Sonic Series Fan Fiction ❯ Here we go 'round the Mobius Strip ❯ Green Hill ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Several adults had found their way to Knothole in the seven years since Robotnik had taken over Mobotropolis. Once they'd gotten there, they'd taken over, keeping the children who were the hidden village's original inhabitants uninformed of the few counter-attacks and supply runs they organized. They said it was for their own good. Sonic and Sally had taken to listening to their plans, though the pair of twelve-year-olds had yet to be involved in any of them.
Sonic was listening now, crouched outside Knothole's war room, half-hidden behind a stack of crates. He wasn't known for being still or quiet, but as Sonic listened to the latest news about Robotnik, he was frozen in place, save for an occasional ear twitch.
“We've confirmed it: Robotnik is no longer in Robotropolis,” an owl who Sonic knew from Mobotropolis hooted.
“Those ships flying over the Great Plains every few days are part of a supply convoy.” The statement came from a dog that had come to Knothole after Robotnik's invasion. The large canine had taken up the unofficial role of leader since his arrival. He had a tactician's mind, but lacked the bravery Sonic associated with dogs. He was too cautious for the young hedgehog, even more so than Sally. He'd all but banned the kids from leaving Knothole; they were allowed out into the forest only with an escort.
Sonic sometimes wondered why the old dog even bothered assigning someone to him. He would just outrun whoever it was, and then he was free to do whatever he wanted. Usually that involved sneaking back into Robotropolis, either for some spying of his own or to look for his uncle. Sometimes, if he could steal a stick of dynamite from Knothole's supplies or get a bomb from one Robotnik's warehouses, he'd do a little damage to one of Robotnik's factories or supply convoys. While it wasn't much, to Sonic it was far more than the adults were doing.
Sonic perked up as the conversation turned to what to do while Robotnik was gone, hopeful that this time they were finally going to take some decisive action. If he had his way, they'd be running after Robotnik, hunting down the human while he was away from the safety of his fortress, and defeating him once and for all.
“Robotnik's been stockpiling supplies left and right for his transports and storing them in warehouses here and here,” an old cat said. Sonic could hear the click of a wooden pointer on the map of Robotropolis, as the cat pointed out where the warehouses were, but didn't dare raise up to try and look. “On our last raid, we were able to look inside some of the crates stored there before we were spotted and had to leave. They were full of machinery and components that could be used for explosives-- as we expected-- but there were also some full of food and other supplies. Wherever Robotnik is, it doesn't look like he's going to be back any time soon.”
“Every report we get confirms that the only human in Robotropolis right now is Snively. We've even sent spies inside Robotnik's headquarters through the ductwork. They all confirm that Snively's alone in there,” a pig agreed. “And from what we've overheard from him, he doesn't appear to be planning any kind of direct attacks on the Great Forest to find us or stepping up security while Robotnik is gone.”
“That spineless little coward's a disgrace to even humans,” an old croc snapped. “You'd think he'd have the balls to SOMETHING while Robotnik's gone instead of just babysitting the robots.”
Sonic echoed the crocodile's thought, minus the profanity, but from what he remembered of Snively when he was in Mobotropolis, he wasn't exactly a creature of action. He'd heard that Snively was just a nickname, that the human's real name was Colin, Connor, Conrad or something like that, but in Sonic's opinion there was never a nickname more fitting someone.
“Spineless or not, Snively's inaction works in our favor. If he's not going to try to find us, Robotnik will as soon as he returns and we need to be ready for him. If he's focusing on these two warehouses, we have plenty of others we can gather from and stay under his radar. By the time Robotnik gets back to Robotropolis, I want to have enough supplies that we can be rid of him. The warehouses here, here, and here...” Three sharp clicks of the pointer on the table marked where the old dog was pointing to. It might've been Sonic's imagination, but he could've sworn those were further from him than the other two and no where near where Robotnik was doing his stockpiling. “These are still being used, but not as heavily. We focus our raids on these three buildings. We need to step up our spying as well. I want to know where Robotnik is, when he's coming back, and why he's gone. I don't want to be caught unawares when he comes back. Once we know that, we step up our attacks, make him regret ever leaving.”
What he heard from the group of adults almost made him blow his cover. `WAIT??' He nearly screamed his thought aloud. Robotnik was gone, and all the adults wanted to do was step up their raids and gather more supplies to `be ready' when Robotnik returned. He couldn't believe it! Unable to contain himself any longer, he zipped away to find Sally and to tell her what he'd heard.
Sonic burst into Sally's room and, upon finding her there, slammed the door behind him and glanced around to make sure she was alone. “You're not gonna believe what I just heard, Sal!” he exclaimed.
“What is it, Sonic?” Sally asked. She was used to Sonic barging into her room on a whim, though, there was a slight huff in her voice at the invasion of her privacy. She was glad, however, that he'd used the door instead of just jumping through the window.
