Author’s note and warning: If anyone’s wondering what some of the characters look like, you can look in the profile *both Citizen and General* to get a look and some info. But the profiles do contain spoilers. You can also look in Artisan’s Gallery for stuff on Emerald and Brass. You guys like the new page for Emerald and Brass? This chap. is longer than usual. So, this fanfic has violence, profanity, sexual stuffs, and all those thangs. * BTW I don’t run spellcheck on these things, takes too much time with the names in the way. The mystery of bad spelling had been solved!
        Also, PLEASE TAKE THE SURVEY ON THE MAIN PAGE!!!!! Or can readers email me on you’re fav. and least fav. character? The survey’s only for the most liked. Added comments as well would be enjoyed if their not total disses and flames. Though I doubt it, if I was reading this I wouldn’t *bad lazy author! Go sit in the corner, young demon, until you learn you’re lesson!*
I’m going to be writing a E&B/New Order Crossover with Dalis Tauris, so please read that too when it’s done. Also with the crossover, for my part it’s gonna be much lighter than E&B. Almost like a parody. I’m itching for some humorous humor :P So lots of things in the crossover are going to be waaaaaay off then what it’s suppose to be. Just thought I’d tell you guys that.         Sonic, Sally, and Tails are © Sega and/or Archie comics. Telaros © Dalis Tauris. Randy Skylander © himself. All others are © of the [Zetallis Corporation].

Emerald and Brass Chapter 10
by Nin’nako Foxie
A Fatal Step?

        “Where’s Soca?!” Oni shouted, looking all over the room like an idiot.
        “She’s not here!” Coniau snapped, both in frustration and in anxiety. “The room’s not that big!”
        Ark stared at the note in his hand. Then crumpled it and threw it to the ground rage.
        “AHHHHH!!! Wha’ wes gonna do?!” Oni panicked. “Wes na know where Soca issa!”
        Coniau grabbed her by the robe and shooked her hard. “Get a hold of yourself, freak! Socara was kidnanapped, can’t you tell!?”
        “O.O AHHHHHH!!!!”
        Coniau smacked herself on the forehead. There was a quick ‘FFFFT’ sound and Oni stopped. Three seconds later, she fell asleep with a small dart sticking to her shoulder. Coniau turned to Ark. He was holding a tranquilizer gun.
        “That’ll keep her quiet for 5 hours or so,” he said, putting the gun back into his pouch. “I believe we need to contact Sonic.”
        “How?” Coniau asked, looking at him.
        “Either one of us goes back, or we find Draca.”
        “And yet again I ask how? Do you want to wonder around the castle walls or something!?” Coniau paused. “That’s ridiculous!” she snapped when Ark kinda nodded/shrugged. He’s nuts, if he thinks I’m going to wonder around in the snow like an idiot.

        “Argh...” It had been about two hours now, and no sigh of Draca. At least it was a better chance then getting back to Knothole. Whoever was jamming their signal might be on the lookout at the city limits.
        Ark glanced at the castle. It was dark now and the streetlamps were on. He recalled she sometimes made an evening report, but usually it was late in the afternoon. There weren’t any spots she usually went to make her report which made it even worse. After trudging around for another hour or so, he gave up.
        Usually, three hours in the cold wasn’t bad. It was the nagging though that it was all his fault that really killed him.

        Back at the inn, Coniau had refused to go out into the cold. “I’m a scientist, not some bloody survivalists!” had been her argument. So she stayed where it was warm. She hadn’t any materials on hand or via portal, so she had jacked the phone from the bar.
        “Almost done,” she said to herself, tweeking with some small wires. Useless pieces of the phone were laying all over the table. Oni was still conked out from the tranquilizer. She should be out for another 2 hours. “There!”
        Coniau held up the makeshift communicator with triumph. In normal conditions this would have been simple. That is, she should have checked to see if the phone was working in the first place before she stole it.
        “Kewlie! U made anada one!” came a voice behind her. Coniau sighed, Oni had woken up much earlier then she had thought.
        “Yes I did. You might as well be a good freak and help me.” Coniau tossed her the phone line. “Hook this up to my laptop by the fire.” Oni did as she was told. “Now press the lower right button. No not that one! The one blinking!”
        The screen ran a few numbers for a moment, then... “Ark...Coniau...Oni?”
        “Yes!” shouted Coniau. “Sally! It is I, the greatest scientific genius in the universe calling!”
        “Where have you been?!” Sally demanded. “Is everyone all right? Did something happen?”
        Coniau was serious now. “Someone’s jamming our signal. I had to build another communicator out of a broken phone.”
        “Jamming your signal? Ancients, it’s not Chaonen is it?”
        “I believe so, or someone good at these things. But Sally listen. We couldn’t risk getting out of the city, with Socara.”
        “What happened to Socara?! Is she hurt?” Sally asked frantically.
        “Sally, get a hold of yourself. She came down with a fever, then...”
        “What? Coniau, tell me!”
        “She disappeared. We think she was kidnanapped.” There was silence for a moment.

