Sonic Unbound: Opening Saga

The name, Doctor Ivo Robotnik was rarely used when people spoke of him. He known just as the Robotnik, or 'the Doctor' and the name always spoke with trepidation.

The satellites fell first. Nobody could tell why at first. But when a volley of laser fire was recovered firing at the government's military satellite surveillance it became all too obvious.

The military of the Federation had no time to react. Their bases and positions, fortified through they were, were hit hard and fast. Entire installations destroyed without any warning and entire regiments crushed.

Sketchy frontline photo's confirmed their fears about what they were now fighting. The emerging empire was using soldiers unlike anything ever seen before.

They were not men but machines, programmed devices of war. They were codenamed; Automatons. Their bodies were huge and heavily armoured; their weapons backed by technology the likes of which the Federation had never seen. These machines wiped anyone who stood before them out.

They knew no pity, no compassion; their digital brains containing nothing but advance battle strategy and tactics. They killed everything in their path. Soldiers, civilians, women and children.

Mercy, apparently, was a foreign concept for them.

Outmatched by technology and sneer numbers, the military pulled back mile after mile until the new Empire had taken control of the entire Southern continent of Maya. Attempting to box them in, the machines then landed on the far eastern continent and began marching west.

This new Empire seemed unstoppable.

Panicking, the Federation politicians granted authorisation for the use of Nuclear weaponry.

The robots were stopped but the price was more catastrophic than their enemy's attacks.

Atomic missiles rained down over entire nations and over eight million people died instantly and many more in the radioactive aftermath. The map of the world was drastically re-drawn as the event known from then on as Ragnarok passed into history.

The fall-out from the atomic barrage fell for over five years across the globe and the radiation cleansed entire regions of plant and animal life. Even the robots could not operate in such hostile conditions and the advance of the despotic scientist's new forming empire was halted.

Three atomically created badlands lanced down like claw marks across the world, scaring the planet so much that the devastation could be seen from space.

At the price of half the world and the scorn of the survivors, the Federation government had postponed its fate.

That is, until the Doctor played his next hand.

The militaries attempts to salvage what force they could were hit hard by enemy attacks that came out of nowhere, but their attackers were not Automatons.

The assaults came so fast it was impossible to tell what was tearing into them. Entire elite troops were ripped apart in seconds, tanks and experimental Mech's reduced to burning scrap and entire bases wiped off the map. No survivors were left to tell the tale.

Desperate to find out what was causing this and how to stop it, the Federation founded an independent rapid response organisation. It was called the Guardians of the United Nations; or G.U.N for short.

This proved to be a mistake that eventually lead to the collapse of any recognisable democratic government.

Gun's commander, Jericho Mandarin; a man renowned for having a heart of stone in battle; staged a coup and overthrew what remained of the Federation political system and seized control of Central City. Believing that they could not be trusted to not repeat Ragnarok, Mandarin set up a military industrial complex to replace them and counter the attacks.

The government became known from then on as the G.U.N Federation.

With this strong support and power base, Mandarin quickly set up fortifying his territory for when the Doctor's forces would strike.

Times for the next five years were troubling for all. G.U.N proved abusive of their new political power and any protest against them; whether it was peaceful or violent was put down hard.

Mandarin however was successful in one thing.

His latest developed spy Mech's managed to catch sight of the Robotnik's agent and soon the image was being passed around every city in Gun territory.

It was a hedgehog.

Over a decade has passed since Ragnarok had decimated the world.

--

Western Imperial front, 2;00 AM western standard time:

Crossing the badlands conventionally was quite literally impossible. The radiation was simply far too high a level for creatures to survive without developing life threatening cancer or dying outright. Even electronics shorted out before they had moved more than a few feet in.

Several other routes lay to the Robotnik controlled territory on the continent. The most obvious one was through the Mountain spine to the north, but the empire had fortified their position there to an almost impassable defensive barrier.

So instead, they had to go straight through.

No plane got near the imperial lines without being shot down in an instant. Which was why for the past year and a half, scientist and technicians of the G.U.N military had been labouring to complete this new aircraft.

