My Brother's Keeper (1/2)

From: Shawn Wolski <n5una_at_MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 20:34:42 -0600

Sonic the Hedgehog "My Brother's Keeper" 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. Additional
characters that appear are the original creations of their
respective authors (characters indexed by author):

Holly-Beth Vixie Kraft: Nina
David Pistone: Bookshire Draftwood
Shawn Wolski: David

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.

Temporal Notice: The background of the following story takes
place a few months after the failed Doomsday Project, during the
midsummer of the year 3236.

        The maturity of the day was very near the hour of midnight in
Knothole's time zone. Almost everyone of the Knothole Freedom
Fighters and their associates from the Wolf Pack and other
groups were asleep in their huts, dreaming the dreams of a
benevolent future for their planet. Nearly all the lights were
out, to promote each individual's travel into the dream world, a
place where everyone lived an alternate life for the duration of
their time of slumber. The borders and the interior of the
encampment that was home to members of an extended family, the
members consisting of various decent of status and other aspects
of heritage, were as silent as the vacuum of space. Almost.
        If one could listen and look with more intensity and
persistence, Knothole was not the perfect example of peaceful
and somber darkness. In one particular hut, no unlit regions
existed for the blackness to take refuge. It was a warning to
the agents of the shade that their victory would come another
day, another time in the hereafter. Or, more than likely, it
was only Rotor and Bookshire in the development phase of yet
another late-night project in Rotor's new workshop.
        Inside, Rotor hefted the massive glass vat from the biogenics
storage closet, a 100 kg cylinder containing twenty kg of an
intricate, carefully balanced powder holding the basic chemical
elements of life. No DNA or other evidence of order resided in
the powder, but it was a segment of preface to a new artificial
lifeform that Rotor and Bookshire toiled to design for some
time. He carried it cautiously over to the main computer, where
Bookshire was laboring over the theoretical designs and
composition of the endoskeletal frame. The middle-aged raccoon
displayed signs of his steadily advancing age, with suggestions
of silver streaking through his fur. However, when intensely
working on a project worthy of provoking his prowess, he was no
older than his teenage associate. Younger, in fact, for he
concentrated on such projects like a child with a new playtoy.
        Rotor slowly lowered the vat to a temporary resting place by
the main computer, grunting with the gradual displacement of its
mass from his powerful muscles. After Robotnik's failed attempt
to finally bring Mobius and its inhabitants groveling to his
feet, he had more leisure time to exercise, both physically and
mentally. A short time ago, Rotor might not have been able to
perform such an act as carrying the voluminous load the short
distance to the main computer. Then again, the old Rotor wasn't
the walrus working on the important experiment that night.
        Bookshire sensed Rotor's presence, but did not look up to
examine his comrade. The majority of his concentration centered
on the computer display, while he softly pressed the appropriate
controls to alter the various parameters of the endoskeleton to
conform to his specifications. The endoskeleton took the
structure of a young eleven year-old fox, belying the strength
that would normally be present in a lifeform many times its
size. The new alloy that Rotor and Bookshire designed for the
frame was perfect: high tensile strength, nearly invulnerable
to multiple weapons-grade laser impacts, stealthy (nearly all
forms of detection devices were blind to its presence, except
optical), and more than adequate to the task of shielding the
organic overlay (on connection to the positronic matrix, it
could expand the stealthy field of influence, retarding nearly
every sensor).
        The raccoon also reviewed the positronic matrix. It was a work
of art for something that had been conceived of in such a short
time. Countless hours were spent on the cranial cognitive unit,
which it was more officially known as between the two partners
in cybernetics. Part computer, part organic design, it would
allow the new lifeform to function and think. This would
promote interaction with the other Knothole residents. Many
sleepless nights produced the perfect programming that the new
artificial life would need: tactics, command procedures,
physiology, and other subjects important to Freedom Fighter
commanders. For this was to be Sonic's near-future second, if
not his replacement.
        "Whew. That was some workout. How's everything at your end?"
the walrus asked his friend.
        Retaining his focus on the computer display, Bookshire replied,
"Faster than expected, Rotor. The endoskeleton and the
positronic matrix designs are ready for freezing. I don't think
we left anything out of the system that might be needed."
        "Great. The sooner, the better. Sonic's been complaining that
he didn't have any excuse to get out of Knothole these days,
with noone to go on missions with." Rotor dictated this with an
air of finality.
        In truth, Sonic had been rather wearied by the now perpetual
boredom that seemed to permeate Knothole. However, there was
more to his mood under the surface. He was seriously
considering an alteration to the chain of command, wanting to
have more time to devote to his other hobbies. He tired of not
having the opportunity to make command decisions, or to risk his
life to safe another's. He thought of taking a step down from
his command position, but had noone to offer it to. His
relationship with his friends was also taking a precarious turn.
 Sally had been put under increasingly higher degrees of
workload, and didn't have the time that she and Sonic used to
have for leisure in the past. Sally wasn't the only one; just
about everyone else had been assigned to other tasks, except
him. He felt left out, since nothing that he could do seemed to
be available for him to concern himself with. Ultimately, he
needed something to do, or someone he could talk to that would
understand his condition. Otherwise, the irritated hedgehog
might die of boredom, a point that he attempted to make
abundantly clear to everyone else at Knothole.
        "Well, I hope that this little project of ours does," said
Bookshire with a grave tone to his voice, "I can't bear to see
Sonic like that anymore. All alone and depressed, something
must be done, and fast. That boy's too young to waste away like
he's doing now."
        Rotor nodded in silent agreement, knowing all too well what one
of his closest friends was feeling now, without a function
worthy of his attention. The two cybernetics experts taxed
themselves further into the early hours of the next day, with no
further verbal exchange on any subject. Working as a single
entity, they both continued on their task of creating a new
life, and possibly a new comrade for Sonic.

