"TTS": Part 3 (1/2)

From: Shawn Wolski <n5una_at_MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 1995 15:26:15 -0600

Sonic the Hedgehog "The Temporal Syndrome": Part 3
by Shawn Wolski

The author will accept questions and comments via E-mail at the
following address:

Sonic the Hedgehog and other associated characters are based on
the creations of Service and Games (Sega), Archie Comic
Publications, and the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons (Saturday
morning issue) created by DIC and Sega of America. Bookshire
Draftwood and Cmdr. Packbell are the exclusive creations of
David Pistone (rotor_at_primenet.com).

This work is protected under various copyright laws. The author
grants his permission for free distribution, under the premise
that the work retains its original format. No other utilization
of the following work, monetary or otherwise, is permitted.

        From the point of view of the two Knothole Freedom Fighters,
the temporal displacement effects were unpleasant and moderately
painful. It was as if the temporal transport beam was stripping
them apart, atom by atom. They felt their DNA split into its
component strands and recombine a billion times per second, as
though their DNA was struggling with great difficulty to
maintain contact with the current time period. The very essence
of their bodies valiantly attempting to combat the effects of
the beam, but the beam eventually became the victor. After the
transport initialization phase was complete, Sonic and Sally
felt themselves literally thrown into an unknown future time.
There was a flash of intense red light, and then the two found
themselves lost in the Great Unknown, but this place was far
more alien to them than the Great Unknown of their time. It was
the Great Unknown of the distant future.

* * *

        In the present, Robotnik was thoroughly enjoying his latest
victory over his worst adversaries. After eleven years of
contending with a teenage hedgehog and his friends, and losing
in the process, this event was one to be celebrated. Now that
the foundation of the Knothole Freedom Fighters had been razed
from existence (at least in this time period), the rest the
infrastructure should fall eventually. With the fall of the
Knothole Freedom Fighter front, Mobius would be in his hands, to
have and control.
        "Yes!" Robotnik exclaimed with excitement and accomplishment.
"Now, to celebrate." An evil chuckle from Robotnik came forth,
lasting for about two minutes. When he managed to regain his
composure, he turned to face Packbell and said, "Very good shot,
Packbell. If you weren't already at your position in the chain
of command, I would promote you. However, since I cannot do so,
I will merely congratulate you."
        Thank you, Doctor Robotnik," Packbell responded, also gratified
to see Sonic and Sally vanish from the current timeline,
although appended with a more insidious motive. He had been
waiting for the perfect time to terminate Robotnik's reign to
begin his own, and the "death" of the hedgehog seemed to be the
most auspicious opportunity to do so. Yes, Robotnik might be
somewhat more readily caught off guard this time. In fact....
        An unusual sight caught Packbell's eye. He hurriedly directed
his sensors over the control panel of the temporal displacement
device. There was a graphical bar that steadily lengthened
toward an area shaded in red. Although Packbell couldn't even
begin to translate the Cassandran language and understand the
control labels, a feeling of dread increased within him in
synchronization with the bar. What he saw, he instinctively
didn't believe was productive to his future survival. As if the
machine wished to acknowledge that hypothesis, an audio signal
steadily increased in volume in coordination with the
lengthening bar. It was unnoticeable at first, then it became
apparent to both Packbell and Robotnik.
        After Robotnik first became aware of the unusual noise, he
stepped over to the control panel. Observing that Packbell was
shocked with fear, or otherwise in a positronic-lockup due to a
problem he couldn't resolve, Robotnik looked over the control
panel to obtain an understanding of what would strike such an
unsettling response in Packbell. He noticed that a graphical
bar was stretching uncomfortably close to a shaded red area.
Robotnik froze in place, for he knew in the back of his mind
what was happening, and felt foolish for assuming that the power
cells in the device would be stable enough to safely retain
their charge without facing the risk of an unrecoverable power
feedback loop. The last thing Robotnik saw was a flash of
lethal radiation, and then nothing more.
        Just as on Cassandra, the fate of Mobius depended on the fate
of an ultimate weapon. The difference in the comparison was
that the weapon itself would be responsible for destroying the
planet that its lifeforms knew and loved. In its own sort of
way, the weapon seemed to wish to atone for the crime of its
survival, so its only solution was to destroy itself. The
morals of its use made no difference; preventing any further
utilization was all that mattered.
        There was no place on Mobius for anyone or anything to avoid
the global carnage that would reform the planet just as the
format command reinitializes a hard drive. An explosion
occurred at ground zero of the probe's crash site, ejecting
gigatons of dust into the atmosphere. The explosion was also
powerful enough to create resonance in the crust and mantle
throughout the planet. Shockwaves transmitted through the
mantle caused the crust to restructure into waves, and finally
into fragments of mixed granodiorite/basalt material when the
stress was too great for the crust to withstand. Continents and
oceans alike steamed with fury in the catastrophe. The
fragments and dust slowly sank into the exposed mantle, leaving
nothing to go to waste. In a matter of minutes, the planet that
was Mobius to its inhabitants became a hot radioactive sphere of
undifferentiated molten rock. The new world had an opportunity
to become a biological storehouse, but at the cost of losing
everything its predecessor had. It would be a long wait before
the genesis of new life would occur in the body of a very simple
and unassuming lifeform, and much longer before two certain
displaced lifeforms from the previous world would appear.

