Eggman Armageddon


This was the end. Dr. Eggman had just activated his war machine, the Eggman Armageddon. Once it was fully charged, it would throw the earth into a raging inferno. Rocks would be melted instantaneously, trees would turned to ash, living creatures suddenly disintegrated, oceans would evaporate. Nothing could survive.

Unless Sonic could stop it.
The blue hedgehog streaked towards Eggman's base. He recalled what had happened before he left.
"Okay, Sonic. You have the Super Emeralds... goggles on... the heat- resistant shoes I gave you... anything else you need? Got your gloves?" Tails called out as he checked off a list.
"I'm fine, Tails," Sonic replied. "You sure this thing will work?" he asked, gesturing towards the huge, shining emerald. Tails nodded, grinning. "I ran fifteen different tests on it to make sure that its energy would last long enough to take down Eggman's weapon."
Melody walked up to Sonic with a worried countenance. Her voice quivered a bit when she spoke: "You'll come back, right?"
"Melody, don't worry. I know what I'm doing," Sonic said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "I have too much here not to come back." He smiled. "Where are your little brother and sister?"
Melody smiled. "They're drawing pictures to surprise you when you get back. Don't tell them I told you." She gave Sonic a quick hug and the blue hedgehog stepped away smiling. He slung the pack holding the Super Emerald over his back. Knuckles was watching him silently arms crossed. When he caught Sonic's eye, the two simply nodded. Knuckles wasn't the type that liked to talk. Sonic took a few steps away. He turned around, winked, and with a grin said:

"I'll be there and back before you even know I'm gone!" With that, he dashed off.

Suddenly, Sonic tripped on a rock in the road, flew into the air and smashed his chin on the ground upon landing. He shook his head, rubbed his chin a little and began running again. He kept thinking about what he had said; something didn't seem right.
A single tear rolled down his cheek. He kept running.
Eggman's mechanical army, hundreds upon thousands of robot soldiers, stood up to stop him. They raised their arm-cannons, ready to kill anything that moved. On the horizon, a blue blur raced towards them. The robots saw their target, locked on and—
Were bashed to pieces by the hedgehog barging through. Everything within ten meters of Sonic was ripped to shreds by the shrapnel from what Sonic himself hit. The hedgehog's eyes flashed. His hatred for Eggman now filled his mind.
He hadn't come unprepared, of course. His friends, Melody and Tails, had recently found a Super Emerald. It was one of the mystic gems that would give unimaginable power to a chosen few. With the Super Emerald, Sonic gave off a golden glow and his natural abilities – his speed, primarily – were increased one thousand fold. That made him nearly invincible and much, much faster than his normal speed, which was already incredible.
Sonic reached the base and stopped. This building was tall. Knowing Eggman, there would only be elevators. No stairs meant that it would take too long to get up. The hedgehog moved a few feet to the left, curled into a ball, and started to spin rapidly. Faster and faster he rotated in place, kicking up dirt behind him. after about twelve seconds of spinning, Sonic released and zoomed straight up the wall. Almost immediately, he reached the very top of the five-hundred-story building. To avoid flying away from the building, he broke out of the spin at the very top, latched onto the edge of the roof and flipped on top. Here he was met with a problem: how would he get into the building? After a bit of thought, he decided to simply break through the roof. The hedgehog jumped up, pulled his legs in and once he had almost landed again he forced his legs down. The Super Emerald had given him enough power to break through the roof with his jump kick.
Realizing that he had undoubtedly made Eggman aware of his actions, Sonic put his guard up. Anything could happen now. At any moment, one of Eggman's machines could—
"AAAAUUUGGHH!" A blinding pain ran through Sonic's spine. He grabbed his head, fell on the floor and screamed even louder. The pain wouldn't let up! What on earth was happening to him?
A door opened on the other side of them room. Dr. Eggman, the most evil scientist ever known to Earth, walked in, whistling innocently. He wore black glasses, which hung on a huge, pink nose. He had a monstrous orange mustache on his face; this was the only hair he had. On his head was a pair of goggles that seemed to only serve to make the scientist look menacing. His body was egg-shaped, hence the name, and his arms and legs were both very long and thin. Altogether, his limbs seemed disproportionate to his body. For fifteen years, this scientist had been trying to enslave the inhabitants of Earth, only to be thwarted by Sonic every time. This was an insult. Eggman had had it. Now he would destroy the planet and everything on it. He would then leave and search for an easier planet to capture. Eggman looked down at Sonic and chuckled.
"Well, what do we have here? A little blue hedgehog. He seems to have broken my ceiling... no matter. I won't be needing it." The scientist produced a small remote control from his pocket and pushed a button on the device. A greenish sphere, about four feet in diameter, appeared around Sonic's body. Sonic was still tensed up, trying to numb the pain. Eggman pushed another button on the control in his hands and the pain left Sonic. With a gasp, the hedgehog went limp, breathing heavily and barely holding his head up enough to see Dr. Eggman.
Suddenly, Sonic felt his energy leaving him. He reached around and pulled the Super Emerald out of his backpack. To his surprise, the gem's brilliant glow was fading quickly, along with Sonic's glow... soon it was nothing but a crystal and Sonic was back to normal. His eyes widened.
"No!!!" he cried as a crack appeared at the top of the emerald. It slowly spread across it and became a sort of web, covering the gem completely. It shattered! Sonic watched helplessly as the emerald shards fell through his fingers. He looked at Eggman, who now spoke.
"Sonic, I thought you were smart enough to know that I would take precautions. This building is protected by a new invention of mine - an anti-emerald field. Anything under an emerald's influence inside here continually takes damage until either I stop it or the object is destroyed. Quite interesting, yes?"
Sonic, still trapped inside the green sphere and struggling to get out, said to Eggman, "Wait a minute, doc. Emeralds in this building are destroyed – so what's powering your Armageddon machine?"
Eggman swiftly replied, "For years, my little friend, I thought of using only the Chaos Emeralds as a high-powered energy source. After being foiled by your friends eight or nine times-"
"Silence! As I was saying, I eventually decided to go look for another source. I realized that it was staring at me right in the face: the Magic Rings! You always seemed to be unbeatable as long as you had at least one, not to mention the power you would get with fifty. I've been collecting them for quite a while now, and I have a very large collection. It's more than enough to power the Armageddon," the scientist explained. "Hey! Are you paying attention?"
Sonic had been trying to break out of the sphere while Eggman was busy talking.

