Only One

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Slowly, the world came into focus.

Who am I...?

I am... here...

...but I am... no one.

I could hear someone speak...

"Finally, the only thing left to be done is to capture the essential life data from your counterpart. Then, you will be complete, my Hyper Metal Sonic! Then, you will kill him!"

As the voice began to laugh maniacally, my mind sank into blackness again...

Who am I...?

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But then my mind snapped awake like a jolt of electricity through me.

I knew who I was...

I was...

...Sonic.

The only Sonic...

...and I had to destroy the other one...!

The strange metal object that surrounded me fell away...

...it was... an Egg Generator.

I didn't understand...

...but that's what it was.

I stood up... it was a strange feeling.

I knew I'd never done it before, but...

...it was so familiar...

I wanted to run... I wanted to fly...

...I wanted to live...

My eyes took in my surroundings.

I could see three figures ahead of me...

They were at a distance... so I went closer.

A fox...

Tails...

...and an echidna...

Knuckles...

I'd never met them, but I knew them...

And there, between them...

...the other me...

...the impostor...

I heard Tails say...

"It's a robot that looks just like Sonic!"

...no.

I was Sonic...

All of a sudden, strange, blue flames appeared in the air... an illusion...

Dark laughter filled the air...

I'd heard this voice before...

A loud, creaking noise came from the far side of the room.

A huge, metal mass appeared... then promptly fell apart.

Hmph.

What a pitiful excuse for a robot...

Two voices began arguing and yelling at each other. My creator - Dr. Eggman - and a girl jumped out of the wreckage.

"Ha ha ha! You've fallen into my trap! You came all the way here and now you'll die here!" Eggman began to make faces at the other Sonic and his followers.

Humans... hedgehogs... organic creatures are so inefficient...

Knuckles said something to Sera... and she began to sob...

What a show of human selfishness...

All of the others exchanged words... but I didn't listen.

Nothing mattered.

I had to destroy the other Sonic...

...but I had to wait for an order.

I didn't want to wait...

...I wanted to do it now!

But... I couldn't.

I was a robot.

Robots follow orders.

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I saw the other me dash to Eggman...

...but I beat him there...

I couldn't have anyone better than me...

There was a look of shock on his face.

If my own face could have show expression, I would have liked to sneer at him.

...hmm?

Eggman had finally told me to fight that 'Sonic.'

We charged at each other, almost at top speed.

...he was fast...

...but not fast enough.

I managed to hit him in the back.

He started falling, but I grabbed him by one leg.

I dragged him upwards, towards the sky...

But somehow, he regained consciousness and escaped...

...he wasn't a normal hedgehog to have been able to do that...

...but in short time, I kicked him down...

...down, back to the realm of Eggman Land... the land of darkness.

In my eyes, I could see the waves of our energy...

...his began to fade...

Just a little more... and I could eliminate him forever...

Suddenly, a new order attacked my mind.

"Destroy the Land of the Sky!"

...it wasn't what I wanted to do...

...because I knew that he was still alive...

But I felt compelled to obey...

Even though my mind longed to rebel.

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As I flew towards the higher reaches of the planet, something tugged at my conscience...

Not knowing exactly why, I turned south...

...until a floating island appeared.

...home...

I approached the land carefully, landing on the small beach.

There was one other person... an old owl...

Ojiisan...

I walked closer to him.

He came awake... he had been lying in a beach chair, wearing some sunglasses...

Hey... that's my stuff!!

...they were my possessions... but how? I had never seen them before...

Ojiisan began to apologize. "Oh, Master Sonic, I wasn't expecting you back so soon..."

I thought.

'Hmm... the old man was watching the house for me... I should thank him...'

I walked towards him, wanting to shake hands...

But strangely enough, he yelled, "Master Sonic? What are you doing? ...stop!!"

He fell off the chair backwards and sat there, trembling.

I offered my hand, to help him up, but he seemed like he didn't want to touch me...

So, I went inside my house to get something for him.

I rummaged around inside one of my closets, and found a strange set of clothing... something told me that it was my favorite, but I wondered why I would have such things?

Robots didn't wear clothes... so I didn't need them.

I carried them outside and gave them to Ojiisan.