“Ro-butt-nik's outta town and those guys don't wanna do anything about it,” Sonic answered her, stabbing his thumb in the direction of the war room. “We should go after him, hit him while he's gone, but noooo, all they wanna do is gather more supplies.” Sonic started pacing in frustration. He wanted action, not to wait around for Robotnik to come back.
“Out of town? Where did he go?” Sally asked trying to keep Sonic focused on what seemed to be the most important detail. Sonic's mind worked as quickly as his feet, and he tended to gloss over things, his train of thought already moving on to the next stop.
“Dunno; all they said was he was gone. They're not even gonna TRY and look for him.” Sonic stopped his pacing long enough to look at Sally and cross his arms with an irritated snort.
“I know what you're thinking Sonic Hedgehog and don't you dare, you don't know where he is any more than anyone else does.” Her tone was firm, she knew that look on Sonic's face, the impatient one that screamed for action, consequences be damned.
“They got supply convoys going to wherever it is Robotnik's at. We can just hop on one and ride it all the way there. No problem.”
“Yes, problem. What do you plan to do when you FIND Robotnik?” Exasperation found its way into her tone despite her trying not to show it. It was just like Sonic to get some idea into his head that might work, but have no clue what to do when he actually got to what he ultimately wanted to do.
“Take him out, of course. Once he's gone, we can get our home back.” To Sonic it seemed so obvious that he couldn't understand why Sally didn't jump on the idea, too.
“And how do you plan to do that?”
“I'll think of something,” Sonic said with a dismissive shrug.
“You can't do it alone,” Sally started, but was cut off by Sonic opening the door, a “watch me” look clear on his face.
“See ya, Sal!” he called, his words almost lost in the rush of air that followed his departure.
“Sonic, wait!” Sally shouted after him. She ran to the door, but Sonic was already out of sight before she got there.
Sneaking aboard the cargo ship had been too easy. The sentry bots hadn't expected anyone to be trying to get aboard the ship; he'd just run on when their backs had been turned. He wasn't sure how long ago that had been, though. There were no windows in the cargo hold, no way for him to keep track of time or where they were headed. The cargo hold of the supply ship was cramped, full of crates of various sizes. There was so little room that Sonic had to remain in the almost the same position the entire trip; he could only stand and move in a small circle. After only a few hours, he wanted to get up and dash around the cargo hold as fast as he could, but he forced himself to remain in his cramped hiding place to avoid getting noticed by the two SWAT Bots piloting the ship.
Food was scarce; almost all the crates Sonic found were full of pieces of machinery and scrap metal. What food he did find wasn't exactly to his liking—the case of prepackaged and freeze-dried meals he found tasted like sawdust and cardboard—but he wasn't really expecting Robotnik to have a stash of chili dogs hidden somewhere in all the junk.
Sonic was just starting to doze when the ship rocked suddenly. He jumped, dodging the crates as they shifted, slamming into one and other and threatening to crush him. Whoa!” Sonic cried, throwing his arms out for balance as the ship lurched again. Sonic's ears pricked at the electric sizzle of the ship's computer systems overloading as the smell of smoke permeated the cargo hold.
“What's going on?! An explosion shook the ship, an overloaded engine finally blowing up. The force of the explosion blasted a hole in the side of the cargo hold and knocked Sonic off of the box he stood on. He landed on the edge of another box with a groan, the sudden impact forcing the air out of his lungs and leaving him stunned as he fell to the metal floor of the ship.
The other engine sputtered, failing as water soaked them. The robotic pilots sat limp in their seats, circuitry fried. Inside the cargo hold, water began to flood in. Broken pieces of crates littered the floor, the once neat stacks now broken and shattered against one wall.
On the beach, a small group of animals stood cheering as another one of Robotnik's cargo ships rapidly sank. Their cheers were cut short as one of them, a young rabbit, noticed something flailing in the water. Soft cries for help followed, cries none of Robotnik's robots would've uttered. A seal dove into the water, rushing to the drowning animal and dragging him back to shore. None of the group had ever seen a hedgehog before, let alone a blue one. His lungs were full of water, but he still had enough life in him to jerk when he was hit on the back to clear them.
Sonic sputtered, coughing to empty the water from his lungs. He looked around, jumping in surprise when he noticed the group that surrounded him. He was being held by a rabbit, and a seal stood to his right water still dripping off his fur. A pig, a chicken, and a penguin were also nearby, looking at him in confusion, while a small blue bird watched from above. To the left of them was a crude catapult, the thing that had brought the cargo ship crashing into the sea.
“What's going on?” Sonic asked, coughing softly.
“We were gonna ask you the same thing,” the squirrel said. “What were you doing in Robotnik's ship?”
