From: <>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 00:03:10 -0500

   I just realized, after writing my last story, that I "wrote myself into a
corner," so to speak. "Pangolin Problems" takes place just before the last
"Sonic the Hedgehog" episode of the second season. This leaves no room for
another story. My only choice was to write something that comes before or
after it. I dare not write anything that I don't know about. If I had
written a post-Doomsday story, Murphy's Law dictates that Archie would
release an issue that contradicts everything that I wrote. So here's my
latest story, a kind of prologue. Keep in mind that this story takes place
two years before my last one and all the characters were roboticized. (Or
Anyways, enjoy.


   "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
   -Arthur Clarke

   This short story is based on the characters created and copyrighted by
Archie Comic Publications, David Pistone, DiC Productions, 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 Szal.

Timeline: Early 3233. Nobody's even heard of Doomsday, Tails is not a
   Freedom Fighter, and Sir Charles works for Doctor Robotnik.

                              by Michael Szal

   "Every time I try to get rid of that hedgehog," lectured Robotnik, "EVERY
TIME, Snively, he finds a way out of it! Well NOT this time! THIS time he
is mine!" Robotnik held up a small test tube of a clear liquid. "See this,
Snively? This is the key to success! It's too bad, though. I always hoped
to roboticize the little rodent. This will have to do."
   In his hand, Robotnik held a few nanites, microscopic robots literally
build atom by atom. They could infect a living being with ease, then it's
just a matter of self-replication until there are enough of them to kill
their host off. All he had to do was release them into the atmosphere. If
one nanite can replicate itself in a fifteen minutes, it can produce a
population of eight hundred trillion hundred trillion nanites (1 blossoms
into 79,228,162,514,300,000,000,000,000,000) in a single day, considering
that each nanite built can build more. There are more than enough raw
materials to build these replicated nanites from, the dirt.
   Robotnik's nanites had but two functions, reproduce and infect any living
thing that was not him or Snively. Once inside a being, the nanites would
simply attack the body, which would try to defend itself from this foreign
invasion. To the host, it would feel exactly like they had the flu, a
fever, loss of energy, only once infected, there was no cure--they were
going to die.

   It was hardly a typical day for the inhabitants of Knothole villiage--if
there is a "typical" day. It seems like there's always something happening.
But not today, nothing was happening today. Nobody was going after
Robotnik, nobody was testing new inventions, nobody was practicing their
martial arts, nobody was cooking. Absolute zero.
   It was still pretty cold outside, a thin layer of snow covered most of
the ground. Patches of grass could be seen here and there. It was that
time when it was too cold to go outside, but there wasn't enough snow to do
anything even if you wanted to go outside. Everybody was stuck in their
huts until the weather got better.
   Antoine was the only one who kept busy. He was polishing his boots--for
the fourth time. That was the only thing left for him to do, his room was
perfect in every detail. After he finished, he sat down on his couch.
Almost immediately, he realized what he had done. He stood up, brushed off
the couch, and fixed the pillows. Then he started to polish his boots
   Sonic paced around his hut. He was getting extremely impatient. There
was just too much energy locked up inside him. Every once in a while, he'd
stop, look around the hut for something to do, find nothing, and continue
pacing. There was nothing left to do. This was one of the few times that
he actually hoped Robotnik was up to something.
   Dulcy was probably worse off than the rest. She was a dragon, she was
supposed to fly. But it was freezing! And where would she go? She was
bored and frustrated at the same time. She sighed, got up out of bed, and
looked out the window. She could see Sonic pacing around his hut.
   Bunny sat and read. She had already read this book, but at least it was
something to do. Tomorrow she'd be finished and reading another book she
already read. Every few chapters, she'd find herself thinking of Rotor, but
that's another story.
   Rotor could not be more bored. He had "inventor's block." There was
nothing to invent, and nothing to fix. There wasn't even something to
improve upon. He looked around his lab, straining to find something to do,
but failed. He secretly wished that something would go wrong with one of
Bunny's robotic limbs.
   Bookshire wasn't THAT bored. He was used to staying at Knothole.
Because of his leg, he was in no condition to go on a mission to
Robotropolis. Even so, most of the time he was able to help his friends by
remote communication. The only thing he could do now was monitor the
Robotropolis Main Computer Core to see what was up.
   Tails stared out the window, not looking at anything in particular. He
was lost in thought and would only snap out of it when the window got fogged
up because of his getting too close to it. He'd try to think of something
to do when his thoughts would wander and the next he knew, he couldn't see
out the window. He sat down on his bed and stared at the ceiling, letting
his thoughts wander from there. There just wasn't anything to do! He got
up and paced around the room, but soon found himself back at the window.
   Princess Sally was in the room with him, keeping an eye on him. There
was no reason to do so. The only way Tails could possibly hurt himself is
by cutting himself on a piece of glass as he tried to escape this insanely
boring situation. She looked down at Nicole, then at Tails, then at some
books. She was just about to offer to read a story to Tails when she
remembered that they had all been read.
   The last two days were spent like this, nothing to do but trying to find
something to do, until one day, Sonic got sick. It wasn't unusual at the
time, even speedy hedgehogs get sick once in a while. Besides, it was cold
out. Sally attended to him and everything was back to normal.
   Later that same day, Sally got sick. Dulcy also. Sally first thought
that she had caught Sonic's illness, probably just a cold, but symptoms in
a matter of hours? And what about Dulcy? She was in her hut all this time,
no where near Sonic. Sally decided to consult Bookshire.
   "It's probably just a coincidence," explained Bookshire. "But if it
makes you feel better, I'll investigate. You say Sonic got sick this
   "Yes. He came into my hut complaining about a fever. I took him back
to his hut and took his temperature. Nicole reported a mild one, nothing
to be worried about. I asked Antoine to cook up some soup and gave it to
Sonic. He said he'd be fine, so I left."
   "And now you're sick?"
   She nodded.
   "Same symptoms? Mild temperature?"
   Nodded again. "A little lower than Sonic's but I'm sure that's just
because I took it early."
   "It sounds to me like the flu, but let's check on Sonic."

