The Battle for Exodus
Rotor lifted himself off the damp, oily floor. He thought at first that his body was trembling from the hard knock down he received from the violent hit, but he soon realized that it wasn’t him. Rotor heard the carrier bearings’ high pitched whining from one of the screws. After he picked himself off the floor, he quickly determined that it was the right motor; the shaking drive shaft was a tall tale sign. Seeing this, he reached over to the throttle levers and pushed the right motor’s lever down to the “stop” position. As the vibration ceased he could hear a hissing noise coming from behind him.
Aleutian slowly picked himself off the floor with the help from Knuckles. “You okay?” his brother asked.
Before he could reply, his ears perked up to the sound that all submariners never wanted to hear...water leaking inside a submerged boat. “Yeah, but the boat doesn’t sound so good,” he groaned over his minor aches.
“That was a kick in the pants,” came Sonic, picking himself up and shaking the aches off from the hard jolt as well.
“Everyone else–” Knuckles was cut short by two muffled explosions from the outside. “Now what!?”
“Our torpedoes,” answered Aleutian, his voice straining as he regained his footing.
“Vector, you hear anything?” asked Espio loudly.
Vector slowly replaced himself in his seat as he got his headphones on. He was about turn the wheel when a light flickered in front of him, briefly exposing Mathias slumped body on the floor, his head against a wooden closet. “Yo, Doc, Mathias is down for the count!” he shouted
Before Quack could get up as well and crawl through the hatch, Aleutian was already through it and tugging on Mathias. “Hey, Mathias! You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just catching my breath from that one,” the old dingo shuttered out as he saw Quack step through.
“I need to check you for ah–”
“No need right now, Doctor,” countered Mathias. “Aleutian,” he softly spoke next, “damage control, and see about our friend out there–”
“I’ve got a hissing noise coming from back here,” Rotor announced through the radio.
Aleutian dropped back into the dark command compartment and flipped on the gauge lights with a switch that he could search for blindly. He noticed that their depth was hanging around thirty-five meters and their speed was down to six knots. But then he saw the compressed air gauge...it was steadily dropping, approaching the four-hundred PSI mark.
“BLOW BALLAST, DIVE PLANES UP!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. Obeying his own orders, Aleutian reached over to the small wall of valves by the helm and started releasing what air they had left into the ballast tanks.
Knuckles dove to the rear dive planes and started to turn the wheel, but his efforts were met with zero progress. The wheel was jammed. “I can’t turn this thing.”
“Neither can I,” said Tails, the helm not even budging, stuck hard to the right.
“Here, let me try,” came Mighty. He got up to the wheel of the rear dive planes and gave it a good tug. Instead of turning it, he snapped a spoke off. “Ah, maybe not.”
“Get to the rear, Mighty,” Aleutian requested, watching the depth needle starting to rise. “In the supply room should be a box of lights. Bring them here, get yourself an arm full, and get back to Rotor.”
“Bubble?” asked Julie-Su.
“Just slam the plane all the way up,” Aleutian said, grabbing the mike again, “Rotor, give all she has left in the engines. As soon as we surface, get those diesels up and running.”
Mathias slowly got himself up and went searching for the leaks, telling Dr. Quack to stand by in the command room. As he moved along, he traced minor leaks to the overhead pipes with valve wheels sticking out from them. As he turned them, the water leak would slow to a trickle with only droplets hitting the floor. Then he slowly, and methodically, moved his way forward.
Mighty returned with the box and grabbed two hand full of bulbs, and started replacing the burned out ones as he made his way to help Rotor.
The walrus was too busy finding where the air leak was coming from. With the sound slowly dying as the air tank ran dry, and with the fully throttled electric motor screaming, he quickened his pace until he spotted a small cut in a black hose. He scrambled back into the supply room and started looking for some heavy duty tape, squeezing behind Mighty as he did so.
