"Ugh, just rise and shine already. I don't have time to be slapping your stupid face all day."
Knuckles had tragically been knocked out cold from hitting the bottom of the hole. The room there was suspiciously spacious, with Knuckles 'comfortably' sprawled out roughly in the middle of it. Just to the right was a small, darkened tunnel, which would be Rouge's next destination, and probably the place where the signal was coming from. Speaking of which, the incessant beeping had mysteriously stopped not very long ago, leaving Rouge with little getting in the way of her attempts to awaken the beast.
Just as she was about to hit him with her hardest, a soft groan escaped from Knuckles's mouth as he slowly opened his eyes.
"Oww… why's it feel like m'face's all messed up…?"
Rouge sighed. "Yeah, you hit your head pretty hard back there. All sorted now, though. I'm right here to take care of you."
Knuckles sat up and frowned at Rouge.
"Liar. You've been slappin' the crap out of me for, what, the past ten minutes or something, haven't you?"
"Fifteen, actually. Let's not be understating the lengths I'm willing to go to for your sake. You better be grateful." Rouge sighed even heavier and offered her hand to Knuckles. "Here, lemme help you stand up."
Knuckles was dumbstruck for a bit, but eventually reached out to Rouge, who did what she said.
"Thanks…? Y'know, aside from the whole slapping thing, you're being way too nice right now. Is something wrong, or…?"
"Er, no, it's ju—"
"Wh-who are you!? Why are you here!?"
The two's budding conversation was tragically (and rudely) interrupted by the impromptu appearance of some kind of weird moon-cave-person, who looked as if he'd been living there for months, even years. He had the appearance of a slender, silvery hedgehog. His spines were unruly and messy, and he had mounds of dishevelled grey chest hair that may have once been white. His piercing yellow eyes were those of a madman, and his voice was shrill and panicked. This person clearly hadn't had any sort of civilised contact in a very, very long time.
The terrifying specimen had emerged from the tunnel to the right, and he appeared to be holding the smashed remains of several emerald radars.
As one would expect, Knuckles and Rouge dealt with the situation with calm professionalism and understanding.
"AAAAAHHHHHH! KILL IT, KNUCKLES! FOR GOD'S SAKES, KILL IT!"
"GYAAGGGHHH! I DON'T WANNA DIEEEE! TAKE THIS!"
Chapter VI: Ten Below Blazing
"This wouldn't have happened if Sonic had just promoted me to a full-time party member…"
Amy's grumbling was met with an amused chuckle from Dr. Eggman, who had come across and captured her as he sought the emerald. The poor girl had found herself crudely tied to a chair, just tightly enough for her inevitable escape to be delayed by a fair amount of time.
"Grumble as you want, my dear Amy. I've already sent my robots after Sonic. They'll inform him of your capture, and he'll have to give me the emerald he's obviously already found in order to free you!"
With a satisfied smile on his face, Eggman plomped himself down onto the Egg Carrier's captain's seat, where he would play the waiting game. No need for any physical effort on his part. He'd just have to wait for the emerald to come to him. Perfect. But perhaps he should check in with his trusty partner in crime before resigning to even greater self-confidence.
"Come in, Codename Ragna. Codename Walrus calling." Eggman said, grinning deviously.
"Your codename is Walrus?" He could hear Amy say from across the room.
"Shut it, pinkie pie. Don't make me sit on you."
A coarse cough could be heard from the radio. "Codename Ragna reporting in. I trust you've secured the emerald by now?"
"It's as good as secured!"
"…" The other line went dead silent, with only the soft sound of static indicating that they were still there. "As… 'good as' secured?"
"Well, yes, I don't actually have the emerald yet, but with the ingenious plan I've set in motion, I should have it momentarily!"
"…" More silence from Codename Ragna. "A-are you sure? I mean, just… knowing your track record, I don't really think that, uh…"
"N-no, I got it this time. Really." Eggman smiled nervously.
"I'm just saying, if you think you require my assistance, I'm certainly available…"
Eggman cleared his throat needlessly loudly. "Thank you, Codename Ragna, but I have the situation under control. We will regroup at the specified location at the promised time, where we will set the plan into motion. Okay, bye!"
Codename Ragna's protests were silenced by Eggman throwing his radio at a wall, smashing it into smithereens.
"Stupid criminal mastermind. I'd be doing just as well without him…"
Silence filled the Egg Carrier's cockpit.
"Who's your friend, Eggs?" Amy smiled wryly.
"Oh, it's jus— Hey, I'm not telling you that! Go back to shutting up!"
Meanwhile, elsewhere, Knuckles and Rouge had huddled up against the wall to the far left after Knuckles had knocked out the local. Said local was now lying on the ground to the far right, out cold.
"Who the hell is that!?" Rouge said, with Knuckles's wrist in a death grip.
"First of all, ow! Second, why are you asking me!?"
A minute of awkward silence passed. The assailant wasn't moving, but he appeared to at least be breathing.
"Knuckles, I think you should go check who it is."
"Because you're the one who knocked him out. Go!" With that, Rouge let go of Knuckles's wrist and pushed him towards the room's middle.
