~ Summary ~
~ Parts ~
~ Part 1 ~
"Ready!" he said, giving the thumbs up. The two were currently standing inside of a small general store that was run by Jazelle's family, and they had been asked to travel to the village of the Ice Clan of Kyanos to pick up some supplies. Levi adjusted the cuffs of his boots a bit, before walking towards the front door of the building, stepping out into the cold afternoon air.
It was another chilly day in Chilly Village, as expected, but the thick fur of the villagers allowed them to remain reasonably warm even during the harsher nights (indoor heating helped too, of course). Levi looked upwards, shielding his eyes against the sun; it was high up in the sky, the light glistening against the fresh snow covering the ground and roofs.
"What a lovely day," he mused to himself as Jazelle exited the general store, closing the door behind her.
"Okay, let's go!" she chirped, smiling at Levi, who nodded. The two then jogged off, heading to the northwest.
So far, the trip through the woods was mostly uneventful, although they had seen a Frost Imp pass by; it even stopped to stare at them, before continuing on its way, so that was something. However, usually the woods were more lively than this, and as they got closer and closer to the Ice Clan's village, they could no longer hear birds or other critters.
"Something feels wrong," Jazelle mumbled to herself, arms crossed as she looked around; the sun was still shining, sparkling on the snow and Frostbark leaves, but everything was eerily silent, a poor compliment to the otherwise serene scene. Levi frowned, ears perked up as he walked.
"It's...probably just a quieter day than usual," he said, trying to reassure both himself and his companion. "At least we're not too far from the Ice Clan village."
Unfortunately for Levi and Jazelle, they were stopped in their tracks by a loud voice.
A female hedgehog armed with a shortbow jumped out from behind a tree, an arrow at the ready; thankfully, it only took her two seconds to recognize the travelers, and lower her weapon.
"Oh, it's Jazelle and Levi," she said, letting out a faint sigh of relief. "Sadly, you both came at a bad time...we're kind of dealing with a big problem."
Levi tilted his head to the side, raising an eyebrow.
"A problem? Like what?" he asked. The hedgehog frowned, before turning and pointing towards a scorch mark on the nearby tree.
"An egg-shaped, lazer-shooting problem..."
Jazelle approached the scorched tree, frowning a bit as she lightly touched the burnt bark.
"What around here could shoot lasers, though...?"
The hedgehog opened her mouth to say something, when heavy footfalls could be heard in the snow, to the group's left. She frowned, and readied her bow with an Ice Arrow once more.
"Damn," she mumbled. "They're coming, now..."
"Who's coming, Ark?" asked Levi, although he took a step backwards, away from the source of the noise. The hedgehog, Arktilises, motioned for the two to get behind her.
"The problem," she said simply, drawing back the string of her bow. Said problem soon revealed itself in the form of an Eggrobo; a roughly four foot tall robot bearing the visual inspiration of its creator, and armed with an energy pistol. Its head swiveled around to face the three Mobians, optics gleaming in the sun. Jazelle gasped a bit, taking a step back.
"Wh-What is that thing...??"
"Organics detected," the Eggrobo rumbled in its monotone voice, raising its weapon towards the three. "Enemy armaments detected; stand down or be annihilated in the name of the Eggman Empire."
Arktilises' lip curled in a sneer, refusing to stand down.
"Your kind is not welcome here!"
The Eggrobo responded by firing a laser shot in her direction. Her eyes widened, and she quickly shoved Levi and Jazelle out of the way, the laser singing her quills. The robot started to stomp towards them, its metal feet leaving deep prints in the snow.
"Organics refusing to surrender. Commencing annihilation," it droned, aiming the laser pistol at Arktilises again. Still having her hands on her bow, she drew back the arrow and let it fly; the arrow embedded itself into the Eggrobo's left optic, cracking it and causing ice to creep along the surface of its cranium; the ice was infesting its insides, too, causing the metal and wiring to become brittle, and the Eggrobo stumbled around a bit, raising a hand up to the arrow in its eye. It gripped the arrow and yanked it out, tossing it aside.
Arktilises shoved Levi and Jazelle forward, urging them to run, and they did not hesitate, the snow flying beneath their feet as they dashed off in the direction of the Ice Clan village.
~ Part 2 ~
Arktilises was not far behind the two, but unfortunately, the half-blinded Eggrobo was giving chase as well, using the thrusters on its back to keep up.
"Wh-What does it want with us?!" Jazelle cried, panting slightly as she ran. Levi shook his head.
"I'm not sure, but...I think it wants to blast us into crispy critters...!"
The lemming groaned at that.
"Well, that's not the least bit reassuring...!"
A laser blast seared past them, almost singing their fur and scorching a nearby tree. Arktilises growled and slowed down a bit to loose an arrow behind her, hoping to hit the Eggrobo again; sadly, she missed.
"Damn it...! Where the hell are the reinforcements?!"
Levi's eyes widened, and he pointed ahead.
