Chapter 7: Stealth Mission in Shuigang
"Man, it feels like forever since we left the treehouse!" Carol said as the three made their way across Dragon Valley towards the roboticized Shuigang. "Tails, we gettin' any closer to that thing?"
"Not yet Carol," Tails said, checking his scanner. "We've still got a couple miles before we get to the outer walls, so hopefully we can be there by nightfall!"
"This would be a lot faster if I could use my bike!" Carol retorted, keeping up with the kitsune on foot. "We could get there and get the emeralds, grab Neera and be back in about an hour tops!"
"The exhaust from your bike as well as the noise from it is going to draw attention to us!" Tails said, keeping his pace. "If we're going to get those emerald out from there and free Shuigang in the process, we can't have Eggman or Neera know we're breaking in!"
"Then how are we going to get the emeralds?" Milla asked, having to ride on Carol's back to the location. "We dunno how much of the bad guys are there! We could get hurt real bad!"
"Aw c'mon Ruff Stuff! What're you so worried about?" Carol said. "If this goon's bots are half of what Brevon's troops were, this'll be nothing more than a cakewalk!"
"I hope..." Milla muttered to herself as the three closed in on Shuigang...
Neo Metropolis; Former Shuigang...
"And I want you to make sure that energy productions for the other two kingdoms are at maximum output, do I make myself clear?" The metallic Neera growled over the transmission. The Egg Pawn on the screen gave the robotic panda a salute before the transmission cut, a small nonexisant smile appearing on the panda's face.
"Good, that should speed up production on Gong's end," Neera said to herself as she checked the security cameras around the facility. "And the Chaos Emeralds should be well secured in the vault. With that new war robot in storage here, it should be able to harness Chaos Energy for power. Master Robotnik should be most pleased with this..." Her thoughts were interrupted as another transmission had appeared on the screen, and with the wave of her hand, the transmission activated, showing Metal Sonic on screen.
"Ah, Metal," Neera spoke. "A rather unexpected time to get a call from you. What brings you to transmit to me?"
"There's been an unexpected problem on my end. Needless to say, we've lost Neo Eggmanland and the Chaos Emerald there." Neera's face fell at that statement. "Hold your position in Neo Metropolis as best you can. Master's ultimate weapon is not complete yet, and we need to bide our time and keep the Kingdom Energy under tight wraps until the weapon is complete, and make sure to exterminate any of the pests that sneak in." Neera nodded. "Good, I see that we have at least someone competent at the wheel of this generator. Now, you know your directives, make sure they follow through!"
"Metal, I guarantee that this will will run smoothly." Neera spoke. "Now then, return to the Death Egg and help the master with the project there." Metal nodded, then the transmission ended. Neera walked over to andother large keyboard and hit a button, activating the intercom. "Attention troops, this is Neera speaking. Set all generators into overdrive and tighten security on the Emerald vault. I have a feeling that we are going to have some company... VERY soon..."
Neo Metropolis, Outer Walls...
The trio of heroes soon arrived at the outer wall, keeping clear of the searchlights above the metallic wall. "Alright Tailsy, what's the plan?"
"Carol, I need you to sneak up that wall and take out that searchlight above us." Tails spoke, indicating of the large tower above them. "Once that's down, Milla and I can fly up undetected and sneak into the ventilation shafts, and get into the generator housing from there. We get to the core, fight Neera, de-roboticize her, shut off the generator, which, in turn, shuts off security to the vault, and grab the Emeralds there." Tails said, handing Carol a device. "This will deactivate the searchlight. You know what to do."
Carol grinned. "Hell yeah I know what to do," Carol said, taking the device. "Just leave this to the former Red Scarf." With that, Carol lept up the wall, clinging to the surface as she lept from outcrop to outcrop on the wall, occasionally ducking under the outcroppings when the spotlight passed over her area. "There bots are really not making anything easier..." The wildcat muttered to herself as she climbed the all further before reaching the underside of the searchlight box. Carol extended her claws and pryed the ventilation covering off of the bottom before climbing up into the box. Keeping silent, the wildcat stayed motionless as the Egg Pawns continued their duties, not noticing the green wildcat at the back. Keeping to herself, Carol reached into her gem shard pocket and pulled out several of the shuriken she had nabbed from the strongbox back in Shang Tu, and quickly flicked her wrist, throwing and lodging the small metal stars into the robots circuitry, disabling them. She quickly went to work, hooking the device up to the searchlight, shutting off the light completely.
"Alright, the light's down," Tails said. "Let's go Milla."
"Right!" She spoke, grabbing onto Tails wrists and holding on as Tails ascended up until the two landed on the wall, with Carol coming out of the searchlight box. "So.. where do we get in from here?"
"There's a ventilation system just nearby that can get us into here." Tails said, checking the scanner. "We can enter in from there and get inside with little problems."
"I hope." Carol said. "Anything t-"
"Shh!" Milla shushed, her ears twitching. "W-we need to hide!" She squealed, grabbing the other two's wrists and dashing around a corner, just in time for a large robotic crab, one claw extremely large and covered in spikes, plodded by, patrolling the area. "Tails... what is that?"
"A Shellcracker.." Tails growled. "Figures that Eggman would make his base out of nostalgia from his previous bases. That means that this place would be modeled after Metropolis Zone, his first base when I paired up with Sonic. Unfortunately for us, that means the unholy triad of Badniks are going to be here, THAT being one of them."
"So, where do we go now?"
"The vent is right nearby." Tails said, checking the scanner again. "Be mindful of the gears though. We can't afford to get injured before we can get to the vault and Neera."
Carol nodded. "Got it. Avoid the gears and get to the vault." She said, taking the lead to the vent cover across the large space of the mechanical courtyard. The wildcat moved quickly, diving behind another wall, then motioning for the other two to follow. Tails and Milla made a break across the open space and met Carol back on the other side of the area. "This the vent?"
Tails nodded. "Let's get this thing off." Carol nodded, extended her claws and prying the vent cover off. She set it to the side and began crawling through the vent, followed by Tails, and lastly Milla. "Alright, at the intersection, we need to head through the left vent, then take the dropoff there and get into the sublevels of the generator housing."
"Right," Carol spoke. "And I'll be more than happy to lay some hurt on these bolts-for-brains for what they did!" Angered thoughts raced through her mind as she crawled through the vents, against Eggman, against the robotic Neera...
"H-hey, guys?" Milla asked. "What's that beeping?" Tails eyes widened at Milla's comment, then looked to see a starfish-shaped Badnik right on the vent covering underneath them. Tails gasped but it was too late; the Badnik exploded, destroying the vent below them, causing the three to land in a pile in the green metallic hallway. Dazed, Tails put his hands on the floor and tried to lift himself up while Milla was still on his back.
'Why...does this floor feel soft...?' Tails thought to himself as his vision cleared. He soon found his hand was not on the floor, but one of his hands was while the other was on the left side of Carol's chest. Carol and Tails looked at eachother awkwardly, a violent blush on eachothers faces before Carol spoke.
"Well Tails," She said. "Never thought you'd stoop to that level!" Tails panicked and took his hand off her chest, the three of them getting up. "So, with that plan out of commission, where are we supposed to go now?"
"We'll have to improvise," Tails said, checking the scanner. "We can still reach the generator room from around these halls. We need to stick close though; Neera's got the robots running around the entire place."
"W-well, why are we waiting?" Milla timidly asked. "Shouldn't we get moving to, uh, avoid the bad guys?"
Tails nodded. "We need to move. The longer we wait, the more likely Neera's gonna get the jump on us." The other two nodded, then took down the halls of the generator housing...
"Yes, this is looking promising." Neera spoke to herself as she monitored the cameras. "Everything is going to Master Robotnik's plan. Once the new station is complete, the Chaos Energy will be harnessed to keep these rebel scum from ever stopping us." She smiled to herself as she spoke of the plans. "And unlike that robotic copy of that hedgehog, he will be most pleased with me for my best efforts of preserving this place..." She then noticed something out of the corner of her optics, one of the security cameras picking up movement, a notable flash of orange. "Hmph, so the rebellious insubordinates have decided to show up. Well then..." She paused as large clanking metal footsteps came up from behind her.
"They are going to be in for a rude awakening..."
"How much further?" Carol asked the kitsune. "The vault and the killswitch for the generator can't be that far away, can they?"
"They're right nearby, just keep moving!" Tails said. "We're getting close to the generator room, but that means it'll be heavily guarded! Keep your focus!"
Carol nodded. "As if I'm gonna let some tin cans get the better of me!" She said, cracking a grin. "Let's get this thing shut down!" Soon the three entered into the large room that housed the generator, large amounts of electricity crackling off it from its massive power output. "Where's the killswitch on this thing?"
"Killswitch is located on the console." Tails said, checking the scanner. "It's code-encrypted though. I need a minute to decode it, so cover for me."
Carol nodded. "I don't know if anyone's coming in, but I got your back!" The wildcat said, extending her claws.
"We're with you all the way!" Milla said, raising a shield.
Tails smiled. "I know I can count of your two." He said, turning to the console and started typing away. It wasn't for long as soon large, heavy metal footsteps sounded from behind them, and out of the shadows was a robotic mantis, nearly two stories high, large scythes and a bright metallic green coloring. Standing on top the large mantis robot was none other than the roboticized panda priestess, Neera-Li. Carol gritted her teeth at the sight of the ally turned traitor.
"Well, if it isn't none other than the unwholesome brats that decided to pull a jailbreak stunt back over in Neo ScrapBrain." Neera's cold, robotic voice cooed, seemingly taunting the trio. "Your timing is more than impeccable. I was looking for something to test out the new War Slicer against. And it seems I have two little test subjects ripe for the bleeding..."
"Get real Neera!" Carol yelled. "Just give up now and let us turn you normal again!"
Neera laughed at the remark of the wildcat. "Oh, such a naive girl..." She chuckled. "You'll regret trying to fight this!" With that, she lept up to a balcony above the trio and gave the command. "War Slicer, offensive programming activate!"
The loud roar from the giant mantis deafened the area as Carol and Milla engaged the War Slicer. The large scythes of the bot we soon launched, spinning and slicing through the air. Carol and Milla ducked, the blades coming within inches of them before they returned to the titan robot itself. Carol quickly dashed as soon as its defenses went down and lept up the right side of it, slashing at its left optic sensor before being smashed backwards from an ice blast from Neera. Carol hit the ground hard and cartwheeled backwards before getting up, and angered look on her face.
"Hey, what's the big idea?!" Carol yelled at the robotic Neera. "That's interfering with the battle!"
"Well, I'm not merely just going to sit aside and watch this creation be destroyed, now would I?" Neera spoke. "Just something to give you a bit of challenge."
"Challenge my claws!" Carol growled, her claws glinting off the light in the room. "Either stay out of this until this thing is dead, or I'm coming for you!"
"Hmph, we'll see about that." Neera said. The gigantic Slicer then proceeded to slash at the wildcat, cutting into the ground of the facility. Carol dodged, but Milla ran up the arm of the War Slicer and created an orange Phantom Block, firing off a powered-up Super Shield Burst, snapping the head of the mechanical beast sideways and launching the basset hound into the ceiling, before she grabbed onto a light fixture above, forming another Phantom Block in her hand. "Carol! I need some help here!"
