

By Koji Okida, based on the STC 2 universe by Rock Chick)

Part one

The capitol city of Mobius, Metropolis, had undergone a lot of changes since Robotnik reclaimed power. A lot of it had been reduced to rubble by the bombing campaign G.U.N had launched against the capitol when Robotnik sought to retake it. There was however, a large area of the city that had remained standing. This, Upper city area, was populated mostly by humans, Mobians were only allowed there if there were used as slave labour. It was becoming easier and easier to afford a mobian slave and you could get them even cheaper off the black market. Rumour was that some mobians had escaped their new masters and retreated into the sewers, along with renegade humans who wished to rebel against the new order.

Marking the centre of the Upper city were three large sky scrappers that towered high above the other buildings. Each being the point of a triangle, they made the headquarters for the Foundation organization. This financial company was the main supplier for Robotnik's forces, they provided the lion share of the funds that allowed the dictator to make his robotic army. While they were technical under the direct rule of the Doctor's regime, they had earned the right to operate without his consent often. This was mainly because of the organizations founder, Lieutenant Azure, Robotnik's own right hand man. The organization had ties in everything that made a profit, gambling, the military and even the criminal underworld.

The three sky scrappers each seemed to be a tower of windows, segmented apart by occasional strips of stone work. Aloft the tallest of the three was Robotnik's symbol. His own face, glaring down on the city in giant neon lights. Hardly as intimidating as the face on Citadel Robotnik but it served.

The technological jungle underneath these examples of Robotnik's authority was a dark and dingy place, even for the rich. A maze of Trooper factories and robotic laboratories lay toward the city centre. An industrial giant filled with towers that spewed out tones of pollution each day. The foundation had influence here to, it was long since rumoured that the were working on a new type of siege weapon for Robotnik's military. Even with most of Mobius under his iron grip, there were still some pockets of zones had remained free.

Outside that was the residential area, beyond a set of large iron gates that separated the factories from the living stations was a big change. This area seemed very low tech. All the buildings had not been altered since Robotnik's take over. Most of these were mansions, belonging to a small percentage of the human population that were growing fat off the profit the Robotnik empire was making. The rest of them were boarding houses for the less privileged, and outside those were the slums. A few scant buildings, the alleys ways between which were filled with wooden houses that could more accurately be described as shacks. And finally beyond that was the no mans land of old Metropolis. A wasteland of ruins.

The way things were going, most cities would be like Metropolis in a few years time. Part of the Peace keeper enforcers, Troopers were out on the streets after curfew set in. These robotic men had been upgraded far beyond their original design, outfitted with G.U.N technology. Their left arms had been strengthened in order to carry the large machine gun they had all been outfitted with. They scared the heck out of most people so they rarely had to use their new advanced weaponry.

Shade knew by experience that the slums were gangster territory, they owned most of the people forced to inhabitant these vile dwellings. Their various criminal organizations survived by bleeding the already poor people here dry of any money they could. He was glad that his small group would only be passing through. They'd been here for one night before moving on, through Koji's contacts with the zone runner underground they'd been able to obtain information that may clue them in to Sonic's whereabouts.

The hotel they booked into was cheep, but dingy. Plaster falling off the roof, and more rats then any of them could count scurrying this way and that. It turned out that Koji did not like rats and was stepping over them slowly with a very worried look on his face. Worried about his hover bike, Shade had hidden it under some old planks of wood and a few old canvas sheets, being careful not to scratch the paint.

Both Sparky and Fury, the chao's had taken to Thalia the most and had climbed on the top of her head, nestling in her quills.

"Well, isn't this the Ritz?" She groaned sarcastically, pushing open the door of their one room. It was small and a very unpleasant smell was drifting out from it. A few insects shuttled through their feet and down the corridor. It had one beside table, one window and one bed, and all the window showed by the wall on the other side of the alley outside. "This is all you could afford?" She asked Shade. He nodded, not pleased with the arrangement either.

"Dibs on the ceiling rafter." Koji stated, walking into the room and eyeing the suspended beam carefully to make sure that it wasn't rotten. Shade gave the bed the once over, the mattress was hard and lumpy with a flat pillow.

"We need better funds." Thalia moaned, the chaos hopping off her head to go chase a large roach.

