"That's right, I said full abort!" shouted Sonic into his wrist communicator, laser bolts screaming past him as he ran through the main production line area of the Swatbot factory in Robotropolis, rounding the corner leading towards the exit. But instead of finding a clear path leading to safety, he ran smack into a group of five robians all armed with laser blasters. "Sorry I have to do this to you guys, but I'm not about to die today," he said as he curled into a spindash.
The robians opened fire as the ball of spinning blue spikes careened towards them, but all their shots went wide as Sonic reached them, bowling three of them over as he broke through their defensive line. Uncurling from his spindash, he then took off at full speed, the sound barrier giving way as a sonic boom went off as he ran out of the factory, a few more laser bolts streaking after him as he rounded the street corner and out of the robians' line of fire.
"That's the fourth mission in a row that the target's been guarded with robians in the ranks," said Sally as she and Sonic sat in Sonic's hut back in Knothole. The two of them had returned from their latest attempt to take out one of Eggman's factories after having the plan ruined by the presence of robians defending the target alongside of the normal defenses.
"I hate to say it Sal, but I think Eggman's finally got us by the hair. He knows we won't blow up anything if the robians are in danger of being caught in the crossfire. And the fact that he's now having them guard the factories instead of just working in them is not boding well with me either. I could've hurt one of them when I spindashed into that group. I shouldn't have done that," said Sonic as he shook his head at what he had done.
"It's not your fault Sonic," said Sally as she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Eggman's just finally played his trump card, and we don't have an answer to it."
"There has to be something we can do. Maybe instead of blowing stuff up, we just trash the computer running the factory," suggested Sonic, a little bit of hope in his eyes. But Sally just shook her head.
"That won't work. He's already hardwired the factories to the Command Center's main computer. In order for us to disable the factories, we'd have to fry the center's main frame, which I'm sorry to say we'd never have enough time to do before we'd get caught, especially considering that the main frame is only accessible from the control room," she answered. Sonic slammed his fist into his bed's mattress in frustration.
"So is that it? Are we at a stalemate now with no hope of coming out on top of all of this?" asked Sonic. Sally sighed softly.
"Unless we can remove the robians from their new guard duty, I don't see how we can even slow Eggman down anymore," she answered truthfully. "We can only hope that something turns up that will put us back on track."
Gus Someral, an older gentleman somewhere in his mid-fifties with graying brown hair, hummed a little tune to himself as he finished drying off the last of the mugs that needed to be cleaned and ready to go for the day. It was about lunch time in the quiet little town that he lived in of about a hundred or so humans and he knew it wouldn't be long before his quaint little bar would be visited by the locals wanting something to wet their whistles or grab a bite to eat. He had put a lot of time and effort into remodeling his bar to replicate an old timey western bar, complete with swinging doors and an antique player piano that had seen better days but still managed to keep the music going to complete the experience.
His head looked up from placing the last mug onto the back counter as a bell rang, signaling that a customer had entered the bar. Now while he had seen hundreds of mobians pass through his bar as they traveled through the town and was used to seeing all kinds of different species of mobians, the one that had just stepped into the building was anything but normal. This one was a fairly young girl, probably in her mid-teens. Her smooth, aqua colored skin covered most of her petite body, though her stomach and chest areas were a much lighter shade of the same color. Her head sported a thin, skin tight helmet that was a darker shade of her skin color with a fin sticking out of the top of her head and two decent sized frills where her ears should have been. Her head also adorned a curious green gemstone set right in the middle of the forehead area of the helmet. But what really caught Gus' attention was the thick, prehensile, dolphin-like tail that she had.
"Welcome little lady," said Gus as he greeted the young girl. She gave him a smile as she walked up to the bar and sat on a barstool. "What will it be?"
"Just a glass of water please," she said, Gus turning around to grab one of the freshly cleaned mugs from their place on the back counter. As he finished filling up the glass and handing it to the young girl, he heard the bell ring again, followed by a voice he knew all too well and hated.
"Well look at what we got here boys. A brand new mobian girl is in town," said the low pitched voice of a tall, skinny human with black hair done in a buzz cut that went by the name of Doug. He wasn't alone either as a heavy set human with brown hair done in a bowl cut and a fairly short human with blonde hair done in a spiked style followed him into the bar.
"I've never seen a mobian like her before. Have you?" asked the second human.
"Nope. Definitely got ourselves an exotic one today," said the third human. The three of them started to walk over to where the girl was seated as she took a few sips from the glass of water before setting it back down on the counter.
