The purified Mobians looked on as the mechanized chimera led the Bandick Horde a little closer.
“Where did she get that many Badnicks?” Cream asked.
“Looks like whoever took MY army hates you as much as I do!” Eggette said from the Egg Chimera. “You know this is all your fault Sonic, my dolls were perfectly happy following my orders and when I wasn’t using them I let them do whatever popped into their empty little heads. Then you and your stupid friends came along and RUINED EVERYTHING! You must be really relentless to not allow your arch-nemesis…”
“Still not my arch-nemesis!” Sonic shouted.
Sally rushed to the edge of the crowd. “Sonic and the others just gave us a chance to live again, REALLY live! We might not completely know what to do with those lives now but we’re not giving them back to you!”
“You know Sally you were always my favorite doll. Silly Sally, the goofball who wanted nothing more than to serve her princess and play with her friends. Since I never actually told any of you how to act I think deep down you really wanted to be an airhead. In fact I think you all wanted to abdicate any responsibility and act like little kids.”
“Said the little kid,” Knuckles scoffed.
“Admit it all of you, whatever your lives were back when, you were never happier than when I gave you all the purpose you needed, and you let me do all your thinking for you, like good little dolls.”
Sally looked down and clenched her shaking fists. “You’re right, after what we’ve been through, losing ourselves to anger and sadness, it was paradise; like an innocence that had been striped away long ago far sooner than it ever should have been was given back and we reveled in it. You did give us happiness and meaning to what existence we had…
“… But it wasn’t as if you did any of that out of the kindness of your heart Eggette! You said it yourself we were your ‘dolls’, your playthings, we never mattered to you more than that! Our existence in the Neverworld was made worse after we found out how things had changed because we felt that everything we did never had any meaning, that our lives were a total waste. But just excepting what you were giving us now would be a betrayal of our old lives, and those who had died when we lost them. We now have a real chance to get that meaning back, starting by repaying our friends for what they’ve done for us!”
Eggette scowled. “Well if that’s the way you want it then you can all be destroyed along with Sonic and his stupid friends! All Badnicks get into attack formation! Scratch, Grounder, Coconuts, prep all weapon and support systems!”
“You got it boss!” said Coconuts.
“I always wanted to use one of these things!” said Scratch.
“It even has that new mech smell!” said Grounder.
Knuckles turned to the other members of the resistance. “We got to get these people out of here, then we can try to stop these Badnicks. Shadow, how long till you recover?”
“Give me a couple of minutes, then they’ll be sorry.”
“Ok, once we get you guys into the woods, we’ll hold Eggette off.”
While several started making for the woods Sally and many of the others moved in on Knuckles with resolve. “We’re staying to fight!” she said. “We finally have a chance to make a difference again, think we’d pass up on it?”
“Just like old times,” Sonic said with a grin.
“I think I’m going to like the real, not crazy, versions of you guys MUCH better!” Tangle said while limbering up her tail.
“Take Alexis and wait in the forest,” Elias said to Megan. “I promise I’ll make it back to you both.”
“Just be careful,” Megan said before turning to the woods.
“I’m joining too!” Mina said as she broke from the group heading to the woods. “I know I stopped fighting a while ago, well except for those times as a Neverworlder, but if I can do something I will!”
“Mina if you’re fighting then I’m fighting!” Ash said as he came up. “I still mean what I said yesterday, now that I have my life back I want to spend it with you. While I wish you’d come with me and be safe I know you won’t change your mind, so I going to make sure you get through this in one piece! I know I know never fought before without that second skin and you still have your speed but if only I had something…”
“How about this?” said Tails after digging a cyan colored gun-like weapon from the Tornado. “It’s called a wispon, to be precise it’s a prototype laser wispon. It uses a friendly alien to power a laser beam, as long as you don’t mistreat the little guy you should be able to use it to defend yourself.”
Ash took the gun. “Uh, hi?”
A tonal chirp sounded back.
“Nicole you better power down your hologram,” said Sally. “We’ll might need your hacking skills against that thing.”
“I understand,” Nicole said before handing her console to Sally and vanishing.
“I’m in too,” said Lien-Da. “I owe that brat some payback for making me look like a fool. But once it’s over I’ll be going my own way.”
“Well you can count someone keeping a close eye on you once you do leave.” said Julie-Su. But then she lowered her voice to a whisper. “But… it was nice actually having you as a loving big sister down there.”
“Yeah,” Lien-Da whispered back. “Having family that cared about me…felt good.”
The Egg Chimera moved to the middle of the horde and gave a mechanical roar. In the cockpit Eggette looked at her enemies through a targeting display. “Whatever stupid sappy ‘friendship and justice’ junk you think is going to work isn’t! I might not be able to make you my dolls anymore, but I can make you cease to exist, all over again! Egg Army, ATTACK!”
The robot horde rushed forward. “Looks like it’s go time!” Sonic said as he ran out to face the Badnick Horde.
Sonic cleared a considerable number of the frontline as the rest came began to attack the stragglers.
Antione slashed at egg pawns with his sword while Bunnie extended her robotic arm and took out a few Egg Flappers.
“Head’s up!” Rotor said as he hit an egg pawn causing its head to be knocked loose and sail through the air.
Tails and Amy rushed into a group of motobugs. Amy sent several to the scrapheap with her hammer as more were clobbered by the namesakes of Miles’ nickname.
Knuckles uppercut a Rhinobot into the air. “I didn’t realize how much I missed this Julie, you and me side by side.”
Julie shot a Falco out of the air. “Just being able to feel the soultouch again, I could do this forever.”
Suddenly a whip of electricity destroyed a CaterKiller that was creeping up behind them. “Eyes on the enemy lovebirds!” Lien-da shouted.
“Though her possibly being an ally is going to take some getting used to,” said Knuckles.
Mina managed to get a few Motobugs to chase her almost single file. “Ready and…NOW!”
As Mina ducked Ash fired the Wipson clearing all the chasing motobugs. “Alright, you are awesome!” he said to the wisp in the device that gave a happy chirp back.
“Just be careful,” said Mina. “I don’t want to lose you either!”
Lupe, Lobo, Lyco and Leeta had found themselves surrounded by Spinas. Though they were taking out most of them more just kept coming. “Stay together,” said Lupe. “Look for a chance to…” Suddenly the Spinda around them were hit by beams in quick succession exploding.
“I think we have ourselves a guardian angel,” said Lyco.
“Well remind me to say thank to this angel if we meet them,” said Leeta.
From the woods nearby Whisper allowed herself to smile at the wolves seeing she did what she could. “You’re welcome.” She whispered before heading out.
Charmy and Saffron flew over a formation of egg pawns armed with lances and shields and dropped several grenades over the bots that detonated on contact. As they zipped into the tree line to ready for another run Charmy turned to Saffron. “I guess this weird for you, I mean I’m a lot younger than I was before we got separated.”
Saffron gave a reassuring smile. “Not really any weirder than what everyone’s been through. Besides what’s on the inside, what really matters in the end, is still the same Charmy I care about.”
“Let’s see how you handle this!” Eggette shouted as the command bridge launched several rockets from its “horns”.
Espio and Liza threw a number shuriken at the rockets’ caps detonating in midair harmlessly.
As the two chameleons nodded to each other Coconuts moaned. “Looks like they handled it well.”
Eggette growled. “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you, banana bolts!”
Omega began to unload his arsenal on the Egg Chimera, the mechanical monster had been deflecting the shots with an energy shield. “SCANNING, SHIELD INTERGERITY AT 75%.”
“Then let’s get it lower!” Shadow formed a yellow bolt in his hand. “Chaos Spear!” he began hurling yellow bolts of energy at the mech until the shield faded. Rouge took the chance to drill dive as shadow attacked but they but bounced off the Egg Chimera’s armor. As the two landed Rouge moaned and grabbed her ankle. “You ok?” Fiona asked as she ran up and began to feel around the ankle. “It’s been awhile but I still remember how to be a medic."
“Just a sprain,” the bat replied. “Just what is that thing made of?”
“Nice try,” Eggette said through the Chimera’s speakers. “But this armor is Eggtanium Plus! Not even your quills can get through it Sonic!”
“Anybody got a way to take that thing down!?” yelled Vector as he did an overhead smash on an Egg Fighter.
Ray flew between a few Aero-Chasers that were firing lasers at him. Making a climb between them the bots ending up shooting each other out of the sky. “Maybe if we get its shields down we can expose a weak point?”
A giant Hammer Pawn loomed over Mighty and Matilda. “Makes sense,” Matillda said as she used a pile driver punch to deflect the robot’s hammer. “There has to be some point where that armor can’t be used.”
“But how do we take those shields out?” Mighty said as he Hammer Dropped down through the Hammer Pawn’s head. “The fire power we got would take too long.”
“Get me close to that thing,” Nicole said from Sally’s handheld. “I can hack its systems to bring down the shields, maybe even shut it down.”
“Great idea, but how to get you close?” asked Sally.
“Let me take her,” said Cream as she came up. “If there were some way for me to fly fast enough…”
“I have the solution to that,” Blaze said as she came up with Silver and Tangle. “With the help of these two that is.”
Tangle stretched her tail over to Blaze while Cream was levitated by Silver pushing the tail back like a pulled bowstring. “Ready?”
“Yes,” said gulping. “I hope this isn’t hurting you Tangle.”
“I’ve been through worse,” Tangle grunted. “But the sooner you get going the better.”
“In that case, NOW!”
Silver let go of his telekinetic grip and Cream was sent sailing through the air. The Egg Chimera’s snake tail fired a laser that Cream just narrowly avoided as she dived towards the mech.
“Accessing now,” Nicole said.
Cream landed and hid behind a fallen badnick. Moments later the handheld beeped and Sonic picked Cream and ran them back to the others.
“Did it work?”
“I’m sorry,” said Nicole. “I was able to get in, but the system is built on a virtually hackproof blockchain database. Any change I do is almost immediately reverted, I can’t combat that with what little time we have.”
Eggette laughed through a loudspeaker. “Physically and digitally my Egg Chimera is impenetrable! Thinking about surrendering now? If not, then maybe this will change your mind!” Eggette turned to the S6. “Prepare the main cannon, I want to blow this grove off the map!”
“You got it boss!” said Coconuts. “Extending bracer struts!”
Large metal bracers shot back from the Chimera to keep it from moving backward.
“Turbines to speed!” said Grounder.
The lion mouth opened reveling a glass semi-sphere that started to glow as bits of red light started to gather in the center of it.
“Targets identified and locked!” said Scratch.
Monitors placed a big crosshair on the freedom fighters ahead and the forest behind them.
“Clear out of here now!” Elias yelled.
Silver came to Elias. “If that cannon is anything like the ones on the super death egg robots then it’s a town buster! If we don’t take it out none of us will stand a chance!”
“No, it can’t end like this!” said Sally. “Not after everything we’ve been through. Not having a heart, the endless loneliness…”
Sally felt a hand on her shoulder, she turned and found Sonic there. “It’s ok, we’re all together none of us ever have to be alone again.”
Sonic reached his hand out, as Sally took it she began to feel a surge of power build between them. “What is this?” But no sooner than she said it it was like she instantly understood.
“And with our spirits combined nothing those bozos throw our way can stop us…”
Back in the Chimera Eggette noticed the buildup. “What’s going on?”
Scratch looked panicked. “I saw video of him doing this, it never ends in our side’s favor.”
From where the two were standing a blue streak tore through the battle field destroying the robot army as it passed raced to the Egg Chimera.
“How long until this thing fires?!” Eggette yelled.
“A few seconds, it still has to draw power from all systems…” Coconuts gasped. “Including the shields, and the cannon itself is unarmored!”
“Well don’t sit there, do something!”
“I vote for panicking while hitting every button!” cried Grounder.
As they charged Sally activated her ring blades, it wouldn’t be that much longer.
A tone came from Coconuts’ monitor. “Charge complete!”
“Fire!” Eggette yelled.
A massive red beam shot forward but as it hit the red streak it was pushed back with only a slight slow down for the two heroes.
Eggette gasped. “This isn’t possible! They should have been vaporized!”
“Like I said,” Scratch moaned. “It never ends in our favor.”
The next second the boost pushed the beam back and through the cannon, the lion face looking like something had punched all it’s teeth in. The half second after that they broke through the core beginning a chain reaction, the half second after that they emerged through the other end severing the snake tail from the rest of the Chimera.
Eggette used this time to pull a lever that simultaneously opened a roof hatch, launched her Egg Mobile and magnetized the S6 into the bottom of it.
Rays of light escaped from the Egg Chimera then it erupted to a giant fireball destroying the mechanical monster. The blast sent the Egg Mobile spinning end over end out of control.
“You stupid jerks!” yelled Coconuts. “You’ll pay for this!”
“And bring cash!” said Grounder. “We also accept all major crypto currencies!”
“You ok boss?” asked Scratch.
From the cockpit Eggette started bawling a stream of tears. “WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! I HATE THAT HEDGEHOG!!!”
As the Egg Mobile became twinkle in the sky, Sonic and Sally returned to the others just as the civilians came back from the forest. Everyone cheered for as the sun finally started to set.
“You guys haven’t missed a beat,” said Sonic. “One or two timelines later and you’re still as skilled as the people I remember.”
“Thanks Sonic,” Sally said panting heavily. “What a day, I woke up a naïve happy-go-lucky girl, then I got my memories back and was twisted into a monstrous tyrant and in the end I became myself again after what felt like forever.” After she took another step forward Sally stumbled. “Just the thought of it is making me sleepy…”
Sally fell unconscious, Sonic grabbed her before she hit the ground.
“Sal you ok?!”
“No that she mentions it,” Bunnie said as her eyelids began to droop. “I feelin’ mighty tuckered out maself…”
Antione caught his wife his own legs looking very shaky as he laid her down. “Oui, bonne nuit everyone.”
In short order everyone Sonic and the others had liberated collapsed, but then their bodies had started to be covered in a white glow.
“Tails what’s going on?!” asked Knuckles.
Tails took out his scanner. “The readings are all in flux, I can’t make any sense of it!”
Sonic gasped. “Wait, I’m not sure where this is coming from, but I think that they’re fully becoming part of our reality again. Whatever had to happen to them in the past of this reality is finally catching up to them.”
“So, what does that mean?” asked Tangle.
Just then Knuckles communicator went off. “Commander this is the Resistance air ship Zephyr leading the second air flotilla. We have locked onto your signal and are coming to pick up you and the prisoners you’ve just liberated, ETA: about fifteen minutes.”
“Have the medics on standby, the situation is strange to say the least.”
“Understood, Zephyr out.”
“Well at least our friends are back and we aren’t getting anymore nasty surprises out of this,” said Amy.
No one noticed one Egg Flapper that hovered past the edge of the grove for the whole battle, doing nothing but watch.
Back at the Egg Fleet the being that looked like Eggman and his stooges watched the images the Egg Flapper sent back.
“Well things did not go well for Eggette at all,” said Orbot. “Are we going to pick her and the outmodes up?”
Eggman leaned forward in the throne like chair in front of the bank of monitors. “Give her the co-ordinates to one of our more fortified bases, she can lick her wounds there while I proceed with my own plan. Now I wish to be left alone to review the battle data.”
“You got it boss!” Cubot said as the they both left the room.
Eggman stood and typed a few commands on the console connected to the wall of monitors before him, images of the battle began to replay. The scientist’s form began to shift as the hexagonal cells on his surface turned blue and silver. It was fortunate that he placed some that special coating that feed into his systems on the badnicks he sent to Eggette, the data might have been much if he tried to take it all, but the former prisoners should suffice Sonic and the others he can get at another opportunity. Even as his eyes changed from blue glasses to red lights on black displays shedding the disguise they never wavered from the attacks, even as the changes to reality occurred he never lost track of movements and abilities the former prisoners displayed in the fight accepting the changes he didn’t know occurred. The changes to reality and himself complete Neo Metal Sonic had taken what he needed from Eggette’s failure in preparation for his inevitable confrontation with Sonic.
After a second, he created a blade at his arm very similar to Sally’s.
“All lifeform data successfully copied.”
To be concluded
"Why did Eggman have to bury this thing so deep?" asked Knuckles. "We're going to be cutting it awfully close."
"It's just a little further," said Tails. "Remember once we leave we clear the blast zone head for Knothole Grove up north, that's were we're going to make…our final stand."
"I thought it was Knothole Village," said Tangle. "At least according to what Amy told me."
"In this timeline…" Tails found himself holding back tears. "The village was never established, it's just an untouched grove of trees, on the one hand that should keep collateral damage to a minimum, but on the other…"
"We'll be fighting them at a place almost all of you think is special. Things turning out this way must really bite for you guys."
"Try keeping a positive attitude about it.," said Sonic. "What better place to welcome them home?"