* * *

        At 0800 hours the next morning, the sun's bright rays pierced
through holes in the foliage that protected Knothole from
detection by sensors and other silent, unseen observers. The
solar radiation continued its confrontation until it came near a
blue teenage hedgehog, sitting on the steps to his home. It
seemed to notice the mental condition of the hedgehog, for it
softened from a shower of fine thorns to a smoother, blanketing
shape over the hedgehog's body. After not receiving any
response from this gesture of kindness, the rays intensified
their IR components, as if it was attempting to warm the
beleaguered hedgehog's heart. Still no reaction from him. The
rays persisted, as if hoping that the hedgehog would appreciate
their attempt to lighten his mood. Sonic steadfastly maintained
his hunched-over, sulking position.
        'Man,' he thought to himself, his mind replete with anxiety,
'what am I gonna do with myself? Sal and everyone else is too
busy to do anything with me. I can't even help them out, since
I don't have a clue as to even half the stuff they're doing.
I'm gettin' tired of being the Number One hedgehog, 'cause
there's nothing for me to do at the top. Maybe I need to step
down, give someone else a chance to save Mobius. But who?'
Sonic had no answer to that question, one that had fused itself
into his mind gradually over the period of time after the
destruction of the Doomsday Project. Everyone had a position to
fill but him.
        'I wanted to teach the kids, let them know how it's done being
a Freedom Fighter,' Sonic's private tirade continued. 'But
Tails got a hold of that, maybe I taught the big guy TOO well.
Sal's been working on managerial whatever-she-calls-it for who
knows how long, and I ain't any good at that. I can't even get
a hold of Rotor, since he's always either asleep or working on
that project of his. And Dulcy's not going anywhere, not with
that hurt leg she got making that bad landing a few weeks ago.'
A labored sigh of dismissal. 'What's a hedgehog like me to do?'
        The sound of differentially-displaced air brought Sonic to his
full alert condition, ready to react to any form of danger. The
sound was very familiar, but something he had not heard for a
long time, or so it seemed to him. The sound gradually wavered,
then abruptly ended as an expertly-placed drop to the ground was
executed by a ten year-old red fox. The fox then paced over to
Sonic's position, with a distressed look on his face.
        "What's ya up to, Sonic?" the concerned red vulpine queried his
best friend and mentor.
        "Nothing at all, Tails," the hedgehog responded, sighing.
"What's a cool dude like you doing hanging around a major drag
like me for?" he questioned, not without a slight hint of
frustration to his voice.
        "Well, you been looking really down lately, Sonic. I know it's
that you've had nothing to do here, now that Robotnik and
Sneezeley's gone. I thought I might be able to do something to
cheer you up," Tails said, unable to keep the hopefulness out of
his voice.
        'Why, that little genius,' Sonic thought, his face copious with
surprise. 'He read my mind.' He said nothing, expecting Tails
to continue prodding the point further.
        He was not disappointed. "I did have a class to teach today,
but I told everyone else to take the day off. So, how about it,
Sonic?" the little cub demanded, uncertain what method the
dispirited hedgehog would use to respond with.
        It was Tails' turn to not be disappointed. "Sure, big guy,"
Sonic finally replied, after contemplating the current
alteration in plans for the day. He gently stroked Tails' head
with an almost religious reverence, and stared straight into his
eyes with a smile on his face. "It'll be just like old times,
you and me together."
        Tails chuckled a bit, then said with sincerity, "Yeah, just
like old times. Race ya past the lookout tower!" He then
curled his tails together, then slowly levitated from the ground
as his tails rotated around their mutual center of axis.
        "Hey, hold up a bit!" Sonic exclaimed jocularly, all evidence
of downslide in his normally cavorting mood eliminated for the
time being. Accelerating in place, he called to his airborne
comrade, "OK, time!"
        They discharged themselves from the area as quickly as their
respective legs or tails would permit them, and accelerated
toward their arbitrary finish line. The race had begun, and
Sonic felt like a new hedgehog again.

