A loud splash sounded from the Power Ring pool as Sonic tossed yet another rock into its murky depths. He had lost count of how many rocks he had thrown now. All he knew was that he had probably picked up every decent sized rock in a five mile radius of Knothole and had thrown nearly all of them into the lake. He sighed as he looked up at the twin moons above. Tomorrow was the day that they would head back to the past to stop Leviathan. Tails had managed to extract the date, time, and location of Leviathan's attack on his and Sally's past self from the main computer in Leviathan's base on Little Planet, giving them exactly what they needed to know to stop the mecha bot from changing the timeline. Still, something nagged at the back of the hedgehog's mind that he couldn't quite put his finger on.
"Penny for your thoughts?" asked a voice from behind him. Sonic turned to see Tails looking down at him. "Need some company?" Sonic stared up at the twin-tailed fox for a couple of seconds before sighing and motioning for him to sit. "Are you okay? Is something bugging you?"
"I don't know little bro," he said as he tossed another rock into the pool. "There's just something about this plan we came up with that's been nagging me, but I don't know what it could be. I mean, we know when, we know where, and we know how he'll strike at us in the past. It should be a slam dunk to stop him, especially since he'll be a lot less powerful than he was when we took him out here."
"Well, to be honest, there's something that's been bugging me as well, though it has nothing to do with Leviathan," said Tails, looking away nervously. Sonic noticed the nervousness that his friend was giving off, wondering what it was that could have him so worked up like this.
"Hey. What's wrong big guy?" he asked. Tails just shook his head softly.
"It's just that…well…with Lily being gone, and you and everyone else leaving tomorrow I…I'm gonna be the one that everyone is gonna look to for leadership," he answered softly, looking down at the ground.
"But why is that so bad?" asked Sonic. Tails looked up at him, tears beginning to well up in his eyes.
"But I can't lead this village! I don't know how!" he nearly shouted, his gaze shooting up to look into Sonic's eyes. Sonic then gave him a frown before giving a soft sigh.
"Tails…I don't think you realize just how much you do know about leading people," he said. "You may not see it, but I do. You've grown into a fine young mobian. And if you look around, everyone in this village looks up to you. You might not realize it, but you are one of the strongest foundations Knothole has."
"But I still don't know how to lead people. I might be a good foundation, but that doesn't make me a good leader," said Tails.
"Maybe not, but it's definitely one of the most important aspects. And if you look around, you've been doing very well when you've taken the bull by the horns," said Sonic. He then nodded up towards the community area. "Cody told me what you did in Leviathan's base. If that doesn't show you that you can be the leader these people need, I don't know what will."
"But-" started Tails before he was stopped by a gloved hand getting thrown into his face by Sonic.
"No 'buts' Miles," said Sonic sternly. Tails looked over at Sonic in shock after hearing the cerulean hedgehog call him by his birth name. He never did that unless he was extremely serious about getting a point across to the young fox. Tails then softened his expression, giving a slight nod.
"Thanks Sonic," he said. Sonic merely smiled before reaching over and ruffling up Tails' head fur.
"No problem buddy," said Sonic. The two of them returned their gaze out over the crystal-like surface of the ring pool. "Well, I think we'd better both turn in for-" suddenly Sonic was cut off as something whizzed by only twenty or so yards above them heading in the direction of Knothole, the two mobians throwing themselves to the ground.
"What the heck was that?" asked Tails as he slowly got back up. Sonic frowned before grabbing Tails by the arm.
"I don't know, but we're gonna find out," he said before he shot from his spot, racing back into the village. As he came upon the center of the residential areas, he could make out a hover-bike slowly descending to the ground, kicking up dirt and leaves from its exhaust. By now, half of the villagers were out of their homes and were gathering around to see what the commotion was about. As the bike came to rest on the ground and its engine was cut, Sonic couldn't help but give a small smirk.
"What's going on?" asked Cody as he ran up alongside Sonic and Tails.
"Nothing," said Sonic as he watched the familiar figure dismount the hover-bike. "Just an old friend that came to visit." The figure then walked up next to Sonic, staring him in his emerald eyes with their own as a much smaller figure landed on the first one's shoulder. A second small figure flew off the bike and towards Cody, causing the robian to smile when he saw who it was.
