"YOU LIED TO ME!" roared the chicken. "YOU LIED TO BOTH OF US, YOU FAKER!"
"Wh-whut's going on?!" asked the drillbot panicky. "Why you mad at mister FG?!
"Because dino-boy here's not with Robotnik at all, HE'S BEEN LYIN' TO US! He's not even a badnik at all!"
"Woah woah woah chill the fuck out!" said FG with hands up, "don't pop a circuit or some shit!"
"DON'T you pop-a-circuit ME, YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE ANY! DO YA!?"
"I-I DUNNO! Maybe?! I mean I dunno what the inside of my head looks like!"
"Well then lemme show ya! HRAAAAAAAAH"
Shrieking as he went straight for FG, Scratch swung out his wings hard like they were bladed arms, the raptor defending himself quickly as he held up his scissors into guarding stance. The clash of steel upon steel scraped loudly into the lonely night, while Grounder stayed at the side looking horribly confused by this turn of events. James was unprepared, his headache hurting him more than just physically since it also slowed down his reflexes, keeping his guard up as the rooster badnik scratched fiercely at his face, slapping wings and pecking beak.
But despite the sudden vicious assault, he could not get through FG's defence even when he was rather weak, his muscles still strong in holding up as blow after blow came, sending shivering vibrations through his scissors. Sometimes Scratch swung harder, the raptor ducking under the occasional roundhouse or lifting knee strike just to try and see if the rooster could be tired out.
"Scratch for fuck's sake calm down, you're acting crazy all of a sudden!"
"SHUT UP! I! AM NOT! DONE WITH YOU YET!"
He punctuated every part of his sentence with another wingstrike, fury in his eyes rising as he cried:
"YOU! ARE JUST! LIKE! THE REST OF 'EM! FIRST ROBOTNIK! NOW YOU!"
"I just wanted to help you! You were the ones who told me you worked for Robotnik, aren't you?! What are you so mad about?!"
"You think I'm too stupid to figure out after all those months in the scrap heap?! HE ABANDONED US! He didn't even tell us, he just made us go away somewhere and forget all about us! I HATE HIM! I HATE HIM I HATE HIM I HATE HIM I HATE HIIIIM! HE CREATED US, AND HE DIDN'T EVEN TELL US WHAT WE DID WRONG, WHAT WE DID SO BAD, THAT HE MADE US GO AWAY!"
Both of them stopped and turned to see Grounder panting heavy, his eyes turned downwards by its dials looking incredibly upset. Far more than he ever had been.
"S-s-stop fighting! I thought we were friends! I thought you liked Robotnik! I thought we were gonna go back to him an' do our jobs again! Then we'd be useful again! Then he'd like us again! I want him to like us again!"
Somehow, even as a badnik he was able to weep, his drills covering his face as he began crying to himself. Scratch did not even bother to look at FG before walking over to his friend and softly putting a wing on his shoulder.
"Grounder...he ain't coming back fer us. Dontcha know how long it's been since he made us go?"
He gingerly reached into his body cavity and pulled out a shoddy-looking calendar, written and rewritten over several times to the point that it had been used twice in one year.
"Eight...months and...s-seventeen days."
"...you...h-hey...that's the one I bought ya back at the Metropolis gift shop."
"Yup! ...it stopped working though. Today's not Wednesday."
Scratch looked forlornly down at the scribbled calendar. Moving a green post-it note, which read "Today", over to the next day on the calendar, Grounder looked saddened to the point of misery as his entire body hunched over, sniffling to himself involuntarily. Scratch simply patted his shoulder saying:
"Dontcha think that maybe he just stopped caring about us? Cuz, maybe he made a new one of us, maybe-"
"M-maybe he sent us sumthin'!" pleaded Grounder. "Maybe he sent a letter, a-a-a-an' it's not come yet cuz, cuz, cuz the mail's so slow!"
"Nnngh...Grounder, I don't think-"
"Why not ask him yourself?"
The sound of James' voice broke them briefly from their reflecting, with Scratch standing fully as insult rose up in him again.
"What do you have to say about any of this, you don't even know us OR Robotnik!"