* * *

Dawn of an new eon...

        The reformation of the planet was remarkably similar to
Earth's, with differences in the formation of the key elements
as far as time was concerned. Asteroids fell into the magma
ocean, though not the swarms that existed in Mobius' initial
formation about 4.6 billion years ago. With the decreased
introduction of new material into the planet's microcosm, the
global magma ocean cooled considerably faster at the surface
than it had the first time. In about 100 million years, the
first piece of basaltic crust formed and remained floating on
the magma. Having a base to expand on, more basalt formed and
cooled until the planet was covered with a primordial basaltic
crust. Occasionally breaks formed in the crust, caused either
by limited input from asteroids or differential stress in the
mantle. From these fractured areas came the vapors that would
form the first reducing atmosphere.
        For about 300 million years, the atmosphere remained relatively
stable. That was until the introduced water content became high
enough to permanently change all that. Storms of lightning
emerged, and with storms came torrential rains to cool the crust
and form a global ocean. The ocean remained dominant for about
a few million years, but the crust was not content to remain
under the ocean's rule. Continents started forming, encroaching
on the ocean's territory.
        At about this time in the history of the new world, the basic
building blocks of life started forming in the ocean and pools
of water found on the infant continents. These amino acids
eventually began forming chains, and these chains found others
of their kind to combine with. Nearly two billion years after
the global catastrophe that Robotnik had caused, life had
reinstated its hold on Mobius. One progression followed
another, and the series continued until many forms of diverse
life literally exploded into existence (similar to the event
that took place at the Precambrian/Cambrian time boundary).
        For about 200 million years, life remained in its birthplace,
the ocean. Due to reasons unknown, some simple forms of plant
life began to see the logic of exploiting the virgin environment
of the upper world, so they made the first advancement toward
the open spaces of exposed igneous and sedimentary rock. The
rogue plant life didn't survive for very long out of the water,
but life evolved, and soon (in geologic terms) plants extended
complicated root systems into the remains of their pioneering
ancestors. It is at this point where Sonic and Sally reappeared
in Mobius' geologic time record.

The present future...