        While Coniau and Sally were talking, Oni was trying to get used to walking again. She’d never been shot with a tranquilizer before, usually it had been lasers or bullets. Still a little groggy, she sat down on the bed Socara had occupied. Something on the floor, caught her attention. It was just one her habits, like noticing a squashed raisin on the floor while UFOs were flying by.
        She wobbled over and picked up the crumpled piece of paper on the floor. The writing wasn’t fancy, but you could tell it was down by an expert hand. It looked almost it was burned into the note if one looked very closely. She read the single line on it. Then read it again. Later, putting it in her sleeve.

        The Shadow levitated above four pieces of paper. It wrote the same message on each of the papers with its tail by burning it in. After stamping Chaonen’s offical seal on all of them, it faxed them to the Downunda. Chaonen had been rather specific that he didn’t want anyone finding out about these.

        “Yes, I’ll contact Draca. Stay put at that inn until we arrive,” said Sally. “Finding information on your own? Is that wise, you could be caught and we have no plan. When Sonic, Tails and I arrive we will have a formal plan. Yes, I know we need to rescue her as soon as possible, but we don’t have proof that Chaonen echidnanapped Socara. It could be one of his agents.”
        Sonic and Tails were standing behind Sally in the war room, carefully listening to what she said. But they couldn’t hear Coniau.
        “What? I can’t here you, you’re breaking up. Coniau? Coniau!?” Sally shut off the link. “Damn, signal went out. I think it was the storm this time.” She turned to Sonic and Tails. They nodded, knowing what she was thinking.

        “Where you going?” asked Coniau, as Oni was opening the door.
        “Uh...somewhere,” she said before running out. She jumped down the stairs and was out the door. Oni ran in the direction of the castle, though it was getting hard to see in the snowstorm. Turning the corner, she bumped into Ark, causing both of them to fall into the snow.
        “Watch where you’re going,” said Ark, standing and brushing himself off.
        “Ya should watch wha’ U doin’!” Oni snapped. “Dis probably all Ur fault NEways. Mes na knows why U wassa here beforez, but mes gonna find out! U hear mes?!” She jumped to her feet.
        “What are you talking about?” Ark snapped back, defensively. “My fault for what?!”
        “Ya a meanie traitor type peep anna U knowz dat! ‘Course mes expect dis froma ucky peeps likies U!”
        Ark glared at her. Then said, “You don’t like it that I’m Soca-chan’s friend, huh?”
        “Wha’!?” Oni shoved him aside and continued running. “Wha’ U knows NEways?!” She razzed him as she disappeared among the millions of snowflakes falling.
        Ark grumbled to himself, then looked down. It was snowing pretty hard and footprints would be covered rather fast, but this didn’t seem to be a problem for the snow with Oni’s footprints. She hadn’t left any.

