Capture The Flag 4/6

From: Dan Drazen <>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 16:27:50 -0400 (EDT)

                                 Chapter 7

     There had once been only a narrow wooded strip between the
place where the Great Forest and the city of Mobotropolis met.
Only a portion of the strip remained; the rest had been cleared and
just beyond that clearing were acres of garbage. The children
stood in the shadows of the trees at the edge of the wood. Ahead
of them the once-beautiful city of Mobotropolis was lit by electric
lamps that cut unnaturally through the polluted air.
     "Sally, girl, this is just awful!" Bunnie whispered.
     "I know, Bunnie. Robotnik's ruined the whole city."
     "I'm talkin' 'bout my ears--the stuff in the air's makin'
'em wilt!"
     "They'll be OK, Bunnie, but Tails is what matters now."
     "How come it's so warm, Sally?" Rotor asked. "It was cooler
in the forest."
     "All the pollution in the air must be trapping the heat from
the city. We'd better leave our cloaks here; besides, they might
get in the way. OK, Sonic, how do we get to Uncle Chuck's?"
     "How should I know?"
     "You said you knew the way!"
     "Sal, look around! Too much has changed! I always used to
know my way to Uncle Chuck's from the playground in the park.
I'd climb to the top of the slide in the park, and I could see
Uncle Chuck's house from there. With all this garbage here I don't
think I can even FIND the park!"
     "We can and we will, Sonic. For Tails' sake. Now come on,
we've got to try and find it."
     The children walked cautiously over and around mountains of
refuse for about ten minutes. Finally, Sally stopped.
     "What's up, Sal?"
     "I don't know where we are, Sonic. I thought we'd be in the
park's playground by now, but I don't see it anywhere."
     "You mean we're lost?"
     "Not yet, Bunnie; I just need to get my bearings somehow.
Just give me a minute to think."
     "What if we ain't got a minute, Sally-girl? Them SWATbots
could be on their way here right now!"
     But Sally was already studying the landscape. She started
to walk toward the city, hesitated, then looked to her feet.
Kneeling, she began to clear away the debris. The others gather
round her.
     "What's up, Sal?" Sonic asked.
     "This pipe, with what looks like some kind of clamps on it.
I think I should know what this is."
     "What're you talkin' about?"
     "Julayla told me to remember, even the smallest things about
Mobotropolis. Help me clear off this pipe."
     The children did. Soon, the top of the pipe was exposed.
     "Hmmm. There are six clamps of some kind. That could also
mean...Oh my gosh!"
     "Sal, what is it?"
     "Sonic, don't you see what this is?" Sally asked excitedly.
     "This's the top of the swing set!"
     "Come again?"
     "The swing set! Remember how it had three swings on it.
That meant it had six chains holding the seats. These clamps
must be the ones that held the chains in place!"
     "I was gonna say that."
     "Then the park...." Rotor began.
     "Exactly. We've been right all along. The park is here,
under all this garbage."
     The children were silent for a moment.
     "Man, this is the pits!" Rotor said. "It's bad enough
Robotnik had to roboticize everybody, but then he buries the
playground under tons of garbage!"
     Bunnie started crying: "I want to go home!"
     "Bunnie," Sally said gently but firmly as she grabbed her
friend by the shoulders, "you ARE home. This city, this whole
world, used to BE our home! And one of these days we're going to
take it back!"
     "Really?" she sniffled.
     "Really. But right now we've got work to do. Now if this
is the swing set, then the slide should be somewhere over there!"
     Sally ran off to her left, the others following closely.
She began scratching at the garbage heap again.
     "What're we lookin' for, Sally-girl?"
     "The top of the slide: two curving metal tubes." The others
began scrounging as well. In less than a minute:
     "Found 'em!"
     Rotor had indeed found the handrails of the disused slide.
Sally dug some more until she uncovered the well-worn metal plate
that was the top of the slide.
     "OK, Sonic. Stand here and close your eyes."
     "Then what?"
     "Then see if you can see Uncle Chuck's house."
     "With my eyes closed?"
     "In your mind, with your heart, your imagination! Now come
on, we don't have all night!"
     Sonic was taller than he had been the last time he was on
the slide, and he had to bend his knees slightly to take hold of
the railings. Once he did, however, it all flooded over him. He
no sooner closed his eyes and held onto the railing than he
gasped, opened his eyes, raised his arm and pointed ahead of him.
     "That's the way to Uncle Chuck's."
     Ahead of them, just beyond where the trash stopped, was a
block of modest homes, homes long deserted. Some of them were
already partially buried by the garbage. "Which one is it?"
Sally asked.
     "That one: fourth from the corner, facing the next street."
     "Great work, Sonic! Let's go." The children began walking
toward the houses.
     "Sal, it was like I really COULD see it! That was way past
cool! But what if Tails isn't there?"
     That was the one thing Sally hadn't allowed herself to think
about. "Let's just search your Uncle Chuck's house first," was
all she said.

