“Sonic, Shadow, do you read us?”
On the ground, Sonic and Shadow were running through the streets of the city, while Tails and Shard flew overhead. Shard was the one radioing the hedgehogs.
“Hear you loud and clear, pal!” Sonic radioed back. “What's up?”
“Us, that's what!” Tails radioed in, laughing. But then he stopped, spotting something ahead. “Hello, what's this?”
Shadow cut in at this. “What's what?”
Shard spoke up, narrowing his eyes as he scanned ahead. “We're seeing shadows ahead.” he looked to Tails, who nodded. “Tails and I are gonna move in for a closer look.”
Shard and Tails surged ahead, headed for a building where they saw movement. Hovering a safe distance, Tails eyes widened as he spotted what he was looking for. Shard radioed back, having spotted them as well. “Guys, we see SWATbots. Lots of them! And they're carrying...something!”
Sonic and Shadow looked to each other, heading over in their direction. “Just stay above them, guys. Don't get reckless!”
Tails radioed in. “We're okay. They haven't even noticed us!”
Shadow responded this time. “Well hang on, we'll be there in a flash!”
The duo arrived at the building, following the SWATbots inside as Shard reponded. “Check! We're coming down!”
As Shard and Tails landed, catching up with the hedgehogs, Shadow looked to Sonic. “How can they even be up and running? I thought the EMP would have disabled them!”
Sonic shook his head. “Not sure. Either they were kept in a shielded building or Snively fixed them or...something!”
Shard eventually spoke up as they followed the SWATbots. “What do you guys think they're up to?”
Sonic looked back at them. “Who can say? But whatever it is-” He looked back to watching them disappear through a corridor. “-we're not going to find out by staying outside.”
As they went through the corridor, they came out into a large factory area, where machinery ran, conveyor belts rolled along, and SWATbots were setting crates on them to be processed. Sonic breathed. “Unbelievable. It's like the Robotnik here planned to keep things operating LONG after he was gone!”
Tails looked to Sonic. “Sure looks it-” Tails was suddenly distracted as something came up from behind. “Mayday, Sonic! SWATbot approaching from behind!”
The four of them got back to back as more SWATbots came through, and Sonic was suddenly changing his form, becoming Mecha Sonic as he was pulling power, anticipating a fight. “We're surrounded!” Tails yelped.
Shadow was readying his gun when the SWATbots passed them by. “Huh?!”
“What in the world?” Shard blinked, looking to Sonic.
Sonic looked back at him, just as confused. “Totally ignored...way uncool. Shard, help me run a scan of the area.”
Shard nodded, looking around. “Sonic, check out the info I'm sending to you.”
Data began to scan into Sonic's systems. “I see it. The trains are running, but aren't going anywhere.” He looked to them. “If this Robotnik had a plan, I sure don't see it.”
The four of them were standing there, trying to think about what was happening here, when suddenly they jumped at the sound of what seemed to be screaming. Sonic and Shadow looekd at each other and suddenly bolted to go seek the source of the screaming.
“Sonic, Shadow, WAIT UP!” Shard screamed, as he and Tails followed after. “It could be a trap!”
“That's no trap, that's a cry for help!” Sonic radioed to them as they could hear the screaming more clearly.
Shadow looked to Sonic. “I'm having trouble pinpointing the sound.”
Tails and Shard, caught up to them, as Tails was trying to listen to the screams. “Sonic, that sounds like-”
“Not now, Tails!” Sonic swatted at him, looking to Shadow. “I'm trying to separate the echo from the source.”
“I can help with that,” Shard mentioned, feeding Sonic on how to differentiate the sounds to find the source. They both pointed down a set of stairs and mentioned at the same time “Down there!”
Shadow and Tails peered down the stairs as Sonic frowned. “I'm detecting instability in the stairs. Let's be careful!”
Tails frowned as they started to head down. “I don't know about this, Sonic...”
Sonic looked to him. “Believe me, after what we, and I, been through, this is not the worst idea.”
As they descended down, the stairs began to shift and shake. “Yow! Talk about shake, rattle and roll-!”
Shadow suddenly grabbed Sonic's metallic hand. “Quick, jump!”
The two of them leaped over the gap created by the crumbling stairwell and landed safely at the bottom, with Tails and Shard hovering just overhead. Shadow sighed. “That was close.”
“Sonic, Tails!” A voice called from the other side of the room. They looked up to see a female purple platypus waving them down. “Over here!”
The four of them ran over to see a green armadillo half buried beneath some very large rubble. Sonic yelped. “Arlo! Are you alright?!”
“Only...” he coughed. “...when I laugh...”
Sonic looked to Shard, and the two robots ran over to grasp at the rubble. “Hang on, Arlo, we'll get you out!”
Together, the two robots worked to try to get the biggest piece of stone off of Arlo. This rock was heavy, even for the two robots! “Ugh, come on, come on!”
Suddenly a hand grasped a third side of the rock and helped the robots lift the rock, enough for the platypus to pull Arlo out from the rubble.
Sonic gasped a bit and looked to the one helping him. “Mighty!”
The red and black armadillo helped the robots toss the rock aside, looking to Arlo. “Hey, we gotta be able to help each other out, am I right?” He then looked at Sonic and smiled a bit. “...hey Sonic...”
Sonic grinned and grasped Mighty's hand in an intertwining hand grasp. “Bro, what're you doing all the way out here?!”
Mighty could only sigh. “I live out here, Sonic.”
“Ooh...I see...” Sonic said, murmuring as he saw some of the others that were with Mighty, including a lion, a mouse, a few roboticized citizens, and Uncle Chuck.
