A/N: Hello again! I bring you chapter two. I want to say a huge thanks to all those who reviewed and/or added this to their alert or favourites! And also a huge thanks to my beta The Light's Refrain!

Disclaimer: I don't own Sonic or other related characters. If I did, Sonic wouldn't shrug off being zapped so easily; he's not immortal!



Chapter Two: Mission Misfortune

"Are you done?" Antoine wheezed. His arms were trembling from supporting Rotor's weight for so long. Being a walrus, he was not what you would call 'light'.

"Not yet, I'm only about two-thirds through," came the almost instant reply from above.

Antoine moaned, gritted his teeth, and focused on not letting his arms give out from under him. He fervently prayed that Rotor would not take much longer. He hoped Sally and Bunnie were having an easier time than he was.

They were. Several hundred metres away, Sally and Bunnie were waiting for NICOLE to find one more weak point. The handheld had found a total of four and calculated that it would take five to get the unfinished building to collapse. Bunnie was twisting a lock of her hair around one of her fingers while she waited. Sally did not fidget, but kept her eyes firmly glued to the holograph. NICOLE finally announced the search complete as a fifth, and final, red light appeared on the schematic.

"Right, let's go!" the ground-squirrel whispered, ducking her head around the corner and gesturing for Bunnie to follow her when she deemed the coast clear. The two entered the place, supremely thankful that nobody was working on construction at this time. Sally located the first point after frequent checks to the display. She indicated the exact spot and smartly stepped back as Bunnie moved forward. The half-mechanized rabbit had her left arm - the robotic one - pulled back over her shoulder. Keeping her eyes trained on the point Sally had shown her, Bunnie slung her arm forward. Metal grinded on metal for a brief moment as she made impact before the steel beam buckled under the force of the blow. "Quick, to the next one," Sally quietly called from a few metres away. She had found the next one while Bunnie took out the first.

Bunnie smiled grimly and quickly punched another steel beam down low. When it, too, buckled, she softly laughed and said, "Two down, three to go!" She jogged over to her partner, who had found the next one.

The pair continued in this vein until they reach the last weak point. The building was creaking ominously by now and both of them were eager to leave before it caved in on top of them. Sally pointed out the last spot that Bunnie would need to hit. Just as the rabbit pulled back her arm, Sally gasped. A worker-bot had just entered through the back door and was heading their way. "Quick, Bunnie, we have company!" she whispered hastily.

Bunnie itched to see who the company was, but kept herself focused on her task. She rammed forward, the last beam groaning in its death throes before it gave in. The sudden noise had alerted the robot and its head whipped around to see what the source of the noise was. It made no sound, as it was not equipped with any speech chips, but it sent a message to the main control room all the same.

"Sir, sir, we have a problem!" Snively whined, fingers whizzing over the keyboard in panic.

"A…problem, Snively?" Robotnik asked in a dangerously calm voice. "What kind of…problem?"

The younger of the two began sweating. He knew that this news would not be well received. "A worker-bot has just sent a message. There are intruders in the new SWATbot factory!"

"Intruders?!" Robotnik thundered. "Get a security camera over there to find out who they are what they're doing in my factory! Send whatever SWATbots we can spare! Now!" he spat. 'It must be those meddlesome Freedom Fighters!' he mentally snarled. 'Those furry rodents won't get away from me this time!'

"Of c-course, s-sir!" Snively stuttered out, hurrying to fulfil his master's orders.

The princess and her companion wasted no time in idle chit-chat. They ran out of the building as fast as they could. They were lucky. The building had given up the struggle to stay vertical and was crumbling near the top of the half-finished walls. A few seconds later, everything seemed to simply fall in on itself as the construction went down, burying the worker-bot under mounds of rubble.

Sally fumbled for a moment, debating whether or not to call Sonic, but decided against it. They were in no immediate danger. Facing Bunnie, she nodded meaningfully and swiftly jogged away from the wreckage. Bunnie was hot on her heels as they headed for the agreed rendezvous point.

A SWATbot stepped into their path, baring its laser rifle right at them. "Surrender, intruders," it droned.

Sally slowly moved her left hand toward her right wrist to activate her communicator. The movement wasn't subtle enough as the SWATbot shot at her feet. She jumped back, startled, directly into the waiting arms of another SWATbot. She twisted her head, only to see Bunnie captured as well; pinned in a vice-like grip too strong for even her robotic limbs to break free of. Knowing that struggling was futile, she tried anyway. She blinked back tears, wanting to appear strong for Bunnie.

