“Mr Sonic! Mr Sonic where are you?” A little rabbit’s voice could be heard around the wreckage of the Death Egg 2.0 that had come off before its retreat. Cream, Tails, Sally, Rotor and Big (he’s Big, he’s everywhere) were wandering around the wreckage searching for their friend, Sonic. The little Rabbit was calling his name, while Tails searched through the wreckage for any sign of him. The two adults followed them, Sally looking increasingly worried with each cry for Sonic’s name while Big was oblivious to everything, glancing at a strange piece of steel or debris every once and a while. The wreckage was horribly silent. Piles of scrap and glass littered the ground. Torn wires sparking and swaying dangerously in the wind. The only real sounds that could were their echoing cries and footsteps. So when they heard the sound of someone else moving around somewhere in the distance, they were on it in an instant.
"Come on!" Tails called out, already picking up the pace, "That's got to be him!"
Sally chased after him, “Tails wait! We don’t know what it could be!” The rest of the group ran after them, the young fox leading the charge with hope. Years of keeping up with Sonic had paid off for him as he sped past remnants of the doomsday machine. Sally kept calling his name and telling him to slow down. “Tails! Stop now!”
The fox came to a grinding halt, the sounds of movement could no longer be heard. The poor child was looking around with concern written all over his face. The group caught up to him and the princess gave him a stern look, “Don’t run off like that. You don’t know if there are some straggling robots around.”
“I’m sorry,” he said without looking at her, “I just. I just want to find him.”
“I wanna find him too,” Cream solemnly said.
"We all want to find him," Sally sighed, her tone a little softer now, "but I don't want either of you two going missing alongside him."
The two kids nodded sadly. Sally quickly took the opportunity of the silence, “How about we regroup with the others and come back. We’ll have more eyes to search for him then.”
"Guys," Big spoke up out of nowhere, his hand outstretched and pointing, "there's something blue and spiky over there."
"It's him!" Tails shot off without hesitation, eyes focused on where Big had been pointing.
"Tails wait!" Sally cried, cupping her hands over her mouth. After seeing that Tails was already beyond stopping, she called out something else. "Be careful!" Sally then turned to the rest of the group, "We'd better follow him, just in case that's not Sonic." Big and Cream nodded.
Tails' eyes scanned the wreckage, until he saw exactly what Big had been talking about. A blue, spiky looking figure, lying amongst the rubble. The fox boy swooped downwards towards the ground, and ran up to the figure.
But something seemed wrong, and as Tails drew closer and closer, that feeling only grew stronger. Perhaps it was the light playing tricks on him, but there was a strange, unnatural shine all over the figure's body. Tails' run became slower, more cautious. The hedgehog's spines were oddly stiff looking, not a single one bent or flopped over. The final seal came when the creature revealed it's eyes. They were black void eyes with gradient irises changing colour as if they were glitching.
Tails recoiled in shock, staring right at what he now knew was a robot. The robot was now looking up at him, and, to Tails' surprise was making beeping noises at the fox. It was trying to get out from under the rubble, it screeched as it struggled. Tails observed it cautiously. He'd never seen this specific robot before. Another new Metal Sonic model, perhaps?
Tails turned away, ready to leave it under the debris. The beeping grew louder, rapid and frantic. The fox stiffened, ears flopping to the side of his head. The sounds were almost as if… as if it was pleading for help. Carefully, he stepped closer to the robot, making sure to be on guard, in case it was a trick. The robot did nothing more than plead in it's strange, robotic language, and stare with wide, glitchy eyes.
Tails gave in. Maybe it was because the robot looked so much like his missing brother, but he didn't really like the thought of leaving it trapped here. So the fox boy got to work, shifting crumbled rocks and scrap metal with all his might, until finally, the robot was free.
The robot struggled to its feet, swaying uneasily, looking rather clumsy. Then, out of nowhere, it did something unexpected.
It wrapped its arms around Tails.