        Their time travel was completed in a matter of seconds relative
to them, yet Sonic and Sally's journey spanned an
incomprehensible span of time in realspace. The Mobius they
knew was an ancient, dead world without any sign in the new
world that its predecessor had ever existed. They were aliens,
potentially pieces of future evolution on the new world (or not
if life would eventually evolve differently this time around).
In any case, they didn't belong in this time period.
        The pair were cast out from the temporal displacement
singularity, as if it were a predator that didn't like the taste
of its quarry after the kill. After a two meter drop, Sonic and
Sally lied on the ground, still paralyzed by the initialization
phase. As their DNA returned to normal, they both gained more
interactive contact with their new environment.
        Sonic was the first to gradually regain consciousness. He
found himself lying flat, with his frontal region in full
contact with a shallow carbonate mud pool. Fortunately, his
head was on a more solid, but still relatively soft carbonate
mud mound. If that were not the case, he would have drowned in
twenty centimeters of mud. Not blind to the irony of the
situation, he briefly thought about how he could confront
Robotnik and all his robots, only to be forced into time travel
and nearly meet his demise in a pungent mud pool. Not exactly
the main event of his life.
        Another thing that Sonic noticed was something all too familiar
about the mud itself. Of course the color was sufficient enough
to tell the hedgehog otherwise, and the mud was full of calcium
carbonate material and not an intricate mixture of quicksand,
petroleum, and clay mud, but he could swear that it felt like
MegaMuck. He tested his extremities to confirm this. His
fingers didn't flex very well, and it was a battle just to
slightly bend his arms and legs. All too familiar a reminder of
the old world.
        As he felt himself coming further out from the shocked state
induced by the time travel, Sonic noticed that there was
something warm and furry resting on the left side his back.
Rotating his head to the general direction of the contact area,
he saw Sally's head there. Sonic breathed a sigh of relief. He
wasn't the only one to explore the intricacies of their mutual
ironical situation. He shook around a bit, gently, to wake
Sally. She remained in a dazed state, not reacting to his
        The hedgehog decided to test another tactic. He rotated his
body so that his front would be in contact with Sally's head,
and positioned her head on his upper abdominal area. This time,
he tried shaking her a little more forcefully and whispering
into her ear.
        "Sally, Sally, it's me. Remember, your best bud, Sonic?" he
said softly, and waited for a few seconds. The results were not
very encouraging. She seemed like she was coming out of her
dream world, but she needed just a little more encouragement.
        'OK, Hedgehog. What now?' Sonic thought to himself. In
response, his brain produced a plan to give Sally the perfect
wake-up call. He rose slowly, taking precautions not to let her
head become one with the mud pool. He slowly pulled her over to
the mud mound, and carefully placed her head on it. No further
response from that, but Sonic wasn't finished yet. After he put
her head on the mud mound, he tried to locate Nicole. After
about a minute of feeling around Sally's legs and feet, he found
Nicole still attached to one of her boots. Picking Nicole off
her boot and out of the mud, Sonic observed the small computer's
condition. She was, expectedly, drenched with the products of
broken shells and organic excretions of calcium carbonate, but
would she still work? He tried brushing her off, but belatedly
realized that using his hands to remove the mud from Nicole was
about as useful as drying a wet floor with water. The hedgehog
then decided to test which hypothesis was correct.
        "Yo, Nicole," he commanded to the small computer. Nicole
trilled in response.
        THAT woke Sally up, and with an energetic efficiency. A
powerful force swelled through her body, providing an intensity
similar to moving through air, as if the restrictive carbonate
mud didn't exist. She leaped out of the mud as fast as she
could, and slowly paced over to Sonic like someone with murder
on her mind. She stared into his eyes with an intense, and
borderline dangerous regard for his future welfare. Which, in
this case, didn't hold much in favor for Sonic. If Sonic had
the mind-set to see the humor in the situation, he would have
noticed that Sally looked as if she tried to get a little too
much mud out of her mud pack. All the normally jovial hedgehog
could see now were Sally's eyes, vicious and full of primordial
        "What...are...you...doing...to...NICOLE?!" she demanded, like a
mother crocodile accosting an unfortunate predator intent on
feasting on her young.
        Sonic slowly backed off, his own eyes pleading for mercy.
"Whoa, Sal. Chill a minute!" he ventured, his voice a little
slurred with the surprise that one of his closest friends would
ever attack him like this. Suddenly regaining his generally
frolicsome mood, but only halfway, he said half-jokingly and
half-seriously, "Man, you redheads sure are cranky when you wake
up in the morning. Definitely not cool, Sal."
        The last comment from Sonic tamed Sally's precarious mood. She
stopped strutting toward him, and a smile gradually crept across
her face as she seemed to consider exactly what danger Sonic
could be to Nicole's electronics. She sat down, looked at
herself and the hedgehog, noticing that they were both covered
up to the neck with mud. She laughed hysterically at the sight
for about a minute, as she thought about how an oversized mud
pack and a hedgehog would look together. Sonic was about as
anyone could get to that level of contact, and so was she. The
hedgehog could only stare at her, unsettled by the response. It
wasn't exactly the one he wanted, but it would have to do for
        As if realizing the effect she had on her friend, Sally stopped
