A Matter Of Trust: 3/3

From: Dan Drazen <drazen_at_andrews.edu>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 13:02:50 -0500 (EST)

     Knothole apeared empty when they arrived, for everyone was
inside fast asleep. Sonic skidded to a halt. He didn't dare let
go of Sally, who was still trembling like a leaf in his arms.
"Hey! Somebody! Anybody! It's Sally! She needs help!!"
     "We need help!"
     "Assistance! Assistance!"
     Light came on in some of the huts and freedom fighters came
running. A crowd gathered around Sally, who seemed to be unaware
of what was going on around her; she was aware only of her pain.
Finally, Bookshire Draftwood managed to push his way through the
crowd. "Get back!" he yelled. "Give her some room! Sonic, what
     "It happened all of a sudden. We were walking away from the
badger village when it hit her...WHATEVER it is!"
     "She's holding her stomach. What did she eat when she was
     "Nothing that Ant and Sonic and me didn't have as well,"
Bunnie answered.
     "OK, so it's probably not food poisoning. What else
     "Sal got in a fight with a badger."
     "What kind of fight?" So Sonic gave a short account of the
wrestling match. When he spoke of the use of the Claw, however,
Bookshire became even more interested.
     "Did you notice if the spikes on the Claw were coated with
     "Yeah, with some kind of water."
     "I was afraid of that. Sonic, Rotor, Bunnie, Antoine,
you'll have to hold down Sally's limbs. If I'm right...."
     The four of them dropped to their knees, pinning Sally's
arms and legs to the ground. Bookshire called for someone to
bring a light, and Rotor handed him a flashlight from his
toolbelt. Then the raccoon began gently parting the fur on
Sally's belly.
     Immediately Sally started screaming at the top of her lungs,
as if she were in the worst agony of her life. Bunnie was so
frightened she was on the verge of crying herself.
     Finally, Bookshire found what he was looking for: three
superficial scratches on Sally's abdomen, each one not more than
an inch or two in length. The skin around them was a fiery red
and blistered.
     "I thought so. We've got to get her to the pool!"
     The pool where the power ring generator was located was fed
by several streams. The largest and most powerful stream
cascaded over rocks rounded to smoothness by years of wear. It
was to this point above the pool that Sally was taken.
     On Bookshire's orders, Sally was laid in the stream so that
her body bore the full brunt of the stream. She gasped for
breath for the first two minutes as only her head remained above
the cold water.
     "Easy, Princess," Bookshire said gently, "try to slow your
breathing. You don't need to hyperventilate." Gradually her
breathing eased.
     "Man, what was THAT all about?" Sonic asked.
     "When you told me that they poured some sort of liquid on
the Claw, that was the clue. The badgers call that liquid 'fire
water.' It's distilled from a mixture of woodland leaves and
berries and yields a powerful neurotoxin...."
     "Hey, you're starting to sound like Nicole!"
     "Is she gonna be all right, Booker?"
     "She'll be OK, Bunnie, but she'll have to stay in the stream
until we're sure that the Fire Water under her skin has been
diluted or flushed away. That could take a day or two. There's
no known counteragent and no medicine strong enough to overcome
the pain of the fire water."
     "It's not like a...poison or anything, is it?"
     "No, it's used to disable an opponent by distracting him
with pain. It's not powerful enough to kill you, but just
powerful enough to make you WISH that you were dead. It's
probably not all that strong if you're a badger."
     "Well after seein' what they did to Sally, all Ah can say is
Ah'm glad Ah ain't!"
     "Bunnie, you'd better stay with Sally until her condition
     "Try keepin' me away, Booker!"

     Bunnie didn't sleep the rest of that night as she kept watch
over Sally as she lay in the stream. Sally's body might have
adjusted to the cold water, but her mind was still overshadowed
by pain. Occasionally Sally would cry out after moving too much,
but she would soon settle back down again. Finally, toward
morning, Sally was worn out from her physical ordeal, and the
pain from the fire water had subsided enough to allow her to
drift off to sleep. Even then, Bunnie kept watch over her
friend. It was midday when Sally awoke.
     "Bunnie, where am I?" she murmured.
     "Doctor's orders, Sally-girl. Booker wants you to stay here
until that fire water they put on the Claw is out of your system.
How you feelin'?"
     "Like Robotnik's been sitting on me. I also feel incredibly
stupid. How could I let Sophocles get to me like that?"
     "Girl, Ah'd have done the same if anybody'd trash-talked
about MAH kin like that. Ah'm just glad to have you back."