Flying low over the badlands would poison the pilots within moments, so the aircraft flew high into the path of the imperial radar. Designed to be completely radar invisible, it carried on without being intercepted by the Robotnik's unmanned fighters. This espionage plane had been named Shadowfox, because of this.

It had no weapons. The slightest armament would be picked up in an instant and the turrets armed at the frontline were capable of shooting from this distance. This was a dropping vehicle, used for speedy extraction and deliver missions.

"ETA; 5-minutes." The pilot announced keeping his gaze locked forward, the faint black outline of the armed defences the empire had placed on the front moving up over the horizon. The plane had descended from its altitude but was maintaining a height of 35 thousand feet.

"Radiation levels are minimal. The Doctor has radiation sponges soaking it up to make his machines work here. The lead lining in the suit should keep whatever gamma rays are left until you're beyond the defence line." The man in the back added, handing their drop agent a leather pouch that she clipped around her thin waist.

"I noticed the word 'should'." The agent replied, narrowing her emerald green eyes and managing a small smile.

"Well don't take your sweet time, let's put it that way." The human replied matching the smile. "We'll guide you beyond the defences. Once you're in, you're on your own. We'll be back for a pick up in three days. If your not there, we leave without you and we'll not be coming back. Do you understand?" The furry nodded and pulled the glove over her fingers, stretching her leathery wings out either side.

"Still don't still why they're sending a 'furry' to do the job of a 'norm'." The tactical operations office, a human woman with short black hair asked; fitting an electronic earpiece across her cheek, the radio speaker in her ear and a microphone cord over her mouth.

"Offering to take my place?" Their agent asked, sliding a pair of green tinted sunglasses down over her eyes. The human said nothing. She was not stupid. "Thought so." Zipping up the jacket over her breasts, their agent was finally fully equipped. The word; 'Rouge' was printed in thin metallic letters on the collar.

Their agent was a bat, her fur snow white with curls down the back of her head. Her ears were large and erect, giving her the illusion of being taller than she really was. Rouge was one of Gun's elite covert operatives. Top of her class and before the imperial rise, Rouge had been a world class thief; using training she acquired from the agency to help her steal various precious gemstones from museums and bank vaults worldwide.

Catching her at the height the Robotnik's success, G.U.N offered the wayward agent a choice. Come back to work for them or a hefty prison sentence.

Since orange suits were out of fashion, Rouge choice the work option.

"We'll be passing over the ground batteries in two minutes." The pilot announced. By now the horrifying sight of the imperial defences was now in clear sight. A stretching defence of row upon row of anti-aircraft turrets behind a wall of concrete and barbed wire. Behind these were roads leading back to the areas less affected by radiation, where complex electronics could be operated. Here lay factories and armament depots. Heavy defended facilities used by the imperial's robotic military force were going up across the front one after the other. This was the so called 'Great Barrier', the impassable defensive line G.U.N strategists had been trying to pick holes in for years now.

Rouge could see her target from here, a massive installation just beyond the factories. It was a metallic crater that dipped down into the ground several hundred feet; a steep wall surrounding the perimeter with a control tower on the far side.

"Ok Rouge this is your stop." Her senior officer on the mission began, pulling up the door open; a howl wind sudden surging through the interior of the plane. "Move it, NOW!" Tensing her legs, Rouge flung herself out of the plane and into mid air.

Almost an instant later, the automated defences caught first hand visual sight of the spy plane. Large barrels on the turrets rotated around and the air was instantly thick with lasers, streams of red light that coursed like a river up to the sky. The plane pulled back instantly but Rouge coursed on. Speed was her ally, using the momentum gravity was giving her to go faster and faster

It wasn't until she was a single hundred feet from the ground that she opened her wings and the air drag sent her coursing almost horizontally along the ground through the giant turrets, a small target they either ignored or couldn't see. Either way was fine with Rouge.

Landing between two large missile launcher platforms, the bat flipped the device attached like an earring on. The glasses over her eyes lit up and data began scowling down before her like a computer read out.

