Hey everyone! Thanks for waiting patiently for this next chapter! There's not much else I can say except that you'll be given a preview here of what other characters from Mobius will become part of this adventure, and a few encounters long overdue will be settled here. But why am I telling you this when you want to read the chapter? I'm not sure myself.
Disclaimer: I don't own jack. Or Enerjak for that matter.
It was all Enerjak could do just to keep up a protective force field and air bubble. If he lost focus for one second…well, he wouldn't die. As a living chaos emerald, nothing could destroy him. But he could still pass out from the lack of air, as well as the extremes of temperature and lack of pressure in space. His power wouldn't be much help if he was permanently comatose in space. It would also be extremely painful if it didn't render him unconscious quickly. And because of the immense concentration required just to keep everything together, he couldn't just fly back down to Mobius on a whim. His only option was to bide his time, and hope that the citadel would be pulled back down to Mobius. Or…hope for someone to find him. Very unlikely; very few have managed to put together enough power to escape the planet's gravity. Not even during the echidna civilization's peak was space travel easy. But there was no point in thinking of all this right now. All he could do was hold on, and use his rage to motivate him, to keep him from giving up. "Knuckles…" he thought, plotting revenge against his great-nephew several generations removed. "…you will regret this. You and all your forefathers. I swear it…"
In a realm known as the Zone of Silence, a void with floating rocks but no real gravity to hold them together, a strange being sat on a crystalline throne. The creature was an anthropomorphic mobian, but of what creature one could not tell; even by most Mobian standards he was strange. His head was that of a bat's, a crab's claw where his left hand should be, and a rhinoceros horn on his head. He also had a long white beard, often a trademark of stereotypical wizards. His name: Ixis Naugus, former royal magician to the Kingdom of Acorn. However, it was only a ruse; he intended to use his magic to overthrow the royal family and become King himself. However, science eventually took precedence over his magic, and the wizard resorted to starting a war between the Overlanders and Mobians so that the King would once again turn to his magic. He created the portal to the Zone of Silence to wait until the war was over and Mobius ripe for the picking. However, there was one problem: the zone was sealed on the other side, and he was unable to escape it. While in this realm he was all-powerful, there was no point in ruling a wasteland filled with demons. The only thing Naugus got out of this place was a few servants. Until he could find a way out, there was no point in observing what was going on in Mobius.
Today, Naugus sat on his make-shift throne, bored at watching the activities of the native inhabitants of the zone, and deciding to give Mobius a look in hopes of finding something of interest.
Earlier, Naugus felt a disturbance in the magical force across dimensions. Ixis concentrated for a closer look. In his visions, he saw an overlander with blond hair. With him was what he assumed was another of his kind in armor. He managed to piece together different visions of what happened, what was happening, and what they were planning. "If they came from another world…a portal of magical power will be necessary. If they…or Julian…succeed, I may be able to intervene…"
Naugus then called 3 of his henchmen. They teleported in front of him instantly, kneeling before him (one reluctantly). "My minions…I believe it may finally be time for us to break through and into Mobius! Our kingdom awaits us!"
"Yes, master." two replied, one a humanoid spider covered in ninja garb, and another covered in armor with a helmet possessing devil horns.
The one that did not address their master formally, a giant lion with a giant battle axe stood. "The sooner the better; I cannot wait to split Julian's head in two." Kodos, Naugus' most reluctant and powerful soldier, was once Warlord to the King. He briefly conspired with Naugus to start the Great War so that he could take over as King. He was even the mentor to Robotnik, who ultimately betrayed him and sent him into the zone, assuming his position.
"Patience." Ixis chided him. "How we get out depends on how the 2 overlanders can execute their plans…"
Kodos snorted. "Overlanders; everywhere they go, they just make trouble." After the war and his betrayal by Robotnik, needless to say the warrior was not fond of the race.
"Agreed, but this mischief can be used to our advantage!" Ixis proclaimed. "Wait patiently; I will find a way to break the barrier between our worlds soon enough!"
His 3 subjects sat in crystalline chairs the wizard had constructed, as he began to concentrate and prepare…
In yet another dimension, a familiar hedgehog threw darts in his room. At a glance, one might think it would be Sonic himself, but that was not the case. He wore dark shades and a leather jacket, smiled with malice as opposed to mischief, and brought out the worst of the said hedgehog's faults.
He was Evil Sonic, as cliché' as that sounds. It wasn't too long ago that he thought he was the only Sonic to ever exist. Then he learned of a universe where he and his friends existed, but made completely different choices in life. There, he and his friends were the saviors of their world. Here, Sonic and his "friends" could've cared less what happened to the world, and were hell-bent on getting whatever they wanted, no matter the cost. Not only did it sicken him that there was a universe where he and his gang were good…there was a multiverse of different Sonics. And as far as he knew, he was the only "bad" one. But it was Sonic Prime he hated the most. To him, his good double represented everything he could've been, if he had a stronger heart, if he never gave up on anything. Evil Sonic suddenly launched up from his chair and spin dashed the bull's eye target to bits. "AARRGGGHHH!" he shouted in frustration. A simple game of darts would never quench his hatred. "Let's give it another go…" he thought. He and his gang came to Mobius Prime not too long ago, only to have their counterparts make them kiss dirt. But damn if he was going to let that stop him.
He stormed into the run-down lounge, where his Anti-Freedom Fighters passed the time, each a twisted double of their counterparts on Mobius Prime.
"What's gotten into you this time?" Evil Sally asked, bored as usual.
"I'm going back to the other Mobius, and you guys are coming with me!" he suddenly declared. He figured the gang would be looking forward to a rematch.
Everyone just looked at him like he was crazy instead of howling and jumping on their bikes.
"Well? What are you retards waiting for!" he demanded.
Evil Sally stood up. "For you to get it through that thick skull of yours! What do you plan once we get to Mobius Prime! One ass-kicking is enough for us, thanks."
"They took us by surprise! This time, we'll…"
"No thanks." Evil Rotor spoke up, looking disinterested as he tinkered with the wires of a new weapon. "I prefer hitting something that doesn't fight back."
Evil Sonic rushed up and slammed his fist across the walrus' face. "When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it fat-ass! And you can bet that will be never!"
