"Hey guys! I'm back!" called Cody's voice the next day just before he entered the community hut where Sonic, Knuckles, Sally, and Tails were seated at one of the tables, Nicole displaying a silhouette of some reptilian creature with her hologram projector. Everyone looked over to see that Cody was not alone as his wife Lily, a beautiful magenta-furred hedgehog with sky blue eyes and long brown hair that flowed down to about the middle of her back, walked in behind him. She was wearing a light blue tank top with cut off denim shorts which was more or less her usual wardrobe. But what caught their attention was the thing in her arms. A small blue creature with an onion-shaped head and blobs for arms and legs looked over at Cody questioningly, then looked back at Sonic and the others. "It's okay. They're friends," said Cody, reassuring the small creature.
"What is that thing?" asked Sonic as everyone gathered around to get a good look at the creature.
"It's called a chao. I got this little one while I was in Emerald City. I was there to get a garden raised one, but the lady that was running the egg hatching area suggested I take this little guy's egg since it was about to hatch. So I bought it," said Cody. The little chao stared up at Cody, then gave a small squeak before snuggling against Lily's body.
"The little guy just hatched yesterday, so he's still very young. It'll take at least four months before he's fully grown. Then he'll be able to talk in words instead of squeaks," said Lily as she looked down at the tiny creature with a smile.
"He's really squishy feeling," said Tails as he touched the chao on the chest. The chao giggled slightly at Tails' touch. He then yawned and closed his eyes, falling asleep instantly in Lily's arms.
"He'll get more firm as he grows. But there was something that really caught my attention in the raising manual I got along with him. Apparently, as chao grow during their baby stage, they'll take on certain characteristics according to how their egg was hatched. This chao's egg was hatched by heating it in a greenhouse with a total sunroof, so he's considered to be a heat-type chao," said Cody, trying to keep his voice down.
"What kind of characteristics will he take on?" asked Sally softly. Cody motioned to Lily, who walked to the other side of the room so that the others could talk without fear of waking him up.
"I'm not sure. But the manual says that after a chao reaches its adult stage of life, the only things that will drastically change them are the Chaos Emeralds. It says that even a single emerald will cause a significant change in their appearance and abilities," said Cody.
"Hey Knux, why would the Chaos Emeralds change a creature like that?" asked Sonic, puzzled as to how the emeralds could change such a small creature like a chao.
"I'm not sure," admitted Knuckles.
"Who knows," said Tails as he shrugged his shoulders. "Anything else we should know about the little guy?" Cody opened the manual and skimmed through the rest of it.
"Well, not really. Just some eating habits and some other small facts about chao that the manual talks about," said Cody as he read the last page of the manual. He then looked over at where Lily was holding the sleeping chao. "Another thing about the chao is that they imprint the first person they see in their minds. He saw me first right after he hatched on the way home, so he sees me as sort of a parent figure. But taking care of him will give me something to do during the winter months."
"Well, congratulations Cody. I'll have to find you a cigar and start calling you dad from now on," joked Sonic.
"Only if I get to call you Sonie," said Cody in an evil voice. Sonic shuddered at the thought of always going by that name.
"I'll pass, thank you," said Sonic. Everyone had a good laugh as they gathered back around the table where Nicole was still displaying the picture of a reptile on her projector. The creature walked on all fours, thick spikes jutting from the tip of its tail to the creature's forehead.
"So what exactly are you guys looking up anyway?" asked Cody, indicating the hologram with his head. Sonic and Knuckles gave each other a glance before Sonic answered him.
"Yesterday, we ran a mission to Robotropolis to get some microchips. But right after we found them, something attacked and then chased Knux and me from the building. We didn't get a good look at the thing, but we saw his shape, as well as a pair of eerie yellow eyes, like those of a cat," said Sonic.
"Whoa. Sounds like this thing gave you two quite a scare. Do you think it was a new mecha bot?" asked Cody, concerned that Robotnik might have replaced Metal Sonic with a new robot.
"Couldn't have been. It breathed on us," said Knuckles, shuddering as he recalled the feeling of the hot breath on his neck.
"Breathed on you? Do you think it was a mobian?" asked Cody, confused. Sonic shook his head.
