Prophecies and Realities
It was ten in the morning at Knothole and St. John found himself marching his way to the main dining hall of the castle, his shoulders back and holding two intercepted messages in his hand. One of the great secrets that Geoffrey had sworn to die over was that they had cracked Eggman’s ciphers.
Why wasn’t this information given to me sooner, he grumbled to himself. “Nine bloody hours old!”
Making a hard right flank, he announced his presence to the convening leaders of Knothole as he entered the large, majestic dining hall. “Our fighters are terrorizing the sea, and I think they might have alerted Eggman because of it.”
Amadeus face turned serious as he glanced up at St. John, interlacing his fingers. “Reasons, Commander?”
St. John passed the intercepted distress message from the cargo ship, plus the order for the two scouts to be sent to investigate. The one-eyed fox nodded his head upon reading the text. “But it says here that they were ordered to go investigate. By the time those scouts get there, all that is going to be left is the debris and an oil slick of the sunken ships.” Amadeus then looked back over the first message. “Where is the rest...?”
“...It seemed to have been cut off for some reason.”
“I’d venture Mathias took out the radio room with the cannon. That was common practice when they dealt with the Overlanders in the Great War. Course he had to have a good reason to surface to do that,” explained Amadeus.
“What makes you think that they sunk the enemy boats?” asked Elias abruptly.
“If I still know that Dingo well, he sunk ‘em.” replied Chuck, sitting by Amadeus. Chuck had gone on one patrol during the Great War to see what it was like and if any improvements were needed for the boat. He never wanted to go on it again afterwards. He shuttered after he’d heard that his nephew, Sonic, was taking on a mission on that the same boat. He’d rather get robotized again than plunge to over a hundred and fifty meters again, just to avoid a series of magnesium depth charges that the Overlanders just “had” to test out on them. The moans of the sub still echoed in his head, along with the stomach turning smell.
“There’s more, I’m afraid. I just received a message from the Guardian, Locke. They’re moving up the departure of the refugees,” announced St. John. “It’s a definite sea voyage and they plan to depart tomorrow at oh-five-hundred.”
“And where are our boyz and girlz et now?” came Antoine.
“I don’t know. I could make an educated guess, but I’m afraid I’ll be rather off.”
“Then there is no time to lose,” shot up Amadeus, “I’ll personally send a message to our friends and make Mathias a little happy. Then we need to find out what we our going to do about are soon arriving guests. They don’t need to run from a war and find themselves battling the same one when they get here.”
“Make sure it’s quick!” said St. John.
Chuck watched the
Commander leave, pondering to himself of the great news. So, Mathias is
still around and fighting the good fight.
I must tell Jules.
“Now...back to our original discussion...” said Elias.
Aleutian heard the high pitched voice of Tails over the running engines that he was inspecting. He shot through the hatchways with his jacket flapping behind him, ducking from the engine room into the supply room, then swinging himself through the small hatchway into the command room. He passed by the periscope and squeezed through the same diameter hole at the other end of the room, leaning through it to get a good look at the round radar screen.
Tails was pointing at the green scope when Aleutian showed up under his arm. “Two blips on the screen!”
“I see em.” Aleutian waited for the bright green line to circle around, keeping his eye on the two staggered, fading green dots. They reappeared when the radar passed over them, a half an inch further to the center.
“Scouts...and they’re moving fast.” replied Tails, remembering seeing a signature like this before. The two bots had to be cruising at over five-hundred miles per hour.
“Espio, we need your fancy computer!” cried out Aleutian towards the front.
Espio heard the shouting and was already moving to the rear from the torpedo room; following Mathias. The both of them ducked under the bulkheads as they passed through the hatchways. Rogue had to press herself up against the freezers as they made their way passed her down the long slender aisle.
Espio took out Nicole and placed her on the table in front of Tails, who was still looking up at the radar screen, and flipped up the small monitor. Looking down, he saw Aleutian looking over the table and up at the screen as well. “Okay, I’m here.”
