Retribution


1996 "Retribution" 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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Time line: Beats me, I just wanted to write this story. Let's say it falls in just after "Summer Surprise".

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Princess Sally Acorn, accompanied by Bunnie Rabbot, walked along the path to Knothole.

"Packbell's done a pretty good job of rebuilding Robotropolis lately, Sally-girl," said Bunnie, glancing toward the large cloud of pollution that could still be seen in the distance.

Sally nodded. "True. But we're wearing him down. One of these days, we'll put an end to Robotropolis and all the horror inside it."

A loud Sonic boom announced the arrival of Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic skidded to a stop and grinned at Sally and Bunnie.

"How was Robotropolis, gals?"

Sally spoke, but kept walking. "Packbell is rebuilding. And doing a darn good job of it, too."

Bunnie put a downcast look on her face. "By the way, Sugah-hog. Packbell destroyed another rebel village. He now has two hundred-thirty-four more worker-bots."

Sonic steamed. "I knew he would find another village one of these days! We have got to organize another attack raid tonight!"

Sonic sped off before Sally could stop him. Sally sighed. "What do you get when you cross a volcano with a hedgehog?" she asked Bunnie wearily.

Bunnie raised an eyebrow. "I dunno."

"A stone-headed hedgehog that's always blowing his top."

In spite of the situation, Bunnie laughed. She patted Sally on the back.

"Like I always said," laughed Bunnie, "a little humor can add color to the darkest of situations."

There was a slight rustle in the bushes, but neither Sally nor Bunnie noticed it. Chris the Sparrow flew off toward Knothole to report back to Jakkon what he had seen. Jakkon had requested that Chris do this. Jakkon wanted to know what was happening in Robotropolis just as much as the next curious fox did. Another reason that Jakkon asked Chris to do this was because he wanted to test how good Chris was at spying. It could prove useful someday.

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Jakkon smiled when he heard the flutter of wings outside his window. He walked over and opened the window, letting Chris enter. Chris flopped down on Jakkon's bed, tired.

"Whew!" exclaimed the small bird, "This bigger job than I thought!"

Jakkon nodded. "I know. But, hey," he shrugged, "it doesn't hurt ta learn what's goin' on in ya own world."

"Speak for yourself," replied Chris, rubbing his wings, "I tired!"

"Well, that sort of thing is expected on a job like this." Jakkon sat down next to Chris and stared at him intently. "Now, down to business. What have you found out today, my little secret eyes and ears?"

Chris perched on a sculpture that Jakkon had made and told everything that he had heard from Bunnie and Sally. When he finished, Jakkon lay back and thought for a moment.

"Sounds like it's time for us ta go pay a visit ta Robotropolis," he said to Chris.

Chris opened his eyes wide. "Really?"

Jakkon nodded, a grin spreading across his face. "What say we go pay a visit ta bloody old Packbell, wot, wot?"

Chris flew around in circles gleefully. "Allright! Me thought you give up that sort of thing when you met Jerena!" he chattered, referring to the female fox that Jakkon had married.

"No, actually, he didn't," said a voice from behind Chris.

Chris jumped and looked behind him. "Jerena!" he cried. "You scare living birdseed outa' me!"

Jerena smiled. "Jakkon hasn't given up that sort of thing," she said, sliding over to Jakkon and sitting next to him. "As a matter of fact," she added, "I'm coming this time."

Chris gaped. "You kidding me!"

Jakkon shook his head, his smile matching Jerena's. "Nope. She's coming, and that's that."

Chris flew out the window calling to Colin and Andrew. "Oh guuuuuuyys! I have bit of news I think you find interesting!"

Jakkon and Jerena laughed.

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Andrew stared at Chris. "_What_ did you say?"

Chris sighed and repeated himself. "We going on sabotage mission to Robotropolis, but Jerena coming, too!"

Colin rolled his eyes. "This should prove interesting."

Andrew headed for Jakkon's hut. "I'd like all this settled out first," he said.

Andrew threw open the door of Jakkon's hut and pointed a finger at Jakkon, who was grinning ear to ear. "What's all this about going on a mission to Robotropolis to have some fun and Jerena coming with us?" he demanded.

"Well, you just stated the whole fact yourself. In a nutshell."

Andrew steamed. "Enough games, Jakkon. Why is she coming?"

Jakkon shrugged. "Because she wants ta."

"And what if I want a say in this?" asked Andrew spreading his arms.