"Hello Sonic. Mind if a few more people join your little band of time travelers tomorrow?" asked the figure as she smiled at Sonic.
"What can I say?" said Sonic as he stuck out his hand, the figure grasping it as the two shook hands. "We'd be honored to have you fight by our side one last time, Angel Starfire."
A lone figure sat on a single limb against the trunk of one of the Great Forest's giant trees, gazing up at the starlit sky above as the twin moons' glow cascaded across the treetop canopy. The rest of Knothole had already turned in for the night several hours ago. A sigh escaped Angel's lips as she pulled her legs up to her chest, curling her arms over her knees. Despite the enthusiasm that she had displayed when she had first come back to Knothole, her mind couldn't let go of the seriousness of the decision she was making.
One on hand, she knew that she had to help out Sonic and the others in any way she could. But on the other hand, going with them would mean that she would never be able to return to her own timeline ever again. If they defeated Leviathan in the past, then Sonic's timeline would become the prominent one, leaving hers out of reach forever, even to the Timestones' power. And if Leviathan won, then none of them would live to see this version of Mobius even play out.
But that wasn't the only thing that was gnawing at her mind at the moment. Sonic and the other time travelers had decided not long after she had arrived to go over their final plans for their counterattack against Leviathan in the past before he changed history. Tails had been certain that the information was completely reliable, pulled directly from the mainframe computer in Leviathan's base on Little Planet. But still, after seeing the layout of the map of the Great Forest and seeing where Leviathan had stationed himself for his attack on the younger Sonic and Sally, something about it seemed off to her, though she couldn't put her finger on it.
"Mistress, you really shouldn't be up this late, especially with such an important event that the coming day will bring with it," said the voice of Comet, the echidna's head and gaze looking up to see the violet chao sitting on a smaller branch above her.
"I couldn't sleep," said Angel softly. Comet only nodded to herself in response to Angel's statement. She had learned long ago not to ask too many questions when the echidna was deep in thought about something. As Angel continued to stare at the night sky while trying to get the nagging feeling about the layout of that map out of her mind, a frown suddenly worked its way across her face. The frown quickly deepened, and then just as suddenly reversed itself into one of realization as she suddenly realized why that map layout had bugged her so much. She quickly got back to her feet on the large, sturdy limb, turning around to look up at Comet who had heard her mistress practically scramble to her feet.
"What's wrong mistress?" asked Comet, curious to know what had caused the echidna to suddenly bolt upright like she had. Angel glanced away from Comet slightly, a little afraid to divulge what she had just thought of, but at the same time knowing she had to tell the little chao.
"Comet, can you promise me something?" she asked, regretting that she once again had to put another heavy burden on her best friend's shoulders. Comet could see that Angel had struggled a little to ask her this question, but she also knew that her mistress would never ask her to keep a promise unless she had a very good reason. The little chao simply gave a nod of her head to signify that she would follow any request that was given to her.
"So…I guess this is it, isn't it?" asked Tails as he gazed into the eyes of his best friend for the last time, wanting to beg him not to leave him again and yet knowing he couldn't.
"Yeah…I guess so," said Sonic as his right hand grasped the indigo Timestone a little tighter. Behind him, the other six members of his group of time travelers were each holding one of the remaining stones. A rather large crowd had come to see them on their way, but only Tails had come forward to say anything. The poor fox's eyes were fighting back tears. "Listen Tails," he said, placing his free hand on the fox's shoulder. "I just want you to know, that no matter what happens…I'm proud of you."
"I know," whispered Tails, moving forward and embracing Sonic in a hug, which the blue hedgehog gladly returned. After a few seconds, Tails released him. "Thank you for everything you have done, all of you," he said, looking from Sonic to all the members of his group. Various replies answered his praise. He then reached down and picked up the backpack sitting at his feet, handing it to Sonic.
"You sure you don't need this thing?" asked Sonic, pulling out the village's last Power Ring from within it.
"Even if we did, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I knew that we didn't give you guys all the help you could get for this fight," said Tails with a small smile, which Sonic returned.