“Plug her into the Plunger and get her to scan for radio frequencies,” ordered Mathias.
“I’m already doing that Mathias,” came the female computer voice, her face appearing on the LCD screen.
Plugging in the same cable as before into her jack, Nicole’s sensory range increased to seven miles in an instant. “I am picking up binary code traffic to the south west. They haven’t transmitted our location yet, but they might be very soon.”
“Can you jam the signals?” Aleutian asked before Mathias could.
“Yes, and I am doing so now. I am not a brainless bot like those of Eggman’s.”
“I never said you were,” came back Aleutian, ducking away from the hatch and moving back to the rear.
Knuckles and Julie-Su were leaning out through the doorway to their cabin. They were chatting about what all had happened in the past couple of weeks, and of course about Aleutian, when they heard Tails yell out the contact. They figured it was best that they should stand back and watch.
“Julie,” Mathias said, looking back at the two love birds, “we need you, again! Get up top to the anti-aircraft cannon and get it ready.”
“Why don’t we dive?” came Sonic as he came up beside the two Echidnas?
“By the time we get going, they will be here, and they could do what they please with us. Man the gun!” Mathias then reached over to the mike. “Mighty, to the rear. We need you to help bring up battery cells.”
It was now a race against time and speed. Aleutian reached the rear supply room and made short work of pulling the floor up. Beside the deck gun’s battery cells were several large, black rectangular batteries.
Rotor came through the engine room and looked down at the magazine hold, seeing all the contents. “What’s happening?” he asked
“We’ve picked up two bots on our radar and they’re closing fast. Tails says that they could be scouts,” Aleutian replied as he picked up one of the heavy cells with both hands. “I need you to put us at ahead flank, just in case we have to maneuver,” he nodded with his eyes.
“Done!” said the walrus, racing back to push the two handles to the stops.
Mighty appeared and was handed two of the cells by Aleutian, who grunted with every one he picked up. He raced to the rear hatch and climbed up the ladder after he placed one of the bulky cells on the graded floor. Aleutian soon appeared and passed it up Mighty, then handed him two more. The armadillo turned and rushed them up to the two pedestaled bridge, handing them off to Vector and Sonic, who almost fell over after receiving the full weight when Mighty let go of it. He then went back to repeat the same chore, with Aleutian following him up to the bridge.
Knuckles had the magazine wells uncovered after untying the leather canvas that kept the water out while diving, while his brother and Mighty climbed up through the bars of the pedestals. Aleutian then reached over and pressed down on two levers that were between the wells. Two water tight, plastic covers popped out and fell to the deck of the bridge. Sonic reached up with one of the cells, that to him weighed a ton, and placed it inside the right well; Aleutian placed another one on the left. Then, with both hands, Aleutian pressed down on the battery. The cell snapped down snugly into place. Sonic grunted as he did the same, and heard gun power up the instant as his battery touched the circuit contacts. The high pitched whine resonated over the full throttled engines.
Julie soon placed herself behind the twin barreled gun, her shoulders pressing up against two brown leathered padded cushions. She reached down and grasped two handles that had the hooks of triggers in front of them. Between the batteries was her sight, a scope that showed a red holographic crosshair with an open circle in the center.
“Where are they!?” Aleutian asked over the noises, looking back at Knuckles.
“Still southwest, but we should have a visual soon,” his brother replied, looking over his shoulder at the radar screen on the bridge’s instrument panel.
Scanning the sky with the gun pivoting where she looked, Julie-Su caught a glimpse of two black smoke trails coming out from a heavy bank of cumulus clouds. She lined the sight up, leading the weapon as the two bots turned in. When they got closer, she recognized the twin turbine engine silhouettes of one of the classes that Eggman uses as fighters. But she didn’t see any missiles between the engines and the fuselage, under the wings...and that was a great sign.