"Got it!" Carol said, running in front of the giant mantis. "Hey! Bugs-for-brains! Over here!" She taunted at the robot. The War Slicer brought both of its scythes up and slammed them down into the ground. Carol dodged out of the way, causing the robot to get them stuck in the steel floor. Milla lept off the light fixture and activated another Super Shield Burst, slamming the head again and launching the basset sideways before she landed on the floor. Carol then dashed up the back of the robot and performed a Wild Kick on its optic sensors, smashing one of them to pieces. "How do ya like that, ya overgrown bug?!"
'Well, at least they're keeping that thing busy..' Tails thought to himself, madly typing away at the keyboard. 'I just need a bit more to try and get through...' His heart stopped as he felt a sharp point touch him in the back of the neck. He didn't even get a chance to gasp as soon he was frozen in a block of ice; Neera stood behind him, a metaphorical sadistic grin on her face as she picked up the frozen fox and threw him away from the console, slamming him against the wall before the ice block hit the floor hard. Carol saw this and her anger got the better of her, lunging at the robot panda before receiving a sharp, slinging blow to the side of her face before Neera lept back up to the ledge. The War Slicer then lept forward, ready to plunge its scythes straight into Carol.
"NO!" Milla cried, leaping in front of Carol with a Phantom Block. She quickly expanded it into a thick green shield, blocking Carol from attack as the scythes hit the shield, causing several cracks to appear within it. Milla struggled to keep her composure as the scythes bashed again against the shield, creating more and more cracks into the shield. Milla tried to keep her powers under control, evident from the trail of blood running down her face from her nose, but with one final swing, the War Slicer broke the shield, and the mental strain from the shatter was too much for her to handle. Milla collapsed to the floor, and Carol quickly grabbed her and fled away from the War Slicer before it brought its scythes down again. The wildcat laid the basset down next to the frozen Tails before returning to the fight, rushing up the arm of the bot before slamming another Wild Kick into its other optic sensor, shattering it completely.
Now confused the War Slicer started flailing around frantically, trying to hit the wildcat that wasn't there. With a quick slam and a sharp series of Wild Claws, Carol tore through the titanic Slicer, ripping it to shreds as soon the War Slicer fell to the ground, its circuitry fried and rendering it inoperable. Carol smiled to herself as she admired her handiwork, destroying the War Slicer, but she knew she wasn't done. She then turned her attention to Neera, who was giving a slow clap...
"Well, well, I must say," The robotic Neera cooed. "I am rather impressed with your fighting abilities, taking down the War Slicer with little effort."
"Save the gloating for later!" Carol growled, her claws still extended. "I'm not finished with you! I'll make sure you hurt for what you did to Tails!"
"Hmph, that's cute, you know that?" Neera said, leaping down to her level. "I don't think you know what you're dealing with, you naive child." She said, the energy from her Ice Sceptre crackling. "You see Master Robotnik's powers have made me far stronger than the moot bots you've been fighting. Disposing of you..." She said, charging up before rocketing forward at the wildcat. "Will be child's play!"
With the speed that Neera had shot forward, Carol had no time to react as she was soon whacked across the face with Neera's sceptre. Carol regained her composure as she was flung back and flipped around to launch herself off the wall and make a mad dash for Neera, claws extended. The robotic panda flipped over the wildcat and attempted to deliver a smashing roundhouse kick to Carol, but the wildcat had seen this coming and quickly dodged out of the way, countering Neera with a Wild Claw straight to the face. Neera flinched before getting the upper hand on Carol and delivering a blow to her face, causing the wildcat to grip at her nose in pain before Neera delivered a kick straight to her cheek, knocking the wind out of her. Carol lay on the ground, gasping for air as Neera strode up and wrapped on of her metal hands around the wildcat's neck, hoisting her off the ground and leaving her feet dangling.
"Well, such a half-hearted attempt by the insubordinate pest." Neera spoke, keeping her grip tight as Carol struggled for air. "And here I thought you would be more of a challenge.."
"I...is that... a-all y-y-ya go-ot?!" Carol choked out, struggling to use her hands to break free of Neera's grasp.
"As a matter of fact..." Neera said, tightening her grip on the wildcat's neck, causing Carol to cry out more in pain and thrash about even more. "Oh, I'm sorry, too much pressure?"
"Th-this is bad!" Carol thought to herself. "She's gonna choke me out! C'mon Carol, use your instincts!" Quickly acting, Carol bit down hard into Neera's metallic hand, causing Neera to flinch in pain and release Carol, who fell to her hands and knees, gasping heavily for breath.
"Why you little...!" Neera growled before clocking Carol straight across the face with a nasty punch. Carol flipped backwards and landed on her feet before bending backwards, dodging a swipe from Neera using her sceptre, before kicking out the panda's legs from under her with a sweep. Carol then lept back before Neera took a swing at her, and immediately countered with another Wild Claw. Neera grabbed her hand and flipped the wildcat over her head, slamming her into the ground. Carol got back up and slammed into Neera, tackling her to the ground and swiping at her face before Neera caught one of her hands and drove her other fist into the wildcat's gut. Carol gasped in pain as she held her stomach, just in time for Neera to smash a kick right into the side of the wildcat's head. Carol fell to the ground, pain coursing throughout her entire skull as Neera put a foot on her chest, holding the wildcat down while she froze her hands down.
"There we go..." Neera growled, keeping the wildcat down, pointing the sceptre straight at Carol's face. "Now you're finished... any last words before you're an ice statue?"
Carol was sweating bullets; Neera was overpowering her at an alarming rate, and if she didn't find some way to get Neera down fast, she'd be dead! Her eyes frantically darted around the room, looking for anything that could help her turn the tide of this battle. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a small glint of green inside the scrapped War Slicer. If that was what she thought it was...
Carol mustered what little energy she had and slammed both of her feet into the back of the robotic panda, knocking her off and away from her. Carol quickly broke her hands out of the ice and made a mad dash for the glint in the scrap pile.
"NO!" Neera shrieked, giving an immediate pursuit to catch the wildcat. However, she was too late. Carol dove into the scrap pile and grabbed exactly what she thought it was; a Chaos Emerald. Seems like the old doc was using an Emerald to power his giant mech. Luckily for Carol, she needed it the most; she turned to face Neera again, a lot more confidence in her system than before as the robot glared angrily at her.
"You insolent worm!" The robotic panda growled. "Now look what you've done! You've ruined everything that the master had planned!"
"Hmph, like I care!" Carol growled. "Neera, I don't care anymore! I just want you out of the way!" The Chaos Emerald was already pulsating energy, coursing its destructive power through Carol's veins. Carol's eyes glowed a ghastly green as she stared down the metallic panda, anger boiling up inside her. "I don't give a damn who you serve anymore! No one hurts my FRIENDS!" With that, Carol shot forward at an incredible speed, slamming into Neera and pinning her against the wall, constantly beating into Neera with her own fists.
"This is for Milla!" She yelled, slamming her right fist into the side of Neera's head. "This is for Lilac!" She yelled, slamming her other fist into the other side of Neera's head. "AND THIS ONE'S FOR TAILS!" She cried, bringing both her fists together and slamming them into Neera's head. Neera shrieked in pain before slumping to the floor, unconscious. Carol stood up, panting heavily before rushing over to where Tails and Milla were. Tails had already thawed out at this point, and Milla was just starting to regain consciousness.
"Hey, Ruff stuff. You alright?" Milla said, helping the bloodied hound up. Milla weakly nodded, getting to her feet.
"I-I should be fine.." Milla spoke, getting to her feet. "J-just a bit shaken up, nothing serious..."
"Okay," Carol said, grabbing the deroboticizer gun and the scanner off of the unconscious Tails. "Take this and get Neera out of that metal shell before she gets back up. I'll get back to hacking into that computer and shutting down the generator."
Milla nodded, looking uneasily at the large gun in her hands. Carol walked over and started to check the generator, trying to shut it down, while Milla, shaking, took the deroboticizer and walked over to the unconscious Neera. Hesitantly, she pointed the gun at Neera, and pulled the trigger, releasing a beam and hitting Neera with it. The white light blinded the young basset as the beam covered the robotic panda, slowly turning the robotic panda back into the normal self she was before. Milla held her breath until the process had finished, the torn panda priestess lying on the floor, back to normal. The panda groaned in pain as she got up, looking around the area. "N-Neera?" Milla choked out, nervous about if the device had worked or not."Are... are you okay?"
"I...I think so..." Neera said, slowly getting to her feet. "I-I'm a bit shaken up... gods, that felt like a nightmare... I couldn't control myself, it was like I was forced to watch myself as I could do nothing..."
"Well, look at it this way," Carol said from the console. "At least you're not serving that fat mustachioed monkey anymore. And we're getting back the Chaos Emeralds from here to boot."
"I...I suppose that is for...for the better..." Neera breathed, leaning on her sceptre for support. "At...least we get the satisfaction...of knowing that he'll fail.."
"M-Miss Neera, please be careful..." Milla said uneasily. "You need to rest..."
"I-I'll be fine.." Neera spoke, hobbling forward with her sceptre as support. "We just need to get out of here..."
"Alright... aaaaand..." Carol muttered to herself, finishing up with a few more keystrokes. "There we go!" With that, the generator stopped and shut down, the lights dying and everything shutting down, the only light coming from the Chaos Emerald itself. "Heh, good thing Tails' scanner makes hacking easy. Otherwise I might have been stuck here for a while."
"So... that's it?" Milla said. "A-are we done here?"
"Easy there, Ruff Stuff." Carol said, walking over to Tails and lifting the kitsune over her shoulder. "We've still got a Chaos Emerald to get here. THEN we can get outta here."
"The emerald..." Neera spoke. "From what I remember, the generator is linked to the vault's security system here. I know where the vault is."
"Wait..." Carol said, suspicious of the panda. "How would you know where the vault is?"
"I can remember from my time while I was roboticized." Neera spoke. "I can lead you to it..."
"Then lead the way." Carol said. Neera guided the three away from the generator room...
"So, this is the vault?" Carol said, looking up at the gigantic steel door. "Gotta admit, it looks pretty secure. You have any idea how we're gettin' into this?"
"It should be easy enough to get through." Neera spoke, limping over to the door, punching in dome sort of code into the keypad. Pressure released from the door as the metal slab opened up from the wall, showing the massive amount of treasure inside, and a large cage attached to the ceiling. Neera saw the figure inside the cage, and the familiarness of him was to blatant to ignore.
"D-Dail!" Neera cried. "A-are you alright?!"
"Well, aside from the fact I am currently stuck in a cage to the ceiling inside my own vault, perfectly fine!" Dail said. "A little help getting down from here?"
"Hold on Kingsy! I gotcha!" Carol said, setting Tails down before leaping up the wall before lunging at the cage, knocking it off of its hanging fixture and was brought crashing to the ground. "Sorry about the rough landing. Kinda pressed for time right now."
"Understandable," Dail said, dusting himself off. "Now then, I believe a reclaiming of our kingdom is in order."
Neera nodded. "Please, your Majesty allow me to help you in this."
"Well, considering it's you, Neera," Dail spoke. "You don't need to ask for permission."
"Well, then we're about wrapped up here." Carol said. "We just need that other Chaos Emerald that's here and we'll get out."
"Ah, yes, the gem that that maniacal madman locked in here with me." Dail said, walking to the back of the vault. "He locked up the gem in here with me when I was moved. He planned accordingly and had me up in that cell so I was unable to get it."
"Well, he didn't count on us breaking in and trashing the joint!" Carol said, cracking her knuckles. "We had a lot of fun with this one."
"Well, either way," Neera said, taking the lavender gemstone from Dail and handing it to the wildcat. "We will take care of things from here. You should head home and get rested."
