Fold of the Flock, Underneath the West Side Island Chemical Plant Zone
Before the rise to power of Doctor Eggman, West Side Island was home to a Zone of green fields where many Mobian sheep made their home, but when the Empire made the Island the seat of their global reign, Eggman himself ordered the sheep community scattered while the first of his many chemical producing facilities was constructed on their old home. Having been transformed through industry, the aptly named Chemical Plant Zone was the most recognizable of the many like it located across the Earth, serving as a source of fuel, experimental materials, and most infamously of all, the dreaded poisonous substance known as Mega Mack.
Most of the native sheep, however, were not people who wanted to let go of their roots so easily. Although some had either left the Island entirely in fright of the Eggman Army's military approach or took their loss and decided to integrate in the surrounding areas of West Side Island such as the Casino Night Zone, the Flock, as the few Freedom Fighters among them came to be called, went underground to stage guerilla strikes against the occupying Imperials seeking to make use of the chemical weapons made in their former home for their own schemes.
Nonetheless, the Flock, despite its rebellious efforts, were down to seven members and their base of operations which they termed the Fold was slowly decaying like the other ruins that the Chemical Plant Zone was built over. Still, some of the members tried to make the best out of their situation.
"Show me seven!" A tall Mobian sheep with a long white beard and wearing a green shirt with a sheep skull printed on it declared as he let go of a pair of dice on the floor he sat on and watched as they then revealed a single star on one and three stars on the other. "What?! Four's an unlucky number in most parts of the world!" He exclaimed in frustration.
To add salt on his wounds, the other sheep he was playing with that wore a biker's jacket and glasses could not help but laugh at his predicament. "Well, Roberto, I win again! No hard feelings, right?"
Roberto scoffed audibly as he replied. "Laugh it up, Eyles. I'll get you next time for sure."
Hearing footsteps approaching them, Eyles turned to see another member of the Flock, Fell, who wore a black shirt, look at them in mounting anger. "Hey, Fell. Care to join us?" He asked, not seeing any problem.
The angry looking sheep responded by kicking the dice away and yelling at the stunned Roberto and Eyles. "We're on the verge of going down the toilet, and you jerks are following Baa's footsteps?! Why don't you just spare us all the racket and go straight to the casinos already like those other idiots?!"
Not liking Fell's words, both Roberto and Eyles stood up straight and glared at him challengingly. "Oh, yeah?" They said in unison.
"Naturally." Fell replied unflinchingly and things looked ready for a brawl until a sharp woman's voice yelled out.
With all three male sheep spooked, they turned to the nearby table where the yeller, their own leader, Sab, was alongside the armored Elitta, the light green-shirt wearing Corona, and the lone ram of the whole Flock, Ari. All four looked at Fell, Eyles, and Roberto disapproving as they stood over a map of the Chemical Plant Zone.
"You three might as well give all sheep men a bad name, you know that, right?" Said Elitta with a shake of her head.
"Yeah, I definitely don't remember Sol being that lackluster in manners." Corona commented which drew narrowed gazes from Ari and the other women in the Fold which prompted her to look down in shame. "Sorry, too soon."
Looking guilty, Fell then exhaled and spoke. "Sorry, people. I'm just not happy with our lack of good luck right now."
Sighing, Sab herself said. "Look, everyone, this is a bad time, I know. My ex-boyfriend left us to become one of Nutzan Bolt's security guards and "change things", Baa Humbug took up gambling and came back a psychotic maniac who hates Christmas, the Flock is down to the seven of us, and just two days ago, those Imperialist big shots had a party in Eggman's palace to gloat at all of us from afar." Slamming a fist down on the table, she nonetheless proclaimed. "Nevertheless, I refuse to give up! And I think we have an opportunity to show the Empire that we're not dead yet!" Seeing that she had everyone's focus, Sab smirked as she turned to Ari. "Alright, Zonerunner Ari, you've got the floor."
Smiling back at the colorful nickname Sab gave him due to hailing from Northamer before falling in with the Flock, the Mobian ram then gestured to the map and began to say. "I've analyzed the map from top to bottom and I'm positive I see a direct yet no less secret way into the administration building and right under both Nutzan and Megatox's nonexistent noses. Sonic the Hedgehog should be on his way to meet with them soon, and once he shows up, we'll strike at all of them until we make sure Sonic can't even crawl his way back to Metropolis."
