Robotnik Returns


1997 "Robotnik Returns"

By Derek J. Barbee

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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. Jakkon, Jerena, Colin, Chris, Andrew, Josh, Dakkon, Runa and Ashely are the copyrighted property of Derek J. Barbee. All rights reserved. Pause for bourgeois legalities: This story is copyright 1997 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 may appear in this story courtesy of David Pistone Talent Associates.

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Time line: A while after the continuation of "Liquid Metal II."

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Author's Note:Now, a while before I started writing Sonic Stories, I read almost every one that was in the "The Vault." Then I discovered that someone had gone and killed Robotnik!

Personally, I thought this stank.

I mean, Robotnik was a good part of the stories, and the main bad guy! Why kill him off?

So, I decided to take a hand in all this. I felt like a peacemaker, wading through all the bodies of men who died in the war, trying desperately to sort out what was happening. I still don't totally know what happened in the Doomsday episode, I never saw it or read it. So, if this seems a bit tacky, just let it pass, huh?

Anyhoo, here I go!

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A frog jumped along the land bordering Robotropolis and The Great Forest. The frog considered it to be a normal day, it was just looking for it's breakfast. A sudden flash of multicolored light and wind tore any thoughts of breakfast away from it. The frog gulped and peered into the light. Two figures appeared in the maelstrom. One was extremely large, and the frog seemed to recognize this figure, but wished it had not.

It was Robotnik!

The frog was stunned. Robotnik? How could Robotnik come back? He was supposed to be dead! Ever since the Doomsday Experiment, Robotnik was thought dead, sucked into the Zone of Silence! The frog quickly looked at the other figure in the white light. It seemed familiar, like it was not a stranger to this land either, but it had not been here for quite some time. The frog could now see the figure clearer. This figure had a crown on it's head, and an air of dignity around it. The remains of the multicolored light and wind disappeared, leaving the two stunned creatures blinking in the moonlight. They both immediately collapsed on the ground in a heap. The frog leaped back, surprised.

After a moment, the frog ventured forward. The figure that lay on the ground next to Robotnik was a fox.

"Odd," thought the frog, "I don't recall any crowned foxes since . . ."

The frog gasped.

King Acorn!

It couldn't be!

The frog studied the fox closer. It was him. The mustache and the royal cloak confirmed it. The frog quickly hopped off to Knothole. Someone _had_ to be told about this!

(Author's Note: Snicker! The plot begins!)

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"And here, children, is the common mushroom."

"Excellent with a bit of ketchup," added Jakkon, grinning. "Or with the four seasons. The four seasons are salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar!"

Dakkon blinked. "Why are mushrooms in that shape?"

Jakkon raised a finger before Jerena could answer this question. "Mushrooms always grow in damp places, which is why they look like umbrellas."

Dakkon nodded. "Oh. Thanks. I think."

Off in the distance, a storm cloud sent down a bolt of lightning.

Runa shivered. "Where do clouds come from?"

"Water vapor. It gets together ta form a cloud."

It was starting to rain now, and Jerena unpacked the umbrellas. "Here, pass one to your brothers, dear."

Jakkon snapped at a falling water droplet and continued with his answer about clouds. "Then, after the cloud is formed, if the water vapor gets even closer together, and it is big enough ta be called a drop, it does."

Jerena chuckled and took a swipe at him with an umbrella. "Where'd you learn that one?"

Jakkon dodged the flying umbrella and stood up straight and proper. "How dare ya assume that I am nothing but a stupid old fuddy duddy who steals jokes! Is that what ya thought?"

"It had crossed my mind."

Jakkon grinned, resuming his normal manner. "Well yer right! I got it from Ashely!"

Jerena growled and took another swing at him.

"Nincompoop!" she muttered.

Jakkon looked up at the sky when thunder rumbled. "Thunder is a rich source of loudness."

Josh sighed. "What time is it? I'm hungry!"

