Episode Final (Part I,Part II)
Sonic & Knuckles turned in mid air and started running down the building. Bellow them was a toppled skyscraper leading off into the rest of the ruined city. Sonic pulled off a rusting piece of metal jutting out of the side of the building they were running down and, as they reached the bottom, jumped on it and used it to surfboard down the toppled building. Knuckles simply leapt off and started gliding alongside him.
“A surfboard?” Knuckle said, surprised “At a time like this?”
“You’re not the first person to have said that to me,” Sonic replied. A dog-like creature made of fire came into existence at the bottom of the burning building, but Sonic flipped the front of the board up and broke it’s head apart, leaving molten lava behind. The hedgehog grinded on a rusted metal rail on the side of the building, but soon 2 birds made of fire appeared above him, spitting out fireballs. Knuckles flew at them, but he leapt back and held back a yelp as his hands were scorched.
“I can't punch this thing with my fists!” Knuckles said in shock.
“Just ignore them and keep going!” Sonic replied. He jumped off the board and threw it at the birds, destroying them all easily. “We can beat these things with weapons. There’s gotta be a lot of scrap metal round here.”
Knuckles nodded as Sonic jumped off the rail and onto the side of another fallen building which ended abruptly, leading onto chunks of road that had been crushed together to form a sort of half pipe, crawling with monsters. Sonic ran round quickly, using his Tornado Attack to throw the monsters up into the air. Knuckles drill dived into the ground, sending up a chunk of concrete that blasted the monsters apart. The two kept moving before reaching a massive circular piece of metal that formed a loop.
“They even have loops here?” Knuckles said in a surprised tone. He landed and started to run alongside Sonic.
“Some things last forever,” Sonic replied. The two ran round the loop, building up speed, before being flung out into an empty area with nothing but the lava below them to break their fall. Knuckles started gliding and winced as Sonic jumped on top of him, giving him enough height to Homing Attack a nearby rail and start grinding it. Knuckles quickly got ahead of Sonic as the rail twisted and turned, and the blue hedgehog had to stay on his toes to dodge the fire bolts from the nearby fire birds. He hit a part of the rail that was rusted and quickly gave way, but Sonic was quick enough to jump over to a nearby building and dashed across it before jumping over to a chunk of broken road, where Knuckles was battling more lava monsters with a metal pipe in each hand. Sonic landed next to him and flipped up another piece of metal with his foot, catching it in his right hand and getting in a swordfighting stance
“You’re good at this Knuckles,” Sonic said as he slashed through one of the firebirds that was trying to dive at him “You ever thought of taking up swordplay?”
“Trust me,” The Echidna replied “This is the only time I haven’t be able to solve a problem with my fists.”
“Suit yourself,” Sonic said. He threw the piece of metal into the air and kicked it at the group Knuckles was fighting, cutting a path through the monsters. The creatures of fire weren’t fast enough to react before Knuckles and Sonic were already out of their reach, jumping between the broken sections of road.
“Tails!” Sonic shouted into the communicator “How close are we?”
“Well, um…” Tails replied.
“That’s a good start.”
“I won’t try to mince my words: it’s now in a tornado.”
Sonic and Kunckles looked up as the building they were running towards had it’s rusted frame pulled apart by a massive tornado.
“So this energy generator…” Sonic said “What does it look like?”
“It’s a metal cube with a glowing purple core, about twice the size of your hand.”
“Cool. Knuckles, throw me into the tornado.”
“SERIOUSLY?” Knuckles replied “You can’t get it from in there!”
“Sure I can. I just have to be fast. You keep an eye on this thing. When I jump out, follow me. If I don’t, you go in.”
“That sure sounds like you,” He replied. He grabbed Sonic’s legs and began spinning him round, building up speed before launching him into the tornado.
“BLAST AWAY!” Sonic shouted, as he landed on a piece of road in the tornado. He searched around quickly for the generator and saw it: it wasn’t hard to find a bright purple object amidst all the grey. He homing attacked the thing, grabbing it with both hands and having just enough momentum to launch himself out of the tornado. He landed on a straight section of road, one of the only ones left in the city seemingly, and started to run.
“Ok,” He said into the communicator “I have good news and bad news.”
“Good news?” Tails replied.
“I’ve got the energy generator.”
Sonic glanced behind him before looking forward again.
“I have to outrun a tornado.”
Sonic ran across the road as the tornado came up behind him. Debris flew at him from all angles, and even with his extreme reflexes he was having trouble dodging them. He slid under a car only to have to sidestep a shipping container.
“Humanity falls but cars survive for 200 years?” Sonic shouted to no one in particular. “The environmentalists must have died of a heart attack before the apocalypse got to them.”