"Have your say," said Jerena, stepping from the shadows. She was clad in the same type of armor that Jakkon and the Mercenaries wore when they attacked Robotropolis. She carried a Plasma Cannon.

Andrew sighed. "All right, all right. I can see that nothing I say or do will make you two change your minds."

Jakkon smiled. "Dang straight."

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"And so," said Jakkon breathing in the night air, "the four mercenaries return to blow Robotropolis to Kingdom Come."

"With a wife in tow," added Jerena.

Andrew was still having doubts. "who's looking over your kids while we're out joy-destroying?"

Jakkon slid an arm around Jerena's waist. "I just asked Bookshire ta watch the little ruffians so Jerena and I could just go out for the evening. I didn't tell him what we were going ta do." He winked. "Easily done, wot, wot?"

Andrew sighed. "And knowing Bookshire, he wouldn't have asked you anything else."

"Righto, me hearties! Now, on to Robotropolis!"

The group advanced in a rush of waving weapons and glittering armor.

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Packbell's dull eyes watched the monitors. Nothing to do. No one to torture or kill. He hated the boring days he spent in Robotropolis with nothing to do, just sitting in his control room inside the remains of the Death Egg. He just wished something would happen that he could take advantage of.

A SWATBot's image appeared on a monitor, saluting. <"THERE ARE ORGANIC LIFE FORMS APPROACHING ROBOTROPOLIS, YOUR CRANKINESS.">

"Shut up, you fool machine. Don't call me that! How many life forms?"

<"FIVE, SIR.">

"Good. Have them captured and roboticized immediately. I could use some more Worker-Bots," said Packbell, in thought.

<"YES, SIR," said the SWATBot.

Packbell turned away from the monitor. Something clicked within his robotic brain. He quickly turned back to the monitor. <"SWATBot, wait! Don't roboticize them yet. Bring them to the 'Lab'."

If SWATBot's could look frightened, this one would be scared out of it's metal shell right now. <"THE. . . 'LAB', SIR?"

"Yes, the 'Lab'. I shall be waiting there for you to bring them in. Do it immediately!" Packbell switched off that monitor and walked over to the Beam-Evator.

>What level, please?< asked the monotone voice of the Beam-Evator.

"Level: Negative 94. And make it snappy. I have some animals to torture."

Packbell's evil smile was the last thing to disappear as he was transported via particle beam to Level: Negative 94.

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The group had come across a split pathway in Robotropolis.

"All right, chaps, here's the plan. Jerena and I will go left, while ya three go right and we'll meet in front of the remains of the blinkin' Death Egg at precisely 11:00," said Jakkon.

"Hmph!" snorted Colin, "I bet I know what you two are going to be doing while we're off destroying parts of Robotropolis."

Jerena fired a warning shot at the ground near Colin's feet, making him jump.

"Can it," she snapped.

Jakkon grinned. "We save that stuff for when we're at home."

Jerena elbowed him lightly. "Jakkon, please!"

"Now remember," added Jakkon, "if ya get in a spot of trouble and need help, fire up a flare. And please, for all our bally sakes, try ta stay together."

Jakkon cocked his gun. "Let's give Robotropolis a rockin'!

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Colin held up an old sign. "Whoo-hoo! Take a look at this! We are standing on the remains of an old restaurant."

Andrew looked over to his right. You could just see a coffee stand and fast food restaurant sticking out of the trash that littered the area. A SWATBot was patrolling the grounds, looking for any intruders. Andrew came up from behind, gun ready, and tapped it on the shoulder. When it turned around Andrew put on an odd snooty face and said: "Excuse me. I was looking for the snack bar."

Frazzzt!

The SWATBot fell, smoking, with a hole in its chest. Andrew blew the smoke off his Laser Rifle and smirked.

"Awful bad service around here. No one'll tell me where that stupid snack bar is!"

Chris floated to the ground. "Maybe if you gave them a chance to actually say something first, you might get some answers."

"Why? He would have hit me with a laser, and then I would have to hit him back. This way's much better. I hit him back _first_!"

"Ah."

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Jakkon and Jerena were a surprisingly good combo, even at destroying. Wild blasts rocked Robotropolis, that night, as the sign of Jakkon and Jerena having a good time.

They came to a wall. "No problem!" said Jakkon, pulling out a handheld Laser Carver. "Might I suggest the _direct_ route?" he said, blasting a hole in the wall.

Jerena laughed. "I haven't had so much fun since the Official Paint Ball Gun War!"

