The Mercenaries


1996 The Mercenaries By Derek J. Barbee

Any resemblance to actual characters are not coincidental. ; )

Joseph, Bahb, and all other independent creations of Joseph DeLaCroix are the copyrighted property of JoCo Inc. Commander Packbell, Bookshire Draftwood, and Sandra Nightweaver are the copyrighted property of David Pistone. All rights reserved. Pause for bourgeois legalities: This story is copyright 1996 by the author, who grants permission to reproduce and distribute it, so long as A) you don't screw around with it and leave the text as it is, and B) you don't try and make some cash off of it. If you're serious about the latter, drop me a line barbees@sonic.net and we'll discuss my cut. All the normal provisions of Title 17 (the U.S. Copyright Law) still apply.

Based on characters and situations created by Sega Corporation, Archie Comics and/or DiC Productions. Bookshire Draftwood appears in this story courtesy of David Pistone Talent Associates.

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Four mercenaries walked along a road of the Great Forest. They cut an odd group, all carrying backpacks that bulged with unknown things. There was one who seemed the attempted leader, a fox with a patch over his eye. He kept trying to keep the others in order, and was not having very much success with it. The second, a wildcat, with striking blue, gold and black fur, seemed to go along rather reluctantly with things, finally giving in. Another, an orange sparrow, hopped along the road next to the others, sometimes taking to the air when it's legs got tired or the wildcat's eyes strayed to the sparrow's plump figure too much. The fourth and last was a hedgehog that seemed to bulge with muscles that it continually showed off. This one seemed to constantly challenge the fox's leadership, trying to act as if he was in control.

The one eyed fox glanced at Robotropolis, wincing rather inwardly. "That place keeps reminding me of something, someone that I should know or remember," he said to the others, sporting a slight London accent.

The sparrow fluttered up. "Who care? We trying find money, not lost people!"

The fox jabbed a finger at the sparrow. "I care," he snapped, "something is bugging me, a bally annoying something that all of us should remember."

The wildcat shrugged. "Ahh, what's the difference, Jakkon? I don't remember anything important! If it _is_ something that is that important, it'll come to us."

The hedgehog spoke up. "Yeah, but you couldn't remember something that happened yesterday!"

"Hey! Colin, you jerk! You take that back!"

"Nevaaar!" the hedgehog, now identified as Colin, grinned.

Jakkon waved a hand. "Knock it off, ya two! I think that we may be getting near a village. So take off those masks, they're so scary ya bally might give someone a heart attack!"

Colin turned to the sparrow and held out a paw. "Chris, agreed truce for now? Just until we get that idiot?" Chris nodded and shook Colin's paw with his claw. Colin turned to the wildcat. "You too, Andrew?" Andrew shook his paw.

"Now get the schmuck!"

Three rampaging bodies hurled themselves at the fox, who took one look and ducked. Dust flew and creatures let out war cries.

"Yee-ha! Got 'im!"

"That's me, you idiot!"

"Ouch! Eat that you weenie!"

When the dust settled, everyone looked around. Chris was biting Colin's foot, Colin was grabbing Andrew's neck, and Andrew had a paw stretched over Chris's head, claws outstretched. Jakkon stood leaning against a tree, polishing his nails. he looked over and grinned.

"Oh, hello chaps! Got yaselves in a right old mess, didn't you?"

With a howl of contorted rage, the three tangled animals launched themselves at the annoying vulpine. He laughed and ran down the road. Nearby in the bushes, no one noticed the female squirrel slip back into the undergrowth, taking the shortcut to Knothole, the way quicker than the road that the four mercenaries were on. Princess Sally Acorn sneaked back to Knothole to make a report. Jakkon's voice could be heard echoing throughout the trees.

"Hah hah! Like I've always told ya bloodthirsty mongrels, a fox who fights, then runs away, lives to fight another day! Hah hah!"

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Sally ran panting into Knothole. Sonic ran up and caught her just as she was about to fall over from breathing so hard.

"Whoa, Sal! What got you all worked up? New exercise diet?"

Sally slapped him lightly and stood up. "Mercenaries, coming this way!" she panted. "A fox, a wildcat, a sparrow and a hedgehog!"

Sure enough, Jakkon ran into camp followed with the rest of the gang hot on his heels. Jakkon skidded to a stop and stepped quickly to the side, letting the others who were rapidly trying to stop run into each other and fall into a heap. Jakkon panted for breath and looked up, grinning. The smile flickered as he saw Sally and Sonic headed his way. He aimed a kick at the three others who were trying to stand up and untangle themselves.

