Elias found himself in a constant parry pose with the sword of his birth right steadily hanging over his head. He grasped closer to the hilt with both hands as he lowered his stance towards the ground, posing himself to strike at the programed metal hedgehog. Being as some materials were in high demand in the current time of war, Elias had one of Eggman’s bots reactivated and given a program to duel swords with. He feverishly trained hard with the metal hedgehog as much as he could.
Soon, the Sonic look-a-like, that was sent in along with Shadow many moons ago, rushed forward, it’s wooden stick set to slice at Elias when it got within striking range of the ground squirrel. Seeing this, the acting King brought down his sword and blocked it. The force of the impact nearly threw him off balance. The bot’s sensors picked this up instantly and pivoted around Elias’s back before the King had time to counteract. With a light tap from the maple stick, the duel was over.
Elias grunted with defeat, yet again, and started going back over the fight in his head when he was startled by someone clapping from the entrance of the training room in Castle Acorn. “Bravo metal Sonic, bravo. So what’s the score up to now?” It was Amadeus Prower, his blue tunic uniform firmly pressed against his chest as the waving medals caught the light from the mid-afternoon sun and reflected the light around the room. His right eye patch moved when the fox smiled at Elias.
“Six to two now, no thanks to Tail’s programming,” briefly sighed Elias, shifting his blue cloak around for better comfort.
“Ah, the art of swordsmanship. Brings back some painful memories,” Amadeus chuckled.
“I think I’m reliving them for you,” Elias smiled. “Power down,” he ordered at the mechanical hedgehog. The metallic blue machine turned off at once, settling it’s limbs to the floor. “So what brings you here?”
“Wanting to know how you all fight a war with your soldiers scattered to the four winds?”
“They’re not really soldiers General. They do take orders, but I have a hard time considering them as ‘soldiers,’” countered Elias.
The General nodded at the comment. “Well, the people I need are not here Your Majesty. I do want to help you with my learned experiences, but I do need warm bodies to help.”
Elias turned to the fox; Amadeus’s bearing never flinted as he stepped closer to him. “I understand, but there is nothing going on that I know of, so most of our people should still be here.”
“I’m sorry to inform you King, but they’re not.”
Sally heard every word of the discussion as she stood behind the door. She didn’t mean to sleep the whole day, yesterday, but between the jet lag and the previous days’ excitement, her body needed to recharge.
She slowly waltzed into the room, walking up behind Tails’s father, “Sorry I haven’t been forthcoming, been tired the past couple of days. There ‘is’ something going on that you two should know.”
“Really Sally?” said Elias, smiling at seeing his sister, “do tell.”
“They left yesterday for Angel Island...”
“...I thought it was too dangerous to go there, especially with Eggman’s fleet controlling the skies,” inquired Amadeus.
“They’re not going by air...they’re going by sea...”
Amadeus threw his hands in the air in disbelief upon hearing her words. “Now they’re goners for sure. They’re sitting ducks, Your Highness!”
“Not if the boat disappears,” Sally replied ominously.
“A boat that disappears? We have nothing like that as a trump card, Sally,” pointed out Elias.
Amadeus turned white, his mouth dropping upon hearing the Princess’s words. He then shook his head with a sly grin. “That old sea dog...”
“...You know him!?” cried out Sally.
Elias stepped closer to his sister and the General, his face painted with puzzlement as he sheathed his sword. “Know who?”
“Sir Drake...Sir Mathias Drake?”Amadeus asked, nudging his head forward at Sally.
Sally just nodded with a stare, her arms folded in front of her chest.
Amadeus’ smile broaden. “After all these years while I was in space; I thought he’d just disappeared all together. I take it Princess, you’ve seen your Father’s most secret weapon?”
“What secret weapon!?” Elias festered.
“See...” pointed out Sally, showing that she wasn’t the only one in the dark. “Yes I have General, and it is off to sea with Knothole’s finest to sink something that is running a blockade around Angel Island.”
“There’s a name for that thing, Your Highness,” came Geoffrey from behind the trio. “One of my operators retrieved some interesting information for me. Eggman calls it the ‘Dreadbot.’”
Sally snuffed at the name. “Shows how original he is.”
“Yes, but the idea is. Eggman is definitely running a blockade. The machine has claimed two more transports, which brings the grand total up to three now. One happened to be an Overlander family that was brought down yesterday,” St. John said, his voice never flinching.
“The whole family?” asked Elias sympathetically.
Geoffrey confirmed the King’s fear by lowering his head. “Afraid so, Sire.”
“So how did you get wind of the Plunger, young Princess?” Amadeus asked with a smirk. Just the idea of the Plunger still patrolling and causing havoc for the Kingdom of Acorn was starting to turn a bad day into a good one.
“Okay, to tell that, I have to start two days ago,” Sally pronounced, her arms crossing, “Did you all know that Knuckles has a brother?” Sally instantly threw her hands up to stop the replies, knowing what the answers were going to be. But they came anyway.
“Kneecaps right, but how does his half...” came Elias.
“...No, I mean...” Sally flustered, raising her hands higher up. Gathering her thoughts, she started over. “Knuckles has a full brother, and he is a Guardian.”
“White mark around the collar?” questioned Amadeus. He too, knew what the qualification was to be considered “royalty” to the Echidnas.
“Yes, no question about it!”
Elias’s stood in shock, his head pressed between his shoulders.
Sally smirked at her brother. “Don’t worry, the surprise will soon fade once you meet him...”
“...I’m not surprised that Knuckles has a full brother, dear Sister, but, I am surprised that his brother is alive.”
Sally’s mouth dropped open along with Geoffrey’s, who was about to throw a raving fit.
“His name’s Aleutian? Right?” asked Elias, his tone deepening. Sally and St. John just nodded their heads in amazement. Elias’s face turned from shock to joy in the blink of an eye. “My best friend is still alive! After all these years, I thought he died while trying to runaway.”
“You KNEW this!” shouted Sally. “Now who isn’t telling who now?”
Elias walked over and placed his hands on Sally’s shoulders. “I had forgotten about him, Sally. With all that has happened; my return, my rise, and now trying to salvage what we’ve lost; you forget about the dead and try to keep the living alive,” nodding his head on Sally’s. “Tell me, how did he came to us?”
Sally started at the beginning. From the showdown between Aleutian and Knuckles, Sonic grabbing his guns, to the jail incident, then when Knuckles let him go; Ebony Hare arrived into Knothole, Aleutian’s return, Ebony Hare dragging his dead muscle out of Knothole after Aleutian’s return; then the trip to Angel Island, the bad trip back from Angel Island, and then, meeting Sir Drake and his rusty boat, that she hoped was still holding together.
Geoffrey then spoke up about his observations. “I have mixed feelings about him, Your Majesty. He is cold, if you know what I mean?”
“How so?” asked Elias. So, Geoffrey told him about the scars and the funky move that almost separated his arm from his shoulder.
“He got that from someplace else,” pointed out Elias.
“How so, and how did you meet him anyways?” barked out Sally.