                                 Chapter 8

     The modest house which had once been the home and workshop
of Sir Charles Hedgehog was deserted. Unlike the other houses,
it showed signs of having been thoroughly ransacked. The door
appeared to have been torn off its hinges, and almost every window
had been smashed. Ducking down an alley, the children made their
way to the small workshop attached to the back of the house.
     The inside of the workshop resembled the garbage dump the
children had just left. Papers and components littered the floor.
Dust and grit lay heavy on smashed glass and scattered pieces of
     "Oh my gosh," Sally whispered, "this place looks like someone
fought a war in here!"
     "It is looking like the SWATbots, they destructioned
     "Looks like they haven't been back since. Maybe they'll leave
us in peace while we look for...Are you OK, Sonic?"
     "Back off! It's just...dusty in here, that's all."
     It WAS dusty inside the workshop, but Sally didn't see any
of the others rubbing their eyes the way she saw Sonic rubbing
his. She backed off.
     "What is your planning, Princess?"
     "We can't call out for Tails; the SWATbots might hear us.
Look at the floor and see if you can find any footprints; it so
dusty in here he's bound to have left some if he came this way."
     "Got it, Sal. Rotor, you and me will check out the store
     Sonic and Rotor made their way to a room just off the
workshop. It may have been a storeroom but it was no mere closet;
it was at least half the size of the workshop. Mechanical
components lay just about everywhere.
     "Oh, wow! Look at this capacitor unit! Sonic, your Uncle
Chuck had some great stuff!!"
     "This is all junk, Rotor!"
     "Not after I get through with it. I gotta take this back
with us!"
     "That stuff hasn't worked in who knows how long."
     "C'mon, Sonic. I've fixed TOASTERS that were in worse shape
than this!"
     "Worry about your toasters later, man, right now we gotta
look for Tails!"
     "OK, Sonic, OK. But why do I get the feeling I've seen THIS
thing before?" Rotor wondered out loud as he looked at a large
box-like mechanism in the center of the room.
     "Because it is looking like every other contraptionation you
have builded in our hut," Antoine said pointedly. He had found no
trace of Tails and had gone to the store room to tell Rotor and
Sonic. Sally and Bunnie were right behind him.
     "I don't think so, Ant. There's just something...." At a
loss for words, Rotor tapped the side of the machine. Immediately,
there was another sound, one that brought all other sound and
movement to a halt:
     "Sonic? Where are you?"
     It was Tails.
     "Yeah, it's me! Where are you, big guy?"
     "I felled in here. I can't find my way out."
     "Hang on, honey," Sally said, as she felt her heart start
beating again, "we'll find the door. How did you get in there?"
     "I finded the place just like Sonic's map said, but I
couldn't find where the chili dogs were. So I opened the door
and looked in here, but it closed and I can't open it. I guess I
felled asleep."
     "OK, Tails, where was the door?"
     "On this side."
     "Tap on the side for me."
     In a second the others heard Tails tapping on the casing.
     "Rotor, can you get inside there?"
     "Give me a second to...wait, I think this is an access
plate. If I can find where to push..."
     The top of the plate moved in toward the inside of the
machine. The foot of the plate was apparently hinged, and a
spring at the top was what must have trapped Tails inside and
prevented him from opening it.
     "You OK, Tails?" Sonic asked.
     "Uh-huh. But I can't get out."
     "Tails," Sally called to him, "you'll have to move away from
the plate."
     "The what?"
     "The...the thing that Rotor's pushing on."
     "It's too tight!"
     "Tails, you have to try!"
     "I can't hold this open by myself. The spring's too tight! Antoine,
get over here and lean."
     "Sonic, can you reach around them and pull Tails out of
     "I'll try, Sal."
     Rotor and Antoine pressed against the access plate. It
gave, but at the same time they heard a small yelp from inside
the machine.
     "You OK, Tails?" Sonic called out.
     "The door bit me!"
     "Stand to the side of the door, honey," Sally called to him,
"as far as you can go."
     After a second, Rotor and Antoine resumed pushing. Then, in
the room's dim light, Sally made out a shape emerging from the