"There, everything's been deleted. I downloaded any useful bits of information, as well. There wasn't much, but every little bit helps," Rotor said, gingerly stepping off Antoine's back. "Sorry about that," he added, holding out a hand for the coyote to take.

Accepting the proffered hand, Antoine eased himself slowly into a standing position, his back protesting the entire time. His ears perked up as the sound of a rumbling crash was carried across to them.

"They must have brought the building down," Rotor said with a smile.

"Oh, I 'ope they are safe," Antoine muttered distractedly, twisting his fingers together with worry. He received no answer. Growing irritated at his partner's rudeness, he whirled around to educate the walrus on the finer points of proper manners. The words died on his tongue as he stared directly into the flashlight from a SWATbot's finger. "Sacre bleu," he whimpered, shivering uncontrollably. Panicking, he turned on his communicator before the SWATbot could say anything. "Sonic, Sonic, 'elp! SWATbots!" he screamed into the device as he saw another two walk out from behind the corner. He was yanked off his feet as Rotor grabbed his arm and blindly ran deeper into the polluted city.

'Who would've thought that hammering away at a door with a rusty pipe is, to me, harder than smashing a 'bot?' Sonic wondered absently. He had made quite a dent in the heavy door. It was, surprisingly, still the thick oak it had been when the city had first been transformed. Robotnik must have thought that the door was not important enough to replace. The big Overlander had never bothered with either of the two old warehouses that the King had used for storing emergency supplies.

A slight clang made him jerk his head around. Putting on an act in case of cameras, he warily glanced around before returning to his task. Instead of battering away at the sturdy door, he started using one end of the pipe to scrape away the wood in an effort to be quieter. Inside, Sonic was cackling madly at the farce he was performing.

His ears went erect and he halted his assault against the door as he picked up a gentle whirr and click of something mechanical nearby. Distinguishing the noise immediately, he identified it as a floating security camera. Mentally smirking, he made another show of scanning the area for enemies. Seeing nothing once again, he returned to his previous activity. Sonic did not need to feign the tension in his muscles, though it was from excitement rather than fear.

The azure hedgehog had gotten almost halfway through the oak when a louder clanging made him look up for the third time. About twenty SWATbots had come up the streets, blocking off all of Sonic's exits. Letting his internal smirk become external, he crossed his arms, tapping the pipe gently against his left shoulder. "Well, look who's here to welcome me!" he exclaimed sarcastically. "How ya doin' guys?" he cheerfully asked, cocking his head to one side.

None of them dignified him with a verbal answer, but all of them raised their guns and trained them on his furry torso. 'Well, I did want them to come after me,' he wryly thought. 'Now I just have to get out of this in one piece!' Appearing unruffled, he started to tap his right foot in time with the pipe. "Not the kind who likes visitors, huh? I understand. I'd hate it if someone I didn't like waltzed into my house uninvited," he bantered casually.

The SWATbots, not hearing any words of surrender, fired. Roughly twenty lasers went hurtling through the air, causing it to warp with the heat due to the sheer amount concentrated in that area. The black-armoured robots began firing at will.

Sonic ducked and weaved, jumped and flipped and tried just about every dodging manoeuvre he knew. So far, all of the lasers had missed him, sometimes by scant millimetres. His rhythm was broken when a voice screamed from his communicator. "Sonic, Sonic, 'elp! SWATbots!" Hearing Antoine's distinctive accented voice, he frowned in worry. The momentary lapse in concentration cost him, as a laser grazed his stomach. He dropped the pipe on reflex. Knowing that the wound was only superficial, he ignored the stinging pain as best he could and sped off to his left.

He wound through the dark streets, his feet operating mostly by memory of the passageways. After a few hairpin turns, he could easily pick up the clamour from SWATbot armour. Turning another corner, he had to spiral to one side to avoid crashing straight into Rotor and Antoine. Taking only a split second to realign himself, Sonic felt them each latch onto an arm. Grunting a little at the extra weight, he revved his legs and zoomed off the way he had come. He zipped right down another street before he reached the area with the SWATbots that had shot at him.

"Where are you going?" Antoine asked breathlessly.

Sonic had to fight the urge to roll his eyes. "To the rendezvous point, where else? Sal and Bunnie haven't called me, so I'm betting that's where they'll be."

