“And what exactly do you plan on doing?” Miles asked.
“Simple. We’ll get together an army!” Sonic replied matter-of-factly.
“Really? That’s your grand plan? We’ll just “get an army”? From where exactly? In case you haven’t noticed, everyone else has given up.”
“That’s what you think, but it’s not true. I already know one person who thinks you fighting Robotnik has been important.”
“And who would that be?”
“The hot dog guy down the street.”
“Oh, well that makes all the difference! Don’t worry everyone, the chili dogs will save us!”
“That’s not my point. It means that there are people in this city who think we should fight back, and now they’ve got some real motivation. They just need to know what we know.”
“And who’s going to tell them? You? Yeah, I’m sure they’ll believe someone who’s been dead for ten years… if that’s really who you are.”
“Would you just drop it, Tails! I’m me, and you need to accept it!”
“My name is Miles! And I have some recovering to do! So kindly get the hell out of my room!” Miles threw his arm up, pointing out the door and locking eyes with Sonic. Their usual crystal blue seemed dulled, yet at the same time burning.
Sonic silently bore down on him before sighing “Whatever you say, buddy” and leaving. As soon as he was gone Miles collapsed back onto his bed, breathing heavily and throwing his arm over his eyes.
“You really didn’t need to react like that Miles. What Sonic…” Amy began to scold Miles before Hopper cut her off, silently pointing to indicate she look more closely. By now Miles was clearly shaking and one could faintly hear sobbing.
“What Sonic needs is directions to my place, and I think we all need a little rest. It’s been a hectic day. See yah,” Hopper said, sliding out of the room.
“I’ll be back to check on you in the morning, okay?” Amy said, softer now. When there was no reply from Miles she turned to leave, switching off the lights. As she closed the door she thought she could hear Miles faintly whisper something, but decided against asking him. She left the hospital, the only light now coming from the streetlights, and started heading to the edges of the cavern where the main residential areas had been dug out. She wanted to believe Sonic’s plan would work, but without Miles and his knowledge of the area, a fighting force, or even the proper tools for a full scale assault, it seemed more and more like the cavern walls that protected the people were becoming more of a death trap every second.
* * * * *
It was about a week until Miles was released from the hospital, and in that time he had hardly spoken a word to anyone, and Sonic hadn’t even come to visit him. For that matter, Hopper could barely tell if Sonic was actually staying at his house. Once the doctors allowed Miles to leave the hospital, even if he was on a crutch with one arm in a sling, he seemed to just hole himself up in his apartment, constantly working. Amy and sometimes Hopper would drop by and try to coax him outside, but to little success. Amy would usually leave food outside, worried Miles wasn’t eating, and it was usually gone by the next day. She just hoped he was the one getting it.
Eventually Miles would leave his apartment, and instead starting spending all his time working in secret in the hangar. Hidden beneath the massive brown cover that now served as a tent, he toiled away on whatever had once sat next to his Tornado 4. Of course, that plane was nothing but a scrap heap now. And it was during one of these work sessions when Sonic came to talk to Miles again.
Miles stepped out from under his work tent, wiping the sweat off his brow and flicking his stray hairs out of his eyes for a brief second before they fell back down, but at least they were no longer sticking with sweat. Fabrication was hard work, made even harder with only being able to use one arm. He sat down and reached for a water bottle. He twisted the cap off with his teeth, and as he brought the neck of the bottle up to his lips, after letting the cap drop to the floor, he saw Sonic standing in front of him.
“What do you want?” Miles asked, taking a quick swig from his water battle before setting it down on the floor next to the cap.
“I just want to talk,” Sonic said, stepping closer to Miles. “So… what’cha working on?”
“None of your business.”
“Alright, I’ve always hated small talk anyway. Look Tails, the reason I came here is to ask you to just believe that I’m really me. I know it doesn’t make sense, I don’t even understand fully what happened, but that’s not important right now.”
“Give me on good reason why I should trust you.”
“For starters, I’ve spent the last couple weeks talking to people, and there are plenty of people who feel the way you do, that we need to fight back against Eggman, but they don’t have the tools for the job.”
“So what do you need me for, if you have all of them?”
“These days, you know Central… Robotropolis better than anyone, and you have the skills and resources to lead them.”
“Why don’t you just lead them? You’ve always been the “hero” after all.”
“That may be, but I’ve always worked better by myself, and with the whole “being dead for ten years” they’ll probably be more prepared to listen to you.”
“Forget it. If you can say you work better alone, don’t bother trying to tell me you really need my help.”
“There’s no other way this is going to work. I’m counting on you, Tails!”
Miles’s mind flashed back to that day on the ARK, when just before he was jettisoned from the colony, Sonic had said nearly the same words.
“Counting on me, huh? Counting on me just like you were ten years ago?! Well I’ve been doing just what you asked. I’ve fought Robotnik day after day; I’ve never given up, because I knew it’s what you would have wanted!”