“I snuck on back in Robotropolis. I wanted to see where Robotnik was headed so I could stop him from coming back,” Sonic answered. He frowned slightly at the incredulous looks that passed through the small group. “Where is this place, anyway?” he asked.
“This is South Island, and if you're looking for Robotnik, you found him. He's been tearing the island apart and using everyone he can find for his robots,” the pig said.
“Why's he ripping the place apart?” Sonic asked. Robotnik making robots out of people was nothing new; that was what had happened to everyone in Mobotropolis that he'd captured.
“He's after the Chaos Emeralds!” the blue bird chirped. “He's trying to find all four of them to use them to power his fortress on top of the mountain!” The bird fluttered in a small circle as she spoke.
“What's a Chaos Emerald?” Sonic asked. He'd never heard of them, but if they were something Robotnik wanted, he could guess they were powerful.
The Chaos Emeralds are seven magical gems that have unlimited power. Legend says an ancient civilization once owned all seven, but they became too powerful and were wiped out. The Emeralds were scattered over all Mobius, but four of them found their way to South Island and were hidden in the rifts that open here. The rifts are hard to open, and even if you can open one, it's almost impossible to get through them to find where the Emeralds are,” the rabbit explained.
“Rifts? Like to another dimension?” Sonic asked.
“Yes. They open up here and the other islands nearby,” the penguin said. “We have markers that show where the rifts open, but it takes a lot of energy to do it.”
Sonic nodded, jumping to his feet. “If Ro-butt-nik's after them, then I'll have to get to them first,” he said. “I'm Sonic, who are you guys?”
“I'm Pecky,” the penguin said. “And the bird is Flicky, the squirrel is Ricky, Picky's the pig, the seal that got you out of the water is Rocky, Pocky is the rabbit, and Kooky's the chicken.”
“You're not really going to go after Robotnik, are you, Sonic?” Flicky chirped nervously.
“I've got to. If he gets those Emeralds and takes them back to Robotropolis, who knows what trouble he'll cause? If they're as powerful as you guys say, he'll be able to take over the whole planet,” Sonic said.
“But if he catches you, he'll put you in a robot!” Flicky tweeted.
“He'll never catch me; I'm too fast for him,” Sonic boasted.
“Now's your chance to prove that, Sonic!” Ricky exclaimed, pointing behind the hedgehog. “Let's get out of here!”
Sonic whipped around, looking for what Ricky was pointing at. Walking along the beach was what looked like a crab, but the slow, awkward movement was unlike anything a living creature would make. Sonic scoffed when he saw how it moved.
“That's nothing,” he said. He zipped forward, tucking into a ball and bouncing off of the top-heavy robot, which fell onto its back as Sonic hit it. The top of the robot popped off, and a small penguin rolled out onto the sand. She looked up at Sonic, blinking rapidly.
The little group of animals had watched wide-eyed as Sonic had attacked the robot. Now they cheered as it burst open, freeing one of their friends. The cheer shook the penguin from her daze, and she finally noticed the group of animals behind Sonic. She slowly got to her feet and ran to Pecky with unsteady steps, throwing her wings around her. Pecky hugged the little penguin tight, relief evident on her face seeing her friend was unharmed
“Wow, Sonic! You broke it open without getting stunned!” Pocky exclaimed.
“What is that thing?” Sonic asked, kicking the robot shell.
“That's what Robotnik does to everyone he captures!” Flicky chirped.
“He uses them as living batteries,” Rocky explained. “The robots stun anyone that gets close to them, and then they take them back to Robotnik so he can lock them in a robot shell too.”
“At least he hasn't got a Roboticizer here,” Sonic said. He was glad for that, the people here wouldn't be robots permanently.
“What's a Roboticizer?” Picky asked.
“It's a machine Robotnik has back at Robotropolis. It doesn't put people inside robots there, it turns them into robots,” Sonic explained.
“He changes them into robots!?” the group exclaimed.
Sonic nodded. “Yeah. Be glad he doesn't have one of those here yet,” Sonic said. “There's no way to fix that.”
“Do you think Robotnik will build one of things here?” Pecky asked, hugging the little penguin tighter.
“Wouldn't surprise me if he did,” Sonic answered. “You guys know where his base is?”
“It's in the mountains,” Kooky answered. “You can't miss it once you get close to it. He's turned the whole area into a metal scrap zone.”
“There's robots all around and inside it, though!” the little penguin exclaimed. “And Robotnik's poisoned all the water around it!”
“I'm used to robots; Robotropolis is full of them. Those'll be no problem to get around,” Sonic boasted. The thought of the water made him shudder. “No way I'm going in any more water, poisoned or not.”
If you wanna avoid water, you'll have to go through the ruins, and those are full of lava. We'll show you to Green Hill. If you head through there to the Marble Ruins, they'll take you to the mountains,” Ricky explained.