Elias formed his lips into a smile. “I lived there, remember. When I was a young lad, Locke would bring Aleutian over so I could have a playmate every once in awhile. Aleutian would show me some of his moves he learned, then we would play...you know, child’s games.” Elias then paused, reflecting on the sad day he heard of Aleutian’s death. “Then one day Locke came by to see my progress and I overheard him telling the Colonel that Aleutian had ran away and died. Drowned I think he said.”
“Sir Mathias said he rescued Aleutian from the sea when he was young,” quoted Sally. “He even said that Aleutian had almost slipped under if they hadn’t surfaced under him. Then he almost died of hypothermia and pneumonia.”
Elias shook his head with a half smile, half frown. “But the Ninjutsu;” turning to St. John, “that move is a Ninjutsu tactic that he used on you.”
“Okay, that explains that,” confirming the Commander, remembering seeing the craft ages ago.
“But it doesn’t explain where he got it,” questioned Elias. “He left when he was six, only learning a handful of martial arts styles. Kick boxing I knew to be one, Whi Ti was another, and I think the beginnings of Aikido and Judo, but, the Ninjutsu was saved for last. The Fire Ants didn’t like the Guardians using it unless they had too.”
“Well,” Geoffrey started, “if he is going to help us, he’s going to need lots of therapy. Something is really burning inside of him.”
Amadeus spoke next. “Is he with them on the voyage?”
“I didn’t see him get off,” Sally replied, still questioning the scarred Guardian’s loyalty, “he even read from a scroll before they got underway.”
“Old tradition, which, we need to come up with one ourselves: better communication amongst ourselves,” commented Amadeus.
Elias nodded and then looked around at his gathered high officers and his sister before he quoted a past Overlander, “‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ If he has been a loner like you’ve explained Sally, then I think he has begun the long journey back. I am confident he will help us.” Elias sighed, turning around and looking out through the high glass windows. “It’s an omen. My father getting better, you Amadeus, coming back to us, and now with Aleutian alive, saved by a forgotten warrior...things are hopefully about to turn.”
“Espio incoming message,”the female computer voice beeped. Espio was lying in his bunk and counting the threads that made up the net that held one of the brown torpedoes over his head. After his trance was broken, he reached up to his belt that was hanging from the supporting net, grabbed the computer, and switched Nicole on by flipping the small LCD screen up.
“I can’t download the message from here Espio, there’s too much interference,” she said. Espio rolled out his bunk and hurried to the nearest open hatch, ducking under the swinging chains that hung overhead: realizing that the sub’s metal hull was restricting the radio frequency.
Before he started up the ladder, Mathias came through the crew’s compartment and stopped him after seeing the computer in the chameleon hands. “I have a radio jack for that. Follow me,” he instructed. So, Espy did, trailing the Dingo to the radar station where Tails had the radar unit apart and scattered all over the table. What Miles thought was going to be an easy fix, turned out to be a frustrating endeavor.
“Need to use your work space for a second son,” came Mathias as he fished through the scattered parts for a certain cable. Uncovering it in the mix of the circuit boards, he handed it to Espio who plugged it in. Nicole announced in an instant that she was receiving the message.
Sally’s voice came through the small speakers, sounding like an overbearing teacher giving out a very important lesson as her brown furry face appeared on the screen. “I have information on your target. We got some intel in yesterday from one of St. John’s operators about Eggman’s new plan. He calls it the ‘Dreadbot’ and so far it has downed two more craft since yesterday. We don’t have much on specs except that it is armed to the teeth: missiles, cannons, and possibly torpedoes. That bit is still unconfirmed. Patrol areas are also still unknown except our best guesses. Sorry that there isn’t more, but at least you have something. Knothole out.”
Mathias had instructed Sally to keep messages short and sweet before they departed yesterday. It wasn’t that Eggman had broken the complicated ciphers, but he could possibly track the destinations of the traffic. For a boat that was traveling at about thirty kilometers per hour, that made the Plunger a sitting duck. Yes it could dive, but Mathias knew how long it would take, and with the new Robotnick and his new devices, he could sink them before they could ever sink themselves.
Tails commented. “So it has a name, finally.”
“So it seems, young man” replied Mathias. “Our mission isn’t unknown anymore...we sink the Dreadbot,” he breathed out with resolve in his voice.
With the object now fresh on his mind, he turned and walked towards the torpedo room. As he passed by Aleutian, Mathias stopped to see how his “shining light” was doing. The echidna was still out from the anesthetic. Shaking his head in seeing Aleutian the way he was, again, Mathias continued forward to do checks on the torpedoes. He hated seeing his adopted son vulnerable as he was now. The Dingo longed prayed to never see that sight again; the first time nearly drove him and his late wife to pieces.
Tails went back to work on the broken piece of vintage electronics, placing the prongs of the volt meter to check the resistors, capacitors and diodes throughout all eight circuit boards. Sonic and Doctor Quack were busy making a late afternoon meal: chili dogs, and cold cuts. Mathias will soon learn not to have Sonic help cook. Espio went to the command compartment to check on their position. They were moving faster than what Mathias had thought due to a fast moving current in the straight. Dusk would soon be coming, and they were on the verge of coming out between the two islands.
Vector jammed to his tunes, and Mighty was given another tour from Mathias about the torpedoes as he went along with his checks, all the while Knuckles kept Rotor company in the engine room. The walrus was adjusting faster than anyone else was on the voyage. He loved working on machines and he had two giant powerful ones at his disposal. Knuckles was going around and listening to Rotor explain how the engines worked, plus helping Rotor do inspections of key components. Knuckles soon became mesmerized when he looked down at the two silver shafts that turned the sub’s propellers when the crossed into the electric motor room. He began to have a profound respect for those, including his brother, who had operated this crude boat.
The Plunger was relatively cruising along at peace, everyone finding something to do to pass the time. As for the only two females aboard; they were getting fresh air and trying not to start a fight...but that peace wasn’t going to last long:
“See anything?” asked Julie-Su, spying through her binoculars out to the starboard side of the sub, scanning her view at the open sea. She soon looked to the sky and scanned it as well. Mathias had told her to be watchful of the skies...that was where the real threat could come from.
Rogue slyly smiled under her black binoculars. “Nope, except for some Echidna;” and that had more than one meaning for Rogue. As bored as she was, she figured she could jerk Julie’s chain for at least some amusement.
“You stay away from my Knuckles. You hear me!”
“His heart isn’t totally set, you know.”
“SHUT-UP before I throw you overboard!” Julie-Su screamed, turning and marching right up to Rogue’s face.
“You can try, girl, but I’ll just keep flying back,” Rogue giggled, adding fuel to the fire.
Seeing this, Julie played her next card. “The way you were looking at Aleutian, I’d say you’d want him instead.”
“What can I say, I’m a sucker for hansom ah Echidnas. I may get both of them you know,” Rogue replied with a twinkle.
Aleutian slowly opened his heavy eyes. His head was aching and he could feel that he was shaking a little. The high pitched rumbling of the engines reverberated through his body; the scent of diesel fuel overlapping with the smell of... “chili? What possessed Mathias to cook Chili for breakfast?” he pondered to himself in a daze. He slowly opened his eyes further as thoughts of spicy beans, upset stomach, and “heartburn city” fell onto his groggy mind.
