“Where… am I?” the blue hedgehog asked himself as he slowly opened his eyes. Everything around him was completely white. He couldn’t even feel any ground beneath his feet. He was simply floating, curled up into a ball. Slowly, his senses began to return to him, and he tried to stand up. Strangely his feet seemed to meet a platform, despite the fact that he was still simply floating through nothingness. “This is really weird.”
“Blue hedgehog, hero of the world,” a soft, female voice said. The hedgehog looked for the source of the sound, but it echoed all around him. Suddenly there was a bright flash of light, and a glowing red ball drifted towards him. It began to take the form of a female echidna. She had orange fur and blue eyes, and wore clothes that looked like they came straight out of a history book. The hedgehog recognized her.
“Ti… Tikal? What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I am here to tell you your purpose has not yet been fully fulfilled. There is still much for you to do,” Tikal answered.
“What do you mean?” Sonic asked impatiently. Even when in a strange unknown void of whiteness talking to an ancient echidna spirit, he still wished people would just get to the point.
“You have yet to complete your ultimate destiny. But don’t worry, you’ll have some help on your return.” Tikal reached out and touched Sonic’s chest. As she pulled her hand away, a green marking, shaped like one of the Chaos Emeralds, appeared, only to quickly fade away.
“Hey, good luck Sonic,” another voice, this one deeply masculine, said. “You’ll need all the help you can get.” Sonic quickly looked up to see Knuckles standing behind Tikal with another echidna he didn’t recognize.
“Hey, Knux, what’s going on here?”
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out Sonic,” Knuckles called as he and his companion walked away into a bright light. Before Sonic could say any more, the light grew stronger, enveloping everything. The next thing he knew, he had woken up in Green Hill Zone, staring at the rising sun.
“Oh man, that was the weirdest dream ever,” he said as he ran towards the edge of the island that Green Hill was located on. “I probably ate one too many chili-dogs before I fell asleep. Wait a minute…” Sonic suddenly stopped running; his shoes emitted a squeal as they dug into the ground. “I got shot out of the ARK, and then…” He looked at his right hand which had held the fake Chaos Emerald he’d tried to use Chaos Control with. “Eggman was going to fire the cannon on the Capital!” Sonic turned towards the sun, then used it to figure out which direction to head. He quickly dashed in the direction of the United Federation Capital City. Even water couldn’t stop his incredible speed. At least, it couldn’t until he noticed he was swimming over it. And then he remembered he couldn’t swim. He quickly dropped like a stone, flailing about and desperately crying out for help of some kind. Despite his phobia and longtime inability to stay afloat, Sonic soon found himself treading the surface of the water. “Ahhh! I don’t even mind a boat filled with annoying rich ki… wait, am I floating?” Sonic stopped thrashing around and simply let his arms swish back and forth as his legs continued to kick. “Guess I’m not that bad of a swimmer after all. Still, I really don’t want to stay in this water. So I’ll just have to see if I can swim as fast as I can run.”
If not for the fact that any boats at sea belonged to Dr. Robotnik, a fisherman would likely have soon found himself being blasted by a wave from a hedgehog swimming at nearly the speed of sound.”Whooo! This is way more fun than trying to run underwater! At this rate I’ll reach the continent in no time!” Sonic soon reached a small island where he rested for a moment. The sky while travelling, he’d noticed the sky had begun getting darker and cloudier, and now there was a heavy covering of black clouds. Sonic assumed it was just a big storm moving through the area. After stretching out and reconfiguring his direction, he ran across the island until he found a bridge. By the condition it seemed like no one had used the road in years and the bridge had fallen out of regular maintenance. Some section even crumbled away as Sonic slowly edged out onto it. He took it slow, avoiding spots that looked dangerous.
About halfway across, the bridge began to shake, and Sonic starting losing his balance. The cement began to crumble, and the bridge began collapsing from underneath Sonic. He bolted across the remainder of the bridge all the way up the nearest hill. He may have figured out how to swim, but he still didn’t feel like taking another dip. Stopping at the top of the hill, Sonic bent over and gasped for breath. “Whew, that was a close one. But I think the city should be just over here,” he said. Sonic looked up, and immediately jumped back in shock.