“Thanks guys,” Sonic said. At the moment, avoiding lava sounded a lot better than swimming to him. He followed the little group along the beach to a hilly grassland. What he saw when he got there made him stop dead in his tracks. “Hold the phone, where did these come from?” he asked, picking a golden ring hovering a few inches off the ground. He pulled the power ring from his backpack and held it next to the ring he'd picked up. They were identical.
“Oh, those rings come from the rifts. They're all over the island. If you grab enough of them and find the markers, you can use them to open a rift,” Ricky said.
“It looks just like the rings my uncle made for me before he was roboticized,” Sonic said, putting both into his pack.
“Maybe your uncle came from one of the islands around here?” Pocky said.
Sonic shrugged. “Dunno. He never mentioned anything about being from anywhere other than Mobotropolis.” Sonic waved his hand in a light dismissive gesture, then turned his attention to the hilly terrain.
There wasn't much in the way of cover, just a few bridges over the creeks and rivers that ran through the area, but there were plenty of robots. He could see rings scattered all over the place, usually in groups of three or more, and he thought he saw one of the markers Pecky had mentioned in the distance.
“You guys go hide somewhere. I'll handle Robotnik,” he said. He didn't want anyone in the group to follow him and get caught. He didn't wait for their answer, leaving them standing in a cloud of dust and sand.
The hilly area reminded him of the Great Plains. The grass was short, ruffled by the occasional ocean breeze. Sonic could see a few paths, cut by the wear of feet as the inhabitants had treaded on them. Those, he avoided as much as possible as he looked for the Power Rings. It seemed to him that those would be the most likely places to find Robotnik's robots, hunting for what few animals were left on the island. That was how they worked in Robotropolis, at least.
There was little to hide behind if he were caught. The only cover he found besides a few short, jutting hills were some large flowers in blue and yellow. They reminded him of the sunflowers and daisies back home, but they were many times bigger.
`Good for a nap, but no way I can hide there,' he thought to himself as he blew past a group of them. The trees were no help either. These weren't the thick, tall oaks and pines of the Great Forest; these were spindly little palms and coconut trees. He couldn't hide behind them, and their leaves would offer him no cover, either.
`Just gotta out run them,' he thought, grabbing another group of rings and stuffing them in his backpack. He saw another group floating in the air, the three of them hanging suspended like one of his rings when it first came out of the grotto. They were above his head, but not completely out of reach. He jumped, grabbing them, but he was so distracted as he tried to grab all three in one jump that he didn't notice one of Robotnik's robots heading towards him.
It moved on one wheel, stabilizing itself with two short arms. Its red and black paint job resembled a mutant ladybug, but the trail of exhaust behind it showed it was anything but natural. A small combustion engine powered the wheel, making an ear-splittingly loud buzz that grabbed Sonic's attention.
”Whoa!” he shouted, tucking into a ball on instinct. Quills bristled, protecting him as he bounced off the hard metal shell. The robot was thrown off balance by the force of the impact. It rolled, landing on its back like a turtle. Its arms waved helplessly in the air as it tried to right itself.
Sonic rolled back a few feet, softening the blow when he hit the ground. He came to a stop legs splayed out and sat up. “Ow…” he muttered, one hand going to his head. “What'd I hit, a transport carrier?” His eyes fell on the little robot, its one wheel spinning frantically. It beeped and chirped, striking out at Sonic with its arms when he walked around to the front of it. The blue hedgehog stared at the robot, blinking at it before busting out laughing.
“It can't get off its back!” he crowed, falling to the ground on his back and laughing. “This is gonna be TOO easy!” He held his stomach as he laughed, rolling from side to side in the soft grass. “Man, how does Robotnik expect to catch anything with his thing?”
Sonic got to his feet, once he had his breath back and gave the robot a swift kick in what looked like its nose. The little robot started to shake, falling over on its side with the force of the vibrations from the button Sonic had kicked. The top broke away from the robot with a loud pop and a hydraulic hiss. The broken piece rolled on its side, landing at Sonic's feet. The inside of the robot was mostly hollow, like the body of the crab robot had been. The hollow space was just large enough for a small animal to fit in if it were curled up tightly. A rabbit quickly scampered out from the space, slamming into Sonic's legs in her haste to get away from her robotic prison. Both animals fell back, the rabbit with a startled cry. She fell on her behind, trembling as she looked at Sonic sitting a few feet away.
“Wh-who are you?” she asked. She voice was high and feminine sounding. The little rabbit reminded Sonic of Bunny only without the accent.
“I'm Sonic.” The blue hedgehog got to his feet and dusted himself off. “Are you okay?” he asked, offering the rabbit a hand.
“Yeah, I think so.” The rabbit took his hand and got to her feet. “Thanks for saving me!” she squealed, throwing her arms around Sonic's neck.