That was all he could say before he was back to dodging everything the city could quite literally throw at him. The tornado was slowly gaining on him, too, and he was feeling it’s pull. He flipped over a piece of scrap metal only to have to throw himself to the side to avoid another of those fire monsters, this time a giant worm of some kind. He managed to recover, but that small slip up had allowed the tornado to get closer. Sonic sighed as he realised the only chance he had would be to use his new found technique.
Sonic closed his eyes for a moment. Then they flickered open and he flew forward with a sudden burst of speed, once again being covered in a blue aura that ripped apart whatever it touched that wasn’t Sonic himself. The hedgehog finally managed to gain ground from the tornado, and soon was pulling away from the vortex.
That’s when the road ended.
Sonic was moving so fast he didn’t notice that he reached the end of the road, giving way to a sheer drop down into a pit of lava. Sonic spun in the air, skydiving towards the few chunks of rock that rose out of the lava. Just as he was about to land, Knuckles flew in, grabbing Sonic and allowing the two to float safely to the ground.
“Thanks for the save,” Sonic said “So, we getting out of here or what?”
The two looked up to see the tornado disperse above them and junk fell into the lava pit, although it was nowhere near the two Mobians. However, before they could move further, they felt the plinths of rock they stood on begin to break and crack. A massive worm-like being made of lava and rock rose up from the lava. It was too far away to damage them, but it seemed intent to. Sonic handed Knuckles the energy conductor.
“Get this to Tails,” He said “I’ll be right behind you.”
Knuckles nodded and flew towards the wall of the pit and started climbing it. The creature glared directly at Sonic.
“Judging by how you’re bigger than the others and you insist on making such an entrance, I’ll bet you’re Iblis,” Sonic said, folding his arms. “So, me releasing you...what’s the deal with that?”
Iblis only glared at Sonic. Then a howling laughter filled Sonic’s mind: the monster was communicating with him telepathically. Sonic winced at the sound, but remained steady.
“So you’re not talking, huh?” He said as he prepared to fight “I guess I’ll just have to beat the answer out of you!”
Elise sat against the cell wall, extremely bored. It had been a few hours since Sonic was flung into the far future, presumably to never be seen again. Eggman had stuck her in a cell to make sure she didn’t try anything funny. She kept an eye on the robot guard outside who had been keeping an eye on her for the past hour. Then it turned around and flew away: Elise assumed it had been given some sort of command from Eggman, maybe a changing of the guard. Now was her chance to get out of here.
She called up her powers and blasted the door off its hinges with a fireball when she was fairly sure the coast was clear. She walked out, looked up and down the corridor, and started to run. She had no idea where she was supposed to go, so she just kept moving through the labyrinth that was Eggman’s base, ducking behind objects when robots flew past.
Why am I doing this? She thought. They’ll find me anyway. I’ve got nowhere to run too. I’m stuck out here. But she knew she had to at least try something. Sonic was gone, and no one else had decided to come and rescue her, so even if escape failed she would lose nothing. She just had to run down the seemingly endless hallways.
Eventually, Elise found a window. Of course, the lab was in the middle of the base, so she’d still have to traverse the frosted wastes in a short skirt while being hunted by a legion of robots, but she was getting somewhere at least. She threw a fireball at the window and jumped out. At this point, alarms started blaring.
“Alert, all units!” Eggman’s shouted through the base’s speakers “The Princess has escaped! Capture her immediately!”
Searchlights searched the early morning darkness for Elise, but she already had a massive head start: she slid down the snowdrifts to the bases walls, quickly blasting her way through them and once again vanishing into the night. She ran until she was sure she was out of Eggman’s reach and too out of breath to run any further before slumping down against a tree. She held a small fireball in her hand, trying to warm herself up. She smiled to herself: no one had come looking for her. She’d outrun Eggman, at least for now.
She wondered why Eggman’s robots hadn’t hunted her down more efficiently: maybe there were preoccupied by something else. Her thoughts drifted to her new powers. She started to wonder what the full extent of her power was, whether she’d ever be as strong as Sonic. She could bust out of Eggman’s base fairly easily, so there had to be more to it than that. Maybe she’d find a way to test it once she returned to civilization.
She knew the area they were in: she’d gone skiing here once or twice, even though she hated doing it and only did it to be “one of the people”, as her advisors put it. She knew there was a ski resort nearby: maybe she could get back to Castle Town? There must be a train or something that will get her there, and even if there wasn’t she’d invoke her royal status. Maybe then it would be useful for something.
She stood up and kept on walking.