Jakkon squinted up at the rapidly disappearing sun. "I dunno. Some people have been able to tell time by looking at the sun but I have never been able to make out the numbers!"

"Enough!" Jerena barked at him.

"Can I bounce a rock off his head, mommy?" asked Runa politely.

"Respect your father dear," said Jerena. She stopped. "What kind of rock?"

Jakkon winced. "Bally brutal lot, aren't ya?"

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Robotnik and King Acorn were finally waking up. Robotnik groaned and put a hand on his forehead, mumbling curses. King Acorn blinked a couple of times and sat up. Then he saw Robotnik.

"You!" he exclaimed, sitting up straight quickly. Too quickly. He regretted it immediately as waves of dizziness washed over him. He regained his composure after a second.

"Julian! How dare you show your face here after what you have done!" He paused. "Speaking of which, where am I?"

Robotnik growled and looked around. Then he spotted Robotropolis in the distance. He smiled evilly. "I have not been defeated yet! Packbell must have done well, for Robotropolis is still standing!" He ran off in the direction of Robotropolis, leaving King Acorn wondering.

"Packbell?" he murmured. He looked around, studying his surroundings very carefully. "A lot has changed since I was gone," he said aloud, standing up. "I only hope that Knothole still stands and my daughter is okay."

With that, King Acorn set off for Knothole with all the strength he could muster.

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"Princess, I think you better come take a look at this."

Sally glanced over at the security guard who was watching the monitors. "What is it?"

The security guard pointed at the screen. "We have an unidentified fox heading for Knothole. It appears that he knows the way and he keeps mumbling to himself about you."

Sally started. "What?" She gazed intently at the screen. Suddenly her eyes opened wide. "It can't be!"

The security guard looked up. "You know him?"

He never got a reply. Princess Sally was running out of the hut, heading for where she had seen her father. "DADDY!"

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A few minutes later, King Acorn was shown the way to Knothole. Never once did Sally leave his arms. She felt like a little girl again. Her father was home.

King Acorn smiled at the antics of his little girl. She hadn't changed much in the way of attitude. Yet she was a grown woman.

Sonic raced into the clearing where everyone was asking King Acorn questions. "Okay, Sal, I came as fast as I could! Now what's . . . this . . . all . . . about? KING ACORN!"

King Acorn smiled at the grown up little hedgehog. "Yes, Sonic. Good to see you, too!"

Sonic's jaw hung slack. Sally smiled as she walked over to him and hugged him. "He's back!"

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As Robotnik trudged through the remains of Robotropolis, thousands of questions raced through his head. What happened to Packbell? Why was Robotropolis in ruins? Where were all the Worker-Bots and SWATBots?

A new question appeared just as suddenly as the cause. A shadow fell over Robotnik and he realized that he was staring down the barrel of a robot's laser gun.

Robotnik looked up, furious. He was King of this city! These were his 'bots! He was the commander of them!

Hello? What was this?

Robotnik had never seen a battle cyborg before. Now he got his first look at one. <"STATUS: ORGANISM. DAMAGED. IDENTIFY: UNKNOWN.">

Robotnik blinked what was this thing? Had Packbell created it?

<"IDENTIFY YOURSELF.">

Robotnik stood up straight, which wasn't an easy thing for him. "I am Robotnik, ruler of Robotropolis. This is my city! Let me pass or I will destroy you!"

Robotnik jumped as the cyborg make small laughing noises. "Packbell must have put a lot of work into these things!" thought Robotnik. "It even laughs!"

<"ROBOTNIK IS DEAD. COMMANDER PACKBELL IS THE SUPREME RULER OF ROBOTROPOLIS. HIS ORDERS WERE TO KILL YOU ON SIGHT.">

Now Robotnik was mad. He raised his robotic arm and a ray disintegrated the cyborg. Robotnik merely stepped over the smoldering metal and continued on his way.

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Later, when all the crowds had been driven away, still celebrating, of course (There was to be a party that night in honor of King Acorn returning), Everyone had a few questions to ask. And a few answers to give.