"No. I don't. You're right, I...I shouldn't have lied to you before, and I'm sorry. But the only reason I lied to you was that you lied to me too."
"You two tied me up and said you were with Dr. Robotnik, you were the ones keeping me prisoner for him even though at least one of you had given up on him. The only reason I pretended to be a messenger from him, was so that you guys would lead me to him. Isn't that what you two wanted? To have a reason to go see him again?"
"I...I-i-i guess but, but you still tricked us!"
"And that was bad of me, yes."
"So," began Grounder, "if yer not with Robotnik, who ARE you anyway?!"
"Hhhhhh...alright, I'll level with you. My name is James Campbell, I'm not a robot though I do got some tech in me that lets me do stuff. I'm...I'm from another world."
The gasps of shock he received somehow got old after the first three times he heard them in his life.
"I got lost and I...teleported into your world by accident. I can't get back home and I've been trying to for years, so when I heard about Dr. Robotnik I...got out of my restraints and snuck all round the junkyard until I found these documents showing all these super-hi-tech shit being delivered. I thought...maybe he might have something that might help me get back home. And since you two said you were with him I thought...that maybe if I falsified a few documents and looked good I would...fool you and have you lead me to him."
"...you...yer not really a badnik at all?" asked Grounder sheepishly.
"No, I'm not, and I'm sorry for deceiving you. I just...I just wanna go home, I just wanted to find someone who had the technology able to get me back where I came from and...yeah, that's...really about it."
"But, but, whut about all the training we did?!"
"I didn't want you guys ending up in pieces before we got there. That and I...I felt sorry for you, being alone together in that scrapheap just...waiting to die or rust or whatever's bad for robots like you. I thought maybe I could give you guys an excuse to get out of there, to find your way back to Robotnik and...do whatever you wanted."
The two looked at each other, not able to decide on what they wanted to think. On the one hand, Scratch was still furious while Grounder was just upset by this turn of events. On the other hand, both of them were free from the scrap yard hills to the point that they were delighted to have come this far. Torn between two emotions, they both stared at each other with conflicted looks, before secretly whispering their truths to each other. James sat down and watched, waiting for their reply after a good while of discreetly conferring, before Scratch stood up saying:
"I got one question for ya."
"...if we'd gotten alllll the way up to Robotnik, without knowing about ya...what were ya planning exactly?"
"I would have tried to...maybe slide my way in like I was a buyer interested in his work, say go for a demonstration or something?"
"And if that didn't work?"
"...I'd hold him hostage until he did what I wanted."
"...you want a hand with that?"
Scratch smiled as he beat metal fist into an open palmed wing, gleeful at FG as he nodded eagerly.
"I sure would. You're the only guys I can trust here, I didn't go training you two for a week just to have your asses kicked for nothing."
"So...you're not mad at me?"
"Oh yeah, I'm still mad at you! But I'm more mad at Robotnik, and if he's up there then LOOK OUT, cuz I'm comin' up there, and I'm gonna beat his face in so hard that they'll be calling him Ol' Pruneface when I'm done with him!"
"Hahaha, that's what I'm talking about! What about you Grounder?"
"I wanna ask him a lotta things too!" said the drilltank. "Like, why didn't he come visit us!? Why hasn't my mail arrived yet?! Why can't I change my phone service without bein' stuck on the line in a queue, an' all I wanna do is cancel my stuff, when I'm not able to phone from home!?"
"...YEAH, that sounds bullshit too! OKAY so, we're cool with each other? We stick together until we've dealt with Robotnik."
"Yeah!" said both robots.
"Alright, cool. Let's get some sleep first, we need to recharge our batteries and uh...get all fired up for the big climb-up tomorrow. ...god my head hurts."
"Mine too," said the rooster, "except I feel it in my chest...nnnngh!"
"You guys DID share a lot of power with each other, that's not a good thing right?"
"Maybe...I dunno, we never tried it unless we were bored or something...you okay over there Grounder? ...Grounder?"