At twenty-two meters and rising, Aleutian was feeling better about their situation, but he wondered if the Dreadbot had been sunk. With Vector running short on time to pick it out, his options were getting slim as the needle passed over twenty meters. Instead of standing and thinking, Aleutian grabbed the helm with Tails and tried to turn it back to mid-ships. With one hard pull it slowly began to budge.
What had happened when the Dreadbot’s torpedo detonated so close to the Plunger was that the force from the blast pushed the right rear diving plane into the right screw, causing two of the three brittled blades to snap off. One shot up from its release and sank its metal blade into the hydraulic arms of the rudder before falling to the depths, causing hydraulic fluid to leak out into the sea. Without hardly any of the fluid left in the reservoir, Tails and Aleutian were using real brute force “power” steering. And for the rear planes, they were totally inoperable.
Vector slid through the hatch and grabbed some of the light bulbs before he went back to help Mathias, climbing his way up with the rising sub. He couldn’t hear anything except for the two explosions to the front of the sub. And now, he was worried about, Vector...and Vector couldn’t see.
“Contact surfacing, port bow!” came a voice from the forward deck.
Stenson grabbed a set of binoculars and went to the side of the sighting. Peering through, he saw the rusted metal hull of the Plunger, breaking the water with the conning tower and bow first. The sub soon settled itself on the surface, and for Stenson, an easy target. But before he ordered his two main twin guns to fire, his sight caught the painting of the shield of The House of Acorn on the side of the conning tower.
“No one target that boat,” he ordered.
“But why?” came one of his crew.
“I think they maybe on our side.” “I’ve seen that shield before. Not in person but books–”
“Sir, something’s surfacing, port side; rear!”
Stenson followed the arm of the brown echidna in the peacoat, his eyes tracing over to the water that was bubbling up from the depths. Then he saw a black and red dome rising from the ocean.
“In the name of Dimitri...”
“Torpedo tube inoperable, auto-targeting damaged, flooding under control.” came the computer voice.
Eggman didn’t care, he was at the surface, and he was powering up his two main cannons. He was going to have to aim on the fly, but his target was moving slow and turning away from him.
“Repair the targeting systems.”
Twitching the stick, he took aim with his first two shots.
Aleutian was half way up the ladder to the bridge hatch when he was knocked off of it. He fell hard onto the floor, but only bruising his pride. “What was that!” he screamed down the hole.
Sonic was way ahead of him. Leaving Tails from the helm, he raised the periscope up, and swung himself around with it until he saw the Dreadbot half way out of the water. “We didn’t kill it!”
“What!” cried Aleutian as he slid down the ladder. Sonic moved over from the periscope so the stunned Echidna could have a look himself. Aleutian wasn’t pleased as he grabbed the mike off the wall. “Mighty, open the rear tube,” Aleutian said mildly cool through the radio. “Espio get a fix on that sucker, impact detonation.” he ordered next, looking away from the scope.
“Aleutian!” barked Mathias from the radio, “I need your help at the forward torpedo room.”
“Knuckles, take over!” Aleutian shouted, pushing away from the scope and swinging through the hatch as he shouted.
Knuckles was at a loss when his brother dropped him the command. “Okay, so what do I do?”
“Point the scope at the Dreadbot and start pushing buttons. I need a fix on it,” came Espio as he activated the last Plasma torpedo.
Knuckles did just that, following the Dreadbot as the Plunger slowly turned to the right, Tails and Sonic trying their hardest to turn the helm back. It would move, but barely.
“Incoming!” Knuckles screamed as he saw two more hot, green energy rounds left the front mounted guns of the Dreadbot.
Aleutian braced himself against the walls when he heard Knuckles’ scream. As the Plunger swayed from the misses, he continued to the front.
Stepping through the hatch, his heart skipped a beat upon seeing the forward pipes gushing out water. Mathias was up trying to secure one of the valves on the left side with Vector working at another one down on the right. Aluetian instantly went to work.
