09 /30 /04

.

Antipode Evangel

presents

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Paradigm

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TIME

Part 1

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Disclaimer

Story (c) 2004 by the author, set in the world of "Freedom Fighters of Mobius," by Antipode Evangel. Based on situations and elements created by Service Games (SEGA), DiC Productions, and Archie Publications. Characters originally based on personalities created by SEGA, DiC, and/or Archie Comics, but modified heavily by the author. This is a work of fanfiction, meant only to entertain the readers and to contribute to the mythos of the source material. The author in no way benefits financially from this work.


This episode loosely based on Sonic CD, (c) SEGA, for the SegaCD.

Also contains elements from Sonic Adventure, (c) SEGA, for the Sega Dreamcast.


Modified personalities include, but are not limited to: Sonic, Sally Acorn, Tails, Amy Rose, and Nicole; derived from their respective canon characters, but under jurisdiction by the author.
.

Hey.

How's it going? I'd like to tell a story, if I could. And you're here, so you might as well listen, right? Don't worry, it's not long. Well, it is, but I'll try to make it as painless as possible. You've got time, right?

Heh, "time"... You could say that's what this story is about. I suppose there's not too many peeps that can say they've done any time-hopping recently. I can, unfortunately. I don't intend to repeat the process either, it's a pain in the brain.

So, where to start? The thing about stories is you need a really good beginning to get people interested. I suppose mine starts with... making out in the woods. Eh? EH?? How's that for a beginning??

Yeah, me and the most beautiful girl on Mobius, Princess Sally Alicia Acorn. Just thinking about her makes me crazy. So, anyway, there we were, amusing ourselves in the forest away from camp, heh heh. I could get off on another tangent here, but you wouldn't want that, would ya? Let's just say it's a regular event that I steal her away from the horrors of her office.

So we make it back to Knothole, which is still pretty much the same way it was back when I took out Robotnik's Death Orb Whatever-it-is about a year ago. Well, that's not entirely true, actually. There was one major, recent change that still continues to somewhat baffle me.

"Hey, Sonic!"

And there they were. Tails and Amy Rose, two of Knothole's junior members. Tails has been my best bud for pretty much ever. I've known him most of his life, and have kind of become a mentor to the little guy. Amy, on the other hand... Well, I haven't quite figured her out yet. When I first met her she seemed to have nothing on her mind but chasing me around everywhere, which got pretty annoying, pretty quickly. Lately, though, she's started spending all her free time with Tails. I'm still not sure whether to be relieved or concerned. Tails is still a kid (well, they both are, but Tails more), and I can't help but feel she's manipulating him somehow. Then again, she could just be a good friend who follows him around every second of the day.

I gave them a smile and a wave. "Hey, kids!"

The fox kid trotted up to me in his cute little way, his twin tails waving behind him as he ran. "Sonic, look what Amy made for me!" He pulled back the sleeve of his jacket to show a small band at his wrist, ornamented with small beads and trinkets. "It's a friendship bracelet! Ain't it nifty?" He grinned broadly.

I couldn't help but chuckle. "Really cool, Little Bro."

He beamed proudly at me, pushing his glasses up his nose. "Amy and I are going down to the lake," he reported and headed for the path, but I called out to him.

"You go ahead, Amy'll be there in a sec, kay? I need to talk with her."

"Kay!" he answered and disappeared.

I turned to face her. "We gotta talk, Little Sis."

"You said that already."

I got right to the point, since I hated waiting. "You seem awfully chummy with Tails lately."

"So?" she raised an eyebrow, showing some of that spunkiness that made her so famous -- or would that be infamous? -- around Knothole. "Suddenly it's a crime to be friends with somebody?"

"I'm just sayin," I put up my hands defensively, "it's not wrong to be friends, just lookin' out for Tails, a'ight?"

She crossed her arms and sniffed. "You make it sound like I'm a crazy stalker or something."

"You are!"

She laughed and started walking away. "Only to you, Sonic."

I sighed. Amy still drove me crazy; I let it go, and headed for Sally's office.