"We need funds, full stop." Shade corrected, lying down on the bed with his arms behind his head, trying to find the best position you could be in to be comfortable in it. "All the money I started out with is gone." Koji let out an unimpressed sigh, turning to look at them over his shoulder.

"What you had was pocket change compared to the kind of stuff I can bring in from Casinos." Shade narrowed his eyes at the bat. He could tell where he was going with this. "The mafia run illegal games all the time, it won't take me long to track a few down."

"The last thing we need is to be involved with those gangsters." Shade snapped sharply. "Besides, we don't have anything to bet with." Koji was silent for a few moment, rubbing his chin with his fore finger and thumb thoughtfully.

"Well, we do have…" Shade shot up to a sitting position with a very angry look on his face.

"Forget it, you are not betting my bike." Thalia giggled as Koji held out both hand defensively, waving them around.

"I was kidding, I was kidding." Koji had been begging Shade to let him do a little bit of gambling in the towns they passed through to get here, but since that would draw too much attention to themselves, the brown hedgehog had denied it. Thalia had been drawn into a game of fish with Koji the other night, only to end up loosing half her own money. She was sure the bat used a slight of hand trick to gain an advantage during the game. She would have lost a lot more had Shade not stopped the game, he seemed to be doing whatever it took to quell Koji's gambling addiction.

"I'll going for a shower." She announced, taking a towel out of the one bag that contained their belongings. Shade murmured slightly, showing he picked it up. The hotel only had one shower on each floor, getting their early meant a little bit of privacy which Thalia would be more than grateful for.

"So, what exactly did this contact of yours say again?" Shade asked, turning toward Koji again, who was taking off his boots and laying them at the end of the bed. The bat removed his drape, putting that down on the bed side table. Flexing his wings until he heard a snap, he finally answered.

"Underground intelligence reports that Robotnik had an unidentified cargo taken to the Foundations cybernetics laboratory. Head of their research section's a Charles, or Chuck, ThornDyke." Shade noticed Koji's feet, he had a toe on each heal. Both were armed with a very sharp claw. When not needed, these toes could easily be retracted into the foot. They allowed bats to hang upside down from basically anything. Since it was a low ceiling, Koji couldn't fly up to the rafter so getting up proved a little difficult, but in no time he was hanging upside down from it. With all loose articles of clothing removed he curled his wings around his body so only his neck and head remained unhidden. "He's our man, he's the best lead I've had." He coughed a few times, clearing his throat. "Since getting at his work station in the Foundations factories would prove impossible, we'll have to pay him a little visit at his home address, a manor somewhere in the residential district. I got his address right here," He added, taking out a piece of paper. Sparky was playing a game with Thalia's Chao Fury, which looked like patta-cake, patta-cake, bakers man, but had a part where they head butted each other in it.

"What if he doesn't talk?" Shade asked. Koji let out a small, humoured chuckle.

"Then we get persuasive." Shade disapproved of such methods, he was a pacifist at heart but when the world around you was in chaos there was no time for it. It struck Shade right then, that there was only one bed. Thalia and himself would have to share it and he no more money to afford another room.

Koji was already falling asleep by the look of it and Shade was tempted to attempt to try and persuade him to swap beds. It was only for one night, he told himself. It was probably best he make the most of it, he was going to be very busy tomorrow and was going to need all the sleep he could get. Still, he couldn't help blushing slightly.

Once they checked out this lead, then it was onto the Hill top zone and the safety of it's resistance supporters. There, both Thalia, her power, and the chaos emerald Koji had on him would be safe for the time being. Shade had theories on what Robotnik did to the blue hedgehog, of course where Robotnik was concerned it was bound not to be pleasant.

Azure had a very privileged position, wealth and power, power tossed to him by Robotnik, but power none the less. With his own influence, he had created his organisation, the Foundation. Stationed in Metropolis and at the helm of his private empire, Azure could affect quite a deal of change within Robotnik's regime. It kept him entertained, he nudged some officials in the regime high ranks and watched the dominos fall. The real fun came from watching somehow try to pick up the pieces.

He swirled a glass of wine between the fingers of his organic hand, sipping it slowly. He never really had much of a taste for alcohol but it helped sooth his sprit. Ever since he had been re-born, so to speak, one question had dogged his mind. Who was he?