"So what's a pretty little thing like you doing in old Gus' bar?" asked Doug as they crowded around the girl's seat.
"Just getting a glass of water, sir. I needed it badly. I haven't had a chance to get any water into my system for the past two days," she answered.
"That so?" he asked. "Well, how about after you finish that glass of water you come and have a little bit of fun with us, eh?" Gus frowned in annoyance as he overheard the conversation. The three humans that were now in the bar were scumbags who preyed on the female mobians while they were trying to enjoy their drinks and food. Still, he had told himself he'd never turn away a customer, and as such he was used to hearing the same old drivel time and time again as the three boys tried to hit on the ladies.
"Sorry, but I have to finish this water quickly and meet up with my brother. He's waiting for me out in the woods," she answered, reaching with her right hand to pick up her drink again. However, it was stopped cold as Doug grabbed her by the wrist.
"Oh come on, I'm sure your brother won't mind us having a little fun," he said, putting a bit of an authority to his voice. The change in attitude towards her caused the girl to suddenly have a frightened look on her face, her arm being held tightly by the human.
"Please let me go. You're hurting me and besides, I have to leave here as soon as I can," she said. But Doug only grabbed her arm tighter, causing the girl to give a small cry of pain. Suddenly, the half full glass of water dumped towards Doug, spilling into his lap as he jumped back in exclamation, letting go of her arm in the process. Shock quickly turned to anger as he reached out to grab the girl by her right frill.
"I'd leave her alone if you know what's good for you," said a female voice from a low lit corner of the bar. Doug turned back towards the source of the voice to see a mobian seated at one of the tables in the back area of the bar. She was wearing a brown cape with a hood put up over her head, obscuring her face from view. She also wore a green tank top with a matching pair of green shorts and shoes. Her fur was bright pink in color and she wore a black scabbard with a sword in it on her back along with a small brown backpack.
"Oh yeah? Well what are you gonna do about it?" asked Doug. The figure calmly took a sip of the cranberry juice she had on her table before standing up and starting to walk towards the three humans.
"Nothing if you back off now," said the mobian as she walked up within reaching distance of the group. Doug, now even angrier at being told to stop his actions, reached down and grabbed her by her shirt with both hands, lifting her into the air as the hood fell off, revealing her face to them. Her hair was the same bright pink color as the rest of her fur with three tufts of white hair in her bangs. Nine pink dreadlocks flowed down her back to about waist high, each one sporting three bands of white cloth at equal intervals. Her green eyes showed no hint of fear as her mouth curled into a smirk on her tan muzzle.
"No one tells me to back off!" he said loudly.
"Nice grip," said Angel Starfire before reaching up with her right hand to grasp Doug's left wrist. "Here's mine." With that, she squeezed hard on the human's wrist, the man crying out in pain as he felt the bone nearly get crushed to pieces, dropping the mobian to the ground.
"Get her!" he shouted as the heavy set human drew a small blaster pistol from his pants pocket, the short human brandishing a pocket knife.
"Take it outside!" shouted Gus as he ducked behind the bar. The human with the pocket knife lunged forward to try and impale Angel who stood her ground, dodging to the left at the last second as the stab went wide. She then swung her foot up at the human's hand, catching it square as the knife was knocked from his grasp. She then swung her whole body around, throwing a roundhouse kick to the human's chest, knocking him back several feet and to the ground as a couple of ribs gave way to the blow. Not missing a beat, she then leaped forward, dodging the first shot fired from the blaster pistol the heavy set human was wielding.
Bounding between tables as the human tried to track her, she gripped the hilt of the sword she carried with her, running up next to the table the human was standing next to. She then leapt over the table, unsheathing her sword as she gave one quick swing with it as she passed by the human, landing on the ground next to where the other mobian was seated, sheathing her sword. The heavy set human trained the pistol back onto her, but never got a shot off as the gun split in half, testament to what the target of the sword's swing was aimed at.
"I suggest you take your injured friends and leave before I decide to get serious. And if I ever catch you in here pulling this kind of stuff again, I'll make sure you regret it," said Angel.
"S-sure…We'll leave r-right away and w-won't come back," said the heavy set human as he helped the blonde haired human back to his feet, Doug following them towards the exit as fast as they could go.
"Good riddance," said Gus as he stood back up from behind the bar. "That's the last time I allow them in here. Thanks for running those dirtbags off, miss."
"Sure thing," she said before turning to the other mobian. "You okay?"
"Yes. I'm ok," she answered, turning her head with a look of worry on it towards the exit that the humans had just left from. "But did you have to hurt them?" she asked.
