Author Notes: I know everyone's waiting on Cerinia Chronicles, but I suffered severe writers block, followed by an exploding laptop, insane levels of busy as I rebuilt my bedroom and bathroom, and no longer accepting updates from my year 2000, Windows 98 OS desktop. I will get it done, but first I need to address another piece of detritus that's clogging my mental channels.

The well known Mr McCloud is not the only hard luck fox that's come to my attention. Miles 'Tails' Prower, is a great character who's depressingly underused, especially in Sonic SatAM. I intend to rectify that. With Sailor Moon it was a trip to the DBZ universe (fanfiction(dot)net/s/184889/1/A_Special_Training), and with Shinji Ikari, it was finding some Warhammer 40K miniatures, and growing a spine (fanfiction(dot)net/s/3886999/1/Shinji_and_Warhammer40k). They each found their awesome, and cranked it to 11.

With Tails, he needs a place where they'll be willing and able to bring out the 'hidden power' he was supposed to show in season 3, and I know of a place they can crank his awesome all the way up to 'over 9000' (If you didn't read the blurb, this is a clue). As a potentially expert pilot and techie, he might also benefit from knowing how to 'Do a Barrel Roll' (Once again, a subtle hint as to where he'll travel.)

Enough wittering, on with the show.

Chapter 1 – Origin Tails

Miles 'Tails' Prower was making his way through the Great Forest, away from Knothole, and in the general direction of Robotropolis. The nine year old fox wasn't crazy, he didn't intend to try and enter Robotnik's capital city, but he hoped to prove something.

He was nine now, and Aunt Sally still wouldn't let him be a part of the Freedom Fighter missions. He did what he could to help picking vegetables, cooking and helping the others back at Knothole, but he wanted to do more. Aunt Sally, Bunny, Rotor and of course his big brother, Sonic, were always going out, facing down Robotnik and his robotic goons, risking themselves to protect everyone.

The kit felt as if he was letting them down by not being there to help, even though the thought of actually going on a mission scared him as much as it excited him. He knew he wasn't as brave and fast as Sonic, or as smart at Aunt Sally, or strong as Bunny, or as technically skilled as Rotor, but he was working hard to get better, and wanted to show them he could do more to help, even if he couldn't be there alongside them.

He was getting better at building stuff, and he carried the device that was the reason for his trip, a new design of electro-binoculars he'd built in Rotor's workshop, out of salvaged Swat-bot and Spy-bot optical components, but this one had a laser range finder attached and connected to some audio, modulator and memory components from Swat-bot speech circuits. It looked like a pair of goggles with a lightweight boom microphone attached.

He'd created a device that not only gave you an exact range on what you were viewing, but which could pick up the vibrations of any reflective surface due to speech, and repeat it in the headset, or onto a memory chip. It could also record what you were viewing at the time alongside the sound track. The mike allowed you to annotate the record. However, he didn't feel right testing it by spying on his friends.

He intended to search around until he spotted a Swat-bot patrol or something, and spy on them with the electro-binocs at long range. He'd hear their hover-motors long before they could spot him, and the entire forest was made of hiding holes, so it was about as safe as he could make things. Pity it wasn't a nicer day, it had been overcast and muggy since daybreak, and the clouds were looking threatening.

There might well be a storm in the near future, even a thunderstorm. Tails shivered, then told himself to stop it. A freedom fighter shouldn't be afraid of a little lighting or thunder… He could hear something now… he stopped, listened and then frowned. That was the sound of hover-motors, but it wasn't a Swat-bot patrol craft. It was bigger… much bigger.

He scooted up the nearest tree, and looked out from a vantage point among the branches. It was big, it was bad, and it was at least 250 metres above him. He quickly put his binoculars to good use, zooming in. The vessel was a big red disk, at least a hundred metres across, like two Frisbees edge to edge. A big red ball with multiple engines and fins sticking out of it was built into one edge, the back of the craft, presumably the main power core. The underside was studded with laser turrets, a larger glass dome forwards that was presumably the bridge. The upper surface, by comparison, seemed flat. He quickly switched in image recording.

Dead centre on the underside was a massive, downwards facing spire, surrounded by external super-capacitors, and with a muzzle arrangement that Tails assumed could only be some powerful weapon. This was quickly confirmed when a spear of purple energy shot down into the forest, engulfing an area about 50 metres across in a purple swirling vortex. After a few seconds the vortex disappeared, and so did the forest, leaving nothing but a clean edged circular crater.

