"TTS": Part 2 (2/2)

From: Shawn Wolski <n5una_at_MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>
Date: Sat, 04 Mar 1995 01:21:32 -0600

(Continued from 1/2)

        It had been about one hour and 45 minutes after Robotnik and
Packbell arrived at the probe's crash site at 0800 hours, and
Robotnik had still been no closer to understanding what the
hieroglyphics meant than what he knew a few hours before.
Pacing around the dead probe, he kept his eyes on the WorkerBots
and the weapon, with more emphasis on the weapon. The
hieroglyphics made no sense whatsoever, and it was becoming more
than obvious that the translation program wasn't about to
retrieve the linguistics base anytime soon, if ever. It was
clear that the device was SOME kind of weapon, but WHAT? He
considered the point over and over in his mind, knowing that the
time that he spent thinking about the weapon's use gave Sonic
and his companions time to learn that something was amuck, and
they would come to investigate and/or prevent the process from
obtaining completion. He was about to slip into that mood he
felt earlier in the day, when he learned that the lab had been
destroyed. Today was about to be another one of those days...
        Apparently Packbell had noticed the general futility of the
situation, for he voiced it for both of them. "Dr. Robotnik, it
is entirely possible that Sonic may become wise to the
situation. We must leave soon before he arrives."
        Robotnik cringed in disbelief when he heard that, but he knew
that Packbell was right. Further waiting on his part would only
serve to jeopardize the mission. The only option left was to
scrap both the mission and the probe's cargo. Unless...
        Robotnik considered the unfinished thought further. 'No,
pouring over the language program by ourselves won't be enough,'
he thought. 'However, maybe we can get the Freedom Fighters to
do it for us, and then WE take the weapon! Yes, that's good,
very good indeed.'
        He then made a turn to Packbell. "Packbell, notify the
WorkerBots and SWATBots to cancel the retrieval project."
        Packbell could only stand in his position in front of Robotnik,
mouth agape with surprise and possibly mild shock. "Doctor," he
said, "are you certain about this?"
        Robotnik's anger nearly flared, surprised at Packbell's
ignorance to the opportunity that leaving the probe would give
them. "Yes, Packbell my boy. Leave the probe. This would give
us the opportunity for the Freedom Fighters to do the work for
us." He managed to keep his anger under control, at least on
the outside.
        Packbell's shocked glare converted to one of elated
understanding as the hexadecimal codes in his positronic matrix
resolved the procedure of this new tactic. His only response
was to radio the message to the other robots present. The
robots suddenly stopped working and began converging on their
transport units. Robotnik and Packbell followed suit. A few
minutes later, there was no sign of Robotnik or anything else
native to Mobius in the probe's area. Except for a few stealthy
devices that Robotnik left behind to provide a visual link to
Robotnik's personal Hover Unit. This precaution was for the
arrival of a certain blue hedgehog that Robotnik knew and
loved...to roboticise.