        After a few hours of high-velocity enjoyment (amplified by
giving Antoine a few moments of fright by rocketing next to the
tree where he was assigned as lookout), Sonic and Tails returned
to Knothole, halting about three meters in front of Rotor's
workshop. They were both so exuberant, that Sonic forgot his
former mode of depression, and Tails forgot that his friend was
depressed. As if remembering something, Sonic quirked his eyes
toward his two-tailed companion.
        "Oh, man! I give up, Tails! You beat me every time!" Sonic
blurted out, with an expression of mock anger on his face.
        "Oh, gee," Tails retorted in kind, mimicking Sonic's facial
expression, "next time, I'll make sure I beat you by more than a
few seconds!"
        More hopelessly uncontrollable laughter flowed from their
mouths. Unable to repress the urge, they embraced and kissed
each other, like long-lost friends that had met again after
years of separation. Sonic was beginning to feel more like
himself again, and he enjoyed it as much as Tails did. He felt
as if he had finally found a role to conform to in Knothole, and
that was to be Tails' friend. An act of gratitude that he had
not had the time to display recently, and he pondered over why
he didn't do such a thing sooner. He found no answer to his
personal inquiry, and didn't concern himself with that at the
        "Hey, Sonic," the young vulpine said to his associate in
gaiety, after regaining control of his guffawing, "how about we
go see Rotor and Bookshire? I bet ya they're working on that
new project right now."
        The more senior hedgehog considered the matter for a few
seconds, with his arms crossed and his left foot rapping the
ground. "I don't know, kid," he said thoughtfully. "They might
be too busy to worry about us."
        "Ah, come on, Sonic," his little friend pleaded. "Besides,
they invited me to come over here yesterday. They said that it
might be ready to show off now."
        More silence and concerned thought from the hedgehog. He
wasn't entirely enthusiastic about interrupting Rotor and
Bookshire in the middle of what they regarded as an important
activity, since none of the technobabble would make any coherent
sense to him anyway. However, he was interested in at least
knowing what the project was, considering the fact that the
specifics and even generalities had been concealed from him.
When he was satisfied with his decision, he replied, "OK, Tails.
 Let's see what their little secret project is."
        The two companions trotted to the entrance of Rotor's workshop.
 They arrived together at the door, and came to an uneasy stop.
For reasons unknown to him, Sonic somehow forfeited his nerve to
enter the hut. His former reservations resurfaced, as he
thought about how too premeditated and convenient this encounter
appeared to be. The windows emitted no illumination from the
interior, and something about the way Tails dictated his
suggestion forced the hedgehog to delay his advance. He looked
to his friend; Tails revealed nothing, but patiently waited for
the hedgehog to signal a request for entry.
        "Go ahead, Sonic," his two-tailed comrade commanded
encouragingly, "knock on the door. It won't bite."
        The reluctant hedgehog complied with the order, totally
prepared for what he expected to happen. He was equally
unprepared for the unexpected events.
        The door opened, with a suspicious creaking sound attached to
its movement on the hinges. A shaded figure of a blue walrus
lingered inside, beyond the doorway in the darkness. He
gestured to them for passage, and the hedgehog and fox gradually
paced into the dimmed workshop. Sonic gazed around the
blanketing blackness, endeavoring to focus his eyes.
        As if in retaliation, the room suddenly altered in form. He
was blinded by the sudden increase in illumination, and deafened
by the multitude of voices crying out the word, "Surprise!"
        'Whoa,' Sonic thought to himself, 'what's going on here?' He