Mighty looked to him. “We know about the time line changes. Out here, you and I were best friends, working together to stop Dr. Robotnik.” He gestured to some of the others. “Do you know any of the others?”
Sonic looked over and shook his head. “Sorry, I don't see anyone I recognize from my time line.”
The lion stepped over, offering to shake Sonic's hand. “Hi Sonic, I'm Cyrus. We used to hang out together as kids while your Uncle and my dad worked together in the science lab.”
“Hi Cyrus,” Sonic shook his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
The mouse stepped up. “Hey Sonic. I'm Trevor. You took me in as a Freedom Fighter when you rescued me from Robotnik's roboticizer years ago.”
Sonic looked at him, curious. “I did?”
Mighty nodded. “You were our leader, Sonic. We hid in the city to take out Robotnik from under him.”
Sonic blinked. “Well...if I'm leader...then...what about Princess Sally?”
Chuck sighed. “As far as we were able to tell, Sonie, the Princess doesn't exist in this time line. But then, its been determined that even if there was a Sally in this time line, our Princess has essentially merged to become her.”
Sonic blinked, utterly confused. “Wait...Unc...what're you trying to say?”
Chuck frowned. “What I'm saying is, anyone from our timeline, has essentially merged and replaced our counterparts in this timeline. We've become them.”
Sonic looked from his uncle, to Mighty, who grasped at Sonic's hand. “Sonic...you pretty much are our leader now.”
Sonic had to take a step back, with Shadow coming over to steady the robot. “This...this is a little much to take in...”
Uncle Chuck sighed again. “Sonic...there's...one more thing you need to know.”
Sonic looked to him. What else could there possibly be?
A female's voice from the back drew Sonic's attention, as the lavender hedgehog stepped out to approach Sonic. His face turned to that of concern. “...who....”
“My name is Queen Aleena...” she spoke, touching the top of her chest. “...I'm...your mother.”
Dead silence in the room for a few moments. Sonic had to try and find the voice to speak again. “Y...you're....my mother...?”
“That's right...I know I must be different from what you know...” She started to approach him, but Sonic took a few more steps back. Feeling that Shadow still had his hands on his shoulders, he actually reached to grip his hand.
Shadow couldn't help but gripped Sonic's hand right back, wanting to comfort him as he was trying to process everything, and bare back a blush.
She stopped, seeing the way he was reacting. “You...need some time...I can see that.”
“Just one question,” Sonic asked. “If you're my mom...where's dad?”
Her face became sad at this. She should have seen this coming. “I...don't know anymore...he left us a long time ago.”
Sonic could only stare for a moment before starting to shake his head. “No...no...”
She reached out for Sonic, worried. “Sonic-”
Sonic finally pulled away from Shadow to get further back. “MY dad would never abandon his family!”
He suddenly took off, leaving the others stunned.
Shadow could only stare, watching the area where Sonic was. A hand laid on his shoulder. He turned to look to Aleena. She looked at him. “I've seen that look in someone's eyes before...the one that you have now. I think he needs someone who can comfort him.”
Shadow could only turn red at this. “...m...me...?”
She nodded. “It's alright...go after him.”
Shadow paused for a moment to nod before he turned to run after Sonic.
Aleena turned to find everyone was staring at her. She could only blink as Shard finally spoke. “...what look?”
ELSEWHERE, A BIT LATER
Princess Sally was going over some of the operations that she had assigned to the other freedom fighters, and a porcupine turned, looking to Sally from where he was working on some kind of communications box. “We've been able to establish what communications boxes are currently working in the immediate vicinity, Princess.”
Sally looked up from where she was holding up Nicole, and looked back to the porcupine. “Which about to...”
A pig near the porcupine looked up to her. “Maybe two out of every 5 are operational.”
Sally frowned. “Not good, but still better than-”
The pig suddenly noted movement nearby and gasped. “Sweet mother of pearl!”
Sally looked to where the pig was drawing his attention and saw Uncle Chuck approaching with a mix of new faces and robots alike. “Uncle Chuck?”
He approached. “Sorry for disappearing on you. I was trying to find some folks, and came across these underground Freedom Fighters and freed roboticized Mobians.”
She gave him a hug. “That's quite alright!”
Some of the others on Sally's side began to talk amongst themselves about the newcomers, when Mighty approached Sally. “Greetings. You must be Princess Sally.”
Sally reached and shook his hand. “Hello Mighty. It's good to see you again, even if you don't recognize me.”
Mighty nodded and stepped to the side, to allow Aleena to step forward. “Princess, allow me to introduce our time line's own Queen Aleena.”
Sally was surprised as she shook hands with the Queen. “I'm sorry, you caught me by surprise. Mighty never mentioned you were with him when I contacted him.”
She smiled. “It's okay, dear. My presence was to stay quiet until we knew for sure what the situation was. I been in hiding for a long time to make sure Robotnik never caught me.”
Sally nodded. “I know we have a lot to discuss. My father will want to know about your presence immediately.”
As the two began to walk away, Aleena nodded. “I look forward to meeting with him. Perhaps we can work together to rebuild this great kingdom.”
Meanwhile, the two groups from the two time lines seemed to face off one another, both groups talking amongst themselves.
Far distant from the two groups, Tails and Shard could only watch with concern, with Shard frowning further. “Hmm...”
Tails looked to Shard. “What are they saying, Shard?”
“It's not good, Tails,” Shard said, looking to him.
“Both sides are questioning what to do if the opposing ruler tries to lay claim to Mobotropolis.”