Now Dr. Eggman was angry. "Well, if you don't care for what I have to say, then you can just kiss this world goodbye! See you on the other side, Sonic!" The scientist disappeared from Sonic's sight as steel walls shot up from the floor on every side of the hedgehog. The hole in the ceiling that Sonic had made was covered up as well except for a small crack that let in light It was as if Eggman had known exactly what Sonic had been planning to do. The green sphere and the iron walls were in precisely the right place to trap Sonic. Suddenly, the green sphere disappeared. The hedgehog stood up, surprised to see that his original strength was back. He nearly fell down again, however, when the floor started to shake. It was moving! Under the moving floor was a pit of white-hot magma, bubbling dangerously. Within a minute, the ground would be completely gone and Sonic would be fried to a crisp! Sonic was a quick thinker (he had to be to move so fast) and took advantage of the situation. He jumped into the pit, hugging the wall, and prepared for his next feat. Just before falling into the lava, he quickly grabbed a glob of it, moving too fast for it to burn him, kicked off the wall and jumped up to the moving floor, which was about 3/4 into the wall. Sonic threw the lava-ball at one of the walls. It melted slightly, weakening it. This was all done in less than a second. Sonic attempted a Spin Attack. He whirled amazingly quickly, released and jumped towards the wall, still spinning like a buzz saw... his spikes cut through the metal and jumped through. Sonic was out! Eggman had vanished, but Sonic had more important matters to attend to. He checked the monitors around him, eventually finding a map of the building he was in. The power room was 30 stories down. The only way to get there was by elevator, which Sonic couldn't wait for. It would also need a passcode, which Sonic didn't know. Deactivating the power supply could take time, which Sonic didn't have. He decided to take a different approach and went to find something metal and thin. Soon the hedgehog found a steel chair. He broke the back off of it, crammed it into the crack between the elevator doors, pried them apart, and jumped into the elevator shaft! He slid down the cable that held the elevator, counting the floors he passed. Once he reached the proper floor, he pried the doors open again and jumped into the room. The power room was huge; it filled up the entire floor. Magic rings were all around the generator, just floating in the air. There were millions of them! "Eggman, you made this all too easy," Sonic said to no one in particular. Sonic had a special ability he had acquired recently: the Light Speed Dash. If there was a line of rings nearby, he could collect them instantly, absorbing their power. And a million Magic Rings would supply tons of energy. Sonic flew around the room, collecting every ring in sight. Once they were all gone, the lights faded and everything shut down. Crisis averted! The hedgehog, however, was giving off a glow himself. He had stopped the Eggman Armageddon; now he needed to stop Eggman. The millions of rings he had collected had given him immense strength, but it would only last so long. He crashed through the walls, leaving destruction in his wake, and landed softly on the ground outside. Up in the sky, an egg-shaped airship was flying towards him. Obviously, Eggman had realized what had happened. Once it was within 100 yards, Sonic could see it clearly. It had rocket launchers equipped and missiles were flying directly towards him! "YOW!" Sonic yelled out, barely avoiding the explosion created when the missiles hit earth. He grabbed a nearby rock, curled into a spin-dash once again and built up power, After a few moments, he threw the rock with all the speed he had built up in the spin. With a BANG, the stone broke the sound barrier and hurtled towards Eggman's ship. It smashed directly into the left jet and blasted out the of the front of the ship. The main engine failed and the whole thing started to fall! The entire back of the ship exploded, it was smoking, and the scientist was going down. His airship hit the ground and skidded a couple of hundred feet before stopping in a smoky heap. Sonic ran towards the airship and kicked the door open, ready to pounce. The lights inside were broken; the only source of light inside was a few live wires. Eggman's figure was at the pilot's seat. "You've been ruining my life for seven years, you filthy rodent..." Eggman muttered. Sonic looked at the shadowy figure. "Funny. I could say the same thing," he said. Eggman stood up and started to walk towards him. Sonic was ready to fight. "Ya ready, Eggman? C'mon, I-urk!!!" Something had grabbed Sonic from behind and was clutching his neck! "Hohoho... You are such a fool. You'll fall for any trick I come up with, won't you? I thought you were a more formidable opponent. Oh, well. My dummy worked perfectly!" Eggman had set a trap! A cold feeling overcame Sonic. It spread from his neck where Eggman was gripping him and slowly began to cover his body. It spread all over him, and he felt his mind going... Eggman had turned Sonic into a mindless robot. He chuckled. "Well, that's the end of that. That hedgehog ruined my plans, but now I'm rid of him for good! I suppose I won't have to destroy Earth just yet!" "Ooh, too bad, Eggman! I think you made a little mistake!" The robot Sonic was talking! Eggman whirled around. "WHAT!?!?!? YOU--HOW----BUT...NO!!!!" "Eggman, you shouldn't have powered your machine with Magic Rings. They protected me from your brain burn-through system! Too bad for you!" Sonic held up five metallic fingers. "Self-destruct in five, doc! Bye-bye! 4. "NO!!! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!?!" 3. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" 2. "YOU FOOL! I'LL KILL YOU!!!" Eggman grabbed Sonic's metal body and ripped off his left arm. 1. The crazed scientist pulled Sonic's head off. Sonic seemed to ignore this; in fact, he grinned. 0. "I'm sorry, Melody..." Sonic whispered.

Sonic's robot body gave off a violent explosion. It spread all the way to Eggman's Armory, causing a chain reaction that destroyed everything within five miles.

Sonic was no more.

Chapter I

Knuckles the Echidna, Miles "Tails" Prower and Melody Sapphire had arranged a funeral for Sonic when they found out what had happened. It took place near Miracle Lake, Sonic's favorite place to hang out. The area was surrounded with trees and flowers of all kinds. A small pine tree with tulips surrounding it seemed to stand out from the rest of the plants. The coffin, filled with magic rings, was buried near it. Visitors from near and far came to give their respects to the fallen hero. Sonic's parents, Simeon and Rose Hedgehog, who had been in one of Eggman's prisons on Attuck Island, were finally able to leave when all of the guard robots suddenly shut down. They attended the funeral, but talked very little to anyone. The last time they had seen their son was when he was four years old – fifteen years ago. Melody tried to comfort them – Tails, too – but to no avail. They were proud of their son, but life without him left something to be desired... they planned to leave soon, but before doing so, Sonic's father asked Melody to come see him.
Melody was a hedgehog herself, but unlike Sonic, her fur was a hazel color. Her headspikes were tied back in a ponytail, she had bright blue eyes and her usual attire was a T-shirt and jeans. She had a ring on her finger that Sonic had had specially made – it was molded from a Magic Ring and faceted with an emerald. It seemed to give her good luck, and gave off a little glow when she was feeling an emotion strongly. It was one of her most treasured possessions.
"What is it that you want, Sime—err, Mr. Hedgehog?" she asked, trying to be polite. Melody wasn't used to formal speaking, and wasn't sure exactly what to call Simeon.
Sonic's father looked at her. "Sonic was a good friend of yours, right?" he inquired.
"And he gave you that ring that ring you have?"
Melody was surprised. "Well, yes, he did, but how did you know?"
"Just a hunch. Can I ask you a favor?"
"Ask away," she replied.
Simeon reached into the knapsack he had and pulled out a gem. It was roughly half the size of a football, and was bright blue. A sapphire – quite a big one, too. He handed it to Melody, who gazed at it with wide eyes. "Your last name is Sapphire, isn't it?" Simeon asked. Melody merely nodded, captivated by the gem's beauty.
"Keep this. It may come in handy someday."
Melody, knowing that gems could be more than just pretty rocks, carefully took the stone, holding it awkwardly due to its size.
"Well... thank you..." She did not know what else to say.
Simeon smiled. "My wife and I will be leaving now. I won't tell you where we're going, because if I do, that gem there won't be of much use. Goodbye. Tell your baby brother and sister I said bye, too." He strolled over to his wife, who was talking to Tails, and together they disappeared into the forest.
Melody looked at the big gem one more time, then hurried over to Knuckles to ask him if he knew anything about magic sapphires.

One year later

Earth recovered quickly from Eggman's oppression. Everywhere around the globe, trees and plants grew over the metal outposts that had been built by the scientist. Cities were built, schools and real government were established and children were finally allowed to go play in the woods. It seemed that this would be the dawn of a new golden age. All was at peace.
Except for Sonic's closest friends. Sonic had been Tails' hero since forever, and new that he was gone, the fox didn't know what he would do. He kept trying to hack into Eggman's dead satellites to find out how his hero had been beaten, but he had no success. Knuckles returned to the Floating Island, which he was sworn to protect, but there was nothing to protect it from and he often just wandered around the island, deep in thought about the adventures he had had with Sonic. Melody was something of an artist – she always had been – and drew pictures of her and Sonic often. She also spent a lot of time inspecting the sapphire Simeon had given her. What was it for? Where did it actually come from? Did it even do anything? Knuckles, even with all of his knowledge of the magic in Chaos Emeralds and Power Rings, knew nothing about the sapphire. It was quite a curious object.