"Doubtful. I don't know of any reptilian mobian that is that big...at least not a normal one," said Sonic.
"We've been running searches on all current reptile life forms that are known to exist on Mobius, but so far we've come up empty," said Sally as she took Nicole off the table. "Do you have any ideas?" Cody lowered his head in thought, his pupils going out as if he had closed his eyes. About a minute later, they flashed back on and he raised his head.
"Do you think it might be something from Earth?" asked Cody.
"I never thought of that. Humans did import a ton of animals from Earth when they settled here originally. That might be the answer," said Sally. "Nicole, run search for Earth based reptiles of indicated size and shape." Nicole beeped a few times before she projected an image on the table.
"That's it!" cried Sonic, instantly recognizing the silhouette as the shape of the creature they had seen in the shadows. "What is it?" Nicole, responding to Sonic's question, began to beep as she read the information on her hard drive.
"Species, dinosaur. Sub-species, Velociraptor. A carnivorous reptile that existed during the prehistoric years of Earth's existence. An exceptionally gifted predator, raptors were known for hunting in packs. Known for their ability to run up to speeds of 70 miles per hour out in the open; they are considered by many people to be the fastest creature of its time. A Velociraptor's main form of attack and defense is a six-inch curved claw on each hind leg, capable of cutting deep wounds in prey and enemies. No other information available," said Nicole.
"How can that be what you guys saw?" asked Cody in confusion. "Nicole said that they existed back in the prehistoric era of Earth, and I know I've read that all the dinosaurs perished in some way over sixty-five million years ago in books that originated from Earth."
"Maybe Earth's information is off. Perhaps some of the dinosaurs somehow made it to Mobius before the others died," suggested Tails.
"I doubt that," said Sally as she closed Nicole, the hologram disappearing. "Dinosaurs living on Mobius for millions of years without anyone knowing about it would be highly unlikely."
"But not impossible," said Knuckles. "I mean, Floating Island isn't exactly the most normal thing out there. Same goes for all the emeralds."
"But the likelihood of a raptor showing itself after all this time is even less than that of getting struck by lightning several times on the same day," said Cody.
"I know what I saw, and what I saw was one of those raptors. Nothing else could have cut such big gashes in Swatbot armor," said Sonic, raising his voice enough to cause the sleeping chao to wake up crying. Cody gave Sonic a stern look before standing and taking the chao back from his wife. He then glanced back at Sonic with a hint of annoyance before walking out of the hut, trying to soothe the chao's crying.
"Even I believe the chances of a raptor being what attacked us are greater than anything else I can think of," said Knuckles as he watched Cody leave. He then returned his attention to the group. "But I agree with Sonic. Whatever it was that attacked us was either a living velociraptor or a very realistic hoax made by Robotnik to frighten us. Whatever the case may be, we had better be ready for either of the possibilities."
Two days later in the early morning, an exhausted and famished Saber walked into the main cave system that honeycombed the Veloci Valley's mountain range. After walking for about five minutes, he came into one of the main chambers of the cave system, in which probably a dozen huts that looked similar to the ones in Knothole Village were strung about. Several raptors that were going about their daily business stopped what they were doing to look at Saber, who hung his head at the scornful glances many of them were giving him. But the full guilt didn't hit him until he walked into his own hut, only to find Slasher waiting for him. And Saber instantly saw that she wasn't happy at all.
"So…You came back," said Slasher, not even bothering to hide her anger like she usually did. Saber's head lowered even more, if that was even possible at this point, and merely gave a slight nod. "You really screwed up this time." Saber flinched at the stab Slasher had just given him. He knew that she only said those kinds of things when she was at the peak of her anger with someone.
"I'm sorry…," said Saber. He turned sideways for a couple of seconds, trying to decide to leave or to stay. Figuring the latter would be the better in this situation, he turned back towards Slasher, his head still lowered. "I know I messed up. I messed up more than I ever have. I thought I could do the next stage of my training without help, but I couldn't. You were right. I'm not ready for advanced training yet. I don't even deserve to be trained by you." Slasher, taking in what Saber had just said, studied his face for several agonizing seconds before walking over to him and raising his head with her hand.
"You are forgiven," said Slasher. Saber looked at Slasher, totally confused as to why she would do that.