Cyborg, a whole entity made up of a welding of metal, flesh and bone. That was what he was. The metallic half of his body had made him Azure, the highest ranking lieutenant in Robotnik's empire. But his flesh and blood parts, the parts that felt both pain and pleasure, precisely who had this rotting carcass belong to before? Who had he been before Robotnik's surgical, makeovers? The mirror would only so himself, as he was now. Half of his face the part whose history he wished to unearth, and the cold, unfeeling metallic half which he was growing a dissatisfaction for.

Well, whoever he had been, he must have had something that Azure did not , because every time he thought about his cybernetic parts, Azure felt a pang of grief and of loss swell up in him.

He gulped the glasses whole content down in one swig and pulled himself up from his chair. For a few moments, he simple paced around his apartment, a luxurious pent house with an eagles eye view of the city below. The right side wall was a large window held together with various metal bars. Most of the furniture was see through and the spiral stairs leading up to the bedrooms was a metallic grey.

He bet he knew, Super Metallix must know something. He wouldn't put it past that egotistical maniac to withhold information as personal as that. Even though Azure was of a higher rank, that machine treated him like dirt. Perhaps, his past self had known the yellow robotic hedgehog? He tried to push past the wall of nothingness in his mind toward the memories he knew must lay buried somewhere behind it. All he felt was sudden flash of anger and betrayal that melted away instantly, replaced once again by nothing. Azure was desperate to get to them, to find out who he had been, nay, who he was.

A loud beeping come from the desk on the far hand side of the apartment. That was the communication monitor that Robotnik used to contact him. What did that overweight, bloated, glory hog want now? The monitor was a flat computer screen with thin wires leading into the deck itself. Walking over to it, making sure it had beeped a good few times before pressed the red button on the side next to the screen.

Azure watched Robotnik's face appear on the monitor, running his fingers through his orange moustache, His eye sight was starting to dim and so his black eyes were hidden behind a pair of wire rimmed spectacles.

"Azure, I have a job for you." He said, getting right to the point. Robotnik did not like to let talk drag on between them, he preferred to keep his speeches sweet and short. Azure found it infuriating, so infuriating he failed to notice the sadistic look on Robotnik's face. "You'll be happy to hear that my forces stationed along the coastline around South Island are ready to go at a moments notice." Azure hesitated. South island, the only place where Robotnik did not rule with an iron grip. Every time he thought about it, Azure felt sick at the vision of that island going up in flames. But why, why should he care? Why should the fate of a scant handful of people trouble him? Why did he care if they became Robotnik's slaves or not? "I'd like you, to lead the attack." Azure's heart skipped several beats, now he felt sick. "I expect you at your post in two days, no excuses." He added firmly, his brow arching itself at him. An evil smile crossed his face. "maybe this will teach you about disobedience." With that, he turned his side of the link off and Azure was left alone. His insides felt like they were wrenching themselves apart, he felt like he was going to vomit his entire breakfast lunch and dinner all in one go. He was light-headed and for a few moments his senses blurred. When he managed to control any urges he had to puke, he mind began working so fast one thought passed to the other far too quickly to even be registered. His machine half tried vainly to access the situation with any amount of logic but overwhelming emotion, of guilt and sadness, The thought of South Island being invaded, and him leading the attack …it was too much for his mind of bear. He slouched onto the floor, trying to regain his shattered composer.

Why was this happened. He was Azure, the ruthless general. Since he had been brought online he had brought down countless rebellion groups in and around the capitol city area. He was more feared than the infamous Commander Brutus. Then why on Mobius did he care? Why on Mobius did he find the very thought of South Island alight with flame fill him with much distaste? Why on Mobius did those faces, with those so familiar eyes keep haunting him?

"Who was I?" Azure demanded of the empty air, looking into the window pane, his eyes fixed on the scared blue fur.

D.R.A.T had made quite the comeback during the past year. So much so in fact that now they were a officially recognised force in the eyes of Robotnik himself, a honour or any loyal member of the first regime. Now they served as Peace keepers in and around large city areas, occasionally supported by the Machine gun troopers. The Enforcers of Robotnik's rule were an extremely intimidating sight. Humans, and a few scant Mobians dressed in red uniforms armed with laser rifles patrolling the streets. The larger Troopers shadowing them made people look past the ridiculous uniforms. It was approaching midnight and the guard on the main street was about to change. The residential area was a maze of stone and metal, towering spires and overhanging bridges connected the buildings. This was the area were the humans who'd forced their way into wealth when Robotnik took over housed themselves in fabulous luxury. They were crammed very close together, but they found the lifestyle to their liking so they overlooked the unfairness of the regime on the Mobians. Plastered on the walls were propaganda posters, drawn specifically to win over the humans, who did not know of Robotnik's past misdeeds. "Natures mistake" were phrases printed as the headline, showing the Mobians as vicious monsters and not the intelligent beings they were. This effective use of slander seemed to be working very well.