Mighty, at the other end of the sub, had the rear tube opened. Rotor watched as the armadillo turned the hand cranks, and levers. The walrus then grabbed the mike by the wall and spoke through it. “Torpedo room ready,” pausing to look at the level of air in the tank. It was steadily climbing, but it wasn’t enough to shoot the fish out. “You’re gonna have to wait a for the air pressure to rise. I only have one diesel motor running so it’s going to be a bit.”
“We’re gonna be dead in a bit!” came Julie-Su from the forward diving planes, trying to keep the sub level from the added weight of the flooding bow compartment.
“This isn’t going to be good!” warned Knuckles as he heart sank from what he saw.
One of the hot bolts landed shy at the rear of the Plunger with the shock wave rocking the boat violently. It sent Mighty across the compartment and knocked him out cold when his head met the bulkhead. Rotor was instantly at his side.
“Mighty, you alright?” he asked as he shook the unconscious armadillo, ignoring the small water leaks that came from the left side of the compartment. The round ended up searing the outer hull open of the boat and cracked the inner-hull just enough to leak water into the inside.
Rotor reached up to the mike and pushed the button to summon Quack to the rear, but his calls were not being heard at the other end.
“Target that thing and fire at will!” ordered Stenson, pointing towards the Dreadbot with his hand. When he saw two yellow doors open up and produced two long barrels from the Dreadbot’s hull, Stenson knew right off who the enemy was.
As the order was passed down, the forward and rear guns came up to bear on the large bot and fired, sending their red plasma rounds out to the Dreadbot. The single bolt from the forward deck cannon missed the bot completely, but the rear found one of the enemies main cannons.
“Way ta’ go Echidnas!” exclaimed Knuckles, seeing one of the Dreadbot’s plasma guns explode into a fiery heap of junk.
The last leak was stopped as Aleutian helped Mathias shut off the last value. “Let’s get back to the command room and finish this. Afterwards, we’re going to need a tow,” came Aleutian, out of breath and drenched with saltwater.
Mathias took one heavy deep breath, trying to stay aloft himself. “I’ll meet you two back there, just need to catch my breath. I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“Okay Mathias,” said Vector. “See you on the flip side. Lets get going, bro,” he said, jabbing Aleutian on the arm.
“What!?” Eggman exploded upon seeing his cannon being smashed to the four winds.
“Targeting system back online,” came the computer voice again.
“Great, the best thing to happen to me so far,” Eggman snorted as he activated the missiles on top of the bot. As the hatches opened, he squeezed the trigger to his last cannon.
“Oh, no...” breathed Knuckles, viewing through the scope that was now pointed to the direct left of the boat. “Brace yourselves!”
Aleutian and Vector were half way to the command room when the Plunger shook with ferocity. The sharp crack of the explosion rang in Aleutian’s ears as the force from the blast shoved him down on the deck. Vector was thrown right on top of him. Smoke filled the damp atmosphere as the two slowly recovered themselves from the now wet floor. As Aleutians ears ceased to ring, it was replaced with the sounds of water gushing in behind them.
“Mathias!” he cried out, running as fast as he could through the sleeping quarters.
Rogue felt her teeth almost bite her tongue when her head was stopped by the bulkhead she was holding onto. She fell to the ground, dazed with a splitting headache.
Julie-Su fell off her seat from the hard shudder with only her pride broken from the fall. “What happened?”
“We took a direct hit...” Knuckles pointed out, cutting himself off when he notice the bubble starting to move towards the down angle part of the gauge, slowly tracing over the two degree mark. “Su, get on that dive plane and point it up, fast. We’re starting to sink!” Knuckles exclaimed calmly.
Espio mopped himself off the floor, using the ledge of the targeting screen to help. “How we looking Nicole?” he asked the computer in a low groan.
“Still on target Espio, but you need to set the depth up to three meters.”
