"And that's what happened," said Angel softly, bowing her head as her eyes gazed off to the side, Comet standing on her opposite shoulder with a look of sadness on her face. Cody cradled Lily in his arms as Slasher tried to give him some form of comfort as she placed her hands on his shoulders. The robian seemed lost in his thoughts at the moment, his eyes just staring straight forward, unmoving. Tails was fighting back tears, finally having to turn away from the sight of his friend's lifeless body. Both Saber and Sonic stood off to the side, their faces both solemn as they listened to Angel's account of what had taken place.
"So…Is it finally over?" asked Saber, finally breaking the silence that had befallen the group.
"I think so," answered Sonic, taking the pendant with the violet Timestone set in it out of his backpack. "Whatever that creature was that saved me from Leviathan gave me this, which means that if that Robo Knuckles character has a Timestone on him as well, then all the stones are finally accounted for." He then put the pendant back into his pack, turning back towards the direction of the now destroyed forest. "However, I'm still going back to go make sure Leviathan is truly dead. The last thing I want to do is to just assume that blast killed him."
"That's a good idea," said Slasher as she looked over at Saber. "Why don't you go with him, just in case." Saber nodded, turning to follow after Sonic as he started walking towards where the turbolift was located.
"I'll go too," said Angel, taking a step forward before Slasher waved a clawed hand at her.
"No. It would be best if you stayed here for the moment," she said. Angel looked up at the raptor with a curious gaze.
"Why? What's the problem," asked the pink furred echidna. Slasher cocked her head back towards Saber and Sonic as the two of them rounded one of the street corners still being projected by the room's holographic displayers.
"If the faint scent on that pendant isn't my imagination, then it would be best if Saber is by himself for the moment," she answered. Angel glanced back towards where the two of them had disappeared for a second before giving a nod.
"Besides, we need to figure out what Leviathan did with Drake. He's the only one of us that isn't accounted for and I'll bet my two tails he's on this base somewhere being held captive like we were," said Tails.
"He isn't here," said Comet. All eyes turned towards the small violet chao. Even Cody's eyes finally moved from their frozen state to glance over at her.
"What do you mean 'he isn't here'?" asked Angel. Comet shied away from Angel, fluttering up into the air a few feet away from her.
"I apologize for not saying something sooner mistress, but I was asked not to say anything until this whole matter had been resolved," she said, looking away from group's gaze.
"Well, I'm pretty sure that's been taken care of from what Sonic described," said Tails. Silence fell over the group as Cody slowly stepped forward, coming face to face with Comet.
"If he isn't here, then where is he at?" asked Cody. His voice seemed distant, as if he wasn't really paying all that much attention to what was going on around him.
"You remember the mobian that brought me back to you in the forest?" asked Comet, looking down at Angel who nodded in response. "Drake is with him right now. The two of them told me that if we succeeded in our endeavor, he would return Drake not long afterwards."
"And if we had failed?" asked Slasher.
"If we had failed, then the two of them were going to attempt to finish what we started," she answered.
"I see," said Slasher, sighing slightly as she turned towards Cody. "Well, if that's the case, then I suppose we'll just have to trust this stranger at his word. Besides, if someone like Comet trusts this person, I do as well." Cody looked over at Slasher, his face still holding a passive kind of look to it.
"Then I suppose there's nothing else we can do but trust whoever this person is to bring him back to me," he said. He then turned back towards the direction of the turbolift that connected the current floor to the command center. "Come on, let's see if we can't find some mode of transportation off this rock."
"Man…I really don't see how anything could've survived this," said Sonic as he and Saber walked through the few charred remains of the once lush forest. What hadn't been incinerated to ashes was burned so bad that it was impossible to tell what the original shape of the object had been. In the center of the forest was a crater that stretched nearly a mile wide and was dozens of feet deep, the epicenter showing where both Leviathan and the armored raptor had been fighting one another.
"I know," said Saber as he gave a few sniffs of the air, realizing that had been a bad idea as it threw him into a coughing fit from the amount of ash and smoke still hanging in the air.
"You okay?" asked Sonic, jumping over a charred fallen tree. Saber nodded as he gave a louder cough, finally clearing the crud from his lungs.
"So you said that this creature that saved you was a raptor of some kind?" asked Saber as they finally came to the lip of the crater.
"I think it was. Why do you ask?" said Sonic as he hopped into the crater, sliding down to the bottom. Saber followed as best he could, but not without a sharp pain shooting down his back from where the black velocibot had body checked him into the brick wall of the holographic building. The two of them started walking towards the center of the crater, which from their viewpoint was still smoldering somewhat.