But the moletank had gone off to sleep already, shutting down into sleep mode in order to restore his power safely. His eyes had turned off, closed over by metal coverings as Scratch simply smiled wearily before doing the same. He sat down against a boulder firmly wedged into hard ground, and turned his power down to minimal. James ended up doing the same, finding a log to settle into and sleeping inside of it. He wanted to summon a blanket for himself, but his nanos were too tired to do anything. Or rather, he exhausted his power too much to make anything else.
The next day would turn into the most arduous struggle that two badniks could ever dream of. A scaled assault upon the great rising Metropolis Zone, high into the sky until it burst through the very clouds above.
Approaching the zone itself seemed like the most terrifying aspect they could face in this world. A towering green skyscraper, intricately designed with the most meticulous of machinery from gears the size of vehicles to springs and bolts like obelisks made of metal. A mechanical tower of Babel, where every badnik ever made had come from each of their own design. Heaps of scrap laid all around the very base, continuously being added, reformed and refined into something new, something greater to add to the great city of machines.
To the two robots he had travelled with for the past week or so, it was as if they were coming home. The realisation had not hit them yet, their eyes afire with a whole new desire beyond simply coming back to their place of origin. Now, they had a sense of determination grip them by the throat, and readily take them through to the very top as James said:
"So this is it huh?"
"Yep!" said Scratch. "This is where we came from! Where Dr. Robotnik is just WAITING fer us to slam a fist into his face!"
"Hehehehe, don't get too excited now, we want him to at least be able to talk so I can get back home with a few toys of his. You ready guys?"
Both badniks nodded with wings and drills up and ready. James had his scissors out, ready to take down any resistance with a fresh clear head after a reasonable night's sleep.
"Then let's do this!"
Storming inside past the basic worker bots, harmless beetles in blue that did not try to stop them, they found themselves within the centre of noise and steel. Grinding. clanking, whirring, screeching, churning, turning, clinking, scraping all around them, a constant barrage of machinations all in fine sleek colours of red, green, grey and bronze. Blinking lights in a rainbow of colours glowed up and down like schizophrenic traffic lights, the gust of steam bursting from pipes combined with crushing weights adding another section to this automated orchestra.
The climb to the top itself was another task altogether, when there were so many options and obstacles to choose from. Bronze pipeways that shot them through to the other end like instant teleporters, giant gears that slowly grinded against each other to ride upon their teeth, yellow platforms that slowly hovered across deadly pitfalls heading far far down into the garbage processors below. Everything moved, everything spun, everything had some sort of purpose for existence.
Including the enemy guards that tried to stop them, such as the group of sickle-bladed mantis bots known as Slicers with green bodies and little silver fangs.
"HEY!" said one lifting a scythe-shaped arm. "Where you boys going?"
"Reporting to Dr. Robotnik!" said Scratch firmly. "What's it to ya?!"
"What's your ID number?"
Scratch lifted up one of his feet, which James had not noticed until now had numbers minutely engraved into the metal.
"And your friend?"
"Seven-oh-TWO, he got made right after me!"
"And your friend back there?"
"Alright then, lemme register 'em."
The mantis-bot rang up an intercom connected to his skull, lifting a blade-arm to its head to tap a button.
"Yeah I uh got some guys down here, register seven-oh-one, seven-oh-two, and seven-oh-three, got a check on that? ...uhhh one is a chicken-dude, another's a drill guy, third guy I think is a new model, 'nother one of those dino-types. ......alright then."
He clicked off before turning around to stare at the newcomers, an evil look in his eye that made James ready his hands.
"My boss has something to say to you."
"What's that?" asked FG.
"...you should never have come back, Scratch and Grounder!"
The moment the mantis threw up its blades, James charged forwards and deflected the swinging scythes that suddenly detached from the Slicer's body, smacking them away with his scissors before slashing through the head. The badnik's head was much smaller-built than the other ones, making it much easier to decapitate in a sputtering of wires and oil. His friends soon rolled up ready to attack, as Scratch and Grounder came forth with their own attacks involving wing strikes and drill punches.