It was then when a sort of feeling came over Jakkon. The feeling that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with this vixen. He loved her. It was a feeling that he had felt before when confronting her, but this time, the feeling was stronger.

He smiled. He loved this vixen. And he wanted her to know it. He embraced her from behind, letting her relax in his grasp and stop firing. She sighed contentedly.

"When this is over, I am going to be in bed for a week, just conserving energy.," she said.

Jakkon kissed her on the cheek. "I'll be waiting in that bed for ya."

She ran a finger along his chin. "You romantic devil, you."

Jerena cocked her gun again. "Well, I'm looking forward to that. But I'm also looking forward to bringing this place down around Packbell's head!"

Jakkon cocked his gun and stood next to her. "Well, than, what are we waitin' for? Let's sound the battle cry!"

"Eulaliaaaaaaa!"

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Packbell hit a button on the monitor in the 'Lab' and spoke into it. "Are the creatures approaching?" he asked.

The voice of a cyborg answered, seeming to crawl out of the monitor's speaker. <"YES, EMPEROR PACKBELL. WE HAVE THE SLEEPING GAS READY.">

Packbell smiled in satisfaction. "Good."

The monitor crackled and the cyborg added something to it's last message. <"SIR, TWO CREATURES APPROACH, BOTH FOXES. A MALE AND A FEMALE. THE MALE HAS AN EYE PATCH.">

Packbell froze. Jakkon? It couldn't be! He quickly spoke back to the cyborg. "Are the two foxes both clad in some sort of metal armor and carrying weapons?"

<"AFFIRMATIVE, SIR.">

That cinched it. Jakkon was back! "Nail them with the sleeping gas!" snapped Packbell, "Now!" He stopped. "And send out some others in search of accomplices. You know the routine. Shoot first, ask questions later."

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Jakkon and Jerena were charging through Robotropolis, destroying whatever they could, when I Jakkon noticed a green vapor emerging from behind a shack.

"Jerena, I don't think that we went unnoticed on our little party. . . "

The vapor hit them and they staggered. Jakkon coughed. '"Bingo." He fell to the ground, unconscious, immediately followed by Jerena. Jakkon caught a glimpse of the black shapes of cyborgs coming forward to greet them in a way he was sure was not going to be friendly.

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Darkness. Eternal darkness. That was all Jakkon knew. He was faintly aware that he was being carried in the world of the waking, but he was in the world of the sleeping. And there was no way he could fight back. He was helpless. He hated being helpless. He also knew that the cyborgs that had captured him had captured Jerena as well.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to go back to the waking world or not. It was almost nice in a way, as he was now.

Memories started flooding into his brain, escaping from some unseen corner of his mind. He saw the time when he was staring down the barrel of a laser rifle, seconds before he had lost his right eye. Packbell. That stirred something in him, but it was not strong enough. It fell dormant again. Another memory. When he had met Colin, Chris and Andrew, and formed them into a team, as they were now. Now. Colin, Chris, Andrew. That hit him. But still not hard enough. More memories. Jerena. His wife. Josh. Runa. Dakkon. His children. That hit him. It hit him _hard_. The memory slammed into him, knocking him out of the subconsciousness that he was in.

Jakkon shook his head roughly and looked around. He was in some sort of laboratory! Test tubes, computers, the whole enchilada. He recognized this as the place that Joseph had described when he told everyone the story of how Liquid Metal Joseph and Liquid Metal Sandra had come into being. And he was strapped down. The strange thing was, Jerena was nowhere in sight.

Packbell stepped out from the shadows. "Hello. . . Jakkon," he said, seeming to spit out Jakkon's name as if it left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"I might've guessed it was ya," sighed Jakkon. "Well? What sort've evil demented plan do ya have in mind today? Put some bally praying mantis down my pants that ya've been feeding caffeine for a week? Turn the TV ta the All-Nerds channel?"

"Nothing so ridiculous or complicated," replied Packbell.

"Hmph! If that's complicated, I don't bleedin' even _want_ ta know what uncomplicated is. Let's see. . . will ya breath on me? Make rude noises? Turn a Polka record up ta 78 RPM?"

"Enough!"

"Oh, sorry! But ya know me, I just prattle on so much."

Packbell fixed an ice-cold glare on Jakkon. "How about just plain torture this time?"

Jakkon felt the cold blanket of fear settle over him, but yet he continued to joke. "Oh yes, bring on the cattle prod! Bring on the portable electric fence!"

Packbell almost smiled. "Nothing so pathetic."

"Oh, I could have guessed that. Since _ya're_ so pathetic, ya don't want your inventions and methods of torture to be."