"Now look what ya've got us inta! Can't ya bloody act decent for a change?" he snapped.

Sally came over and attempted to address him. "Hello, I'm Princess Sally, and this is Sonic. I saw you coming and from my guess, you are mercenaries. Is that correct?"

"G'day to you. Yes, ya hit that bloody nail on the head! We are mercenaries, lookin' for a spot of work. The name's Jakkon, and this piddly heap of creatures contains me old pals," replied Jakkon, gesturing at Chris, Andrew and Colin who were rapidly trying to regain their dignity _and_ their balance, "Chris, Andrew, and Colin. Please to met ya."

"I'm afraid that we don't have work for you . . . but . . ." Sally trailed off.

Sonic nudged her. "Aww, c'mon, Sal! They might be good against Robotnik!"

Sally turned to Sonic. "No way! We don't know if we can trust these four or not! They might be some of Robotnik's new Automatons! You know! The robots made to look like real animals!"

Sonic looked back at Jakkon, who was watching some female foxes who were walking by and shook his head. "I don't think so. Think about it. Would Robotnik be dumb enough to make four Automatons that tackled and chased each other? Robotnik wouldn't do that because he would be afraid they would be damaged! C'mon, give 'em a chance!"

Sally looked warily at the group and sighed. "All, right," she sighed.

Jakkon smiled, as if knowing what they were talking about. "Don't worry," he said, "We aren't going to radio ya position ta the bally old enemy, or anything. Say, what is this dudes name that ya going after?"

"Packbell!" growled Sonic slamming a fist into his palm angrily.

Every one of the mercenaries jumped. Jakkon stared at Sonic. "Did ya say Packbell? As in Packbell, Robotnik's android?"

Sally nodded. "The very one!"

A frown spread across Jakkon's face, as well as the rest of the mercenaries. "Is there a place that we can talk around here? Privately?"

Chris hopped forward. "Yeah, it 'bout 'Botnik's history."

Colin shook his head. "You're not going to like it!"

Sonic nodded. "Sure come on. I know a place."

As they walked, Jakkon looked over at Tails, who was swinging from a vine into The Lake of Rings, impressing a crowd of young kits. When Tails popped to the surface after hitting the water, Andrew whistled and Jakkon tossed a gold coin to Tails. "Jolly good show!" called Jakkon, and Andrew nodded.

Tails rushed over and stared agape at the coin. He waved at Jakkon as they walked past, the astonished look never leaving his face. Others crowded around to see the gold coin and Tails was lost from view.

Colin smiled. "Always had a soft spot for the kits, didn't you," he said elbowing him lightly.

Jakkon grinned. "It doesn't hurt ta be nice ta the little ones!"

Sonic and Sally watched them out of the corners of their eyes. Sonic smiled. "Now does that sound like an automaton? An automaton would probably have kicked Tails if he was in the way. Besides, didn't you hear what the hedgehog said? You always had a soft spot for kits! Come on, Sal!"

Sally shook her head, a smile flickering on her lips. "I just hope that's what they're really like."

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Sonic seated himself on a stump and stared intently at the four mercenaries, who seated themselves in rather odd positions. "Well, said Sonic, "what's this important thing that we must know?"

Chris chirped from his position on a branch above their heads. "We know 'Botnik 'n' Packbell from long 'go!" he chattered.

Jakkon nodded sadly. "A long time ago we came from a city called Kintex. It was a wonderful place, as I may guess this place was before bloody old Robotnik came. But then, an evil came ta the land, and attempted ta destroy it. Robotnik was just testing out Packbell when he attacked. Robotnik tried to capture our old land, but we drove him off."

Grinning, Colin pulled an enormous gun from his backpack. Jakkon waved for him to put it back in the bag. He turned back to Sonic and Sally, who were rather astonished by the sight of such a gun. Jakkon grinned sheepishly.

"We drove him off rather brutally. But the city was still in ruins, so, my friends here and I took ta the road, and became mercenaries. We don't use the weapons unless we get a bally job, and believe me chaps, those babies could blow ten Robotropolis' ta smithereens!" Jakkon shook his head, "And now that we learned that Robotnik is back, we want ta help!"

He looked at the expression on the Freedom Fighter's faces. He nodded in recognition.

"Ahh. I know that look. No . . . we don't want ta be paid, we just want ta help ya out and drive that blighter outa town.."

