Phase Zero: 'Capture'
Overnight missions were the worst ones. As Princess Sally Alicia Acorn, leader of the resistance, crouched beneath the shadow of a rain-soaked chunk of concrete she lamented her choice of running an overnight mission. Night missions were dangerous too, of course. There were increased patrols to make up for the darkness, and daytime missions increased the risk of being detected, but the overnights combined the worst of both worlds.
To make matters worse, she was alone. Sonic was down for a day or two with a sprained ankle, and he was the only other member of the Freedom fighters she was comfortable taking on an overnight mission, due to the danger. She was expected back in a little over a day, and a rescue party would come looking for her if she wasn't at the rendezvous point by then; but she would be on her own with only her wits to protect her until then. Well, not quite entirely on her own...
“Nicole”, she whispered, flipping open her small palmtop computer. “Bring up a map of this district. Silent mode, please.”
The computer silently complied with the order, and a three-dimensional map of the city section slowly drew itself on the computer display. A sudden sound drifted into the princess' shadowed shelter through the pounding rain outside, forcing her to hurriedly close the computer to hide its glow.
The rhythmic march of metal feet outside announced a contingent of SWATbots on patrol. Sally put her hands over her face and peered narrowly through her fingers, afraid her large eyes would catch some reflective glint in the overcast afternoon gloom and give her away. Frightening as the plodding feet just inches away from her hiding place were, they were exactly what she was waiting for.
She'd been watching for a few hours, now, learning the new patrol paths and when they were soon coming or would be gone for some time. After this pass, she knew, there was ample time to plant a few of the explosives she'd brought with her and then return to hiding. Hopefully, if she could avoid detection, she would have the time and privacy over the next day to set an elaborate network of explosives that would bring down the city's power for a few days and open the way for more extensive sabotage in the future.
Satisfied that the patrol had passed her by, the princess checked he computer-generated map again, memorized her route and crawled out of her improvised sanctuary, satchel of explosives in hand. The pounding rain was unpleasant, but did little to hinder her as she evaded SWATbot sentries and patrols on her way to the first target building, a relay station integral to Robotropolis' power grid. No one had been in it for some time, evidently, as the latch where the ratcheting door met the ground had rusted shut. This setback would eat into her allotted time outside, but she was certain she could pry it open without too much trouble. Kneeling on the wet street, she gripped the latch with both hands and struggled to free it from it's brittle bonds when she caught a flash of movement out of the corner of one eye. The splash of a soft footstep behind her made her shoot to her feet immediately, spinning around to face whatever had managed to sneak up on her in the rain.
It was a Mobian, at least superficially. The green-furred fox that stood before her was completely without any clothing to shield him from the elements, but seemed to ignore the pounding, polluted rain that soaked him. Most alarmingly, though, were his eyes; pure white, they cast a faint radiance that marked him as something unsettling and unnatural. Better for her, given the situation, to run first and think about it later.
Sally pushed off from the sheet metal door and tried to force herself past him, only to have him clamp a vice-like hand on her shoulder and shove her back against the door once again. The strange Mobian tilted his head at her and arched a brow silently. With no other course of action against an obviously hostile attacker, the princess balled a fist and punched him square in the nose.
It likely hurt her more than it did him, as he was unmoved. Surprised by the action enough to release her, he touched a hand to his uninjured nose, then mimicked the balled fist, punching straight at her head like a piston. Sally ducked just in time to hear the sturdy metal of the door groan and buckle as the mighty blow penetrated through it and the strange Mobian male sank elbow-deep into the deformed door. He would have easily killed her if the punch had connected.
Sally ran as her attacker freed himself and studied his unharmed fist, opening and closing it with the curiosity of a child. It was a machine, she reasoned. No one was strong enough to punch a hole in solid metal the way he had. It was some sort of Mobian-styled assassin robot meant to surprise and kill her. It quickly snapped back to attention when it noticed her fleeing and gave chase with incredible speed.
Sally slid to a stop and spun, kicking at it's head in an attempt to disable it, but her attacker was far faster; it ducked the blow and grabbed her arm at the moment when she was most unbalanced, twisting it with enough force to flip her over backwards into a puddle. Her scream from the sudden dislocating pain and startling impact with the ground seemed to surprise the killer machine, as it let go and took a step backwards; a decidedly un-robotic response.
Sally again struggled to escape, only to have the fox's iron grip on the back of her neck. He easily lifted her with one hand and turned her to face him. Her last sight was the strange fox's face, brows arched in a disarming, childlike curiosity as she faded into unconsciousness from the pain and the squeezing pressure on the back of her neck.