Jill and Chris, Melody's little sister and brother, both five years old, were off in the woods somewhere playing a game they had made up. They called it "Eggyman". Jill was the heroine again.
"Rawr! I'm Dokker Eggyman and I'm gonna getcha! Mawha! Chris yelled in his best "evil" voice.
Jill was running away from Chris. She looked back at stuck her tongue out at him. "You can't catch me cuz I'm Sonique!" She started to run in circles, with Chris following her. Thinking he was sneaky, Chris suddenly reversed direction.
"Ha ha! I got – oof! The two kids slammed into each other. Chris had bumped his head into Jill's nose.
"Owww..." Jill moaned. She rubbed her nose. "I don't wanna play pretend Eggyman any more," she complained, "let's do something else." When she said this, Chris's eyes lit up. "Oh! I can show you a secret..." he said, "but you hafta promise not to tell no one!"
"Prickle promise?"
Jill plucked one of her spikes from her head. Chris did the same, and took Jill's. He tied them together, sealing their contract. "Follow me!" he cried, and dashed off deeper into the woods. Jill ran after him, puffing and crying, "Hey wait for me! I'm s'posed to be Sonique, remember? Chris!"

After a full fifteen minutes of running through the forest, Chris finally stopped. He turned around and saw Jill puffing, panting and gasping for air. A stick was tangled in her headspikes, along with several leaves. "We're here!" Chris said proudly. I wasn't going too fast, was I?"
"No... I just... ugh...." Came the tired reply. Jill sat down on a fallen tree and looked around. They were in a small clearing. The sun came through the trees more strongly here. "What's so fun over here anyway?" she asked.
Chris hopped over to a big pile of leaves and threw them aside. Under the leaves was...
"A robot! I thought they were all gone! ...Is it alive?" Jill asked.
"Naw, it's only the robot's skeleton," Chris replied.
The robot that Chris called a skeleton was one of Eggman's normal robo-soldiers, but it was broken into pieces. The head, connected to the main body by only a few bare wires, was dome-shaped and had one big, red eye, but it had a huge dent on the left side of it. The body was humanoid and was pretty bare, and it had one arm attached to it. The other was nowhere to be seen. The arm still connected was weakly attached at the elbow, and there was a tube on the wrist that was torn at the end. Its legs were intact with only a few dents. The knees had spikes on them; this robot must have been programmed for melee combat. Spiked knees can be painful weapons.... The robot's feet had holes in the bottom, which seemed to be jets – this robot used to be able to fly. Even with one arm missing and the head loosely connected, the machine looked menacing.
So, of course, Chris touched it.
"Self-repair sequence activated. raising defense shield." The robot spoke! Its red eye started to glow, something in the body whirred and suddenly, a blue bubble-looking thing appeared around it. The bubble stretched about five feet in every direction.
Chris was inside the bubble! He touched it. Bzzt.
"Ow!" he cried.
Jill ran over to the bubble stumbling and almost crashing into it. "Chris, you're stuck in the bubble! What do we do?" Her brother looked ready to cry. "Go get help! Quick!" he cried. The robot's hand twitched, and Chris backed against the bubble's edge, whimpering. "What about out prickle promise?" Jill asked. "Forget it! Go! I think the robot's still alive!" "You said it was a skeleton..." Jill muttered, but she ran off to get help anyway.

Chapter II

"What a day." Knuckles laid back in a hammock strung between two peach trees. He was an echidna, but like Sonic, he was unusual for his species. His fur was bright red and thinly covered most of his body. He had long dreadlocks which were all very thick – about two inches – that seemed almost solid, like they were just spikes protruding from his head. His eyes were a deep purple and always seemed to be full of rage, even when he was in a good mood. He wore green sunshades, which he had actually just bought recently, and his hands did not have fingers; they had a solid part like on mittens. He had two especially large knuckles on each hand. They were natural spikes that just grew from his hands (they weren't claws). This was a mystery to everyone, even Knuckles himself. Along with these characteristics, he had a white ring of fur on his chest. This was the mark of the guardian. Only one echidna from each generation could bear it. It gave him the ability to fly, but the skill had not been mastered yet; thusly, he could only glide. The one echidna with the Mark was destined to protect the Floating Island, also called Angel Island. So named because of the Chaos Emerald at its core that made it float high in the air, the island was a land of legend sorcery and magic. Untouched by pollution until Eggman had discovered it, it had once been a paradise. Eggman had ruined it, but with him gone and the island powered by a chaos emerald, it could quickly recover. Large, bouncy mushrooms abounded everywhere. Birds sang, plants grew, children dashed about, and all was happy. Was happy. Earlier that day, a large crash had woken Knuckles from a nap. When the Guardian went to see what was the matter, he was astonished to see a lone Drilliard – one of Eggman's burrowing robots. They were pretty much just a huge drill with four frail legs on the back. Drilliards were used solely for construction and had no defenses. After quickly taking it out with a punch from above, Knuckles dug into the earth where the machine had been drilling. About fifty feet underground he bumped into a hunk of metal. An hour later, he had managed to widen the hole he was in and lug the thing out. It was... a huge, metal hand about the size of a Twin-size bed. (Knuckles, being a guardian, also possessed great strength). Tiny holes were on the tips of each finger. Knuckles couldn't tell what they were for. Each knuckle on the giant hand was covered with huge spikes. On the back the titanic fist was a picture of Dr. Eggman's face, but it looked different... it wore no glasses; the eyes were wide and angry-looking; its mouth was open in an evil grin with long, pointy fangs. Above the face was the word Apocalypse. When Knuckles looked at it, a shiver went down his spine. Something wasn't right here. Thinking that Tails would know what to do with the machine, Knuckles dragged it over to his house and called the fox on his Videophone. No answer. Knuckles decided to call back later. Tails always knew what to do with machines.

Melody sat down on her bed, grabbed her sketchpad from the end table and proceeded to draw. She was working on a portrait of Sonic completely from memory; so far, she had drawn his face, which was winking and smiling like he had been right before he had left to take Eggman down. The artist drew Sonic's hand – he was giving a thumbs-up. She added clouds in the sky, and far in the background, Eggman's fortress rose up. In her picture, however, it was made of stone. The fortress was unmoving, clean. If it was really like that... Sonic would still be here... Melody pushed the sketchpad aside, lay down, buried her face in her hands and tried not to cry. "Mellie! Mellie!" Jill ran up to Melody, yelling her nickname out loud. "Chris is in trouble!" Melody looked at Jill. "Chris? What? How?" Jill took a deep breath and blurted out "MeandChriswereintheforestadntherewasa RobotandChrissaiditwasaskeletonbutitcametolifeandVOOMitmadeabluethingand Chrisgotstuckinitandtherobotisgonnaeathimandweneedtohelphimnow!!!" Melody was silent for a moment, trying to decipher what her little sister had said. "Say it again. Slower this time." Jill calmed down, sighed, and repeated what she had said. Melody immediately became worried about her little brother. "A robot, huh?" she said. "Tails will know what to do."

