The Old Dingo by the Sea
16 years ago:
A young Aleutian was standing over Knuckles’ crib in the dead of night. It was something to see his brother sleeping comfortably in his yellow pajamas and suckling on his thumb as his slumber took him through the night. Nothing now, or in the past could compete with what he wanted to see. It was the final object of his convictions that needed to be strengthened; to see his baby brother one last time in his innocence. A tan-colored backpack, filled with food and other items that Aleutian might need on his impending, sat beside him as he stood on his tip toed tan and green shoes to get a better look at Knuckles. The last object he crammed into the sack was a family picture. Something to aid him of why he did of what he was about to do.
He had no direction but out. Aleutian had no idea where he was going but he wanted away from Echidnaolopis and everything that represented his current way of life, only leaving a note to his parents as a good-bye:
Dear Mom and Dad, I am leaving. I have made my decision and it is mine alone. I am doing this because I love Knuckles and I’m not going to stand in his way. I fear a sibling rivalry between us could be bad for our kind, and I don’t want to be second place to Dad’s love in the process. So, I will help Knuckles and our kind in my own way. Good Bye! Aleutian.
Aleutian stood by Knuckles’ crib for what felt like hours to him. He questioned if what he was about to do was right, but seeing his brother sleep so innocently, it sealed his decision. Removing his right glove from his hand, he gently stoked Knuckles’ head, tracing his small dread locks down to his shoulder. “Good-bye little brother. I will be there for you, but it won’t be by your side,” he whispered as a tear fell from his eye and dropped onto Knuckles.
Aleutian was too concerned with getting his glove back on that he neglected to see it fall and touch his brother. Pulling his glove taunt, he turned and defiantly walked out of Knuckles’ room. When he rounded the corner, his mind flashed back to the day his brother took his first steps. Lara-Le had just released him from her arms, and Knuckles slowly began to walk. The first person he triumphantly stopped at was Aleutian, and hugged him with an iron grip.
And now the elder brother was going to leave all of this.
He walked over to a table-stand by the front door. On it was Locke’s portable computer, filled with information on weather, satellite feeds, and most importantly, the present location of Angel Island. Aleutian activated the device and scrolled through it, coming upon the information he was seeking. The Island was only sixty miles from the location where he would appear from Echindolopis’ pocket zone, and over the water. But, in a couple of days the Island would pass over Mobius Prime and there he would jump off and begin his journey. He put the hand computer in his sack and proceeded to the door, turning just before he left to take one last look at the yellow walls of his home. Aleutian took a long deep breath and looked down at the carpet. His mind went over of what he was about to do...runaway.
He was confident in his father’s training that was drilled into him since he was four. Basic survival skills, many martial art styles, and basic schooling; much of which was from a school house. But, however, what Aleutian really lacked was real Mobius skills. He didn’t know the harshness of the world he was about to step foot upon, and he was too young and naive to even see it.
Pushing the activator button that slid the door open to the outside world, he took his first step on the raw ground without one of his parents walking out with him felt strange. He wasn’t sure if it was the feeling of freedom or of making a bad mistake. But he pursued on with his self-convictions. When he cleared the door, it slowly slid shut behind him.
Knuckles was awakened to the tear drop and the feeling of someone touching him. He saw Aleutian leaving with his eyes clearing from the fog of sleep. After a moment he heard a soft thud of the door shutting, but he didn’t cry from being jolted awake; for it wasn’t the first time someone in the house had woken up and gone for a snack or something in the middle of the night.
But before he went back to sleep, sucking on his thumb, he blurted out his first word...his first word that only the walls would hear in the sleeping and now one less family member house...
Aleutian found a tall mound on the outskirts of Echidnaolopis that was hidden in a pocket zone from the rest of the world and known universe. He trudged up it and with a running jump at the crest, he started using his flying technique which he had just learned from his father. Feeling for the patches of thermals and wind paths through his dread locks, he set himself aloft on the night air.
His flight was straightforward at first. He remembered how his father traveled through the zone to go and observe the progress of the island. He remembered it well enough that he found himself going through the zone to the real reality was actually easier than he thought. His vision was washed with the blackness of the night, though, as he came through the small portal. The air was hot and humid, even at his present altitude. He could hear the swells of the waves below him, but he couldn’t see the foamy white caps. Gazing to the sky above, he saw nothing; not even a twinkle of a star, or the aura glow of the moon. Fearing that he might have jumped into a different zone, he reached back quickly and grabbed his father’s handheld computer. Keeping his leveled balance in the still air, he flipped it on and gauged his position on the white and green screen; the red dot which resembled him showed that he was only three miles from his destination.
Breathing a sigh of relief, he placed the device back in the sleeve of his pack as he pressured on through the night air. But with the deliverance of one fear came another. He felt his ears plugging up as he completed another mile. Before he knew it, he saw a flash of a white mythical light a little ways out, and to his horror of his sight, the waves below him were angry and rising up to him. Refreshing his mind of what his father had told him about his new abilities, he remembered that he couldn’t actually fly, but glide; using thermals and air pockets to help him gain altitude to stay aloft, along with some help from the chaos energies. But the air was so still, and without the sun or the moon to heat the water that would produce the thermals in which he desperately needed; he was sinking to the ocean, and sinking fast.
Panic came over him in a frenzy as he swallowed to clear his ears from the change in barometric pressure. But along with the panic came a revelation...one that he knew might save him. Humidity, still air, an angry ocean and now low clouds, and the sight of more lightning ahead of him; he was vastly approaching a front, a cold front he was sure of, that would nring rain and heavy gusts of winds. It was the winds that stuck in his mind.
He eagerly waited for his body to pass over the front, porpoising himself up and down to stay in the air a bit longer. It worked. He felt the wind pick-up and he used it to gain more lift. But yet again, with one fear being delivered from his senses came another.
Aleutian hadn’t flown in weather like this before, but he kept his new found instincts and wits about him, even as the wind began to toss him around like a piece of paper. The rain started peppering his face now, the air turning cold as he progressed through the storm, and it was all making it ever harder for him to see where he was going. He tried to whip his face but the loss of one of his hands made him unstable. A flash of lighting revealed Angel Island for a brief moment with the white light, its silhouette illuminating in the dark cloudy sky. Aleutian sighed in relief, knowing his journey was about to soon be over.
He again, moved his right hand to whip his face from the pounding rain, trying to do it fast enough so he could keep himself stable, but a violent wind sheer ended his efforts, tossing him into a spin. He put his arms at his side, trying to point his head down towards the water to pick up speed. The momentum he was trying to achieve could have brought him out of the fall and back up to level flight; if another wind sheer hadn’t surprised him.
He hit the water at a rate that would leave a bruise on his body for days to come.