Milla nodded. "We will Miss Neera!" She piped. "C'mon Carol! We need to get back to Lilac!"
"Right." Carol said, taking the emerald from Neera. "And let's get Tails back home to heal up..."
Milla nodded. The two turned, an unconscious kitsune and two Chaos Emeralds in their possession...
"Hey, Lilac, you okay?" Sonic asked, walking out of the treehouse. Lilac looked over her shoulder from where she was sitting on the small deck of the treehouse.
"Yeah..." She said. "It's just... I'm worried about Carol and Milla. It's been almost five hours and they still haven't returned yet..." The draconian sighed, looking down at the ground below. "I know it's a large distance from here to Shuigang, but the fact they haven't returned sooner is eating away at me."
"Well hey, they're probably exhausted after that long heist they just pulled off!" Sonic said, looking out over the valley, noting the lack of lights in the east. "The lights are already down over off in the direction of Shuigang. They're probably on their way here right now."
"I hope..." Lilac said, looking out towards the roboticized Shang Tu. "After this, we've got Shang Tu to take care of... and, I'll be honest, I'm a little worried about the entire thing right now. We've got an entire world sitting on our shoulders right now, and it's all dependent on whether or not we can get the Chaos Emeralds back or not, and if they get back before Eggman's goons find them."
"Hey, I'm confident they can!" Sonic said. "In fact, isn't that them right now?" Lilac looked out in the direction Sonic had pointed, and saw Carol, carrying Tails over her shoulders, and Milla, clutching to the two Chaos Emeralds, walking back to the treehouse.
"Yeah, that's them.." Lilac said, a small smile starting to grow on her face. "And it looks like they got the Chaos Emeralds too."
"Well, that's good." Sonic said, getting up and waving to the two. "Hey guys! How'd it go?"
Carol flashed a thumbs-up. "Everything went well! We didn't have everything go to plan, but we still got the emeralds just as fine! AND Shuigang's been shut down, so Shang Tu's ain't gettin' any more power!"
"Well, that's a relief." Lilac sighed, noticing the unconscious Tails on the wildcat's shoulders. "Wh-what happened to Tails?"
"Like I said, everythin' didn't go to plan." Carol said. "We kinda had a run in with Neera and, well, things didn't get pretty. Either way, I finished her off, Milla deroboticized her, we shut the generator down, and got the Chaos Emeralds."
"Here they are Mr. Sonic!" Milla said, handing Sonic the green and lavender gemstones.
"Heh, thanks kid," Sonic said, rubbing the basset hound's head. Milla giggled before rushing into the treehouse, leaving Sonic and Lilac with Carol and an unconscious Tails. "So, how's bad is he banged up?"
"Just a bit frosty.." Carol said, bringing the kitsune in and setting him down on the couch. "He got hit pretty hard by Neera's ice energy, but other than that, he was in an ice block the entire time while I fought with Neera, so he's not damaged.. I'll make him some healing tea. Can I get you guys anything while I'm at it?"
"Nah, I'm good." Sonic said. "Lilac, let's... give these two some space, shall we?" Lilac nodded before the two left outside, leaving the two together...
An aromatic scent wafted under the kitsune's nose as it twitched slightly, bringing the two-tailed fox back to reality. Slowly his vision cleared to see he was lying on the couch inside Lilac's treehouse, a cup of tea sitting on the table near him. Tails sat up, his body aching as he tried to stretch, and reached for the cup on the table and took a sip.
"So, how do you like it?" A voice spoke. Tails looked over to his side to see Carol sitting on the couch next to him, a concerned look on her face.
The kitsune nodded. "Yeah...thanks." He said, taking another sip. "So... we won?"
Carol nodded, a small smile on her face. "Neera was stopped, the generator was shut down, and we got the emeralds back. We've only got Shang Tu left."
"Good." Tails said, taking another sip of the tea, feeling better. "Shang Tu's now gonna be heavily defensive since we pulled that jailbreak stunt, and those two emeralds we have left are gonna be extremely difficult to get. Not to mention Gong's gonna be enraged once he sees us come back for the emeralds, and chances are, thanks to Eggman, he won't hesitate to kill us." Carol swallowed hard at that statement. "All of us are going to need to focus for this upcoming raid. Otherwise, we're not making it to Eggman's base."
"Yeah..." Carol breathed, her tail brushing up against Tails arm.
"Huh?" Tails said, noticing Carol's tail. "You okay?"
"Y-yeah.." Carol said, Tails noticing a distinctive tear in her eye.
"You're not telling me something..." Tails said, setting his tea down on the table. "What's wrong?"
"I-it's nothing.." Carol said, turning her head away from the kitsune, wiping away the tear from her eye. "I'm fine."
"YES!" Carol yelled, agitated. Tails seemed to back off a bit before Carol pinched her forehead, sighing loudly. Tails put an arm on her shoulder to try and comfort her, and the wildcat turned to look at him.
"Listen Carol," Tails said. "We're still alive. And we're going to get through this, all of us. I can promise as best I can."
"I understand that... but..." Carol spoke, looking down at the floor, murmuring to herself. "Just... just nothing..."
"Hey, cheer up now." Tails said. "We're getting Eggman on the run now, and I can guarantee that he'll be running like mad once we go after the Death Egg!"
A small smile started to grow on Carol's face. "You think so?"
Tails nodded. "I do. Now, let's get that wildcat spunk back in action!"
Carol giggled before that cocky grin she wore was on her face again. "Ya got that right Tailsy!"
"That's the wildcat I know!" Tails said. "Now then, I'm gonna need a little bit of help getting the plan constructed. You wanna help?"
"Oh hell yeah I wanna help!" Carol said, hopping up from the couch. Let's get this plan in progress!"
With the success of the attack on Shuigang hitting all targets, Tails and Carol now plans for the group's most dangerous raid yet. Let's not forget about the jailbreak stunt they pulled that would have raised security, and Eggman no doubt would want to see the group dead so he can reclaim the gems once again. With tensions running high and still a roboticized Gong to deal with, join our heroes for the next chapter when they begin, "A Shang Tu Finale"...
Chapter 6: The Raid on Shang Mu
"What's our expected arrival time Lilac?" Sonic asked as the trio dashed across the snow-covered hills towards the spotlight-riddled entertainment city, fully under Eggman's control.
"We've got at least a few minutes before we get there," Lilac said, running through one of the loops embedded into the rock faces of the valley. "If there's one thing I know for sure, we're not getting in through the main gates. Eggman's bots are probably already guarding the main entrances."
"Well, it's a good thing you have me along then!" Spade said. "The hideout has a back entrance away from the city. We can get in through there, then go after the emerald."
"The question is, is SHE gonna be there?" Lilac asked. "I'm pretty sure there would've been an uproar and a massive fight breaking out in the city if she was there."
"Lilac, I have no idea." Spade answered bluntly. "You know how she can be. We don't even know if she is there or not!"
"Okay, I know I'm not from this planet and all," Sonic said. "But I'm kinda out of the loop. Who the heck are you guys talking about?"
Lilac looked over to Sonic. "We're talking about our leader. Well... Spade's leader to be specific." She answered, running through a half helix rock formation. "She's the Head Scarf and she's not to be taken lightly."
"You've got that right." Spade said. "No one knows her true identity, due to that giant helmet she wears. Doesn't really matter, she can still flatten anyone's ass if they don't comply to her rules. That's how she works."
"Spade, you make it sound like she's completely heartless." Lilac said, rolling her eyes. "She does have a soft spot."
"Yeah, for you anyway." Spade remarked. "Either way, we're getting close to the back entrance. Just keep your cool, and make sure you don't piss her off if she's there."
Sonic nodded. Soon the trio reached a large rock pile a few yards away from the walls of the roboticized Shang Mu. Spade pushed aside the gigantic rock in the pile, revealing a hole with a ladder heading down into the ground. Sonic jumped down the hole first, followed by Spade and then Lilac.
"Well, this place is seriously dark as heck!" Sonic said, the only light coming from the hole above. "Explain as to how we're getting into the city this way?"
"Well," Spade said, hitting a large switch on the cave wall, before an entire series of lights lit up in the tunnel. "Just follow my lead."
Red Scarves Hideout, Neo Eggmanland...
With a couple of slams, soon the door burst open and the trio walked through into the hideout. Several members of the scarves jumped at the noise, but then immediately stood at attention once they saw Spade with the other two.
"M-Master Spade!" One of the ninjas spoke. "It is an honor to have your return!"
"Adease, comrades." Spade said, setting the other ninjas at rest. "Give me a status update. Is the Head Scarf in?"
One of the Scarves shook his head. "Head Scarf is out. Said she had some business to take care off outside the kingdoms." Spade pinched his forehead in frustration, sighing.
"Jeez, it's like I've gotta do all the damn work around here." He growled. "Get this place into lockdown. No other Scarves leave except for me and the other two, and no robots get into here." Spade said, walking past most of the Scarves to the other side of the hideout. "We have a code Red here people! Get your asses in gear!" The Scarves immediately rushed and got to work on sealing up the back passage where the trio came from. Sonic looked over to Lilac and the draconian just shrugged.
"Let's go you two!" Spade yelled, causing Lilac to jump. Sonic nodded and the two walked after Spade, meeting him at the manhole exit into the city. "Alright, get your disguises ready. Once we go up there, we're sealed out of the hideout until we free this damn place."
Lilac nodded, donning the black cloak she was given. "We've got a lot of work to do while we're in here. Let's make sure we get this done right." She pulled the hood of the cloak up, hiding her face aside from her glowing lavender eyes.
Sonic nodded, getting his cloak on. "We're gonna need luck on our side..."
Neo Eggmanland: Former Shang Mu...
The manhole entrance creaked open as the trio of cloaked figures climbed out of the hideout before the manhole closed, sealing up behind them. The large metal walls extended above them, neon lighting flashing on and off and black smoke above the entire kingdom. Spade turned his attention to Sonic. "Alright hedgehog, where's our point of entry into the emerald's location?"
Sonic tapped the scanner on the side of his head, bringing up a map hud. "Entrance into the deep part of the city... appears to be a bit of a walk from here. It's located in one of the massive buildings, looks like a large shopping mall."
"I think I know which one it is." Lilac spoke. "I know the route there, so I can get us there quickly without much trouble."
"Well, whatever the plan, we need to move fast," Spade said, looking at the smoke covering the sky. "Any slower, this mad doc of yours is gonna complete that scrap heap before we even get a chance to scrap it."
Sonic and Lilac nodded. "Then let's get moving."
The smoke hung heavy above the city while the neon lights flickered as the trio moved among the masses of people within the roboticized city. Surprisingly enough, even with the large amounts of neon lighting and thick black smoke hanging over the city, the roboticized Shamg Mu somehow managed to make itself look better than normal Shang Mu, despite the fact Eggman had control of it. Large japanese lanterns rose into the sky as many people shuffled to other businesses and some of the new large rides adourning the building, branded with Eggman's logo, as well as several crates scattered with the same logo.
"Well... this is unexpected..." Lilac breathed, looking around. "Why... why does this place look not so threatening roboticized?"
Sonic shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe Eggman's trying to broaden his views and convince people he's the good guy." He said, crossing his arms. "Doesn't matter, he's still on our hit list."
Spade nodded. "How close are we?"
Sonic checked the scanner again. "Hundred yards, and closing." He said. "It's just up ahead. Keep your cool."
Lilac nodded, but the trio soon stopped when the voice of an Egg Pawn spoke from behind the three.
