The tall grass swayed gently in the wind as I floated along the canyons of my home, Planet Wisp. No clanking machines, no sparking generators, no sonic booms. Just the sound of the calm wind blowing through the trees.
I jumped at the sound, flying back in shock. Then I sighed as the Wisp that had just jumped out at me giggled.
“It’s not funny, Nathah,” I told her “Especially around here. I keep thinking some long-dormant robot is going to jump out at me or something.”
“It is funny, though!” The Grey Wisp giggled “You jump out of your Hyper-Go-On every single time!”
“Because I think I’m going to-” I sighed. There was no reasoning with her. “Why are you here, anyway?” I asked.
“I want to see where you keep going every few months,” she replied as we floated along “You keep vanishing every few months and then turn up back at Colony a few days later, safe and sound. I want to know where you keep going.”
“Did you tell anyone else you were going out? Your parents maybe?”
“No, of course not! Everyone would ask me about your secret then! I want to keep it to myself.”
I sighed as we continued on. Nathah had always been one for adventure and discovery. She had been captured and turned into a Nega Wisp during Eggman’s takeover. While others had been traumatised by the experience of having their life energy ripped out of their bodies and losing all civilised thoughts to savagery, Nathah had absolutely loved it.
“Then I woke up, and I realised I was purple!” She had told her parents when she returned home from helping stop the black hole that formed from the Mind Control Ray. “I suddenly felt so angry, and then I tried using my powers and I just went straight through the floor! I just kept flying around and absorbing everything like woooooosh!”
Not many others had shared her optimism for being a Nega Wisp, but I’m glad she hadn’t ended up like some of the others. This world needed some optimism right now.
Most Wisps live in the southern hemisphere these days. We didn’t need a complex political system or anything; we just had four mayors for each quarter of the southern hemisphere. I was one of them: Mayor Yacker of Nalarm. However, a Blue Wisp called Paraker takes my place whenever I leave the quarter. The Mayor doesn’t do a lot: they just keep an eye on everyone and make sure there’s no trouble, and if there is trouble to fix the problem. There’s plenty of other wisps outside of these quarters, at least 10% of the planet lived in the northern hemisphere, but they were mostly lone travelers or villages that wouldn’t leave in the wake of Doctor Eggman’s destruction of the wildlife there. A lot of Wisps had left the planet as well, following Sonic back to Earth. I hadn’t heard from them since, but I hoped they were a well.
As we got closer to the destination of my travels, the grass started to turn darker, the trees shorter, the other plants more scarce. Then we reached a ruined statue of a Cyan Wisp, the head broken off from the thin body and the plinth crumbling. I personally used it as a marker to make sure I was going in the right direction, but recently I hadn’t used it as often seeing I was getting better at knowing the route I took.
“Who was this for?” Nathah asked me.
“It was for Kathah,” I replied “She was part of an intergalactic group of warriors known as the Guardians of the Chronosabre. I’m sure you’ve heard about them.”
“Why is it knocked down, though?”
“Because of Baldy Nosehair.”
She nodded and we continued on. I had considered bringing the ruins of the statue back to the southern hemisphere and rebuild it there, but I had no idea how I’d do it without damaging it even more. The Hyper-Go-On powers of most Wisps originated as a defense mechanism from predators that fed on Hyper-Go-On. Most of them were extinct now, but Wisps still hadn’t evolved many powers that weren’t for destruction.
We continued on, Nathah getting more bored and bombarding me with “are we nearly there yet”s and questions about where we were going. Then, after another hour of floating along, we reached our destination.
Eggman’s facility stretched on for miles in front of us, red towers filling the skyline. It wasn’t the grand facility it used to be, though: the towers were rusting, as were the platforms that would have kept his robots from falling into the purple liquid below. No machines stirred anymore: all there was now was the surprisingly sweet smell of the toxic liquid that was pooled under us and the occasional smell of burnt metal. The platform we were on was a long bridge, originally guarded by massive gates that had since been destroyed by a Black Wisp that had previously been a Nega Wisp and wanted revenge.
At the end of the bridge was a pile of scrap and a ruined generator.
“This…” Nathah muttered “This is it...this is the place where Sonic defeated the Copyright Law!” She flew over to the ruined machine as fast she could. I sighed: clearly the tales of Sonic’s adventures had been diluted over time.
