Sonic’s jaw seemed to literally hit the ground. Amy paused her story while Sonic collected his thoughts. He closed his mouth, opened it, closed it again, then opened it. “What happened after that?”
“No one’s really sure. While G.U.N. was evacuating people they managed to pick up a transmission from a small village in the forests northwest of Central. They had an underground bunker where they offered to hide people. That’s what became this city.”
“And the people in Central?”
“G.U.N. tried to launch rescue missions and attacks from a secret base off-shore, but it wasn’t long before Robotnik struck there too. For all we know, the rest of the world is a wasteland.”
“So you’ve just been hiding here in this underground city? What if Eggman finds you?”
“He hasn’t yet, and the people are happy about that. Well… except for Miles. You found him in Robotropolis. Ever since G.U.N. was eliminated he’s been fighting back against the Eggman Empire as much as he can. But he’s never come back this badly hurt…”
Sonic suddenly stood up, slamming his hands on the table. His chair slid back into the wall and fell over. “Where’s Tails now?”
“At the hospital downtown. But Sonic, I really don’t think…”
“Thanks Amy!” Sonic said, dashing out the door.
“Sonic, wait!” Amy called, but he was long gone.
The door creaked open, and the S.A.N.D. commander walked in. His face was wet with coffee. “He ran off to see Prower, didn’t he?” the commander asked, drying his face with a handkerchief.
“And do you think Prower is going to take the news well?”
“No, I don’t.”
* * * * *
Hopper watched Miles from his spot on the windowsill. He took a sip from the soda can he had bought from the vending machine moments earlier. ‘Hmm, still hasn’t woken up,’ Hopper thought. ‘Guess I’ll just look out the windows dramatically then.’ Hopper turned to do just that. The bustling underground metropolis seemed peaceful under its fake sky, created by an advanced hologram system which mimicked the outside weather. Suddenly Hopper noticed something that piqued his interest. He pressed his face against the cool glass in attempt to focus on a sign down below. “Is Pizza Hill Zone having a special offer?!” His attention shifted back to Miles when he heard movement behind him. “Ah, Sleeping Beauty awakens.” Hopper jumped off of the sill and walked over to Miles’s bed. “How ya feeling?”
“Where is he?” Miles asked, sitting up.
“The one who brought me back. Where is he?”
“Oh, the blue guy. Well, a bunch of S.A.N.D. guys came and met him in the hangar and took you here. He went with the Commander, so I assume he’d be with him.”
“And you’re positive it was a blue hedgehog?”
“Yeah, and that dude had an attitude.” Hopper paused, then chuckled. “Heh, that rhymed.”
Miles shook his head. “What am I thinking… it was probably just some guy out in the wastelands. But why would anyone else be out there? Or for that matter, how?”
“That’s just what I’m wondering,” came a voice from the door. Miles and Hopper both turned to see Sonic there, leaning against the wall with his arms folded in front of his chest. “Hey Tails, I guess this time it really is long time no see.”
Miles was completely silent. Hopper switched his focus between the two as the silence weighed down on the room. “Awkward silence. Guess I’ll have to break it up,” he said to himself, walking over to Sonic. “Hey. I’m Hopper, a friend of Miles.” He held his hand out to Sonic.
Sonic shook Hopper’s hand, a bit awkwardly. “I’m Sonic, Sonic the Hedgehog. Also a friend of Tails.”
“So, you’re really Sonic? The Sonic who died ten years ago?”
“I guess so.”
“You aren’t a zombie then… are you?” Hopper said, his voice suddenly dipping to a serious tone.
“I don’t… think so?” Sonic said, unsure of how to respond.
“Alright, I’ll just say you’re an uncategorized Living Impaired then.”
“It doesn’t matter since he can’t possibly be who he says he is,” Miles interjected from the bed, not even looking at the two.
“Hmm, he has a point… wait, where did he… oh, there you are,” Hopper said, first turning to Miles, then back to where Sonic should have been standing, only to find him standing by the window. “Where’d you get the chili dogs?”
“Vendor down the block. Want one?” Sonic offered one of the chili drenched hot dogs to Hopper.
“No thanks, I’m not a chili person.”
“That doesn’t prove anything. Robotnik built plenty of Metal Sonics before. They’d only get more realistic with time,” Miles said quietly yet forcefully.
Sonic almost choked on his last piece of chili dog. “What?! You thinking I’m one of Butt-nik’s robots?”
“It’s the most logical explanation for how someone who was though dead for ten years, who I saw die, could suddenly reappear.” Miles retorted, his voice getting louder. “Unless you have a better explanation, Sonic.”
