Lose Your Illusions.

Author Notes and Random Declarations: Okay, here we go; first off, I do not, have not and most probably will never own any of these characters; they're copyright Sega team and various comics. Again, this covers my rear from any lawyers after a fast buck.

This new fanfiction will be number five in the series so far; I really can't stress enough that you have to read them in the following order for everything to make sense: Angel of Darkness and Ice – The Best Medicine – A Bloodstone Rose – Iron Skin, Golden Heart – Lose Your Illusions. This will introduce you to the circumstances behind the scenario as it is now in this series of fanfics. Hope to hear from the old crowd of reviewers again (TH – in answer: Maaaaaaybe :-)) Right, enough waffle:

Let's get this show on the road again.

Prologue: The Patient Hunter.

It was the sound of running water that alerted her; instinctively, her hand paused mere inches from the access panel; so, an opportunity to; she chuckled throatily as she found the right word; mount this prise once and for all. With a naughty giggle and a dirty mind oozing sudden plans, the joint second-in-command of the renegade technocratic faction of echidnas upon Angel Island, formally titled Lady Kommissar even if her name was Lien-Da, suddenly changed from her ice-cold business persona to a sleek sexual predator, programmed to seduce. Quickly slipping out of her customary uniform, which she only wore because she had been inspecting the construction of the final stage of this development with her brother and Kragok's pedantic attitude to rules, she revealed a skin-tight leather outfit beneath, cut both high and low to emphasise the benefits nature had been kind enough to bestow upon her. Combined with her sharp wit, keen charisma and immaculate fashion sense, it was a package that could reduce most men, and a few women who were so inclined, to puddles at her feet; but somehow not this one.

She ran her teeth along her tongue, contemplating for a second as she sized up the problem now facing her; well, it wasn't so much a problem as a challenge. A challenge that had teased her, so used to getting her own way in this department at least, to action; he's got a high threshold – most men wouldn't even bother to resist – maybe he's got kids and a wife, or he's gay; she shrugged, suddenly realising whatever the reason for his refusal to, if not acknowledge, at least response to her advances, it was immaterial; he can't resist forever – he'll break in the end, they all do; as the door slid soundlessly open, she ducked her head inside, eyes dilating momentarily as she realised the advantage of surprise now lay with her; I'll get my way.

He was facing away from her, hunched over as he appeared to be running water at the sink, the cloth in his right hand occasionally used to rub at a certain spot while his other hand, the one encased in a white glove, rather than the standard red that made up the majority of most dark Legion uniform, manipulating the power of the water stream he was using. Behind his shuffling form, Lien gazed at his back, her eyes lingering on the whiteness of his glove as she again tried to understand what it must have been like to live with such a disability.

XXX

The Dark Legion, perhaps more than any other employer on Angel Island, was completely equal opportunities; indeed, many recruits who helped strengthen the Legion were those who had originally suffered some form of handicap, natural or otherwise, that had been corrected by the surgery and technology of the Legion. These new implants corrected their physical flaws at the same time as it shielded their bodies from the remorseless advances of the Legion's implacable, seemingly inevitable foe; the steel implants of the legionnaires holding fast against the march of time and, most importantly, the death time could carry in its wake. However, in his wisdom, the lord of the Dark Legion, Enerjak; or Dimitri, depending on if we're alone or not; turned no-one away, for none should be cast out to suffer death's caress; fear and resistance to change was to be expected and wrestled with individually; only when the individual was ready in his or her own mind to begin the next stage of the process would he or she be referred to the immediate superior, who would assess the potential candidate and either back or withdraw the motion. Hence why legionnaires such as the specimen standing before Lien-Da existed.

His white left glove was a marker that he suffered a disability; in his case, he was a mute. Other colours meant other conditions, she distinctly remembered a grey glove meant the wearer was deaf, but beyond that her memory failed her and she didn't really care; all she needed to concern herself with now was him, or more specifically, how she could persuade him to leave the tools of his trade for a little while. As she planned, she watched his diligent work and silently sniggered; if I were him, I'd get myself upgraded just to get rid of the cleaning duties. This was a valid point; the Legion was not so open-minded as to present blind legionnaires with guns – disabled members of the legion were not permitted to carry firearms or enter combat training, and as such often ended up with unpleasant, menial tasks such as cleaning. This one; I really should find his name out, maybe I can break the ice afterwards; had been hanging about for a bit, cleaning up the barracks and the other officer's rooms, often accompanied by a mop bucket so old you could hear it coming; one of the front wheels squeaked abominably. Remembering this fact, Lien smiled winningly and slipped into the room, her footfalls soft as to not alarm her quarry as her mind chased phantoms down an avenue pleasing to her; if this comes off, I'll get to see if he can squeak as loud as that bucket of his does. With that, she casually threw her clothes towards the sumptuous bed that took up a large proportion of the room floor space, acting as though she'd just come in, freezing at the 'sight' of the interloper.

"Hello there?"

His answering turn was slow but not unhurried; he was in an awkward starting position and had to be careful not to upset his momentum, killing the tap as he faced his superior, bowing as he was unable to articulate the proper greeting. Never one for standing on ceremony, Lien shook her head and stepped inside properly, the door behind her sliding shut automatically, allowing her privacy to being her game,

"No need for that; if anything I should be bowing to you", she did, allowing him a full view of what her top cunningly failed to conceal, "I was disturbing your endeavours". He cocked his head, for a second she dared hope, before he nodded and slowly turned back around, cheating her again as she fumed impotently; damn, he's playing hard to get – why is he playing hard to get? If anyone should be playing hard to get, it's me; fighting down her temper, she took a breath and tried option two; quickly and silently closing the distance between them, she placed her bare hand atop his gloved one, slowly turning to shut off the tap flow again as he looked at her sidelong, though his uniform mask failed to show anything of merit.