"SELF DESTRUCT IN T-MINUS 30…29…28…"
The team went down a hallway, as the roars of the Neverworlders echoed behind them.
"Time to pour it guys!" Sonic shouted.
Each put as much speed as they could as they cleared the exit of the base and headed into the woods as the sky above started gathering ominous inky black clouds.
"You can't escape us!" The Neverqueen shouted as their quarry fled the base. "But escape isn't your plan is it?" She thought to herself. "You are trying to keep others from being hurt in your futile attempt to stop us."
Sally couldn't help but find her mind being drawn back to lives they had in the fantasy world that lasted all too briefly. They'd wake up each morning with a smile, greet each other warmly, go about their tasks cheerfully, spend whatever free time they had pursuing simple joys; playing, singing, dancing, loving; and then at the end of the day smile themselves to sleep ready to do it all again the next day.
"Too bad," the Neverqueen thought. "Nothing gold can stay…"
The Neverworlders were now out into the world, ready for a new chance at vengeance.
One gigantic blast later the only thing left of Eggtopia was a massive sinkhole smoldering in the forest.
Sonic and his team meet up with each other in the grove at the edge of an open meadow where the tornado was parked. "Do we have all the emeralds?" Amy asked.
After opening the case Tails pulled out the red gem, Cream green, Silver blue, Mighty yellow, Espio cyan, Vector purple and Knuckles the white.
"I'm going to try to jump start this since they'll be here very soon," Knuckles said as the emeralds were placed in a circle around Sonic who was holding the fragments of the Oblivion Star.
"Remember," said Tails. "Once you're transformed you have to focus on channeling as much Chaos Energy as you can into the Oblivion Star. That means you must limit your movements to avoiding them. We'll try to buy you as much time as we can."
"Just keep yourselves safe too," said Sonic. Everyone moved closer together and fist bumped what was a familiar salute to most, though Tangle got the hang of it quickly. "Now let's do it to it and bring our friends home!"
"Tangle," Amy said. "I know these people are strangers to you and I just want to say thanks for helping us save them."
"Saving folks is what heroes do," said Tangle. "This is not going to be like me and Infinite again, I'm finishing this fight!"
"Me too!" cheered Cream. "I kept Cheese at home this time to protect him, but I think part of me wanted to try to do this on my own, to be as strong as the rest of you!"
"Nervous Mighty?" Ray asked.
Mighty nodded. "Matilda is in there, my little sister is trying to destroy me, again…"
"Saffron's there too," said Charmy. "We were supposed to get married once upon a time but now…"
"We all got each other's backs," said Espio. "And that is going to bring our loved ones back to us."
"Yeah!" shouted Vector. "We're Team Chaotix and if you mess with one of us you mess with all of us!"
"Silver I know this may not be right time," said Blaze. "But even if you've saved our future, I can't go back to it with you, I have responsibilities back in the Sol Dimension now."
Silver looked into Blaze's eyes. "I've accepted that to save the future might mean that I could never go back to it. But now I know, once I'm sure the future we came from is safe, the only future I want to live in is the one with you in it."
Blaze blushed. "The Sol Dimension will always be open to you, Marine might never stop teasing me about it, but I know she'll love having you around too."
"Looks like they're almost here," said Tails. "This is it, Knuckles do your thing."
Knuckles lowered his head solemnly and began chanting. "The servers are the seven Chaos. Chaos is power enriched by the heart. The heart is the controller. The controller serves to unify the chaos."
The emeralds began to glow and started slowly floating around Sonic in a circle. As they did the fragments of the Oblivion Star levitated out of Sonic's hands and began piecing themselves back into one, though the cracks remained.
As the emeralds phased into his body Sonic could feel the power course through him. His eyes went from green to red, his needles became upturned as his fur glowed a magnificent gold. Then the unified Oblivion Star flew onto chest, adhering itself to him.
"Sonic!" Tails yelled.
"Hungry little thing," Sonic grunted. "I think I got it from here."
"I never took you for the sentimental type," Came a voice from the edge of the woods. The Neverworld Army started emerging from the rapidly twisting forest as the grass before them started to grey. "You really want to do this here, the place that defined us more than any other until the world had forgotten it."
"Hey Sal, the monstrous sludge look just isn't you. But give me some time and I'll get you out of that muck."
"You still insist on this lie of making the world accept us throwaways? It can never happen, just give up now and accept the fate this uncaring world has brought upon itself."
"Don't do this! I don't know what it is about this Neverworld that's messing with your heads, but I know that deep down this isn't what you want! I know deep down, you're still Freedom Fighters!"
"We are fighting for freedom, freedom from the injustice this universe inflicts on those it discards and those who live in it! The Neverworld is hollow and uncaring but it is fair. We will all suffer, together!"
"You'll have to get past us first!" said Knuckles.
"So be it," The Neverqueen pointed at the heroes. "ATTACK!"
A wave of Neverworlders started swarming towards the heroes. Sonic's friends moved to counter.
Several wolves broke ahead of the attack. "Now my pack, rip them to shreds!" shouted Lupe.
"Yes, pack leader!" came a hearty reply from her family and the other wolves in the army.
Amy summoned her hammer and stuck the air with such force that it pushed the pack back. "Wake up! We're trying to help you!"
"I'd be more worried about someone helping you!" A school of sea creature Neverworlders rushed forward, a betta, a dolphin, two sharks and a small manta ray.
"How about some catch and release?!" Silver stopped the attack with his telekinesis before throwing them back at the army.
Blaze summoned her flames and created a firewall between the two forces. Several Neverworlders began either flying over the wall or digging under it.
Tails, Cream, Charmy and Ray flew up to meet the flyers as the rest prepared to attack the diggers.
As the diggers erupted from the ground others started coming through the tunnels they dug.
Nearby Knuckles, A mole Neverworlder burst from the ground with a fennec and a porcupine right on its heels. "You are pretty tough I'll give you that," Knuckles said as they charged. "But I am a guardian!" His blows managed to knock each of them away.
"Alright who's next?!" Mighty shouted after sending a tortoise and tiger to the ground.
Out of the nearby ground burst a Neverworlder armadillo. "Ready to make up for abandoning me, brother?" Matilda said with a sneer.
"Yes, by saving you!"
Matilda tied to swipe her claws down on her brother only for mighty to hold them back leaving the two wrestling with each other.
Up above Ray knocked a pheasant Neverworlder out of the sky and saw Mighty struggling and a mongoose Neverworlder coming in at his blind spot. "Mighty watch out!"
Ray went into a sharp dive and knocked Ash off course. Reflexively the Mongoose made a counter swipe on the off guard flying squirrel that raked across his back.
"RAY!" Mighty threw his sister to the ground and ran to Ray's side. "You ok? Say something!"
Ray suddenly moved and grabbed Mighty holding him in a lock. Ray's eyes were now pitch-black and streaming tar-like tears. "What?!"
The Neverqueen came up from a tunnel. "I can feel it, now the Star has more power than ever I also feel it's true potential, a power that we can use to feed the fragments instead of drain them!"
Matilda rushed and swiped Mighty across the chest as Ray was starting to ooze black sludge from his skin.
"It can stabilize those we erase right in its presence, instead of being sent straight to the Neverworld they will be made to understand immediately, they will join us!"
Soon Mighty fell under the same effect and two new Neverworlders arose.
"Every foe we fell will immediately add to our numbers! We will let it be our banner of vengeance and the world will quickly learn to fear the Oblivion Star as the vanguard of the Neverworld!"
"I won't let you do that!" Sonic yelled as he moved to avoid blows from the flyers coming near him while focusing ever more power into the Star. "This world is worth protecting and you all have a place in it!"
The Neverqueen turned to her army. "Add them to our forces! Feel free to seek out the ones who were once precious to you and bring them into the fold!"
Cream felt herself being pulled down by the leg she looked to see Bunnie had leapt up and grabbed hold of her ankle. "Ready to join the family?"
"Not my watch!" Tangle grabbed Bunnie with her tail sending all three crashing to the ground. As Cream got up Tangle still had a firm grip on the Neverworlder's neck.
"Get your tail off of my wife!" Antione yelled. The coyote grabbed Tangle by the tail before sinking his teeth into it.
"No Tangle!" Cream moved to save the lemur only to run right into the other rabbit's claw like nails.
"Cream!" Sonic yelled.
"Don't worry about us…" Tangle said as her eyes started to turn black.
"We know you'll save us too, along with them…" Cream continued as she began to change as well.
As the others saw Tangle and Cream transformed into Neverworlders Blaze moved the flaming wall and started to spread it out to try to keep the others safe or at least make it so that they didn't have to fight so many at once.
"One on your left!" Silver said as he held telekinetically grabbed a skunk Neverworlder.
Geoffrey smirked. "You fell for it."
Hershey leapt from a nearby tree and slashed Silver across the chest.
"NO!" Blaze summoned up flames in each hand ready to payback the black cat, but they died out once she felt the slash of claws come from behind.
"I know what torture it is to be parted from the ones you love," Geoffrey said. "So, you can thank me for having you joining the hedgehog instead fighting him, even if you can no longer love each other."
As the two refugees from the future screamed in their transformation Charmy took notice. "We're dropping like flies! Sonic you better hurry it up!"
"They're not making it easy for me!" Sonic answered. Between the flyers and those on the ground eager to get a swipe at him Sonic had to stay in near constant motion. Not a problem for him except he wasn't focusing on charging the Oblivion Star as much as could have been. This was made particularly bad since Dulcy was giving Sally a ride and Sonic had to avoid the Neverqueen's claws AND the dragon's fire breath.
"Hang in there," Amy yelled back. "We believe in you!"
"We stand a better chance if we all protect each other at one spot!" yelled Vector. "Stick together!"
As the remaining heroes moved to get to each other Espio threw shuriken between him and a lynx to stop his charge. Suddenly felt himself getting pulled to the ground by his ankle then backward.
A moment later the tongue around his ankle appeared along with the chameleon Neverworlder it belonged to pulling him closer.
Espio saw the lynx and two wolves surround him. "Huh, you've kept up your training Liza. The shinobi clan would be proud, despite my bad luck…"
"We're coming!" Charmy said as he and Vector rushed to Espio's aid.
Vector suddenly found himself grabbed by a pair of clawed flippers. "Going somewhere?" Rotor said as he worked to keep the Crocodile in place. "Free shot here!"
A Wallaby and a Koala were quickly making their way to Vector. "Walt and Barby," Vector said with a resigned smirk. "I should have guessed."
Charmy seemed lost at first but then moved to the one he knew he could save. "Hang on Vector!"
"What about me?" Charmy turned just in time to feel Saffron's stinger hit him in the stomach. The bee-like Neverworlder then went to whisper in his ear, "You may now kiss the bride."
As Walt and Barby slashed at Vector and the Chaotix began to turn Tails, Knuckles and Amy stood back to back against the encroaching horde. "We still have to buy Sonic more time!" Knuckles said while knocking back a dog Neverworlder.
"This is stupid!" Tails yelled to the attacking army. "We're trying to help you!"
Three Neverworlders stepped forward, a mongoose, a fox an echidna.
"Please!" shouted Amy. "We don't have be fighting! Mina, you and Ash were going to get married, that can still happen!"
Mina stopped in her tracks.
"Fiona," Tails said. "Amy told me I was originally right about you still having good inside, that you wanted to change for the better, once this plan works you can be better!"
Fiona stopped, the army got quiet and slowed.
"Julie-Su, help us and our people can have a future again, WE can have a future again, together. I still mean something to you, don't I?"
Julie stopped along with Neverworlder Army, as if they all they were all considering the pleas.
"Maybe you did it," said Sonic. "You reached them."
The pause was shattered in an instant as another Enchina burst from the ground behind Knuckles it was then the other three rushed the off-guard heroes.
Julie-Su and Lien-Da buried their claws into Knuckles with remarkable co-ordination. "These are my people now," Lien-Da said.
"We will be together," said Julie-Su. "But none of us have a future."
Fiona cut Tails on the back. "There is nothing inside of me or any of us, absolutely nothing!"
"A wedding?!" Mina said as she slashed Amy across the stomach. "How can we have a wedding when we can't feel love anymore?!"
Sonic could hardly contain himself as the last of his friends rose as Neverworlders.
"It's over Sonic!" the Neverqueen said. "Your friends have seen the futility and cruelty of this world!Now they will be your undoing as you become our greatest weapon!" The Neverqueen raised a claw and pointed at Sonic. "Now see as the friends you brought to 'save' us bring you into the fold!"
The former heroes roared as they started to rush Sonic. Suddenly they stopped as a large laser created ditch between them.
"ATTACK REPULSED," said Omega as Team Dark came from behind Sonic. "CONTINUING ASSUALT." The robot then proceeded keep unloading its arsenal.
"A few hundred against one seems to be a bit much," said Rouge as she swooped in knocking the Neverworlder Tails, Cream and Charmy from the sky. "Four should be fairer."
"All it takes is one," Shadow said as he dashed in. "If that one is me."
"About time you got here," Sonic laughed. "I take it you remember our old friends over there. Can you keep them busy while I try to use this thing's power to bring them back?"
"Yes," said Shadow. "And I know Maria wouldn't want them to hurt another innocent and they won't while I'm around!"
"Add three or three thousand!" yelled the Neverqueen. "It won't make a difference, we don't live so we can't die! Take them out! Show no mercy!"
The army swarmed again as Team Dark ran to counter them. Sonic moved into the air channeling ever more power into the Oblivion Star.
Rouge drill kicked the Neverqueen off Dulcy. "Sorry princess, but I'm still hoping to get paid for this…"
"ROUGE!" Shadow shouted. "WATCH YOUR BACK!"
The dragon unleashed a stream of fire that knocked Rouge straight to the ground making a crater. Seconds later a bat Neverworlder rose up screeching.
Omega kept firing but the numbers he was up against were starting to overwhelm his capabilities. "Let's talk," hissed a Lynx Neverworlder. "From one A.I. to another about the real enemy!"
Nicole managed to get right up to Omega and started to rip his chassis open. "CONTAMINATION DETECTED, ANTI-VIRAL COUNTERMEAURES…INEFFECTIVE!"
As the black sludge started to cover Omega, Sonic turned to Shadow. "I just need a little more time!"
Shadow took off his inhibitor rings. "I'll get it for you. Hey come at me!"
"Out of my way!" The Neverqueen clawed at Shadow's chest.
Shadow grunted through the pain and ran into the dead center of the Army. "CHAOS CONTROL!"
A bluish black sphere enveloped the entire army and the nearly corrupted Omega stopping them all in their tracks.
"I can't hold this forever!" Shadow said as his eyes turned black, the sludge progressing much more slowly than usual. "Whatever you're going to do you better do it soon!"
Sonic felt the Oblivion Star get white hot, new cracks started to form. "This is it, got to do this fast! Now or never, all or nothing!"
Super Sonic then flew straight at the nearest Neverworlder he could find. The Neverqueen still frozen in place glared at the Hedgehog in contempt. "Damn you!"
Super Sonic seemed to pass right through her and quickly did the same for the next Neverworlder and the next with such blinding speed it he seemed like a lightning. As he passed through each one they became covered in a golden light that started to burn away the sludge that covered them. The damage to the environment was also quickly reversing itself.
After passing through the last Neverworlder Sonic flew up and pulled the quickly fracturing Oblivion Star from his chest. “Time to ditch this hot potato!” Sonic threw the Oblivion Star away then jetted toward it. The black clouds melted away and the sun shone forth just as Super Sonic was about to hit the Oblivion Star.
The black gem shattered into thousands of tiny shards, a golden light began to cover everything in sight.
Once the Oblivion Star was no more the light seemed to envelop everything.
The light dimmed slightly as Sonic found himself floating in a warmly lit place, his super form gone. Looking around he could see several colored orbs around him. He reached out to touch one.
"Please don't," a voice came from behind him. "They are very delicate, unless you have the right touch."
Sonic turned and saw a strange whitish being floating nearby, gently stroking each orb with its…flipper…wing…it was broad and flat, but he couldn't tell much else. Its legs ended in pointed tips and it had gold glowing eyes on its nondescript face and a gold gem on its forehead.
"Ok who are you, how did I get here and how do I get back to my friends?"
The creature looked into Sonic's eyes. "In order, I am a servant of life but if you must give me a name you may call me Vida. The resonance of the between the Oblivion Star and the power you were channeling had brought you to this place, but only for the moment between heartbeats so you won't really remember this after you leave. As for your friends they are all around you.
Sonic looked around and understood. "The orbs."
"Your people call them cores, others would say they are souls or essences, just different names for same thing. I am here, in the place these poor things once called the Neverworld, to carry out the purpose that it was originally intended to serve, to be a place of rebirth."
"So why wasn't it?"
