The Brawling Recruitment
(Year 3237 of Mobius-426)
They were going to come for him. He just knew they would. He would sit in a cell for years until they figure out what to do with him.
Or could they?
That would be hypocritical of them to start. They let that treasonous blight in uniform retain some command position in their filthy little Republic.
Why did the good Old King have to step down for someone so weak-willed? Why were those sacrifices made so long ago so easily forgotten for convenience?
Why has no one come?
These thoughts plagued the mind of a young-looking Fox by the name of Jerry, huddled in a corner seat at the counter of Wade’s Bar and Grill. It was sheer across the continent from New Mobotropolis in a backwater mountain village pegged as inconsequential in the affairs of Mobius by the many Conquering Factions.
Jerry wore a cloak over his shoulders, given to him by Margaret Sparrow, Wade’s Wife, and widower. The Old Duck had passed on after an accident over a month ago. The Fox had gotten the news when he arrived, and it burned him for not knowing.
The Sparrow covered up Jerry when he showed with the rains. Since then, Jerry sat at the end of the bar, drinking and eating on the House. Margaret refused to take coin from someone from her Husband’s Old Squad.
Jerry said his thanks, kept to himself, smoked his distasteful white cigarettes, and stared at a black and white photograph in stark silence.
No one disturbed him, and likewise, Jerry disturbed no one.
“Is that all you’re going to do is sit around and mope?” Margaret asked finally, bringing him a glass of water.
The Fox eyed it disdainfully, “I didn’t order that.”
“But you’re getting it all the same, it’s not healthy to be drinking booze all hours of the day.” Margaret noted with a grin, “Don’t make me get Bron out here to force it down your throat.”
Jerry glanced towards the wide kitchen door, imagine the tall, muscular Bear emerging on Margret’s command, trying to do just that.
“Not if you want him to keep his hands,” Jerry growled threateningly, but dragged the water over none the less, sniffing at it before taking a sip.
“See? Didn’t kill you.” Margaret chirped.
“Now what’s making you look twenty years older than you should be?” The Sparrow then questioned, settling against the countertop to regard the Fox. “What was your name again?”
Golden eyes flashed as Margaret struck smoldering flames of hot emotion.
Jerry had not aged a day while he had been transformed into some robotic slave under the thumb of one Julian Kintobor. The Fox should have been thirty or more, the time lost could be considered a blessing.
To this particular Mobian, it was a raw nerve.
Jerry seemed surrounded by Traitors, and Julian Kintobor, known as the infamous Dr. Ivo Robotnik, chief amongst them.
This so-called ‘youth’ served as only a reminder of the treachery that had been inflicted on countless lives. They should have had peace! It boiled his blood and it took Jerry a moment of effort to smother it away. The hatred was pointless now, considering that Ivo Robotnik was no more.
Now they had this, Eggman. What a Joke!
Regardless, Jerry bit off a vile remark at the start, remembering who this female was before he opened his mouth again.
“Jerry Tyson, ma’am, Corporal, or had been a Corporal in the Royal Guard.”
“Yes, I could tell that from your Uniform, I remember you from the grand opening. You’re in that picture Wade kept in his office, second to last?”
Jerry nodded, turning the photograph he had so she can inspect it.
There stood five Mobians, Wade Duckington on the far right, and second to last stood the Fox named Jerry. There had been a cigarette sticking out of the Fox’s smiling mouth as well as the heavily scarred Walrus next to them at the end, one passing the lighter off to the other.
All of their arms wrapped around each others’ shoulders, a merry-looking bunch to be sure.
“Sargent Duckington,” Jerry listed off his head, Margaret’s eyes lay lovingly on the old brown feather at the forefront, the male forever straightening his glasses. “Private Dunlap Lapine, Private Horus the Hedgehog, and Private Lukus Walrus.”
