Author's Note: Wow... Um... Sorry for the rediculously long delay. I have a ton of reasons for it, some of them understandable, some of them me being just plain lazy. School started, and I made the briliant decision to sign up for two AP classes, one of them being English. Let's just say that I spend more time now writing essays than I do writing fanfictions. That's my legitiment excuse. My "just plain lazy" excuses? Between Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and Super Mario Galaxy, I think I'll probably never actually do anything productive for the rest of the year. Thank God Brawl got pushed back to next year, or I think all semblance of life that I know would disappear.

There's something else, too, that's been keeping me busy for the past month or so: Role Playing. I recently joined both a Mario RP (it's my homepage now, what with the untimely death of the NSider Forums) as well as a Sonic RP. And for those of you who love my characters, here's some great news: Both Liz and Shaun are in that Sonic RP, while I'm planing on introducing Matt and Nate later! Their backstories are a little different there (since the RP forbate "characters from eath" histories), but they are otherwise very similar in behavior (kinda like Sonic himself in his eight different continuties). I can't give the link for it here, 'cuz Fanfiction is stupid, but you can find the RP if you just Google "sega sth rp". The only catch is that you gotta register before you can view anything, but if you can't get enough of my characters and want to read more about them in between updates, then it's worth checking out! Hey, maybe you'll wanna join the RP, too!

I couldn't believe it as I stood there, shaking Rotor's hand for the first time. Neither SatAM nor the comics were exactly my forte, but I knew who Rotor was: the expert mechanic who whipped together everything the Freedom Fighters needed. While he wasn't a fighter, his brains certainly made up for lack of brawn. Who knows, maybe he'll help us out if I asked nicely or something.

Nah, better hold off... Beginning a conversation with, "Hi! Do you wanna join our group of rag-tag middle and/or high schoolers as we try to find some way to recover our human forms return to our own dimension?" just seemed... tacky, to say the least. Not to mention it would probably get me committed.

"Hey," I greeted instead, "nice to meet you, Rotor. I'm Matt... Matt the Wolf."

I promptly mentally kicked myself for doing that '(name) the (species)' thing again. I guess I was just a little disturbed that I was getting so used to being an animal that I was including it in my surname now.

At any rate, Rotor withdrew his handshake and glanced down at Cream and Cheese, who were standing right next to me.

"Oh, and that's Cream the Rabbit and Cheese the Chao," I introduced, "they're kinda under my care at the moment."

"Well, hi there!" Rotor welcomed, tipping his cap at the two.

"Hello, Mr. Rotor!" Cream answered, politely bowing, "It's a pleasure to meet you!"

"Chao! Chao!"

"Aw... Gee, thanks..." Rotor replied, blushing a little at Cream's excessive civility.

That was when I realized the interesting situation that was unfolding before me. Cream, as far as I could tell, had never met Rotor before. She never appeared in SatAM for obvious reasons, and I don't think she's ever shown up in the comics (not that I would be the one who would know such things...). Therefore, this was the first time these two characters have ever interacted! I was hoping they would keep talking to each other just to see what would happen, but unfortunately, Rotor turned his attention back to me, seeing how it was pretty obvious that I was the one who was going be buying stuff, not Cream.

"So, Matt..." he asked, "What brings you here? Looking for something in particular?"

"Well... A group of friends and I have been traveling around a lot lately," I explained, "and we've seemed to have raised the ire of a certain Dr. Robotnik..."

"Yesh... Robotnik..."

I could've sworn I saw a scowl on Rotor's face for a second before he quickly calmed back down. I guess it was safe to say that he already had a bad encounter with him, what with him being a freedom fighter and all.

"Anyway," I continued, "he's been sending all sorts of robots and junk after us, so I've been thinking about getting something to defend myself with. Any suggestions?"

"Robots are tricky little buggers," Rotor began, leading the three of us further into the store, "for the most part, conventional weapons are pretty ineffective against them. You see..."

He pointed to a wall that had three sheets of metal hanging up on it. From left to right, they were labeled 'steal', 'titanium', and 'megatal'. The steal sheet was really beaten up, with bullet holes, burn marks, and huge slashes all over the thing. The titanium sheet looked much less worse for wear. It had a few minor burn marks, scratches and dents; only a few shots seemed to actually penetrate it. Whatever megatal was, it certainly was the strongest: it didn't look like there was any damage to it at all.

