Pacas, tenrecs, and pangolins..2

From: <>
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 1995 19:39:21 -0500

   Part 2.


   "I need a new quote."

        This short story is based on the characters created and copyrighted by
Archie Comic Publications, David Pistone, DiC Productions, Holly-Beth Kraft,
and Sega Incorporated. The author gives his permission to distribute this
work freely as long as it's distributed in its full, unaltered form and
currency has nothing to do with the distribution. Any questions, comments,
or protests can be addressed to the author. Copyright (C) 1995, Michael

                                                                  Pangolin Problems, Part 2
                                                                                 by Michael Szal

        Rotor emerged from his lab early the next morning. It was fairly dark for
morning, and cold. He looked up and saw the dark, looming clouds overhead.
"Rain," he thought to himself and made his way over to the center of the
village. Bookshire was already there, sitting at a table.
        "Do you always get up this early?" Rotor asked.
        "No, not always," Bookshire calmly answered. "Can't get the Swat-bot to
        "I've tried everything I can think of and it just sits there. It all
seemed so easy. Just steal a Swat-bot and examine it's technology."
        "Could I take a look at it?"
        "Go ahead."
        Bookshire suddenly got up and hurriedly limped over to Rotor's lab.
        "I'll need your help!" he called behind him.
        Once in the lab, Bookshire knew exactly what to do. "We'll both grab an
arm and drag it over to my place."
        They took the Swat-bot to Bookshire's hut and put it on a table. It was
Bookshire's first time being able to carefully examine a Swat-bot and he was
very excited. He searched for some sort of serial port on the Swat-bot.
Turning the head to one side, he opened a small panel and there it was. He
opened another small panel, this time on his computer, and a cable ejected
from it. Taking the cable in one hand, he pulled it over to the port in the
Swat-bot's head, neatly unwinding as it went, and plugged it in.
        "Okay, computer," Bookshire told it, "open a direct link through port A."
        "Open," the computer reported.
        "Access the main memory matrix."
        "Access denied."
        "As expected. Try it again using Cryptosmasher software."
        The computer worked on it for a second and reported, "Access granted."
        "Display the boot-up data."
        The screen started to fill with a bunch of seemingly random characters.
        "Wait, wait, wait. Decompile it first."
        It took a bit longer to do this, but soon the gibberish stopped and was
replaced with (somewhat) plain English. Bookshire was very excited now, he
started to look through the code. Rotor sat and watched. It was a long
while before anybody spoke again.
        "Getting anywhere?" Rotor asked rhetorically.
        "Actually, yes," answered Bookshire.
        "What did you find out?"
        "Well, it won't activate because somebody doesn't want it to."
        "What do you mean?"
        "The Swat-bot's fine. Nothing is actually 'wrong' with it."
        "Buuuuut..." Rotor said slowly.
        "But somebody altered the boot-up data so that it won't activate
        "Unleeeeess..." he urged Bookshire on.
        "Ah! Here it is! Unless you find the problem and fix it."
        "Isn't that what you're supposed to do when there's a problem--fix it?"
        "Well, yes. But normally when somebody sabotages something, they don't
intend for it to be fixed."
        "So you're saying that somebody sabotaged this Swat-bot, possibly many
others, and wanted Robotnik to know about it."
        "Exactly. It was pretty hard to find the problem, but whoever did this
definitely wanted Robotnik to find it."
        "Because of this: computer, display string: 'problem.'"
        A few lines of text were displayed. Rotor read it aloud:

                Dear Robotnik,
                        It's been a while. How are things going? Looking forward to a
                reply. Send Snively to following co-ords, haven't seen him in a while:
                33 S, 75 E.

        "Send Snively? If this guy's working for Robotnik, why would he put his
message in a Swat-bot?"
        "I have no idea."
        "Maybe we should tell Sally."

        "Snively!" Robotnik's face appeared in one of the monitors of Snively's
hover unit. "Have you located the prisoner yet?"
        "Well," said Snively, "no, sir. But he couldn't have gotten far." He
turned to another console and pushed a few buttons. "Stealth-bots, Epsilon
squadron, report." There came no reply. "Report, Epsilon!" Still no reply.
"Theta squadron, report." No reply from them either. Snively was getting
nervous. "Alpha squadron?" No reply. "Beta?" No reply. "Anybody!?!"
        "I don't like what I'm hearing, Snively."
        Snively was shaking now. "It seems that communications are down,
        "Then get them back up! I don't want--"
        "Hello, Robotnik." It was the prisoner, on every monitor. "Having fun?"
        "What are you doing on my communications channel?" asked Robotnik.
        "Oh, nothing much. Just getting revenge. I mean, you DID try to
roboticize me." Robotnik was just about to speak when the prisoner spoke
first, "Don't worry, I'm not taking it personally. I'll just have my revenge
and leave you alone." He walked off the screen for a few seconds and came
back grinning. Suddenly, the entire city lost power.
        "How can he DO that!?!" Robotnik called out. "Were you tracing that?" he
asked Packbell, who had been in the room with Robotnik, working on the
location of the prisoner.
        "Of course. Omega squadron is on their way."
        "Excellent! Let's go!"