I was intercepted by Rotor. "Hey, Sonic! I have to talk to you, if you've got a moment."

"Sure, Rote, what about?" I answered, following him back to the lab.

"I've been looking over the artifacts you recovered from the Fortification..."

"Again?"

"...and I need a hand setting up an experiment I want to do. I'd ask Tails, but-"

"Yeah, I know, Amy."

"So... can I have a hand?"

"Yeah, no problem."

I followed him over to the lab. The place was a mess, as usual. The main worktable in the middle of the room had been kind of cleared off, and the weird little statues or whatever that I found at Emerald Hill were set up on it, along with a bunch of Rotor's tools.

"So, what's this 'experiment,' Rote?"

He went over and sat in a chair while he was talking. "Well, lately I've been trying to figure out what the heck these things do, you know? Because they're not just regular statues, that's obvious. Each of them seems to be a tool of some sort, but without a power source, I've been unable to find out what kind."

"Power source?" I thought for a moment, then laughed, picking up one of the golden rings on the table. "What about these things? They were all over the dang place, and they seemed to run everything else."

Rotor nodded. "Yeah, that's what I thought, too. But there's nowhere to put a power ring anywhere in them. I was kind of wondering if you saw any other batteries or generators when you were in the catacombs that could be what we need."

I shook my head. "No dice, buddy. Those rings were the only thing I saw that ran anything."

He growled with disgust. "Well, thanks anyway. The only other option would be to grind up a ring into powder and try it that way. Those things are filled with energy, I just have to figure out how to use it."

I raised an eyebrow. "You can do that?"

"I sure hope so. Or these possibly-mystic artifacts become useless knick-knacks."

"Any idea what they could even be?"

Rotor sighed. "Not really. But I should find out as soon as possible. Go get Tails for me, will ya? I'll need his help with this."

I nodded and headed outside, just as Tails and Amy were coming back to camp. I called him over and told him what was going on. "No problem," he answered when I was done. "Be back in a second, Amy."

"Okay, Tails," she smiled sweetly, casting a glance at me to see if I was annoyed. I was.

I was about to go off on her again when I noticed Tails out of the corner of my eye. He had taken one step and stopped, his ears twitching. "You... hear that?"

I looked through the trees, straining my ears. "Your ears have always been better than mine, T2. What is it?"

"Sumthin... high-pitched whirring..." His face bore an expression of deep concentration.

I hummed to myself a little as I listened, but still couldn't make anything out. "Maybe it's coming from Rotor's."

"Yeah, maybe," he replied distractedly, taking a hesitant step forward.

"I'm sure it's nothing," I assured him, and he slowly continued to the tech hut.

That's when all hell broke loose. The missile ripped through the forest canopy at the edge of the clearing, heading straight for the center of the camp. I shouted a warning and hit the ground, instinctively covering Amy with my body (after all, as much as she annoyed me, it was my job to keep everyone safe). The impact through dirt and debris into the air, making a neat, new crater where our warning bell used to be.

I checked to see if Amy was okay before getting up and ordering everyone still out in the open to seek cover immediately. I didn't know what the hell was going on, but I knew enough not to stand in a clearing when someone's shooting. One of the sleeping huts was closest to my position, and I told Amy to get inside. There was only one thought on my mind then: Sally. I turned to face her office, now hearing the high-pitched screaming of another missile entering the camp, this one headed straight for Rotor's hut. I screamed at Tails, but he already saw it. He dove away from the building as the missile impacted, detonating and replacing the laboratory with a rapidly-expanding ball of fire.

"DAMMIT!" I screamed and ran for Sally's office, hearing the sounds of confusion and fear from all around me. I reached the steps just as the door opened, and Sally called out to me, "Sonic, what's going on?"

I didn't have time to reply, because the missiles kept coming, this one firing straight for me and Sally. She couldn't see it from the doorway, but I could see it fine. I shouted at her to get down, but it was too late. The deadly projectile ripped into her office, detonating on impact and throwing lethal debris out in all directions, one large piece connecting squarely into Sally's back and knocking her down the steps, and into my arms.