"So how did you get free of the zone?" asked Sonic, raising a questioning eyebrow.

King Acorn sighed. "It is rather a long story."

Chunk!

Jakkon had kicked back in the reclining chair he was sitting in.

"Well, then how about we get us started?"

King Acorn smiled. "Your witty remarks remind me of Sonic when he was merely a child."

Jakkon and Sonic looked at each other uncomfortably as everyone laughed. Jakkon finally shrugged. "Eh."

King Acorn started the story now.

"When Julian banished me into the Zone of Silence, he had no idea what it was like in there. What is more, he never intended to find out. He was just satisfied that that I was banished into somewhere else.

"When I reached the Zone of Silence, it was as if there was no time whatsoever. It was like space, only there was gravity in certain spots. Floating around in this space-like matter were large hunks of earth. Each piece had it's own gravity, so some had gravity that was greater than the others. Living on some of those pieces of land were odd looking toad-like animals. They lived on the small plants that grew on the hunks of earth and the occasional traveler or exiled creature."

Sonic grimaced. "What kept them from eating you?"

King Acorn held his head high. "I challenged their leader to combat. I defeated him soundly and I took over as their leader."

"Did these bally toadies have a name?" asked Jakkon.

King Acorn shook his head. "Not to my knowledge. I was almost forced to live with them for countless generations."

"About 13 years," corrected Sally.

King Acorn held up a finger. "You forget, my daughter, that time passes much differently there. Not a thing aged. When a creature or plant was full grown, it stayed that way until it died by means of violence or sickness. Sickness was common there, and it was almost a good thing, because if there was none the Zone would have become vastly over-populated."

"Sounds like a place that ol' Sugah-Walrus over there would like ta study," said Bunnie, glancing at Rotor with a playful smile on her face.

Rotor nodded. "Much to my displeasure, I have never been able to study many zones." He shrugged. "As a matter of fact,I only got to study one, and that was a Zone made by an accident, so it didn't explain much of how the other Zones were formed."

"The Robotic Jungle?" asked Joseph, referring to the Zone that some of them had been trapped in a while ago.

Yes."

King Acorn looked confused. "What is this . . . Robotic Jungle?"

Sandra explained to him about their journey through the Robotic Jungle, rolling her eyes at the part about Smithson.

Joseph poked her playfully. "And you liked him, didn't you?"

Sandra swatted at his hand. "I did not! That crazy coot was weird!"

"_If_ you're quite finished," said Sonic, earning him a whack from Sally.

"My, my," said Jakkon, "It's a smack festival!" He winced, expecting to be slapped by Jerena.

Tails sighed as he watched the group of creatures whacking each other and starting up conversations that had nothing to do with the matter at hand. He sneaked over to Dakkon and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Wanna go play?" he asked him.

Dakkon shrugged. "Sure. Hang on." He tapped Josh on the shoulder. "Wanna go play?"

Josh shrugged. "Okay. Just a second." He tapped Runa on the shoulder. "Wanna go play?"

Runa shrugged. "Allright. Wait a minute." She tapped Jerena on the shoulder. "Mommy, can we go play?"

Jerena nodded. "All right. Just don't wander to far, okay?"

Runa nodded obediently. "Okay, Mommy."

The four little ones ran off, with yells of "You're it!" and "No I'm not! You is!"

Jerena shrugged. Kits will be kits.

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"Anyway," continued King Acorn, "I was living my life among these creatures when a strange being appeared. I believe he called himself Tihiggn."

The King's eyes went unfocused as he remembered what had happened.

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"Oh, and don't forget to send out another foraging party tonight, we're getting rather low in the larder."

The small toad-like thing nodded in acknowledgement and hurried out the door. King Acorn sighed. This was a good life, he had a kingdom to look over, things to do and keep him happily occupied. He only had one regret. That his daughter was not here with him.

>I known the pain is great, your majesty, so I have come to offer you a proposition.<

King Acorn must have jumped three feet in the air. He swung his head around quickly, looking for whoever could have spoken in that odd voice. "Who's there?"