“Consider it done,” he struggled out with his aching joints. Dialing in the final adjustment as best he as he could with his blurred vision, he switched the safety off.
Knuckles checked the air pressure and it was reading two hundred and fifty-six pounds per square inch. They had forty-four more to go, but he wasn’t sure if they were going to be around to see it.
“Keep firing!” shouted Stenson. His face soon lit up when both shots nailed the Dreadbot, one of the rounds killing the last gun. But Stenson wasn’t going to let up.
“Come on you blasted missiles! How long does it take you to get primed?” Eggman was getting real nervous now. Seeing his creation getting torn to shreds by a lone, beat-up ship wasn’t making his day. So to help, the Hawking was going to get the whole volley, determining that the rusted sub was done for.
“Mathias!” Aleutian shouted as he dropped to his knees in the ankle deep water that was rising fast. Mathias was pinned to the wall and under load of piping that was broken loose from overhead, which Aleutian was feverishly trying to lift off of him. He tugged as hard as he could, but the pipes wouldn’t move. Grabbing one by itself, he tugged at it and managed to free it, but the next pipe and the one at the of it bottom stood fast. Aleutian felt along the bottoms of them. To his horror, they were jammed underneath the metal floor, but he didn’t see whole picture as they also pierced through the inner hull. Water soon became a factor, rising as it poured through the long gouges that rippled the side hull. Mathias’s head almost slipped under, his snout still sticking out, before Aleutian pulled his head up out of the water:
“Mathias, hold your breath, I’m gonna try one more time.”
The dingo barley nodded as his felt his body grow weaker; his mind slipping from reality. Taking in a long breath, he placed his head back under.
Aleutian grabbed the pipes again, but this time with Vector coming to his aid. They both pulled hard at the same time. But they couldn’t release Mathias from the clutches of his metal bonds. The frustrated echidna raised Mathias’s head from the rising water, the Dingo taking in a hard deep breath. “We can’t get it alone, but Mighty might be able to do it.”
Vector nodded his head and was about to leave to get the strongest thing around, when Mathias stopped him with his groggy voice:
“There’s no time.”
“Your right!” Aleutian said, his resolve deepening. “Come on Vector and give me...”
“...No!” Mathias barely choked out, “close the hatch and save your family, Aleutian.”
“What about you, you are my family...”
“...Yours is your brother. Leave me; there is no time! It has to be done.”
“NO!” Aleutian shouted out defiantly. “I’m not going to leave you...”
Mathias reached up with his free left hand and grabbed Aleutian by the back of his head, his fingers squeezing his dreads firmly. “She’s done for Aleutian,” he began with a soft voice, the water coming higher around his head. “You don’t have enough time or hands to stop the leaks,” he whispered.
Then he deepened his stare at his adopted son; repeating to Aleutian what he hoped the young Guardian would listen to for his sake; “Let go...”
Aleutian’s face turned to sadness mixed with anger from Mathias’s words. “But what about you?” he whimpered out, tears following his words.
“I’ll be fine. Get out, close the hatch, buy yourself some time,” he then pulled Aleutian closer to him, his grip strengthening around the tearing Echidna’s dreads. “You were a son to me Aleutian...a son.”
Aleutian felt Mathias’s grip loosen as the dingo’s eyes began to be covered by the rising water. Aleutian was very hesitant to move. With out looking back, he laid Mathias’s head below the water, but he still didn’t move.
Seeing the whole picture, Vector took action and grabbed Aleutian and slung him over his shoulder. The Echidna started kicking him as he moved through the now calf deep water towards the hatch. “Let me go Vector!”
“If I do, there will be two dead bodies in here, and possibly a third if your brother finds out that I left you. He’s right, we need to go.”
With a hard toss, Vector threw Aleutian through the hatch and slipped himself through it. Reaching inside and grabbing the metal door, he slammed the hatch hard with water racking inside the compartment. Vector rotated the wheel that squealed as if it was screaming, sealing the torpedo room from the rest of the world forever.
