Whew its here at last! Sorry if this was quite a wait but wanted this submission as close to perfect as I could get it before uploading to thanks to everyone for your reviews I LOVED them! Glad you all liked super sonic (Believe me it was bloody hard, and still is, to get his character right) and that this story still has your approval.
(sorry this is short but in a rush at the moment to get this on the site)
As before this is an 'M' and thus has scenes of gore and swearing though no sex in this part unfortunately (Well hard to fit such scenes into a war zone).
As ever Sonic belongs to Sega not me (If it did I'd be spending a lot more money then I currently have which is none grrr) and hope I never get sued for this
So without further ado here's chapter 9 part 2! Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 9: Part 2- The siege of Mobodoon
Everyone was crowded in the cockpit as they silently stared at the city they were drawing closer to.
The rising smoke and flames that were growing larger as they approached filled the group with mixed feelings of dread and sorrow as they contemplated what they would see.
"Just another few seconds" Tails murmured uneasily.
The group didn't answer though the tenseness tightened like a coiled spring as they edged forward waiting for their first clear view of the city.
And then the Cyclone was rising above the large dunes and the great city of Mobodoon was laid out before their horror-struck eyes.
"My god…" Shadow gasped as he looked out at the devastation, his ears pricked as the sound of the explosions and chilling shrieking reached him and he shuddered at the unpleasant noise.
Sonia looked out at the ruined city her face grim and features tight as she wrestled down her fear and focused on her anger, beside her Knuckles eyes narrowed into slits as he stared silently at the sight before him. He had never seen such devastation before.
The Cyclone halted and hung in the air like a hovering insect as it hesitated about a mile from the city, looking down at the desert and sprawling metropolis below it the scene was one that the occupants of the craft would never forget.
The great city spread for miles in all directions, a gigantic organism of steel and stone with great towers dotting the landscape and white buildings and trees as far as the eye could see.
But now the towers of whiteness and jewels had been toppled and the skies were filled with blackened stumps of crumbling buildings. The streets filled with rubble and swarming machines as the wounds of the structures slowly brought them tumbling down even as the hedgehogs watched.
Fires grew like beacons all over the city and in the north a great inferno had engulfed a large portion of the industrial district. All the fire was sending great plumes of black smoke into the sky and an oppressive black cloud squatted over the city adding to the tense atmosphere.
The parks of trees and fountains that dotted the city were now blackened and scorched fields, the trees bare and dead from flame and poisonous fumes. The people who would walk the tranquil paths now dead and gone and in their place monsters of metal prowled the paths.
Even more sickening and terrible then the devastation of the inner city was the horrible scene just outside the city limits.
A great wall surrounded the city of Mobodoon over three stories tall that ringed the entire city. Now the wall was burnt and broken and gaping holes in its masonry dotted its length through which the robotic horde poured through like a metal swarm of insects.
The group looked out at the surrounding desert and saw thousands upon thousands of machines patiently waiting in their formations as their comrades stormed the city. As they watched a group close to the walls received orders to advance and raced towards a nearby breach with cold precision.
"I've never seen… how could he have got such a massive force?" Manic whispered in awe at the scale of the robotic army.
"Years or preparation and planning… and probably he's thrown nearly everything he has at the city" Shadow answered grimly.
Sonic leaned forward and gently tapped Tails on the shoulder, the young fox started in surprise as Sonic quietly said in his ear, "Lets get moving Tails, around the city to the co-ordinates and out of range of the army if you can"
The fox nodded silently wiping away his tears for his home and jamming his goggles over his eyes as he took the stick. With a deep calming breath the fox urged the Cyclone to move and the machine carefully began to creep around the city's perimeter.
The Cyclone silently flew in a path towards what the occupants hoped would be a safe part of the city, though with all the machines inside and out of the walls that seemed like wistful thinking.
The group prepared for battle, checking their equipment and supplies so as to avoid looking at the damage to the once grand city as they curved around it.
Sonia summoned her keyboard and carefully checked it over while Knuckles took a few practice swipes at the air limbering himself up.
Manic rushed into the cockpit and began stuffing medical supplies and some explosives into a backpack, muttering to himself as he considered whether to take C4 or thermal grenades.
And Shadow gently reached across and took Sonics hand giving it a squeeze of comfort, he noted with some worry that Sonic didn't answer though he did glance at him for a moment then went back to staring at the city.
"It would be stupid to ask how you are so I'll settle for will you be ok?"
Sonics face hardened as he quietly answered, "No I won't Shadow, I don't think I ever will be"
Shadows crimson eyes grew heavy with unease and he gently reached for Sonics face and turned him to look at him.
The dark hedgehog frowned at the look of hatred on his loves face which quickly vanished into confusion when he saw he was looking at Shadow, "Wha-" he began.
Shadow shook his head; "This isn't the way Sonic… giving into hate is not the answer," the dark hedgehog said softly.
"You'd be the expert eh?" Sonic said with a sneer, which he instantly regretted at Shadows hurt expression.
"I'm sorry I didn't mean-" he began but he was stopped by Shadows finger pressing at his lips.
"Yes I would know Sonic… a thirst for revenge and destruction will leave you with nothing but shattered hope and an empty life, trust me I know"
The demonic eyes bored into Sonics as Shadow hissed, "You're changing Sonic and you said yourself that you didn't want to but no one can stop the change but you"
Sonic hung his head for a moment then looked up with teary eyes at his love, "I know Shadow, you're right its just… its so hard not to think such things" he said with revulsion.
Shadow smirked and thumped Sonic on the arm playfully, "Since when did you ever give up on anything just because it was hard Sonic? Stop being a wuss and show some of the stubbornness that you're renowned for!"
Sonic chuckled and tilted his head to one side considering something, "You know I don't know what I'd do without you Shadow… I'd probably be dead already by now" he mused.
Shadow eyed Sonic wryly, "Enough with the doom and gloom Sonic there's gonna be enough of that later"
Sonic smiled and reached out for Shadows cheek and tenderly caressed it, "Then how's about I love you Shadow? That cheerful enough?"
Shadow smiled back, "It's a start" he whispered.
Sonics eyes looked between Shadows for a moment then he lunged for Shadow and kissed him hungrily, the dark hedgehog squeaked in surprise but eagerly kissed back and wrapped his arms around his mate.
Shadow groaned as Sonics lips and tongue played with his own yet he could feel desperation behind Sonics kiss and it worried him slightly. Then the cobalt hedgehog was pulling back tugging on Shadows lips as he did so and laughing as Shadow leaned forward but Sonic stayed out of reach.
Shadow felt a little dizzy as his eyes looked uncertainly into Sonic bright green-red ones, "Sonic wha-"
This time Sonic reached forward and gently touched Shadows lips to silence him, the blue hedgehog wore a loving yet sad expression that Shadow tried in vain to understand.
"Whatever happens Shadow remember this… I love you, I love you more then anything even myself and even beyond death I will continue to love you" he promised serenely.
Shadow frowned feeling confused, a little scared, and again tried to talk but Sonic shushed him, "Just remember that ok?" his mate begged of him.
"Hey we're at the co-ordinates guys! It's time to enter the city!" Tails yelled as he changed course.
Sonic smiled and moved away from Shadow to stand by Tails with his back to Shadow, the others filed into the room glancing at the dark hedgehog questioningly but Shadow was in no mood to answer their stares.
He suddenly had the acute feeling that something very horrible and tragic was going to happen today.
And that the hedgehog he loved was directly involved.
But what worried him most as he took up station beside Sonic as the Cyclone flew over the great walls into Mobodoon was that his instincts were screaming two different verdicts about Sonic.
Was Sonic a victim of whatever catastrophe was gonna happen?
Or was he going to be the cause of it?
The Cyclone raced into the city soaring over the broken walls and accelerating over the rubble and debris that most of the city's buildings had been reduced to. Many swatbots watched silently as the helicopter flew above them and some tried to shoot down the craft but thankfully their shots did not have the range or the speed to catch the Cyclone.
"Shouldn't take long to reach headquarters" Tails said as he aimed the Cyclone towards the white tower in the centre of the city, the young fox gritted his teeth as he swerved to dodge the plasma shots firing sporadically into the air around them.
"The resistance army has not yet fallen" Shadow said as he pointed towards the explosions and erected fortifications around the blocks surrounding the white tower.
"Guys even if we teleport the city won't the bots already in the city limits just be transported with us?" Manic said with a worried expression.
Tails shook his head, "The teleporter emits a massive amount of energy in a several mile radius when it is activated, among other forms EMP energy is emitted too so with luck the majority of the machines will be destroyed once Mobodoon teleports"
Shadow looked out to the devastated city and said solemnly, "I just hope the city can recover from this"
Sonias' eyes flashed with determination as she answered the dark hedgehog; "Of course it will Shadow. As long as the resistance stands and it still has warriors to fight it will never be beaten" she said with pride.
Staring at the plumes of smoke and fire around them and the explosions ahead Shadow had to wonder if there would be any warriors still standing once this was over. He wisely kept this thought to himself.
"Unidentified airship state your allegiance and purpose here" A gruff voice barked from the com making the group start in surprise, Sonia recovered first and leaned over towards the microphone and answered, "This is Sonia and my family we're here to help you out if you don't recall?"
"Sonic underground? We were not aware of your approach, still you couldn't have arrived at a better time we need the chaos emeralds you have right now" The voice said with tired relief.
The group exchanged glances and Sonic added his own voice to the conversation, "Didn't general Malagner tell you we were coming?" Sonic asked perplexed.
There was silence from the com and the groups unease increased as they heard quiet muttering between several people on the other side of the transmission. Finally the first voice said, "Sonic underground I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but… general Malagner and the entire command have been killed" he sadly revealed.
A shocked silence filled the cyclone as the group absorbed this terrible news, in all their minds the thoughts 'how could this be possible' pounded in their heads.
Seeing that the siblings were too numbed to talk and that Tails was trying not to cry as wet trickles flowed from his eyes Shadow quickly asked the question, "How did this happen?" He demanded.
The voice coughed and they heard a rustling very much like papers being consulted, "We're not exactly sure how the robot forces entered the command centre without being detected, the soldier said hesitantly, we only became aware of the problem when transmissions with headquarters stopped about half an hour ago"
The hedgehogs listened intently as there was more rustling sound from the speakers, "When we sent a strike group to investigate we found that the headquarters has been infiltrated by two score of elite swatbots and they hold the command level of the tower. Even worse a cadre of chaosbots have taken the teleporter control facility in headquarters subsections and we have been unable to remove them so far"
The group all bore the same looks of anger and unease as they considered the grimness of their situation, the resistance army no longer had the brilliance of Malagner to lead it and now its only means of escape was in the hands of the enemies greatest machines.
"Here's an idea, Sonic said with a chilling coldness to his voice, lets storm that building and kill every fucking machine in there"
"Sonic if the soldiers couldn't retake the building then-" Sonia began hesitantly.
"Every last one Sonia! I'll go in there alone if I have to and I won't come out till every robot from the lobby to the command room is scrap metal" Sonia yelled in hatred.
His eyes seemed to glow with hate as he whispered, "And I'll find the monster that killed uncle standing over his body, and I'll rip its false heart right from its metal chest" the young hedgehog hissed.
Knuckles eyed the blue hedgehog nervously and tried to bite back his growl as Manic jabbed a finger at his brothers' chest his own eyes narrowed in annoyance, "Listen bro you ain't doing that 'lone ranger' shit cause lets face it you're crap at it!"