After close to half a minute of running in relative silence, the three emerged from the narrow streets and into a small clearing just inside the city limits. This was the designated rendezvous point. Antoine and Rotor let go of their saviour's arms and all three eagerly scanned the area for the two girls.

But the girls weren't there.

"Where are they?" Antoine inquired frantically. "They should be here!"

"Maybe they just haven't arrived yet," Rotor said in an earnest tone, trying to calm the coyote down.

Antoine glanced at Rotor's honest face. "Do you think so?"

"It's a strong possibility," he replied.

While their conversation had been taking place, Sonic had been scouring the surroundings. 'Something doesn't feel right,' he thought with unease. The fur in between his quills was standing up straight. 'Maybe Rotor's right and they're going slow to avoid SWATbots. But what if something's happened and they couldn't tell me? What if they ran into SWATbots and were captured or…' Sonic gulped, unable to finish that particular thought. It was too horrible for him to even bear thinking about and he never wanted to go there. He went back to the other two and sat down. "If they don't get here in five minutes, I'm gonna go look," he announced unhappily, not liking the wait.

"Sonic, what 'appened to your stomach?" Antoine asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence. With Antoine's question, Rotor became curious and swept his gaze over the hedgehog's midsection. A thick line of what looked like black soot ran across it in a slightly diagonal direction. It went from the bottom of Sonic's right ribs to a little above his left hip.

"Oh, that…I forgot about all about it when we got to this clearing," he replied in faint wonder. Seeing their questioning faces, he knew he would have to answer. "A SWATbot managed to get in a lucky shot. The laser only grazed me though. It singed my fur, too…" he added sadly, rubbing a touch of the black stuff between his gloved fingers.

Rotor padded over to him and rubbed a bit of it between his own fingers. "'Singed' is an understatement," he said knowingly. "Your fur's been charred, more like."

Sonic had no reply and the conversation died. But, not before Antoine had the last word. "If I were you, I would be taking a bath to wash zat 'orrible black off," he commented, wrinkling his nose as the scent of burnt fur reached it.

Five minutes, that seemed an eternity to the three in the clearing, came and went. They exchanged a meaningful look. "Be careful," Rotor warned.

Sonic smirked, but nodded. "Right, I'll be back with them as quick as I can." Without giving Antoine a chance to say anything, he revved off. The streets seemed darker and more uninviting this time around. Sonic knew it was simply his imagination. A dark cloud hung over his thoughts and it made everything appear shaded. Trying his best to push the darkness to the back of his mind, he focused solely on locating Bunnie and Sally. He dared not call out because of the large number of SWATbots patrolling around. It did not take the super-fast hedgehog long to reach the pitiful remains of the destroyed factory. He bit his lip, as he had seen no sign of the girls on the way here, or at the wrecked building.

Sonic was feeling more anxious by the second. He was the leader of the Knothole Freedom Fighters and it was up to him to make sure that he kept the others safe; failure was something he would not - could not - accept. He gritted his teeth as he came to an awful conclusion; Sally and Bunnie had been captured. Wasting no time, he ran off towards Robotnik's main egg-shaped building. He became little more than a flash of blue blurring along the ground, a faint whistle of wind following in his wake.

Sonic's feet barely touched the ground as he sped over the dirty landscape of oil, pollution and metal. His heart was pounding, banging against his ribcage as though trying to push him forward. Sonic's legs adhered to the will of his heart as fear-fuelled adrenaline rushed through his system, lending him an extra burst of speed.

The fortress was right in front of him within a second or so and Sonic simply kept running. He didn't bother with the door; it would take too long getting through the multitude of SWATbots inside. Instead, the speedster simply ran up the wall, his momentum great enough to propel him to just below the top.

Sonic spied a small, round ventilation grille and, with the last of his momentum, tore it open from the bottom, almost dislocating his fingers. The grille's rusty screws snapped from the force and the whole thing went flying; going straight up before curving in an arc and falling the considerable distance to the ground below. Before Sonic fell after it, he grabbed the top edge of the shaft and spun his body around, propelling himself into the fairly narrow opening.

