"Let me get this straight," said Robo Knuckles as he paced around in a circle inside an empty warehouse at the edge of Robotropolis. He then stopped and faced Leviathan, who stood there watching him pace back and forth. "You want to take over a colony of raptors to the north that your scent receptors picked up, and then use them to dethrone Robotnik and start your own campaign against the entire world?"
"Exactly. And with your help, it can be done. I just need for you to verify to the good doctor that I am spending my time as I should be without his knowledge of what we are planning to do," said Leviathan. Robo Knuckles then lowered the output of his pupils in a mock squint.
"What's in it for me?" he asked. Leviathan smiled on the inside. Everyone had their price, and he had spent most of his free time with the crimson robot during his training, watching him and taking notes on the things he would do and say. Sp it was of no surprise to him when Robo Knuckles asked this question to him.
"If my plan is successful, then I can make it so that mecha bot two will have never existed," said Leviathan. Robo Knuckles mouth curled into a grin, then he began to chuckle before he started laughing out loud.
"Now that's something worth while. You've got a deal," said Robo Knuckles.
A month later, things had calmed around Knothole down since the incident with Leviathan. The early spring months were just starting, the snow having melted away, leaving fresh grass to start to grow all over the place. The trees were beginning to regrow their leaves, and everything seemed back to normal around the peaceful village. But that was to be a short-lived peace.
It was near midnight in Knothole as Sonic sat on the log down by the Power Ring pool, watching the water ripple as he threw a rock into it. Beside him sat Cody, with Drake off chasing after a firefly a few yards away. They had come down here to relax, the day's task of running another mission against Robotropolis having taken their toll on them. Sonic had just barely missed getting blown up when his watch had stopped working after he had planted the explosives. Cody, on the other hand, had lead several hover-units on a wild chase through the city, which had almost come to an end when he barely missed plowing into a walkway when he had turned around after having fired at the hover-units chasing him. Lily was still giving him a hard time about that. Not to mention the fact that the little dragon chao was still steamed about not getting to go on any missions into Robotropolis yet. Now he was taking out his anger about not going on the firefly he was chasing, trying to slash the insect out of the air with the claws on the ends of his three fingered hands.
"Hey Drake. Leave the firefly alone," said Cody. Drake stopped chasing it and gave Cody a pout before flying up into a nearby tree and sitting down to look up at the night sky.
"Can't blame him for doing that," said Sonic as he watched Drake look down at them and stick his tongue out at Cody, who just smiled and turned back to look at the ring pool.
"He's still just a child. I can't really blame him either," said Cody as he tossed a stone into the pool. He watched the water ripple out from the place where the stone hit until the water rings vanished. He then stood up. "It's getting late. We should get back," he said as he looked up. "Come on Drake! We're leaving!"
"Coming!" cried the small dragon chao as he flew down next to Cody. Ever since he had first changed into what he had called his large form, his chao form wings had become a lot stronger, and he had also learned how to fully control them as well.
"Coming Sonic?" asked Cody, turning his head back towards his friend.
"I'll be along in a minute," said Sonic as he continued to stare at the water.
"Okay. I'll see you back in Knothole," said Cody as he and Drake started off towards the village. Sonic stared at the water, the events of the day going through his mind. Today had been a close one in his books, considering he had escaped the building only seconds before it blew. He had told himself afterwards that he would always wear his emerald belt, just in case something like that ever happened again. But something still bugged him. Ever since that incident over a month ago, they hadn't seen hide nor hair of that raptor that had attacked them. And the way it had healed itself like that wasn't any ordinary ability. That much everyone agreed on. But if it was after them, then why hadn't it showed back up since then?
As he sat there, a small rustle in the bushes to his left caught his attention. Trying not to look like he had heard it, he stood up and started back towards Knothole, trying not to look on guard. But after a few minutes of walking with nothing revealing itself from the forest, he relaxed. Must have been a squirrel or something, he thought to himself. After another minute, he could see the lights from the street lamp torches burning in the distance. But just before he entered the clearing, another bush rustled. Knowing now that someone or something was following him, he cautiously turned around.