"Why?" he asked. "I don't deserve to be forgiven."
"But you do," said Slasher. "You admitted that you messed up, and that you were wrong. What's more important is that you truthfully admitted these things. Believe it or not, that is a big part of the training. To understand one's own limitations and to admit when they make mistakes."
"But I disobeyed you and left without letting anyone know where I was going," said Saber, still not understanding what Slasher meant.
"That may be, but you have proven that you learned something from this experience, which is something that I could never teach you," said Slasher. Saber brightened slightly, even smiling a little. But he suddenly lost his smile as he saw Slasher half close her eyes and give him a big smirk. "But don't think that means that you won't be punished for running off. Now you and I will train for the next two weeks on fundamentals, and nothing but fundamentals." Saber groaned, knowing that meant he'd be doing things that only the youngest in-training raptors would be doing. "Now let's get some food and water into you, and then you'd better get a good rest, because we're going to be running night fundamentals first."
"Thank you for coming on such short notice," said Robo Knuckles as he led Robotnik and Snively down the hallway of the lab that Robotnik had lent to Robo Knuckles to use for his project almost a month ago. "I know I said that it would take a few more days for the final version to be finished, but I managed to finish ahead of schedule."
"Quite all right," said Robotnik as the trio stopped in front of a viewing mirror, one where they could see in the room, but the occupants could not. The room on the other side was one that Robotnik knew well. It was a training ground where he trained some of his earliest Swatbots to combat Sonic almost ten years ago. Robo Knuckles, saying that his project would need a much more challenging test to prove itself, had modified the room a bit.
"Now then. Don't be scared by his size or how vicious he looks. He is programmed to obey both my commands and yours," said Robo Knuckles.
"Well, where is it?" asked Robotnik, trying to see the thing. Robo Knuckles picked a remote from off of a nearby table and walked back to the two waiting guests.
"You will see him shortly enough. Just watch," said Robo Knuckles as he flipped a few switches. Suddenly, laser cannons, harpoon guns, and various other weapons appeared out of the walls. Both Robotnik and Snively watched for almost a minute, then suddenly saw something move at the back of the room. The weapons obviously did too as they swung around to fire at the thing.
There is no way this thing will survive that kind of firepower. The only person I know who can avoid that many weapons at once is Sonic, thought Robotnik to himself as he saw the guns swing again to track the thing inside the room. Suddenly, Robotnik saw something flash by one of the laser cannons, sparks flying from the cannon as it was severed from the wall. The other weapons swiftly turned towards the thing that had destroyed the cannon, each one firing at the now empty space, each one a clean miss. Another weapon further on down the line was destroyed as the creature slammed its tail into the emplacement. The weapons turned and fired again, and once again they were clean misses. One by one, the other weapons fell to the thing inside the room.
When the creature had destroyed nearly half the weapons, both Robotnik and Snively were speechless. Robo Knuckles noticed their surprise, and smiled to himself. The creature was apparently meeting expectations thus far. He noticed that perhaps his creation was even giving the doctor a small dose of fear. The overweight human was beginning to sweat as he watched the creature decimate the weapon emplacements at a rapid pace. Robo Knuckles suppressed the urge to smile outwardly. It would serve the human good to know that the mecha bot had as much control over the beast in the room as he did. Now for the main event, he thought as he flipped a few more switches.
Suddenly, four flying orbs flew out of openings in the walls and started to hover around the creature. Robotnik and Snively both watched with interest as one of the orbs fired a laser at the creature in the room. The creature took the hit in his side, but looked to be standing its ground as though it hadn't even felt the blast. The second and third orbs then fired, the fourth following shortly after. The thing tried to dodge them, but two of the lasers struck home, one on the thing's long tail, the other on the side of its head. The blasts were more powerful this time, and the creature reacted to the hits, both its tail and head jerking to the side from the force of the blasts. It then tried to strike at the orbs with its jaws, but they flew out of its reach.
"So this thing does have its limitations," said Robotnik, watching the thing back into a corner as the orbs moved in. Robo Knuckles saw he had quite noticeably calmed down after seeing this. He was no longer sweating, and his breathing seemed to be controlled once again.