rubbed his eyes to compensate for the appearance of light where
there was only an unlit region about two seconds ago. After his
eyes finally terminated the task of focusing, he noticed that
all his friends in and out of Knothole were waiting for him.
        Sally walked over to the baffled hedgehog. "Surprise, Sonic.
I hope you like it," she said, then kissed him. "I'm sorry that
we've been keeping you in the dark about this, but now's a good
a time as any to reveal it to you."
        Sonic's jaw dropped with an almost audible thunk. "You mean,"
he ventured, "that all this time you've been busy working on
whatever that is? And you were fibbing about all that
administrative work you were doing?" His outstretched finger
indicated the endoskeleton and the vat full of the prepared
organic mixture.
        It was Bookshire's turn to explain the rationale of their
former, "busy" atmosphere. He carefully limped over to Sonic to
illustrate the actual scene of events. "Not exactly, Sonic," he
answered to his confused juvenile comrade. "You see, we know
that you've been bored and all, with nothing to do here at
Knothole while the rest of Mobius isn't in danger anymore. So
we decided that you probably wanted to step down off your
command status so that you would have more time to do other
things. That's when the idea came up to design a new Freedom
        "New Freedom Fighter?" the hedgehog inquired. "To replace me?"
        "It can take whatever position in the chain of command you
want," the raccoon continued, "it can be the commander of
Knothole, or like a first officer to you. It's your choice,
        "What about training and everything else?"
        "Don't worry about this one. The new artificial lifeform will
be totally self-sufficient, and it's programmed to have basic
emotions, ability to command, repair itself, and other
functions. We also gave it the ability to dynamically respond
to new situations, learn from them. Not a problem at all," the
experienced raccoon reassured.
        "How's it repair itself?" the still-cynical hedgehog asked.
        "It has nanites in it to take care of damage and construct new
parts," Bookshire replied. Seeing a shocked expression on the
hedgehog's face again, he continued, "No, not those nanites.
These nanites aren't programmed to do anything to us; their
made for the compuorganic lifeform." Bookshire was all too
aware of the unpleasant memories the word had to Sonic, not to
mention the rest of the Freedom Fighters.
        "Cool. So when's it gonna be active?" the now-interested Sonic
        Tails took charge of leading him to the main computer. "Right
over on that computer, Sonic. Press that big red switch." As
he and his companion walked to the computer, Tails didn't notice
the large bundle of cables lying stretched out across the floor.
        Sonic saw the cables first. "Tails, the ca-" he tried to warn
his friend.
        It was too late. Tails foot located the cables and reacted via
the appropriate physical laws of the universe, long before his
eyes could see them and direct his body to avoid. He flew
across the space between his former location and the main
computer, his nose impacting with the indicated red key that
would activate the new lifeform. Before his blackout, Tails
slid down the side of the computer, opening one of the storage
compartments. After coming to rest on the floor in a
semi-unconsious state, mind probing electrodes attached
themselves to his head.
        The room exploded into a blinding radiance. Inside the vat with
the organic mixture, the component atoms combined and
recombined, forming a DNA structure over the endoskeletal frame.
 The nanites worked hard at their labors, manipulating the
organic overlay into the appropriate electrical and organic
constituents. Influxes of data came from Tails, as the cranial
positronic unit scanned the information by utilizing the remote
electrodes on his head. The process continued on for about ten
        Tails woke up to see a black and dark gray fox, about his