   "Gaaaaabriel!" a voice called from somewhere outside. "Gaaaaabe!" The
door burst open. "I thought I'd find you in here," a young, female paca
came in.
   "My god, woman!" Williams exclaimed, getting out of his chair. "Have you
gone crazy!?! Close that door!"
   She fulfilled his request. "Your room is always so messy," she said,
picking up a stack of books.
   "What are you doing now? I've told you before, however 'messy' this room
gets, just leave it." He didn't think his room was messy. It wasn't
really, not to the point where cockroaches and rats scavenge for food left
on the floor. It just had technical books and electronic parts strewn about
wherever there was room. "I know exactly where everything is. When you
move something, I won't be able to find it."
   She put the books back. "What are you doing stuck in here, anyway? You
should come outside. It's a lovely day!"
   "It is not even close to being 'lovely' outside. Computer, how cold is
   "Sixty-eight degrees," Williams' small computer reported.
   "No, computer, outside. How cold is it outside?"
   "Forty degrees."
   "See? It's ten--eight degrees above freezing. Some animals can't
SURVIVE in this weather." He sat back down. "And it's Williams."
   "What is it about your first name that you don't like? I like it."
   "It's not that I don't like it, it's just that the other guy is also
   "Oh, the 'other guy.'"
   "You know who I'm talking about, the painter. It's easier to
distinguish between the two of us if you call me Williams and him Gabriel."
   "Why don't I call him by his last name and you by your first?"
   "I don't know...... Just call me Williams, okay?"
   "Painter," he said to himself. "Robotnik beware! We have a painter!"
   "Don't tease him like that. I like his work."
   "And I respect your opinion, but if he's going to paint something, the
least he could do is make it look like what he's painting. You're a nurse,
that's good, nurses are good. I'm a programmer, that's good, programmers
are good. He's a painter."
   She sat down on his bed, knowing the conversation was over. "What are
you working on now?"
   "Ah!" he grinned and picked up his computer, forgetting all about the
painter. "It's done! I just need to perfect it, get rid of some bugs, but
it's done!"
   "What can you do now?"
   "I have remote access to other terminals."
   "You really ought to get out more."
   "I'll get out when it warms up, but until then, I'm staying right here."
   "Suit yourself."
   He sat down next to her. "Listen Kristen," he said, and took her hand,
"Jeez! You're burning up!" He felt her forehead. "You're staying right
here! How can you NOT be cold? I'll get the doctor." He left the room.
   Williams had the "luck" of getting stuck with too many snobby, yet
intelligent people. A Doctor, nurse, painter, psychologist, physicist,
chemist, biologist, mathematician, and he the lowly computer hacker. Some
of the villagers looked down upon him, but others, like Kristen, have
learned to like him.
   He arrived at the doctor's hut (it was just across from his) and knocked
on the door. "Helen!" He knocked again.
   She opened the door. "What is it, Gabriel?"
   "Williams. Your daughter's sick."
   "Right, you prefer Williams. I prefer being addressed as 'Mrs. Taylor.'"
They headed back to his hut.
   "Mother," said Kristen, "I'm fine. I'll just drink more fluids and
everything will be okay."
   "You're going to need some antibiotics. Take some of this," prescribed
Mrs. Taylor. She took a small bottle out of a bag she brought from her hut
and poured some of the thick liquid into a cup.
   Kristen drank the foul-tasting liquid.
   "You'll be fine, just stay in bed and take your medicine. Now let's go."
   Both the women left Williams to his debugging.
   "Mother!" scolded Kristen after they were both inside their hut. "Please
don't act like that!"
   "Like what?"
   "Just because he didn't come from one of the richest families in
Mobitropolis doesn't mean you can treat him like that! His parents were
roboticized, Mother!"
   "I don't want him to get involved in our lives."
   "As I remember it, we got involved in his. He was one of the first ones
here, remember? Besides, we don't have much of a choice. It's a small
village and we're going to be here a while."