"I see the village entrance!!" he cried out, grabbing onto Jazelle's wrist and urging himself to go faster. Arktilises continued to bring up the rear, her bow at the ready as the Eggrobo continued to fly after them, getting closer.
The village gate was being guarded by a couple of armed soldiers, who quickly perked up when they saw the three Mobians dashing towards them.
"What's going on here??" one of them, a male bearcat barked, before noticing the Eggrobo flying after them, and his eyes widened. "Damn it!! It's one of those things again!!"
The guards were quick to let Levi and Jazelle through, while Arktilises turned around and faced the Eggrobo once more, which was about ten feet away from her and the others, now. The bearcat hefted his partisan as he ran towards the Eggrobo, trying to draw its attention away from the village.
"Hey!! Over here, you big, round buffoon!!" he called out, to goad it into attacking him. The Eggrobo turned its head towards him with difficulty, the ice from Arktilises' arrow having made its joints brittle.
"St-Stand do-down in the-the name o-o-of the Egg-Eggman E-Empire," it croaked; the ice had also eroded its voicebox, causing its speech to skip like a scratched record. It raised its pistol and fired at the bearcat, who managed to dodge; the laser shot melted the snow behind him, leaving a puddle of water.
"Come on, you can do better than that!" the bearcat sneered, thumping the shaft of his weapon into his other hand; he continued to pace away from the village, taunting the robot still, while Arktilises readied another arrow.
"Come on, you fat idiot!!"
The Eggrobo stopped.
"...d-does not co-compute; fra-frame is c-c-comprised of ex-xactly 0% org-g-ganic material."
The bearcat blinked, and then facepalmed, shaking his head.
"Oh, come on...at least Eggman could've given his creations the ability to react properly to cruddy insults..."
The arrow zipped through the air, burying itself in the back of the Eggrobo's neck, at the point where the head met the chassis. This caused the robot to stumble forward onto its knees, while Arktilises called out.
The bearcat needed no further urging to charge forward and drive the spearhead of his partisan into the Eggrobo's already damaged left eye, piercing its 'brain' as he dug the bladed tip in deeper. With the insides having been rendered brittle by the Ice Arrow, Viscol had little issue breaking through.
Levi and Jazelle, meanwhile, had been watching this fight the entire time, eyes wide with awe as Viscol quite literally scrambled the Eggrobo's metal brains, before wrenching his partisan free of the robot's head. The robot stumbled backwards and collapsed onto its back.
"Is the damn thing dead yet?!" Viscol barked, clearly annoyed. The Eggrobo did not stir, and Arktilises hesitantly approached it, giving it a light kick with her foot.
"I think it's finally done for," she said, letting out a faint sigh. Her eyes widened when its body began to spark, and she quickly backed away.
"Get away from it...!!"
Both her and Viscol turned and ran back towards the village, just in time to avoid the explosion from the Eggrobo, sending pieces of metal and wire everywhere. The explosion was not particularly enormous, however, and nobody was hurt; the explosion did not reach the village gates, either. Arktilises sighed, wiping her brow.
"Thank Kyanos that's over..."
Levi and Jazelle looked at each other, before jogging over to Arktilises.
"So what exactly was that thing?" asked Jazelle. The hedgehog frowned.
"I told you, it was a problem," she said, arms crossed. "We don't know anything more about it other than that..."
"But do you know where it came from?" asked Levi. Arktilises hummed and rubbed her chin thoughtfully.
"...now that you mention it, we do have reason to believe they've been coming in from the Frozen Plateau Zone," she said, looking off into the distance; the towering glacial plateaus could barely be seen above the treeline.
"Scouts have reported a strange building stationed in the area, and it's made traveling to any place on the other side of the Frozen Plateau Zone near impossible. The residents there attack anyone who tries to pass through..."
She sighed, arms crossed once more.
"All we know of these intruders is that they have armaments superior to ours," she said. "We really have no feasible way to fight them; bows and swords of ice don't quite compare to guns that shoot concentrated beams of heat..."
The hare frowned at that, ears drooping slightly.
"So, that thing...probably came from the Frozen Plateau Zone?"
"Very possible, yes. And they're roaming around the forest...I daresay they're trying to take it over. We've been holding out well enough, but that's only because we've only ever encountered them one at a time, and we have some means of fighting back. If they find your home, however..."
She fell silent, briefly; a somber air hung over the gathered Mobians.
"...it isn't up to me, but Chilly Village may have to be evacuated if those egg-shaped menaces show up there."
She frowned, arms crossed.
"We'll have to speak to Lady Frostwind about this; perhaps she'll agree to let us send forces to your home, to help protect it."
Jazelle and Levi seemed pretty unhappy with the idea of possibly having to leave their home; they were both born and raised there, and the warm little village held so many happy memories for the two friends. Jazelle eventually nodded.
"Okay," she agreed. "Hopefully Lady Frostwind will agree to help us..."
The hedgehog smiled a bit.
"I'm certain she will," she said, gesturing for Levi and Jazelle to follow her.