     For the rest of the day, the two spent their time in
conversation. So much of their lives was taken up in the fight
against Robotnik that time to simply socialize was a luxury they
couldn't always afford. Bookshire was their only other visitor,
for he had cautioned the others to leave Sally alone until she
was well enough to return to Knothole on her own.
     By the next morning, Sally was looking and sounding like
her old self. Bookshire told them that Sally had apparently
weathered the storm and could return to Knothole. Sally stiffly
rose up out of the water, climbed to the bank where Bunnie had
left Sally's boots and vest, shook herself as dry as she could,
then lay down on a flat rock in the sunlight to finish drying
off. Sally began to chuckle.
     "What're you laughin' at, Sally-girl?"
     "I was just remembering the last time I was here. It must
have been...four summers ago, wasn't it?"
     "Yeah, Ah remember. That had to be the hottest summer
Mobius ever had!"
     "I remember feeling so miserable in the heat, and I knew
that my fur wasn't going to get any thinner. Finally I couldn't
stand it any more and I came up here to lay down in the water.
I'm not a water animal myself, but even I have to admit that it
felt so good just to lie here and be out of the heat! It was so
comfortable I must have drifted off to sleep.
     "The next thing I knew, Sonic and Tails came by to collect
the day's power ring. I was so startled when Tails said 'Hi!' I
jumped up out of the water. And then I saw Sonic staring at me
like he'd never seen me before. Then I realized why: my fur--or
what was left of it--was clinging to me like another skin. I've
never been so embarrassed in my life!"
     "Ah guess poor Tails was too young to appreciate what he was
     "What about Sonic? He couldn't look me in the eye for three
days after that!" And both Sally and Bunnie dissolved into
     "Oh, Bunnie," Sally said at last, "I needed a good laugh!"
     "After what them badgers put you through, Ah'd need one,
     "I don't get it, though. I've been going over the whole
situation with the Clan Wars in my mind. There have been clashes
in the past and misunderstandings, but there have also been
individual badgers who have been fiercely loyal to the Royal
House and who served it with honor, even to the death. But even
during the Clan Wars, no badger ever went so far as to suggest
that the monarchy be dissolved! I just can't get over Sophocles'
saying that the Acorn Throne was corrupted and might as well be
smashed. Something about his words just doesn't sound right, but
I can't figure out what."
     "Well, like Sugar-hog said, it's all ancient history."
     "By the way, where IS Sonic?"

     Sonic was walking at a slow pace. That in itself was a
novelty. But he didn't feel like running.
     He was walking back toward the clearing on the edge of the
Great Forest where he had met with Spartacus. He remembered how
happy he was to be reunited with his childhood friend; then he
remembered how everything had gone sour in the badger camp. Even
if the news was good and Sally was going to recover, Sonic still
couldn't understand why things had gone so wrong.
     He approached the clearing, so depressed that he didn't look
to see if anyone was in there. He stopped short, because someone
was in there. It was Spartacus, seated on the trunk of a fallen
     "Spartacus? What're YOU doing here?"
     "Sonic, I was hoping you'd come. Is your friend Sally all
     "Yeah, she's gonna be OK. How long you been here?"
     "Since yesterday morning."
     "Say what!?"
     "Sonic, I feel just awful about what happened. I had no
idea that Sophocles had become so inflexible."
     "Yeah, well, I didn't know Sally would get in the ring with
your brother. How's he doing?"
     "He's fine. He told me that he respected your friends'
abilities in combat."
     "He said that?"
     "No, what he said was: 'Too bad they're not badgers.'
That's the closest he's ever come to paying a non-badger a
     "Anyone else feel that way?" Spartacus' silence was all the
answer Sonic needed.
     "Here," Spartacus finally said, "give this to Sally when you
see her." With that, he handed Sonic a rough-woven canvas bag,
tied with string at the top. A paper tag hung from the end of
the string.
     "What's in this thing?"
     "I'd rather you give it to Sally as is."
     "Oh. OK." Sonic turned to go.
     "Yeah, what?"
     "I...I'm truly sorry."
     "Hey, it's cool. Later."

     Sonic arrived back at Knothole a short time later, but
nobody seemed to be interested. Instead, everyone was clustering
around Princess Sally, whom Bunnie had accompanied from the pool.
Even though Bunnie and Antoine had each answered dozens of
questions about the badgers and about the fight, everyone wanted
to hear about it from Sally. What she said wasn't exactly good
     "No, I don't think we can rely on the badgers of that clan
as freedom fighters. Not only do they live pretty much to
themselves, but their hatred of the House of Acorn appears to be
as deep as ever."