Aleutian watched as the slim fuselage bots raced closer. He placed his hand on Julie’s shoulder. “Aim for the lead bot, you might be able to get the second with the explosion...”
“...In your dreams, boy. When I touch this thing off, those things are gonna scatter.”
Only ignoring Aleutian’s last bright idea, she put a bead on the led bot and pulled both triggers. The gun jumped with six green bolts tracing out from the double firing barrels in under three seconds, three from each barrel. After getting a feel of the recoil, she watched as her shots went under the incoming flying bot that she zeroed in on. She adjusted her aim a little higher and forced the triggers back again. The smell of heavy ozone reached back to her with every burst of energy.
Diving hard towards the water and sweeping to the right after Julie’s first rounds missed, the two scouts tried to send a signal back to Eggman’s base, but their transmission scanners picked up the jamming static. Then one of the bots watched as more green plasma bolts raced by its view finder.
“Start leading left!” came Aleutian, wishing he was behind the weapon now. He then grabbed the mike from the panel and pressed the switch. “Left full rudder Rogue!!”
Before Rogue turned the helm, Julie-Su touched a burst off from the rear gun. Out of the eight rounds that left barrels, four of them found their mark, exploding the trailing bot that was banking hard to the right. The underside exposed a perfect target for Julie-Su, who was starting to feel the rush of the fight. A burst of fire showed the end result of the hot bolts of energy hitting the battery and fuel compartments. Black smoke soon filled the sky after the fireball burned up. The smoldering hunk of metal traced down with the thick smoke in its wake, splashing into the warm East Ocean waters.
Watching it’s wingbot disappear from it’s sensors and the sky, in a split second, the scout bot snapped rolled to the left and began it’s approach for an attack run on the Plunger.
Julie-Su fired once more, putting twelve more rounds total into the sky as the bot made its hard turn, missing with every shot. But then the weapon went dead. She squeezed the triggers again as she lead the bot to the right, but nothing happened. “I think I’m out, Aleutian?”
“Can’t be, you still have another fifty charges left!”
“Well,” she shouted back annoyed, “I’m pullin’, and it an’t’ shootin’.”
Knuckles starred at the incoming bot as it leveled out from it’s turn and began to close the one and a half mile distance between them.
Aleutian reached up and pressed the levers that were in front of Julie-Su. The two batteries shot up ever so slightly from the release of the locking springs. But unbeknownst to Aleutian, the left magazine well’s locking spring failed. It snapped in the middle and flung a two inch piece of itself into the well after bouncing off the bottom of the released battery.
Aleutian grabbed the expended battery, that had lost most of its charge after sitting and doing nothing for two years, and jacket in a fresh one into the hole with Sonic repeating the same process as fast as he could muscle on the other side. The blue hedgehog’s battery snapped in place without a problem, but for Aleutian’s, his wouldn’t lock down all the way. He shoved it down as hard as he could, but the cell wouldn’t lock into place.
“Hurry up, man!” screamed Sonic, seeing the bot barreling down on them.
“It won’t lock in!” Aleutian frighteningly explained.
Tails and Mathias saw the blip close in on its steady course. It was an easy target but the green dot wasn’t disappearing, and Mathias wasn’t hearing any blasts coming from their gun. “Right full rudder Rogue!” he ordered. As he grabbed onto an over head pipe to hang on as Rogue made the fast, sweeping turn, he punched the button on the radio beside him. “Aleutian! What’s going on?”
“We’re having a problem with the gun,” said Knuckles on the radio. “Aleutian can’t get the battery locked in!”
“Well, hurry up and get it fixed before we’re all dead!” fired back Mathias. Tails just slide further down in his seat.