Aleutian rushed to the door as Vector stepped away. The crocodile lowered his head as Aleutian banged on the door, crying out with his tears to Mathias.
The saltwater burned his eyes as he stared up at the rippling surface; but he didn’t care. With hope replaced by defeat, Mathias accepted it; but he still felt guilty and sad. The only carefree thought he had was that he was going to be buried at sea in his sub; his iron coffin he now realized. And he was going to see his son and wife very soon.
But he still felt guilty of this. With his lungs fighting to breathe, he bellowed his last thought in his mind that he wished the echidna on the other side of the hatch could hear; for Mathias could hear him:
He then took a breath.
Knuckles saw the PSI needle reach the three hundred mark and grabbed the mike from the wall. “Mighty, fire!” he ordered, but no kick was felt through the sub. “Mighty, Rotor, fire the torpedo!” Still nothing.
Rotor was knocked off his feet and was under his own wad of piping from Eggman’s dead on shot. He tried to get up and press the red lever on the rear tube upon hearing Knuckles’s command to fire, but he couldn’t move from the heavy obstacles that were stacked on top of him. The speaker to the radio worked, but not mike. He yelled at the top of his lungs, but the lone diesel engine that was cranked all the up, drowning out his cries for help.
“Fire that thing or we’re all toast!” yelled Knuckles at the mike, keeping his stance by the periscope that was still trained at the Dreadbot.
Sonic’s mind was racing over everything: the Plunger’s bow was down now at a seven degree angle, even with Julie-Su pointing the only working dive plane up, and the sub’s speed was cut in half. With the tube pointed forty degrees to the left of the Dreadbot, Sonic made his decision that needed to be done.
Leaving Tails from the helm, he shot to the small hole that lead to the supply compartment. He swung himself through it, rolling into a spin and tracing down across the graded metal floor in a rolling ball of quills. He landed his feet on the deck and dashed forward with a jump, flying over the top of the bulkhead from the supply room to the engine room. He powered his legs as hard as he could up the now eight degree angle of the boat, almost tumbling through the engine room to the electric motor room. Seeing the last hatchway, Sonic jumped over it as he left the compartment behind him. He cleared the aft torpedo room in a blink of an eye, only seeing Rotor pinned down by the plumbing and Mighty out-cold on the right side. But that all went to the back of his mind as he extended his left arm out. As he covered the last few feet, his hand slapping the red lever down.
The kick shot the Plunger down slightly further into the water as the torpedo left the tube. With the stern risen out from the water, the pink torpedo shot up half way out of the water before its ton and a half-self fell victim to gravity.
Eggman could not believe what he saw.
“A pink torpedo? Who would color...” then it hit him as the color was a diversionary tactic. He saw the torpedo launch out of the tube with half of it only noticeable on the surface. As the plasma fish disappeared under the surface, it took a hard right and raced towards the Dreadbot, leaving its signature wake behind it
Eggman reached over to his console and pressed the red button that would launch the missiles at the white ship. But the process took time. To mere mortals it would be short; but at the speed of the plasma torpedo, the speed at which the binary code had to travel to the satellite then to the receiver of the Dreadbot, then the message to get the launching process to work, and finally for the solid rocket fuel to ignite...the torpedo was already a hundred feet away from impacting. As the missiles slowly won the battle over gravity, that hundred foot of sea was covered in under a second and two more feet were added when the torpedo slammed itself inside the Dreadbot before the primer ignited the high explosive payload.
Between Knuckles looking through the periscope and Stenson through his binoculars, they both witnessed the fierce blast that rocketed up fiery pieces of the Dreadbot in the air. The fire ball covered the front and top of the bot. The missiles that it was trying to send off, exploded from the chain reaction. The rumble soon died with another minor explosions before the Dreadbot settled into a smoking, floating heap of twisted metal. With the added holes in its skin, it soon began to sink into its watery grave.