Margaret nodded looked over each on in the black and white photo. “You knew them well,”
“I remember more than them.” Jerry murmured in thought, “I remember forty-two faces, forty-two names, ten minutes of the worse fighting I’ve ever seen in my life.”
The Fox gritted his teeth. He would have said more, but Jerry paused, looking to the thin piece of material in his hand.
“Us five, though, were part of a Scout Group. This was taken the night before Kintobor-”
There was a hesitation there, and he immediately corrected himself in the name.
“-Robotnik,” Jerry growled the name, his fingers closing over the glass until it cracked.
They both were startled at the sound.
“I see, forty-two?” Margaret asked as she pushed the water away, the glass was not broken through, and the Fox was not bleeding.
“Forty-two of us held our ground the day the fat bastard betrayed us,” Jerry managed, staring down at the picture. “Wade led us into the thick of it all.”
“Brave of Wade, gods did he have his moments,” the old Sparrow stated lovingly, and Jerry nodded in agreement.
“Thought him more of a scientist, always tinkered with the machinery, Wade was my squad leader in the Army,” Jerry started to reminisce, sending a happy jolt through him. He even straightened, smiling broadly at a memory. “It was forbidden, but he took apart an Overlander rifle, slapped it back together and almost blew his own beak off with it,”
They both laughed, knowing what it must have looked like. The old Bird looking right down the barrel as he straightened his glasses. Tongue sticking out of one side of his beak, ever curious on how the technology worked.
“Now the ultimate question,” Margaret went in for the kill, seeing that she had put Jerry in a somewhat better mood.
“Why are you here?”
That was the kill alright. The male slumped over once more, his shoulders hunched and his head bowed forward.
“The fucking Republic,” Jerry snarled menacingly. The chilling tone he took with uttering those words drew eyes.
Margaret looked around at the other customers and waved at them with a metal arm.
“Go back to your drinks,” Mags ordered and like a mob of disgruntled children, the crowd did. Though they were of all sorts, from dregs to local farmers hiding from the battle lines, they obeyed Margaret.
Some out of respect for her husband.
Others out of fear or Bron.
It was then Jerry noticed, for the first time in days, that her right arm was a sparkling silver, a stark contrast to her dark gray feathers. The Fox shifted through his memory, having met Wade’s wife briefly once before during the opening.
Jerry did not remember Margaret having a prosthetic arm.
“What happened to your wing?” Jerry questioned when Margaret turned back.
Margaret looked down on it, her eyes reflecting sadness, though she was forcing a smile. As The Old Sparrow hesitated, she did not hear an order as she swam in what could have been a painful memory.
A brown Feline at the other end of the bar, however, seemed fixated on breaking her daydream. Their pals, a white Ferret, and a Snake grinned as his calls became more demanding.
“Hey! I said I wanted a drink!”
Margaret snapped out of it to turn around “Oh, I’m sorry, I was just-”
The Bartendress was on her way down the bar. She was going to serve them, offer them a polite excuse.
”-Flirting with the local drunk? That desperate you old bird?” the Feline jeered, and two gold eyes from that end of the bar narrowed hotly on the unsuspecting Mobian.
Only the Ferret had a blade, a thin one they rested on the counter. The other two were unarmed but wore gloves, extra padding on top of their own natural fur.
She did not need Jerry to help, Margaret had Bron if she needed assistance at all. That did not stop the Fox from trying to bore a hole through their head with his eyes.
“Look, I’ll get you a drink on the house-” Margaret started.
“-Like the drunkard over there?” they huffed indignantly.
“Why is he so special, he hasn’t paid a coin since he’s been here,” they complained. Their gaze locked on Jerry having just noticed the silent glare.
“What are you looking at?”
Cheap fighting words. Spoken by children to children.
Jerry’s ears flicked, and he slowly stood up from his seat. More mature creatures would have shrugged it off. Jerry still had the taint of ale in his blood, his unfocused mind needed something to grip hold of.
Something to focus his hate on.