“Ohmanohmanohmanohman,” she kept muttering, flying around the ruins of Big Boy, checking every nook and cranny. I ignored her and slowly floated over, taking in the surroundings. I’d seen it before, but it still amazed and terrified me every time I saw it. This is where my race had been harvested for energy, turned into those awful Nega Wisps. I’d been taken away from there to Tropical Resort with my friend Kathaker, currently Mayor Kathaker of Lalarm, so our Hyper-Go-On could be harvested at the generator there. I was lucky Sonic had arrived when he did, and I was still terrified at the thought of what could have happened if he didn’t. I would probably have turned into a Nega Wisp like Nathah had been.
“This is SO COOL!” Nathah shouted. “The ruins of the infamous Copyright Law, defeated by Sonic in his finest hour!”
“It’s not called that, Nathah,” I said, having finally reached the ruined machine. “It’s called the Big Boy.”
“But Sonic said-”
“I know what he said. He meant something else.”
“Oh,” Nathah looked disappointed for a second before perking up again “Hey, why don’t we go look inside the factory? Like properly inside? There’s gotta be something good there!”
“Nathah, don’t. I don’t know what’s inside there. I have never been inside most of the factory.”
“Seriously. I got transferred to another section of the Amusement Park when they captured me.”
“Well, it can’t be that bad...besides, loads of people have been inside there!”
“And most of them were Nega Wisps. Nathah, you have no idea what’s in there. It might-”
“Hey, if there was something in there, it would have shown itself by now right? You’ve been coming here loads and you never saw anything unusual.”
“That isn’t how it-”
“Besides, if anything goes wrong, I can just shockwave us out, right?”
“Then lets goooooooo!”
Nathah flew away, flying into a crack in one of the massive towers nearby.
“Nathah, wait!” I shouted, using my color powers to boost after her. I dived into the crack and found myself in a circular room on that tower’s highest level. Several sections of the floor had fallen apart and the computers on the walls were either dead or flickering randomly. The only light came from a hole in the roof, the hole we’d just entered, and the occasional computer screen. Strangely enough, there were no robots here: they must have all evacuated after Sonic trashed the place. Although we couldn’t see it well because of the way the light fell, there was some kind of pilar in the middle of the room.
“Oh man, this is so cool!” Nathah said “Mum and dad won’t believe this!”
“Your mum and dad are going to be absolutely furious with you.” I said. And they’ll be furious with me as well. I thought.
“Well...it will be worth it for this!” She said.
Nathah flew around the room rapidly, ecstatic. Then she came to a stop in front of the pilar.
“Huh,” she said “Wonder what this is.”
She reached out and touched the pilar before I could tell her not to. Red eyes shone out through the darkness, glaring us down. Then I realised it wasn’t a pilar. It was a robot.
Another light lit up the darkness, this one the blue spark of electricity. The now released robot moved into a fighting stance, or at least that’s what I thought it did considering I couldn’t see anything but it’s shadows.
“Get away, now!” I shouted to Nathah. We both flew out of the crack we had entered through as the robot jumped out of the hole in the ceiling into broad daylight. It was a grey robot, clearly based on the standard Egg Pawn but slightly thinner and leaner. It wielded a pole with one end crackling with electricity, and a tattered brown cape flowed from it’s shoulders.
“It’s ok,” I said to a clearly terrified Nathah “We’re safe up here. It can’t fly.”
Then it did.
Jet thrusters activated on it’s back and it flew towards us, staff outstretched like a spearman going in for the stab. Both of us dived downwards and he flew right over. I used my powers as a White Wisp to boost into the robot, trying to dent it somehow. It didn’t work and it swung it’s staff around, knocking me away.
“Take this, you...thing!” Nathah shouted, getting up on it’s back and becoming the iron ball Grey Wisps were famous for, unleashing a shockwave that sent it crashing into another tower.
I floated in mid air, recovering from the blow as Nathah returned to her Wisp form.
“Whew,” she said “You think we destroyed it?”
“I hope so,” I replied “But Eggman’s robots have a habit of being resilient. Stay alert.”
We floated back to the ruins of the Big Boy, taking cover behind the ruins of the machine in case the robot came back.
“Can I ask you a question that doesn’t involve that robot?” Nathah whispered. It was the one time in this entire journey she didn’t sound excited or terrified.
“Go ahead,” I whispered back “But I’m not guaranteed to answer it.”
“Why do you come here every few months? You don’t exactly come here for nostalgia or anything, yet you’ve never been inside most of the buildings. You must have a reason why you’re here, so what is it?”
Before I could answer, the robot jumped out of the hole it had been in and flew over to the bridge we were on. Luckily, it was on the opposite side from our cover, so it couldn’t see us...yet.
“We have to run.” I told Nathah.
“Run?” She replied “You’re the mayor, dang it! You helped Sonic break us free! We have to stand and fight!”