“I used… or… no…wait,” Sonic struggled to put a sentence together as images flashed through his head. The ARK… the fake Chaos Emerald… getting shot out in the escape pod… trying to use Chaos Control… the timer ticking down. “I… I remember, the escape pod, and I tried to use Chaos Control with the fake emerald… and then… nothing…” Sonic’s voice trembled as he recalled the events.
“That’s what I thought,” Miles said, sliding towards the edge of the bed. “Eggman probably sent you to find our location. And now he’ll be able to go through with his plan.” Miles stood up, wincing. You could almost hear the broken bones in his leg snapping as he tried to walk.
“Woah, dude, what are you doing?!” Hopper ran to stop Miles. “You shouldn’t be moving!”
“Out of my way, Hopper, I don’t have time to deal with… AGH!” Miles almost collapsed to the floor, screaming in pain. Hopper caught him and put him back on his bed.
“Like I said, you’re not moving for a while. What could be this important?”
Miles struggled to get out his next words. “Robotnik… going to… destroy…” was all he could say before he lapsed back into unconsciousness.
“Wait, what?! What’s Robotnik going to destroy?” Hopper asked, but it was too late. “Guess we’ll just have to wait ‘til he wakes up again. In any case, I’d like to know more about…” He was cut off as Amy burst into the room. “Oh, hey Amy. You already missed the drama, but there’ll probably be another helping once Angsty Mc.Sadface here wakes up.”
“So he doesn’t believe that you’re you?” Amy asked Sonic.
“No. Thinking about it, I wouldn’t blame him. Ten years… everything’s changed but I haven’t, and I don’t even know… why…” Sonic’s hands flew to his head as he started to shake. Images flashed through his mind. A bright light, then a blank space, which was suddenly filled with a familiar silhouette. He switched back to his surroundings to see Amy rushing towards him. “I’m fine… just a really bad headache.”
“Are you sure? That didn’t look like “just a headache”.” Amy asked as she helped Sonic to his feet.
“Yeah, I’m cool. Other than the whole… what did you say I was?”
“Living Impaired,” Hopper responded.
“Well, I guess right now we need to find a place for you to stay. I don’t know how many people will recognize you, but you should lay low. But knowing you you’re just… going to run off again,” Amy said, his voice trailing off in annoyance as she realized Sonic had already left via the window.
“At least he opened it first,” Hopper said, walking over to Amy. “He seems like the kind of guy who would break right through a bunch of windows and keep running. If I find him, I’ll tell him to stay at my place, I’ve got room.”
“Thanks Hopper. I think I’ll stay here and wait for Miles to wake up.”
“Kay. See yah.” Hopper did a small two finger wave as he walked out the door. Amy sat down in the chair next to Miles bed, watching the fox intently.
“What will it take to make you believe it’s really him?”
* * * * *
Sonic stood on the roof of City Hall, the tallest building in the city which reached almost to the top of the cavern Subagri was located in. He made a quick scan of the city then lay down, watching the hologram clouds go by. “Kind of reminds me of Station Square. Before the whole Chaos thing at least. But that’s all in the past… like, way past in the past.” Sonic sighed, then sat up, looking at the ground. “I mean, it’s cool I’m alive, but I just wish I knew how! And why did it take ten years for me to come back?” He thought to the figure he saw in his vision. He could make out a female form and could see that she was talking. “But what did she say? Ahh, this is too confusing! I’m just gonna get another chili dog.” Sonic sprang to his feet and walked to the edge of the roof, and was poised to run down the side of the ceilingscraper, but paused when he remembered Amy was saying something about laying low before he left. He stepped away from the edge and moved to the back of the building, where there was an alleyway with no one present. He jumped down, slowing his fall by jumping between the two buildings as he neared the ground.
Sonic walked out of the alleyway and merged into the crowd. It annoyed him to have to walk so slowly, but his more reasonable side was prevailing today, and figured he should listen to Amy. After all, she was technically his elder now. He eventually reached the corner stand of the chili dog vendor. “Ey, ring boy!” the vendor, who spoke with a thick Empire City accent, called as he saw Sonic approaching. The man had been amazed when Sonic paid with rings early as they didn’t appear naturally in the city. Sonic had found a ring box, almost completely covered in plant life, shortly after heading out from Green Hill, and old habits die hard.
“Two fully loaded dogs, my good man,” Sonic said, taking two rings and handing them to vendor.
“Comin’ right up,” the man said, taking the rings and getting right to work. “Say, where’d ya get them rings anyway?”
“On the surface,” Sonic said, not sure how else to explain it.
“No kiddin’? What were ya doin’ up there?”
“You ever heard of Miles Prower?”
“The fox kid, right? Yeah, I’ve heard o’ him.”
“I was out there with him.”