"... Robotnik likes to use different coverings depending on his robots," Rotor explicated, "he uses steal for his grunts, like the Egg Pawns. Anything can take 'em down really, like standard firearms," he pointed over to a gun rack on the opposite wall, "but besides for those robots, he rarely uses steal. Robotnik really prefers titanium; that stuff requires serious firepower to do any real damage to it. Quite honestly, it's usually better to use whatever natural abilities you have against them as opposed to weapons, like the spin-dash."

I cringed a little bit thinking about what happened the last time I used that move.

"And then there's megatal... For all intents and purposes, this stuff is indestructible. On the plus side, it's also pretty darn rare: Robotnik only uses this stuff on his most important robots. I can't imagine what you did to get the doctor's attention, but I'm sure it can't be bad enough to warrant him bringing out those guys."

I took a quick glance at Cream, who was simply staring wide-eyed at Rotor as he explained everything while Cheese, apparently growing bored, took a nap on her head.

"You get any of that?" I asked.

"Uh..." Cream muttered, "I'm sorry, Mr. Mathew, but I don't think I did..."

I turned back to the walrus.

"Look, Rotor," I began, "thanks for the Metal Armor 101 lesson there, but I just need a really good weapon because, quite honestly, I stink at using my 'natural abilities'."

"I see... Well, how about a gun?" he suggested, "I've got a few in stock that can bust through titanium."

I looked back over at the gun rack. Granted, the stuff he had hanging there looked pretty darn powerful... Shotguns, magnums, some things that looked more sci-fi than real... but I'm sorry, I just couldn't see myself carrying a gun. Who do I look like, Shadow the Hedgehog!? Besides, considering the promise I made with Cream earlier, I doubt I could effectively use a gun as a defensive weapon, unless I got one that was so flippin' big that it would just scare off any would-be attackers, but I doubt that logic could ever possibly work.

"Actually..." I elaborated, "I was thinking something more along the lines of a melee weapon, like a hammer or something..."

"Ah... I have a few of those over there," he pointed to the other side of the store, "but if you're that interested in a weapon... Hold on for a moment..."

Rotor ran (yes, I don't quite get how a walrus can 'run' either) into the backroom again, leaving me, Cream, and Cheese a little confused as to what was going on. After a bit of commotion that could be heard from where we were standing, Rotor returned holding a...

... Holy shroom, he was holding a freakin' sword.

The blade was two feet long with a short, but decorated, gold hilt. The blade itself didn't have any fancy engravings or anything on it, but I'd be danged if it didn't look sharp. As Rotor handed it to me, I was able to pick it up easily in one hand and swing it around a bit... Out of the way of everyone else, of course.

"That was what I was working on when you came in," Rotor explained, "the blade itself is made out of megatal, so it's pretty much guaranteed not to break at any inconvenient times. Combine that with the sharpness of the blade, and you've got yourself a sword that can cut through the majority of the doctor's robots! Here, why don't you try it out?"

Rotor walked up to the wall and took down the sheet of titanium. He then led us to another part of the store that looked almost like an indoor shooting range (you know, the store didn't look this big from the outside!). He attached the metal to a stand at the far end of the room and then walked back to us.

"This is the section of the store where people can test out their weapons," he elucidated, "go on, try taking a swing at the titanium with that sword!"

I can't be the only one who was half-expecting him to say something like, "... By pressing the 'A' button!" right?

Anyway, I looked down at the sword in my hands and then looked back at my 'target'. This wasn't just using a Wiimote to take down some Yakuza thugs in Red Steel. This wasn't even messing around with that Master Sword replica I got off of Ebay for $120 to use in my Link Halloween costume. I was about to use a real sword to inflict real damage on something. This weapon in my hand... It wasn't a toy, it was the real thing.

Needless to say, I was a little nervous.

Regardless, I gripped the sword firmly in two hands (yes, it was a one-handed blade, but I really didn't want to accidentally let go), and charged towards the not-so-threatening piece of metal. With a mighty roar... that was completely unnecessary and probably just made me look like an idiot... I squeezed my eyes shut and brought the sword down on the titanium. There was the immediate sound of metal-on-metal, followed a few seconds afterwards by an odd creaking noise and a loud 'BANG!' After a few more moments of dead silence, I finally managed to pry one eye open and look at the destruction I had caused, and promptly had both eyeballs open as wide as they possibly could immediately thereafter.

The titanium... and the stand... were completely cleaved in two; split clean in half and lying on the ground on either side of my blade, which was now partially embedded in the metal floor of the room itself.

