A Timeless Adventure

Chapter 4

"Oh man…" said Sonic as he opened his eyes. His vision was fuzzy, but why it was he couldn't tell. Suddenly recalling the light sphere, he shot up into a sitting position. But what greeted his gaze was not the lush, flowing fields of Little Planet, but the polluted, trashed streets of Robotropolis. Now completely confused, he jumped to his feet. Something about the city was different, but he could tell it was definitely a street in Robotropolis he was standing on. "Well…At least I know where I am," he said, his eyes glancing from side to side, still unsure if he was really in the city, or if it was some illusion. "Question is…How did I get here?"

A high pitched shrill echoed down one of the alleyways further up the street, causing Sonic to nearly jump out of his skin. It was a familiar cry, too. One he knew all too well. Quickly ducking behind one of the numerous piles of trashed robot parts that lined all the streets, he watched with a hint of fear in his eyes as the owner of the cry walked out from the alleyway. It was a velociraptor, that much was certain by the build of the body and the way it walked, but it was definitely not a real one.

It was completely mechanical, with gleaming metallic silver armor covering its entire body. Its two eyes glowed bright red like two sniper scope lights as its neck craned back and forth, scanning the street as it slowly walked out of the alleyway and into the middle of the street. It tilted its head to the left slightly before lowering it to the asphalt. The raptor gave a few small sniffs, then a slightly bigger one. It hissed softly as its head rose back up to its normal height, scanning back and forth slowly as if looking for something.

Oh great...This is all I need right now, thought Sonic as he quickly ducked his head behind the trash heap. He could hear the clank of the raptor's metal claws on the concert as it slowly approached him, the noise getting increasingly louder with each step. Sonic knew he had two options. One was to try and hightail it out of there. While he knew he could definitely get away from this robot, there was no telling if it was a one of a kind robot. And if it wasn't, there was no telling how many more might be in the immediate area that could be called in to block his escape. Not to mention that the one he'd be running away from would more than likely set off the entire city's defense grid like all of the Swatbots did, alerting everything in the city to his presence. However, the second option wasn't any better by any stretch of the imagination and that was to attack the mechanical raptor head-on and hope that he could defeat it.

Why me? asked Sonic to himself as he got into a set position. The sound of the raptor's clawed feet on the pavement was louder than ever now, the sound coming to an abrupt halt as the raptor stopped just on the other side of the pile. He could hear the raptor growling softly to itself, a few huffs of air as it sniffed the air again. It then gave a very low growl followed by complete silence. Sonic tensed, sweat beginning to form on his forehead as his heartbeat jumped up a good notch. The attack came so fast that not even Sonic had time to react as something slammed hard into his back, knocking him forward on all fours right in front of the raptor.

It snarled loudly before raising a clawed foot up into the air, bringing it down hard right at Sonic's back. Luckily for Sonic, he wasn't slow on the rebound. Pushing off the ground with his left foot and hand as hard as he could, he rolled out from underneath the clawed foot just a split second before it slammed into the cement street with a loud clang. He rolled a good ten feet before he jumped back to his feet, getting his first look at his surprise attacker. Just perfect...he thought as he saw a second identical raptor staring him down, its face one of annoyance, obviously provoked by the fact that its little surprise attack had failed. Both of the raptors growled softly as they watched Sonic, neither of them making a move to attack or retreat.

"You two obviously aren't as dumb as the average Swatbot," said Sonic as the realization that they were waiting for him to make the first move sank in. But he merely smiled at this as he crossed his arms over his chest and flung them outward, his fur igniting in a flare of rainbow color as the Super Emerald miniatures' power began to flow through him. But as soon as the transformation had completed, it fizzled out, leaving Sonic his normal shade of blue once again. That's...not good, he thought as he eyed the two raptors, both of them slowly advancing towards him. He tensed up, ready to bolt in any direction that he could find an opening to escape from, but from what he could tell both of the robot raptors had a way to intercept him no matter which way he ran. But before any of them could make another move, a metallic arrow slammed into the left raptor's side, followed closely by a second arrow that embedded itself in the head of the right one. Both raptors left out a sharp cry, but this was paled in comparison to the screech they both released when a powerful jolt of electricity burst forth from the arrows, completely frying the raptors' circuitry as they both collapsed to the pavement.