"You wanna go…" Evil Sally said, hands on hips. "…then go."
Evil Sonic eyed her suspiciously. "Sounds like you're kicking me out. Need I give you a reminder? Even if you're a princess, I'm the one in charge of this gang. You so sure you really want to challenge me?"
Evil Sally responded by a quick knee to his stomach and pinning his arm. "Pretty sure." She hissed. She threw Sonic to the floor, hurting the hedgehog's pride more than anything else. "We wouldn't be in charge period if I hadn't banished Daddy-dearest to the Void. And we would have killed the doc instead of just humiliate him occasionally if you'd actually listen to me."
"And none of our schemes would've worked if it weren't for me, regardless of whose plan it was!" Evil Sonic exclaimed, pointing at himself. "You're nothing without me!"
"As far as I'm concerned…it's the same either way. Ever since you've discovered those imposters, you've been nothing but obsessed! We've accomplished nothing in this world, thanks to you!" She pointed towards the door furiously. "So get out of here, Sonic Hedgehog! Go and have whatever fun you want with your goody-two-shoes friends. I've had enough from our trip there. And…I've had enough of you." She growled.
Evil Sonic just looked at her in shock. He figured we would teach her a lesson, but then everyone stood up and surrounded him, their postures were clearly threatening, daring him to make a move so they would have an excuse to beat him up or worse. While alliances between them weren't exactly solid, Evil Sonic never expected a rebellion like this. He clenched his fists, gritted his teeth...and back-handed the Evil Sally across the face.
Before the others could react, he sped out of the building. The others were about to go after him, but Evil Sally stopped them.
"Let him leave!" she shouted, rubbing her cheek while she snarled at his disappearing form. "Who needs him anyway? After all, out of all of his, he was the only one who hesitated in overthrowing everyone…" She walked up the stairs, while the rest of the anti-freedom fighters opened up the bar and began to celebrate…
Back on Mobius Prime, Sonic and Tails raced through the junkyard of Robotropolis. Thankfully, Sonic's locator watch was still working, and was able to find the others with little problem. Two were missing though; he guessed that some had to split up, and if worse came to worse, a rescue most likely would not be a problem. "Yup! Right where Sal said they would be!" Sonic and Tails went the more direct route, bypassing the swatbot guards before they could even determine the identity of the intruders. Navigating the ship inside was an arduous task, but thankfully, Sonic could complete it in a manner of seconds.
Finally, he reached the control room, where he found his friends waiting for him. "Hey, mi amigos!" Sonic greeted. "Sorry for being so late! Buttnik…"
"Sugah-hog! You got Tails back!" Bunnie exclaimed while hugging them both.
"Uh…yeah." Sonic said, confused by Bunnie's joyous behavior. "Was he supposed to have been anywhere?"
Rotor then came over to check Sonic out. He patted him all over, and the only reaction the hedgehog gave him was more confusion. "Where did your injuries go?" he asked, perplexed.
Sonic scoffed at him. "Me, get hurt by Buttnik? What are you guys smo-"
"Sacre Bleu!" Antoine suddenly exclaimed. Everyone turned to face him. "Zat iz why St. John left in ze hurry! You…weren't you!" he pointed at Sonic
Unfortunately, his poor English only caused everyone to stare at him. Sonic said "Antoine, this isn't exactly unusual, but you're not making any sense…"
"Impostear! Ze word Impostear!" He shouted, finally remembering the word on the tip of his tongue.
While the meaning this time around was clear, the response wasn't what he hoped for. "Oh." Sonic said, shrugging. "Okay, Buttnik made a duplicate of me. Big deal; he's pulled that trick before, and none of you were fooled." Everyone just looked at him in horror of the nonchalant response he made. "What?"
"Hey, where's Aunt Sally?" Tails asked, noticing one of their core members missing.
Rotor's arms went slack as he realized just how far south things went "She went with…the imposter."
Sonic and Tails just looked at Rotor with wide eyes. "Oh no…" Sonic immediately calmed himself down; Sally wasn't dumb enough to fall for a cheap imposter! She had to have lured him away on purpose! "Have you guys finished busting this ship up?" Sonic asked changing the subject.
"Yes and no." Rotor answered. "It will still take off should Buttnik come aboard. But I managed to create some nasty surprises for him."
"I guess that'll have to do." Sonic replied. "Okay, can I trust you guys to make it back to the plane on your own?"
"Sure thing, sugah hog." Bunnie nodded.
"Great. Get out of here, and get ready for take-off without us. We'll need you and Dulcy in the air should the worst happen. I'll look for Sal." He then turned to his side. "Tails! You're with me!"
"Right!" Tails exclaimed as he pumped his fist.
"I'd imagine LePew went after Sal?" Everyone nodded their head affirmatively. "He should be able to take care of himself. Just do what you must; we'll take care of the rest." With that, they split up.
Sally flipped over Envy as he tried to smash her head into the wall. Noticing the dent his fist made upon impact, Sally realized she would not be able to win in a straight out fight. "I need to be careful! I can't risk dueling him directly! I'll have to use my wits and whatever I can find to use against him!"
Envy glared back at her, like a cat on his world would look at a mouse. "Huh…looks like the cute cuddly princess has got some moves…" Envy's arm ripped out of the wall as he got ready for another attack. "Too bad against me, it won't do you a lick of good…" He charged with a right hook, only for Sally to duck and sweep his feet, effectively tripping him and make a break for it before he could stand again. Envy snarled and got up. "Make a fool of me all you want; when I catch you, I'll make you suffer for it!" Sally immediately scaled a loose chain hanging from the ceiling. Envy was surprised at how quickly she ascended; it was probably because of her animal like traits. "Good. Trust your instincts; that's what they usually say…" He then grasped the chain. "…but in your case, it's gonna kill you!"
He yanked it down, expecting Sally to fall with it. However, as he pulled, she leaped and grabbed the chain next to hers, quickly scaling it onto the crate above. And Envy found out he pulled too hard; the chain brought the contents of the crate above with it. The box landed on top of Envy with a sickening thud, rusted metal scraps exploding across the floor.
