Cries From Within
By: Mark J. Hadley
The Tornado descended towards the cliff edge, upon which the runway extended for its approach. It touched down and slowly came to a stop near the small building adorned with the symbol of two foxtails. Though the building didn't look like much from the outside, it housed Tails' workshop, the center of all his inventions and creative endeavors. Sonic was already standing by the door to the workshop, leaning up against the frame and watching the little plane taxi towards the garage. "What took you so long?" Sonic joked.
"I'm still working on those engine upgrades, Sonic," Tails told him with a grin, "then you'll have a challenge, I promise." He removed his goggles as he spoke and began unbuckling himself from his seat once the plane was fully parked inside the garage.
"Lookin' forward to it," Sonic said. He frowned a little as Amy climbed out of the passenger seat, and then looked back at Tails. He asked, "So we didn't find out anything about that chemical, huh? What do you think it was?"
"I wish I knew," Tails said, emerging from the garage, with Amy right behind him. "He must have taken all the files with him. If I could only have gotten a sample…"
"Yeah, it's too bad he had to get away with it all," Sonic said, shaking his head.
Amy knew that his statement had been aimed at her, even if he wasn't speaking to her directly, "Hey, it wasn't my fault he got away, all right?"
Tails looked over at her and said, "Calm down, Amy. We didn't say that it was."
Sonic shrugged and muttered to himself, "Didn't say it wasn't, either."
"Come on, I almost had him," Amy pointed out. "I had the cable around the ship, and it would have kept him from getting away, but the cable came loose from the spool! I was doing everything I could! Maybe you could open your eyes and see that I'm a part of the team, too!"
"Listen, Amy…" Tails said, scratching his head. "It's not that you're not helpful… it's just that…"
Amy frowned, "Just what?"
Sighing, Tails shook his head, "Nevermind. It's not really important. You just need to, you know, use your head some more."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Amy demanded. "Sonic never uses his head! He always dives right into trouble, and never has any problem! I just want to be the same, you know?" Glaring at both of them, she stormed away from the workshop, "I'm leaving. I'll be back in a while. Maybe."
"Whatever," Sonic said, waving her off without even looking. "See ya." Amy shot an angry look at him for a moment, and then continued on her way. Tails, in the meantime, closed the garage and headed for the door. As he grasped the handle, Sonic asked him, "You see what I mean, don't you? Annoying, unstable, and just getting in the way all the time."
"Maybe," Tails said, "but she's still our friend. And she wants to help. We should let her, shouldn't we?"
"Be my guest," Sonic said. "I'm sure she could help you out around the workshop, right?"
"Well, I…" Tails said, fidgeting, "…well, she likes you better, maybe…"
Sonic nearly laughed, "C'mon, You know I can handle myself. I don't need her help. Not now, or ever. She's nothing but trouble." Stretching a little, he added, "Well… sun's goin' down, and it's about time for some shut-eye. Later, bro." He got up from the wall and gave a few more leg stretches in preparation to leave.
Tails looked off in the direction Amy went and said, "I wonder where she went…"
"She can go wherever she wants," Sonic said. "I don't care. Just as long as it's not where I'm going." Finishing his stretches, he immediately ran off from the workshop, descending the hill from the cliff and vanishing into the distance. Tails opened the door to the workshop and hesitated, looking out again. I'm sure Amy will be fine, he thought. She just needs to blow off some steam, and then she'll be back to normal. sigh… Although maybe normal isn't what we need…
By the time Amy reached Station Square and the vicinity of the address, night had fallen, bathing the city in darkness except for the occasional street lamps and lights from windows. However, the part of the city she was in was mostly a warehouse district, and remained fairly dark, with only a few lamps here and there illuminating the paths between them. It didn't take long for her to find the exact building… even from a distance, she could see a few shapes standing guard around the large warehouse. The light from the lamps glinted off their metallic frames.
More of Robotnik's robots, Amy thought. This has to be it. Now, how do I get in? She looked down at her hammer, which she made sure she brought with her this time so that she wouldn't be helpless. It wouldn't be effective for taking down a lot of them together, though. So I can't just barge in the front door, she thought. Maybe there's another way in.