“And now you come back from the dead and expect me to just forget about everything that’s happened? Well you can forget it!”
“Tails, I never meant for you to…”
“My name… is… Miles!” Using his good arm, Miles swung at Sonic, but he dodged the punch only to get hit in the face by another from Miles’s seemingly broken arm. Sonic stepped back and stared at the ground as Miles gasped for breath after his speech.
“So that’s the reason, eh? You’ve been fighting so hard all this time because of what I said to you? Well if that’s your motivation, then why are you so focused on what I said in the past that you won’t listen to what I have to say in the present?!” Sonic looked up and locked eyes with Miles, who was now beginning to realize what he was really saying. “I told Amy something that day, too. I told her to take care of herself. And she’s done more than that. She’s been helping others in this city, and she’s taking care of you as much as she was anyone else. Probably more than you even think about. You’ve been fighting Robotnik, and if it weren’t for that no one would know what’s coming. But now you have to take that knowledge and use it to help everyone. Otherwise you really will have let me down.”
The two continued to stare each other down, then slowly Miles’s stubborn expression began to break down, and he fell to his knees. Holding a hand to his face, he shuddered, “I’m sorry. I was so focused on trying to protect everyone I didn’t even give them a chance to help themselves… and me…”
Sonic stepped forward, placing a comforting hand on his “young” friend’s shoulder. “It’s okay buddy, now you’ve got a chance to really show Eggman what your made of. We just need to get together some more friends to help us get to him.”
Miles got to his feet, his eyes now brightly blazing with newfound determination. “And I know someone who can help with just that.”
* * * * *
“And you’re sure this guy can help us?” Sonic asked as he and Tails walked towards the edge of the cavern, where the buildings starting becoming less metropolitan and more small city downtown before simply ending in rock wall where the original caverns that made up the city where filled with residential areas.
“As long as he agrees to help. He helped me fight Robotnik before Central was taken over, and if there’s one thing he’s good at, it’s getting together a small but powerful fighting force.” Miles said. “I’m pretty sure he works around here…”
“What exactly does he do?”
“These days, he runs a pawn shop,” Miles said, pointing to a store a few yards down the street. As they reached it, Miles pulled open the door, finishing, “but he used to be quite the gang leader.”
“Gang leader? This should be interesting.” Sonic said as he and Miles walked inside. The store was dimly lit, and it took a while for his eyes to become adjusted. Eventually he could make out a figure sitting behind the counter. When the figure didn’t become any clearer Sonic realized that he was simply wearing rather darkly colored clothes. The store owner looked up as the open door hit a small bell hung next to it.
“Miles! Long time no see!” he said, walking around the counter. “What’ve you been up to all this time?”
“Oh you know, fighting Robotnik, getting hospitalized… the usual.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard about it. I haven’t been doing much personally; barely get any customers around here. Of course, that’s probably my fault for deciding to open up on the outskirts of downtown. So who’s this?” he asked, indicating Sonic with a slight head nod.
“This is Sonic. Sonic, this is Hellsing, Leader of the Vamps.” Hellsing offered Sonic a handshake.
“Sonic, huh? Like the Sonic the Hedgehog?” Hellsing asked as Sonic shook his hand.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
“It took me a while to come to terms with it,” Miles said.
“Well, I’ve heard of weirder things happening. So what brings you out here?”
“I need your skills at organizing ragtag fighting groups.”
“For what, exactly?”
“We’re going to take back Robotropolis.”
There was a moment of silence, and then Hellsing burst out laughing. After about a minute, he calmed down enough to ask, “Are you serious?”
“Yes. Last time I was in the city, I overheard two robots discussing plans to destroy the last remaining resistance groups on the planet. Robotnik knows where we are, and he’s coming.”
“Well, I guess that doesn’t leave me much choice in the matter. I’ll get the old team back together.”
“You agreed to that quicker than I thought you would,” Sonic said.
“I miss the action from back when the Vamps were together. I figure you’d understand how boring everyday life gets.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“Alright, now that we’ve got you onboard, all we need is the rest of our army,” Miles said, pondering aloud. “But we need to tell everyone in a way that will actually get them to believe us.”
“Why not ask G.U.N. or D.I.R.T. or whatever they’re called now?” Sonic suggested. “After all, the Commander already knows who I am; convincing them that Robotnik’s coming shouldn’t be much harder.”
* * * * *
A few hours later, an emergency meeting of the Subagri Council and top S.A.N.D. officers was called. A few hours after that, an emergency assembly was called, and the people began to file into the city’s massive amphitheater. On the stage sat Miles, Sonic, and the Commander. After the amphitheater was filled, the Commander stepped up to a podium and addressed the assembly.
