I tend to feel Sonic stories ought to have a 'version of reality' explanation attached to them, there's so many variations of canon. This one however could fit almost anywhere, although it started as a sort of AU to Sonic X as I never really went for their version of 'Sonic et al on Earth'. Only other relevant item that springs to mind is that the reference to Robotnik's backstory is the Fleetway comic version. It should though, make sense without seeing/reading either.
"Would you like to remind me again--" Knuckles flung himself to the floor to miss another lurid green energy bolt. "--why we're running around getting shot at, trying to stop Robotnik trying something that isn't going to work anyway?"
Sonic leapt across the corridor and smashed the sentry which had fired at them.
"Easy! We don't want to find out if it does. The Emeralds warp themselves to the Special Zone after all--why shouldn't they take someone with them?" Sonic leapt on top of the now now-smashed guard post and launched himself at the next wave of enemies without breaking his flow. "Or anywhere else? Instant transport. What Robotnik could do with that--" Three badniks fell to the same attack, "--is something else I don't want to find out."
The two surviving badniks scuttled up the walls and along the ceiling as Sonic finished speaking. Knuckles vaulted after them, scrambling hand over hand up the wall in pursuit.
"Too unstable. Unusable," he insisted as he dragged the first loose and flung it down to smash on the floor below. "The only way to control the Emeralds is back on the Floating Island." He shattered the second bot and dropped back to the floor.
"Which is where I ought to be." He looked around the now empty corridor. "I really don't know why I agreed to come along for this goosechase."
"That's a coincidence, " Sonic grinned at him, unabashed, "I'm beginning to wonder why I asked you to."
Knuckles opened his mouth to retort but closed it as a shudder ran through the building and somewhere up ahead a greenish light flared briefly. Hedgehog and echidna glanced at each other, both recognising the feel of the Chaos energy. They broke into a sprint towards the light.
Sonic rapidly drew ahead and was the first into the lab. Robotnik brandished an Emerald in each hand and didn't seem the least startled to see them. Instead he grinned.
He brought them together and the world turned white.
If there'd been an explosion it was noiseless. All Knuckles knew was that suddenly he was tumbling, falling head over heels, wind screaming in his ears. He tried to orient himself, tried to gather his wits, tried to catch the wind beneath him, gather himself to glide, but his head swam and dizzily he realised he didn't even know which way was up.
That particular question was answered when he hit something. Something extremely solid. He bounced off and landed flat on his face on another hard surface. For several minutes he simply lay catching his breath. The fall can't have been more than a few seconds. He'd been lucky.
He staggered to his feet and found himself in a kind of concrete pen. A low rail nearby was presumably the first thing he'd struck before falling to the floor. He moved stiffly across to it, rubbing his bruises, and looked over.
He felt suddenly and coldly sick. He stared down over the rail at a city several hundred feet below. Not a pen at all, but a rooftop with a guarding rail to ward people from the edge. A few feet further over and he'd have had more than bruises to worry about. He'd never in his life suffered from vertigo but the sight of that drop so narrowly avoided by mere chance made him feel he needed to sit down.
Instead he held tight to the rail and tried to work out what had happened.
For a start he was outdoors. Neither Robotnik, nor Sonic, were anywhere to be seen and no one here, wherever 'here' was, appeared to have noticed his precipitous arrival. This all gave him a bit of breathing space. Not to mention time to come up with some reply for Sonic who was sure to point out, when he turned up, that Chaos Emeralds clearly could be used to move between places.
Knuckles leaned over the railing again. The city spread before him was larger than he'd ever seen. Nowhere on Mobius he'd ever visited. Vehicles moved on almost solid lines and hundreds of people moved beside and among them, too small from here to identify by race or species.
In short he had no idea where he was. The people did however seem to be busily going about their daily business unhindered so it was probably a safe bet he was some way from Robotnik's area of control. He hadn't seen a single bot since he'd arrived.