"He may seem to, but his AI matrix is even more complex than my own. He can take a situation, analyze it, and come up with a solution in minutes, sometimes even mere seconds depending on the situation. And it would take me five times as long to come up with the same solution," said Robo Knuckles. Robotnik turned his attention back to the creature. It seemed to not be moving any more. The orbs moved in slowly, being cautious. But that caution was thrown to the wind as the creature suddenly snapped its head upright and caught one of the orbs in its jaws. With one powerful chomp, it smashed the orb into scrap.
The other three orbs backed off, firing their lasers. But the creature leaped above the blasts, and swung its tail at the orbs, catching one of them as it tried to flee from its attacker. The orb bounced off one of the walls, and then slammed into another of the retreating orbs, both exploding. The last orb, following what Robo Knuckles had programmed it to do when the other three orbs were taken out, flew right into the left side of the creature and exploded. The creature slumped to the ground, the explosion having damaged the servos in its left leg and blowing a good portion of its coverings off, revealing the creature to be a robot on the inside.
"Looks like you ultimate weapon isn't so great after all," said Robotnik as the creature's blood red eyes winked out.
"Just watch," said Robo Knuckles. Nothing happened for a couple of seconds as both Robotnik and Snively watched, their curiosity turning into amazement as the leg's damaged parts started to repair themselves, welding back together. After the servos were repaired, the "skin" of the robot started to repair itself, folding over and covering the robotic parts again. After only two minutes, the leg was "healed". The robot's eyes then winked back on as Robo Knuckles took a microphone off the side of the remote.
"Well done. You may exit the room now," said Robo Knuckles. The robot nodded its head, then walked over to the door and opened it with its clawed hands. It then walked into the hallway, towering over everyone else. Robotnik and Snively looked up at the seven-foot tall, twenty-foot long robot. It had black skin and an orange underbelly. Its head and upper jaw were one piece, the teeth built right into the face. The lower jaw closed into it like scissor blades. Its shoulders, back, flanks, thighs and tail were gleaming silver metal. The tip of its tail was barbed with six-inch spikes, the toe-claws on its hind feet were twice the size they should have been. It had three clawed fingers and an opposable thumb at the end of each hand, and around its neck was a collar with a green gemstone set in the lower center section of the collar. Robotnik and Snively had thought that this weapon would be more robotic in appearance and not really resemble what it was supposed to be, but the realistic look it had gave no question as for which creature it was designed after. A pure-breed velociraptor.
"How may I be of service?" asked the robotic raptor, kneeling clumsily to the floor in front of Robotnik. In fact, Robotnik was kind of glad to see it be a little clumsy at something. It showed that even a robot as powerful and advanced as this still had a few flaws in it. But the voice that the raptor had used was flawless. It had no trace of robotic origin whatsoever as it spoke in a deep, fluid male voice.
"First off, what is your call sign and name?" asked Robotnik. The raptor stood back up.
"My call sign is mecha bot five. My name is Leviathan," said the raptor, his glowing red eyes glued to the ceiling above.
"Leviathan?" asked Robotnik, turning to look back at Robo Knuckles, who in turn gave a shrug.
"Leviathan is a transliterated Hebrew word meaning 'twisted' or 'coiled' from Earth's Holy Scripture. The word has represented many things, including a dragon, which according Earth's Eastern culture, is an enemy of the light. The word has also referred to several of the large creatures that inhabit the oceans, specifically that of a giant sea serpent said to wield immense power," said Robo Knuckles as he recalled the information he had obtained on the word and its meaning. He then smiled slightly before continuing. "Though these are correct usages of the word according to the scripture, I prefer the figurative use of the word, which means 'cruel enemy'." Robotnik raised an eyebrow in thought at what the robot had said, but shrugged as if he didn't care.
"Is he combat ready?" asked Robotnik, looking back at the raptor, who kept his gaze on the ceiling.
"Against the Freedom Fighters? No. Besides, it would be in our best interests to have him master his skills before he is let loose outside of this lab," said Robo Knuckles. "We don't want Sonic or the others discovering him before the time is right."
"Then begin working with him immediately. I want him ready as soon as possible," said Robotnik as he walked out of the hallway. Snively gave the raptor a quick once-over and then followed Robotnik, not having said a single word since the demonstration had begun.