     "Yo, Sal!" Sonic called out. The crowd of Mobians
surrounding Sally parted and Sonic walked toward her. "You
feeling OK?"
     "Much better, thanks. Where have you been?"
     "I was talking with Spartacus in the clearing. He was
really bummed by what happened, and he said for me to give you
this." Sonic handed the bag to Sally. She spotted the paper tag
at the bag's neck. She tore it off and set the bag down on the
     "Sonic, how come there's no writing on this tag?"
     "What's in that bag, anyway?"
     "He didn't say."
     "Anyone else smell that?" Bookshire asked.
     "Yeah," Tails said. "What IS that?"
     Rotor sniffed the air. "Smells like...pine tar."
     "Pine tar?" Bookshire picked up the bag. He placed his
hand against it and immediately jerked it away.
     "Everybody back off! This thing's hot!"
     Everyone backed away. Everyone, that is, except Sonic.
Taking the bag from Bookshire, he bolted from the clearing,
returning two seconds later.
     "No problemo, guys. I pitched that thing into the Great
     Everyone started to congratulate Sonic, but Sally seemed
lost in thought. Then, borrowing a rangefinder from Rotor, she
ran toward a nearby tree.
     "Where do you think you're going?" Bookshire called after
     "You SAID I needed some exercise after all that time flat on
my back!" she called back as she began climbing. In a few
seconds she was lost from sight, only to reappear a few more
seconds later on her way down.
     "What was THAT all about, Sal?" Sonic asked.
     "We've got trouble, Sonic."
     "Hey, I ditched that bomb, remember?"
     "I wondered why we hadn't heard an explosion if that really
was a bomb, so I went up to have a look."
     "So what'ja see?"
     "I saw a huge column of black smoke rising from the Great
Swamp. I also saw two of Robotnik's hover units converging on
the site, and another two on the horizon.
     "Sonic, I don't think that bomb was meant to blow up and
harm anyone. I believe it was a smoke bomb, meant to betray our
position to Robotnik and to lead those hover units straight to
     This was sobering news to the residents of Knothole, for
whom the secrecy of their location was a tactical strength.
Sonic took the news hard. His expression went from shock to deep
hurt to boiling anger. "OK, THAT'S IT!!" he yelled, and tore off
into the woods without a word of warning. The others began to
pick themselves up off the ground, having been left in Sonic's
     "Oh my gosh," Sally said, "I've never seen Sonic so angry
about ANYTHING before!"
     "Ah'd hate to be those badgers when Sugar-hog gets there!"
     "I think Sonic's going to be the least of the badgers'
worries," Bookshire observed.
     "Why?" Sally asked.
     "Because if that smoke bomb was indeed Robotnik's idea, and
if Robotnik has four hover units loaded with SWATbots in the
area, those badgers are going to have some explaining to do."

     "INCOMPETENT!" Sophocles roared at Spartacus. "Your mission
     Sophocles stood in the center of the assembled badgers of
the clan. That morning, when Spartacus had returned without the
sack, the badger elder had issued a call to arms for all able-
bodies badgers of the clan. The call went through the clan like
a bolt of lightning. Weapons were gathered and sharpened,
anticipation ran high. But now two young scouts had reported
that the smoke column they had been sent to follow originated,
not in some village, but in the heart of the Great Swamp.
Sophocles didn't take the news well.
     "It failed!" he repeated. "How then are we to have our
revenge against those who sympathize with the House of Acorn?"
     "Revenge!?" Adonis spoke up, as all eyes turned to him.
"Revenge for what? They harmed no one here except myself, and
even then the damage was only to my pride. What cause have we to
fight them?"
     "Because they represent the House of Acorn. They are an
impediment to the rule of Mobius by its rightful overlord."
     "And just who is this rightful overlord, Sophocles?
     "I speak of...Ivo Robotnik."
     There were several seconds of stunned silence. That name
had never crossed the lips of Sophocles before. Adonis, baring
all his teeth in a snarl, picked up a nearby ax. "You withered
old traitor!" he yelled as he hurled the ax at the old badger.
     Sophocles, however, tossed aside the two younger badgers who
had been supporting him as if they were nothing. He caught the
ax in mid-flight before it could strike him. Then, with no
warning, he hurled it back at Adonis, where it struck him in the
chest. He was dead before he hit the ground.