   "This is wonderful! Don't you agree Snively?"
   "Yes, sir." He didn't particularly like the idea of Robotnik and himself
being the only two living things on the entire planet. But he couldn't do
anything about it.
   "In a few more days, the world will be mine!"

   "So you never went outside for the past few days?" questioned Bookshire.
   "Nope," answered Sonic. "And I'm itchin' to get out!"
   "That's not very likely. Your fever is getting worse. I don't have much
but this should do for now." He administered a dose of medicine to Sonic.
"Let's just hope nobody else gets sick."
   It seems they didn't hope enough. By the next morning, almost everybody
in the village was sick.
   "I'm willing to believe it's more than the flu," said Bookshire, also
   "But what could spread this fast?" Sally was feeling horrible, but she
HAD to know what was going on. "And why isn't the medicine working?"
   "I'm not quite sure, could I borrow Nicole?"
   Sally gave her computer to Bookshire.
   "Nicole, analyze Sally's blood, scan for anything abnormal.
   "Foreign bodies found," reported Nicole.
   "Can you identify them?"
   "Yes. They are nanites from the roboticizer."
   "Roboticizer?" Sally was confused.
   "Apparently," explained Bookshire, "Robotnik reprogrammed his nanites to
infect us. We're obviously not being roboticized."
   "How can we stop them?"
   "That's the hard part. We'd have to build some kind of a antiroboticizer
that can get rid of them."
   "That could take days!?!"
   "More like months. You just got sick fifteen hours ago. Considering
your condition, I'd say nobody in this village will live longer than
another two days."
   Sally just looked at him, then began to cry.
   He held her head on his shoulder. "It'll be okay. We'll figure
something out."
   "What about Tails?" she sobbed. "He's only eight years old!"
   "If you help me, we might be able to find some other way to 'cure' this."
   She continued to cry, but eventually calmed down.
   "Sally, I want you to get Rotor, he can help us, and whatever you do,
don't tell anybody. The last thing we need is the entire, panicked village
on our hands."
   Sally left to go find Rotor and arrived with him a few minutes later.
   "Sally said you wanted to see me."
   "Do you know anything about nanites?"
   "A little. Not enough to roboticize somebody."
   "How would you go about programming one?"
   "I guess it would have to be done chemically, they're too small for a
   "That's what I was afraid of. We have a lot of work to do."
   The four of them worked as fast as they could, trying to figure out the
nanites' technology. Once they learned how to program it, it was a simple
matter of telling Nicole to deactivate them all. But, alas, they worked
non-stop for the next thirty-seven hours to no avail. They were all tired
and getting weaker by the minute (besides Nicole).
   "I'm sorry, Sally," Bookshire's voice was hoarse, "but there's nothing
more I can do."
   "If I'm going to die, there's some things I have to do first." Sally
left. It sounded like she finally accepted that she was going to die.
   "Anything you want to do, Rotor?"
   "Not enough time." He kept working, but in the back of his mind he knew
that it didn't matter what he did. The only reason he worked was to keep
his mind off impending death.
   Sally went to Sonic's hut. She found him awake in his bed. He turned to
look at her as she came in. She walked over to Sonic, passionately kissed
him, and then left.
   Sonic sat there for a while, stunned, then confused. "Sal must be
getting delirious," he thought to himself.
   Next, Sally visited Tails. "Do you feel okay?" she asked.
   "Fine, Aunt Sally." He could barely talk.
   "I'm sorry, Tails." She sat down next to him on his bed.
   "I couldn't find the cure in time."
   "You did your best."
   "I know, but it's not fair. It's just not fair."