The green hedgehog waved an arm at the others as he glared at his brother, "We'll retake that building Sonic, but we'll do it together! That's why we've stayed alive this long because we work together!"
"Manic is right Sonic, we can only succeed if we act as a team, Shadow softly spoke. His eyes stared into Sonics blazing ones as he whispered, "Don't to it this way Sonic… don't forget you have us"
Sonic looked between his friends and siblings their hurt and worried gazes finally making him see some sense, the speedster sighed and shook his head clearing his rage before giving a weak smile to the others.
"Sorry guys… I'm just pissed… Uncle shouldn't have died," he said sadly.
"We know Sonic… and we will avenge him" Sonia promised.
"Cyclone you've almost reached our front lines, change course to angle three-two-four for eight yards then return to original heading, that should take you out of rage of the artillery that's trying to redecorate our defences" the soldier yelled over the intercom. In the background the hedgehogs could indeed hear the sound of cannon fire.
"Roger that course changing" Tails croaked fighting off his tears as he directed the Cyclone.
The group fell silent as they considered what to do now; it was Knuckles who broke the silence quickly scribbling a message and handing it to Sonia, clapping his huge hands as well to get the groups attention.
"He says 'The city does not have much time left so we cannot afford to argue amongst ourselves anymore. Perhaps we should split into two teams to take both objectives simultaneously? It is risky but I believe that we are capable of saving this place'" Sonia recited while the group listened attentively.
Shadow nodded thoughtfully, "You are right Knuckles time is against us so splitting up would be the best idea, but who should be in what teams?"
"Me and you can take the control room Shadow" Sonic answered without hesitation. Noticing Shadows and the groups unsure looks he grinned assuredly and said confidently, "Hey me and Shads have done stuff like this before, we can handle it guys!"
Sonia stepped forward a determined look on her haughty features, "Very well Sonic I will agree to that… only if Shadow agrees too" She said adamantly.
All eyes were on the ebony hedgehog and he hesitated to answer as his eyes stared into the pleading eyes of Sonic… those beautiful eyes that had a faint red tinge to them that had steadily been growing for hours.
He was still unsure about this whole situation; some inner voice was trying to warn him of something important. Something that if not realised soon would have drastic consequences for them all.
But he couldn't figure out what it was!
And now Sonic was asking for him to accompany him into a dangerous perhaps suicidal situation and just a few days ago Shadow would have eagerly agreed… but so much had happened recently and he had began to question those beautiful eyes of Sonics'.
He sighed and rubbed his hands distractedly along his spiked quills, in the end he loved Sonic more then his own life and would follow him to hell and back if necessary. Besides as long as Sonic was with him the dark warrior could protect his mate from whatever threatened him.
"We don't have time to argue… Sonic and I will assault the command levels of headquarters," Shadow said with forced calm.
Sonia looked uncertain but agreed and she began to talk to Knuckles and Manic about what to do in the underground, the two males following her lead without question.
Shadows eyes sought out Sonics and for a moment the two lovers looked silently at each other until Sonic stepped forward and lovingly pecked his mates cheek, "Thank you" he whispered into Shadows pointed ears.
The dark hedgehog shook his head and gently took Sonic into his arms staring down warningly into his loves eyes, "You don't leave my side Sonic, his voice brooking no arguments, we stick together whatever happens alright?"
Sonic nodded and leaned into his lover sighing when Shadow wrapped his arms around his smaller body in an almost desperate hug.
"We'll be ok Shadow, I promise"
Shadow didn't answer just hugged Sonic tighter and buried his head against Sonics hiding his eyes from his soul mate.
He felt something was going to happen soon, and he prayed to any deity that would listen that it did not involve the beautiful hedgehog in his arms.
Metal Shadow grinned as stamped on the corpse of a Mobodoon elite corps soldier who had foolishly challenged him and at that moment wished he had salvation glands so he could spit on the cooling body.
"Without the old man their tactics have gone down the pan" Michael said as he shouldered his rifle and smirked at the ruined bodies of several soldiers. He glanced at the diabolical machine covering the other entrance to the room and idly asked, "How much more cannon fodder are they gonna throw at us you think?"
Metal Shadow hissed and slashed at the body at his feet enjoying the way the flesh parted under the blade and congealing blood oozed from the words, "I c-a-r-e n-o-t h-o-w m-a-n-y t-h-e-y s-e-n-d, he spat hatefully, a-s l-o-n-g a-s t-h-e l-a-s-t t-o c-o-m-e a-r-e t-h-o-s-e m-I-s-e-r-a-b-l-e h-e-d-g-e—h-o-g-s!"
Michael shrugged and jerked a thump at the crackling monitors behind him, "You'll get your wish soon as they're on their way though with luck they'll get blasted out of the sky by the oh-so many tank bots around the resistance positions" Michael said with a hopeful expression.
Metal whirled on him shaking with frustration, "C-o-w-a-r-d! N-o-t-h-I-n-g w-o-u-l-d b-e b-e-t-t-e-r t-h-e-n t-o f-e-e-l a-g-a-I-n m-y b-l-a-d-e-s s-I-n-k-I-n-g I-n-t-o t-h-e-I-r f-r-a-I-l l-I-v-I-n-g f-l-e-s-h a-n-d t-o w-a-t-c-h t-h-e l-I-f-e d-I-e I-n t-h-e-I-r e-y-e-s!"
He pointed a blade at the glowering otter, "E-v-e-n y-o-u m-u-s-t s-u-r-e-l-y w-a-n-t t-o e-n-d t-h-e-I-r l-I-v-e-s y-o-u-r-s-e-l-f a-n-d w-a-t-c-h t-h-e-m d-I-e?" the robot demanded.
Michael snorted, "Don't get me wrong 'MS dash 2' I want to kill them just as much as you, but I would like to live through this battle and enjoy my position in Robotniks special collective"
Metal bridled at the 'MS/2', it being his number designation that he had yet to erase within Robotniks machine army, the number labelled him as just being another of Robotniks mindless machines and he was anything but that.
He fought down his anger and cocked his head considering the otter, "W-h-a-t o-f t-h-e h-e-d-g-e-h-o-g f-e-m-a-l-e S-o-n-I-a?" Metal asked wryly.
This got a reaction from the turncoat, he stiffened in anger for a moment and Metal wondered if the otter would fire on him so great was the anger in his eyes, 'let him try' the machine thought hopefully.
With force of will Michael shook his head and when he spoke his voice was tight with rage, "I gave her so many chances, so many entreaties, so many honest promises but she refused to see things my way"
"I told her the resistance is going down the drain and asked her to run away with me… away from both factions to some cabin in the middle of nowhere where we could live in peace"
Michael laughed bitterly, "But all I got was disgust no matter what I did, so I decided 'to hell with her' and went to someone who would see my value"
The traitor fingered his rifle as his eyes narrowed in hate; "now I don't give a shit what happens to her, she can burn with the rest of her 'precious' resistance"
Metal Shadow watched him carefully intrigued by the hate practically radiating from the life form; he began recording this moment as the otter continued.
"If she is captured and lives through this battle I'll show her how wrong she was to reject me… I'll make her beg for my mercy and scream until she can't scream no more"
The otter stared off into space for a moment a sick grin on his face as he was lost in his own world of pleasure and pain, Metal zoomed in on his face as the organic threw of his daydream and threw him a carefree grin.
"Besides if she dies I can take my pick of any hot girl in Robotniks cities, such is my right as an officer in his army," the otter said with glee.
Metal watched him for another few moments and then shook his head and returned to his position at the entrance… organic beings where governed by such pathetic impulses, Metal Shadow was glad that his robotic body wasn't under the command of disgusting base needs.
He twirled his blades idly and urged the hedgehogs to hurry up and meet his blades when he received a transmission from one of the tank groups surrounding the outlying blocks.
'MS/2-threat level one hedgehogs entering firing range-preparing to fire'
Metal quickly accessed his com system as he sent an urgent transmission to the tank units, 'Negative-orders-hold fire-allow level one hedgehogs and vehicle to pass unharmed-confirm command?'
There was a buzz of static and beeps as the squadron processed the orders then an almost hesitant reply from their command unit.
'Orders-terminate level one hedgehogs-core directive of lord Robotnik-allow level one hedgehogs to pass is breach of core directive-query?'
Metals synthetic hiss made Michael glance curiously at the robot as the machine punched a hole in the wall in anger.
'Damn these lesser machines why'd they have to go all protocol on me!' he thought in fury.
'Negative-Tank unit Beta-326 must obey orders from MS/2-failure to comply is breach of Robotnik directive 028- MS/2 orders is to hold fire-comply?'
More frenzied beeping from the machines and Metal hoped that the clash of commands would make them blow up before harming Shadow or the others, he wouldn't allow these foolish machines to ruin his plans when he was so close to ascension.
The reply from the command unit was now firm and void of uncertainty, 'Negative-Core directives of lord Robotnik cannot be overridden by MS/2-proceeding with core directives-eliminate threat level one hedgehogs'
Metal screeched in outrage and he slashed viciously around him with his blades as he cursed and swore at the stupidity of all lesser machines.
'Negative-Negative-MS/2 commander of invasion force-MS/2 commands Tank unit Beta-326 to hold fire and resume assault on resistance forces-Tank unit beta-326 must obey or be shutdown for treason by MS/2' Metal sent allowing some of his anger to show in the transmission.
However the threat of destruction meant nothing to the rigid programming of the tank bot and its reply sounded almost helpful as it sent back curtly, 'Following orders of lord Robotnik negative for treason-MS/2 protocols are in error-suggest maintenance when battle desists-Tank unit Beta-326 signing off'
Metal Shadow released a howl of outrage as he read the 'suggestive' reply from the tank unit. Ignoring the worried look that Michael was sending him and turning on his heel the robot strode into the centre of the command room.
"T-h-e r-e-s-I-s-t-a-n-c-e h-a-s m-a-d-e s-e-v-e-r-a-l s-u-c-c-e-s-s-f-u-l a-s-s-a-u-l-t-s o-n m-y a-r-m-y-s a-r-t-I-l-l-e-r-y p-o-s-I-t-I-o-n-s, I m-u-s-t c-o-n-c-e-n-t-r-a-t-e o-n c-o-m-m-a-n-d-I-n-g t-h-e-m f-o-r t-h-e t-I-m-e b-e-I-n-g a-n-d s-o y-o-u m-u-s-t d-e-f-e-n-d t-h-I-s r-o-o-m" Metal lied as he took cover behind the command consoles. He hoped the very real anger in his voice would sway the otter's suspicions and allow him to operate undisturbed.
Unfortunately the otter was an irritatingly curious member of his species, "I don't see anything on the monitors" he said carefully.
Metal glared hotly at the staring organic; "T-h-e r-e-s-I-s-t-a-n-c-e c-a-m-e-r-a-s d-o n-o-t s-h-o-w a-l-l o-u-r o-r-d-I-n-a-n-c-e p-o-s-I-t-I-o-n-s 'L-I-e-u-t-e-n-a-n-t'" he spat.
Michael smiled slightly, "Then why do the monitors not show any of the resistance forces moving towards gun positions or the officers issuing such commands?" he asked slyly.
Metal would have rolled his eyes in annoyance if he had eye sockets: instead he shook his head and dimmed his optics as if he was dismayed by Michael's stupidity.