* * *

        The midday sun blazed in all its fury down on Dulcy, and she
didn't know how much more heat she could withstand. "How much
further, Sally?" she questioned, unable to hide the evidence of
heat exhaustion from her voice. "I gotta stop for a water break
soon. It's hot out here!"
        Sonic and Sally weren't much better off than Dulcy. Sonic was
sweating so much that he felt like the raging one km-high
waterfall in Bolder Bay. Sally was feeling a little lightheaded
from the extended thermal exposure. One point was clear to all
three: find a shaded area and drink copious amounts of water.
        Sally scanned over the barren landscape for a suitable area
with her IR/binocular unit, then pointed the location out to
Dulcy. It was a cliff outcrop located in a valley that had
enough shade for the three of them, plus some space to stretch
out and relax for a while. "Right down there looks fine,
Dulcy," said Sally in a tone similar to Dulcy's.
        "Music to my ears! Going down!" Dulcy said, ecstatic about the
prospect of being able to get out of the sun's heat for a while.
 With strength that she didn't even know she still had, she
snapped her tail to accelerate down to the new-found haven.
Acceleration which Sonic and Sally weren't exactly prepared for,
or even able to tolerate.
        "Yo, Dulce! Not so fast! I'm gonna hurl if this keeps up!"
Sonic exclaimed, his face becoming a blue-gray tint in response
to the sudden downward thrust.
        It was too late for any deceleration to take place. Dulcy was
already well into her dive-bomb orientation, about 30 degrees
relative to the ground. Two seconds later, she angled her upper
body high to facilitate landing, but she did so slightly too
fast. With her aerodynamics sufficiently disrupted, she and her
friends hung in midair about two meters above the ground. For a
painfully long time (it was actually about a second), Dulcy
looked over to her companions as if to give an apologetic
"Oops", and then dropped like a massive bomb to the hard rock
below them. Short screams came from the comrades as the air
forcefully discharged them from its stronghold.
        "Ooohh, I'm home, Ma," Dulcy babbled in mild shock. After
shaking the disorienting feeling out of her head, Dulcy took
stock of her situation. Her posterior was the ultimate tribute
to discomfort, but the pain would pass. She also felt two furry
bodies gripping her back with unprecedented strength. Dulcy
looked over her shoulder to Sonic and Sally. "Are you two OK?"
she inquired, concerned about their facial expressions.
        Sonic looked as if he was ready to expel his breakfast with
extreme prejudice, and Sally wasn't too far behind in completing
a similar act herself. After having a detailed view of Dulcy's
worried face, they managed to expedite a small degree of control
over their digestive systems. "Not if you count my stomach,"
the two said in unison, with a hint of the resonance forced by
the impact still in their voices. Temporarily not in their best
condition, but otherwise functional. They slid slowly down
Dulcy's back, in order to prevent a relapse of that unpleasant
feeling in their abdominal area. Dulcy then assisted them in
the short travel to the shade.

        After an hour of lounging in the shaded refuge and having
liberal amounts of water applied both internally and externally,
the three were prepared to continue the mission. Now all that
remained to be accomplished was to arrive at the intended
destination and prevent Robotnik from taking action on whatever
plan he had for the innovative wartoy. The only problem was:
where was the probe relative to their location?
        "Nicole," Sally commanded, "show our location relative to the
location of the alien probe."
        "Unable to comply, Sally," Nicole responded politely, almost
apologetically. "The present location is an area that has
unusually high concentration of refractory minerals which are
preventing any fix of a reliable bearing."
        Not having the required background in basic geology, Sonic gave
a disdainful look to Sally and Nicole, with emphasis on Nicole.
He said nothing, for his face revealed all.
        Nicole didn't understand the expression on the hedgehog's face,
but Sally did. "She means, Sonic," Sally explained, "that there
are rocks in this valley that are affecting her sensors. We
need to get out of this valley to find the probe's location
        "I don't know about that, Sal," Sonic said thoughtfully.
"Besides, take a look at that." To emphasize his point, he
pointed toward the sky.
        Little did they realize during their reprieve from the heat,
the sky had been turning darker and darker during the time that
they spent hiding from the sun. Darkness meant heavy cloud
cover. Heavy cloud cover meant rain. And rain in the desert
meant floods, for the rain came down in a torrential downpour.
With further consideration, they realized that they were in the
worst possible area to get away from the sun and a flood. There
was a roar in the distance from the south end of the valley. A
roar that signified the relentless advance of a solid wall of
        There was no time for words; only actions would serve their
purpose here. Sonic and Sally took their positions on Dulcy's
back, and gripped her scales with all the strength they had.
Dulcy leaped into the air, and shot off like a torpedo with all
the might she could manage to give. Two seconds later, the wall
of water screamed by them, inundating their resting place that
would have become their permanent residence had they not acted
        "Well, so much for getting out of there," Dulcy observed. "Can
you get a fix on the probe now, Sally?"
        "Sorry, Dulcy," Sally replied. "Too much interference from the
storm. I can't even tell what direction we're going." Nicole's
sensors had been enhanced, but Bookshire and Sally didn't
account for a scenario of this nature where enhanced (but
unshielded) sensors would be at best, only disoriented. The
worst case wasn't very appealing, and would require the long and
tedious construction of a new computer unit. This was time that
they didn't have the luxury to spend. Unless...
        Sally tried to remember everything that Bookshire had installed
in Nicole. EVERYTHING. Then, something in her mind finally
        "Nicole," she said, "decrease the search radius and buffer the
sensor inputs."
        "Sal, what's that going to do?" Sonic said with familiar
        "This should help Nicole get a better chance find the probe
again," Sally replied. "Besides, we can't be too far away from
the probe that we can't just use a short range sensor scan. It
would take a load off the long-range scanners and be much more
        Apparently content with the parsed data, Sonic said nothing
further. The only sounds now were the sounds of the storm,
Dulcy's wings, and Nicole making a scan with the reconfigured
sensors. A few moments later, an acknowledgment sound came from
Nicole. The three friends waited in anticipation for the
        Sally read the data display, and translated it for Dulcy.
"Dulcy," she said, "turn right and keep going straight. That
way is to the probe."
        "All right, Sally," said the dragon. "Oh, and by the way,"
Dulcy said jokingly, "does anyone want to stay here? Nice
river-front property available; wouldn't want to see it go to
        Helpless guffaws from all three ensued. Their spirits lifted
again, they flew off to attend to some more serious matters.