   Williams was one of the last to get sick. He realized the medicine Mrs.
Taylor gave everybody was not working at all. "Computer, what illness do I
   "Another bug," he said to himself. "Computer, what is wrong with me?"
   "Computer, there is something in my body making me sick, what is it?"
   "They are Nanites."
   "Nanites? That's all? Computer, what are they programmed to do?"
   "Oh, yeah. They don't run on electrical impulses. Okay, here." He slid
open a small slot on the side of his computer and put a drop of his blood on
it, then pushed it back in. "Computer, pick a nanite, any nanite, and find
out how it works. Tell me when you're done." He waited for a while.
"Computer, how long is this going to take?"
   "Approximately three hours."
   Williams groaned. But sure enough, three hours later his computer had
learned to control a nanite.
   "Computer, what are the nanites programmed to do?"
   "They are programmed to infect any living thing except two select
individuals, then kill their host."
   "Who are the two individuals that they won't infect?"
   "DNA unknown."
   "Probably Robotnik and Snively. Now, computer, pick any ten nanites and
have them deactivate themselves. But before they deactivate, have them
pick ten nanites each and tell the nanites they picked to do the same."
   In one or two seconds, depending on how many nanites there were, they
were all deactivated. It was a simple as that. Everybody infected would
slowly get better. The nanites weren't killing them anymore and that gave
their bodies a chance to heal. The "dead" nanites would soon leave the
body, through one of various ways. But Williams had bigger ideas.

   The citizens of Knothole slowly began to feel better and better. Nobody
knew exactly what had happened, but they were alive and that was all that
   Sonic saw Sally on her way to Bookshire's hut and ran up next to her.
"So Sal..." he said, smiling.
   "I don't want to talk about it, Sonic Hedgehog. I was going to die, it
was a spontaneous thing."
   "Right, Sal. Whatever you say."
   "It was! I just-- This conversation is over." She opened the door to
Bookshire's hut.
   "Sally, It's good to see you again. You should be dead."
   "Where's Rotor? I came to thank both of you. What did you two do?"
   "Nothing. I was supposed to be dead also."
   "Wait...... You're saying the nanites just gave up?"
   "Yes, and let's hope it stays like that."
   It puzzled both of them. The nanites had them licked, why did they give
up? Sally didn't think about it any more, she was just glad it was over.

   Williams walked over to Kristen's hut with a vial of some clear liquid.
He knocked on the door and patiently waited for her to answer. Mrs. Taylor
answered instead.
   "What do you want?"
   "I brought a gift for your wonderful daughter," he said, holding up the
   "Kristen!" she called. "Your little 'friend' has brought you some
water!" She went back inside.
   Kristen came out.
   "Feeling better?" asked Williams.
   "Yes, I guess so."
   Williams explained why. He had proof if he needed it, but Kristen
believed him.
   "You have to tell everybody!" She was very excited.
   "I will, later. But first, I brought you this." He handed her the vial
of water. "Drink it."
   She smelt it and looked at him as if it was some sort of poison.
   "Go ahead, drink it."
   She did, but nothing happened. It tasted exactly like water. She didn't
feel any different.
   "You are now immune to about ninety-nine point nine percent of all
diseases and your mother is out of a job."
   She looked at him in disbelief.
   "I'm serious. You just drank about a thousand nanites. Now that they're
inside your body, they'll replicate themselves until a stable population
is reached and keep you healthy. They'll even slow your growing old. Not
by much, though, I'm still working on that."
   "That's great!" She kissed him on the cheek.
   "You should give some to everyone."
   "Uh, no. Only a select few get the nanites."
   "Who have you 'chosen?'"
   "The only person I can trust. Nanites are a curse as well as a blessing.
Whoever controls the nanites, controls the person they inhabit. I could
kill you right now."
   She looked at him, surprised at what he just said.
   "You know me better than that. Anyway, the only person I can trust here
is Adam."
   "You TRUST him?"
   "He may be unpredictable and he may have locked me out of my computer a
few times, but he knows what he's doing. I trust him."
   "Then why did you give the nanites to me?"
   "Because you're my friend and everybody knows that scientists give their
discoveries to their friends before releasing them to the general public.
So, now that being a nurse is obsolete, you want to learn a bit about
   "I guess I should."
   "Good. And don't worry about Adam. If he even THINKS of screwing with
your nanites, I'll help him out."

   The End...

Received on Wed Mar 15 1995 - 23:56:51 PST

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