“No problem,” he said, giving her a tentative one armed hug, “but listen, you gotta get back to the beach. There's a bunch of guys waiting there, you'll be safe hiding with them.”
The little rabbit let go of Sonic with a serious nod. “Okay. Thanks Sonic!” she cheered. She turned in the direction of the beach and ran as fast as she could towards the beach and the group of animals Sonic had left there.
Sonic stood for a moment, watching the rabbit run off. Once she was out of sight, he gave the robot shell a swift kick, before climbing on top of a large rise to gain his bearings. At the top, there was a strange box that looked like one of the monitors littered around Robotropolis. This one appeared to be working though, displaying a picture of a power ring. On the side of the monitor was a flashing yellow button. A deep seam ran along the middle of the top of the monitor, looking almost like a lid.
“Wonder what this button does?” Sonic mused, pressing it. He jumped back when the top of the monitor opened, and could see a soft yellow glow coming from inside. Sonic shouted, looking inside the box, “JACKPOT!” It was filled with power rings!
He stuffed them into his pack quickly, and shut the box again. “Awesome! Maybe this'll give me enough to get into the rift.” Sonic did a quick count of the rings he had, there were about fifteen in his bag. He didn't know how many it took to open the rift, but he hoped he had enough.
From his vantage point, Sonic could see, in the distance, one of the sign posts that marked the rifts. It was up a small terraced hill, with two bridges in between him and the marker. There was a straight path to it, but that path was littered with robots and Sonic couldn't see the terrain in detail. “Doesn't look that far,” he muttered, shifting the straps of the pack to better settle it on his back before taking off.
The terraces were patrolled by the same crab-like robots that had attacked Sonic and the group of animals on the beach. They were too awkward to climb the steps of the terraced hill and were stuck on their respective levels. One paced the top of the hill, the other the walked wide second level. As Sonic approached, the one on the second level stopped its pacing. It squatted down low, raising its claws straight above its head and opening them.
Sonic tucked into a ball, preparing to smash into the robot, and didn't notice the energy building in the robot's claws or the shots it fired from them until one of them hit him. “What the?!” The force of the energy threw him back and knocked the rings from his open backpack. He landed on his back, looking up the rings that rolled away from him. They flickered, some of them blinking out of existence as the absorbed the energy from the shot.
“No way!” Sonic exclaimed, jumping to his feet and scrambling after the rings, grabbing what he could before they disappeared. What few rings were left were hurriedly stuffed back into his pack. “All those rings and they're almost gone now,” he huffed, turning sharply and glaring at the robot. “I needed those!” His quills bristled as he gave the robot a hard shove. The crab toppled, hitting the terrace behind it and breaking in two. A small pig rolled out, scrambling out from between the wall and robot. He looked up at Sonic, wide-eyed, snorting softly as he breathed.
“How come you're not stunned?” he snorted, getting slowly to his feet.
“Dunno,” Sonic shrugged. “Guess it was the rings that did it. Some of them disappeared after I got hit.”
“Wow, you're lucky then. Everyone I've seen that got hit just laid there until the buzz bots came and took them back to Robotnik.”
“Guesso, I gotta find even more rings now, though.” The blue hedgehog was more fixated on his loss than how lucky he was. The robots didn't worry him, not when compared with the swat bots he had to deal with back home.
“If you're looking for rings, take the low road, then come back to the marker post,” the pig said, pointing to where the path broke into a higher area and a lower one. “If you follow it until you can't go any further, there was a bunch of boxes full of them.”
“Great! Thanks!” Sonic said. “Head to the beach, okay? There's a bunch of animals hiding out there.”
Sonic waited until the pig was on his way, then started to follow the lower route he'd been told to take. He found only a few robots on that path; each, he was able to break open and send the animal inside back to the beach with the others. He also found traps laid by the animals for the robots, long rows of large spikes sticking up out of the ground with a springboard in the middle so the animals could jump over them. There were also shorter rows that could be jumped without a boost. None of the robots Robotnik was using on this island seemed capable of jumping, with the exception of the fishlike robots and flying buzz bots.
The fishlike ones didn't seem able to leave the water, though. They could propel themselves out of the water, but couldn't do much beyond that. Sonic found that if he timed it right, he could knock them out of the air mid-jump, and once they hit the ground, they'd break open, freeing whatever hapless animal that was trapped inside. It was something the little hedgehog had far too much fun doing, and he hoped that he'd find more of those types of robots.
The buzz bots were another story. They could fly and were as good at following him as the robots in Robotropolis. The only advantage he had over them was that they had to stop moving to shoot at him. If he held still for a few moments, he could get the robots to fire at him, then he could attack them before they could start moving again.