>Do not strain yourself, majesty, for you cannot see me unless I wish it.<

"Well, _I_ wish it! Show yourself immediately or I shall call the guard."

>Very well, your majesty. I shall try to choose a form you will understand.<

There was a shimmering in the air directly in front of King Acorn. Slowly, a form began to take shape. This creature was like a tall, slender human, only it had no features on it's face, no hair whatsoever and it was an odd coloration. It was a rainbow of colors in one that never seemed to stop moving. It also had unearthly large feet and hands.

The creature bowed before him humbly and spoke in it's odd voice. >My name is Lockbar Tihiggn. I am the unknown protector of Mobius. I have come to offer you transport back to Mobius.<

King Acorn blinked. This was something that he had not thought of. Should he leave all his loyal subjects here and go see what it was like on Mobius? Live on Mobius? No matter what the condition? What if Julian had killed everyone? Even his daughter!

The creature kept glancing at the roof, as if afraid that something was going to pop out of it and attack him any second. >You must make your decision now, Majesty. If Solang finds me . . .<

"Who is Solang?"

Tihiggn stared at the King for a while, then replied. >Solang is the keeper of this dimension and I do not think that he would appreciate me taking a creature from his protected dimension and putting it into mine.< He made a small laughing noise.

"You consider us to be mere _creatures_?" asked King Acorn, stiffening.

>Well, you _are_ a creature, aren't you? Or are you a rock or a cloud?<

"I see your point," said King Acorn, gruffly.

>Now, quickly, we must go!<

"But, I . . ."

There was a flash of multicolored light and King Acorn and Tihiggn disappeared.

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"And that is what happened," finished King Acorn.

"I wonder why Tihiggn did it," murmured Sally. "Why risk himself to transport one fox to another dimension?"

King Acorn shrugged. "I do not know."

"Maybe he's a collector," said Jakkon thoughtfully.

"I have never heard of anyone who collects living beings," said King Acorn.

"I think y'all are missing the point here," said Bunnie, "Old Blubberbolts is back in Robotropolis. And I'll bet mah tufted tail that he'all's gonna start up the old destroy this, roboticize that business."

King Acorn stared at Bunnie, as if wondering how a creature such as her had a way with words. "Roboticize?"

Everyone groaned.

Bunnie pointed to her robotic parts. "Take a gander at my formerly furry arm, fella!"

"Ooooooo!" exclaimed Sonic. "A tongue twister!"

"Shush, Sugah-hog."

Sally sighed and turned to her father. "Sir Charles, Sonic's Uncle, was working on a machine that could restore old Mobians to health. Accidentally he created something called a roboticizer. It changed living creatures into mindless robots. When Robotnik found out about this he took advantage of this situation and used it for rather evil purposes. He used it intentionally. This was just after you were banished."

"I see."

"Bunnie was in the roboticizer and about to be turned into a robot when I rescued her," said Sonic, gesturing at Bunnie. "But, unfortunately, I got there a little bit late."

"It's not your fault, Sugah-hog."

"I know. I just feel like all that we have done was for nothing. A while ago we thought that we had finally ended the reign of Robotnik when Jakkon killed Packbell. Now Robotnik is back and ready to go."

Jakkon smiled at the mention of his name. "Well, one bally evil ruler down, one ta go. Not a very bad record if ya ask me."

King Acorn peered at Jakkon. "So, how did you come here?"

Jakkon waved a hand nonchalantly. "Ah, me and the boys were just wandering mercenaries until we came ta Knothole, lookin' for work." He looked over at Jerena. "Then I got a new meaning in my life."

Jerena blushed. "Oh quiet, you big lump."

Jakkon smiled. "Anyhoo, my family was killed by Packbell. Me, I just lost an eye," he said, pointing to his eye patch.

King Acorn was intrigued. "How exactly did that happen?"

Jakkon looked off into space. "I think I still remember . . ."