Sonic and Iblis glared at each other for a moment before the giant worm fired several flaming rocks at the hedgehog. Sonic quickly leapt over them as the platform he was on got pounded into dust by the meteors, forcing him to land on another platform.
“C’mon!” Sonic shouted “You’ll have to do better than that!”
Iblis growled and fired off more meteors like a gatling gun, but none could keep up with Sonic’s incredible speed. He moved between the platforms, occasionally yawning for effect as Iblis tried to shoot him down.
“Destroy the world but can’t shoot a hedgehog?” Sonic said “That’s embarrassing.”
Iblis roared and dived under the lava. A second later, it jumped out flying straight at Sonic. Sonic smiled as he leapt back, picking up a broken piece of stone and stabbing it into Iblis’ body of molten lava. The creature was unfazed and Sonic ran along it’s rocky back, jumping away to another platform. Iblis turned around faster than Sonic expected and he narrowly dodged as the monster charged forward, jumping over the platform slightly so it remained intact. Sonic yanked a long, sharp piece of rock out of Iblis’ body, prompting more growling from the beast as it spun round to rush down Sonic and destroy the platform.
“You mind if I put this back where I found it?” Sonic asked before jumping up and stabbing Iblis in its massive third eye. It roared in agony and reared up, and before Sonic could let go he was flung forward. He hit the wall and quickly started running, keeping his momentum up as Iblis tried to shoot him with more rocks. Sonic leaped off the wall as Iblis fired a rock at him, kicking it back and smashing a hole in the creature. Sonic then realised he had nothing to land on other than Iblis itself.
He homing attacked towards Iblis, hoping to land on it’s rocky body, but this time the lava monster was ready, jumping up so Sonic would fly into its mouth. Sonic tried to divekick downwards before the creature ate him, but Iblis dived downwards and swallowed him. Sonic felt the creature’s lava body closing in, trying to melt him, but he quickly managed to homing attack trough Iblis’ back, cutting a massive hole in the creature. Iblis screamed in agony and fell into the lava, floating motionlessly.
Sonic landed on another platform, covered in burns. He brushed off the dust from Iblis’ rocky body.
“Because apparently I don’t need to stop, drop and roll enough…” Sonic muttered as he tried to put out the small flames that flickered on his fur.
“Always with your jokes,” Iblis said telepathically “Even now.”
Sonic spun round. He recognised Iblis’ voice, and he didn’t like what he heard.
“What the hell are you?” He shouted.
“Haven’t you figured it out yet? I always thought you were an idiot...or rather, she did.”
Sonic remained silent.
“She enjoyed my power a little too much, Sonic. You chose to set her free. You aloud her power to rise, allowed me to control her mind and break free, and you didn’t do anything to fix your mistakes, just like you always did. That’s what makes you the Iblis Trigger: your compassion. You try to save everyone...and you kill them all!”
Iblis began to laugh like a hyena, filling Sonic’s mind and drowning out his thoughts. Soon, it was cut off: Sonic blasted straight through both Iblis’ remaining eyes and shot straight back to the platform faster than the eye could see.
“Good thing I don’t have compassion for you.” The hedgehog said, walking away from Iblis’ body as it descended into the lava. Now he knew what would happen, and he knew how he needed to stop it.
“Tails,” He said into the communicator “I’m coming back. Things have gotten a little more complicated.”
The tourists at Soleanna Acropolis Ski Resort knew they were standing on a national treasure: the gleaming white peaks towered over them, as well as one of Europa’s most prestigious ski resorts. What they didn’t expect to see was another national treasure stumbling down towards it.
Elise was shattered. She had to walk all night to get here, freezing cold in her flimsy dress. She had used her powers to warm herself up, but using that all night had drained her. She was practically unconscious by the time she arrived.
“Hey…” She said to the shocked tourists “Do you have anything to eat? I’m bloody starving…”
At that point, she passed out. When she came round, she was laying on a bed in one of the hotel rooms. The staff had left a plate of steak and chips on the bedside table, which she ate as quickly as she could: Eggman hadn’t actually fed her since she left the Egg Carrier, and she was glad being a princess came with some benefits.
She changed as quickly as she good, glad to finally be rid of that excuse for a dress. She pulled on a white T-Shirt, jeans and a pair of walking boots the employees had left in the room, covered in a leather jacket and a scarf that partially covered her mouth, better hiding her identity. She walked downstairs to the hotel reception.
“Are you feeling alright, Princess?” The receptionist asked. The staff could probably recognise her by the clothes even with her face hidden. “You really should-“
“I’m fine,” Elise replied “Please, you’ve done enough. I’m more than grateful. And just call me Elise.”
“Please. I’m not a Princess, I’m just a Mobian, same as you.”