With satellite surveillance down, hi-tech ways of keeping an eye on the empire were left useless and thus far sending in agents had been impossible. They had tried for years to find an agent good enough to send in and the only one even remotely qualified was Rouge. This was the first time they had ever attempted to send an operative in.

"So no pressure then." The bat began with a sigh as the tactical operations officer fed the data into her unit while the plane was still in range.

While it was no secret Robotnik was preparing for war, through various espionage sources, they learned that the construction yard ahead had been shipped extensive resources such are precious ore, fuel, oil and other various packages of minerals used in construction from the mils and mines on the west coast. Rouge's mission was to find out what they were building with those resources and acquire as much intelligence data on it as possible.

Her ears twitched as the sound of large heavy footsteps reached her. A large door in the side of the missile launcher foundation slid open with a shunting sound and marching out one by one came the Robotnik's metal soldiers, the Automatons. They were larger and bulkier than any human, with segmented limbs and form fitting armoured plates. The heads like a knight's helm with a single red eye sitting behind the visor.

In single file they marched out, a round thick anti-ballistic shield attached to their left shoulder and a long range rifle to the other, the handle with the trigger perfectly positioned to be at arms length. Almost completely dark blue, almost a grey; they made their way out the door and down through the space between the giant turrets.

They didn't see the bat, expertly merged into the dark shadows. In fact, her stealth had little to do with how she used the darkness. Robotic monsters such as these hunted using infrared signatures and heat detector. There was where her unique abilities as a bat came in.

Being naturally nocturnal animals, her kind had a naturally low body temperature and backed up against these turrets, her own heat signature was masked by the heat generated from the discharging weapons.

Knowing better than to linger, Rouge carried on past the field of defences. They ended abruptly and she found herself standing at the top of a long road leading down an artificial row of hills the turrets had been built upon. For the first time, she beheld the territory of the Robotnik.

The scared ground that marked the badlands carried on for some distance; cracked dull brown earth without a single piece of vegetation. This was the area the empire was using for real-estate; nothing to get in the way and far enough away from the lethal radiation to construct working electronic devices.

A loud whirring hit her ears and instinctively she took cover back into the safety of the defence turret's shadow. A moment later, several round machines shaped like round balls flew overhead. A camera lens sat behind a thick metal and glass shield. The eyes of the Robotnik they were known as, thousands of espionage robots built for the soul purpose of giving the empire ways to study their captured territories all at once. If so much as one saw her here, she was as good as dead.

She waited until the collection of orbs had passed before she stepped carefully back into the fading light. She did not want to linger here any longer than she had to, the radiation was lethal despite the sponges the empire was using to soak up the stuff and the lead lined suit she was wearing.

The mission was simple. Find the data, retrieve it, get out and lie low for three days to find out what else she could about imperial operations.

An installation about the size of a small town stood before her; a metropolis of factories and towers of dark metal. Strangely none of the factories or manufacturing plants behind a thick concrete wall had any exhaust funnels or emissions outlets that she could see. For an industrial complex like this there had to be some sort of waste, but try as she might she couldn't see anything that might be a funnel, a fan grating or even a drain.

What sort of infrastructure was the empire running on? What kind of technology produced an industry with no pollution or run off? Gun intelligence on the subject of enemy technology was somewhat vague as no one had returned from imperial territory alive to provide them sufficient data.

This was why her mission was so important. This was the first time anyone, under Gun's payroll that is, had set foot in the Robotnik's domain.

Her target was nearby. As if the factories and depots supporting it were addition facilities, this was the construction plant. A massive ring spanning an entire mile in the ground with armed turrets and watch towers running along the outer edge lay about five hundred yards away. It was a crater, a curved metallic dipping down towards the centre. A large gate with security bots standing rigidly to attention outside it seemed the only way inside.

Robotnik was constructing these across the frontline in preparation for conquest. It seemed intelligence on the subject was right; the Doctor was flexing his military arms preparing for the inevitable confrontation with the rest of the world. She pressed a small button on the side of her glasses and a digital photograph was taken of everything in her line of sight.