"Who's there?" he called out, not really expecting them to answer. He scanned the forest when something caught his eye, and what he saw made him turn white as a sheet. In the shadows was a pair of yellow, cat-like eyes staring at him. Backing away slowly at first, he suddenly saw another pair of cat-like eyes appear just above and to the left of the first pair, only these were green. Sonic turned to run.
"Please don't run. We are not going to hurt you," said a female voice from the shadows. Sonic, taken aback that whatever these two things were could talk, stopped in his tracks. He turned around as the figure with the green eyes walked out into the light. It took Sonic every ounce of courage not to yell or run when he saw that the creature was a real velociraptor. It matched the profile Nicole had displayed the day they were trying to figure out what the creature in the factory had been. The other figure then stepped out into the light, revealing itself to be a shorter velociraptor. Sonic suddenly recognized the size and shape of the second raptor as being exactly the same as the one that had attacked him and Knuckles. But it was the same yellow eyes staring back at him that sent a chill down his spine. Letting out a cry of fear, Sonic turned and ran full speed into the village, yelling for everyone to wake up as he went by the huts, a sonic boom following behind him in his wake as he broke open the sound barrier halfway into the village.
"Well, that could have gone better," said Saber as he looked over at Slasher.
"Well, if you hadn't tried to eat him before, then he probably wouldn't have done that," said Slasher, looking him in the eyes with a glare. Saber looked down at the ground at the mention of that day. The guilt of attacking sentient creatures had eaten away at him since he had attacked Sonic and Knuckles in the factory. Slasher sighed before looking back in the direction Sonic had gone. "We'd better try and catch him before he causes a riot," she said as she spread her golden wings, taking off into the air and flying in the direction Sonic had gone, Saber running along the ground underneath her.
"Wake up!" cried Sonic as he sped past Cody's hut, waking the three occupants.
"What's going on?" asked Drake, looking up from his little makeshift bed on the floor, next to which sat the blue Chaos Emerald. The emerald was now fashioned onto a chain so the little chao could carry it around and have his hands free at the same time. Cody switched on his pupils as he stood up, and was almost blown to the ground as the sonic boom following the cerulean hedgehog finally caught up with Cody's hut. A strong blast of wind was sent howling through the wooden structure, knocking several things off the tables and nightstands. Cody quickly spotted the most important thing to catch and dove for it, catching the only picture of him and Lily before the coup that he had left.
"I'm not sure," he said, placing the picture gently back on the nightstand. He looked up just in time to see Saber run by the hut, his head visible in the hut's window. "But I think I know now!" With that, he ran out of the hut to see Saber further down the pathway, seeming to be following Sonic. Cody leaped into the air and fired his foot jets, taking off after Saber as Lily stopped at the door to watch her husband take off after the raptor. Drake, now in his large form, flew out the window and gave chase as well. Further on down the street, Sonic had slowed down considerably to avoid hitting anything as he tried to alert everyone in the village. Unfortunately for him, when he looked back to see if the two raptors were chasing him, he missed a turn and ran smack into a tree, hitting it hard enough to knock him unconscious. Slasher, who had been trailing him from the air, cringed when she had seen him crash into the tree. Landing next to him, she folded her wings against her body and bent down to see if Sonic was okay. Saber ran up next to her a few seconds later.
"What happened?" asked Saber.
"He wasn't paying attention and crashed," said Slasher as she placed a clawed hand on his head to check for bleeding. But as soon as she touched him, she was slammed from the side by Cody, who had thought she was going to eat Sonic when she had bent down to check on him. Saber looked over at the tumbling pair when Drake suddenly tackled him from behind. Slasher and Cody came to a stop with Slasher on top, pinning him to the ground as a precaution. But Cody took it as an act of aggression, and extended the razor sharp claws that were retracted inside his fingers. He then tried to dig them into Slasher's leg, but the raptor saw the claws extend and gave a strong flap of her wings, barely avoiding the slash from Cody's hands. She landed on the ground and took a few steps back. Cody leaped to his feet and took a proper fighting stance, his metallic claws gleaming in the moonlight.