The robot's grip was strong, and Tails instantly felt the air evaporate from his lungs. So it had been a trap!? He struggled against the robot as best he could.
The other Freedom Fighters burst onto the scene, forever blessed with convenient timing. Sally took the situation in quickly, and without hesitation plunged a ring blade right into the side of the robot's head. Tails was let go immediately as the robot tumbled backwards onto the ground.
"Are you alright, Tails?" Cream asked, offering a hand to the twin-tailed fox who was gasping for air.
"Y-yeah," Tails coughed out.
Sally glared at the robot, towering over it now that it was on the ground. She raised her arm, preparing another ring blade. The robot let out another set of frantic beeps, and covered the damaged part of its head with its hands, in a desperate attempt to defend itself. It tried to crawl away from the angry chipmunk, using its robotic language to try to speak to her. When it realised that wasn't working, the robot switched to an entirely different tactic. Using it's hands, it acted out…
"The old Freedom Fighter handshake?" Sally gasped. Her expression flickered from rage to confusion to a look of pure horror. "S-Sonic?" The now robotic hedgehog gave a thumbs-up, head lowered to avoid seeing his friend's bewildered faces.
Sally looked at the damage she had done to her friend, and grimaced. "I'm so sorry, Sonic," the princess confessed, her voice heavy with guilt. She held her hand out, and offered it to the robian. He hesitated for a second, before accepting, allowing her to pull him to his feet. The new Robian looked at the fox with an upset look. His ears drooped down a little as he saw Tails still collecting breath.
"Can you walk?" Sally asked, recalling Bunnie being wobbly on her feet for a while after being partially roboticized. The robot nodded, but he only lasted two steps before falling to the ground letting out static cry.
"Mr. Sonic!?" Cream cried, startled by hearing the loud metallic clang from the robian colliding with the floor.
Sonic found himself feeling quite perplexed. Why couldn't he walk right?
Sally offered him her hand again, and let him lean on her as they walked.
"What're we going to do with him Miss Sally?" Cream asked.
"We're taking him to Sir Charles," Sally replied, taking the lead, "he'll know what to do." Sonic tilted his head to the side, looking slightly puzzled. "What's wrong, Sonic?" Sally questioned. The answer came out as a few mechanical noises that nobody could make head nor tail of.
"I wish we could understand him," Big mumbled, studying the robot with his usual round eyes.
"Nicole might be able to help us translate what he's saying," Tails suggested.
"It's possible," Sally agreed. She instinctively went to grab the hand-heldcomputer that was usually clipped to her boot, only to realise it wasn't there. "We'll ask her later." Sally added, with no way to contact her holographic friend right now.
"Hang in there, Sonic," Tails said, watching his brother stumble a little more. Tails felt bad for thinking his brother had been attacking him back there. Looking back, it had been much more a hug than anything else. He might be used to the new strength his robotic arms now have. The place where Sally had plunged a ring blade into him didn't look too bad, but did let off a few sparks every now and again.
Now just inside New Mobotropolis, the Freedom Fighters noticed many pairs of eyes were now on them. Or rather, many pairs of eyes were on him. It seemed nearly every citizen wanted to take a peek at the robot they were carrying with them. Sally ignored them all, and kept walking straight ahead, still supporting Sonic. Tails shot some 'it's none of your business' glares at various people. A couple of folk tried asking questions, but again they were ignored. Sally decided that she would deal with all this once they got Sonic looked at.
Keeping the time in mind, Sally headed over to the science center, hoping to find Sonic's uncle there.
"Sally!" The princess turned her head to spot Rotor and Bunnie headed towards them.
"What's going on guys? What's with this crowd?" Rotor asked.
"Did something happen whilst ya'll were-" Bunnie stopped mid-sentence, noticing the Robian the group they were helping stand on two feet. Sonic tilted his head, why were they looking at him like that? Was there something on his face? Other than the hole in his head of course. "Oh my-"
"It's Sonic." Sally replied sternly, picking her pace back up on the way into the center. "We're taking him to Sir Charles."