The receptionist nodded and handed over a train ticket.
“We thought you’d like to get back silently. You never know when Eggman could turn up.”
“Thanks. You’ve been amazing.”
Elise went to walk out. She used to take this kind of hospitality for granted, but after being locked in various cells for the past few days, she’d come to appreciate it. Not everyone was so lucky, but she’d never known otherwise. She glanced towards a TV screen showing the news, where a group of people were gathered. The news showed a train going across one of Soleanna’s more well-used rail bridges.
“This is breaking news,” The reporter said “This train is on a collision course with a large number of explosives placed further down the track. Doctor Eggman sent this message to us 5 minutes ago.”
“Ohohoho!” The Doctor laughed “Hello people of Soleanna! It seems I...mislaid a few bombs that coincidentally now stand in the way of a passenger train. This has happened, rather conveniently, at the same time the Princess has escaped. Turn her over, or everyone on the train dies. And don’t think Sonic is coming: he’s been disposed of.”
The crowd looked shocked. Elise turned away and started to walk out. The train wasn’t an issue. She knew Eggman wanted the power inside of her, and it was more important that she stayed safe. Besides, it’s likely none of those people cared for her anyway.
Then she thought about what Sonic had said to her. Sonic never had to save her, he probably didn’t even want to, but he put himself on the line to set her free, and he paid for it with his life. He saved the people of Soleanna in the same way he saved her, with no one left behind, no matter who they were. Someone needed to take his place if he was now trapped in the future forever.
No. Elise thought. Loads of people can do that.
She turned around and looked at the receptionist. She looked worried for Elise as much as she was worried for the people on the train. People had shown so much gratitude for her even if she didn’t realise it...was it fair if she didn’t give something back?
“Oh, Hell,” Elise muttered under her scarf. “Let’s do this.”
Her eyes glowed red and she threw the scarf off her face, revealing herself to everyone. The crowd turned round to see the Princess walking out of the room. A few of the quicker members saw her blast out of the ski resort like a bullet, leaving a trail of fire behind her.
When Sonic returned to the ruins of White Acropolis, Knuckles and Rouge were already back.
“Hey, guys,” He said “Where’s Shadow?”
“He stayed behind.” Rouge said bluntly, which for Shadow was usually code for ‘fighting the thing you most fear.’ “He wants us to leave. He can handle himself.”
“Sure,” Sonic replied. He didn’t like leaving a man behind, but he knew Shadow would find some exceptionally awesome way of coming back. He looked at Tails. “How long till we’re ready?”
“We should be ready now,” Tails said. He pressed a few buttons and the time machine in the other room roared to life. “Let’s go back home.”
The four walked over to the entrance to the room, which was now glowing bright blue.
“It should automatically deactivate once we leave,” Tails continued “if it doesn’t, it will explode.”
“Well, at least we’ll be out of here,” Knuckles said. “Good luck to Shadow.”
The four walked into the circular room as they started to float into the air once more. A second later, they reappeared in the Soleanna of 2017. Once again, the group started to fall to the ground, but they all broke their fall in their own ways. Sonic stood up and looked at where they were: they were in an alley in New City.
“I’m going to find Shadow,” Rouge said without any of her usual sass. “Good luck.”
“You too,” Knuckles replied as the bat walked away. Tails looked at Sonic.
“What did you want to tell us about, again?” He asked. Sonic explained what Iblis had told him. Knuckles was shocked, but Tails nodded knowingly, although he still had a worried expression.
“Now we know where the force field came from,” He said “But this is still worrying. We need to find her. She must be in Eggman’s base still, but now we don’t have the Chaos Emerald…”
“I don’t think she is,” Knuckles said, standing outside of the alleyway. “Look at this.”
Sonic and Tails walked out of the ally into the city center, where a massive TV screen was showing the news. It was showing a train on one of the many well-worn bridges that connected the mountainous regions of Soleanna. On top of this train, enveloped in flames, was Elise.
Sonic muttered under his breath and ran off before Tails and Knuckles had any idea he was leaving. Now he had to save the princess from not just Eggman, but herself.
The 3 carriage train was rammed with tourists: it was a popular way of seeing Soleanna’s beautiful mountains, even if the rails were a bit rickety. Now, though, instead of excitement over what they were going to see, they were absolutely terrified. Eggman had sent them all a message telling them of their current predicament, and also informing them that tea and biscuits would be served as compensation. The driver had been mysteriously unresponsive, but nobody could get into the cab. Then the Princess of Soleanna flew through the window of the carriage at the back.
The passengers jumped back in shock as Elise got up groggily, grabbing one of the handrails to steady herself.