He slowly rose his head up from the bunk, rotating his torso around to extend his shoe less feet down to the cold metal floor. The sheets fell to the floor as he sat himself up, rubbing his head with his right hand. As he gained his balance, he shakingly stood up but almost fell to the floor instantly. He quickly grabbed the wall beside him, balancing himself through the lite pitching of the sub. When Aleutian finally began to walk, he felt a tightness around the left side of his back. He’d recognized the felling in an instant; someone had put stitches in his back, and when he looked around behind him, he could partly see the white dressing taped to his back. He felt around the wound and realized that the protruding shards of metal were not there anymore, and to his great delight, there wasn’t any pain except for a tad bit of soreness.
“What time is it?” he softly asked himself aloud, looking for the nearest clock. He found it on the right wall of the cabin, the hands reading; “Five-twenty!” he exclaimed in a groggy voice. Placing his free hand over his head, instinctively trying to sooth the pounding from the ambient noise, he started to wonder what had happened to him.
He took his first wobbling steps towards the open curtained doorway, almost losing his balance and falling again. With another dragging step, he moved forward, gaining balance as he did. As he stepped through the opening and looked around, the dazed Echidna noticed Sonic walking up with a chili-dog in his hand and a bite already taken out of it.
“Hey, it’s awake!” Sonic greeted. “Want some?” the hedgehog gestured, holding the foul smelling morsel up to Aleutian’s nose.
Aleutian threw his head back, pushing Sonic’s arms away with his bare hands. “No thanks, not my cup of tea I’m afraid.”
Sonic shrugged his shoulders. “Your loss,” he said, stepping through the doorway and grabbing a seat at the small desk that was posted against the wall.
Aleutian turned and walked into his cabin. He slide his boots on and grabbed his jacket, placing it across his right shoulder. He noticing that his bed had fresh sheets on it as he turned to leave his room. Still, with seeing that, Aleutian still couldn’t remember as to what had happened that morning.
He then walked towards the aft of the sub, his head spinning with every step that he took, his legs feeling as if they were stepping on soft mattresses. The rolling boat made it somewhat difficult for him to keep his equilibrium together as he passed into the next compartment.
As he passed by Dr. Quack, the duck dropped his spreading knife and called to Aleutian. “Hey, you need to be back in bed until that stuff wears off!”
“What stuff?” Aleutian groaned flatly.
“I injected you with a shot to put you out. I had to remove those pieces from your back,” he replied, pointing to the dressing on Aleutians lower backside. “Let me have a look at my work real quick,”he said as he tugged at Aleutian’s arm, pulling him towards his one good eye. He slowly lifted the flap of the dressing, exposing the fast healing injury. His “magic spray” was working wonders. The wound was slowly producing new skin and covering up the wound so that it wouldn’t scar.
Quack drew a pair of medical scissors from his white lab coat, and trimmed the stitches away from Aleutian’s body. “There, don’t need those anymore. Before you go to sleep,” he began, replacing the dressing and tape, “we’ll change out your dressings and spray you down for extra measure.”
Aleutian looked at the Doctor with puzzlement. His mind was still too foggy to comprehend what Dr. Quack was getting at. “Whatever you say Doc,” he replied with a nod as he held his aching head up.
He continued down the compartment, slinging his brown jacket on during the short trek. When he passed Tails, his mind stopped when he noticed the radar unit in pieces with the young fox soldering components to one of the circuit boards.
“Hey, back from the dead,” Tails joyfully commented, looking up from his work.
“Yea, to find out that the radar is. What’s up with it?” the tired echidna asked, bracing himself against the bulkhead with his head.
“I traced it down to a few capacitors that were bad. I’ll have it back together in no time, Aleutian.”
“Okay. Check the rectifier tubes while you’re at it. Those tend to go bad the quickest,” Aleutian instructed. He patted Tails on the shoulder with a brief smile before he ducked through the small hole that lead to command room.
Within a few steps, he was met by Espio. “Where are we?” Aleutian asked, almost yawning.
“Coming out between the two islands. We’ll be starting our next turn in about three hours.”
“Very well...”Aleutian’s ears perked up to the high pitched argument that filtered down through the open hatch from the bridge. He eerily looked at Espio. “Who’s on watch?” he asked, his voice raising an octave.
“That would be Julie-Su and Rogue,” Espio replied, looking up at the piped covered ceiling.
“I take it they don’t like each other that much?” the echidna suggested with his right eye squinting.
“Nope...and it has something to do with your brother’s heart.”
Aleutian just smirked at the idea, the deep cut on his face wrinkling with it. Then the voices up top became louder and more hostile:
“You no good sleez,” shrilled Julie-Su towards the white bat, followed by a fast moving fist. Aleutian instantly knew what was going on without even having to use his touch of sight and he was going to put a stop to it. Lives depended on it.
Knuckles crawled through the hatchway just in time to see his brother climb up the ladder to the bridge. “Good, he needs the fresh air. Shoot...so do I.” he smiled to himself. As he took one step closer, he soon heard the screaming match as it echoed its way down and over the loud roar of the twin diesels. “Ah, oh,” he snuffed as he rolled eyes.
Aleutian reached the attack compartment of the coning tower, turned to the last ladder, and climbed up it to reach the open air that was filled with the high pitched shouting match. Reaching up with his right hand, Aleutian grabbed a bar and lifted himself up, slowly working his shaky self up to the bridge. When his head poked out through the opening, he saw shoes and boots shuffling all around him. Rogues right boot almost collided with his already aching head.
“WHAT IS GOING ON!!?” he barked and snarled at the two girls.
His voice echoed over the rumbling sub, reaching the ears of Tails, Espio, and Knuckles, who was switching into his protective, jealous boyfriend mode. Tails reached back behind him and swatted Vector’s arm, stirring the crocodile from his musical trance. He turned around in time to noticed the orange fox getting up from his seat and navigating through the hatchway. Following him through the compartment, Vector caught the next part of Aleutian’s rant.
Aleutian stood up from the small hole and went right between the feuding girls, separating them from each other. “I wake up to find the radar is busted, that we’re about to breakout to the open sea, and then hearing you two fighting and NOT doing your JOBS!” This got Knuckles starting up the ladder.
“She started it,” Julie-Su pointed to Rogue who was to the left of Aleutian.
“Well, I’m finishing it,” he growled in a low voice, turning his head right towards the pink Echidna, then left towards the white and tan bat, his eyes squinting as his dreads flung around from the assaulting wind. His voice made the hairs on Julie and Rogue’s back stand on end.
“Ooww,” gestured Espio without making a sound. Tails sunk his head down with a grin on his face. Knuckles noticed this and made his thoughts known to his friends with a stare of discontent. Before he started back up the ladder, Knuckles stopped when Aleutian started making good points.
“With you two fighting, you’re not looking out for us, okay?” he seethed out, the scar on his snout bringing his point home. “We are practically blind without out our radar, and with you two not doing your jobs, we are completely blind. One of Eggman’s flying bots could sneak up behind us and sink us...all because of a playground fight! We are the slowest thing on the face of Mobius right now, and unfortunately, the slowest thing just happens to be the best thing to win a battle that has terrible odds. So do your JOBS!” Aleutian finished, jabbing his index finger at the deck. “Unbelievable!” he growled next.
