The sky over the desolate plains was silent, its rolling hills hardly disturbed by the slightest breeze. The silence was broken by a small fleet of fighter jets tearing through the sky, followed by assault helicopters. In the distance could be seen a sprawl dark metropolis, its factories pumping out even more pollutant which covered the sky in dark clouds. Below the roaring jets were jeeps, small tanks, large trucks carrying infantry, and a handful of humanoid mechs. Their target was the city, and marching ominously towards them was a vast army of cold, lifeless, killing machines. And they planned to destroy every last one of them.
A short distance behind them was a single pick-up truck and a small biplane which was flying close to it. Once their allies had engaged the enemy, they planned to blast through in the confusion of battle and enter the city undetected. That was the plan at least. Flying in the Tornado were Miles, Amy, and Sonic. In the truck were the Vamps, Hopper, and Rouge. They would have divided the groups more evenly, but the Tornado wouldn’t be very useful if it was weighed down with too many people. Meanwhile in the truck, Jub was driving, with Niwea in the other front seat, Hopper and Rouge were in the back seats, and in the cab Hellsing sat at the controls of a mini-gun mounted in the back, while Sogeki was perched to snipe those in front of them.
It wasn’t long before the battle began. Just a few miles outside of the city, the pilot leading the airstrike began to order the units to report in. “This is Gold Leader ordering all squad captains to report.”
Miles waited for his point in the chain of squads to report in. “Blue Leader, standing by,” Sally reported, and Miles switched on his communications.
“Rogue Leader, standing by,” he said before going over a final operations check and fully activating his weapons systems.
“Alright folks, this is it,” Gold Leader said. “Bandit detected on radar, prepare to engage. Let’s give ‘em hell!”
As Miles looked ahead, he could see the fleet of aerial robots swarming towards their own meager air force. But he also knew that Robotnik had always focused more on quantity over quality, so he certain they had plenty of fire power to take them out. But as Niwea reported that the ground forces had engaged the enemy as well, it gave him all the more reason to get the ARK and finish this quickly. “Niwea, look for a space for you to break through. I’ll cover you.”
“Roger that. The enemy seems to be continuing to move in straight lines, so with our current formation, as crazy as it sound, it seems easiest to simply go straight through the middle.”
“Alright, let’s go for it!” Sonic said, crouching down and grabbing onto the Tornado’s wing.
* * * * *
On the front lines, the more heavily armed vehicles had set up a barricade of firepower, enabling the ATVs to begin unloading troops, who had started to open fire on the advancing robots. The front lines were composed of the quick and sleek BE-MR units Robotnik had revealed when he took over the city. Behind them were the more heavily armored assault robots that Miles had encountered in the city, as well as similar robots with long range weapons. Hovering over and amongst them were angular black and white robots with high energy dual laser cannons, known as E-1001s. In the skies dueling with the fighter jets were robot units of similar design but large size, and smaller yellow and red jet robots with powerful laser weapons.
“Keep the fire on the front lines, but watch for those flying units!” ordered the Commander from the large truck that had been modified to serve as a command center. “R7 units move to guard the flanks! Don’t let any of them get around us!”
“Commander, this is Miles. We’re going to make a dash straight through the middle of the battle. Think you can help clear a path for us?”
“I’ll see what I can…”
He was interrupted as the pilot of one of their few armed walkers radioed in. “This is R-1/S Flying Dog, reporting for duty.”
“Perfect timing pilot. Focus your attack on the forward point, and assist the infiltration group to get through. Relay those orders to the F6 units.”
“Roger that. Flying Dog out.” The pilot pulled back on his control stick, bringing the Flying Dog up into the air, and began charging the massive laser cannon on the front of his mech. Targeting the center of the robot forces farther back than those already engaged in battle, he punched down on the trigger button, launching a powerful laser blast. Before the dust from the explosion settled he had already switched to his missile launchers, sending a barrage of rockets into the robots surrounding the ones he had just destroyed. Finally he switched to machine guns and stepped on the accelerator. After flying past his allies, he began to open fire, making wide sweeping shots at the robots, taking out any who had the misfortune to be in his way. He quickly made a u-turn and came back doing the same, veering to the left to dodge a laser blast from one of the hovering units. Back on his side, he prepared to launch another barrage of missiles as more units from his squad reported in.
“This is Araneae troops F-6r Big Foot squad captain reporting in and awaiting orders.”