"S-I-n-c-e y-o-u h-a-v-e b-e-e-n p-a-y-I-n-g s-o m-u-c-h 'a-t-t-e-n-t-I-o-n' t-o t-h-e m-o-n-I-t-o-r-s t-h-e-n y-o-u s-h-o-u-l-d h-a-v-e s-e-e-n t-h-a-t s-e-v-e-r-a-l h-a-v-e s-t-o-p-p-e-d r-e-c-e-I-v-I-n-g d-a-t-a? Metal pointed out disgustedly, c-l-e-a-r-l-y t-h-e r-e-s-I-s-t-a-n-c-e f-o-r-c-e-s h-a-v-e c-e-a-s-e-d m-a-n-y o-f t-h-e-I-r o-u-t g-o-I-n-g t-r-a-n-s-m-I-s-s-I-o-n-s d-u-e t-o o-u-r m-o-n-I-t-o-r-I-n-g o-f t-h-e-I-r o-w-n s-u-r-v-e-I-l-l-a-n-c-e s-y-s-t-e-m"
Michael frowned as he considered this, clearly the explanation made sense to him and he was disappointed to have failed to catch Metal in a wrong.
He snorted and hefted his rifle, "Fine get to work then and don't take ages, I'm not gonna cover your shiny ass forever" he said with his best surliness and moved to cover the entrances.
Metal watched him go with narrowed optics, "S-o-o-n y-o-u w-I-l-l r-e-g-r-e-t t-a-l-k-I-n-g t-o m-e I-n s-u-c-h a w-a-y" the machine quietly hissed.
Sitting down behind the console Metals' glowing eyes blinked out as he focused on his internal software and began constructing some new, and hopefully destructive, sub-routines to be transmitted without problem.
Nothing was going to ruin his great plan, not Michael, not Robotnik, and certainly not some lowly mechanical peons!
'I just hope that those damn hedgehogs don't get themselves killed on the way here… it would be most infuriating for them to die by anyone's hand but mine'
"We're almost there!" Tails yelled to his passengers as the Cyclone passed over the fighting below them. The helicopter swerving and dancing through the sky to dodge the many projectiles around them.
Shadow held on tight to the doorway he crouched in as the Cyclone executed another roll to avoid a bright flash of laser fire and the dark hedgehog was glad he hadn't eaten for hours.
Outside the buildings belched fire and smoke and the sound of explosions was near deafening as the machine army marched under them smashing through the resistance positions with withering firepower.
This was the front line and the relatively short distance of a kilometre ahead was dotted with soldiers and ordinance holding positions in the buildings and narrow streets.
Even with their commander gone and the robot army in the heart of the city Shadow was impressed with the ferocity and determination of the soldiers below.
It was then that a shrill whistle cut through the battlefield and the group looked around in alarm as the sound increased.
"Incoming!" Tails shouted as the fearfully glanced at his radar, two blips were racing towards the Cyclone with incredible speed.
"They must be missiles… Tails can you shoot them down?" Sonia asked grimly.
"I'm sorry but the cyclone is out of ammunition Sonia"
"Dude this is a war-copter! How come it ran out of ammo so quickly!"
"Because I haven't had the opportunity to reload the Cyclone and the mission to Robotropilous was meant to be a stealth mission so I didn't feel the need to come armed to the teeth Manic!" the young fox shouted back anxiously.
"We'll have to take them out ourselves" Sonic said quietly as he summoned his guitar, Shadow met his eyes and nodded in agreement as he picked up his red chaos emerald.
"Ok lets go" Sonia ordered and strode into the cargo room Sonic and Shadow following her.
The three hedgehogs paused for a moment as they saw the devastation and battles outside the Cyclone and Shadow shook his head sorrowfully as he contemplated how beautiful this city must have been before Robotnik scorched it.
The shrill whistle cut through the sky and two streaks of movement trailing black smoke swung into view, Shadows eyes narrowed into slits as he raised his weapon.
"Chaos spear!" he hissed and beams of golden light emerged from the chaos emerald scything into one of the distance missiles and a great explosion rent the sky.
Sonias' keyboard emitted a light sound and a burst of energy shot from the end of her weapon but missed the fast projectile.
"Its mine" Sonic stroked his guitar releasing a shrill sound and a blast of energy struck the speeding missile igniting it in a massive explosion.
"That's that dealt with" Shadow said smugly.
The brother and sister shot him appalled looks, "What?" he asked nervously.
"You've jinxed us now!"
"Nice one Shadow!"
The ultimate life snorted, "That's just silly, such things can't affect your life"
"Another three coming fast!" Manic yelled from the cockpit.
"Ok they were gonna shoot at us again anyway, this isn't my fault!" Shadow stammered as the blue and purple hedgehogs glared at him.
Another scream of movement and another three missiles shot into sight trailing after the Cyclone and swerving towards it.
The hedgehogs opened fire, Shadows Chaos spear hitting a missile with unerring accuracy again and the siblings taking the other two out with their own weapons.
"Any more?" Sonia yelled over the wind.
Tails anxiously checked his sensors, "Four this time! Two on both sides!"
Sonic and Shadow rushed to the other side of the Cyclone throwing open the side door and bracing themselves against the wind. Looking out over the city they searched for the missiles but couldn't see anything but plumes of smoke and fire.
"Where is it?" Sonic shouted, nervously glancing towards Tails for answers.
"They're right there! Less then three yards and closing fast!"
A burst of sound made the hedgehogs turn and they saw that Sonia was firing at her two missiles, looking out desperately now for their own missiles Sonic and Shadow fidgeted fearfully.
"There!" Sonic pointed and Shadow saw two trails of smoke emerging from the clouds and race towards them.
"Chaos spear!" Shadow roared and another explosion rent the sky.
Sonic strummed his guitar and a burst of energy shot from the weapon but missed the swerving and darting missile.
Shadow clenched his hands tight and shifted about nervously as Sonic firing again and missed twice, "Come on Sonic" Shadow breathed anxiously.
"I'm trying!" Sonic hissed as he fired but this missile danced, dropped and rose to dodge Sonics' attacks with unnerving success.
"I can't hit it!" Sonia yelled behind them.
Grasping his emerald tight Shadow drew on his powers, raising the crimson jewel another blast of light emerged from the emerald and the missile on this side exploded.
"Sonic help Sonia!" Shadow barked and the speedster dashed to the other side and began firing beside Sonia.
Manic and Knuckles watched with mounting nerves as the remaining missile dodged Sonia and Sonics' attacks with ease. Shadow fingered his emerald nervously cursing its need to recharge as he watched the projectile streak closer.
"Its gonna hit us!" Tails yelled and he banked a hard left hoping to outrun the missile. Sonia and Sonic were thrown back by the sudden movement crying out in surprise but Shadow caught them both and steadied them.
Sonic and his sister blinked in surprise as they laid against Shadow, as the helicopter continued to bank Shadow braced himself holding the two siblings tight against him to stop them all falling out the other end of the Cyclone.
"Its still gonna hit us!" Sonia yelled above the wind to Shadow and her brother as they fought against the inertia.
"Hold onto me and keep us balanced!" Shadow ordered the siblings and in response Sonia and Sonic held him in a tight hug as Shadow loosened his hold on them and raised his chaos emerald.
It wasn't fully charged yet but if the ultimate life couldn't force a Chaos attack from a source of crystallised energy then he deserved to die.
And then to his surprise an explosion illuminated the sky as the missile was destroyed, Shadow blinked in confusion before the shock wave from the uncomfortably close weapon slammed into the Cyclone throwing it about like a rag-doll.
The three hedgehogs were thrown to the floor and as Shadow started to skid towards the open cargo door behind him due to the Cyclones bucking movement Sonic and Sonia dived on top of him pinning him to the ground.
The shock wave passed and Tails forced the Cyclone to steady as Manic and Knuckles held on tight to the doorway, after a few frightening seconds the machine grudgingly steadied its course.
Shadow groaned as his head rang with pain when he hit the floor, wearily opening his eyes he was surprised to find Sonic and Sonia both laying over him.
He blushed in embarrassment at their tangled position especially as he had his arms around them both and they in turn were pressed warmly against him.
Sonic eyed the position they were in and he and his sister exchanged embarrassed looks.
"Now now Shadow, you know you can't have us both" Sonia said sternly with a mock firm expression.
Sonic laughed and sat up grinning at his sister, "Oh don't play innocent sis, you wanted to know what it was like to be in Shadows arms so you threw yourself over him too"
Sonia huffed and shot Sonic a wry look, "Oh please, you know I would never be attracted to someone that likes coffee as much as Shadow"
Shadow rolled his eyes and bit back his laughter at the brother and sisters antics, they'd just survived a near death experience and this is how they act?
But then Shadow was feeling a little giddy himself and he understood this was the high that you can only get after shaking hands with death and coming back alive.
Sonic smirked and laid back over Shadow resting his head on the dark hedgehogs' chest, "The coffee's a good thing sis… means he can stay up all night and still have energy for the morning" the young hedgehog said slyly.
Shadows squeak of amazement brought a laugh from the group and blushing hotly the dark hedgehog sat up and rose to his feet, helping Sonia and Sonic up as well despite their annoying grins.
"Enough of the joking about guys we're in a war zone remember?" Shadow said gruffly to hide his embarrassment.
"Always time for some fun Shads" Sonic said brightly.
"And considering how close we came to death I think we have a right to be joyful, Sonia beamed, nice work at the end there Shadow"
Shadow frowned as he looked between the two hedgehogs happy expressions, "Guys that wasn't me" he said carefully.
"What? What do you mean man?" Manic questioned.
"The missile exploded before I had time to launch my attack"
The group exchanged glances and Sonia strode over to Tails and tapped him on the shoulder, "Did you do something Tails?"
The fox cub shook his head, "The missile self-destructed, I don't know why yet" he said swishing his tails nervously.
"Why would it blow itself up?" Sonic wondered, crossing his arms in thought.
"Who cares guys! The thing did us and itself a favour" Manic exclaimed.
The group pondered this until Knuckles stood up to attention sniffing the air curiously and leaning his head to one side trying to catch an elusive sound.
His amethyst eyes widened as he heard a chilling noise and he waved his hands excitedly to catch the others attention.
"What is it Knuckles?" Sonia asked in concern.
"Another two missiles coming towards us!" Tails screamed from the cockpit.
Soon they all heard it, the growing whistling noise that grew more shrill every second and the three hedgehogs with ranged weapons quickly took up station at the cargo doors.
"See them?" Manic asked as he and Knuckles watched the radar apprehensively.
The three hedgehogs watched the skies nervously for any sign of attack and soon they spotted twin streaks of smoke racing towards them, they raised their weapons to attack when something strange happened.
As the three prepared to fire a deafening bang filled the air as the missiles again exploded a safe distance from them. None of the three had seen anything strike the missiles and they looked at each other wonderingly.
"Something very strange is going on" Shadow muttered.
"That's one hell of an understatement" Sonia murmured.
Metal Shadow grinned victoriously as he sensed the missiles launched by the tank units exploding before they reached the Cyclone, his virus was working most effectively.
He was pleased that, as always, his superior programming and abilities allowed him to corrupt the tank bots targeting systems and even blind them to this fact by scrambling their self-diagnostic systems.
'Its so easy, the robot thought smugly, if I wasn't doing this myself I'd be constructing some protection programs to send to the army'
His self-congratulation was halted as another group of artillery units gained a lock with the Cyclone and he had to focus on this new challenge.
'Hurry up and get here hedgehogs'
Shadow leaned against the cargo doorway with Sonic sitting beside him watching the firework show in the skies around them with silent attention.