"Lucky thing we saw that flash of light, otherwise we may not have gotten here fast enough," said a voice as Sonic looked over towards where the arrows had come from, narrowing his eyes and clenching his fists at what he saw. Four mobians composing of a middle-aged male skunk and robin, an older looking badger, and a rather young looking fox stood there, eyeing him suspiciously, but not saying or doing anything to say they saw him as a threat. But it wasn't the mobians themselves that had sparked his anger, but rather the fact that they were carrying in tow a de-activated Cody, a bound and muzzled Slasher and Saber, and a frightened Drake.

"Who are you and what have you done to my friends?" shouted Sonic. One of the mobians, the fox, stepped forward. He wore a loose fitting white t-shirt and a torn pair blue jeans that had slits cut in the knees. In his right hand he was holding a crossbow with an arrow set and ready to shoot. On his back was a hand-crafted wicker quiver filled with metallic arrows

"We are the Knothole Freedom Fighters," said the fox, his voice the same one Sonic had heard after the robots had been downed. "And those are our prisoner," he said, jerking a thumb back at the group. "It is a first for us to come across a couple of live specimens of these robotic lizards, as well as this interesting robot and its small companion."

"Let them go right now, whoever you are, or you will have to deal with me. And trust me, I'm not in the mood today," said Sonic, clenching his fists and tensing up to attack. The fox took a couple of steps closer, then came to an abrupt halt now that he was close enough to get a good look at Sonic's face.

"Who...are you?" he asked. He eyed Sonic for several long seconds before his eyes opened wide in recognition. "It can't be you..." he said, walking slowly up to Sonic. The blue hedgehog held his ground as the fox came to within a foot of his face, their eyes staring deep into each other's. As the fox stared into Sonic's eyes, he slowly started to shake his head back and forth, not believing what his eyes told him, yet deep down he knew it was true. "Sonic...?" It was at the saying of his name that Sonic spotted the one thing about the fox that he hadn't noticed till now. Not just one, but two tails were swishing back and forth behind the fox.

"Tails?" asked Sonic. The fox's disbelieving look suddenly became one of joy as he embraced Sonic in a hug, Sonic returning it.

"I don't believe it! It's really you!" shouted Tails as he broke the hug. He then turned back to the group. "Let them go." Without any hesitation the bonds were removed from the two raptors, though not without a snarl and an angry glare from Saber which was quickly stopped by Slasher's own glare at him.

"Will he be okay?" asked Sonic, motioning to Cody who was being held upright by the skunk due to his power down.

"It's just off-line right now. I can easily get it up and running again. I made sure to use one of my arrows with a much smaller charge to just cause a power flux that shut it down, not completely fry it," said Tails.

"For the record, it's a 'he', and his name is Cody," said Sonic. Tails winced as he realized he'd offended Cody by calling him an "it".

"Sorry. I didn't realize he was a robian. No robian I've meet has ever been armed for combat like he is," said Tails apologetically.

"No problem, but I have to ask this. Why are you taller?" asked Sonic, eyeing a Tails that was at least half a foot taller than the Tails he knew. He hadn't noticed it at first, but after their little hug, he couldn't help but realize that Tails was actually only a couple inches shorter than he was. Tails gave him a confused look, then smiled at him.

"Well, being fifteen will kind of make you taller than what you were when you were only seven," he said.

"Fifteen!? But you're only ten," said Sonic, his eyes wide in confusion. Tails was about to ask him if he was okay when several loud screeches could be heard off in the distance.

"No time to talk now," said Tails as he looked about, trying to determine where the sound had come from. "It won't be long before a bunch more velocibots show up. We're in an area that has a ton of these things."

"Velocibots?" asked Sonic.

"The robots you just fought," he answered.

"So more of those things are coming this way?" asked Sonic, looking up and down the street nervously.

"By the sound of it, at least five if not more," said Tails.

"They're coming from the south," said Slasher, sniffing the air and cocking her head in different directions as she listened. "About...five hundred yards and coming this way judging from the heavy metal strikes of their claws on the pavement." She looked back at the group only to see all the mobians as well as Tails and Sonic staring at her. "Much more acute senses than you guys," was all she said. Tails nodded, then motioned for the group to head out towards the north, the group taking off at a jog.

"So how long till they'll catch up to us?" asked Tails as he ran along side Slasher.

"They won't if we get out of here fast," said Slasher as she came to a stop, kneeling down as the others stopped as well. "Put Cody on my back with two of you guys. Saber, you take the other two and get ready to bolt." Saber nodded as he lowered himself to the ground, the robin and badger quickly climbing on his back. Tails and the skunk hoisted Cody onto Slasher's back before climbing on themselves.

"Ready," said Tails after he made sure Cody wouldn't fall off as they escaped.