"It would take far more time than we have for me to explain just know these cores can begin their new lives. You should feel quite honored, they were given the chance to begin again in a pure version of the fantasy they lived out. But instead because of your determination to free them they all have chosen to be reborn back on your world, even with the suffering that could entail, because they were inspired by the example you and your friends gave to never give in even in the face of oblivion."
"So, they're going to be coming back with me when I go."
"Only the ones who fell in battle today, their lives to this point have already been written, only a few changes that will come shortly will have to catch up with them. The rest will have to be sent back to fill out their lives as they were owed. Soon after you return their new lives will catch up with them and they and your world will change, that is one of three things you will leave here knowing. Some will change more than others but all will not be the exact same as you had previously known, just as when this world was changed before."
"At least nothing was erased this time."
"They are almost ready to be sent back to be born but a few small boons are still to be granted, a recompense for the suffering they endured for far too long."
Vida touched a yellow core. "This one will be made a little more whole, so a legacy may be passed on," she then touched a red Core, "This one will get back lost time that once festered into bitterness," Another red with a pink. “These will have a chance to be the family they wanted, if they are willing to accept it,” now a purple, "This one will know a truth that was owed to it," Vida then came on two blue orbs, “These two will get a deeper connection with each other…”. Vida stopped as if to hear a whisper. “But also, one wants to keep what it had with you.”
"Well then, the sooner I get going the sooner they can all get their birthday presents."
Sonic started to feel the light start to fade. "Before you leave there are still two things you must know. Secondly there are still more challenges ahead of you all, but that is because they are connected to you and your still unfolding destiny."
"And the third?"
"A little after you get back but before their new lives are set, you should probably duck."
Sonic felt the pull of gravity on him as he fell.
Sonic felt his wrist gripped and his body halt in midair. Looking up he saw Tails, back to his normal self, flying the way only he could.
Sonic grabbed Tails' wrist. "I take it our plan worked."
"See for yourself."
Tails flew Sonic down into the crowd of Mobians that was once the Neverworld army. All the injuries to his friends were gone without a trace, everyone was lying on the ground but stirring looking the same way they did the last time sonic saw them before each rewriting of the timeline. As they got up they looked at their restored selves, Amy and the others who came on this mission in relief but the rest in awe.
Sally looked around taking every sense in at once. "I…I can feel again…I'm alive…we're alive…WE'RE ALL ALIVE!"
Cheers came up from the crowd, friends hugged, families embraced, lovers kissed, and laughter rang throughout the grove that was home to so many here once upon a time.
As Tails brought Sonic close enough to the ground everyone started crowding around him. "You saved us Sugah-Hog," said Bunnie as she hugged Sonic, one arm and both legs now robotic. "Just like you said you would."
"Just like you always do," Mina said. "We had to be a lot more patient than usual," she began to look sad. "But we never should have given up."
"We never should have doubted you either," said Antione. "You've done things before that everyone else thought was impossible."
"We never thought this day would come," Nicole said holding her console as if she never destroyed it. "But what will we do now? Where will we go?"
"That is a big question," Lien-da said. “Everyone knows what I was like before all this and afterward I only connected you because we were in the same boat and only after a VERY long time. Now I don’t know what I want any more or what to do with myself…”
"Well I know what I must do!" Fiona said going down on her knees right in front of Tails. "I need you to slap me, right on the cheek as hard as you can!"
Tails backpedaled. "Why would…"
"I had a LOT of time to think about how to make up for what I've done if it could get me out that place. But now that I can really feel more than anger or sorrow again, and what Amy told me... I want to make up for everything. So, go ahead. It might seem like a drop in the barrel, but I have to start somewhere!"
"Actually," Geoffrey said coming forward. "While we're on the topic of making amends, I'd been a downright cad. I was guilty of treason, pardoned by the very monster I committed the treason for and I never got to truly make it up to you all." He turned to Hershey. "Especially you, I tried to be a better person for you but when I thought I had lost you forever, I defiled your memory by going right back to be the same self-important cretin I was. I don't deserve to be your…"
"Just stop it!" Hershey shouted. "Both of you! You're going on about how bad you were when, when…when in the end everyone else, including me, wasn't really any better!" Hershey started weeping, a lot of the crowd began to look guilty.
Geoffrey hugged his wife as he started weeping too.
"She's not wrong." Elias said. "We might not have been able to feel guilt or remorse after what happened, but we still had our memories, we still knew what it was like for others to suffer. But when given the chance…we killed a world, and for what?! It didn't give us our lives backs, it didn't really make us feel better, we just did it because we felt so entitled to that 'justice' that we pulled others into our suffering with us. Sally we did you and the others so much wrong and…"
"That doesn't make us any better than the rest of you! We were willing to take it just as far and we chose to do so ourselves!" Sally cried. The rest of the former Neverworlders also expressed guilt. "I did the exact opposite of everything I ever stood for, and without the excuse being a robotiziced slave! I became the very thing I spent my whole life fighting against! In the end we're all monsters, given a gift we don't really deserve…"
Sonic whistled sharply. "Ok I get, you made some seriously bad choices and you're sorry. That's all over now, I mean you just got what you really wanted all along and you're using it to feel sorry for yourselves? If you want to make up for all that, then just dash the other way and be the best 'you' you can be!"
Sally came up to Sonic with tears still flowing. "You'd forgive all of us? You'd forgive the horrible things we've done just like that?"
"Believe it or not I was convinced Eggman has changed for the better not all that long ago. Long story, but if that could happen I think it's possible for anyone to redeem themselves."
"That still leaves us with a problem," said Julie-Su. "We don't have a past here, just how do fit back into the world?"
"I know the world you remembered, twice in a lot of cases, is gone and its not coming back. But that also means you can all start fresh, you all get whole new…lives…"
"Sonic is something wrong?" Amy asked.
As words had come back to him from who knows where, Sonic could hear the roar of an engine sound ever closer.
"EVERYONE GET DOWN NOW!"
As the crowd huddled close to the ground missiles passed overhead and not long after that an explosion ripped the end of the grove.
Sonic turned to the source of the missiles.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Needle Mouse. Did my Egg Chimera interrupt your happy ending?" Eggette's voice came from a giant red and yellow mechanical lion with a robotic serpent for a tail and a goat headed like command deck raising from its shoulders. "Now you know how I feel!"
"Didn't we win already!?" moaned Tangle.
"Looks like someone didn't get the memo," Shadow grunted as he put his limter rings back on. An army of what looked like thousands of Badnicks came in from behind the Egg Chimera including several Super Badnicks.
"Sending all my Badnicks against you after you've lost the Chaos Emeralds and you've all exhausted yourselves from that huge battle just wouldn't be fair." Eggette smirked from the Egg Mobile in the cockpit as it sat above the seats where the S6 were co-piloting. "Too bad for you I don't care about fair play."
To be continued…
“Neverworld?” Amy asked. “Is that how you all survived?”
“No, no one ‘survived’ but we Neverworlders continued as shades of our former selves. I know what you’re thinking ‘many of these people are our friends, fellow Freedom Fighters, how could they do such horrible things?’ I know you’re thinking that because I had those same thoughts once, even though for me it was an eternity ago…”
Sally moved through the ruins of what was once a home to her, the sky unnaturally dark and the landscape twisted from the presence of the Dimension Breakers, Bunnie and Antione had to be up ahead, hoping beyond hope their separation didn't lead to yet another loss. She felt like her heart was going to rip itself apart, after seeing so many Freedom Fighters sacrifice themselves against these things over the past few days then to hear that her father had died to give them the chance they needed only to lose both Nicole and Rotor… she swore to herself she wasn't going to lose anyone else.
She had reached the latest addition to the village she and her friends made on their last visit, a memorial to everyone lost in the Super Genesis Wave and there she saw them. Her friends were on their stomachs and above them was the Dimension Breaker that seemed to be leading the others.
Their hands just touched each other as they blew away like dust in the wind.
"Sal?" Sonic's voice sounded over the communicator. "Sally come in, we're almost at the detonation point. How are you guys?"
"They're gone Sonic, Antoine and Bunnie are gone. I see the lead breaker in front of me. I going to make sure these things won't take anyone else. Not one more…"
"Sal just save who you can and keep yourself…"
She turned the device off. All the loss and suffering Sally endured for the last few days erupted into white hot rage. "Not one more, not one more, NOT ONE MORE YOU MONSTER!"
Sally activated her Ring Blade and made a deep cut into face of the lead breaker. It turned back and all of Sally’s anger changed into shock and confusion in an instant.
Beneath the part of the “face” she cut off she saw a black eye in a face she thought she’d never see again.
Elias swung his claw at Sally who just managed to block with her Ring Blade.
“Nice work, little sister.”
“But, why do this? What would Megan and Alexis think about all this destruction?!”
“You could never understand, not if you hadn’t gone through the hell we all have, Megan and Alexis included. Your world cast us away, so we will ease our suffering by inflicting it back on this place!”
"What about Professer Charles and Dr. Ellidy dying?! What about our father dying?! Is that another part of your plan?!"
"Was mother dying when you a child part of yours? I am no longer part of your family. We are the same my comrades and I, orphans of time and space. It doesn't matter what we did or didn't do in the past this is the only thing left for us!"
“And hurting those who had nothing to do what happened to you?! How is that fair?!”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT FAIR!” Elias’ blow sent Sally through the monument breaking it to small pieces.
“Lien-da was a self-serving manipulator, Julie-Su decided to use her skills to help people; they both spent an eternity in the Neverworld, how is that fair!?”
Elias made another swing Sally blocked. “You were made into one of Eggman’s worst servants, Geoffrey was in the same boat when he was possessed by Naugus when he began to turn away from his master. You got yourself back, but Geoffrey was sent to the Neverworld while Naugus was the one who was spared, how it that fair!?”
Sally pushed her blade closer to her brother, she noticed black sludge like tears coming from his eye. “How is it fair that the worst person that ever happened to our people survived the disaster HE caused WHILE ALEXIS NEVER EVEN GOT A BIRTHDAY?!?!”
Elias kicked Sally away as the sludge that covered him reformed the cut off part of his face. “As you can tell little sister I don’t care much for what your world considers ‘fair’.” He said with a voice now distorted by his monstrous appearance.
Sally coughed while getting up. “You have every right to be angry, but I can’t let you hurt anyone else. If there is anything left of the brother I loved, the one I wished I could have grown up with, then please stop now. I lost too many people, I don’t want to lose you again too…”
The creature was unmoving. “I am already lost, do what you must, and I will do what I must.”
Sally felt tears stream down her face, it was almost felt like her body was moving on its own and both ring blades activated. The lead breaker swiped to take her head, she parried the blow and with the other blade carved a large gash in its chest causing the creature to fall almost prone.
A sudden wind started blowing, while Sally couldn't feel it the Dimension Breaker was planted both of its claws into ground to try to keep from being pulled away. The Negative Vortex Bomb must have gone off, it was over. Sally deactivated one of the ring blades, knelt away from the creature and picked up a piece of the destroyed monument.
“You shouldn’t turn your back on me,” The thing that was once known as King Elias said.
Sally gazed into the stone fragment and began to carve a name into it with her blade. "I don't want to remember you like this. If possible, I want to keep a memory of the brother who was kind, who worried about doing what was best for his family and our people instead of the expecta…!"
Sally felt a sharp pain across her back, followed by a sudden growing chill. She turned to see Elias with one claw free with bits of her vest on it that were even now becoming a vanishing dust.
“I did warn you.”The creature lost its grip and was pulled far out of sight to the vortex that was sweeping the Dimension Breakers back to wherever they came from.
The creature lost its grip and was pulled far out of sight.
“SAL!” Sonic yelled. The hedgehog ran up to Sally and picked her up. “Please be ok! We just won, you gotta be there for the victory party!"
She could already feel herself starting to drift away. "I wish I could go with you, but it looks like this is where my story ends. You may never remember me, but I'll never forget you. You made my life a great adventure and more importantly have been a great friend, so I have no regrets. Sayonara, Sonic the Hedgehog."
Then she was gone.
Sonic found himself in a wooded grove with no idea what he was doing there. Shaking off the feeling he began running again.
She didn’t know when regained consciousness, just that she was in a lightless place. She could somehow tell there were others around her but could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing…
No, that was wrong. She felt empty, not in the way hunger would make her feel but as if something important was missing from her very being.
“Focus,” came an unbidden thought. “Try to perceive those of us around you, concentrate.”
Sally thought more about those around her and things came into more ‘focus’ for lack of a better term. Four felt close to her but telling actual distance was just about impossible. She was envisioning them as largely featureless, more disturbing was that she was seeing herself the same way.
“Who are you?” she thought.
“Focus,” the answer came. “We only just learned ourselves, but you must learn to ‘see’ without light, ‘hear’ without sound and ‘feel’ without touch.
She concentrated once more, her mind rearranged the sensations the ‘focus’ began to substitute the mental noise for sight and sound. The figures around her were now apparent.
“Nicole, Bunnie, Antione, Rotor, you’re alive.” She said relieved.
“Actually, it’s just the opposite Sally-girl.” Bunnie said with a trace of melancholy. “We were never alive, not since we all ‘died’.”
“That doesn’t make sense. How can we be dead but never alive?”
“Still trying to wrap my head around it myself,” said Rotor. “But this is what happens to folks who were erased from existence, everyone around here calls it ‘the Neverworld’.”
“Elias, he said something about a Neverworld…after he killed the two of you...”
“The Super Genesis Wave sent many people here,” Antoine said. “You’ll find quite a few familiar ‘faces’, but none of them are like how we remembered them. They and the former king …had been through quite a lot here.”
“That doesn’t excuse what they were doing.” Sally couldn't help but let a tinge of bitterness edge into her voice.
“Ok, something new,” Nicole said. “Try to get up, focus on how you would imagine your perspective shifting, sorry if this all sounds strange, but we were told it’s important try to adjust your perceptions to fit your expectations rather than reality here. That it would help us hold onto sanity for at least a little bit longer.”
Sally managed to stand up. “Still they attacked us, how can we trust them?”
“Because you are us now,” A figure approached the five, after focusing Sally realized who it was.
“Megan,” Sally said curtly. “I wonder if you know what your husband has been doing?”
“I should, I did my fair share of damage back out there myself.”
“Who here hasn’t attacked our world? I’d rather speak to someone who has some sense of decency left.”
“We all did our part, it was worth it to act out our rage and ease our despair. But there are other new arrivals if you’d prefer their company.”
“I would, and I am very disappointed in the example you and my ‘brother’ are setting for Alexis.”
“My daughter…tends to withdraw into herself. You must understand that this place doesn’t allow us the chance to grow. I know we have lost your trust, but you’ll see that we have much more in common now. After the first century…”
“Century? The Super Genesis wave wasn’t that long ago.”
“You have to understand other than us there is nothing here, absolutely nothing. Light, sound, gravity, time, none of it exists for us; we must fill in those sensations with our minds.”
“Thank you for the tips, but we’ll stick with hanging around your victims now.”
Sally “turned” to move away but didn’t feel the others doing the same. “You guys are coming with me, right?”
The four other fallen freedom fighters gave off a sense of guilt. “Sorry princess but, we’re still trying to understand how this world works,” said Rotor. “And if these people been around for so long then maybe we should at least learn from them.”
“After they betrayed us?!” that came out harsher than she thought it would.
“Your ‘world’ betrayed us first,” said Megan. “And you’ll see it has betrayed all of you as well.”
“I know it seems odd for us to just trust our attackers,” said Antione. “But it looks like we’re going to be here for a very, very, VERY long time. What is the saying…trouble shared is troubled halved?”
“Hun maybe we should think about it,” said Bunnie. “I mean it’s already hard for me to keep myself from feeling numb, there’s so much more we don’t know and we were ONCE friends with a lot of these folks.”
“I was confused just finding myself here,” said Nicole. “I was an artificial intelligence but now I find have a core, what humans call a soul, that persists even though my physical existence had ended, even reversed? And Dr. Ellidy, he said he found something important he wanted to tell me, but he never got the chance. Unfortunately, the very ones responsible for our predicament are our only chance to understand and find a way to come to terms with it.”
Sally was taken aback. “I can’t believe I’m hearing this, you all make it sound like we should just give up on any chance of getting home! Fine sulk here all you want, I’m going to find a way out of here with some REAL freedom fighters!”
Sally stormed off into the endless dark.
“Once I realized that I was fighting my own family…” Lupe choked. “How could I call myself a pack leader if I abandoned the wolves who meant the most to me, that I only just realized I had already lost twice?!”
“So, you weren’t caught off guard, you let them kill you!?”
“It was the only way I could see us being together again, and I deserved it for being such a callous wife and mother…”
“You couldn’t have remembered them!”