She looked around, and then her eyes fell on the adjacent building. It looked like it was within jumping distance of the roof. She quickly made her way over to it without being seen, after which she found what looked like a fire escape on the side. Climbing quickly, she made her way up to the roof, glancing down at the robots again to make sure. They continued their patrol of the perimeter, and it looked as though they were completely ignoring anything not at ground level.
Amy faced the edge and started running towards it. She launched into a jump right at the edge, the leap carrying her over to the opposite roof. There was a loud clang as she landed, and she shot a nervous look at the robots, but thankfully, they didn't notice. Giving a sigh of relief, she picked herself up and looked around, staying low so that she was less visible in case one of them did look up here. The far end of the roof was her target, and it didn't take her long to get there, even taking it slow like this.
There was a small ventilation duct just by the edge of the roof, big enough for her to squeeze through and just wide enough to allow her to take her hammer through as well. Without hesitation, she started to crawl through it, dragging the hammer behind her. It curved straight down almost immediately, but she was able to press her arms and legs against the side in order to descend slowly instead of dropping right down. Dust came up from the sides of the shaft where she rubbed up against it, and she crinkled her nose, squinting her eyes to keep the dust out. I'm going to have to wash up after this, she thought. Ugh, my dress is getting all dirty, too. This better not stain…
Amy reached a horizontal bend again, and resumed crawling. She was close enough now that she could hear sounds coming from the building. The clanking of metal told her that there were robots inside, too. She expected as much, but she listened for anything else. That's when she heard what she was hoping to hear: a voice, too faint to make out clearly but still familiar. Robotnik was here to oversee things personally, and that would make it easier to find out what he was up to. She quickly scurried through the shaft, trying to get closer to where he was.
A vent was not far ahead of her on the side of the shaft. Carefully, to avoid being seen, she moved up to it and peered through. The area it connected to held a lot of wooden crates, in various large stacks. She unfortunately couldn't see much, since a stack was near the front of the vent, blocking about half her view. She saw one of Robotnik's drones, like the ones she saw at the chemical plant earlier, lifting a crate and carrying it out of view. Though she couldn't see him, she heard Robotnik's voice clearly now, saying, "Bring it over there, and don't rattle it. That's highly sensitive equipment in there."
I need to get closer, Amy thought. She gently pried the vent open, careful not to make any sound. It was fairly low to the ground, so she climbed out first, then reached back and pulled her hammer out as well. Gripping it tightly, she moved up to the edge of the crates and looked around them to get a better view of Robotnik. What she saw nearly made her jump. Robotnik wasn't there at all, at least not in this exact spot. There was something hovering that looked like a monitor, and although it was facing away from her, she suspected Robotnik was on the screen. So it's a transmission, she thought. I wonder where he is, then…
There wasn't much else notable about the room, except for one other drone, who was also carrying a crate. This one set it down in the center of the area near the monitor, and Robotnik's voice came from it again, "Excellent, this one contains what we need. Return to the loader at once." The monitor swiveled a little to face the other drone in the room, and continued, "You. Look for any other crates marked with this number." The two drones nodded at the monitor, and each left sight in a different direction. The monitor itself hovered off with the first drone, leaving the crate behind in the center.
Now's my chance, she thought. Hammer in hand, she moved out from behind the stack, moving slowly and trying not to make any noise, but also watching to be sure nothing was approaching. She reached the crate and examined it. A simple nine-digit number was marked on the side, which didn't mean anything to her. I'll have to take a look inside, she thought. Hope it's not sealed… Grasping the edge of the crate, she tried to pry it open, and was a little surprised to find that it opened easily.
When she looked inside, however, she was confused. The crate looked empty… nothing inside at all, not even packing material. She took an extra look, and felt around inside with her arm just to be sure; it was definitely empty. But why would Robotnik want an empty crate? she thought. Unless… The blood drained from her face, and it suddenly made sense…
She started to turn around in order to make a break for the vent, but it was too late. Around the room, crates began to split open, sending wood splinters flying everywhere. Small combat drones were hidden inside them, each unfolding from its compact state into battle-ready position. Within seconds, a full circle of them surrounded her on all sides, training their weapons on her, with no clear avenue of escape. She clenched her teeth and raised her hammer… It was a trap! she thought And I fell right into it… well, they aren't getting me so easily!