Sally momentarily looked down in shock. Even if these homunculi were immortal, to come back from a blow like that…just then, Envy's fingers twitched. "Ohhh…" Envy slowly rose, and Sally winced at the sound of bones coming back together at an unnatural rate. "Cute." Envy growled as he creaked his neck.
Before Sally could react, he suddenly leapt onto the crate she was standing on. Sally tried to make a run for it, but Envy grabbed her by the neck, and hoisted her off the box. Sally tried kicking his arm, but Envy proved too strong; he didn't even seem to feel her blows. "I'd very much like to kill you and have your corpse roasting over a fire for your friends to see. But, the good doctor wants you alive; to lure your friends of course. Which means I'll have to do something for a little extra shock value. So, how should I horrify your friends?" As he tightened his grip, Sally felt herself drifting away into unconsciousness. "Asphyxiation is too risky; you look like you're about to die right now." Envy looked down, and grinned maniacally. He then held her right above the edge of the box, with the ground floor waiting below. "I think having both your legs broken will do; I'd imagine he would like that too." Then, with all her strength, Sally pried Envy's fingers just enough…and bit down hard.
"AAAAAHHHHHHH!" While he dropped Sally to tend to his hand, she was free to latch onto the box with her short claws before falling to the ground below. "I guess I should have figured you'd fight back like a real animal." Envy growled as he blew his hand.
Before he could run over and grab her, Sally leaped off the box, and grabbed a rail from the stairwell below. "Ughn!" The way down nearly dislocated her arm, but she was safe for another second; that was all that mattered. She ran down the rail as Envy leapt to pursue her. Envy lunged for her, but Sally scratched his eyes before he could get his arms around her. Envy cried in pain, and swatted her off the rail. Sally had the wind knocked out her; whether by Envy's blow or the fall, she wasn't sure.
"As soon as I get the okay…" Envy leapt off and pinned his foot on her stomach, causing her to scream. "You're very full of energy, you know that? I think I'll puncture a lung or two. Can't move around much if you can't breathe properly."
It seemed to happen in slow motion for Sally as Envy reached down to do what he just said. "Think! Think!" she reminded herself. "There has to be a tool I've got for stopping this monster!..."
As Ed worked his way within the vent's tunnels, he kept feeling the metal around him to signal that he reached his goal. "It's supposed to be made up of titanium…so far none of these walls feel light nor strong enough for that…" If Robotnik intended to hide the disorganizaro, he was doing a damn good job so far. "This is a freakn' maze…" Ed then felt his rope tug. "End of the line; I'll have to go back and find another way…"
As Ed made his way back to the last fork in the road he encountered, a thought occurred to him. "If I were a madman with an item to help me enslave people…I would keep it where no one would suspect…" Ed thought about this logically. "It can't be any more than 100 feet away from the roboticizer…" Ed groaned. "That one clue isn't getting me anywhere; he could have placed it anywhere in this complex." Ed sighed. "If only he was kind enough to leave a red marker some-"
Ed's mind just froze as he remembered something. Most of the wires behind the console dispersed in various directions. However, one went straight down. Ed didn't think much of it at the time, but now…"Of course. To hide something from the enemy, sometimes it's best to put it in the most obvious place." Ed immediately made his way back to where they started. "I've got to hurry; that Robotnik guy could be back here any minute…"
Geoffrey St. John stopped as he knelt down to observe the tracks, left behind by Sally and the imposter. After a good distance away from the construction site, they began to be smeared away by something. "Whoever the imposter is, he had help covering his tracks." Just then, a heard a familiar whistle that grew louder quickly. "It's him! Or…"
Sonic and Tails stopped right in front of him. Though Sonic and St. John were far from the best of friends, the hedgehog stepped back in surprise when the skunk pointed his crossbow at them. "Whoa! Chill, dude! We're on the same side, remember?" St. John only stared him down, refusing to lower his weapon. "Are you trying to be a bigger asshole than usual?" Sonic asked sarcastically in response. "Because so far you're doing a way past good job on that."
St. John finally lowered his weapon. "The imposter was too nice." He said, convinced that he was looking at the real deal. "Anyway, glad you're both here. Take a look."
Sonic and Tails looked down to see the footprints left behind by Sally…and what seemed to Sonic, judging by the impressions left in the muck. "They've covered it up." Sonic said, noting how the tracks were seemingly smeared with the mud. "Any ideas on where to look?"
St. John sighed. "Yeah. Lots. And we don't have that kind of time. We'll need to split up, find some likely locations where she could have been led. I'll take a chance and follow the direction where the tracks led up until now. You two check out any other places from here that you can think of; as much as I hate to admit it, you two are faster than me and have a better chance of finding her. We'll meet back at the-"
"AHHHHHHH!" a voice screamed somewhere in the distance.
The three mobians looked northwest of where they were. "Looks like that won't be necessary." Sonic muttered. He quickly sped in the direction of the scream, Tails close behind.
St. John groaned "I hate it when he steals my thunder; especially when he's justified in doing it." With that said, he trailed behind them, the best he possibly could.
Sally desperately searched the ground for a weapon as Envy stuck out two fingers, preparing to assault her with a major puncture wound. All she could come up with to defend herself were a few pebbles. "It's no use…" Sally's mind thought as she began to fade into unconsciousness. "…none of the rocks here are big enough. My phraser won't affect its metallic hide…"
Sally's eyes snapped wide open in realization. "Idiot! I'm so used to fighting robots…I haven't even thought of using that!" Her phraser was good for cutting metal, but could not do so in an offensive manner; it was better for cutting escape routes through buildings, so she didn't use it often in direct combat. But in this case, it was perfect as a weapon. "Only one chance…"
Sally rummaged through her vest pocket. Envy only cackled as he prepared to cripple the princess. "HAHAHA! This reminds me so much of playing with little rats! They can do nothing but squirm once you cripple them , doing anything they can to get away…only for nothing to work!" Suddenly, Sally pointed an object at him. It looked like a small tube with some kind of switch. Envy only looked at it skeptically. "Hmph! Like that piece of scrap will do you any good! Watcha gonna do, shine a light in my eye?"
Suddenly, a bright red light shone…and the next thing he knew, Envy felt his eye and part of his skull burn to a crisp. Even with the knowledge that it wouldn't kill him, the pain was excruciating! "AHHHH!"