He cast about for a way down. If need be he could climb or glide, but his ribs ached from hitting the railing and the tight turns he'd need to fly to miss the buildings looked like needless hard work if there was another route.
He quickly located a set of metal steps which seemed to criss-cross all the way down the building. Escape route in case of some problem he assumed. Good. He wouldn't need to explain himself to anyone inside. He still didn't know who these city dwellers were and the limited travelling he'd done on the surface had taught him enough to know that Robotnik was not the only enemy out there.
Making his way across the city would be unavoidable but maybe he could keep his head down and avoid attention. Anywhere this size must be used to strangers passing through, even ones as unusual as a lone echidna. He doubted the same could be said of strangers turning up in a building which might be someone's home for all he knew.
He trotted briskly down the steps, which ended in an alleyway between two of the tall buildings. Knuckles looked hopefully along it, but there was nothing but a dead end and some rancid smelling refuse. The street it would have to be. He steeled himself for whatever reaction he might get and strode out into the throng.
The shock hit him like something solid. The city dwellers were human. All of them. They teemed all along him jostling and pushing, every one several hands taller than him. Robotnik's race.
He hadn't even known there was such a city. How far had the Emeralds flung him?
The impulse to get out of sight struggled against the frozen disbelief and it took several moments to realise that no one was paying any real attention to him. One man collided with him and cursed as he almost fell.
"Hey, kid, Halloween was a month ago. Get the hell out the way."
Knuckles just stared at him and backed away, seeking the relatively shelter of the alley but not wanting to take his eyes off this myriad of potential threats. He collided with someone else and spun round. This one was female and merely tutted loudly and strode on.
Some realisation clicked in Knuckles' mind. They didn't know who he was! They didn't even know what he was. They thought he was one of their own in some kind of costume. Still backing off warily, he banged against the corner of the building he'd just come from. He glanced back down the alleyway. He might be out of sight if he retreated but there was nowhere to go from there.
Knuckles tried to force his heart rate back to something approaching normal and walked back out onto the street, trying not to appear as intimidated as he felt. He ignored the jostling, and the remarks, some amused, some irritated, which were aimed in his direction.
He had no particular route in mind but no city was endless. If he kept walking in the same direction sooner or later he'd reach the edge of it.
Sonic had landed with somewhat less of a bump, though having been closer to the Chaos effect, had ended up no less bruised. He picked himself up from the grass and dusted himself down. He took his in surroundings at a glance and started speaking before he turned round.
"Odd isn't it that the far-too-unstable-to-be-used Emeralds seem to have actually transported us after all." He turned with a smirk only to find the rest what appeared to be an empty garden. "Knuckles?"
Instead of an answer a startled yell came from a short, and unmistakably human boy. The combination of the yelling and the incongruous sight of such a small version of Robotnik's species was enough to render Sonic momentarily speechless.
"Hey, hey hey," he said hastily regaining his voice. "No need for that. It's okay. Shhh, look, I'm not gonna hurt you. Chill a minute, okay?"
"What are you?" The boy asked, staring.
"Uh..." Sonic hesitated. As far as he knew Robotnik was the only human on Mobius. Also as far as he knew, his alter ego Kintobor has come from another dimension entirely. Was it possible the Emeralds had sent them there? And if so was it by chance or design?
One thing Sonic did remember, was that Kintobor's dimension contained no talking animals. And certainly no blue hedgehogs.
"Uhh..." he said again. "Can you keep a secret?"
The boy shrugged, puzzled, but at least not yelling any more. "I guess."
"Well, I'm from another--" Sonic frowned, he wasn't great on the technical details. "--another world."
" You fell out of thin air. I saw you! Are you an alien?"
"I'm from another planet, so I guess yeah, here I am." Sonic grinned at the thought. "That's kind of cool." He shook his head. "Anyway, there was some experiment. It must have got screwed up. I was trying to stop it and ended up here. You didn't see anyone else I suppose?"