I was thrown to the ground, but was able to catch her enough to break her fall. I held her close as the dirt and wood splinters rained down around us, and I looked up into her eyes, her face dirty and her eyes wet with pained tears. "Are you okay, Sally?" I asked quietly.

"It hurts," she managed, a tear rolling down her cheek. "I can't feel my legs..."

"Tails!" I heard Amy shout from behind me, and I mentally kicked myself for not making sure the little girl didn't get to cover. She was out and running through the courtyard to where Tails had dropped.

I ignored them for now and helped Sally up. "Can you move at all, babe?" I asked, draping her arm over my shoulder.

She tried, but nothing moved. She tried answering me, but was choked with more tears. "It's okay," I soothed, moving to get her to safety. But, what safety? I stood there dumbfounded for a moment, then realized the missiles had stopped. I heard another whirring from above, though, probably what Tails had heard before. I looked up... and my jaw dropped open.

It was an assault bot, one like I had never seen before. It was constructed to be similar in structure to a Mobian, but with armored plates barely covering a solid metallic skeleton. It's left hand was a vicious-looking claw, and its right was a massive trap-like capture device. It floated into the clearing on what seemed to be jump jets of some kind, scanning the camp with smoldering red eyes set into its skull. I quickly hurried to get Sally behind the burning wreckage of what used to be her office, gently setting her down. I rose to leave, but she gripped by hand tightly, even though she was shaking. "Don't leave me..."

"I'm sorry, babe," I leaned down to kiss her on the mouth. "Stay here."

She reluctantly released my hand, and I peeked behind the rubble so I could barely see the attack bot slowly looking over the clearing, obviously searching for something. It eventually came to rest on Tails and Amy, still standing vulnerable in the middle of the clearing. It reached out a metallic claw and started floating toward them, a speaker at its "mouth" saying something about "DNA match confirmed, commencing capture."

That was the last I could take. No stupid robot attacks Sonic's friends and gets away with it. I ran out from my hiding place, all ready to challenge this tin can and rip it to scrap. It must have taken this as a threat, because it moved in for the kill -- ouch, sorry, bad choice of words. As it was getting close, Tails stepped between it and Amy, the brave little guy, but was easily knocked aside, and the bot swung its other arm around in one swift motion to wrap its larger capture claws around Amy's torso.

I ran toward it, all ready to bust its head in. It merely turned to look at me, then blasted off again, low to the ground and straight into the woods. I chased after it, fast enough to be able to keep the distance between us to a minimum. It was hovering a meter or two off the ground, crashing right through tree branches like they were paper. Amy didn't appreciate this too much, and had been screaming hysterically since it began.

If you don't know anything about jet propulsion, let me try to give you in a nutshell what Tails told me once: it may look cool, but it uses a LOT of fuel. And the thing about jetpacks is that there's physically not a lot of room to put fuel. I don't know where the robot had came from, but it was then that its tank went dry. It landed heavily on the ground and started running, but I ain't seen a robot yet that could outrun me.

I chased it into a small clearing, where I watched it slow to a stop. "You can't run from me, bolt-bucket!" I shouted, trying to get its attention as I worked out a plan in my mind. "You're going to pay for what you did!"

If there was a way that a robotic face could have an evil look, that was it. It slowly raised its left hand toward me, and now I could see a blaster built into the palm, and it was charging. I dove to the ground as the shot sailed above my head, but it was only meant to be a diversion. When I looked up the robot had turned away and was walking into a shimmering blue field of light, that I pretty sure wasn't there before.

I scrambled to my feet and chased after it, as its metal frame sparked out of view. I leapt into the portal just as it was closing.

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"Next."

The line moves, and I step forward. How long have I been here? It seems like forever. Wait, where exactly am I even? Nothing looks familiar: a line of people, two desks, a bunch of couches off to the side. People are filling out papers. Everything is white, blinding white. Oh, crap, am I dead? That's what this is, this is the line to heaven. Oh, great, just what I need.

"Next."

Another step forward. There's only two people in front of me. I wish this line was faster. Just because I'm waiting for judgment doesn't mean I want to wait long.