        An hour passed midnight...
        Sally, Sonic and Tails were sitting on the couch in Coniau and Ark’s room. Coniau Ark sat on chairs across from them. “Where’s Oni?” asked Tails.
        “She ran out,” Ark shrugged. “I mean, went somewhere. Not abandon us.” He explained when he was given funny looks.
        “Unfortunately, we don’t have time for her to come back,” said Sally. “What we need to do is figure out what we’re going to do.”
        “Right,” said Sonic. “We’ve contacted Draca. She hasn’t seen or heard anything going on at all, but we asked her to stay alert and poke around as best she could.”
        “He has her,” said Ark. “Who else would take her?”
        “Could be an agent of his,” said Coniau.
        Ark shrugged. “Are you proposing that we sit around until we can be absolutely positive?” Sally nodded. “Good, then I’m set.”
        “Ark, you can’t jump to conclusions. We’re all worried,” said Tails, “but we can’t put everyone else in danger for something we’re not all to sure about.”
        “But say, Chaonen did have her,” said Sonic. “What can we do to rescue her. I doubt she’ll be in any condition to protect herself while with a high fever.”
        The no one spoke for a while. “I have a bit of an idea,” Coniau said suddenly. She picked up her laptop. Quickly she opened up a portal and pulled out several large rolls of paper. Rolling them out, everyone could see that they were the plans for the castle that the FF had attained years ago. “I remember seeing this on the computer in Knothole.”
She pointed along the outer walls. “All this rooms have large windows. Including the upper towers. In this storm, sneaking in from the air would be simple. Since both Sonic and Tails can fly, and I have a small hovercycle.”
        “These are normal storage rooms and bedrooms along the upper floors. If Socara is held in one of these it would be easy. Quick in and out,” said Sally.
        “Most likely, Chaonen took Socara back for a reason. He would be aware that she has a fever and I highly doubt he would stick her in a dungeon. Somewhere where its warm and comfortable I’m thinking,” Tails commented. “But how do we know which room?”
        “For those rooms that Sally pointed out a moment ago, I could run a quick, ten seconds at the most, scan in the room while on the outside. I could pick up Socara in a snap,” said Coniau.
        “And if she’s not in any of those rooms?” Ark asked after being silent for quite a while.
        “No idea,” said Coniau.
        “That room,” said Sonic. “What about that room?”
        “What room?”
        “You wouldn’t know, but before we met you two, Chaonen had tricked us into playing a ‘game’ of his. We ended up hiding in his own castle, under Oni’s suggestion. Somehow we were transported into a large windowless room. All stone pillars and darkness.”
        “There was some weird pool like mirror there and a desk,” added Sally. “That’s all, but it seemed important for some reason.”
        “You’re suggesting she could be there?” asked Ark.
        “If not in one of the other possible rooms.”
        “So, where’s that pillar room?” Coniau, searched through the plans. “I don’t see anything like it.”
        Sonic, Sally and Tails looked at each other. “We don’t know.”
        “Gentlemen, let’s get right to the point.” Chaonen put a short staff on the table. The gem was glowing faintly. He look in the direct of the four screens that were up. Each had the image of one of Chaonen’s generals in the Downunda. Each stood ready for orders. In the center of the room was a 3 dimensional projection of the Downunda. The red areas were land they had already taken. “As you know, this specific war has been going for at least 25 years. I’m sure you all grow weary of it.”
        The generals nodded carefully. “At the beginning of the war, the rebels were just small bands scattered across the northen continent. In the Downunda, the resistance had much more resources and allies, but still not all that much to worry about,” Chaonen continued.
        “Now...” he glanced at each of the generals. He picked up the staff and looked at the gem. “...the rebels have enough supplies and materials to have an army of their own to resist my control!”
        The generals flinched, though Chaonen hadn’t really raised his voice, but the tone still sent chills down there spines.
        “I trust you have received my letter.”
        “Yes, sire,” said one of the generals, a middle aged otter. “We have received your letter and have almost finished making the accommodations you specified for your arrival three days from today.”
        “Excellent. Then t-” Chaonen stopped. He looked towards the door. Something was going on right outside. It sounded almost like a fight. “Excuse me for a moment, gentlemen.”