The loudmouth at the end of the bar was just as good as any other target in the room.
“I suggest.” Jerry started, keeping his tone even though his feet were not as steady as he’d like them to be, “That you turn yourself to that drink, or I will fuck you up.”
“Or you’ll what?” the Feline asked, moving around the bar with their comrades.
Numbers, booze and bravado spurring their actions, and Margaret moved to intervene. “Now boys.”
The warning fell on deaf ears.
“Say that again y-” their words died, and the trio paused.
Jerry let the cloak go, and though he was not completely steady, the inebriated Fox placed his hands on gold saber hilts that had been hidden away.
“-Come on.” Jerry challenged back with a snarl. “Let’s see how you fare against an armed drunkard instead of a fem on the other side of the counter.”
The Fox was average in height for a Mobian, around four-foot tall give or take an inch. His uniform was in good condition, despite some travel wear along the edges. It had not been buttoned, revealing solid blood red fur beneath the bright blue fabric. On his left breast, hanging loosely against the military dress, were four medals though Jerry would have to say what meant what if they bothered to ask.
What was around Jerry’s neck they knew by sight and it was what gave them serious pause, not the fact that he was armed.
The Knight’s Cross of Acorn.
There were only a few of those ever passed out in living memory. The one name attached to the award that was fresh on anyone’s mind.
Sonic the Hedgehog.
They squared off, the Ferret had their hand on their weapon, close to drawing it. That same Ferret gave a questioning glance to the Feline and more so towards Margaret.
Typically, she would call Bron to deter a fight. Yet, Margaret was standing in the way of the large, muscle-bound behemoth, her metal arm spread out to indicate for the Bear to wait. Obviously, Bron heard what was going on, and she was stopping them from doing anything.
Margaret wanted to see this play out.
“We can take him.” the Snake hissed, looking to Margaret as well, though the Feline never took his eyes off Jerry.
“Bron’ll just get in the way,” the brown furred Mobian grumbled irritably, his tail flicking to reflect his annoyance.
“Oh no, This should be good. Three of you against a decorated Royal Guardsmen?” The Old Sparrow grinned as she looked between them.
“You boys are on your own. The three of you’ll get free drinks if you manage to put him on his back.”
Jerry glanced her way, then back on the instigators.
“I’ll kill’em.” the Fox noted as if it was fact.
“Don’t make too much of a mess youngster,” Margaret replied with the same grin.
More tension, uncertainty from their part more so from his own.
“Three on one?” Jerry asked suddenly, “Against me? Bah.”
Jerry leaned against the counter, asking as casually as he could muster “Don’t seem fair does it?”
Jerry removed his sword belt and dropped both sabers on the other side of the bar, well out of reach. “Now it’s fair.”
“Take him down,” the Feline shouted.
Of course, they would go for an unarmed foe barely standing on his feet than an armed one who looked like he could still use steel. The Snake surged forward, the Ferret made a wide arch, drawing their sword, while the Feline hesitated a few steps back.
That was fine with Jerry. He did not think he could take all three, not at once, and not with a bare fist in this state. Would not have mattered if they came at him at once either.
Win or Lose, there was the Fight.
The Snake threw the first punch and it landed squarely on Jerry’s cheek, knocking the cigarette still hanging from his lip out and to the floor.
There was a pain, a slight cant of the head in acceptance to the blow. However, instead of a Guardsmen staggering or collapsing from a glass jaw, the Fox’s fur bristled. Jerry immediately retaliated by ramming his fist right beneath his foe’s chin the instant the still smoldering cigarette left his lips.
Jerry had barely missed their windpipe, though not from the lack of trying. The Snake clutched at itself as they fell away, gagging for breath.
The Ferret darted in, the sword thrust meant to cut Jerry. It was meant to distract him, not kill him, to divert Jerry’s attention from their companion.
The thrust was done by either an amateur or someone not really keen on committing to a serious fight. Both cases did not favor the nameless Ferret.