        Rotor and Bookshire headed over to Sally's hut where they found her and
Bunny deep in a conversation.
        "Glad you're here," Sally greeted them. "We got another note from Uncle
Chuck. It says:

        A prisoner escaped yesterday and blacked out the entire city. Better send
        Sonic for all the details.

        "Where's Sonic?" asked Rotor.
        "He left about ten minutes ago. Do you have any clue as to what this
        "I'd say so," said Bookshire. He explained in detail what he had found
in the Swat-bot.
        "It's obviously the work of another freedom fighter," hypothesized Sally.
        "It can't be any old freedom fighter," Bookshire told her. "Don't you
see? Nobody can just black out a city. Whoever did this is an extremely
powerful individual."
        "Maybe Naugus found a way back from that void place," said Bunny.
        "No," contributed Sally, "Naugus would take care of Robotnik directly.
Whoever it is would be an invaluable addition to Knothole."
        "But how can we find this person?" asked Rotor.
        "I guess we'll just have to wait for--" Sally was just finishing her
sentence as Sonic came through the door with Charles right behind.
        "I think you guys better hear this," suggested Sonic.
        "Three days ago," Charles began, "Robotnik's forces overpowered a small
village just outside the Great Swamp. The prisoners were taken back to
Robotropolis to await robotization. The very next day, most of them were
roboticized. Some of them Robotnik kept to be interrogated. Yesterday, one
of the prisoners escaped during the interrogation. Just this morning, he
blacked out all of Robotropolis."
        "If he's so powerful, why not just overthrow Robotnik?" asked Sally.
        "Maybe he can't," assumed Bunny.
        "Not from what I just heard," said Bookshire. "This person can do
anything, he just doesn't want to."
        "Doesn't want to!?!" Sonic entered the conversation. "We need to find
this guy and bring him back here!"
        "WE?" rebutted Sally. "WE won't be able to get anywhere NEAR Robotropolis
with all the patrols out looking for him."
        "Then WE will just have to get a power ring." Sonic had already made up
his mind and was exiting the room.

        Lights everywhere were turning back on. "Sir," came Snively.
        "What is it, Snively?" Robotnik impatiently asked. He had more important
things to attend to.
        "The power is back on-line."
        "I noticed. Thank you, Snively." He put his communicator down. "Move
aside," ordered Robotnik as he pushed two Swat-bots out of his way. There
were at least fifteen others, each with a laser rifle aimed at the prisoner,
who was sitting in the middle of it all. Six Stealth-bots hovered overhead.
"So..." said Robotnik confidently. "The tables have turned. Would you like
to answer some questions now?"
        "Under normal circumstances," said the prisoner as if he was negotiating
with Robotnik, "this would be a dire situation. But there's been this dragon
flying around and--"
        "Dragon?" said Robotnik in disbelief as he flung around and looked up.
There was Dulcy, circling the area. "The hedgehog! All units, full alert!
Activate heat scanners! You two," he pointed to two Stealth-bots, "get that
        "Hedgehog detected," said one of the Swat-bots in its monotonous voice.
        Sonic came around a corner, dodging lasers, and charged a Swat-bot. At
the last second, he curled up with quills blazing and sliced right through
it. He then grabbed the prisoner and continued onward to Knothole with Dulcy
not far behind. The Swat-bots took their last, futile shots at Sonic as he
disappeared over the horizon.
        "I HATE you, Hedgehog!" Robotnik called after him.