The landscape all around him was completely desolate. Destroyed constructions covered almost everything, and whatever wasn’t covered by ruins was just hard dirt. Thick clouds hung in the sky, which Sonic quickly realized was from the heavy pollution in the area. He coughed as the foul air invaded his lungs. If there was still sunlight above, this place certainly hadn’t seen it in a long time. As he surveyed the area, Sonic spotted a strange dome-shaped hill in the distance. He could make out a skyline that seemed more stable than the city around him. Smoke was clearly rising from some buildings there. “It can’t be… what happened here? Did Robotnik…” Sonic decided the best way to find out would be to investigate.
* * * * *
“AGGGHHHH!” Miles yelled as he woke up, obviously in pain. He quickly remembered where he was and shut up, cursing under his breath. He dragged himself over to a countertop, grabbing onto it for support. He pulled himself up, trying to keep the pressure off his left leg, which definitely felt broken. Despite his injuries, he’d managed to slow himself down enough during his descent to survive. But there was no doubt that he wouldn’t be making it back to Subagri easily, if at all. He untied his sword and sheath from his back and used it as a crutch. Slowly, he walked towards the door of his shelter.
He stuck his head out the door, checking all around him for robots. The coast appeared to be clear, so he proceeded to hobble out of the building. Miles slowly moved towards the edge of the city, constantly staying in the shadows and always looking over his dislocated shoulder. Considering the little sunlight that pierced the clouds, almost everything was shadows. As he walked, he kept looking to the edge of the city. There was nothing there. No hope of being saved. He was the only crazy enough to travel here. After all, everyone else was perfectly content to live a new life hiding underground. And considering Dr. Robotnik hadn’t destroyed them in the years since he’d conquered the world, it seemed their existence was safe. “I guess I’m just a fighter who won’t let go of the past,” he said, shaking his head. Just then he heard the sound of robots walking in his direction, and he dove out of sight. Two silver guard robots walking past him, having a conversation out loud. Which was strange considering they usually just communicated with internal communications. But one could never really understand the reasons behind much of the development that went into Eggman’s robots. The man wasn’t exactly all that sane, at least not any more.
“I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY A BATTLE FORCE IS BEING MOBOLIZED,” one said.
“YOU DID NOT RECEIVE THE EMPEROR’S BATTLE ANNOUNCEMENT?” the other responded, stopping.
“NEGATIVE, I WAS IN MAINTENANCE.”
“THE EMPEROR HAS DECIDED TO INITIATE HIS PLAN TO DISPOSE OF THE REMAINING RESISTANCE COLONIES IN THE WORLD AT ONCE. IT WOULD SEEM THE LOSS OF THE FLOATING ISLAND BASE HAS FORCED HIM TO MOVE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.”
“I FIND IT STRANGE HOW A MASSIVE FLOATING ISLAND SIMPLY DISAPPEARS FROM ALL MAPS AND COMMUNICATIONS.”
“I CONCUR. PERHAPS THE PURPOSE CAN BE EXPLORED AFTER OUT CONQUEST.”
“AFFIRMATIVE.” The robots continued to walk. After they were a safe distance away, Miles emerged from his hiding place. He tried to smirk, but it hurt his face too much.
“Then again, maybe everyone should remember why we’re in hiding,” he said as he continued to walk towards the edge of the city. However, his energy was fading from him quickly, and his vision became more clouded than it already was. As he looked to a hill in the distance, he spotted a strangely familiar figure. “It must really be the end… I’m starting to see things…” Miles said. Slowly he began to fall forward, as the faraway figure disappeared from the hill in a flash.