Envy released Sally as he gripped his face, howling in pain. Sally coughed for gasps of air, but fought the instinct to lie down. She had only one chance to win; she would not get another opportunity if she let it slide by. Quickly, she aimed her phraser at the chain holding a crate right above Envy. It would take a few seconds, and she could only hope the chain wasn't too thick. "Come on, come on…" Sally muttered.
Soon, Envy stopped squirming. "You really wounded me…" Envy finally released the half of his face that was scorched, and Sally had to fight a sudden urge to regurgitate as she saw Envy's tissues regenerate. "…I'll give you that." Envy growled as muscle began to cover his skull. "But nothing you can do can kill me…all you've done is insure that I'll make you wish I killed you…"
"Even if I could, I wouldn't want to." Sally told him. "I only used that against you precisely because it wouldn't kill you. But it can also be used like…THIS!"
The chain finally, broke, and Envy could only look up in surprise as the large crate began to fall on top of him. "Uh oh." Being the biggest out of all the boxes in the warehouse, it landed on the homunculus with a sickening crash; it must have carried at least 600 pounds worth of metallic components inside, judging by the large cogs and pipes.
Knowing not even that would kill him, Sally made a break for it. Not wanting to take time to unbolt the door, she ran up the wall, and crashed through the window. Sally quickly rolled to break her fall and to avoid getting cut by the shards of glass.
Sally was about to sprint across the street, but something stood in her path. "You-!"
Edward made his way back to their starting point. And once he got there, there it was: the red wire he overlooked. "Bingo." Putting his light closer to the wall, he found a message on it. Written by Al, using Alchemy. "Brother, in case you're as lost as I am, check right here. There's some kind of passage, but I don't think I'll be able to fit; if you think something worthwhile is here, and you're as lost as I am, look into it." Ed grinned. "Way ahead of you Al."
After determining the contents of the metal, he transmuted a door out of it. Opening it, he lowered his lantern into the space. All he could see was a steep drop below. "This must be it. It would be dangerous for even Mobian spies to climb down. Where else would he hide the key component to his machine?" He did another transmutation, this time on the floor he was resting on. A pipe extended below, plunging into the darkness. Ed had to be conservative in how far he stretched the pipe; too long and he might damage something important down below. Not to mention if it was too thin, he risked having the thing snap, and he would take a plunge of who knows how long. "25 meters should do it." He stopped the transmutation and mounted the pipe. Carefully gripping his lantern with one hand, and hanging on for dear life on the other, Ed slid down slowly as he could. It seemed to go on forever; Ed was almost too scared to go any further.
Finally, he seemed to have reached the bottom. "There should be about another 8 meters left; it can't be far." He stuck his foot down cautiously, to find that he was touching the floor. No longer afraid of falling, he dismounted the pipe and scanned the immediate area around him. It was a close space; probably only enough room for him to take one step. "Damn." Ed was about to find a way to head back up, when something caught his eye. Upon closer inspection, he realized there was a space in the wall in front of him, where all the pipes converged. Looking behind him, he could see the wire and several others directly behind him travel into the pipes. "Can I fit?" Ed felt the space between; it was going to be a tight squeeze. It didn't look like he would be able to fit with the lantern; a problem if he was going to grope in the dark. Looking inside, he noticed a light ahead. At first, it looked red…then white…then the light ahead of him once more changed to blue. Whatever it was, it seemed to be changing color constantly. "Could that be it!"
Ed quickly squeezed himself in and rushed towards the source. It was fairly dark, but the closer he got, the more he could see. Soon, he found himself in front of a medium-sized rock situated in the center of 3 prongs. Ed was transfixed by the beauty of the light it emitted, but then noticed something on his cheek. In felt like…metal. Ed quickly scratched at his skin, feeling for what seemed to be a small piece of metal, no thicker than his skin. After a quick inspection, he stared at what he pulled off. Not only was the thin film of metal attached to his skin, he was bleeding slightly from peeling it off. Looking at the rock, Ed knew there was only one possible explanation. "There's no doubt about it!" Ed thought. "This is it! The Disorganizero!"
"Sonic! Thank goodness you're alright!" Sally exclaimed.
Sally hugged the real blue hedgehog, who hugged her back. "Same to you, Sal. But why would you take such a risk?" He asked, almost upset. St. John looked a bit miffed as well; Tails was just glad to see Sally again.
"Envy was about to jeopardize the mission." Sally stated. "I had to get him away from the others."
St. John interrupted. "Princess…while I don't question your judgment on the matter, you know I volunteered to go in your place." St. John said sternly.
Suddenly, a voice from the warehouse yelled "WHERE IS THAT LITTLE FOREST B-"
Sally quickly covered Tails ears before he could hear the whole thing. "We can discuss it later!" Sally said. "We have to get out of here! Now!"
Quickly, Sally leapt into Sonic's arms, and he took off, with Tails following. St. John shot a grappling arrow up on a roof and quickly scaled the building he chose.
"So…" Sonic asked as he weaved between the streets and alleys. "You guys beat those things Ed was talking about?"
Sally said "No luck. They can regenerate from anything, just like Ed said. We should still have a few tools of our immobilizing arsenal, but they can break out of it! We'll need to regroup, and come up with a plan…"
Suddenly, the two heard Tails behind them scream "Help!"
Sonic screeched to a halt as he turned around, and both stared in horror. They found Tails entangled in long claws. Thankfully, none of them pierced his skin, but that was of little comfort to the older freedom fighters.
Tails was suddenly yanked to the top of the buildings, where Lust and Gluttony stood . "Well well. You are a clever one, aren't you? While I imagined you would have saw through Envy's ruse eventually, I never expected you to know from the start and be able to take him on. I guess we owe the good doctor an apology; your kind is quite troublesome, despite your cuddly appearances."
Sonic only clenched his fists and growled. "Give him back, you freaks!"
Lust only handed Tails to Gluttony, who opened his mouth wide. It looked like he was about to bite down, but Lust pinched his ear before he could eat the boy. "Hold on Gluttony. Let's see if they'll take our deal."
"We'd make no such deal with the likes of you!" Sally shouted.