"Wonder what's causing this" Shadow murmured as another missile exploded a safe distance from them.
Sonic just shrugged and shifted his guitar in a loose hold, yet ready to swing upward and fire with the slightest provocation. Clearly he wasn't being put off guard by the strange phenomenon.
Manic approached the two his eyes glancing towards the exploding missiles for a second then returning to them.
"Just got a transmission from the resistance forces, we got a landing zone cleared and we'll be there in about two, three minutes"
Shadow nodded and looked down at the chaos emerald in his hands thoughtfully… he knew that they were approaching something incredible and he was tense with worry about what it would be.
And of course once again he would have to battle his metallic doppelganger, for only he could have taken the command centre and killed Malagner, and this time he KNEW it would be a battle to the end.
'And hopefully it won't end with his blade through my gut again' Shadow thought, shuddering as he recalled the sickening feeling of metal piercing his body.
"Guys" Sonic called tensely his bloodshot eyes fixed on some point in the distance.
Manic and Shadow looked down at him questionably as Sonic pointed at something, looking out over the city they saw a group of sleek, black coloured missiles heading towards them.
"Those missiles haven't exploded like the others" Sonic said carefully, "In fact they have crossed some distance through the point where all the others keep detonating" he added tensely.
The other hedgehogs stared at the approaching missiles watching with worry as the black projectiles soared closer, the other missiles were still exploding some distance from the Cyclone but these ones were unaffected by whatever was causing the detonations.
"SONIA!" Manic yelled as he raced towards the cockpit, the next second Sonia dashed to Shadow and Sonic hefting her keyboard and looking outside wonderingly.
"What's going on?"
Shadow shushed her and raised his emerald, "Take out the black ones" he ordered the other two.
The siblings nodded in agreement and began to open fire as the Cyclone made a final dash towards the Mobodoon command centre now just a few yards away.
'Here we go again' Shadow thought as he unleashed a chaos spear attack.
'NO NO NO!'
Metal seethed in desperate anger as he sensed several missiles launched by elite tank squad zero-thirty-three resist his virus and speed towards the Cyclone.
The elite units were closer to the front line and due to their purpose of being shock units they were far better upgraded and armed then the lesser tank bots.
The annoying fact being that they were resistant to electronic tampering and were even now trying to shot the Cyclone out of the sky as their core programming came into effect.
The hedgehogs were blasting many of them from the sky but they were unaware on the single missile stealthily hugging the rooftops and following the Cyclone from below their sight.
Even as he became aware of this the missile changed trajectory and raced upward right for the Cyclones belly.
Metal quickly began to add some more intrusive coding to his virus and prepared to upload it to the tank units when a burst of static filled his sensors and a transmission played before his eyes.
'MS/2 has breached core directives of Lord Robotnik-MS/2 had attempted to sabotage soldiers under its command-MS/2 is relieved of command and ordered to maintain position and cease destructive actions against friendlys or be terminated by order of Lord Robotnik'
It was impossible to stop the great scream of hate and rage that burst from Metal Shadows vocabulator as he read the message and felt his outgoing connections to the army being severed. The robot smashed his fists into the ground caving in the metal flooring as he vented his rage.
It seemed all but certain that his great plan had been fraughted and the machine desperately hoped that his nemesis would find a way out of this situation.
He couldn't bare it if Shadow died aboard that helicopter… no one but him was supposed to be able to kill the ebony hedgehog.
"Y-o-u b-e-t-t-e-r g-e-t t-h-r-o-u-g-h t-h-I-s S-h-a-d-o-w" The machine whispered dangerously.
"We're almost clear!" Tails yelled from the cockpit as the trio of hedgehogs fired wildly at the circling missiles.
'Any second now would be good!' Shadow thought as he launched another chaos spear at the flying projectiles feeling his body ache as he was forced to draw deeper and deeper into his soul to command the power of the emerald.
Then to his relief he saw a burst of explosions fill the sky as the Mobodoon army opened fire on the racing missiles, the Cyclone rushing within their perimeter as some captain down on the ground ordered covering fire for them.
"Way to go the good guys!" Sonic laughed happily as the last of the missiles were blown apart.
And then a loud whine made Shadows eyes dart down and look in horror at the single sleek missile racing up towards the Cyclone.
Shadows mind raced as he considered his options, the charging missile was far to close to hit and the dark hedgehog had perhaps a second to act before it struck them.
Drawing on all his speed and reflexes Shadow grabbed Sonia and Shadow and raced to the cockpit screaming a warning to the others as he did so.
He managed two steps before all hell broke loose.
The roar was deafening as the missile struck the Cyclone, the helicopter being smashed aside by the force of the explosion even as the floor of the cargo bay was ripped away by the blast wave.
Shadow had already jumped and as he soared in what seemed like slow motion across the gaping hole in the floor he knew he would never make it as he felt a great heat rise from below him.
Throwing all caution to the wind Shadow threw Sonia and Sonic across the remaining gap even as he felt gravity grip him and pull him inescapable down.
The siblings flew across the small gap screaming in surprise and fear and, to Shadows relief, being caught by Manic and Knuckles as the two huddled in the cockpit doorway.
Sonic twisted round in a blink of movement his green eyes wide in horror; his gaze meeting Shadows as the ebony hedgehog started to fall.
"DON'T WORRY!" the hedgehog yelled confidently before the fireball from the explosion engulfed him in a pillar of flame.
Sonic opened his mouth to scream yet the still booming explosion drowned the sound out, he tore at Manic trying to escape his brothers' grasp and race to Shadows aid.
But within the fireball a burst of crimson light cut through the flames and the pillar sagged as its centre was removed.
And a split-second later Shadow fell to the cockpit floor in a flash of light rolling around and beating at the flames which covered him while swearing at the top of his voice.
"Shadow!" Sonic cried as he broke free and fell to the other hedgehogs' side helping him douse the flames.
"WE'RE GOING DOWN! HOLD ON TO SOMETHING" Tails shrieked wrestling with the control stick as the ground rushed up to meet them.
Sonic ignored the fox's warning focusing on saving his love, after a few seconds the flames were extinguished and a sore and further blackened Shadow looked up at his soulmate painfully.
Sonic pulled Shadow into a hug holding him tight and crying into his shoulder heedless of the shrill call of the wind nor the Cyclones tortured screamed.
"Don't you ever let go of me again, don't ever let go…" Sonic whispered as he heard the others brace themselves for impact.
Shadow winced painfully as his scorched body screamed in pain yet held his love just as fiercely, "No w-worries sp-speedy" he whispered through shaking lips.
"HANG ON TIGHT!" Tails screamed.
Knuckles held on tight as the metal creature they occupied bucked and writhed in its death throbs, the gaping wound in its belly was clearly mortal and now as the beast fell from the sky it seemed they were destined to die with it.
"WE'RE GOING DOWN! HOLD ON TO SOMETHING"
Knuckles loosened a hand from his tight grip on Sonia smashing his claws into the roof of the doorway and fixing a strong hold in the skin of the machine.
Sonia looked up fearfully at him, terror shining in her beautiful eyes as the wind howled around them and the helicopter turned over and over in agony.
"I LOVE YOU!" She yelled to be heard and her sad smile and tear-filled eyes made Knuckles heart break to see his angel so hurt.
He pulled her closer holding her tight against him, murmuring sounds of comfort and leaning his head on hers to hide his own tears from her.
He felt her slender arms come round him in what would, most likely be, their final embrace and he barely held back his sob of despair as he considered an end to their love.
'No… never an end… even beyond death I will never stop loving you Sonia'
He closed his watery eyes tight feeling his angel's body shaking in hopeless terror and he swore then that whatever happened she wouldn't die.
He hugged her as close against him as he could praying to the great Chaos that perhaps in the crash his own body might somehow shield hers from harm.
Even if it cost him his life… because without her he had no life.
"HANG ON TIGHT!" the fox cub screamed and Knuckles opened his eyes looking one last time on his new friends.
The child fox who was braver then his years, the young blue hedgehog who brimmed with life and his dark yet noble lover, the green thief who yet possessed a great deal of honour and courage despite his profession.
His eyes met said green hedgehogs and Manic gave him a last devil-may-care smile and a wink, Knuckles felt himself smiling back and he nodded back hoping that even without words the emerald hedgehog would sense Knuckles caring for him.
He seemed to because his grin relaxed into a smile, "SEE YOU IN THE NEXT LIFE DUDE!" he shouted cheerfully.
The Cyclone shrieked again, its tortured wailing making Knuckles ears ache as the machine arched up in pain. Looking across at Tails he could see the child trying to level the Cyclone out and limit the impact of their landing.
Static yelling and muffled warnings came from the intercom and Knuckles guessed the resistance was anxiously following their movements and trying to clear room for a landing.
'I have faith in you young one' the guardian thought of Tails, if anyone could save them it was him.
Closing his eyes and holding on tight to Sonia Knuckles kissed the top of her head one last time before surrendering himself to Tails abilities, praying that they would all survive this disaster.
And then Knuckles eyes snapped open in shock as the master screamed a warning at him.
Looking around him in concern he wondered for a moment if the master was just reacting to the situation they were in but as he looked towards the devastated cargo room his eyes fell to the damaged floor.
To the hole through which the ground grew closer and closer.
To the twisted shards of metal and broken piping around the edges of the wound.
To the one pipe that was dangerously vibrating, its' jagged edge arching towards him.
To the snap, that was heard even above the wind, as the pipe broke free and flew towards him its spear-point lazily turning in the air towards Sonia.
Knuckles reacted on instinct, twisting his body round in a burst of movement so that Sonia was pulled to safety and his own body was bared before the threat.
And as the Cyclone hit the ground and the universe shook and screamed in agony Sonia never felt Knuckles body suddenly arch in pain nor the silent scream that was wrenched from his throat.
The impact threw them both to the floor and for the occupants of the Cyclone everything went dark.
"Get that plating lifted soldier!"
"Someone get some extinguishers here now!"
"Where's that damn medic?"
Manic groaned as the shouting and arguing around him made his already sore head add some more complaints on his brain, he shifted weakly trying in vain to force himself to move or even to open his eyes.
"Hey this one moved! Quick give me a hand here"
Manic felt hands grasp him and began to lever him to his feet, he grumbled for the sake of it as his arms were slung over two peoples shoulders and he began to move.
"Its ok sir you'll be fine, try not to talk ok save your strength" A voice said comfortingly.
Manic shook his head his eyes flickering open though all he could see where shapes and funny lights in his concussed state, though through the fog of his memory he began to remember what happened.
"Others?" He murmured trying to turn his head and look back at the Cyclone, even with his blurred sight he could see the mangled chassis of the Cyclone spewing smoke and spitting flames.
"Still inside sir but we'll have them out soon don't worry"
Manic immediately began to struggle and head back as their words filtered through the ringing in his ears, "Sonia, so-onic!" he gurgled fighting against the two mobians holding him.
"Sir you're in no state to help them! The rest of our unit's getting them out so stop struggling, you need medical attention right now"
The two soldiers held on tight to him until Manic resisted no more then carried, half-dragged, him through what looked like a rubble-strewn wasteland.
Next thing the hedgehog was aware of he was being helped into a building which looked like the front wall had been carved off, more people moved around him though they were still hazy images to Manics' eyes.
He was carefully laid on a wheeled stretcher the two soldiers positioning him comfortably; "Stay here sir, the doc will be with you soon" the first whispered soothingly.