laughing, but her face softened to a considerate grin instead of
a more serious regard. She stood up, and walked slowly over to
Sonic. Anyone else would say that her strut, her facial
expression, and of course being covered in mud made her seem
like she was attempting to be seductive. But Sonic knew Sally
better than that. She enveloped him in a caressing embrace.
        "Sonic," she said softly while stroking his upper torso,
"didn't I tell you to be more careful when you try out those mud
packs? What do you do with them anyway?"
        Not intent on spoiling the humor, Sonic was quick to respond.
"Sal," he said in a voice as soft as what Sally used, "even
hedgehogs need a little beauty work done every once in a while.
Besides, I think I got a hold of Dulcy's by mistake."
        "Yes, but don't you think it was time you-" She stopped
herself, as if remembering something. Her face hardened to a
serious and thoughtful one.
        Sonic, realizing what significance one particular word in her
sentence had, followed suit. They both disengaged their embrace
simultaneously, and slowly descended. They sat and stared at
each other, both thinking of the ramifications of their
        The hedgehog asked the obvious, but necessary, question.
"Sal," he queried, "where are we?" Slightly off the mark.
        Sally corrected him. "It's not a question of WHERE, Sonic.
It's more like WHEN. From the looks of things, we could've been
transported forward or back in time."
        "How do we find out when, Sal?"
        She thought the matter over. Then she remembered something
about one of the new sensors Bookshire had told her about. She
relayed the data to Sonic.
        "If I'm not mistaken, Bookshire installed a temporal
displacement sensor in Nicole. She might be able to tell us
where in time we are." She added privately in her thoughts, 'I
        Sonic handed Nicole over to Sally. She retrieved her little
computer, and quickly analyzed the condition of its
functionality. Aside from the test that Sonic had done, she
checked Nicole via her diagnostics programs. The results were
favorable: covered in mud, but otherwise capable of running
programs and displaying data via her screen or holographic
projector. Nicole had been constructed well, and was meant to be
more than an aesthetic ornament. The aesthetics could wait, for
the two Freedom Fighters had more important concerns.
        "Nicole," Sally directed, "calculate the total time
differential between the time period right before the transport
phase and now."
        "Working," the computer responded, "connection has been
established with temporal singularity." After a second of
processing pieces of complex data, Nicole resolved them into
understandable temporal dynamics graphs. "Approximate time of
transport: 3.8 billion years delta-t positive relative to our
time period."
        After hearing about how long they have been lost in limbo
between the two time periods (relative to realspace), both
dropped their jaws with shock. A million years was
incomprehensible enough, but the time that had spanned since the
fateful day of their temporal displacement defied every level of
understanding. Many geologic events (major and minor) can
potentially take place in a decade, in some cases even a year.
3.8 billion years leaves many opportunities for anything to
        Of course, with this span of displacement in time travel,
everything that they once had was gone a long time ago and
decomposed to dust. All the familiar sights, sounds, personal
relations, and other things that were generally taken for
granted no longer existed. In this time period, they were the
aliens, and Nature generally had ways with dispatching of
organic components that weren't part of the whole. If they
stayed in this time period, there was a likelihood that they
wouldn't find the food they needed to survive, or shelter for
their exclusive use. Staying here would be a death sentence;
returning to their time period was imperative. That was
assuming that doing so was possible in the first place; there
was no guarantee to the process even existing in the first place.
        Sally started crying when she finally considered the immensity
of their dilemma, and how everyone else wasn't present to keep
them company. She thought of Tails, Bunny, Dulcy, Rotor,
Bookshire, Charles Hedgehog, and even Antoine. The opportunity
to meet other Freedom Fighters was also out of the question. It
was as if time was against them, and that statement was no
further from the truth than now. Sonic noticed the unrest that
was present in his companion, so he went over to embrace her.
She said nothing, but she returned the embrace. They both
understood what they were feeling, for they were both in the
same situation. Both tried to think of ways to comfort the
other, but they also understood that words had no ultimate value
here. They were alone for now, and nothing in the universe
could change that.
        Fighting back tears of his own, Sonic said to Sally in a gentle
voice, "Sal, how 'bout we go find someplace else to go? I don't
really like the idea of sleeping in a mud pit."
        Sally struggled to speak, and succeeded. "You're right," she
said, sniffling with extreme grief. "Yes, it would be a good
idea to find shelter." She added slightly jokingly, "Besides,
we already had our mud bath for the day."
        They both managed to find humor in that statement, and reacted
accordingly. With a new immediate purpose to meet, they set
about finding an area that was somewhat more solid, not to
mention less offensive to the olfactory nerves. Before they
began their trek for a provisional residence, Sally left a
remote multipurpose sensor/transponder, in order to monitor the
temporal singularity. With a little help from Nicole, they
located solid ground about six km due north. Given the fact
that the mud was about half as viscous as MegaMuck, Sonic had
some difficulty trying to get through, but he could manage.

* * *
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 Fri Mar 10 1995 - 16:29:14 PST

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