"They deserved it," said Angel. "After all, you didn't spill that glass. Looked to me like it tipped over on its own." Suddenly the aqua skinned mobian's look of worry became one of panic as she quickly got up off the barstool she was seated at.
"Oh no! I must leave now before he finds me here!" she said in near hysterics as she started running towards the exit. But before she could leave the building, a faint whine could be heard coming from outside. The girl stopped in her tracks, backing up slowly as the whine got progressively louder. "Too late…"she said in almost a whisper.
"Who's found you?" asked Angel.
"Mecha bot four," she answered. Angel quickly snapped to attention at the mention of Robo Knuckles heading their way.
"Can she hide behind the bar?" asked Angel. "If this robot finds her here, there's gonna be a big problem."
"Of course she can. Consider it my thanks for running off those thugs," said Gus, motioning for the girl to climb over the counter top. Angel retreated to her original table, pulling the hood back over her head to make it hard for Robo Knuckles to spot her in the dark corner. As soon as she was seated, the whine, which was now very loud, became silent. Angel kept her eyes glued to the doorway, hoping the mecha bot wouldn't walk through the swinging doors. But that hope was dashed as the bell rang, signaling the crimson echidna robot's entrance to the establishment.
He was just how Angel remembered him. He had five, triangular shaped tubes with vents on the tips flowing down the back of his head like dreadlocks, the three middle tubes containing a small thruster in them. His arms were thick and shaped like wings on an airplane to help him fly. At the end of each arm were two, six-inch dagger claws. On his back was an engine exhaust port and topping off his look was a white "V" mark on its chest.
As the mecha bot slowly took in its surroundings, Angel watched with intensity, ready to spring into action if it was called for. After about ten seconds of looking around the bar, Robo Knuckles walked calmly up to the counter, producing a miniature holographic device.
"You, bartender. Have you seen this girl come through here in the last two minutes?" he asked, the holographic display lighting up as an image of the mobian hiding behind the counter was produced by the machine. Gus' face twisted into one of deep thinking, trying not to let on that he knew full well where the young girl could be found.
"No…Can't say that I have," answered Gus.
"I see…" said Robo Knuckles as he put away the projector. He then jumped into the air, swinging his left foot out and catching Gus in the side of his left arm. Gus cried out in pain as he was knocked to the bar floor. Robo Knuckles then jumped up onto the counter. "Foolish human. I know she's here some-" was all he said before he spotted the mobian hiding behind the counter. "There you are!" he shouted.
"Heads up mecha bot!" shouted Angel, catching Robo Knuckles attention as he turned to face her. Angel was halfway across the room, her sword drawn back to stab him through the chest. But Robo Knuckles was faster on the draw and brought up both sets of his dagger claws, catching the blade between them. "Run!" shouted Angel as she tried to keep his claws pinned with her sword. The aquatic mobian quickly scrambled over the counter and dashed out the door.
"No! You won't get away from me again!" shouted Robo Knuckles as he threw his arms up, knocking Angel's sword away from him. He then ran out the door after the girl, his engine already firing up as he exited the building. He then flew up into the air, catching the attention of the humans on the dirt road below where several stands were erected as the populace traded goods with villagers and travelers alike. "I have you now!" he shouted as he spotted the girl running south out of the small village. But before he could even begin to pursue her, something hard flew into his exhaust port, tearing the engine fan to pieces as he lost control of his flying. As he plummeted towards the ground, he saw Angel take off after the girl just before he slammed head first into a watermelon stand, the whole thing crashing down around him. The stand's owner, a middle-aged woman, came running over to the wreckage from one of the other stands, asking what had happened. Her answer came as the mecha bot slowly climbed out of the mess of wood and destroyed melons.
"That echidna will pay for this," he said angrily as he finished climbing out of the wreckage. Reaching back into his exhaust port, he pulled out the fist sized rock that Angel had thrown into the port. "Next time I see her, she's dead." He then turned towards the owner of the stand. "You, human. Is there somewhere I can find a new engine fan around here?" The stand's owner, a little shaken by the aggressive tone the robot had, started shaking her head, her voice a little shaky.
"No…no I'm sorry but there's no place like that here," she answered. She then pointed towards the west exit of the village. "However, the next village over has a repair shop for all kinds of vehicles. You might find what you're looking for there. It's about a two day walk from here." The crimson robot sighed to himself as he looked back in the direction the two females had fled.
"This hunt is not over yet…not by a long shot," he muttered to himself before he started walking off in the direction of the neighboring village.