"They didn't see it that way at the time. I seemed so different that it didn't feel like I was the pack leader they had, but I think they've accepted me again."
“It was your choice Lupe,” Sally fumed. “But I think you were wrong about who was being callous then.”
As she went away Sally worried about how she felt back there, she wanted to empathize with Lupe but no matter how hard she tried it just came off as…empty. As empty as she was feeling.
“Knowing now how they felt, I don’t blame them for trying to steal my ‘life’ for themselves,” Dulcy said while she knelt next to someone curled on what passed for the ground. "Finding out it didn't work out that way then being pulled back here, it's making those like her relive when they first came here all over again. So, the Shijin Warriors have been trying help to break them out of it."
Sally was feeling her increasingly short temper flare. “Don’t tell me after what they did to you, you feel sorry for this conniving, manipulative, unrepentant little…”
"Please, please let me go,” Fiona whimpered. “I don't want to stay here, I want to go back. I'm sorry, I'll change, I'll be better, I'll do things right, I'll make amends, I'll do whatever it takes, just let me go please. Please, please, please..."
Sally could feel sadness coming from Dulcy’s gaze. “Does that sound unrepentant to you? I remember the history between you two, but I want to feel sorry for you both. The problem is no matter how hard I try I just can’t, not because of what anyone did it’s more like I’m unable to even for my closest friends. I've heard that lovers and family members stay together to feel complete, but they can't feel the love or friendship they had. This place, I think it’s poisoning our cores.”
Sally felt a truth to what the dragon was saying. She knew she didn’t want to be angry with her, the Freedom Fighters, her old friends, or her brother but it just flowed so easily. Anger and sadness, they seemed to drown out everything else out. “We have to get out of here.”
It’d been quite a while since Sally first came to the Neverworld, her anger against most of the inhabitants waned along with any realistic hopes of finding a way out, most of her time was filled with sadness instead. She’d come to understand what these old friends of hers were, what she and the others who had just come here became. Reduced to the very core of their beings, but cores that had been hollowed out and left with a bottomless well of envy and despair. They were so hollow that even when they all gathered together she still felt so completely and utterly alone.
The monstrous forms she associated with the Dimension Breakers was just a second skin of their despair to protect them from a world that had would never accept them again, a rejection that warped the world around them. Sally and the others began to accept that it was the world that was the true monster, one that said everything about them was wrong.The last visit to the physical world proved that a single injury, a single “infection” by a Neverworlder was enough for the world to completely reject someone’s continued existence.
For the most part they tried to pantomime the lives they had before, if only to have the barest sensation of a memory of what is was like to be alive. They even faked the less pleasant or uninteresting activities like sleeping or having an illness just out of fear they’d forget the sensations.
But the worst part was realizing that every facet of their lives was rendered null and void, past and future. The trauma Mina conquered to find her voice, meaningless now that voice was trapped in silence. The beautiful reunion awaiting Geoffrey and Hershey, they were together but the love just wasn't there. Matilda would never fully reconnect to Mighty, Saffron’ s wedding to Charmy forever out of reach, the children Antione and Bunnie hoped to have after a miracle, taken away as if snatched from the cradle. Sally’s own story; her carefree childhood shattered by separation from her father and the loss of their kingdom, starting the Freedom Fighters with Sonic and her friends, the early absurd resistances and later hard fought battles, sweet if incomplete victory, reuniting with a brother she had forgotten she had, the sacrifice she made that turned her into a monster, having her whole life changed around her, the future where she would ascend to the throne and have a loving family of her own until she died peacefully in her sleep of old age; all crumpled up and thrown away like a badly written script.
She felt a presence nearby and allowed it to come close. “I’d perfectly understand if you’d never forgive me,” said Elias.
“You told me I could never understand unless I went through the same hell you have big brother, now I have, now I do. You had to lash out just for that sweet satisfaction of some tiny justice. I was responsible for what happened to you, Megan and Alexis, at least in part. I helped Eggman carry his Super Genesis Wave forward, I helped to erase so many from existence.”
“You weren’t you, it wasn’t your fault. Not that it mattered to me then…”
“Yes, it was Eggman’s fault, his and Sonic’s. Eggman set the wheel in motion but Sonic when we all needed him most failed us and yet the world probably still thinks of him as the hero. I hate them, I hate them all so much and I swear when we get out of here again they will pay.”
“That day will probably never come but if it does I will follow you to it, you were always the better leader between the two of us.”
Sally could almost see her brother’s pitch-black eyes, but it no longer bothered her. After all hers were now the same. “Only because I had to be to survive the first injustices done to our kingdom. But together all of us will undo Eggman, Sonic and that wretched world they keep fighting over. They will all feel the vengeance of the Neverworld.”
Sally shook away the memory. “All of that stops mattering in the abyss of the Neverworld. Imagine being unable to truly sense anything for so long that when sensation suddenly comes back everything from the taste of stale bread to the very feeling of air filling your lungs becomes addicting, intoxicating…that was what it was really like for us as Eggman’s pseudo-existent slaves. Even if it went against everything I once stood for, a taste of life in exchange for servitude was better than the emptiness of the Neverworld. Then to have a simple, extremely childish life given to you along with a new, fragmented past that displaced your memories of that abyss…well ever hear the phrase ‘high on life’? In places of our minds we hid even from ourselves we were straight up junkies willing to keep up the charade for another fix.”
“Ok, you all want the Oblivion Star,” Eggette said in a nervous sweat. “No problem let me go and you can have it, you can even keep Eggtopia so you can have your happiness AND your free will. See I have the Star right here!” Eggette held up the reassembled gem only for the shard on the bottom to slip out causing the rest to fall from her grasp. “I don’t suppose anyone brought any glue?”
“Even if that remnant of a dead super-dimensional being could be restored, it was only ever a temporary solution it couldn’t give us that semblance of life forever,” Sally said. “It could make us ‘alive’ again but it couldn’t give us a past or a future or a place in this world. We knew as much when Eggman found us, but we didn’t care. But now it is gone it is time to finish the war we started and drag this planet with us to the Neverworld!”
“Be reasonable everyone,” Tails said. “Your ‘war’ on reality won’t make things better for you. Now that we know what happened to you we can work together to come up with a real solution.”
“We’re well past solutions Tails. Our childlike lives here are over and we’re too old to play make believe anymore. The time has come to shed these rags of a false life, these old skins and take the justice we were so cruelly denied!”
The Neverworlders began to snarl and growl, the black substance coming from their eyes seemed to also seep from every pore and orifice covering them in a skintight slick. The frilly dresses and well-kept suits were torn as their wearers grew becoming more muscular but also sleeker, Nicole even smashed her console as she began to change. Fangs and claws became more pronounced, even on those descended from herbivores and prey animals. Once the transformation was complete the eyes of the Neverworlders glowed in eerie light.
The environment around them started to shift into something nightmarish. “I hate to say it,” growled Knuckles. “But we probably have to fight our old friends.”
“Isn’t there anything else we can do?” worried Cream. “They’re still our friends, right?”
“Ahem,” Eggette coughed. “You know having your fairy tale turn into a horror story before your eyes makes you think. Sometimes you must fit your role model to the situation. As much as I look up to Uncle Eggman I realize in this case I should follow your example Sonic.”
“You pick now to turn over a new leaf?” groaned Mighty. “I’m only partly surprised.”
“What I am saying is that I am going to follow Sonic’s example…” Eggette made a short hop as her skirt lowered two metallic hemispheres until they closed encapsulating Eggette’s legs in a steel ball. “AND RUN!”
One screeching of a peel out later and Eggette’s ball zoomed her down an empty hallway.
“Huh, the little egg’s a big chicken,” said Ray.
The crowd of Neverworlders roared.
“She’s not wrong though!” Sonic said. “SCATTER!”
The group split up taking different routes away from the horde.
“So, this is mettle of the heroes this incarnation of the world produces?” Sally mused in a distorted voice. “They don’t make them like they used to.” She turned to her family of monstrosities. “Capture them, we will take our vengeance, but I have special plans for Eggman and Sonic. We will make Sonic watch as we unmake his friends one by one in front his eyes, make him suffer as we have suffered before sending him to the Neverworld. As for Eggman that spoiled brat might be the only other person than himself he cares about in the world, if he does we make him despair, if he doesn’t…” Sally spread out her claws. “We will make him fear.”
This elicited roars of approval from the crowd.
"This will not be like last time, those who came were lashing out, unprepared initially even unknowing that reality had been altered in this world. But now we know better, we can strike strategically and methodically. For example, savagery is only half of how to make them fear you. We do not need sound to communicate but use it anyway. Let these people of who you were, remind them we are this way because they failed us or that they thought of nothing about what they have that we never could."
Antione stepped forward “You always knew the right way to inspire us Princess,” growled the coyote.
"I stopped being a princess when my father died, none of us is who we were anymore. Sally Acorn is gone, I am your Neverqueen."
Sonic ran down a hallway until he spotted a mechanical door to the side. “In here!”
Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Tangle entered the room as the door closed behind them. Knuckles then punched out the keypad and moved a bookshelf in front of the door. “That should keep them at bay for now.”
“But what are we going to do?” Amy asked. “Even if I were open to killing them, which I’m not, I don’t think they CAN be killed.”
“I don’t suppose you have a spare Negative Vortex Bomb laying around do you Tails?” asked Tangle.
“No, but I could whip one up with a dedicated lab, some super exotic particles and a month to design it.” Tails sighed. “It was so complex we relied on Nicole to keep track of schematics and she’s not in a co-operative mood right now.”
“Whatever does happen we can’t let them leave this base,” said Knuckles. “If they escape we’d have another Dimension Breaker incident. It might be the best option to seal this place up with… the Neverworlders inside it.”
“Bury them or seal them away, I can’t believe those are our only options.” Amy said on the verge of tears. “They never asked for any of this.”
Tails took a closer look around the room. “Wait a minute,” Tails went to a computer console and turned it on. “Password required, think these might be Eggman’s research logs? Maybe he figured out something we all missed.”
“Can you bypass the code?” asked Knuckles.
“No need. D-R-E-G-G-M-A-N-N-U-M-B-E-R-O-N-E-S-U-P-E-R-G-E-N-I-U-S.”
“Dr. Eggman number one super genius,” sighed Sonic. “You know for a guy with an IQ of 300 he’s really not all that bright.”
Eggman’s image appeared on the screen.
“Begin log entry #1 on subject codenamed Oblivion Star. Well I managed to escape that timeless void me and my past-self got trapped in after Sonic destroyed the Time Eater but while we both escaped I claimed the prize. I managed to locate a still active fragment of the Time Eater to use in our escape, not enough for it to reform but perhaps enough to utilize. The energies seem closer to the Time Eater’s void power than time power but I’m sure I can put it to appropriate use against a certain meddlesome hedgehog.
“Log entry #2 after several failed tests to get some sort of reaction I was going to put the Oblivion Star on the back burner in favor of the Phantom Ruby when the following occurred.
The image changed to a lab with Cubot holding the Oblivion Star.
“So, I just hold this?”
“Yes, and stay perfectly still,’ said Eggman.
Eggman held up a ray gun and pulled the trigger. The beam seemed to be absorbed by the Star a swirling portal appeared about three feet away from Cubot.
“Not a portal to the white dimension or that all that different from the null space I’m developing…doesn’t seem like I can do much with this after…”
A very small Neverworlder came from the portal and began to move towards Cubot. As it came close the tar like substance melted away into air leaving a little unclothed Alexis behind who was transfixed on the gem.
“What is that thing?”
“I believe it’s an organic in an early stage of development,” said Orbot. “Otherwise known as a ‘baby’.”
“I know it’s a baby rust bucket! But what happened to it, where did it come from?”
“Well from what I heard when a mommy and daddy love each other very much…”
Another Neverworlder came through the portal, normal to what they had seen but after approaching Alexis the sludge melted again leaving Megan naked, her eyes seemed to glaze over. But she did turn back to the portal.
“Everyone, you have to come here, it’s… bliss!”
Soon others began coming through with the same result, the scene skipped back to Eggman.
“So now I have a few hundred Mobians that are transfixed on the Oblivion Star, not that they don’t respond to anything else far from it, it is like every sight, touch, sound, taste and smell sends them into a state of euphoric stupor, every action has a positive response to the resulting sensation. What’s more I’m getting strange feelings from them myself, mostly seething rage, but this line of experimentation is worth investigating.”
The scene shifted to Eggman in front of a giant metal cube being lower over Rotor.
“Log entry #3. I am placing a test subject in a container made of my latest indestructible Eggtanium alloy, patent pending, that should cut him off from the Oblivion Star’s energy waves let’s see the reaction.”
The metal cube was lowered and snarls and growls coming from it almost right away. A cube wall was bent and in short order a gigantic hole was ripped in the side by a walrus Neverworlder’s tusks and clawed flippers after it stepped through the sludge melted away leaving a very contented Rotor on the floor.
“Note to self, bring Eggtanium back to the drawing board.”
The scene shifted to Eggman and with Bunnie, clearly lacking any of the cybernetics Sonic and the others remembered her having. While Eggman looked straight at the camera Bunnie seemed to be in her own little world.
“Log entry #4. It appears that the Oblivion Star can alter the mental states of the test subjects. I will use this opportunity to finally get some straight information about their dimension of origin.”
Eggman held up the Star. “You are my obedient slave.”
“I am my obedient slave,” echoed Bunnie.
“No, you are MY slave!”
“I am my slave.”
“Just follow my orders! Tell me your name!”
“My name is my slave.”
Eggman put down the Star and cradled his forehead. “It appears the mental manipulation technique requires some fine tuning.”
The scene shifted again to Eggman standing in front of a roboticizer with Lien-da standing inside.
“Log entry #5. After repeated experimentation and the accidental use of the Star on myself by a certain yellow brick shaped idiot, who for the purposes of this log shall remain nameless, I have been able to uncover a wealth of information on the test subjects and their point of origin. They were creatures wiped from the very fabric of existence by one of my earlier attempts at world domination but managed to emerge from a dimension they call ‘The Neverworld’ and threatened the very fabric of reality itself.
“I have programed the Roboticizer to convert Lien-da, at one point one of my best enforcers, into a war machine. This will make her the first of a new series of robots capable of weaponizing reality disruption while under my absolute control. But the best part is I will reveal to Sonic that they were friends that exist in this state solely because he failed to…”
The Roboticizer glowed hot white and then exploded knocking Eggman to the ground. In the wreckage a still fully organic Lien-da was unphased. “I’m ready to begin doctor,” she said obliviously.
The scene shifted to the same room with Eggman’s arm in a sling.
“Log entry #5 supplemental, it seems the Oblivion Star is only able to partially stabilize the test subjects’ existence in this reality, rendering them immune to roboticization. Since I can’t weaponize them without losing control I will have to use them as laborers in the base. Further experimentation will have to be limited to extending the mental manipulation to normal Mobians. However, the Phantom Ruby project has proceeded smoothly so I will proceed on that front but will need some way to continue the experiments here."
The scene shifted to the room sonic and the others were in right now.
“Log entry #6. With my takeover in full swing I am halting my own involvement on the Oblivion Star for now, but I have a plan on how to continue progress. Eggette has been asking for a project of her own so I am handing the reins to her. Since she is brilliant for her age and as I have personally tutored her I am confident that if the need for a fully weaponized Oblivion Star should arise she will be up to the task.
“The biggest road block to full utilization of the Oblivion Star is its own low level of energy, it will need a support mechanism and additional power from either Phantom Ruby prototypes or one or more Chaos Emeralds. Since I need to secure what prototypes I have I we will have to find the Emeralds. My forces are already beginning the search…”
“Doctor!” Orbot called coming into the room with Cubot. “The slaves are having trouble moving the Atom Smasher.”
“Fine,” groaned Eggman. “But we’re on a tight schedule, while I supervise I need you two to send Eggette the email with the password to my logs. It’s already composed, just hit send. You can handle that one simple task, can’t you?”
“Leave it to us doctor,” Cubot said as Eggman left. “Now to just hit…oops. That was the delete button.”
“I’m sure the kid will be fine,” Orbot said.
Eggman came in. “They were having problems because no one actually told them to turn ON the antigrav lift. Sometimes I wonder if the lack of free will is worth all the micromanagement.”
Eggman turned back to the camera. “In any event I’m counting on you Eggette and I’m sure my tutelage will pull you through. But if the worst should happen and the test subjects become an uncontrollable pack of reality destroying monsters…well that’s what self-destruct systems are for. Have fun!”
“Well Eggman was a jerk,” said Tangle. “But what else is new?”
Amy turned the gaze downward. “If only there is something we can do for them,”
“Maybe these could help,” Sonic said pulling out the seven fragments of the Oblivion Star. “I figured we didn’t want anyone getting their hands on these.”