Why am I here? I don't remember dying. I remember... Knothole being attacked. Amy and that robot... I look around, try to find them, but there's people everywhere. Even if I could see them, I couldn't reach them fast enough.

"Next."

I watch as someone off to the side finishes a stack of papers and brings them to the other desk and drops them in a slot, then proceed to the far side of the room. I crane my neck to see what's over there, but too many people in the way. I sigh and return to watching the line crawl.

"Next."

There goes the guy in front of me. It shouldn't be long now. The man behind the desk hands him a stack of papers and starts explaining something I can't hear. Man, this is boring. I cross my arms and tap my foot against the floor. Get moving, will ya...

"Next."

Bout time. I almost shove the poor sap in front of me out of the way as I step up to the desk. The man behind it is a shortish bald human with librarian's glasses. He calmly hands a stack of forms up to me. "Fill these out and return to desk two."

For some reason I take them. "What are they for?"

The old man sighs. "These are for you to determine your destination."

"You mean I get to pick?"

The man peeks over his glasses at me. "Of course you get to pick. Did you think we forced you?"

"Uh, kinda."

"Just fill them out."

I leave and head for the couches, casting a glance down at the papers and squinting at the fine print. Crap, how many pages were there? I flip through; five. Great. Gonna be stuck in limbo for a while still.

I take a seat next to Amy and Metalhead. "You guys are here, too, huh?"

"Yeah..."

"Affirmative."

"Any idea what this is about?"

The robot points a claw above my head, not looking up from the paperwork. "That sign may yield some answers."

I look up and read. "Temporal Connection Hub?"

Amy scribbles on the paper. "I think it's for traveling or something. That's why they ask for 'destination' over here." She looks up at Metal. "Where are you taking me again?" It shows her its paper, and she copies it down.

"Uh... can I see, too? It's kinda fair, I am chasing you..."

The robot releases an electronic sigh and shows me. I quickly scribble it down. "It would be in your best interest to give me a period of time for a 'head start.'"

"Okay," I reply and add ten minutes. "Happy?"

"I have completed. Are you complete?"

Amy scribbles quickly. "Almost."

"See you guys later, I guess," I call after them and fill out another field.

"Hurry up, will ya, Sonic? You gotta rescue me still."

"I know, I know, I'm hurryin."

Amy and Metal go and put their forms on the second desk, then walk into the next room. I sigh and keep writing. To call it thorough would be an understatement. Everything from name, rank, and serial number to mother's maiden name and global coordinates of my house. I fill in all I can, then look it over, eventually reading over the destination. I don't know what it meant, since the robot must have written it in binary or something, with a date and time attached.

I go to the second desk and put my forms through the slot. There's a paper taped to the desktop telling me to go through the double doors into the next room. I do.

Even though Metal and Amy and everybody else here had been coming in here, it's nearly empty now. It's a small room, smaller than the reception area by far, and sparse of any design at all. There's a man at the front of the room, a nearly-carbon copy of Mr. Desk. I approach him and he speaks automatically. "Your primary destination has already been processed and entered."

"That was quick," I reply dryly.

He ignores my comment and holds out a pair of silvery-gray gloves. "Do you require instruction in the temporal accelerators?"

I put them on. They fit snugly, and on the wrist is a small LCD display, with a date and time, with control buttons. I smirked. "I'm not that daft, I think I can handle it."

The man nods placidly. "Very well. Good bye."

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--

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I woke up in an alley somewhere. Wasn't sure what happened, so I sat up and tried to get a view of my surroundings. The sky was clear as far as I could see, and much brighter than I remember it being. I reached up to feel my aching head, and saw a pair of silver gloves on my hands. Where'd I get those?

I crept to the mouth of the alley carefully, not knowing where the heck I was or what deep crap I could be in. The street outside was a waterfront of some kind, or at least a sidewalk at the edge of a river. There didn't seem to be anyone around, so I ventured out farther. The "river" was actually an artificial canal that separated this sidewalk from another one on the other side. I looked up and down the street, seeing that the path curved slightly, and was roughly circular. On the other side the entire city was raised, almost a full meter, and another inward section beyond was raised another meter above that, and so on, until the central point was also the highest. At that point was what looked like a temple, extravagantly built, obviously elevated like it was to promote an air of reverence.