"Let's go," said Slasher as she sprinted off, Saber and Sonic following her close behind as the cries of the velocibots echoed in the city streets and alleyways. Sonic kept looking over his shoulder, expecting to see them emerge from one of the side-streets and catch them, but the mechanical raptors never caught up with them as their cries eventually faded into nothing as the group exited the city and started off towards Knothole.

"Well, I can't take you to my workshop right away, or it would cause suspicion, so we'll have to go to our leader's hut first," said Tails as he and the others dismounted the raptors just outside Knothole and raised his crossbow at them. "I don't want to do this, but if I were to enter the village with two raptors and a robot that's decked out for combat like he is without seeming to have total control over you, they'd jump you in a heartbeat." Sonic just shook his head at this and took lead position. What kind of upside down world have we fallen into? he thought to himself. Slasher and Saber formed up in the middle as Tails followed from behind, crossbow trained on them as the other three mobians carried Cody. The nine of them entered the village, some of the mobians stopping what they were doing to whisper between each other, obviously wondering who they were and what they were doing here.

Sonic took in the villagers, some of them he knew, and others he didn't recall ever meeting. Other than the difference in the people living in Knothole, the village had not really changed much. A few of the huts were in different places, but aside from that, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. As they approached a hut that was nearly four times the size of any of the others, which Sonic guessed was the leader's hut, Tails nudged Slasher in the back with the tip of the arrow on the crossbow. Slasher, knowing that Tails was doing this only to make the faked capture seem more real, looked over her shoulder and snarled at Tails. After they had passed by the villagers and had entered the hut, everyone relaxed. Tails then turned to Sonic, a look of worry on his face.

"I have to warn you that our leader is a little frightening to those not familiar with him, but he's been in command of the Knothole Freedom Fighters for nearly ten years now." The group walked into the main room of the hut, Tails leading the way. Seated at one of the chairs was a red, female hedgehog with long brown hair done up in a bun. She wore a pair of cut-off denim shorts with a blaster in a holster wrapped around her waist and a vest that looked much like Sally's only it was colored a light shade of brown. Sonic instantly recognized who it was, as did Drake, but both choose not to say anything. Tails gave a slight cough, causing the hedgehog to look up from the documents she was reading.

"More prisoners of war, I'm guessing?" asked the hedgehog, knowing the routine now by heart from the countless times she had done this in the past.

"Actually, no," said Tails. The hedgehog gave him a look of confusion as she got to her feet.

"Then what are they? Spies?" she asked. Tails couldn't help but chuckle just a little.

"Ever the paranoid one, aren't you? No, Lily. They are friends," said Tails. The hedgehog's eyes widened slightly in surprise. Not often did the village have unknown guests that actually turned out to be friendly.

"And just who are they?" asked Lily.

"The two raptors are Slasher and Saber," said Tails, motioning with his crossbow at each of them as he said their names. "The robian's name is Cody, and the little guy is his chao Drake." Lily nodded, though Sonic noticed she did give Cody a second glace before turning towards him.

"And you are?" she asked.

"Sonic," answered Sonic, extending his hand to her. She took it and had just started to shake it when she suddenly stopped as the realization of what he had just said hit her.

"Sonic…The Sonic?" she asked, squinting as if to focus on him to make sure he was real.

"You know it," said Sonic. Lily, still suffering from the shock of this revelation, fell back into her chair.

"This is definitely great news for all of us," said Lily as she smiled. "Most of us had given up hope that we would have any chance to end this war. Especially after most of Mobius was destroyed by Robotnik."

"Whoa whoa whoa! Time out!" said Sonic, making a "T" symbol with his hands. "What do you mean Robotnik destroyed most of Mobius?"

"Without you around to stop his plans, he destroyed most of planet leaving ruin in his wake," said Tails, his face solemn. "He only spared the Great Forest and the areas around the other Freedom Fighter outposts so that he could have a little bit of pleasure in watching our attempts to end his reign."

"But how is Robotnik behind Mobius ending up that way?" asked Sonic, his mind now racing. While he had pretty much been sure up to now that the world they were now in was one created by Leviathan's use of the Timestones, this new information suggested that the robotic raptor wasn't the one responsible for the dire state of the planet. But if that's true, what the heck threw the timeline so far off course?

"Well now this is a surprise," said a voice from the doorway. Everyone looked up towards the doorway.

"You!" shouted Sonic as he and the others aside from Lily and Tails took on a defensive stance. Drake bit into his emerald, growing into his large form as he prepared to fight.