He moved his viewpoint forward to the bridge he'd spotted earlier, zoomed in, and crossed his tails as he cut in his audio-snooper. He could clearly see two control positions, manned by Swat-bots, and further back… a third figure, but it took several seconds to figure out it was Sniveley. Robotnik's oozing voice came in clearly, with the slight hum of the vessels own vibrations.

"…elent Snively! And that was only at 1 percent power! The dimensional vortex generator is truly ready for action. Now you have only to wait for the vortex modulation crystals to recycle, then you can move to the centre of that blasted forest, and remove it, and those wretched Freedom Fighters from my universe once and for all!"

Snively's voice matched his name. "As you command sire, or course, but if you are willing to destroy such a large area, why not simply use a bomb, or a kinetic orbital strike? Those would have been much easier to fabricate. You only ever managed to create the one vortex generator."

Robotnik's voice took on a contemptuous tone, or rather, a more contemptuous tone than usual. "That Snively, is why you are the lackey, and I am the ruler of all I survey. It is not enough just to erase those animals, especially that pestiferous hedgehog; I want them to _know_ they've failed.

"The exit point is random, so most likely the entire area will reappear at some point in interstellar space. The Freedom Fighters will have just enough time to realise that they and their precious Knothole are dead before their atmosphere explodes away and they all strangle and freeze in the darkness between the stars.

"And removing the Great Forest will allow my easy access to strip mine the rich resources that lie beneath it. Bombing would mean a more complex mining operation from underneath. So I kill two birds, and one hedgehog with one stone. Ohhh, it warms the cockles of my mechanical heart just to think of it." The dictator gave a mechanical chuckle.

"But sir what if they land somewhere hospitable?" Snively enquired.

"Even better. Even I could not retrieve them, and they will have no way of duplicating my machine, let alone finding which universe to return to. They will live out their pitiful little lives in the knowledge that I, Ivor Robotnik rule all of Mobius, now and forever!" The cybernetic dictator's voice rose to a triumphant yell.

Tails could clearly hear Snively mutter. "Not for too long, you overinflated buffoon!"

Robotnik's voice came back sharply. "What was that Snively?"

Snively's voice immediately cranked up to its maximum servility level. "I was just saying doctor, how your brilliance overwhelms me like a typhoon!"

Robotnik preened. "Yes… yes, I can understand that it would. Proceed with all speed, Snively!"

Tails was already heading back down the tree, close to panic. His first impulse was to race back to Knothole as fast as his tails could carry him, and lay the problem in front of Sonic and Aunt Sally. They would know what to do. However, he didn't know how soon those 'vortex modulation crystals' would recycle, and he didn't know how fast the machine was. He might get there just in time to see it launch its attack.

He had to warn Knothole, yes, but he didn't have time to go himself. More than that, he had to do something to stop the machine himself. Aunt Sally would probably be real mad at him risking himself, but he couldn't see a choice. But how…

He was close to Weapons Cache 3, which had explosives raided from Robotnik's mining operations, and radio-detonators he'd built under Rotor's direction. It also had a bunch of fireworks, which were specifically there for signalling and distractions. The caches were distributed and well away from Knothole so an accident wouldn't hurt anyone, or give their location away. He knew the location of the cache because he'd helped Rotor bring stuff out here, as well as how to open the door. It was impossible to find otherwise.

So he had tools to work with, but how to use them. What would Sonic do… dash straight in, evade the mass of turret fire, set the bombs and be out of there before Snively knew what was happening… No, even Sonic would have trouble getting up that high, and Dulcie or the Freedom Stormer would be to big a target for those lasers, at least on the way up. For that matter, so would he, fast as he could fly, unless…

He had a plan. Aunt Sally would surely reject it out of paw. It wasn't a good one, it was risky, there was no contingency, no room for error, but it just might work. He pressed the concealed knot that opened the camouflaged door, and set to work, setting the electro-binocs to voice record for the others in case it _didn't_ work.

Snively nodded approvingly. The crystals were stable, and the system was ready to use.

"Move to the geographical centre of the Great Forest, and fire, full power!" He commanded the robots operating the actual control consoles. He himself was sitting on a raised captain's chair that had a definite throne like quality.

"Setting course co-ordinates…" intoned the Swat-bot at the helm. "Readying charging cycle…" stated the one beside him at the tactical console.

Suddenly, off to one side a number of streams of light flew up towards the crimson behemoth. Snively's head jerked round. "We're under attack? Evasive manoeuvres!"