"And you're sure that this won't come back to bite us?" Elitta asked for the sake of argument. "I know Egg Boss Sonic is one of the Doctor's top lackeys with the actual speed power to match, but how do we know Eggman will even negotiate with us once we capture the hedgehog?"
"Honestly, Elitta, this is probably supposed to be one of those times where we're all too desperate to care." Ari admitted, even though his facial expression showed he shared her concerns.
"I admit that it's risky." Interjected Sab. "And seeing as how Sonic has actual good points for being so popular, we won't be winning many hearts and minds from the people. Still, if we can grab him, we can ransom him for food, medicine, weapons, and a way to get off West Side Island and fight another day." Seeing everyone but Ari trading uncertain looks, Sab added. "Yes, I am not eager to leave our home either, but the cold hard truth is we can't win this on our own. If there are other Resistance groups out there, we need to link up with them and be ready to take the fight back when we have multiple people than just the seven of us."
Upon seeing her Freedom Fighters swap their uncertainty with looks of determination, Sab then raised her right fist in anticipation. "So, let's do this thing!"
"Yes, ma'am!" The Flock responded altogether.
Chemical Plant Administrator's Office
Having been called to the Chemical Plant Zone of West Side Island to participate in a discussion over what was termed "an economic opportunity" from the Casino Night Zone's tourism promoter, Smiley the Shark, Sonic had come to listen to the card shark's proposal, no matter how boring he figured it would be, and although he was surprised and even impressed by what Smiley really offered, he had to set a responsible standard all the same.
Turning to the shark while they were both seated at a round table alongside the two most crucial Chemical Plant staff members, Sonic said. "Smiley, I enjoy a good race as much as the next Speed Type, and if you could think of a better racecourse that doesn't involve the Chemical Plant Zone, I'd instantly approve, but I can't approve of what you've already presented."
Showing the palms of his hands in a negligent way, Smiley replied. "Oh, come now, Egg Boss. So, I'm suggesting the Chemical Plant be part of the racetrack. Is that really such a bad thing when we're talking millions of Mobiums here?"
Sonic was about to retort Smiley's careless comment when the Badnik General in the room snapped first.
"You aquatic hustler! How dare you try to bribe the glorious Egg Boss Sonic away from his noble ideals with your talk of big money?!"
Although seeing Smiley intimidated by the purple, giant Badnik gave Sonic an internal feeling of smugness, the hedgehog nonetheless ordered. "Try to relax, Nutzan. I know he's imperfect, but Doctor Eggman still sees value in him for whatever reason."
Nutzan Bolt's behavior underwent a drastic change as he then turned to Sonic with an enthusiastic salute. "As you command, o distinguished Egg Boss of the Acorn Archipelago!"
With Smiley taking a deep breath to calm himself while Sonic internally wondered how and why the Chemical Plant's head of security apparently was to him as Thunderbolt was to Eggman, the last person in the room called for attention. "Gentlemen, if you're quite finished arguing, I have my own analysis to give."
Scratching the back of his head sheepishly, Sonic replied. "Go ahead, Doctor Megatox."
"Thank you." The aptly titled Megatox, chief scientist and overall administrator of the Plant said back before turning to Smiley. A co-creator of Mega Mack alongside Eggman himself, Doctor Mackenzie Mega was once a normal Human being majoring in chemistry as well as chemical warfare who hailed from the Military Republic of Overland as his future superior did. However, an accidental exposure to Mega Mack resulted in him being mutated into a purple being made entirely out of the substance, but it was nonetheless, a boon in some ways of making him a formidable fighter, even though he needed the Humanoid mech he was inserted into for the meeting to interact with his allies without poisoning them. "In any event, Smiley, I respect your sense of opportunism, but you must realize that there are multiple dangers with making this Zone a part of that race you're campaigning for. People would get hurt, employees would get distracted from their work, the Chemical Plant would be potentially damaged, and as far as I can imagine, the race itself would distract security from realizing someone is stealing important resources and secrets."