     Diana began to scream, as did every other badger. Anyone
who could pick up a weapon did so and began to rush toward
Sophocles. It was a badger melee.
     But the melee was short-lived, for suddenly the woods
surrounding the badger encampment erupted with blaster fire.
SWATbots began emerging from the woods, shoulder to shoulder.
The melee ended as swiftly as it had started, with five more
badgers dead.
     Sophocles now strode to one of the SWATbots with a youthful
vigor the badgers had never seen before. The SWATbot carried a
communicator, and Sophocles began speaking into it: "Can you hear
me, Dr. Robotnik?"
     Those badgers close enough to Sophocles could hear
Robotnik's malevolent voice on the communicator: "Have you begun
the attack on Knothole yet?"
     "Negative. The smoke bomb was diverted to the Great Swamp,
and resistance to you among the badgers is still strong. I had
to order the SWATbots to attack the village. Your plan appears
to be infeasible."
     "BLAST IT!" Robotnik cursed, then spoke in a more measured
voice: "Never mind, then. Select the strongest of the badgers
and roboticize them; if they won't fight for me, they'll at least
slave for me."
     "And the others, Dr. Robotnik?"
     There was a pause. "Do you think I really care what happens
to the others?"
     "Understood, Sir."
     Handing the communicator back to the SWATbot, Sophocles
strode to Spartacus who, like Diana, was bent over the fallen
Adonis. He seized Spartacus by the throat and lifted him to his
     "Now you shall pay for your incompetence!"
     He released Spartacus, who was grabbed by two SWATbots.
Spartacus was too overcome by shock and grief to resist. The
SWATbots took him to the edge of the village, where a portable
roboticizer unit had been set up. They began to raise the glass
chamber to place Spartacus inside.
     Suddenly the glass shattered into a thousand shards as
something passed through it at incredible speed--something
indistinct excerpt for its color. It was a deep blue.
     Whatever it was didn't stop as it ricocheted off one SWATbot
after another with sufficient force to knock it to pieces. The
SWATbots found it impossible to target the object in order to
blast it. None of the badgers could follow it with their eyes.
     Finally, all of the SWATbots lay in pieces on the forest
floor. The blue blur came to a stop a few feet in front of
Sophocles. It was Sonic. Sophocles swiftly took up a nearby
battle-ax. Sonic simply fixed a stare filled with hate at
     "Take your best shot!"
     Sophocles raised the battle ax above his head. The instant
he did, however, Sonic went into spin mode and ran not just into
but through Sophocles' body. And now the badgers could see that
Sophocles was no badger, but a replicant--a mechanical likeness.
The body twitched and sparked and leaked hydraulic fluid onto the
ground. Sonic returned to the body, took the battle ax from
Sophocles, said: "This one's for Acorn!", cut off the replicant's
head and drop-kicked it into a nearby fire.
     The badgers were silent as Sonic looked around him. "Don't
everybody thank me at once!"
     He might as well have said: "Don't anybody thank me at all,"
for that's just what the badgers did. They paid no attention to
Sonic. Instead, they looked to another elder of the clan, named
     "We must leave this place. We will establish a new home in
the Great Forest. Let us be off. Leave no trace."
     Immediately, silently, the badgers began gathering their
weapons and their household goods, dismantling their lodges and
extinguishing their fires. Sonic couldn't believe it! He turned
to Spartacus.
     Spartacus' eyes--eyes full of anguish--met Sonic's. In his
hand, Spartacus held a small hatchet, its blade dulled with fresh
blood. And across his chest a fresh scar bled freely. Then, as
if there were nothing more to say, he bent down next to Diana and
helped to bury his brother.
     Sonic stayed in the clearing for the entire five minutes it
took for the badgers to break camp. Spartacus, with Diana
leaning on his arm, was the last to leave. He looked back at
Sonic as if to say something, then turned away. Sonic was left
alone, surrounded by pieces of SWATbots and by the graves of the
badger dead, buried where they had fallen.

     No sound could be heard inside the hut except for the
scratch of a pencil on paper. Sally was at work decoding a
message from Uncle Chuck. When she had finished, she took the
piece of paper and went outside. The first person she saw was
     "Do you know where Sonic is, Tails?"
     "Uh-huh. He's at the pond. You want me to get him?"
     "No, I want to talk to him myself. I just got a message
from Uncle Chuck."
     "You think it'll cheer him up?"
     "I hope so, honey."
     Sally found Sonic sitting by the pool, looking at nothing in
particular. Just as he'd been doing for most of the past seven
days, ever since he walked sullenly back into Knothole with his
account of the fight in the badger village. Sally sat down next
to him.