The instant he impacted the frigid water, Aleutian exhaled what little oxygen he had left in his lungs. He climbed his way up to the surface more on instinct than training. As he reached the rolling sea, he forced as much air into his lungs to keep himself afloat. But as he gulped down the precious oxygen, he was forced down by a wave, and the weight of his backpack. During the brief moment he was underneath the rolling ocean, he unstrapped his bag from behind his back and activated the small flotation unit that was built inside of it. He grabbed a hold of the straps before he pushed the valve open. The CO2 cannister inflated the small air compartment inside the small bag, shooting Aleutian up to the surface. When he reached the surface again, he put an iron grip around his new life raft, and began praying for a miracle to end his ordeal.
As the first four minutes passed, he began to shake uncontrollably from the icy cold water. He searched his thoughts on what he could do, remembering the hand computer in the sack. Taking it out of the top pocket of the bag, the shivering echidna desperately tried to activate the distress signal that could hopefully send help from the stupid situation he had gotten himself into. He was no longer the fearless warrior anymore. He was a cold and freezing kid again.
Aleutian was about to thumb the button to activate the signal, but the shakes from hypothermia quivering throughout his body made him lose his grip on the only device that could save him. He quickly fumbled for it as it slipped out of his shaking hand, but it hit the water and sank to the bottom of the ocean, along with his hopes of survival.
Another flash of
lightning lit up the sky and exposed Angel Island. Aleutian’s heart sank in defeat, but with
more of an ache knowing how close he had come to getting there.
Ten minuets passed but to Aleutian; it was an eternity. He didn’t stop praying to Aurora, even when the cold water was taking his conscious state away from him. His body was shaking uncontrollably, trying to use the expended energy from the muscles to produce body heat to keep the heart pumping. But the ocean was winning.
Then the sea began to churn around him. Bubbles and small spouts of geysers erupted all around him; but by now, Aleutian was out cold to see his new situation. As the bubbling from the deep became increasingly violent, it made him lose his grip on his pack. His head slowly slipped under the sea, his body lifeless, and floating to the bottom.
Five feet below the waves, his legs collapsed on a hard object that was rising up from the depths of the ocean with Aleutian on top of it. When a slap of cold water hit his face that made him breath in air, he awoke to sounds of metal colliding with itself. Aleutian tried to open his eyes, but another splash of saltwater nailed them shut. Shivering on top of the surface, he could feel the movement of the sea churning around him. Then a warm hand touched his shoulder.
“Hey, you alive?” a young adult voice called out over him, almost as a comforting whisper. All Aleutian could do was moan through the shakes. Numbness was starting to set in from the effects of hypothermia.
“What’s your name little one? Can you hear me?” Again, all Aleutian could do was moan.
“Hey,” another voice cried out, “get him under fast and put blankets around him quickly before we loose him. Someone will be missing the little one for sure.”
“Aye, Captain!” the voice over Aleutian replied. “Someone get his bag off the deck.”
feel his body getting picked up from the cold, wet wood. He didn’t know if he was being rescued or
being carried to the afterlife. With his
body temperature dropping so low, his brain began to shut off parts of his
anatomy that wasn’t vital to staying alive.
In which part, Aleutian fell unconscious in the arms of his unknown
Knothole City: The present.
Commander Geoffrey St. John was making his way through the scattered layout of huts around the outskirts of Knothole City. He was looking for a particular one in the dead of night with only the cratered moon guiding his way. When his eyes caught the number on the door that Amy, in her tired voice, had said that a certain guest was sleeping at, he stopped, stood at attention, adjusted his green beret and battle blouse; which ran up to his neck and about choked him, and gave two hard knocks that he could have woken the dead with.
Inside, Aleutian’s eyes went wide when he heard the two loud thuds. He could feel his heart pounding with the added adrenalin surging through his veins after being awakened from his sleep. Most Mobians, and other beings, usually don’t have this reaction. But in the case of harden fighters, loud noises coming in the dead of night while they are at their weakest and most vulnerable, sent them into a flight or fight persona in an instant. He awoke lying on his left side, facing the wall with one of his dreads lying over his mouth. He moved his hand around and brushed it back into place, placing his groggy senses as to where he was. Slowly turning over he heard a second round of knocks at the door that helped lift more of the heavy haze of sleep from his weary mind.
“Who is it?” he shouted to the door.
“Commander St. John of the King’s Secret Service. Your presence is required,” returned the skunk with his thick English accent.
Aleutian knew from the sound of St. John’s voice that one: it was urgent, and two: St. John was very disciplined and possibly has the same amount of training as him. “I’ll be with you in a second,” he groaned.
“Make it fast, mate!” St. John replied, turning his back away from the door and against the wall, putting his posture at ease.
Aleutian slowly got up from his bed and looked over at the clock that was sitting on a night stand next to his gun. It read 3:21 in the morning. He and the rest of the group had gotten in about eleven in the evening from their little trip to Angel Island. After Tails led him to the hut, he crashed in the warm bed and went right off to sleep, passing the crying stage that he thought he was going to endure. Now he was wondering where he had put some of his clothes after he striped them off in a hurry to get to sleep. He found his torn shirt and figured it was all he needed. Next he discovered his socks were bundled together in one of his boots. He dressed his feet with the thick green stockings and fastened his boots on as well. The black jack-boots clicked as Aleutian slammed the two buckles closed.
The Guardian stood up from his bed, stretched his back that replied with pops from the nitrogen gases that had built up in the joints. As he stretched even higher though, he felt his lower back muscle on his left side began to stiffen up with a hint of pain. He shrugged the old war wound off as walked over to the door and opened it.
Geoffrey was at the ready when he heard the knob turn. He moved to the side to formally greet Knothole’s new resident, “Hello sir...”
“...Don’t call me sir. Aleutian will do just fine,” the groggy Echidna said.
“Sorry, but I like to be formal when it comes to some one of your stature, mate,” St John replied, as he looked at Aleutian square in the eyes.
Aleutian sized Geoffrey up, only noticing the strict military bearing in his stance and demeanor. St. John on the other hand saw a lot more in Aleutian in the way he stood erect; some one to either greatly respect, or be very edgy around. But he was disappointed though; the Guardian looked to skinny in the muscles to even hold up to whom he was suppose to be. If fact, St. John thought Aleutian had spent sometime at one of Robonick’s work camps from the way he looked. And the scars...
“What can I do for you Commander? I take it you aren’t here to see the moon set before the sun rise,” said Aleutian, drly.
“Right!” agreed St. John and getting to the point. “Rotor needs your assistance at the command hut,” he answered, holding his arm out that gestured the way Aleutian needed to go.
Pivoting his torso, Aleutian started marching. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“We’ve received a distress call about eighty miles away from Angel Island. Since you happened to be on a certain ship coming out from that area, and for the record, having said you have something up your sleeve, we figured you might be of some assistance about now?”
