Capture The Flag 6/6

From: Dan Drazen <>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 16:32:18 -0400 (EDT)

                                Chapter 11

     "Don't lose him, Snively! I must have him!!"
     "Easy for you to say," Snively muttered under his breath,
"you're not driving."
     Sonic was moving with a speed and agility he had never known
before. Somehow, though, it all seemed so natural -- as if he
had been born to do the impossible.
     Sonic was able to keep up a grueling pace and not feel any
fatigue. He zigged and zagged down streets and up alleys,
doubled back and slipped under conduits and bridges. He didn't
want to slow down, not only because it might have meant his
capture, but also because it felt so good to run.
     Snively, however, managed to stay on the young hedgehog's
trail. He took some corners a little too sharply and he and
Robotnik got knocked about in the process. Robotnik, however,
kept his attention on the blue blur visible ahead of them.
     "Whoa, this looks interesting," Sonic thought as he found
himself heading down a side street which turned into a dead end.
An enormous skyscraper marked the end of the street.
     "We have him now, Snively! He's got nowhere else to go!"
     "Nowhere except up, Sir. Look!"
     Sure enough, Sonic wasn't about to let a little thing like a
building stand in his way. He was on a roll and he just kept on
rolling. He was running up the side of the building, propelled
by momentum. Snively put the hover unit into a climb in the nick
of time.
     "After him, after him! If that ring can enable him to do
     Sonic was halfway up the building when he looked over his
shoulder. Robotnik was keeping pace. "Man, this is getting
boring!" he thought.
     In the blink of an eye, Sonic reversed directions and was
running down the side of the building. He blew Robotnik a
raspberry as he passed the hover unit. Snively quickly turned it
     "We're gaining, Snively!"
     Indeed, they were closing in on Sonic. They were almost on
top of him.
     It was then, about fifty feet from the ground, that Sonic
decided that he had better stop coasting and do some serious
running. He pounded ahead, reached the ground and streaked away.
The hover unit, however, was in virtual free fall.
     "Pull up, Snively! PULL UP!!"
     Snively worked the controls, but the underside of the hover
unit scraped the street. That was enough to sent the hover unit
tumbling with all the aerodynamics of a stone skipping across a
pond. By the time the hover unit came to rest its shell was
pocked and torn, its windows were smashed, and its contents badly
     "Snively," Robotnik panted.
     "Y-yes, Sir?"
     "I have decided that I am going to make it one of the
supreme goals of my life to GET THAT HEDGEHOG!"
     Snively rolled his eyes. This did NOT sound like a
worthwhile job description.

     Sonic raced back to the dump, where the others were gathered
at their pre-arranged rendezvous point: the excavated remains of
the slide. "Man, you shoulda seen ol' Buttnik eat my dust! I
     "Sonic, not now!" Sally cut him off. "Get down!" It was
only then that Sonic noticed that the others were lying prone on
the ground.
     "Nap time already?"
     "Sonic, Rotor thinks that that ring unit is going to blow
     "Say what?"
     "It's overheating and going unstable," Rotor added. I
couldn't get the power stone out and..."
     "You mean that stone thingie is still in there?"
     "Of course, we...."
     "Chill, guys." And before anyone could say or do anything,
Sonic took off toward Uncle Chuck's.
     "What are we to be doing?"
     "What CAN we do, Antoine?" Sally asked. "Sonic's gotten too
fast for...."
     Anything else Sally might have said was drowned out by a
deafening roar as the power ring unit exploded. In moments, the
home of Sir Charles Hedgehog was engulfed in flames. The
children stared at it silently.
     "Sonic?" Tails said in a hesitant voice.
     "That's my name, don't wear it out!"
     The children turned. There standing behind them, the power
stone on the ground at his feet, was Sonic. Tails yelped and
threw his arms around Sonic's neck.
     "Sonic!? How did you...?"
     "No biggie, Sal. I just yanked it out of there real fast.
And from now on, "fast" is my middle name!"
     "This is what I was to be saying," Antoine sputtered, "about
your unresponsibility and your utter fuelishness and your...."
     Antoine never got to finish his sentence as Sally touched
him on the shoulder. For now they could all see that Sonic's
demeanor had changed. He might have been careless when it came
to putting his life on the line, but it was a more subdued Sonic
who watched his Uncle Chuck's house -- the only home he had ever
known before Knothole -- being consumed by fire. They watched
for several silent seconds.
     "Come on," Sonic said quietly. "Let's go home."