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"Oh, Jakkon! Come on inside, it's getting late!"

Jakkon grinned. She'd have to find him first.

At this time Jakkon was about 12 years old and quite the playful one. He lived a fairly good life, the Valley of Dor was untouched by the spoils of war that raged in the south. His house was a tall wood cabin. He had never seen a SWATBot, but he longed for adventure.

"Jakkon, where _are_ you?"

Jakkon's mother, Lila, stomped around the woods looking for him. She was a tall vixen with long brown hair that flowed when she moved. She was the town healer, and a very good mother. She could be stern at times, but Jakkon knew that she still loved him.

"Did you find him, Mom?" Jakkon's sister, Mara, ran outside to join her mother.

Lila put her hands on her hips. "No. The little rascal's hiding again."

"I'll find him!" cried Mara, leaping into the woods.

"Just don't wander too far," called Lila.

Jakkon laughed softly. She hadn't a chance of finding him! He crept into the bushes next to Mara, watching her as she looked for him.

"Have ya caught that bally ruffian yet? It's time for dinner!"

Jakkon's father was a tall fox and sturdily built. He was who Jakkon had gotten his accent from.

"Dinner? Oh, I say, that sounds good!" Jakkon simply strolled out of the woods, right past his surprised sister and his glaring parents.

"Jakkon, I think that we need to . . . what was that?" Lila snapped her head up and stared hard into the woods.

There was an audible crunch from the woods not to far off. Jakkon's father grunted.

"Probably just some blinkin' insentient cougar or such," he grumbled.

There was more crunching noises, and the sound of heavy footsteps. Jakkon looked at his father. "A cougar? I don't think so."

"Ahhhh, the typical fox family, living out in the woods, eh?"

Everyone jumped as an android with long grey hair in a ponytail stepped out of the woods, backed by a horde of SWATBots. "Shouldn't be out so late with the little ones," he said, cocking his rifle menacingly. "Never know what might be lurking out in the shadows."

"Listen, I don't know who or what ya are, but ya bally better get out of here!" growled Jakkon's father.

Packbell took on an innocent expression. "Me? Little old me? But I'm not a threat!" He gestured to the SWATBots. "My buddies here were just out taking a walk, exploring."

The SWATBots stepped forward and raised their laser guns. Everyone took a step back.

Suddenly, a stick whistled through the air and struck Packbell on the shoulder. Packbell whirled, glaring. "What? You dare?"

Jakkon stood proudly, holding another stick at the ready. "Now are ya gonna do an about-face and get yer bloody butt outa here or do I have ta knock ya around a couple more times?"

Packbell stood, glowering, staring at the small fox. "Who are you?"

"They call me Jakkon."

"Well, _Jakkon_ it just so happens that I am _not_ going anywhere! As a matter of fact, the nearest town was destroyed." He smirked. "My buddies got a bit restless."

He turned to the SWATBots. "How about it boys? Feel like a little roasted fox?"

Simultaneously, the SWATBot's lasers started firing. Jakkon ducked low as some of the shots when over him. His parents were not so lucky. His mother crumpled into a lifeless heap as his father went down under the barrage of shots. Mara screamed and ran off. He was alone.

Packbell pointed at the fleeing figure of Jakkon's sister. "Get her!"

A volley of laser beams cut into the trees next to her, almost hitting her. Mara ducked and disappeared into the foliage. Packbell growled. "Don't just stand there! Some of you go after her!"

Four SWATBots moved into pursuit, and were lost from view. Packbell turned to Jakkon. "Well now, little hero, not quite so strong now, eh?"

Jakkon stared dumbly at his dead parents, then at the trail left by the SWATBots that had followed his sister.

Mara's scream cut through the air like a knife, making Jakkon whirl and Packbell laugh.

Jakkon turned to Packbell, a fire in his eyes. "Ya are the cause of this, ya monster!"

Jakkon leaped at Packbell, his fists whirling. Packbell merely laughed and plucked him out of midair. "Don't toy with me, boy."