Despite the lethality of their silver bladed arms, they did not take damage well, especially after losing their main means of attack temporarily after Scratch karate-chopped one Slicer's neck from both sides, completely crushing it. Grounder's naturally short height helped him get underneath the swinging scythes that hurled forwards, before he made drilling uppercut straight into one mantis' gut, ripping through to the inside of the thin-plated armour to knock it down before punching the head straight off.
After dealing with the small convoy of guards, they rushed ahead. The only problem with the Slicers was that their scythes would come back after hurling through thin air, magnetically-charged towards their source of origin which made them deadly even after defeat. In their efforts to scale up through the green bolted walls and red-wired pipeways, they even found large rotating cylinders made entirely of wire mesh they could simply run straight through, spinning in a slow cycle right to the other side.
Despite the somewhat-disorienting run through them that constantly had them correcting their vision as they spun slowly round and round, they managed to pass through such tunnels with little trouble. Then came huge spiralling towers with bolts locked around them that one could run on with enough speed to lower or raise it as a platform. Leaping on altogether, they ran as fast as they could as the bolt spun towards the top of the passage, allowing them to leap off with the momentum of their speed and heading onwards.
It was a little problematic however for Grounder, who due to his inability to jump at all, had to be assisted constantly by his two friends. On the other hand, his drill punches were perfect for ripping through weakened metal walls and infrastructures that allowed them quicker access to other areas. On a rare occasion, Scratch was the one who had to fly his way up vertical passages either to summon a lift, or to run all the way around a large bolt to have it spin its way back to their level. James kept himself on point as their main attacker, while Scratch and Grounder acted as guides.
With their most basic first memories as their only means of navigating, the two badniks combined their strength and speed in a surprisingly coherent fashion, far more than they ever did before. The rooster flied high while the moletank burrowed deep, the two never really having to split up unless it was literally impossible to take one or the other with them. Usually Grounder, who had to resort to scraping through sheer rusted steel in order to come out the other side of another passage beyond a metal wall, with Scratch and FG climbing their way up and around by themselves.
The climb was long and arduous, seemingly infinite loops of the same kind of room, one single colossal tower interior of neverending gears and shifting springs with very few side-rooms to hide out in. The enemies became more threatening the higher up they went, two in particular. A large-fisted crab robot, its one claw much bigger than the other which menacingly shot out energy balls straight at them. Despite being able to guard against it, James had problems actually being able to damage its thick plated hull unless he fired up his blades with pure flame.
But the real enemy to watch out for were tiny starfish-shaped bots, clutching to the walls and out of view from them until too late. Once they felt an enemy presence, they would float through the air silently in rage, their single red eye in the middle of their yellow steel bodies glinting with suicidal fury. James almost felt he was seeing a Pokemon again, until it exploded right in his face. A storm of shrapnel came hurtling down towards them, which the raptor just barely managed to dodge and deflect.
The badniks weren't bothered by it much, but the raptor caught a shard in the leg and roared as he went limping onwards, struggling to pull out the vicious-looking metal thorn before heading onwards. Bleeding at the leg, he became much more wary of any other potential starfish enemies, known as Asteron according to the local flavour that tried to intercept them in pincer movements. Including the crabs, known as Shellcrackers who surprisingly did not go for this tactic. Instead they were the brute force, readily barging in and shooting off their energy photons.
Their thick claws also made for deadly punch attacks, hard enough to knock FG down should he ever try to guard against them. But with burning scissors heated up enough, he was able to cut through most any enemy that got in his way. Soon they were nearing the top, after what felt like hours of fighting and climbing together through a series of spinning tubes, fast-shooting pipelines and cog-hopping bridges made entirely out of gears.
There were even whole passageways going up that were filled with springs, but this time they looked more like pinball flippers wedged to the sides more than anything else. Nevertheless the moment that James hopped up to one, he was immediately flung back and forth all the way up to the top, boinging his way upwards with mind-numbing speed. Scratch and Grounder followed up after him, the tankbot even able to bounce straight up after them before rushing ever onwards to their final destination.
As they reached the dizzying height of what must have been at least 1000 metres high, they found themselves suddenly locked in within an entirely separate floor. The huge steel doors suddenly slammed down on both ends of the room, which was large enough that it took 2 minutes to reach from one end to the other by walking. It was also completely filled with scrap heaps, cluttering the whole area with a far higher technological value than anything from the scrap hills.