"And getting him out of sight," she added, quieter this time, so that only the Freedom Fighters could hear her.
Pushing the doors open, she headed inside. Sonic's eyes scanned the area, taking in every little detail, almost as if the place was unfamiliar to him. Sally frowned slightly. Hadn't Sonic been here before?
Thankfully, Sally's prediction had been correct, as she bumped into Charles whilst walking down a corridor. Sonic came to a halt, staring at the hedgehog with a red/green eye, (the one on the damaged side of his head was no longer there, having flickered out completely due to the damage) seemingly apprehensive. "Sonic?" Sally tried to pull him forwards, towards his uncle, but Sonic resisted slightly. The robian didn't look aggressive, just...wary. "What's wrong?"
"Sonic?" Charles approached his nephew, his voice filled with disbelief. He didn't want to believe it. Upon hearing the hedgehog's voice, Sonic seemed to warm up to him, becoming less resistant, his eyes turning almost fully green.
"That was weird," Sally thought to herself. "It's almost like he didn't recognise him for a second."
"What's going on?" Charles asked, staring at his nephew.
"We'll explain it all soon, Charles," Rotor answered. "But the short story is that Sonic got roboticized, and he's damaged."
Charles nodded. He looked rather tense. "Come with me then." He led them through the center, towards somewhere where he could help his nephew.
"I should probably mention that Sonic can't talk like this," Sally explained as they walked.
"Can't talk?" Charles raised an eyebrow.
"Not in a way that we can understand, no." Sally clarified.
"It just comes out as beeps and boops," Big added, Cream and Tails nodded in confirmation.
Almost as if on cue, Sonic let out some beeps, boops and static noises while tilting his head in confusion. Charles returned the gesture with a confused look of his own, “Strange. Did Nicole give any insight into the matter?”
Sally shook her head, “Sonic had the handheld when everything went off. I think I saw what was left of it near the area that we found Sonic.”
Charles hummed for a second, “Well, we can always call her over while we fix him up.” Charles gestured for the group to follow him.
As the group journeyed to a room to repair the damaged Robian, Sonic took the time to look around with his good eye. He was making robotic noises of curiosity. Sally studied this action carefully. She knew this wasn't Sonic's favourite place in the world, but surely he'd been here at least once before. Maybe he was just distracting himself.
"Sit up here then," Charles patted a space on a workbench, indicating that Sonic should sit there. Sonic tried to comply, but got a total of three steps on his own before falling flat on his face, earning him sympathetic glances from his cyborg friend and formerly roboticized uncle.
Tails lifted his brother to his feet, and helped set him down where Charles had wanted him. Sonic didn't understand. Why was he having so much trouble moving? He let out a frustrated beep as he was helped onto the table.
After seeing that Sonic was safe and ready to be examined, Sally made her way towards another room.
"I'm going to go see if I can get Nicole. Be back in a second."
"So, care to explain what happened now?" Charles asked, beginning to examine Sonic.
"I don't know entirely," Tails said. "But they were aboard the Death Egg II, and suddenly there was an explosion. We found him like that in the wreckage."
"With his free will already intact?" Charles frowned.
"I think so," Tails confirmed.
"Mr. Sonic tried to give Tails a hug, but he was too strong!" Cream explained. Sonic lowered his head and let out a quiet beep.
The room fell quiet as the examination was continued. "That's interesting," Charles muttered, breaking the silence.
"What is?" Asked Tails.
"He's got a power gem as an energy source. It's here, on his back, see?" Tails moved to peer at the gem. That was definitely intriguing. He'd never seen a Robian have one of those before.
"You called for me?" Everyone collectively jumped, as Nicole popped into existence before their eyes. Well, everyone except Sonic. He seemed a bit too surprised as he fell off the exam table, with a robotic squeak. Tails and Charles quickly rushed to his side to help him up. Nicole gave the group a perplexed look, “What is going on? Who is this?”