"Let go of me and I'll show you toying!"

Packbell laughed again and picked up a laser rifle. "Now, this will only hurt for a second!"

Jakkon struggled frantically as he stared down the barrel of the laser rifle. Suddenly a searing pain went through his skull. He cried out in pain, realizing that he had lost an eye.

Packbell dropped him with a thud and turned to the SWATBots. "Let him live so that all can see that the reign of Robotnik has started."

Packbell and the SWATBots trooped off, leaving the one-eyed Jakkon sobbing in the clearing.

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Robotnik walked into the main control room and looked around. Something was not right here. On his way he had come across a number of destroyed cyborgs, lying with their pieces scattered carelessly around.

Now, when he entered the main control room, everything was wrecked. Robotnik fingered the monitor buttons. This was no accident.

Something bumped against his foot, making him look down. At first he jerked, but then he laughed. Packbell's body lay on the floor where Jakkon had left it.

Robotnik knelt down, grinning. "Got you, did they, old boy?"

He stood up, laughing.

He'd rebuild Packbell in good time. But first . . .

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"So how did you meet the rest of the rest of the Mercenaries?" asked Sonic, interested now.

Jakkon leaned back thoughtfully. "Well, I met them one by one. Colin first . . ."

Colin raised his arms triumphantly. "Yeah!"

". . . Chris was next, then Andrew."

Chris flew over and landed on Colin's head, who promptly swatted him off. "Andrew wanna eat me first, ya!"

Jakkon laughed, remembering. "Oh, yeah. Andrew was always looking like he wanted to eat Chris."

"I remember . . ."

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Jakkon sat in the by the side of a ruined road, a limp, sodden mess. His parents and his sister were dead. He was alone. It was only a matter of time before Robotnik killed every living creature on the face of Mobius. He sighed. It was hopeless.

A head poked up from the bushes next to him. "Spare a piece of bread, stranger?"

Without even looking up, Jakkon mumbled, "Don't have any. Bloody 'bots destroyed it."

A brown hedgehog plopped itself down next to him. "Bummer. Neither do I."

Now Jakkon finally took a look at the creature that was sitting next to him. Like many animals on Mobius, it wore no clothes. Yet, it still bore a ragged and unkempt appearance. It's shoes were old and coming apart. It carried no belongings, but it still kept grinning.

"How can ya be so happy?" grumbled Jakkon irritably.

The hedgehog shrugged. "I dunno. I guess it's because I don't have anyone to tell me what to do."

"Believe me, in a few days, ya bally won't care about that."

"So what? You want me to act all sullen-like and mope around?"

"No . . . I guess not . . ."

The Hedgehog poked a finger at Jakkon. "Well don't guess! Think!"

Jakkon looked at the queer little creature. "What's yer name?"

"Colin."

Jakkon grunted in acknowledgement. "Naturally."

"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Colin, raising an eyebrow.

"The meaning of the name Colin is 'victory of the people'."

Colin blinked and looked off in another direction. "Hang on. I'll have to think about that one."

Jakkon nodded and rolled over to sleep.

"Oh, and by the way . . ."

"What?"

"What's _your_ name?"

"Jakkon. Go to sleep. It's late."

Colin murmured something about not being told what to do that Jakkon didn't hear, then lay down. There was silence for a while. A little while.

"Jakkon?"

"WHAT?"

"Sorry, but what does Jakkon mean?"

"Ruler of the people."

"Good night."

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Jerena smiled. "So that's how you met Colin?"

Jakkon nodded. "Yup. He asked me later what happened to my eye. I told him about what happened with Packbell and my family. Funny thing is, I had to repeat it twice for Chris and Andrew."

"So how did you meet them?"

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"Do you have any idea where we're heading?"

Jakkon looked over at Colin, a skeptical expression on his face. "Where were you the last fifteen times I explained my plan?"

Colin shrugged. "La La Land?"

"Dang straight."

"For the last time, we are going down south. That's where the main war is happening!"