* * * * *
“There’s no way this can be the right city! I must have made a wrong turn… unless… unless it really did,” Sonic looked at the city, trying to find any sign of life in the gray abyss. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a speck of color, brown and yellow. He dashed towards it, and in a split second he’d reached the collapsed fox. “Hey, are you okay?” Sonic asked, slowly picking the fox up. As he did so he noticed the pair of long, fluffy tails that the fox possessed. “Tails? No, it couldn’t be. Tails isn’t this old.” Sonic lifted the fox up onto his shoulders. “Or this heavy… maybe he’s a relative? I just hope I don’t run into whatever did this to him. Better get out of here.” Sonic ran out of the city, and continued to run until he’d gotten out of sight from the city. He stopped and set the fox down gently. “Now I just need to figure out where to go.”
The fox stirred for a second, then suddenly jolted awake and grabbed onto Sonic’s arm. “Head… south…” he said weakly before collapsing again.
“South it is,” Sonic said, picking up the fox.
* * * * *
The Subagri security room. Located at the top of the underground dome that the city was contained in. From here former G.U.N. members, now reformed as the Subagri Armed Neo Defenders, held a constant vigil over the city, watching the sky and land around it. Of course, it had been a long time since any serious threat had come near, and they mostly just dealt with Miles’ angst these days. Two members in particular were simply playing a card game.
“You got any jacks?” the rabbit asked, looking at his cards.
“Go fish,” his human friend replied. “Have any… fours?”
“Ahh man… here you go,” the rabbit said, handing over a card with four red diamonds on it. Just then a far older man walked in. He was their leader, formerly one of the highest ranking members of G.U.N. But he didn’t mind being a security officer, as long as the people were safe. And his men actually did their job.
“Privates! You can play games when you’re off duty! But right now you have work!” he yelled in his gruff, commanding voice.
“Sorry sir, but really there isn’t much going on,” the rabbit replied as he gathered up his deck of cards. “The only thing we can expect is Prower, and he hasn’t even come back yet.”
“That’s what worries me. That kid has been out there dong who knows what for years now, and he’s always returned. He wasn’t exactly uninjured, but he came back. His absence worries me.”
“Sir! Something’s coming in fast!” another soldier called out. “Really… really fast! Whatever it is it’s nearly running at supersonic speeds!”
“Can you get a visual?” the commander asked as he stepped over the soldier’s station.
“Working on it… here!” A video came up on the screen, depicting a blue blur of something. “It doesn’t look like a robot, and it appears to be carrying someone. It almost looks like… Prower!”
“Open up the hangar. We need to let him know we’re here,” the commander said, before striding towards the door.
“But sir, we don’t know if it’s hostile or not!”
“Don’t worry, I think I know just who this is,” the commander said, closing the door behind him. “Still, to think he’d return after all these years…”
* * * * *
“There’s nothing around here but grass and trees,” Sonic said, slowing down his pace. At least, slower to him. It was still incredibly fast for everyone else. “Still, it’s better than that city.” As he ran, everything seemed to blend together, and he couldn’t see any sign of civilization, until the ground started to shake underneath him. He skidded to a stop and looked around for a source of the shaking, fearing it was an enemy. Just ahead of him, a clump of trees started to part through the middle, and the ground sank downwards. It split apart and disappeared, revealing a road that angled down into the ground. Sonic ran over to it and looked down. He didn’t see anyone, so he decided to just go on in. As soon as he reached the end of the ramp the ground closed up above him.
Sonic walked out into the large room he’d entered. It appeared to be some sort of garage or hangar, with a variety of vehicles parked inside. Sonic heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see three people walking towards him. All of them wore blue-grey military uniforms, similar to the ones worn by G.U.N. Sonic assumed these soldiers were the same. “Oh great, I’m guessing you’re going to arrest me again, right?”
The commander was about to respond questioningly, but quickly assumed the hedgehog was being sarcastic. “Not right now. First we need to get Prower here to the hospital.” The two soldiers behind the commander walked around from behind him, carrying a stretcher as Sonic carefully handed the unconscious fox to them. They hurried out of the hangar.
“So… what exactly is going on here, and where am I?” Sonic asked, crossing his arm and tapping his foot.
“You’ll get filled in later. But first, you need to come with me. I have some questions of my own.”