Tails's house was across the street from Melody's. Melody ran up the front steps to the door and rang the doorbell. No answer. After a few moments, she knocked on the door loudly. Still no answer. Melody's patience ran out. She started to bang on the door as hard as she could, yelling "TAILS! THIS IS IMPORTANT! COME OUT HERE NOW!" from inside, she could hear footsteps, a crash on the ground, and more footsteps. The door opened and Tails emerged. Tails, like Sonic and Knuckles, was unusual for his species: he was born with two tails. He was a fox, and had been found by Sonic years ago, all alone – could it be that he was abandoned because of his mutation? Nevertheless, he and Sonic had become close friends quickly. Sonic taught him to use his two tails as helicopter blades. By spinning his tails as fast as he could, Tails was able to fly! He had used this ability to his advantage when fighting Dr. Eggman. The young fox also possessed remarkable mechanical ability, and was able to make machines almost as good as Eggman's. Unlike the scientist, however, he only used clean energy sources for his machines (like power rings!).At the time that he came out from his house, Tails was wearing headphones. Once he saw Melody with a worried look on her face, he took them off and simply said, "What's up?" "Tails, Jill and Chris found a robot out in the woods." "That's not good." "It turned on when they came near it." "That's bad." "And then it raised up some kind of force field that Chris is trapped in now." "That's worse..." "So can you help us get him back safely?" Tails nodded and disappeared into the house. He came back out holding a handheld computer and some other little gadget. "Jill," he said, "I need you to show me the way to where your brother is. Can you show me the way?" The little hedgehog nodded. Tails turned to Melody. "Now Melody, we're going to go up ahead – I'm going to fly us there so we get there faster. Take this tracking device – it'll lead you to wherever we are." He handed over the gadget thing to her. "See you soon!" He picked up Jill, started running while holding her and took off into the air. Melody ran back to her house and grabbed her bicycle to follow.

Once Tails and Jill reached the woods, the fox lowered his flying height to ten feet so Jill would be able to recognize the surroundings. The young hedgehog instructed Tails to fly forwards, then left, then right, then left again, then under the log over there and around that tree. She was obviously having a good time flying, despite the trouble her brother was in.. Tails stopped suddenly. "Jill, this is serious. Your brother is in big trouble now, so we need to go save him! I can fly you around any time. Now will you really tell me where your brother is?" Tails asked. "Okay, okay." Tails picked Jill up again and the two flew deeper into the woods. After getting a few more proper instructions, Tails noticed a blue light up ahead. As he drew closer, it seemed to get brighter, and once he reached it the light was almost blinding. He set Jill down, told her to back away, and checked out the machine that was creating the glow. The blue bubble, which was the actual creator of the light, was almost opaque; the fox could barely see through it. "Chris! Can you hear me?" he cried. "Tails! Yay! Help me!" came a confirmation from inside. As Tails turned on his computer connected to a satellite in space, Melody rode into the clearing on her bicycle. "Will you be able to do it?" she asked. Tails looked at the computer. "This field has a level ten lock. I've never been able to get past one of those before. I'll try my best to get Chris out of there, though." He proceeded to tap the keys at a surprising rate. Melody walked over and watched the tiny computer nervously. Jill did the same. Suddenly, the blue bubble-field disappeared with a shwing sound. "You did it!" Melody exclaimed. "You got the field down!" Tails looked at the robot quizzically. "I didn't do that..." he said. Chris, just now noticing that the field was gone and he could uncurl, stood up and ran towards Melody. He leaped in fright, though, when the robot suddenly said "Self-repairing sequence complete. report to admin." The young hedgehog landed in Melody's arms. "The robot's live! MOVE, Melody!" Tails cried. He pushed the three hedgehogs away from the robot. "If you want them, you have to go through me!" he challenged. Strangely, the robot ignored him and simply walked away in the other direction. "Take your brother and sister back to town. I'm going to go see what that piece of junk is up to." Tails whispered to Melody. She knew that Tails was a sort of veteran; he know what he was doing. The three hedgehogs ran back towards the city, while Tails followed the robot stealthily. His attempts to go unnoticed were wasted though; the robot he was tailing didn't seem to really notice anything nearby – not even the trees that it bumped into often. After about an hour, the robot and Tails finally got out of the woods. Out of curiosity, the fox flew up a tree to get a better what of a view of the landscape – he still didn't want to be noticed. "Oh my god." Hundreds upon thousands of robots were gathered together, waiting silently as if they were statues. The only sound was the wind moving through them; oddly, there weren't any birds singing. Tails kept wondering what these robots were here to see and as if to answer is question, a large metal cylinder, about ten feet across, emerged from the ground, covered in moss and grass. There, as if back from the depths of – well, you know – was Dr. Eggman in full health. He looked proudly at the crown of robots that had gathered as if they were an audience that had come to see a show. "Attention, everyone! Quiet down!" he said to the silent army. "If you are listening this, then I am gone." So this wasn't actually Dr. Eggman – just a hologram. The hologram continued, Most likely that insolent little hedgehog has gotten the better of me. I thought that one of my plains would backfire terribly some day, so I took a special precaution. Scattered across the globe I've hidden the pieces of a gigantic war machine, codenamed Sigma. Once assembled, it will be more powerful than all of the Super Emeralds combined! This machine will finally be able to rid the planet of all its filthy inhabitants. I want you to go retrieve the pieces for me. One-third of my machines shall go search for salvageable parts at my now dilapidated base. I'm now uploading your mission details to your computers!" A dark purple wave drifted out of the metallic cylinder and covered all of the robots. When it reached Tails, he realized that it was affecting him in a different way from the robots. It burned... He looked at his arm and hand. His glove was okay, but his fur... his fur was melting! Tails ran away from the purple wave as fast as he could, and once he was safely away, he took flight again towards town. The flying fox landed in front of the police station and ran inside, past all of the security guards. Finding the room he wanted, Tails dashed into the Police Chief's office. It was a neat and tidy little room with everything carefully organized. The shelves were lines with various model airplanes and ships. The chief's desk had a large desktop computer on it, a few pens, a phone and a paperclip. It seemed that the chief didn't have any paperwork to do at the moment. "Chief! I need to tell you something!" Tails called out. Chief Bluetail – a ferret – looked up from a book he was reading. "Oh, hello, Miles. What's the problem?" he asked, noting the urgency on Tails's face. The fox immediately began to tell him Dr. Eggman's plan, and describe the huge army of robots that he had seen. Once he finished, Bluietail's was pale. "Oh, n-no... this isn't good. What do you recommend that we do about this? I mean, we don't even know the location of a single piece of that machine! And Eggman's mechanical army doesn't need to take breaks or rest while retrieving the parts. They'll find the pieces and assemble them in no time." Tails thought for a moment. "I don't really know. Send out a warning to the town and the rest of the world. We need to prepare for disaster. I myself have a spy satellite up – maybe I can find a piece of the ship with it. It'll tell you more on it later." He left the room. Chief Bluetail picked up the phone on his desk. "Boys, we got ourselves a problem," he said into it.

Tails flew back to his house silently. He walked inside the house once he arrived, carefully avoided tripping on a piece of scrap metal on the ground (Tails often kept pieces of robots he defeated. At the moment he had so many he didn't know what to do) and jumped into his seat at the computer. The fox flipped the switch and waited impatiently for the computer to boot up. A "Sonic Forever" animation popped up while Tails waited. He turned on his handheld computer too – it started up faster than the desktop computer. A window popped up on the small one.

"Alien program detected. Delete, ignore or read?"

Tails stared at the screen, intrigued. He clicked "read". The screen went blank for a moment, then suddenly it filled with unidentifiable shapes and figure. Tails's eyes grew wide with amazement. These could be the locations of Eggman's robot parts! That purple wave must have given the file to my computer as well as the robots, Tails thought. He quickly went on to start decoding the coordinates.

CRASH! Another huge noise woke Knuckles up from his nap in the hammock. "Oh, man, not again..." he sighed. He ran to the source of the noise.