“I take it, it can’t wait?” groaned Aleutian from the little sleep he has had, also wondering why he called the Island, “Angle Island?”
St. John guided Aleutian into the command hut. Right off, the Guardian noticed the big screen that showed a blown up image of the ocean and a red flashing light not far from the Island.
“Thanks, its new thanks to Knuckles losing his temper,” Rotor said as he stepped from around the corner, his glasses hanging at the edge of his face with his brown bomber jacket hanging loosely around his purple, leathery skinned torso. The walrus was undoubtably bulky. His white tusks the only things gleaming in the dim lights of the hut and the screens.
“A bit of a trait in the family I’m afraid,” replied Aleutian wearily as he looked over at the walrus, “and you might be?”
“Rotor’s the name, but others call me Boomer,” he replied, sipping at a drink that he grabbed from a table. “And you must be Aleutian? Knuckles’s brother, right?” he asked, gazing at Aleutian’s white mark from under the torn shirt.
“Yep,” replied Aleutian bluntly, crossing his arms as he studied the screen.
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday...can anyone hear us? We are Overlanders in grid AJ 25. We are being fired upon from an unknown source. I don’t know how much longer we can last. Can anyone help?” shouted a male voice through the speakers.
“Overlanders? What in blazes are they doing that close to Angel Island?” asked St. John.
“Either lost or running away from somewhere else.” replied Aleutian, as he unfolded his arms and looked over at Rotor, “are you going to send help or are you gonna reply to them?”
“Neither! We can’t help anyone at the moment?” answered St. John.
“And why?” inquired Aleutian with a gruff voice.
Rotor answered for St. John. “We found this out by an encrypted message that Eggman had sent to a bot of some sort via satellite...”
“...And so far, that fat bloke thinks his ciphers haven’t been cracked, and we need to keep him thinking that way,” St. John finished.
“So, you are going to let some Overlanders die so you can make Eggman think his codes haven’t been compromised?” Aleutian asked coldly, crossing his arms in disgust.
“That’s the sad truth, sir; but we have can’t take that chance. If he discovers that we have cracked his encryption program and he sets out make a new one; a good year of work will be down the drain...”
“Please help us! Someone! We have ran out of countermeasure and a salvo is closing in!” This time a female voice was pleading over the airways. “We have children onboard! Can anyone please help us?”
Aleutian’s head snapped to St. John with fire in his eyes. “You gonna do something?”
“Not much we can do. I have my orders from the King–”
“Have you ever disobeyed orders before!?”
“No!” Geoffrey replied harshly, knowing his answer was a lie.
“Fine time you start, Commander!” Aleutian coldly seethed.
“I will not sir. Besides, they are well out of range for us to be of any help, mate...!”
All of a sudden, static filled the intercoms in the command room. With the static, the flashing red light blinked out of existence. The room fell silent. Rotor then pressed the button that silenced the speakers. He slowly looked down at the console and whimpered a prayer to himself.
Aleutian threw his arms down to his sides and turned his back from the screen, his eyes narrowing from his anger. He sighed before he opened his mouth. “I need a map with a key, preferably in Kilometers. It needs to be of the East Coast and with the latest projected track of the Floating Island. I also need a pen, a ruler, and compass. Not the one that tells direction but the–”
“I know what you need, Aleutian,” came Rotor. The walrus walked over to an adjacent room that had two book cases filled with cardboard circles. He read through the names that were on the covers of the tubes, and came to the one he was looking for. Removing a white cap from it, he slide a rolled up paper sheet from the tube.
Rotor strolled to the table that Aleutian was leaning over along with St. John, and tossed the roll on the table. Turning away again, Rotor proceeded to a small desk on the other end of the room. He slid one of the drawers out and gathered what Aleutian had asked for: a ruler, a pencil, and a device that had two legs with needled points at the bottoms. Rotor returned to the small table with them in his hands.
Aleutian nodded to Rotor with a smile. He liked people he knew their stuff. With that, Aleutian put his left hand on the edge of the rolled up map and with his right and smacked the roll itself, unraveling it’s image of Mobius Prime’s East Coast and the Ocean.
Just then a pink female hedgehog came inside, her eyes sagging heavy from the lack of sleep. “You all need anything?” she asked dryly, hoping to go back to bed in an instant.
Aleutian looked over at the pink hedgehog. “You have any tea, miss?”
“Yes we do. It’s a little hot, if that’s okay?”
“That will be fine, and please have some sugar in it.”
“Okay, anyone else?” Amy asked, sounding exhausted. Rotor and St. John, who had his arms crossed and looking over Aleutian’s shoulder, shook their heads at Amy.
As she tuned away, Aleutian began to go to work. He first marked a point on the map that was over four hundred miles south from the boundaries of the old Overlander Territory. Turning and looking over his shoulder at the large screen, he observed where Angel Island was. That too he marked on the map. Aleutian then dotted a mark at the end of a channel that ran between two islands; to the north was a small one, and to the south a larger one.
“That ship went down here, right?” Aleutian asked as he looked over at Rotor, pointing at the grid where the Overlander Family had just lost their lives. Rotor just nodded. Aleutian marked that as well on the map. He then took the ruler, connected the dots with the straight edge, and drew a line to the marks.
Amy soon returned with a hot cup of tea for Aleutian. The echidna thanked her and began to sip at the hot drink instantly. Amy just stood by and watched.
Picking up the compass, Aleutian went over to the key that was marked on top of the map. He adjusted the distance of the compass to the five hundred kilometer mark on the key. Placing one of the points of the instrument on the mark on the mainland side, and centered the second point on the line he drew, he pivoted the compass across the line that led between the two islands. St. John could see the echidna counting to himself as he moved the compass points across the map. Aleutian stopped when one of the points of the compass went a little over the mark between the islands. He penciled in the stop, positioned a point on the original mark and pivoted the compass across the map to the known location of Angel Island. The last needle landed right on the dot. Aleutian then went back to the key and measured the compass against the fifty kilometer rule. He went back to the mark that was between the two islands and moved the compass over to the original marked point on the map and beside the added dot of the overshoot. The compass barley reached it.
Picking up the pencil, Aleutian jotted down: 2,950 on the map. He then scratched his head and looked down at his feet, putting the numbers through their paces:
“Over four and a half days to the Island!” Aleutian said, pushing himself away from the table in frustration.
“Yea, so, we can do it in under an hour with our ship,” came Rotor.
“And you want to be blown to pieces...why?” Aleutian exaggerated.
“What are you talking about echidna?” asked St. John, making his tone sound gruff, “and why all this in kilometers?”
“Because the Plunger can do twenty-four to thirty klicks per hour, plus, most of her gauges are in metric,” replied Aleutian with a smile.
Rotor looked to Aleutian, his face lite up like a Christmas tree. “The Plunger? I...I thought that boat was a myth?”