"You actually _want_ to go into the war?" asked Colin incredulously.

"Yep. There are Freedom Fighters down there." He grinned and reached into a bag that he had been saving and would not tell Colin what was in it. He pulled out a laser rifle. "We could go into service as Mercenaries?"

"Yeah!"

Whack!

Both of them jumped as a sparrow hit the ground next to them, chittering madly. "Run, run, hide from SWATBots, cover butts, not safe, hotcha!"

Colin blinked. "Excuse me?"

The sparrow looked up at them angrily. "SWATBots attacking!"

A look of understanding passed between Jakkon and Colin. "Yeah. Our parents were killed."

"Mine, too!" chirped Chris.

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Jerena laughed. "This is beginning to sound like 'the lost boys'! Were you Robin Hood, Jakkon?"

"Shush, m'dear. Let me continue."

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Once Jakkon had filled Chris in on where they were going, Chris gladly joined. "Me be glad to help! Me might have relatives up there!"

Jakkon and Colin blinked. There was something that neither of them had thought of.

A few days later, they encountered Andrew. He was lying on the ground. He had not had water in days. When Jakkon gave him some, he finally spoke.

"What are you two doing with a flying hors d'ovre out here?" asked Andrew.

"We're heading down south. Where the war is," replied Jakkon cheerfully.

"ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!?!"

Jakkon continued without batting an eyebrow, which wasn't easy. "On the contrary, my furred feline, we know exactly what we're doing."

"Listen," growled Andrew, "If the war has done this much damage up here, imagine what it will be like down there!"

Chris shrugged. "Who care? Might have relatives. Might become Freedom Fighters!"

"Shut up, you flying hors d'oeuvre! What do you know?"

"You listen," said Jakkon, with an equal growl, "You can either come with us or stay. Stay and you'll probably die. Your choice."

Andrew was silent for a moment, then spoke. "I'll come."

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"So that was how I met the rest of them bally schmucks," said Jakkon, gesturing to Colin, Chris and Andrew.

"What was it you said about Andrew wanting to eat Chris?" asked Rotor.

Andrew looked uneasily at Jakkon, remembering what Jakkon had done.

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Jakkon and Colin were awakened in the dead of night by the sounds of Chris squawking and fluttering around. Jakkon sat up straight. "What the . . . ?"

Chris was flying low to the ground, frantically trying to shake his purser: Andrew.

"Stop running away, you stupid bird," yelled Andrew, "It makes you harder to catch!"

Whack!

Andrew sat down hard. Jakkon was standing over him.

"Listen up, ya obnoxious little furball! Let me get a few things straight around here. Number One: Ya do _not_ try ta _eat_ any of us! Number Two: I will _not_ stand fer any of yer back talk? No sniveling or whining either! Just play it straight, or else!"

Jakkon reached down and lifted Andrew from the ground Putting them face-to-face.

"Do we understand each other?"

Andrew nodded meekly.

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Jakkon laughed at Andrew's expression when this little bit of the past was told. "Ya bally never did like it when I told that tale, did ya?"

Jerena eyed Jakkon slyly. "Jakkon, tell me . . . did you ever have a girlfriend while you were out and on the road?"

The shoe had dropped. Most of the animals assembled grinned ear to ear at the thought of what this was leading to.

"Well, I . . . that is . . ." Jakkon trailed off.

"I'd be happy to tell this little flashback here!" Colin said merrily.

Jakkon gave Colin a dark look. "Actually, Colin, I'd prefer it if you . . ."

Colin held up a hand, grinning. "But I insist!"

So, much to Jakkon's reluctance, Colin told the events that occurred in the town of Lakewood . . . and of Katrina.

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Jakkon had met Katrina while he and the Mercenaries had entered the town of Lakewood, looking for work. Katrina was a sly, young, black fox and the second she saw him she knew she wanted him. Jakkon felt the same way.

Now Colin wasn't too pleased by all this. Jakkon had motivated him to keep going and head for the war. Now Jakkon was settling down? Not if Colin could help it.