“I am never doing that again,” She muttered. She then looked at everyone else “Is anybody hurt?” She asked. Luckily, none of them were. “Good. Now it’s time to find a way to get you all off this train.”
She opened the window and looked around. The only safe ground nearby were the wooden platforms running down the side of the mountain: originally they were the scaffolding for a mine that ran through the mountain, but now they’re kept for rail maintenance. The platforms were a little too far away to actually reach, but all they needed was some way of getting across.
“Everyone stand back!” She shouted. The passengers did as they were told and she started using her powers to melt off the side of the train.
“Y-You’re Princess Elise…” A white hedgehog muttered. She was only slightly younger than Elise herself.
“Absolutely,” Elise replied, “And I’m here to save you.”
The side of the train was now disconnected from the rest of it. Elise kicked it over and spun it round so it was perpendicular to where it used to be, creating a path to the scaffolding: a rickety and constantly moving path, but a path nonetheless. A few puddles of water began to well up in some of the windows as rain began to fall: a rainstorm was predicted for tonight.
“We need to move!” Elise said to the passengers “2 at a time, I’m not sure how many people this can take. And move fast, we haven’t got much time!”
The people slowly started to run across the escape route, starting with the children. Slowly, the group managed to pour out: it was lucky the rickety bridge prevented the train from going fast. Elise managed to empty the entire carriage herself, but then she saw what Eggman had planned for them. The train rounded a bend, and the several crates of explosives were now visible. Elise wouldn’t have nearly enough time to empty the entire train. It was lucky that she wouldn’t have to do it alone.
Sonic rushed through the abandoned mineshaft before appearing on the scaffolding opposite to where the escaped passengers were. He saw Elise in the window and called out to her.
“Hey!” He shouted “Stop stealing my job, Princess!”
Elise jolted round in shock and looked out the window.
“Sonic!” She replied “You’re alive!”
“Yeah, I survived a life threatening situation. Miraculous.”
“This isn’t the time for sarcasm. Eggman put bombs on the rail ahead and I can’t clear the people out quick enough before we hit them. If I get everyone out, you can stop the bombs.”
“Wait, you’re helping people now? I thought you were-”
“Shut up and get to work!”
“Got it!” Sonic shouted back, not wanting or needing to question Elise’s sudden change of heart. He blasted off, easily surpassing the train as Elise started funneling the passengers off her makeshift ramp. The scaffolding on Sonic’s side ended abruptly, with only pulleys and cranes with payloads connecting this scaffold to the next. Sonic jumped between the crates the cranes were carrying, continuing across the wooden platforms. Soon, Eggman’s robots were on to him, opening fire as he approached the end of this set of platforms. Sonic quickly homing attacked the robots and flew through the air in the direction of the bombs.
“Bomb disposal expert coming through!” He shouted as the robots exploded. While in mid air, he created a tornado, yanking the bombs off the rails and into the misty abyss below him. Before he could fall to his death, Elise’s force field picked him up.
“Sonic!” She shouted from the train “Second carriage is clear! One more to go!”
Elise deposited Sonic on one of the rocky paths around the mountainside. A robot then arrived at the train with tea and biscuits, which Elise quickly burnt to a crisp before going to the last carriage. Sonic looked up and saw several robots with missile launchers converge on the train.
“So, this is how you want to play this?” Eggman’s voice said through the machines “Well then, how about I fire on the carriage if you do not give up the Princess in the next 3 seconds?”
People were already making their way along the path, but a robot jumped down and blocked the escape route. Elise quickly threw a fireball and the robot exploded. Sonic homing attacked one of the missile launcher robots, which soon turned on him and opened fire. He quickly leapt between the robots, destroying them as their missiles flew into the distance. Soon, Elise had emptied the train, and Sonic leaped down to join her in celebration as they walked across to the scaffold, letting the empty train trundle along to its eventual doom.
“For someone who supposedly hates everyone around them,” Sonic said, smiling “You were pretty good back there.”
Elise smiled back.
“You were great too, for someone who was meant to be dead.”
“Nope, I wasn’t meant to be dead f-”
“-Another 200 years. Eggman beat you to that joke.”
Sonic’s sentence was cut short when he looked up to the sky as the train’s ex-passengers started screaming. Eggman’s robots were converging on them in droves. Sonic pulled Elise into his arms like he did when he saved her at the Festival of Light.
“Hey!” Elise said in annoyance. “Put me down! I can fly now!”
“Unfortunately, I don’t trust you not to start a ruckus,” Sonic replied “And these robots are after us, not the people here. No point fighting and risking innocents getting hurt when we can outrun these idiots!”