        Oni wondered around on top of the rafters in the ceiling, hands clasped casually behind her head and hidden by the darkness. She walked in the direction she thought were the bedrooms. No one had even come close to noticing her. Though a guard had almost seen her while she checked out the dungeons. At the end of the long hallway, she saw two double doors. A guard was standing by them. He was a brown cat that almost looked like an alley cat, if it weren’t for the Elite armor he was wearing. A sword and gun were hanging from his belt. A helmet partially shaded his eyes.
        ‘Guards at doors = something important behind’ was Oni’s way of thinking. Chaonen could be just doing that to throw people off. This was an Elite guard though, so most likely whatever was behind those door was important. But how to get passed that guard without him noticing. Not like she wouldn’t mind beating the hell out of him, but that may attract attention.
        Oni quietly, got the beam right above the guard. A quick drop and slash would get him out of the way. She whipped out a long knife from her sleeve, positioned herself then jumped.
        The guard felt something and looked up. He let out a yell and threw himself out of the way, right before Oni could give him a new smile. He was on his feet immediately when Oni lunged at him. The guard drew his own sword and blocked the slash. He managed to throw Oni back.
        Oni grinned a little then threw the knife at him. It caught onto the breastplate, almost stabbing him but not quite. The guard threw the knife to the ground, very happy that he had managed to jump back slightly or he would have been one dead cat. Finally, a challenging fight, he thought. She’s weaponless at the moment, but there could be more weapons hidden in her robe.
        The intruder had withdrawn to a safe distance. “Hiyas! So wha’ ur namie?” she asked.
        “Why? Want to know the name of the person who will be your death?” the guard smirked.
        “Mes death?” she repeated in surprise. “Na bes silly. Mes Oni. So wha’ ur namie?”
        “Telaros,” he said suddenly breaking into a ran towards Oni. “Now shut up and fight!”
        “Surez!” Oni laughed, she ducked out of the way and drew a sword from her sleeve. The swords clashed, each matching the other ones strength. They stood locked for several moments, until Oni shifted so quickly to the side that Telaros lost his balance. She turned her sword into an upwards arc and knocked Telaros’ sword from his hands. His sword spun in the air and Oni caught it in her other hand.
        She advanced on him, waving the sword back and forth at neck level. Telaros slowly backed up, unsure of whether to reach for his gun or not. One false move could be his last. “Ever heard of a fair fight?” he asked, taking a wild shot.
        “Yeppers, mes heard offa itta,” she replied. Telaros had his back to the wall now with nowhere to go. “Guess mes win righties?”
        “Not yet,” he said. “Falcon!”
        “Huh?” Oni looked at his in confusion, suddenly she felt something in her hand. Abruptly a flurry of feathers was clawing at her. She knocked it way with the pummel of her sword. Recovering quickly, she could see that it was an elegant falcon that the sword had become. It flew back to its owner. When it came close enough, there was a flash of light and his sword landed in his outstretched hands.
        “That’s why it’s called the Falcon Sword,” he said, tackling Oni. She blocked his sword in the nick of time and shoved him away. During there fight, they hadn’t noticed that the door Telaros had been guarding had opened.
        Suddenly, something grabbed Oni by the collar of her robe and lifted her off the ground. “Hey!” She shouted, kicking and struggling.
        “Sire!” Telaros shouted, bowing deeply.
        “I’ll take that,” Chaonen said, taking Oni’s sword from her hands. “Give me your handcuffs,” he said to Telaros. Telaros did so and Chaonen cuffed Oni’s hands behind her back.
        “Do you want to me take her to the dungeons?” Telaros asked.
        “No,” Chaonen said after a moment, much to Telaros’ surprise. “I’ll handle her. You are dismissed.”
        Telaros bowed again and walked away. He glanced back to see Chaonen going back into the war room with Oni in tow.

        Still it snowed outside.
        “Let me get this straight. As you followed Metal Sonic. You went into a room and was suddenly teleported into that chamber,” said Coniau.
        “And you remember something about a weird looking circle on the floor?” asked Ark.
        Sally nodded. “That’s right.”
        “Could be the doorway to a psuedo-dimension,” Coniau said, mostly to herself.
        “Chaonen’s a magicker, so most likely it was a teleportation circle. Quick here to there,” Ark said, putting in his own opinion.
        “What’s this all this magic around anyways?!” snapped Coniau. “Science is the real way to go about things. Magic is only advanced science without logic to it.”
        “Without logic? You have got to be kidding me,” retorted Ark. “Haven’t you ever seen a magicbook? A lot of geometry goes into those things.”
        “And how would you know?!”
        “I’ve seen them.”
        “AHEM!” Sonic cleared his throat. “Back to rescuing Socara.”
        “Right,” Coniau said immediately. “This isn’t so hard than. We check out the bedrooms lickity-split. If she isn’t there, then right to one of those circles to check out the big chamber. Sneaking around should be easy with it snowing and all.”

        “Damn it, we don’t have time to wait for that freak,” snapped Coniau as she got into warmer clothing. They had finished putting in the details of their plan and were ready to move out.
        “Did she mention when she would get back?” Sally asked.
        Ark shook his head.
        “Ha! I doubt she even has a concept of time,” Coniau continued. “That freak is so useless.”
        “Coniau! Show some respect for your team mates,” Sally replied. “We’re all in this together.” Coniau frowned, but shut up.
As everyone left, Sally thought to herself, Ancients where is that girl!? Just when we have to rescue someone she runs off!

        Tails hovered above the roof of a nearby building, but keeping low enough to stay out of sight just in case. He made the all clear signal to the others. High above in the air, Sonic swooped across the castle walls, carrying Sally in his arms. They landed on a windowsill and began searching the section they were assigned to.
        On the other side, Coniau hovered by one of the windows on her hovercyle. She connected a small wire to the window and pressed a button. A few moments later, the results were on her computer. “Nope.”
        Ark crept along the thin ledge, trying not too look down. He wondered how in th world he got stuck with Coniau. “Hurry up,” he hissed at her through chattering teeth.
        “Infernos, have some patience,” Coniau snapped back, she let Ark get back on the hovercyle on the spot she had to lay her laptop. “Besides, I thought guys were suppose to be tough.”
        “Oh shut up.”