The boy shook his head.
"Well if they're here too I'm sure they'll show up. Neither of them is exactly great at keeping a low profile."
Sonic shrugged and grinned broadly. "Well, since I'm here--" He stuck out a hand, "Hi, I'm Sonic."
The boy took it. "Chris. Nice to meet you. Look, if you're serious about keeping this quiet, you'd better come inside. People round here aren't exactly used to seeing giant talking animals in the garden y'know?"
"What about your parents? Won't I come as a bit of surprise to them too?" Sonic pointed out.
"Na, they're out. They're almost always out. You can come up to my room."
Inside, Sonic put his feet upon the couch in an attitude of complete relaxation. "Nice place."
"Aren't you worried about your friends?" Chris asked.
"Actually, one of them's more of what you'd call an arch enemy than a friend," Sonic said. "It was his experiment. The other one, we'll he's pretty good at taking care of himself." He winked. "But don't go telling him I said that, hey?"
Knuckles was still walking when it began to get dark. The crowd had thinned and the mood of the city had changed. The apprehension he'd initially felt was starting to creep back, the looks he was getting were increasingly hostile rather than curious. Raucous cries came from many of the brightly lit buildings and there was a distinct smell of alcohol in the air.
"Didn't your mommy ever tell not to come down this part of town after dark?" someone called.
"What's with the costume, pal?" someone else demanded.
Knuckles ignored them but had to stop when someone stepped in front of him.
Knuckles looked up. "Get out of my way," he suggested. "Believe me, you do not want to start a fight with me."
"Hell it's not a brat it's a freaking midget!"
"You selling something, midget? Why the outfit?"
"Let me past." Knuckles glanced around, appraising the situation. There were at least three of them, not to mention the rest of the street, who seemed intent on their drinking at the moment but could turn nasty if one of their own was attacked.
One of the others jerked his head towards one of the vehicles.
"He's right about not starting a fight, Jacks, the cops are right over there."
The first speaker shrugged, "I ain't starting nothing. Just wanna know what's with the outfit. Civil question ain't it?"
He reached out to grab Knuckles' arm. Instincts reacted quicker than thought and he twisted loose and lashed out. His assailant screamed as blood ran from his face.
The others launched themselves into the fight and for several minutes Knuckles was too busy dodging and returning blows that he forgot to worry about being noticed.
A loud voice and the sound of running feet brought his attention back.
"Break it up!"
The one with the cut face rolled clear first, "He's a freaking maniac! Nutjob's got a knife or something!"
"Everyone put your hands against the wall."
Knuckles scrambled from the tangle of grabbing hands and flailing fists. He took one glance at the new arrivals, noted the matching uniform and the weapons at their sides and realised 'inconspicuous' was now out of the question.
He bounded forward, knocking the first one off balance and tearing past the other. "Police! Stop!" One of them shouted behind him. He glanced up at the side of the buildings as he ran. Could he outpace them climbing and lose them up there somewhere? The stabbing pain in his side suggested it would not be wise to try, and he grimaced, clutched it with one arm and ran on.
"Taser, taser! Stop now!" Another yell came from behind. Knuckles ignored it, vaulted over a collection of garbage cans and then abruptly for the second time that day found himself falling. He didn't even feel the impact as he hit the floor, every muscle in his body convulsing at once.
Then as suddenly as it had happened it stopped, and he went limp. One of the uniformed men ran up and stared down at him. Knuckles moved awkwardly trying to roll over and get back to his feet at least, it was indignity enough to be captured, let alone flopping about at his captor's feet.
"Keep still!" the man shouted, and Knuckles was surprised to find that his voice shook. Fear? "Keep still or I'll use this again." The man paused. "Uh... Do you understand me?"
"Yes." Knuckles grated, eyeing the weapon.
"Ramo," The other uniformed man ran up. "I've locked the rabble in the back of the squad car and sent for backup"
The first one spoke again. He voice still wavering.