~ Part 3 ~
Arktilises led the two younger Mobians to a relatively large hut, and knocked on the door. But there was no answer.
"Strange...she must be out somewhere."
Luckily for the trio, it didn't take long for them to find the Ice Clan's leader; she was helping to repair part of a hut that was damaged in a recent storm.
"Lady Frostwind! I don't mean to be a bother, but this is rather urgent," said Arktilises, approaching the slightly taller Mobian. The vixen, Lady Tunndrae Frostwind, frowned, looking over her shoulder at the others.
"Does this have anything to do with that explosion I heard earlier?" she asked. The hedgehog bowed her head slightly.
"Yes, I'm afraid so...another one of those egg-shaped things showed up," said Arktilises, frowning. The fox blinked.
"That's distressing," she murmured, putting a hand to her chin. She looked over a bit, and noticed Levi and Jazelle.
"And you two came here by yourselves?"
"Yes ma'am," said Levi. "We didn't really run into trouble until we found Ark, though..."
Tunndrae closed her eyes, as if thinking.
"I see...that means they haven't reached Chilly Village yet..."
"That was a concern of ours, Lady Frostwind," said Arktilises. "As far as I know, Chilly Village doesn't have anyone who is combat capable to defend it. If those egg-shaped menaces reached it..."
"That would be a problem," Tunndrae finished. Arktilises nodded.
"Which is why I suggest we send some of our forces home with Levi and Jazelle, Lady Frostwind," said the hedgehog. "Even ten of them should be more than enough to keep Chilly Village safe, until we can come up with a long-term solution."
The vixen hummed, tilting her head.
"That isn't a bad idea...but will Chilly Village be able to provide lodging for our soldiers?"
Her gaze shifted towards Levi and Jazelle once more. The hare smiled a bit, nodding.
"Yeah, there's an inn there; it should have enough room for ten people to lodge," he said. Arktilises frowned.
"I don't think we'll need an entire building all to ourselves," she said, arms crossed. Levi chuckled a bit.
"The inn is a lot bigger than you think! It has room for a maximum of...I think fifty people?"
The hedgehog blinked, clearly not expecting that answer.
"Goodness...that much room?" she asked. Levi nodded.
"Yeah! There'll be plenty of room for you and nine other soldiers...I mean, if you're planning on coming, that is."
"Naturally," said the hedgehog, smiling. "I could use a change of scenery..."
Tunndrae smiled and nodded.
"It's settled, then; Arktilises and nine others will accompany you back to your home," she said. "I will go gather the others, and we'll see who else will want to join."
The vixen gestured for Levi, Jazelle, and Arktilises to follow her as she walked.
"Listen up, everyone!" she called out; already, a good number of combat-capable Clanspeople, soldiers, archers, mages, etc., had gathered near and outside the village gate; the commotion from earlier had gotten their attention, and they were scanning the area for more Eggrobos. Of course, upon hearing the call of their clan leader, they were quick to approach; the bearcat from earlier, Viscol, was among them.
"The Gelid Forest is becoming much more dangerous than we were initially anticipating," said Tunndrae, her expression rather grim. "And those outside of the village need our help, more than ever. I request that at least nine of you accompany Levi and Jazelle back to Chilly Village, and stay there until further notice. Arktilises is already going."
"Then I shall go too," said Viscol, hefting his partisan. A male wolf frowned a bit, rubbing his chin.
"May I suggest that we have a variety in the group we'll be sending? Say, some archers, some mages, some close-combat soldiers, that kind of thing?"
"That sounds like a good idea," said Arktilises, nodding. This caused those gathered to start talking among themselves; it seemed that they were trying to decide who wanted to go the most.
"I think I would like to go," said a female raccoon. "I've never seen Chilly Village before...!"
"Good, that's three so far," said Arktilises, nodding; Viscol had walked over to her by now. Discussions resumed, and within the span of three minutes, the other seven members of the convoy had been decided. Apart from Arktilises, Viscol, and the female raccoon, there was also the male wolf from before, a male walrus, a male dibbler, a female fossa, a male cacomistle, a female culpeo, and a female ocelot. Tunndrae rubbed her chin as she looked over the ten Mobians who would be accompanying Levi and Jazelle to Chilly Village.
"As of now, there's no knowing how long you'll have to remain at Chilly Village," said Tunndrae, arms crossed. "We don't even really know if those egg-shaped things will bother the village at all...but it doesn't hurt to take precautions. You should all take whatever you can carry with you, and assist the people of Chilly Village in any way possible."
"Are you sure that our home will be safe with all ten of us gone?" asked the cacomistle, frowning. Tunndrae nodded.
"I'm certain. We still have plenty of protection here," she said. "Chilly Village needs the help more, anyways, they would be almost entirely vulnerable without some kind of protection."
The cacomistle nodded.
"Right, yes," he said. The convoy dispersed at that point to grab any belongings of theirs that they might need on the trip to Chilly Village,and within five minutes, everyone was ready to go.