"I'm insulted you think I'm a sir" Manic muttered, his joking self starting to rise again.
The first chuckled and then the two soldiers walked away heading back to the crash site while all around them people groaned and other figures moved around them.
Manic raised a hand gingerly rubbing his head not surprised at the wetness he felt amongst his fur, his emerald eyes blinked rapidly as he turned his head trying to make sense of the scene around him.
As the blurring cleared he saw that he was in what looked like a ruined church, the pews and artefacts removed to clear the massive hall and were instead filled with rows of beds and stretchers like his one.
Holes and long cracks covered the walls and the whole front of the church had been swept away by what must have been one hell of an explosion. Bright sunlight filled the room and streamed from the stained glass windows that were shattered and empty in their frames, the air was filled with pained moans, whimpers and the sweet stink of decay.
Manics green eyes looked around numbly finding a whole community of wounded mobians, every bed contained a wounded creature some with relatively recoverable injuries like large gash's and gunshot wounds.
Others were a different matter; Manic felt the bile rising in his throat as he saw the vast number of soldiers with missing limbs and huge wounds in their bodies. Even as he looked around his eyes met those of a rat lying across from him, one eye misted with pain and bloodshot, the other torn out completely leaving a bloodied hole in its absence.
The young hedgehog quickly looked away blinked back tears and fighting against the urge to be sick, he prayed that the others would be safe and whole.
Sudden panic gripped him as he realised how numb he felt, considering he had just been in a helicopter crash he should be in agony, so he hurriedly looked down over his body raising his hands and running them over himself worriedly.
To his relief his body was intact, though several head spikes were gone and would take ages to grow back, and apart from several long cuts and major bruising he was in good condition.
"Feels good doesn't it to find you're whole?" A gentle voice said with a light chuckle.
Manic looked up to find a vision in pink, literally, standing over him with a reassuring smile on her face.
Another hedgehog, female, was leaning over him watching him curiously, Manic swallowed hard as he stared into her green eyes, thought a much lighter shade then his own they where beautiful to look at.
"More worried about loosing my fifth limb actually" Manic blurted, then rolled his eyes at his choice of words.
The other hedgehog merely raised a delicate pink eyeridge, her viridian eyes glowing in amusement, "Would be a shame for a hedgehog like you to become a eunuch so young eh?"
"A shame? It'd be a crime against nature and it would give my love life a serious dent too"
She laughed and Manic felt his aches easing a little at the sweet sound, god she was beautiful.
Watching her carefully he took in as much information as his weary eyes could, she was a head shorter then him with pale pink fur and short head spikes that hung in bangs from the sides of her head. He guessed she was probably around fourteen or fifteen, a little younger then him. Her figure was slim and possessed gentle curves that, though still young, were great to look at, even better where the breasts that pressed against her coat, while small they were firm and proudly pressing against the material that covered them.
Which brought the young hedgehog to consider what she was wearing, judging by the lab coat, white tunic and slender trousers he guessed she was either a scientist or perhaps a doctor. Also due to the dirt and blackened patches that covered the previously pristine clothes she must have recently had a hard time, probably had to make a run from one of the hospitals that had been overrun by the machine army.
"Ok greeny enough of the staring it's my turn to look you over" the girl said brightly and gently pushed Manic down on his back.
'She's got a nice touch' Manic thought as her small hands ran over him checking his bruises and examining his cuts.
"What happened?" He asked, his previous worries arising again.
The girl looked up from pressing a stethoscope against his chest and carefully put it away and brought out a small torch.
"Your helicopter almost reached safety but was shot down just as you entered the army's perimeter defence, She said quietly while shining the torch in his eyes, rescue teams got to you and pulled you out and then brought you here"
"My family and friends?" Manic questioned tensely, the girl noticed his rigid stance and gently placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him rising, "They will be fine, the Cyclone is in no danger of exploding with fire teams there and your companions will be brought here soon"
Manic fell silent and lay still thinking about the others while the girl continued to check him over, after a minute she reached into her bag pulling free some more equipment.
Manic eyed the bottle she held up and released a weary sigh as she splashed some onto a cloth pad; the girl held it up before one of the deeper cuts on his chest and opened her mouth to warn him.
"I've had this done loads of times, best just to get it over with" Manic cut in, staring at the ceiling in focus.
"Here we go" she whispered and the next second a searing pain scorched the thief's chest and he barely held back his scream of pain.
"Take your time, I'm not going anywhere" Manic hissed trying to smile through the pain, her returned smile dulled the pain a little.
Manic bunched his fists trying to numb his mind to the agony as the girl moved to his other wounds, the alcohol cleansing his body but hurting like hell.
"So what's your name doc?"
The viridian eyes glanced at his before returned to her hands, "My name's Amy, and I'm not a doctor just a technician unfortunately".
"And what's your name if I dare ask" she asked in return.
Manic flashed his trade-mark grin, "I'm Manic, by name and nature, just ask my sis and she'll agree I'm in need of drugs just to keep me quiet"
She smiled sweetly at him, "With such a name I'd be disappointed if you were anything but, and of course if you were to go hyper here I wouldn't hesitate to put you to sleepy land by the way"
"Ouch, that's cold doc. Anyway don't they say that laughter is the greatest cure of all?"
"In some cases yes but here this large needle will be the cure so I suggest you brace yourself" Amy said with a smirk and held up a monstrous syringe.
"Just where the hell's that going!"
"Take a guess" the pink cutie said with a satanic smile.
To Manics' relief the needle went in his arm, and though it hurt like hell ("God-damn girl does it have to go in the bone?") he couldn't help but look favourably on this girl. She was beautiful, cute, intelligence and with a sadistic streak… just his kind of woman!
Manic frowned as he remembered her words earlier, "Would have though you'd be with the rest of the boffins trying to figure out a way out of the mess we're in if you're a tech?" he said curiously.
She scowled at him her eyes glowing with indignation, "The resistant needs competent medics now and I am pleased to help however I can… if I wasn't here you may have developed an infection before being treated" she growled, tightening a bandage a little harder then necessary.
Manic chuckled/winced at her actions and weakly waved away her anger, "Easy there Amy, just wondered aloud no harm intended I swear, I'm delirious remember?"
The pink hedgehog huffed and started to bandage his chest, after a few moments she said, "As it turns out we already figured out a way to escape" she admitted hesitantly.
Amy nodded solemnly, "I and the rest of the engineers core in headquarters figured out a way to successfully meld the energy fields of your two emeralds with our own without causing an overload"
She stopped and Manic noticed the nervousness and fear in her eyes, she clutched her hands tensely and Manic raised himself onto his elbows staring at her curiously.
"Tell me what happened… please?"
She nodded hesitantly and looked off into the distance her face changing into a pained expression as she remembered something terrible, "As we prepared the system we were attacked by one of the officers sent to protect us, I… I can't remember his name but he killed the others and took the two emeralds in our possession"
Manics eyes narrowed in anger as he listened to Amy, he bet a thousand Mobodoon dollars he knew who that 'officer' was; however before he could respond Amy continued.
"Anyway I managed to hide and… he didn't see me when he killed the others, once he had gone I tried to contact General Malagner but the communications had been cut so I had no choice but to run there"
She closed her eyes in pain and Manic almost placed a hand on her shoulder in comfort but stopped himself just short, she probably wouldn't appreciate the gesture.
"When I reached the headquarters I was too late… the building had been occupied by machine soldiers and I had to come here" she finished, opening her eyes and looking around her uncomfortably.
"You're not to blame, there was nothing you could have done" Manic whispered softly.
She laughed bitterly, "I'm not the only person here to think that way but still it doesn't help… I could have hidden the emeralds or wondered a bit more about why that soldier came in alone and without an escort like he should have"
"Michael fooled everyone, me included, so don't blame yourself for him being a traitorous git" Manic said firmly.
She chuckled again though this time with less sadness and now her green eyes looked warmly into his own as she smiled thankfully at him.
Manic gulped trying not to let his thoughts show on his face, god he had never seen anyone as cute and attractive as her… shame he wasn't in a war-zone or he'd offer her a drink.
And then Amy was looking away as a commotion grew at the entrance to the church; a group was picking its way carefully through the rubble of the entrance and Manic noticed with unease that the girls' eyes became shadowed with sadness.
Manic followed her gaze and looked towards the group seeing a squad of soldiers assisting some more injured people into the church.
And then his insides froze as he saw his family being brought in… carried in like rag dolls.
He could see Sonia on a stretcher, her clothes covered in blood and torn in multiple places with bright crimson cuts in her flesh, her eyes were shut tight in sleep and her almost peaceful expression was a stark contrast to her ravaged form.
Looking beside her his eyes met a familiar demon-red set and Shadow looked back at him with tired and despairing eyes.
The dark hedgehog was being held up by Sonic who limped along beside him his bloodshot eyes focused on Sonia ignoring everything else around him, though he held tight to Shadow as they stumbled through the wreckage.
Manic opened his mouth to speak though he had no idea what to say, at the moment he wanted to scream in outright rage and horror at the crippled sight of his family, for even Shadow was another brother in his eyes. But then Shadows eyes looked away from his motioning with a jerk of his head for Manics' own to follow them.
Follow them to the other stretcher being brought in behind them.
To the crumbled form of Knuckles who lay face down and still on the stretcher, bleeding and weakened as medics swarmed over him with various instruments, yelling for more equipment and room.
And finally to the long jagged spear of metal that rose from the echidnas back like a banner pole, buried deep in the guardians' body.
Manic finally did scream a wild howl of despair as he leapt off the stretcher and hobbled as fast as he could towards his stricken family.
He barely felt the pain nor did he notice Amy come to his side and carefully sling his arm around her to assist his movements, his pained emerald eyes were focused entirely on his siblings and Knuckles and he prayed that this wasn't gonna be the end for them.
Metal Shadow watched the view screens dominating the centre wall of the command room trying in vain to see some hint of his nemesis and his cursed friends among the images.
To his disappointment, and mounting anger, he could see nothing but the continuing battles between the resistance, the machine army, and no sign of either the Cyclone or its passengers.
"So you gonna tell me what that earlier fit was all about anytime soon?"
Metal didn't even bother to turn towards Michael, "N-o" he answered curtly.
He guessed the otter was probably glaring at him, and also itching to shoot him due to the fidgeting he could hear, Metal still hoped he would just to give him an excuse to vent his rage.
The otter decided to change tactics, "Seems the 'glorious' army under your command isn't doing so well?" Michael said silkily.
Metal refused to rise to the bait, "T-h-e r-e-s-I-s-t-a-n-c-e I-s d-o-o-m-e-d, t-h-e-y w-I-l-l f-a-l-l I-n t-I-m-e"
"Perhaps, but your side is taking some serious bruising isn't it? Surely Robotnik won't like how sloppy your tactics have become even if we are at the endgame?"
Metal bit back a curse and swore at the damn meatbags awareness; he had to have such an annoyingly observant fool with him in such a dangerous situation, and one he couldn't allow to catch wind of his schemes.
Watching the monitors Metal saw just exactly what the mobian was referring to, without him to guide them the machine army's tactics had been sent to the shredder and, taking advantage of their sudden reverting to their core programming, (which was a basic 'attack and destroy' without finesse) the resistance army had succeeded in pushing back the droids a fair distance and even managed to regroup to a threatening level.
