Capture The Flag 1/6

From: Dan Drazen <>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 16:14:02 -0400 (EDT)

                             CAPTURE THE FLAG

                        A Sonic the Hedgehog story

                            by Daniel J. Drazen

Pause for bourgeois legalities: "Sonic the Hedgehog" and
other characters and situations in the following story are
copyrighted trademarks of Sega Incorporated, Archie Comics and/or
DiC Productions. Permission to reproduce this specific material
is granted by the author, unless you try and make a buck off of
it, in which case drop me a line at first. I
may be a grown-up cartoon fan, but I also know my way around
Title 17 (the Copyright Law) of the U.S. Code.
(c)1995, Daniel J. Drazen.

                                 Chapter 1

     The sun was setting on the Great Forest. They knew they
didn't have much time left.
     Sonic the Hedgehog didn't like all this sneaking around.
The direct approach had always worked for him...well, almost
always...and he preferred it to stealth. But he knew that the
objective would soon be in sight.
     A short distance away, hidden from him, Sally lay in
waiting. For her, there was only one objective: stop Sonic at
all costs!
     Rotor and Bunnie were nearby as well, paused and waiting
for some cue.
     At the moment, Antoine was lost.
     "Why am I always to be given such unuseful directions?" he
thought to himself. "If I was not knowing for better or for
worse, I would be saying to myself that I am trying to be
     The light began to fail as night closed in. The others
would have to act soon, he knew, and he intended to be in on the
action. But it didn't help if he was lost.
     Not daring to call out and give himself away, Antoine began
slowly backing up. There was a hint of an autumn chill in the
early evening air and the floor of the Great Forest already had a
few dead leaves which, if stepped on, could give away Antoine's
position. As he moved back, he brushed against the trunk of a
young tree. It bent just enough to release a branch that had
fallen from another tree overhead. The groundfall struck just
next to Antoine.
     "Help! Help! It is the invasion! We are doom-ed!"
     Out of sheer terror, Antoine ran. It didn't matter to him
at the moment just where he was running to. He darted straight
ahead and plunged through a bush. As he did so, he fell to the
ground. In his fall, he grabbed at something--a small square of
red cloth tied to a stick.
     "Antoine!" Sally yelled.
     He looked at the object in his hand.
     "I have done it? Yes! Yes! I am *triomphant*!"
     "Aw, man!" Sonic groaned. The others began to come out of
     "Bunnie!" Sally snapped, "you were supposed to go for it!"
     "No way, Sal!"
     "Yes, way!"
     "You said Ah was supposed to run interference for you!"
     "I said ROTOR was supposed to run interference!"
     "I thought I was supposed to be guarding the flag!"
     "Some kind of guarding, if you let Antoine get it!"
     "Now waiting a minute! Princess or non,...."
     And soon everyone was talking at once and the scene looked
like an argument among a group of ten-year-olds.
     Which was only fitting, since they WERE a group of ten-year-