"Thanks pal," said Sonic as he put the ring back into the pack and swung it over his shoulders. "I'll make sure to use it wisely." He then looked back towards the six others standing behind him. Each one regarded him with a seriousness that he had rarely seen anyone display before. Slasher and Saber were both tense, though they were trying their best to keep themselves calm. Cody stood as still as a statue, letting no real emotion show through his robotic features as Drake stood on his shoulder. But as his gaze turned towards Angel and Comet, their faces held a little different look to them than the rest.
Sure, they were still deeply serious about the coming battle, but he noticed that Angel was fiddling with her far left dreadlock again. Something that he had learned from watching her mannerisms that tipped him off that something was making her nervous for some reason. He looked at her face for a few extra seconds before brushing it off as just her being nervous about fighting against Leviathan. After all, the beast had trained her for four years. She was probably well aware of what he was capable of.
"You know, I don't say something like this very often," said Sonic as he turned back to face the six other time travelers. "But I just want you all to know that it has been an honor and a privilege to fight by your side these last few weeks." He noticed that both raptors gave each other a sideways glance, while Cody merely cocked an eyebrow at Sonic's comment. Both Angel and Comet didn't respond visibly that he could tell.
"What's with the sudden dramatic statement?" asked Cody, folding his arms across his chest. "You make it sound like we're about to undertake some kind of suicide mission or something." Sonic gave a small sigh before turning his gaze away from the group a little bit.
"There's a fair chance that it might just become that," said Sonic solemnly. He then looked over at Angel as she continued to fiddle with her dreadlock. He then walked up to her, catching her attention as he placed his hands on her shoulders. "Listen…If you still want to back out, now's the time. None of us will think any less of you if you wish to stay here. This is, after all, your world. You've already done more than any of us could have hoped to ask for." Angel hesitated slightly at Sonic's words, but then shook her head.
"No. I realize I will never see my home again, but I made a promise to you that I would stick by your side till this whole ordeal was over. And until Leviathan is stopped in the past, it isn't over," she said softly, but confidently. Sonic gave her a smile and a nod, turning back towards Tails and the crowd.
"Well everyone, it's been a real blast," he said loud enough for everyone that had gathered to hear him. He then turned back to the group of six, holding up the blue Timestone. "Now then, we all remember where and when, right?" Everyone gave a nod before they each closed their eyes, grasping onto their individual Timestones with both of their hands as they began to concentrate on the time and place they wished to be transported to. The glow from the Timestones slowly began to increase, bathing the group in their light as energy crackled around them. Suddenly, all of the Timestones flashed a brilliant blast of white light, blinding Tails and the rest of the crowd. But as quickly as the light had burst forth, it just as quickly receded, leaving in its place nothing more than thin air.
"So, do you think they'll win?" asked Sam as he walked up next to Tails. The double tailed fox shook his head slowly.
"I wish I could tell you, Sam," he said softly. He then smiled as he looked at the spot that Sonic had been standing in before the group had been teleported to the past. "But if there's anyone that can beat Leviathan, it's Sonic."
Sonic groaned as he slowly opened his eyes, squinting them as they tried to adjust to the light of the setting sun. Around him, he heard several other groans and moans coming from five other sources as his friends also regained consciousness. Suddenly remembering where they were supposed to be, Sonic's eyes fully opened as he flipped onto his feet, almost falling back to the ground as his body tried to stabilize its sense of balance. If they truly were near Leviathan's location, then they had to get their act together before he noticed them. Otherwise he would either escape or be on top of them before they knew it. But a quick look around gave no indications that the mecha bot had discovered their presence yet. The only thing that greeted them was the green and lush landscape of the Great Forest.
"So are we in the right place and time?" asked Cody as he finally got to his own feet, holding a hand up to his still spinning head.
"I'm not sure," said Sonic as he continued looking around for any sign of Leviathan. Both of the raptors were cautiously sniffing the air, cocking their heads side to side as they listened intently to the sounds of the forest for anything out of place. The two chao both stood at Cody's feet, neither of them making a sound for fear of distracting the two dinosaurs.
"He's not here," said Slasher finally, looking back at Sonic. "I'm not picking up his scent at all."