Sonic leaped to his feet. "No doubt about it, bro! You can!"

Sally was about to interrupt, when Jakkon held up a hand. "Don't worry! We are _not_ working for Robotnik. Heaven forbid! You can even send one of your friends with us if you don't trust us enough."

Sally and Sonic stared. Jakkon sighed.

"Oh dear, that was _not_ the right thing ta say. Now ya thinking that we'll capture ya friend and take him ta smelly old Robotnik. How about ya just install a mini camera on the tip of my ear? From what I hear, that works just fine."

Sonic nodded. "Let's go get one from Rotor." He started off, but stopped. He turned to face Jakkon again. "By the way, Robotnik is gone. Now just Packbell is in control."

Jakkon shrugged. Two evil, one evil, no matter."

As they walked past The Lake of Rings again, Jakkon glanced at the vine. He turned to Sonic and Sally. "I say, he said, "could I try out that bally vine over there while you're getting the camera? I've been achin' ta try it ever since I saw the little fox swingin' from it!

Sonic shrugged. "Sure. Knock yourself out!"

Jakkon shuddered as he walked toward the vine. "Please don't say that! Never tried this bally trick before so let's hope I gets it right, wot, wot?"

Sonic chuckled and ran off with Sally to find Rotor.

Jakkon took off his backpack and grabbed the vine. "Let's see,now," he said, "Ya swing on the vine and land in the flippin' drink. Doesn't sound _too_ difficult."

He kicked his feet up and swung toward the lake.

"Eulaliaaaaaa!"

He did a few flips in the air and hit the water headfirst with a splash. The young ones giggled and pointed. Jakkon's head popped to the surface.

"Oh, I say! That is fun!" he laughed.

Chris tried, holding onto the vine with his claws. At one point he swung and fluttered around in the air in circles before he let himself fall into the water. Colin laughed.

"Cheater!"

Thus followed a rapid game of seeing who could do the most flips in the air before they hit the water. Andrew had set the record of four flips when Colin broke it with five. Since Chris could just fly around in the air, doing flips he just did it for the heck of it. Sonic and Sally came back with the camera, but stopped when they saw what was going on. They just smiled and sat down. They watched as Jakkon flipped and dived into the lake. Sonic shook his head, set down the box that contained the mini camera and stood up, barely containing his laughter.

"Darn you four!" he called at the mercenaries, "Now you got me started!"

Sonic ran and leaped into the air, he caught the vine and swung back and forth. He finally let go with a cry.

"Swan dive!"

He hit the water with a splash and Chris laughed. "Hah hah! Swan dive? Look more like dead duck!"

Sally rolled her eyes. "I think that childishness is contagious," she muttered.

Joseph and Sandra happened to be walking by when they heard the commotion. Joseph went over to Sally.

"What in tarnation has got into them?" he asked, glancing at Sonic and the Mercenaries who were taking turns swinging on the rope.

Sally smiled. "Some newcomers came into town and they seem to have brought the spirit of mischief with them."

"Ahh." Joseph watched as Sonic swung off the rope and went into a Sonic Spin. He shook his head and turned back to Sally. "Anything I can do to help?"

Sally looked over at Sandra, who was watching the activities with mild interest. Sally smiled. "You might want to keep an eye on the fox, the one they call Jakkon when Sandra's around. Judging by what I've seen here today, I don't think you'd want to leave Sandra within fifty yards of Jakkon. If you do, you might not like the results."

Joseph raised an eyebrow. "I get your point."

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Sonic dried himself off with a towel as he watched Jakkon inspecting the mini camera. Jakkon nodded at Sonic.

"It'll do," said Jakkon, as he fastened it near the base of his ear. He was covered in armor from head to foot, and had a large laser rifle strapped to his back. He turned away from Sonic and whistled. The other three mercenaries emerged from the bushes, all covered in similar armor and holding large weapons. Chris had some small laser guns attached to the metal armor, and a small fire swift on his back to keep him airborne. Andrew held a laser cannon at the ready, eyes slitted in hate of Robotropolis. Colin had two handguns and a large amount of grenades strapped to his belt. Sonic raised an eyebrow.

"Sheesh. I don't wanna know how many evil cities you've taken out with those weapons."

Jakkon checked his laser rifle and nodded. "Ya right, lad. Ya don't."

"Since when did I become lad?" asked Sonic.

"Since I'm going out ta blow up a bally city with me pals and you's stayin' here, watching the camera picture and twiddlin ya thumbs!" replied Jakkon, cocking his gun.