“No,” Nathah said, firmly. “We’re stopping this threat here and now. And if you won’t...then I’ll do it alone!”
“Nathah, wait!” I shouted, but I was too late. She flew straight at the robot, turning into a ball and blasting it with another shockwave. The robot backflipped out of the way and before Nathah could release another one, the robot struck her with his electric poll.
“This girl really doesn’t give me a choice, does she?” I muttered as I boosted out from behind cover and straight into the robot, flying away from Nathah, who had returned to her Wisp form from the shock. I kept boosting, and before it could fly away I rammed the robot into a cliffside.
I floated back away from the wall, letting myself recover for a moment, before turning back and returning to Nathah.
“You ok?” I asked her.
“Yeah…” she replied “Just in shock, that’s all.”
“You make worse jokes than Sonic did,” I said, helping her up. “I never knew it was possible.”
“I’ve heard of his legendary humour. It’s not something I want to see,” She floated back into the air “You saved me.”
“I had to. As Mayor Yacker of Nalarm, it is my responsibility to help my people.”
“Which brings me back to what I asked before...why do you come here?”
I sighed and turned away from her.
“Nostalgia.” I said.
“No, it’s not,” Nathah said “It can’t be. Show me why you come here.”
“Ok,” I replied as I turned back to her “But what you see next is between us.”
It was hard to tell what Nathah was feeling at this point. It seemed to be a mix of the curiosity and desire for adventure that always drove her, and fear.
“You’ve done something bad, haven’t you?” She asked, although it was hard to tell if she really meant it as a question or not.
“No,” I replied “I haven’t. It’s just a secret between us.”
I floated under the bridge and Nathah followed. I continued downwards, towards a square building floating in the purple liquid like an island. There was a hole in the roof and I flew through it. This room was different from the others: the lights were still working and the cracks were covered up apart from the one me and Nathah just flew through. In the middle of the room was a large circular container and in them was a secret I had been keeping since I last became Mayor.
The last Nega Wisps.
“I…” Nathah was stunned “I thought the Nega Wisps were all gone. We all got turned back.”
“They weren’t all at the Black Hole that day,” I replied “We couldn’t turn them all back. We barely know how we did before, let alone now. So I hid them down here. I keep coming here so they don’t go mad and try to break out or anything, and to make sure nobody knows about them and tries to free them. I can’t do anything to save them, and they only speak broken Wispese, and very little at that, so-”
“Well, not every Wisp was at the-”
“No, about them speaking broken Wispese. They speak it perfectly to me.”
“What?” I said in shock “How?”
“Maybe it’s because I was a Nega Wisp before? Like, I’m still attuned to their language?”
“What are they saying?”
Nathah floated there and closed her eyes, listening.
“They want to see their families again. They want to be set free.”
I didn’t know how it was possible. Everyone who had been a Nega Wisp before, Nathah included, had just remembered endless anger and savagery. Yet now they wanted to see their families again? Had the anger cooled overtime? If so, how?
“We have to help them somehow,” Nathah said “Maybe I can translate what they’re saying, we can bring their families here...maybe we can give them what they want.”
“We can’t,” I replied, looking away from her “We have to keep this under wraps. If people find out Nega Wisps still exist…”
“No, we can. You need help, Yacker. Since you became Mayor, you just shunned help. You wanted to carry every burden yourself because it was your job. I can help you save them, Yacker. I want to help you. And I’m sure everyone else does, too.”
I looked at her for a moment.
“C’mon,” I said “Let’s go back to Colony.”
We both floated at the ruined statue, looking on the ruins of the heroic Kathah that had been cruiley been destroyed by Eggman.
“Tell them we’re ready,” I told Nathah. The Grey Wisp nodded and she spoke something in Nega Wispese, as we had dubbed it. She looked more surprised than I did when the Nega Wisps nodded in response. The Purple Wisps floated back as the Indigo Wisps flew towards the statue and turned into Indigo Voids, drawing the rocks up into the air.
“I wish I could still do that.” Nathah said, looking longingly at the voids.
“Tell them to follow us,” I said “Tell them that the others are going to be scared of them at first, but we can vouch for them.”
Nathah repeated what I had said and the Nega Wisps that could nodded. We all flew away towards the Southern Hemisphere, the Nega Wisps babbling something in their own language and Nathah with two eyes closed, clearly excited. It was another few hours before we reached Colony, the centre of Nalarm. Treehouses spiraled round a large clump of trees, and in the centre on top of the biggest tree was the Town Hall, where I lived and worked. It had been 6 hours since I had first left, and Nathah can’t have left long after. Some will be thinking that it’s unusual I would have returned so quickly, some would be glad Nathah was ok, but most would be terrified of the Nega Wisp swarm that was following us with a huge clump of stone floating in mid air. At this point I admitted that my plan wasn’t exactly the best.