* * *

        They came to a stop at an area five km away from the probe's
crash site, dry and none the worse for wear...so far. Due to
the prearranged mission plans, Dulcy would stay behind and
monitor from a remote location. Robotnik has been out looking
for dragons again recently, and now wasn't exactly a good time
for a dragon to be visible to his sensors. He had ways of
capturing dragons that weren't exactly pleasant, plus there was
a chance that Robotnik had that technology with him. In this
case, stealth was the best defense.
        "Remember, Dulce," Sonic admonished, "you stay here an keep an
eye out for Chrome Dome and his pals. If we get into trouble,
jam back to Knothole, pronto. Sal and I will take care of
things at our end." A pause, and then he continued. "Any
        The dragon could only shake her head in the gesture of "no".
Dulcy was far too knowledgeable about Freedom Fighter tactics,
and the confrontation with Robotnik was always met with the same
basis of one of the tactical codes: risk as few people as
possible, while still allowing for successful completion of the
mission. However, that didn't mean that she was required to
like the orders she had been given. Dulcy had a concerned look
on her face to that effect.
        Sonic sensed this sign of dissension, and decided to be
diplomatic about it. "Look, Dulcy," the hedgehog said kindly,
"I know you want to help us kick old Buttnik's tail. But this
is for your protection as well as ours." He thought for a few
seconds, tapping his foot, and produced an innovative plan to
appeal to Dulcy. His eyes lit up with the glee. "Tell ya
what," he continued, "sometime soon I'm probably going after one
of Robotnik's wartoys in Robotown. I want you on my lookout
team, only this time, you'll be able to do more."
        Dulcy looked at Sonic in shocked disbelief, but said nothing.
Sonic nodded with an honest smile on his face to confirm her
suspicions that she hadn't misread his proposal. She thought it
over, and decided that it was a fair trade. "Good luck you
two," she finally said. "I'll be watching to see that you two
kids don't cause any trouble."
        A few seconds of laughter later, and everyone's nerves had been
settled. Dulcy usually was one to look at the brighter side of
just about everything, and had more than once made that point
apparent, however humorous it was. Then again, it could have
been because of the humor that people might see in it. Whatever
the reason, Dulcy got the message, and made it clear in her own
way that she would stolidly stand by her promise.
        Satisfied that his message had completed its intended service,
Sonic said to Sally, "Come on, Sal! My sneaks are just itching
to hit the old road!"
        "Ready Sonic," was the reply from Sally, analyzing Nicole's
diagnostics. "Just had check Nicole's sensors. They're fine."
        "Cool. So let's get outta here."
        Sonic picked up Sally, and held her horizontally across his
arms. His feet accelerated in place, and his legs soon became a
circular blur of motion.
        "Warp time!" Sonic exclaimed as his velocity rose to critical.
        There was a sonic boom, and a blue blur where Sonic and Sally
had been. A few seconds later, they were nearly halfway to the
crashed probe and the mystery weapon it carried.

