Dr. Robotnik and the POW Candy Factory

"The day I believe he's reformed," commented Sonic, "Is the day I believe in Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and that flying purple jester you keep going on about who apparently lives in your dreams."

"I'm not saying I believe him." said Tails, "I'm just saying we should take a look at what he's doing, otherwise we won't be able to figure out a way to stop him before its too late! Besides..." Tails looked away, his voice lowering to a half-whisper and his ears and tails drooping in the way they did when he was embarrassed, "He was handing out free candy. It tasted yummy."

The candy looked really delicious. His mouth was watering just looking at the round pieces of candy, bright pink in colour, with black, white pink striped wrappers. The label on the bag said they were called 'POW Candy'. There was a picture of a happy-looking Doctor Robotnik face next to the words. The effect was about as cheerful, uplifting and child-friendly as a clown – in other words, absolutely terrifying. The Doctor really needed to work on his advertising. Causing children to run away screaming was not a good way to sell candy.

"Tails, you're old enough to know not to take candy from strangers! Especially not Doctor Robotnik! Okay, so he's not really a stranger, he's our arch-adversary who we probably know better than we know half of our friends... but still... that candy could be poisoned! Or full of bombs!"

"There were plenty of people eating it." muttered Tails, "He was handing them out in the middle of Central City. I would have noticed if everyone started being poisoned and exploding. C'mon, you know how delicious and addictive candy is! I bet if it was a chilli dog factory, you would have totally freaked out and lost control!"

"Chilli dogs? Where?" Sonic sprang up from the deckchair he had been reclining in, his eyes darting around, painfully aware of the absence of a chilli dog on a plate next to him. Then he remembered that he had already eaten all the chilli dogs in the house. If hedgehogs could actually go red (Which blue ones can't. Although they can go an impressive shade of yellow.) he would have. "Ahem. Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to do a little spying. You could hide a lot of things in a factory that size. Nobody is going to be suspicious of a candy factory. Its the perfect disguise."

"He said he'll be here all week, so we could go together tomorrow morning."

"You don't want to go there now?"

"He's closed for the day. You spent the entire day playing video games again." said Tails, "Besides, I have to go and analyse the candy in my lab."

"Shouldn't you have done that BEFORE you ate some?"

"Don't be silly! Scientific analysis makes candy taste icky!" said Tails, "You don't know anything about science, do you, Sonic?"

"I'll... er... I'll keep that in mind." said Sonic, "Is the chilli dog shop closed too?"

"No, they decided to open twenty four hours. Apparently they get a lot of custom."

"I'm going out to get more chilli dogs!" declared Sonic, "We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow, so we're gonna need provisions! And no, Tails, we're not eating the candy."

"Shouldn't you make a plan before you decide what to buy for the mission?"

"I've made it already!"

"Are you going to make a plan that takes you more than five seconds to think up?"

"Nah, it doesn't do to over-think things." said Sonic.

Tails sighed. From what he knew about this plan – and he hadn't even heard any of it yet - he already hated it. And not only because Sonic had made it up on the spur of the moment. All of Sonic's plans were like that. But a mission to invade a candy factory and they couldn't eat candy? It was like a mission to invade an underwater base where they couldn't bring anything to drink. Not that he wanted to drink sea-water. Or any kind of water in which Doctor Robotnik had possibly been anywhere near. Especially if it was bright pink. He guessed that rule should apply to candy as well. It was a shame, though.

Arguing with Sonic was no use once he had an idea firmly planted in his head. The fox watched him dash out of the room, entirely forgetting his wallet, then waited for him to return and pick it up before Tails, too, left the house to make the journey to his laboratory. It was a little way outside the residential area, where the constant explosions wouldn't wake people up.

"If Sonic won't let me eat any more, maybe I should just eat these while I have the chance..." he murmured to himself. Then he shook his head vigorously as though he thought his brain would work better if he cleared out all the dust, like a Mega Drive, "No! This candy is for science!"

Scientific analysis was just as fun as candy. Once he started up his equipment and peered into the microscope, he found himself becoming completely engrossed in his work, all thoughts of delicious sugary goodness firmly blocked from his mind. Well, almost all. He WAS staring directly at the molecular structure of said candy so it would be extremely difficult to stop thinking about it entirely, especially if he wanted to make any progress in researching it.

As far as he could tell, it was just ordinary candy. It was almost completely composed of sugar. Under the conditions of his experiments, it behaved like ordinary candy. It melted or burned under a flame, it dissolved in acid, it froze solid when he dipped it in liquid nitrogen, it glowed green when he bathed it in the very small amount of Chaos Energy he had secretly drained from an Emerald and put in a flask without telling Knuckles.

In three hours time, he found that he was making no progress, was bored out of his mind and his entire lab was coated in candy dust. The sticky substance would be near impossible to clean up, even for the prototype cleaning robot he was developing. He should have thought of that before he started making the candy explode to see what would happen but he had to be sure.

There was almost no difference between 'POW Candy' and any other of the several types of candy he had also analysed as control samples. The only thing he had found was a trace source of some kind of energy on a frequency that his machines couldn't read. It was curious. His machines were programmed to detect all sorts of strange things. Sometimes they gave unusual readings just because they were so sensitive that they could even pick things up from outer space.

It was having an interesting effect on himself as well. Since eating the candy, he felt more mentally alert and able to concentrate. Sugar usually made him hyperactive and erratic but he had been working for hours, felt wide awake and hadn't made any mistakes. It was nothing he could really tell Sonic, though. He didn't have any hard evidence to back it up so it would be unscientific of him. It looked like the candy really was safe to eat.

Persuading Sonic of this would be another matter.