Elise tried to protest, but soon Sonic was running at blistering speed, easily escaping the robots and disappearing into the train tunnels imbedded in the mountainside.
The rain only got heavier as Sonic raced through the disused service tunnels. Despite being only a shower when they entered, by the time he and the princess escaped it was a full rainstorm. They had appeared in a circular area with several pulleys and cranes. Two train tracks ran on both sides of the area, ending and starting in tunnels. No trains were going to be running after Eggman’s hostage attempt.
Elise and Sonic ducked under one of the metal platforms, taking cover from the rain. It was hard to see even 60 feet in front of them.
“Does your change of outfit come with waterproofs, Princess?” Sonic asked. Elise shook her head.
“Came with a nice scarf, though,” She replied. “There was this wo-”
She stopped as she saw a figure approaching from the rain: the white hedgehog who had fought Sonic before. His body was slowly being enveloped by a green aura and he looked much, much angrier.
“Sonic!” Elise shouted. Sonic had just enough time to turn round before Silver grabbed Sonic with his psychokinesis and chucked him through the platform above them. Elise created a fireball and threw it at Silver, but it quickly fizzled out of existence as the rain destroyed it.
“Don’t you dare stop me, Elise!” Silver growled “This is for the good of our planet!”
Silver teleported up above Sonic, grabbed his head, and smashed him into the ground away from the platform. Sonic scrambled to his feet, covered in mud, but Silver teleport up to him and quickly threw a right hook that knocked him back over. The white hedgehog put his foot on Sonic’s back, stopping him from getting up, but he was caught off guard when Elise tackled him from behind, knocking him over. Elise let go and rolled away as Sonic grabbed hold of Silver and smashed him into the wall at lightning speed. Silver only grunted at the impact and quickly threw Sonic away with his psychokinesis. He teleported up to the hedgehog and lifted him into the air, choking him with his powers. Elise roared and ran at Silver, but the hedgehog flicked his wrist and knocked her away.
“Rest now, Iblis Trigger,” Silver muttered “Be free.”
He stuck his hand out to the right, preparing to do something that Sonic naturally didn’t understand seeing he knew nothing about psychokinesis. Elise stood up, ready to attack Silver again, but soon she heard something else: the roar of a motorbike.
Shadow the Hedgehog flew off the side of the cliff above them, riding his personal motorbike, the Dark Rider. It hit the muddy ground with a squelch, spinning round to aim it’s dual machine guns at Silver and Sonic even though it had a hard time getting traction in the mud. The white hedgehog stopped what he was doing and looked shocked for a moment.
“...Mephiles?” He muttered. Shadow glared at Sonic and said one word.
The machine guns on the side of the bike roared to life and bombarded Silver with bullets. He blocked them all with his psychokinesis, but this resulted in him letting go of Sonic. The blue blur rushed over to Elise and scooped her up.
“Don’t we want to help him?” Elise asked Sonic. He shook his head.
“That there is the ultimate lifeform,” Sonic replied, smiling “I doubt there’s anyone better for the job.”
He turned around and started to run down one of the tunnels as the machine gun fire stopped: Silver had caught all the bullets with his psychokinesis and Shadow’s guns were empty.
“YOU WON’T ESCAPE AGAIN!” Silver yelled, flying towards Sonic. Sonic didn’t look back as he heard the familiar sound of Chaos Control and Silver was suddenly hurtling into the wall opposite him. Soon, all Elise and Sonic could hear was the pouring rain and the faint sound of the two hedgehogs dueling as they escaped Silver once more.
Sonic ran across the jungle floor, jumping over logs and dodging between trees as Elise flew overhead. The rain had long since stopped, making the leaves glisten in the sunlight and allowing the various forms of wildlife to see the two Mobians racing by. Eggman’s robots had long since lost track of them thanks to the rain and the distraction provided by Shadow and Silver, yet they still kept running. At this point, they weren’t running away from anything: they were just two competitive people who wanted to outdo each other.
Sonic dashed up a tree and jumped onto a vine hanging off one of it’s branches, using it to swing across to a branch of another tree. He moved across the canopy incredibly light footwork despite his amazing speed, with even the most fragile branches not breaking under his weight. Elise was astonished by this feet: she hadn’t expected Sonic to be able to keep up due to his inability to fly, but he was running alongside her with no issues.
“Seriously, Princess?” Sonic said as he swung down from the canopy on another vine in order to talk to her “You really thought you could outrun me?”
Before Elise could reply, the vine swung up and Sonic was darting across the canopy again, racing ahead of her. Elise sighed and blasted off again, trying to keep up. She was beginning to love the power she had inside her. She’d never felt free before, locked into a life of boring administrative tasks and putting on shows for the masses. Now she’d finally been let loose, able to actually enjoy herself for once. She flew down towards the undergrowth, feeling the water droplets splashing on her face as she raced by, and wondered how the hell this life had evaded her for so long.