        On their way to the probe, Sonic thought he saw something very
familiar. He decelerated to a stop to get a more detailed look
at what this object was.
        "What's wrong, Sonic?" Sally inquired, concerned.
        "I don't get it, Sal," Sonic replied, baffled. "I think I just
saw US around here somewhere."
        "What are you talking about, Sonic?"
        Sonic had no answer to that question. He quickly scanned over
the immediate vicinity with his eyes, and found the familiar
objects again. His suspicions were confirmed. "Over there,
Sal! Look!" Sonic blurted, pointing out the location behind the
exposed old granite intrusion.
        Sally looked toward the specified area. She was just as
shocked by what she saw as Sonic.
        There was another Sonic and Sally present. The two pairs of
Knothole Freedom Fighters stared at each other for an
indeterminate amount of time, due to the shock of seeing
        The "other" Sonic was the one to break the spell. "Sal, we've
seen ourselves! We came back too late!" he yelled, the pinnacle
of failure present in his voice. He picked up the "other" Sally
and sped off to an area unknown.
        Sonic and Sally looked at each other, mouths completely open
with shock again after seeing this totally unexpected spectacle
take place. Neither knew what to say, until Sonic asked the
obvious question about the authenticity of the "other" Sonic and
        Sonic was nearly at a loss for words. "Sal," he muttered, as
if he didn't trust his mouth to emit coherent speech, "was THAT
        "It looked like us, but I'm not sure if it was or not," was all
that Sally could contribute to their minuscule library of
knowledge on the subject.
        Sonic considered the matter over again in his mind, thought
about the possibilities, and decided not to progress any further
on the matter. They had more important ways to occupy their
time, such as finding out what the hieroglyphs in the probe
        He made the point clear to Sally. "Well, whether it was or
not," he said with a hint of responsibility in his voice, "we
have more important things to worry about: Robuttnik and that
        Sally was still somewhat disoriented, but understood Sonic well
enough to voice her opinion as well. "I agree. Let's go!"
        Sonic's legs became a circular blur of motion again, and his
former location exploded in a thunderclap-like sound. In about
two seconds, he and Sally were at the crash site.
        After their arrival, Sonic performed a quick countersurveilance
procedure, to insure that Robotnik wouldn't be watching them
from a remote location. Finding no evidence of any equipment,
Sonic gave Sally the "go ahead" gesture. Sally walked over to a
computer terminal and began work on the hieroglyphics with
Nicole. Little did they know that Robotnik was watching them,
and in a way they hadn't anticipated. The new
StealthSurveilance Orbs were performing admirably. Now all
Robotnik had to do was watch the audio/video downlink, and take
action at the proper time.