Knuckles and Mathias’s voices barked out over Rotor’s speaker in the engine room, and from the sounds of the two going back and forth, they where in dire straights. Without anyone telling him, Rotor abandoned his post at the throttles and rushed to the rear supply compartment, remember seeing something in the magazine from the brief glimpse he had of it. He kneeled down and picked a two foot long, olive drab colored tube from a spot on the left wall. It had a hole that measured seven inches in diameter, and on the left side had a smaller tube running down the middle, just forward of the center.
Clutching it hard underneath his arm, he ran towards the rear hatch, passing the high revving V-12 engines. Racing up the ladder, he spotted the bot as it closed in to half a mile. As he gained his footing on the rolling deck, Rotor then saw the tall tale signs of a burst of black exhaust coming from the back of the scout-bot as it gave more power to its engines.
“Rotor, get down from there! What’re trying to do, commit suicide?” screamed Sonic as he raced forward to the railing.
Aleutian looked up from the weapon that he was trying to fix, and saw the purple walrus, his jacket flowing in the breeze, holding a big tube. Then it hit him; “Steady as she goes Rogue!” he barked down the hatch.
“What?” cried Knuckles.
Rogue did as she was told, she made them into a sitting duck. The bot adjusted it’s turn and centered its sights on the bridge, ignoring the walrus on the rear deck of the boat. It charged up its blasters and waited till it was within range; which wouldn’t be long.
Putting both hands, one on the front and the other on the rear, over two push buttons, Rotor pressed them down and extended the missile tube, activating it as the coverings slide to the stops. A top mounted trigger popped up as the metal shield slide back. Shouldering the missile tube, Rotor placed his clawed hand over the long lever just beside his head, and peered down the sighting scope on the left side, which he ended up jamming his glassed to his face with it. After fidgeting from the painful surprise, he took his spectacles off and placed one of the wire supports in his mouth. He again shoved his right eye over the black cover of the sight, and began tracing the bot through the holographic eyepiece.
At the front of the missile tube was a fiber-optic line that ran around the edge. It generated a radar pulse that had a range of up to two miles. The signal would bounce back to the missile itself that, in turn, would program it to intercept the target. All Rotor had to do was point and...
The jolt almost sent Rotor overboard. White smoke shot out the rear of the tube as the missile began its fast trip to the nose of the bot.
Picking up the white contrail and the bright yellow flame from behind the missile, the bot rolled right and pulled up. But the missile followed, slamming dead center at the bottom of the flying bot, detonating its warhead upon impact. Pieces of the bot scattered to the four winds, ablaze and falling to the sea after gravity took over.
Rotor gently put his glasses back on his face and slowly turned around with the smoking tube still across his shoulder, adjusting his hat from the shift of the wind. He gazed at the stunned group hanging over the rails of the bridge. “What!?” he smirkingly said.
“So the walrus does have teeth,” said Aleutian, smiling as he leaned up against the broken gun.
“And tusks,” he smiled. “Thought I saw something in there that could be of use.”
The upper deck erupted in laughter and cheers. Rotor solemnly bowed gracefully and went back down to the engine room with Aleutian telling him to power the motors back down to ahead full.
Espio slide through the hatch to the command compartment and put the autopilot back on, relieving Rogue to go back to be being bored. As he left, Nicole announced to Tails that she was picking up an incoming message.
“It’s for Sir Mathias Drake,” she confirmed.
“Probably to tell us about our friends,” replied Tails.
Amadeus’s eye patched face appeared on the small screen, sparking a smile from Mathias. “Greetings Sir Drake, it is nice to know that you are still alive after all these years, but I must make haste in delivering this message. Eggman has sent two scouts out to go see your handiwork, but I think you might be out of the range of their sensors...”
“..Maybe their sensors, but not their florescent vision. They traced the wake of my boat all the way back to us, Mathias snuffed in the heavy diesel air.
“...but the big news is, the Echidna’s are moving their plans ahead by about twelve hours. The ship will be embarking tomorrow morning at 0500, so, adjust your plans accordingly. Look after my special boy for me, and I will see you when you get back...lots of catching up to do. Knothole out.” The screen went blank and Tails replaced it back down, turning Nicole off.