"Was it covered in violet armor by any chance?" asked the raptor. Sonic came to stop, looking back at Saber.
"Yeah, how'd you know?" he asked.
"So it was the same creature that attacked us in Robotropolis," he said softly, his eyes looking around frantically as if he was trying to pin down a million thoughts in his head all at once. "Can I please see that pendant again? The one that creature gave to you?"
"I guess," said Sonic, taking the pendant out of his pack and handing it to Saber. "Why? What's going on?" he asked. But Saber didn't reply as he held the pendant up to his nose, giving a small sniff. Immediately he began coughing again, unable to get a decent read of the pendant's scent. Sonic watched with both concern and interest as Saber brought the pendant up to his snout once more, giving another sniff. He had noticed a very faint scent earlier when Sonic had shown them the pendant, but at the time he had merely shrugged it off as being coincidence. Now, he was determined to know if he was imagining the scent of not. This time, the young raptor kept himself from coughing by sheer force of will, fighting back the burning in his lungs from the ash and smoke long enough to finally identify the faint scent that was on the pendant. He once again broke out into a coughing fit, but despite his lack of being able to breath he took off at a dead run towards the center of the crater. "Hey! What's wrong?" hollered Sonic as he took off after Saber.
It can't be true…I refuse to believe it's true! shouted Saber's mind as he ran towards the crater's center, his lungs crying out for him to stop and allow them a moment to recover from all of his coughing, but his heart driving me forward despite the discomfort. As he finally came upon the charred center of the crater, he skidded to a stop, barely keeping his balance as his injuries from his previous fight all but caused him to collapse from the pain, his breath coming in short gasps as he tried to recover from his bout of coughing while running. Saber gazed at smoldering remains of two metallic figures, each one bearing a shape that resembled a raptor. Sonic ran up beside him a split second later, looking upon the remains as well. One of the two was twice the size of the other one, its silver coloring sporting several areas of black and orange on what would've been the underbelly of the shape.
"I guess it's safe to say Levi definitely bit the big one from that explosion," said Sonic, looking up at Saber. But the young raptor's gaze wasn't on the molten remains of the mecha bot, but rather they were on the smaller figure's remains. Its rich violet coloring from its armor was intact just as Leviathan's was, but unlike the synthetic skin that the mecha bot had, the other raptor's living tissue had been completely disintegrated, leaving only a charred image burned into the crater in the shape of a raptor's head. Slowly, Saber lowered his head down to the remains and gave a small sniff. What hit his nose caused his eyes to start tearing up, though not from the burning sensation of the air. Rather, it was from the fact that the remains still carried a very faint trace of the scent he feared he would find on this creature. "What's wrong?" asked Sonic, seeing the raptor looked back up with his eyes watering.
"I should have known…I thought there was something familiar about this creature when I first laid my eyes on it back in Robotropolis. The scent was there, I should have known!" he cried, turning away from the remains.
"Known what? What's going on? Who is that?" asked Sonic, not understanding what Saber was talking about. The young raptor glanced over at Sonic, trying his best to keep himself calm.
"The scent on the pendant, the scent on the creature…They aren't new to me. In fact, I know that scent as well as I do my own," he said, finally turning back towards the smoldering violet metal slag. "Leviathan truly possessed a sick mind to be able to turn her into such a thing…" The truth finally hit Sonic as his eyes opened wide in comprehension, his gaze turning towards his savior's remains.
"You don't mean…That was…" asked Sonic, unable to bring himself to ask the question.
"Yes…That creature…was this world's Slasher," said Saber softly. He then looked away, unable to look upon the remains of this world's version of his best friend. "How could she become such a monster? She's the most pure person I've ever known." Sonic sighed, placing a hand on the raptor's shoulder.
"I can't answer how she came to be the creature you saw in Robotropolis, but I can tell you this," said Sonic, putting his other hand on Saber's snout to bring his eyes to face his own. "Whatever it was that Leviathan did to her, in the end it didn't matter. In the end, she overcame whatever it was that had kept her true self bound and hidden. She gave her life to save not only mine, but everyone else that lives in this alternate version of our world. In the end, she was a hero." Saber stood in stunned silence as Sonic's words sank in, his head turning back towards the alternate Slasher's remains. But what he saw now wasn't the violent, killing machine he had seen in Robotropolis. Instead, he saw his best friend's final sacrifice to save the planet. And with that, he closed his eyes and bowed his head in respect. He held the bow for a good ten seconds, Sonic doing so along side him out of respect as well. Saber finally looked up, turning back towards the direction of the base.
"We should get back," said Saber as he started walking back the way they had came.