"Robotnik sure loves throwing junk away," thought FG aloud. "So much crap here and no way out."
"Why'd they lock us in anyway?!" said Grounder. "We're not scrap!"
"Not anymore we're not!" said Scratch. "Let's look fer a way outta here, an' bust up that fathead!"
"Maybe something in all this heap of trash might break the door open," said FG. "Look for something dangerous alright?"
While the two badniks went searching through the refuge, James headed to the other end of the hall to investigate the door. There was no apparent lock or safety switch to deal with the steel shutter, so he tried looking up to see if there was maybe a fusebox or something else that connected to its power. No such luck, and it was only 5 minutes later that he walked back to both Scratch and Grounder, who found only one useful thing that Scratch wielded firmly in both hands.
"Hey lookit this!"
It was a strange-looking bazooka, a single metal cylinder with rifle-sized holster and a feeding chamber at the top, a currently empty glass tube. To the raptor, it looked like an oversized salad shooter.
"What the hell is that?"
"It's a Mean Bean Machine! I never thought we'd find one of THESE babies!"
"What's it do?"
"This li'l beauty'll blast out some good ol' slimy beans at any enemies! But we modified 'em to shoot out acid, hot water, even lava if ya got it! If ya find any good liquid for it, we can use it, whack it all the way up to super-hot!"
"Hah really?! Sounds crazy shit to me."
"Sure is! BLAST PROCESSING BABY!"
He fired an empty shot at the door ahead, harming nobody but seeing if he could make something out of it with the right ammo. James looked over it himself, wondering how it could possibly work saying:
"You need to put like...water in this thing or-"
"Anything really!" said Scratch. "Well...maybe not ANYTHING, I mean we can't use all this junk around us here, it's gotta be something liquid!"
"Yeah like uh, water or oil or acid maybe?"
"And you said you can make it hot?"
"Yup yup, I can make it ice-cold even-heeeey! What if we use THIS to bust open that door over there?!"
"That was just what I was thinking. I don't wanna waste my nano-energy too much though, so maybe you guys can find some oil around here and gather it all up in that thing?"
"Why don't YOU do it, yer not my boss."
"...yeah yanno what good point, lemme help you."
The three began looking around all the different scrap heaps for any and all signs of oil still left on the machines. While most of them had been hung out to dry, figuratively speaking, there was always the off-chance of a spare can or gasket or even oil drum lying somewhere just waiting to be used. Eventually, after a good scouring of the room for the next 6 minutes, they found enough motor oil to cap off the Mean Bean Machine with a healthy ammo stock of black viscous goo sloshing around in the feeding chamber tube on top of it.
Scratch stepped towards the other end of the large room and aimed it steadily with both hands at the exit, readily firing up the machine with a few tweaks here and there.
"You sure you know how to use this?" asked FG.
"I remember how NOT to use it!" said the chicken. "Remember when I shot hot water at Robotnik's face by accident?"
"OOOH YEAH!" said Grounder. "That was funny! He looked like a boiled egg! ...and then he took yer legs away!"
"Yeah...that was a reaaaal fun two weeks."
"It was! I used your left leg fer a backscratcher!"
"Ahahaha, haha, hah...whatever, let's open up this bad boy already-huh?!"
Suddenly a noise began to vibrate through the entire room, shaking the whole place with a violent tremor that shifted quickly towards one epicentre somewhere to the side of them. It seemed to be coming from source of hitherto unknown energy, glowing from the pile of machines that slowly began to dislodge from their placement. A whole pile of debris began shaking itself off with some great power, pulsating thickly with a strong amethyst light.
As the rustling noise of tearing machinery turned louder and louder, Grounder picked up his phone from his chest cavity and tried to answer the receiver.
"WH-WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" cried Scratch.
"It keeps ringin', HELLO!? This better not be a crank call, I know where you live mister!"
"What are you talkin' about you numbskull, that phone can't ring at all, it's not even plugged in!"
"I heard it ringin'!"