But by far the most annoying of these new robots was a chameleon-like variety that clung to the walls of the cliffs as he ran past. They could blend in perfectly with the rock walls of the cliff, clinging to them until he ran by, then dropping down and trying to stun him. He could outrun them when they chased him, but he didn't realize they were there until he was under them and they appeared. One of them had nearly caught and stunned him, but he'd been able to jump over it. The hapless robot had crashed into a wall, freeing a small blue bird from inside it. The bird had flown off before Sonic could tell it to go to the beach. He'd shouted to it anyway, the animal looking far too panicked for Sonic to chase it. Its eyes were wild as it shot out of the robot's head, wings flapping like a hummingbird's. Sonic just hoped it knew a safe place to hide as he continued on.
The area the pig had described was fairly well-hidden, up a small terraced hill. It was guarded by only two robots, one trapped by the levels of the terrace and one trapped by spikes. Sonic made short work of each.
“YES!” he cheered when saw the row of five boxes lined up against the wall. Four of them displayed a picture of a ring. Those, Sonic opened quickly, stuffing the rings into his pack. The picture on the last one looked like stars, or tiny white sparkles against a black background. “Weird….” There were no rings inside this box, only a small mechanical device that latched onto Sonic's wrist when he tried to touch it.
“AHH!” The blue hedgehog jumped back when the device grabbed his wrist and wouldn't let go. A tingling sensation raced up his arm, making his whole body prickly with a pins-and-needles sensation, like when he'd touched one of Rotor's inventions. The funny contraption had made static electricity, making the fur of anyone the walrus had tricked into touching it stand on end. This was stronger than the little tingle in his fingertips from Rotor's device, though, and no amount of shaking could remove it from his wrist.
He jumped to the hill above him, trying to scrape the strange device off of his arm on the edge of the hill. Too concerned with his current predicament, he didn't notice one of the chameleon-like robots coming towards him until it hit him… and promptly broke open with a loud sizzle, its circuitry completely fried. “No way!” Sonic exclaimed. “I gotta try this again!”
One of the buzz bots was Sonic's next target. The wasp-like robot was flying past and tried to shoot at Sonic as he stood still, looking for another robot to fry with the strange gadget. Before it could fire, Sonic touched it, laying his palm against the bottom of it.
An electric sizzle filled Sonic's ears and the whole robot shuddered, the engine that kept it in the air sputtering and dying. It crashed to the ground like a stone, breaking open. Another bird flew out, like the last one, it panicked the moment it was free, taking to the air as fast as it could. It didn't even spare Sonic a glance as it bolted away, wings flapping furiously as it flew towards the beach. Sonic tried shouting to it, telling it there was a steadily growing group of animals hiding there, but the bird didn't seem to hear him.
The tingling from the little piece of equipment on his arm started to fade, making Sonic forget the bird and turn his attention back to it. A soft hiss signaled the end of the electromagnetic field it generated, and the machine fell to the ground with a puff of blue smoke and the smell of cooking circuitry. “Aww, man, that thing didn't last any time at all,” Sonic complained, kicking at the burnt out device. He huffed in annoyance, looking around. “Oh, hey, there's one of those markers.”
His mood lifted instantly as he took off toward the marker. The rings in his pack grew warmer as Sonic got closer to it. By the time he reached it, the rings were glowing so bright and hot that Sonic could see the light they emitted shining through the flap of his pack and it was almost uncomfortable to keep on his back. Above the marker, a giant, gold ring appeared, its glow matching that of the rings in Sonic's pack. “That must be it!” Sonic exclaimed. He leaped towards the open center of the ring, diving through it without so much as a second's pause. The ring disappeared once Sonic was through, taking his rings with it.
Sonic landed in a roll, sliding over the slick stones that made up the ground of this new dimension. He tried to get his feet under him and stand, but the very ground seemed to be rolling under him. He was surrounded by smooth stone blocks, and there was no way out that he could see. “Trapped like a rat in a maze,” Sonic muttered to himself. “Or a ball in a pinball machine.” He thumped against another set of bricks, bouncing off of them. `I better find that emerald fast,' he thought. He slipped and slid down the first long area, getting thrown from one wall to the next before he hit the opening to the next area. Curling into a ball, he found it easier to be bounced around with his quills softening the impact, however marginal a softening it was. Sonic gave up trying to get his feet under him, and stayed curled up to bounce his way along the maze.
The hall led into a large open area with giant striped circles he could jump off of surrounding a large, metallic looking, mushroom-like thing that was red with a giant star on it. He tried to avoid the corners, and the parts of the walls that were glowing; he'd found that those changed the direction the maze spun and made it even harder for him to keep his bearings. He fell into the open room, rolling off one of the striped circles and hitting the mushroom-like thing. “Whoa!” Sonic cried.