"That's just great…" sighed Cody as he relaxed his tense posture. "So Leviathan did falsify his records after all. Well so much for Angel being right about Leviathan never lying about anything." Sonic merely nodded his head in agreement before he suddenly froze. He then looked around frantically before taking off in a gust of wind as he dashed all around the immediate area before coming to a stop back in the middle of the group.
"Where the heck is Angel anyways?" he exclaimed. "She should've been right here with us."
"She's here somewhere," said Saber as he looked towards the direction the wind was blowing from. "Her scent was faintly on the wind."
"But why would she go somewhere else? I mean if Leviathan was right here like we thought he'd be, then we would've needed her," said Sonic. It was then he noticed that Comet was looking down at the ground, away from the gaze of the rest of the group. "You know what's going on, don't you?" he asked the small violet chao. Comet merely cringed at Sonic's question.
"I'm sorry…I can't tell you," she said softly.
"What do you mean you can't tell us?" asked Cody angrily.
"Back off, Cody!" said Sonic, putting the robian back in his place for yelling at the little chao. He then walked up next to Comet, leaning down and putting a hand on her head.
"You promised her that you wouldn't tell us, didn't you?" he asked. Comet slowly nodded her head, tears starting to fall from her eyes. Sonic cupped her chin with the hand he had placed on her head, drawing her gaze up at him.
"She…she didn't want anyone else to get hurt," said Comet, her lip quivering as she tried to fight back the tears. "She made me promise…she made me promise not to tell!" Sonic's eyes lit up with worry as he realized what was truly going on.
"I'm going on ahead," said Sonic as he picked up Comet and placed her inside of his backpack.
"What's going on?" asked Slasher.
"I'm not sure, but if my guess is correct then I can't have you guys slowing me down any," said Sonic as he looked to the sky to get his bearings by where the sun was currently at.
"Drake, may I please borrow your Chaos Emerald?" asked Comet as she glanced down at the dragon chao.
"Sure," said Drake as he slipped the chain that he kept the indigo emerald attached to over his head, flying up and handing it to her as she put it in the bag.
"Okay. Got it," said Sonic as he finally figured out which way he was facing. He looked back at Comet. "Fill me in on the way there." He looked back at the group of four behind him "And you guys catch up as soon as you possibly can." And with that he took off with a sonic boom as he headed towards the other end of the forest.
"Look out Sonic!" shouted a ten-year old Sally Acorn as fifty yards in front of her a ten-year old Sonic the Hedgehog playfully dodged another laser bolt from a pursuing hover-unit. The young hedgehog was laughing his head off he was having such a blast messing around with Robotropolis' security patrols. As he dodged another laser bolt, he quickly shot forward and scooped the young princess up in his arms as he headed for the exit of the city.
"Oh man!" laughed the little hedgehog as he easily outran the much slower hover-units that were chasing after them. "You ever wonder if Robotnik takes me too lightly, Sal?"
"You're the one that takes things too lightly, Sonic Hedgehog," said Sally as the two of them exited the city, coming to a stop after about a mile out into the Great Meadow to see their handiwork. A billowing pillar of smoke was rising near the eastern side of the city, testament to their successful hit and run attack on the main Swatbot production factory. With the damage that they had caused, it would be weeks before the factory would be operational again.
"Once again, I rule and ol' Buttnik drools," said Sonic as he watched the smoke cloud. Sally just groaned.
"Can we just go home now?" she asked him, ready to put the trials of today's mission out of her mind.
"Yeah. Sounds like a good idea," said Sonic as he picked up Sally again in his arms. "Hold on tight Sal! Juice time!" he said as he shot towards the Great Forest, unbeknownst of the danger that was waiting for them within the edge of the forest.