"Whaddaya mean ya heard it ringin'!?"
"I heard SOMETHING ring, I don't know whut it is!"
"WOULD YOU SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR FUCKING PHONE," said FG, "WE GOT BIGGER PROBLEMS NOW!"
And just as he said this, said bigger problem burst through the scrap heap with a single clawed hand, pure steel fingers that shot out briefly before punching out the whole hill trapping it beneath. The mountain of debris slowly began to unravel, tumbling down hard on both sides of itself as if it were splitting itself open, before something seemed to come out through the cloud of loosened rust. Something small and child-like that briefly glowed from a red tip upon its head before speaking with a strange robotic whine.
"Non-registers spotted. S-sun...shine. Can...you feel...sunshine-designation-one-three-ee-ee...eeeee-seven. One-th-seven-"
"Wh-what the heck's that?!" said Scratch squawking.
A doll-shaped pale orange creature, speaking in a metallic voice that scraped right through FG's head. Its eyes empty and blankly staring at all three of them, as it softly approached with its head listlessly hung to one side. To them it appeared to look like the small plushie of a fox, its two tails spasming behind it before ending in two white tips. A small antenna quivered on top of its head, no longer blinking from its red tip as it tried to speak its parameters.
"Can you feel the sun-shi-i-ine, does it brigh-igh-ighten-en-en-en-e-e-e-e-e-e-your date of death...don't you feel...eel...eel-seven, seven, seven, three, one, three, seven die, one die, three targets die before the lap is over."
"What the hell is this thing?" said FG.
"I'm asking you!" said Scratch. "It kinda looks like one of Sonic's frieeee-EHHHH WATCH OUT!"
The robot suddenly rushed forwards with blinding speed, its tails hovering behind it uselessly with the rest of its body as it slashed out at the badnik with white gloved hands. But in truth they extended out into very swift claws while never changing the glove design itself, piercing triple-blades that shot out and spun like blenders, screaming briefly with each strike they tried to make. The raptor found himself to be the prime target, as the doll swiftly lunged towards him with thin wiry arms of steel.
Defending himself, his scissors were strong enough to resist the slicing claws, but the doll was horrendously brutal in its striking speed. Slashing repeatedly left and right, the arms snapped with a disturbingly precise manner, not huge and swinging arcs but strong and concise in hitting exactly where they wanted to hit. The raptor guarded in both diagonally and horizontally, forcing the strange robot to strike again and again at his rusted blades to no effect. But it was certainly strong enough to send powerful vibrating hits through to his wrists, taking his resistance down bit by bit.
Eventually he had enough, and after trying to predict its pattern of strike-slash-strike, he swung his scissors hard across its face before firing them up with flames, roaring in a turning slash as he spun on his foot. The scissors struck hard by the tip of the pincered blades, scarring across the neck, chin and left eye of the doll with his so-called "Raging Tempest" attack. Were he not so thrown off by this creature, he would ponder on having another name for his maneuver. Or at least his own name for each of them.
But the doll was tougher than it looked, striking out hard with a devious-looking reach that slashed across FG's armoured shoulder, but the deflecting guard ended with the claws bending inwards to strike lightly at his chest. Scarring red marks across his sternum, he roared and waited for the next strike before clamping the arm shut within his scissors, dodging the thrusting attack before snapping tight on the steel limb.
The other arm however was free to strike along his back, slashing all along it as the raptor swung the doll around like a hammer, being unable to cut through the solid steel as it was. Releasing his scissorhold upon it once he spun fast enough, he hurled the fox-shaped robot straight into the trashpile, a cacophony of broken parts as it swiftly recovered. Kicking itself free, it backflipped down towards FG before spin-slashing straight at him.
But he was ready now for this thing's attacks, seeing that while it was vicious it had not much else in the form of attack, as well as the fact that it had no traction for the way it just hovered above the ground completely. The moment it spun straight for him, he sidestepped before cleaving through with his own hard spinning strike coming the opposite way. The scissors, burning bright with his nano-flames, struck hard into the doll's head and nearly-cleaving it in two, the moth-eaten ears separating slightly from the rest of its skull along with the entire top half.