Aleutian came down the ladder first, followed by Sonic, and the rest. Mathias lumbered over to him, his eyes low. “Been a change I’m afraid. Your people are moving their plans up to tomorrow morning.”
Aleutian squinted his eyes as he walked over the navigation console to study their current position; Knuckles followed close behind.
“What time?” Knuckles asked Mathias.
“0500, General Prower said.”
On instinct, Aleutian looked up at the clock, it was 1623 local time, and in about four hours, they would be passing into another time zone, making them loose an hour of travel time. Checking the distance from the Island to their present course, they were about six-hundred and two kilometers out still. With their present speed being at about sixteen knots, converting it up roughly to thirty kilometers an hour, and with the eleven and a half hours before the ship departs: the distance from the Plunger to the Island came out to...
“...Two hundred and fifty kilometers!” Aleutian grunted. “We’ll be that far out when they launch...two hundred and fifty kilometers!” the steamed echidna snorted again, his head jolting back from the displeasure of his mathematical results.
One of the things about Aleutian, and Mathias would soon find out that he wasn’t the only one, that impressed the old Dingo was that the Echidna had a gift in solving mathematical and other difficult problems, virtually in his head. When Mathias went to the school house to check on Aleutian’s progress, the teachers would be ecstatic over him. He would come up with the answers before anyone had the chance to pick up a pencil. Sometimes, Aleutian would get sent home because he would argue with his teachers about a certain answer being wrong.
“So, what do we do?” asked Sonic.
“I say, we forgo the hunting expedition and catch up to them...” came Knuckles.
“...And we can provide escort.” finished Mathias.
“But we’ll be sitting ducks for the Dreadbot as we cruise on the surface,” interjected Julie-Su.
“We could run the engines wide open, speed this thing up some!” suggested Sonic.
“Too risky,” pointed out Aleutian, “these engines are being pushed to the brink already. They have been ran like this before, but problems soon came along with the high stress. So far, we’ve been very lucky. Pushing them wide open could make our luck run out.”
“I’d rather get there than not get there at all, Sonic,” Knuckles said.
“But ships move too...that’s why we call them ships,” Mathias pointed out as a matter of fact.
Aleutian grabbed a pencil and traced a digital line out to two-hundred and fifty kilometers from Angel Island. “How fast do you think they’ll be going?”
“Don’t know; need to know what type of ship it is.”
Julie-Su perked up. “From what I heard, it’s a real clunker.”
“I’d give it ten, maybe twelve knots then,” said Mathias. “I’m sure their captain will be taking the same precautions as us.”
Again, Aleutian did the long equations in his head and in about ten seconds, he got his answer. But Julie-Su was a fraction of a second quicker.
“Four hours,” she happily said, showing that she was the brighter of the two echidna’s with a sly grin.
“What’s that?” asked Mathias, very puzzled. He didn’t even get started on the nautical miles to kilometers conversions.
“We will intercept the ship in four hours after they sail in the morning,” answered Aleutian.
“But, that puts us just inside the Dreadnot’s patrol area,” said Knuckles, gauging the distance at a hundred and twenty five kilometers.
“Then we will have to dive to do sound checks, we’ll start at 0700 in the morning” ordered Mathias. “It will slow us down, but it’s the safest way for all of us.” They all nodded in agreement at Mathias’s plan. “Good, everyone get some down time then. We’re going to need all the rest we can get; ‘cause the real work starts tomorrow.”
Climbing back through the hatchway, Mathias followed Sonic and Mighty, and stopped where Tails was still sitting at the radar station beside Mathias’s bunk. “You did good today, Miles. Your parents must be very proud of you.”
“They are, Mathias. Think nothin’ of it.”
“Hey, you’re the ‘special boy.’ I kinda have too,” Mathias said, patting Tails on the shoulder. “Don’t want to disappoint your father.”