The Fox caught the blade then yanked the Ferret off their footing just as he backhanded them with his free hand. While they stumbled, Jerry, with the same hand he struck them with, snatched the sword out of the Ferret’s grasp, disarming them.
Before the now disarmed assailant could recover, Jerry’s boot landing squarely against their sternum, picking them off their own feet and planting them face first on the floor where they had initiated their attack.
With their breath knocked out of them, they scrambled away, staring wide-eyed at Jerry with surprise.
Jerry, however, was no longer paying the Ferret any attention.
The Feline came in range when the Fox kicked their comrade, but Jerry’s body turned even as his foot came back to the flooring. The Fox’s being seemed to snap to stare down the main focus of his ire.
Still gripping the blade of the Ferret’s sword, he battered the brown furred braggart across their muzzle with the hilt. Then he struck their head, sending them reeling back. Another swipe and this time Jerry struck them in their pride, sending the Feline to their knees.
Jerry flipped the weapon to grip it properly, the bloodied edge of the sword pressed against the Feline’s shoulder. Despite the display of skill, Jerry had cut his hand snatching the sword.
As everyone looked on, though, they were not really paying attention to his hurts. There was a smile on that blood red face. A cold, cruel one that did not match the fury in those golden eyes.
Then, the Fox spoke, loud and clear, staring them all down with that chilling smile.
“The next one of you raise your voice at Mrs. Duckington outside of placing an order in my presence, I’ll tear out your liver and eat it with a mug of the piss water swill you call ale here.”
Jerry reached down, grabbed the Feline and pulled them to their feet. They were still holding themselves in their tender area and did not resist.
“Do I need to repeat myself?” Jerry snarled at them with as much malice he could muster in his tone despite an almost friendly grin.
The Feline shook their head meekly.
The angry gold eyes turned towards the Snake. They had managed to keep themselves on their feet, but well away from Jerry’s reach. They flinched when Jerry pointed at them with their companion’s sword. “Get yourself a table, sit yourself down, shut the fuck up, she’ll bring you your godsdamn drinks when she’s good and ready, clear?”
“They were just leaving.” Bron rumbled in thickly accented words, and the Ferret readily agreed wholeheartedly. Jerry pushed the stumbling Feline in the Snake’s direction before dropping the blade at the Ferret’s feet, giving them the same bone-chilling glare he had given their comrade.
Soon, Jerry returned to his own chair. The smile disappeared just as Jerry put his back to the crowd, the world, and the events that had unfolded forgotten for a photograph.
The trio retreated under the iron-cast gaze of Bron, Margaret though, nodded to the onlooking crowd, “Let that be a lesson to the lot of you, now back to your drinking,”
She passed by Bron, patting the larger Mobian on the stomach, “Take over, I’ll see to our guest.”
“Young for you yes?” Bron asked, though his expression remained angry, Bron was teasing their boss.
“Maybe me, but maybe not for someone else,” she replied in a hushed tone, then Margaret chirped, “Now see to the drinks.”
“Jerry?” Margaret called, waving to him with her arm, “Let’s talk in my office, I’ll wrap your hand for you.”
The Fox glanced her way, down at his hand, and then back to the photograph.
“I’m fine,” Jerry muttered dismissively.
“Get your guttermouth hide in my office now pup.” Margaret scorned, taking the air of an annoyed parent. Jerry stilled hesitated.
“Don’t make me start quoting my husband.” the Sparrow threatened with a metal digit, and for a moment, she was actually afraid Jerry would continue to refuse.
Jerry just stared at her, just as blankly as he did the rest of the world. It was as if Jerry was conflicted in how to respond. Then he stood, bowing enough that even his hair, brown and limp, fell forward, “Yes mam,”
“Call me Mags,” she grinned, leading him through the Kitchen,
“So, my Ale is unsatisfactory I take it?” Margaret, or Mags as she preferred, asked once they were in a stuffy, cluttered office. A wooden desk in the middle of the floor made it impossible to open the door completely inward. The desk had a terminal, there were file cabinets stretching from corner to corner, and Jerry’s eyes immediately fell onto the same picture he had in his hand on the wall.