Aleutian slowly began to make his way down the hatch, giving out his last order. “You two are up here until Tails fixes the radar...got it?”
The two girls nodded sharply and turned away from each other, gazing back out to the open sea. As the simmering Echidna made his way down, Rogue looked through her binoculars, listening to the clunks of Aleutian’s boots as he started to work his way down. I like him already, she smirked to herself.
She panned left across the horizon when her eyes spotted two objects that weren’t part of the waving ocean. “Ahh, look at the little boats,” she giggled.
“What boats!?” Aleutian jolted up with a sharp voice, peering his head back up through the hatch; his eyes wide.
“Why the two little white ones over yonder,” Rogue said as she pointed slightly to the left, “they’re so cute...”
Aleutian jumped up and grabbed the glasses from Rogue, that were fastened around her neck by a plastic lanyard, and peered through them. Rogue hunched forward as Aleutian drug her over to view at what she saw.
“Ah...NUTS!” he shrilled, flinging the glasses back to Rogue with frustration. “See what I mean. You two need to be on top of what we’re doing...”
“...They’re just boats Aleutian,” Julie-Su calmly interjected, also seeing the small boat shaped masts on the horizon.
Aleutian moved to the center of the bridge and opened the lens covers of the bridge’s viewfinder. What he saw through the high powered lenses made him kick into overdrive, the adrenaline flushing his drowsy state away. “They’re not boats, they’re ships!” he elaborated.
He quickly reached over to the intercom mike, picked it up, and pressed the switch. “CRASH DIVE...CRASH DIVE!!”he yelled into it; holding the last syllable out. “Rotor, all head flank, shut down the engines and close the exhaust ports as fast as you can!” Replacing the radio and pushing the button that closed the instrument panel from the outside world, Aleutian turned to the two stunned girls. “Down below, now...make it fast, or we’re going to be very wet!”
Mathias rushed aft as fast as he could through the compartments, dodging obstacles as he limbered through with his frail body. His blood began to race when he heard the engines crunching out more rpms as they were driven to full power before Rotor had shut them down.
Reaching the command compartment, he ducked his head before getting creamed by Vector’s fast moving arms as the croc turned the venting valves, “Good, as soon as you get those opened, get yourself to the headphones,” he ordered.
Vector stopped when the valves ceased to move any further and maneuvered through the hatch to his post. Sitting down and snagging the headphones from the desk beside him, he noticed Doctor Quack closing the open hatch to the outside world before he maneuvered back over to the stove to shut off the burners off. Then the duck placed the pans in the cabinets that were lined with guards to keep the contents from being tossed around. Some of the pans still had food simmering inside of them as Quack closed the small doors.
Aleutian reached up and slammed the bridge hatch down, spinning the locking hand wheel with all his might. When it suddenly stopped, he slid down the first ladder and waited for Rogue to climb down the last before he plummeted to the floor.
Knuckles reached up to the red levers and forced them down, two at a time. The loud gurgling sound of the water entering into the tanks echoed as he slammed the last two handles down. The sound became pronounced when the twin heavy engines stopped. Rotor had shut them down fast and was operating the vent covers by himself as the boat began to submerge. The electric motors whined as they turned, their batteries discharging as they operated. Rotor was still at awe, seeing the twin, silver metal shafts, counter-rotating at high revolutions under his feet through the graded metal floor as he stood by the throttle levers.
Aleutian slid down the last ladder, his hands squeaking along the metal bars and his boots clunking on the metal deck. “Main vents?” he inquired as he moved over to the control panel.
“Opened!” shouted Espio, slamming the two wheels to the stops on the aft bulkhead.
Aleutian noticed that Rogue and Julie-Su were just standing in the center of the compartment, taking up space. He grabbed them by the arms and thrusted them towards the dive controls. “You two, take the dive planes,” placing Rogue at the bow planes and Julie at the stern.
“What do I do?” cried Julie.
“I’ll guide them!” came Tails, scooting over beside Aleutian.
“Great. Make your depth to thirteen meters, thirty degrees down bubble!” Aleutian then turned to Mathias who was already grabbing an overhead pipe to hold on to. “Two ships heading south, close to each other, bearing about three-four-zero, angle’s about seventy-five, maybe eighty.” he gasped, referring to the angle of the ships relative to the Plunger.
“I’d say they have us on their radar,” guessed Mathias.
“I’d venture you’re right...but they won’t for long,” Aleutian snorted. He too grabbed on to something to hold on too.
“What’s going on!?” demanded Sonic as he passed through the hatch.
“Hold onto something, Blue!” replied Knuckles, sensing the roller coaster ride that they were about to undertake.
Tails got Rogue and Julie-Su going, telling them which way to turn the wheels. As they spun the controls, the Plunger began a step angled dive, it’s bow dipping below the surface as its stern rose up. Watching the needle pass over six meters, Tails fixated his sight on the bubble gauge that soon passed over the twenty mark, “Okay start easing your planes a little,” he calmly said.
They soon passed through eight meters. Pencils, maps, and Dr. Quack’s coffee mug started sliding across the tables as the dive angle increased to twenty-five degrees. The crash of the mug startled Mathias and Aleutian. They peered down and starred through the hatch. Quack just looked through it with grimaced face. “Sorry,” he pleaded with his face.
“Passing through ten meters you guys!” noted Tails.
“Start leveling her out. Shut main vents and ballast. I need you on the helm Tails,” Aleutian calmly ordered, his voice soothing the tension inside the compartment.
Mathias maneuvered over to the navigation computer and turned the automatic-pilot off as Knuckles, Espio and Sonic went to work on the valves. For now, everything needed to be controlled by hand. He then reached over and activated the targeting computer and watched it power up.
“We’re leveled,” announced Tails.
Aleutian stepped over to the periscope and activated the electric motor with a lever right beside the metal shaft. It raised the scope up on two cables; piercing through the surface of the lightly choppy seas. Pulling down two handles on the side, Aleutian pressed his head against the black rubber eyepiece, squinting his left eye as he peered through the periscope with his right.
“Maintain your current heading Tails,” Mathias ordered. “We’re steady at sixty-six Aleutian,” confirming the direction of travel.
“Thanks Mathias,” Aleutian said, magnifying the image of the first ship to the right. He paused, looking away from the scope and back at it again. “The first ship is a ship-of-war; guns and missiles are on her decks.” Aleutian then panned the periscope over to the next one. “It seems its running escort for the second one.”
“Vector, what do you hear?” called out Mathias as he peered through the hatch under Sonic’s fast moving arms that were closing the vents.
“I hear something, but I don’t know how much to describe it. Sounds like engines doing the ‘two-step.’”
“How many?” came Aleutian.
Vector turned the wheel from side to side, picking out the sounds. “I just hear two, bro!”
“Very well, keep a track on them and plug them into to the targeting computer,” ordered Aleutian.
Espio gathered himself after closing the valves on his side of the compartment and locked stepped to the computer. He brought out Nicole and placed her beside him. Finding a cable on the wall, he plugged her into the Plunger’s computer. He then found the special pencil and stood at the ready. Soon, the sound contacts appeared on the screen that faced up towards the ceiling.