Now, she wondered, just what could the Robotnik be working on that would require such a massive transport of resources? Was it some new kind of Mech army?

No, that wouldn't require such an installation. They were working on something big. But what?

Well, there was only one way to find out.

Spreading her wings Rouge soured through the night; flying low to avoid detection. Her sensitive ears could pick up a heart beat at twenty paces away. That was a skill that kept her one step ahead of the cops during her career as a world class thief. But from the metal facilities around her she heard nothing more than the scraps and groans of metal running against metal, robotic arms on an assembly line moving with a wet metallic surge against the oil lubricating their joints.

The entire installation was automated.

Robotic workers toiling tirelessly on assembly lines, forging weapons for whatever insane scheme the Doctor had cooked up. The empire was up to something alright.

The construction depot was over five miles away and trying to cross it alone was out of the question, so instead Rouge waited by the entrance of the factory installation until the next scheduled departure for a supply convoy.

The robot standing guard signalled for the convoy to stop when it came to the gate and it came to a halt just inside. Most of the trucks were transporting stuff in crates and security around them seemed lax. Rouge slipped in the back of one of them while the robot driving the first truck passed an ID code to the guard. The robot stood aside and waved back to the control tower nearby.

The gates slid open with a loud shunting sound, a thin chain link barrier sliding out of the way at the last minute to provide the convoy with entrance. In the back of the truck, Rouge examined the contents of one of the crates.

Inside were dozens of packages boxes, each one contained military hardware and devices packed with straw. Items ranging from engine parts to weapons system electronics. Glancing out the back, Rouge could see she had stowed away on a convoy of considerable size. There had to be at least twenty trucks in this procession and if all of them had these parts in then this was a vital supply run for them.

The road was long and open and here Rouge got an opportunity to stare out across the landscape. Most of it was completely barren, but that had been down to the Nuc's the Federation launched rather than the Robotnik's direct handwork. On what land was stable here and there, the empire had placed factories and supply stops along the roads.

She couldn't here a heartbeat anywhere around her. Everything, the empire's entire defence was completely automated, run by computers and machines. The Robotnik had technology Gun could only dream about.

Breaking into the construction depot directly would not have been a smart thing to do. Security bots would have been on her butt before she knew what hit her and quite frankly, Rouge didn't want to find out what the Doctor did with his captives; or if he even took any.

Soon the convoy began to slow down as they neared the construction depot. It had looked large from a distance and close up she could appreciate its full size. The outer wall and massive and defended by turrets, watch towers and a thick field of barred wire.

Going in though an air duct would be an ideal solution were it not for one thing. There weren't any ventilations shafts. After all, what would a facility run completely by robots want with a ventilation system?

She pressed another button on the side of her glasses and instantly a soft buzzing of static hummed into her ears from the small speaker. It would have sounded like random noise chatter to any other person, but Rouge knew it to be binary language for communications chatter. There was a lot of it passing through the air un-seen and given the facts of her mission, they had to be up to something.

Suddenly the ground began to shake and rumble, a dull roar of the horizon growing louder and louder until finally it was almost deafening. As the truck rounded a corner, Rouge got a glimpse of the road leading further into the Imperial territory. Another convoy was making its way down it towards the construction depot. A full battalion of Automatons marched in legionnaire formation out in front, four hover tanks moving alongside. The sky was thick above it with a dozen choppers, all bearing the empire's insignia; a grinning face of the Robotnik himself.

What caught Rouge's immediate attention was not the security around the convoy, but rather what they were escorting. A massive rocket engine, its shadow nearly reaching her; a rocket engine well over fifty foot long and twenty thick. The rocket was so large it had to be moved on a specially adapted carrier platform on huge tank threads with four cranes either side to pick it up. Rouge crouched staring at it from her hiding place in awe. This put the best jet engines the military came up with to shame. It was so heavy that when the carrier underneath it moved the ground shook.

What on earth was that and what did they need it for?