“Focus your fire on the center, we’re clearing a path for the infiltration team,” the Flying Dog pilot replied as he launched another barrage of missiles. Below him, three camouflaged F-6r units, similar to the F-6t Sonic had fought when on the run from G.U.N., began to move out towards the enemy robots, the other soldiers quickly moving out of the way. They too were capable of hovering, but for far shorter distances than the Flying Dog. With their own barrage of missiles they cleared out a large section of the front lines, with the tanks and foot soldiers behind them immediately working to widen and maintain the gap as the Big Foots activated their hover boosters and began their own aerial machine gun sweep. The Flying Dog had once again charged his laser cannon, and was flying forward to target another group farther back when an E-1001 launched its own missile attack, about a dozen small homing missiles. The Flying Dog swerved around to avoid them, engaging reverse boosters and firing his machine guns to try and destroy the missiles. However, he couldn’t dodge all of them, and his right missile pack was destroyed. The Flying Dog started to fall to the side, but the pilot quickly stabilized the mech and targeted a group of E-1001s with his laser cannon. He managed to destroy most of them, but more were flying in from all over the robot army and getting into a unified battle formation. “Watch out for those hovering units, they’re equipped with homing missiles!”
Up in the sky, the fighter jets were engaged in dangerous aerial acrobatics as the dogfight with the robot jets grew more intense. The assault helicopters were attempting to provide cover fire as well as shoot down incoming enemy fighters, while the Blue Eagle jets swept in to bomb the ground robots whenever they managed to shake off the robot jets. But while the large fighter jets were powerful, what was proving more troublesome were the smaller yellow and red robots, known as E-2000s. Their size made them harder to track than their larger comrades, and they packed surprisingly powerful laser weapons. And they had one more surprise up their metal sleeve.
“Incoming yellow robot,” the copilot of one of the helicopters said as one came swooping towards them.
“Targeting,” his partner at the weapons system said. “He won’t get away from us.” He fired at it with the helicopters powerful Gatling gun, and it seemed to be a direct hit. However, as the smoke cleared, something was still there. “What the? Is that a shield? Wait a minute, that thing just transformed! The smaller ones have another form, and they can-!” The pilot was cut off as the transformed E-2000 fired its laser gun, destroying the helicopter.
“Gray 3 is down,” the squad leader for the helicopters reported over radio. “It appears that the small robots can transform and possibly deflect attacks.”
“Well, that might make this more of a challenge,” Sally said to herself as she opened fire on the robot jet she was tailing. She quickly barrelrolled out of the way as another launched a missile towards her. Performing a looping maneuver she bore down on the enemy fighter, destroying it with a quick blast of machine gun fire. She pulled up to avoid flying through the shrapnel only to find herself right in the line of site of a transformed E-2000. She opened fire, but it blocked with its shield and charged a laser attack. She barely had time to move, but it wasn’t necessary as a helicopter came from behind and shot the robot down. “Thanks, I owe you one.”
“Then when we get back, drinks are on you. I know a good place,” the pilot said with a laugh.
“Just don’t get yourself blown up before you can show it to me,” Sally replied, looping around and heading back into the fray.
“Yeah, likes that’s gonna… Sh-!” the radio when silent for a moment, but before Sally could say anything, the helicopter pilot was back. “Frickin’ transformer guys are stealthy for bright yellow robots.”
As the helicopter flew away, Sally targeted another one of the E-2000s, who was starting to dive lower. She soon spotted its target and sped to catch it faster. Locking on, she blasted it down with machine gun fire, then arched back into the sky as the Tornado flew to the side to avoid the falling shrapnel. “Sorry about the junk Miles,” Sally said as she continued her ascent.
“Thanks for the save, Sally,” Miles replied. “We’re about to make our move.”
Miles switched his radio to all frequencies and started to ascend as they reached the edge of the battlefield. “This is Rogue Leader. Infiltration group is beginning our assault.” The ground soldiers opened up a path for the Vamps’ truck as Miles flew ahead.
“This is R-1/S Flying Dog calling Rogue Leader. We’re taking heavy fire here. See if you can take out those hovering units.”
“Roger, moving in.” Miles flew up and arched around the mech units, who had been pinned down by the E-1001s. The Flying Dog was missing both of its missile launchers, and one of the Big Foots had been destroyed. Miles managed to get alongside of them and started to open fire, taking out most of one side of the V-formation before they directed their first towards him. He took off into the air, preparing to loop around and take another sweep at them, when Sonic, yelling something that was barely audible over the rush of the wind, jumped off of the Tornado’s wing and started to dive towards them. He rolled up into a ball and smashed into the head of the V, before quickly homing attacking his way through the rest of them. Standing on the last one, he jumped into the air as the Tornado swooped around to catch him. Miles contacted the Flying Dog. “Keep your units where they are, we can handle it from here. Just make sure the truck gets through.”