“Okay, now we know what they are...who they are is my question?” observed Mathias beside Aleutian.
Flipping more switches, Aleutian magnified the image again, closely eyeing the deck of the lead ship. It’s bow was steeply curved, making waves as it sliced its way across the ocean with a small rocking motion. On the forward deck were two turrets, stacked like steps, but only having one cannon to each. Behind them was the main portion of the ship, three decks standing from the main deck. The very top had a single smoke stack with assorted poles sticking out from the top of the roof with a radar dish turning in circles. Then his eyes caught movement on the bottom deck, two Eggbots appeared from the lower deck, getting the ship’s weapons ready.
“I’ve just spotted two bots on the first ship,” Aleutian’s, calm voice sent shudders amongst the crew.
He then panned the periscope back to the cargo ship; it was slugging against the water at a feverish rate. The main deck had a single cannon on top of the bow, and behind that was a crane. The bridge ran at the center of the ship. It too had only one smoke stack and antennas, but the stern had strange looking racks on the deck. “Mathias, take a look at this.”
Mathias peered into the scope, seeing what Aleutian saw. “I’d say those are missile racks, dear boy.”
Aleutian looked up at the base of the periscope. It had a red arrow that went around a brass washer with numbers inscribed on it. It was the ships compass; the bow marking zero. “Fifteen degrees left Tails, please,” he calmly said.
As Tails turned the helm, Mathias let Aleutian continue tracking with the scope. Pressing a red button on the right handle that activated the range finder on the scope, an invisible laser beam shot towards the lead ship and bounced back; reading fifty-five hundred meters and lessening as it appeared on the screen display on the scope. The number soon popped up over the first targeted ship on Espio’s screen. Soon, twenty-eight appeared beside it.
“What’s this,” the Chameleon asked.
“Distance and speed,” came Aleutian, “these guys are in a hurry.”
He marked the second ship then walked over to Espio. Marking the direction that the lead ship was heading, he turned to the map beside him. “Looks like they are making their way to Old Robotropolis for some reason,” Aleutian noted, tracing their course and guessing their next turn was going to be under the peninsula of the Mobian Jungle.
“Straighten her up now, Tails,” he ordered next. Tails turned the helm back and marked his heading.
“Want my advice, Aleutian?” came Mathias as he placed his hand over Aleutian’s shoulder; “we let them go, we might need the torpedoes for our main goal.”
Aleutian nodded, “True.”
Then, Sonic chimed in from behind them. “But we don’t know what they’ve got. They could be haulin’ a doomsday weapon for all we know.”
“Point well taken Sonic,” Aleutian replied. He leaned back against the navigation computer and gathered thoughts with his hands tucked under his shoulders. They had nine torpedoes, two were the best that they had and he definitely wanted to save those. But it could take more than the two to sink the Dreadbot, plus, he had to maneuver around a little to get the second one off from the rear tube. Then again, he could drop two or three into the sides of the approaching ships and hope that one: they didn’t need more, and two: that the thing they were hunting for wasn’t heavily armored...or very lucky.
But Sonic made a great point, they didn’t know what they were carrying. They could be coming back from a resupply mission or bringing back the spoils of war to feed Eggman’s war-machine.
Aleutian looked over at Mathias, his hand rubbing his chin. “Are we still under the rules of nonrestrictive warfare?” The way Aleutian said it, soft and cool, made every hairs stand on end.
Mathias nodded. “That we still are; even since the day I plucked you from Davy Jones.”
Aleutian, his face without emotion, walked over to the left wall, reached up to the microphone, and called to the torpedo room. “You back there Mighty?”
“Enjoying the ride,” the Armadillo replied, seeming to be the only person with high spirts at the moment.
“Good,” Aleutian sighed, “open tubes one, two and three, and be at the ready.” With that, he replaced the microphone and looked over at Sonic who was about to explode from knowing what they were about to do. “Sonic, get yourself back there and help him.”
“No prob’ man!” Sonic bursted, pulling a hard devious smile across his face.
“I’m no man Hedgehog, just a battered echidna,” Aleutian replied, drawing the same smile. “Yes Aleutian, it’s okay to smile now,” he thought to himself.
Aleutian went back the periscope, panning to the ship of war that had just brought its weapons online. Aleutian was positive that they hadn’t gotten a visual on them before they went under, but their radar had told them that something was out there, and they were looking for it.
Mathias steadily walked up behind Aleutian. “So how are you going to do this?”
“I was hoping you would?” Aleutian asked behind the lens.
“Sorry my dear boy. My eyes and reflexes aren’t the same anymore. I don’t know how much good I’ll be.”
Aleutian looked over his shoulder with a comforting smile. “Oh, come on...”
“It’s your patrol my friend. It’s your fight, and so, it’s your shot,” Mathias solemnly said.
Aleutian solidly nodded. He figured there was an underlying message but he would figure it out later. Gazing back through the scope, Aleutian gave the next set of instructions. “Set up for tube three.”
Mathias walked over to Espio and pointed to the third green light in a series of five at the top of the screen. “Touch that one and wait,” he said.
Espio took the pen and touched the green circle. It turned blue and back to green with “tube three” reading on the left side of the black screen in white.
“Target the right ship,” Aleutian said quickly.
Mathias then pointed at the white boat shaped figure that was to the right of another on the screen. “Touch that one.”
Espio moved the pen over and tapped the screen. All of a sudden, mechanical snaps ringed inside the boat. Looking down, he saw that the readout of the speed of the ship was holding, along with it’s course, but the range was closing to fifty-one hundred meters.
Back in the torpedo room, Mighty and Sonic spun the handles that opened the torpedo doors. They started with tubes one and two; Mighty on one, Sonic on the latter. When the handles ceased to go no further, they both worked tube three at the lower left.
“Doors opened,” radioed Sonic almost out of breath.
“Tubes one and two on the last ship,” came Aleutian, Sonic’s voice trailing in his mind as he eyed on the cargo ship.
Espio tapped the corresponding green lights, then tapped the target to the left. Mighty and Sonic jumped when more mechanical snaps cracked from the brass hatch covers.
“Have a look Mathias,” requested Aleutian. Mathias slowly worked his way over to the periscope and peered through, noticing the cargo ship’s draft was low.
“She is carrying, possibly a ten meter draft line. From the looks, I’d say six, maybe seven thousand tons.” Rotating the scope, he studied the escort ship. With a long moments look he ordered; “Magnetic pistol on tube three, Espio.” The old Dingo felt himself come alive as his dormant fighting spirit awoke from its long two year slumber.
Espio looked up at the dials and switches on the wall, followed the tube three row down, and then flipped a lever that crossed from “I” (meaning impact detonation,) to “M” (meaning magnetic detonation.) Soon, Sonic and Mighty heard the adjustments from the last two tubes.
“Done!” Espio announced.
“Depth at four and a half meters, same tube,” came back Mathias, looking back at Rogue and Julie, making sure that they didn’t think he met them.
Espio followed with his eyes down until he saw the depth dial on the wall. He rotated it clockwise to the desired reading. “Check!” he confirmed.
Mathias now turned to Aleutian. “Go make sure that our boys are ready to shoot.”