“Wait a minute…” Tails snapped his fingers. “The Oblivion Star that’s the answer!”
“From what I can tell it’s been nothing but trouble,” said Knuckles.
“That’s because we’ve been thinking of how it controlled them, not how it sustained them.”
“But they got a blast of that thing while it was supped up by a Chaos Emerald,” said Tangle. “It didn’t work then and even if it can Ray or Cream has it.”
“But not the only one,” Tails pulled out the red emerald. “The rest are back at the Tornado. We brought them in case of an emergency. From the video we saw that the effects from the Oblivion Star’s presence or absence should have happened almost immediately, the only reason it took as long as it did for them to revert the last time was because it was charged with Chaos Energy.”
“I think I get it,” said Amy. “If one emerald is enough to bring them part of the way back, more than one might bring them all the way back?”
“It’s a bit more complicated than that. We’d have to effectively write them into our reality, the Oblivion Star was able to handle them on its own because just were just taking the bare minimum of what they needed, a lot more power would have to be used to make it permanent. To affect so many to that degree we have to subject the fragments to all seven emeralds for a sustained period.”
“Looks like I’m going to have to go Super Sonic for this one,” Sonic said giving a thumbs-up.
“There’s more, since the Oblivion Star’s structure was compromised it won’t be able to handle that amount of power for long. We’re only going to have one shot to make this work.”
“First we have to get the other emeralds,” said Knuckles. “Hopefully the others are ok and we can make it to the Tornado.”
“Maybe if we told Sally and the others about this they’d let us try,” said Amy. “I don’t know if they’d believe us though, it would sound too good to be true, like a miracle.”
“Well isn’t that how the old legend went?” asked Tangle. “You know ‘when the seven chaos are brought together their power creates a miracle’. From the stories you told me about the old days it wouldn’t be the first time either.”
Sonic pumped his fist. “Tails, think that microphone on the terminal also connects to others in the system? I think it’s time I made a call.”
"And why would anyone pick up?" asked Knuckles.
"Well think about it, if you came back to reality but everything is different than the last time you were there, you'll want to see what's changed."
Eggette could hardly believe it, this morning she was the ruler of her own little world and now she was skulking thorough vents trying to avoid monsters. Then her own personal terminal had shown her uncle’s log after Tails unlocked it. “Step one: make sure all future exits are clearly marked, step two: recycle those bots into something smarter; like a juicer or a toaster oven.”
“Oh ‘Princess’,” came Mina’s distorted voice from the hallway below. “Your ‘dolls’ want to play.”
“What game shall it be?” snarled Hershey. “Hide and seek or search and destroy?”
“My wife and I were intelligence agents back when we had lives,” growled Geoffrey. “You can’t avoid us forever, in fact I bet you’ve probably put yourself somewhere small and confined.”
Eggette tired to be as still and quiet as possible.
“Somewhere ‘big, dumb brutes’ like us would never think to look,” Hershey taunted.
“Somewhere like…” The mongoose’s claws pierced the floor of the duct. “Here!”
The Neverworlder peered through the hole she made and found nothing.
“We’ll find her,” said Geoffrey as his comrade came back down. “The flaw with geniuses is that as smart as they are they overestimate their intelligence.”
As the three moved away Eggette exhaled. She was lucky to have fallen down that small shaft when she did an into an adjacent room. Eggette turned on a hidden elevator and left her castle for the last time.
The Neverqueen was looking through a terminal to the wider web. She told herself it was just for intelligence for their eventual war, but she couldn't help herself. Now her rage was building even higher.
"There's nothing, absolutely nothing. The Kingdom of Acorn, all of its history, my family lineage, Mobotropolis, none of it is there!"
"It's even worse than when I found everything had changed," said Elias.
"That's not even the worst of it. The world is talking about rebuilding after Eggman's reign over the planet, the longest he has ever held total power. Six MONTHS, we lost ten YEARS of our lives to the rule of another version of this tyrant, but this one he's practically a buffoon. He ruled areas for lengths of time, but he always was sent running to a new hideout to try again elsewhere. They think they know what suffering is, but none them have ever grown up under the shadow of fear that you'd be found, and your free will would be striped away from you. But they will fear US."
“Hello!” Sonic’s voice came from the speaker. “Can you guys hear me? I got a deal for you, but I’ll want to talk to Sally first. So, what do you say?”
The Neverqueen hit a button and a video chat came up. “If you are offering yourself to save the rest of them, it won’t work.”
“Actually, I got something you want a lot more, a way to live to again.”
The Neverqueen snarled in the monitor. “I was going to listen just to savor your false hope but if you think you can get any mercy by telling me lies…”
“It’s not a lie Sally,” Amy said. “There’s might be away to bring you back, all of you back.”
“Why? If you remember how things were back then you realize you’d benefit the most from us never being. Remember our little lovestruck rivalries? With me, Mina and Fiona gone you have Sonic all to yourself!”
Amy started to tear up. “Yes, I was jealous of you and my feelings towards Sonic haven’t changed, but I want him to choose me on his own. Those stupid rivalries hurt us…even it means I might lose him to you, I never wanted to lose our friendship over it.”
The Neverqueen looked to the side. “Even if you are being sincere what you are telling me is impossible.”
“I worked it out,” said Tails. “Seven Chaos Emeralds and the fragments of the Oblivion Star, if we use them together there’s a chance we can restore your existence in this reality without you needing to depend on an outside source. I’m not saying you’ll get everything back but at least you’ll have your lives again.”
“You’re trying to trick me, it won’t work.”
“Sally,” Sonic paused and turned on the P.A. system, his old friends all needed to this. “Listen up, you could erase us or trust us to work together to make what was done to you right again. I know I’ve let you down and that made you what you are now, but it was never because I gave up. If you can put aside your mistrust, we can end this nightmare of yours once and for all!” Sonic turned the P.A. off. “So, what do you say Sal? Ready to give it the old Freedom Fighter try?”
The tar-like sludge seemed to retreat from Sally's face, her eyes even seemed to return to normal. “Sonic...I…”
Suddenly a siren blared throughout the dome, followed by a robotic voice.
“LOWER DOME ‘EGGTOPIA’ IS NOW ON LOCKDOWN. BASE SELF DESTRUCT IN T-MINUS TWENTY MINUTES!”
“Before anyone asks I didn’t push any buttons!” Knuckles yelled.
Sally’s eyes turned black with tar-like tears again. “Liars! Traitors!” The sludge swarmed back over her scowling face and the Neverqueen returned. “I HATE YOU!!!”
The Neverworlder thrust a claw into the camera leaving the screen in static. “Guess we have to do this without their permission let's move!”
"One exit coming up!" Knuckles punched down a wall and the team ran out into remnants of the base.
“We almost reached her!” yelled Sally. “I’d like to have some words with whoever turned on that bomb!”
“I have good feeling who that ‘somebody’ is,” said Tangle.
Eggette smirked as she watched the clock begin to countdown. “That takes care of that. I may have not have been able to get the Oblivion Star to work like Uncle Eggman wanted but I’ll still make him proud by stopping this mess while doing the one thing he never could, destroy Sonic the Hedgehog!”
She moved to the upper base’s exit door. “Now to get out of here and come up with a new plan to…Agh!”
The door opened and Eggette was knocked back after she ran into three metallic bodies.
“Super Special Sonic Search and Smash Squad reporting for duty!”
Eggette got up glaring at the monkey, chicken and drill robots giving her a salute. “What are you three mechanical morons doing here!? I thought Uncle Eggman sold you guys to a producer or something.”
“Yeah about that,” Scratch slumped. “We got fired.”
“When the doc took over the world we thought it was a chance to prove ourselves,” Coconuts said. “But he kept moving operations so by the time we caught up with him he was already missing.”
“So, you lug nuts spent the better part of a year wandering around aimlessly?” Eggette groaned.
“Not aimlessly,” said Grounder. “I had a GPS installed and it worked…when the weather was right, and we kept perfectly still.”
“Uh-huh. Have a nice life, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
The S6 fell at Eggette’s feet. “Please! We need our old jobs back!” cried Coconuts.
“You don’t know what it was like scraping for oil and a taking power from any outlet we could find!” begged Scratch.
“Well let’s go over my experiences with sentient AI’s just from today,” Eggette fumed. “My computerized secretary turned into a giant goo-covered vengeance monster along with the test subjects Uncle Eggman left me and the only warning I could have gotten about that I didn’t get because of two other dumb-bots' stupidity and laziness! So, you better give me a really good reason I shouldn’t dismantle you three for spare parts!”
“We found you a present?” Grounder said.
Grounder pulled the lever to open a giant door leading outside the base. Eggette was completely in the shadow of the S6’s “present”. “It’s like every birthday I ever had all rolled into one.”
“So, we got the job?” asked Scratch.
Eggette sighed. “Start it up, we need to get out of here before the base explodes.”
Coconuts stopped cheering. “Wait, explode?”
“Sonic come in,” Espio said over the phone. “Vector managed to force an opening in in the lockdown. I’m sending everyone the coordinates.”
Sonic extended the call to the others. “Make for the Tornado we're gonna need the Chaos Emeralds to save our friends”
“Speaking of, how can we be sure that they’ll make it out?” Charmy asked over the phone.
“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Knuckles said looking back.
It seemed like the entire Neverworld force was on their heels.
“Hang on guys!” Sonic thought. “We might be about to get into the biggest fight with each other we ever had but when it’s over we’re all going to be winners!”
To be continued.
"I'm really happy you're going to stay with us," Barby said. "Just hope more people will start moving in now."
“We're just happy to be here Barby,” Amy said.
“Yeah, meeting new friends is fun!” smiled Tangle.
After a short laugh Barby got up. “Sorry but I have to visit the dunny.”
Amy smiled. “Go right ahead, we can finish up here and see you and everyone at the Princess’ festival.”
“Right, take it easy.”
Amy watched until the Koala turned the corner. “Ok, she’s gone.”
Tangle gasped like she just stopped tensing a muscle. “Ugh, I swear if I have to keep this act up much longer my brain really will turn into mush!”
“I’m just glad the Oblivion Star didn’t work on you, that and the fact Eggette hasn’t realized it yet. That was really quick thinking on your part.”
Tangle looked at the ground. “It wasn’t for lack of trying, I could feel it trying to reach into my mind, but it couldn’t find a place to latch onto. I saw Eggette wasn’t aware of that her attempt to make me into one of her dolls had failed, then I remembered what you said about Good Guys needing a plan, so I knew in my position you’d lay low and wait until the right moment to act.”
“You even had me convinced, until you caught me of course.”
"Listen to me!" Amy pleaded to her new friends. "Eggette is…!" she was suddenly silenced by Tangle's wrapping tail.
As Amy struggled Tangle pulled the hedgehog closer until her ear right next to Tangle’s mouth. “Listen carefully,” Tangle whispered. “I can’t help you right now but there may be a chance Eggette won’t be able to control you. I’ll get you out if the worst happens but if it doesn’t play along until we can be alone.”
Eggette smirked. "You know where to find me."
Eggette dropped the phone and stamped her foot on it. “Well tomorrow’s festival is going to be very interesting indeed,” Eggette turned to Amy and Tangle. “I’m done with the two of you for today, but tomorrow I want you here when your stupid friends arrive. Oh, and come early the floors need scrubbing.”
“Thank you, Princess,” Tangle then turned to Amy. “Ready for that girl talk you wanted?”
Amy giggled. “I thought you’d never ask!”
The two left the throne room and into one of the parlors in the castle. After the door was closed Amy screamed. “I only had two payments left on that phone!”
Tangle breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness, that rock didn’t affect you.”
Amy then looked like she just realized something. “Actually, it did but not in the way Eggette wanted. Those weird sensations I’ve been getting since we got here, the ones about the people we’ve been meeting, they’re clear now. They aren’t feelings they’re memories, memories I didn’t even realize I’d lost.
Amy turned to Tangle with a determined look. “These people are really old friends and it’s up to us to help Sonic set them free!”
“Ok, run this by me one more time,” Tangle said leaning against a wall. “The Oblivion Star brought back your memories of not one, but two times our reality was different and then rewritten. The people down here were those who you thought were killed in those rewrites and you think that somehow that is the only reason Princess Pain-in-the-Butt can control them. So once we stop Eggette we use the Oblivion Star to get back the memories of Sonic and the others have of these previous timelines and then use it to get your old friends back to normal from when they used to exist.”
“That about sums it up.”
Tangle cradled her forehead. “As if my brain wasn’t already hurting enough.”
“Sonic is bound to launch his attack soon, any ideas on how we can help them further?”
Tangle shrugged. “Nothing immediate but I did manage to get a look at Eggette’s notes, I don’t understand a lot of the science stuff, but I learned a bit about how this gem works.”
“So, what did you find?”
“Well it didn’t make us like the others here but that might only be for now. It seems like while the Oblivion Star has immense memory shaping properties it doesn’t have a lot of actual power. She thinks that the limited power is just forcing her to use it at close range, but we found it also makes like it only affect certain people. But if she gets her hands on a Chaos Emerald to use as an amplifier in that transmitter it might really be able to change anyone’s memories anywhere. Thankfully none of those Badnicks coming in have been able to find one.”
“Then it looks like it’s up to Sonic from here.”
“Just a couple more questions though, first is it really a smart idea to give back the memories of ALL these people? You told me some them weren’t exactly nice guys and maybe they’d be better served to just change them into something a little more… normal.”
Amy shook her head. “After what I’ve seen here I don’t think anyone has the right to do that to someone no matter what sort of person they’re changing. Besides after what else they went through I think all of them would jump at the chance at a do-over.”
“The mysterious “Before Time” you told me about, I get it everyone gets an exclusive offer today on second chances. Now my last question, you told me all the important stuff about the previous timelines, except how we got from the world after that Super Genesis Wave to the one we have now, what was the deal with that?”
Amy started to tear up. “The Dimension Breakers, that… felt a lot more personal. The Genesis Wave just happened all at once but with the Dimension Breakers… we had to actually see our friends and loved ones get wiped away, then we all just forgot that they…”
“If it’s too uncomfortable…”
“No, you need to know the whole story. It started with Eggman’s nephew Snivley, or at least he was his nephew before the Genesis Wave.”
“Yeah, stick with the version relevant to the story, I’m still having trouble believing that Eggette is his niece.”
“Ok, Dr. Julian Snively was a scientist for the G.U.N. organization,he worked for Eggman in the past but claimed he was working for our allies now. At the time he was running experiments on warp rings when he broke into some unknown dimension, that was all the Dimension Breakers needed to start making portals all over the world to wherever they came from. These…things… they were terrible, like us Mobians but made of something like tar or sludge and they looked…feral, devolved. They disrupted reality in an area just by being there and the people they injured just…blew away like dust.
Amy took a moment to breathe. “G.U.N. and the United Federation managed to design a weapon to use against the Breakers, the Negative Vortex Bomb. The techy stuff went over my head, but it was supposed to seal up the portals they were using and pull the Breakers back to wherever they came from. But before they could even start on it Snively proved he hadn't changed a bit. He tried to give the plans to Eggman to use as a bargaining chip, Snively would control the Federation and Eggman would get the rest of the world. But Eggman turned on Snively and somehow used the warp rings to send him and every human in the Federation to…we never found out where, all I know now is that after the reset Eggman was the only human we’ve known.”
“At least it’s worth knowing that when we come across them again most of these ‘Humans’ are not going to be like Eggman.”
“We managed to break into where he hid the plans but, while studying them Tails and Nicole made a terrible discovery. That once we use the NVB reality would effectively rewrite itself to accommodate the damage the Breakers had done. We realized it was the only option we had but we felt like it was the Super Genesis Wave all over again and only this time we didn't have any leftover energy to bring back our memories, once they were gone this time they would stay gone, or at least that was what we all thought.
"All that before you guys could even start building the thing, but that just leaves me wondering what this Oblivion Star is even more."
Amy took a deep breath. "While Professor Charles, Dr. Ellidy and King Acorn worked on it we had to fight the Dimension Breakers wherever we could, but they seemed to know how we were going to fight and used that against us. We saved a lot of lives but also lost good friends.
"In Chun-nan the Shijin Warriors covered us while we evacuated a village and we ended up losing all of them; Dulcy, Jian, Bunker and Cinder. Lupe was evacuating the wolf pack at Thunder Plains Zone and she even injured three Breakers at once but was caught off guard by their regeneration ability. At Shamar the Desert Raiders were previously working with Eggman's forces to keep a stalemate after losing hope, but they stayed behind to lead the Breakers into a trap; Spike, Sonar and Trevor had proven themselves true freedom fighters that day. At the undersea city of Meropis the Breakers had formed a portal inside their energy barrier, Razor and his pirate sister Blade put aside their differences to protect the priestess and ended up falling to protect her. It was only temporary, they got Coral and even little Pearly too we only knew because Echo managed to tell us before we lost her."