It was springy, like a bumper in a pinball machine. As he flew back in what was supposed to be the direction he'd just come from, he hit a wall as the maze turned. He tried to grab the slick surface out of reflex, but his fingers found no purchase on the smooth stone. He avoided all the obstacles in the middle of the room, and fell into another short hall.
“Not good, not good!” he shouted, nearly landing on a row of bright red bricks at the bottom of the hall. They were glowing with energy, cracking softly as though electrified. He managed to throw his weight off of one wall and hit a bumper embedded in the opposite wall. The bumper knocked him back into the main room, throwing him against one of the glowing corners that changed the maze's direction.
As carefully as could while bouncing around blindly, he made his way into a short, narrow hall that opened into another, smaller room. He landed with a thud against a row of blocks that wobbled when he hit them, changing colour from the blue and green of the rest of the room to a bright yellow. `What the…?' Sonic bounced off of the loose bricks, hitting a barrier blocking the way back to the main room. `Maybe that Emerald thing is behind those bricks,' he thought, jumping for them again. The ones he hit turned from yellow to pink before finally disappearing altogether, letting Sonic into a very small room with a blue gem inside.
“That must be it!” Sonic shouted, grabbing for it. His hands closed around the fist-sized stone and he pulled it tight to his chest. He felt the same heat as when he first jumped into the rift and the next thing he knew, he was laying on his side in the grass of Green Hill. If not for the soreness in his body, he would've thought the whole thing was just a dream.
Slowly uncurling and sitting up, he looked down at the stone in his hands. It was bright blue, matching the colour of his quills and only about the size of his fist. “This is it?? All that for a chunk of bad costume jewelry,” he muttered incredulously. He got to his feet slowly, stretching muscles that still protested being battered around like a pinball, and slipped off his pack. He tucked the Emerald safely into the zippered pocket inside, not wanting to risk losing it, before taking off to look for more markers.
He found one, hidden in an open space between two small tunnels not far from the first marker. He was rolling too fast to stop and hadn't had enough time to collect any more rings, though. He blew right past the marker without even trying to stop. He tucked in tighter, using the small hill at the bottom of the tunnel the same way he did the tunnel slide, to launch himself into the air. He found a large group of rings, grabbing as many as he could as he flew through them. Using the mountain where Robotnik's stronghold was supposed to be as his ultimate guide, he continued on, across another stream and down two hills until he reached a long flat plain, pausing to add another group of ten rings from a monitor to his collection.
What he saw on the plain stopped his progress for a moment. Robotnik had erected a small sign with a picture of himself on it. Sonic glared at the picture, the sign that to him, claimed this land for Robotnik the same way he'd claimed Mobotropolis years ago. “You're not gonna wreck this place too, Ro-butt-nik!” he threatened, pushing at the sign as hard as he could. It broke with a satisfying CRACK, sending Sonic sprawling to the ground. He got to his feet and flipped the sign over, hiding the picture in the grass. Feeling pleased with himself, he took off again.
The flat area didn't last nearly long enough for Sonic. He had to skid to a halt to avoid falling down into a valley. If the top of the hill on the other side hadn't had a section of sharp spikes, he would've just jumped down and ran up the slope. Impalement wasn't a pleasant prospect, so he had to wait for a swing the animals had set up and ride that across. From there, he found another trap laid by the inhabitants of the island. Several deep pits with spikes in them blocked the way to one of the markers. Sonic dashed across the small patches of land, jumping over the pits as he rushed to the marker.
He stopped short when got to the same patch of land it was on, looking around in confusion. “What's going on? Where's a ring?” he said, looking around for the giant ring that appeared last time. The rings in his pack were cool and silent. Not glowing brightly like they had last time. He pulled his pack off his back and shook it, as if that would make the rings react. A quick count of them and Sonic sighed. “Guess forty-nine isn't enough,” he muttered. “Just have to find another marker.” He tried not to let it bother him as he took off again after another marker.
The rest of the area was thankfully straight-forward as far as Sonic was concerned. He ran up a short terraced hill, and over a bridge, jumping off of the steep downward slope onto what he thought was solid ground. “Whoa, whoa, WHOA!” he shouted as the ground crumbled under his feet. He jumped away quickly, hitting the solid ground before he fell down into the pit below. Tucking and rolling, he let the momentum carry him up the tiny hill and into another tunnel.
Another signpost with Robotnik's face on it was at the end of the tunnel and Sonic slammed into it hard, breaking it off its post and sending it flying through the air. He kept rolling until he hit a springboard. He stood up, dusting the splinters from the post out of his quills, and looked around. “Well, the low road's been the best one so far,” he said, stepping back enough to get some momentum to jump over the spring and across a spike filled pit. He cheered when he saw the long area stretching out before him. There was a small hill to run up and down, but it wasn't terraced, so the blue hedgehog could get a burst of speed in and really run. He gathered the few rings he came across, stuffing them into his pack as he ran.