Aleutian nodded and moved quickly through the hatches, still feeling the effects of the anesthetic as he leaped over the bulkheads.
Ducking through the last one, he saw Sonic and Mighty looking at each other with puzzled faces. “Everything set back here?” he asked.
“Yea,” replied Sonic nervously, “ but, what’s with the noise, man?”
“That’s the torpedoes setting themselves,” explained Aleutian as he stepped forward. “We plug in the numbers and they automatically make the adjustments. Makes it easier for us,” he said, looking over the gauges and valves in and around the tubes.
“Tubes one and two impact pistols, depths, five meters, Espio,” said Mathias, turning and watching Espy do his work. The chameleon gave him a thumbs up when he was done.
“Good, set the gyro on tube one at one and a half degrees left, and tube two to the right at the same mark.”
Espio reached up to the gyro knobs and turned them. As the settings were made, more noises came from the tubes. Sonic was in awe at what was going on.
“See the red switch covers on the box to the upper left of you,” Mathias asked Espy.
“Flip them up and flip the switches under them up. Just for the first three.”
Espy flipped the covers up, knowing which tube they belonged to, and flipped the silver switches under them.
Instead of snaps, shunts filled the diesel hanging air in the torpedo room, “What was that!?” shrilled Sonic, his voice getting higher in pitch with every new noise.
“Espio just took the internal safeties off,” said the hard working echidna in a low voice. “We now have hot weapons.”
When Aleutian finished his checks, he stood up from his shaking knees and grabbed the radio. “We’re ready to fire Mathias.”
“Good, get back here on the double,” the Dingo barked through the radio. He then placed his eye back over the eye piece. “Prepare to fire tubes one and two!” he ordered through the mike in his hand.
Mighty placed both hands over the red levers of the two tubes, ready to press them when told too. Instantly, his hands began to sweat as his breathing increased from the excitement of about to be launching two giant weapons right at one of Eggman’s devices; something he has been wanting to do for a long time.
“Fire,” Mathias ordered in a soft growl, his right eye twitching with the order.
Mighty pressed down on the levers. Before he and Sonic knew it, their hands were over their ears from the screaming sound that would have made a banshee jealous. Aleutian was half way back when Mathias gave the order and he knew something was dreadfully wrong right off. It wasn’t the loud screams of the torpedoes that lead him to that conclusion, but he didn’t feel a certain recoil from a the torpedoes leaving the tubes. He turned right around and rushed back, sliding through the hatches, his dreads flapping behind him over his shoulders.
Practically diving into the room, the woozy echidna quickly made his way to the center of the tubes. Founding the valves that he just remembered that he didn’t check, Aleutian reached up and pulled them to the floor. Air instantly filled the lines and into the tubes. Quickly reaching over Mighty’s head, he pressed both levers down, giving a quick pause to tube one before firing it. A hard kick, as if a whale was playing soccer with the Plunger, rocked the rattled occupants inside.
The burst of the air shot the torpedoes out of their holes. Bubbles trailed behind them as their battery powered motors gave propulsion to the counter-rotating propellers. They cruised straight ahead for a few meters before their gyros began to take over. The first torpedo out of the shoot started to drift left and the second began to drift right, both settling into their programed depths.
“Fire tube three!” shouted Mathias at the radio.
Sonic reached below and pressed the lever this time on the bottom left torpedo tube. The kick still surprised him, almost knocking him back on his rear.
Aleutian grabbed the handle of tube one and began cranking it over, closing the torpedo door. Sonic and Mighty began doing the same without a word with the other two.
Espio watched on the screen as three red dashes raced towards the two white markers. He was startled by Nicole’s voice from beside him. “Two minutes until impact, Espio, on the first two torpedoes. The last one is about six seconds ahead.”
“Why’s that Mathias?” he asked.
“The two ships are coming at us at an angle; the escort is closer to us than the cargo ship. I was hoping to have timed both shots to hit each ship at the same time,” Mathias replied, scolding himself for being rusty, which was why he wanted Aleutian to do this.
Back in the torpedo room, Aleutian had flushed out the water from the flooded tubes and was now opening the hatches. Mighty had a torpedo already slung across his arms. He lifted it up and began sliding it into the hole with Sonic guiding it in. Aleutian then took the metal clip from the back of the torpedo with the wire attached to it, and placed it on the hook behind the torpedo hatch, removing the other clip and wire from the previous, and now, fast traveling torpedo.
With Aleutian’s hands free, Mighty closed the hatch, locking it shut. “Next one,” the armadillo barked out with a smile.
Two Eggbots emerged from inside of the middle deck of the cargo ship to the late afternoon sun. They marched towards the bow of the ship, their hydraulic limbs drowning out the sound of the churning wakes. Their commanding-bot of the ship had sent them out to use their enhanced visual scanners to search for a possible radar contact that had vanished off their screen. They flickered their sensors, adjusting the range and color of their view, rotating their permanently smiling heads around.
“The radar possibly caught a ghost echo across the beam,” said one of the bots, looking to its duplicate self in front of it.
“Our escort caught the same signal,” the other replied, “keep scanning!”
So it did, adjusting the sensor sensitivity. When the bot activated the florescent vision in its module, it picked out two lines coming towards them at a slight angle. They showed up as two green streaks that rippled in an odd, bubbly way.
“I have something. Check the three o’clock in the florescent mode,” the droid beeped.
Seeing the same thing coming right at them, the other bot began running X-ray scans. Unfortunately for its maker, it couldn’t detect what the streaks were under the water. The tossing water produced fuzz on its sensors. The bot switched back to the regular color mode, seeing the streaks in plain sight as the bubbling foam approached them.
“Best estimate...a school of fast moving marine life,” the bot concluded to the other bot behind it.
“Master will soon deal with them after we wipe out the Mobians and Humans. What we have on board is something that Eggman needs to ensure victory. A school of fish isn’t going to stop the hull of this ship.” Getting the confirmation signal from the other Eggbot, it moved closer to the rail and watched as the two white lines raced closer. But then something caught its visor. The bot pivoted its head to the left and witnessed another white streak that was heading towards their escort, which was only 100 yards in front of them.
“Yes, you scaled biological menaces, you’ll be next.” the machine transmitted to itself with its binary code. The bot pivoted its torso around towards the escort ship, watching the creatures try to fruitlessly attack a metal war machine, tracing their white bubbling wake to...
The blast blew the bot in front of it off its metal feet and into it. With the only glimpse it could acquire, the bot saw the escort ship hunch up at the center, snapping the upper decks in two as water erupted on both sides of the ship. It looked as if it had just sailed over an active volcano as it blew its top with an inferno that engulfed the sides of the metal skin. The sound from the explosion would have deafened a mere mortal creature. Then the sound changed to a muffled splash. His view was blanketed with a blue image that soon produced bubbles. The sensors in the Eggbot’s system confirmed that it was overboard and in the water, sinking fast.