"And I thought the war against Eggman and Infinite was rough. If any of my friends died…"
"I know, but as hard as it was for us to see all of that it was nothing compared to the last battle."
"Professor Charles and Dr. Ellidy managed to finish the bomb. We needed to bring it to the right spot to make sure we got all the invaders, but they chose that time to attack Mobotropolis and Knothole Village simultaneously. After they erased the professor's assistant Ben, King Acorn set off an explosion that killed him, Charles and Dr. Ellidy; Sally, Sonic and Nicole took it very hard. Not that we had any time to mourn Sally, Bunnie and Antione took his plane, The Twister, to Knothole to help who they could while the rest of us moved to the detonation point. But when the Dimension Breakers attacked the Sky Patrol… They got Nicole's console and her hologram fell apart just the same as if she were flesh and blood, then Rotor took another hit giving the NVB to Sonic before the Sky Patrol crashed.
"I heard at Knothole Bunnie and Antione were struck down right next to each other by the leader of Dimension Breakers, then Sally said she was going to fight him right before we lost contact. We all nearly got erased ourselves but Sonic managed to send the bomb right where it needed to be as it blew, day saved but the damage was done. Sonic said he going to check in on Sally and not long after that the next thing we knew, we didn't know any of it happened and since I couldn't remember Sally until I got those memories of her back I know she didn't make it either." Amy wiped away her tears.
“And then the world allowed me to exist,” grumbled Tangle. “Since I didn’t get memories like that back that has to be the only explanation.”
“That doesn’t make you any less important Tangle.”
“That’s not it. You, Sonic, and the others all had these cool adventures that I wasn’t around for. Just makes me wish I could have been there with you guys.”
Amy beamed. “You’d have made a great Freedom Fighter."
Tangle smiled. "And we could use all of them in The Resistance. The song may change but the dance is the same."
Better get going then, we can’t keep our ‘princess’ waiting.”
"Remember, smile. Remember that old superstition about making a face for too long and it gets stuck that way? I'm starting to think my mom was right about it."
The castle’s front hall and throne room had been arranged into a sort of indoor fair, every display and stand displaying the Eggtopian’s loyalty. In the throne room a small stage was set up.
“The hand of the princess shall be mine, as will the joys of her company,” Antione said as he brandished a wooden sword and wore and old-style uniform along with an eyepatch.
The fake blow was blocked by Elias’ own wooden sword as was in a similar costume. “Nay, for she is mine to wed.”
Elias made another fake thrust that Antoine parried.
The townsfolk watched quietly except for one, Alexis who squealing in her mother’s lap. “Dada, Dada!”
Bunnie moved between the two on stage in a poor copy of Eggette’s dress with a cheap plastic crown. “Stop please, I don’t wish y’all to you fight over me. All I want is for my kingdom and the world to be happy. But my uncle, a great wizard, has found a wonderous spell that will…”
As the players looked in the direction of the throne they noticed Eggette was looking completely disinterested in anything going on.
Sally came up looking worried. “Does our performance displease you my Princess?”
Eggette snapped herself out of her reverie. “Huh, oh I was just thinking about something else that was supposed to happen today. Something that will make Uncle Eggman proud of me and I was just wondering when it will start happening already.”
“If there’s anything we can do about it Princess just ask. After all we set this festival up to show our appreciation for you and all the happiness you have given us.”
At that moment a siren blared, and a robotic voice spoke over the loud speakers.
“ATTENTION! HEDGEHOG ALERT!”
Eggette squealed in delight. “Finally! NICOLE display it!”
The holo-lynx appeared with a bow. “As you command my Princess.”
The hologram above showed Sonic and his friends attacking a contingent of Egg Pawns quadruple the size Amy and Tangle took out the previous day.
“Hmmmm, more of them than I expected, but no matter! My genius plan is already in motion!”
Sally seemed strangely drawn to the image of Sonic. “Who is that, he seems so familiar…”
“Oh, I’ll introduce you real soon, after I’ve beaten him. All Badnicks to battle stations and all subjects are to go to the castle shelter until the moment of my greatest triumph!”
Most of the Eggtopian’s bowed or curtseyed. “We happily obey!” was the overwhelming response.
“We shall stay and protect you my Princess!” said Julie-Su.
“It is what makes us happiest!” said Lien-Da.
“You both do excellent work, but I need special protection in this case,” Eggette said. “Amy and Tangle will handle my protection while you ensure my subjects are out of the way.”
“We happily obey!” the two Echidna said as they curtseyed before leaving.
“Shall I make sure your subjects are comfortable in the shelter my Princess?” Nicole asked.
“You may but first you did arrange for the Badnicks to get those special modifications I asked for, did you?”
“All installed, my Princess.”
“Good, you may go.”
Nicole vanished. “Now my newest dolls be ready to greet your former comrades.”
“We happily obey!” Amy and Tangle said. Then when Eggette wasn’t looking shared a wink.
“Get ready Mr. Needle Mouse for your happily ever after!”
“We’re almost at the bottom,” said Tails as the elevator he and Knuckles were riding in descended. “The others are taking sperate routes, but we should get to Eggette at the same if we follow the plan.”
“Ok guys,” Sonic said as he prepared for a running start. “Round Two's coming up!”
The doors opened to a squad of Egg Pawns already pointing their guns at the occupants. “Surrender or we will open fire.”
The next second Sonic blew past them as Knuckles and Tails cleaned up most of the rest.
“Very well,” said the half of the remaining Egg Pawn that then unloaded its empty gun to a series of clicks.
Up ahead a squadron of Buzz Bombers hovered and charged their cannons from the other side of the Eggman fountain.
“Hey Knuckles, can you take care of that eye sore?” Sonic asked.
Knuckles leapt at the statue broke it apart with one blow, the bits of rubble hit the Buzz Bombers breaking them apart.
The three heroes swerved into a roadway tunnel that lead to the castle gate as a squad of Moto Bugs began to make chase.
Eggette watched the positions of the intruders on a large overhead display. While Sonic, Tails and Knuckles were already in the main dome the other intruders were making their way down the upper base in groups of two to three.
“They’re all just about to hit my traps.” Eggette hit a button on her console. “Let’s see you avoid this Mr. Needle Mouse.”
Throughout the base walls closed, lasers fired, saws spun, and flamethrowers ignited. Eggette smiled at the carnage until…
“What a minute, how are they predicting and avoiding ALL OF THEM?!?!”
Tangle turned to Amy and gave a thumbs-up.
“Left!” shouted Tails.
The team moved to the left as a few Moto Bugs behind them were crushed by the press that came from the ceiling.
Another press squashed a few more bugs.
The team avoided the buzz saws that cut up the Moto Bugs that were too slow to make the jump.
The team slid under the laser grid that the remaining Moto Bugs were too tall to pass under. Sonic turned his head back. “Awesome job Tails!”
Tails took out his phone. “Thank Tangle, she sent quite a bit of information disguised as ‘selfies’. Layouts, trap timing, situation reports…but this one has got to be my favorite.” Tails showed a picture of Tangle and Amy with confident expressions giving a v-for-victory to the camera. “Now we only have to worry about finding a way to reverse the condition on Eggette’s hostages.”
The team ran into the main hallway. “Door’s up ahead!” said Sonic. “But there’s no bell.”
Knuckles pumped his fist. “Then I guess I better knock.”
A large boom and the large double doors fell to ground.
“DING DONG!” yelled Knuckles.
At that moment the large stained-glass windows shattered as Mighty, Ray and Cream came through one and Silver and Blaze came through another. Then a hole was broken in the ceiling and Vector, Espio and Charmy dropped in.
Eggette looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel. “You are the worst houseguests ever! But now it’s time for the fated showdown between the legendary hero Sonic and his archnemesis the genius princess …”
“Still not my archnemesis!” Sonic said.
“And not even a showdown,” said Silver. “You’re completely outnumbered!”
“Better give up if you know what’s good for you little girl,” said Vector.
“And let everyone you captured go you bully!” huffed Charmy.
“Let them go?” Eggette cackled. “But they all love being my dolls! Don’t you girls?”
“You really should let her use the Oblivion Star on you Sonic,” Amy said through a smile. “It will give you many happy memories!”
“You can cut the act girls,” Sonic said. “She’s already lost.”
Amy groaned. I wanted you to take a hint, not blow our cover!
Eggette however seemed to be just as slow on the uptake. “What act?”
Growling Tangle whipped her tail around as Amy summoned her hammer and swung it at Eggette. The diminutive tyrant leapt out of the way at the last second and threw two balls at Amy and Tangle’s feet. The balls let out a hissing sound and a second later the two girls fell to their knees.
“Oh, you’ve been a couple of naughty little dolls, lying to your princess!”
“What did you do to them?!” Sonic said just as a sudden wave of weakness came over him causing him to fall to his knees.
"Oh, those are a couple of gas capsules, but a bit more potent than the ones in the Badnicks you smashed, but you smashed enough of those to get about the same dosage."
“I feel woozy,” Cream said as she fell back to a sitting position.
“Why do I feel as weak as a kitten?” Blaze asked as she and the rest of the heroes collapsed on the floor.
Eggette broke into one of her cackles. “Don’t worry it’s not fatal but it will leave you too weak to do anything. So first off how did the two of you resist the Oblivion Star?!”
“Bite me,” Tangle replied.
“Guess it’s the hard way then,” Eggette rose the scepter above her head like a club.
“Princess!” Sally yelled as she ran into the Throne Room. “Please, we need you!”
“Kind of in the middle of something here!”
“But it’s an emergency!”
“She is correct my Princess,” Nicole said as she materialized. “The citizens began acting erratically after observing the footage you’ve been sending of the progress of our new guests.”
"It's horrible!" cried Sally. "First, Ash said that Mina was his and not this Sonic's, then Matilda got angry about the Armadillo for some reason, Fiona yelled that she couldn't trust anyone then Razor and Blade started arguing, then Julie-Su and Lien-Da started fighting, FIGHTING, and they love each other more than any sisters I know!"
“The outbursts were brief, but the citizens are beginning to panic,” said Nicole.
“Please we need you, we need the Oblivion Star! Please make us happy again!”
Eggette groaned. “Listen, not everything is going to plan right now and I’m on the verge of total victory over Uncle Eggman’s sworn enemy, so if I can get back to you in twenty-five, thirty minutes tops…”
“Please! They’re counting on me, I’m afraid if I let them down I…” Sally suddenly froze up. “I’m afraid, I’m afraid of letting down my friends. I…I don’t like this. I don’t want to feel this way. Princess please!”
Sally fell to her knees before Eggette clawing at her dress. Eggette then kicked the crying chipmunk away. “Get your hands off me you ANIMAL!”
Sally was shedding tears freely now. “Princess, why did you call me something so hurtful? What have I done to make you angry? I promise I’ll fix it just help us please.”
Nicole walked up to Eggette. “Princess, given the situation I feel it is best that we first…”
“Wait what did you just say?!” Eggette snapped.
“I think given the situation…”
“No, you said ‘I feel’. You aren’t supposed to be programmed to ‘feel’ anything!”
The holo-lynx looked panicked. “A slip of the tongue, I’ve been just as loyal to you as any subject, just as happy to serve…”
“You did it again! ‘Happy to serve’ and that face you made!” Eggette hit the Nicole with the scepter. “Get this into your processors! They are my dolls, you are just an over glorified calculator!”
“Princess why are you hurting us?!” Sally cried. “What did we do wrong? I don’t understand…”
"Shut up! I need to think…”
Sonic started laughing. “Looks like your ‘Eggtopia’ is starting to crack.”
Eggette growled. “You! They started getting this way after seeing you! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Eggette clubbed Sonic with the scepter, a twinkling sound rung through the room as a green diamond cut gem tumbled across the floor.
“Wait, is that…?”
“No!” Amy yelled. “We can’t let her have it!”
But the gas was still in effect, no one could stop as Eggette picked the jewel up. “A Chaos Emerald!” Eggette was now laughing out of control. “So Eggtopia is ‘cracking’ is it? Well it’s cracking because it is just about to hatch, into a worldwide phenomenon! Now everyone will be my dolls; the Oblivion Star just needs more power and a jewel with the energies of cosmos should do the trick!”
“So, you’re just going to zap Eggman if he’s out there?” Sonic grunted.
“Hmmm, that’s a good point. If Uncle Eggman is like the rest of my dolls I can’t impress him. Oh well, I’ll just send some Badnicks to find him, bring him to me and turn him back to normal then!"
Eggette walked towards Sally and Nicole, “All is forgiven my little dolls, I will restore your happiness and spread it across the world. Isn’t that how your little play was supposed to end? In fact, I am feeling so generous that I’ll allow Nicole to keep her emotions and let her be another one of my dolls. Go tell the others the good news.”
They both smiled as Nicole did he usual bow. “As you command…no, I happily obey Princess!” The Holo-Lynx vanished.
“Thank you, my Princess…” Sally said choking back tears. “I’ve waited for this day for so long…”
“No!” Amy yelled. “Sally, she doesn’t care about any of you! You don’t need her fake happiness, you’re much stronger than that! You’re the only one who can stop her now, please remember who you are!”
“R-remember…?” Sally stuttered. “Remember…AGH!” Sally began clutching her head. “We don’t talk about the Before Time, we don’t think about the Before Time, we don’t talk about it, we don’t think about it…”
“Sally…” Amy said tearing up. “What happened to all of you?”
Eggette gave a short laugh. “Sorry Amy, but she’s mine and soon you all will be too. Computer activate the Transmitter!”
A large machine descended from the ceiling. Eggette set the Chaos Emerald into a claw in the bottom and then lifted the Oblivion Star towards the Emerald. As the Star began to glow with a shadowy light the Emerald seemed to resonate with it.
Eggette cracked a wicked looking grin at sonic. “Game over, Mr. Needle Mouse.”
The shadowy light spread throughout the room, the heroes moaned in pain as the light reached them but Sally looked almost euphoric.
The light kept spreading out of the castle and then the base…
Shadow growled as he noted the position of the sun. “If they’d completed the mission they would have contacted us by now. Looks like we’re going to have clean up Sonic’s mess.”
“Think they would let me keep that Oblivion Star?” Rouge asked. “For display purposes only of course.”
Shadow just began walking. “Let’s move.”
“I’m taking that as a yes.”
Omega stopped behind them. “ENERGY WAVE APPROACHING, CONTACT IMMINENT.”
The shadowy light washed over Team Dark. Shadow and Rouge clutched their heads and began screaming…
In short order the wave had washed over the planet. When the light faded Eggette lowered the scepter and approached the nearest creature. “Feeling better?”
“Oh, much better Princess!” Sally said. “We’re all going to make so many new friends!”
“Right now, there’s only one in particular I care about.” Eggette came to the still kneeling form of Sonic. “Tell me Sonic, how do feel? Are you happy?”
Sonic groaned. “I feel…I feel…”
“…A splitting headache and the bruises from that scepter. Also, I feel a bit hungry, got any chili dogs around here?”
Eggette felt her jaw drop. “What!?”
The other heroes started to groan. “Hey, I’m still me!” said Tangle.
“The Star didn’t affect us?” asked Tails.
“Wait guys!” said Amy. “Did you just any memories back?”
“Yeah,” said Sonic. Looking at the girl next to Eggette. “Sally I remember you!”
“Me?” Sally answered. “I but I’ve always lived here…”
“I remember her too,” said Blaze who then turned to Silver. “…and Silver I remember you now!”
Silver gasped. “You mean…”
Silver was silenced when Blaze went into a deep passionate kiss with him. Despite his current weakness he found himself returning it just as deeply.
“Well,” Vector said. “That... happened.”
“NICOLE!” Eggette screamed.
The Holo-lynx appeared. “Great news my Princess! Everyone in the shelter has returned to their usual happy selves!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I need live broadcast feeds now and none of that “Happily Serve” stuff just do it!”
A hologram appeared over head showing tv broadcasts going live.
“That was odd, but everything seems normal now. Weather today calls for…”
“And after that delay of game we're back at the bottom of the seventh with two outs, runners on second and third…”
“We’re back! Our new topic is mothers and their runaway daughters: reunited over their shared hatred of Dr. Eggman!”
“It can cut through a tin can and still slice a tomato like that! But wait! If you order now…”
Eggette fell to her knees. “But I did everything right! I had the Star! I had the Emerald! The Transmitter was perfectly designed! I beat Sonic for crying out loud, why am I not ruling the world!?!”
“You know I actually feel something else,” said Sonic. The hedgehog began to get back up on his feet. “I feel your gas starting to wear off.”
“Now that you mention it,” said Knuckles. “I feel angry. Really, really angry!”
