Chapter Two

It was rare to find a weapons store in New Mobotropolis that didn't sell to anyone but soldiers, yet Miles' intelligence network had informed them that there was one in the back streets who sold to everybody…for a price. Shadow opened the door, the bell above his head jingling as he looked around the store.

It seemed quite…quaint for a weapons shop. Swords and maces and axes lined the walls, while to one side there was a display case for hand-held guns. He pursed his lips together, placing a hand on his hip as his eyes scanned the room.

"Can I help you, young man?" An old goat came out into the main room from out back, a washcloth in hand as he cleaned an old sword.

"I'm looking for sniper rifles," Shadow replied, turning his attention towards the old goat with a raised eyebrow and taking off the hood of his cloak. "I was informed that you sell to civilians, as well as soldiers."

The shop owner smirked a little, continuing to clean the sword in his hands. "Ya heard right, kid. So…ya onna the King's men, or onna dem rebels I bin hearin' about?"

"I do believe that it is none of your business whose side I am on," the black hedgehog replied curtly, crossing his arms over his chest. "Just know that I am on the side of justice."

"Far'nuff answer." The goat threw the cloth over his shoulder before placing the sword in a glass casing and closing the cabinet with the click of a padlock. "Now all ya hafta do is gimme th' password."

Luckily Miles had told him the password before he had left the young fox's side this morning, so he wasn't left guessing. "Freedom is forever."

"As it always has been, as it always will be." The old man smiled, walking forward and locking the front door, turning the sign over to 'CLOSED' and gestured for Shadow to follow him, leading the way into the back room. "Miles had informed me that you were coming."

Shadow raised an eyebrow as he followed the goat, stopping in the entrance way as he tapped a keypad. Almost instantly the entire back room flipped, going from looking like a quaint, normal den to a storage warehouse of weapons of mass destruction. "Interesting…how is it that you've kept this a secret from the King for so long, old man?"

"An old goat never trades secrets," the shop keeper said with a chuckle as he lead the black hedgehog over to a pool table, pressing another button underneath the table to flip it, showing a wide range of sniper rifles. The goat took one out of the case and handed it to Shadow. "Here ya go. AK-47 ought to be perfect for long-range shooting."

Shadow took hold of the weapon, getting a feel for it in his hands and looking through the scope, testing the lens capability by zooming out the window and into the surrounding foliage. "Perfect. You've got a good eye for quality, old man."

The goat chuckled, crossing his arms over his chest as he leant away from the pool table. "Gotta know yer stuff when ya deal in this business, kiddo. That'll be…"

A banging came from the front door, a loud voice sounding after it a few thumps later. "This is the Enforcers! Open up!"

The shop keeper swore, pressing the button underneath the pool table to hide the guns before pressing the security code into the panel, the room flipping back around and a plank of wood sliding over the panel. "Ya better get goin', kid," he growled, standing in the doorway that connected the shop to the back room, the banging noise increasing tenfold. "If the Enforcers catch ya…"

"I know." Shadow had slung the AK-47 over his shoulder by use of the strap attached to it, halfway out the back window when he turned his head to look over his shoulder. "Good luck, old man." He left before he could hear the old goat's response, the sound of crashing wood and metal behind him as he escaped through the shrubbery out back, shielded by his cloak the shadows of the trees.

Dasuku sighed in mild annoyance, scratching the back of his head as he stood in the middle of the hallway. Damn, but that kid was fast! Well, being King Sonic's son and all, Dasuku supposed that Manic had to inherit something of his father's side other than the stolen throne.

'I hope the others are having better luck in their mission than I am,' the white hedgehog thought to himself, cricking his neck before listening to the sounds echoing off the brick walls, closing his eyes. Two maids were talking in hushed whispers in a nearby room as they cleaned, while several cooks and the head chef grumbled and fussed over the banquet.

The sound of feet dashing along the sandstone floors caught his attention and Dasuku focused on the sound, whirling around and side-stepping out of the way as Manic made to tag him. The young prince would have slammed face-first to the floor, had Dasuku not used his telekinesis powers to slow his fall.