He slid down about thirty metres before the shaft became completely vertical; another grille blocking the opening about ten metres below him. Sonic spread his arms and legs so that his hands and feet were creating friction against the sides of the shaft to slow him down. He shuddered to a halt an inch above the grille and let out a breath he hadn't been aware of holding. He sucked in another breath as some muffled voices reached his ears. He waited a few seconds until the voices came close enough to make out properly. The only door to the room hissed open and it was then that Sonic realised he was right above the Roboticizer room.

"Snively, prepare the Roboticizer!" Robotnik barked at his nephew.

"With pleasure, sir," Snively drawled back, lip curled into a sneer. The short Overlander hurried over to the control panel that took up an entire wall. With his sneer becoming more pronounced by the second, he hit one of the buttons and the clear, glass-like barrier that held Mobians in place during the process rose upwards, allowing someone to be placed beneath it.

Robotnik smiled in a self-satisfied way. He turned to the two SWATbots that had entered the room behind him. "Place the princess in the Roboticizer," he calmly ordered.

Sonic had to stifle a gasp as Robotnik moved aside and he caught a clear view of the SWATbots. Each SWATbot had one of Princess Sally's arms and were holding her aloft between them; leaving her legs to dangle.

Sally was still struggling, trying to twist her agile body out of the robots' grasp. She kicked her legs, desperately trying to connect with one of them so that they would drop her. She glared at the overweight tyrant. "What have you done with Bunnie?" she demanded.

"Ah yes, your little half-robot friend… Fear not, Princess, she is enjoying the full hospitality of one of my cells. Do you know what will make her stay even more meaningful?" he asked in a sinister tone.

Sally did not dignify him with an answer.

"It'll be when her precious princess, turned into the very thing you both fight against, escorts her to have her other half roboticized!" he declared, red eyes, devoid of any mercy, flashed at her as he laughed in a sinister way. He signalled his SWATbots to continue and they started walking towards the imposing machine. Sally struggled harder, thrashing around with all her might.

"Sir, oh sir!" interrupted Snively as he jogged over, stopping just out of his uncle's reach.

"Can't you see I'm busy?" Robotnik hissed.

Snively pulled at the collar of his muddy-green sweater, beads of sweat rolling down his mostly bald head. "Y-yes, s-sir…"

"Then save it!" the older man barked, making the younger one jump in fright.

"B-but, s-sir, I really think you'll like this!" Snively persisted.

Above their heads, Sonic gave a silent sigh of relief. Snively's interruption had stalled Robotnik, giving Sonic a bit more time to think of a way to rescue her. He was quite sure he could, but it would be a near thing and Sonic didn't want to take too much of a risk with a ready, and active, Roboticizer in the relatively small room.

"What?!" Robotnik bellowed, turning the full force of his glare onto his quivering subordinate.

Snively gulped and pulled at his collar once more before speaking. "A p-patrol of Swatbots have c-captured two Freedom Fighters. They have been identified as Rotor the Walrus and Antoine the Coyote," he said, puffing out his chest slightly as he noticed the interested - and happy - expression on his superior's face. "They have been thrown into the same cell as our other prisoner."

"Excellent! Good work, Snively; you're not quite as useless as I thought." Robotnik brought the tips of his fingers together and started drumming them against each other as a cruel smile twisted across his visage. "Now all that's left is that two-tailed brat, the dragon and the hedgehog. I'm sure they'll come to your rescue when you don't arrive home, but by then it will be too late!" The fat man threw his head back and laughed; a truly horrible sound.

Sonic, watching through the grille, narrowed his eyes as he absorbed this news. 'A patrol must have found Ant and Rote! But how? They weren't even in the city and the patrols never go outside the city limits!' The hedgehog's mind began working furiously; he now had to rescue four instead of two. His chances of success - let alone getting through it unscathed - had dropped significantly.

"No…" Sally whispered brokenly. Tears began to build up behind her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. 'Stay strong, Sally,' she told herself, 'Sonic's still free; there's still hope!' Little did the squirrel know that there was more hope than just Sonic out there.

"Damn!" Charles Hedgehog swore, banging his hand on the desk. Wasting no time, he slid across the floor on his chair and came to a stop in front of his own personal terminal that he had built himself from many of the spare parts that had been thrown out by Robotnik. "I've got to find a way to shut down the Roboticizer!" The robotic hedgehog let his digits fall on the computer's keyboard and instantly started pressing keys; trying to hack into the Roboticizer's programming and shut it down somehow.

He was infinitely glad that he had installed a spy bug near that room. 'Hang on, Princess…'

"Oh mah stars, they got you two as well?" Bunnie said in dismay as some SWATbots, who had just hurled her friends into her cell, clanked away.