“That’s sugarhog,” Bunnie replied. Nicole’s expression turned from bewilderment to shocked. The fastest thing alive, roboticized? She faced Sonic, who was now back on the table, looking at her. Well, he kinda had to as Charles was fixing the side of his head. But the way he was looking at her, it was almost as if he didn’t recognise her. The bot let out a small bleep. Thankfully, Nicole understood it well, “Hello.”
“Can you understand him?” Rotor asked.
Nicole nodded, “Yes. It is a form of robotic speech.” Upon hearing this, Sonic started letting out variations of beeps, bleeps, boops and static. Nicole made a stop motion with her hand, “Hold on, slow down. You are speaking too fast.” The metal hedgehog stopped for a second and began speaking in the robot language again but slower. The group stood in silence while Nicole listened. At a certain point, the Holo-Lynx perked up and stopped him again, “Wait, repeat that again.” The robot repeated his last variations of beep boops. Her ears drooped to the side of her head.
Cream looked up at Nicole and asked, “What’s wrong Ms Nicole? Is Mr Sonic ok?”
Nicole shook her head sadly, “No. I’m afraid not.” She turned to the group with a solemn look, “He has no memory of any of us.”
There were a few gasps, followed by a collective stunned silence.
"But how did he know the old Freedom Fighter handshake?" Sally asked after a while.
"I do not believe he's suffered a complete memory loss," Nicole explained. "Just a large one."
Sally took several deep breaths, making a plan in her head. "OK, Charles, Rotor, Tails, Nicole you stay here and keep working on Sonic." Those four nodded. "Cream, Big, please go and find Mr. and Mrs Hedgehog and tell them to meet me outside the science center."
"Will do, Miss Sally!"
The two set off to go and find Sonic's parents.
"Bunnie, can you find Antoine keep watch over the city? Just in case any stray badniks are lurking around."
"Sure thing, Sally-girl."
Sonic watched them all in silence. Memory loss? That would explain how he somehow knew he could trust these people, he supposed. "So, Nicole," Charles addressed the holographic lynx. "Do you know how Sonic got roboticized? Because you were there right?"
"Yes, I was," Nicole said. "Eggman created a machine called the 'World Roboticizer'. If fired correctly, it would've roboticized everyone. All we could do to stop it was direct its blast into one small area but…"
"That's where you and Sonic were…" Tails finished, piecing the story together.
Roboticized. The word played over and over in Sonic's mind, a word he'd heard many times in the past hour. He didn't know what it meant.
"Nicole, what does 'roboticize' mean?"
"Roboticize? Well, when someone is roboticized, they get turned from an organic being into a robotic one."
Sonic stared down at his metallic hands. An image flashed in his mind, the same hands but with white gloves. Was this why he was so clumsy now? Because he was usually flesh and blood? He suddenly didn't want to be a robot. He wanted to be himself, the real him! But what was the 'real him' even like? He didn't know!
The robian hedgehog began panicking, his mind stuck in a loop of questions with no awnsers. He clutched the side of his face, beeping in distress.
"S-Sonic?" Tails stared in fright at his stressed bother. "Hey, hey.” Tails took his hands into his own, “It’s ok, it’ll be ok.” Sonic fixated on the little fox, the bot looking like he was gonna cry. If he could that is.
"It's okay, Sonic," Rotor added. "We'll get this sorted out."
Charles said nothing. Having invented the roboticizer, and knowing a lot about it, he was having some doubts about whether they would be able to turn Sonic back to flesh and blood. But he couldn't give up yet, not so quickly. "Tails, Rotor, get some tools."
"What're we doing?" Tails asked, curious.
"We're going to do a thorough examination."