"Cliché much, don't you think?" Lust jabbed back. "You know what happens to anything you put in this thing's mouth." She patted Gluttony on the back, which elicited a low chuckle from him. Tails struggled to get out, but Gluttony only tightened his hold. "As you can imagine, if you don't agree to our deal…well, we've discovered of all the species here, Gluttony seems to especially like foxes."
"You monster!" Sally yelled. "He's only a child!"
"And predators love to go after the young. Easier to catch; besides, I hear the meat is more tender. Isn't that right, Gluttony?" Lust smirked.
Gluttony only cackled as his tongue whipped out of his mouth, small bits of caustic saliva singing Tails' fur.
"Sonic! Sally!" Tails yelled as he continued to struggle.
"What do you want!" Sally screamed. Sonic's first instinct was to spin dash up the building and clobber the fat one, but he wasn't sure if he could make it in time before Gluttony could bite down on Tails' skull. As much as it pained him to do so, for now the best thing to do was stay put and hope for an opening.
"You." Lust said, pointing at Sally. "The doctor wants you above all the other Freedom Fighters."
"Like I didn't see that one comn'" Sonic muttered. He and Sally were always the top two on Robotnik's hit list, but if it came to taking one hostage, he preferred Sally. She was generally the easier one to contain. And Robotnik knew how much it sent him over the edge to see her in danger. "And if Sally turns herself in, how do we know you'll keep your word and hand Tails over!" he shouted at the Homunculi.
Lust only sneered sadistically. "You don't. I don't really care either way; to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if you did let him die. You all are, after all, just animals."
Sonic and Sally nearly lost their cool and got ready to attack, but someone stopped them. "I suggest you consider the deal." St. John had finally caught up with them, and looked above to see Tails in a predicament. "I don't like the idea of trading you to these monsters any more than you two. But Tails' life is at stake; it doesn't look like we have a choice." St. John put a comforting shoulder on Sally. "Don't worry, luv; I'll come get you."
"Ahem." Sonic growled. "You mean WE will." Sonic wanted to break St. John's nose for suggesting it, but knowing Sally, it just might come to that.
St. John rolled his eyes. "Whatever, mate."
Lust only stared down at the three mobians impatiently. "I think we've spent enough time debating all this!" she called. "So, what's it going to be…Princess? You, or the Fox?"
"Okay." Ed said to himself. "This should do it." Ed clapped his hands, and began a transmutation with the materials surrounding the Disorganizero. He had to break off a couple of pipes connected to the disorganizero in order for the transmutation to work, and he had to do it quickly. Just being near it caused his skin to turn into metal, albeit thin strips. He hated to think what would happen if he was put in one of those machines himself. Soon, the transmutation began, and parts of the metal surrounding them became a small box with a handle, made of titanium, just like Uncle Chuck told him to do. Ed felt his skin; it looked like the conversion to metal had finally stopped. "Phew." He said. "No wonder it's kept far away from Robotnik; it's dangerous!" Quickly, he picked it up by the handle, and made his way back. He created hole large enough for both him and the box to pass through. "No time to climb; I better hurry."
Quickly, he transmuted the metal beneath him to make a pole he could hold onto as he made it ascend. When he reached the level he was looking for, he hopped off. Quickly, he knocked on the metal 3 times like he and Al planned. "I better wait for him topside." He squirmed his way out of the passage, and onto the floor…and a laser missed him by a hair's breadth.
"Surrender!" one Swatbot among a dozen others ordered as it pointed its wrist blaster at him. "Raise your hands, prisoner!" Ed groaned, and dropped the box, holding his hands up in surrender.
"I've heard a lot about you from Lust, Mr. Edward Elric…"
That voice gave Edward chills. It was no one he knew, but that could mean only one thing. "It's him!" The swatbots stepped to the side to allow their master to be seen by the alchemist. "Dr. Robotnik, I presume."
Robotnik chuckled, and approached the alchemist. "So, you know who I am. From the Freedom Fighters, I presume? Good, then I suppose no introductions and explanations are necessary!" Ed did his best not to flinch at the sight of the unapologetically evil man.
"You're a lot fatter in person." Edward muttered. It was stupid, and pointless, but at the moment he could've cared less.
"It seems you and that blasted hedgehog have a lot in common." Robotnik sneered. "But that's beside the point. I have observed the alchemy you practiced. A fascinating skill." Robotnik turned to the side, pointing Edward towards where he left Snively, still imprisoned, struggling and gagged in the coils of metal as other robots tried to sheer it away. "And one most amusing." Robotnik giggled at the sight of Snively tied up like a little worm.
"I see you treat your subordinates very nicely." Ed muttered sarcastically as he noticed the mad scientist show only amusement at Snively's predicament. "And if you're going to ask me to work for you, forget it."
Robotnik twisted and stared at him with a glare that Ed thought could've killed someone just by looking at them. "Well…it was something along those lines." He then noticed the box next to his feet. "What's in the box?"
"My lunch." Ed sneered.
Robotnik stared, noticing the case was made of titanium. Which meant only one thing… "Swatbots! Confiscate that box!"
One grabbed the box without hesitation. "Hey! Give that…" Another swatbot knocked him on his back as Ed reached for his object of desire.
"Planning to steal the key component to my Roboticizer, were you!" Robotnik shouted as the one swatbot held it. "Normally I would roboticize you as soon as I can get the Roboticizer back online…but then, you wouldn't be able to teach me your unique skills."
Ed nearly blanched. "Teach you!"
"Yes." Robotnik stroked his chin. "A mere simpleton would have believed they have seen magic…but from what little footage I could get of you, I could see there was so much more to it. You didn't just create something out of nothing, am I right?"
Ed growled. "It's called equivalent exchange, asshole."
"Now we're getting somewhere…though an attitude adjustment is in order."
Ed sneered. "Even if I wanted to, there's no way you could learn it! Besides, physical training is as important as the mental, and a fatso like you would never be able to…"
Robotnik suddenly grabbed him by the collar and threw him into the computer console. The metal bent and crumbled like it was paper underneath Ed, and the alchemist felt a sharp sheering pain in his back.