"Oui…" Antoine answered morosely.

"They caught us by surprise," Rotor offered as an explanation.

Bunnie's ears drooped and she heaved a sigh. "Guess this is it then," she said tonelessly. Hers ears suddenly perked up and the half-rabbit blinked. "But, wait…where's Sugah-hog?"

"We don't know," Rotor replied, frowning in thought. "When you didn't meet us at the rendezvous after five minutes, Sonic ran off to find you."

"If Sonic is still free, he will surely be coming to bunk us out of here, no?"

Rotor rolled his eyes at the French coyote. "That's 'bust' Antoine. Though you're probably right, we shouldn't count on it. Let's look for a way to escape by ourselves!"

"Good thinkin', Sugah! Let's get crackin'!"

Rotor heaved himself to his feet and padded over to the cell bars. He tried to get a good look at the lock, but was unable to do so. Bunnie, noticing what he was trying to do, pulled a small mirror out of a hidden pocket in her outfit. She tapped him on the shoulder and wordlessly handed over the item when he turned around. Rotor smiled. "Thanks, Bunnie!" Turning his attention back to the lock, he slipped the mirror through the bars and angled it so that it reflected the lock. Rotor hummed under his breath as he studied it.

"Can you not simply be bending the bars?" Antoine suddenly asked, directing his question at the half-mechanical rabbit.

"Ah already tried that, 'Twan. Those bars are too strong, even for me," she stated, her eyes flicking over to Rotor every few seconds. If the walrus could not open their cell, they would have to rely on Sonic to free them somehow. Unlike the other two, however, Bunnie knew that he was probably busy saving Sally.

As though picking up on her thoughts, Antoine jumped to his feet in a panic. "Ze princess, where is she?" he asked in a frantic tone.

At this, Rotor stopped his work for a second to throw a questioning glance at Bunnie before returning to his self-appointed task.

"A couple of SWATbots took her to the Roboticizer…"

Rotor gasped and Antoine's breath caught in his throat. "N-no!" the coyote whimpered before his knees gave out and he slumped the floor, a desolate look clouding his eyes.

"Relax, you two. I'm sure that's where Sugah-hog is, up there savin' her!" she said cheerfully, saying it to bolster the boys as well as herself.

"She's right, Antoine; Sonic will save her in no time and then he'll come for us!" Rotor exclaimed, going about his task with renewed vigour.

"Oui, the truth you are speaking," the coyote said, sitting up properly and offering Bunnie a small smile. She smiled back, glad that he wasn't moping or anything anymore.

Sonic couldn't stand to see Sally in such a strait any longer. Letting his hands and feet slacken their tension against the sides of the shaft, he flipped upright and slammed into the grille feet first, shocking everyone inside the room as he and the grille landed. "Let her go, Ro-butt-nik!" he demanded, pointing a gloved finger at the tyrant.

"Ah, the hedgehog…" he replied, looking very pleased. "Snively, activate security measure six nine dash two zero gamma!"

"Right away, sir!" the younger Overlander said, sneering at Sonic with unconcealed glee. He walked over to the wall just on the right side of the main control panel. Placing his right hand against it, a section of the wall, little bigger than a hand span wide and tall, slid upwards, revealing a lever. Before the speedy hedgehog had a chance to galvanise himself into action, Snively yanked the lever down for all he was worth.

A sudden rumbling sounded from above and Sonic automatically craned his neck to look up at the ceiling. Big mistake. Having predicted this action, Robotnik had designed this security measure to sound from one direction and strike from another. Sonic had no time to react as a robotic tentacle sprung up from the floor and wrapped itself securely around both of his ankles. Sonic immediately tried to free his legs but winced and stopped as the tentacle's grip tightened, threatening to snap bone. "Why, you…!" he growled out, sending Robotnik a heated glare.

Two more tentacles shot out of the floor as Sonic made to punch through the one around his legs. They whipped around his wrists and pulled back so that Sonic's arms were forced away from his body. The azure hedgehog's body was in the shape of a cross and there was nothing he could do to wriggle free unless he wanted both of his legs broken.

"Finally… I finally have you right where I want you and there is no chance of escape!" Robotnik gloated, ignoring Sonic's defiant glare. "Snively, remove the rodent's backpack!" he ordered. He didn't want the hedgehog to pull out a Power Ring or anything; it might have an adverse effect on his precious machine if used and he didn't want to risk it being damaged in any way while the hedgehog was in the palm of his hand.