"I don't want to pick a fight with you."

"Wise, lad, wise. Now if ya'll excuse us, we have an appointment with old botsybut!"

Sonic watched as Jakkon and the rest of the mercenaries marched off toward Robotropolis, before heading to the control room where he could see from the camera.

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It was near ten o' clock when the mercenaries reached Robotropolis. It was a particularly clear night, and Jakkon frowned and pointed to Robotropolis.

"There she is, me hearties. Robotropolis. The next bloody evil city ta be destroyed by our hands!"

He powered up the laser rifle and fired a shot toward Robotropolis. It exploded, sending debris flying. The mercenaries charged as SWATBots swarmed out of entrances in Robotropolis, intent of destroying the enemy. A rapid fire of lasers found their marks, sending some SWATBots to pieces.

Jakkon stalked through the melee, firing shots from his rifle at any SWATBot that wandered too close, and often destroying a SWATBot with a kick or punch. Andrew fired shots in random directions, making SWATBots disappear in a blast of flame and flying metal. Chris flew through the air like a plane, blasting SWATBots from above and then soaring off to find another fresh batch of SWATBots. Colin leaped all around the battle zone, howling with exertion and sending laser beams soaring.

Jakkon lost his laser rifle by the hand of one particularly clever SWATBot. Jakkon growled and clenched his hands. Two metal spikes jumped out of his armor, outreaching his hands and glittering in the moonlight. He clashed the blades together ominously and attacked.

"Eulaliaaaaaaaa!"

SWATBots flew in all directions as Jakkon vented his rage against Robotnik and Packbell. Finally all the SWATBots had fallen. Jakkon howled his victory to the night sky. Colin came up and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Chill, man."

Jakkon shook him off. He turned around, the light of battle in his eyes. "Chill yaself!" he snarled, "I've been waiting for years ta get back at Robotnik and Packbell. No chilling is gonna take the delight from this situation now."

Jakkon stormed of toward the heart of Robotropolis. Colin shrugged and followed, backed by Chris and Andrew.

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Back at Knothole, Sonic shook his head. "I'll say this for him," he said admittingly, "he's got enough rage to blow down a herd of elephants."

Sally nodded as she watched the screen. "True. But I still think that there is something that he's not telling us. That all of them aren't telling us."

Bookshire tapped his cane against the stone floor of the hut incessantly. "The boy has great fury in his heart against Robotnik and Packbell. Once this sort of fury sets in, the only way to be relieved of it is to destroy. And that is what the boy is doing. Destroying."

Another explosion coming from the camera screen echoed through the hut, making everyone look to the screen.

"Speaking of destroying," Sonic exclaimed, "Jakkon and his pals just took out a Power Plant! Check it out!"

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Andrew fired another shot from his laser cannon. He smiled as the last bit of the Power Plant collapsed in flames. He turned to Colin who was still firing. "You can stop now!" he called, "Save your shots for more machinery to come!"

"Hey, guys! Come get an eyeful of this jolly old scene!"

It was Jakkon, waving from the top of a hill of rubble. Andrew and Colin scaled the mountain of junk while Chris merely flew over it. When they reached the top, Chris chittered in his rapid sparrow language.

"Hah hah! To bad little crawlers got no wings to fly like Chris!"

Andrew made a swipe at the annoying bird. "Oh shut up, you little twittering twit!"

Colin blinked. "Twittering Twit?"

Jakkon smiled. "That's wot the cat said."

Jakkon pointed over the other side of the mound of rubble they were on. They all looked. There was an operating SWATBot assembly factory there. Jakkon grinned and powered up a handgun. They all caught on quickly and began loading their weapons.

A grenade soared through the air and landed near the SWATBot assembly Factory. It exploded with an enormous blast, which was followed by a second, third and fourth grenade.

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Explosions rocked Robotropolis as Packbell fumbled for a monitor button inside the remains of the Death Egg. Finding one he hit it, and a screen showing a SWATBot flickered to life.

<"YES, OH BAD TEMPERED ONE?"> asked the SWATBot.

"Oh cut the pathetic sniveling," Packbell snarled, "I want to know what's happening in my city and I want to know _now_!"

<"THERE ARE FOUR UNKNOWN CREATURES ATTACKING THE CITY, SIR. THEY HAVE BEEN THROWING GRENADES AND SHOOTING LASERS FOR SOME TIME NOW. THEY HAVE ALREADY DESTROYED A POWER PLANT, A SWATBOT ASSEMBLY FACTORY AND SEVERAL OTHER ASSORTED PARTS OF ROBOTROPOLIS,"> replied the SWATBot.