His sprint was cut short as he came to a wall, but there was something different about it. The area directly in front of him just didn't quite match the rest of the wall around it. It seemed almost loose. “Well, what do I have to lose?” He tucked into a ball, hitting the mismatched area hard. He braced for a hard impact, but instead the dirt broke away, and he found himself in a small tunnel. Rolling through it, he broke through the other side and found himself in another, longer tunnel. This one was winding enough to give him a burst of speed as he came out of it. He straightened up the moment he was out of the tunnel, jumping just before he slammed into a springboard.
“Who thought it was a good idea to put that there?” he muttered to himself as he knocked into another of the crab bots. He paused just long enough to send the squirrel inside it to the beach. Each animal he freed was sent there. He knew there was a group of native animals there waiting for them; they could direct them to a better place to hide, if there was one.
A trio of the chameleon robots nearly robbed him of his rings, but he was able to avoid them by dropping to a lower terrace and lying flat on the ground. He let them crash into the wall behind him. There were three chickens inside them, and once they were on their way, Sonic continued up the terrace, avoiding the spikes strategically placed on the different levels.
He came to another springboard, but he couldn't see what was on the hill above it. He strained to see what was up there, then looked at the rings in his pack. They were still silent, even though he knew he had more than the fifty-five he had last time the rift had opened. He took off, jumping over the springboard and a long stretch of spikes not seeing the signpost above him set back far back on the hill. He fell behind a waterfall, landing on a short, flat area with another line of boxes at the end of it.
“SCORE!” he cheered, opening five boxes full of rings and stuffing them into his pack. The pack was almost filled to bursting with rings, and the Emerald still was tucked safely in the zippered pocket. “Next time I find one of those markers, I'll have plenty of rings to make it open,” he boasted before turning to the last box. The picture on that one was fuzzy, impossible to make out, but there was something blue on it. Inside was a device similar to the last one Sonic had found in a box. It, too latched onto his wrist the moment he touched it, but there was no tingling.
“Wonder what this one does,” Sonic muttered. He didn't take long to think about it, though, instead running back to get enough momentum to jump onto the springboard on the platform above. He could see just enough of it to know there was a long row of spikes that he didn't think he could clear. He bounced up to the ledge high above him, momentum carrying him at a sharp right angle. He hit the ledge and pulled himself up, right as one of the chameleon robots dropped down on him. He cried out in shock as it knocked him off the ledge, rings falling from his pack. On instinct, he curled into a ball, the only thing he could think of to brace himself for impact, and that's when he saw the spikes directly below him.
He shut his eyes tight, arms shielding his face. His breathing turned to panting as he tried in vain to throw his weight to the right and away from the spikes. He didn't notice the device still clinging to wrist start to glow and buzz loudly. A bright white light filled his vision, strong enough to hurt even his closed eyes and he felt a shift, the same one he had jumping into the rift where he'd found the Chaos Emerald. What he'd stumbled upon was Robotnik's first and failed attempt to get inside the rifts. He hit solid ground with a hard thud that took his breath away. He staggered to his feet only to fall down as a wave of nausea swept through him. He heaved, sinking to his hands and knees. He tried to keep his lunch down, failing miserably as the device fell from his wrist.
“Think I'll avoid that one next time,” he muttered, wiping his mouth on the back of his arm and getting to his feet. He was back where he'd first found the strange device, his pack much lighter on his back as the rings lay covering the spikes. Bravado momentarily shaken, Sonic gathered up the few rings that landed on the other side of the springboard then jumped back to higher ground. The spikes signaled a dead end on the lower route; the only place he could go was up.
More alert this time, he ran behind a second waterfall, up a small terrace, and through another hidden tunnel, stopping when he saw another swing sticking out of a bed of spikes. There was ground on either side of it, but Sonic could see the tips of the spikes sticking up from them. The small points glinted in the sun, but were so small that if the swing hadn't stopped him, he would've missed them until he hit them. “Man, these guys are good. The guys back at Knothole should take a lesson from them about traps,” Sonic said. He used the swing, spotting another marker as he jumped off it. “Aw, man, there's no way I'm gonna have enough rings for this one,” he whined as he ran towards it.
Even the box of ten rings he found hiding in a tree wasn't enough to get him over the fifty ring mark. He wasn't surprised when his backpack stayed cool against his back as he shot past this marker.
“What's that??” Ahead of him was a large metal container, roughly egg-shaped with a large yellow button on top. He rushed towards it, past a set of platforms hanging in midair, when the loud roar of an engine filled his ears. He dove out of the way of the giant metal ball that came swinging towards him, rolling to stop in between the two platforms. “Robotnik,” he hissed, looking up at the human that had just tried to smash him.