While the three of them got to work on the new Robian, Sally stood waiting outside the science centre waiting for Sonic’s parents. She was getting so impatient that she started doing Sonic’s old foot tapping routine. Perhaps it hadn't been an amazing decision to send Big and Cream. Though she cared for and respected them a lot, she had to admit that they weren't the fastest.
Two minutes turned to five minutes.
Five minutes turned to ten.
Sally began pacing back and forth. Then, thankfully, she spotted them in the distance, headed for her.Now that they were here however, Sally felt herself tense up inside. Something told her that delivering this news was going to be hard.
"You wanted to see us, Princess?" Bernadette looked just as stressed as Sally, if not more.
"Yes, thank you for coming," Sally swallowed a lump in her throat.
"Keep it together, Sally," she thought to herself.
"I...have to deliver some bad news," Sally forced herself to keep the sorrow out of her voice.
"Sonic has been, r-roboticized, and as a result has lost a lot of his memory."
"A-Ah. I see." Bernadette's initial reaction was short, and quietly spoken. She looked as though she was trying to keep herself together, but she couldn't stop herself from trembling slightly. Jules' expression was harder to read, but he was definitely upset, eyes angled downwards, perhaps lost in thought, taking in the news.
The two quietly took each other's hands, both in a stunned state of silence.
"Can we see him?" Jules asked eventually.
"In a bit," Sally sighed. "Once the guys in there are done looking at him, seeing what they can do."
"Do you think they'll be able to change him back?" questioned Bernadette.
"I don't know," Sally answered truthfully. "I really don't know."
Cream, who had been standing politely nearby throughout the whole conversation, couldn't take it anymore. She already felt bad for poor Sonic, being turned into a robot and not being able to remember anything, and now she felt really bad for these guys too! She had to help!
"Don't worry!" Cream gave her best thumbs up, like Sonic always gave people. "Mr. Tails and all my other friends are super smart! They'll find a way to help Mr. Sonic!"
Cream's chao companion, Cheese, voiced his agreement. Bernie gave the child a slightly teary-eyed smile. Her optimism was infectious.
Sonic made a puzzling Robian, that was for sure. He was unlike one any of the others had seen before, bearing a power gem, and somehow not becoming a mindless slave upon being roboticized. Tails and Rotor helped the robot stand up to get him out of the room. Charles wanted to scan him before doing anything.
Tails and Rotor helped the robot walk over to an industrial radiology scanner. It stood tall and imposing, a large metal box with a small space inside to place heavy machinery.
As Rotor opened its door and Tails pushed Sonic forward, he began to beep nervously and lean away from the claustrophobic container.
“It’s alright, Sonic,” Charles said gently, glancing from the computer he was syncing to the machine. “You’ll only need to stand in there for a little bit. We just need to make sure everything is in order inside your.. inside your body.”
With a comforting pat from Tails, he hesitantly stepped inside the cavity, rapidly glancing around the small space with his one good eye. The metal hedgehog nodded and stumbled into the machine.
Once inside, the robian stood very still, waiting patiently.
"We'll try and make this quick," Rotor reassured.
Sonic nodded, and the scan was started. Almost immediately, various images and details popped up on a screen, displaying information about what was inside of the robot. Everything seemed in order, but, much to everyone's surprise there were several areas of the robot that the device was finding unreadable.
"OK Sonic, you can come out now!" Nicole called. Sonic stumbled forwards, and Tails quickly leapt forwards to catch him, to save him from yet another fall.
"Sonic," Rotor looked somewhat apologetic. "I think we need to open you up."
Sonic beeped in protest, the idea of having someone poking and prodding what was inside him not being a particularly appealing one.
"Sonic, there might...there might be something wrong with your internals. We need to check it out. Please." Tails looked up at his brother with big, concerned eyes.
Sonic let out a noise of reluctant agreement. He would allow them to open him up. Nicole helped him get into a good position, and the others began their work.