“Something said in the heat of the moment,” Jerry replied, letting her take his hand to inspect it.
“Hard to see where the fur begins and the blood ends.” Margaret frowned. She noted that he had no alternating chest or cheek fur, just his brown eyebrows, his brown hair, and the tuft of his ears, which were a dull orange. “And your mouth? You didn’t pick anything like that up from Wade.”
Jerry stood there, swaying on his feet of course, but other than the involuntary movement of his disobedient legs, he stood, transfixed on the portrait.
“Private Lukus Walrus.” Jerry said the name, “He is, was, my best friend, we spent a lot of time together on board his dad’s freighter,”
“Ahh, Sailor talk.” Mags grinned, procuring a first-aid kit from one of the cabinets, Jerry thought it an odd place to keep one, but she removed some bandages, “What happened between you? Falling out?”
Jerry shook his head, now looking directly into her eyes. “They’re Scum,”
Mags stopped what she was doing to look up, unsure on how to make that. Then it fit with his comment about the Republic. Even why this Fox had walked all this way to Wade’s Establishment.
“I was the only Loyalist in the Barracks.” Jerry growled with an icy edge, “They tried to subdue me, they failed.”
“And then they let that traitor have his way, they had the nerve to put me under his command,” Jerry bared his teeth, “So I took my Father’s sword, his medal, and walked out the front gate. When he ordered me to return to post, I told him to go fuck himself.”
“You told a hero of the Great War too-” Mags shook her head slowly.
“-They should have been here, they should have come for me,” the Fox seemed to whine in despair. “They should be here convincing me, arresting me, anything,”
“I think they’re too busy to worry about you,” Margaret replied, bandaging his hand then patted his head, “They are at war and all,”
He snorted, “The Republic is at War, not the Kingdom of Acorn.”
“It has the same Ki-”
“-We did NOT have Elias’ name on our lips when we fell at the Eastern Gate.” Jerry snapped back instantly, his voice shaking. Rage, more than likely brought on by the booze, had Jerry’s body shivering, ready for a fight. “It was NOT Elias we sacrificed our FREEDOM for against the metal and, and-,”
There was an awkward silence between them. The Fox seemed lost, his expression shifting from rage to one unsure of what or where he was. It took a moment more, and Jerry snatched his hand away from Margaret.
“I don’t want to talk about it, I’ll sober up and go.” Jerry offered almost shamefully, “I’ll find a patrol somewhere and go the way I should have already gone.”
“So you would rather go fighting then drinking yourself to death?” the one winged Sparrow asked as he turned away. The male did not look back, Jerry opened the door to step out. “Then you and Wade did have something in common.”
It took two seconds for that to register. Jerry was a few steps into the kitchen when he paused, putting the photograph away to place his hand on his head.
“Wait, you said go fighting, and me and the Sarge had what?” Jerry turned around and stumbled back, “The Sarge died in an accident didn’t he?”
Instead of nodding, Margaret stood up, walked behind the desk and did something, perhaps pushed a button, flipped a switch, Jerry did not know. The Cabinets beneath the photograph sunk, revealing a small closet. An elevator secreted away behind a false wall.
“You promise me you can keep your mouth shut, and I’ll tell you what happened to my arm,” Mags said as she stepped inside, holding something down to keep herself there.
Jerry’s gaze narrowed, widened, and narrowed once more. What in the name of the gods was going on? Where did that elevator come from?
The last question came out vocally as he made his way around the desk.
“What the hells?” he shrugged his shoulders, curious on what his former Squad Leader was doing so far out from the fight, to begin with. “I’ve got nowhere else to go, what happened to your arm?”