“What boat...what myth!” cried out Geoffrey, tittering his head back and forth between the Echidna and the walrus.
“The boat that disappears and then reappears someplace else. I heard its supposed to be haunted?” replied Rotor, almost frantic now.
“Haunted, no. Disappears, yes.” Aleutian said, grinning at Rotor. “Where have you learned about the Plunger, Rotor?”
“Stories from some of the Mobians that ventured through Mobotropolis before Eggman took it back over. But they sounded like old sea dog stories. You know...fairy tales.” Aleutian just smiled with his arms crossed. Rotor looked over his glasses at him, excited. “Its true?”
Aleutian just nodded with his sly grin, his long scar on his snout angling up as he did so. He turned to St. John, his smile disappearing. “I need some of your finest, Commander. I need people who are quick on their feet, plus with skills.”
“What kind of skills?” Geoffrey demanded with a frown.
“I need people that are strong, who can follow orders, give a hundred and ten percent in effort, and in particular, a doctor and a cook. Oh, and people who are good with mechanical equipment and electronics, and someone who can listen well. Not by orders, I mean by hearing faint noises.”
“You just named most of the Freedom Fighters!” Geoffrey exclaimed as he looked over at Rotor, his oversize pompadour waving from the gesture. “I need to run this by the Princess and possibly the King if he is up to it. I don’t think they want most of our brute force going on a sea cruise.”
“And Commander,” shot back Aleutian, “my kind are about to send a bunch of refugees your way. Whatever that thing is under the surface, its right in their way to get here. You already lost a family today, you want to loose a whole bunch instead!?” remarked Aleutian, his eyes narrowing at St. John. “Wake the Princess, get her permission and wake up the city. That ship leaves Floating Island in five days as of this morning. We have that long to hunt and sink whatever it is that is out there. The more time you drag your feet, the odds increase for them.”
St. John just nodded, shifted, and started out the door...fumed.
The skunk’s anger glowed through the night sky. Taking orders from a new comer, and from an unknown new comer at that, wasn’t sitting well with him. But what really bothered him was the look Aleutian gave him. That scarred face kept racing through his mind.
St. John arrived at Sally Acorn’s residence in Castle Acorn. He knew she would be asleep but urgency required her to get up at four in the morning. He knocked twice with the same loud thuds as he gave Aleutian. The damp morning made the knocks echo through the quiet suite.
Sally rolled over in her bed and glanced at the time. She couldn’t believe what the red digital numbers were telling her. With a long, tired, frustrated voice, she called out. “What!?”
“Your Highness, it’s me St. John. Our new guest has some demands,” he angrily shouted at the doubled oak doors.
Sally rolled her still sleepy eyes at the ceiling from thought of Aleutian. “What does he want at this hour?”
“Some of our people to go on a sea cruise!” replied St. John. “Can I enter your Highness?”
Sally got up and put her vest on before allowing Geoffrey to enter. The Commander marched in and bowed his head before he let out what was on his mind. “That bloke is giving me orders, Your Highness!”
“And you are following them ‘cause...?” Sally pointed out, crossing her arms.
“‘Cause I don’t know if I want to find out who he really is at the moment.”
“What are you afraid of, Commander?” retorted Sally. She knew nothing scared him.
St. John looked to the ceiling before he spoke, choosing his words carefully before he began. “Something my father told me long ago Sally. No matter how good you are and how strong you are, there is someone out there that can out match you. I think this Aleutian is one of them.”
“And you say this because?”
“Your Highness, he shot me a look that I have only seen a few times. It’s a look that either demands respect, or fear the person who gave it to you.”
“A look that means business, right St. John?” Sally asked, knowing full well what Geoffrey was referring to.
“More than that. It’s a look that shows he has killed before. Not bots, but living things.”
“Newsflash, St. John; he killed someone yesterday to save Julie-Su from losing her neck!”
“What? And I didn’t hear about this till now! Who’d he kill?” asked the surprised Commander.
“Some dog named Blackjack. He was a hired goon for Ebony Hare.”
“How’d’ he do it?” the frantic skunk asked next.
“He shot him Geoffrey, right in the head! And then he had Downtown drag his body out of Knothole.”
“Why didn’t you arrest Ebony? I have warrants out for him?”
“I was a little busy St. John!” she grunted and hissed at the same time. “Now, what does this clown want?” Sally asked, getting to the point.
“He wants some of our people with some skills. What he needs for skills sends some of our finest away. It could leave us wide open, Princess.”
Sally nodded her head in consideration, her long wavy red hair following the gesture. “And what will this voyage be doing?”
“He said something about getting to Angel Island before the Echidnas make their journey to Mobius Prime. I don’t know what good that it’s going to do to stop whatever it is under the Ocean, but he is talking about a four day voyage.”
“He means to hunt it St. John. How, I don’t know, but he means to hunt it and kill it before his people end up dealing with it,” Sally breathed out, looking down at the floor before making her decision. “Give him what he wants, Geoffrey–”
“But Your Highness!’
“Just do it, Commander! He is a Guardian, St. John, and Guardians usually have a good reason for doing something, especially when it concerns the interests of their own.”
“But can we trust him with our own people!”
Sally crossed her arms around her back, thinking hard at what she saw of Aleutian so far and St. John’s concerns about him. “In the mean time, yes Geoffrey, but when he returns, I want you to interrogate him. Find out more about him,” Sally took a long look straight into Geoffrey’s eyes. “That look you just described, he gave me that after he sent Ebony out of Knothole. You know nothing stops me St. John, but that cold stare he gave me, sent chills through my bones,”
Sally drew in a long breath of air and turned her back on St. John, crossing her arms in front of her this time. “Give him what and who he wants. These refugees that the Echidnas are sending could help us. If this Aleutian has a way to kill whatever’s out there, let him have his way. But when he gets back, we will put a leash on him.”
St. John happily smiled with Sally’s words. He nodded at her and started his way to get what Aleutian had asked for.
“Oh and St. John. You can begin by putting Rogue on this,” Sally said, snapping her head back to catch the skunk before he left, “I want that thief occupied with something else besides stealing.”
“As you wish Your Highness. That can definitely be arranged.”
St. John returned to the command center with a load of files secured in a black case. He opened the case and sorted the files on the table. Aleutian had his arms crossed and stared at the table while Geoffrey produced the white folders that had “Top Secret” stamped in red on top of them. When the Commander produced the last one he slammed it down on the table, grabbing Rotor’s attention:
“Okay, echidna, this is all that we can spare. You can pick who you want out of these.”
Aleutian nodded and walked over to the table, the overhead light casting a shadow over the table as he stepped forward. He opened the first folder, scrolled through it quickly, and slapped it down beside the long row of personnel files. “He goes,” he said. He then grabbed the next one, looked through it, and placed it back in it’s original spot. “She stays.” he announced, placing Amy’s file down.