“Time to wrap things up!” said Mighty.
Tangle limbered her tail. “I’ve been ready to tangle for almost a day!”
As the heroes got back to their feet Eggette started backing away. “NICOLE, get Julie-Su and Lein-Da! I need my bodyguards to GUARD MY BODY!”
“Adding two more won’t help your odds,” said Espio. “You’re finished!”
“No, fairy tales aren’t supposed to end like this! The princess isn’t supposed to lose!”
As Ray and Cream flew up to reclaim the Chaos Emerald, Sonic grabbed the scepter with the Oblivion Star from Eggette’s grasp. “Hate to break it you but you’re not the princess around here.” Sonic turned to Sally. “She is.”
Sally looked taken aback. “That can’t be right. I'm just silly Sally Acorn, a humble servant who just wants to be happy with all of her friends.”
“Don’t worry, it won’t be much longer,” said Sonic before turning back to Eggette and picking her up. “Alright little egghead how does this thing work?!”
“You’ll get nothing from me! I’ll, I’ll…I’ll hold my breath until I turn as blue as you!”
As Eggette held her breath Amy shook her head. “Now you’re just embarrassing yourself.”
“I don’t think we need her to tell us anything,” Tails said after taking out his scanner. “The Oblivion Star seems to be sending some sort of low level energy that Sally and Nicole are absorbing and I’m betting the same thing applies to all the other prisoners. Once we cut off the energy the effects should reverse themselves.”
“That’s all I need to hear,” Sonic then lifted the scepter. “Hey Knuckles, heads up!”
Sonic tossed the scepter. As it flew end over end Eggette screamed as Sally and Nicole sharply gasped. Knuckles threw a punch that landed dead center on the Oblivion Star. The black gem began to crack and as it fell from its setting in the scepter and hit the ground the Oblivion Star broke into seven fragments, each still perfectly showing its part of the swirling white vortex.
Sally and Nicole grabbed their heads and gave a pain filled shriek, a sound that was echoing from another part of the castle hundreds of times.
“My kingdom,” whimpered Eggette. “My dolls, my fairy tale, all gone…”
Sonic dropped Eggette as the group gathered around Sally and Nicole, from their apparent state of shock they were at least back in control of themselves.
“Are you ok?” Amy asked. “Do you both remember who really are now?”
Sally was still shaking. “Amy…Sonic…The Oblivion Star…you destroyed it…”
“It’s all right Sally,” said Sonic. “We still have a lot of questions but for right now we’re just glad you’re all back.”
Several bewildered groans echoed as the former residents of Eggtopia came into the Throne Room to the relief of the heroes.
“Saffron!” yelled Charmy.
“Matilda!” cheered Mighty.
“Liza?!” said Espio.
“Everyone,” Sally said as Nicole grabbed her console then moved to join the others. “Sonic and our old friends are here! They stopped Eggette…they made us remember, they… destroyed the Oblivion Star. Let’s…” Sally suddenly sounded uncharacteristically sarcastic. “Give our ‘heroes’ a great big hand!”
Only a couple of the former prisoners clapped…very slowly. The one constant among them were very angry glares.
“Uh did we miss something?” asked Tangle. “Or were your old friends always such jerks?”
“Now that we’re free,” Sally said ignoring the comment. “What is it that you want more than anything thing else? The deepest desire of your ‘heart’?”
“Revenge,” Lien-da said flatly.
“Revenge,” followed Julie-Su.
“Revenge,” echoed Mina.
“Revenge,” said Rotor.
“Revenge,” Bunnie and Antoine said together.
“Revenge,” said Fiona.
“Revenge,” said Barby.
“Revenge,” Lupe, Lobo, Marco and Maria said as a family.
“Revenge,” Eilas and Megan said together.
“Rava.” Alexis said from Megan’s arms with a scowl that should not have belonged anywhere on a baby.
Pretty soon “Revenge” was the disturbing chant coming up from the formerly happy dolls.
“I better get going,” Eggette said trying to crawl away. She was stopped by Vector’s leg.
“I think you’ll be better off sticking with us than taking your chances with them.”
Amy stepped toward the crowd. “Ok, she hurt you but it’s over now. This is a chance for a new beginning for everyone, even if we’ve been enemies in the past we’re willing to start over from scratch now.”
Sally started laughing. “You... you still don’t get what you’ve just done do you? The Oblivion Star didn’t just rearrange our memories, it gave us ‘life’, a hollow artificial life but life none the less. Life and light, I can already feel slipping away. Revenge is all we have left, revenge against a world that rejected us, tossed us aside, said our past, our future, our stories, our lives didn’t matter!”
Silver levitated Eggette to him. “What did you do to them?”
“Nothing! Uncle Eggman had already made them obedient slaves when I got them, I was just running an experiment comparing the output between laborers who lacked will and those whose will was dedicated to service. I might have turned it into a chance to live out a fairy tale, but I REALLY wish I had the password to Uncle Eggman’s research logs now!”
“Sonic,” Blaze said her fur bristling. “The dimensional disturbance, the one the Sol Emeralds directed me to. It was never the Oblivion Star, its been all of them!”
“But they’re our friends!” said Sonic. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“She may have a point Sonic,” Tails said going back over his scanner. “The Oblivion Star was giving interference but now I am getting some very strange readings from them. It’s like they somehow are and aren’t there. I haven’t seen anything like this since…” Tails then looked terrified.
“Go ahead Tails,” Sally said. “Tell them what we are, what we became.”
Tails gulped. “The last time I saw readings like this…was from the Dimension Breakers!”
Then Sonic felt like he was struck by lightning. “No!”
Tangle gasped. “Those things that destroyed the last timeline…”
“We're old friends who had come home,” said Sally. “Only to find it could no longer comfort what they became. Still I prefer what we call ourselves. Those thrown into the garbage can of reality, those trapped in the afterlife of the non-existent, the distant echoes of lives, hopes and dreams that never were…”
Sally looked at Sonic and the others, her eyes now almost pitch black and streaming tears like tar. “…THE DENIZENS OF THE NEVERWORLD!”
To be continued…
Tails turned to Sonic and Knuckles, his expression not at all reassuring. "I don't think so but we may have an even bigger problem. Check this out, Amy sent this about an hour ago and it gets REALLY weird."
Tails rewound the image to the beginning.
"We're here!" chirped a Red headed Chipmunk. "Welcome to Eggtopia!"
Tails fast forwarded the image to when Amy and Tangle were getting introduced to the townsfolk.
"Anybody else getting a déjà vu vibe from these people?" asked Sonic.
"Now that you mention it," said Knuckles. "A lot of these guys DO seem familiar."
"Same here," said Tails. "That's why I was playing this section but here's the important part."
Tails fast-forwarded the video again to where Amy and Tangle were captured.
"Other Echidna's!?" yelled Knuckles. "And they feel familiar too, what's going on!?"
"Here's one answer," Tails glumly replied.
"I am the absolute ruler of Eggtopia, the niece of Dr. Eggman, the future greatest scientist in the world and the heiress to the Eggman Empire. My name is Eggette, but you can call me Princess."
"So, the egghead does have a family, and here I thought he just crawled out of a slime pit." Sonic joked.
"It's me, Uncle Eggman! I just captured two of Sonic's stupid friends and I'm going to use them as bait to draw your enemies here and bend them to my will."
Tails fast-forwarded again.
"If you think of the Phantom Ruby's power as based on illusion then the Oblivion Star is based on memories, or to be more precise altering memories.
Another fast forward.
You can make the fiercest freedom fighter into a docile slave, the friendliest folk into battle hungry berserkers and, once our transmitter is complete, the population of an entire planet line up into roboticizers all with smiles on their faces."
Tails fast-forwarded on more time.
"Here's what's waiting for Sonic and anyone else foolish enough to oppose me!"
"TANGLE!" Sonic and Knuckles shouted.
Sonic turned back to Tails. "What about Amy?!"
"Keep watching," Tails sighed.
"Tangle please!" Amy cried. "Tell me it's still you in there!"
Tangle turned to Amy. "It's me, just another happy resident of Eggtopia."
Eggette cackled. "You can let her go Julie-Su, she won't be a problem anymore."
"I'm happy to obey my Princess." Julie let go of Tangle and curtsied.
"What do want me to do Princess?" Tangle asked. "Should I go get fitted for a pretty dress?"
"Oh no my prehensile tailed friend," Eggette said using her finger to bop Tangle on the nose. "For my plan to trap Sonic I need you exactly as you are."
"Yea, I'm helping!"
"Change her back," yelled Amy. "Now!"
"Oh, I almost forgot." Eggette pulled the closer to Amy. "It's your turn."
"Thanks, but NO THANKS!"
Amy stomped on Lien-Da's foot.
"Sister!" Julie-Su shouted as Amy ran towards a stain glass window of Eggette."Are you ok?"
"Stop her you idiots!" Eggette shouted.
Amy leapt, swung her hammer and shattered the glass before leaping out the window.
Everyone left in the room leaned out the broken window and looked over the small awning and down the two-story drop only not to find a single trace of Amy.
"She got away!"
"What shall we do Princess?" asked Sally. "She could get herself hurt."
"NICOLE, signal a lockdown of the base, no one gets in or out without my authorization. Have every Badnick search for her but make everyone else think everything is normal. Then send this message to the Badnick Horde. I am taking temporary command of the Eggman Empire until my uncle is found and restored to his genius self. The nearest legions to this location are to fortify this base and are to bring replacement roboticizer parts, it's long past due that we fixed ours."
"As you command Princess." Nicole vanished.
"Lein-Da, Julie-Su find someplace our new friend here can make herself useful in the castle, then get her some accommodations."
"We happily obey Princess," the maids replied curtsying.
"Oh fun!" Tangle grabbed the Echidna sisters and took out a cell phone. "Happy Friends Selfie!"
Ignoring the picture taking lemur Eggette turned to Sally. "I'm done with you for now, you may go about your own activities until tomorrow, I'm looking forward to that play you and your friends wrote in my honor for the festival. If anyone needs me I'll be reading tech manuals while taking a bubble bath. So please, don't need me."
"Thank you very much Princess," Sally said with a curtsy.
Beneath the awning Amy gave a sigh of relief as she held herself up so those who were above couldn't see her. After carefully climbing down and checking that she wasn't seen she took the phone out of the hidden pocket that let her record video unnoticed and set the stream to focus on her. "Tails I have to find a place to hide for now, but you got to get Sonic and the others here, we can't let Eggette's plan succeed or the entire world will end up like this place. Good Luck."
The picture on Tails computer turned to static. "That's the last I heard from her, The Tornado's prepped and I sent word to the others. Team Chaotix is already on their way and hopefully Silver will there too."
"So, what are we waiting for!?" said Sonic. "Time to show a certain princess why we can be a royal pain."
Amy was skirting around trees in Eggtopia's park. The people were friendly to her, and mostly were going about the business of arranging a festival in honor of Eggette. No mention of a manhunt was made but enough Badnicks were wandering around that she couldn't chance just going up to someone and asking for help. There was the very real chance that if she was honest with them they'd take the side of their "princess" over her, but she didn't know this place well enough to keep just going between trees, bushes and back alleys and it could take at least until morning for help to arrive. Her best chance was to go up to a stranger out of sight a drone and ask for a room for the night.
Amy looked around for anyone alone, but finding the right person turned out to surprisingly easy. A yellow furred female mongoose with purple hair and dress was strolling along while singing some tune to herself.
"In the night's, dream delight
I want to see you standing there.
In the night's, dream delight
I found someone who really cares.
In the night's, dream delight
I want to see you smile again.
In the night's, dream delight
You are the one I waited for…"
Amy stepped up to the girl. "Um hi, you have a very pretty voice."
"Thank you!" the girl said with a smile. "Singing is the thing in the world that makes me happiest! Well the second thing that makes me happiest, or third really…but it still makes me really, really happy!"
"Yeah, my name is Amy…"
"Oh, you're one of the visitors from the outside! Sally told me about you guys, she was worried about you!"
"I'm just fine there's no need for her worry!" Amy laughed trying to defuse the situation.
"Ok, oh by the way my name is Mina."
"Nice to meet you Mina." That sense of familiarity Amy was feeling to the people here was starting to come back. "In any case I'm looking for a place to stay…"
"You're just in time then! My roommate and I are going to have a party tonight! We'd love to have you, we can make it a sleepover!"
"Ok, the uh sooner better! Let's go!"
"Alright our apartment is this way…"
"Mina!" shouted a yellow male mongoose with black hair and glasses who was running up to them. "You forgot your purse at the pool!"
"Thank you, Ash!" Mina said taking her purse back. "Amy this is my boyfriend Ash, Ash meet Amy she's one of the visitors and she'll be staying with me and Fiona."
"Happy to meet you!" said Ash shaking Amy's hand. "Maybe we'll see each other at the festival tomorrow. There's going to be food, games, Sally wrote a play everyone is putting on and Mina will sing for everyone."
That familiar sensation was coming back again. "I uh, might just take you up on that. Wow it's getting late, better get going so we this party started."
"Ok, see you then Sweetie Note!" Ash said with a blush.
"You too Snookie Pie!" Mina blushed back.
The two Mongooses nuzzled their noses together before parting.
As they turned away Amy looked around for any Badnicks that might have spotted them. "You two have it bad."
"Well remember when I said singing was the third thing that make me really happy? Ash is my number one."
"And your number two?"
"Serving the Princess of course!"
"Of course," Amy groaned.
As the simulated sun started to set they got to a small, clean, building that had six apartments. Mina opened her door and beckoned Amy in. "Fiona, I'm home and I brought company!"
"Just a second!" Fiona answered from another room. A moment later a red furred female fox came out with a yellow bow in her brown hair and wearing a pink body suit. "Sorry, I went dress shopping today and they said according to the princess all the girls on the surface are wearing these, but even wearing it I can't see the appeal."
"Well here Amy is from the surface," said Mina. "Maybe she can help."
Fiona clasped both of Amy's hands in hers. "You're one of the visitors? I'm so happy to meet you!"
Amy suddenly recoiled, the same way she got a sense of familiarity from the others she got a sense of danger from this fox.
"Amy what's wrong?" asked Mina.
Amy still wasn't sure but didn't want to tip Fiona off. "I… felt a draft. It surprised me, that's all."
Fiona just smiled. "Sorry about that. Well what do you think about the dress?"
"I…never got it either." Try to get out this fast Amy. "I mean the fabric clashes with your fur and if they both happen to be the same color it kind of looks like you're not wearing anything. I mean how do guys get away with that, but girls can't?""
Fiona looked at the suit. "You're right, I don't like it. Looks like I'm going to have to return this tomorrow and wear something else for the party." Fiona went into her room and took out two dresses like every other dress Amy saw in this place, except for color. "What you think, the black dress or the yellow one?"
Looking between them the danger Amy felt peaked at one of the options. "Definitely the yellow," Amy responded to the feeling she had associating Fiona with black. "It makes you look…sunny?"
"Hey, it does! You're great at fashion! I'm going to go change, thank you!"
"You're welcome," Amy said, relieved that the fox left the room.
Mina smiled. "I knew you'd be fast friends!"
"Yeah, besties," Sonic wherever you are hurry!
It was now dark out and the small party had started. It was a casual affair between three of them, if more akin to a child's sleepover than what an adult would consider a party, but Amy was on pins and needles the whole time. Mina being another one of Eggette's victims Amy could tolerate, but she just couldn't shake off that bad feeling she had even though Fiona had been nothing but kind to her. Thinking back this wasn't the first time she got that sense since she got here but it was never this constant. Then again, those encounters were brief.
Amy took a deep breath thought about it. Each time I got a "danger" sense instead of a "familiar" sense it was around certain people, maybe if I narrow it down I can figure out what the deal is with both feelings. The first time I got "danger" …it was when Sally was introducing us to the townsfolk. Yes, it was that skunk Geoffrey. The encounter was brief, so I didn't think much about it, but it was almost identical to the vibes I'm getting from Fiona. Next was…That Echidna that grabbed me Lien-Da, if anything it was even stronger than either Geoffrey or Fiona. But I was in actual danger at the time from her because of Eggette's orders, so I can't be sure how reliable that feeling was, if any of this is reliable. Finally, Fiona, the one I have the most to go on, not that it's much. Ok, I have Geoffrey, Lein-Da and Fiona, what makes these three different from the rest?
"Ground control to Amy," Fiona said. "You're missing the party!"
Amy snapped back to the present. "Sorry I was just thinking."
"Well think about this," Mina said. "Fiona had best idea on what to do next, Truth or Dare."
Maybe I can use this. "Sounds fun, count me in."
Fiona clapped her hands. "Great! Mina why don't you go first?"
"Alright, Fiona truth or dare?"
"Ok I dare you to, cluck like a chicken for twenty seconds."