Still no one around. Where were all the people? I walked slowly down the sidewalk, to the right, looking around for any signs of life. The buildings to my right, across from the canal, were shops and homes, but again without people in them. It was strange: an entire city without citizens.

I reached a bridge that went up to the higher level across the water, and I crossed it. At either side of the bridge was a spillway that poured out water into the canal. The only landmark of any note was that temple; that was probably where all the water was coming from, and a good place to start looking for both the inhabitants of the city and for Metal and Amy. I stopped a moment to listen as I reached the other side, imagining the faint whisper of voices, but it was nothing. There was only the soft lapping of the water against the stone, the whistle of the wind. It was strange not hearing sounds of wildlife I was so used to from my life at Knothole; here there wasn't even the creaking of tree branches or the songs of birds.

Up one circular level, then another, then another without hearing anyone. Then as I reached the temple at the top of the city, there came a soft voice to my ears. It was a girl, I guessed, singing gently in a language I had never heard before. The only way into the temple building was a steep stone staircase that ascended into it; I climbed it quickly. The place was a lot bigger than it looked at first on the ground. As I reached the top step, I turned to take in the city I had left behind. The entire place was circular, each of the levels a circle, and each inner circle gradually higher. It was an astounding feat of architecture, in my opinion.

Anyway, I went into the temple and tried to find the girl the voice belonged to, only to find that the temple itself was a mike... microz.... dang, what was that word...? It was like the city outside, only smaller. Except instead of canals it was silk curtains that separated each of the layers from each other. Small streams of water trickled along the cobblestones on their way to the edge of the temple, where it would spill down into the canals below. I stepped over them and through the gaps in the drapes until I got inside.

At the very core of the temple there was a well, where all the water was being pumped from. And there she was, unlike anything I had ever seen before. She had long blue hair that was spread out behind her, and she was sitting at the edge of the well, looking down into it and singing a melody that spread through the air like a beautiful breeze. I approached slowly and reverently, and she turned to look at me, her eyes sparkling like sapphires. It forced me to stop and stare at her for a moment; there was something... ethereal in her face, something that I had never encountered before. Our eyes locked, hers boring into my soul, for the longest time, before she broke away and continued to look down into the well.

I walked up behind her, wondering now what exactly she was looking at. I took a peek myself, but there was nothing inside the well but a deep dark hole, with water being pumped up and out through the walls of the machine and through the groves in the floor. Like usual, I said the first thing on my mind: "Where is everybody?"

She turned to look at me again, slower this time, and her eyes betrayed a hint of sadness. The thought flashed through my mind that maybe she didn't understand me, but then she answered, her voice still ringing in my ears with the same mystical quality as when she sang. "They are gone, Outsider."

"Gone," I remembered saying, but my mind was wavering at the time. "Where did they go?"

"Away..." she sighed sadly, staring down into the well.

There a moment of silence, before: "Who are you?"

"I am the Guardian of the city. Though that means little now."

"Why are you still here then? Shouldn't you try to find everybody?"

"I am bound to this place... There is no where to go now, but back to where I came from..."

"And where's that?" I followed her gaze and started to piece things together. "Oh..."

"The city no longer needs me. Soon I will be no more."

I didn't really understand any of this, but I played along in the hopes that it would make sense later. "You're from... the ocean?" She looked at me again, and now the blue hair and sparkling eyes made a strange connection in my brain, one I didn't fully understand, but in my heart I knew it was true.

I sat and watched her in silence, as she stared down into the wall, then closed her eyes and breathed deeply. "There are other Outsiders in the city," she spoke quietly and looked up at me. "Have you come to siege us?"

"What? No. I'm trying to rescue one my friends. They got taken from me."

She nodded slowly. "A noble task. You will find them in the catacombs." She held out her hand, and laid in her palm were three golden rings. "These will light your way."