The round bot rotated its head left then right, seeing if it could grab a hold of something to save itself from termination by the sea. It heard the moans of the escort ship’s hull buckling as the bot sank deeper in the dark blue water. It then picked up the sounds of bulkheads collapsing as the escort ship met its death. But between the sounds of the escort ship breaking up and the sound of water passing over its small microphones, the Eggbot began to faintly pick out a high pitched warbled scream to its right. The bot rotated its head quickly to see what could be possibly making the high pitched scream. It stopped suddenly when its visor fixated on a long brown tube with a red, rounded tip coming right at it. Moving its mechanical arms as fast as it could, the Eggbot (with its permanent smile,) desperately paddled itself away from getting directly hit by whatever the long cylindrical thing was.
The Eggbot pivoted it’s head around, watching as the torpedo screamed right in front of it, and impacted the barnacle covered hu...
Mathias watched as two giant walls of water climbed into the air, covering the decks of the cargo vessel. The explosion soon reverberated throughout the sub, rattling its occupants a second time.
“What was that?” asked a frightened Julie-Su. Noises echoing in a tin can with no windows was starting to make her flip-out.
Mathias chuckled as he spoke. “Our torpedoes finding their marks. The cargo ship is starting to list and we broke the back of the escort, splitting her right in two.” He watched with a gleam in his eye as the front section of the warship slipped beneath the waves, the bow turning up in the air as it did. The rear soon did the same, its twin propellers still spinning as the stern disappeared under the churning water. Even with the distance being a little over a mile away now, they could still hear the moans of the buckling bulkheads of the sinking warship.
Fire and smoke blanketed the sky from it, but Mathias was sure that Aurora would forgive them for that. With his smile broadening, he saw fires erupting on the decks of the cargo ship.
Aleutian was coming out of the torpedo room when he heard the spread find their marks. He jumped in rejoice, clubbing the overhead pipes as he made his way back, figuring Sonic and Mighty had the reloading down to an art by now.
He crossed into living quarters, then into the sonar and radar station, stopping when he saw Vector passed out with his headsets still over his ears. “Hey, Vector, you okay...”
Vector turned his head over at Aleutian and mumbled as if he were drunk. “Pretty lights bro! Hey Knuckles, I see three of ya’...and where did you get the scars man... they look righteous.”
Aleutian began to suspect that Vector was suffering from asphyxiation. He showed the signs of someone having too little oxygen in their blood, and what he gathered of Vector’s intelligence and the size of his brain that exhumed his train of thoughts, Aleutian was pretty sure Vector’s brain needed lots of oxygen to function properly.
He started looking around to see what might be causing Vector’s problem before he called for Dr. Quack. He didn’t see any open flames, nor did he notice that the stove was left on. Then he sniffed the air. A smell registered in his brain that made his heart jump. Aleutian quickly turned around, his eyes stopping at the gauges on the wall. He felt a wave of heat roll off his back when he viewed the hydrogen meter...it was half way into the red.
“BLOW BALLAST! BLOW BALLAST, NOW! We need to get up top FAST!!” he shouted through the hatch.
Rogue and Julie-Su began turning the wheels, already knowing which way was up. Mathias rushed up beside them, grabbing a hand-wheel that was beside the compressed air meter and yanked it over. Air forcefully rushed into the ballast tanks, blowing the water that was inside of them back out to sea.
“What about the bots that are up there?” shouted Tails, his head on a swivel, watching everything that was going on around him.
“I rather deal with them then get flashed fried down here,” replied Aleutian coming up behind him, breathing hard as he spoke.
“Nobody create a spark until we swap out the air,” came Mathias, sensing why Aleutian wanted up top so fast. The old Dingo remembered quite vividly of a flash fire when the lead acid batteries he was testing, blew up after being subjected to a hard discharge...like right now. He just realized the motors were still at ahead flank. Aleutian forgot to have Rotor lower them back to full or at least standard running order after the dive. Since the batteries hadn’t been ran in such a long time, the lead plates might have warped; and if that was the case, they weren’t up to the torture of running the throttles to the stops without the diesels providing the backup power. Yes, they were working, but their battery life was a little shorter and caused more of a hydrogen build up that would kill the boat faster than an air-bot attack. The lack of oxygen wasn’t the problem, unless, you were like Vector and sat right on top of the forward battery compartment, but it was the threat that a flash fire could be ignited. With a simple arc of static electricity from a finger, and with the chemistry of fire feeding on oxygen, they would be charred in an instant and they wouldn’t know what had hit them.
Then it hit Mathias. He reached over and grabbed the mike off the wall while holding on to the cables of the periscope. “Rotor, you okay back there?”
“Kinda scared back here. Hey, have you looked at the hydrogen...”
“...Yes Rotor we have, as soon as we get up top, open the hatch and bring the throttles back down,” ordered Mathias. “How’s your gauges looking anyways?”
“Sitting about halfway, but not in the red.”
“Good, start the engines as soon as you can.”
The Plunger rose out from the depths like a kid releasing an empty soda bottle from his bath. The bow slammed down hard on the surface, creating a nice splash as it did so. As soon as Mathias and Aleutian heard the sounds of the waves lapping over the hull and feeling the boat leveling somewhat out, they started going for hatches, opening them as fast as they could to the outside air. Mathias popped the bridge cover up and slowly got himself up to see their handiwork. All that was left of the warship was black smoke as fire floated on the surface. The cargo ship on the other hand was still chugging along but listing steeply over.
Aleutian operated the forward hatch and lifted it over his head. The fresh air was now circulating through the boat. In a couple of seconds, the build up of the hydrogen gases would be out of the boat.
“Okay Rotor, crank up the engines and slow us back down to ahead full,” radioed Mathias to the engine compartment. Rotor was already opening the exhaust vents and the rear hatch when Mathias came through on the speaker.
Aleutian called to Dr. Quack from the cabin compartment and pointed him towards Vector, telling him what was happening. Quack soon left the compartment to help the dopy crocodile.
“Keep her steady Tails...” Aleutian was almost knocked off his feet when the Plunger shook violently from side to side. Knuckles wasn’t so lucky, catching himself before he slammed his head on the metal floor. Aleutian was still clutching to the wires that held the periscope when another violent shunt followed the first, shaking the dishes in the cabinets in the galley.
“Man the deck gun!” ordered Mathias from the bridge, his voice echoing through the narrow opening.
“Tails, zig zag us until we tell ya’ to stop!” Aleutian barked. “Knuckles, come with me, now!”
Knuckles did as his brother ordered, but his attitude wasn’t sitting well with the request. “You know, you could ask...” he was cut off when he was slammed to the wall from another violent jerk of the sub.
“Now’s NOT the time to be nice, brother!” Aleutian exclaimed, holding his balance up against the opposite wall. He turned to the radio that hovered over his heard and pressed the intercom button. “Sonic, Julie-Su...get up to the deck gun on the double and get it ready.”
After Aleutian depressed the button, he continued aft, climbing through the hatch that lead into the supply compartment. He lifted up the metal graded floor and flung it against the wall; crashing against it with a tiny sound. Reaching down with both hands, the hard-breathing Echidna brought up a long, black cylindrical object. It had a diameter of about five inches and had four neon green slits down the side. Aleutian produced two more of the black tubes and handed one to Knuckles. “Okay, to the forward hatch. Lets go.”