“Actually Sir Drake,” Tails slowly started, “there is more to that.” And so, he began to tell the Dingo about being the “chosen one” as the old sea dog laid in his bed, rubbing his jowls and trying to rest his frail body. The afternoon excitement was starting to get to him...and a good story always helped him to relax. But, when Tails spoke of destiny and prophecies, Aleutian slowly crept back into his mind.
“What’s happened to your brother?”
Knuckles turned around from the left leading edge of the bridge to see Julie-Su coming up from the hatch. Being the loving boyfriend that he was, he grabbed her hand and helped her up. He looked her straight in the eye with a smile. “At least I’m not the only one seeing it. Where’s he at anyways?” he asked, his eyes nodding in with the question.
“Playing cards with our buds.”
Julie had just come from the torpedo room where the Chaotix were taking Mathias’ advice by kicking back, and trying to ignore the heavy diesel fumes that seemed to have worsened as the day got hotter. They were playing a game called “cheat.” The game starts out with the whole deck getting spread out to every player. Then, someone has to start the game by laying down a card of any value, face down, and then that player has to call out what the value is. If that player had more of that same value card, they could lay them down as well after saying how many they had. Then the next player could either lay down the matching numbered card, the next highest numbered card, or the next lowest numbered card in the sequence along with multiples if they had them.
Now, if a player lied about laying down what they said they had laid down ,and another player called them a cheater; that player would have to pick up all the laid down cards from the pile. The first to lay all their cards down, won...and Aleutian was creaming the Chaotix. What Julie noticed about him was that he kept touching the table periodically and seemed to get everyone who was “cheating” every time as he did. “Of course he had warned them that they don’t want to play cards with him,” the pink Echidna reflected to herself when Mighty asked Aleutian to join in.
“Do you think he’s going to stay and help us?” asked Julie-Su as Knuckles turned back around to watch the heavy white and grey clouds to the northwest.
“I think so, but I’m not a hundred percent sure. There is something troubling him deep down...”
“...Emi-La, Knux, remember?” she said, gently grabbing Knuckle’s right arm. “That has to be the main reason among others.”
“What others?” Knuckles softly asked.
“We talked this morning while you were meditating. He said that he has done some very dark things that he is not proud of.”
“Did he say what they were?”
Julie just shook her head. “Whatever he did, I’m certain it was over her. The way he talked about it and the way he looked when he spoke about it, it had to have been over her.”
“This, ‘mercenary’ bit he was doing when he came to us still isn’t sitting well with me. But, I think that is behind him now. I still wonder why even he choose that life. Those sorts are only out for themselves and no one else,” pondered Knuckles aloud.
“There has to be a good reason Knuckles. Your family doesn’t do drastic things without good reasons.” Julie-Su wrapped her arms around Knuckles’ arm, placing her cheek on his biceps, admiring the early evening view. She saw dark angry clouds looming in the distance as she held Knuckles tightly in her arms, fearing as if he might leave her again.
“I was right about one thing, Julie.”
“And that is?”
“We have bonded out here.”
She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “I know sweetie. If anything that has been the best thing about this voyage, its seeing you two coming together.”
Knuckles smiled as he looked over at his beautiful companion. “For me, its seeing him happy. He loves it out here and I can see why.”
“Is that the reason why you haven’t used your Guiding Star Gem to get us closer?”
“Yep,” Knuckles snugged.
Julie now embraced him around hist chest but still kept her head on his arm, and stared at the cloudy sky. “He needs us and we need him...”
The last round of Aleutian beating the three frustrated Chaotix, got him ousted from the table. Aleutian just bowed and took his leave with a smirk. “Lesson learned, I hope...” “Don’t play cards with me unless you want to loose,” he finished in his head. He would’ve been happy just by watching the game, but now he was overjoyed at the sweeping victory he took. As they told Aleutian to go away, Sonic was soon invited to the square table. And with the blue hedgehog taking up the warm seat, Aleutian took his leave out of the torpedo room.