Suddenly, Sonic appeared in front of her, holding onto some kind of elastic vine. She stopped herself before she could fly into him.
“Hey, Princess,” Sonic said, putting a hand on Elise’s shoulder “Let me show you something.”
The vine pinged back up like an elastic band, catapulting Elise and Sonic out of the trees and into the open, looking across the seemingly endless field of glistening green in front of them. Flocks of birds flew across the open sky, and the imposing figure of Soleanna’s mountain ranges could be seen far away into the distance. Elise resumed flying and grabbed hold of Sonic’s hand before he could fall back to the ground.
“It’s...beautiful…” She mumbled, mesmerised. She had no idea such beauty existed in her kingdom, having never really been allowed out past the bounds of civilisation.
“You know, I’ve seen a million jungles in my time,” Sonic said “Still don’t get tired of them. This kingdom of yours is really quite something, Princess.”
Elise smiled as she looked at him.
“You know you’ve given me an advantage in the race, right?” She smirked. Sonic looked confused before she threw him behind her and flew off. Sonic used his homing attack to shoot right back at her, stepping on her back and leaping forward to gain the lead before falling back down into the canopy, dashing across the branches. However, he was quickly stopped by Elise flying through the branches and flying across the undergrowth below, making Sonic fall to the ground. He quickly recovered and started running across the ground, once again catching up with Elise.
“C’mon,” He said “You’ve gotta do better than that!”
The two of them sped up, neither intending to back down. They eventually broke through the trees, appearing in a glade with a clear lake in the center, and a small island with a tree in the middle of that. Birds flew away as Elise and Sonic shot across the lake, but before they could reach the other side Elise pushed Sonic, making the Hedgehog lose his momentum and begin to topple into the water. He grabbed Elise’s arm, trying to gain support, but Elise was pulled in with him. Elise swam to the surface and just floated on the water, looking up at the clear sky as the birds crossed her vision. The serene scene was heavily affected by Sonic splashing next to her in sheer panic.
“Nonononono” He mumbled “GetmeoutgetmeoutGETMEOUT!”
Elise giggled and used her powers to make Sonic rise out of the water, floating in the air next to her. She continued laughing as Sonic folded his arms and scowled at her in mid air.
“It’s not funny.” He growled.
“You seriously can’t swim?” She asked.
“Of course not. Hedgehogs can’t swim. You ever heard of a swimming hedgehog? I think you’ll find they don’t exist.”
Sonic looked over at the tree nearby.
“How about we make our way over to dry land?”
Elise nodded as she swam for the shore, carrying the blue blur with her.
Elise and Sonic sat looking over the lake, their backs up against a nearby tree, trying to dry themselves out in the sun after the lake incident.
“Thanks for the race,” Sonic said “Haven’t had such a good race for a long time.”
“No problem,” Elise replied as she wrung out her jacket. She was significantly more worn out than Sonic was. “You know, I didn’t expect to be having this much fun after getting kidnapped.”
“That’s what you get when you’re being rescued by yours truly. All part of the service.”
“Good thing Eggman didn’t hide me at a pool party. No way you could have gotten past that.”
“You’re never going to let that go, are you?”
“Hey, you’re laughing about it. That’s a start.”
She sighed and looked towards Sonic.
“I...want to apologise,” She said, sadly, “For how I acted when you first turned up.”
“I understand,” He replied without his usual cocky attitude “If I had lived your life, with no friends and constantly being the victim of fame, I would have no social skills either. I can run from the paparazzi, but you…”
“Yeah, it sucks,” Elise said “But, hey. At least I have you now.”
“I...I can’t guarantee I’ll be there when you need me, Elise,” He lamented “I can’t stay in one place for too long. There was one time when I decided to go to space for a few days just for the heck of it. Even if I did stay, I can’t keep everyone safe all the time and I’ve let people fall before. I won’t always be here for you.”
“What am I meant to do, then?” Elise replied. “You’re the only person I’ve ever met who has ever understood me, hell, ever wanted to understand me. I don’t have anyone else to turn to. What should I do?”
“There will be someone who understands you,” Sonic replied. He still wasn’t looking at her. “There’s others like us. People with powers who feel isolated, alone. Power is a double edged sword: it’s awesome, but it makes you different. This planet has never liked different no matter how much it advocates for it. Try and see them. Be a friend. I’m sure an endorsement from a Princess never hurt anyone.”