"I didn't mean you had to get straight back to work", her tone was sultry, beckoning as the sound of the dripping tap was soon the only noise audible to the both of them, "you just, startled me was all". This way seemed to be getting faster results than just barrelling in with both feet; if she played it cool, she might get somewhere with this obtuse customer. Seeing him hesitate, the seducer took the lead, subtle word-play opening her opportunity,

"Actually, now you're here", she stepped back, slowly spinning on her axis as she tried to plan his move; he respects authority, he wouldn't refuse an order; there was a chink in the armour, something she could go at, "could you do me a favour?" As she expected and hoped, he nodded, unable to ignore the unspoken demand from a much higher rank than he was; she knew this, and she pounced,

"I want to change into something", she indicated her outfit, how it clung to every curve alluringly, "a little more comfortable, but the zip's a little stuck. Be a sweetheart and ease it free for me would you?" That was smooth; normally thinking like that wasn't her forte, but then again she usually didn't have to employ charm to secure an evening's entertainment; her body was usually enough. She felt something tremor on her back, a faint, continual buzz as the perfectly greased zip began to slide down and then, finally, the fluttering sensation of air on her naked back fur. Her breath quickened, surely it wouldn't be long before she added this encounter to her bedpost notches, when something ruined the mood as surely as a bucket of icy water.

A loud, heavy knock reverberated throughout the whole room; she jumped in shock at the sudden noise as a voice that matched the knock perfectly boomed through the metal to her,

"Lady Kommissar, a word with you?" He had acted before she could try and redress the situation; a second later, the door slid open once more to reveal an intimidating figure. The newcomer was also an echidna, but differed from the other two in that he was the most obviously augmented. One of his forearms had been replaced with a tri-pronged claw, the digits flexing impatiently as his mechanical eye replacement swept the room with a red beam, cutting right to the heart of the matter as he pointed at the mute cleaner,

"You, what are you doing here?" Lien could only assume her would-be partner had tried to make a bad situation better and as Kragok pointed the situation lightened from her point of view,

"Out"; he jerked his thumb over his shoulder; in response, the lower ranking orderly hastily gathered up the tools of his trade and made to depart, shoulders hunched and posture submissive as he excused himself. A growl rose in Kragok's throat as he was denied his talking time until security was restored; to hurry the process, the centre of his claw glowed red for a second and a sudden spark of ruby lightning was ejected from it, impacting on the departing back of the one who prevented him making his announcement; Lien saw the one she wanted stiffen at the sudden pain before the door sealed both twins in, alone in a private world.

XXX

"Kragok", Lien groaned, falling face first onto her bed as bitter ashes of disappointment filled her mouth; she glared at her impassive twin as she rolled onto her back, regarding him upside down, "you let him get away". He cut her off with a slash from his organic hand,

"This situation is worth more than your gratification", his eye blinked uncertainly, a sure sign he was excited as his voice picked up speed, "all is in place; this facility is finally fully operational and our plan can be put into motion", his one good eye looked over her critically, "you are aware of what's at stake here?"

"Yes, more than you know", she flipped to her feet once more, meeting his gaze levelly, "I know that if Dimitri, oh we're alone, it doesn't matter", she snapped as he made to correct her. His need for secrecy was one of the things that really bugged her, even if she could see this was a situation that called for utmost care to avoid a slip. Together with Kragok, she was one of only two echidnas, other than the grandmaster himself, who knew that the former lord of the Dark Legion Dimitri, their great grandfather, and his recent cybernetic replacement Enerjak were one and the same being. A great tragedy had befallen the venerable echidna upon his return to the flesh and he had almost been slain by it; only by embracing the Central Dogma of the Dark Legion, the final release from the clutches of death, had he survived to continue his noble work. He had gone to great lengths to keep his survival secret; sometimes Lien feared that he was hiding from whatever had struck him down, faking his own death to avoid a dreadful fate. She shook off such brooding however; this was not the time for it,

"If he finds out, it'll be our necks on the block – Jesus Kragok, if he knew what we were trying her we'd both be in the brig so fast our feet wouldn't touch the floor".

"Hence the secrecy", Kragok countered off-hand, "the first he will know of our idea is when we deliver the guardian and those who serve him to his feet", she saw his claw flex, a soldier's desire to crush his opponent made manifest, "then they can be disposed of, and the way paved for liberty".

"Maybe, I but I still don't like it".

"You can't back out now".

"I never said that", she spat back, putting a hand to her head as she composed herself; sometimes her twin could really rub her up the wrong way, "I've got tracers on them both, we'll know when to strike".

"Good", the male nodded once and then smiled, "when this ends Lien, our names will live forever", he turned to go, pausing only to add, "as shall we all", before leaving her alone with her thoughts.

XXX

Lien sat down, suddenly tired as she ran the plan that had grown from one of Kragok's all-night plotting binges to this over in her head again. This entire base had been constructed, the echidnas staffing it secreted and the money behind the investment embezzled without Dimitri's permission or notice; she'd never disobeyed him like this before. The stakes were high, but this was one hell of a gamble – if it didn't work, she and Kragok would probably wish they'd never been born. But it's too late to back out now; the walls around her were proof of that – this much work couldn't be undone at the drop of a hat. Sighing, she reclined back, diverting her attention from such problematic thoughts with a little mental picturing; still he had eluded her, but, her smile grew wider, more subtle as her eyes glittered with intellectual certainty, in the long run it didn't matter. I've got all the time in the world; she lay back, feeling the soft mattress give under her bodyweight, moderate though it was and let her imagination run, picturing what the climax of her inevitable triumph would be; he will be mine, eventually…

A/N: Uh oh, the legion's up to its old tricks – this ain't good news for Knuckles and gang…