'Further proof, if any was needed, of how superior I am over those lower machines'
Though Metal had been blocked from direct control of the army he could still issue 'suggestions' to the machine collective which they would probably act upon if they found no fault with the directive.
But at the moment Metal had no wish to do such a thing, he wanted to give the resistance as much time as he could… his plan could still succeed if only the crew of the Cyclone was safe in resistance hands.
"Hey I asked you a question 'MS/2'! Are you gonna answer or will I have to inquire about this strange event to a higher authority?" Michael's demands cut through Metals musing with aggravating success.
Metals hiss of rage was impossible to suppress and it gave him some satisfaction to see Michael flinch, oh how he wanted to kill this pathetic life form…
But Robotniks orders had been quite clear, as long as Michael was loyal he would not be harmed… and of recent his creator had been growing very suspicious of his mechanical monster.
So as pleasing as ripping the scum's heart free and showing its last beats to his wide eyes would be he would have to resist the urge, if he killed Michael now Robotniks suspicions would surely erupt into violence against his creation.
"Y-o-u t-r-y m-y p-a-t-I-e-n-c-e s-e-v-e-r-e-l-y M-I-c-h-a-e-l b-u-t I-f y-o-u M-U-S-T k-n-o-w t-h-e-n I w-I-l-l e-n-l-I-g-h-t-e-n y-o-u" Metal spat filling his voice with menace as he spoke.
"T-h-e r-e-s-I-s-t-a-n-c-e a-s y-o-u k-n-o-w h-a-v-e m-a-n-y s-k-I-l-l-e-d s-l-I-c-e-r-s a-n-d t-e-c-h-n-I-c-I-a-n-s w-I-t-h-I-n t-h-e-I-r r-a-n-k-s a-n-d w-I-t-h t-h-e-I-r c-o-n-t-r-o-l o-f t-h-I-s s-e-c-t-o-r-s c-o-m-m-u-n-I-c-a-t-I-o-n-s a-n-d t-r-a-n-s-m-I-s-s-I-o-n f-a-c-I-l-I-t-I-e-s t-h-e-y h-a-v-e b-e-e-n c-a-u-s-I-n-g d-I-s-r-u-p-t-I-o-n-s I-n t-h-e n-e-t-w-o-r-k b-e-t-w-e-e-n m-e a-n-d t-h-e r-e-s-t o-f t-h-e a-r-m-y. D-u-e t-o t-h-I-s I h-a-v-e b-e-e-n f-I-n-d-I-n-g I-t d-I-f-f-I-c-u-l-t t-o c-o-m-m-u-n-I-c-a-t-e s-u-c-c-e-s-s-f-u-l-l-y w-I-t-h- m-y m-I-n-I-o-n-s I-n t-h-e f-I-e-l-d" Metal said matter-of-factly while putting as much arrogance and contempt as he could in his voice, considering his thoughts for the otter he believed he made himself sound genuine.
Actually Metal was quite pleased with his lie; such an action was possible for the resistance to do with their still held facilities in theory.
Of course he would easily be able to adapt to such jamming of the network quicker then the fools could recalibrate the signal but Michael didn't need to know that.
"Surely you can adapt to the jamming or even destroy the source itself" Michael noted eyeing Metal with suspicion.
Metal sighed and glaring at Michael as if disgusted with his stupidity, "I h-a-v-e b-e-e-n t-r-y-I-n-g t-o d-o s-u-c-h a t-h-I-n-g f-o-r t-h-e l-a-s-t h-o-u-r w-I-t-h-o-u-t s-u-c-c-e-s-s b-u-t I-f y-o-u t-h-I-n-k y-o-u c-o-u-l-d d-o b-e-t-t-e-r b-e m-y g-u-e-s-t!" Metal swept his arm towards the command consoles around them in challenge.
A challenge he hoped Michael wouldn't take up, things would become… troublesome if he did.
Thankfully the otter knew next to nothing about hacking computer systems and the thought of trying to defeat one which Metal Shadow himself couldn't didn't make him any more confident.
"Just get on with it, the resistance can't be allowed to escape" he grumbled taking refuge in surliness.
"T-h-e-y w-I-l-l n-o-t e-s-c-a-p-e, o-f t-h-a-t I a-m c-e-r-t-a-I-n"
Michael glared for a moment then with a muttered curse turned away and took up his guard post again, Metal watched him go with relief and barely contained anger.
'How dare that trumped up piece of crap question me! Oh I will make him suffer in unspeakable torment before this day is over, I swear this to you Michael!"
Squashing down his anger he glanced at the monitors again for a quick appraisal of the battle, as expected the resistance had managed to summon a new defence and were holding their ground but eventually they would be over-run by attrition.
Breaking once again into the Mobodoon network was easy, yet searching for what he needed in the chaos of reports, orders, and calls for aide among the network was like looking for a needle in a haystack the size of Angel island.
But to his surprise he came across the information he needed hidden within a medical report that, unsurprisingly, was cloaked with several folders of such reports.
Metals eyes dimmed as he opened the file, it had been made by a medical assistant known as 'Amy'… how sickeningly quaint.
'The crew of the Cyclone has all been accounted for and is contained within emergency hospice 046. (Metal quickly opened the attached map finding the site within a church near the resistance perimeter)
The pilot, a young fox named Miles 'Tails' Prower, surprisingly suffered the least injuries with only mild cuts and superficial bruising, he is expected to recover quickly.
Of more concern is the next passenger a young female hedgehog named 'Sonia' who was found shielded by another member of the crew. While the other crewmember suffered far greater injuries Sonia has received substantially deep cuts and bruising and has also, thus far, been unconscious and unable to wake. I fear possibly brain damage at the very least concussion due to the force of the Cyclones crash, recovery is still uncertain.'
'So the female might not survive? No matter, that's one less hedgehog to kill' Metal thought happily.
'The next two crew members are two hedgehog males named Sonic and Shadow. The two, despite their wounds, remain alert and assisted in the safe removal of the other crew with the aid of rescue teams, their strong wills overcoming their pain.
Shadow, the older of the two and possessing black fur, has recovered almost supernaturally fast despite the deep cuts, bruising and a broken leg, he is expected to fully heal within a matter of hours at his present regeneration rate and he assures me this is normal for him.
I can only say I wish it were normal for everyone.'
Metal hissed with delight as he read this, so Shadow was alive and safe! His plan could still work…
'The other male Sonic, younger then Shadow and coloured a striking blue, received light injuries and is expected to recover well, strangely this worries me.
While Shadow claims to be an 'ultimate lifeform' and appears to be genetically advanced in many ways that explains his fast healing Sonic, aside from his speed, is a normal hedgehog and should not be recovering so quickly from his injuries.
Even stranger his increased resistance to pain, when treated and having his arm reset he didn't resist the pain, he didn't even feel it at all.
If I was not currently in situation of war I would recommend further testing for Sonic but for now his healing and pain resistance is something to be grateful for.'
'Curious… what could be going on in that blue vermin's head now?' Metal wondered.
'The final hedgehog of the crew was brought in first and suffered mainly moderate wounds which are healing well though not as fast as the other two hedgehogs.
He has suffered no head injuries or lasting effects and has been awake and joking since he was brought in, recover is expected to be good.
The last member of the crew is a male of an unknown species. He is named Knuckles and is called an 'echidna' by the others and I must say his species possess incredible constitution for him to even be alive right now.
He was shielding the female hedgehog Sonia during the crash and as such he took the full brunt of the landing himself, one such assault was the deep penetration of a severed pipe in his back.
The wound is deep and pierced six inches into his body barely missing his spinal column but stabbing into his right lung on impact, we have since removed the object and patched him up as well as can be but I fear he will not live much longer.
His recovery will be nothing short of miraculous if he lives but I pray he will pull through this. He has incredible resilience to survive this much and if anyone could survive this he could.
For now the crew will be kept under surveillance and cared for and any new updates will be added to this log as they arrive.'
Metal made a note to consult the file every hour or so while he analysed this interesting information, so it seemed that 'Sonic Underground' had taken quite a beating.
Sonia and Knuckles were both in critical condition and Metal was greatly pleased by this, those two would be a problem later down the road especially the guardian and his control over the master emerald.
Manic would recover but he was little more then a nuisance to Metal, in combat skills he was clearly the weakest and only his criminal abilities and thief's luck was keeping him alive thus far.
Of greater concern, and demeaning relief, was the fast recovery of Sonic and Shadow, those two were the greatest threat but Metal needed them to heal soon and hasten with all speed to assault the command centre and try and kill him.
For once they were here with those beautiful jewels in their possession nothing short of a miracle would stop him from taking them and showing the whole world his true power.
'Come to me Shadow… I await you'
Darkness… pain… despair…
She was trapped in a dark prison within her mind; her voice and thoughts unheard even by herself as she floated in the mist of her consciousness trying to focus her thoughts in coherence.
'What had happened?' was the immediate thought, weak as it was.
Her awareness turned inwards as within her sleep she tried to remember what had happened, she was aware of pain and fear, of something terrible happening to her and those close to her.
Rushing wind… the screaming of a dying machine… and a terror so strong it had made even her form quake in despair and her heart pound within her chest.
'What… what happened to me?'
Realising with a jolt of understanding that she was still asleep she fought to break free of the choking darkness around her that kept her from waking.
And then she began to hear something… something gentle and sweet that drifted through her consciousness teasing her senses and making her ears twitch.
With a sharp intake of breath the princess awoke, subconsciously sighing in relief, and her emerald eyes wearily opened looking before her with blurred sight.
Blinking for a few moments she heard the noise again that was steadily growing in volume as she shrugged off her tiredness, tilting her head towards the sound her heavy eyes tried to make sense of what she was seeing.
"Everytime I see you… something happens to me, like a chain reaction… between you and me"
Sonias head rose as the cultured and exotic, yet pleasantly warm, voice plucked at her memories bringing a feeling of calm and security as she recognised the owner.
"My heart starts missing a beat… my heart starts missing a beat.
"Oh-ah-ah-ah Everytime, oh-ah-ah-ah Everytime!"
And then the sweet notes were drifting through the air again and Sonia recognised the instrument that must be making the sound as being her own keyboard, looking towards the source she could see a blurred blue figure that encouraged a smile from her dry lips.
"If I didn't love you… I would look around for someone else, but everytime I see you… you have the same effect"
She felt a hand gently caress her cheek and swinging her head round she looked up into the welcoming smile of Manic, she weakly grinned back whispering a "Hey" as he tenderly held her.
"My heart starts missing a beat… my heart starts missing a beat.
Oh-ah-ah-ah Everytime, oh-ah-ah-ah Everytime!"
Her sight now clearing she could now clearly see Shadow and Sonic standing in the center of the large hall they where in. The dark hedgehog singing out to his rapt audience with his demon eyes closed and a light smile on his lips as his blue companion competently played out an angelic tune from his keyboard.
"I hear your heartbeat next to me…
I'm in love with you- I mean what I say- I'm in love with you and you don't know, what it means to be with you…"
Sonia had to fight to tear here gaze away from Shadow, her friend had such a beautiful voice and his song was like a sirens calling all who heard to listen, and examine the place she was in.
She concluded she was in a converted hospital judging by the rows of injured mobians on stretchers, and the building itself must have once been a church judging by the architecture.
'God and the priests probably ran when the door was blown up' She thought darkly, eyeing the devastation at the front of the church and the distant flashes on the horizon.
"Everytime I see you… no matter what we do, There's a strange reaction… can you feel it too?"