* * * * *
“What happened to Miles?!” Amy asked angrily, nearly shoving Hopper into the ground.
“I don’t know for sure, Amy,” the frog said, steadying himself and trying to calm down Amy. “I was hanging around in the hangar waiting for him so I could pay him back for shooting me, and all of a sudden these military guys walk in and come back out with him on a stretcher. They were talking him to the hospital. He looked pretty bad.”
“I need to get over there. If he dies on me I’ll kill him!” Amy said, walking past Hopper and storming towards the hospital in the center of town.
“Note to self: do not die without telling Amy,” Hopper said to himself before following her. They got to the hospital and were directed towards the room where he was. The S.A.N.D. soldiers were just leaving, and Amy managed to catch him.
“Do you know what happened to him? How’d he get back when he’s hurt like this?” she asked.
“I’m not entirely sure what happened to him, but it seemed like this guy carried him back.”
“He was a blue hedgehog. He kind of looked familiar actually, I just can’t quite place where I’ve seen him before… in any case, I assume the commander took him to HQ for questioning.”
“Blue… hedgehog… it couldn’t be,” Amy said, a shocked expression on her face. “Hopper, you stay here with Miles. Sir, I’m coming to the headquarters with you.”
* * * * *
The commander took a sip from the coffee mug emblazoned with an image of a shield crossed by a sword and a gun. The letters S.A.N.D. stretched across the middle. He set it back down on the table and folded his hands, placing them in front of his face as he leaned forward. “So, you’re positive you don’t know anything about where you are, or where you just were?”
“I told you everything already. One second I was hurtling through space in an exploding escape pod, next thing I know I’m in Green Hill. So I headed towards the capital, but I just ran into some sort of destroyed city. Pretty dismal place, not somewhere I’d want to take a vacation. That’s where I found that fox guy…”
“Yes, Miles Prower,” the commander said, cutting Sonic off.
“See, I think you’re mistaken there because Miles Prower is just a kid. That guy was, like, ten years older than him. But anyway, I picked him up and he told me to head south. I did, and that’s how I wound up with you, Mister Crazy Eyes.”
The commander raised an eyebrow at the hedgehog’s snide remark about his heterochromia. Still, it was to be expected from Sonic. After all, the hedgehog hadn’t seemed to change at all over the years, in his personality or physical appearance. He seemed exactly the same as back when G.U.N. had first mistaken him for Project Shadow. ‘And he doesn’t even realize how long it’s been since he’s last been seen.’
A knock came from the door, and the commander stood and walked over and stepped outside the room, leaving Sonic inside to cultivate his boredom even longer. A soldier stood outside, and he saluted the commander when he left the room. “Sir, there’s a Miss Amy Rose here. She wants to speak with the prisoner.”
“Amy Rose… ahh, yes, Prower’s friend. Let her in.”
“Yes sir.” The soldier turned to a speaker on the wall and pressed a button activating it. “Miss Rose can come in.”
“Copy that,” a voice from the other end replied. A door in the middle of the hall opened, and Amy Rose stepped out of the headquarters’ front office. She turned left and walked up to the commander.
“He’s right in here Miss. Though I should warn you, he doesn’t…”
“Don’t worry sir. I can handle him, if he really is… him,” Amy said coolly as she opened the door and entered. Her heart jumped though as she saw him sitting there, his legs up on the table. He looked exactly the same as he had those many years ago, and she thought for a moment that he was just a phantom of her memory that would fade away any second. But he remained, completely corporeal. Finally Amy’s words caught up to her. “Sonic? Is it really you?”
“What? Of course it’s me, who’re… Amy? You’re here too?” Sonic asked, standing up as soon as he saw the pink hedgehog standing in front of the door. “You look different. How did you get away from Eggman? And where’s Tails?”
Tears started to well up in Amy’s eyes, but she forced them back. She had gotten stronger over the many years. And now she needed to be her strongest. “Sonic, there’s something you need to know,” she said firmly. “The world is much different than you remember.”
“What do you mean?”
“Sonic… you’ve been dead for ten years.”