"I don't want to fight you," said Slasher as she eyed the robotic hedgehog. A few meters away, Saber and Drake were struggling with one another, each of them trying to pin the other one to the ground. Saber managed to get Drake on the ground, but before he could pin him in place, Drake breathed a blast of fire from his mouth, surprising Saber and causing him to back off from the heat. Drake quickly got to his feet and delivered a head-butt to Saber's stomach, causing him to double over in pain.
"Oh man…check please…"muttered Sonic as he woke up. He put a hand to his head, but regretted it when a sharp pain shot through where he touched it and felt a nice sized bump beginning to form on his head. He then looked up to see the four combatants at a stand off, Cody and Drake on one side, Slasher and Saber on the other, both groups waiting for the other to attack. Cody, seeing Sonic awake, looked over at him hesitantly, wondering if he should chance leaving the raptors to Drake alone. But when he looked back at Slasher, she took a step back and nodded towards Sonic. Cody, taking the hint, ran next to Sonic and knelt down. Drake, still not wanting to trust the two reptiles, kept his position, flames flicking from the corners of his mouth as a signal that he would attack if either of them moved.
"You okay Sonic?" asked Cody as he helped Sonic to his feet.
"Yeah," said Sonic dizzily as he got to his feet. Cody looked back at the two raptors, both of which looked worried.
"He'll be okay," said Cody. He then turned to Drake. "It's okay Drake. You can stop." Drake relaxed his stance, the flames in the corners of his mouth dissipating.
"If you say so," said Drake before he bounded up next to Cody, who in turn gave his head a pat in-between his two brown stripped yellow horns. Slasher took a step forward, trying not to appear aggressive in any way.
"I'm sorry we scared you," said Slasher.
"No need to apologize," said Sonic. "I shouldn't have freaked like that."
"You had a right to be scared," said Saber, lowering his head. "I attacked you a few months ago, so how else could you react to seeing me again." Sonic smiled slightly. Apparently, Nicole's information on raptors being hunters first and social second was wrong.
"Hey! No harm, no foul," said Sonic. "Now let's get inside so that we aren't out in the cold." Slasher and Saber followed Sonic as he led them to the community hut in the center of the village, where everyone that Sonic had woken up was staying, waiting for word on what was going on. Many people started to panic when Slasher and Saber walked into the hut, but the fear was replaced by curiosity when Sonic and Cody calmed everyone down and told them that they were friendly. Sally, Knuckles, Lily, and Tails were present, watching the raptors as they walked to the middle of the hut. Sally, ever the diplomatic one, stepped forward.
"Welcome to Knothole, friends," she said, the basic fear gone with the announcement from Sonic and Cody that they were friends. "What brings you to our village?" Slasher and Saber exchanged glances, then returned them to Sally.
"I think it would be best to just get straight to the point. Three days ago, our home was attacked, and we were forced to flee," said Slasher. "It started out as any other day…"
Raptors bustled about the main chamber of the cave system, exchanging early morning gossip, and getting themselves prepared for the day's tasks. Slasher and Saber were inside Slasher's hut, Saber waiting patiently as Slasher pruned her wings.
"So when do we begin the test?" asked Saber. He had advanced quite a bit in his training since his incident of running off on his own almost five months earlier, and now he was about to undergo his test with Slasher to prove that he was ready for the next stage of his training. Slasher looked up at him, a smile etched on her face.
"You have waited this long, a few more minutes won't hurt you," she said. Suddenly, a chorus of high-pitched screeches sounded off in the cave, a signal that something was seriously wrong. Slasher and Saber both ran to the hut window and looked outside to see several raptors run past. Suddenly black rings that looked like collars flew by outside, chasing down the raptors. Slasher and Saber watched in horror as one of the male raptors tripped, the collar clamping itself around his neck. He slowly stood up, his eyes a blank stare as he stood as still as a statue.
"What's going on?" asked Saber. Slasher shook her head.
"I don't know, but we'll find out," said Slasher as the two of them ran out of the hut, just barely missing getting captured by two of the black collars. "Look! Up there!" cried Slasher, pointing at one of the cave entrances near the top of the cavern. Saber turned his attention to where Slasher was pointing to see two figures standing there, one a good size bigger than the other. Suddenly, three more collars flew from where the two were standing and flew down into the small community of raptors, two of them finding their targets almost immediately.