        Oni was in Hell. Hell hell hell hell. Chaonen had made her sit through his meeting with his generals, which dragged on forever. He wouldn’t let her move or make any noise. In fact, she thought he made everything extra boring just to torture her. ARGHHH!!! Mes na can sit still dis lon’!!!!!
        “Having fun?” Chaonen asked, just to tick her off after the meeting was done.
        “I thought so,” smiled Chaonen. He sat in a chair across from her. Then crossed his legs under him. It actually looked kind of kid like at the moment. Unfortunately for Oni he just sat there watching her.
        Oni tried wrenching out of her predicament again, but a knife was holding her shadow to the floor and she couldn’t move anything that would make her shadow move. “Shadowhold,” said Chaonen after she had given up. “Very convenient spell, ne?”
        “Meanie,” muttered Oni. “Wellz? Aren’t ya gonna ta do something bad o’ stufferz. Dat’s wha’ bad guys usually does.”
        “Let me ask you something. Do you enjoy being stuck, unable to move?”
        “Not so loud please. Anyways, then this is the ‘bad thing’ I’m doing,” Chaonen grinned, showing her a mouth full of razor sharp teeth.
        “Ya gotta point,” Oni admitted.
        “You know what?” Chaonen said, shifting his position slightly. “We never properly met. In fact, the first time we were trying to kill each other. Why not make some proper introductions?”
        Oni blinked in surprise. “Ooooooh, U one does polite bad guys.”
        “You could say that. Well,” Chaonen stuck out a hand, each finger tipped with a deadly claw. “My name is Chaonen.”
        “Gotta last namie?”
        “Very good! No one’s ever had the guts to ask. It’s Atlan. Chaonen Atlan.”
        “Grrrrr...fine. Mes Oni Aurora Ahcem,” she grumbled. “Dere, U happies?!”
        “Quite,” Chaonen replied, grabbing her hand and pretending to shake it since she couldn’t move.
        “How ‘boutz U let mes goes now ‘kay?” Oni asked hopefully, putting on a big smile, showing off her own fangs.
        “How about no?”
        “Ha!” Chaonen chuckled. “No no no. I have a nice little something in store for you Freedom Fighters. And since you are one of them, you get to be in on it too.” He got up and walked idly around the room. “You enjoy flying I hope?”
        “Huh, wha’ you meanz?” Oni spotted a fencing sword on the wall as a decoration. “U like fencing’ o’ somethin’?”
        “Now this is odd,” Chaonen said thoughtfully, walking back over. “A FF actually wants to hold a conversation with me.”
        “Mes justa curious,” Oni said quietly. “ACK!!!” When the tip of a epee *a type of fencing sword* was suddenly touching the tip of her nose.
        “Yes, I do like fencing. Very relaxing,” Chaonen said, leaning down so he was at her eye level. He walked behind her and pulled out the knife. “Now, I suggest that you do as I say.” He moved infront of her again. “Erm... you are wearing something under that robe right?”
        “Wha’???!!!! How dare U ask mes dat?!” Oni screeched. “Of course mes wearin’ somethin’s! Gotta t-shirt anna shorts ya knows!”
        Chaonen sighed in relief. “Hey, it’s not like I want to see you naked.” He made a funny face. “
You’re flat chested anyways,” he remarked and ducked a kick to the head from Oni. “Take off your robe then.”
        Oni crossed her arms and didn’t move. “Mes keepin’ robe on.” Chaonen touched her throat with the epee. “On second thoughts.” Oni pulled her robe off and Chaonen took it.
        He looked at it carefully. “Can’t have you carrying who knows how many weapons in this thing.” Chaonen had her turn around with a motion with his epee. They walked out of the room and down the hallway.