Well, that confirms it: Best. Weapon. Ever.

I turned back to my colleagues, resting the sword stylishly on my shoulder. Cream's eyes were even bigger than normal (seriously, they took up about 9/10ths of her head at the moment), Cheese was flailing his arms around wildly while rapidly shrieking in his typical high-pitched chao speak, and Rotor had a smile that dwarfed even his huge tusks. Guess he was proud that his theory on megatal vs. titanium was true.

"So..." I began, finally breaking the silence, "How much?"

Rotor was so pleased that I helped him prove that his weapon was that powerful that he actually gave me a discount on it. Not that it helped a lot on the ol' bag of rings, though: the thing still cost 500 rings! The cost not only went towards the sword, however. Included in the deal was a nice scabbard, which conveniently (or eerily, depending on how you look at it), attached nicely to my belt, opposite my ring bag.

"Alright, now remember," Rotor told me as I slid the sword into the sheath for the first time, "that megatal sword works great on titanium, but I'm not sure what would happen if you used it on something else that's megatal. They might just cancel each other out, so to speak."

"Ah, a sort of lightsaber-principle going on there?" I muttered absentmindedly.

"Huh?" Rotor inquired, "What are you talking about?"

"You know, that whole thing where a lightsaber can cut through anything except another light---"

I immediately paused when I realized an important key fact: there was no Star Wars in Sonic's world. Closest they ever got would probably be those Chao in Space posters they had plastered everywhere in the newer games, and I doubt that movie resembled Star Wars in any way, shape, or form.

"Uh... Never mind," I corrected, "It's a... Uh... Inside joke. Yeah."

I quickly thanked Rotor one last time and left the store with Cream in tow before I had to elaborate any further. Remembering that people on Mobius wouldn't understand pop-culture references was gonna be a little tough.

As we walked down the street, I began to feel my arm get sore. Really sore. Rubbing it, I came to the realization that maybe the sword had a few drawbacks, like tennis elbow. Of course, it probably didn't help that I had just used it to slice a sheet of titanium clean in two... I guess I would have to be a little bit more conservative when it came to swinging that thing around.

Remind me again: how do anime characters swing humongous weapons around like there's nothing to it? There is something seriously wrong with the world when some whiny, angst-filled, spikey-haired, pretty boy can heave a half-ton sword around without getting tired and I have to ice my arm after using my sword once.

At any rate, now that I had a weapon, I started thinking about anything else we would need. Maps? Guide books? Camping gear? If we didn't know what we would be doing, how could I buy stuff to prepare for it? Maybe I should ask Liz.

Oh right, she's busy getting pampered or some---

"Hey! Matt! Cream! Over here!"

I whirled around and saw Liz waving at us from the street corner. Once she had gotten our attention, she ran up to greet us.

"Oh, hey there!" I welcomed, "Back so soon?"

"Well, I only got a basic treatment. I didn't want to spend all my rings on something too frivolous."

... Says the girl who bought ten bazillion things in that blasted department store...

"It's nice to see you again, Ms. Elizabeth!" Cream complimented, "You look beautiful!"

"Chao! Chao!"

Well, I had to admit, Cream was right. Liz was now wearing a kimono not unlike the one the other girl had, including a pair of wooden sandals. In her hands she was holding a shopping bag which, as far as I could tell, was where her old clothes were, and a woven basket full of all sorts of lotions and soaps (which were seriously irritating my sensitive nose, by the way).

Of course, all this paled in comparison to how she looked, personally. I had no idea what she had done (and no intentions on finding out), but she was no longer flaky-looking, that's for sure. Instead, she now looked soft and smooth, at first glance not looking like she had scales at all. The shine was back, too: she had a glow about her that almost appeared angelic. Also, her 'Mohawk' was a little different, as the spines seemed to be flipped to the side now as opposed to sticking straight up. Just like Cream said, she looked beautiful. Heck, I'd say she looked hot.

OH, HECK NO! I did not just say that an anthropomorphic lizard looked hot! I am not a furry... Or a scaly... Or whatever...

Eventually, I forced down all romantic feelings and managed to choke out a "Yeah, you look nice!" before turning around and biting down on my fist. If this was an anime, I was sure I'd be having one of those fountain nosebleeds right about now.

"So, what have you three been up to while I was gone?" Liz asked, seemingly oblivious to my mental anguish (or possibly ignoring it), "Did you buy anything yet, Matt?"