With a shout, she jumped into the air, towards the nearest robot. It swiveled its weapons up to try and follow her, but she had already come down on it with the hammer, smashing it to the ground with a heavy blow. It gave her an opening, albeit a small one, and without hesitation, she scurried as fast as she could for a wooden door off to one side. The robots opened fire, the blasts striking the ground at her heels. No time to open the door, she thought, and held the head of the hammer out in front of her, slamming it into the door like a battering ram.
The wood of the door splintered on impact, coming off its hinges. As Amy entered the next room, however, her heart sank as she saw even more robots, all of them swiveling their weapons around to face the intruder. "Oh no!" she exclaimed, looking around furiously for another way out. More blasts came from behind her, and she yelped, running further into the room to avoid them.
They had her surrounded, and due to the crates around the room, she couldn't see any other way out. As they closed in, weapons at the ready, she yelled, "Leave me alone! I mean it!" She swung her hammer up hard, striking it in the chest and knocking it back into the others, but two more moved in from the sides to replace it. Hearing a noise behind her, she spun around, striking the side of another robot approaching her and sending it tumbling into a pair of other ones. She panted at the effort, though; it was taking all her strength to fight them off, and there were still a lot more.
An energy blast grazed Amy's right shoulder; she cringed, grabbing the spot and trying to keep her balance, but another blast shot by, tearing through her left leg. With a cry, she fell to one knee, clenching her eyes shut and trying feebly to ignore the pain. Managing to open one eye, she saw another drone coming towards her, and tried to raise her hammer in her right hand to strike it. The drone grabbed hold of her wrist with its claw before she could swing, and the claw tightened, forcing her to drop the hammer. It lifted her into the air… she was in too much pain to struggle or get free.
The hovering monitor she saw earlier moved next to the drone, and Robotnik's image studied her from it, scowling a little. "Amy Rose, is it? Blast… I had hoped my trap would bring Sonic here instead." Amy tried to say something in return, but it came out as little more than a whimper. Robotnik seemed to smile a little as he continued, "But you'll do. Robots, bring the girl to me at once." The drone that was holding her gave a small nod, then reached out with its other claw towards Amy's chest, a small taser-like device extended from it. She barely had time to gasp before electricity began to course through her, and everything went black…
Amy's voice rang out in the darkness… she reached out ahead of her, trying to feel around, but there was no light, and nothing to give her any bearing. From ahead of her in the void, though, she saw a soft glow that got steadily brighter, and made out a shape… It was Sonic, but he wasn't looking at her. Rather, he was looking off in another direction, paying no attention to her.
"Sonic, can you hear me? Why aren't you answering?"
Sonic responded by lifting his head slightly, although he still didn't turn to face her, as if to show that he heard her, but wasn't listening. Amy drifted closer to him and waved her arms, just invisible as the darkness that held her. Maybe that's why he couldn't see her. But he heard her.
"Don't you care about me? I want you to listen to me! Please listen!"
Sonic gave a short, silent laugh, and in the blink of an eye, he was gone.
He was gone… feelings of fury rose in her. She tried everything she could to get Sonic's attention, but he didn't care about her. Did he? But he rescued her…
"Sonic, come back!"
No, the answer seemed to come… he doesn't care about you. None of them really care about you. They're merely your friends. Your care for them is not returned.
She wanted to strangle him, for all the torment she went through. Nothing ever seemed good enough for Sonic. Nothing ever was. Nothing…
"Sonic, please come back… I need you…"
The void around her remained still, as if to show her how wrong she was. Sonic didn't need her, and though she thought she needed him, he would be beyond her grasp. What could she ever do to get him back? The void around her told her: nothing.
"No, I can be important to him! I can be something!"
