Disclaimer: All the characters in this story belong to Sonic Team/Sega.

Author's Notes: Heylo, peeps. Here's another random short story for ya. This was inspired by a dream I had a few days before Sonic Heroes came out (so of course, I was obsessing over it @.@). It was such a cool dream, that I had to write a short story about it. o.o This is just a one-shot though, so don't expect me to continue it or anything. I wouldn't know where to take it, anyway. I now have Sonic Heroes, but I have yet to unlock the Last Story. So this probably won't really fit with the game at all, but meh. This is my idea of what Team Sonic's first encounter with the new Metal Sonic should be like…

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Metal Nightmares

            Beneath a darkening sky, above the city streets, a battle was about to ensue. Or more appropriately—a massacre. Atop one of the city's many skyscrapers, a swarm of robots was gathered around a trio of animals. The machines came in various forms, most having the same rotund shape and metallic grin. The three animals were much smaller in comparison, and outnumbered by far. Yet they remained undaunted by the seemingly unbeatable odds.

            The blue one stood confidently, his red and yellow companions on either side. As the robots began their advance, the blue one looked to his teammates, smirking at each. They, in turn, nodded back and readied themselves for their attack. The blue hedgehog leapt into the air, and the yellow fox did the same. He grabbed the hedgehog's legs, while the red echidna grabbed the fox's. The echidna began to spin around in place, swinging the two in a powerful circle. After a few turns, he released them in the direction of the robots. They flew through the air, the fox soon releasing the hedgehog to kick him into the midst of the machines. The hedgehog became a blue blur, rocketing around wildly through the entire hoard of robots.

            In a matter of seconds, the entire battalion had been reduced to fiery debris. The blue hedgehog landed neatly near his friends, a faint red aura surrounding him. He straightened and brushed his hands off, grinning cockily. "Geez, that Eggman just makes this too easy for us! Where's the challenge?"

            The echidna chuckled. "Sonic, do you ever get intimidated by anything?"

            "Not when it has Eggman's goofy grin on it," he replied, pointing a thumb over his shoulder.

            The smaller fox grinned back at the hedgehog. "Not as scary as Knuckles' piloting skills, right?"

            Sonic laughed, rubbing the fox's head. "That's right, Tails."

            Knuckles eyed the two with mock annoyance. "Ha ha, very funny."

            Sonic, slapped the echidna on the shoulder good-naturedly then turned to leave. "Well, no use standing around here. We've got an egg to crack!"

            The three started to walk toward the edge of the building to take a lower route, but Tails stopped abruptly. His ear twitched to one side, and he turned his head to look in that direction. Sonic and Knuckles stopped as well, noticing the look of concentration on their friend's face.

            "What's up, Tails?" Sonic asked as he walked back.

            Tails put his finger to his lips and spoke quietly. "I thought I heard another robot nearby."

            The echidna walked up to them and looked around, also speaking quietly. "Did we miss one?"

            The fox's brow furrowed. "This one didn't sound like the others…"

            Sonic listened intently, but heard nothing. He knew Tails' hearing was much more acute than his own, however, so he carefully scanned the nearby rooftops for any sign of the robot. Storm clouds were rapidly darkening the sky, though, making it more difficult to see anything.

            A sudden flash of light, accompanied by a loud thunderclap, made the young fox yelp and crouch down. He covered his ears and shut his eyes tightly, trembling slightly. Knuckles knelt down beside him and placed a comforting hand on his back. "Hey, hey, it's all right." Slowly Tails opened one eye and peered at Knuckles, who smiled back reassuringly. He gulped and nodded, standing up reluctantly.

            Sonic, on the other hand, was transfixed on a point atop another skyscraper. He stared wide-eyed at the spot, shock evident on his face. Knuckles eyed his friend with some concern. "What's wrong, Sonic? You look like you've just seen a ghost." Tails let out a light whimper.

            "When the lightning struck, I saw a glint of metal…" Sonic began, eyes still fixed on the same spot. "It couldn't be…" he whispered.

            Tails and Knuckles exchanged confused glances, then followed Sonic's gaze to the top of the nearby building. At first neither of them could make out much of anything, until another streak of lightning split the sky. Under its flickering light, a metallic silhouette standing on the roof became visible, its cape billowing in the wind. It stood motionlessly, ominous against the stormy sky, as though it were patiently waiting to be discovered.

            Tails stared as the silhouette melted back into the darkness. "That must be the robot I heard…"

            Knuckles stared intently as well. "Sonic, isn't that--"

            "Let's go."

            The two turned to the hedgehog in slight surprise. Sonic was still staring straight ahead, but this time with a determined look on his face. He jogged toward the building, Tails and Knuckles quickly following his lead. When they reached the edge of the roof, Tails instinctively took flight, Sonic grabbing his legs this time and Knuckles grabbing Sonic's. His tails whirling furiously, the fox carried his partners up to the other building.

            The whole time, Sonic never took his eyes off the machine. It, too, seemed to be watching them, continuously facing them as they moved by. The closer they came, the more certain he became of the robot's identity.