The time when Colin actually told Jakkon this was the very night that Colin's fear of Jakkon settling down had almost come true.

There had been a party that night and no one noticed it when Jakkon and Katrina had slipped off together to Katrina. Gone off to Katrina's house.

No one but Colin, that is.

Colin followed them to Katrina's house.

"I don't _think_ so," thought Colin to himself as he saw them go inside.

Jakkon and Katrina were still visible as they went into the bedroom of the house. Although they were inside, Colin could still see their silhouettes through the curtain because there was light inside.

Colin couldn't see things very well, but he could just make out what was happening.

"Now Katrina is entering the room . . . nothing on, of course . . . Jakkon is taking off something . . . whokay! That' s enough!" thought Colin, determined.

Jakkon and Katrina sank to the bed, kissing, not a piece of clothing between them. Jakkon was about to do something that Colin would deeply regret when Colin burst into the room.

"JAKKON, ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!"

Jakkon jerked and looked over, furious anger burning in his eyes. He looked down at Katrina's surprised features, as if in debate whether to go smack Colin or just keep going. He decided on Colin.

"WHAT YA DOING, JUST BARGING IN HERE WHILE I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF . . ."

Colin folded his arms. "Yes, Jakkon? What exactly _where_ you in the middle of?"

Jakkon shot a guilty look at Katrina, then at Colin. "Ya and I need ta discuss something in private."

"I'll say we do! And if we got any more private we'd be talking about your . . ."

"SHUT UP!"

Jakkon made some quick apologies to Katrina and headed for the door.

Colin stopped. "Aren't you forgetting something/"

"Like what?" snarled Jakkon.

"YOUR PANTS?"

Jakkon blinked and got his pants.

Colin stopped about ten yards from Katrina's house. "Now," he said, "What were you doing to that poor girl?"

"Something ya'll bally never have the chance ta do!" snapped Jakkon angrily.

Colin sighed and looked off in the distance. "Listen, Jakkon. When we met, you encouraged me to do the impossible. Head south. But I went along with it. Because I believed we could do it. Now, if we get stopped, I expect it to be by Robotnik's forces, NOT some little sly fox with big hooters!"

Jakkon stayed silent until he had stopped talking. "Are ya quite finished?"

"No, I'm not! If all of us can't make it, that's one thing. If only one of us gets seduced by some . . ."

"We don't need ta go into details again."

Colin stopped and jabbed a finger at him. "You know, that's the most intelligent thing I've heard you say this whole week!"

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Sonic whistled. "See the fur fly!"

"So what happened to y'all next?" asked Bunnie.

"Really, there was nothing more ta tell," interrupted Jakkon before Colin could continue. "We moved out of that town the bally next week, still headin' south."

"You just left her?" asked Sally.

Jakkon shook his head. "Nope. She bloody left me." He shot an angry glance at Colin. "She said that if I couldn't keep my friends from bally barging inta something while we wanted private that we couldn't be together anymore."

Colin grinned. "Good timing, wasn't it?"

Jerena had been thinking this over for quite a while. "So . . . I finally know some of your deep and dark history," she said slowly.

Jakkon put on a puppy dog face. "Yes, m'dear. That's what happened."

"Hmph!"

Jakkon hugged her. "Hey, c'mon! That was years ago!"

"Three years."

"But that doesn't mean that I don't love ya now!" Jakkon got a queer expression on his face. "Saaaaaay . . . ya didn't have any boyfriends before me . . . did ya?"

Jerena blinked and looked sheepish. "Well, I . . . that is . . ."

Jakkon laughed and began tickling her. "You did you did you did! _Naughty girl_!"

Sally sighed as she watched this strange ritual of love. She glanced at Sonic. "Hey, Sonic? You didn't . . . ever . . ."

Sonic held out his hands as a shield. "Who no! Help!"

Sonic took off running with Sally in pursuit, yelling "Did you? Did you? You did, didn't you!"