Almost instantly, the source of the problem made itself apparent. Though Sonic's insides were mostly mechanical, some organs remained. Lungs, liver, and a heart. Tails quickly turned away at the sight of seeing them, and Rotor, Charles and Nicole all recoiled.
"What on mobius…" Charles had never seen something like this happen to a robian. He hadn't even thought it was a possibility.
"Nicole, what's wrong with me?" Sonic asked.
"You...you appear to have some organic parts left inside you," Nicole replied, eyes wide with shock.
Intrigued, Sonic sat up a little, and with his one good eye stared down at the organic parts still inside him. Out of curiosity, he lightly jabbed his liver with the tip of his finger. He didn't feel anything.
"M-Maybe don't touch them, Sonic," Rotor advised.
"Ok, ok ok," Tails forced himself to turn back around. "S-so, what're we going to do about this?"
"I have to confess that I have no idea," Charles admitted, deep in thought. The logical step would be to remove them, seeing as Sonic already had a power source, so it was likely that he could survive without them but if they tampered with the organs...that would reduce the already slim chances of getting Sonic back to normal right down to zero.
"We've got to determine whether we can get him back to normal before we can tamper with all that stuff." Charles stated.
"May I offer some insight on that?" Nicole asked quietly. There were a couple of nods for her to continue. "That power gem on Sonic's back seemingly manifested as a result of the chaos energies inside him. It is the sole thing keeping him up and running right now, and if we were to find a way to change him back, essentially removing the gem from his body, I…" Nicole's ears flopped over. She spoke at a barely audible level, as if afraid of saying what she was about to say.
"I cannot guarantee Sonic will survive."
No one dared speak for a while.
Sonic sat, thinking very hard. It was strange. He barely remembered what not being a robot was like and yet he felt incredibly saddened by this news. He gazed at his heart, so out of place in his otherwise, metallic, grey insides. He felt an odd...connection to it. He didn't want them to take it out.
After more and more silence, Charles decided it was time to take some action.
"That liver needs to go, I think. It's not even complete. It's just lying in there."
"What about the heart and lungs?" Rotor gestured to them.
"They're a different case," Charles explained. "Look closely."
Tails, Rotor and Nicole studied the heart carefully, now noticing a slight movement.
"It's beating," Tails gasped.
"The heart and lungs have somehow gotten connected to the rest of him," Nicole exclaimed. "But the risk of them decomposing is high."
"So we have to stabilise them somehow," Rotor thought out loud.
"Exactly," Charles started grabbing various tools from behind him. "Let's get to work."
Trying to get Sonic stable was one of the longest, and most tense hours of his life. Everyone was speaking in quiet mutters, if they were speaking at all. Sonic lay there, trying his best not to move as various parts of him were taken out, replaced or modified. Though he could not feel pain, there was something very wrong about all this poking about of his insides. Still, he tried his best to ignore it, and let everyone do their thing.
After many more drawn out minutes, Sonic was surprised to feel his chest being closed up.
"That should do for now," Tails sighed, finally able to catch a break.
"Sonic says thank you," Nicole translated. "And he also says he wants you all to sit down and rest."
"In a minute," Tails replied, turning back to Sonic.
"Do you want to go see your parents now? They're outside, I think, and they're probably really worried."
Sonic knew he had them, everyone did, but he couldn't put names or faces to the word. He thought harder and harder but he still couldn't remember anything about them. So he nodded at Tails. Yes, he would go and meet his parents.
“Might I suggest a temporary wheelchair?” Nicole asked.
Rotor nodded, “That’s a great idea. It’ll help Sonic get around until he’s solid on his feet.” The walrus turned to Sonic, “If that’s ok with you though.” The Robian looked to his legs for a second before giving the group a nod.
The two brothers headed for the exit, but Sonic's parents were nowhere to be seen. Nobody could be seen in fact, until they heard noises farther in the distance. Tilting their heads up to the sky, Sonic and Tails saw the form of something big, robotic and red taking up most of the skyline of the city.