"Ow. He may be fat, but he's got some muscle on him!" Ed took a deep breath to help the pain subside. "But he's nowhere near Armstrong's level…"
"Don't be deceived by appearances." Robotnik told him as he once more approached his prone form. "Back in the early days of my empire, I always feared my creations turning against me. So, I've trained my muscles to break even metal!" Robotnik declared, clenching his fist. "And, my robotic arm…no thanks to the hedgehog…supplements those abilities even more." Robotnik strode towards Ed and lifted him by the arm. "So, don't think I-"Robotnik stopped mid-sentence. He gave Ed's wrist a light squeeze; the flesh was hard! "What's this?" Robotnik pulled down Edward's sleeve, and stared in awe at his automail. "I see." He sneered. "This is why the Homunculi call you the Full Metal Alchemist!" He began to laugh lightly. "We have much more in common than I thought; you really should join us!"
Ed growled "There's at least one difference between us…Robuttnik!" Robotnik almost recoiled at the insult he was normally used to hearing from Sonic. "My arm and leg were lost due to me trying to bring my mother back and saving my brother! You're arm…is just a result of getting what you deserve! In fact…I bet you prefer your arm like that. And unlike you…I want my limbs back."
Robotnik growled, and some contraption suddenly appeared on Robotnik's left hand, and pointed at Ed's forehead. "You may have a point…care to see how our mechanical arms compare?"
"Alright." Sally told the Homunculi, stepping forward. "You have a deal. Now let Tails go."
Sonic bent his knees slightly, getting ready to make a run for it once Tails was released and grab Sally at the same time. That was an unlikely scenario; after all, the Homunculi had the hostage. It would be unwise for them to release their hostage until they were in complete control, but Sonic nonetheless got ready for the unlikely scenario. However pessimistic things looked, it was always best to plan for the best, he believed.
"You heard her, Gluttony." Lust waved to her partner. "You can let the poor thing go now."
Gluttony whined, looking forward to eating the young fox, but he would not disobey her. He withdrew Tails from his jaw…and suddenly, slammed him onto ground level. It wasn't strong enough to damage any major bones, but the fox was effectively knocked out.
"What!" Sonic yelled. "Why you dirty little-"Sonic suddenly felt the wind get knocked out of him as something kicked him 20 feet to the side, and sent him flying.
Sonic groaned as he tried to stand up, noticing Geoffrey extending his leg in a side kick. "You-!"
"Geoffrey!" Sally screamed. "What has gotten into you!" St. John spun and grabbed her wrist. Sally tried to fight it off, but his strength surprised her. "OWWW!" Before she could demand him to release her, her face frowned in horror. "Oh no…"
"Oh yes." St. John said in a voice not his own. "You should have never taken your eye off the ball, Princess." St. John suddenly grew in size, and became Envy. "You'll have to forgive me the first time around; I'm not particularly good at home work." He then grabbed the chipmunk in a choke hold, and lifted her off the ground. "But your skunk pal had a very interesting accent I was just dying to try! I spent a lot of time on that one!"
"Sal!" Sonic revved up, and charged, but he was knocked back far away enough to give Envy the one second he needed to escape.
The homunculi leaped up a story and a half, and grabbed hold of the ledge. Sally wildly attacked Envy's arm with some kicks and scratches from her nails, but it wasn't painful enough to make him release her. "We've got a very bad pet here. I think we need to put it down!" He suddenly slammed Sally's head onto the concrete, effectively knocking her out.
"Careful not to crack her skull, Envy." Lust warned him as she kept Sonic and Tails at bay with her nails. "The doctor wanted her alive."
"Don't worry; she should be fine in an hour or so. She'll have a splitting headache though, I 'll give you that." Envy said as he checked her skull for fractures.
"No matter. We got what we came for." Lust then reached into her cleavage and pulled out some kind of canister. Pressing a button, it glowed red, and she threw it towards the two mobians below. A green gas erupted from it.
"Tails, fall back!" Sonic shouted to his friend. "That's probably nerve gas!"
Reluctantly, the two of them fell back. When the smoke cleared, they were gone. The faint sound of a hover unit informed them how they made their escape. "Sonic! What do we do!" Tails shouted distraught.
Sonic clenched his fist. "What we always do. Kick some robuttnik, and then some, and free a few friends along the way! They're probably taking her towards the citadel. We can still catch up!"
"You probably could, but I don't think that would be wise, mate." The two spun to see the real St. John, looking tattered and bruised, having a slight limp in his gait. "I'm sorry; I couldn't stop him…"
"It's cool, pal." Sonic said in a rare moment of understanding with his rival. "These homunculi are really throwing curveballs at us! Ed wasn't kidding!" Sonic turned around in the general direction of Robotnik's citadel. "But I ain't goin' to let that stop me!"
"Whoa, mate!" St. John firmly grasped his shoulder. "Almost all of the swatbots and badniks are gathered there! You might be able to get in, but even with help, there's no way you're getting out."
Sonic spun into St. John's face and shouted "So, you're really suggesting we just abandon her!"
"In a way, you can look at it that way." St. John said softly, somewhat ashamed. "But we've got time. Think about it; if all the badniks are gathered at the citadel, what do you think that could mean?"
Sonic's eyes widened in realization. "Ed got the Disorganizero for the Roboticizer!" "
"Precisely mate. I'm still not sure whether or not to trust them, but whatever their motivations, they've bought us some time. Robotnik will want to get that new ship of his up and running, too. I think its best we meet up with your other teammates. It'll be easier to save her when we're all present."
Sonic reluctantly agreed silently. "You heard him Tails! Let's juice!"
Robotnik was about to fire a laser into Ed's skull, just strong enough to leave a permanent mark. Suddenly, his ears began ringing; someone was calling him. He pressed his arm, not willing to take his aim off of Ed, and answered. "Robotnik speaking."
"It's us." Lust said on the other side of the communicator. "We have the Princess."
"Excellent, my dear." Robotnik replied, smiling wickedly. "Hurry and bring her to me. Now!"
Though he didn't take his eye off Ed, just talking to the homunculi over the communicator was all the distraction Ed needed. Quickly clapping his hand, Ed once again transmuted his arm into blade form, immediately puncturing Robotnik's metallic arm. "What the-!" Before Robotnik could comprehend what was going on, Ed followed up with a left kick to Robotnik's nose. Despite his massive size, the metal appendage was strong enough to knock him flat on his back.