Packbell beckoned to something in the doorway. "Come forward, Worker-Bot 3576."

Jakkon gasped. "No!"

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Colin stood, hands on his hips, waiting. "For crying out, loud! I'm getting jittery! Where are Jakkon and Jerena?"

Andrew looked at his watch. "True. They said they would met us in front of the remains of the Death Egg at 11:00." He shrugged. "Maybe they got delayed. Found a little spot that was cosy so they stayed for a while."

Colin smacked him upside the head. "Be serious. Joking is all very fine and dandy, but this is not! Do you realize that it's 11:42 already and we haven't seen as much as a glimpse of them!"

"Okay. This _is_ a problem."

Chris shook his head in disgust as they yelled incessantly at each other. "You two great big fool worms! You know they in trouble, you just not want to admit it."

Colin and Andrew sighed simultaneously. "We know," said Colin, "It's just that, Jakkon was just like a big brother to us. He saved our lives more than once. I just don't know what life would be like if he wasn't there." Chris thought he saw a tear coming to Colin's eye.

Chris looked over at the remains of the Death Egg. "Something could've happen to Jerena. Jakkon would do just 'bout anything for that vixen. Maybe something happen to Jerena and Jakkon try to save her and get caught up in it. Probably some new plan of Packbell's."

Colin stared determinedly at the Death Egg. "So do we act like brothers or like heros?"

Andrew raised an eyebrow. "You realize that both those lead to the same thing. Going into the Death Egg in search of Packbell."

Colin began walking over to the Death Egg. "Precisely my point."

Andrew and Chris shrugged and followed.

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"Oh, but yes, Jakkon. Meet Worker-Bot 3576."

Jerena had been roboticized! Jakkon couldn't believe it. Jerena's eyes glowed a dull red and she was made completely of metal. Jakkon shook his head as if trying to erase this moment from his memory.

Packbell grinned evilly. "Do you know what the 'Thousand Cuts' are?" he asked Jakkon.

Jakkon went cold.

Jerena raised an arm and a small blade popped out and started spinning. Packbell's grin broadened. "It is one of my favorite methods of torture. Thousands of small cuts are inflicted on the person's body, starting with the left hand, moving up the arm and spreading throughout the whole body."

Jerena started forward, the blade spinning. The blade was inches from Jakkon when the door slammed to the floor, revealing Colin, backed by Andrew and Chris, with smoke swirling around them and destroyed SWATBots littering the ground..

"Now _they_ know how to make an entrance," said Jakkon.

Colin sighted with his Laser Rifle and blasted Packbell against the wall with one shot. "Party's over, butthead!" he roared.

Jerena turned to face the new intruders. She raised her other arm and a small laser gun emerged. A red laser blast hit the wall next to Colin making him leap to one side. Andrew unstrapped Jakkon as Chris and Colin kept Jerena busy.

The trio ran, carrying Jakkon along the way. Jakkon was in a state of shock. He kept murmuring along the way back to Knothole.

"No. We shouldn't have left her. She was helpless. No! She wasn't there at all! This is all a dream! It never happened!"

Andrew looked pleadingly over at Colin. "Can I slap him a couple of times?"

"No," snapped Colin.

They stopped at the edge of The Great Forest and lay Jakkon down who was still mumbling.

"That's it," Jakkon said, "this is all a dream. I'll wake up and there Jerena will be, back to normal, in the bed next to me. It's a dream. It never happened."

Something snapped within Colin. "Damn it, Jakkon! She is gone! Jerena is gone! Roboticized like thousands of other normal Mobians. She. . . is. . . gone!"

Jakkon whipped his head up, looking eye to eye with Colin. And Jakkon hit him hard. In the face. Colin sat down with a bump, rubbing his chin. "What the hell was that for?" he screamed.

A red glint in Jakkon's eyes burned bright. "Colin? How old are you?"

"Sixteen!"

"Stay out of my way if you ever want to reach seventeen."

With that, Jakkon strode off toward home.

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When they reached Knothole, Colin, Chris and Andrew explained the situation to Sonic and Sally. Jakkon went straight for his hut and locked the door.

Sonic stared at the hut. "Jerena's. . . gone? Roboticized?"

Colin nodded sadly. "Yup."

That whole day, Jakkon would not eat. The door was locked, allowing no one to enter.

Chris sighed as he saw the lock on Jakkon's door. "I hate to have to do this, but we have to get in there." Chris looked over at Andrew. "Would you hold out your hands flat in front of the door?"