The tactical Swat-bot responded. "Unnecessary. Analysis indicates non-collision course, and black powder of insufficient quantities to harm this vessel. Probable usage is as signalling device." The fireworks confirmed this by popping with big bright flares.

"Grrr!" Snively had just been made to look foolish, and he couldn't abide that. "Target all secondary turrets on that location! Destroy the launcher, and anyone operating it!" A second wave of fireworks lit off just as a fusillade of laser fire obliterated their origin point.

Tails was already on the move. Even as he'd watched the turrets swing, he'd adjusted the satchel he now carried, and was scooting further up the tree on the opposite side to the fireworks, propelled by his spinning tails. He'd left the electro-binocs behind, both as a record for the others, and because he already had enough to carry.

"Let's do it to it!" He muttered as he burst from the crown of the tree, shooting up into the air and arcing up above the vessel before it's turrets could track back from the decoy. The delay fuse on the fireworks had worked even better than he'd dreamed. He only hoped the dead man fuses on the explosives he carried would work as well.

Snively was alerted to the new problem by a flashing light, and pulled up an exterior view on his monitor. "It was a trick! It's that foetid little flying fox that hangs around with Sonic! Destroy him, before I have you all recycled into can openers!"

The Swat-bots carefully avoided mentioning that it was Snively himself who'd been fooled into uncovering a section of the defense perimeter. They might be mindless android combat machines, but they weren't stupid. The turrets turned at their maximum travel, but Tails was already above the rim of the disk, dropping down on the upper surface.

The wide domed disk of riveted red painted metal was free of weapons systems, but not undefended. A hatch opened near the centre, and three Swat-bots emerged on an elevator platform. They immediately swung to cover the fox. For a fraction of a second, Tails was utterly terrified. He knew what the three laser blasters on their forearms could do to a mere flesh and blood fox.

Then he reminded himself that Sonic wouldn't even blink at three to one odds and dropped to the metal, winding up his tails as the blaster bolts blazed through where his head had been a second ago. Lucky he'd dismantled enough of the robots for parts that he knew their reaction times and targeting protocols.

He shot forward, propelled by his tails, straight between their legs, flicking his tails wide as he passed. As he'd hoped snagging them caused the front two Swat-bots to spin wildly around, and their follow up shots blew each other's heads off. But the third was swinging round to target him, and he ducked over the edge just ahead of another blaster bolt that singed his tail tips. He threw a peanut butter sandwich out behind him that he'd brought as lunch and been too nervous to eat.

It would have gratified him to note his trap worked, as the running Swat-bot stepped on the sandwich and slid, arms flailing off the edge of the vehicle, but by that time he had other things to worry about. As he dropped below the edge, he found himself face to face with one of the laser turrets, but fortunately not the muzzle, which was facing the other way, still covering the side he'd come up by.

It started to swing, and he had a crazy idea, grabbing a maintenance handhold on the opposite side to the barrels with one gloved paw, and let the turret swing him around with it. As he reached the right point, he let go, and was flung inwards along a tangent towards the central pillar, boosting with his tails.

There was a sudden crash, and he thought the turrets had hit him for a fraction of a second, but the lack of him disintegrating into wisps of plasma that should have followed indicated they hadn't. Instead it was the storm, which had stopped threatening, and started happening, the wind whipping the treetops around, and thunder crackling in the sky above.

Tails crossed the distance to the central spire in less than a second, and arrested his forward motion just in time to avoid slamming into it. He dropped in between the pillars of two flux capacitors and grabbed onto a maintenance ladder. He was close enough that he could feel the electric charge they were building up attracting his fur. He shivered again. If he'd hit one of them by mistake, the energy discharge would have vaporised him.

He shook himself, he had a job to do, and it looked like his gamble, or 'idiotic scheme' as Sally would probably call it, had come off. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the turrets were trained dead on him, but not firing. He'd thought they would be programmed not to fire into the ship's own structure, which meant as long as he stuck to climbing around, they wouldn't shoot.

Of course, that meant getting away before he set off the charges rather a problem, but in this he'd decided to emulate Sonic. Full speed ahead and take advantage of whatever he could. He climbed up to a junction point and reached into his satchel, bringing out the first charge. He set it in place, and switched in the arming circuit. It lit up and he breathed a sigh of relief.

The detonators were normally designed to explode on a signal from a control box. He'd jiggered them so they'd start looking for a signal as soon as they were turned on, and blow when it stopped, It had just been a matter of rewiring a logic level, a task of a few seconds. The signal was now being put out by the control box in a pocket of the satchel. If it was switched off, or destroyed all the armed bombs would go at once.