"Exactly!" Sonic said in agreement with Nutzan nodding his head in kind.
For his part, Smiley seemed to have gotten the hint. "Well, when you put it like that, I could remake the plans a bit when I'm back at my own office."
Sonic was about to say that the card shark was thinking smart when he then heard a large boom that shook the administration building itself.
Not wasting a moment, Nutzan turned to his built-in communicator on his left wrist and called for his top lieutenants. "Tess Tube, Sol Furic, what just happened?!"
"It sounds like the Flock have broken in, sir!" The Mobian Rough Collie, Tess, said through the communicator.
"We'll deal with them right away, sir!" Sol, who had defected from the Flock long beforehand, added.
"See that you do!" Nutzan shouted before turning to Sonic and Smiley. "Given the situation, I believe it would be best if you and the promoter stayed here for now, Egg Boss Sonic."
"You sure you don't need any help, Nutzan?" Asked Sonic.
Megatox answered for him. "No need to trouble yourself, sir. We wouldn't be proving ourselves capable of managing the Chemical Plant Zone if we allowed you to do all the work for us."
With Megatox and Nutzan having left to provide firepower against the rebels, Sonic was left alone with a cowering Smiley before a nearby emergency door opened to reveal a Mobian ram, firearm in hand, running straight for the card shark and grabbing him while glaring at Sonic emphatically.
"I believe you're the only good person in the whole Egg Boss lineup, Sonic, so if you have some concern for this corrupt scum for whatever reason, I expect you to come along with me, or else." The ram said with his gun pointed towards Smiley's horror-stricken face.
Sighing, Sonic replied. "Looks like this is an unlucky day then." He then added with a glare towards the rebel. "For you." Nonetheless, he held his arms out for a pair of hand cuffs to hold them together while he was led away with a panicking Smiley left behind to call for help.
While I am still not closer to figuring out if either Clove or Cassia would be fitting to be Egg Boss Sonic's girlfriend, I did have some inspiration of how Sonic the Comic's Nutzan Bolt, who pathologically despised Sonic despite never meeting him, among other characters would interact with him as his subordinate, and I remembered that Armia, author of Time Trials, was curious on how the Resistance against the Eggman Empire would handle things without him by their side, so I decided to do the best I could.
You know, while I did not like how the complete SATAM series on DVD lacked closed captioning, it is a shame that Archie did not adapt the Freedom Fighter leader, Ari, in their Sonic comics. Granted, they potentially would have had to give depth to the members of his team like they did with the Wolf Pack from the Pre-Super Genesis Wave continuity, but one good thing at a time. In any event, since it feels like a hassle to expand on a bunch of nameless guys that got Roboticized in their debut episode, I think making Ari a member of the Flock from Sonic the Comic would be a bit more practical in terms of executing character relations and things like, so that is what I will do in my composite works.
Heck, since the only members of the Flock that were named in canon were Sol Furic and his probable love interest and leader, Sab, I can imagine saving some room for characters by replacing the five unnamed grunts with named sheep characters from other settings such as IDW's Lanolin, who could be connected in some way, even if she does not get in on the action until the Forces aftermath, and I already have an idea of how Sonic the Comic's Baa Humbug would go from a Freedom Fighter to a Christmas-hating lunatic, but for this piece, and for when I eventually reintroduce Sol and Sab in After the End, I figured that names derived Roberto Corona, Mark Eyles, and Elitta Fell, who all worked on the comic strip that introduced the Flock, would work for the nameless extras, just as I named their "Freedom HQ" after a sheep's pen.
As for what Megatox is "piloting", I saw fan art of him on DeviantArt in a kind of mech that gave me vibes reminiscent of both Mega Man and the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and since Megatox's condition would make real socializing unobtainable, I figured that giving him a kind of "bubble walker" would be workable.
Speaking of old stuff, Nutzan's physical appearance reminds me of the Decepticon Lugnut's from Transformers Animated, which fits with the attitude I gave him in this piece, so that is something.
In the meantime, I also like to say that a serial work depicting how numerous characters aside from Sonic would work for the Eggman Empire, which I appropriately named Under the Eggman Empire, should be in the works as well.