Andrew shrugged and did so. Chris fluttered up and much to the surprise of Chris and Andrew, landed on Andrew's outstretched hands and proceeded to pick the lock with a very long claw.

With a click, the door swung open. Chris bowed and dismounted from Andrew's hands.

When they entered, Jakkon was laying still on the bed, not moving. Colin rushed over and checked his pulse.

Andrew looked over hopefully. "Is he all right? He's not . . . dead, is he?"

Colin shook his head. "He's alive. But his pulse is barely moving." He looked over at Chris. "Do you think that Rotor would have something that would help him wake up? It's like he's in a coma!"

Chris nodded. "I sure of it. He been working on some new vitamin pills that he want to try out."

Colin tried to lift Jakkon out of the bed. "Okay, let's get him over to Rotor's." He grunted. "Give me a hand here, would you?"

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Rotor hmmed. "I guess I could try something," he said.

Rotor went over to a cabinet and took out a bottle of pills. He looked it over and set it on the table next to Jakkon.

"These," he said, "are what I call my Instant Wake-Up Call Pills." He took out one from the bottle and showed it to the trio.

The pill was small and shaped like a football and was a reddish tint. Colin rubbed his chin. "And you think that will wake him up?"

Rotor chuckled. "Watch."

Rotor placed the one pill in Jakkon's mouth and then poured down some water that he had in a glass next to the table. At first, nothing happened. Then, suddenly, Jakkon's eyes shot open.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaa!" yelled Jakkon, leaping off the table and running over to the faucet and gulping down mouthfuls of water at a time.

"What the holy cow was _that_?" he asked, gagging.

Colin laughed. "That was an Instant Wake-Up Call Pill!"

Jakkon raised an eyebrow. "Ooooookay. Whuzzat?"

Andrew bowed to Rotor and let him step forward. Rotor held up the bottle of pills. "An mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitroglycerin, hot sauce, Jalapeno peppers, Taryn leaves and water, mashed in together to make a pill."

"Huurk!" Jakkon's face turned green.

Colin, Chris and Andrew tried to hold back the laughter that was forcing it's way through them. They kept straight faces for about six seconds before they all started laughing hysterically.

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That night, Colin and Jakkon were in Jakkon's hut, talking.

"Look, Jakkon," sighed Colin, "I know that she's gone, but that's no reason for you to go out marauding in Robotropolis by yourself."

"Bull."

"Hey," said Colin, getting angry now, "I lost my parents. Did I go completely wacko? Huh? Did I?"

Jakkon turned, laser rifle in hands. "I lost my parents _and_ an eye. Now I lost Jerena. I think that gives me a right."

Colin growled. "Jakkon. Just deal with it. There is no way you are going into Robotropolis by yourself tonight."

Jakkon's eyes seemed to glow a dull red. "I _am_ dealing with it."

Jakkon turned and swung quickly, catching Colin in the side of the head. Colin crumpled to the floor, unconscious. Jakkon cast a look of weary disdain in Colin's direction before walking out the door into the night.

"Poor, Colin. I wish you hadn't made me do that."

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(Author's Note: This is where the Mission: Impossible music comes in!) Jakkon ran through Robotropolis, blasting anything that got in his way. He was mad. And when Jakkon was mad, he was a force to be reckoned with.

Packbell was in his control room when he heard the door open. He turned, annoyed.

"What do you want now, SWATBot? You have your orders!"

Packbell stopped when he saw that the figure in the doorway was definitely _not_ a SWATBot. Packbell hit a button on the monitor and yelled into it.

"All cyborgs converge to sector 13, now!" he yelled.

Jakkon shook his head and tossed a cyborg head to Packbell. "You'll get no help from them."

Packbell stared at the head and quickly threw it back at Jakkon, who dodged it easily. Packbell fired a laser from his arm and continued to back away from Jakkon. Jakkon fired a laser from his rifle and continued to advance, threateningly. The shots collided in midair, sending both of them flying backwards.

Jakkon stood up, and tossed his laser rifle away. Packbell tried to fire but his laser gun in his arm was damaged. He couldn't fire!

Jakkon leaped and grabbed Packbell by the throat. Packbell did the same and the two struggled in a deathlock, each intent on destroying the other.

Jakkon got an arm free and hit Packbell with all his might. Packbell released Jakkon and staggered back.

That was all the chance Jakkon needed. He was all over Packbell, slamming him with his fists wildly, beating Packbell as hard as he could.