"You three! Halt!" The robot spoke, approaching the three. "You three haven't been seen around here before. Please provide proper identification."
"Uhh..." Lilac stuttered. "You know, I think I forgot to grab our IDs before we left home!" She hastily said, pushing Sonic and Spade with her away from the Egg Pawn. "Excuse us for a minute..." The Egg Pawn looked suspiciously as Lilac pushed the other two away from the bot into a back alley. "Well, that complicates things. Looks like Eggman thought of this."
"Is there any other way around?" Spade asked. Sonic checked the map on his scanner again.
"Looks like there's a back entrance..." Sonic answered. "We can sneak around the back and get into the mall from there. That might be our only way to get inside at this point."
"Hello? Ma'am?" The Egg Pawn's voice echoed from around the corner. "IDs?"
"Uhh..." Lilac said. "We'll be out in a bit!" She called, before turning back to the group. "Let's get to that back entrance before the bots find out what's going on..." Sonic and Spade nodded, then the trio took off towards the back entrance. The Egg Pawn soon rounded the corner to see the trio disappearing around another corner, before raising one of its metal hands to its comm unit.
"This is Egg Pawn 2301," The robot spoke. "We've got a couple of unidentified people running around Neo Eggmanland. Requesting backup search parties to locate the intruders..."
Neo Eggmanland Mall, Back Entrance...
"Man, I can't believe our luck that we were able to get here so easily!" Spade chuckled to himself as he waited on Sonic. "How's the hacking, hedgehog?"
"Should be almost done..." Sonic said, hitting a few buttons on his scanner. "It's a bit deep though. Lilac, could ya give me a hand at this?" Lilac nodded, then activated her scanner and helped Sonic with hacking into the back door security. "Alright, we're in!"
"Then let's get moving..." Spade said, opening the door. The trio walked inside and soon entered into the large shopping mall, adourned with neon lights and large disco balls. Food courts and large stores adourned the area, with several tables and umbrellas, along with large party balls on propellors floating around the place.
"Well, let's start searching for that Chaos Emerald." Spade said. "Lilac, what's the scouter say about the location of the gemstone?"
"Well," Lilac said, checking her scouter for energy readings. "The emerald appears to be somewhere below here... It looks like we can get through a maintenance shaft and get to the emerald hold through there. But..." She muttered looking at the entrance to the mall, seeing several Egg Pawns entering into the store, along with Metal Sonic. "Looks like we've got company."
"Let's split up." Sonic said. "They can't find us if we're not together." The other two nodded, and split up between the several floors of the giant complex Spade sticking to the bottom floor, Lilac heading for the first floor, and Sonic zipping up all the way to the second floor. Metal took notice, just like the trio wanted.
"Split up between floors." Metal said sternly to the accompanying Egg Pawns. "Find those infiltrators and have them promptly arrested. We can't have anyone suspicious running around the city when Eggman is close to his victory." The Egg Pawns nodded, then began their split off to search for the group. Several onlookers looked over out of curiosity at Metal, who he quickly addressed. "Nothing to see here citizens," He spoke calmly. "Move along now." The citizens went back to their businesses and Metal headed to the second floor, unaware that a pair of eyes were watching the trio...
Spade walked silently around the ground floor. For the most part, things for undercover were going well, aside from the occasional Egg Pawn approaching, however, things soon went south when a large group of them approached the panda.
"Identification, sir." The one at the front spoke, holding out its metallic hand. Spade merely smirked to himself and handed the robot a card: and Ace of Spades. The robot looked over the card, then looked back at the figure. "Sir, is this some kind of joke?"
"No sir, just providing the proper identification." Spade said, watching the robots continue to study the card. The lead robot turned his attention to the hooded panda.
"Sir, I am not programmed to tolerate asinine behavior." The robot spoke again. "Now please, provide proper identification or we will be forced to make an arrest!"
Spade chuckled to himself. "I honestly have no idea what you mean." He said, turning and beginning to walk away, but he halted at the feeling of a blaster to the back of his head.
"I gave you a warning, insubordinate!" The Egg Pawn spoke, keeping the barrel of the blaster firmly set against the back of his head. "Now, you're coming with us, and you have some explaining to do to the boss!"
"Heh, never thought they could program a world-class sense of humor into these things..." Spade chuckled to himself, pulling out a razor blade card. "But if we're going to see your 'boss'..." He said, flinging it into the Egg Pawn's head, causing it to short circuit and deactivate, falling over. "We're doing it my way..." The robots then charged at the panda, ready to arrest the insubordinate...
Meanwhile, Lilac was walking between the aisles of the first floor clothing department, keeping her distance from the Egg Pawns that had just entered into the area, some carrying blasters, others carrying lances. Lilac held her breath, keeping herself calm until a lance thrust through the aisle shelves, mere inches from the side of her face. Lilac ran off as the lance was wrenched free and the Egg Pawn took after her, attracting attention of everyone in the store at the ongoing chase. Lilac kept her distance from the robot until it threw its lance, catching the draconian's cloak and snagging it to the wall. Lilac struggled to get her cloak free from the lance lodged into the wall as the Egg Pawn approached her.
"Well, a little bit of a rebellious girl we have here!" The Egg Pawn spoke, grabbing the draconian's shoulder. "Well, won't the boss be so happy once we get you and your little rebellious friends some IDs!"
"Uh, okay..." Lilac muttered. "C-can you let me go?"
"Sorry kid," The Pawn said, grabbing the draconian's wrists. "You ain't goin' anywhere until we get you a proper ID. Now come along now.."
"W-wait, is this legal for you to do?" The draconian stuttered, getting dragged along by the Pawn. "D-doesn't this need consent or something?!"
"Kid, you'll be fine!" The Egg Pawn spoke, continuing to walk while dragging Lilac along. "Just cooperate!"
"This doesn't seem as friendly as your making it out!" Lilac squealed, struggling to break the grip of the Egg Pawn. "Let me go!" At that moment, a large icicle spike had pierced through the robot, causing it to release the grip on Lilac, the tip of the icicle mere inches from her forehead. Lilac screamed as the icicle soon sliced straight up, splitting the Pawn in half and causing the halves to fall to the sides, where Lilac got a good view of the attacker: A snowcat, fur as white and pure as untouched snow, aside from her moderate chest and stomach, the tip of her tail, the tips of her bangs on the sides of her head, and the fur at the top of her ears, which was a dirty coal black. She had a large bang of fur like in front of her face like Lilac's hair, wore black bracelets, a black collar with a yellow gem, light green boots and a black cloth across her chest and arms. Her piercing black eyes stared at Lilac, who was terrified at the situation.
"Hey, you okay?" The snowcat asked, evaporating the large icicle spike. Lilac nodded quickly. "Good, I was beginning to think I was too late."
"W-wait, why are you helping?" Lilac asked, getting to her feet. "Doesn't this mean the robots are gonna be after you two?"
"Personally, I couldn't care less." The snowcat spoke, turning away from the draconian. "I don't believe that anyone, especially a hero of Avalice, should be treated like some petty commoner like this new ruler has been organizing everything. And, well, I'm not taking that sitting down."
"So... does this mean you're on our side?" Lilac asked. The snowcat nodded.
"Now we need to hurry, your other friend is in danger!" She spoke, grabbing the draconian's wrist and running up the escalator to the second floor...
On the second floor of the department store, Sonic kept his cool and kept walking among the store aisles, while Egg Pawns kept storming around the floor, trying to find the hedgehog. Sonic chuckled to himself as Egg Pawns flailed around the floor failing at trying to find him. He figured he may as well leave the floor and go find the emerald down below the mall, until a certain bot caught his eye. None other than his robotic copy was on the floor, hovering above the aisles to locate him; Sonic merely smirked at this.
"Heh, well, Eggman sent Metal here to lock down the emerald, huh?" Sonic chuckled to himself. "We'll see about that."
"Alright intruder!" Metal's voice rang throughout the area. "The entire floor is completely surrounded! Now surrender yourself quietly and there won't be any hassle! Otherwise there will be an intervention!" Sonic smirked at the metal doppleganger's comment.
"How's about handing over the Chaos Emerald first!" Sonic yelled, quickly charging and slamming his foot into the side of Metal Sonic's head. Metal's head did about three full revolutions before he clamped his head, stopping the spinning and reorienting himself. His red eyes glowed in anger as he began to look around the area, searching for the attacker.
"I know you're up here!" Metal yelled. "Now show yourself!"
"Now where's the fun in that?" Sonic called from his hiding spot. "What, don't wanna have a good time?"
"I do not have time to deal with insubordinates like you!" Metal growled, the bystanders standing back from the scene. "Now show yourself!"
"Heh, whatever you say then!" Sonic said, leaping out from behind a shelf and landing in the opening in front of Metal. "Well, long time no see, wouldn't you say?"
"Well, finally nice of you to show yourself then!" Metal spoke, not taking his eyes off the cloaked figure. "Now, surrender yourself peacefully or I WILL use deadly force!"
"Heh, typical, all business, no fun!" Sonic said, grabbing for his cloak and ripping it off. "Well, if you wanna play like that, then let's rumble!"
Metal's arms morphed into minigun barrels, aimed straight at the hedgehog. "Well, considering this is you, faker," He spoke. "I will be more than happy to dispose of YOUR bullet-riddled corpse!"
"Heh, you wish!" Sonic said, activating the scanner. "Bring it, can opener!"
Metal's guns whirred and fired off large amounts of rounds as Sonic dashed out of the way, civilians fleeing the scene to allow the chaotic battle to ensue. Sonic quickly dashed up the wall and soon slammed into Metal Sonic, careening him sideways into a store shelf. Sonic landed back onto the ground and quickly scanned the robot. He didn't get much time, as Metal soon got back up and charged at him, knocking him sideways and causing the blue blur to rebound off the floor before Metal grabbed his leg and flipped him around and smashed him into the tile floor. Sonic's head wracked in pain as he tried to get up, and luckily dodged out of the way in time before Metal's fist came down where his head had been. Sonic dashed away from Metal again and soon ducked behind another aisle wall, avoiding an electrical blast from the metal copy.
"What's the matter, copy?" Metal's voice grinded, taunting Sonic. "Too much for you to handle?"
"Nah, just assessing my situation!" Sonic said, dashing to another aisle back. "What's the matter? Just wanting to drag this out?!" The hedgehog taunted. "Dammit! I need to get to his central turbine, otherwise he's just gonna be ridiculous to try and fight! Gotta think here..."
"Come out, you blue rodent!" Metal yelled. "I guarantee that by the end of the night, you'll be nothing more than swiss cheese!" Metal's minigun arms whirled up again and fired, shooting up the entirity of the aisles as Sonic darted around the area, trying to keep cover as best as he could, though the few bullets kept grazing him before he made a run at Metal, slamming himself into the robot and causing a tumble, Sonic slamming his fists into the side of Metal's head before Metal threw him off and into another area and immediately modified his arms and fired several missiles, causing massive explosions and blowing out a large chunk of the wall. Metal stared at the carnage of the area before him, until Sonic delivered a roundhouse kick straight into the robot's abdomen, causing Metal to flinch and collapse. Sonic collapsed to his knees, breathing heavily with a smirk on his face.
"Heh, what's the matter? Not so tough when you're hit there, huh?" He chuckled to himself, before a metal hand grip his throat, hoisting him into the air, Metal's cold, emotionless face staring down the hedgehog. Sonic squirmed as he struggled to break free, Metal's grip tightening around his throat.
