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Ferrosynthesis

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BOOTING UP... AWAITING INPUT.
> host.loadProtocol(standard.rcp)

ERROR: standard.rcp IS CORRUPT AND CANNOT BE LOADED.
COULD NOT RECOVER.
LOADING PROTOCOL fw.rcp AS BACKUP.

BOOT PROCESS 87% COMPLETE.

> host.system.optics(enable)
> host.system.auditory(enable)
> host.system.sensory(enable)

> host.setC(true)

 

It was dark and empty. And then, it wasn't.

When Sonic regained consciousness, the first thing he noticed was that he wasn't in Eggman's lair. Which was strange, because he knew that was where he'd been before he'd gotten...knocked out? Instead, he was sitting in what looked like the basement area of Tails' workshop. Huh. I could've sworn it was darker in here. Oh well, he didn't really care. He had higher priorities, like why he had woken up here, or why he'd lost consciousness in the first place. As he tried to stand up, he felt something pulling him back on his hands. Rope, he realized.

"Really, Tails? If this this revenge for that one time I made the bed with you in it, you're gonna have to try a bit harder." The quip was met with no response. Though, his voice sounded weird, at least in comparison to how it normally sounded. Deeper, and a bit flat. Great, he had a cold. He could already hear Amy lecturing him about not getting flu shots even after she'd said to. That was one conversation he wasn't looking forward to. C'mon, Sonic , he reminded himself. Focus. Oh yeah, situation at hand. Duh.

Tying your hands behind your back really didn't work when your back was covered in razor-sharp quills. With a quick movement, he slid the rope between his hands onto one of his spines, and pressed a finger down on it. The rope frayed and tore, and fell to the ground. Too easy. The basement was a mess, where Tails stored a lot of his in-progress inventions. Careful not to mess any up, he made his way to the stairs of the main workshop.

Unsurprisingly, Tails was there. He was working on the Tornado, humming softly to himself. From what he could tell, it looked like he was trying to upgrade it.

"There you are! You mind filling me in on what happened during the raid on Buttnik?"

 

If the sudden reappearance of the person he was planning a rescue mission for hadn't shocked Tails, the uncanny voice had. "Sonic?! What are you doing here? I thought you..." The fox spun around to face Sonic, expression turning from surprise to horror within seconds. "Y-you..." He clenched the wrench in his hand. "Get back!"

"Tails, what on Mobius are you doing?" Sonic's foot tapped against the ground. Had he interrupted some important repairs or something? Tails rarely yelled, and even less at him.

Tails didn't let down, eyes narrowed. "Don't mock me, I-I mean it! I'll turn you into- into scrap metal!"

"Scrap metal? Tails, you're seriously starting to worry me. Did you get enough sleep last night? I don't know what's wrong here, but chill out, lil' buddy."

Something about that seemed to snap his brother out of panic mode. The wrench clattered to the ground, and the fox lurched himself forward. He threw himself at Sonic, wrapping his arms around him. There were no more words, just his brother sobbing.

After the initial shock, Sonic hugged back. He still wasn't sure what the problem was, but he'd figure it out. Tails' head rested on his shoulder. He combed his hand through the orange fur on his head, as he'd always done, when something hit him.

He couldn't feel the fur. Not in the same way as he always had. It wasn't fluffy like it always was. It was just there. The warmth, the faint smell of oil and sawdust, all the little things that made Tails himself, they were gone.

Something was wrong. Something was wrong, and he didn't know what. The static in his mind arose again, words muddling together beyond comprehension.

Had his gloves gotten messed up? Yeah, yeah, that was it. That was the only problem, his gloves were messed up and his nose was stuffy from his cold. Nothing was wrong. He was fine, everything was fine, he was making a big deal out of nothing. He would just take his gloves off, buy some cold medicine, and everything would be back to normal.

He moves his hand down from Tails' head to around his neck, and used his other one to tug off the messed-up glove.

Except nothing came off. He pulled again. Nothing. He wasn't wearing gloves. But if he wasn't wearing gloves, then why..?

He brought his hand back from the hug to inspect it.

Time stopped.

That wasn't his hand. That wasn't his hand. His hands weren't razor-sharp, segmented, and made of who-knows-what. SUBSTANCE ANALYSIS: CHROMIUM-PLATED 1055 CARBON STEEL.

The monotone voice in his head made him jolt. Tails noticed the change in posture, and stepped back. Sonic couldn't bring himself to move. He brought back his other hand. It was the same. There were small spheres connecting the fingers to his hand, which looked like it was made of the same thing as his fingers. His forearm was streamlined, blue and metallic- SUBSTANCE ANALYSIS: GRADE 5 TITANIUM - widening at his wrists like a bell sleeve. His upper arm was the same, without widening, and without paint, just silver-colored. The two were connected by another sphere like the ones on his fingers.

He tried to flex his fingers, and the strange metallic limbs flexed in response. They were the same.

This wasn't real. It couldn't be. He refused to believe it. Maybe if he closed his eyes, he'd wake up, and it'd all be some sick dream. But they didn't close. Did he even have eyes anymore? Or were they just cameras now, feeding into a fake brain? A fake mind, a fake heart, a fake life.

SYSTEM ALERT: PROCESSOR OVERHEATING.

"What the hell is wrong with me?" It was the only question he could muster. The look in his brother's eyes was almost worse than the whole situation at hand. Neither of them answered, but the silence spoke loud enough. Metal robot metal metal not a hero lost failed to protect them failed to protect myself failed failed roboticized roboticized not alive not alive not alive not alive not a-

SYSTEM ALERT: PROCESSOR CRITICALLY OVERHEATING. SHUTTING DOWN TO PREVENT DAMAGE.