Then, the order... to destroy the Land of the Sky...

I had to do it.

I turned to Ojiisan. "...goodbye," I said...

...even though I knew it was useless.

The only sound that came from me was a robotic beeping noise.

No one would understand me...

Oh, well. I had a job to do.

As I flew off, I wondered...

...why had I performed an act of kindness... especially to an organic creature?

...maybe it was that other me's personality showing through...

...I concentrated... and blocked it out.

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The Land of the Sky was so vulnerable. So many things broke with only a light touch.

I tore through the cities, causing fires and much chaos.

Even though, somewhere in my conscience, something told me to break free... to give myself my own orders...

...but what else does a robot do?

Something told me that there was more...

...something more to life...

My thoughts were interrupted as I heard something.

I wasn't sure exactly how I heard it...

But I heard Knuckles's voice.

"I've traveled the subterranean levels of this planet, and I know them better than anyone else...

The Land of the Sky is held together by a glacier at the North Pole... beneath it runs a river of magma, like blood vessels through the planet. If the tip of the glacier were punctured by an explosion, magma would rush to the surface, melting all the ice. The very backbone of our planet Freedom would be shattered... the rotation of the planet would hurl the continents off into space, where they would be blown to pieces..."

My eyes glowed. I knew how to complete my orders.

Then, I could turn my attention to his destruction...

I turned northward. But strange thoughts kept dashing through my mind...

Okay... I have to beat that Metal to the North Pole!

What...?

But it didn't matter.

Even if he did beat me there, I would still win.

I was a robot... I felt no pain.

The flight to the North took a long time... but I had gotten a head start.

When the tracking devices in my head told me that I was just about as far north as I could get, I scanned the area for the glacier that Knuckles had talked about...

After I spotted it, I dove straight down through it, fast enough that no magma could inadvertently touch me...

I watched my handiwork bubble and start to melt.

...but still, I felt a little... empty... as if everything I'd worked for had meant nothing...

...even if it was orders...

I waited for 'Sonic' to come... and it didn't take him long.

"Hm... I got here too late..." he muttered, watching the lava spout into the air from the ground.

If I had a moving face, I'd have smiled. I flew into the ground and headed towards him...

He was still standing, his arms folded, waiting for me...

I could picture him perfectly, from reading his thoughts...

...his thoughts...?

Was this why I was thinking of things besides my orders...?

...I'd think about it later...

I dug up through the ground, right under his feet.

"Metal has to still be around here somewhere," he said.

How obvious.

He quickly jumped to one side as I surfaced.

"So now we can get down to the real fight! The last Sonic standing will be the winner!" he proclaimed boldly.

What an idiot.

"This world isn't big enough for both of us. One of us has to go," I retorted.

"Really? Well, I agree!" he replied. I was a bit surprised that he could understand me, but no matter.

And so the battle started.

As much as I hated to admit it... he was a fairly good fighter. But it was impossible to launch an undetected attack...

"You might know everything I'm going to do... but it's not going to help you because I know everything that you're going to do!" he growled at me.

But even if he knew everything that I was thinking, it wouldn't have helped him at all... for my body was obviously stronger, my endurance greater, my strength unstoppable. A robot feels no pain.

Our speed sent us both flying into the air, when all of a sudden that idiot Eggman appeared in his aircraft. My head was sent straight through the floor of that thing...

...and I found myself looking straight at Sera's dress.

Then, for some reason, she started kicking my head, over and over, while screaming.

Humans, not to mention human girls, are so bizarre sometimes...

The other Sonic suddenly appeared under me, pulling me free from the aircraft. The sudden force caused Sera to fall out.

The other Sonic yelled, "Sera! I'll save you!" and tried to dive after her.

Furious, I grabbed his arms and restrained him. His battle was with me, not her. Down below, Knuckles had caught Sera before she could hit the ground...

Somehow, I found myself... relieved...

Then, Tails flew up in that annoying red Tornado, striking me as he went past and causing me to let go of the other Sonic. As we were falling, I watched in interest as the Tornado was shot down by one of Eggman's missiles. I guess he was good for something after all.