The rather loud explosion emitting from within the confines of Robotropolis had given Leviathan the heads up he had needed to know that his prey would very soon be passing by. The robotic raptor continued to remain crouched on a large boulder overlooking the pathway that the young Sonic and Sally would be using any moment. He stood as still as a statue, his eyes locked on the Great Meadow where he could see a small cloud of dust being kicked up by the high speed hedgehog as he exited the city. For the first time that the mecha bot could remember, he was actually feeling giddy at the prospect of what was about to take place. The dust cloud had began anew, signaling to Leviathan that the time was nigh upon him. All of his sensors, all of his AI matrix's processing power was now devoted on the singular task at hand as the dust cloud reached the edge of the forest and Leviathan could make out in great detail the faces of both Sonic and Sally. But as the great mecha bot began to push off the rock with his full might to attack, something slammed hard into the side of his midsection, throwing him from the boulder and to the forest floor in a heap. The sudden clanging of Leviathan falling off the rock was enough of a racket to cause the young hedgehog to come to a stop, letting Sally back onto her feet.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"Up there!" shouted Sally as she pointed to an object up in the air, suspended by a rope attached to one of the giant limbs of a nearby tree. The object then let go of the rope, doing a double back flip before landing right in front of the two kids, revealing it to be a female mobian with pink fur dressed in a green tank top and shorts with matching green boots. The girl then reached her right hand back, grasping the hilt of her double edged long sword and pulling it free from its scabbard.
"Whoa! Now that was definitely way past cool!" said the young Sonic as he gazed in awe at the newcomer.
"Who are you?" asked Sally.
"Doesn't matter," said the mobian. "Now get out of here, both of you!"
"Why? What's going on?" asked Sonic as he scratched his head.
"I don't have time to explain! Just take the princess and get back to Knothole! Now!" she practically yelled at them. Sally nodded before turning to Sonic.
"We'd better listen. Something is going on and I don't think we want to be a part of it," she said. Sonic looked crestfallen at her decision, but nodded as he reached into his backpack.
"Get a grip Sal," he said as Sally wrapped her arms around his chest, Sonic pulling a Power Ring from within the backpack. A golden glow surrounded his body as he drew in the ring's power. "We're bailing warp seven!" He then shot from his spot, setting off a sonic boom as Sally's terrified cries could barely be heard in the background of the boom. Angel watched them out of the corner of her eyes before a bellowing screech burst forth from the jaws of Leviathan as he finally got back to his feet, seeing the final bits of the dust cloud left over by Sonic's departure fade into the wind. He then turned his gaze towards the pink echidna girl, his teeth clenched together in an anger he had never felt before.
"You…Do you have any idea what you've done!? It took me weeks to plan that attack!" he shouted at her. But when the girl did nothing more than merely scoff at him, he recoiled a bit in surprise. It was a strange sight to him to see someone stand before him, especially with the kind of rage he was in, and not so much as have a spark of fear show. His anger having now turned to curiosity, he regarded her with a much more level headed voice. "Who are you?"
"Doesn't really matter does it?" she asked him as she gripped her sword's hilt a little tighter. He glared back at the raptor for a few seconds before her mouth curved into a smirk. "Let's just say I'm someone you're gonna wish you never met." At this, Leviathan merely smirked as well. Now that he had been allowed a few moments to process what was going on in front of him, he realized what was going on. And the more he thought about it, the quicker his smirk turned into a smile, then into a slight chuckling that then broke into laughter. "And this is funny to you why?"
"Oh my little girl. Forgive my amusement, but knowing now that I was foolish enough to allow someone such as yourself to gather all the Timestones at some point in the future is actually somewhat laughable to me," he said. At this, Angel's own smirk quickly faded into a frown.
"Laughable?" she asked him. "I found nothing laughable about the horrific world you created, nor do I find anything laughable about all the pain and misery you caused to so many people just to satisfy your own twisted little agendas." She then took a proper offensive stance, clutching the hilt of her sword tight enough now that white was showing through the fur on her knuckles. "Leviathan! For every man, woman, and child you have ever harmed…I will strike you down once and for all!" At this challenge, Leviathan's own smirk vanished as he took his own stance.
"Very well. If you are so eager to end your life by my hands, then so be it," he growled. Angel then took off from her spot, running straight at the powerful mecha bot, leaping high into the air as the setting sun in the distance cast her shadow over Leviathan's frame. Bring her sword back, she then swung with all her might down at the beast's head, only to have Leviathan block it with both his arms. The final gauntlet had been thrown.