Stepping through the bulkheads, he stopped in the sonar and kitchen compartment where Mathias was lying on his bed, his hand shielding his eyes.
“Hey,” Aleutian softly said, nudging his mentor on the shoulder, “you okay?”
“I’m not as young as I used to be, dear boy. The excitement from the pass two days is wearing me thin,” he ghostly replied.
“This is your last patrol, isn’t it?” Aleutian asked, hoping that it would be for the old sea dog.
“I think so. If the King can spare me a crew, I think I might have you take over the Plunger for awhile. She can still do some damage against this Eggman.”
Aleutian reached up with his right hand and wiped the sweat off from his face. “I thought you wanted me to go back home?”
“I know, but you know this boat almost as good as me. Yes, you made some mistakes the other day that could have been fatal, but you weren’t yourself. In fact, you haven’t been yourself until today. You haven’t yelled at anybody, you haven’t moaned or groaned about anything, I heard you carrying on with the lads back there during the card game; which, by the way, you broke the standing rule onboard this boat...”
“...I know, ‘Aleutian isn’t to play cards while at sea,’” Aleutian quoting in his best Mathias accent.
“And you seem to be much happier,” the tired Dingo added.
Aleutian walked over and leaned his back up against the bulkhead that overlooked Mathias. Crossing his arms and looking to the ground, he slowly took in a deep breath “Actually Mathias, I think I’m going to fully keep her promise and go home to help my people directly for once.”
“I can live with that,” smiled the Dingo, “but will you at least stay and get the training going?”
Aleutian returned the smile and nodded as he looked over at the picture of Emi-La that was on the shelf above Mathias’s head. Beside her’s was a picture of Chester. “When I made my way to see my Mother, I had to pass over my suffering people. Some mother echidna with her children close to her, asked me for help. I scared her, Mathias, when she got a good look at me, but I handed her a single bill anyways. She said it wasn’t worth anything, but I told her it would keep the fire going. So, she burned it.”
“And what did you take from that?” Mathias asked in a loud whisper.
“I don’t know. In a way, I was mad at my brother for their situation, but I asked myself; what if I’d stayed. I wondered if there would’ve been victory over defeat, or if I would have had to run as well?” Aleutian paused and sighed. “I think I need to apologize to him for that?” he murmured out loud.
Mathias starred at the wooden boxed ceiling above him, placing his hands over his head, smashing his ears to the side. “Do you have a grandfather named Athiar?” he asked.
“Yeah, how’d you know about him?”
“He paid me a visit when you were fighting for your life from your wounds; shortly after your Emi-La was killed. He said something that has made me question this whole ‘destiny’ thing that you kept telling me about your brother and your bloodline. I know your family revolves around it, but, after hearing Tails speak of destiny, I thought of you.”
“What did Athiar tell you?”
“‘This wasn’t supposed to happen.’ He also told me to look after you before he disappeared into thin air.” Which boggled Mathias’s mind on how he did that, along with a certain Fire Ant. “Unfortunately for you, I failed.”
Mathias then licked his lips and said with a stern voice. “Do promise me that you’ll stop wearing that black garb. It’s not you, and what it represents is all in the past. Granted, you and your father have never been on good terms, probably even today.” Mathias got a sharp node from Aleutian; “But you held to your duties as Guardian as far as I’m concerned. You helped your people and a whole lot of others; including the ones on this boat, beyond measure my boy. It’s time that you join them directly. Teach them what you know. Yes, it maybe dark, but the guy we’re fighting now isn’t a ray of sunshine either.”
Aleutian felt himself stiff his arms as he looked down at the metal floor...deciding; “I will Mathias, I promise.” And Mathias knew Aleutian would keep it.