Her own convoy pulled up to the southern gate of the depot and it paused to receive entry authorization. She sat perfectly still and cooled her body temperature down to a minimum, knowing that the trucks engine could mask her heat signature long enough for her to get away. The gates slid open and the convoy advanced inside.

Once beyond the confines of the security perimeter, Rouge slid silently out the back of the truck and darted across the floor of the supply bay, slipping behind some stacked crates before any of the robots standing guard could notice her. The ground was still shaking and it was getting stronger, meaning that the other convoy would reach the depot any second now. The chaos of trying to take delivery of that rocket would give Rouge the momentary slip she needed.

Suddenly the rumbling stood as the second convoy pulled to a stop, a loud hiss of steam belching into the sky. The buzzing of com-chatter changed pitch and several of the security bots nearby marched off, new orders received remotely. Wasting no time, Rouge darted to the doorway they had been stood guarding. It would not open for anyone but authorized automatons, but with a small amount of remote hacking that could change.

The inside of the depot was the crater that curved down into the ground; leaving most of the building small to accommodate the space and the temperature inside was almost lethally cold. Rouge supposed that was to be expected. If a robot run base didn't need a ventilation system, it certainly didn't need central heating.

One thing it did have that she expected it to lack was adequate lighting. That unfortunately worked to her disadvantage as she did her best work in the shadows. Getting to the working and construction area to see what they were doing first hand was impossible. The security was way too tight for that.

Instead, she made her way through the compound until she found the security centre. There was only one robot there guarding it. She could have taken it out with ease, but that would alert the guards and that was not a good idea. She took a small device out of the pouch around her waist and attached the two wires on the end to her glasses. Using this, she typed a small command into the small keypad and instantly a message was sent to the security bots electronic brain.

As far as it was concerned, it was being ordered to help escort the new thruster inside the construction area. With stood rigidly to attention for a moment before marching forward, out the door to disappear around the corner. With the security room complete unguarded Rouge slipped inside. The security cameras were easily overcome with a few remote commands.

While tricks like this worked against a few vulnerable system; it would not be able to fool them all, not for any long period anyway so Rouge got to work.

"System mainframeā€¦ bingo." She muttered to herself, her breath coming out as white mist. Her hands ran expertly over the keypad and the monitor lit up. Hacking her way inside, she found what she was looking for, a detailed schedule for the depot for the last five months.

During that time it taken delivery of uncountable units of ore and oil and several other thrusters besides the one currently being stashed. It was a grand operation in development not only here, but in another base far to the north in Jotunheim. It was a project entitled; 'Restoration development project.'

But there was more to it than that. Something else. Another separate set of reminders had been set, involving Gun itself. Was this the doctor's war plans against the Federation? There was no way she could be that lucky.

No, there was a file here concerning the break in on Prison Island about five years ago. Prison Island was Gun's top military base and someone had broken in. The event had been all over the news. The official report had never found out who had committed the act.

Had the empire something to do with it?

But that wasn't all. There was something here labelled top secret; marked with the empires insignia. Hacking her way into that all Rouge could make out before she was interrupted was a single word; 'Shadow'

A hand clamped down on her shoulder hard with great strength, grabbed her by her jacket and tossing her backwards. Sent flying she smashed into the wall behind her. Glancing up sharply, she staggered back at the sight of a pair of blood red eyes staring down at her.

"The Doctor doesn't take kindly to spies." A voice out of the darkness stated as another hand lashed out and grabbed her around the neck, lifting her high into the air with little effort. She kicked out to get free but the blows barely fazed her aggressor. The creature holding her looked like a furry, but she had never seen one like this. The fur was mostly black, with thick blood red stripes running down a set of quills. All else she was able to make out was the shaggy white fur almost like hair on the chest.

The creature's eyes darted to the label on her clothes and she could feel the smile spread across its lips. "Rouge huh?" The voice was defiantly that of a male. He leaned closer and she could make out the face, but those eyes grabbed her attention. Blood red and filled with malice. "Well, I think the Doctor is going to want to have a word with you."