"Well then, I've had some fun," Metal's cold voice said, his other arm, now morphing to wield a buzzsaw. "But I think it's time to end this. Sayonara, Sonic the Hedgehog!" Metal then inched the buzzsaw closer to Sonic's face, ready to cut him apart before a blast slammed into Metal, slamming him away and bashing him against the wall. It was Lilac! She had arrived just in time to save Sonic, and now was beating the ever-living daylights out of the robotic hedgehog. Lilac's anger against Metal Sonic was clearly evident, as soon she constantly used her Dragon Boost and drove Metal further into the wall.
"Don't. Ever. Hurt. My. FRIEND!" Lilac growled, smashing Metal into the wall as fast and as hard as she could until Metal was no longer moving. Lilac breathed heavily, exhausted from all the energy she had just expended. Lilac then ran over to check on Sonic, who was already being seen by the snowcat accompanying her.
"Is he gonna be okay?" Lilac asked, checking on Sonic. The cat nodded.
"He'll be fine." The snowcat spoke, helping the hedgehog up. "He just needs some rest."
"Man.." Sonic said. "I haven't had a rumble like that in AGES! That was awesome!"
"Sonic..." Lilac chuckled. "What exactly were you doing? Did he catch you?"
"Eh, more like he wanted a good rumble and I tried to deliver." Sonic said. "Anyways, who are you? A friend of Lilac's?"
"No, we never met." Lilac spoke. "Speaking of which, we've never met before. You are?"
"Ah, my apologies," The snowcat spoke. "Neige Taicho. Just call me Neige."
"Well, nice to meet 'cha Neige!" Sonic said, extending his hand. "Name's Sonic!"
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet the both of you." Neige spoke. Soon a soft chuckling was heard and Metal Sonic melted into a pile of liquid and slid along the floor past the trio, reforming on the other side, staring the trio down.
"Aw, what's the matter Metal?" Sonic said. "You want a round two?"
Metal Sonic merely chuckled. "And so the little loathsome copy has to rely on his friends... such a pity, really. I didn't want to have to get brutally messy..." At that moment, Metal's arms morphed into large laser cannons, pointed straight at the three. "But, it seems I have no choice!"
Neige had frost build up in her hands as she stared on at the robot. "I may not know who you are, but you are not going to get away with serving that tyrant!" She growled. Lilac got into a defensive position as Sonic got to his feet.
"Well then, time for round two!" Sonic yelled.
A couple of quick card tosses, and soon all the Egg Pawns Spade was dealing with were reduced to scrap. Spade chuckled to himself as he picked up the cards from the piles of Egg Pawn scraps.
"Well, that wasn't so hard." Spade amusedly said, restacking his cards. "And here I thought this would be a decent challenge! Now, to find that emerald..." His thoughts were soon interrupted as something large crashed through the ceiling, creating a large hole in the floor and showing the way to an under level. Spade chuckled to himself.
"Well, that creates less work for me." Spade said to himself as he jumped down the hole in the floor, just to witness the fight between the others and Metal Sonic. "Looks like they might need a bit of my help."
"Just die already!" Metal yelled as he fired the twin laser guns at Lilac. Lilac swiftly dodged out of the way and rebounded off a wall, slamming into Metal with another full brunt of a Dragon Boost. Metal was flung into the wall but quickly rebounded, grabbing Lilac and slamming her into the ground before pressing the barrel of the minigun up to her face, ready to blow it off. But his reflexes were to slow and soon Neige slammed into him and knocked him off of Lilac. Metal got back up and his hands morphed back into laser cannons, pointed straight at the snowcat and fired. Neige anticipated this move and raised an icicle spike shield, blocking the lasers before the attack stopped, and with a stomp and a hand movement, she shattered the icicle shield into several deadly shards and fired all the shrapnel at the robot. Metal blocked a large amount of the shards before rushing at the snowcat, his metallic hands bearing his claws to slice at her. Neige grabbed the robot's hands, keeping the murderous Metal from her neck, before freezing the attacker's arms. A small smirk appeared on her face as she froze Metal entirely in place, turning the robot entirely into an ice statue. She then released her grip when Metal was no longer moving, then delivered a firm roundhouse kick to the robot, knocking it sideways and having it hit the floor.
"Well then, that takes of that issue." Neige said, rubbing her arm where she was grabbed. "Now then are the rest of you okay?"
"I'm fine!" Sonic said, getting up. "Little bit bummed I didn't get another shot at Metal, but, eh, considering I did most of the ass-kicking back on round one, I think I earned a little reprieve."
"Heh, you certainly look worse for wear, that's for sure." Spade commented.
"Says the guy who didn't even show up for the boss fight!" Sonic shot back. "Seriously, where were you?"
"Busy dealing with a legion of that fat man's tin cans." Spade remarked. "Now then, where's the emerald?"
Lilac checked her scanner. "We're close. It's just a floor down, and the maintenance shaft isn't that far from here."
Their thoughts were soon interrupted as soon Metal broke free of the ice, hovering back up in front of the four. Neige got her ice ready for another defense, but Metal soon put this attempt aside.
"You may have won this round, you flea-ridden fleshbags," Metal growled, rising into the air. "But you've only gotten a taste of what has to come! Enjoy your victory while it lasts!" With that, Metal Sonic took off, away from the scene..
"Well then, let's get moving." Sonic said, then the four took off down the maintenance shaft...
After a minute or two, the four ended down at the bottom floor below the mall, where a large vault door stood before them, with a large dial and a keypad on the wall right next to it. Spade smirked to himself as he strode up to the vault.
"Well, if Zao didn't even bother to change the coding combination for this safe since the last raid, this should be a piece of cake to crack." Spade chuckled, testing the keypad and inserting a code into the keypad. The keypad lit up green and the safe dial turned automatically, the safe door creaking open as Spade smirked to himself. "What'd I tell ya? Old habits die hard."
"Can we just get the emerald already?" Lilac asked. "We're on a time limit right now."
"Uh... a little help?" A voice said from inside the safe. The four turned to see none other than Mayor Zao, in a cage, hanging from the ceiling of the safe.
"Mayor Zao!" Lilac cried, launching a Dragon Boost and severing the chain, allowing the cage to land on the large amount of treasure below. "Are you alright?!"
"The only thing hurt on me right now is my pride!" Zao spoke angrily. "I am seething right now that that overgrown tyrant thinks he can just walk in and take over like there's no consequence for him! Like he thinks he's above everyone else!"
Sonic nodded. "Well, at least me and this guy see eye to eye about Eggman's ego." He said, crossing his arms. "So, he gonna get this place back into working order?"
"Oh, you bet I am!" Zao spoke. "I guarantee that by the end of this day, Shang Mu will rise back to it's former glory from the depths of this mechanical wasteland! We will FIGHT against this menace!"
"Uh... okay then.." Sonic thought to himself. "So then, we're just about done here. Where's the emerald?"
"Ah, yes! That gemstone!" Zao said, running to the back of the safe and grabbing a white gemstone out of the large treasure pile. "I believe that this would be what you're looking for!"
"Thank you, Mayor Zao!" Lilac said, taking the gem.
"Eh, consider it nothing!" Zao spoke. "Now then, to rebuild..."
"Alright guys, we've got the emerald back." Lilac said. "Time to return home and meet back up with the others!"
"Alright, race ya guys back!" Sonic said, taking off. Spade merely smirked before taking off in following the hedgehog, followed by Neige and Lilac...
"Heh, now THAT'S what I call a successful raid!" Spade said as the four returned to the treehouse. "Nothin' like a little anarchy to kickstart a revolution against that fat bastard!"
"You've got that right!" Lilac said, running through a loop in a rock face. "Pretty soon Eggman's gonna be choking on his own rule once we bring the fight straight to him!"
"Egghead better give up now while we're ahead!" Sonic said, running alongside Lilac. "I personally think we've earned a bit of a reprieve while we wait for the others."
"Same." Lilac said, the four now approaching the treehouse. "Hey, you okay Neige? You've been quiet the entire way back."
"Huh? Yeah, I'm fine." Neige spoke. "Just haven't had anything to say on the way back."
"Well, go ahead and make yourself comfy." Lilac said, the snowcat climbing the ladder up to the treehouse. Lilac the climbed up the ladder and then parkoured off of several branches before reaching the roof of the treehouse and lying down on it, looking up at the sky. She sighed, looking at the large planet of Mobius nearby and the large, nearly-complete Death Egg Mk. III. She sighed again, thinking back to what was happening the past few days. Finding the Chaos Emeralds, meeting Sonic and his friends, getting shot out of the sky, reliving being caught and left to rot in Shang Tu's prison, escaping along Jade Creek, raiding Shang Mu... things seemed to be mirroring the events of what happened last year. A chill ran up her spine as she thought of this. If something like that happened again...
"Hey, you okay?" A voice said, causing Lilac to jump a bit. The draconian looked over to see Sonic, lying down on the roof next to her.
Lilac nodded, leaning back again. "Yeah...just thinking a bit." She said. "Just about all this stuff that's been going on recently. I feel like everything's going by so fast, I almost have next to no time to react. Is it always like this for you and your group?"
"Heh, I guess you can say that." Sonic chuckled to himself. "What, usually not that big on adventure?"
"Well, not really..." Lilac said, letting out a heavy sigh. "The only big adventure my friends and I had were last year, which I already told you about, where we fought against Brevon to get back the Kingdom Stone. Things kinda went off the wall back then..."
"Heh, I could tell..." Sonic said, looking up at the sky. "You seem really defensive of Milla especially."
"Well, why wouldn't I be?" Lilac said, sighing. "Milla's only eleven. She's still got an entire life ahead of her, and I don't want to see her go away at a young age..."
"Carol... tried talking about something that happened last year when we were doing the planning before you interrupted." Sonic said, and Lilac almost felt her heart stop from that statement. "Does that... have anything to do with Milla?" Lilac remained silent at Sonic's question before he asked again. "Hey, you okay?"
Lilac nodded. "I...I really don't want to talk about it..." She said, turning away from Sonic a bit.
"Am I striking a nerve again?" Sonic asked. Lilac shook her head.
"No... it's just.. it's something I don't want to bring up... what happened .. last year..." Sonic noticed the tears starting to stream down her face as she sat up, trying to hold back her sobs a bit.
"...man, what do I do here..." Sonic thought. "I'm not one when it usually comes to romance, but... she seems down right now. Maybe I could..." Sonic shook his head. "No, I already told myself I'm not gonna be committed to a relationship. I'm not gonna get bogged down with all that lovey-dovey crud. But..." He looked back over to Lilac, now sobbing into her hands. Sonic shook his head. "I mean, she's cute. She's definitely more attractive than some of the Mobian girls... and she's got the spunk to show and the speed to keep up... Alright..." Sonic set one of his hands on the dragon's shoulder, stopping her sobbing and causing her to look over to him.
"Look, Lilac..." Sonic said. "I can guarantee you, everything is gonna be fine. We're gonna stop Eggman, and I'll be DAMNED if we don't get your world back to normal by the end of this!"
"Sonic..." Lilac breathed, the tears starting to subside as she looked at him.
"Lilac... I promise..." Sonic spoke. What happened next had caught the hedgehog off guard.
Lilac planted her lips onto his, locking him into a kiss. Sonic was caught off guard when the dragon had made the first contact, but he remained quiet while he took in the feel of Lilac's lips before she broke the kiss.
"Sonic..." Lilac breathed. "I... I appreciate the help.. all of it... after what happened last year, I think I need it..." The dragon curled up and started shuddering again.