Packbell cursed. The Freedom Fighters had left him alone for quite some time now, and he had wondered what they were up to. But now, they were going to pay!

"I'm going to go find them myself," growled Packbell, "They'll pay for the damage they did!"

<"AS YOU WISH, COMMANDER PACKBELL.">

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The mercenaries were inside the Death Egg!

Jakkon looked around. Suddenly he ducked against a wall and pulled the rest of the mercenaries with him. A SWATBot walked not five feet from them, patrolling the area. Jakkon snuck up behind it and slammed it over the head with an armored arm. The robot crumpled to the floor and Jakkon kneeled beside it. Andrew, Chris and Colin stared as Jakkon experimented madly with the SWATBots memory system. Jakkon looked up.

"According ta this 'bot's memory, bloody old Packbell should be in that direction,wot, wot!" he said, pointing toward a corridor on their left.

Packbell stepped out of the shadows. He cocked a plasma cannon and aimed it at them.

Colin held up a finger. "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"

"Nice to see you again, Jakkon," smirked Packbell.

Jakkon touched his eye patch, remembering when he had painfully met Packbell for the first time.

"The pleasure's all mine."

A laser shot across the room and nearly hit Packbell. Packbell sighted his gun straight at Jakkon. Jakkon leaped just as Packbell fired the plasma cannon. Jakkon was lucky. The beam only hit him in the shoulder. Never the less, he fell heavily to the floor. The others rushed over to help him.

Packbell cocked his oversized gun again. "Once more, with feeling?" he asked, allowing a rare smile to spread across his face.

Jakkon glared defiantly at Packbell. "Aww, blow it out your ear, Packbell."

Packbell aimed the gun.

"Go on, kill me!" fumed Jakkon, "Shoot a laser in my _other_ eye! Kill me like ya killed my parents! And Chris' and Colin's and Andrew's! Bloody blow our brains out us like ya did ta our parents!"

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Bunnie's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh mah stars!" she exclaimed, "That's what he was hiding from us!"

Sally nodded. "Probably so."

Sonic turned to Bookshire. "When Jakkon gets back, can you fix up that shoulder?"

Bookshire nodded. "Undoubtably. But I think that you are overlooking one thing . . ."

". . . What if Jakkon doesn't _come_ back?" Sally finished

Sonic gulped. "I never thought about that . . ."

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Packbell slitted his eyes. "Memories won't save you now, boy."

"It's been a long time since anyone referred to me as _boy_."

"Tough."

Suddenly, something totally unexpected happened. The guns on Chris' wings started firing rapidly, throwing Packbell against the wall. Packbell took one last surprised look at the sparrow and slumped against the ground.

Everyone was silent for a moment. Finally, Jakkon turned to Chris.

"Nice shooting."

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Sonic jumped up in the air. "They did it! Yahoo!"

Sally laughed. Sonic grinned. "Packbell is dead! No more evil android! The reign of Robotropolis is over!"

Bookshire smiled and slipped silently outside to spread the news. Sonic swung Bunnie around in circles, then sped off to try to spread the news before Bookshire did. Sally looked at Bunnie. Bunnie looked at Sally. They both laughed and ran outside.

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The four mercenaries came back to a very happy Knothole. Everyone was laughing and running around. When the citizens saw the mercenaries, they went berserk. Creatures were everywhere, congratulating, patting the four happy creatures on the back and shouting.

A female fox named Jerena ran through the crowd and hugged Jakkon, all the time fussing over him and his hurt shoulder.

Sonic stood with Andrew, Chris and Colin in the swirling melee. Sonic shook his head.

"A girl already? Man, that fox is a fast worker!"

Colin grinned. "Yeah. He's funny that way."

Sonic looked over to say something but he found that all three were gone. He looked around and saw Chris flying through the air with a female sparrow, Colin walking off into the woods with a female hedgehog, and Andrew talking with another wildcat.

Sonic smiled. "Look who's talking." He walked off to find Sally.

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A single eye opened and looked around. The other eye opened. The eyes gazed around at the destroyed room, then down to it's chest. A hand moved. It slid across the floor and touched the other hand. The other hand didn't move. A curse sounded. The black shadow tested it's legs. They both seemed to be operational. The black shadow stood up and fanned the shook away from it's built in armor. A thin rippling laugh cut through the darkness.

Packbell was back!