"Mining process underway," one of Eggman's robots spoke into a radio. About fifteen metal soldiers were assembling a drilling machine to get into the Island's core. The central processor for Eggman's machine was hidden there, and these robots had to find it. In order to make the project go as planned, the scientist had given some of his robots artificial intelligence. They could think and make their own decisions, but were still to do their job. So far, things had gone well. Eggman's most important robot at the site, R-60, was supervising. Things seemed to be functioning correctly, so it was looking out for intruders. About 100 meters away, a small object dashed from one extra-large mushroom to another. R-60 watched it closely. Nothing seemed to be happening. The robot started to where the object had been last – behind that mushroom 67 meters away. When R-60 arrived at the mushrooms, there was nothing there but a hole in the ground near a mushroom's stem. The robot leaned closer to check it out. Did the unidentified object dig that hole? FOOM! The earth exploded behind M-60. It turned around and before its circuits could send a single message, a huge spiked fist hammered into its chest. "Bzt. alarms... enemy... ERROR..." M-60's head began to spin around, faster and faster. Sparks flew and it emitted a high-pitched noise that grew louder: "EEEEE!" Boom! The robot exploded in a bright light, blinding its assassin, Knuckles. The bright light and loud noise together had robbed Knuckles of his senses. Worried that more robots were coming, the Guardian had no choice but to retreat back underground. He tore through the earth again, creating a hiding spot. Once he could see and hear again, he would destroy the others.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Melody asked her little brother. "Yeah, I's ok. That robot wasn't so tough!" came Chris's reply. "Okay then. You hungry? Want a chili dog?" Chris nodded happily, and Melody went to work. Sonic had taught her how to make them long ago – she was the only person who knew his secret recipe. She would need some chili powder... peppers... a can of western chili... the jar of Secret Sauce and a pack of Animal Friendly veggie dogs. Of course, the chilidog wouldn't be made of pork or beef – on this world, a hot dog could be someone you knew if it wasn't made from vegetables. While Melody prepared the food for Chris, the little hedgehog ran to his room and retrieved some paper and markers from a table next to the TV. He laid out everything on the ground and proceeded to draw himself fighting a giant robot.

"AUGH!" Tails smacked his head on the keyboard. For the last three hours, he had been trying to figure out what the codes Eggman had unwittingly sent to his computer meant. He looked at the screen, which was now filled with the strange text again. It had been transferred to the main computer so more could be seen at once, and some figures were highlighted. Those were the ones that were repeated several times. "Whatcha doing, Tails?" Jill walked through Tails's open door and into the computer room, nimbly dodging the junk on the floor. She looked up at the computer screen. "Are you drawing a picture?" she asked. "When I went to see where that robot was going, something there made my computer get all this weird text. I can't make heads or tails about what it means, though," Tails replied. He looked at Jill. "Hey, why did you ask if I was making a picture?" he asked. "Because it looks like a tree." Jill answered. "See, there's the leaves, an' there's the trunk, an' there's a flower!" she said, pointing at different parts of the screen. Tails leaned back a bit and looked at the screen. "You're right! Look, and over here is a stream, and there's a bunch of rocks, and there – that's a foot! Wait, why is that there?" he wondered. Then it dawned on him. The text formed a map showing where all of the pieces were! "Jill, you're a genius!" Tails exclaimed. "I owe you a flight around town." "Yay!" "But later, okay? I need to show this to the policemen." Tails pressed print.

Outside the town's walls, a lone spyder-bot began to creep over the bulwark. Stealthily, steadily, it climbed, and once it reached the top the machine leaped down. The robot began to search.

"Officer Bluetail, I think I have something here that may help," Tails said, walking back into the Chief's office. Bluetail sat up in his seat and looked at Tails expectantly. "What is it now, Prower?" In his hands Tails held a huge stack of paper. He asked for Bluetail to wait a moment, then laying the sheets out on the floor in rows. Occasionally he would go "hmm" and switch a few pieces of paper. When he was done (about fifteen minutes later), Tails called the chief over. "It's a bunch of papers with words on them. What's it supposed to be?" the chief asked. "No, look closer. The letters form a picture. In fact, they form a map! I think it shows where the pieces of Eggman's big machine are! See, there's a foot, there's the head, that's some kind of buzz saw over there. Melody's sister actually pointed it out. It's amazing what a child's mind can do, isn't it? Do you know what this map means?" Bluetail shook his head. "It means that we can find Dr. Eggman's machines!" Tails exclaimed. "We don't have any coordinates, but a map is better than nothing. And if I know the general area that the piece is in, I can use my satellite to find the exact place! We can stop this thing before it starts!" "Good work, Prower," Bluetail said. "Keep us updated on this. If you find the exact coordinates, tell me and I'll send my best men out to retrieve it." Tails nodded and ran out.

Later, the fox walked into his own computer room, chilidog in hand. Melody made them better than Sonic, in his opinion. He sat down on the couch and concentrated on eating the chilidog. Soon he was finished. He licked his lips, wiped his face and looked at the computer. There was a spyder-bot sitting next to it, uplinked to the system! Tails ran up to it, grabbed one of its legs and threw it against the wall. The robot's impact dented the wall, but didn't seem to harm the robot at all. Suddenly it lunged at Tails, who caught it and grabbed all of the thin, silvery legs in one hand. He had dealt with spyder-bots before; they were used often for surveillance at Eggman's base. If you grabbed one by its lags and held it out at arm's length, it could do nothing to hurt you. At least, that's how it usually was. This time, however, a surge of electricity flowed from the robot into Tails. The fox let go quickly and was sent flying against the wall by the jolt. Dazed from the shock, Tails could do nothing but watch as the robot came to destroy him.

Chapter III

Melody was sitting at her desk once again, carefully selecting the proper pencil with which to begin a new drawing. She had decided to draw something a little more different from her usual peaceful work. This would be a battle scene. It would embody the final battle between Sonic and the mad scientist, Dr. Eggman. For a reason unknown to her, Melody had decided to portray Sonic as a robot trying to defeat the scientist before he lost his soul to the machinery. Eggman had the upper hand at the moment; his hands were curled around the robot hedgehog's neck and upper arm, while Sonic's shorter arms could not reach his adversary. Fear and anger were the primary elements of the drawing. That was the plan, anyway. Melody had not yet drawn anything yet. The artist sketched out the picture first, using simple stick figures to show the positions of the characters. After doing this, she added form to Eggman and Sonic, bending the hedgehog's spikes sharply to add to the impression that he was a robot. Eggman's mustache was sketched and his hands were given shape. Melody soon became deeply immersed in her work, adding fine details like nothing she had ever attempted before. The individual hairs on the scientist's mustache, miniscule dents on Sonic's metallic body, scratches on the metal floor they were standing on and a live, sparking wire were all added to the picture. Without even realizing it, Melody had created a photo-realistic sketch. She kept on drawing, adding the slightest details, oblivious to anything around her. She paid attention to nothing but her work; the cars outside, birds flying by the window, even the strange glow emitting from both her ring and the huge sapphire on her desk went unnoticed by her...