This went on for a few minutes until he had a good pile of folders in a nice stack. St. John looked over the stack of who Aleutian had chosen. The Commander was impressed. Aleutian had picked most of the Chaotix expect Charmy, and he also choose Rotor for the obvious mechanical know how; plus, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Julie-Su, and Dr. Quack.
“Do you have anyone who can cook, Commander?” Aleutian asked, his tone deep and tired.
“Dr. Quack is pretty good.”
“If you say so,” Aleutian replied annoyed.
“I do, Mr. Aleutian. Also, by request of Princess Sally Acorn, you are to take Rogue the Bat along with you.”
Princess Sally ACORN!? Aleutian shouted to himself. So, that’s who she reminds me of. Wonder if she knows of her brother? Not a good time or place to ask, bub. Just keep that to yourself for now.
“Sounds fine with me. More the merrier Commander,” Aleutian said, “now lets go toss them out of bed.”
One by one, St. John awoke those of whom Aleutian had chosen, and one by one, they assembled in the small parade field where Aleutian was awaiting them. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Julie-Su were absolutely “thrilled” about only getting a few hours of sleep, and standing in the wet morning grass in the dark. The Choatix weren’t that far off either.
“Okay,” Aleutian said after finding his will to even speak, “for those who don’t know me, my name is Aleutian, and I am Knuckles’ brother,” Aleutian started out, almost sounding ashamed of being who he was. “In five days and counting, a ship is going to set sail from the Floating Island. From what I have been told, that ship is carrying families of those that are either to afraid, or to frail and sick to help the underground movement to fight the enemy on the Island. The bad news is, there’s a Bot that lies beneath their path. We believe the bot is programed to intercept anything flying to or from the Floating Island, but I’m sure any sea going vessel isn’t going to stand a chance with that thing out there either.”
Aleutian put his hands behind his back and swallowed to clear his throat. “But, there is a way to sink this Bot. There is a boat on the East Coast, and she has the means and ways to do the job, but she lacks a good crew. Commander St. John here,” Aleutian commended as he pointed to him, “has let me review you personnel files, and I have chosen who I’ll need for this cruise. You are it! Sonic, I need your speed and quick reaction. Miles, for your knowledge in electronics and mechanics along with Rotor. Mighty, I know of your kind and I need someone who can lift some very heavy ‘fishes.’” Mighty looked around with a puzzled look, wondering what this “echidna” meant by “fishes.”
“Dr. Quack...take a guess sir,” Aleutian said, before pointing to Espio, “I have something lined up for you...I think, but I can definitely use someone with your attitude. And Vector, I hope you can still hear under those headphones?”
“You bet bro!” Vector acknowledged with a thumbs up, seemingly to be the only awake being thus far.
“Good, cause you’re going to be listening for what ever it is that’s down there. And lets see, Julie-Su and Rogue, I’ll think of something.”
Julie-Su looked over at Knuckles, hoping that he could see her discontent of going to be working with Rogue. Knuckles just kept staring at his brother with an uneven face.
“You all have two hours to grab what you need and be ready to leave. St. John, do we have a ship at the ready?”
St. John looked coldly in Aleutian’s eyes. “Yes, and Princess Sally will be piloting it. Is that all right with you?”
Aleutian jerked his head back from the crude response. “As long as we get to where we need to be St. John, I don’t care who flies.” Aleutian was starting to get the feeling he had stepped on someone’s precious toes. That someone happened to be a skunk with a green beret.
Aleutian turned back to the gathered “forced” volunteers. “Dr. Quack, I understand you can cook?”
“Yes sir, I can.”
“Awesome, go down to you all’s food supply, grab enough to feed all of us, plus one more person, for two weeks.”
“I’m gonna need help with that,” Quack said, raising his voice.
“As soon as I get my stuff I’ll be there. I don’t have much to pack, and when any of you are done packing your stuff, please help me and Dr. Quack. Time is short and we have a little over four days to get there by the time we leave. So let’s go!”
St. John saw the Freedom Fighters nod their heads and scattered to the four winds to get their bags packed. Aleutian turned his back to Geoffrey and was walking away when St. John did something very stupid; the disgruntled skunk reached out with his right hand and grabbed Aleutian’s left shoulder. “Now you just–”
Before St. John could release his built up anger on the source, Aleutian placed his right hand on top of Geoffrey’s hand that laid harshly on the echidna’s shoulder. With a quick step sideways to the right, Aleutian pushed with his thumb down on St. John’s hand right, above his index finger’s knuckle. Pain shot through the Commander’s arm that signaled his hand to turn over, hyper extending his wrist. Reversing his direction in one quick fluid motion, Aleutian stepped a little to the right side of St. John while firmly holding onto his hand. This sent Geoffrey’s elbow to the stars, putting his arm in a very stiff angle. He could feel his shoulder about to snap, and with that knowledge being shot to his brain, via pain, he knew if Aleutian would put anymore pressure in the right manner; Aleutian could break his arm at the elbow.
This little maneuver only took a half a second to execute. Sally saw it all. She ran towards the two and was going to put her foot down when she thought other wise. “Okay noble Commander, get out of that one!”
St. John grunted the pain out through his clenched teeth before stating what he knew. “I would if I could Your Highness, but if I move in anyway...”
“...I break your arm,” Aleutian finished, “Commander, I was hoping you would have known better than to touch my back like that. Especially with the way I carry myself.”
St. John looked on at Aleutian with his mouth opened, mostly breathing in to slow the pain. “You can let go now,” he grunted.
Aleutian smiled and released St. John. Geoffrey massaged his arm out from being hyper extended as he stared coldly at Aleutian. He hadn’t had his arm stretched like that since his training days, and the move that Aleutian did was a little alien to him. “When you get back, we’re gonna have a long chat, mate.”
“Whatever you say sir, but it won’t be pretty though. And I was beginning to like you.”
“Oh really, and how so!?” Geoffrey fired off.
“Because you look like a guy I could get along with. Unfortunately, I think I blew that with the way I am. Maybe when I get back, we can start over?”
St. John nodded to Aleutian, crossing his sore arm over the other. “I think you have a ship to catch in a couple of hours. Best be on your way Guardian,” he said, his opinion somewhat changing as he did.
“Yes I do. And St. John?”
“Yes?” he grimaced
“I’m not the Guardian, Knuckles is.”
“But the mark, sir?”
Aleutian just shook his head and walked away, grimacing his face under the pale moonlight.
Sally approached St. John and touched his arm with a gentleness all her own. “What was that all about?”
St. John had to think that question over himself. “How long do you want him to stay?” he asked, changing the subject quickly.
Sally looked into Geoffrey’s eyes with a fierce, fiery look. “I want him gone when they get back. I think this guy is too dangerous and a hack at best.”