"It's the least I can do.." Sonic said, setting a hand onto the dragon's back before she leaned on him, the two now looking out at the now setting sun. "Wonder how Tails and the others are doing..."
And so, Sonic's group has been met with success! Metal Sonic has fled out and Mayor Zao has reclaimed order over Shang Mu. But with time of the essence, the heroes can only hope that Tails and his group are able to take down Neo Metropolis and rescue Neera-Li before the Death Egg Mk. III is fully complete for taking over both planets with no resistance. Will Tails and Carol succeed with their plan, or will Metal Neera bring their mission to a freezing halt, causing Eggman to win? Find out in the next chapter, "Stealth Mission in Shuigang"...
Chapter 5: Heroes on The Run
The wildcat's head was pounding as she struggled to regain consciousness, trying to move her body against the pain. She faintly heard someone calling her name...
Carol's eyes shot wide open only to quickly shield them again from the bright sun overhead. She soon felt arms wrap around her and pull her into a tight embrace, and from the creamy white fur and vibrant orange hair, she could only recognize it as Milla.
"Oh, Carol, thank goodness you're alive!" Milla said, her green eyes filled with tears. "I thought you... you..."
"Hey, hey, take it easy Ruff stuff!" Carol said, flinching from the slight pain. "You know me! Cat's got nine lives, am I right?" Milla nodded slowly, the tears in her eyes not going away. "Now then, what exactly happened here? I don't think any of us were expecting to get blasted out of the sky for our return!"
"Oh... oh, it's terrible!" Milla sobbed, burying her head into Carol's shoulder. "Th-the bad man came back! He revived that mean squid bot Brevon used last year and he took Gong with him!"
Carol's eyes widened. "Wait, you mean he's revived his own Syntax?" She gasped. "That means we've got big trouble! Where are the others?!"
"I-I don't know!" Milla cried, sobbing into the wildcat's shoulder. "Neera didn't come back from Shuigang and there's robots spreading out all over the place!"
Carol gritted her teeth. "Then Eggs-for-brains must've gotten the Stone's energy while we were gone. C'mon!" She said, grabbing the basset hound's arm. "We gotta find Sonic and the others before they're turned into that guy's brainless minions!"
"C-Carol!" Milla squealed, being dragged off by the wildcat to look for the kitsune...
"Oww..." Tails groaned, sitting up from where he had landed. He was surrounded by large amounts of snow-covered vegetation and waterfalls, with a couple of pagodas adourning the path every now and again. He slowly got to his feet, taking care as to not set off a headache from the crash.
"Where... where am I?" Tails muttered to himself as he looked around the area, before he noticed a wreckage near the water's edge. He ran over to it to discover it was part of the Tornado, with Carol's bike tied to it. Tails panicked at the sight. Where were Carol and the others? Were they okay? Tails wanted to get answers himself, so he untied the bike from the back of the plane and tried to start it up.
"Come on.." Tails growled to himself as he tried to get the bike started. He soon heard footsteps behind him, and he quickly turned around to the source only to be pulled into a tight hug from Carol.
"Oh Tails, thank god you're alive!" Carol breathed. "I thought you bit the dust after that explosion!"
Tails clutched to the wildcat. "I'm.. I'm alright. And I'm relieved you are too." Tails breathed. "Where's Sonic and the others? Are they alright?"
Carol shook her head. "No clue. Milla only woke me up about a bit ago. But whatever is goin' on, it's got Eggy's fat face written all over it."
"Eggman attacked while we were gone?!" Tails said. Milla nodded.
"H-he took General Gong a-and started spreading his robots across the kingdoms!" Milla said, tears in her eyes.
Tails gritted his teeth. "If Gong was taken, then we can already make guesses that Neera has most likely failed as well." He said, getting the yellow Chaos Emerald out of the back of the scrapped Tornado.
"Then that means we have no time to waste at all!" Carol cried. "We've gotta find Sonic and Lilac before Eggman's robots get to them and kill them!"
"Agreed." Tails said. "Get yourselves ready, we're finding them."
Carol nodded, getting her bike revved up as Milla hopped onto the back of the bike. "Which way did they fall Milla?"
"F-from that explosion, it looked like there were other specks falling towards Jade Creek." Milla said. "If we're looking for Lilac and Mr. blue, they may be over there!"
"Then I'll lead the way!" Carol said. "Let's get moving!" She said, before the three took off for Jade Creek...
"We've gotta be getting close!" Tails said, checking his radar. "I'm picking up a reading of Chaos Energy nearby!"
Carol nodded. "Well then let's make sure they're okay!" She said. "If that goof hurts Lilac, I'll personally make sure he pays for it!"
Tails nodded in agreement. Eggman had gone too far now, and if he wasn't stopped within what little time they had left, Avalice would be done for. Carol had similar thoughts, but hers were more angrily geared toward Eggman for what he did.
"G-guys!" Milla cried, pointing ahead. "T-t-trouble!" The two looked forward to see a group of robots and what looked to be the other scrapped end of the Tornado. His heart dropped when he saw what looked to be an unconscious Sonic, Lilac, and Spade in a block of ice, a robotic Neera-Li standing nearby.
"Oh shoot!" Tails said, shoving Carol and Milla into the nearby bushes, causing Carol to slam on the brakes to the bike and cause it to skid. "Get down! If they find us, we're toast!"
The robotic Neera motionlessly looked over to where Tails and Carol had originally been. After not seeing anything suspicious, she turned back to the frozen group. "Rather fortunate of us to find you lot unconscious out here." Neera's robotic voice spoke. "Master Robotnik will be rather pleased with your captures. And with procuring two more emeralds from your pathetic group will count as an even greater victory. Now then, Gong?"
"Yes Neera?" The robotic Gong spoke, thundering his way up to the other robot panda.
"Take these insects and lock them up in the dungeon in Neo ScrapBrain, and lock up that Chaos Emerald as well." Neera said, holding the green Chaos Emerald. "I will return to Neo Metropolis and lock up my respective emerald. Do NOT let those vermin escape until Master Robotnik decided what to do with them."
Gong nodded before turning to the other robots. "You heard her! Get these prisoners moving!" The robots scrambled and moved, getting the giant ice block containing the three and moving out, while Neera flew off in a different direction. At that point, the trio had come out of their hiding places in the bushes, and needless to say, Carol was furious.
"Those no good...lousy...!" Carol growled, the anger clearly shown in her eyes. "Those traitors!"
"Carol, calm down!" Milla panicked. "Please, I'm sure they're only having to do this to survive! Please, don't judge them like this!"
"Milla's right," Tails said darkly. "but not in the way she thinks. Neera and Gong don't have control over their own bodies right now from what Eggman did."
"Wh-what do you mean?" Milla asked.
"Roboticization." Tails said. "The way Eggman deals with those he captures who resist him. It makes them lose their free will and serve him in what he does. That's the reason why Neera and Gong are working with Eggman. Eggman's got them under his control, and from the looks of it, he's not giving them up anytime soon."
"So, it's not their fault?" Carol asked.
Tails nodded. "Eggman's more than likely gonna have Sonic and the other roboticized too, so we're gonna need to move fast."
"B-but where could they have gone?" Milla asked. "We don't know where this, this 'Neo ScrapBrain' or Megalopolis place is! By the time we try to find it, it could be too late!"
"I think we might know where they've gone." Tails said, checking his radar. "And I have a feeling we're revisiting places where we've been."
Carol nodded. "I think I know what you mean."
Milla looked between the two, her face flushed red. "Wh-what does that mean?"
Carol looked to Milla. "We're going back to Shang Tu." She said, cracking her knuckles. "It's time for a jailbreak..."
Neo ScrapBrain Zone, lower dungeons...
The hedgehog's head was pounding as he regained consciousness. Slowly, he sat up, shaking his head to get rid of the pain.
"Oww..." He moaned. "Anyone get the number of that missile that hit us?"
"Ugghhhh..." Lilac groaned, holding her head in pain as she kneeled up from where she was lying. "So much pain..."
"Lilac, you okay?" Sonic asked, getting over to Lilac.
"I-I'll be fine.." Lilac said, holding her head. "I-I just need to get over the shock..."
"Speaking of shock, where are we?" Sonic said, looking around the area, which appeared to have stone walls on all sides except for the entrance, which had iron bars at the entrance. Lilac's eyes widened at the sight.
"No..." Lilac breathed. "We're... we're in the Shang Tu prison hold..."
"Prison?" Sonic asked. "Now why would they do that?"
"To keep us out of the picture." A voice said from the corner. Sonic and Lilac looked over to see Spade sitting on a barrel. "And they took the damn emeralds too."
"Wait, who's 'they'?" Sonic asked, before hearing heavy clanking coming from the entrance to the cell. The hedgehog turned to see none other than a posse of robots, along with a robotic General Gong. Lilac gasped in shock at the sight.
"Well then, I see you brats are nice and cozy in your hold." The robotic Gong spoke. "Keep yourselves rested up, you'll need it once Master Robotnik deals with you."
"Gong, why are you doing this?!" Lilac yelled, grabbing the bars of the cell. "Are you out of your mind?!"
The robot merely smashed his fists into the draconian's hands, causing her to shriek in pain and back away from the bars, holding her hands in pain. "Keep your dirty hands off the expensive robotics. Otherwise the good doc will have to change that." The robotic Gong said, turning away. "Once the doc takes care of you three, he'll find the other three insubordinates and 'take care' of them too."
"Gong, you can't do this!" Lilac yelled. "What about Neera? What about the Magister?!"
"Neera's on my side," Gong spoke. "And that old coot has long been locked up." With that, the robotic Gong plodded off with the other robots, leaving a distraught Lilac, gripping at the ground in anger.
"Now..." She said. "How could Gong do this?!"
"Lilac, he's not himself," Sonic said. "He's been roboticized."
"Robotawhat?" Lilac asked.
"He's been turned into a robot." Sonic said. "Stripped of his free will."
"So..." Spade spoke. "Imprisoned by a bunch of tin cans. Pretty pathetic way to go out if ya ask me."
"Hey, we're not gonna rot in a jail cell this entire time!" Sonic said, clamping one of his fists into his other hand. "We've got a planet to save, and a certain egg-shaped cranium to get scrambled."
Lilac nodded. "We're pulling through with this, and we're breaking out of this place."
Spade rolled his eyes. "And here I thought you'd be miss mopey this entire time."
"So then, how are we gonna get out of here?" Sonic said. "Those bars have gotta be at least a couple inches thick."
"It's made out of the strongest forged steel on Avalice. It'll be impossible to cut through those bars." Lilac said. "If we're getting out of here, it's through a wall."
"Heh, good luck with that..." Spade said.
Neo ScrapBrain, outer walls...
"Oh my god..." Milla breathed, gazing upon the entire metallic fortress that was once the beautiful Shang Tu. Heavy construction blasted away at what was once the beautiful sapphire kingdom as several buildings were being knocked down as other pieces of electronics transformed the ground into metal and several other cranes lifted large pieces of metal structures into place, and several of the citizens being rounded up by Eggman's troops for transfer to Shang Mu. Several of the blue buildings that were already roboticized while the takeover happened were already dingy and dark blue, large black smoke pouring into the sky. Needless to say, Milla felt like her heart was shattered at the entire sight. "Why... why does he have to do this?!"
"So, this is what he does on your world?" Carol asked, looking onward at the city in progress of being roboticized, a small bit of anger burning in her heart as she clenched her fists.