He clambered up and around, setting similar charges at each junction box. As he edged past a particularly intestinal piece of external plumbing his feet slipped, and he was seconds away from falling onto a charged capacitor, or falling into the fire zone of the turrets, but a combination of tail-work and hauling himself up set him back on firm footing.

A clank made him look over his shoulder, and he saw a hatch open on the underside. A Swat-bot lowered itself out, and brought its feet up to the hull, where they clunked into place. Magnetic clamps. It hung upside down and slowly turned itself to face him, bringing up its laser arm. But it had the same problem as the turrets, and Tails gave a small sigh of relief.

Then it started stepping forward, as slowly, but as inexorably as a mutant monster from one of the scary stories Bunny told him. Lightning cracked right next to the ship and speared a tree below, setting it aflame. Normally, this would have terrified the young fox, but all his terror was currently in use. He was frozen to the spot, tightly gripping the ridge that supported him as the robot clomped closer.

There was no way to dislodge it, and if he came within arms reach, it could crush him like a ripe tomato. But if he backed off, there were no anti-tamper circuits on the charges, so it could just pluck them off, render the whole plan useless. And it was such a good one, the charges would not only discharge the capacitors in an explosion that would utterly vaporise the dimensional generator, the energy backlash into the ship's main reactor would cause it to explode a few seconds later.

If he stayed, the robot or the explosion would get him. If he flew away, the turrets would get him. At this time Sonic would usually come up with some crazy-wonderful plan that would solve everything, but he wasn't Sonic, never would be. At least Sonic and the others would be saved whatever happened. Enough charges were in place to wreck the machine, even though he hadn't planted the last couple.

He focussed on that thought, and suddenly, he wasn't scared any-more, or rather the fear didn't affect him any-more. His face suddenly split in a big grin. This must be what Sonic felt like _all_ the time. He thought of his big brother giving him a thumbs up as they raced side by side through a sunny vale, Sally giving him the funny kiss, Bunny sitting by his bedside and reading him a story in her scariest voice, Rotor nodding approvingly as he correctly wired up a triple reflex oscillator…

'If I'm going out, I'm taking this hunk of junk with me!' His friends would be safe, and that was more important than what happened to him. He watched the approaching robot, eager for it to reach him, and amazed at how easy things suddenly were when you weren't bothered by survival. He wasn't exactly happy, but the feeling of fatalism locked away the fear he felt, allowing him to act despite the fact that his remaining life-span was probably less than the time it took Sonic to scarf down a chilli-dog.

He just wished he didn't have to hold on with both hands and feet to avoid falling. He would have loved to emulate Sonic by folding his arms and standing there tapping his foot, just like his hero had so many times. At least he could do the voice. He put on his best Sonic smirk, and called out in a superbly sarcastic Sonic simulation.

"C'mon, bot-brain, I'm waiting… Before the rain comes and rusts you solid…"

His gloved hand reached down to the pocket where the control box lay, and he gave one last glance at the Great Forest, his home. Another lightning flash illuminated it, and the towers of the capacitors below…

Then he had an idea. It had the virtue of making his previous plan look sane and sensible, requiring timing beyond the limits of vulpine reaction, and having almost no chance of working… but he just might survive, and the ship would go up whether it worked or not. He was sure Sonic would have approved.

Tails lowered himself carefully and planted the remaining charges between the two capacitor housings, his paw centimetres away from the danger zone. He armed them, then paused as he looked up at the robot that was now almost upon him. If it stretched, it could just reach the charges, and him. He twisted up his tails till they hurt, ready for one insane burst of speed. As it got within arms reach, he said to himself. "When faced with disaster, just go a little faster!"

It grabbed for him, and he jumped forward, threading his way between it's arms and grabbing the back of it's helmet as he flew over or rather under the inverted android. He swung round behind it with all the turning power of his tails, and slammed into it, kicking off in the same movement. It swayed forward, and it's flailing arms brushed the capacitors.

Tails felt his fur stand straight out from the discharge, even though he was no longer in contact with the robot, but most of the current had passed straight through the machine, utterly frying it's electronics. The magnetic clamps were no longer gripping the hull, and the robot started to fall away. Tails dived under it, grabbing the back plate with his gloves and almost scorching his paws on the flash warmed metal.