The swatbots reacted immediately and aimed their lasers. Ed transmuted a shield in front of him and made a run for it. Before the robots could realize what was happening, he made a beeline for the bot holding the box. "I'll be taking that now, thank you very much!" He crouched down and took it down with a sweep and snatched the Disorganizero from it. Ed prepared to make another transmutation, but as long as one hand was needed to hold onto the box, that was impossible. A laser hit the box dead center; it wasn't strong enough to punch a hole through the metallic casing, but the force was enough to knock Ed down.
"Take him out!" Robotnik shouted as he straightened his nose.
The swatbots charged up their lasers…and suddenly metallic fists launched underneath them, sending them on a date with the ceiling. "What's happening!" Robotnik yelled. Suddenly, another fist…one with its middle finger sticking out…sent the dictator flying as well.
"Al!" Ed shouted.
On cue, his younger brother opened up a door large enough for him to crawl through. "Sorry, brother! I had to plant a few transmutation circles around the floor when I noticed we had company! Took me longer than I would have liked!"
"Never mind that, Al! We got what we came for! Let's get the hell out of here!"
Ed quickly transmuted the floor immediately in front of him, and extended it outside into a slide. Al wasn't worried, but his brother…"Brother? Are you-"
"If anyone should be worried about getting sick, it's me! Now come on!" The brothers leaped onto the slide, making their escape. Ed was just thankful he got the angle right, or they would be in for a very rough landing.
Robotnik, getting his bearings straight, ran towards the edge. "Cretins! You won't escape me! Not with your lives, anyway!" He pointed his fist and the figures below, charging up one of him many laser weapons…but nothing happened. "What!" Robotnik mentally commanded his arm to fire, but he was still met with the same results. "That little…! His sword must have severed a circuit!" Robotnik walked over to his ruined console, and slammed his fist. "I suspect we will have a future together…" he muttered to himself.
Suddenly, he heard a hovercraft approaching. That could only mean one thing: The Homunculi! "Well, at least one thing is going my way…"
The hovercraft stopped in front of the massive hole, and opened its door. Envy, carrying Princess Sally over his shoulder, leapt off and tossed her onto the floor. "Here ya go, doc." He brushed himself off. "I have to admit, she's a lot more shrewd than she looks. I guess we owe you an apology for nearly laughing at you for these critters giving you a hard time."
Robotnik, satisfied, walked over and grabbed her by the hair. "I underestimated your nemesis too, it seems. We'll call it even."
"So, what are we going to do with her?" Lust asked as she and Gluttony disembarked. "I hope you're not going to use her for what I think you're thinking of…"
"Somehow, I doubt that." Robotnik snorted in annoyance and disgust. "But to answer your question, normally I would have her roboticized."
"Normally, you say? What seems to be the problem?" Lust asked skeptically.
"The Disorganizero!" Robotnik suddenly shouted. "The key component to my machine." Robotnik hastily explained. "Without it, the roboticization will not work."
"Well, you could just kill her." Envy said nonchalantly, lightly kicking her with his foot (for him, anyway).
"True, but it would be such a waste. Especially when I can use her to capture the others." Robotnik thought for a minute. "But…I think you've nonetheless presented me with quite an opportunity. Snivley! Are you free from your blasted contraption yet!"
"Y-yes sir." Snivley said as he shakily stood up, the earlier commotion causing his bonds to break
"Inform Crocbot to board the Flying Battery. We're taking off."
"B-but sir? Are you sure that's wise? I'm certain that the ship has been discovered by now…"
Robotnik turned and growled and Snively, who quickly shut himself up. "Of course they've discovered it, Snively! And I want their attention directed towards it! After all…" A groan from Sally's mouth informed Robotnik that she was waking up. "Why risk having them attacking the city…when I can lead them away and into a trap to save their princess?"
On the outskirts of the city, Sonic skidded to a halt as he met up with the rest of his fellow freedom fighters. "Sonic!" Rotor waved. "Where's Sally?"
"Bad news, man." the hedgehog replied. "She evaded Robuttnik's new pals only to get captured again! I'm sorry…we were all caught off guard."
Bunnie, trembling with anger over her best friend in danger, slammed her robotic fist into her palm. "Well, we ain't gonna accomplish nuthin' by just standing here, y'all! C'mon, sugah hog! Let's-"
"I'm afraid on that subject, there's more bad news." Sonic interrupted her. "Every bot in the city is surrounding buttnik's citadel! At the moment, rescuing Sal…as much as I hate to admit it…is impossible."
"But there lies the good news as well, mate!" St. John interjected, having finally caught up to him. "The heightened security there means that the Elrics have succeeded in her mission. Roboticization…at least for now…is also impossible!"
"But still, ve must hurry!" Antoine insisted. "Just because Robotnik cannot Roboteezizer, does not mean he could do vorser!"
"No." Tails said. He suddenly tugged on Sonic's arm. "He can't! Sonic, we've-"
Patting his friend's head, he said "We'll save her buddy…somehow." doing his best to comfort his young friend. "But you know how old' buttnik is; he'd rather use her as some kind of hostage to lure us all in; especially me." "At least, that's what I'm hopin'…" he kept to himself. The homunculi changed everything, and there was no telling how their presence would change Robotnik. "Let's just wait for Ed and Al. Then, we juice!"
After a few minutes, the brothers were in sight. "Hey!" Sonic shouted. "Did you get it!"
Ed and Al halted in front of the Freedom Fighters, while Ed hunched over to catch his breath. "Yeah." Was his reply. "We got it." He showed the Freedom Fighters the case, tapping it. "We had some trouble along the way; but nothing we couldn't handle."
"Glad to hear ya reached your objective, mate…" St. John remarked, pushing his mistrust of them in the back of his mind for now. "…cause you may have averted another crisis! Your friends have captured the Princess!"
Ed and Al turned their heads in shock. "Sally! They got her!" Al shouted in horror.
"Afraid so, mate." St. John said. "Which brings us good news and bad news. The good news is, since you brought the key component of the roboticizer with you, she won't be enslaved! The bad news…well, those blasted monsters of yours may act in a manner we're not used to seeing with Ivo. So, we still can't guarantee her safety."