"What are they doing to them?" asked Saber. Slasher watched as another collar claimed a victim.
"They're putting them under some kind of mind control or something," said Slasher under her breath. Unable to sit by and watch this any longer, Slasher let out her own high-pitched cry, spreading her wings and taking to the air. As she flew up towards the two unsuspecting intruders, she was able to get a better view of them. The shorter one was a metallic crimson color, with long metallic dreadlocks flowing down his back, his pupils shining a bright green. The taller one was definitely a raptor, that much Slasher could tell, but he couldn't have been a real raptor, for he had metal covering the top of his head, back, and his entire tail, which sported barbs on the tip.
"How delicious!" said Leviathan as he watched two more raptors fall prey to his little devices. "The collars are proving to be very effective. In a few more minutes, all these raptors will be under my command."
"Two more to go," said Robo Knuckles as he launched the last two collars at the two raptors remaining in the cavern, not including Slasher, who they hadn't noticed yet. But Slasher did notice that one of the remaining raptors was Saber. Forgetting about attacking them, she instead went into a dive. Leviathan noticed Slasher out of the corner of his eye as she tried to take out the collar before it could get Saber. Hmm…Interesting, thought Leviathan as he watched the winged raptor grab the collar in her jaws and clamped down hard, shattering it. A winged raptor…I'll have to make a note of that for future projects.
"Let's get out of here!" cried Slasher as she caught up with Saber. The two of them ran towards one of the other three remaining exits, Robo Knuckles watching as they ran out of sight.
"Two of them got away," he said, turning to face Leviathan.
"No matter. I have what I came for," said Leviathan, turning towards the collared raptors staring off into space, waiting for a command from their new master. "An army that is more than capable of finding just what I need on Little Planet!" Down below, both Slasher and Saber heard Leviathan's last statement, considering the fact he had yelled it, but at the time, they weren't too concerned with it.
"After that, we went looking for help," said Saber.
"And after asking a few people that didn't run away on us, we found out about Knothole and the Freedom Fighters that seemed to always be able to help out anyone in need," said Slasher.
"But how did you find Knothole?" asked Lily, brushing a lock of her brown her out of her eyes.
"Probably the same way that metallic raptor did if it has the ability to do such a thing, which at this point wouldn't surprise me after it healed itself. By following the scent of someone living here," said Cody.
"It is possible. We raptors have a very acute sense of smell," said Saber.
"And since Saber had already picked up your scent once before back in that city nearby, it wasn't too hard to for him to find it again out here," said Slasher. Drake, who had reverted to his chao form so he could be in Cody's arms, took in everything the raptors had said, but was still confused on one thing.
"What would Leviathan want that is on Little Planet? Speaking of which, just what is Little Planet?" asked Drake. Sonic was about to answer when he caught his breath, suddenly realizing what the robotic raptor was planning to do.
"He's going after the Timestones!" cried Sonic, startling everyone in the hut, including both the raptors, from his nearly jumping out of his chair.
"The what?" asked Knuckles. While he was very well versed in the Chaos Emeralds, Super Emeralds, and the Master Emerald, he had never heard of the Timestones before now.
"The Timestones," said Sonic. "They are seven mystical gems that reside on Little Planet. If someone is able to collect all seven stones, they can travel through time. And any changes they make to the past or future won't effect them in any way, shape, or form." Knuckles' as well as the two raptors' eyes widened as what Sonic had just said sank in.
"He could go to the future and bring back weapons that we could never defend against," said Knuckles.
"Or worse," said Cody. "He could alter the past, changing it forever."
"Then we have to go to Little Planet right away!" said Drake, fluttering out of Cody's arms and onto the table Cody was seated at.
"Yes. This robot has to be stopped no matter what," said Sonic, standing up. Slasher and Saber also stood up.
"You don't know how to fight a raptor, but we do. We'll go with you," said Slasher.
"Good to have you along," said Sonic. Cody also stood.
"Well, you can't very well have all the fun. I'm in," said Cody. Drake gave a nod as he flew up onto Cody's shoulders, a silent sign that he was going. Sonic suddenly thought of something that might throw a wrench into their plan of bringing the raptors along.