“I guess…” She muttered. She looked back up at the sky, letting a few sparks fly out of her hand. Sonic seemed unusually guarded. Throughout this entire fiasco he had been cocky and upbeat, but now he seemed different to Elise, like he was finally starting to show some true emotion.
“You’re running from something, aren’t you?” She asked. Sonic turned and looked at her for the first time since they arrived.
“What makes you think that?”
Before she could answer, something caught Sonic’s eye: a glint in the lake. Sonic stood up and walked past Elise.
“Hey!” She said, annoyed “You could at least let me finish!”
“There’s something glinting in the lake,” Sonic said, returning to his normal attitude “Could you get it out with your powers?”
Elise stood up and walked past him into the water, fishing the object out of the water easily.
“Yes, my amazing power of not being aquaphobic.” She said as she held aloft the item she’d found: the red Chaos Emerald.
“A Chaos Emerald?” Sonic said. Elise walked back over and gave it to him. “What’s this doing in a lake?”
Before Elise could state her thoughts, she heard something from approaching them from behind: a helicopter was flying in, with the crest of the monarchy of Soleanna on the side. Sonic and Elise looked at each other: they’d finally been rescued. The helicopter landed and the doors slid open.
“MY MOST BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS!” The Captain of the Guard said as he walked out of the helicopter “Would you be ever so KIND as to join us on our flight back to SOLEAANANA?”
Sonic folded his arms.
“Are you only going to let her on after she figures out your puzzle?” He asked. “Does she have to beat you at snooker now or something?”
Elise rolled her eyes and walked past Sonic and the Captain without a second thought. After all this, she was finally going home.
The helicopter touched down in Castle Town and was met by an army of reporters. The first thing the cameras caught was the Captain of the Guard jumping out and loudly announcing his rescue of the Princess. He was immediately ignored when Sonic and Elise walked out, waving to the crowd.
“How could you hate being this famous?” Sonic smirked. A reporter walked up to Elise and held out a microphone, but one of the less bombastic guards stood between them before the reporter could say anything.
“The Monarchy of Soleanna will not be commenting at this time,” He said.
“Let her through,” Elise said, calmly “I want to speak.”
“Miss Elise, you’re in no fit state-”
“I know when I’m in a fit state, just let me talk.”
The guard sighed and let the reporter past, giving Elise the microphone.
“While I have been successfully rescued,” Elise began, glancing at a smiling Sonic “Doctor Robotnik continues to be a threat to our nation. I hope to be meeting with the Prime Minister later today and I implore the nations of Europa to help us find a way to bring this war criminal to justice, and I will be taking an active role in these proceedings. That is all.”
Elise handed back the microphone as she and Sonic were escorted back into the royal palace overlooking the sea. Once safely indoors, Sonic spoke.
“War criminal,” He said “You know, I’ve always just thought of him as a mad scientist who never wins anything.”
“Welcome to the real world, Sonic the Hedgehog,” Elise said sarcastically “You’re going to hate it here.”
They walked upstairs to a balcony overlooking the sea, looking back towards Wave Ocean where Sonic had chased the Egg Carrier yesterday. For Elise, it seemed so long ago since she was being kidnapped by Eggman, and she had certainly become a different person since then. Sonic sighed.
“So...I guess I’m done here, right?” He said “I mean, you’re safe again and you have to do official things that’d bore me to death.”
“Yeah. Our little journey is over.”
“Y’know, Princess...you’ve grown a lot recently. You went from screaming about your rescue to saving a train of people you’d been ransomed for. I’d even go as far as to say you’re pretty badass.”
“Yeah,” Elise smiled “You’ve grown on me a lot as well. You’re much less annoying than I thought once I got to know you.”
“So, shall we say…friends?”
“Yeah, let’s go with that.”
Sonic and Elise looked at each other, smiling, and hugged. Sonic let go and jumped up onto the balcony railing before saluting.
“See you soon, Princess!” He said. He fell off the railing, and a moment later he was blasting across the ocean into the distance.
Elise smiled, looking over the ocean for a second before going back inside. The real world was waiting, and she was going to meet it.
“No more hiding in the palace, little girl,” She whispered to herself “Time to make use of this title.”
As Sonic blasted across the sea, he didn’t notice the ship hiding in the clouds above. Doctor Eggman spied on Sonic from the comfort from the Egg Carrier. Behind him was a vertical table with metal bonds specifically designed to hold someone capable of harnessing the Flames of Disaster.
“Shall we begin the operation, Doctor?” The OR-798 Assistant Droid asked.
“No,” He replied “Let’s give the Princess some more time to settle in. I want to make sure she feels safe before we strike again. And, of course, I want to make sure Sonic is as far away as humanly possible.”