As soon as the Wisps saw our band, they were terrified. A few moments later, Paraker, a Blue Wisp and temporary Mayor of Nalarm, was flying down towards us.
“What is the meaning of this?” Paraker asked “Why have you brung an army of Nega Wisps here? How did you make an army of Nega Wisps? Is this what you have been going to see every so often? Who’s this girl, anyway?”
“In reverse order: her name is Nathah, yes, I didn’t, they want to see their families.” I replied.
“They want to see their families?” Paraker repeated “How can any being that can only think savage thoughts know of family?”
The Nega Wisps, clearly getting the gist of the conversation even though they couldn’t understand it, hissed at Paraker. Nathah snapped at them in Nega Wispese and they stopped.
“Wait…” Paraker said “Can she communicate with them?”
“Yes,” I replied “Nathah here was previously a Nega Wisp herself. We think she can still communicate with them even after her transformation was reversed.”
“They’ve calmed down since the Baldy Nosehair thing,” Nathah told Paraker “If I can talk to them, maybe others can too.”
“Find another Wisp who had previously been a Nega,” I told Paraker. “See if they can do what Nathah can.”
Paraker nodded and called for a Wisp named Brutaker. A Crimson Wisp responded and flew towards the Nega Wisp swarm. Nathah said something in Nega Wispese and they started talking.
“They...they said they want cheese?” Brutaker said in Standard Wispese. Nathah nodded.
“We can help them, Paraker,” I said “The Nega Wisps can live here with us in peace. But I can’t do this alone. I need help from others who can speak their language, and I need to get the other Mayors to properly integrate them into our society.”
Paraker thought for a moment, then continued speaking.
“They can stay in Nalarm,” Paraker said “We will do whatever we can to make them feel comfortable. I will talk to the other Mayors as soon as the other citizens of Nalarm know about what is happening. We will force them out if they make a wrong move, but I don’t doubt what you’ve told me and I too believe they have good in them now.”
Nathah repeated what Paraker had said in Nega Wispese and the Wisps roared.
“Are they…?” Paraker looked shocked.
“They’re laughing,” Nather told him “They say thank you.”
“That said…” Paraker continued, looking back at me “I have to question what the pile of rocks is for.”
“Tell them to put it down.” I told Nathah. She told the Nega Wisps our intentions and the Indigo Wisps put the ruins of the statue down gently, returning to their Wisp forms.
“This is the ruins of a statue,” I told Paraker “A statue of a hero long forgotten due to Baldy Nosehair’s rule. As a way to extend a hand in friendship to the Wisps, the Nega Wisps have carried the statue here so we can rebuild it.”
“A kind gesture indeed,” Paraker replied. “I will inform the rest of Nalarm as soon as possible.”
I was about to tell him not to, but Nathah put a hand on my shoulder.
“Let him,” she told me “Don’t do everything yourself.”
I nodded and Paraker flew away to the town hall.
“Anyway, we have loooads to do,” Nathah said “And I can talk to Nega Wisps, too! Isn’t that cool!? I thought I’d be stuck with my old shockwave powers after turning back, but this so makes up for it! I-”
“Nathah,” I interpreted, chuckling slightly “Shouldn’t you go and find your parents? Tell them you’re safe?”
“Oh,” Nathah said, suddenly realising that she’d been missing for six hours. “Yeah, I’ll do that. See you later!”
Nathah flew off, going to find her parents.
“Mum, dad?” I heard her shouting “You won’t believe what happened to me today!”
I smiled as I saw her float away. She was the backbone of my success today: she saved me from the robot the first time and made me realise that the Nega Wisps weren't just animals. She made me realise something else as well.
Ever since Sonic, ever since becoming Mayor Yacker of Nalarm, I had strived to be the lone hero, to do everything myself so my people wouldn’t bare the burden. Despite my good intentions, I was wrong. Some people wanted to bare that burden with me, and some could see things I couldn’t. I wasn’t alone in my plight anymore. And in some ways, I never have been.
“Now,” I said, looking at Brutaker, who had been floating there the whole time “Ask the Negas about their families. We still have work to do.”
- Doctor Eggman (mentioned)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (mentioned)
- Kathaker (mentioned)
- Guardians of the Chronosabre
- Kathah (statue)
- Nega Wisps