The next four months were ones of peace around Knothole. Missions weren't made against Robotropolis. It was more of a time to have fun than to fight. But what kept everyone's attention the most were the changes Cody's chao was going through. He had gone through his first stage of growth, his light blue color changing to a bright orange color. He had also started to grow three horns on his head; two on the sides of his head, and one on the back. Cody had decided to name him Drake, as his appearance had started to look kind of like that of a dragon in an old Earth folklore book he had borrowed from one of the other citizens.
Now it was a sunny, but still quite cold, February afternoon in Knothole. And it was a day that would bring with it two surprises, one of which would not be pleasant. Everyone was busy having fun, but especially Drake. The young chao loved to play more than anything else, but the snow was a problem for him. Since he was a heat-based chao, the cold would wear him out quickly, so playtime outside was limited due to this. But Drake still loved to play in the snow. Cody would help him out by making snowballs for him, and then leave Drake to throw them, with quite amazing strength for such a small creature, at passerby's, hitting one every now and then.
Splat! Sonic turned around just in time to get smacked in the face with a snowball compliments of Drake, who was laughing his head off at the site of Sonic being covered in snow. While the little chao still couldn't speak words yet, he wasn't hard to understand at all. Sonic smiled as he reached down and scooped up some snow of his own.
"You'll pay for that Drake!" he cried as he tossed the snowball at the chao. Drake ducked as the snowball just barely missed clipping his head. He then took another of his snowballs from the stock Cody had made for him and tossed it at Sonic, who dove to the ground to miss being hit with it.
"So you wanna play rough, huh?" said Sonic as he made a makeshift wall between himself and Drake. He then made another snowball and threw it at Drake, watching as this one smacked the chao in the chest, knocking him down. But the chao just laughed harder as he picked himself up off the ground and reached for another snowball. Sonic ducked behind his wall as he prepared to avoid Drake's retaliation. A few seconds passed as Sonic waited for the cold feeling of the snowball hitting him, but nothing ever came at him. Puzzled, Sonic looked up from behind his wall to see something he didn't expect to see. Drake was sitting in the snow, his eyes closed. Sonic first thought that Drake had fallen asleep, but as he went to go pick up the small chao, his hands meet a barrier of sorts about half a foot before he could touch Drake.
"What in the world?" said Sonic to himself. Suddenly, a very thin, transparent barrier shaped like an onion began to appear around Drake. Sonic began to panic, seeing as how the small chao had never done anything remotely close to this before. He carefully picked up the chao by the barrier and then took off at a dead run for Cody's hut, arriving in less than ten seconds. Cody answered the door, just missing getting run down by Sonic as he ran inside and placed the barrier covered chao on the bed.
"What happened to him?" asked Cody as he ran over and snatched the raising manual from his night stand, flipping through it as fast as he could, trying figure out what was wrong with Drake.
"I don't know," said Sonic as he watched the barrier become less transparent as time went by. "We started to have a snowball fight, and I ducked behind my wall to avoid his next snowball, but he never threw it. When I looked up, he was like this." Cody flipped frantically through the small booklet, desperate to make sure his friend was okay. Then he spied the section regarding a chao's growth and gave a sigh.
"Oh thank goodness," said Cody as he relaxed, flopping onto his bed, the wooden boards under the springs nearly giving way to his weight. He frowned, making a note to replace them with something stronger next chance he got. He then noticed Sonic looking at him impatiently, waiting for an answer as to what Drake was doing. "It says here in the manual that Drake doing what he's doing is natural. Nothing's wrong with him." Sonic let out a sigh of his own as he returned his attention to the now almost solid barrier surrounding the orange chao.
"So what is he doing exactly?" asked Sonic.
"According to the manual, he's undergoing his final stage of growth. When he emerges from that cocoon he's in, he'll be fully-grown. He should be able to talk to us then," said Cody.
"How long will it take for him to come out of that thing?" asked Sonic. Cody looked back at the manual.
"It says that the transitional stage between child and adult usually lasts about an hour. When the transformation is complete, the shell around him will start to disappear," said Cody. He then looked back at Drake, who was now almost impossible to see inside the shell-like cocoon. "He'll be fine like this. The cocoon he's in helps to protect him from harm. It would have to be hit awfully hard to break it." Sonic stood up and walked towards the door.