                                 Chapter 2

     Few Mobians had ever heard of Knothole, and fewer still knew
its precise location. That knowledge had been reserved for a
handful of members of the King's court.
     The idea of an alternate command post had occurred to
King Acorn and several of his advisors during the Great War, at a
time when there was a very real threat to the safety of
Mobotropolis. Yet with the easing of that threat, the King
appeared to lose interest in the concept. The truth, however,
was something else again.
     He began to conceive of the proposed royal redoubt in the
peacetime role of a retreat--a protected place where he, his
family and selected members of the court could go to get a
different perspective on things or simply to relax. Taking only
a few into his confidence, he suggested modifications in the
already-secret project.
     While the King was to be credited with the location of the
site (which he had stumbled upon in the Great Forest in his
youth while exploring), it was Sir Charles Hedgehog who had
planned the site as a base of operations, and then modified the
plans for more peaceful purposes once the tide of battle had
turned. Truth to tell, the layout and planning of Knothole was
more to Charles's taste than the war-work that had kept him busy
and that had earned him his knighthood.
     Knothole had many things going for it even before the first
pieces of timber were joined together. Located deep in the Great
Forest in a slight depression, it was amply covered by foliage so
as to be virtually invisible from the air. There were several
small clearings within walking distance that could act as landing
sites for hover units. There was farmable land close by (equally
well camouflaged) and a river ran along the site. Access to it
through the Great Forest was almost impossible unless one was
aware of the network of trails and paths that would take one to
it. To bring any ground vehicle to the site was impossible; it
could only be reached on foot.
     This, as much as Charles's own aesthetics, dictated that the
design for Knothole be one of rustic simplicity. As much of the
material as possible would come from the Great Forest itself,
with some items brought to the sight (in secret) from the city.
Work had progressed to the point where a half-dozen huts of
various sizes were finished as the Great War drew to a close.
     But then there was a new development to cope with: one that
called himself "Robotnik."
     Before his own capture, Charles had managed to arrange that
a handful of children and two adults be secreted in Knothole.
The two adults were women, staff members of the royal household.
Rosie, nanny for the Princess Sally Alicia, was an obvious
choice. Sally was, after all, heir to the Mobian throne and was
a natural candidate to be hidden away in Knothole.
     The other adult had been recently retained to be Sally's
tutor: an older feline named Julayla. She was reserved and, to
those who didn't know her, somewhat intimidating. What was
intimidating was, in fact, her patience and circumspection.
Unlike the open and affable Rosie, Julayla seemed at times to be
playing a perpetual chess game--sizing up moves, reviewing and
plotting strategy, seeking an overview of the situation. She let
few have access to her mind and heart; eventually only Princess
Sally would have that distinction, and she found Julayla to be as
kind as she was wise, as tender as she was shrewd, as empathetic
as she was observant. This complex character served as a balance
to the simple straightforwardness of Rosie.
     Not that Sally or any of the other children (who were all
friends of hers) could appreciate any of this when they first
arrived in Knothole as refugees. For they had just seen their
families and their world destroyed.
     They were a diverse group of children, all of them about 5
years old. Yet at first they reacted to their new situation in
the same way. It began with a reluctance to talk about what had
happened. The pain of watching the arrival of the SWATbots, of
seeing parents, relatives and friends being captured and turned
into soulless mechanical caricatures of what they had once been,
was too much for their young minds. The children pushed the
scenes from their consciousness by day, only to have the memories
trouble their dreams at night. In the beginning, the woods
around Knothole were filled in the evening with the sound of
screaming as one or another of the children found themselves
haunted by their dreams.
     As the children realized that Knothole had become for them a
safe place where Robotnik's SWATbots weren't going to intrude,
they began to display differing styles of adapting. Rotor, a
young walrus, was thought at first to be the most serious
potential troublemaker. He seemed most at ease when he was
destroying things. It drove Rosie to distraction, but Julayla
counselled patience. That patience was rewarded when, during one
trying stretch when Rotor had spent three straight days taking
things apart, he methodically made the rounds of the demolished
objects and put them all back together in less than a day's time.
In some cases, they worked better than before. Julayla explained
that Rotor's mechanical aptitude was part of his way of coping
with the situation: demonstrating some form of mastery over a
world gone mad. She encouraged him in his interest in things
mechanical and electronic.
     It was a different matter when dealing with Bunnie, a close
friend of Sally's and the only other girl among the children. A
child of the southern provinces, she had no use for the
formalities and mannerisms of the royal court. If she didn't
care for your company, she'd just as soon make a face at you than
politely tolerate you. Yet this also gave her a free-and-easy
happiness that was delightful to behold. She was extremely
conscious of the natural world around her, and especially so of
her own body. The women did the best they could with Bunnie,
hoping against hope that she would grow out of some of her more
excessive behaviors by the time she began to mature. It was with
Bunnie in mind that Rosie and Julayla declared the hut where the
two girls slept to be Off Limits to the boys.
     If Bunnie was hard to deal with because she had not been
exposed to court manners, Antoine was even harder to deal with
because he had. The young fox was the son of a minister in the
King's diplomatic service; as a result, he had virtually from
birth been exposed to the ways of the court. In Knothole, he
clung to those ways with a fierce tenacity, as if he had
personally been charged with safeguarding those habits and
customs even if there was no royalty. Yet if he was loyal to
those traditions, he was also so convinced of the rightness of
his loyalty that nobody could tell him anything. It could be
almost impossible to correct him. In time he even refused to
correct his speech--an atrocious mangling of the language by
someone who was not a native speaker. He would back down when he
had to, but only to the grown-ups; he stubbornly held his own
against the other children and, despite taking his share of lumps
as a result, refused to yield. Julayla wondered if there were
any way to sift through the chaff of arrogance to isolate the
loyalty beneath.
     Of all the children, perhaps the easiest to understand was
Charles's nephew, Sonic Hedgehog, and that made him all the more
exasperating to deal with. He was very straightforward in his
approach to life. Unfortunately, in his quest for the immediate,
he would sooner take a shortcut than not. It showed in his
schoolwork, for all the children had to spend their mornings in
Knothole's dining hall, which doubled as a classroom where
Julayla did the best she could with improvised materials.
It was hard to say whose patience was put to the test more during
these sessions, Sonic's or Julayla's. Somehow, Sonic needed a
steadying influence, and he found it in, oddly enough, a new
arrival to Knothole.
     It was when Sonic was about 7 years old that he disappeared
from Knothole one day. This in itself was not unusual; he was
prone to making himself scarce when he didn't care for what was
happening. Yet it was almost dusk when he returned without any
explanation as to where he had been, without apology, and with a
small child in tow.
     It was a fox cub, little more than a toddler. Yet this fox
cub had not one, but two, tails. Nobody knew how he could have
been born with two tails; the consensus was that he had been *in
utero* when Robotnik's systematic destruction of the planet and
his crash program of industrialization had begun to poison the
air and sky of Mobius. The only other clue to his identity was
the name "Miles Prower" written on the inside of one of his
     Sonic finally admitted what had happened: on a surreptitious
journey back to Mobotropolis, he had seen a fox couple, husband
and wife, hide the cub inside a dumpster just before being
apprehended by SWATbots. Sonic had waited until they had been
taken away, then retrieved the cub. Sonic never admitted it in
so many words--it would not have been cool for him to do so--but
it was clear to everyone that Sonic's heart had gone out to the
little cub from the first.
     "Tails," as the fox cub came to be called, grew into an
active and happy child, apparently unscarred by any memory of
being orphaned. He was doted on by Rosie, and treated like a
plaything on occasion by the girls. Yet his own attentions were
on Sonic. As he grew older he was constantly shadowing the young
hedgehog, copying his speech and his mannerisms devotedly. The
women worried that Sonic's ego was getting quite big enough,
thank you, without Tails' hero worship.
     But of all the children, Julayla was at the moment most
concerned about Princess Sally. She was developing in a
natural, unstudied way. She had a sharp intellect made sharper
by study, yet she was not bookish; physically, she was strong and
agile, and at an age when she might have been physically awkward
she carried herself with grace.
     But something was beginning to change, and the change was
worrying Julayla. She could not yet sense what exactly, but it
was becoming clear to her that a part of Sally--a very vital
part--was dying.
Received on Wed Sep 20 1995 - 17:01:55 PDT

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