Tails prudently landed a good distance from it, and finally they were able to get a clear sight of their next opponent. Long, metallic quills jutted from its head at wild angles; black, clawed hands hung at its sides, looking equally deadly. Its sleek frame was dominated by metallic blue and chrome, but its most piercing feature was its eyes. They glowed like burning coals, red against a jet-black visor.

Tails' gasped as he stared at the figure in disbelief. "M—Metal Sonic?"

Knuckles' surprise was evident as well. "I thought we destroyed that thing years ago!"

Sonic, however, was uncharacteristically quiet. He stared intently, studying the all too familiar robot before him. It wasn't exactly the same as he remembered it—it had obviously undergone some upgrades since their last meeting. But what struck him the most were its quills. He noted the white streaks lining the upper edges of each one, his eyes following one streak down the top of its head to its forehead. Finally his emerald eyes met with its ruby ones, which stared intently back at him. For a moment he could have sworn he saw a different face staring back at him, and his eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Nice paint job you got there, Metal," Sonic spoke darkly, slightly startling his companions. "Is that Eggman's idea of some sick joke?"

The robots eyes shimmered, and Sonic knew that if it had a mouth, it would be smirking. "Why, whatever do you mean," came the male metallic voice, "blue hedgehog?"

Sonic's quills bristled at the subtle emphasis on the last two words. "Don't call me that," he spat threateningly. Knuckles and Tails exchanged alarmed glances.

Metal chuckled eerily. "So sorry." He lowered his head, never breaking eye contact with his rival. "Would you prefer 'faker'?"

Something snapped inside Sonic. He growled and charged at the robot. "Sonic, wait!" Knuckles called to the hedgehog. But it was no use. Fury deafened Sonic's ears as he raced toward Metal, bent on destroying the mechanical clone. The robot simply stood there, unfazed by the rapidly approaching hedgehog. As Sonic neared, he leapt at the robot, curling into a ball.

At the last moment, Metal raised one arm and swiped downward, slamming the hedgehog to the ground in one lightning-fast motion. Sonic cried out in pain as he hit the cement surface, but his cry was cut short as Metal's clawed hand wrapped around his throat and hoisted him into the air.

"Sonic!" Tails cried, horrified.

Knuckles grabbed the fox's arm before he could run to help Sonic. "Tails." He looked back at the echidna, who moved his fist in an upward motion. Tails nodded and leapt into the air. Knuckles followed suit, slamming his hand down on the yellow ball in front of him. Tails was sent rocketing towards Metal Sonic, surrounded by a fiery aura.

Metal's eyes darted from his captive to the incoming fireball. He easily deflected the fox by backhanding him with his left arm. Tails yelped in pain as he was sent flying to the side. He skidded across the ground, finally stopping when he hit the low wall on the roof's perimeter.

"TAILS!" Sonic cried, watching helplessly as his friend slumped to the ground. A veritable roar behind him called his attention. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Knuckles charging toward them, baring his teeth. One fist was pulled back, ready to strike the robot with devastating force. But the punch never connected. As swiftly as he had downed the others, Metal planted a fist in Knuckles' gut, knocking the wind out of him. He followed through with the punch, sending the echidna tumbling backwards.

Sonic's eyes flitted from one motionless friend to the other. "No… leave them out of this, you monster!"

Metal chuckled again, returning his gaze to the face above him. "From the looks of it, I'd say they're already out." His grip tightened around the hedgehog's throat. "And I'd watch your tongue, if I were you. I'm no monster—I am the ultimate machine."

Sonic clutched at the hand at his throat, gritting his teeth. "If you're… so ultimate," he choked out, "…then why… don't you just… kill me, scrap heap?"

The robot brought Sonic's face closer to his own, eyes glowing dangerously. "Don't tempt me, hedgehog. I could quite easily crush you right now." He tightened his grip further to emphasize the point, eyes shimmering as Sonic struggled for breath. The hedgehog's attempts to free himself gradually weakened. "But don't worry," the robot assured him. "I won't kill you just yet." Abruptly, Metal released him and fired the rocket on his back. Sonic collapsed to the ground and gasped heavily, while Metal rose into the air. "My master has other plans for you, hedgehog."

Sonic glared up at the robot, panting heavily. "Running back to Eggman? I thought you had some spine."

Metal laughed coldly. "We'll see how much spine you have left when I'm through, hedgehog. But for now," he crossed one arm over his chest and made a half-bow, cape billowing, "I must take my leave." His eyes seemed to glow more brightly as he straightened. "I have a rose to pick."

Sonic's eyes widened, but his fear was soon replaced with rage. "Stay away from her, Metal!"

The robot turned away and peered at him from the corner of his eye. "Farewell, Sonic the Hedgehog!" And with that he shot off across the sky, his dark laughter echoing through the stormy air.

"Come back here, Metal!" Sonic yelled after him, clenching his fists. "METAL SONIC!"

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AN: A cliffhanger, yes, but that's how I intended it. Like I said, it's a one-shot that I will probably never continue, unless I get really inspired. I'd considered making three more installments for each team's encounter with Metal Sonic, but I don't know how that would work. I doubt it'd be as effective as this one, anyway. But feel free to give me feedback/ideas, and maybe, maybe I'll continue it. =P Chao, peeps!