"Yeah," said Sonic as he turned and followed after him. "They're gonna want to know Levi's down and out." As they reached the edge of the crater, Saber stopped and turned his head back towards Sonic, who also stopped.
"Thanks…for what you said back there," said Saber. Sonic smiled slightly.
"All I said was the truth, nothing more," said Sonic.
A mixture of emotions surrounded the air of Knothole later that day as news of what had transpired on Little Planet spread through the village. While everyone was overjoyed that the war was finally over, there was still a bitter taste to the victory from Lily's passing. Most were cooping with it by keeping themselves bottled up, while others reminisced about past times they had shared with the magenta furred hedgehog amongst themselves. Cody had retreated to his own little area up in a tree near the village's eastern entrance almost the instant the hover-unit they had used to return had touched down in the village. Since then he had been staring nonstop up at the sky, lost in his own thoughts. Sonic had intended on trying to coax him down till Angel advised him against it, saying it was best to leave him to his own thoughts. Sonic reluctantly agreed, knowing Angel would know more about what could be going through the robian's mind better than anyone.
Slasher and Saber were both getting checked over in the medical hut. Early word was that Saber would be fine after a good night's rest, but the same couldn't be said of Slasher who had two cracked ribs and a dislocated wing. It would take her at least a couple of weeks to be up to speed again. Still, she was at least happy she didn't have to be confined to a bed for that time period, having been given the okay to be up and about so long as she didn't do anything real strenuous to agitate the healing bones. As day turned into night, Sonic slowly walked up to the same tree that Cody had retreated to when they had gotten back. He gave a sigh as he looked up at his robian friend. It looked like he hadn't moved an inch since earlier that afternoon. As much as Sonic hated being the one to deliver the message to him, he knew he was the best one to give him the news.
"Hey Cody!" he called up to the metallic hedgehog, getting no response from him. He hollered up at Cody again, louder this time. A scowl crossed Sonic's brow as he still got no reaction from the robian. Fine, you want to play hardball, thought Sonic as he picked up a small stone from the ground, hurling it at Cody. Without even turning his head, Cody's hand shot out and snagged the stone just before it hit his head. With an annoyed groan, he glanced down at Sonic.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I thought you'd like to know that they're about to cremate Lily in the middle of the village. All the villagers are gathering to pay their last respects," answered Sonic. Cody continued to stare down at Sonic for several seconds, his yellow glowing eyes casting an eerie glow back at the blue hedgehog. Sonic then heard Cody give a long sigh before slowly getting to his feet on the branch he had been sitting on. He then jumped down, using his thrusters to softly land next to Sonic. Sonic could tell just by looking at him that the last several hours had not been good to him in the least. The normally upbeat robian looked as though someone had taken him and thrown him in a dryer on spin cycle. His head was hanging low, his shoulders were slumped. Even his normally bright eyes seemed somewhat dimmer than normal. Sonic placed a hand on Cody's shoulder, drawing his gaze up to his own. "Hey…You gonna be alright?" Cody didn't say anything for a couple seconds, but then gave a soft smile as he brushed Sonic's hand away.
"Yeah…I'll be fine," he said as he started walking towards the center of the village, Sonic tagging along beside him. "I just…I never even considered what I would feel like if I lost her."
"You do realize that she's a different Lily than the one who you know, right?" asked Sonic. Cody shook his head softly as they continued walking.
"That's just it. I've been trying to tell myself that very thing since we got back to Knothole. But…I don't know…" he said, stuttering to find the right words. He stopped and looked back at Sonic. "I still feel like I lost a part of myself when I saw her laying there lifeless on that holographic street." Sonic nodded slightly, remembering his own thoughts that had gone through his mind when he had discovered that this world's Sally had long been dead.
"Trust me, I know how you feel," said Sonic. "Still, we must press on. If we don't, then her sacrifice will be for nothing." Cody slowly nodded, facing forward again as the two continued walking the rest of the way in silence. As they came upon the pyre that had been erected in the center of the village, both of them were a little awestruck by just how many of the villagers had shown up to pay their last respects. Sonic could see both Saber and Slasher watching from the far side of the crowd, glad that the two of them had been able to watch. Even Angel was watching from a spot up in a nearby tree, Comet sitting on the branch next to her. Sam the badger stood next to the pyre, dressed in a white robe. Tails stood next to him, dressed similarly while holding a lit torch. As the last of the villagers finally settled in, Sam motioned towards the pyre. In the center lay Lily, her body clothed in the best silks and threads that the villagers had to spare. A small gesture from those that knew they could never repay the female hedgehog for her actions that helped put an end to the war at long last.