The two then had a relatively quiet argument which consisted mostly of them mouthing expletives and making dramatic hand gestures at each other, until Knuckles eventually relented and resigned to his fate of having to confirm the man's identity.
Knuckles rolled the motionless hedgehog onto his back and studied his weary face closely. He couldn't help but think he's seen this person before…
"Hang on a minute, Rouge, I think we know him…" Knuckles said to Rouge. "He looks so familiar, but I can't really place him."
"Huh, really?" Rouge, lowering her guard ever so slightly, walked up to Knuckles. "I don't think I know any crazy cave people…"
Rouge knelt down and squinted as hard as she could. Knuckles was right, that guy did look really familiar.
"Waaaaait… isn't that…?"
"Yeah, I think it might be."
"It would explain a lot, really."
"But I thought he was…"
"Yeah, me too. We hadn't heard from him in forever, so I just assumed…"
"I know, right?"
The two looked at each other, and then again at the unconscious hedgehog. There was no mistaking it. The greyish fur, the chest hair, the yellow eyes, the spines that vaguely resemble a certain kind of leaf, not to mention the conspicuous teal markings around his hands and legs…
That was definitely Silver the Hedgehog, missing and presumed dead for several years.
"Hm. So that's where he's been all this time. Would not have guessed." Rouge stood up and put her hand to her forehead. They hadn't seen Silver in years, and he seemed fine, if a little sad, when they last saw him. One day, he was just suddenly… gone. At first, no one really seemed to notice. However, people had started to ask questions after the first two weeks or so, and he was declared dead soon after. Knuckles and Rouge now knew that Silver was, in fact, still alive. Still, the most important question remained…
"But why is he on the moon? How is he on the moon?" Knuckles said.
"Do I look like I know the answers to that? Why don't we ask him? Stand back and let the master do her thing." Rouge knelt down to Silver again and proceeded to slap him silly.
Knuckles sighed, partly out of sympathy for Silver, but then noticed a feint glow coming from the far end of the tunnel.
"Hey, uh, Rouge? Think you can stand to be alone around Silver for just a sec?" Knuckles said.
"Huh? Sure, whatever, but why?" She said in-between slaps.
"I think I know where the emerald is."
With that, Knuckles vanished into the darkness, leaving Rouge behind.
"Agh!" Silver shrieked. Rouge's method had proven successful yet again.
"Ah. And we're up, I see." Rouge rubbed her hand and smiled.
"Who… whuh…" Silver slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes. "Who're…?"
"I'm Rouge. As in, the Bat. And your name is Silver. Sil-ver."
"Whouge? I dunno you, I dun think…" Now that he'd calmed down, his voice was very hoarse and his breath was somewhat rank. "I… know my own name, though… It's all I have left…"
Rouge groaned. Of course, this was to be expected. Who-knows-how-many years alone in a hole on the moon won't really do wonders for your memory, social skills, or hygiene, be it oral or personal.
"Oh, whatever. Can you stand? We should probably get you out of here. I'll hear your story later, okay?" Rouge gave Silver her shoulder for support. "Come on, we'll get you a blanket and a cup of tea."
Silver rose up with Rouge's help, but did nothing but stare at her in disbelief. From the look in his eyes, he seemed to only vaguely remember her. Nevertheless, he felt somewhat grateful and relieved to finally be discovered after all this time.
"At least you seem to understand what I'm saying. Now, to get out of h—"
"Hey, Rouge! The emerald's here, I found it!" Knuckles's voice sounded from inside the darkned tunnel.
"That's great, sweetie." Rouge smiled awkwardly. "Now hurry your ass back here. Silver's up and running, so let's go."
And that he did. With emerald in hand, Knuckles cheerfully regrouped with Rouge. With the moon's lower gravity, Rouge was able to quite easily fly Silver out of the hole, leaving Knuckles to climb out of there on his lonesome.
Mission accomplished, really. The gruesome twosome had recovered the emerald they set out to find, and bagged themselves a mostly forgotten friend for bonus points!
"We should head back to the shuttle and get out of here. I'll call up Tails." Knuckles said.
"Thank you for that genius suggestion, Knuckles. I don't know what I'd do without you."
Alas, radio contact could not be established. Rouge took it upon herself to escort Silver to the safety of their amazing shuttle, while Knuckles went to manually inform Sonic and Tails of their success. He of course took the emerald with him, to Rouge's slight dismay. After he'd been up in several layers of blankets, (the tea would have to wait until they returned to Earth) Silver dropped the emotionless act and started sobbing uncontrollably, which Rouge wasn't entirely sure how to deal with.
"Er… there, there…"
"I never thought anyone would ever find me!" Silver cried out between sobs. He seemed to have regained most of his conversation abilities remarkably quickly. "Do you know how long I've been here!?"
"I actually don't, no." Rouge couldn't help but smile awkwardly. "Don't suppose you could tell me why you were on the moon to begin with?"
Silver sniffled. "Sega put me here. I wasn't popular enough, so they cut their losses and just… got rid of me."
"…I'm sorry, what?"
Kinda short chapter, but ending it there seemed fun. Tune in next time for... more Silver?