Finally, Jakkon stood up and stepped away from Packbell. Something rolled and hit his foot. He bent down and picked it up.

It was Packbell's head, eyes open in a silent scream.

Jakkon walked out of the control room, his work there done. But he still needed to do one thing.

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When Colin woke up, he was in the infirmary. He sat up quickly and winced. Instantly Andrew and Chris were at his side.

"How the heck did I get here?" asked Colin, rubbing his head.

Chris fluttered over and landed on Colin's shoulder. "We find you in Jakkon hut, off in La-La-Land."

Colin's eyes opened wide. "Jakkon!"

Colin leaped off the table and headed for the door. Chris flew over to Rotor. "It okay if he leaves?"

Rotor nodded. "I was going to let him go as soon as he woke up."

Colin raced over to Jakkon's hut and threw open the door. The first thing that caught his eyes was something that stood in the corner.

Colin jumped. "Hoppin' Horny Toads! It's Jerena!"

"Chill," said a voice from the bed.

Colin peeked in to see Jakkon lying on the bed holding up a wire. "Chillin's the last thing on _my_ mind right now!" snapped Colin. "Mind explaining what the heck's going on?"

Jakkon held up a small red wire. "I disabled Jerena. This is the wire that let's her main power source run through her circuits." He smirked. "In your simple terms, she's asleep."

Colin breathed a sigh of relief and walked in. Andrew and Chris ran and flew in, both with similar reactions to Colin's first thought.

"Eeyipe!"

"What the tweet is she doing here?"

Jakkon sighed and explained to them what he had just told Colin. Andrew went over and looked Jerena in the eye. "Wow. You went into Robotropolis by yourself and got Jerena?"

Colin glared. "After _I_ told you not to!"

Jakkon shrugged. "Well, you were. . . out at the time so I decided to make my own decisions."

"Hmmph!"

Jakkon reached down to the other side of the bed. "Oh yeah, and I brought home a little souvenir." He lay Packbell's head upon the table.

"Aaaaaaaaaah!" screamed Colin, Andrew and Chris.

Jakkon rolled his eyes. "Packbell is dead."

Colin shook his head and stared at Packbell's head. "How come he's got so many dents in his head?"

Jakkon grinned.

Chris looked over at Jerena. He blinked. "Waita minute! Me just remembered something!"

"And that is?" asked Jakkon.

"Rotor told me that Joseph invented Deroboticizer!"

Everyone blinked. "You mean. . ." started Andrew.

"Yes, yes, me do mean! How do you think Bunnie Rabbot got deroboticized?" exclaimed Chris, flying around in circles.

Jakkon looked over at Jerena, stunned. "You mean we can bring her back?"

"Yes!"

Jakkon was up in a flash, and grabbed Chris. "Why didn't you tell me that before all this happened?" he asked angrily.

Chris gurgled. "Because Rotor just told me today!"

Jakkon dropped Chris and ran over to the closet. He pulled out a long carrying stretcher and wheeled it over to Jerena. He lay her down on it and shot out the door as if blasted from a cannon. Everyone else followed.

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A yellow beam of light covered Jerena. Everyone could see the metal slowly melting away to reveal flesh underneath as the Jerena they all knew reappeared.

When it was done, Jakkon ran over and caught Jerena just as she fell. She seemed stunned.

Joseph put a hand on Jakkon's shoulder. "She needs to rest first."

Jakkon nodded, fighting away the tears that threatened to show. "I'll wait with her."

Three hours later, Jerena woke up. She groaned and looked around. The first thing she saw was Jakkon, sitting sullenly at the edge of the bed.

"Jakkon?" she asked, confused.

Jakkon's eyes lit up and he dashed over to her side and hugged her. "Oh thank god, you're all right!"

Jerena was still confused. "What happened?"

Jakkon kissed her and filled her in on the events that had happened. "I was. . . roboticized?" she asked.

Jakkon nodded. "And now you're back, thank god."

Jerena almost laughed. "You killed Packbell?"

Tinges of a smile began to show at the edges of Jakkon's mouth. "Think I should get his head mounted?"

The door opened and Josh, Dakkon and Runa ran in. "Mommy, mommy!"

Jerena hugged all of them, one by one. "Yes, Mommy's back."

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Robotropolis was empty. Emptier than a snake skin. Packbell's headless body lay on the floor, next to the fizzing control panels.

Packbell was dead.

Robotnik was gone.

Was this the end of the war? The end of Robotropolis and all the evil that ruled it?

Not even close.