After I managed to fully recover, I explained to Liz everything that had happened. How I went looking for a weapon, how we ran into Rotor the weapons shop owner, and how I wound up with something that could easily destroy Eggman's robots. It was hard to tell the story, though, as Liz kept interrupting me at every point along the way. Take, for instance, when I brought up Rotor. As soon as I mentioned his name, she nearly went bonkers with excitement.

"You met Rotor!?" she asked in disbelief, "You really met Rotor!?"

"Uh... Yeah..." I replied, unsure as to what can of worms I may have opened. I quickly found out as she grabbed me by the shoulders and began asking me all sorts of questions, unintentionally shaking me back and forward vigorously in the process.

"Was he wearing glasses, like in the comic? Did he ever mention Tommy the Turtle? How's his back?"

"What?... Who?... How?..." I sputtered in response, "I... I dunno... I didn't ask him anything!"

She immediately let go of me after I said this, causing me to lose my balance and fall down.

"You didn't ask him anything?" she gasped, "How could you not ask him anything! Matt, this was the best time to find out about what's going on around here! He's one of Sonic's friends, for crying out loud!"

"Um... Ms. Elizabeth? What are you talking about?"

There was an awkward silence as we both turned to stare at Cream, who was looking at us inquisitively. In the mists of Liz's excitement, she must've forgotten that Cream was still there.

"Uh... Nothing," Liz bluffed, quickly pulling me back up to my feet and dusting me off, "I was just asking Matt a few... Personal things. Nothing you need to worry about."

The need to do some serious explaining to Cream averted, I was able to continue my story until the end without much more commentary... Until I showed Liz the weapon I bought. As I handed her the sword, she picked it up in both hands, looked it over, and glanced back at me with a look of discontent on her face.

"You got a sword," she flatly stated.

"Yeah..." I assured, raising an eyebrow, "Something wrong with that?"

"We're in a modern world, where robots are shooting at us, and you bought a sword."

Long pause. How did this not hit me until now?

"Well..." I tired to protest (emphasis on the word 'try'), "... It looks cool!"

She handed the sword back to me.

"Whatever you say, Wolf Link."

"Wolf Link?" I repeated, "I don't get... HEY!!!"

I promptly stuck the sword back in my sheath and marched after Liz, who had already turned and began walking off. Cream and Cheese, probably as helplessly confused as ever as to what the flip either of us were talking about, took up the rear.

Seriously, leave it to Liz to make me feel bad about the weapon I chose. I knew what this thing was capable of: I cut a sheet of titanium in two with it! And Liz walks along and points out the one major flaw in my choice of weapon: a sword, no matter how cool and powerful, is still just a sword. What kind of idiot uses a sword when there're guns?

Well, besides Cloud. And Squall. And every other male RPG protagonist out there. Somehow, I doubt using a game cliché as justification for my weapon choice was going to satisfy Liz. Oh well... Maybe, someway, somehow, I'll get a chance to prove to Liz that she should give my sword more credit. Maybe I'll save her from a robot with it or something, I dunno.

One thing's for sure, though: Something better come up, or she'll never let me live this one down.

The rest of the shopping trip went by without much incident. Liz constantly teased me both about my sword as well as my lack of questioning Rotor. Eventually, I broke down and promised I'd make it up to her somehow.

"Look," I began, "the next time I run into a Freedom Fighter, I'll do whatever it takes to find out more about Sonic and company through them, okay?"

I would eventually end up regretting ever making that promise, but that wouldn't happen until much later. For now, let's just say it involves returning to that evil salon street of doom.

Scared yet? You should be.

But for now, all we did was window shop by a few more stores (while mercifully never actually going in any) before returning to the hotel. Nate and Shaun were in the lobby just hanging out, although judging by how wet Shaun looked, it was probably safe to say he had just come out of the pool. A few of the kids were there to, once again making the employees lives a nightmare by riding around on those things bellhops use to carry luggage, with said bellhop chasing after them, yelling the entire way.

Remind me again how we didn't get thrown out yet?

"Hey, welcome back, guys," Nate greeted. He then looked at Liz and let out a wolf whistle (wait a second... Shouldn't I be the one doing that?)

"Lookin' good, Liz..." he complimented, "You go to one of those spas, I take it?"

"How'd you know about that?" she asked.