"Ah! So you already know Leviathan, then," said Tails. This set off confusion in the group of four standing in a fighting stance. Leviathan merely smirked as he entered the hut, not making any aggressive move at all. Sonic looked at the robot raptor, then back at Tails

"You mean you know this robot?" asked Sonic.

"I would hope so," said Tails. He then motioned towards Leviathan with his hand. "Meet the leader of the Knothole Freedom Fighters." A look of shock came over Sonic's face as he turned back towards the robotic raptor as he walked calmly past the group and into the main room of the hut.

"You have got to be kidding me!?" cried Sonic. "There is no way he can be the leader of the Freedom Fighters!" Leviathan, unmoved by Sonic's outburst, turned to face them.

"Believe it, Sonic," said Leviathan. Tails and Lily, now totally lost as to what was going on, just gave each other a confused glance. Leviathan, seeing the confusion on their faces, gave a sigh. "I guess now is as good a time as any."

"For what?" asked Tails. Leviathan looked over at Sonic and the others.

"You might want to hear this as well, as it does pertain to you," he said. Everyone gave a nod. "Very well. This part of the conversation is for you two," he said, looking at Tails and Lily. "Don't tell anyone else outside of this room. Do I have your word you will not tell?"

"Yes," they said together. Leviathan gave a nod.

"First off, I am not a cyborg as I told you originally," said Leviathan. "I am, in fact, a mecha bot. Mecha bot 5 to be exact." Both Tails and Lily took a couple steps back upon hearing the news, but otherwise made no other outward sign they were surprised. "The six of us are not from this timeline. We come from a Mobius that has not yet fallen to Robotnik. A Mobius where great strides in ending his reign of terror on the northern part of the planet have taken place," said Leviathan.

"So your basically time travelers that ended up in our timeline somehow?" asked Tails.

"In a way, yes," said Leviathan. "But it's not that simple." At this, Leviathan turned his head slightly and lowered his head. "I am what caused this timeline to happen. As it was, you would probably have freed Mobius by now had I not changed the past."

"Now this is where I want to jump in," said Sonic, interrupting the mechanical raptor. "Just how exactly did you change the past?"

"When I arrived, I was ready to implement my plan, but somehow my creator had found out about my plan to betray him and installed a miniature device on my collar during one of his inspections of me. The device went unnoticed by me until my arrival ten years before we ever met in Knothole, when I was jumped by dozens of Swatbots and hover-units that homed in on the signal the device had transmitted. They managed to capture me, and then Robotnik extracted the information I carried within me."

"I follow you so far, but how does that constitute the timeline changing?" asked Slasher.

"It was through my capture that Robotnik learned the schematics to build the other mecha bots. He was already in the construction of the first one, but because of the information I carried, he discovered how to complete it almost a year before he would have. I was held captive in a special cell where I was bound and mind probed daily as Robotnik tried to divulge as much knowledge from me as he could. It was during that time that I decided I would kill him if I ever managed to escape. I watched helplessly over the next two weeks as the first mecha bot was finished, then the second one shortly after," said Leviathan.

"Hold up!" shouted Sonic, raising his hand to the raptor, stopping his speech yet again. "You're telling me that Robotnik found out how to build Metal Sonic nearly ten years before he was supposed to!?" Leviathan lowered his head, giving a slight nod.

"It was because of this that you were defeated in battle," said Leviathan. "The night before the mecha bots were brought on-line, I managed to finally override the cell I had been confined to after scanning the entire Robotropolis security grid non-stop for the two weeks I was hooked up to those torture machines. I escaped into the city, but I was unable to get very far. The Swatbots and other security kept me from doing so. The next thing I know, I hear laser shots being fired. I looked out of the alley I was in just in time to see you running down the street with the princess in your arms, Swatbots on your heels. I then made a decision to help out. An old saying goes 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'. An odd saying, but one that is logical when you think about it," said Leviathan.

"From viewing past surveillance tapes I knew you wouldn't leave the city for a little while longer. So I decided to go and wait for you near the entrance to the Great Forest to introduce myself and offer my services. However, I never got the chance. As soon as you and the princess reached the edge of the Great Forest, Metal Sonic appeared right in front of the both of you. He then made one swipe with both sets of claws, slitting both you and the princess' throats, inflicting fatal wounds that would kill you both in just a hand full of seconds. Metal Sonic ordered the Swatbots that had been still chasing you back to their posts, then looked up. I followed his gaze from my hiding spot to see Tails come running down the pathway, most likely to greet you and the princess. Metal Sonic then vanished as he cloaked himself, Tails coming to a stop when he saw you two dying in the middle of the path. I watched as he hunched over the two of them, trying not to panic, but not really able to stop himself from doing so. Then, in less than a minute, you were both gone." Leviathan was about to continue when he noticed out of the corner of his eye Sonic shaking his head back and forth slowly, his eyes shut tightly.