"I'll go tell everyone what's going on. I'm sure they'd what to see Drake when he comes out of that shell," said Sonic. Cody nodded in agreement.
"I'll bet. I'll bring him by the community hut after he comes out of the cocoon," said Cody as Sonic walked out of the hut. He sat down next to the now solid cocoon that held his chao inside of it. Cody wondered what kind of changes his chao friend was undergoing inside his cocoon. Time went by quite fast for Cody as he checked the manual to see if there was anything else he needed to do for Drake when he emerged from the cocoon. In fact, he was so absorbed in reading the manual that he almost didn't see Drake's cocoon begin to fade as he finished his transformation. Cody tried his best to see into the cocoon, first noticing that Drake's color had gone from a bright orange to a dark crimson color, almost the exact same color as Knuckles' fur except a little darker.
Man. He sure looks different, thought Cody to himself as he the cocoon turned even more transparent, revealing that Drake's horns had grown longer and pointy, looking almost like spikes on his head. He had also grown a pair of brown striped yellow horns slightly in front of his two main horns. He also sported a pair of green antennas on his head that drooped down in front of his eyes. His arms had become more defined, with visible hands on the end with three fingers. At the end of each of the fingers was a claw. Same went for his legs, which also were more defined and bared three claws on the ends of his feet. The last thing that Cody noticed different about Drake was that the small yellow feather wings on his back had changed into reptilian wings, like those of a bat or dragon. Cody watched with intent as the last of Drake's cocoon thinned out, then disappeared. The now fully-grown chao's eyes fluttered open, taking in his surroundings. He then noticed Cody watching him and jumped up to his feet.
"Oh Cody! I'm so glad to see you! I was so scared when I fell asleep for no reason! I thought I might never see you again!" cried Drake as he leapt into Cody's arms, cuddling up to Cody.
"Drake, do you notice anything different about yourself?" asked Cody.
"What do you mean? I feel just the same," said Drake, looking up at Cody.
"You mean you don't know what you just did?" asked Cody. Drake shook his head no, then noticed his reflection in a mirror on the other side of the room.
"Who's that?" asked Drake, looking up at Cody as he pointed towards his reflection. Cody couldn't help but laugh slightly at Drake's comment.
"That's you silly," said Cody. Drake looked back at the reflection. He then moved his left arm up and down, the reflection copying his movements. Drake then leapt from Cody's arms and ran over to the mirror.
"That's me!?" he asked as he flapped his wings, watching them in the mirror. Cody got up and walked over to the small chao.
"Yep. That's you all right. How about we go and show Sonic and the others your new look?" suggested Cody.
"Sure! I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they see me," said Drake as he flapped his wings and flew up next to Cody's head. He then giggled. "Boy! Flying is sure fun!" But as soon as he finished saying the sentence, he lost control and fell to the floor with a crash.
"So Drake is going through his last stage of growth?" asked Knuckles. He had come down from the Floating Island after Sonic had given him a call about the chao undergoing the transformation. He wanted to see Drake as soon as he had reached the adult stage of his life. Knuckles had gone back to Floating Island for the winter, mainly to get out of the cold of the winter months, but also to look up everything he could about why the Chaos Emeralds caused a change in chao. He had come up empty handed in the search, but he still stayed on the island to help Mighty keep an eye on it.
"Yep. He should be just about done," said Sonic, looking at his watch. Just as he said this, Cody walked in the hut, Drake in his arms.
"Here he is! All grown up and ready for action," said Cody, holding up Drake for all the people in the hut to see.
"Hi!" cried Drake as he waved at everyone.
"Man, he sure has changed," said Sonic as he looked at the red chao.
"I sure have! I can fly now!" cried Drake as he leapt from Cody's arms to hover in front of him, his wings beating steadily, but still having a hard time keeping him level.
"I think we'd better work on the flying thing a little bit more Drake," said Cody. Drake dropped to the floor, exhausted from trying to fly for more than a few seconds. While he had figured out how to control his wings, they were still quite new and therefore tired very easily. He then smiled and looked up at Cody.
"I think you're right," said Drake.