Two Enforcer officers along with a seven foot tall Trooper passed underneath a stone arch that stretched across the cobble street. Large pipes ran along the walls, vapour leaking from the gaps causing a fine mist that hung close to the ground. The only light on the streets came from the street lamps, which got dimmer the further you went from the centre of the city. The walls of the buildings made this city into a labyrinth, with secret paths for those who wanted to avoid attention. Back alleys, rooftops and sewers were a haven for any person who wanted to keep out of their presence concealed. No one who had anything to hide would be caught out in the open main streets.

In this city of darkness, Rouge was in her element. Her occupation mainly involved hiding in the shadows, so she found getting around the remade capitol of Mobius all too easy. She poked her head out from her hiding hole, a narrow space between two pipes underneath the overhanging bridge. Her watched the enforcers and their Machine gun trooper round a corner, the clanking foot steps of the peace keeper robot resonating through the silent streets. Smiling to herself, he fell silently top the ground, her wings slowing her decent. Her boots not so much as making a soft clicking when she hit the cobble stones. Her scanned the streets, making sure that no one was watching her. All the windows were shut and their curtains drawn, a few had lights in them, but no shadowy silhouette that signalled a person's presence.

Slipping silently through the vapours, she reached the edge of the street, staying close to the wall, she followed the buildings until she reached an alley opening and disappeared inside. Alleys were extremely close together and you could just run through if you held your arms out in front of you. No windows opened up into the alleys, so inside it was almost pitch black, the only light coming from the stars above. After rounding a few corners, Rouge came upon an inconspicuous door, a slight of stairs lead down to it. It was a door made to look like it was boarded up, but if you looked closer you could see the boards were on hinges. This door lead into the cellar of a warehouse, usually used to store raw materials till being transferred for processing at power stations.

She watched her back, before she knocked on the door through the boards. "Mary had a little lamb." Rouge muttered, leaning close enough to the door so her whispers could be heard inside. There was a moment of silence, the only noise coming from the industrial sector of the city which was producing armies of Troopers twenty four hours a day. They groaned loudly, keeper even the heaviest sleeper up at night. The door was opened slightly, and a furry face with brown fur peeked out. A black eyes studied her carefully, before the door shut again and after a few minutes was opened again. An otter dressed in simple clothing greeted her.

"Viva la resistance." He said, hurrying her inside before shutting the door in the hurry behind her. Then he went back to guarding the door like she wasn't even there. The room beyond was small and a few large wooden crates stacked against the walls. A dim candle lit the room, casting deep shadows onto the floor. The ceiling was made from rafters and thick whole slab, evidentially the floor warehouse storage area. A few doors lead out further into the buildings but she ignored them.

This was not Rouge's ultimate destination , this was only the halfway house. Looking around, she sighted the trap door that lead down further into the cellar, hidden partially under a rug. Opening it, she gild softly downward. Below the separate storage room were the boilers. They were basically large metallic boxes with grates on the front let out a thick white vapour and a pleasant heat ever five minutes. When her feet touched the floor, she heard the otter close the trap door behind her. The boiler room was too large to see in it's fullness from her position and she hadn't the time to look around at the many rectangular steal boxes spewing steam from their fronts.

Rouge still had to descended, and there was only one more level below her. The sewers. Not stopping to enjoy the, scenic view, she proceeded over to the next entrance

The opening into the murky tunnels beneath the city was hidden behind a stack of crates. Pushing those aside, she revealed a beaten gap in the wall. A few bricks lay on the floor where someone had smashed his way through. A tunnel lead almost vertically downward fro it into the darkness. There would be no lighting from this point, so Rouge reached into her backpack and withdrew a torch.