"No way..." he choked. Everyone else turned towards him as tears began to let themselves be known in his eyes. "No way," he said again, but this time his voice was firm, his shock ridden face twisting into scowl. "I'll kill you..." he whispered, his hands curling into fists as his teeth clenched together. Both Slasher and Saber immediately sprang to try and get a handle on Sonic, but he was too fast. Jumping from his spot so fast that no one had time to react, he flew at Leviathan, curling into a spindash and slamming himself as hard as he could into the raptor's face, knocking him into the wall and to the ground as Sonic tried to get into a proper position to initiate a second spindash without hurting the others. This time, though, he wasn't fast enough as both Slasher and Tails managed to get a grip on him from behind, lifting him off the ground as Sonic yelled at the top of his lungs for them to let him go.

"Sonic! Calm down! This won't help at all!" shouted Tails, trying to calm him back down before the other villagers heard him.

"I don't care! Let go of me now!" hollered Sonic as loud as he could.

"Listen to him, Sonic! If what Leviathan says is true, then there's nothing you can do about it! Killing him won't undo what has happened!" hollered Slasher. Sonic stopped struggling as soon as Slasher's last statement got through to him. It was true. Nothing he did now would matter. The only thing he could do now was move forward and make sure her sacrifice in this timeline didn't go to waste.

"Can we let you go safely?" asked Tails. Sonic only nodded. Slowly, the two of them released the blue hedgehog, but kept themselves at the ready to grab him again should he snap once more. Leviathan chuckled as he got back to his feet. His face had three deep gashes along his left cheek, but thanks to his ability to heal himself, the wounds quickly closed up and fused back together till you couldn't tell he had been hurt at all.

"You live up to your reputation as the fastest thing on this planet. I didn't even have time to put up my guard your attack came so fast. I'm impressed," he said.

"Just shut up," said Sonic coldly before turning and walking towards the door. "I'm gonna take a run and don't any of you dare come after me. I want to be left alone, got it?" Before anyone could answer him, a fierce gust of wind accompanied with a loud bang signaled his departure with a sonic boom.

"I know how he feels. We all lost someone real close to us that day," said Tails as the wind left in the wake of Sonic's exit died down. Slasher glanced back at the door.

"Will he be all right?" she asked. Tails merely sighed, closing his eyes and shaking his head.

"I don't know. He and Sally were the closest people I've ever seen, even if they didn't show it most of the time. I have a feeling this news hit him harder than when Robotnik first took over Mobotropolis," he answered. He turned towards the sound of Slasher sighing.

"Either way, I'm going to follow him from the air if I can. As upset as he is, there's no telling what he'll do. I'd rather be safe than sorry," she said. Tails only gave a quick nod in agreement before Slasher ran out of the hut, giving a strong flap of her golden wings as she took to the air in search of the cerulean hedgehog. Tails turned back towards the three mobians carrying Cody.

"Come on guys. We've got a friend to fix up," he said as the four of them left the hut and headed towards the workshop on the other side of the village.

Cody walked around the edge of Knothole, watching the adults doing their daily duties while the children watched him, often whispering amongst themselves. Not that he wasn't used to the kind of look the kids were giving him, but he still felt out of place in this version of Knothole. After having been filled in by Tails of what all had transpired, as well as hearing the story first hand from Leviathan, he wasn't at all surprised they looked at him as a monster. Especially so since he was a combat robot, not a typical worker-bot like all other robians.

"What's wrong?" asked Drake as he hovered along side his metallic friend. Cody looked up at the small heat-type chao, giving him a slight grin.

"Oh, it's nothing. Just a lot on my mind," said Cody as he rounded the corner of one of the huts. Behind the hut was a small garden that seemed to have several rare flowers growing in it. The first of which he noticed was a beautiful blossom as big as a person's fist. The petals were not just one color, but striped with the seven colors of the rainbow. Cody practically ran over to the flower, Drake left behind wondering what had caught his attention.

"What is it?" asked Drake. Cody bent down and cupped the flower bloom in his hands gently, trying not to harm the plant. He then looked back at Drake.