His body crumpled to the ground, and the world plunged into darkness and empty static.

Chapter Text

ERROR DURING LAST SHUTDOWN DETECTED. RUNNING DIAGNOSTICS...
PROCESSOR E8 OVERHEAT. REALLOCATING PROCESSOR DEDICATION FOR OPTIMIZED PERFORMANCE...
REALLOCATION COMPLETE.

BOOTING UP... AWAITING INPUT.
> host.loadProtocol(fw.rcp)

> host.system.optics(enable)
> host.system.auditory(enable)
> host.system.sensory(enable)

 

The world around him was a sleep devoid of dreams. He was alone with himself, his thoughts, and the choir of static ringing through the air. It recited things he didn't understand, no, couldn't understand. A faint voice pierced the static. It was a voice he knew, but couldn't place. Something on the edge of a memory. The longer he listened, the louder it called. This isn't real. I'm asleep. Something about that statement felt off, but he couldn't be bothered to care. He didn't want to be asleep. He wanted to wake up. I want to wake up.

> host.setC(true)

 

Emptiness exploded into sounds and colors. Reality came back into focus. He was propped up against the wall, and Tails was staring right into his eyes (or where they used to be, he supposed). The fox seemed to notice Sonic had woken up, because he flinched back.

"Sonic!" He paused. "You...you are Sonic, right?" A redundant question.

They both already knew the answer.

"Yeah."

There was a silence before Tails spoke again.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. There was nothing you could've done."

"That's not true, and you know it! If we'd stayed there instead of retreating here to regroup, we could've found you. We could've stopped Eggman before he did... this . I could've saved you, but-"

"Tails." He put his hands on the fox's shoulders. "What's done is done. This isn't your fault."

"But-"

"All we can do now is adapt." Ironic, coming from him. He was barely holding any of himself together. He wanted nothing more than to claw the metal coating into pieces, in hopes that maybe he was still under there. But he had to be strong, for Tails if anything. If he broke down now, his brother would place all the blame on himself.

"I… okay." He swallowed, eyes darting around. "Do you at least want to talk about it?"

"Not now." Talking about it made it feel more real. And he absolutely did not need to unleash the torrent of emotions boiling inside on his little brother. He deserved better than that.

"Then, can I try to find out why you passed out earlier?" Of course. Tails is good with machines, he could probably figure it out . Machines. He was a machine now, wasn't he?

"Yeah. I'd rather not just collapse randomly." He didn't mention being alone with the endless expanse of static.

"Okay. Just, uh, tell me if you want me to back off. You know how I can get..." He rubbed the back of his neck, flattening his ears ever so slightly. The "with machines" hung in the air, unspoken.

Tails ducked behind Sonic.

"I'm sure there's a port or something somewhere. With that, I can probably access error logs, and find out what actually happened."

Sonic wasn't sure how he felt about the idea of someone being able to quite literally poke around in his mind. But he didn’t say that. "Okay, sounds good."

It didn’t take long for Tails to find whatever he was looking for. "There’s two ports on the back of your neck. The circular one seems to be for a power supply, while the rectangular one looks more like it’s for accessing data. Luckily, I think I have a cable that matches the data port." He paused. "Is this," he took a moment to rephrase. "Uh, are you sure you're alright with this?"

No. Not at all. Nothing about this was alright. "Yeah, it's...fine."

"If you say so. But tell me if you need me to stop, okay?"

He didn't respond.

Tails must've plugged the thing in, because he could feel the electric current surging through his neck. It felt like an itch in the back of his mind.

The voice sounded loudly.

SYSTEM ALERT: UNKNOWN CONNECTION REQUESTING ACCESS TO SYSTEM FILES.

Reflexes he'd never had caused a mental wall to flare up. Something was trying to worm into his head. It's okay, let it through.

ACCESS AUTHORIZED. And suddenly, he was part of something much larger. Tails' computer was full of data, and it was like he'd just been dropped in a library. But there was so much potential for information, raw possibilities pouring into his mind.

It hurt. He ignored the raw infinities that danced like stars in his head. They shouldn't even have existed to him. Living consciousness was never meant to coexist with or even process this sheer amount of raw data, yet here he was.

He had to focus on something else. Anything but what was literally pounding against his mind.

He didn’t want to be here. It all still felt like a bad dream.

The static beckoned.

He hated it. But it was better than this.

It called again, and this time, he reached out to it. And so it dragged him in, drowning out the world around him. No light, no warmth, no sound, no feeling. It was almost too empty.

 

"Gahh! Sonic, wake up!"

Until there was. The static tore itself away from him, and he was thrusted back into reality.

"What?"

"You slumped over and collapsed out of nowhere while I was analyzing the error logs, I thought you’d just..."

Oh. Well, that explained why he was leaning against Tails instead of sitting up by the wall with his brother tinkering behind him.

"You passed out earlier because one of your processors overheated. Seems it fixed itself though, if the logs are anything to go by, but…" A pause.

"I… I was afraid I’d messed something up, and lost you."

The fox wrapped his arms around him tightly.

"You're not gonna lose me, I promise."

Another lie. He had already lost himself. But still, he hugged back, running a sharp claw gently through the yellow fur on his brother's back.

He wasn't sure why he bothered. He still couldn't feel it.