“And I think we can use someone like him with his expertise.”
“What, with his cold heart!?”
“That is a simple fix, Your Highness.”
Sally crossed her arms and gave St. John what all males hate to get, “the look”. “And what would that be?”
“Time, Princess. Time and direction...and lots of therapy.”
Aleutian grabbed his weapons, coat, and hat and went on to help the good doctor, slowly followed by the rest of the team. Soon, they had packed everything away and got themselves settled into their seats. Sally showed up with the maps from the command center, and handed them to Aleutian, who was working with his coat off; his black pistol tucked solidly in its holster. Sal didn’t care too much for guns but respected the people who carried them; even if they were on her side or not. For Aleutian, that was probably the only respect he got from her.
“So who is this other person that will be coming along?” asked Sally.
“A very dear friend of mine. It will be his boat we’ll be using, and, I think you might find the old dog interesting.”
“He knows your father.” Sally was about to open her mouth when Aleutian stopped her. “Be patient Princess. You’ll find out soon enough, but, for now, we need to get going. How long do you think it will take us to get there?”
Sally looked at her watch and checked the distance to the coast, “About twenty minutes.”
Aleutian turned around to the now seated crew. “You all, grab a wink of shut eye on the way. We’re going to be very busy as soon as we land.”
They all nodded and went back to their conversations.
Knuckles reached over and made sure Julie-Su’s straps were snug and tight. She just smiled at him. “I’m fine, Knux.”
“Hey lover boy, want to check mine,” came Rogue, mocking.
“Two weeks eh, I can drown her by then!” snorted Julie-Su.
Sonic just rolled his eyes around the cramped cabin. “Oh boy. This is gonna be fun.”
Sally piloted the ship mostly with the autopilot. She just laid back and watched the very fast sunrise as they crossed the time zones. The glow from the new-day sun radiated around her, casting an orange glow around her face. “This is what we are fighting for.” She looked back occasionally, seeing Sonic peacefully sleeping in the reclined seat. Her heart still loved him, but her mind was in-between it and him. Sonic had broken up with a certain red fox named Fiona, and to Sally’s delight; she was actually quite glad that Fiona was out of the picture. But time apart for a year when Sonic went chasing the stars put a wedge between them...plus her father. All Sally could do was wait and see if things will change again, and she hoped it did. In some humbled way, she missed him...but not all of him.
The ride was uneventful, except for the hard touch down in a small open field. Down a small hill, Sally could see a house with a few windows, and a chimney that was burning. She began to power down the ship and activated the ramp in the rear, scanning the area to make sure that they didn’t get lured into a trap of some kind. It showed her reservations for Aleutian still.
Aleutian walked up behind her. “As soon as you are done, meet me at the front door of the house down the hill.”
Sally kept her attention on the instrument panel, waving her hand at Aleutian. “Okay,” she replied still sounding annoyed.
Aleutian tipped his hat and moved to the rear of the bay. “Okay, get everything ready to off load. As soon as I get things situated, we can start loading. All right?”
“Sure thing, dude,” said Sonic with a thumbs up. The rest of the rag tag crew were doing their best to open their eyes.
Aleutian started down the off ramp alone, his coat flapping in the morning breeze. A feeling came over him that he hadn’t felt in ages; the sense of going on an adventure. It was an odd feeling for him now; it felt alien to his heart and seeing himself in the dark drab strengthened that thought. He took a deep breath to shun the feelings and thoughts away, but the summer smells of the surrounding woods to his right, plus the view of the tall grass of the field that he stood in, only enhanced the now painful thoughts.
Knuckles walked down the ramp and beside him, only seeing the anxiety on Aleutian’s face for a brief instance. “Mind if I tag along for once?” he asked coldly.
Aleutian rolled his eyes towards the sky. “Don’t start this now Knuckles...”
“...Start what, I think it already has for...how long?” Knuckles shot back, eyeing his last phrase.
Aleutian stuck both of his hands out, gesturing a plea to his brother. “Just keep quite for this, please.”
Knuckles followed his brother down the small hill to the door of the mid-sized, yellow bricked house. He could see Aleutian was a little apprehensive with what he was about to do. When they got to the final steps, Aleutian was biting his lower lip and fidgeting his hands inside his pockets. Aleutian stopped at the door, taking his hands out of his pocket and rubbed them before he took the plunge. He raised his right hand up and knocked on the door.
For a moment their was no answer, but then the door squeaked when it was pulled open from inside. From the dark inside stepped out a salt and peppered haired Dingo, his muzzle littered with grey patches around his snout over the lightly brown hair of his younger days. He stood erect with a sharp military bearing, almost towering over the two brothers. The morning breeze flapped his tropical open buttoned shirt that was colored with red, white and purple roses. In his right hand was a cup of coffee that was still steaming from being freshly brewed. His feet were covered by a black pair of house shoes that looked as if they went through a marathon.
The Dingo starred at Aleutian hard before he spoke, his look could have burned a hole right through him. “You!?”
Aleutian gasped with his mouth opened, looking around the door frame with a heavy exaggerated look, throwing his arms up in a “what gives” fashion. “What do you mean ‘YOU?’”
“Come on, it’s me...Aleutian!”
“Really, with all that black on and that hat, I’m not so sure anymore? The Aleutian I knew didn’t wear this gangster coat and hat everywhere he went. And the guns. One was fine but how many now...”
“...I’ve had to wear this for what I had been doing.”
“Oh,...had been doing, that means you can take it off, RIGHT?”
“Look,” Aleutian pleaded with the palm of his hands to hopefully calm his old mentor, “I’ve really taken on a fashion for this for some reason...”
“That’s the fashion of a monster, one that is not you. Have you gone home yet?” the Dingo asked harshly, cutting Aleutian off from his hollow excuses.
“Yes,” replied Aleutian looking down to his feet in the process.
“Oh, you haven’t gone ho– what did you just say?” The Dingo inquired, doing a double take when Aleutian’s words finally registered in his brain.
“I’ve been back home, Mathias,” replied Aleutian, his voice dropping to a soft pitch, his eyes enforcing what he said. Aleutian looked over at Knuckles, who happened to be just a figment in the Dingo’s mind at the time. Aleutian reached around and put his hand on Knuckles’ right shoulder. “Sir Mathias Drake, this is my brother Knuckles. He was the one who had to take me home.”
Knuckles just looked on with his mouth slightly opened. He couldn’t believe that one of Aleutian’s friends was asking the same questions that he wanted to know! “So who is he ‘really’” Knuckles asked himself. Maybe their was a different side of Aleutian after all?
Mathias looked down at his coffee, and gently sat it down on a table that was inside by the door. He took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. With a hard smile, he looked over at Knuckles and approached him a little further. “Allow me to shake your hand son. It’s about time someone dragged his tail back to where it belonged!” Mathias bursted out, extended his right hand. Knuckles met it with a firm squeeze, but mostly doing it by being friendly.