        The team regrouped in the war room, with just about everybody else, and
immediately began an interrogation of their "prisoner." Now they could get a
close look at him. He looked like an armadillo, and yet, was not. He was
definitely older than sixteen, but nobody was quite sure by how much. Sonic,
realizing that there were more important aspects to a person besides physical
characteristics, began the interrogation.
        "Okay, bud," said Sonic, "why'd you blow our cover? You could've ruined
the whole operation!"
        "Part of the reason is that I didn't know who was flying around up there,
and I still don't," said the prisoner, looking at Dulcy.
        "Oh, I'm Dulcy," she answered.
        "Hello, Dulcy. You can call me Williams. The other part is that it
distracted Robotnik so I could escape, but I see Sonic rescued me first," he
said, nodding in Sonic's direction.
        "You know who I am?" asked Sonic.
        "Sure. Robotnik always talks about you. Boy, he REALLY hates you. Did
you know that you've been officially declared the 'priority hedgehog?'"
        "You can access his computer core?" asked Rotor.
        "Of course. Contrary to popular belief, living in a tiny village in the
middle of nowhere DOES get boring. It's amazing what you can do when you're
        "So you can break into Robotnik's systems any time you want without him
knowing about it and you never bothered to disable any of them?" asked Sally.
        "Why should I?"
        Sally was agitated. "Maybe it would be a little easier to win the war if
Robotnik didn't have any defenses, don't you think?"
        "War? I wouldn't consider this a war. Think of it as a change it
government," said Williams with an optimistic smile.
        Sally was angry.
        "Speaking of wars, I thought Mobitropolis was supposed to have a huge,
powerful army. Didn't WE win the Great War? Where was our army when
Robotnik took over?"
        He already knew the answer. After the Great War, the king gave his
permission for Robotnik to dismantled the army. (Back then no one ever
suspected him of plotting against the king.) Instead, he improved it and
used it to take over the planet. Mobitropolis had been conquered by it's own
        Sally was very angry.
        "Isn't it true that your father was the cause of the whole thing? Maybe
he planned--"
        "STOP IT!!!" Sally was enraged. "My father was an honest, trustworthy
man and would never, EVER start a war that takes innocent lives!" She ran
out of the room.
        "Sally!" called Dulcy as she went out after her.
        "You're worse than Robuttnik," accused Sonic. He began his search for
Sally and Dulcy.
        That left Rotor and Antoine.
        "What I want to know," asked Rotor, "is who put the message in the
        "I did," answered Williams. "Robotnik doesn't pay any attention to them
anymore, but they give me something to do."
        "I'm assuming you're also the one who blacked out Robotropolis?"
        "Uh, huh," he nodded.
        "That brings me back to Sally's question. If you're against Robotnik, why
not just end the war now?"
        "First of all, I'm not in this war. Think of me as an impartial
        "Impartial observers don't black out cities."
        "Only when they're captured, interrogated, and almost roboticized.
Secondly, this is Knothole, right? Robotnik's been looking for this place
for years. I could tell him where it is and end the war that way. In fact,
why don't I do that. Computer, transmit current coordinates to everywhere in
Robotropolis. You better hope Robotnik isn't looking at a monitor right
        "You fuel!" screamed Antoine. "You are going to get us all captivated!"
He ran out of the room, screaming for somebody to come help him. Soon after,
Sonic came rushing to his rescue.
        "What is it now, Ant?"
        "We are all doom-ed, DOOM-ED!"
        Rotor emerged from the War Room. "Williams gave away Knothole's location.
Robotnik could be on his way right now."
        By now, Sally had arrived with Bunny. "What is going on?" asked Sally.
        "Williams told Robotnik where Knothole is," answered Sonic.
        "He's gone WAY too far this time," said Sally.
        Bookshire had an idea of what was going on, so he entered the War Room and
closed the door behind him. As he did, Williams stopped transmitting.
        "You didn't really give away our location, did you?" he asked Williams,
expecting an answer.
        "Yeah, why?"
        That wasn't the answer he was expecting. "I can't believe you. You've
got the whole village scared to death that they'll all be roboticized, and
they just might be! What are you going to do now?"
        "I'll just slip out through the window and leave you to explain
        "I wouldn't come back anytime soon, if I were you. It seems the entire
village hates you."
        "But you don't hate me."
        "I'm not sure what to think."
        And with that, Williams was gone. Bookshire faced the mob of panicked
citizens and explained what had happened. A few accusations against him
later, the crowd had dispersed and things were returning to normal.
        "Ah'm sure glad that's over," Bunny voiced her opinion to Sally as they
walked back to their huts.
        "Me too," replied Sally. "I guess if Robotnik was going to attack,
he'd've been here by now. I bet Tails is--" She stopped walking.
        "What's wrong, Sally-girl?"
        "Have you seen Tails lately?"
        "No, but--"
        Sally didn't care to hear the rest. She quickly found Sonic, also headed
for his hut, and asked him the same question.
        "Nope, not since we left to go find that Williams guy," he said.
        They both started to worry. Usually, Tails is were the action is. They
checked their huts and anywhere else Tails might have gone, but he was no
where to be found.


Received on Sat Mar 11 1995 - 19:33:44 PST

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