As the other Sonic and I plummeted, the battle didn't stop. As soon as we landed, I took advantage of his disorientation and threw him as hard as I could, back up onto the cliff. I could hear the sound of him hitting the icy wall...

I followed, then quickly landed more hits on him while he was in the air. Since he was without hovering abilities, the feat was more than easy...

Until that girl shouted, disrupting my concentration...

"Metal! Stop it!"

Distracted, I turned... and the other Sonic was able to strike me hard enough to plow us into the ice.

From below, I could see magma flowing out of the ground, missing the glacier... Someone had dug a hole to change the magma's flow, probably Knuckles.

Sonic made his way back up to the ice cliff, where I was able to land another kick to his head, slamming him against the ice.

I made my way to him, then picked him up by the throat. Organic beings were so easily disposed of...

"No... Sonic," Sera said. Then, for whatever reason, she began to pound on my body, but she was so weak it really wasn't even funny...

Suddenly, Tails began punching buttons on that small wristwatch he had... and all of a sudden I felt a strange paradox...

'What am I doing?! Why am I fighting for Eggman?!'

'I am a robot! I must do as I am told!'

'Why am I trying to destroy Sonic?'

'I AM Sonic!'

My body couldn't take it. A robot is a logical being... paradoxes don't sit well with them.

As I was standing there, helpless, weak, the other Sonic took his chance and did a Spin Dash at me...

...throwing me over the side of the cliff.

My mind clearing, I looked up and saw an airship plow into the side of the glacier...

"That's Daddy's rocket!" I somehow heard Sera say.

If that was the President's rocket, then Tails and that Sonic were sure to go that way...

Soon, I saw the two flying towards the ship.

As quickly as I could, I flew up towards them, knocking them apart. I had no fight with Tails... only with that Sonic.

Tails pulled out his wristwatch again... no doubt trying to overload me like the last time.

Suddenly, a laser blast came, shattering the wristwatch. It was Eggman again. That was twice he had been useful...

Eggman repeated the command, to destroy Sonic. Only once would have sufficed.

The battle was furious. Blow after blow after blow... but everytime, I knew where he was going to strike.

And he knew where I was going to strike.

I found myself flying upwards... but he managed to get under me...

...kicked me...

...so I knocked that rocket, stuck in the ice, to a different position...

Then, he launched another Spin Dash at me, sending me right through the glass of the rocket...

Suddenly, I felt something...

...strange...

...I had to save the President and Ojiisan...

But why?

...I didn't really know.

But... saving them did not defy my orders.

Grabbing each one, I managed to pull them away from the rocket just in time. The entire thing blew up, the explosion probably triggered by the heat from the magma.

But my battle with that Sonic had taken its toll, I suppose.

I knew that my body was damaged. I knew that the metal that held my soul together was broken.

But I could feel no pain.

"Metal!" Sonic said, looking up at me as I dropped the President and Ojiisan at his feet.

Just then, a piece of debris from the rocket hit me. And my machinery betrayed me...

Unable to hover any longer, I dropped into the lava-filled crater.

"No! Metal!" I heard that Sonic cry.

What? Why did he care about me...?

I saw him slide into the pit with me. Summoning the last of my strength, I pulled myself up with my hands along the side of the crater. My legs were worthless...

"Grab a hold of my hand!" that Sonic yelled, less than a foot away from me.

Then, his friend Knuckles appeared, popping out of the ground. "Wait, don't do it, Sonic, he'll drag you under with him!" Knuckles grabbed Sonic, keeping him from reaching me.

Our hands were just able to touch... barely... touching...

...and I knew what I had to do.

It was the only way.

I slapped his hand away.

"Huh...?" He looked at me, his eyes full of shock.

"You tried to save me," I said. "I can only do the same for you.

"For we are one.

"And...

"There is only one Sonic..."

Then, knowing what I was doing...

...I allowed the lava to catch me from behind.

The last thing I saw were his eyes, staring at me...

And the last thing I heard was...

"No! Don't!!

"METAL!!"

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As I walked away from the pit, Knuckles beside me, my heart ached.

For the one person who had ever truly understood me...

...was gone.

We had known the same things.

Thought the same things.

We were one.

But I knew...

...that he'd always be right beside me.

For there was only one Sonic.