Knuckles peered through the hatchway just as the two friends finished their second; long overdo talk. “Hey, looks like we might have a storm coming. There’s some heavy dark clouds on the horizon.”
“Any lightning?” asked Mathias, peeking beside Aleutian from his bunk.
“Not that I can see.”
Mathias nodded then looked behind him. “Dr. Quack!” he yelled.
“Soup and bread tonight with tea for everyone. Things are going to get a little rough around here, shortly.”
And he wasn’t lying.
Four hours later as they crossed the time zone, the Plunger went headlong into a squall; which Mathias and Aleutian considered to be a “lightweight.” No one else thought so. The two foot swells demonstrated who had their sea legs under them by now.
Sonic found it aggravating to sip the noodle soup as it tossed off his spoon and back into the bowl, along with trying to keep the bowl from falling into his lap. “Why are we chowing down on this right now?” he flapped off.
“Because I don’t want anyone to get sea sick on a full stomach,” replied Mathias, eating his dinner without any problems.
Everyone else mostly scarfed down the bread after they soaked it in the noodle broth...except for Rogue who didn’t partake in the adventure of eating. The seasick pills she took weren’t doing her justice with the tossing sub. She bounced off the walls with every hard pitch, her footing getting shakier with every turn in her stomach. She passed the dining Mobians, that were moving their heads with the boat to catch their meal, drunkenly making her way towards her bunk. That’s when she began to totally loose it.
“Ah oh, looks like batty is going to hurl,” teased Julie-Su.
“Don’t start!” snapped Aleutian, coming up from his soup.
“Hey, if she upchucks, I’m following right along,” said Mighty from across the table.
Rogue rushed towards the forward hatch, which was dripping from the rain and swells that swept the deck, holding her hand over her mouth. Aleutian shot out of his chair and followed her. When she got to the ladder, she stopped to gain her strength to go up it, but she lost her motivation when her stomach tightened with another rolling swell.
“Here, jump on my back,” said Aleutian, coming up behind her and turning so that she could grab on to him. She nearly choked him as they made their way up the ladder, barely squeezing through the small opening.
Collapsing on the wooden deck, with the heavy rain pelting her wings, Rogue gave her partly digested offerings to the sea. Aleutian held onto her by her shoulders, making sure that she wouldn’t get swept away by the angry sea. Catching a glimpse of a wave from the corner of his eye, Aleutian pulled Rogue back from the edge of the sub, her face getting sprayed with the salty-water as the swell slammed the side of the boat.
“You okay?” he asked, smiling.
Rogue held her hand up. “I’ll let you know in ah’ bit,” she said before going back to tossing her cookies. With another offering, she lifted her woozy head up, her body shaking from the hard exertions. “Okay, I think I’m done for the moment. Sorry about messing up your paint job.”
“Its okay. It needed scrapping and painting anyways,” Aleutian joked. He too, knew that people didn’t care much for anything when they threw-upped their last meal.
Aleutian helped Rogue back down, grabbing a towel from an overhead compartment as he did and whipping her wet face with it. She slowly began to smile, but that soon went away with another hard toss of the sub.
Dr. Quack soon appeared with a syringe in his right hand, and an alcohol pad in the other. “You got her there, Aleutian?”
Rubbing Rogue’s right arm with the pad to clean the surface area, he jabbed the needle in her arm and pushed the plunger down. Rogue went limp in a fraction of a second later with Aleutian almost dropping her as she went out. He wasn’t quite ready for her to collapse in his arms.
“Okay... and why is she out now...!?” Aleutian asked rather hastily.
“Better for her to sleep this through than be up all night, sick. She’ll be out for ten or more hours.”
“And if I need her?”
The duck smiled before he answered. “I can take her place.”
Aleutian picked her up, slinging her legs under his right arm, her back over his left, and carried her to their quarters. He placed her in her bunk, patted her head between her ears, and stayed with her for the rest of the night....you did for me.