"That isn't a costume."
The second officer joined his comrade in staring down at Knuckles.
Knuckles glared up at them. He had no idea why they should be so alarmed by this. Angry he could understand. Triumphant at grabbing him, sure. But scared? He hardly looked at his most intimidating, bruised, dishevelled, sporting a bloody graze across his muzzle, and currently flat on back.
Maybe they were just embarrassed and didn't want to have to explain to their boss how nearly he'd got away and how he'd just strolled through the city. That made a sort of sense, but it didn't much make Knuckles look forward to meeting the person who could inspire such fear in his underlings.
Sirens sounded and the second officer turned away. "That'll be our back up. I'll go meet them. Don't take your eyes off him."
The first officer nodded vigorously and watched the other leave. Fumbling he took a camera out of a pocket and held it to his eye. A light flashed.
"Jesus Christ", he repeated his partner's words.
"Bright blue, three foot high, talking hedgehogs would definitely make the news," Chris assured Sonic, switching on a view screen. "We'll see it on the TV if you're friend's turned up. You have TV where you come from?"
"Similar enough." Sonic nodded. "Knuckles isn't a hedgehog though. Or blue. He's an echidna."
Sonic shrugged. "Well, that's what he says he is and as he's the only one there is anymore I guess I have to take his word for it."
Chris had fished a heavy book down from a shelf and flicked it open.
"One of those?" he asked, pointing at a photograph.
Sonic snickered. A brownish, pointy nosed, ball of spines looked back at him from the page. "Well I can sort of see the resemblance, but much as I hate to say it, he looks more like me than he does like that."
Chris turned a page. "Well here, hedgehogs look like this."
Sonic grimaced, the photograph wasn't much more flattering than the one of the echidna. "I think I'll stick with my own dimension."
"I wonder if on your world you evolved from them, like we did from monkeys here?"
"Monkeys?" Sonic shrugged, "I'm afraid I left the science types at home."
"The news is starting." Chris pointed.
Sonic got bored after the first two stories but figured it didn't really matter, as he was pretty certain that crazed dictators or red 'aliens' would have been pretty much the first item if they'd turned up.
"That's good isn't it?" Chris said, noting his expression, "I mean, they obviously haven't managed to get themselves noticed. Maybe Knuckles managed to find somewhere to hide out too."
"Maybe." Sonic allowed, still frowning. "He's not really much of a people person though."
He also had even less experience of humans, Sonic realised. He would almost certainly assumed anyone he met to be an enemy.
"I almost wish he had turned up in a fight somewhere," he admitted.
Knuckles glowered silently at his captors, he hadn't said a word since being brought here except to demand to know who was in charge.
"Take me to your leader" the officer who'd stunned him had laughed, sounding mildly hysterical, and he hadn't asked again. These people were apparently local law enforcement. They weren't concerned with him because of his reputation or Robotnik, they had intervened in a fight was all.
There was however someone else he couldn't quite figure out. There seemed to be an argument of some sort going on, which Knuckles, now with his hands handcuffed behind his back, could make very little of.
"So who exactly to we tell? What on earth is the jurisdiction here?"
"What on earth?" someone snorted. "That is the question isn't. Are we even talking about on Earth?"
Silence fell as the officers regarded Knuckles.
"Fine. We'll start with the mayor. His city, his problem. Then find the closest army base and tell them. Let them decide whether this is ET or Invasion of the goddamn Bodysnatchers."
"Sir." One of the officers left, presumably to carry out these orders.
"What about... him?" another asked.
"Lock him in the interview room. Last thing we need is to parade him past all the petty vandals in the cells for them to gawk at."
He gestured at Knuckles and took one of the weapons from the officer who'd brought him in. He waved it under Knuckles' nose.
"You know what this is now? You don't want it used again--you go with them. You do what you're told. Understand?"