Tails grimly nodded. "Unfortunately, yes." He said. "Eggman's more than likely got the entire place on lockdown during his construction, just to make sure that some people like us don't get in."
"Well, too bad for him." Carol said, extending her claws. "That fatso's just gonna have to deal with us breaking in and getting those guys out."
Tails nodded. "You two know your way around this place better than I do." He said. "Where would Sonic and Lilac be held up?"
"Well, I'm not sure if this place has the same layout as Shang Tu... Eggman's already seemed to wreck the natural land here with his terraforming..." Carol said. "But if I had to guess, they're being held up under the entire city within the prison dungeons that run underneath the city. That was where Lilac and I were held up when we were falsely accused by Neera."
"W-wait! I know how we can get into there!" Milla spoke up, causing Tails and Carol to look at her. "Carol, remember when you and Lilac sent me out through that hole to find a way out?"
"Well, yeah, but why?" Carol asked.
"I remember where that let out!" Milla said. "We can sneak into the underground through there, and once we're inside, I could track down their scent!"
"Milla, that's brilliant!" Carol said. "Lead the way girl!"
"It let out over here!" Milla said, taking off with the two close behind her, making sure not to get caught by any of the surrounding spotlights or Egg Pawns...
"I must say... this is a rather interesting design under here." Tails said as the trio progressed through the underground passages and pipelines. "An entire aqueduct underneath the entire city?"
"I know, right?" Milla asked. "These aqueducts were underneath Shang Tu the entire time, possibly for many years! I even fought a giant anglerfish down here!"
"Must've been quite an escape plan." Tails said. "How close are we?"
"We're close, I can feel it." Milla said, taking off ahead before stopping under a large vertical shaft with a green gelatin-like block under it. "Right here!" She squealed. "This is where I came down!"
"Looks like we'll get in from here.." Tails said, whirling his tails up into a low hover off the ground. "Let's get up there." With that, the trio managed to climb up until they hit dirt in the ceiling.
"I'll dig it out!" Milla said, grabbing onto the dirt ceiling and started pawing at it, digging away at the surface of the dirt. Small flecks of it flew into her face as she dug away at the dirt floor (well, ceiling). "Just a bit more..." Soon after that large dirt chunks started falling and soon the entire dirt ceiling caved in, nearly falling on top of the trio had they not ducked into a nearby alcove. After the dirt had stopped falling, Carol flashed Milla a thumbs up.
"Nice one Ruff stuff!" Carol said, smiling. "Now c'mon! We gotta find the guys!" Milla nodded, scampering up the stone wall until the three reached the cell that the hole led to. Carol tested the cell entrance and, to their luck, it was unlocked.
"Alright Milla, sniff 'em out!" Carol said. Milla nodded, and her nose started twitching. She got down on all fours and sniffed the ground before taking off, bounding down the halls, with Carol and Tails following right behind her.
"They're close..." Milla said, the scent getting stronger. Soon she stopped, nose pointing straight at the cell, her tail whipping right behind her. "They're over here!"
"Milla!" Lilac cried as she ran and Sonic ran to the front of the cell. "Thank goodness you're safe! How'd you find us here?"
"We saw you guys frozen back at Jade Creek!" Milla said. "Neera said where you'd be and we snuck in here! We're gonna get you guys out!"
"Well, you guys are gonna need to find the key for the cell." Sonic said. "These bars are way too thick to cut through, and the walls are too reinforced."
Milla nodded. "Got it, we'll find the key and get you guys out of there!" She said, before taking off.
"There you are Milla!" Tails said, running up to the basset hound. "We couldn't find you after you took off like that!"
"I found the others!" Milla said. "We gotta find the key to their cell if we wanna get them out!"
Carol nodded. "Then let's find that key!" She said, scampering up a wall. "I'll check up high around here! You guys find where the office might be!"
Tails nodded, and the three split off to locate the missing key...
"Alright, let's see here..." Carol said to herself as she picked the lock to a strongbox with one of her claws. "At least I'm thankful I can do this with locks this small. I'd probably rip my claw out of my hand if I tried this with that cell." A small click came from the box, and a smile grew on her face as she opened up the box to find a number of confiscated Red Scarves weapons and crystal shards. "Well, not exactly what I was looking for, but these'll help!" She said, grabbing the shurikens and crystal shards and stuffing them into her gem shard pocket. A light metal clank came from nearby, and Carol turned to see a few Egg Pawns staring her down. Carol fled from the strongbox and the Egg Pawns gave chase firing off a couple of warning shots, nearly grazing her as she ducked around a corner then jumped up to a hanging pathway, extending her claws and sticking into the ceiling to hide.
"Alright you buckets of bolts..." Carol growled, waiting for the Egg Pawns until they were right above her. Once they were there, she dropped down, digging her claws into the robots and ripping them to shreds with her claws. Once the robots were no longer moving, she retracted her claws.
"Heh, not so high and mighty now." Carol spat. "Alright, now where's that key..." She muttered to herself as she leapt back up to the ceiling and started crawling along it. "Maybe Tails and Milla are having better luck than I am.."
Meanwhile, Milla was rummaging through a couple of storage crates in the breaker room, with little luck at finding any keys.
"Oh man..." Milla muttered to herself. "Where's that key?" She heard what sounded like metal footsteps coming from behind her, and panicked before hiding behind large crate. She held her breath as some Egg Pawns walked into the room, and started to move other crates. She though her heart stopped as one of the robots spoke.
"Hey," The one Egg Pawn said. "Has someone been in these crates already?"
"There shouldn't have been." The other said, walking over to the first. "These were just shipped in today and sent straight to here. No one should have been able to get in here."
"Wait, what's this?" The first one said, noticing a white furry lump sticking out from behind the crate. Milla tensed up as the Egg Pawn investigated, before a sharp tug yanked on her tail. She let out a loud yelp of pain before covering her hands over her mouth, her heart racing at the loud sound she made as the robots grew suspicious. The robot grabbed her tail again and pulled hard, pulling her out of her hiding spot and left her hanging by her tail, her eyes wide with fear as she stared at the inverted robot, shaking in fear at her discovery.
"Well well, what do we have here?" The Egg Pawn said, bringing Milla's eyes to its level. "Looks like a little tramp running around, poking her nose where it doesn't belong!"
"Well, what should we do? Throw her into the cell with those other three?" The other asked. The first one nodded.
"The general's gonna have a field day with her when he finds out she was here!" The first one said. The two robots were so distracted with their discussion about their credit for catching the young hound, they didn't notice the small Phantom Block in her hand before she quickly expanded it into the gigantic thick shield and activated the Super Shield Burst, blasting both robots backwards before fleeing out of the room.
"That didn't go right..." Milla muttered to herself. "Please tell me Tails or Carol are doing better, please..."
On the other side of the prison hold, Tails was busily checking through the main office area, searching through the desk, several cabinets and various boxes for the key to the cell. He was just about ready to give up his search when something caught his eye, which looked like a panel on the wall. Curious, he took a crowbar from inside the office and pried the panel off the wall, showing a long line of breakers with numbers on them.
"Ah, these must be the power supply to the cells." Tails said to himself. "Let's see... here's the cell!" Tails said, pulling a spark plug out of one of the sockets. "This should deactivate the alarms for the cell. The key's gotta be closeby too..." He said, checking a nearby storage locker. "Ah, and here's the keys too!" He grabbed the key ring and scurried out of the office, making his way back to the cell where Sonic and Lilac were locked up. He was in luck: Carol and Milla had met up outside of the cell.
"Tails, you had any luck?" Carol asked. "Milla and I turned up empty."
Tails nodded. "I got the keys. Now let's get the guys outta here!" He said, inserting the key into the cell and unlocking it. Sonic smiled as the cell unlocked.
"Aw hell yeah!" Sonic said, bursting through the door to the cell. "Finally free of that cramped space!"
"Lilac!" Milla cried, both her and Carol running up and hugging the water dragon. "Thank goodness you're alive! Y-you're not hurt are you?"
"I'm fine, just a bit cold." Lilac said, a slight shudder in her body. "Thanks for gettin' us out girls."
"Hmph, not like I could have just contacted the Scarves to break us out." Spade muttered. "Either way, let's get out of this dump."
Sonic nodded. "Where should we go Lilac?"
"We'll head for my treehouse." The draconian responded. "We can formulate a plan of attack from there."
Sonic smirked a bit. "Heh, okay then!" He said, cracking his knuckles. "Let's get a move on then!" And so the six took off out of the dungeon, unaware of the security camera that caught sight of their breakout...
"Woohoo!" Sonic yelled, leaping between giant bamboo stalks as the six fled south of Neo ScrapBrain Zone. "Now this is more like it! Running free and far with none of those robos in sight!"
"I wouldn't get too cocky now Sonic!" Lilac called, running across the cliff face near him. "I have no doubt that Gong will find out that we're long gone by the time he sends one of his bots to check in on us! We've gotta get far from Shang Tu as fast as possible!"
"Heh, did you forget who we are?" Sonic said, a cocky grin on his face. "As if he'll catch us!"
Lilac smiled a bit. She admired Sonic's attitude a bit with how he's been so optimistic through everything. "Right, we're headed for my treehouse!" She said, keeping her pace. "Once we regroup, we can work out a plan of attack from there!" Soon a blast resounded from behind the two, and Lilac glanced back to see what looked like a gigantic robot, insect in nature, on a single giant wheel, chasing after the two. Lilac's eyes widened at the sight of their pursuer.
"Sonic!" Lilac yelled, pointing back at the giant robot. "What the hell is that thing?!"
"Huh?" Sonic said, looking back to see the giant robot. "Oh shoot! I didn't think he'd have those built already!"
"What is it?!" Lilac said.
"One of Eggman's giant Badniks!" Sonic yelled. "He's tried sicking these things on us before! We gotta find a way to scrap this thing before it destroys this place!" With that, Sonic dived off the large bamboo stalks and rushed across the floor of the forest. "I'll find a weak spot! You keep it occupied!" Lilac nodded while keeping to the wall and having the gigantic Motobug continue pursuit. Sonic slowed down slightly to let the giant Badnik pass him, then dashed ahead to catch up to the bot and leap on top of it, keeping balanced while working on taking it out. The hedgehog quickly charged up a spindash and slammed into the robot's head giving an indent into the brain core of the giant Motobug. The spots on the back of the Motobug opened and fired off several electrical shock missiles, some straight ahead, some directly looping up and aimed at Sonic. Sonic smirked and leapt off, the missiles striking the Motobug and striking the brain core, deactiviating the robot and causing it to fall off the cliff face into a ball of flams and exploded. Sonic smirked to himself as he looked at his handiwork, until he heard a shriek and he rushed off ahead to where the other missiles flew. He found Lilac, her leg trapped under a rock and several parts of her lavender skin charred from the electrical blast.
"Oh jeez!" Sonic said, working quickly to try and push the rock off of Lilac's leg. "Sorry about that Lilac! I completely forgot about those missiles that came out of that thing!"
"I-it's okay." Lilac stuttered, trying to help Sonic get the rock off of her leg. "I-I think I can walk it off." Soon the rock was rolled off her leg, and Lilac stood up and tried to walk, but she took about two steps before she fell on her face. Sonic quickly ran over and scooped up the draconian into his arms. "O-okay, maybe not.. I can't feel my leg right now."
"I'll get you back." Sonic said. "Which way is the treehouse?"
"I'll give you directions." Lilac said. "We just need to keep moving." Sonic nodded, then took off deeper into the bamboo forest...