“Mathias, we need your help,” said Aleutian with a voice that met all business, “do you think you and the Plunger have one more left in you?”
The Dingo’s face went wide with joy. “I need a crew!”
“We have one,” replied Knuckles.
“And I hand picked them all. We even brought supplies for the voyage,” affirmed Aleutian, grinning at his work.
“How many, Aleutian?” asked the overjoyed Dingo.
“Eleven, including myself. You’ll be number twelve.”
“Far short from the minimum of sixteen.”
“I couldn’t get that many, Mathias,” replied Aleutian, solemnly.
Sally stepped out of the ship with the map in her hand. She could see the two Echidnas talking to someone, but she really couldn’t see that far to identify who it was. As she got closer, she could make out a dog of some sort with a sly smile painted across his face. Then it hit her. “Why would they be talking to a Dingo of all people?” Sally asked herself.
Mathias looked beyond Aleutian and his brother at the female squirrel that was steadily approaching them. All he could see of her was a brown and red blur, but he knew a squirrel when he saw one; even without his glasses. Mathias felt for his specs in his right shirt pocket, unfolding them and wrapping them around his face. He couldn’t believe his eyes even when they cleared up with his glasses.
“Still like your glasses, Mathias?” asked Aleutian.
Knuckles was about to ask one of many important questions he had when Mathias began to quickly button up his shirt. He didn’t understand why he was going to such great lengths to look neat even after Aleutian had already introduced him to the old Dingo. His thoughts were scattered when Mathias pushed both brothers aside and marched with his back erect and his shoulders back.
Mathias locked stepped right up to Sally, stopping right in front of her at a strict attention after he crossed the grassy void. Sally looked at the grey haired Dingo with a cautious look, almost fearful at the sight of him. “Can I help you?” she asked.
Mathias dropped to one knee and bowed right before Sally. “Your Highness. I am Sir Mathias Drake,” the Dingo said, rising with his head still bowed at a perfect forty-five degree angle to the ground, “you are a spiten’ image of your mother, dear Princess.”
Sally’s mouth fell to the grassy ground, “You know my Mother?” she asked in shock.
“And you father, King Maximilian Acorn. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have the Sir in front of my name.”
Sally brought her hand up and touched her chest in a curious awe. “You’ve served my Father? When?”
“Many, many years ago during the Great War. And when he was banished, I still served him.”
“How, dear sir?”
“By helping you my dear Princess,” Mathias gently replied.
“How have you helped me, Knight?” asked Sally with a puzzled look. She had no recollection of a Dingo helping them except some taxi driver that was in the heart of downtown “Dingo Land” on Angel Island.
Mathias extended his arm towards his house. “Come my dear, we have much to talk about.”
They walked over to Aleutian and Knuckles, who were still hogging the door. Knuckles’ head was going in every direction upon seeing the Dingo bow before Sally. “What’s going on, Aleutian.”
“Long story Knuckles. You’ll have two weeks to hear it.”
“Along with yours?”
“Possibly,” Aleutian replied in a soft spoken voice.
Mathias approached the two Guardians with Sally in tow behind him. “So what is so important to bring Mobius’s Finest to my home, Aleutian?”
“I’ll let the Princess brief you Mathias. I need to go to my place and grab some things. Is my hover car still here?”
“Yes, in the garage and all charged up. Fine vehicle you have.”
“One of a few I don’t find time to drive. Thanks for taking care of it for me.”
“Pleasure was all mine,” replied a very grateful Dingo. Mathias loved that car. It handled well, and the dynamic terrain sensors made the ride smooth as silk.
Knuckles followed his brother down to the small garage. It was positioned on the north side of the house, with two brown double doors marking its entrance. Aleutian pulled the rusty handles and lifted them. The doors caravan up to the roof, and slid along the ceiling. What the morning sunlight reveled was a slick black sedan hover car. The grill had an oval shape to it and had the only trace of chrome on the body. The headlights were concealed under the hood of the car, but Knuckles could make out the teardrop outline of them.
“Can I come with?” asked Knuckles.
Aleutian looked over at him and nodded his head, only concealing his feelings that he really didn’t want his brother to come along. “Yeah’, why not. You can help me load some things.”
Aleutian grabbed a remote from a cabinet on the wall, pressed the unlock button on it for the car, and then pressed the start button. The car rose as the twin hover engines came to life. Then the turbo booster began it’s warm up processes, which didn’t last for more than a minute, the whine was surprisingly quiet to Knuckles. Most of the cars he rode in, when Echidnaolopis was actually in the hands of the Echidna’s and its rightful citizens, where actually loud as they screamed down the street with their turbine engines. But Aleutian’s car was relatively quiet compared to what he rode in before.
Aleutian jumped in the driver side and started activating the drive mechanisms inside the car. Knuckles piled into the passenger seat with the moldy car smell, hitting him like a fast moving freight train. “Can we open the windows? Boy that’s bad!”
“You too, huh,” Aleutian said, quickly doing what Knuckles requested. The air was making him just want to walk to his house. “I think Mathias only took the car out just for joy rides.” Knuckles only nodded at Aleutian’s remark.
The car’s gauges soon lit up with their assorted green, red, and yellow LED lights, telling Aleutian of what was functioning. Looking down at the center console, Aleutian grabbed the small shifter, pulled it lightly back, and engaged the turbo drive in the forward direction. Pressing the accelerator, the car inched it’s way out of the cramped car-hold.
Rounding the house, Aleutian slowly crept beside Mathias and Sally, who were still talking at the door. Knuckles could see Sonic making his way down to the house with bags in tow around his arms.
“We’ll be back,” Aleutian said, “shouldn’t be more than an hour. Go over my course plots and make sure I have everything correct Mathias. It’s been awhile.”
“Not to worry Aleutian, that makes two of us,” smiled Mathias.
“Hate to miss the fanfare, but time is of the essence.” And with that, Aleutian pressed the accelerator hard and the car rocket forward along the embankment, heading south.
A little while out, he set the altitude cruise to two hundred feet, it was the max height at which the car could travel. The steering wheel was more like a silver aircraft yoke, with the throttle settings lighting up in green dots around the center.
“So, how far is your house?” asked Knuckles as he squirmed around in the black leather seats.
Aleutian took his hat off and placed it on the dash before he replied. “About a hundred miles...”
“...That’s where this thing seems to be patrolling at, Your Highness,” Mathias clarified as he measured the distance between the last known attack of the bot and Angel Island with his calipers. “Give or take of course, probably hundred and fifty miles at the most. What this Eggman seems to be doing is establishing an air blockade of the Island. Where the Island is at now makes it harder for Eggman to keep an eye on it from people coming and going. It makes perfect sense to have it under the water, too.”