Knuckles gave a single nod and the officer backed off. "All right then."
Knuckles went with them to a small room with a plain table, four chairs and a security camera. He considered the height of the chairs and instead sat down in a corner, leaning against the wall and glaring up at the camera. He hadn't understood the full gist of the argument but he knew he didn't like the part about an 'army' and he needed some peace and quiet to think of a way out of this.
After a moment the officer who seemed to be in charge entered with one other. He took one of the seats. The other remained standing, his hand close to his weapon. Knuckles ignored them.
The chief officer grunted.
"I've never read an alien its rights before so I'll be honest and say I don't know what the hell's going on here. I'm Captain Davies. You want to give me your name?"
"No." Knuckles was clear on that point. These people might not be close enough to Robotnik to recognise his enemies on sight, but his name would surely ring bells.
"And I suppose where you've come from is out of the question too?"
"How about what you're doing here."
Knuckles hesitated. A limited version of the truth there was safe enough.
"There was an accident. I got lost."
"Uh huh. Anyone with you?"
"No," Knuckles said instantly. "I was alone"
"So you what--crashed? Where?"
"I didn't crash, not a vehicle. I fell and landed here."
"Fell from where?"
"I don't know." Knuckles glared at him. "Like I said--I'm lost."
"What do you want here?"
"To get un-lost!" Knuckles shouted, losing his patience. "Look, those people in the alley attacked me, not the other way around. Why aren't you in there questioning them? I defended myself. I've done nothing wrong here."
The officers looked at him incredulously, then at each other with dawning realisation.
"Do you know where you are?" the chief said slowly.
Knuckles raised his eyes to the ceiling.
"What part of 'lost' do you not understand?"
"This is Earth." The man paused deliberately. "The planet Earth?"
Knuckles stared at him, then sat abruptly back down. "I really am lost."
The fear and confusion in the officer's attitude suddenly made sense. He wasn't merely a foreigner to them--he was an alien.
"I didn't know, " he said. "I thought the accident had sent me to a distant part of my own world."
The officer regarded him, not looking entirely convinced. Knuckles couldn't blame him. If Earth's encounters with aliens had been anything like Mobius' they could hardly be expected to be anything but suspicious.
Finally the chief spoke. "If you're telling the truth about this being an accident, there's something else you should know."
Knuckles looked up at him.
"Earth has never encountered aliens before."
Knuckles groaned. "Well I'm no ambassador, so you can just say hello and goodbye to this particular alien, because all I want is to find out what got me here and make it get me back. Now let me go."
The chief stared at him. "You can't be serious. You saw the reaction people had. There'd be uproar. Besides, "he said, "there is still the attack. You managed to do quite a lot of damage in 'self defence' and there's the issue of a concealed weapon."
Knuckles turned around to display his cuffed hands. "These are not concealed."
"I'm sorry." The chief stood. "I have to hold you. I also have to warn that if you try to escape we will use whatever force is necessary."
Knuckles slumped back down against the wall. This complicated matters.
Officer Sam Ramo, closed the door of his apartment and leaned against it. He closed hi eyes tightly then opened them again half expecting to find himself in bed with the whole night so far just a freakish dream.
He'd arrested an honest-to-god alien. The idea was patently ridiculous, and just as patently true. He pulled his camera back out from his pocket and stared at it.
Then slowly he moved to the phone. Newspaper offices always had someone there waiting for a scoop didn't they? Even in the middle of the night this had to be worth heating up the presses somewhere.
Had to be worth more than the pittance a beat officer salary brought in.
He flicked out the telephone directory.
"Uh, hello?" The young, and wide-eyed officer who had the near hysterics the previous night, opened the door. "The other prisoners are having breakfast but none of us have the first idea what you eat so I just brought a mixture."
He entered the rest of the way, closely followed, to Knuckles' disappointment, by another armed officer.