machine: a waving hand.
     "I see you, Tails! Hang in there. Sonic, grab on!"
     It took about a minute more of pushing and fidgeting, of
grabbing and having to let go, but eventually Tails was out of
the machine with Sonic's arms around him. Freed of his prison, he
started to whimper.
     "Hey, everything's cool, big guy. We got you out of there."
     "He must have leaned against that access plate just enough
to fall inside," Sally guessed. She then cradled the cub's face
in her hands. "But I'm just so glad we found...." She paused.
     "What's up, Sal?"
     "Tails, where's the map Sonic gave you last night?"
     "Right here," he said, holding up a crumpled piece of paper.
     "Tails, honey, we have to get rid of it right now."
     "But it's mine! Sonic made it for me!"
     "Better do what she says, little bro, or else Robotnik might
find it. For me, OK?" Sonic added as Tails showed signs of
     "Well, OK," Tails said as he handed Sally the paper.
     "Now let's burn this before.... Oh no."
     "Now what?"
     "Sonic, this isn't your map. Tails must have dropped it
inside the machine and picked this up instead."
     "But what is it?"
     "I don't know; it's too dark to read. Rotor and Antoine,
see if you can feel around for that map inside the machine. The
rest of us will be in the kitchen; maybe we can find some matches
in there."
     "Here we are going against," Antoine sighed.
     While Rotor and Antoine once more did battle with the access
plate, the others followed Sonic into the kitchen of Uncle
Chuck's house. The room appeared orderly, though dusty.
     "Looks like they didn't bother searching this room," Sally
observed. "Robotnik must have figured that the good stuff was in
the workshop."
     "Yeah, well he never tasted one of Uncle Chuck's...."
     "Sonic, DON'T say it!"
     "What's the matter, you don't like chili dogs?"
     "No, it's just that I haven't had anything to eat since
breakfast and I'm starving!"
     "Well, somethin' 'round here's killin' MAH appetite!" Bunnie
said, her nose wrinkling. "What in the hoo-ha IS that?"
     "Got the map, Sonic!" Rotor said as he walked into the
kitchen. Antoine followed close behind, muttering and brushing
the dirt from his coat.
     "Hey, Sal, I found a candle and some matches in this
     "Don't light it yet, Sonic! Make sure the window shades are
down; we don't want to be seen." After a few seconds of pulling
down what was left of the shades, Sally dared to light the
     "OK, here's the map. First things first, we'd better burn
this. What's that other piece of paper, Sonic?"
     There was a long pause.
     "I don't know, but it's got Uncle Chuck's writing on it."
Sonic handed the paper to Sally.
     "Looks like random notes:
     "'Extra onions?'" Rotor asked.
     "Yeah, that's how Uncle Chuck liked his chil...his you-know-
whats: with extra onions."
     "THAT'S what Ah'm smellin'!"
     "What, Bunnie?"
     The children did a quick search of the kitchen and located
several bins, one of which was labeled ONIONS. Sally opened it.
     "EEEEEEEEEWW! Close it, Sally girl!" Immediately Sally
replaced the lid.
     "Man, I didn't know ANYTHING could smell THAT bad!"
     "We've got to get rid of those things; they're rotten!"
     Using a ruler from the workshop, Sally scooped out the
remains of a couple of thoroughly rotted onions. She pitched
them out of a broken window.
     "Well," Sonic said, "that takes care of the bad ones. At
least the other onions in the bin looked OK."
     "Sonic," Sally asked, "when's the last time you heard of
onions staying fresh for five years?"
     The children looked at each other in silence, then started
grabbing at the onions in the bin.
     "Sacre bleu cheeze. They are the *plastique*!"
     "I don't get it, Sal. Why would Uncle Chuck keep plastic
onions in this bin?"
     "Maybe there's something about the bin itself. Help me
empty it."
     In a matter of seconds the children had dumped all the
plastic onions onto the floor.
     "Now what, Sal?"
     "Let me think." She spent several seconds looking into the
empty bin. She then opened the bin next to it, one marked
POTATOES. It was empty as well.
     "Looks like we struck out, Sal."
     "Not yet. Let me try something."
     Sally reached into the onion bin until her palm rested flat
on the bottom. The top of the bin went just past her elbow.
When she tried the same thing with the potato bin, however, the