“Really. I always figured he was one of them lone wolf kind o’ guys.” The vendor handed Sonic the first chili dog before starting the next. “Yeah, everyone says that kids crazy. Can’t say I don’t agree with them either!” The vendor laughed, then leaned closer to Sonic. “But between you and me, I like what he’s doin’. No one ever wants to leave their comfort zone, you know? They’re all content to just stay underground and let the rest of the world go to waste. If more people were fighting against ol’ Eggman up there, we might be able to get our world back. Of course, there’s not much a simple hot dogger like myself can do other than keep making delicious chili dogs! They were that hero Sonic’s favorite after all.” The vendor paused as he finished the second chili dog, then handed it to Sonic slowly, eyeing him quizzically. “You know, ya kind o’ look like him.”
“I get that a lot,” Sonic said with a chuckle as he took the second chili dog. He thanked the vendor again then briskly walked away. “That was a close one,” Sonic said to himself. He took a bit of the chili dog, chewing it slowly as he pondered the vendor’s words. “More people, eh?”
* * * * *
A few hours passed and Miles still hadn’t woken up after his last incident, and Amy was still sitting by his bed when a nurse walked into the room. “Still here Miss Rose? You should really head home, it’s getting late.”
“No, I’m alright. How is he?” she asked as the nurse checked on the various machines hooked up to Miles.
“Everything seems fine, just a matter of waiting for him to wake up again. But this time, make sure he doesn’t get out of bed, okay?”
“I’ll try,” Amy said with a slight laugh. The nurse turned to walk out of the room as Hopper reached the door.
“Excuse me,” he said, sliding along the edge of the door frame to allow the nurse to exit. “So, still out of it I see. Guess I’ll just chill here with you.”
“You really don’t need to Hopper, I’ll be fine.”
“Nah, the guy’s my friend… well, more or less. He did shoot me. That’s not the friendliest thing in the world. I guess you can’t really have friends when you’re a lone wolf… he’s a friendcquaintance, in any case. Besides, you might need me to help hold him down!”
“He was really that determined to leave?”
“Yeah. Right before he conked out he said something about Robotnik destroying something. It must be bad to get him this excited.”
“Robotnik destroying… You don’t think he’s talking about Subagri, do you?”
Hopper sat on the window sill, hunched forward, crossing his hands and resting his face on them. His voice took on a more serious tone. “The thought occurred to me, but it doesn’t seem likely. I don’t think he could have found our location. But how did Miles find out about it? And of course there’s Sonic… but perhaps he’s the connection…”
“No, it couldn’t be. He isn’t a Metal Sonic or some other robot. I just know he’s the real Sonic. I can feel it.”
“Chill, Amy, just thinking out loud,” Hopper said, returning to a more cheery disposition. He leaned back against the window. “We’ll just have to wait to get our answers when Miles wakes up.” Seconds after finishing his sentence, movement came from the bed. “And speaking of the devil.”
“Is “Sonic” here?” Miles asked as he sat up, wincing from pain.
“No he isn’t, and you need to stay put,” Amy said, standing up.
“Probably scouting out the city for Robotnik. I don’t have time for this.” Miles started to move, but Amy and Hopper both stopped him, shoving him back onto the mattress.
“Yes you do. And you just need to give up this tough guy routine and just admit he’s Sonic. But first you need to tell us what’s so important. If it involves us, we have a right to know.”
Miles closed his eyes and took a deep breath, exhaling sharply. He opened his eyes and locked Amy with a fierce stare. “Robotnik is going to destroy Subagri.”
There was a brief moment of silence as the words washed over the others in the room. “But, how did he find us? Why now? Are you even sure?”
“I overheard two robots in Robotropolis after was almost killed by some advanced E-100 series machine. He might have always known about us, and just didn’t care, or just liked watching us scramble around.”
“But why now all of a sudden?”
“The robots mentioned something about losing an air base. It’s forcing them to move ahead with their plan to wipe out the last of the resistance forces. Guess that means there’re more people out there. Not that it matters at this point.”
“When are they going to attack?” Hopper asked.
“No idea. But it can’t be too far off. It doesn’t take long to mobilize a robot army.”
“We need to tell S.A.N.D.!” Amy said. “They can pull together a force to fight Robotnik.”
“G.U.N. could barely hold off Robotnik when they were at their full strength, you think what little of them is left will do any better now that he’s got practically the entire world’s resources at his disposal?”
“We have to do something!”
“I would be preparing to fight him, but you said yourself I shouldn’t even be able to walk. The way I see it, we might as well be done for already.”
An ominous void fell over the entire room as Miles final words left his mouth. After what felt like an eternity, they were broken by a new voice from the door.
“Giving up already? We can take Eggman no problem!” Everyone turned to look at Sonic, who cracked one of his trademark smirks. “And I know just how we’re gonna do it!”