"So now what happens to him now?" asked Tails as he walked over and picked him up, patting him on the head. Drake closed his eyes and then started to make a purring noise, which he had always done whenever someone had patted him on the head when he was a child.
"I'm not sure. The manual says that after they reach their adult stage of growth, a chao will usually decide what it will do with its life, though if a bond is shared with a person they will usually stay by that person's side till death," said Cody. Knuckles, while taking in everything Cody has said, was still trying to figure out what changes Drake would undergo when he came into contact with one of the Chaos Emeralds.
Well, there's only one way to find out, thought Knuckles to himself as he quietly exited the hut while everyone else was busy encouraging Drake as he tried to fly a little longer than his last attempt. As he walked towards Sonic's hut to retrieve the blue Chaos Emerald, he kept wondering what kind of change Drake would undergo from the emerald. Would he become bigger, stronger perhaps? Or maybe he would grow mentally, becoming smarter. Knuckles was so absorbed in his thinking, he didn't notice someone watching him from a nearby bush.
Knuckles reached Sonic's hut, and after looking through several drawers, found the emerald. As he left the hut, a chill coursed down his spine, and it wasn't from the cold. He quickly looked over his shoulder, but nothing except the snow covered paths and huts were there. Thinking it was all in his mind, he turned and began to walk back towards the community hut. Suddenly, a very low growl sounded from off to Knuckles left side. Knuckles froze, the growl he had just heard being almost the exact same as the one he had heard in the factory nearly little more than five months ago when he and Sonic had been attacked by what they had come to believe was a velociraptor.
He slowly looked towards the bush off to his left, but saw nothing. Suddenly, something tackled him from behind, knocking him off his feet and forward almost five feet before he landed on his stomach in the snow, knocking the wind out of him. Knuckles caught his breath, then flipped himself over just in time to see the thing pounce him. Letting out a scream, Knuckles began to try and break free from the pinned position the thing had him in. Back in the community hut, everyone had snapped their heads up at the scream. Sonic was the first one to recognize the scream as that of Knuckles. Bolting from the hut and down the path, he skidded to a stop at the sight he saw.
Knuckles was being pinned to the ground by a seven foot tall, twenty-foot long velociraptor. It had black skin and an orange underbelly. Its head and upper jaw were one piece, the teeth built right into the face. The lower jaw closed into it like scissor blades. Its shoulders, back, flanks, thighs and tail were gleaming silver metal. The tip of its tail was barbed with six-inch spikes; the toe-claws on its hind feet were twice as large as the one in Nicole's hologram. It had three fingers and an opposable thumb and its eyes were blood red lights.
Not wasting any time, Sonic shot forward, curling into a spindash. He slammed into the raptor full force, knocking it off Knuckles, who scrambled to get out of the way. Sonic landed and looked back at the raptor, seeing three small gashes running down the left side of its black and orange midsection. But instead of turning towards him, Sonic was surprised to see that it was just standing there, its head bowed, eyes having winked out as if it had gone to sleep. Sonic watched with amazement as the skin he had cut open with his spindash began repairing itself, folding over and fusing together. In less than ten seconds, the skin was 'healed'. The raptor's eyes winked back on, and it raised its head. Now its sights were set on Sonic. It slunk back, getting itself ready to spring forward and tackle Sonic to the ground. But before it could make the leap, a laser blast caught it in the shoulder, knocking its body slightly to the side and causing its metal covering to smolder from the heat. Both Sonic and the raptor turned to see Cody standing twenty feet away, the laser cannon built into his right arm aimed and ready to fire again, Drake by his side.
"Back off!" said Cody, his voice sounding more demanding rather than requesting. He watched the raptor as it turned towards him. Sonic took the raptor's lack of attention to try and spindash it again, but the raptor hadn't fully taken its attention off of him. It whipped its barbed tail around and hit Sonic with the midsection of it, batting him away like a baseball and knocking him into the trunk of a nearby tree, the blue hedgehog falling to the ground unconscious. It then turned all its attention on Cody, running forward. Cody fired two more shots, both hitting it squarely in the chest. While the blasts seemed to burn the thing's skin, it didn't seem to really hurt it. It then leaped up and tackled Cody to the ground, the two of them just avoiding crushing Drake underneath them.