“People of Subagri, I am Commander Abraham Tower of S.A.N.D., and I come to you today with urgent, and grave, news. Hours ago, we received information that the Eggman Empire has located our city and has been preparing for a full scale assault sometime in the near future.” He paused as the crowd erupted into shouts of worry and anger. “For more, I give you the source of our information, Miles Prower.” The crowd once again grew quiet as Miles stepped up to the podium.
Clearing his throat, Miles began. “Those of you who know me probably know me as “that guy who’s always going to Robotropolis.” Others might think even farther back as me being “that fox kid who always hung around Sonic.” But it’s because of those things that I’m here today. A few weeks ago, I was nearly killed in Robotropolis by a super-advanced fighting machine. The next day as I was lying barely conscious inside a destroyed home, I overheard communications between two robots. They mentioned how Robotnik had recently lost some sort of “air base” and was therefore pushing forward his latest plan. A plan, they said, to finally wipe out the last resistance groups that still exist on the planet. Whether this means there are more survivors out there, I don’t know. What it does mean is that Robotnik knows where we are, and has known for some time. It’s right up his alley to just sit back and watch as squirm before finally squashing us flat. But that’s not what will happen this time. This time, we know he’s coming. This time, we will be prepared. This time, we will fight!” He paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts. “I know some of you – most of you, probably – don’t believe me. In the past Robotnik’s plans were often stopped by just a handful of people, like Sonic and myself.” He avoided glancing back at the hedgehog who sat behind him, as S.A.N.D. had advised them that revealing his existence would only cause the people to doubt his story even more, or possibly fly into a panic. “But now, we need your help. I need your help. Together, we can rid ourselves of the tyranny and destruction of the Eggman Empire, once and for all! Who will stand and join me?” Miles stepped back from the podium, hoping his dramatic speech would be enough to motivate the people, or at the very least convince himself that this would work.
After a few moments of silence, a voice finally spoke up. Standing in front of one of the aisles was Amy Rose, her massive Piko Piko Hammer in hand. “I’ll fight with you. It’s about time I paid Robotnik back for everything he’s done… personally.” She emphasized the last words by twirling the hammer in her hands.
“Count me in!” Hopper called, jumping out of his seat and running up to Amy. “You didn’t think I’d miss this, did you?”
“We’re with you too!” another voice called from the back, as four individuals walked towards the stage. All of them were bats, the group consisting of an albino female, her hair dyed black with a red streak, wearing a black miniskirt, high heel boots, black tank top, and a flowing black longcoat, a giant golden-brown furred male wearing camouflage cargo shorts, military boots, and a tight green t-shirt with a black military-style vest, a shorter and younger member whose only visible outfit was a black longcoat with a hood that covered his entire body, and a large rectangular case hanging on his back. Their leader wore combat boots, black pants with flame designs on the bottom, a black t-shirt bearing the gang’s logo, a fanged V, under a flowing black leather longcoat, and fingerless gloves. All of them were wearing sunglasses. “The Vamps offer all of our skills. We’ll crack that Eggman wide open!” Hellsing declared.
Miles smirked and silently laughed. Hellsing certainly knew how to make an entrance, and Miles wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d decided to drop from the ceiling. With S.A.N.D. clearly backing him, Miles had all of the groups and individuals that were practically guaranteed to help him. Now he only needed the help of the support of the people to make it work.
After what felt like an eternity, however, no one had spoken up. Miles was beginning to get worried, and the assemblies eyes were darting around, looking for signs of whoever would be “first” to speak up, whispering amongst themselves. Then, a woman few rows back on the left side stood up. “I will join you!” she shouted up to the stage.
Squinting his eyes to focus on her better, the Commander took the microphone from the podium. “I believe I recognize you. Have we met?”
“Possible, sir.” The woman said, then saluted the Commander. “Airman First Class, Sally Quercus, sir. I served in the G.U.N. air force, but with the move into Subagri I decided my services were no longer needed. But seeing as how we are no returning to the surface, I would like to aid in the effort, sir!”
“We are glad to have you back, pilot. Welcome aboard.” The Commander saluted Sally, and then both of them sat down. Shortly afterward, a man practically in the center of the room stood up. Looking closely, Sonic recognized him as the hot dog vendor he frequently visited.
“I’m ready to help in whatever way I can,” the man shouted up to the stage. Then turning as if addressing the crowd, he said, “Of course, there ain’t much a simple hot dogger like myself can do, so the rest of you better help out or were gonna end up fighting robots with chilidogs.” Turning back to the stage and looking directly at Sonic, he added. “Not that that’s necessarily a bad idea.”
Soon enough, another man nearby stood up, and another, and more and more people stood up, throwing in their own words and their own personal battle cries until the room was shaking from the great thunder of their voices. As their voices swelled, Sonic sat back in his chair, smiling. “If Robotnik had to trick me into an exploding escape pod in space to finally beat me, let’s see how well he goes up against an entire army of people he’s oppressed.” He turned his gaze towards his fox friend. “And with you leading them, there’s no way they can lose. After all, you’re the one who survived.”