"Dearest friends," said Sam as he turned his attention to the crowd. "Today, we honor and pay our final respects to Lily Griffor. A courageous woman who, by her own sheer will, held our village together during the worst of times." At this, he turned and looked at pyre. "She was a great friend to everyone here, some more so than others. She was a great leader to all of us as well. Never once did she falter when things looked to be beyond hope." Several murmurs of agreement could be heard from the crowd. "And even in the hour of our greatest despair, she laid down her life to spare another's. A person who she had only met days before. It takes a person of true character…to make such a sacrifice." As Sam finished speaking, Sonic noticed out of the corner of his eye Angel stand up and jump down out of the tree she was in, Comet following her. He was a little surprised Angel would leave in the middle of such an event, but he shrugged it off as he returned his attention to Sam.
"And so, we wish you a safe passage so that your soul may join once again with those of past friends and family and that you may find eternal happiness in the afterlife," said Sam. With that, he nodded towards Tails, who then lit the pyre with the torch, the wooden structure going up in flames quite quickly. The entire crowd bowed their heads as the flames engulfed Lily's body, Cody turning his head away slightly, unable to watch. After almost a minute, Sam raised his head again, as did the rest of the crowd. "Thank you all for your kindness and support. May her spirit live on in our hearts for years to come." Everyone gathered let out a word or two of agreement before they started to disperse. Sonic turned to look at Cody, who was trying his best to hold himself in check.
"You sure you're gonna be okay?" asked Sonic. Cody just shook his head.
"I'll be honest…I'm not really sure," answered Cody. Sonic thought about staying to help comfort the robian in his time of need, but something was nagging at the back of his mind. Why did Angel leave like that? He looked up and motioned for Slasher and Saber to come over to them. The two raptors waded their way through the crowd to the two hedgehogs.
"What's up?" asked Saber, noticing the slowly growing worried look on Sonic's face.
"I'm not sure. Can you tell me which direction Angel's in? I think something might be wrong," asked Sonic. Slasher gave the air a couple of sniffs as Cody gave him a confused look.
"What do you mean?" asked Cody. Sonic just shook his head.
"I'm not sure. Call it a hunch," he answered. Slasher looked up, pointing with a clawed hand towards the west side of the village.
"She's in that direction," said Slasher. A look of dread suddenly crossed over Sonic's face.
"What is it? What's wrong!?" asked Cody. Sonic didn't even answer as he shot from his spot, scaring all of the villagers as a sonic boom sounded in his wake. Please don't be doing what I think you're doing Angel! screamed Sonic's mind as he raced towards Tails' hut. As the small hut came into view, a flash of white light burst forth from structure. Aw crud! And with that, Sonic sped up even more, arriving at the hut just in time to be swallowed by the light.
"Are you sure this is the right thing to do mistress?" asked Comet as she hovered above the six Timestones that had been set out on the floor of the hut in a perfect circle. Angel stood in the middle of the circle, holding the indigo stone. It hadn't taken her long to set up the stones, considering that they had all been kept in this very hut. Her face carried with it the look of guilt and sadness. Still, as she stood there holding the glowing blue stone, she knew that Comet's question had been a valid one. Was this really the right thing to do? Angel wasn't sure it was, but she also knew that she had to at least try. Not to mention the fact that she now had the death of another on her conscious. Lily shouldn't have saved her. Angel knew she was nothing more than a lost thought to this world. The last of a dead race of mobians that for all intensive purposes should've died out ten years ago. But Lily had been someone important to hundreds of people, a person with great meaning. And now, because of her, Lily was dead.
"Maybe it's not, but I still have to try," said Angel, gripping the stone even tighter. Comet nodded softly, landing on Angel's shoulder before wrapping her stubby arms around the echidna's neck.
"Please be careful," she whispered. Angel raised a hand up to the small violet chao, placing it on her head and giving her a small hug back.
"I promise I will," she said. Comet broke the embrace, flying towards the window. She came to a stop for brief second for what might be the last look she got of her best friend before she turned and flew out the window, up away from the hut. Angel watched her depart before she turned her attention to the seven stones glowing softly at her feet and in her hands. She closed her eyes tightly, her mind formulating a date in her head. Slowly she began to repeat that date in her mind, a place and exact time beginning to form and then repeat alongside the date. Slowly, the six Timestones that were on the floor began to rise up, their glow beginning to grow by the second as Angel tapped into their power. As she repeated the full date, location, and time a fifth time in her mind, the stones all flashed a bright white, their light enshrouding the female echidna. Just before her mind blanked out, she could have sworn she heard a crack of thunder in the distance. Then, everything went black.