He guessed it was a mistake.

Here he was, standing just on the brink of the hugest futuristic factory he had ever seen, his comrades standing by him. Storm, the large grey albatross, held in his hand the power core he'd stolen from the inside of the robot. Wave, meanwhile, had begun fixing their Extreme Gear, mind half on the action she was performing and half on the mechanical skill of her rival Tails. He himself was standing, board poised, Ark of the Cosmos on his right wrist, with his sharp ice blue eyes pinned on the shining metallic building.

What was the mistake? Possibly Eggman's location was a good answer. Robotnik Corp, otherwise known as MeteoTech, was situated in the middle of the sandsea where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon had risen just four months before. The world, since then, may have forgotten due to a few strange escapades, many involving the Doctor or a man that resembled him (at one point this stranger had come along and taken a picture of them; the next thing they knew, they were helped up by a black hedgehog and his female bat friend, who sent them on their way) and one involving hundreds of puppet djinn popping up all around the globe thanks to some minor spacial distortion, but he, Storm and Wave remembered the place all too easily. It was, after all, their avian breed's ancient home. There was no way that they would forget where it was, and they knew that MeteoTech, despite being an old company, had never been next to the Gardens' resting grounds before they had emerged from the sand the first time around.

Good answer indeed, but he was pretty sure that that wasn't it.

His fingers were dragged down by some mysterious force of curiosity to touch the jewel in his Ark of the Cosmos. Green, like his plumage. He'd found it down at the Gigan Temple, along with words quoting a Babylonian legend of how they swooped down from the sky to the earth by ways of the Divine Wings, also known as the Hanging Gardens. He'd figured out some of it, at the least. The Arks of the Cosmos had something to do with the Gardens' ability to float - possibly the anti-gravity bumper they needed to lift the island. But they seemed to have some negative resonance with each other until they were all brought together. Hence why, now that they were trying to gather the Arks, the entire island had plunged into the sandsea like a desert version of Atlantis.

Maybe that was the mistake. Taking the Ark of the Cosmos from its resting place in the chalice at the Gigan Temple. It had sunk their home, along with their treasure and their method to discover where they had actually come from. A mistake, first removing the Ark to use for their own selfish motives and then coming to Eggman's to take the remaining ones.

Wait, no, that wasn't a mistake and he'd never see it as one. Without gathering the Arks of the Cosmos, they couldn't fly the Gardens out to find their home and, without going to Eggman's place, they couldn't gather the Arks of the Cosmos. The idea that they shouldn't have unlocked the Ark's power was also a good answer, and certainly one with some more merit than that of Eggman simply putting his base in the wrong place, but it wasn't the one to the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: what was the mistake he'd made?

He sighed, causing Storm and Wave both to look at him, and held up his arm to the light, watching how the gem in the Ark of the Cosmos shone in the sunset's orange glow. The jewel was the same, stunning colour as the eyes of that blue hedgehog Sonic, his only competition for the world Extreme Gear title. That title was his life, that hedgehog his obsession. He'd tracked down an ancient force with the underlying wish of trying to beat the boy he hadn't seen for four months at a simple race of hoverboards, just to taste victory against him for once. And yet now he was standing there at the edge of the MeteoTech headquarters with Storm and Wave, who were watching him worriedly, on the brink of liberating the final Arks of the Cosmos from his foe Eggman, and they weren't moving. They were, instead, waiting for Sonic, Tails and that red mutt Knuckles the Echidna, along with that strange Amy girl.

They were waiting for their rivals. Storm was waiting to settle a score with Knuckles, Wave was waiting to show off her technical skill to Tails in the field and he was waiting for Sonic, and just to beat him in a silly race to impress upon him that he was the faster, better racer and that some day, Sonic would have to walk up to him and show him the respect he desperately craved.

His cravings had been getting even stronger since the last race. Sure, their races were more friendly than serious. He knew his title didn't mean squat in the whole of things. He just wanted to feel that happiness he used to get when he won, the happiness he hadn't felt since Sonic had beaten him that very first time, back when the Hanging Gardens of Babylon had first surfaced from below the surface of the sands. Since then, he'd gotten involved in no tournaments, stolen no treasures (apart from the Ark of the Cosmos) and had no adventures like he'd promised Sonic. He'd betrayed his promise of becoming better for their next meeting because he hadn't been bothered. He hadn't felt like it.

And so, when he and Sonic raced, nothing felt the same as it once had. He used to get a rush from just losing a race - it'd cause him to get better and better and better until he could win it. But now, he didn't feel like that. He felt weak. Losing didn't give him a rush, it just made him angry, which then threw him off even more. Maybe he was mad at Sonic for winning? He'd ask Wave but, being the vindictive person she was, she'd just laugh at him and tell him how obvious the answer was. And then walk off without leaving half a clue as what that answer was. And Storm was no genius. He probably couldn't tell his left from his claws. There was no way he'd be able to understand the question, let alone come up with a sensible answer to it. Whatever it was, though, it powered his obsessions with Sonic, which made him lust more and more after his elusive final victory. He wanted to win, but he couldn't do that until whatever he was feeling for Sonic stopped affecting him.

What the heck was he thinking, anyway? Why was he being affected like this? He shouldn't keep letting his losses against the hyper blue hedgehog stop him from racing, he shouldn't keep letting him obsession take him over in the middle of the track and destroy all of his chances. But still, Sonic continually taking his place in pole position, the place he had his rights to being veritably raped by the one person who should have been constantly in second compared to him, the one he had to beat, the one he had to win against... against... over? He must have been mixing up his phrases. Was it winning the races over Sonic or winning over Sonic at the races?

'Lust' was probably an accurate term after all.

Surely it was best for his mentality if he went now, right?

And that was it. He'd hit the nail on the head. The mistake was waiting for that damn-blasted hedgehog. Waiting...

...and falling.