The tunnel curved to the right, then down sharply. It had obviously been dug by somebody, since Rouge tripped over a discarded shovel in the semi darkness. The tunnel went on for a few minutes more before it opened up into a large sewer pipe. Her boots made a clanking sound on the hard metal as she set foot on them. Using the torch, she peered around both ways. The cost was clear. The pipe was large enough to allow a truck to pass through and had a thin stream of waste trailing along the bottom. She carried along it for a few minutes before rounding a corner into a smaller tube. She had to duck her head so he could make her way through the darkness.

"Who goes there?" A rough voice from the darkness added, and after a moment, a black and white head poked itself forward. It was a Badger. He had a scarf wrapped around his mouth and nose and it muffled his speech. He was holding a large knife in one black paw. His boots were almost knee high, made out of cow skin and studded. He was a scooter, someone who patrolled the sewers to check for intruders. As such, his personal odour was not the not pleasant.

"Balthazar, it's me." Rouge replied stepped out of the darkness. "I need to see Topaz urgently." The badger narrowed one eyes, then straighten himself up, the top of his head brushing the metallic roof.

"She's in a meeting with other zone runner leaders. You'll have to wait." He grunted, Rouge put on her annoyed features.

"I will not, you'll get me Topaz's council right this second. Balthazar, who did not like being told what to do, gave off a louder grunt.

"And why should I risk my hide by dragging her away from the negotiation table?" He asked, folding his arms. Rouge continued to stare him down.

"Listen you big lug, I need to talk to Topaz right now. If we don't at fast enough, Robotnik is going to eliminate our rebellion group." That made Balthazar raise an eyebrow.

"Crushed? Ha, Robotnik doesn't even know were hiding down here."

"He does now." Balthazar started to look a little nervous.

"Rouge, this ain't funny.

""Do I look Like I'm making a joke?" She sighed angrily and put her hands on her hips. "Balthazar, Azure has dispatched a Juggernaut."

The Foundation had many different, secret projects running in their underground laboratories. Weapons projects that ranged from Nuclear to biological. One of their most productive programs was research into foot solider development. Here, they revaluated designs from old Robotnik days and then updated them and remade them into unstoppable killing machines for the tyrants army. They had recently come upon the blueprints for a interesting new design and, without the legitimate confirmation of the Empire, they went ahead with reconstructing it. That was the beauty of the Foundations operations, they could operate under and in the public eye and get away with it.

All had been calm right up until midnight, when sudden alarms went off throughout the underground levels. One of their projects had activated itself and was tearing its way through the security lock down doors one at a time. Security personal were called down to block off the entrance hallway, the only way in and out of the underground research labs. Barrages of muscle and swat gear formed a dam of resistance, laser rifles pointed directly toward the last security lock down door. They'd been there for a good few minutes, and all they could hear were loud explosions as whatever was trying to clawed its way out. Then, the last security door went flying off it's hinges and a golden figure emerged. The order was given, and the barricade opened fire.

A hailstorm of laser blasts screamed toward its figure, but only bounced of it's chest plate. Before they could reload for another shot, it cleared the distance and ploughed straight into them. The fighting was over in a minute.

Fragments of the smashed walls lay on the floor amongst the either dead ofr insomnious bodies.

As the dust settled, a seven foot tall figure stood at the centre of the sudden chaos. A robotic man, shaped very much like a trooper, but with gold armour rather than blood red. A row of metallic grey spikes ran around the crown of his helmet. Similar spikes jutted out of his knuckles, wrists and forearms. A long red cape flapped from around his shoulders. Two skull shaped buckles holding it onto his metal frame. The blaring alarms highlighting his armour blood red.

"Did you serious think you could keep me here?" He asked them, not expecting any kind of reply. "You made the mistake of rebuilding me. Now, Robotnik is going to pay for his defiance." He kicked a few of them aside and walked on down the corridor. "My revenge has been long overdue." A large metallic hand descended down and randomly picked up a stone from the ground. "And make no mistake, it will be terrible and I will finally take my rightful place as your successor." With that, glaring yellow eyes on the stone, he crushed it between his fingers. The dust particles flowing between the gaps toward the floor. He could still remember actually, how Robotnik's walker froze his body, weakening his metallic frame, so the doctor could smash him to pieces. And those Foundation fools thought that they had erased his memory banks, well, nice try but no cigar.

After being destroyed by Robotnik personally after attempting a badnik revolution, the Commander and second in command of the Robotnik Empire was back.

Brutus had returned.

To be continued.