Amy wanted to shout out to him again, but as she started to, the light passed over her. She could see her arms and legs again now, though the rest of her surroundings remained dark. This changed in the next few moments, as the darkness slowly flared up, starting off as a dim color of red and becoming brighter. As it did, her arms and legs began to glow even more brightly than the surroundings, and small embers of light began to dislodge from them..
"What's happening? Sonic, help me!"
She watched incredulously as her body slowly disintegrated into thousands of points of light. She frantically tried to hold herself together, but in a few moments, there wasn't anything left to hold together. She tried to cry out, but even her voice had vanished, the cry echoing out in the silence of her mind.
"Please, save me!"
The red faded back into the black from before. She was helpless, she was nothing. And she wasn't nothing only to herself, but she was nothing to Sonic as well. She didn't exist, not now, and not ever.
Even her thoughts were as nothing now… they mattered to no one.
There was silence. No thought, no self, no others.
Amy jolted awake… or was she? The bright red from her dream had vanished, but her surroundings were still pitch black. Were her eyes shut? She couldn't feel… her body felt numb and distant. She tried to open her eyes, but nothing happened. Everything remained a solid black. Her memory started to come back… Robotnik captured me, she thought. He knocked me out, and brought me back… to where? I have to find out…
She tried again to move, but felt nothing. Was she tied up, or secured in some way? It couldn't be, she decided, because she couldn't even feel herself straining against anything. It was as if her entire body had gone completely numb. She couldn't even muster a shout for help… nothing seemed to work. But I'm awake now, aren't I?
The void gave no answers. Not a sound, not a single ray of light. There was no feeling of coldness, of warmth, nothing to confirm that she was awake. In a startled revelation, she realized that she couldn't even feel herself breathing, and even her own heartbeat was absent. Am I dead? she thought. Did Robotnik's drones kill me? The thought terrified her… this wasn't at all what she was expecting death to be like.
As Amy worried herself over this, a bright flash of light came from nowhere. She screamed in surprise, although she only heard it in her mind. The light was blinding, and she couldn't do anything to shut it out. After a minute, or maybe less, it began to fade, and shapes were becoming visible. They were too blurry to see, but they were slowly gaining more substance, and there was definite movement as well. Relief partially filled her, knowing that she was probably still alive, although she was still worried… her eyesight was returning, but she still couldn't feel anything.
A heavy sound struck her ears as well, something heavy, like wind blowing against a microphone. Like her vision, it was slowly becoming clearer as well. At this point, she had stopped trying to sort things out. She decided to just wait and see what was going on… everything would be explained soon enough, she was sure of that. The images became clearer, and she saw that there was definitely someone in front of her. That someone was speaking, but the sound wasn't yet clear enough to understand.
Though she at first felt hopeful, her hope began to fade as everything came more into focus. Even though it was still fuzzy, there was no mistaking the person she saw now; it was Dr. Robotnik. He was grinning triumphantly and speaking, though it didn't look like he was addressing her, but rather someone else outside her field of view. His words began to clear up, "…yes, that's it. Increase by twelve percent… all right, that's plenty, stop there." Turning slightly and noticing her, he said, "Ahh, she's awake at last. Excellent!"
What's going on? Amy tried to ask, but no sound came out. Robotnik looked like he didn't even notice her trying to speak and spoke to her more sternly, "Greetings, my creation. I am Dr. Robotnik, your creator. You will call me master, and obey my every command to the best of your ability. Are your instructions clear?"
Call you master? Amy thought… Never! Instead of saying this, however, she heard something that would have made her heart stop, if she could still feel it: a voice, with a mechanical, synthetic intonation, which seemed to emanate from inside her, speaking, "I will obey, Master." It had come from her… it had to have. The realization of what happened slowly dawned on her, though she still refused to believe it.
Robotnik waved his arms and said, "Step forward and see yourself, A-27, codename 'Nemesis'!" Amy felt herself move forward under a power she could not control, and as Robotnik stood aside, she saw her reflection in a mirror across from her, a sight that would have made her scream if she were able to. Instead of seeing herself in the mirror, she saw the cold sight of a robot, a sleek, deadly construct of deep red armor that bore only a passing resemblance to her true self, a metallic prison from which there was no escape…
TO BE CONTINUED…