     The children were subdued and apprehensive as they entered
the Great Forest. But the farther they made their way, the
louder and more animatedly they talked about what they had just
done. All except Tails who quickly succumbed to fatigue. Sonic
carried the cub in his arms the rest of the way back to Knothole.
     They also speculated as to what would happen to them if
Rosie or Julayla ever found out. They each thought that they
would be severely punished if either of the grown-ups found out
about their experience, but they also all agreed that any
punishment would be totally worth it.
     It was about two hours before dawn as the children neared
Knothole. As they recognized that they were getting closer to
Knothole, the children fell silent. Their luck had held in that
they were able to get away undetected. If they could just get
back and into bed before Rosie or Julayla learned of it, they
would be home free.
     They edged toward the clearing. So far, so good: there were
no lights on in any of the cabins. The children all made their
way into the nearest cabin, which was Sonic's and Tails'.
     "How's Tails doing, Sonic?" Sally whispered.
     "The big guy's still asleep."
     "Ah can't see a thing, Sal. Think we can take a chance on
lightin' a candle?"
     No sooner had she whispered these words than there was a
hiss and a burst of light as someone at the far end of the room
struck a match. The children froze as its light momentarily
dimmed, then the light grew stronger as someone had lit a candle
with it. That someone was Julayla. She calmly blew out the
match; the children each caught the smell of burnt sulfur.
Julayla stood up.
     "Julayla, I..." Sally began. Julayla raised her hand.
     "There'll be time enough for talk in the morning," she said
quietly, as she took the sleeping Tails in her arms and began
putting him to bed. Rotor, Antoine and the girls silently
drifted away. Sonic wanted to say something to Julayla, but
couldn't. Julayla didn't say anything to Sonic as she let the
cabin. That silent reproach hurt Sonic almost as much as
watching his old home go up in flames.

                                Chapter 12

     Despite the early hour at which the children had gone to
bed, nobody slept in that morning. They all gathered in front of
the dining hall but didn't go in, except for Tails. He was as
buoyant as ever as he raced from his hut. He even flew half
the distance to the dining hall, since he figured that the secret
was out.
     "Well, SOMEONE's in a good mood," Bunnie observed gloomily.
     "What to you think they'll do to us?" Rotor asked.
     "I don't know," Sally said.
     "Maybe it won't be so bad," Sonic suggested.
     "Right, Sonic," Sally shot back, "we only broke every rule
in the book and then some! Well, let's get this over with," she
added as she walked toward the door.
     As they entered the dining hall, Tails was already seated at
a table with Julayla. Rotor volunteered to walk as close to
their table as possible, in order to hear what was being said.
He heard Tails happily recounting the events of the previous
evening in one long run-on sentence:
     "...and then Sonic seen us when he came outside and Sally
said for him to run so he runned away but real real fast and...."
     "So, how is it?" Bunnie asked.
     "It's bad, guys," Rotor said as he sat down at the table
with the others. "I was listening to Tails just now. He's
telling Julayla everything that happened last night."
     "How's Julayla taking it?" Sally asked.
     "Tails was making all kinds of grammatical errors, but
Julayla didn't even stop and correct him once!" He put his head
in his hands. "That's it: we're toast!"
     "How are you to be thinking of food at the time like this?"
     Sally was in no mood to say anything to Antoine just then,
because they saw Julayla walking toward them.
     "Miles has told me what happened last night. Does anyone
wish to add anything?"
     "I do," Sally said, her head bowed. "We should have trusted
you, and told you and Rosie that Tails was missing."
     "But Sal," Sonic immediately said, "they'd have grounded us
and we wouldn't have gotten Tails back."
     "Perhaps, perhaps not," Julayla said calmly. "But now
you'll never know, will you?"
     This was enough to overwhelm Sonic's attempt at argument.
While he and the other children contemplated this reply, Julayla
went to the side cupboard where the school supplies were kept.
She returned with paper and writing instruments. Sonic and the
others anticipated that they'd each have to write something long
and chastening one hundred times. Just for starters. As the
children passed the materials around to each other, Julayla began
unfolding large old documents: they were maps of Mobotropolis.
     "I want each of you to study the maps that I've spread out
on the table. Write out any changes in the city that you
noticed last night. Be as detailed as possible. You'll probably
want to compare notes with each other."
     "What kind of crazy punishment is THIS?" Sonic whispered to
     "This is not your punishment, Sonic. You've already brought
a very severe punishment upon yourselves. Until yesterday,
Robotnik had probably forgotten all about you; today, he knows
better and you've given him a reason to look for you. Yesterday
you were children playing a game; as of today, you are in a war.
There is no worse punishment that I or anyone else could possibly
     The children looked at each other silently. Bunnie looked
at Sally and silently mouthed the word "war."
     "It'll be OK, Bunnie, as long as we work together," she said
softly. Then, in a louder voice she spoke to the others, "OK,
where did the trash heap begin? We know that it covered all of
the playground where this park used to be...."
     "Sally," Julayla added, "your afternoon lessons will be held
in my hut."