"Close, my prince, but not close enough I'm afraid," he said teasingly, making the light blue glow around Manic's body vanish and the child dropped the remaining length to the floor.

Manic turned his head and pouted, crossing his arms over his chest as he sat on the floor. "You're not playing fairly." After the blink of confusion from the older hedgehog, the prince rolled his eyes. "I'm a prince, and you're supposed to let me win. It's the rules."

"But, my prince, if I just let you win, then it would be no fun, would it not?" Dasuku inquired, crossing his arms behind his back as he tilted his head.

"But that's the whole point of tag!" Manic whined, then paused in thought before he stood, brushing his clothes off. "Hey...I went straight for you in a tackle…I should've hit the ground, but I didn't."

"You are implying…?"

"You did something to stop my fall, didn't you?" He eyed his new playmate curiously, pursing his lips together as he crossed his arms over his chest. Dasuku quirked an eyebrow, as though asking Manic to elaborate more. "You have them…whaddaya call it…"

"Your Highness." The two looked to where a maid stood nearby, her hands folded in front of her neatly. "The King has requested your presence, my prince."

"Be right there, Elise." Manic looked at Dasuku with a frown on his face before going over to the maid, taking hold of her hand as she lead him down the corridor and out of sight.

The white hedgehog sighed in relief. "Jeez," he huffed, crossing his arms over his chest as he closed his eyes. "That was close. Shadow would've smacked me one if he'dve known I let the kid see my powers." Reaching into the pants he wore, Dasuku pulled out his pocket watch, looking at the time. "I need to get back to my mission. No more delays."

Since echidnas hadn't visited the main land since the Guardian's execution in the Battle of Angel Island, Ice had seen fit to change his appearance, something he could do thanks to one of the enhancements in his dreadlocks.

Having never been to New Mobotropolis even in his days as a Dark Legionnaire, Ice couldn't help but stare around in awe. The sights and sounds and smells were totally different from the dark, dreary kingdom he'd constantly imagined, and the place could even be considered…cheerful.

He stepped out of the way as a group of laughing children ran by him, each with a different coloured balloon in hand as they played with each other, one bumping into his leg before she smiled up at him and ran off to rejoin the other kids.

"Hey, you! Stop standing around and get over here and help." Ice turned as he realized that the statement had been directed at him, noticing a group of Mobians were in the middle of the town square. Seeing no way out of it, he shrugged a little to himself before jogging over.

"What do you want me to do?"

"See that rope." The foreman pointed to the top of the structure and Ice nodded slowly. "Get up there and secure it to the hook. Make sure ya do it real tight too."

"Will do." The disguised echidna gave a mock salute and went over to the construct, climbing the small ladder there and taking hold of the slipping rope. He wound the rope tightly around the hook, then turned around and gave a thumbs up to the foremen, who then secured it to another hook on the ground as Ice hopped down from the ladder.

"Thanks, mate. If you hadn't come along, we would've lost it for sure," the head foreman said as he approached Ice, taking hold of his hand and shaking it. "The King would've had our heads."

"No problem. So what…?" Ice turned his attention to the device and paled slightly, noticing the sharp blade gleaming in the sunlight, taking a step back away from it.

The foreman laughed slightly. "Only just noticed it, did you? Yeah. This here's a guillotine, to be used for this evening's execution."

The disguised echidna's heart beat faster. "Someone's going to be executed?" he asked, hiding the shock in his voice and displaying it as excitement, which was a huge contrast to the sickening feeling in his stomach.

"Yep. Ya know that Rose girl?" Despite the blank look on Ice's face, the giraffe continued, picking up a spare plank of wood and shouldering it. "Guess ya weren't here last year. Well, the King's finally decided he don't want her takin' up space in the dungeon any more, an' she's going to be executed tonight as part of the celebration."

"I see…thanks for the information. I'll be sure not to miss it." Ice smiled and inclined his head to the giraffe as the foreman walked off after his co workers. He waited until they were out of sight to turn on the spot and promptly dash back to the wagon.

ShitshitshitshitshitI gotta report this to Miles

– end of chapter two –