“Sally, where do we put all this stuff?” asked Sonic from the door; his and Tails’ bags were slung over both of his arms.
Mathias looked over at Sonic with a twinkle in his eyes, “Ah, the famous hedgehog! That is Sonic the Hedgehog, right?”
“One and only that I know of.”
Mathias looked over at Sally. “You want to see it?”
“See what,” asked Sally with a curious look.
“The thing that is
going to terminate whatever it is under the sea, and what Eggman hopefully
doesn’t know about.”
Sally and Sonic followed Mathias outside of his house, and rounded the right corner of it to a large dirt path. It was packed in so hard that it could almost be as sturdy as concrete. As they followed the well beaten path down a small fielded valley, Sally caught a whiff of the salted moisture in the air. Her lungs started to feel the sensation of being constricted with the almost hundred percent humidity that lingered in the air as they reached summit of a small him. The valley soon leveled out, exposing more of the rising sun off in the distant. What the two Freedom Fighters saw at the end of the trail, made them almost collapse in shock.
“We’re going on that rusty thing?” blurred out Sonic, his question more of defiance than wanting to know the real truth.
What made Sonic and Sally stop in their tracks was that they saw a long, and some what slender, boat that had rust almost all over its grey hull. The rising and falling sea water exposed for brief moments at a time, a large bulge on both sides of the rusted floating hunk of metal. At the center of it stood a small narrow tower. It had what appeared to be two long pols on top of it, with a vertical hoop towards the rear on the left side of it. Around the poles was a rectangular shield that looked three quarters of the way completed, rounding towards the front, but cutting off before reaching the back. Positioned at the rear of the tower, starting at the ends of the shielding, were two rails that formed a large ring around a double-barreled gun that was painted black, except for the barrels; which were a dark grey. Sally could make out the giant square holes where the energy cells were to be placed, and for the weapon to be in “battery”...literally. Under the gun was a pedestal that had roughly the same area of room as the top, and positioned diagonally under the top pedestal that held the gun. The same double rails circled around the edge, but nothing was fixated in the middle of it.
But what caught her eyes the most beside the reddish-brown, weathered paint job; done mostly by nature, was the large grey cannon to the front of the tower. It had a chair on the right side of it with a spotting scope that could engulf someone’s face that was centered above the chair. The barrel ran down from the breach for about four meters, fattening from the rear and becoming slender at the business end.
The boat itself, besides the cosmetics, had rectangular holes that littered the side of the hull, and they appeared to be less than a yard across. They started out one by one at the top but patterned at an angle down towards the water. Then the pattern became flush along the waterline, but the holes became rows of two. At the center of the boat, there was a long fissure that ran down the side and on top of the bulges, which then settled back to the rectangular holes that ran towards the rear. The front had the shape of what a normal boat would have, a bow that curved towards the center and had an small anchor fixated in a small hole on the side. The stern though, curved away slightly from the boat instead of inwards.
But what was on the side of the tower triggered the next question to the old Dingo. The shield of the House of Acorn was still visible, even through the fading of the paint, on the steel siding. “Why’s my family’s shield painted on that tower?”
“Actually, that is the bridge, and the real term... excuse me, ‘terms’ is either the sail or the conning tower, and the shield marks this vessel as a House Acorn’s Ship...more like a boat, really. Ships carry boats, the Plunger just carries life rafts,” the Dingo replied in a gruff voice, showing his age. “Allow me to introduce to you, dear Princess, the H.A.S. Plunger.”
“So, this is what Aleutian was talking about,” replied Sonic, mockingly, “Aren’t you worried this thing might sink while we’re on it?”
“Actually, I hope it does...” Mathias stated frankly.
“...WHAT!?” Sonic harshly interrupted, not believing his pointy ears.
“That is what it is designed to do, Sonic. The King named it ‘The Plunger’ for that exact reason...it plunges to the bottom of the sea, and hopefully it comes back up. In simple terms, it’s a submarine.”
“Why was this made?” asked Sally, her voice softened from what was explained.
“During the Great War, the Overlanders were shipping their supplies by sea. It was how they brought the bulk of the war to Mobotropolis, and to King Max’s door step. Looking for a way to slow this, King Max had people research the old archives to find a way to stop it. They uncovered plans for a boat that would submerge itself, then surface again. With these plans, came blueprints for a devastating weapon that it could hold and fire while under the waves. The plans called it a torpedo.
“Her keel was laid in a matter of days. The King’s best engineers worked day and night to make sense of the plans. Two of the engineers happened be Julian Kintobor and Sir Charles Hedgehog. They had to learn how the actuators, the pumps, the switch boards, and so on, operated and be put together practically overnight. The other draw back for them, the plans were in German and not many of us could really speak it that well.”
Sonic turned to Mathias in a dazed shock, gulping at hearing his Uncle Chuck’s name. “My Uncle Chuck help put this thing together?”
“Yep, and he did it the way that the plans had laid her out. Afterwards, the boat went operational in two months. She had her first break downs of course. One almost sunk her on her first run, but she came back up and we patched her up as soon as we got back to Mobotropolis Harbor. After the tenth successful dive and surface, we came back and had major upgrades put in along with her first torpedoes. The upgrades were technology that had been developed over time and was put in her alongside with its older technology that came with the plans. And it helped. On her first patrol, we sank four Overlander ships and their demise helped put a dent in their war effort.” Mathias paused before ending his story of the birth of “his” boat. “But it couldn’t stop Robotnick,” breathed out Mathias in a solemn tone.
“How did you get involved, Mathias?” Sally asked softly, in awe of the history that was being laid out before her.
“I had just become an Officer when I volunteered to help research a way to fight the Overlanders. I came across a book called, ‘The Influence of Sea Power Upon History.’ It was written by an old Overlander named Alfred Mahan from centuries back. After I read through his book, I grasped an understanding as to how the Overlanders were winning. So I used the same tactic but researched a way to counter it. It was I, who found the plans of the Plunger. When I saw the blueprints of Plunger, I guessed at what this weapon was used for. When I followed up with my revelation to Sir Charles, he agreed with me and we gave the plans to your father. I then, subsequently, became the first, and so far, only Captain of the Plunger.
“Major challenge for me. A young officer, never seeing combat before, sent out with a new crew, a new device that could very easily turn on its masters, and to put forth a new tactic...just like that. And so far, I am here to say that it still works.”
Mathias turned to gaze at his rust coated submarine. “And now, she is going to serve The House of Acorn again.”
“So, when do we load up?” asked a very ill-patient Sonic.
“Grab all your gear, except the food, and put it down there at the dock. We’ll, load the food first after we’ve opened her up, and get her powered up before we load the rest. Until then, Sonic, I’ll let you handle that. I’m sure the Princess has more questions for this old sea dog.”