Her attention was again caught by Shadow as he went into the chorus of his song and she wondered where he had heard this from… perhaps he made it up himself?
Regardless it was certainly uplifting as the hedgehogs sensual voice (Though she'd never look at him that way, nope, never) echoed around the church and many of the injured were watching him intently, some gazing off into their own thoughts as they listened to his words.
"I hear your heartbeat next to me…
I'm in love with you- I mean what I say- I'm in love with you!
And you don't know… what it means to be with you!"
"Everytime, oh-ah-ah-ah everytime, oh-ah-ah-ah everytime!"
Shadow released a breath and opened his eyes as he finished his song, Sonic too finishing off the last few notes with focused care and then almost nervously glanced at their audience.
"Pretty sweet guys! Almost had me in tears!" Manic yelled clapping enthusiastically enough for everyone in the room.
Though many could only grunt or give a small wave the general feeling in the room was of thanks as the wounded lay back and turned their thoughts on something else, Shadow and Sonic smiled and nodded at the few who could give verbal applause thanking them for their words.
"You were very good" Sonia croaked and the hedgehogs' eyes turned on her in surprise.
"Sis you're awake!" Sonic rushed to her side quickly taking one of her hands and sitting beside her.
"I am glad you have recovered Sonia" Shadow said moving beside her bed and looking down on her with a relieved expression.
"Can't keep a good girl down right guys?" Sonia said with a smirk.
"Funny sis but I thought of you as the kind of girl mothers warn their sons about"
Sonia shot Manic an indignant glare to which he grinned even more.
Looking at her brothers she was pleased to see both Manic and Sonic looked fine though her thieving brother was rather bruised.
Shadow, as ever, looked in perfect health without even a single scratch to show he had been in a helicopter crash. Noticing her staring the ebony hedgehog raised an eye-ridge in amusement clearly saying 'did you expect anything else' with his smirk alone.
As for herself Sonia couldn't see anything seriously wrong beside the general soreness of her body… and that she had been stripped of her clothes and put in a distasteful hospital gown.
"So what's been happening while I slept?" she asked, scowling at her gown and daring any to make a comment on it.
The hedgehogs exchanged glances and their hesitant looks made Sonia frown in suspicion, Sonic coughed before speaking first.
"Ahem! Well there's some major good news, the resistant has managed to make some wicked good push's against the machine army and recovered a few more kilometres of ground"
"And in the process entrenched themselves quite deeply into the city and assemble a respectable defence" Shadow added.
"Right! The council's not quite sure how exactly but for some reason the machines have been acted like total idiots and been attacking without any brains"
"It's like their tactics have gone down the nearest bin… we think maybe something happened to whatever's controlling them maybe poor transmission between them and Robotnik?" Manic theorised.
"Regardless it has gained more time for us to save this city" Shadow said purposely.
Sonia nodded thanking whatever deity was watching them for this small miracle, perhaps they could still pull off their plan and get Mobodoon out of Robotniks clutches after all.
And as she looked up into the concerned, and desperately relieved, faces of her brothers and friend something that had been nagging her suddenly became realised.
Because at last she noticed that someone was missing from the small group… someone who couldn't talk but should have made his presence known by now.
"Where is Knuckles?" Sonia asked carefully.
She felt her blood run cold as the three boys suddenly avoided her gaze and exchanged meaningful looks.
"Where is he!" She demanded forcing herself to sit up and throwing aside Manics' protests and hands.
"He… he's not here Sonia"
Sonic gulped as his sisters blazing eyes pinned him on the spot after his words, "He's in another room… in intensive care," he added sadly.
Sonia stared at her brother silently for a moment then threw herself off the stretcher and onto her feet.
Her legs immediately gave out and the three males rushed forward holding her up, pushing them away Sonia leaned against the stretcher holding on tight and forcing her legs to stop wobbling.
"Where?" She growled.
Manic glanced around the room until he spotted something, "Amy?" he called out.
Sonia breathed deep fighting to keep herself standing when another hedgehog came over to them and stood beside her looking over her with concern.
"While I am glad you have awoken you should still be in bed miss Sonia" the pink furred girl said gently but with a hint of reproach.
Sonia glared at the smaller female, "I want to see Knuckles!" she hissed as menacingly as she could, even in her weakened state she was certain her posture would unnerve even a swatbot as she shook with rage.
But it seemed this girl was braver then her small frame should be, "Of course you may see him, but I must insist you wait a moment for a wheelchair as you are no condition to be walking" she said firmly and also crossing her arms in quiet defiance.
Sonia almost choked on the shriek of rage building in her throat and her eyes narrowed into slits as she considered punching this girl's lights out and then tearing this building apart to find Knuckles.
Unfortunately her body made its own decision and Sonia cried out as her legs finally gave out and she fell to her knees.
Snarling at Sonic as he reached to help her up she again gripped the stretcher and with painstaking effort drew herself back to her feet, her body trembling with the effort.
She felt an arm hook round her waist and she lashed out at the owner, thankfully her punishing blow was barely a light slap on Amy's cheek and the female ignored it.
"Tim I need a wheelchair here now!" Amy shouted as she held Sonia up, Manic stepping to his sisters other side dodging her flailing arm and helping to keep her balanced.
The next moment a young squirrel raced towards them dodging the stretchers and pushing a squeaky wheelchair before him, he came to a screeching halt before their group panting slightly.
"Wheelchair as ordered Miss Amy! Sorry but Mr Arnold's gushing at the moment and I gotta back!"
Amy nodded and motioned for him to go and Tim speed away to the other end of the hall dodging staff and patients alike with youthful agility.
Sonia allowed herself to be eased into the wheelchair, at the moment too tired and worried to care about her pride.
Once she was seated the pink nurse kneeled besides her looking into her pained eyes with concern; "Are you in pain Sonia?" she inquired.
Sonia was too weak to scowl but she fixed a resolute mask on her features, "Just take me to Knuckles".
Amy nodded, smiling slightly at the older girls' resilience, and motioned for them to follow her, Manic quickly took station behind his sister and carefully directed the wheelchair to follow.
Shadow and Sonic followed behind them the two hedgehogs quietly conversing amongst themselves; Sonia didn't care just fixed her gaze on Amy's back and glancing around for any sign of her guardian.
After a few moments they reached the back of the hall and a scorched doorway with a white hospital sheet covering the space where the door once was, holding it open for them she waved Sonia through.
Practically vibrating with apprehension, but doing her best to contain it before the other girl, Sonia entered the room beyond as Manic gently pushed her in and the squeak of the chair wheels in the silence made Sonia wince in discomfort.
The room was very dark, and the bright sunlight from the previous room had ruined her night vision but as she awaited with dread the return of her sight another stimulus made her tremble in despair.
A steady sound that echoed in the small stone room…
And as her sight adapted to the dim chamber she made out the bed that sat in the centre of the room and the various instruments and equipment that surrounded it.
She could see the heart monitors that showed a single weak line with almost minuscule peaks with every chime.
Could see the wires and tubes growing from the bed to various machines and drips, some filled with clear or coloured liquid… some with crimson fluid that could only be blood.
And laying weak and crippled among the stained, and once white, sheets of the bed the sad figure of the echidna she loved.
"No…" Sonia gasped, not believing what she was seeing.
Knuckles had always been so powerful, so full of life and vigour. To see him like this it seemed impossible.
But the truth of her eyes could not be denied and with a strangled sob Sonia threw herself off the chair and stumbled to Knuckles side before the others could stop her.
Falling to her knees beside his bed her eyes looked upon his own features, her loves eyes were tightly closed and his thin lips opened slightly as his weak breathing was forced from damaged lungs.
The echidna was lying on his side facing towards Sonia, his body semi-curled and heavily bandaged as his chest stubbornly rose and fell and his body twitched occasionally with echoes of pain.
"Knuckles…" Sonia timorously asked, her voice croaking slightly with sadness.
She received no answer, not even a flicker of movement under his eyelids, and with a small sob she reached for his large hand, gently lifting the heavy paw and holding it tenderly between her own slim hands.
Again there was no response but she arched over her guardian anyway and gently kissed his cheek, his lips and then each of his closed eyes in turn, praying that even if he couldn't respond he would still be aware of her touch.
"Will he live?" Sonia asked in a hushed voice, fighting not to fall into a sobbing wreck beside her beloved echidna. That would help no one especially not Knuckles.
The others had been watching the spectacle with mixed emotions of sadness, despair, and sympathy, and with Sonias' question they shifted about nervously all of them wondering themselves about that… and the possibility of the echidna never awaking from this.
It was Amy who stepped forward looking down on the comatose Knuckles with a sad, but impressed, smile.
"He has already proven to be incredibly stubborn to survive his injuries and the operation thus far… however the trauma to his body is incredibly severe. If he survives the next few hours then his chances of recovery are good but… I fear that there may be some long-term effects of the wound"
Sonia swallowed hard and squeezed Knuckles hand tighter, though never enough to hurt, and gently ran her fingers over his fingers and barbs comfortingly.
"What exactly happened to him?" She forced herself to ask, never taking her eyes away from Knuckles sleeping face.
Amy continued to look down at Knuckles, the strange creature must have been very special not only to survive this far but to have the love of a girl like Sonia.
With a sad sigh she recited what she knew of the incident, "It seems that when the Cyclone crashed shrapnel from the impact blanketed the inside, you and the others where fortunately to receive only mild cuts but Knuckles took the full force"
"Apparently he placed himself between the cargo bay and the cockpit… and thus it was him who received a three foot metal pipe in the back… the pipe pierced the flesh of his back penetrating deep and puncturing his right lung though thankfully missing his spine or any major arteries."
Sonia listened with mounting despair and she had to bite her lip to stop herself from screaming her loss, tears fell from her emerald eyes as she gazed at her fallen champion.
"We patched him up as best we could but even though we stopped the bleeding in his lungs he needed to be put on artificial life support to help ease the strain"
"You said there might be long-term effects?" Sonia asked, her voice now sounding like a croak as she examined the tubing that grew from Knuckles body into the machines.
"Though only one lung was damaged the trauma, and the sudden increased effort needed to breath, resulted in the second lung becoming damaged too due to the increased strain"
"Get to the point" Sonia growled.
"If he survives then he may have breathing problems, possibly with no chance of recovery, he'll find it harder to breathe if stressed or fatigued and his stamina will be severely reduced"
Amy coughed and then consulted a chart at the base of Knuckles bed; "He will need to carry an oxygen mask around with him to assist breathing and medication to keep his blood pressure down and to assist in oxygenating his blood"
"Bloody hell" Manic whispered, Sonic and Shadow shared looks of agreement as they stared brokenly at the unconscious echidna.
Sonia took a deep breath, with some effort tore her gaze from Knuckles, and looked towards the group her features wearing a mask of strength.
"I would like to be alone with him" Sonia said quietly, a faint tremor creeping into her voice despite her best efforts.
"Of course" Amy said and turned towards the doorway.
She stopped just before leaving and turned back towards Sonia a pained expression in her eyes, "I'm sorry for what has happened. From what your family have told me, and the strength he has shown so far, I know Knuckles is a amazing individual… despite what his condition is I have faith he will pull through"
Sonia was looking at Knuckles again and hadn't moved an inch but after a few seconds she swallowed hard and replied, "Thank you… he is amazing and I know he will recover too… he's too stubborn to be unconscious for long" she said with a forced chuckle at the end.
Amy smiled sadly and without further ado stepped out of the room, the three males glanced at each other before Shadow stepped forward and lightly laid a hand on Sonias' slender shoulder.