He put a tray on the table. Knuckles eyed it. Several pieces of fruit were at least identifiable, but he hesitated. He was after all, being held by people who may or may not be enemies, on an alien world. If the stuff turned out to be poisonous he wouldn't even know if it was deliberate or accidental.
"Am I supposed to use magical alien powers to levitate this breakfast to my mouth?" Knuckles asked pointedly.
"Oh." The officer looked abashed. "No. Turn around. I'll take the cuffs off." He paused. "If there's any trouble..."
"Yeah. I know. Zap, right?" Knuckles said irritably. It grated at his nerves to be trapped like this and he wasn't in the mood to be threatened. As if he didn't already appreciate how little he could do about the situation he was stuck in. He turned around, rubbing his wrists and pointed at a bowl of unappealing looking kibble on the tray.
"Museli," the officer said. "Frankly, I wouldn't recommend it. The sandwiches aren't bad. Bit early in the morning for them, but I had one."
Knuckles didn't have the facilities or time for bread making on the Island but had eaten them when visiting the surface occasionally. Eaten them warily--Sonic had a tendency to put the most outlandish things between bread.
"What's in it?"
Knuckles wrinkled his nose. "Rotted milk."
The officer looked startled. "Uh, I suppose so."
"No." Knuckles picked up what he hoped was the local equivalent of an apple, and took a small bite. It did taste like apple. He crunched the mouthful, swishing it about in his mouth testing for any tingling or aftertaste. Eventually he swallowed. When nothing untoward happened he finished both apples, a cup of what proved to be orange juice, and the bread from the cheese sandwiches.
It wasn't really enough to fill him up, but he refused to lower himself enough to ask favours from his captors. Especially since the officer sat and watched him eat, clearly just waiting to put the cuffs back on. He'd make do.
Sonic woke that morning to vigorous shaking.
"Hedgehog, hey, hedgehog!" Chris was calling.
"Sonic." Sonic mumbled, blinking sleep out of his eyes.
"Sorry. Sonic. But it's important you've got to see this."
Chris shoved a newspaper in front of him. It's all over everything."
"That's your friend?"
"Yeah." Splashed across the front page under the bold headlines "Alien Arrest!" was a grainy but unmistakable picture of Knuckles. He was sitting in cell of some sort, glaring at the camera with a face like thunder and looking decidedly the worse for wear.
Sonic's eyes narrowed as he turned the page to see more. Most were grainy security camera stills of the same cell, Knuckles sitting or standing, his hands behind his back, presumably tied. In one he was laying on the ground outside, the picture clearly taken at night but better quality than the others. The barrel of a weapon was visible at the edge with two thin wires trailing from it.
"What's that?" Sonic asked.
Chris peered at the picture. "Ouch. It looks like they tasered him."
"It's like a dart gun, it gives you an electric shock down the wires. To knock you down."
"Where were these taken?" Sonic was wide awake now.
"It doesn't say. Some cop took them, but he wouldn't say where. Probably 'cause he'll get fired the minute his boss sees this. He swears it was a real alien. Not all the papers believe him. Some are up in arms 'cause they think the police did over someone who was just mucking around. Some think it's a fraud altogether."
"Good! The more that think that the better, if the police are going to go around zapping people for being aliens!"
"It says he was in a fight," Chris pointed out.
"He probably was." Sonic shrugged. "But he wouldn't have started it. He'd know it would draw attention. He's not that stupid." Sonic paused. "Don't tell him I said that either."
Sonic paced the length of the room and back. "Where would they take him?"
Chris shook his head. "I don't know. I mean, there's stories and things about aliens, secret government labs, army bases and things. Most people don't really believe in that stuff though."
"Did you believe in blue hedgehogs until yesterday?" Sonic asked. "I'll try 'me all."
"But they're all over the country. How are going to get there? It would take weeks to do that moving in secret. You can't exactly jump on a plane."
Sonic grinned and waggled one foot. "I don't need to."
---End Part 1---