"Hey! Slow down a little bit! I don't think he's chasing us anymore!" shouted Angel as she ran after the aquatic mobian. They had been running for about five minutes now, and Angel was convinced that if Robo Knuckles hadn't caught up to them by now that the mecha bot had decided not to take them on with a busted engine. For someone who looks more at home in the ocean than on land, she sure is quick on her feet, thought Angel, the girl finally coming to a stop as Angel ran up beside her.
"Are you sure he isn't? He's not the type to give up easily," said the mobian. Angel shook her head as she took a second to catch her breath. It was then Angel noticed that despite the amount of running she had done, the mobian didn't look the least bit winded. Of course she'd never seen a mobian like this girl before, so who was she to say the girl's stamina wasn't a lot greater than her own.
"Oh believe me I know. But I doubt he's willing to take me on without his engine in working order," said Angel.
"What happened to his engine?" she asked. Angel couldn't help but smile.
"Threw a good sized rock up his tail pipe. Probably broke the fan and damaged a few other things. Not sure how long it'll take him to fix himself," answered Angel.
"Oh dear…You shouldn't have done that," said the girl, her face turning somewhat sad. Angel's cocked an eyebrow at the statement.
"Why not? I couldn't just let him catch you," said Angel.
"And I appreciate the help, I really do. But now he'll see you as a target. My brother and I were his only concern, but now he'll be out to get you for interfering," she said. Angel sighed, looking back in the direction of the town.
"You're probably right. If he's anything like the Robo Knuckles I know, he'll be royally ticked off with me," said Angel. "But we can worry about that when the time comes. For now, we should keep moving."
"I agree. My brother should be around here somewhere. We should try and find him," said the girl as she started walking into a bunch of overgrowth.
"The name's Angel by the way," said Angel as she walked up beside the young girl.
"You can call me Mira," said the girl.
"So why is Robo Knuckles even after you and your brother? I've never known him to have a personal grudge against someone before," said Angel, though as she said this she realized that she only had her timeline's version of the deadly mecha bot to go off of. In this timeline, Robo Knuckles could just as easily be hunting people for sport instead of a good reason.
"I don't know," answered Mira. "He's always seemed to hate us. I worry that he won't stop till has destroyed both of us."
"Don't worry about it too much. With me at your side, he'll think twice about trying to hurt you guys," said Angel.
"Oh no, you can't put yourself in harm's way on account of us," said Mira, looking back at Angel with a worried look.
"I promise you I will not leave you or your brother's side till Robo Knuckles has been dealt with," said Angel. She then gave a soft chuckle. "Besides, like you said, I'm on his hit list now. No sense splitting up when there is strength in numbers."
"I guess that's true…" said Mira, looking sadly at the ground. "Still, I wish he would just let us go. I don't wish to see him destroyed if it comes to that." Angel got a quizzical look on her face at that statement.
"Why not?" asked Angel as they entered a clearing in the middle of the woods. The thick canopy of the forest trees shaded the small clearing quite well despite the bright sun up above. It was then that a voice called out from behind a boulder at the far side of the clearing.
"There you are," said the voice as a figure walked out from behind the rock. Angel felt her heart jump into her throat as the figure's red eyes glared back at the two girls. A pair of eyes that she would never forget. The person stood about as tall as Angel. Most of his head and midsection were a rich blue color, while his muzzle, arms, and legs were shiny silver with his feet being solid red with a white stripe going across the middle of each foot. However, his most dominating feature was the large engine in-take that was in his chest. "And I see you aren't alone," said Metal Sonic.
"Get back!" shouted Angel to Mira as she pushed the young girl behind her, knocking her to the ground. She then reached up and unsheathed her sword as she took a defensive stance. "I should've known you were also in on this, Metal Sonic." But the blue mecha bot made no move to attack. Rather, he stood there watching Angel with interest.
"An interesting person you've dragged back with you," was all Metal Sonic said. By now, Mira had gotten back to her feet.
"I never intended to bring her along, but she stopped mecha bot four from catching me and followed me out here," said Mira, looking away from Metal Sonic. Angel almost dropped her stance at what Mira had said as she turned to look back at the young girl.
"Why are you apologizing to this monster?" asked Angel. Then a thought passed through her mind. One she wished that hadn't, but after hearing what Mira had just said, the idea of it seemed the most plausible. But she wasn't going to accept that answer due to what it meant. But she didn't even have a chance to begin to dismiss the thought because of what Mira said next. Something that turned her stomach to ice.
"He's not a monster. He's my brother," said Mira.