"Do you know what this is?" asked Cody.

"No. Should I?" asked Drake. Cody looked back at the flower, his eyes glowing a little brighter than normal.

"It's a Rainbow Orchid," said Cody.

"What's a Rainbow Orchid?" asked Drake.

"It's one of the rarest flowers on Mobius, found in the Great Valley Meadow in the far south if I remember right. The last time I saw one was-" said Cody before he was cut off.

"On our wedding night," finished a female voice. Cody turned around to see Lily standing behind him, Drake hovering off to her side. "You're still the floral loving hedgehog I met all those years ago," she said with smirk. Cody had seen Lily briefly when he had been talking with Leviathan, but had chosen not to say anything.

"But how could you tell-" asked Cody.

"It was you?" she finished again. "Cody, even as a robot, you're still the hedgehog I knew and loved. Besides, your name was mentioned by Tails when he first brought you to the village."

"Wait a sec. That you 'knew and loved'?" asked Cody. Lily sighed and looked towards the ground as Cody stood up.

"It was about two years after the war had started when our village came under attack. During all the confusion, we got separated. I managed to escape the village, but when I got to the place where we had planned to meet if such an attack occurred, you weren't there. I waited for over a day, but you never showed up and I was forced to leave when the patrols started getting closer to where I was waiting. That was about thirteen years ago," she said. By now, she was almost in tears. "I journeyed to the Great Valley to get a Rainbow Orchard just like the one you gave me, and I've been planting its seeds so that new ones would grow each year to so I'd have something to remember...you..." At this, she broke down, crying as Cody took her into her arms.

"It's okay Lily. It'll be all right," he said, trying to comfort her. He motioned with his head at Drake, the small chao giving a nod as he flew off in search of something to do.

"I'm scared I'll lose you again, Cody. Real scared," said Lily, her voice filled with worry.

"Don't you worry. In a few days, all of this will be a memory long forgotten," he said. "Once the timeline is fixed, you and I will be back together, having never lost each other a single time."

"But how?" she asked, breaking away from the hug slightly to look up into his yellow eyes.

"In my timeline, both of us survived the main part of the war and even with me turned into what I am now, we found a home in Knothole. If we fix the timeline, then my timeline will be the one that plays out," he said a little confused at what he had said, but reckoning that he had said it the best he could have. She gave a smile as she embraced him in another hug.

"Now that's something I'm willing to fight for," she said.

After nearly an hour of running, Sonic had finally settled down enough that he decided to stop and take a break. As he slowed down enough to get his bearings, he realized that he'd been so upset that he hadn't paid attention to where he was running and now had no clue as to where he was at. The surrounding area looked the same as any of the other scenery he had passed by. Nothing but barren wasteland littered with dead trees that had long since fallen and dried out soil that was cracked as far as the eye could see. Sighing, he spotted a boulder off in the distance. A quick sprint later he was sitting on top of it, staring at the dusty ground as his mind raced with a thousand thoughts that could not be sorted. He continued to stare at the ground for nearly twenty minutes before he heard a soft thud behind him.

"I thought I told you not to follow me," he said in a monotone voice, not looking up from where his eyes had been locked since he had sat down.

"I know," said Slasher softly as she folded her wings against her side and sat down on the rock. "I was just worried that you'd do something reckless. You didn't exactly seem to have it all together when you left."

"You think so?" he asked sarcastically, finally taking his eyes off their spot to glare over his shoulder at the winged raptor. "Well, I'm sorry about the way I reacted to the news I was told. So the most important person in my life has been dead for nearly ten years. No reason for me to get upset." Slasher frowned at him.

"Don't be like that. I never said it was wrong for you to react the way you did. I doubt I'd have reacted any differently if the same thing happened to me," she said. Sonic sighed, then turned his gaze back to its original spot.

"Sorry. I…I just never even considered what it would feel like if she was just...gone..." he said softly.

"You never realize what you truly have till it is gone. Only then do you discover how precious it was and how you regret not taking advantage of all the time you had with it," said Slasher.

"You're right..." said Sonic as he looked up at the gray, overcast sky, Slasher's gaze following his. After a few minutes of reflection, Sonic stood up and walked back to where Slasher was seated and embraced her in a hug. Slasher flinched, a little surprised at the gesture, but returned it lightly before Sonic broke it. "Thank you." The winged raptor merely smiled slightly.

"You're welcome," she said as the two of them returned their gaze to the sky, letting their minds take in all that had transpired in the last hour and knowing that they had to find a way to set things right.

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