"Chris?" Jill called her brother's name with some curiosity in her voice. "Yeah?" came a quick reply from Chris. "When that robot thingy attacked you, was you scared? I woulda been," Jill enquired. Chris and Jill were in the backyard of the house they lived in with Melody. It was equipped with a swing set, a sandbox, several trees excellent for climbing and a small pond. Upon hearing this, Chris jumped over a sand-fortress he had been building and out of the sandbox. He thumped his chest triumphantly. "No way," he bragged. Jill eyed him suspiciously. "Then how come you were so worried and scared- sounding when the bubble appeared?" "I wasn't scared, just surprised. And if I had beaten the robot, the bubble might still trap me so I needed you ta get Tails. That robot wasn't so tough anyways! If you and Tails had got there late, I woulda been ok. I'd punch that robot right in the face!" He threw a punch at an imaginary robot, lost his balance and fell down. He quickly pushed himself up, ignoring the fact that Jill was laughing her head off. He continued to brag. "That robot was lucky that I was trapped in a little place like that. If we had more room, I woulda spin-dashed him just like Sonic!" "You can do that?" Jill asked, astonished. "Yeah! I've been practicing. Look!" Chris took a few steps backwards, making room for him to run, then leapt forwards a few paces. Jill took a few steps away to watch. Chris curled up into all ball, like all hedgehogs can, and rolled along the ground. Suddenly the curled Chris jumped into the air as if it had bumped into a rock. The hedgehog cried out "OW! I think I hit something!" Slowed down by the bump, he stopped and uncurled, rubbing the back of his head. Jill ran towards him. "That wasn't a spin-dash, Chris! You only rolled! See, I can do that too. She demonstrated to prove her point, rolling smoothly unlike her brother. Getting up, she noticed that Chris was still rubbing his head. "...Are you okay?" she asked worriedly. "I'm fine..." the young hedgehog answered weakly. I don't think I hit a rock, though." He put his hand out and opened it. In his hand was a small metal ball about the diameter of an old-fashioned bottle cap. One side was brown – the same shade as Chris's fur, and had small lumps that seemed to serve as camouflage against the hedgehog's spikes. The other side was a silver, metallic color, and had three claws protruding from it. In the middle of the three claws was a right light that was blinking steadily. The claws were each holding one of Chris's spikes. "Ooh, weird!" Jill exclaimed. "What is it?" "I dunno." "It pulled your spikes off. Didn't it hurt?" Chris was studying the object in his left hand while he robbed the spot it had been clinging to with his right. "It didn't pull my spikes off – it cut them. And pulling spikes out doesn't really hurt anyway," he added, pulling a spike from his back. "Remember our Prickle Promise? That didn't hurt." "Oh yeah! I remember. It didn't hurt... hey, I bet Tails'll know what that thing is! Why don't we go show it to him?" "Good idea! Let's go! ...but first, let me get some ice. I bumped my head when I rolled," Chris said, wincing as he patted his head. The young brother and sister ran into the house to get some ice.

"Echidna sighted. Force field activated." Knuckles the Echidna lay asleep, dreaming of giant black robots chasing him. Chaos Emeralds powered them, so he couldn't hurt them. Every time he was about to escape from the dreaded machines, the evil image of Dr. Eggman would pop up out of nowhere and block his way. Upon hearing the robotic voice, however, Knuckles awoke and jumped out of his hammock in fright. In the air above him was a robot he had never seen before. It was a little larger than a coconut and almost the same shape except for the fact that it was split into two parts. The "head" was gyrating in the opposite direction that the bottom was. Spikes were spinning around a glowing sphere in between the two main parts rapidly. Suddenly, with a loud BEEEEP, a white laser beam emitted from each one of the spinning spikes, creating an arc around the echidna. As the spikes spun, the beams remained while new ones were created, making a shell around Knuckles not unlike what had surrounded Chris. A strange warmth radiated from it, and the Guardian was inclined to touch it. Not afraid to try anything, Knuckles prodded it with his left hand, expecting it to give him a mild shock or merely act as a wall; Eggman's force fields normally did this. What happened to Knuckles next completely surprised him: as if it were nothing, the tip of his hand had simply evaporated – it was GONE! "AUUUGGHH! MY HAND!!!" Knuckles cried out in pain. Luckily, he had not put his entire hand into the field – he would have lost the whole thing. The echidna stared at his hand. The glove had actually not been damaged at all... the force field had only destroyed Knuckles's actual hand. How could that be possible? Knuckles ripped the glove off, ignoring the pain as much possible, and looked at the end of his mitten-like hand. It wasn't sizzling; it wasn't hot; it didn't even look burnt. This couldn't be possible – normal lasers burned things. The echidna's hand bled freely. When Knuckles saw this, it scared him. Guardians normally heal quickly, and no cut ever resulted in heavy blood loss. How could this be? Angry at himself for not knowing what was happening and the force field for injuring him, Knuckles took a stone from the ground and hurled it at the robot floating outside of the force field. The rock sailed right through the sphere and dug into the machine's side. Strangely, the field had not destroyed the store. Even more odd was that when the robot was hit, it fell through its force field right at Knuckles's feet without a scratch on it – except for the one created by the rock. Knuckles was surprised at this – why had the field destroyed the tip of his hand, yet his glove, the rock and the robot had gone through it as though it didn't exist?

Tails lay against the wall, fearing for his life, while the spider inched closer to him. It seemed to be hesitant to continue attacking the fox. Still it continued, although it had greatly decreased its pace. It crawled up the fox's body, making Tails shudder each time the spiny legs touched him. The Spyder-bot curled one leg around the fox's neck and began to squeeze... Soon Tails was unable to breathe. He whimpered weakly and could do nothing but watch the robot murder him.
When Tails was about to pass out, the robot holding him shuddered and quickly released the fox. It dashed up to the computer once again and plugged itself in. Tails watched it curiously, regaining strength with each breath he took. Sonic's face appeared on the computer monitor!
"Tails! I'm glad you're okay!" The image of Sonic spoke, facing Tails as best it could from the two-dimensional screen.
"Sonic? What's going on?" Tails coughed. "You're alive!?"
Sonic cleared his throat, although there was no need to thanks to him being on the computer. "It's a long story. Just sit back - okay, you're already sitting back - and listen up.

"Just before Eggman's Armageddon went off, I managed to jump onto Eggman's escape ship and make my way inside. He snuck up on me, though, and when he grabbed me, his touch alone was able to roboticize me. I had to stop him at any cost, so before I lost my free will like all of the Doc's victims, I set my robot body to self-destruct. The explosion was immensely powerful - you must have felt it from all the way over here - and it completely destroyed Eggman's base. The Doc seems to make his 'bots especially well when he roboticizes by hand. The explosion didn't destroy me entirely, and I was the source of the explosion! The pieces of my robot body were scattered everywhere, but my memory chip was still intact. with a lack of materials, Eggman asked his remaining robots to forage at the blast site for any surviving pieces that could be reused. I guess they used my pieces to build this spyder-bot. They reprogrammed me, and here I am now! I think seeing the face of an old friend made me remember who I was. Anyway, I'm glad to be me again - or at least, as close to me as possible right now."

Tails was amazed by this story. Could Sonic, his hero, his best friend, the planet's champion, really be back? And it was all thanks to Eggman! This was fantastic! "Sonic, this is great! Do you know what we can do to Eggman now? You can be a double-agent, giving fake information to the Egghead and bringing us his plans!" He stood up, now recovered from the electric shock. "Do you know anything about Dr. Eggman's 'Sigma Machine'? The one that's in pieces spread across the world?" Tails asked.
The on-screen Sonic thought for a moment. "Sorry, bud. I can go check it out, though. Do you think I should?"
"Of course! Be careful, though. We don't want our cover blown. We're finally going to defeat Eggman!"
The Sonic-Spyder-bot unplugged itself from the computer, used a stringy metal leg to salute Tails, and sneaked out the door. The young fox watched him leave, eyes shining.

Chapter IV

Knuckles sat on the grass, fidgeting, trying to think of a way to escape from the enigmatic force field. He had done his best to wrap his wound with pieces of his glove in hopes of stopping the blood loss, but it hadn't worked. He then tied the glove tightly around his wrist - this was no easy task with only one hand, and no actual fingers, at that. This made him lose the feeling in his hand, but it at least slowed the bleeding by cutting his arm's circulation greatly. This was obviously no normal injury; hopefully, Hidden City's hospital would be able to help him.
That is, assuming that the echidna could manage to escape the force field and make it all way there in his current condition. With only one functioning hand and his heavy blood loss, Knuckles wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight if one of Eggman's machines showed up. Suddenly, he realized something.
The other Islanders! They still didn't know about Eggman's machines! They would be completely unprepared if Eggman's mechanical army came!
With no other options, Knuckles decided to do what he did best: he attempted to dig his way out, injured hand or not, hoping against hope that the force field didn't extend underground.