"Uh, how are we going to get you two up to Little Planet?" asked Sonic. Slasher unfolded her wings just enough to allow them to be seen.
"I'll be okay, and I can carry you as well," she said.
"I think between Drake in his large form and myself, we should be able to get Saber up there no problem," said Cody. Lily walked over to her husband and wrapped her arms around him.
"Be careful. I don't know what I would do if something happened to you," she said, pulling away and looking him in his eyes. Cody nodded softly, knowing that the silent gesture was all she needed to reassure her, but he also decided to take it up a notch and give her another hug back.
"I will dear. I promise," he said before letting go of his embrace.
"All right then. Let's get going," said Sonic as the group of five left the community hut and set out towards the southeast in the direction of Never Lake and Little Planet. Sonic and Saber ran along the ground at about sixty mph, while Cody, Drake, and Slasher followed from above. As they headed towards the lake, the fact that Little Planet would shift though time constantly, only showing up for an extended period of time on the last month of the year, which had passed already, was bugging Sonic, making him wonder if the small planet would be there. But if this robot raptor believed that Little Planet would be there, then they had to believe that as well. He then looked back at Saber.
"Any way you can move faster than this?" he asked. If the robotic raptor and the controlled ones were already on Little Planet, then they would need all the time they could get to reach them in time. Saber smiled at Sonic as he suddenly sped past him. Sonic grinned as well as he caught up with Saber, their speed nearly double what it was. Above them, the others had also sped up to keep pace with them.
"How goes the hunt for the last stone?" asked Leviathan as Robo Knuckles walked up from behind, coming to a stop just to the right of the robotic raptor. Leviathan's collar, before only having a bright green gemstone set in it at the base, now had seven extra slots arranged around the collar. In six of them was a Timestone, each one glowing as bright as the larger base gem.
"We actually have it now," said Robo Knuckles. "Zeta Group reports that they're on their way now with the stone even as we speak." Leviathan smirked at the news his "lackey" had given.
"Then I no longer require your services," said Leviathan, his tail swishing back and forth. Robo Knuckles became confused at Leviathan's statement.
"What do you…" he started to say as he turned to look at the raptor, but he never finished the sentence. With one twirl of his body, Leviathan had slashed a gaping hole out of Robo Knuckles chest with the barbs on his tail. Robo Knuckles fell to the ground, his inner mechanisms torn to shreds and his main power failing fast from the numerous severed connections.
"Why…?" was all he managed to speak. Leviathan placed a clawed foot on top of the mecha bot's head.
"Because I no longer have any need of you," said Leviathan, just before he dug his toe claw deep into Robo Knuckles head, shredding his main power cells to scrap. Robo Knuckles was shocked, to say the least. Leviathan had played him for a fool. He tried to say something else, but his main power finally gave out, his green pupils vanishing into the blackness of his eyes. Leviathan, unmoved by what he had just done, looked out onto the meadow below. All was going according to plan. All he would need to do is acquire the last Timestone and he would be able to finish his plan. His train of though was broken as a small, auburn-colored male raptor, still bound by the powers of the control collar around his neck, ran up to him.
"Master! Omega Group just spotted the two missing raptors, along with three other unknown people, approaching from about ten miles away to the east," he said. Leviathan lowered his head and gritted his teeth. He couldn't have those rogue raptors and whoever else that was with them stop him from getting the final Timestone. Not when he was so close.
"Tell Omega Group to hold them off until I get the final stone. I will not have my moment of glory taken away from me!" he hissed as he turned and walked away. The raptor, not wasting any time, turned and headed back towards the area where the Omega Group was waiting for orders.
"So exactly how do we find this raptor?" asked Drake as he walked along side Cody, still in his large form. "I mean, we have no clue as to where he might be."
"He has a point," said Sonic as the group walked along the grassy meadow that spread out for a few miles to the west.
"Simple. We smell him out," said Slasher as she closed her eyes and took a whiff of the air. Several different scents filled her nose, each one a new sensation to take in, all except for one. Her eyes shot open. "He's to the west, about ten miles." Suddenly, she tensed up as several familiar scents wafted to her. Cody, noticing the reaction, stopped and turned back to her.