"I still think splitting up was a dumb idea!" Carol growled, speeding through another sector of the thick bamboo forest near Jade Creek with Milla on the back. "There's gonna be a high chance at least one of us is gonna get captured again!"
"Well, the point of us splitting up is so that we DON'T get caught!" Spade said, air-dashing to keep up. "As long as those two are able to outrun security, we should be fine!"
"So... they're distractions?" Milla asked. Spade nodded.
"They'll keep the scraps busy while we get away!" Spade said. "Carol! Where's that hiding spot you told us about?!"
"It's back at the treehouse!" Carol said, speeding the bike up. "Sonic and Lilac said they'll meet us there! How're ya holdin' up back there Tails?"
"I'm doing just fine!" Tails yelled back, catching up to the group. "Been trying to keep our tracks covered as best as we can so Eggman's robots can't find us. I don't know how long it'll keep us covered though."
"As long as those buckets of bolts don't find us, we'll be just fine!" Carol said. "We shouldn't be much further! Just keep up!" The wildcat seemed to have spoken too soon as soon a large energy blast struck the ground right behind Tails. The kitsune flinched out of shock before looking over his shoulder, seeing a large metallic base rising up in the water of Jade Creek, with a rather pissed-looking Metal Gong on top.
"Alright, I don't know HOW you managed to pull that stunt back there, but you are DEAD WRONG if you think you're pulling a fast one by me again!" Gong yelled.
"Shoot, looks like he's not up for reason..." Carol muttered to herself as several cannons appeared out of the sides of the metallic black ship.
"All turrets, FIRE!" Gong yelled as several of the cannons fired out large flaming rocks at the group. The four kept their pace up and managed to stay ahead of where the projectiles landed, but that was the least of their worries as soon the loud roar of motors overtook their concentration. Tails looked back to see the group of projectiles that had landed were now chasing after them at full speed.
"Meteor Rollers!" Milla squealed. "Oh no..."
"Leave them to me to take care of!" Spade said, dropping back a bit to let the Meteor Rollers catch up to him. With a quick leap above and a flurry of throws, Spade started flinging his cards at rapid speed, slicing through the metal of the robots like nothing else. Once the last one was properly shredded, Spade quickly dashed forward and caught up with the rest of the group. Gong didn't take the resistance too well, as soon several large capsules were fired out of the ship and crashed down in front of the four and soon surrounded them, the pods bursting open to reveal that each one had contained a Bullfrag, each one with its sights locked straight onto the four. Carol skidded her bike to a halt as well as Tails and Spade stopped in their tracks as the giant robotic frogs stared down the four. Spade gritted his teeth as soon the ship drew near, Metal Gong staring down the captured pack.
"Well well, trapped like a pack of rats in a maze!" Gong spoke. "Nice to see that your little escape attempt failed now! You're all going RIGHT BACK to the cells where you belong, and once that's done, The doc's gonna have field day with you r four on our side!"
"Get real, boltbrain!" Carol growled, revving her motorcycle. "I'd rather be dead than join that madman's army!"
Gong smirked at this. "Oh! Is that a challenge? Well, fine by me!" Gong swung his arm out, pointing it straight at the four. "Open fire!" The several surrounding Bullfrags immediately spewed the toxin bubbles straight at the group. Milla immediately charged up an orange sphere in her hand and flung it straight at the open mouth of one of the Bullfrags, before a light shone from the orb and caused the giant mech to explode, causing several scraps of metal and crystal shards to fly everywhere.
"NOW!" Spade yelled, before the four darted away from the scene. Gong was clearly mad by this before hitting a button on his gauntlet. "All troops mobilize! Find those brats and get them back here! PRONTO!"
"...okay, I think we lost him.." Carol said, looking back. "I don't think they're still on us..."
"Good," Spade said. "That'll keep them off us for a bit. How close are we?"
"We're not too far." Carol said. "We should lose 'em at the next junction and then, it'll be a straight shot to the treehouse."
Spade and Tails nodded. The four sped off towards the exit to the bamboo forest...
Lilac's Treehouse, noon...
The blue hedgehog dashed up the ladder into the treehouse and set the draconian down on the couch in the central area, before Sonic sat down next to her. Lilac rubbed her leg in pain, flinching a bit.
"Oww..." She groaned, attempting to move her leg. "I don't think anything's broken, but it's clear I'm not moving this for a while."
"Just take it easy." Sonic said, setting a hand on the draconian's shoulder. "It's technically my fault this happened to you."
"Don't blame yourself," Lilac responded. "I've got no one but myself to blame for this. If I hadn't been so careless as to observing my surroundings, I probably wouldn't be like this right now."
"Eh... still, I feel responsible for that." Sonic said, rubbing the back of his head. "You did kinda get dragged into this..."
"Well, you know what?" Lilac said, turning his face towards hers. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Sonic and Lilac stared at eachother for a few minutes, the silence as stagnant and still as a lake. Time seemed to stand still as the two looked into eachothers eyes, moving closer to eachother... closer... closer...
"WE'RE BACK NOW!" Carol's voice yelled from outside as the others were climbing the ladder into the treehouse. Sonic and Lilac jumped at the shout, immediately blushing and looking away from eachother in embarrassment from the rather intimate moment before Carol walked into the treehouse and immediately noticed Lilac's damaged state. "Omigush, Lilac! What happened?!"
"Lilac's hurt?!" Milla cried, scurrying into the treehouse, horrified at the sight of the charred-scaled Lilac. "Lilac! Wh-what happened?!"
"I got careless." Lilac muttered, feeling the charred scales across her face. "Sonic and I ran across one of Eggman's giant robots back at Jade Creek. Things got a bit too hectic for our tastes and well, this happened."
"Jeez, you look worse for wear." Carol said, rushing to the pantry and getting some of the healing petals out of the cupboard. "At least I still remember the recipe from the Scarves..."
"Heh, old habits die hard, don't they Carol?" Spade chuckled to himself as he entered the building. Carol shot him a glare.
"Not the time for remarks right now Spade!" Carol growled, getting the healing tea mixed together. "What's important right now is our survival through this entire thing!"
"C'mon now, where's your sense of humor?" Spade said, leaning up against the wall of the treehouse. "At least lighten up a little."
"I will when our very way of life isn't threatened!" Carol said, taking the tea to Lilac. "Here, Lilac, take this."
"Thanks Carol..." Lilac said, taking the tea from the wildcat. "I don't think this will heal the scales, but it should stop the pain." With that, she took a small drink of the tea, the warm smooth flavor melting throughout her mouth. With a couple of sips, her leg was already feeling better, and her pain was subsiding, but her charred scales remained the same.
"Let me make some for Sonic too," Carol said, rushing back over to the cabinet.
"I appreciate the hospitality Carol..." Sonic said, petting the Basset's head that was resting in his lap. "So, Tails, what're we gonna do now?"
"Not sure about that at the moment." Tails answered, tinkering with his tablet radar at the table. "I'm currently trying to modify my radar to hack into Eggman's databases. If we can hack into that, we can find out what his plans are, and then we can formulate a plan of attack from there."
"We can only hope..." Sonic muttered to himself as Carol handed him the tea. "Thanks Carol."
"Anything to help out." The wildcat replied. "So Tails, need any help with that thing?"
"Yeah, come here for a bit..."
"So how soon are we gonna start cracking skulls and bring it straight to Eggman's doorstep?" Sonic asked. "I'm game for laying the smack down on him right now!"
"...No Sonic." Tails said. "At this point, Eggman's gonna have EVERYTHING on high alert looking for us right now. We're laying low for a while for our little jailbreak stunt to blow over before we make a move."
"I second that." Lilac spoke. "Let's just lay low for a bit..."
Several days later...
The sun was setting on Avalice as the five grouped up for their strategy meeting on raiding the fortresses.
"Alright, after my investigating, here's what I've managed to pull up from his database." Tails said, pulling up a 3D hologram of the mapping of the kingdoms. "All three of the kingdoms are now heavily guarded by Eggman's robots. All main entrances are at least guarded with two Mallet Titans, and the vaults containing the emeralds are heavily guarded as well." He said, zooming in to isolate the three kingdoms. "Shang Mu's been transformed into a gigantic oriental theme park, Shang Tu's been a gigantic robot war factory, and Shiugang's been made into a gigantic power generator for all three. All three are heavily defended, and will more than likely shoot on sight at any signs of us."
"So, he's essentially put a giant-ass target on our backs to put us out of the picture." Carol sighed. "Figures, Brevon did the same thing to us last year. He even mut-"
"Carol!" Lilac growled. "I thought we talked that we would never bring that up again!"
"Sorry, sorry!" Carol said, a sweatdrop on her head. "E-either way, he's got us as a target now for escaping, right?"
Tails nodded. "We won't be able to get anywhere into the kingdoms unless we take percautions." He spoke, pulling out a couple of scanners from under the table and handed one to Sonic and one to Lilac, keeping one for himself. "These will be able to get us past the security systems Eggman's got peppered all across the kingdoms. They'll also scan any of his new robots for any of their stronger power levels, just in case you do get caught."
"Heh, sweet!" Sonic said, putting the scanner on the side of his head. "This'll be awesome to use!"
"So... why didn't we get any?" Carol asked.
"I only had enough Materia to make these three." Tails answered, reaching under the table again. "Besides, I've been using most of the rest of it to fashion THIS puppy!"
"Ooh! Puppies?!" Milla asked, eyes widened and tail wagging. Tails smirked a bit and pulled out what looked like a blaster out from underneath the table.
"Whoa, Tails, never thought you'd be packing heat!" Sonic said.
"Sonic," Tails sighed. "This is a de-roboticizer. With this, I can reverse the process of what happened to Neera and Gong and get them back on our side!"
"Heh, never thought the little kitsune had such a big brain." Spade chuckled to himself. "He'd make an excellent addition to the tech department of the Scarves..."
"Spade..." Lilac sighed, pinching her forehead. "Either way, what's our plan of action for getting at the Emeralds?"
"I was just getting to that." Tails said. "Sonic, Lilac, Spade, you three are group one. Milla and Carol, you're with me. Sonic's group will infiltrate into Shang Mu and sneak through disguised as best as they can until they get into the inner areas, where the emerald should be located. There's also readings of Metal Sonic running around the place, so there's high chances he's guarding the emerald."
"As long as the Scarves haven't become allies with that gigantic coot, we'll be fine." Spade said. "I can talk some sense into them. They can create a distraction that'll get us into the place."
Tails nodded. "Then you guys can get moving along there." He said, turning to Carol and Milla. "Meanwhile, we sneak into Shuigang, take out the bots there, and shut down the power to the other kingdoms. With shutting down the generator in Shuigang, we can stop the production of his army and then, we can raid Shang Tu, get the emeralds there, de-roboticize Gong, and then go after Eggman."
"I got your back Tails!" Carol said, cracking her knuckles with a smirk on her face. "I say that it's time to crack some metal skulls now!"
Tails nodded. "We all have our assignments now," He said, strapping the blaster to his side. "Let's make sure we show Eggman what happens when you mess with us!"
"Aw hell yeah!" Sonic said, a grin appearing on his face. "Time to scramble some Eggman!" With that the two groups left the treehouse, ready to put the plan into action and stop the madman for good...
And so the heroes have reunited! With the plans of raiding the kingdoms in motion, things are finally looking up for our heroes. But will things go to plan? Or will things be complicated and issues arise? With Eggman on the loose and the kingdoms captured, will Sonic and Lilac be able to recover the lost emeralds? Find out in the next instalment; "The Raid on Shang Mu"...