Jill skipped up the stairs to Tails's house, clutching the device Chris had found tightly. She walked through the doorway without knocking - the door had been open, anyway - and towards the computer lab. Tails was almost always in there working on some project. as expected, the fox was plugging away at his computer again, looking for whatever. Jill didn't understand most of what Tails did with his machine. She called his name to get his attention.
Without turning around, Tails said hello. He pressed a few keys on the keyboard, received a beep of confirmation , and stood up from his seat. He walked over to Jill and kneeled down to meet her eye-to-eye. "Hi, Jill. Guess what?" he said excitedly. He then noticed the blinking object she was holding. "What do you have there?" he asked.
Jill held out the flashing device, gesturing for him to take it. "Chris found it stuck to him. What do you think it is?"
Tails took the item and held it close to his eyes, examining it. "I've seen one of these before," he commented. "This is a tracking device." Noting Jill's young age and confused look, he asked "do you know what a tracking device is?"
"Tracking devices are machines used to tell someone or something where something else is. Whoever put this on Chris knew exactly where he was until it came off. Speaking of your brother, where is he now?"
"He's at home, sitting down with ice on his head."
"Why? What happened?"
"He bumped his head when he tried to spin-dash like Sonic." (Tails stifled a laugh when he heard this.) "The tracking thingy was on his head and it bumped him up when he rolled," Jill explained.
"Is he okay?"
"Good. At any rate, we don't want anyone to know where this city is," Tails said. Tails pulled a hammer from a drawer in his desk, put the tracking device on the table and smashed it.

Half a mile away, a spyder-bot stopped walking, shuddered, then continued on as if nothing had happened.

Melody's drawing was now complete, and to her surprise, it was in photographic detail. Although she had not noticed its presence at all, the azure blue glow emitting from her ring and the huge sapphire had faded with her last pencil stroke. The hedgehog gazed at her work, completely astounded by the fact that she had actually created it. Amazed yet proud of the drawing, she picked it up, slipped it into a protective folder, and walked towards the door of her home to show it to her art critic, Tails. Chris stopped her before she reached the door. He was holding an ice pack to his head.
"Mellie, I hurted myself," Chris said.
"Oh! Hey! Chris, I didn't know you were here. What happened?" Melody asked.
"Oh... I just bumped my head. I'm okay."
"You already got an ice pack. That's good. I'm glad you're okay," Melody said, rubbing his head. "Look! I made a new drawing! What do you think?" she asked, holding the photographic sketch for Chris to behold. He studied the drawing for a moment.
"I don't like it," he said, frowning.
"What? Why not?"
"'Cuz Eggman's hurting Sonic." Melody understood this. "Well, yeah... but Sonic's going to win! Really! I'll even draw another picture where Sonic beats Eggman."
Chris nodded, still upset by the picture.
"Let's go see Tails," Melody offered. "I wanted to show him the picture anyway.
"I was gonna go see him, too. Let's go!

-Later that night-

Tails lay in bed, snoring softly, his broken alarm clock flashing 12:00 over and over again. It seemed to be the only thing he couldn't fix. The drawing Melody had created had surprised him - how could she have known that Sonic had been roboticized? He dismissed it as coincidence; there could be no other explanation. He still decided to tell her about Sonic's current state later; bringing it up right then would make it seem like he was making it up.
BAMBAMBAM. A knocking on Tails's door awakened him. He lifted his head drowsily, mumbled something and dropped his head onto his pillow again.
"Mr. Prower! Wake up!"
Tails forced himself to get out of bed. He stumbled over a few mechanical parts littered on the floor and made his way to the door. He opened it up and squinted as a flashlight shone on his face.
"Wazzap....?" he said sleepily. A police officer was standing at his door.
"Officer Cloud, sir, and let me say it's an honor to meet you. I've heard so much about you, and-"
"Nice to meet you, too,but what are you doing here in the middle of the night?" Tails yawned.
"Sorry, sir,"the officer apologized, "but I bring you bad news. Your friend Knuckles... he doesn't have a last name... Knuckles was found in the forest bleeding heavily not long ago. He's in the hospital now, but his condition hasn't gotten any better. I'm sorry. You should go see him."
The news of his friend's injury woke Tails up completely. He flew off towards the hospital without saying a word to Officer Cloud, who watched with awe as he soared away.

"Knuckles...? Knuckles! What happened?" Tails cried, running into the room Knuckles was in after entering two others by mistake. The echidna was in bed and his face was pale. He turned his head to see his visitor. He looked as if he were ready to pass out, and Melody and an unknown doctor, who were already in the room when Tails came in, looked extremely worried. The doctor spoke for Knuckles.
"Knuckles has sustained a very unusual injury: the tip of his hand has been cut off. Normally this wouldn't leave our friend here in such a state - especially since Knuckles is a Guardian, and from what I've heard, they heal extremely quickly - but for some reason, we can't get the bleeding to stop. The wound actually seems to be drawing blood towards it, as if it wanted to drain him completely. If nothing is done soon, Knuckles will die of blood loss. The only option we have left is to amputate his hand in hopes that the blood-drawing will stop then."
When Knuckles heard this, he cried out "NO!" then fell back into his bed. The doctor was confused.
"Knuckles sort of values the use of his hands," Melody explained.
"I'm afraid we have no other choice, though," the doctor said grimly. "What did this to you, anyway, Knuckles?" she asked.
"One of... Eggman's... machines..." the echidna moaned. Simply yelling seemed to have tired him out. At this rate, he wouldn't last long.
Tails snapped his fingers, which was was fairly hard to do since he was wearing gloves. "That's it!" he exclaimed. "Eggman's machine! Wait here, Knuckles!" Tails cried, as if the echidna had the strength to do otherwise. He ran out of the room. The doctor watched him leave. "Well, I suppose we'd better wait until he gets back to perform an operation on Knuckles," she said.
Melody, who was sitting by Knuckles's bed, held his injured hand in her hands. "What happened to you..?" she whispered, not expecting him to answer. Suddenly the sapphire on her ring began to glow brightly, and in an instant, Melody saw everything that had happened to Knuckles since the injury. She witnessed his hand being partially disintegrated by the force field, him digging through the hole, him gliding towards Hidden City, then him falling towards earth and being found by two civilians...
Melody came back to reality. Knuckles and the doctor were both looking at her oddly.
"Are you feeling well?" the doctor asked.
"Um... yeah... I'm fine... I think... Knuckles was unconcious when he was brought here?"
The doctor nodded. "Oh, yes, but he awoke when we hooked him up to the life-support systems."
"I see."
Tails then rushed in, pushing a cart holding a large machine on it.The fox's expression was one of a person who had just helped to solve a puzzle.
The device he had brought in was an RX - 2600.

A roboticizer.

Chapter V

The roboticizer was Dr. Eggman's single most dangerous weapon throughout the war - next to the Armageddon, of course. As a matter of fact, its creation marked the beginning of the war. It enabled Eggman to turn the flesh and blood of organic creatures into machines hardwired to serve the evil scientist. The only drawback was that they took an immense amount of energy to operate. The more advanced the roboticizer, the more powerful the resulting robot, but of course more energy would be needed to transform the creature. It is still unknown how the scientist was able to devise a machine able to create unique machines out of every person, let alone form military-grade weapons from nothing, but as a rule this mysterious device was feared by all. Not only did the mysterious machine change their physical form, but it almost invariably destroyed the mind of the victim, leaving them as only a shell that could do nothing but follow Eggman's instructions. It is said that one would lose his or her free will because when one is roboticized, that person's soul is forced from the body. Not alive, yet not truly dead, the soul is isolated from the rest of the universe... it is worse than death. This theory has not been proven, of course, and sceptics ask how this could be possible if people can be deroboticized and still retain sanity. As for roboticization, almost any former creature can be returned to his or her natural state. The only exceptions are if something in the robot body has been replaced (a battery, for example, or a processing ship); in that case, they are stuck in that form forever.