     "Sonic, I just received a reply to my message from Uncle
Chuck." Sonic continued staring at the pond, as if he hadn't
     "He says that according to the computer records he was able
to search, a badger answering the description of Sophocles was
apprehended by SWATbots three months ago. And he reports that
Robotnik had indeed prepared a replicant to take his place in the
     Sonic continued ignoring Sally. She seated herself directly
in front of him.
     "Sonic, this means that Robotnik fooled all of us, including
the badgers of the clan. He must have wanted to infiltrate the
clan, win them over by persuasion, and have the makings of an
army of roboticized badgers at his command. You broke up his
plan just in time."
     Sonic continued to ignore her as he simply sat and stared.
Sally realized that Sonic wasn't about to reply. She decided to
sit next to him. He'd talk when he was ready, which was a couple
of minutes later.
     "Sal, I...I can't figure out why. I thought we could be
friends again, like when we were kids. He must have known about
the smoke bomb. I...we were supposed to be friends. Why did he
do it?"
     "I don't know, Sonic. The Sophocles replicant probably
convinced him that what he was doing was for the good of the
     "C'mon, Sal, that's a bogus reason to do anything like...."
     "Like betray a friend?" Sonic nodded.
     "Maybe to us it is, but I think I know what he must have
been going through."
     "Oh, yeah? How?"
     "Remember, I grew up being told that I'd one day have to
make decisions that would affect all of Mobius. Even in
Knothole, Julayla wouldn't let me forget. Believe me, it's not
as easy as it looks. I don't think it was any easier for
Spartacus, either."
     "Get real, Sal! It's not the same thing."
     "When you get right down to it, it is. It all comes down to
making choices. And some are more difficult than others."
     "Yeah, well..."
     Sally got to her feet. "Come on, let's rejoin the others."
     Silently, Sonic got to his feet and began walking with
Sally back to Knothole.
     "Hey, Sal, you never told me you knew how to wrestle like
     In reply, Sally hooked her right arm around Sonic's left
arm, and swept his left leg out from under him with her right.
They both fell backwards onto the ground, but while Sonic was
still recovering from the surprise Sally sprang to her feet.
     "You never asked," she said. Then laughing like a
schoolgirl, she began running back toward Knothole.
     "Oh, so you want to play!" Sonic got to his feet and
prepared to run rings around the Princess.
     "Sonic! Sally!"
     It was Tails, heading toward them from Knothole. From the
tone of his voice, Sonic knew something was wrong.
     "What's up, big guy?"
     "The bridge. Hurry!" was all Tails said.
     Sonic didn't waste time with further questions, but sped
toward the bridge. When he got there, he stopped.
     A small cluster of freedom fighters stood near the end of
the bridge. On the other side across the river stood a stranger.
This was an alarming development, since Knothole was supposed to
be a secret.
     But the figure at the far end of the bridge just stood
there. And he wasn't a stranger to everyone there.
     It was Spartacus.
     To Sally, there was something intensely sad about him; he
looked smaller and more vulnerable than when she had seen him
before. He had two hatchets hanging from his belt and held a
battle ax in his hand, but the battle ax trailed behind him like
the tail of a wounded animal. In fact, that was the word that
flashed across Sally's mind as she looked at him: wounded.
     Sonic, however, bristled at the sight of him. Pushing his
way through the crowd of freedom fighters gathered at the near
side of the bridge--a discourtesy he had never shown before--he
strode across the bridge. Sally, sensing what was about to
happen, motioned for Bunnie to follow her back to her hut.
     "What do YOU want?" Sonic asked Spartacus. There was no
mistaking the contempt in his voice.
     In answer, Spartacus knelt on the ground before Sonic, a
gesture no badger would make to any other animal. "Your
     "You think you can get off that easy? You sold me and my
friends out to Robuttnik, or you TRIED to!"
     "I know; I don't deserve..."
     "What I deserve is the Fathead of the Year Award, for
thinking we were still friends."
     "Sonic, please...."
     "You KNEW there was a smoke bomb in that bag! You KNEW that
Robuttnik was looking for us! And you still acted like...like we
were still buds!" Sonic's voice began to choke up.
     "Yes, I admit I knew about the bomb, but..."
     "No 'buts.' Get out of here and go back to the rest of the
     "I can't."
     "What do you mean, you can't?"
     "I...I've renounced the clan."
     "What's this supposed to be, another scam?"