        One hour later, Sonic was becoming restless. Belated thoughts
of danger and warnings passed through his mind. This was the
time that the "what ifs" started a mental reign of terror. What
if Sonic had missed something in his antisurveillance pass?
What if Robotnik really was watching them? What if...the
thought was too unsettling to finish in the privacy of his own
        "Uh, Sal," Sonic began, nervously, "are we going to get the
results anytime this century?"
        "I'm no closer to finishing than the last time you asked - five
seconds ago," Sally retorted. "I don't even know if this
translation program will work, so I'm trying to give Nicole as
much data as possible to increase the language base she has to
work with. Besides that, I've had to get Nicole to supply
partial power to the computers here just to get them to work.
It hasn't been easy."
        Still somewhat nervous, and yet unwilling to interrupt Sally
any further, Sonic walked over what remained of the "top" of the
probe. He quickly looked over the landscape with his
binoculars. He looked out about five km, and saw no sign of
anything, organic or otherwise, besides Dulcy. He directed his
IR/binocular unit visual sensor toward Dulcy. She waved to him
to signal that they were still in her sights; Sonic waved back
to acknowledge the signal. Having nothing else to occupy his
time besides keeping watch, Sonic didn't know how much more
suspense he could take.
        Fortunately for Sonic, he wouldn't have to wait any longer.
Sally had just finished scanning over the last bits of data they
could find for the translation program to use. Nicole said the
key phrases that both of them had been waiting for:
"Transcription complete. Data currently saved to permanent
storage. Executing language compiler." The wait after then was
minute compared to the transcription phase, but it still
irritated Sonic's nerves. "Translation complete. Data prepared
for display purposes."
        "Display data," Sally commanded, relieved that the process was
        The preliminary data that the probe had concerning the point of
origin and other location points were visible via the
holographic projection. As Sally scrolled the data page down,
relief immediately converted to horror. Noticing this sudden
change on Sally's face, Sonic jumped down from his guard
position to investigate the affair in detail.
        Sonic looked over to his close friend of eleven years, and
queried Sally on the sudden change of situation. "What's up,
Sal?" he asked.
        Sally said nothing. She looked as if she couldn't even trust
herself to speak. When this only continued to provoke a
concerned response from Sonic, she handed Nicole to Sonic for
his personal investigation. Most of the text and other video
was nothing more than useless technobabble to him, but he
understood enough to see why Sally had become so afraid of being
around the probe and its cargo. A similar look spread over his
face, and he even began to feel a bit sick at the prospect.
        "You're telling me, Nicole," Sonic questioned, seeking
verification, "that this is a TIME MACHINE?"
        "In the crudest sense, the device is a time machine. According
to the available data, the weapon was used to-"
        She was hastily interrupted by Sonic. "Yes, yes, I got the
picture, Nicole," was the hedgehog's only response to the
halting the continuation of the more graphic contributions the
general utilization file had. Toying with the space/time
continuum was something that gave him a headache, in more ways
than one.
        The Cassandrans had been wise to rid themselves of this weapon;
 only the probe was supposed to be destroyed in their star
system, not to crash-land on an alien planet where it was
possible for someone like Robotnik to get his hands on. The
survival of the probe had destroyed their planet, so the probe
was the final connection to the Cassandrans' existence. A
legacy that had to be destroyed before anything detrimental
could happen to other planets. It was far too late for
Cassandra, but not so for Mobius, if Sonic and Sally acted fast.
        Finding her courage again, Sally managed to speak. "Sonic,
this thing needs to be destroyed."
        "Gotcha, Sal. So how?" the hedgehog ventured.
        "Well, first we need to get that protective cover off." To
Nicole, she said, "Nicole, access data regarding the unloading
        "Searching for required index," Nicole dictated. After a
second of scanning over the permanent data storage unit, Nicole
found the requested file. "Reading file, Sally." A holographic
display appeared about two meters in front of Sally.
        "All right, Sonic," Sally said, "let's get to work. First
locate the code latches along the base."
        They dove into the procedure, as per instructions translated by
Nicole. They were that much closer to destroying the weapon.

* * *

        While the unloading process was going on at the probe's
location, Robotnik made the decision to move in. He made a call
to his field commander, with a smile of accomplishment on his
face. "Packbell! Notify the other Hover Units. We attack NOW!"
        Packbell acknowledged the message, and relayed it to all the
Hover Units. Five seconds later, the fleet screamed toward the
probe with all available power.