With Knuckles leading the way this time, he turned back to his brother as he made his way through the command compartment. “What are these?” he asked, heaving the black metal cylinders through the hatchways.
“Battery cells for the gun. Less talk, more moving,” he fired back as another jolt almost sent Aleutian to the ground. He balanced himself before tumbling over his cumbersome legs.
When the two brothers got to the forward hatch, Sonic and Julie-Su were very hesitant to go up the ladder.
“We’re not going up there?” scorned Julie-Su, her arms crossed and he feet trembling.
“Oh yes we are, now move,” replied Aleutian, keeping his voice as cool as possible. He gave Sonic the other battery cell and juggled the other one around his left his arm as he made his way up.
Knuckles soon followed. His determined thoughts soon dissipated when his head peered over the opening. Water sprayed in his face when the Plunger’s bow sunk low, clipping a wave as it humped over the swell. Knuckles saw the burning ship leaning heavily on its side through the pitching bow of the sub, but his heart pounded harder when he saw a flash from the ship’s cannon. The red plasma bolt raked across the sky, impacting the churning sea a hundred yards to the left of the sub. Water, followed by steam, shot up in the air. The sound of the report from the ship’s cannon soon made the reality of what was occurring hit home to Knuckles...they were in a full blown shooting battle.
Knuckles reached down and grabbed his equal by the hand and pulled her up.
“...You’re the best shot we’ve got. Its your turn now,” Knuckles pleaded.
Aleutian removed the metal muzzle cap that was fitted with a small rope at the end, and flung it over the barrel. He then raced to the turret section and unlocked the cannon from the stirrups that were anchored to the deck. The plasma cannon soon swayed from the tossing of the sea and the swaying of the zig-zagging sub. Knuckles went passed him, along with Julie-Su, to the rear of the gun. Sonic soon followed with the other battery cell clutched under his arm.
“Brace yourselves!” warned Mathias. It was just in time, another bolt ripped the water in front of them. Spray from the impact showered the four, who were fighting the tossing and turning boat to stay up right.
Aleutian operated the handle at the rear of the gun and opened the breach. He then slammed his battery into place, and closed it. The powering-up process of the gun started instantly.
Julie-Su found herself in the hot seat, literally. She placed herself in the gunner’s seat and quickly studied the controls of the whining cannon. There were two pedals at her feet, a double hand crank in front of her arms, and a viewfinder in front of her head. Pressing her face against the padded scope, she pressed the pedals down, first left, then right. Then she operated the handles in front of her, finding that rolling back the handles made the muzzle point up in the air, and rolling forward produced the opposite effect.
With the controls down, she quickly began to place a bead on the enemy ship. “Where do you want the shots?” she asked.
“Hold your horses first, girl,” came Aleutian. He looked up at Mathias who was still starring hard through the binoculars. “Need a right side angle, Mathias.”
Mathias nodded and looked down through the hatchway. “Left full rudder, Tails!”
The fox turned the helm as fast as he could, watching as their course raced by via the compass.
“Rudder at mid-ships!” Mathias ordered next.
“What?” cried Tails, not knowing what mid-ships meant.
“Straighten us up!” the Dingo clarified as he looked down the hatch. He felt the sub instantly straighten up as the kit fox turned the helm.
Julie-Su had the right pedal to the floor, the motor of the turret groaning as it moved. She depressed it when her sights were squarely on the ship. “Now what?” she asked.
“See the compartment up top that looks like it has hair?” asked Aleutian.
“Yeah!” she replied, increasing the magnification of the view finder with the knobs that were aligned on the right side.
“Aim right at it.”
The pink Echidna rolled the handles back, watching for her marks on the range and windage optics of the sight. Satisfied with herself, she gave Aleutian a thumbs up with her head never leaving the sight.
“The trigger is the lever at your left side. It’s a two-stage trigger so release the slack then press on afterwards,” Aleutian instructed.
Fingering her way around the controls, she felt the metal bar around her hand. Pressing down firmly, Julie-Su took out the slack of the first stage. She felt the tension increase as the lever settled to the second stage...then she pressed it down harder.
The gun erupted with a harsh thunder that shook the wooden deck beneath their feet. The muzzle blast blew the dreads of the three Echidnas back along with the smell of ozone from the shot. Sonic just covered his pointed ears.
Mathias traced the green plasma round, watching it race closer to the engaging ship. It impacted dead on at the radio shack, the antennas scattering from the blast. “Wow, first time and first shot!” he chuckled to himself.
“Okay, go for their teeth, girl,” ordered Aleutian, standing clear from the recoil of the deck gun.
Julie-Su now positioned her sights on the cargo ship’s only gun. She could see two of Eggman’s robots readying their gun for another slew of shots at them. It was too late. She slammed the lever down, giving life to the cannon once more. Sonic watched the barrel slide back from the recoil that followed the report of the gun. He was trying hard not to laugh hysterically.
The two bots were blown off the boat when Julie-Su’s shot hit home. The cannon on board the cargo ship was pulverized from the plasma energy. Sonic, Knuckles, and Aleutian cheered at the yellow and orange effect of Julie’s dead on accuracy.
“Okay Julie-Su, aim below the water line a little and rake the gun across their hull. Your doing great!” said Aleutian, reaching around and patting her on the back.
Julie-Su lowered the muzzle down with the hand cranks, and slammed the trigger down and held it. The gun’s computer automatically fired as soon it sensed the recoil ceasing. It touched off six plasma bolts in under four seconds. As she fired, Julie-Su pressed down on the left pedal gently, causing the gun to pivot slowly to the left. She stopped when the cannon ceased to fire.
Explosions rocked the ship as the six plasma beams crashed just under the water line and impacted on the submerged hull, causing more flooding that drove the ship further over on its side.
Aleutian opened the breach and pressed a release button at the top on the gun. The black battery cell popped out, clanging against the wooden deck as the white smoking battery rolled off into the deep, producing steam as it hit the water. Sonic then reared up and drove his cell in the breach and stepped back as Aleutian closed the chamber.
“Keep at it, Julie-Su,” Knuckles encouraged from behind her.
Again, she slammed the trigger down and pressed the left foot pedal ever so slightly. Eight rounds jumped from the gun and creamed the side of the ship. When the gun fell silent, she leaned back and rubbed her face, clearing the sweat from her eyes. The heat from the weapon was building up and she was feeling the full force of it.
Aleutian was about to pop the next battery in when he was surprised by a huge explosion. He peered over to the side of the cannon and saw their target lighting up in an inferno of fire. It then sharply listed over onto its side, water churning up as it did, and began to slide slowly into the depths.
Mathias called everyone up to the deck to witness one of Eggman’s tools being sent to the deep and out of the fight. Rogue, Tails and Espio appeared over the bridge while Rotor climbed up through the rear hatch and watched the red hull of the white ship vanishing below the waves. Mathias then grabbed the microphone from the panel in front of him. “Doctor!”
Quack gave the oxygen mask to Vector to hold and reached up to the intercom button. “Yes, Mathias?”
“Make a feast fit for a King tonight, for we dine like one in celebration!” Mathias was about to replace the microphone when a particle fell from one of his molars, tasting of chili. “Oh and Doctor, keep a certain blue hedgehog out of the galley, please.”