height and size, trapped in the glass vat. One powerful fist
strike later, and glass shards erupted from the vat, spreading
over the floor like a tidal wave crashes over a ocean-front
city. Everyone else in the room watched in horror as the new
artificial lifeform slowly paced across the room in a precise,
measured cadence toward Tails, making no sound as it did. When
it arrived at its location in front of its organic counterpart,
it gently and flawlessly lifted the dazed vulpine up to examine
his condition.
        What the compuorganic lifeform said was even more startling.
"What has occurred to format my brother into his current state?"
it demanded, seemingly concerned about Tails' condition. The
voice was so much like Tails, only this particular vocalization
was that of an adolescent fox. It was deeper and slightly
harsher, yet still very similar to that of its organic
        Tails replied for all the observers in the room. "Waht?" he
asked, bewildered by the turn of events. He attempted to force
the stinging pain from his nose. "Wo's 'or bro'her? I ain' 'or
        The artificial lifeform didn't have any difficulty interpreting
its "brother's" speech. "My medical sensors detect a minor
concussion in your olfactory region, and it is in my estimation
that you have been injured in a procedure which I am unaware of.
 Please allow me, brother, to attend to your ailments. I have
no intention of inducing any detriment to your organic
        The awestruck organic fox's eyes expanded wide with primal
fear. He struggled to escape from the grasp of his oppressor,
and succeeded in his savage body motions. Tails screamed,
staring a hardened sneer into the compuorganic's video
receptors, "You're not my brother, and I never want to see you
again, you robot!" He darted out of the workshop before anyone
could detain him, and disappeared into the Great Forest. The
new lifeform could only observe the scene that occurred,
speechless and almost upset by the unfavorable reaction that
Tails displayed.
        "Someone's gotta go after Tails," Sonic finally said, returning
to reality again.
        "I'll take care of this," replied Dulcy. "Besides, he can fly,
and I might have a better chance of getting him."
        "Yo, Dulce," the baffled hedgehog queried, "what about your
        "Oh, this?" she answered. "This was the only way I could think
of from telling you about the project too early. There's
nothing wrong with it. You know how much I can babble at
times." As if proving her point that her leg had sustained no
damage, she prodded out of the hut and used it to force herself
away from the ground, then flew off to retrieve Tails.
        Sally walked over to comfort their latest addition to the
Freedom Fighter group. "Are you OK?" she asked, concerned about
how it would react to prejudice immediately after it had just
been constructed.
        It took in a deep breath, as if to calm itself. "I am fully
functional, physically and mentally," it stated, "however, I am
rather perturbed by the way Tails reacted to my endeavors to
assist him. I also realize that lack a denomination, something
for others to know me by."
        Sally thought the matter over. "How about....David?" she
        "Very well, then," the compuorganic replied, "that shall be
sufficient for my purposes of identification." He smiled, as if
pleased with the privilege of having a name.
        Sally embraced and kissed him, gratified to have him as a new
Freedom Fighter and companion. Not quite certain how to respond
to this gesture of kindness, he returned the act to her, making
certain his finely-tuned tactile sensors returned signals of a
firm, but tame grip. David did not desire to destroy a
near-future ally in the college of life.

* * *
Shawn Wolski, N5UNA

An Indoctrinated Sonic T. Hedgehog Story Author

"But I guess some things are better left in the past."
-Sally, quote from "The Temporal Syndrome"

Received on Sun Mar 19 1995 - 21:32:42 PST

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