He was watching one of the turrets out of the corner of his eye, and suddenly saw it start to track down… Now! He ducked under the shadow of the Swat-bot and kicked off straight down in a power dive, a fraction of a second before the robot evaporated in the flare of a dozen laser pulses. He was still too close, but he couldn't wait any longer. His paw into the satchel pocket and flipped the trigger on the control box.

The follow-up laser pulses rained around him, but all missed, since the turrets' platform was racked by a massive explosion. Tails was falling; or rather flying down head first so looking down past his feet he could see the dimensional cannon blow itself apart. The very tip fell free of the explosion, a purple glow forming around it, but compared to even the previous pulse it was feeble, a fraction of 1 percent. The Great Forest might lose a couple of trees, but that was all.

He glanced down at the target area as the shock wave hit him, but the worse of it was deflected by the wake from his frantically spinning tails, something he hadn't realised would happen, but was very grateful for. It still shook him, but he saw a flash of blue… oh no! Sonic, Sally… They'd come in response to his signal, and emerged from the undergrowth just where the dimensional beam would hit

"Sonic, get everyone away! Warp 7!" They were looking up, but not moving, so there was only one thing for it. He dived to the side, into the path of the beam, just as the flash of purple energy discharged. He was no more than a dozen metres from the ground, and he saw Sonic wind up for a dash to come get him.

He moved up, into the oncoming beam, and the vortex wrapped around him. Through a gap in the closing vortex he just glimpsed the big red hover ship explode in a massive fireball that consumed the remains of the falling machine. He also saw the trail of some sort of escape pod flying away, indicating Snively had found time to save his own worthless hide. Then the darkness claimed him.

Sonic shot through the space that had contained a red, two tailed fox a moment before, but there was nothing there. He landed just as the first fragments of metal from the ship's disintegration crashed into the ground, mixed with the rain that had finally started to pour down.

"TAILS!" He looked around frantically, but could see no sign of the little vulpine.

"Sonic, he's gone!" Sally yelled, her voice cracking.

Bunny Rabbot sidestepped as a plate of metal the size of a small car smashed into the ground right by her, edge on, digging it's own trench. "We'd better get the hippety hop outta here too, Sugar-hog! Before we get our hares parted for us!"

"But…" Sonic turned, grabbed the two girls by the hands, and zipped away as more pieces of the hover ship fell to Mobius right where they'd been standing.

At a safe distance, he slowed and slumped to the ground. "Little bro… I couldn't save him…"

Sally shook her head, and knelt down in front of him. "Sonic, I saw what he was doing. He deliberately flew into that beam to stop it hitting us. There was no way you could have saved him, not without being hit too." You couldn't tell whether the water running down her face was the rain, or tears.

Bunny moved her ears to provide herself with a makeshift screen against the worst of the rain. She sniffled. "Sally-gal's right, Sugar-hog. I... I don't know why he did it, but Tails is smart. He wouldn't have done it without a darned good reason."

Sally plucked her PDA out of her boot holster. "Nicole, did you get any readings?"

"Inconclusive, Sally. The storm and the explosion of the vessel caused great disruption to my sensors. However, it was not a standard laser or plasma bolt. The energy type was unfamiliar. Tails' life-signs were detectable even after the energy burst hit him, so he may still be alive."

"A matter transporter effect of some kind?" Sally got back up, wiping her face with the back of one arm, and offering a hand to the hedgehog in front of her. "Maybe we'll find something at Weapons Cache 3, it's the closest place he could have gotten the fireworks."

The open door and the plundered explosives supply showed she'd been right. There was also a pair of electro-binoculars on a crate, but not a pair they'd seen before. Sonic reached to pick them up, but Sally stopped him.

"Nicole, analyse this!" Sally said, pointing her PDA at the device.

"It is an electronic magnification device, with additional facilities for recording audio and visual information. A laser sensor attached to the side allows it to eavesdrop on distant conversations by detecting vibrations in a window or thin wall. It currently has recorded data stored on its memory chip. Hair and DNA traces indicate it was recently used by Tails."

"Access and playback the recordings!"

"Scanning the memory… analysis of the content indicates it may prove distressing. Do you still wish me to play back?"

Sally visibly steeled herself, and then said, "Do it, Nichole!"

A goggles eye view of a workbench came into view, with Tails' paws working on a set of detonators, quickly and neatly adjusting each one in some fashion.

"If you've got this, I must have failed. There's a big red machine heading for the centre of the Great Forest. Stop it, whatever you do! It's got some kind of dimensional vortex cannon on that will transfer the whole of the Great Forest to another dimension! There's a recording after this one gives more detail and close-up pictures."