"We will be just outside if you need anything" he whispered, his demon eyes shadowed with pain as he looked down at her withdrawn form and Knuckles broken one.
Sonia answered with a nod, in response she got a gentle squeeze from Shadows hand, and then he stepped back and motioned for the others to leave.
"He'll be ok Sonia he's too badass to not lick this!" Manic stated confidently before stepping out.
Sonic glanced at Knuckles for a moment, "He'll be avenged" he whispered then stepped out without a further word.
Shadow swiftly followed stopping only to gaze at Sonias silent figure for a few moments before he gently shut the door behind him.
Sonia listened carefully and once she was sure that no one was pressing their ears against the doors she finally surrendered to her emotions.
With a shuddering sob she lay her head on the bed beside Knuckles, her upper body resting on the bed and her arms carefully reaching around her fallen echidna in a gentle hug.
"Oh Knuckles…" she whispered gazing through a fall of tears at his sleeping face.
Leaning forward she kissed him again, this time tenderly on his lips, praying that this would get a response.
Were before he would blush and then kiss back with equal vigour now there was nothing, he didn't even twitch at Sonias action and behind his closed eyelids there wasn't the slightest movement.
"Please… please wake up Knuckles…" Sonia begged, her pleading coming from a tortured and fearful heart as she caressed his dreadlocks with her slim hands.
"Please don't leave me…"
Still no answer and with a strangled cry she buried her head in his shoulder sobbing against his vivid red fur now not caring if others could hear her tears now, being strong and resolute meant nothing in the face of this.
"Please don't die Knuckles… I love you so much so please stay here… here in my arms" she whispered into his ear, hidden behind his dreadlocks, before she shook with the force of her tears and could do nothing but hold her guardian and cry against his silent form.
Sonic walked silently behind Manic and the soldier leading them, at the moment too engrossed in his own thoughts to care about their surroundings. The thick concrete tunnel they were walking through that was swamped in darkness broken only by the weak flickering of the string of lights along the ceiling was perfect for self-contemplation.
'I have yet another crime to add to the growing tally of things Robotnik has to suffer for' Sonic thought grinning to himself as he imagined making the obese tyrant recant his sins.
The image of Knuckles lying comatose on a stained hospital bed and his sister crying as she held him were scorched into his mind, no matter how hard he closed his eyes he tried he couldn't stop seeing her torturing tears.
'But you shouldn't forget, you need to remember so when the time comes you can tell Robotnik just how… upset you are'
'You're right… but… it isn't like me to dwell on this' an almost forgotten part of him protested.
'People change, you have changed and that's good. Welcome the change Sonic and you can make your enemies fear you like never before' the voice whispered cunningly.
The dark voice had been speaking to him for hours now and despite his reservations he couldn't help but find pleasure in the images it awoke in his minds eye… the sights of burning and vengeance were horrible and yet… strangely seductive.
'But then I'd be just like them… Shadow he warned me that revenge doesn't always get you what you want'
'Not always but in this case it will. If you use your hate to destroy Robotnik then everything will become better. From revenge comes peace for all'
'Perhaps… I… I don't know what to think anymore' Sonic thought miserably.
'Then don't think Sonic. Since when have you planned your live or actions? Live for the moment has been your motto and why should it be any different here?' The voice argued.
'Trust me… when the time comes I'm certain you will make the right decision'
Sonic frowned, 'Why do you have such faith in me? I'm amazed I haven't asked this before but who are you anyway?' he asked warily.
'Isn't that obvious? I'm you, you picklehead!'
'Yes! A you that knows' what you want… knows who you truly are inside…'
'And who am I truly then?' Sonic wondered cynically.
'…Fire… power… freedom.'
Sonic blinked, his pupils dilating and vision hazing as the silken words flowed over his mind making him feel dizzy yet thrilled as well.
For a second, just a second, he felt as if he was on fire… looking at his arms he could see golden flames dancing over his glowing fur yet not hurting his skin in the slightest. He felt a power so awesome and addictive fill his veins that it felt like one of the greatest drugs in the universe and he could almost grasp the absolute freedom such strength would give him.
And then abruptly it was gone and the cobalt hedgehog was left panting and shaking slightly in the visions fading effects, glancing down at his arms Sonic saw they were blue and normal yet… he could still feel the warm underneath his fur.
'You will know in time Sonic… in time you will understand…'
Sonic felt the presence vanish from his mind leaving him reeling at the sudden absence.
A gloved hand grasped his shoulder and he shivered at the touch, "Sonic?" a warming voice asked with concern.
Looking over at ruby eyes Sonic shook his head smiling weakly at his lover, "Just a little dizzy Shads"
Sonic nodded again and to forestall any further questions leaned into Shadow finding comfort against his neck and in the slender black arm that curled over his shoulders.
They continued on, the others chatting amongst themselves though Sonic remained silent as he walked in his loves gentle hold.
'I want to know what true freedom is…' Sonic thought and in the dark passageway and with his head buried in Shadows fur Sonics' wide grin went unseen by the others as he fantasised about the flame.
The flame that grew from his very body and didn't burn… yet would consume anything he wished.
Shadow held Sonic against him wondering if his love was truly ok or if he was hiding something from him. The past few hours had been traumatic at best and he knew that Manic was barely holding himself together, yet Sonic had become even more withdrawn since the crash.
The song had helped, yet another human single that he remembered on his days on the ark, and he had hoped singing and giving in to the music would help raise his blue lovers spirit.
'And it lasted all of five minutes' Shadow thought sourly.
He was angry, and frustrated, and he didn't know what to do about it.
His anger wasn't directed at Sonic but more towards himself for not knowing how to cheer his mate up, and the desperate situation they were in wasn't helping his mood.
"Yo soldier dude are we there yet?"
Despite himself Shadow couldn't help but grin, some things would never change.
"You've asked me that non-stop for the last twenty minutes, as I keep saying we'll be there soon!" Their uniformed guide snapped.
"How soon is soon?"
"Be patient Manic" Shadow said smoothly, he had been watched the twitch above the soldiers right eye with interest.
"Just saying" Manic mumbled, and when the guide turned away he caught Shadows eye and grinned evilly.
Shadow merely rolled his eyes at his green friend and continued to walk wondering just how long these underground tunnels were.
After leaving Sonia they had been approached by their guide who had orders for them to follow him. After persistent pestering from Sonic and Manic he had reluctantly told them they were to be taken to the remaining leadership of the city.
They had been taken a block away from the church and led into a derelict post office. At the basement they had been surprised when the soldier had switched a few letters in their compartments in one of the sorting rooms and an entire wall had swung outwards.
The tunnel network they had entered was supposedly spread under the entire royal district, (now command headquarters), and had several bunkers and self-contained apartments that the resistance army was using to hide the majority of the civilian population and the Mobodoon council.
'Even though we've been walking for almost twenty minutes and haven't seen anyone down here… Chaos this place is creepy' Shadow thought, peering into the dim lengths of the tunnels with nervousness.
The creepiness of their surroundings wasn't just affecting him, it seemed, as Manic began to sing in a low whisper, "Yo-yo forfeit the game, before somebody else takes you out of the frame, and puts your name to shame…"
"This place freaking you out too?" Shadow asked of the blue hedgehog tucked against his shoulder.
Shadow frowned and glanced down at his sapphire lover, Sonic had sounded so cold and dead that that single word from his lips had made Shadow shiver uneasily.
Ducking his head he nuzzled Sonics ear, "What's up blue?" he breathed.
Sonic didn't even respond, his eyes downcast and steps steady as if he was ignoring Shadow.
"Sonic!" Shadow hissed in agitation.
"Hwuh?" Sonics' head shot up and he looked around in confusion before his eyes settled on Shadows worried ones, "What's wrong?" he asked curiously.
"What's wrong? You constantly zoning out all the time is what's worrying me Sonic" Shadow snapped, which he instantly regretted when Sonic flinched.
"Sorry… I didn't mean to snap" Shadow blurted and he was relieved to see Sonic smile up at him.
"Its ok Shadow I'm sorry I worried you"
The younger hedgehog rubbed his eyes and pressed a hand against his forehead, wincing as he did, "Don't mean to zone shads just had a serious headache lately"
Shadow turned his head, examining Sonic at an angle suspiciously. His love sounded sincere but Shadow couldn't help but feel his soul mate was keeping something from him.
"If you wanna talk, I'm always gonna listen no matter how stupid you think it is" Shadow settled on saying.
Sonics smile was now more relaxed and free of secrecy, "I know Shadow, but this is something I gotta deal with myself… though I promise I'll talk to you if it becomes too much"
Shadow forced himself not to press the issue, "I suppose I can accept that" he muttered reluctantly.
Sonic grinned and raising himself on tiptoe pecked Shadows cheek, "Thank's lover" the smaller hedgehog whispered silkily.
"N-no problem" Shadow croaked, wondering why such a small action made him blush considering the things his sexy partner had done to him.
"We're here people" The soldier barked as he stopped before a large vault-like door.
"Thank god! For a moment I thought we were trapped in that 'labyrinthine' movie"
To Shadows relief Sonic chuckled, hiding the sound behind his hand as the Soldier whirled on Manic and began cursing loudly, Shadow held his love against revelling in his sweet laughter and tender embrace.
He prayed it would never ever end.
Manic shot his trademark grin at Shadow and Sonic relieved when they responded with their own looks of amusement, at least he was doing something right.
He supposed he had been giving their guide a hard time but at the moment it was easier to joke and mess about with whatever outlet he could find then dwell on the situation.
To dwell on Sonia and Knuckles… seeing his sister so devastated, and holding it together by the thinnest thread, had affected him more then he thought it would.
'Just how many more shattered people am I gonna see before this day is out? Before this war itself is over?'
Deep in the tunnels it wasn't possible to hear the explosions and fighting on the streets over their heads but in his imagination he could hear the constant thumping of metal feet and treads walking in precision through the city.
Manic shuddered and slapped himself over the head, 'Dude stop thinking about it!'
"Ok people we're in" the soldier barked as he finished entering a code into the door terminal and the vault swung open.
He turned to face them and waved them inside, "You not coming?" Manic asked curiously.
The soldier shook his head, his mask hiding his features and thoughts, "Someone wants a word with you before the rest of command grills ya"
The group exchanged looks and Manic noticed a slightly glazed look come to Shadows eyes as he looked ahead, a moment later he blinked and said, "Its safe, its just one person and no hostile intent"
Manic rolled his eyes; he'd never get used to that guy's 'ultimate lifeform' mojo.
"Well then after you?"
Manic glanced back at the soldier and gave him a pleasant smile, "I enjoyed our time together sir" he said sweetly before walking past, he swore he heard the soldier mutter "Hope it never happens again" as he did.
Inside the vault Manic blinked rapidly at the bright light and thus it took him a few moments to adjust and see his surroundings with clarity.
After a few blinks he saw the room was rounded with a single door to the right and a ringed table in the centre surrounded with padded chairs.
Over then a flask of smoking liquid, which he assumed was coffee, the room was empty.
Except for the hooded figure that appeared beside him.
End Part 2.
Ok well sorry if your cursing at this point but this chapter is still not done yet and decided gonna have to split it again so now the whole thing will be in three slices.
Anyways thanks a lot to all that have read this and as always reviews and comments are always welcome
I'll try and get the final part done as soon as poss and until then keep reading whatever takes your fancy! Even if its not me :D