The raptor raised back its left hind leg to slash Cody with his toe-claw, but Knuckles, back on his feet and fueled by an adrenaline rush, leaped onto the raptor's back, drawing its attention away from Cody. But the raptor simply gave its body a powerful flick, flinging Knuckles off its back while at the same time causing him to drop the blue emerald he had in his hands. The glowing jewel landed on the ground next to Drake's feet, who stared at the emerald for a second, then back up at the raptor pinning the person who had taken care of him since he had hatched. Drake picked up the emerald, and with an instinctive thought, bit down on the gem.
Cody tried to overpower the raptor, but even with his robotic strength he couldn't budge the huge, half ton creature as it pushed back at him with its own augmented strength to keep him pinned. Cody watched as the raptor raised its hind leg up to deliver a slash to his head. Cody cringed as he prepared for the blow. Suddenly, the raptor was knocked off Cody who quickly opened his eyes. He looked over towards where he had felt the raptor get pushed off him to see something that left him completely speechless. The raptor was now facing down a five-foot long red dragon with three spikes jutting from its head and several more circling its neck which pointed back, making it look like a mane. It also had a pair of brown stripped yellow horns, a pair of green antennas that drooped in front of its face, and a pair of wings with a wingspan of over six feet. It didn't walk on its hind legs like mobian dragons, but rather on all four.
"I won't let you hurt my friends," said the dragon in a familiar voice. Suddenly, Cody made the connection. No way! That's Drake! his mind cried out, not believing what his eyes told him. The dragon lunged forward, tackling the raptor to the ground, who knocked Drake off with a shove from its hind legs. Drake was flung high into the air, but with his new wings, he easily came to a hover about ten yards above the raptor. Drake then took in a deep breath and let loose a blast of fire from his mouth. The raptor held up its arms to protect itself from the flames. Drake then let up on his attack as the raptor leapt to its feet and fled into the forest, its hide smoking as it retreated. Drake then huffed a breath of smoke before landing next to Cody, who was still in a state of shock.
"How was that? Did I do a good job?" asked Drake. Cody could only nod his head as Knuckles and a recently awakened Sonic stared in awe at the powerful dragon that had once been a small chao. "What was that thing?" asked the dragon chao as he looked off in the direction that the raptor had fled.
"That, my friend, was a velociraptor," said Cody, not really believing what he had just said, but knowing it was true. Knuckles, seeing something on the ground, bent down to pick it up.
"Well, it's not a real raptor, or at least not a completely real one," said Knuckles as he looked at the object in his hand.
"How can you tell?" asked Sonic. Knuckles turned and held up a ball of snow that had a black liquid soaked into it.
"Because living creatures don't bleed oil," said Knuckles.
Leviathan ran out of the forest, his teeth clenched together in anger. He was angry not only at the Freedom Fighters, but also with himself, and it was the thought of failure that fueled his rage ever greater as he continued running towards the north. He had been trained to kill them all, yet he had let a rogue dragon that shouldn't have been there scare him off. He narrowed his eyes as he slowed to a stop, looking back into the forest. He now knew where Knothole was, thanks to his sense of smell that he possessed. Tracking Sonic's scent had been easy, seeing as how even a faint wind could carry a scent for dozens of miles before it completely vanished even though by then it would normally be so diluted that no living creature could possibly pick it up. But that was one of the perks of being a robot.
He had to smirk slightly. Robo Knuckles hadn't done anything halfway with his design. He suddenly turned to the north again as a new scent flared in his nose. The smell was unlike anything he had encountered before, yet it seemed familiar to him. A grin slowly worked its way across the raptor's face as he recognized the scent as being almost the exact same as his own, as synthetic as his own scent was.
"Well well," said Leviathan, turning towards the north with a grin. "It appears I'm not the only raptor on this planet, robotic or otherwise." With that, he took off towards the north. He would worry about what Robotnik had to say when he came back. But as he ran, he suddenly had the thought of not reporting back in. He came to a stop after only running for about a half a mile, having come up with an idea so twisted after remembering about the properties of seven certain stones that even he was surprised at himself. He could make this "going rogue" idea work to his advantage greatly, but he would need help to pull it off. He then looked back at Robotropolis. And I know exactly who to ask, he thought as he headed back to the polluted city.