Snively swaggered over to the restrained hedgehog and pulled out a pocket-knife. Being very careful of Sonic's razor-sharp quills, he began slicing through the pack's straps.

Sonic, feeling one of them fall, thrust backwards as far as he could. Hearing Snively yelp in pain, he knew he had injured the Overlander. He grunted as the tentacle around his legs constricted, almost cutting off the blood flow to his feet.

Snively curled his lip with hatred as he examined his bloodied hands. The quills on Sonic's back had punctured his hands and fingers in multiple places. It was painful to move them, but Snively persevered as he began slicing through the other strap. He smirked in satisfaction as the backpack fell harmlessly to the ground. Not wanting to move his hands, he kicked the brown pack along the floor to his uncle.

"Excellent job, Snively. Security, throw the hedgehog into the Roboticizer!" Robotnik yelled.

The three tentacles hauled Sonic into the air. They extended, easily reaching the machine with their prize. They held him still as the barrier lowered. Just before it reached the tentacles, they threw Sonic up into the air and retreated before the barrier touched them.

Sonic, flailing helplessly in midair, landed straight after the barrier clicked into place. The breath was driven out of his lungs upon landing and he moaned as he tried to move either of his legs.

Sally could only dangle limply in the SWATbots' hold, staring at the scene in denial and disbelief. Despite the large amount of faith as she had in the 'Blue Blur', even Sally knew that there was no way out for him this time.

Snively moved to stand in front of one the SWATbots that held the squirrel as his master swept past. Robotnik wanted to active the Roboticizer personally this time. He had waited far too long - in his opinion - for this very moment, and he wanted to savour it as much as he possibly could. As his finger hovered over the activation button, he turned to face his helpless captive. Taking in the glorious moment, he decided to end it before something went awry; his stubby finger pressed the button and the Roboticizer whirred to life.

Sonic couldn't move. His legs were badly bruised and he suspected that one, if not both, of his ankles were sprained or twisted as it hurt to move them even an inch. He could feel a sudden wave of heat against his back and saw the beam's green light reflected in the glass-like barrier. 'This is it…' he thought in wonder. 'This is how it ends. First me, then Sal, then he'll turn Rotor, Bunnie and Antoine into robots! If he uses me, Sal and Bunnie as combat 'bots, the Freedom Fighters won't stand a chance! But there's nothing I can do now…' With that last despairing thought, Sonic curled his body up as tight as he could, as though trying to block out the horror of what was happening.

Inside his mind, it was like a movie reel as he saw everything that had happened when he came upon the Roboticizer for the first time. He was only five, a tender age when death and loss was a concept he was unable to grasp properly. Robotnik had just used the strange machine for the first time and the young hedgehog watched in horror as flesh and blood was turned into metal and circuits right before his eyes.

Once the machine had stopped and Robotnik was satisfied with the results, a SWATbot grabbed Sonic's uncle - the inventor of the device - and dragged him onto the platform. "Chuck!" Sonic cried helplessly, tears dripping down his cheeks. He barely listened as the big, round Overlander starting speaking. Sonic and Sally wove their arms together and simply held each other as Sonic whispered, "Uncle Chuck…" despairingly. Robotnik pressed a button and watched in sadistic glee as Sir Charles Hedgehog was turned into a mindless mechanical minion.

Sonic, next in line and barely three feet from the platform and his uncle, could only watch with wide eyes, unable to tear his gaze from the awful sight. His uncle, who always made him the best chilidogs when he was feeling down, now stood there with eerie, glowing red eyes that contained no feeling at all. "Uncle Chuck!" he called out one last time before he was yanked away to safety.

Back in the present; the green light crawled closer, inch by agonising inch. It seemed much slower than usual. After thirty seconds, that had stretched an eternity, the beam hit the tips of Sonic's quills. Robotnik waited for the hedgehog to cry out, but the curled form made no sound. There was a sudden fizzling noise that made him tear his eyes from the spiky form of his defeated nemesis. The Roboticizer's beam had stopped and was sparking and crackling at increasing intervals. The main beam faded slowly away, leaving a few sparks to jump around inside the barrier. "Fix it… FIX IT!!!" he screamed out in frustration.