The doll slid forwards onto its back, skidding hard to a stop and rolling with a sickening crunch of scraping steel that even Scratch and Grounder had to wince at seeing. With its head almost completely cut in half, the doll thrust its chest upwards, forcing its head to lean back until its eyes stared perfectly straight through them. Suddenly, it bounced into a handspring, its severed head hanging loosely like a coonskin cap before striking out again at FG. But before it could get too close, a blast of cold oil came hurtling towards its back at the speed of a baseball.
The robot turned towards Scratch, wielding the Mean Bean Machine with a strange cocking of the feeding chamber to load another volley, before aiming it once more.
"Back off flyboy, unless ya wanna get a hot load of good ol' morning oil!"
"Yeah!" said Grounder. "You better back off!"
Despite the badniks' attempted warning, it simply rushed at them with a psychotic screech, as if a dial-up modem had suddenly gone berserk before Scratch fired hastily at it once again. The cold oil blasted upon its face, the thickness of it at such a cool temperature combined with the sudden force of its volleying shot making a rather formidable weapon, hard enough to crack a bit of the steel on its face.
But the doll-sized bot made another rush, and this time managed to successfully slash across Scratch's face, searing pain exploding in the rooster's head as he felt something come off of him. He tried to scream out from the attack, only to find he had suddenly turned mute. Much to his horror, he was left without a beak, torn off of his face and now lying on the ground as his screams became muffled. He ran in a panic for his steel yellow beak lying on the ground, leaving himself wide open for the attacking doll to strike.
But James was already on the move. He readily rushed straight towards it while it was facing away from him and plunged into its back, piercing with flaming scissors hard enough to scrape past the robotic spine. The sudden jolts and sparks of its spasming agony signalled the end of the fight, as the fox-shaped doll tore itself free with a sudden burst from FG's scissors, turning around to face all three of them heavily holding itself up. Its voice soon came through again more weakly than it had before.
"Sun...shining...on...my joy...bury within...tow-...tower of...m-m-m-m-m-mmmmmaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-A-A-A-A...A-A-A-A...A-...A-ampbell."
That was all the robot would say before it suddenly shrieked a vile ear-piercing screech, as it rushed past FG blindly without aiming. The sound of metal suddenly exploding came from behind him, as the door to their exit now had a gigantic hole in the middle of it. Scratch was more panicky about his beak, grabbing it hastily before desperately reattaching it onto himself. The beak appeared not to be damaged, and it was simply a matter of reconnecting the conduits before he was able to speak again.
At this point James wondered how easy it was to actually build such easily-fixed robots, considering how their parts could just reattach and detach with little hassle.
"Frickin-sassin-sunuva-GUH! Phew! Thought I wasn't gonna be able to breathe there!"
"Uh you don't breathe, you're a robot."
"Who cares I got my beak back!"
"Whut the heck WAS that thing anyway?!" asked Grounder. "It looked kinda familiar!"
"Yeah it looked like one of Sonic's friends! ...you don't think..."
"Don't think what?" asked FG.
"That doll thing," said the rooster, "Dr. Robotnik had ideas about making robot versions of Sonic and stuff, wanted to get all up inside his head an' mess with him! That doll mighta been one of 'em!"
"Doll...wait...doll, didn't someone back at the palace zone warn us about something?"
"No, really, that one guy whose head blew up, he mentioned a doll!"
"...uhhhh I guess? I don't remember."
"I swear that thing...just........whatever, it's gone now and we're getting out of here. What's at the top of this tower?"
"OOH OOH I KNOW I KNOW!" said Grounder quickly. "It's the Wing Fortress!"
"I just remembered it! Come on I'll show ya, this way!"
Letting Grounder lead for once, the gang of three all headed out towards the higher levels of the Metropolis Zone and still on the hunt for Robotnik, with Scratch taking the Mean Bean shooter with him just in case. But James still had a nagging feeling about the strange creature they had just faced. He felt as if he had met something like it before, a wild scratching sensation from the back of his head. The only thing that would take his mind off it, would be what they found at the very top of the skyscraper city of machines.