* * *

        Right before Robotnik's arrival, Sonic and Sally were trying to
find the autodestruct key on the time machine. They were unable
to commit themselves to any further searching, for Robotnik,
Packbell, and the entire Delta SWATBot Group were practically
face-to-face with them. Before the two Freedom Fighters could
snap out of shock from Robotnik's sudden appearance, they were
apprehended by two SWATBots and bound together back-to-back by
a security shackle. Sonic and Sally struggled to escape, but
the electromagnetic field was too powerful to permit any hope of
departure. Robotnik laughed his evil laugh of glee when he saw
the two attempt to escape.
        "It's no use, Hedgehog. Your speed won't get you out of this
one very easily." Robotnik was definitely enjoying this. He
continued in his best poetic tone to Sally, "And you, Princess.
Why do you struggle so? It would only serve to bruise your
beautiful body, not to mention leave me with noone to be my
        Sally cringed visibly and spoke in her best acidic voice, "In
your dreams, Doctor! I'll be your consort when you get a life!"
        "Oh, what a pity. I thought that I might actually be able to
trust you two. 'Later', I thought," Robotnik said only in a
slightly derisive tone. "Oh, and I almost forgot. Thank you
for providing me with the information I need to the Key to
Mobius," he said, bowing in his most gracious bow.
        It was Sonic's turn to add a rebuttal. "Yeah, we'll give you
the Key to Mobius, Robuttnik," Sonic replied with a sneer on his
face. "We'll shove it down your throat after we use it to lock
you up in prison for good!"
        Slightly, but only slightly, taken aback by Sonic's comment,
Robotnik thought over what his next action should be. Stroking
his mustache, he quickly thought of another way to deal with the
two brash young Freedom Fighters. Finding one, an evil smile
crept over his face, making it more than apparent to Sonic and
Sally that their fate would not be favorable to their survival.
        "Very well, then," he finally said to them. "How about we make
a deal?"
        Sally spoke for herself and Sonic. "We don't make deals with
criminals, Robotnik."
        "Wait until you hear the proposal, Princess," he said to Sally.
 After a thoughtful pause, he continued on. "I challenge you to
determine your fate on your own. If you, Hedgehog, are as fast
as you believe yourself to be-"
        An interruption by Sonic. "Faster than you'll ever know,
        "As I was saying," he continued, unflagged by Sonic's remark,
"if you're fast enough to escape from me, I'll make certain that
you are allowed to return to Knothole and warn your friends
about this weapon. If not, well, let's just say you never will."
        Mutual shock emanated from Sonic and Sally. It had to be a
trap, but what if Sonic was able to dash away from Robotnik's
Delta Group and safely return to Knothole. The prospect stung
in Sonic's side, since it seemed to me more a question of pride
than anything else. This was as Robotnik intended.
        "Sal, I gotta do it," Sonic whispered to his companion.
        "Right, Sonic," she answered back. "You know as well as I do
that this could be a trick."
        Sonic resonated his voice to sound suave, and said, "Come on,
Sal. I can outrun anything that Robuttnik has. Trust me."
        "Oh, I hate it when you say that," was her only response. She
consented to the challenge, however.
        "Excellent," said Robotnik in a voice that sounded like the cat
that was about to catch the canary. "Now that we are in mutual
agreement, I shall let you perform your part of the bargain."
To the SWATBots, he ordered, "Set them free."
        One second later, the EM field disengaged and the metal bar was
lifted from the prisoners. Now free of the bonds, Sally quickly
jumped into Sonic's arms. The hedgehog accelerated in place for
about a second, and then was somewhere else.
        Robotnik, however, wasn't about to let them escape so easily.
He signaled to Packbell to engage the weapon.
        A yellow beam flashed between the temporal displacement final
emitter and Sonic's position. In the distance, Robotnik could
hear the screams of the two, possibly the initial effects of the
time transport. A few seconds later, they were present no more.


Shawn Wolski, N5UNA
MultiTasking Sega Advocate, Amateur Radio Operator, the
Granite Eater, Furry Fan, and UTARC News Prime Editor.

Most violent curse: "You are evil!"


Received on Sat Mar 04 1995 - 02:24:43 PST

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