"What's wrong?" he asked. Sonic and Drake also stopped in their tracks. Saber had also tensed up, smelling the same thing that had caught Slasher's attention.
"We've got company," said Slasher. Everyone looked around as a half dozen raptors of various size and markings, each one wearing a black collar around their necks, rose out of the taller grass that covered portions of the meadow.
"What do we do?" whispered Sonic to Slasher.
"Run," she whispered back. Without a second's hesitation, everyone took off from where they were, the other raptors letting out hunting screeches as they gave chase.
"Oh man! This is not good!" cried Sonic as a few more raptors leapt from the tall grass further ahead of them, ready to attack them when they reached them. They obviously were getting close, or else they wouldn't be under such a heavy assault right now.
"Now what?" cried Cody when he saw the other raptors emerge from the brush. Sonic smirked as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Get ready to get the lead out, cause I'm gonna bowl them over," said Sonic as he uncrossed his arms, the glow of the seven gems in the invisible belt around his waist increasing as their power flowed into Sonic's body. His blue fur flashed into a rainbow of glowing colors as several large white energy stars began to circle his body. He then blasted forward, flying a few inches above the grassy meadow as he broke open the sound barrier with ease. The raptors in front of them, seeing the glowing, rainbow colored hedgehog barreling towards them, dove out of the way just before Hyper Sonic blazed by. They all started to get to their feet to give chase, but the sonic boom following Sonic suddenly hit them full force, the wind and concussive force knocking them off their feet and to the ground again. Slasher and the others dashed by a few seconds later, the controlled raptors trying to get back on their feet to give chase. Well, that was rather effective, thought Sonic as he slowed down enough to allow the others to catch up to him.
"Nice move," said Saber as he ran up beside him, Drake flying along side.
"Master. I present to you the last Timestone," said a female raptor with thin, black stripes running down her back to the base of her tail as she knelt before Leviathan and held the glowing violet stone up to him. Leviathan looked down with a smile
"Excellent work my puppet," purred Leviathan as he took the stone. Gazing into its glow, Leviathan couldn't help but chortle at his accomplishments. The last piece of his plan had fallen into place. He then snapped the stone into place in his collar. "At last…My plan has come to pass!" he said with a laugh.
"That's what you think," said a voice. Leviathan whipped around to see Hyper Sonic and the others standing in a row about thirty yards behind him. "You're little vendetta ends here, raptor." Leviathan smirked as he craned his neck to display his collar filled with the Timestones.
"That's not the way I see it, Sonic," hissed Leviathan. "In fact, my vendetta has just begun!" With that, the seven Timestones glow increased ten-fold.
"Oh no!" cried Cody as he realized what was in his collar. "He has the Timestones! And he's preparing to use them!"
"Not if I can help it!" cried Sonic, leaping at Leviathan, who was taken by surprise at the maneuver. This resulted in Sonic managing to grasp onto Leviathan's neck before the robotic raptor could dodge him. Swinging around, Sonic grasped onto the top of Leviathan's collar, trying to electrocute the raptor with his invincibility. Leviathan thrashed back and forth, trying to get Sonic off him, crying out in pure pain as chaos energy flooded his body. Neither of them noticed that both the blue Super Emerald miniature and the blue Timestone were touching each other as Sonic fought to stay on Leviathan long enough to short him out. But with a final flick of his neck, Leviathan succeeded in flinging Sonic off him. Sonic fell to the ground, looking up just in time to see the seven Timestones on Leviathan's collar flash each of their respectable colors brightly.
"See you in the past, Sonic," laughed Leviathan as he vanished in a cocoon of white light. But the light didn't recede, but rather began to expand, rushing towards the group at a very high rate of speed.
"What on Mobius is that!?" cried Sonic just before the light engulfed him. The light kept expanding, covering the two raptors, as well as Cody and Drake. The light kept growing larger, expanding over the plains at an incredible rate of speed, covering all the raptors that were spread throughout the plains. Finally, the light stopped expanding after covering almost a two mile radius. When the light died down after several minutes, all of the collared raptors stood perfectly still, still trapped in the trance of the collars but now having no master to command them. However, five people were no longer present in the crowd of reptiles.