"I was exploring the city a bit too while you guys were out. I passed by that street with all the beauty boutiques on it and saw the four of you there talking to some person outside one of the stores. I guess you didn't see me... Although, I must say, Matt, you had a look on your face like you got punched in the gut while you were standing there."

I let out a low growl. Great. Just great. So Nate saw me in that friggin' God-forsaken place. That's it, my ego was gone. Shattered. Broken into a million pieces. Let's just hope he didn't tell anyone else. If Mike somehow found out and began teasing me about it, I just might lapse into my bestial self again and maul him.

At this point, Shaun also walked up to us and noticed Liz's little transformation. His observations, though, were a little more... Unique.

"Hey, look!" he gasped, pointing at Liz in mock shock, "It's a Kimono Dragon!"


"Aw, come on, don't you get it?" he elaborated, "Komodo Dragons are the world's biggest lizards... Kimonos are formal Japanese dresses... Kimono, komodo... It's a pun."

"Oh, we get it," Liz replied, sarcasm dripping in her voice, "we just don't think it's funny."

"Yeah, but... Sigh... Never mind..."

Shaun turned and moped off. Oh well, he'll get over it; he always does.

"And it looks like you got a weapon, eh?" Nate continued, motioning at the scabbard on my belt. I responded by pulling my sword out and showing it to him.

"A sword, huh? Looks pretty cool."

"Yeah," I agreed, "and it can cut through metal, too!"

Ha, Nate liked my sword. Eat it, Liz.

"Still..." the ferret pondered, "You think that's a wise weapon choice when everything we've encountered so far has tried to shoot us?"

I swear I heard Liz trying to cover up a laugh. I was so going to have to do something about this sword.

"I think it's a nice sword, Mr. Mathew..." Cream piped up.

"Chao! Chao!" Cheese agreed.

Well, at least someone liked it, even if it was a pair of pacifists who would probably break down into tears the minute I actually used the thing.

At any rate, I put the weapon away and began making my way back to the hotel room.

"Hey, where are you going, mate?" Nate inquired.

"Back to my room," I answered, "shopping with those two and a pet chao is one of the most tiring experiences I have ever had."

"Tell me about it," Nate concurred, "I have three sisters, all of them shopaholics. Let's just say that if it wasn't for the Starbucks in our mall, I'd be screwed."

I let out a small chuckle and walked off. Nate and I had a lot in common, it seemed. Same views, same experiences...

... And now, by some force that was still beyond our understanding, same fate.

The next day started very uneventful. I was awoken from sleep by the alarm clock again (this time, without any weird 'flashback' dreams), put my clothes on, and made my way out. Rather than visit the lounge, though, I decided to go to the lobby. I sat down on one of the sofas there and just watched the world pass me by. People were checking in and out, old friends were reuniting and chatting about this and that, and, best of all, no certain rambunctious kids were up yet causing all sorts of havoc. For me, it was just meant to be a time to relax and wake up a bit before going to eat breakfast.

I wonder what I should do today? Maybe I should go shopping for supplies with Nate, since he probably knows much more about the stuff we need than Liz did. Or perhaps I'll go see what Shaun has planned. I haven't really hung out with him much, and the poor guy probably needs a bit more socializing than he currently has. Or I could just hang around here all day, it's not like anything exciting will hap---


In an instant, I snapped out of my leisurely daydreaming and came crashing back into reality. Everyone in the lobby was screaming and dropping to the floor for cover. I, however, was too darn confused at the moment to be doing anything. Was... Was that gunfire!?


Two more shots. By now, I also decided that the ground was probably the safest place to be, trying to avoid whatever was being fired from who knows where. In the middle of the terror, I risked a glance towards the front entrance, hoping that it would somehow be a pathway to freedom.

It wasn't, of course.

Charging through the doors were three masked guys carrying various different guns. I couldn't make out their features much, but they all seemed to be of the same species. One of them stood by the entrance to keep watch, while the other two began running around, grabbing people, and forcing them to stand in a line. It wasn't long before one of them walked over to me and yanked me to my feet by my tail and threw me over with the rest of the hostages.

While I was standing there, I noticed a fourth member of the group standing in the middle of the lobby, presumably their leader. Judging by how he was holding a still-smoking revolver to the ceiling, it was safe to say that he was the one who fired the three shots to begin with. Like his cronies, he had his face covered, but he was also wearing a fedora. In fact, he almost looked... familiar...

"Alright! Nobody move if you value your lives!" he shouted, twirling the gun around on his finger, "This is a robbery!"