Fiona got up. Then started making chicken noises while pretending to scratch the ground with her feet.
The ladies chuckled.
"Ok," Fiona laughed. "Your turn Amy, truth or dare?"
As nervous as she was getting, Amy knew she had to keep her cards close to her chest. "Dare."
"Ok, I dare you…" all sorts of nightmarish scenarios played out in Amy's head. "To stick out your tongue and touch your nose, I bet you can't do it!"
Amy internally kicked herself. What am I worried about? Even if she really is some sort of secret maniac she's still one of Eggette' s "dolls". She'd only hurt me if her "princess" ordered it.
Amy stuck out her tongue tried to lift it up as high as it could go. She could almost touch her nose but came up sort.
"Give up?" asked Fiona. "Don't be embarrassed, not everyone can do it."
Amy stopped. "Wait, all I have to do is stick out tongue AND touch my nose?"
Amy stuck out her tongue again then tapped her nose with her finger.
Mina and Fiona burst out laughing. "Oh, you got us good!"
Amy couldn't help but laugh too. "Ok Mina, truth or dare?"
"How about… truth?"
Now were getting somewhere. "What do you think about…that Geoffrey guy? Would you say he's nice?"
Mina giggled. "Everybody here is nice. Sometimes Geoffrey can be a bit snooty, but he means well and he really loves Hershey. It's so good they're together..."
Now that I think about it there was a little "familiar" along with "danger" and it was kind of sad. Hershey there was something not dangerous but…morbid about her. I think Geoffrey should be ok, at least as long as nothing happens to Hershey…
"My turn. Ok Amy, truth or dare?
"Ok, I dare you to…" Mina got out red bottle with a pepper on it. "Eat a teaspoon of my boyfriend's favorite pepper sauce."
Mina used the bottle to fill up the tea spoon. Amy took it and after a moment's hesitation ate the sauce.
"Hmmm, not that bad actuaaaaAAAGH!"
Amy dashed to the fridge and found a carton of milk. Without even asking she began to drink it down faster than would have been lady like but that was the furthest thing on her mind right now.
"Amy I am so sorry!" Mina said almost crying. "I didn't think it'd be that hot!"
"It's alright," Amy said panting. "Believe it or not I've been through worse."
After taking a moment Amy narrowed her eyes at Fiona. Time to find who or what you really are. "Ok, Fiona, truth or dare?
The fox started play with her hair while thinking. "Hmmm…Dare."
"Ok, I dare you…" Amy then began to smirk. "To tell me the truth about something."
The other two girls looked confused. "Can she do that?" asked Fiona.
"What's the matter?" Amy said. "Got something to hide?"
Fiona then laughed. "Ok I'll bite, what do you want to know?"
"Have you ever done something REALLY bad?"
Mina laughed. "Nice joke, but we all love each other here and we're happy all the time. Why would anyone have to something like that?"
Fiona however started to tremble.
Amy felt a sense of satisfaction. Gotcha. "So, you did do something."
"We-well maybe. I felt like I might have, last night, in a dream."
Amy's sense of satisfaction deflated. "You were bad in a dream?"
However, if anything Fiona trembled more. "That's just it, it might not have been a dream. I think it was from…the Before Time."
Mina suddenly looked more scared and angry than Amy had seen an Eggtopian become so far. "Fiona don't! You'll just make yourself unhappy! That is why The Rule is there!"
"What are you two talking about?" Amy was starting to get scared herself, but this might be even bigger than she thought. "What do you mean by the 'Before Time'?"
"I just told her…"
"She's not from here Mina," Fiona said now sobbing. "She doesn't know."
Mina calmed down but still looked very frightened. "Ok just this once, but only so Amy can understand why we have The Rule. The Before Time was… what happened to all of us before we lived here. We can't remember what it was but sometimes someone will get fuzzy bits of it as nightmares, all we can tell was it was very, VERY bad and if you think about it you…can't get happy. So, we all came up with The Rule, 'We don't talk about the Before Time, we don't think about the Before Time'.
"It's worked, if you don't think about the Before Time you forget it. We only even remember The Rule when we need it so the Princess, even the Doctor don't know about it or The Before Time, just us. So please just let it go and we'll forget about it go and back to the game like nothing happened."
"I don't think I can Mina," Fiona said starting to cry. "I've been trying since this morning, but no matter how I try to use The Rule or distract myself it keeps coming back. Something about it is worse this time. Maybe I should go see the Princess, she can use the Oblivion Star..."
"Or you can just tell me," Amy said. She knew this might be her only chance to get to the bottom of what the feelings forcing themselves on her were. "We can go to your room, get this off your chest, figure it out and if it doesn't work then you can go to the Princess and if it does then we never have to talk about it again."
After Fiona nodded Amy moved her into the room sat her down on the bed and closed the door. "Ok, what was it you remember about this 'Before Time'?"
Fiona sniffled. "All I could tell was that I was somewhere cold, dark, silent and lonely," Fiona said. "That's usually all we can remember about it."
"But you remembered something else?"
"I think… I remember a bit of what I said while I was there or maybe what I felt or thought it's hard to tell."
"So, lets assume you were saying something, what did you say?"
The tears were now flowing unabated. "Please, please let me go. I don't want to stay here, I want to go back. I'm sorry, I'll change, I'll be better, I'll do things right, I'll make amends, I'll do whatever it takes, just let me go please. Please, please, please..."
Amy hugged the crying girl and stroked her hair. She could feel Fiona was nothing but sincere. She finally understood one thing about these sensations; the feelings she was getting were somehow coming from the past, they didn't define the present.
"It's ok, to be honest when we first met I was afraid of you, but I couldn't tell you why. I see now I don't have to be. If it helps you to forget like you want, then when you remember The Rule remember this too. Nobody is too far gone if they can choose to turn around and go back. If you were bad but chose in your heart to change for the better and kept that promise then you aren't the same person who hurt others, so you don't have to go back there anymore."
"Strange… I feel happy, but I'm crying…" Fiona got up and wiped away her tears. Then she had seemed to instantly go back to her cheerful self. "What were we doing again?"
"Uh, you were…showing something embarrassing as part of my dare, we should go back it's your turn." When they said forget they weren't kidding. Something a lot bigger is going on here than Eggman's spoiled niece brainwashing Mobians. What happened to these people? Is it possible that because of this 'Before Time' that they let Eggman and Eggette change them, on purpose?
Shaking her worries off for now Amy came back with Fiona. Mina was humming to herself like nothing happened, it seemed like she forgot the whole incident as well. "Ok, Fiona it's your turn again."
"Ok Mina, Truth…" Fiona nodded her head in an obvious manner. "…or dare?" She then began shaking her head furiously.
"Truth." Mina said slyly.
What are they up to now? Amy thought.
"Ash asked you a question in the park today, so what was your answer?"
Mina blushed so much it seemed like her fur turned red. "Well the answer was…" Mina then took out a small box and opened it to reveal a ring with a tiny gem that looked like a diamond. "YES!"
The two girls squealed so much Amy was sure only certain dogs could hear parts of it.
"I knew it!" Fiona said clapping. "Oh, you two are going to make each so, so happy!"
Amy smiled, eager to get her mind off her troubles. "Congratulations! Ash seems like a very nice guy."
"The best," Mina said slipping the ring on. "I felt a little worried leaving Fiona alone but I'm glad you already answered my request."
"What are you talking about?"
"After Ash proposed, I put in a request for a new roommate at the castle and I was told there was already someone looking for a place to stay and they'd be by later. Imagine my surprise when we ran into each other a little after that."
Amy felt any semblance of safety drain away. "I have to go."
"Ok, bathroom's right there."
"No, I mean I have to leave."
"But the party's just getting started," Fiona said. There was then a knock on the door. "Now who could that be?"
Mina moved to open the door.
'NO, DON'T!" Amy shouted realizing her mistake all too late.
The swung open as Julie-Su was talking to Tangle. "Anyway, you'll be staying here…"
"Oh, hi Amy!" Tangle said a bit too enthusiastically.
Julie turned to the Pink Hedgehog. "Oh, we've been looking you. The Princess wishes for you to return to the Castle immediately."
"Called by the Princess, lucky you," Fiona said.
"I don't understand," Mina asked. "I thought Amy was going to stay here?"
"Listen to me!" Amy pleaded to her new friends. "Eggette is…!" she was suddenly silenced by Tangle's wrapping tail.
"The princess meant for Tangle to stay here, but once we come back I am certain Amy will be returning too."
Mina smiled. "That's good."
"I know right," Tangle said before moving herself, Mina, Fiona and the wrapped-up Amy in front of her phone. "Roomie Selfie!"
After the picture was taken. Tangle carried Amy out. "See you later!" said Mina with nothing more than a wave.
Sonic was not used to standing still, it was usually his least favorite thing to do, but he for once he had to be still. Tails landed the Tornado to where they supposed to rendezvous the rest of the gang but after Tails learned the name of the place, Knothole Grove, the familiar sensations he had from Amy's video came back, at places he could almost hear the sounds of laughing children. It was particularly strong at one spot, if he stood still he could almost feel something that was supposed to be there, something made of smooth, polished stone.
Sonic tried to feel it again, at the same time concentrating on the object in his hand. Now he could hear voices.
"We are gathered here in memory of those who were lost to us in the worst disaster our world has seen, a disaster that, like those lost, is remembered by no one else. We have gone too long, were forced to do too much to properly mourn, but now we may grieve. And so, we grieve for the lost; friends, family, and even foes, all stories that were silenced and forgotten. But we few here remember, that they lived if not their names or faces, and so we dedicate this monument to those victims. We will remember in the hope that friend, family and foe alike will be at peace."
After hearing a whole speech about the importance of remembering people he was trying to remember Sonic couldn't help but feel like someone was mocking him. Sonic tried again.
"I wish I could go with you, but it looks like this where my story ends. You may never remember me, but I'll never forget you. You made my life a great adventure and more importantly have been a great friend, so I have no regrets. Sayonara, Sonic the Hedgehog."
"Sonic they're just about here!" Tails called.
Sonic moved away from the nonexistent memorial, a mystery for another day. Back at the Tornado Knuckles was sitting by a campfire. Sonic put what he was holding into the case they brought and turned back to his friends. "Anything else from Amy?"
"Nothing," said Tails. "The only thing I have been getting are these weird selfies Tangle's been sending."
Sonic couldn't help but feel a little responsible, Tangle considered herself a kindred spirit to him, someone who loved getting into scraps with bad guys. To have her become something like that… "We got to get her back to normal."
"Then I guess it's a good thing we're here," Silver walked up to the camp but was unexpectedly followed up by Cream.
"What are you doing here?" Tails asked.
Cream looked guilty. "I wasn't able to do anything after Eggman took over except hide with Cheese, Chocola and Mother. But now Amy is in trouble, I have to do something."
"Any word from Team Dark?" Knuckles asked Silver.
Silver shook his head. "Rouge got your message, but Team Dark was on some undercover assignment. It might take them until the end of the day tomorrow to get to this base."
"Don't sweat it! You got all the backup you need right here!" Vector came into the light along with Charmy and Espio. "And I brought a surprise!"
"Hey Knuckles, long time no see!" Mighty said as he and Ray came up.
"The whole band's back together again!" Ray said while doing a mid-air flip.
"As long as Vector isn't singing I'm fine with that." Sonic chuckled.
This elicited laughs all around.
"If I were you I'd take this more seriously," said a feminine voice coming from shadows. "Especially if your friends' lives are at stake."
Blaze stepped into the light.
""What brings you here?" asked Sonic. "That threat the Sol Emeralds told you about?"
"Not quite, they sent me another warning, one focused around the place where your friends were last seen, and I have to see if it poses a threat to my home. I also got the feeling from them that this mission would be of a personal benefit to me…" Blaze seemed to settle her gaze on Silver. "Excuse me, but have we met before?"
"You too?' asked Knuckles. "The three of us have been getting Déjà vu all the time now, ever since we got Amy's message. Do you think it's connected?"
Blaze shrugged. “No, I’m just getting it from him.”
Silver moved so no one could see his face. "Sorry, it must be your imagination."
A tone came from Tails phone. "And Tangle sent another Selfie… Sonic we got a problem!"
Tails showed the selfie were Amy was just captured.
"No, Amy!" Sonic's own phone began ringing. "It's a video call… from Amy's phone."
"This can't be good," growled Knuckles.
Sonic answered but it was Eggette on the other end.
""So, this is the needle mouse that's been a thorn in my Uncle's side for years. Hold on a second." The Tornado's radio turned on and any cell phone in the area started displaying an image of Eggette. "Attention people of Mobius! I am Eggette, heiress of the Eggman Empire, the future ruler of the world and I am broadcasting this message to every device on the globe!"
"Doctor, you should probably take a look at this," said Orbot.
One of two versions of Doctor Eggman looked at a bank of monitors, the other was probably fixing something at that village he was found at. "Eggette, what is she doing?"
"I have a special guest with us, everyone's hero Sonic the Hedgehog. We meet at last my arch-nemesis."
Sonic just smirked. "Yeah I didn't know you existed until this afternoon, so I don't think you're at full blown archnemesis material, but maybe get the training wheels off your bike first and then we'll talk."
Eggette seemed ready to pop a vein. "Oh, you don't think I'm serious, do you? Then you may want to see this."
The image panned to show Amy still wrapped up in Tangle's tail the two Echidna maids at either side.
"HMMM, MMMRGGH!" Amy yelled from the gag.
"I was going to give you the option to surrender before I did this, but since you don't think I'm serious I'm going to skip right to showing the world what's in store for them!"
Eggette brought the Oblivion Star close to Amy's forehead. All Sonic's team could do was watch as the shadowy light washed over Amy and her eyes seemed to roll back into her head.
The gathered heroes all gasped at the display of power.
The light faded and at Eggette's signal Tangle lowered Amy to the floor and unwrapped her tail.
"Go ahead Amy, tell your friends and the world how you feel."
After a few seconds Amy looked straight into the camera with a smile that somehow looked wrong on her. "It's ok Sonic, I'm so happy now and I can't wait for the Princess to make you all just as happy as I am!"
"And there you go, she's now another one of my happy little dolls and soon everyone on the planet will join them!"
"This could be trouble," said Orbot. "Should I recall…?"
"Let her try," said Eggman. "The Egg Fleet should be shielded from the Oblivion Star's effects. If it works we win, if it doesn't well my plan is already in motion."
Knuckles practically snarled. "You think we're going to let you just get away with this?!"
"Let me? What makes you think there's anything you can do to stop me? I already have two Badnick legions arriving now to reinforce Eggtopia and even more are on the way. But I'd love to see you try Knucklehead!"
Sonic however put a hand on Knuckle's shoulder and looked straight at Eggette. "Ask anybody and they'll tell you I'm laidback guy, there's not a lot that gets me angry. But hurting my friends, messing with their heads, that does make me angry. I was the one who was going to go easy, with you being a kid and all, but you just proved the rotten apple didn't fall far from the gnarled old tree. So, when I get there remember, you brought this on yourself."
Eggette smirked. "You know where to find me."
Eggette dropped the phone and stamped her foot on it. The image on Sonic's phone turned to static then displayed that the signal was lost.
Sonic started to move out of the grove. "You know it's trap," said Silver.
"When isn't it? But with you guys by my side nothing can stop us."
"And I think I just came up with a plan," Tails said.
After Tails laid out the details of the plan everyone nodded in approval. "She's not going to stand a chance!" Cheered Charmy.
"And if she somehow does," said Espio. "There's still our secret weapon."
Sonic looked at the metallic case on the Tornado and pumped his fist. "Alright you guys had a long trip so rest up, because in the morning we're going to take on that base and get our friends back!"
To be continued…
Opening Commissions SoonEdit: I need to work on a college portfolio, and so for this month, I’ll be busy teaching myself how to draw humans. I won’t be opening commissions until after March (this is an estimate, but I’m hoping during the first week of April I will reopen again). Of course, if anyone wants an estimate on a price, you’re more than welcome to ask in a comment or note. Thanks! -Lana
~ ~ ~
I draw on an iPad I rent from my school. Next year, I'll be able to buy it from them for $300 (USD). In order to keep my iPad, I’ll have to pay for it myself — and so, when life isn’t so busy, I’ll be opening commissions again. My style has improved, and because I've gained more experience and I have to meet a goal, I’ll be raising prices to around $15-20* (1500-2000 points, though I prefer PayPal). I did the math and if I sell my commissions for at least 15 dollars a piece, that means I have to sell an minimum of 20 between now and when
Current Residence: Orlando
Favourite genre of music: Christian
Favourite photographer: Thomas E. Franklin
Operating System: Windows XP
Favourite cartoon character: Too many to say
Personal Quote: With new technology there will always be those who abuse it