"A roboticizer!? What do you plan to do with that thing?" Melody asked. Like most hedgehogs, she was not exactly fond of the machine.
"I've got a way to help Knuckles," Tails said matter-of-factly. "If we use this robotcizer--"
"Oh, there's no way you're gonna use that trash heap on me," Knuckles interrupted. "I won't be downgraded to a machine."
"I can't believe you would even think of using that - that thing on the Guardian of the Floating Island!" the doctor exclaimed, wanting both to be a part of this and to be paid for her work. Melody just stared at the machine, intrigued by what Tails was thinking of doing.
"No! No!" the fox fried, shaking his head. "I've modified this roboticizer - me and Sonic stole it from Eggman on one of our missions - so that it'll only partially roboticize you. Plus, it's powered by your organic body - don't worry, it only uses as much energy as the roboticized part did when it was natural. You'll also have complete control over it. If we roboticize just your hand, it'll stop the bleeding. What do you say, Knuckles?"
The echidna looked at his bleeding hand, his face now much more pale than before. "Wouldn't a metal hand be too heavy to move around?" he asked.
"Oh, not at all. This machine uses very lightweight metals. In fact, it might even be lighter than your hand is now."
"And you've tested it? You know it works?"
"Well... I haven't really had opportunities like this, you know. I did test it on some bugs I captured. They came out fine."
"Does it hurt to be roboticized?"
"Uhm... I hear it feels like being microwaved. It doesn't hurt at all afterwards, though."
Knuckles sighed. "Well, I guess I don't have any other choice. Fine, then. Use the robot thing on my arm."

Within a few minutes, Knuckles was put into the contraption, which ironically looked something like a metal coffin with buttons on it. Tails had explained that the machine had to be airtight to work, and therefore Knuckles had to get completely inside the roboticizer. He slide inside, the door was closed (the last thing Knuckles saw was the doctor and Melody wishing him good luck) and the echidna was immersed in total darkness. He heard the machine starting up with high-pitched humming noises. He waited anxiously, like people do before having surgery or getting a tooth pulled. '
Then he felt it.
It felt as if every fiber of his being was spontaneously exploding. Knuckles was sure his body was going to tear apart, the pain was so severe.
Then there was nothing.

Knuckles awoke, feeling somewhat different, to the sounds of Melody screaming, Tails yelling and loud sparks which were apparently coming from the roboticizer itself. The echidna suddenly felt a wave of claustrophobia sweep over him and he panicked, banging his arms and legs against the walls of the machine. It bent under the force of his wild attacks on it. Knuckles, determined to get out of the machine, proceeded to punch the ceiling of the machine. He noticed that his left hand no longer hurt, and with the strength of both arms a hole was soon torn in the roboticizer. Melody and Tails stopped screaming. Knuckles widened the hole just by pulling it apart, and when he stuck his head out of the machine, Melody gasped.
"Tails, what have you done...?" she whispered.
Knuckles turned his head towards Tails, who was on the side of the machine opposite of Melody. The fox was watching him with a look of shock, horror, sadness and guilt. Knuckles, now thoroughly confused, lifted himself completely out of the machine and asked what was going on.
"Th--um... look..." was all Tails could say. He pointed across the room, hand shaking, to a mirror. Knuckles jumped down from the machine and walked over to the mirror. What he saw shocked him completely: for the most part, his body was a metallic red; it was no longer flexible, but a stiff sheet of some kind of metal. His eyes were completely yellow; there was no distinction between the pupil, the iris and the "whites" of his eyes. The area surrounding his mouth was now silvery and sharp, and his dreadlocks looked as though they would hurt to touch; they were covered in spikes. His hands were bigger, the extra-large knuckles on either hand were at least three inches bigger, and the place where he had perviously been cut now hand wires poking out instead of blood. There was a small hatch in the back of his head, seemingly for input/output.
He was a machine. His heart, stomach, brain and lungs had been transformed into batteries, generators, vents and processing units. He was no longer natural.
Knuckles swiveled around and faced Tails "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO ME!?" he thundered. The fox backed away from him quickly. Knuckles stormed towards him, pushing Melody to the side and knocking the roboticizer against the wall. He dashed up to Tails, grabbed him by the neck and held him in the air. Tails realized that this was the second time in a short period that he had been choked by a roboticized friend.
"CHANGE ME BACK!" Knuckles boomed.
"Y-you broke the.... roboticizer..." Tails whimpered. "Listen... this was an accident... but you were against being roboticized because you didn't want to lose control of yourself. You don't want to hurt your friends... take control of yourself!"
The robot Knuckles stared at Tails for a few moments, then he dropped him. He then ran to the wall of the hospital room with a window, smashed it open with a single strike of his metal hand and jumped out. Jets flared in his feet and he flew away.
Melody, hurt from being knocked into the wall by Knuckles, pulled herself up weakly and asked Tails why the echidna had come out a complete robot.
"I don't know," he said sadly. "I hope Knuckles can cope with this sudden change. He really mutilated the roboticizer, but if he cooperates we may be able to find another one to change him back."


Knuckles sat at the edge of a cliff, watching the world below and contemplating his new existence. Was he no better than Eggman's mindless machines now?
Suddenly everything vanished. The robot echidna could not see or hear anything but a few clicks.
Then Sonic appeared!
"Heh... Knux. I knew it was you. I'd recognize those bright red dreadlocks anywhere," he said, grinning.
"Sonic? What? But you're... and everything else is gone... what's going on here?" Knuckles asked.
Sonic pulled a magic ring from nowhere and twirled it around. "Oh, I'm not dead," he said, "but I'm not exactly alive, either." He told Knuckles the same story he had told Tails. "Right now I'm plugged into your CPU - that's why I can talk to you like this, with my natural form. You're not used to being a machine yet, I guess, since you didn't know what was happening.
"I don't want to stay like this. I really don't... I can't trust myself like this." Knuckles said.
"Why not?"
"Well, for one, all of my memory is on some kind of chip, right? That could easily be changed or erased. Then I would have no recollection of ever knowing you, or of being a Guardian! The floating Island would go unprotected and I wouldn't even care. I don't want to lose myself... my friends wouldn't recognize me as a robot, either. Plus, since I'm just pieces of metal now, I'll never be able to eat or drink or smell again! My senses are weaker and I doubt I'll be able to use Chaos energy like this."
Sonic thought for a moment, then he spoke: Dude, you need to calm down a bit. Don't worry so much. You have a lot of friends; we'll do our best to keep you yourself. I bet Tails can find a way to turn you back, too -- just give it some time. And I recognized you, didn't I? Your friends will know it's you if they're really your friends. I know it sucks to not be able to eat, but you're still better off than me - look!" A Spyder-bot appeared in front of Sonic, then is started to crawl around the hedgehog. He gestured towards it. "This is my body," he said grimly. "I can't do anything with it."
Knuckles nodded. "You're a lot less lucky than me, I guess."
"Oh! Shoot! I almost forgot!" Sonic cried. "As a Spyder-bot, I can get info from Eggman's base. It seems that the robots are planning to attack the Floating Island in full force soon!"
"WHAT!? Knuckles cried. "Why didn't you tell me before!? Unplug yourself! I've got to defend the Island!"
"I'll call Tails for backup," Sonic offered. Before Knuckles could respond, Sonic had disappeared and the echidna's sight was restored. He noticed that nearly no time had passed during his conversation with Sonic, then he realized that computers can think much more quickly than organic people. He stood up in his robot body, watched a Spyder-Bot run away, then he flew towards the Island.
Some distance away, Tails received an E-mail from Sonic.