Painfully, Snively outstretched one of his punctured fingers and pressed a button to conduct more power to the Roboticizer. The machine hissed dangerously as the beam slowly began to appear again. Before either of the two Overlanders could rejoice, however, a soft whine could be heard, steadily growing louder. It reached such a pitch, that both uncle and nephew clapped their hands over their ears.

With no more warning, the Roboticizer exploded. Bits of metal and the barrier went hurtling through the air, transformed into deadly shrapnel. A shockwave from the blast blew outwards from the wrecked machine. It slammed into the Overlanders with all the force of a brick wall. Robotnik was bowled head over heels as Snively was lifted right into the air and thrown backwards, straight into one of the SWATbots still holding Princess Sally.

As soon as she felt the SWATbot let go over of her, she twisted her body around and landed a solid kick to the other SWATbot's head. It, too, released her as it fell over from the force. The shockwave died down and Sally took the chance to run to the Roboticizer; afraid of what she might find.

Sonic was lying there prone, a limp, burnt bundle of fur and quills. Blood was oozing from a dozen different wounds across his body and Sally felt worse than she had in many years. Choking back a sob, she gently scooped him up, slung one of his arms around her shoulders and ran out of the room as quickly as she could.

Sally was beginning to sag under Sonic's deadweight. She was lighter than his weight of seventy-seven pounds and it was showing. Reaching the floor below, she ducked behind a corner just as a cleaner-bot walked into view. The 'bot was pushing a hover-trolley and it had given Sally a wonderful idea. Waiting until it reached the corner she was hiding behind, she laid Sonic on the floor and hurled herself at the cleaner-bot. She kicked it down and opened a panel on its back before it could scramble to its feet. She disconnected a couple of wires and left the now-deactivated robot where it had landed. Sally raced back to the prone hedgehog and carefully lifted him onto the hover-trolley. The squirrel began pushing and the trolley instantly responded, gliding over the ground with minimal force required to propel it along.

"Are you gettin' anywhere, Rotor?" Bunnie asked after about twenty minutes or so had passed.

The purple walrus tapped one of his tusks as he turned around to answer her. "Sorry, Bunnie. My screwdriver's too thick to fit into the lock; I need something thinner, or some kind of laser, but we have neither," he said honestly.

"We are trapped, doom-ed to be spending ze rest of our lives in here!" Antoine cried. He ran to the cell bars, grabbed them and began to shake them. "'Elp! I do not want to be living in here! It is far too dirty!" he yelled out. His desperate cries echoed down the deserted hallway, heard by no one. Or, so they thought.

"Antoine!" a feminine voice cried back, each echo sounding more and more beautiful to Antoine's ears. A few seconds later, Sally came into view. Ignoring their surprised, yet overjoyed, looks, Sally whipped NICOLE off the top of her left boot. She was actually a bit shocked that Robotnik had not taken the handheld console off her. "NICOLE, laser!" she told the device.

"Yes, Sally." A thin, red-hot beam of light shot from the bottom of the small computer and Sally directed it to cut the bolt that was holding the lock in place. The lock fell with a clang and the three quickly exited the cell, eager to get back to Knothole.

Bunnie was the first to spot Sonic. "Oh mah stars, Sally-girl! What happened?" she said with a gasp, rushing to the side of the hover-trolley and gently picking up Sonic's right hand.

"No time to explain! We need to get out of here, fast!" Sally gushed, making hurrying motions with her hands.

Antoine and Sally jumped onto the trolley and crouched beside Sonic as Rotor took over the handlebar. Bunnie decided to run behind and act as rear-guard in case of 'bots. Rotor started running and Bunnie followed, tipping over all the stuff on the sides of the corridors and leaving it lying in the middle to slow up any pursuers.

Rotor was puffing as they finally got out of Robotnik's oppressive building. The walrus took off down a random street, wracking his brain to remember the pathways that Sonic had guided them through. It took only moments for him to come to the conclusion that he was hopelessly lost.

All of them, minus the still-unconscious hedgehog, whipped their heads around at the sound of an engine.

"He must have mobilised the Hover Units!" Sally said as her eyes went wide and fearful.

Bunnie began to fiddle with one of her ears in nervousness. "What are we gonna do?" she asked, not really directing the question at anyone.

"Come with me, quickly!" a voice whispered from the shadows.

A/N: Chapter two done. Did I do alright?

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Until next time, readers!