There was a short pause, and Tails' voice continued. "I'm going to try and stop it myself, using these explosives. I know I should come get Sonic and Sally, but I don't know how long I've got! If I let it get away, it may be too late to stop it! Please, Aunt Sally, don't be angry with me. It's not that I want to do it; I just have no other choice. I'll signal using the fireworks, so you should be warned anyway, whatever happens."

While he'd spoken, the images showed his point of view as he set up the charges, tweaked the control box, and put everything into a large satchel.

The little foxes' voice continued, with a slight quaver. "Sonic, I'm scared, worse than when you told those ghost stories, worse even than when we were face to face with Robotnik. After all, you were there, and I knew you'd find a way to save us. Now it's down to me, and I don't know if I can do it. Please, don't be disappointed. Whatever happens, I'll do my very best to be brave, just like you."

The goggles shifted, as Tails took them off and rested them on the crate. He was now in their field of view, and he looked around, checking he had everything.

His voice was quieter, and slightly steadier. "I'll make you all proud of me. Without Knothole and the Freedom Fighters, Robotnik wins and I won't let that happen. You're my friends, my family, and the only hope Mobius has left! It's my turn to protect you all, and I won't let you down. I love you all… It's starting to move… Goodbye!" They saw him reach down and press something out of sight, and the recording went blank.

"Nicole, play the other record…" Sally's voice was frighteningly monotone, flat and lifeless as a robian's. She slumped down on the crate.

"Sally, bio-sensors indicate you are in a distressed state…"

"Play it!"

The image of the hover ship floated above Nicole, and they saw the massive underside armament and the menacing spike of the dimensional vortex projector.

"That's one mean looking machine…" Sonic stated.

"Shhh… That's Robotnik! I'd recognise the slime trail his voice leaves anywhere." Sally's exclamation, while not exactly logical, did get the blue hedgehog to shut up, an amazing achievement by normal standards.

They listened as Robotnik gloated. Sally gulped down the lump that appeared in her throat, Bunny looked ill, and even Sonic looked more green than blue when he stated the target's probable destination. There was a slight sensation of relief as he gave Tails some slight chance of survival, but mainly the emotions of the group ran to a glowing anger.

Sally saw Sonic start to wind up for a racing start, and jumped in front of the entrance hole. "Hold it Sonic!"

"Ro-butt-head's gonna get a ro-butt-kicking so hard he'll be wrenching that armoured diaper of his off the top of his head! He's a dead man!" There was none of Sonic's usual laid back humour in the comment, just a straight statement of how the future was going to be.

"No, that's what you'll be, if you just race in with blood in your eye and no plan!" Sally was openly crying now. "Tails just gave his… best effort to save you, are you going to just throw that away? I've lost one person I loved today, don't add to the total!"

Sonic was knocked back by the first part of the statement to miss the implication in the second part. But the first part stalled him long enough for Bunny to grab onto him with both arms and dig her steel heels in. "Sally's right, sugah-hog. We can't waste what Tails did for us."

Sonic looked defiant for a moment, then slumped, shoulders down. He looked to be hurting far worse than that time they had to leave his reverting Uncle Chuck at the mono-rail station. "I have to do something… he was my best friend, my kid brother, more or less, and now he's gone!"

Bunny's grip turned from a restraint to a hug with a slight shift of posture. She brushed some quills on his shoulder flat with her regular hand, and rested her head on it, both ears drooping enough to make appear to be a lop. It was no longer certain who was holding up who.

"I know, lil' Tails was everybody's friend."

"We will, but not here, not now." Sally's voice had iron in it. "Don't you think I'd give anything to have him here right now? To burn his ears off with a talk on how he scared us, to hug him and tell him he was very brave, to say everything was alright again?"

She folded her arms. "The Freedom Fighters will know what Tails did, and together we'll make it count. Robotnik _will_ be defeated, and afterwards, if there's the slightest chance of finding him, I'll get the best scientists on Mobius searching for him. Robotnik might think it's hopeless, but haven't we made careers of proving him wrong? C'mon, we need to get back to Knothole, and as fast as possible."

She stood aside, convinced that Sonic would never pass up a chance to show off his speed, but he just walked forward, up the slop and out of the hole. Sally gave Bunny a worried glance. She picked up Tails' electro-binoculars and they headed up after him, sealing the camouflaged door behind them.