Before the two alchemists could respond to that, a spy orb approached them. Ed and Al were getting ready to hide, but Sonic and St. John stopped them. "It's cool." Sonic assured them. "It looks like Buttnik is sending us a message. Much as I don't like talking to him, unless I'm calling him names, we better hear him out. Then, we'll know how to save Sal."
Suddenly, a hologram of Robotnik appeared in front of them, startling the Elric brothers before they realized it was the same manipulation of light they saw from Nicole. "Greetings, Freedom Fighters." Robotnik sneered. "I've had the pleasure of meeting your two new friends. They were quite…fascinating, I should say. Except for one thing…YOUR CURSED ALCHEMISTS STOLE MY DISORGANEIZERO!" He shouted. "And I want it back." He told them, regaining his composure.
"Let me guess." Ed interrupted. "You want this in exchange for the princess." He stated, showing off the briefcase.
"Well, that's part of it." Robotnik grinned. "But, in exchange for all the trouble you have caused me, I want you and the Freedom Fighters' greatest champions as well."
The hologram changed with a video of swatbots placing Sally in some kind of chamber…one Sonic was all too familiar with. "An egg roboticizer." It was a capsule that would roboticize its occupants; convenient if Robotnik wanted something roboticized and going to the main roboticizer wasn't feasible. Thankfully, the process took a while, and the large switch on top was the key to releasing anyone trapped inside. "None of your roboticizers work now, buttnik. Just how do you plan to threaten us with that thing?"
"This chamber has a special modification." Robotnik replied. "It is set to go off in one hour. When that happens, instead of becoming a roboticizer…its function would duplicate that of a cremator." Robotnik laughed smugly. "As I said, you and the Freedom Fighters have one hour. Come aboard my ship, and bring the disorganezero with you. I hear being burned to death is…quite excruciating." Robotnik only cackled as his image faded out.
Everyone's fist clenched in anger. They all had only one goal in mind: Rescue Sally! "Guys, I'd hate to reign in on your parade with getting that ore…especially considering how much it would help both of us…" Sonic began.
"You don't have to explain." Ed said. "But one thing worries me if we follow through with his demands: will he really give Sally back? I've only known him for 5 minutes, but it doesn't seem that he's that kind of guy."
"No." Sonic agreed. "Buttnik isn't exactly a model at keeping promises. If we do give into his demands, he'll probably kill her anyway!"
"Still, we'll have to bring the ore." Alphonse interrupted. "If anything goes wrong, we'll need it as fallback."
Robotnik, Snively, and the Homunculi boarded the ship. As Snively escorted the 3 immortals towards the command center, Robotnik stayed behind to do a final checkup. "Crocbot! Desert Whorl! Are you here!"
"Yeah, yeah. Don't go blowing a gasket!" Crocbot shouted as he wheeled into view.
"Apologies, sur!" Desert Whorl saluted as he appeared beside his fellow sub-boss. "We had trouble with communications after that blackout! I take it everything is alright now, sur?"
Robotnik growled "It's being worked out. Anyway, I just wanted to double check that you both know your tasks?"
"Clear as the sky where you're not smogging it up." Crocbot muttered as he wheeled his way inside. "I hope the trip is worth it! I wanna get this power, be done with it, and return to Downunda!"
"Soon enough, Crocbot." Robotnik assured him. "In the event you lose your territory to Downunda, once we get what we need, you should be able to take it back with ease." The dictator than turned to face Desert Whorl as Crocbot took his leave. "I trust you understand I need one of my best generals to guard my city?"
"Aye, sur!" Desert Whorl replied enthusiastically. "It is an honor!"
"Excellent! Just what I wanted to hear! Now, if you'll excuse me, we'll be on our way now."
Desert Whorl disembarked while Robotnik made his way to the command center, where the 3 homunculi were waiting for him. "We're ready." Lust said. "And we're quite anxious to go. I fear we've gotten ourselves too deep into your business; your squabble with those Freedom Fighters is a distraction from our main objective."
"Fair enough." Robotnik said. "I do agree that it's about time to go back to your world anyway. And I believe I know just the way to do it!" He pressed the communicator on the command console. "Attention swatbots! Prepare for take-off now! 5…4…3…2…1…LAUNCH!"
The rockets beneath the hull roared to life, and the Homunculi stumbled in surprise as they felt the craft begin to fly. "Incredible!" Lust exclaimed. "And our world believed flight like this was impossible!"
Robotnik only smiled. They had their extraordinary abilities…but as long as he had his technology and intelligence, he could eliminate these monsters anytime he wished. "For now though…this partnership is still valid!" He looked forward on the console, eagerly anticipating visiting this new world…
"There she goes." St. John noted from the plane as the Flying Battery took off. "You sure the virus will affect him?" he asked Rotor.
"Fairly positive." The mechanic replied. "It probably won't slow him down to his destination, but at least we'll make it one hell of a trip for him…as much as it will be for us once the others board it." He added sheepishly. "I made sure to ruin what other features I could, but it was tough with his new security system.
Sonic and Tails heard none of this; perhaps more so the former than the later. Their minds were on their failure to protect Sally in the first place.
Ed looked at the blue hedgehog as he only stared out the window, itching to go. Ed then briefly thought about Winry. "If anything like this happened to her…" No point in thinking about that, he thought as he stopped himself from going any further. She wasn't here; and that was probably for the best. Walking his way to Sonic, he lightly squeezed his soldier. "We'll get her back; I promise."
Sonic only looked at him, then flashed his cocky grin. "I know; who do ya think you're talking to?"
Ed only grinned back. "Now that's the spirit." Ed went back to his seat and looked out the window, where Al was preparing to mount Dulcy. Though the dragon was reluctant to carry his weight again, for Sally's sake she would bear it. Al saw him, and gave him a thumbs up. Ed did the same. "This may not be our world…but these people have become more than mere acquaintances. And now, we have to help them."
The plane's rotors spun, and the plane ran across the field as it gained momentum for flight. Dulcy flapped her wings as she took off with Al. Both Freedom Fighters and State Alchemists were about to come together for more than a mission; they were off to rescue a friend.
I don't think I have to tell any of you what's coming up next. It might be fun if during the next chapter you have the BG music for Flying Battery of Sonic and Knuckles playing!