“Roger, they’re approaching now.” Miles looped back to join up with the Vamps truck as it burst past the robot lines into the path the mech units had been clearing, though it was more than capable of making its own. In the front fender were concealed two mini-guns, and small explosive projectile launchers had seemingly appeared out of nowhere on the sides of the truck. Meanwhile Sogeki was sniping E-1001s in the distance, working quickly to make sure they couldn’t charge their lasers, while Hellsing was busy blasting everything around them.
As Miles flew ahead mowing down more of the soldiers, Sonic jumped off and blasted straight through the enemy, carving a hedgehog sized line through the robot hoard, which was followed by a wave of energy caused by his speed which knocked down even more robots. Suddenly he reached the end of the enemy line, just slightly inside the city ruins, encountering a large tank-like robot. It appeared similar to one of G.U.N.’s Rhino units, but of a much more massive size and equipped with three heavy missile launchers, two large Gatling guns, and a powerful laser cannon. Sonic paused for a minute to marvel the size of the machine before it started to attack him. He quickly jumped to the side to avoid its sweeping machine gun fire, then dashed forward as it started to launch missiles. Many of them flew past and hit the back of the robot lines, while Sonic jumped up onto the robot. Curling into a ball, he spindashed through one of the Gatling guns, cutting it off. He jumped back to the ground, then immediately jumped back into a ball and spun into the center of the laser cannon, shooting straight through the robot. Sparks flew from the hole Sonic had carved before the entire robot exploded. Sonic spotted more of the tank robots at various points on the robot army’s backline. Just as quickly as he’d dashed through the army, which he now saw was a lot larger than he’d thought, Sonic ran back to the command center. “Hey Commander,” Sonic said as he stepped inside the truck, to the surprise of everyone there but the Commander, “just warning you that there are some big tank robots at the back of the robot army, but their forces seem to end at the edge of the city.” Sonic immediately jumped out of the truck and ran to the Vamps truck and jumped in the back.
“How’s it look up there?” Hellsing asked as he shot down an E-1001.
“The ‘bots stop at the edge of the city, so once we get through this it should be a straight line to the ARK.” As the Tornado flew down alongside the truck, Sonic jumped back on the wing and told the same thing to Miles. The two vehicles continued to carve their way through the center of the robot army, and eventually they did arrive in the city, shooting their way through the last of the robots. Fortunately, whether because of the robots’ programming or sheer dumb luck, none Robotnik’s soldiers followed them the whole time they were moving through them. They just continued forward towards the S.A.N.D. soldiers.
“That was almost a little too easy,” Hellsing called over the radio.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Sonic replied. “Sometimes it seemed like Eggman’s bases were designed for me to get to him on purpose.”
“Don’t let your guard down yet,” Miles retorted. “Where not in the clear yet, we’re just getting closer to the real danger.”
The group continued to move through the city, and as they did so, the ruins started to slowly become less and less ruined, and started turning into more and more factories where Robotnik produced his robot army. And soon they found themselves face to face with the massive hill that was once the world’s most advanced orbital space station, but now housed only danger and death. In the years of neglect, the ground that had been built over the crater had started to fall apart, and the group found themselves on the edge of a section of road that had fallen down into the crater. As Miles descended to land next to the ARK, he did think to himself that getting there had almost been too easy. And that worried him more.
Once the truck had gotten down to where Miles had landed, Jub placed explosives on the side of the ARK and with a blast had made a new door. Miles stepped inside to make sure the area was safe, and then, after establishing one of the more visible and stable skyscrapers as a rendezvous point, everyone entered.
The inside of the ARK was nearly pitch-black apart from a few faintly glow red panels on the walls that seemed to serve more as emergency lighting. After switching on some flashlights, Sonic remarked, “Our first objective is to find the light switch.”
“We’ll worry about that once we find the control room. Here’s how we’re dividing up; Rouge, Amy, and Sogeki will look for the control room. Hellsing, Niwea, Jub, and Hopper, you divide up and start planting the explosives. Meanwhile, Sonic and I will do the same until we can find the exact location of the cannon’s core. Once that happens, we’ll plant my device and blow this place back into space.”
Everyone nodded in approval before splitting off into various directions. But lurking in the darkness of the ARK were dangers both new and old… and all of them were prepared to kill.