     The children waited with anticipation around the pool just
outside Knothole. Everyone, that is, except Rotor, who was
somewhere under the water.
     With the exception of Rotor, none of the children
particularly cared for the water. They could swim if they had
to, but there were more at home on the land. Especially Sonic,
who couldn't swim a stroke.
     Rotor suddenly broke the surface, getting a breath of air.
The others shook the water from themselves.
     "Stone's in, everybody! The machine started right up! If
it's the same as the machine in Uncle Chuck's workshop it should
be producing a power ring any time now."
     As the other children gathered as close to the edge of the
pool as they dared, Julayla touched Sally on the shoulder. The
two of them moved away from the group and walked toward Julayla's
     Once inside, Julayla began writing something on a scrap of
paper which she then handed to Sally.
     "Commit this to memory. When you have done so, burn it.
Leave no trace."
     "Why? What is this?"
     "It is a list of four settlements of refugees from
Mobotropolis located in various parts of the Great Forest. These
aren't their true locations: only the locations of drop sites
where we leave the messages by which we communicate with each
other. We wanted to keep from jeopardizing all of the
settlements, so we devised this system. It's a good thing we
did; one settlement, Birchwood, was discovered by SWATbots the
other day and its inhabitants scattered."
     "There are others!? But why...?"
     "Why were you not told? None knew of the existence of the
other camps except for one member of each, and even they did not
know the precise location of the others."
     "But what were they doing?"
     "Surviving. Living in hiding. Living in fear. And
     "Waiting for what?"
     "Waiting for WHOM is more like it. They have no one to
guide them, no one to formulate strategy and carry it out. I
knew that the day would come when there would be a sign, a sign
that we can begin to hope again. A sign that the time had come
to begin resisting Robotnik. Your raid on Robotropolis last
night was reckless and uncoordinated, but it was also the sign
that I and the others had been waiting for. It was the sign that
we finally have a leader amongst us."
     Julayla walked over to Sally and placed her hands on the
girl's shoulders. Things got very still and cold inside the hut.
     Suddenly they heard the sound of cheering outside. The
machinery at the bottom of the pool had indeed produced a power
ring. With ring in hand, Sonic was tearing up the turf of
Knothole. He was just a blur as he streaked around and between
the buildings. And as he ran, the other children began chanting
his name: "So-NIC! So-NIC! So-NIC! So-NIC!"
     Sally and Julayla watched Sonic's dashing about. Then Sally
spoke, with a startling bitterness in her voice: "Yes, you've got
your leader...." She said no more, choked back a sob, then ran
from the hut. She ran across Sonic's path, and the sight managed
to bring the hedgehog to a halt.
     "Chill, guys," he said to the others, "I'll be right back."
     Sonic walked around the corner of a hut. He saw Sally
seated on a log, her face buried in her hands and her shoulders
heaving. He quietly sat down a little way from her.
     Sally stopped crying and tried to adopt a formal appearance.
"Tired of your adoring fans already?" she asked sarcastically.
     "Hey, Sal, you got too much class for that kind of a cheap
     "I'm sorry," she sniffled. "I...I guess I'm just scared."
     "Scared of what?"
     "Sonic, everything's changed now! Julayla expects me to
start acting like some kind of leader...and I don't know if I
     "What're you talking about, Sal? We found Tails, got Uncle
Chuck's power ring machine working, AND got in and out of
Robotropolis in one piece! And we did it as a team, thanks to
you. All I did was run fast. You're a GREAT leader!"
     "But will the other Mobians feel that way?"
     "Say what?" So Sally told Sonic about the other camps
hidden in the Great Forest.
     "Sonic we're talking about grown-ups here! Even if I am the
heir to the throne, I'm still just a kid. Do you really think
any grown-up would take orders from a ten-year-old girl?"
     "I would."
     Sonic said it so simply and sincerely that it surprised both
of them. For several moments all the two of them could do was
look at each other. For Sonic, it was as if he were looking at
someone he'd never known before. His hand slowly reached over
and took hold of hers...
     Suddenly the stillness of the moment was broken by a chorus
of hoots and whistles. Bunnie, Rotor, Antoine and Tails were
looking at them from around the corner of one of the huts.
     "Aw, man! Knock it off, you guys!"
     Sonic's face grew bright red, and Sally adopted that studied
indifference which children sometimes mistake for maturity. And
then the other four children began a traditional Mobian chant.
It was a chant that further embarrassed Sonic and annoyed Sally,
though there was a secret part of her that was glad to hear it.
It began:
     "Sonic and Sally sittin' in a tree...."

                                  THE END
Received on Wed Sep 20 1995 - 17:16:56 PDT

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