top of the bin came up almost to her armpit.
     "I knew it! This bin must have a false bottom! Can you get
me a knife?" Sonic opened a drawer and produced a long kitchen
knife. Sally began using it on the edge of the bottom of the
bin. It slid between the bottom and the side wall easily, and
Sally worked the bottom of the bin loose.
     The children backed away in awe. Underneath the false
bottom lay a large yellow, faceted stone, about as big as Sally's
head. It appeared to glow from within.
     "Oh my gosh! This looks like a power stone."
     "A what?"
     "A power stone. It's a source of tremendous energy. Looks
like this was where Uncle Chuck kept it hidden. That may be what
Uncle Chuck's note meant by 'SECURE POWER SOURCE.' If Robotnik
had gotten hold of this...."
     "So what do we do, take it back to Knothole?"
     "You know, Sally," Rotor said, "I think that stone will fit
into the top of that machine in the storeroom."
     "Rotor, this is no time to experiment; we've got to get out
of here!"
     "But what if that contraption was something important? What
if it was something that could be used against Robotnik?"
     "Like what?"
     "Like...I don't know; we have to turn it on."
     "Look, we'll see if the stone fits; then we'll HAVE to
     The stone, though sizable, was surprisingly light in weight.
Rotor carried it back into the storeroom, with the others following
     "Why are you giving to him this indulgence?" Antoine
whispered to Sally.
     "I don't know; just a feeling I have. I think this thing IS
important, somehow."
     Rotor guessed correctly that an aperture near the top of the
machine would accommodate the stone. After fitting it in, Rotor
didn't even bother saying anything to Sally, but simply turned on
what appeared to be the power switch.
     At first nothing happened. Then a low humming filled the
air. Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash as a metallic ring,
shining like gold and light, shot up from the top of the machine,
ricochetted off the ceiling, and landed with a clang at Sonic's
feet. Rotor reached over and turned off the power switch. At
the same time something else fell to the ground, something that
had been ejected from the machine just behind the ring. Sally
picked it up.
     "Sonic, it's an envelope. With your name on it!"
     "Were you hearing that?" Antoine whispered.
     "Come on, 'Twan, let's go see if this house is haunted,"
Bunnie teased.
     "That is not a thing of which to be funny."
     "Maybe you two had better check it out; see if anyone's
coming." Antoine and Bunnie reluctantly left the room.
     "Be careful!" Sally whispered after them.
     "What's this thing?" Tails asked as he reached for the ring.
     "Don't touch that, Tails!" Sally cautioned. "We don't know
WHAT it is yet."
     "Come on, honey, let's see where Antoine and Bunnie went
to," Sally said as she guided Tails out of the room.
     Sonic opened the envelope and looked at the letter inside by the
light of the power stone. "Hey, Rotor, this is from Uncle Chuck!"
     "Uh, right. Maybe I'd better see what the others are
doing," Rotor said as he walked out of the room, figuring that
Sonic would want to read the letter in private. Sonic began to

                                        UNCLE CHUCK."

     "Yeah," Sonic thought as he wiped away the tears that had
built up, "with extra onions."
     Sonic looked at the ring at his feet. It gave off a strange
glow but didn't look all that remarkable. He bent down to pick
it up.
     As soon as he did, he felt something -- almost like a wave
of some sort -- shoot through him. It was as if something inside
the power ring had found its way into every cell of his body at
once. It was a sensation he'd never felt before, and it was
     "Cool!" He had to show this to the others. Holding onto
the ring, he walked through to where the others had gone. He
then noticed that the front door was open. Through the door, he
could see Sally and Tails with their backs to him. They appeared
to be standing on the sidewalk in front of the house. He stepped
through the door into the night.
     "Hey, guys! Check this...."
     He stopped. He could now see that the others stood huddled
in a small group on the sidewalk, surrounded by four SWATbots
with blasters at the ready. Sonic could sense another SWATbot
just behind him.
Received on Wed Sep 20 1995 - 17:30:34 PDT

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