"Pow... power rings?" I stammered as I reached out for them. "Where'd you get these?"

"These orichalcum rings power the machinery in our city. Use them well."

Now my mind was racing. I still had no idea what this was all about, but somewhere, somehow it was starting to come together in my mind. But as in most cases, I was forced to put that aside as I dealt with the matters at hand. I grabbed the rings out of the girl's hand and sprinted for the door. Wherever those catacombs were, I had to find them quick, if Amy and Metalhead were down there, like she said.

Oricalchum... the word echoed in my head. What was that, some kind of a metal or something? I looked down at the rings in my fist as I ran. Wherever I was, I guess it was where the rings came from originally, and somehow must have wound up near Knothole. After I took care of Metal maybe I could ask that girl what else she knew about them, if she was still there. There was something in her tone before that made me wonder if she thought she would be around that long.

I found what looked like a manhole and jumped in, finding myself in the sewers of the city. Most people would freak out at going down into a place like that, but for me, it wasn't the first time. I followed a channel down into the darkness, keeping my ears open for anything.

And if "anything" was an aggravated, but shrill, female scream, I certainly got it. I raced in that direction, splashing up muddy water with each impact of my sneakers against the stone. I skidded to a stop at an intersection, taking a moment to orient myself before taking off again, this time calling out, "Amy!!"

Her faint voice echoed back to me, "Sonic, help!"

"I'm comin, Amy, hold on!" I pushed myself faster, trying to keep my balance on the slick floor. I turned another corner and could barely make out the robot's shadow in the darkness ahead. "Get back here, Metalhead!" I screamed and sprinted toward it, teeth and fists clenched. In hindsight, I really wasn't sure what I was thinking -- acting more on instinct than anything else, as usual -- but the bot obviously knew I was coming, despite making no initial reaction.

The wind being knocked out of me from a hit to the chest was certainly a reaction, though. I sprawled to the ground, the rings the girl gave me before scattering and splattering into the murky filth. I managed to scoop them all up, but it was more than enough time for the bot to give me a swift kick in the side. I hit the pavement again, but this time I was able to get back up to fight. The thoughts flashed through my mind of when I had fought that robot back on Robotnik's battle station, and how similar this one looked to it. Of course, here there were no giant tentacles around, too.

Okay, here it gets boring so I'll skip ahead a bit. Obviously, if you've heard of me, you know how I fight, so I don't have to go into any detail about what happened next. Long-story-short, I kinda got the crap beat outta me again, so I chased Metalhead farther into the sewers. It led to what looked like an engine room underground. He flew straight toward it, pulling out these huge blades and plunging them into one of the machines. It sparked a little, then kind of melted down to nothing as the bot sucked away all its power. This was enough to jump-start Metalhead's battery, I guess, because it hovered into the air and started glowing.

I figured this was a bad development and dove for cover, as one of its missiles screamed over my head and slammed into the wall behind me. I peeked out to look for safety, and saw that it was opening another one of its glowing portals and going through it. I sprinted, launching myself into the air and making it through just as it was closing.

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--

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The gloves on my hands beep as I cross the threshold. They're working at something. I look down to see. The display is showing flashing numbers, locking into place as they find the right ones. A year, a month, a day... An hour, a minute, a second... A latitude... A longitude... A flash of light...

END OF CHAPTER

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AN

I'll admit, I was being a little vague with this chapter, but if anyone doesn't get it, let me know how much to clear up in Part 2. There was more at the end, but I decided to save it for the next one. The first-person is for this two-part only; chapter 20 will return to the third-person I started with. Feedback and questions regarding the new elements in this chapter would be highly appreciated.

BIG NEWS: Freedom Fighters of Mobius is in the running for Sonic the Hedgehog Fanfic of the Year at the Sonic Site Awards (ssa . sonicfoundation . org / site ). Voting ends the 6th of October, so get in there for me as soon as possible.

I'm getting REALLY ticked off with FF.n's constantly-changing document manager. Every time I put up a new chapter, they've changed it in some way where I have to redo all my formatting again. Very annoying. If something's not formatted right, that's why.

AE