     "This is no trick, Sonic. I've renounced my ties to the
badgers of our clan."
     "And I suppose that made Diana real happy!" he said
     "It was for her sake that I did it. The clan elders were
preparing to denounce our family as sympathizers with the House
of Acorn. My self-imposed exile was the only way to prevent
     "Gimme a break!"
     "It's the truth!"
     "So now you found us. What're you gonna do, rat on us to
Robuttnik the first chance you get?"
     "How...how can I trust you anymore? I've got a whole
village full of people here I've come to trust. And if I thought
there was a chance of you betraying us one more time, I swear
     Sonic let the sentence go unfinished, not only because he
struggled with what he was going to say--that he would kill
Spartacus himself to keep him from betraying Knothole--but
because he noticed that Spartacus' expression had changed. He no
longer looked forlorn and helpless; now he looked like he had
just seen a ghost.
     Sonic turned around and followed Spartacus' gaze. The crowd
of freedom fighters gathered at the other side of the bridge
parted and Sally walked through them. But this was a Sally Sonic
had never seen before...or, if he had, it was only in his dreams.
She wore a long blue hooded robe lined with scarlet and
embroidered with gold thread. The wind caught the cape and
swirled it around, and Sonic could see that embroidered on the
back as well as over the heart was the symbol of the planet
Mobius: a serpent embowed about to bite its own tail. On her
head was a simple golden tiara. These were items that Sally
hadn't planned on wearing until her coronation, but she wore them
now with a gravity that filled everyone with awe.
     Sally approached the two, then brushed past Sonic as if he
weren't there. She looked hard at Spartacus and said nothing.
     "You mean you're...?" Spartacus began.
     "You are addressing Sally Alicia, Princess Royal of the
House of Acorn and heir to the throne of Mobius." It was the
formal language of the court.
     Spartacus was at a loss for words. "Princess, I...I didn't
     "Silence! You sought to deliver the Princess Royal into the
hand of our enemies. Your actions have been treasonous. How do
you plan to atone?"
     Spartacus said nothing. He reached to draw an axe from his
belt and several Mobians gasped. Yet Spartacus offered the axe,
handle first, to Sally, before kneeling on the ground before her
with head bowed low. He bared his neck in the process. Just as
suddenly, without saying a word, Sally raised the axe and brought
it down with a resounding thud...
     ...an inch from the badger's head.
     "Please get up," Sally said gently as she touched Spartacus'
shoulder. The badger lifted his head.
     "You were ready to give your life to prove your sincerity,
and I accept the offer. You have a home here."
     Spartacus rose to his feet. "If you wish it," Sally
continued, "we can get a message to the new badger settlement for
Diana, telling her that you are well and that you have joined our
fight against Robotnik. Your mother shouldn't have to mourn the
loss of both her sons."
     "Thank you," he whispered. "I only wish I knew of a way to
persuade the other badgers."
     "There's only one way: by fighting together against
Robotnik, we'll prove the elders wrong."
     They made their way toward Sonic, still standing dumbfounded
at the end of the bridge. "Until we can find you permament
quarters," Sally said, "you'll need to lodge with one of our most
experienced freedom fighters: Sonic the Hedgehog."
     "Uh, Sal, I don't think I..."
     "You'll learn!" Sally snapped. Without another word, she
strode back across the bridge, passed the stunned freedom
fighters who had gathered on the far side, entered her hut and
closed the door.
     "Quick," she said to Bunnie once she was inside, "tell me
what they're doing? I can't bear to look."
     "Well, neither of them are saying anything. They're just
kinda lookin' around. Now Sugar-hog is saying something Ah can't
make out, and Spartacus is sayin' somethin' back, and now Sonic
is saying something."
     "Is that it?"
     "Wait a minute. Now they're crossing the bridge.
     Sally sighed with relief and let herself lean backwards
against the door.
     "You wanna tell me what the hoo-ha you were doin' out
     "I remembered something I said to Sonic a while ago: that I
should have trusted his taste in friends. Something told me that
Sonic would never have befriended a badger who was an undying
enemy of the House of Acorn. I needed to know for myself, and to
demonstrate to Sonic, that that was so. So I put these on to
gauge Spartacus' true feelings."
     "Well, Ah'm just glad to see Sugar-hog not lookin' like he'd
lost his best friend."
     "He almost had. Now help me out of these things. I really
don't feel comfortable wearing them."
     "If you ask me, Sally-girl, they fit you perfect."

                                  THE END

Received on Tue Jan 30 1996 - 14:37:32 PST

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