        The FF looked at each other, and knew exactly what everyone was thinking. “Nope,” they all sighed at the sametime.
        “This leaves the mystery room then,” said Coniau, putting her laptop down. “let’s go then.”
        “We can’t just stroll in and look around,” said Sonic.
        “And why not?” snapped Coniau. “I am the greatest genius in the universe. I’m sure I have the respect to look around as I wish.”
        “Whatever,” shivered Ark.
        “That might be an idea, though,” said Sally.
        “HUH?!” everyone else gasped, except Coniau who was grinning widely.
        “I mean, if Coniau is famous enough for Chaonen to know her, he could view her as an element he can use against us.”
        “Is her rep. really that big?” asked Tails.
        “Of course,” snapped Coniau. “I could call Chaonen, since he doesn’t know that I’m working with you all. If he has any sense in his head than he’d invite me for a look see in his castle and try to get me to work for him.”
        “And you could mention that you’re studying Nin’nako and ask if he has any!” exclaimed Tails.
        “Did you say call?” asked Ark.
        “Of course!” Coniau laughed, taking out a cell phone she had grabbed from her lab. She punch in some numbers.
        “He has a phone number?!” exclaimed Sonic.
        Coniau glared at him. The phone rang a few times then finally somone picked up. “This is Coniau, the greatest scientific genius in all the universe. I would like to speak to Chaonen this minute. What do you mean I can’t just speak to him?! Don’t you know who is calling?!”
        There was a pause. “I am not some punk teenager who managed to get this number by accident! Yes I’ll hold.”
        “Some wacho operator,” Coniau explained to the others. “Of course I’m still here!” she said back to the operator. “Uh huh. Identification. Yes, of course. I’m setting up a video link as we speak.”
        Everyone got the hint and hid. Tails made an illusion of a comfortable room around Coniau. She set up a screen in front of her. The face of the operator appeared on it. “Just a moment ma’am, we’re seeing if there’s any information on you in our data banks.”
        “Make it snappy,” Coniau...well, snapped.
        The operator looked surprised for a moment, then said, “I’ll need to talk to my superior.” The operator got up and left the room. Some mumbling could be heard and a female dragonian sat at the screen.
        “Ermm... madam,” she said. “Do you have some ID with you?” Coniau took out a pen like object which projected her identification card. She adjusted it and the language was translated to Mobian. “Alright.” She typed something onto the computer.
        “You don’t believe me do you?” Coniau snapped.
        “Madam, the things is that usually we don’t just get a phone call from someone as famous and respected in the scientific field as who you claim to be,” the Dragonian replied.
        “Look,” Coniau sighed. “I had heard that Chaonen has something I need for my research. I with to talk to him about an alliance.” She took out a card and badge from her shirt pocket. “These are only available to the Elite of the Tech. Can not be imitated or stolen from the owner. This should be enough identification.”
        The dragonian, shifted uncomfortably, then noticed something in the background. “I will contact his excellence.”
        Coniau turned around and saw Sally give her a quick thumbs up.
        It took several minutes before she could talk to Chaonen, and when she was able to it wasn’t even on the video screen.
        “Salutations, Miss Ahcem,” he said. “This is an unexpected surprise.”
        “Yes of course. It’s not everyday someone on a noname planet gets to meet someone as great as myself,” she smiled.
        “Yes...and not many people are as modest as yourself.”
        “Well, right to the point. I’m looking fo-”
        “Why, that’s correct,” Coniau laughed.
        Their conversation continued on for several minutes while the FF hid in the dark. “I can’t believe this is working,” Ark muttered under his frozen breath. Sally nudged him to get him to shush, but then was surprised at how cold he really was. He had been the only who didn’t have any warmer clothes, though he hadn’t complained too much. Ark muttered something again, then kept quiet.
        “I did mention that didn’t I?” Coniau laughed. “Well I meant it.”
        “Perhaps you would like to talk about about this over some coffee, tea, wine, whatever you drink?” Chaonen offered.
        “I agree,” she replied.
        “Is tonight alright?” asked Chaonen. “Know it’s late but you are the one who called.”
        “I can be at your residence in oh...ten minutes. My hotel isn’t too far from it.” Coniau looked out the illusionary window. “Such a lovely night. I think take my hovercycle.”
        “I’ll meet you at the front gate.” There was a click and the phone went dead.
        “Hmph! Didn’t even say something like ‘goodbye,’” snapped Coniau.
        “I really can’t believe that work,” Ark said, standing up and shaking the snow off of his cape.
        “You know what to do then Coniau. Unfortunately, you’re by yourself from here,” said Sally. “Good luck and be careful. You’ve never met Chaonen, he’s tricky.”
        “I’ll be fine,” smirked Coniau. “My intellect is far greater than his I would expect.”
        “Exactly Sally’s point,” growled Sonic. “If you think that, he’ll just surprise you, but by then it won’t matter ‘cause you’re dead.”
        “Clamp it, Blue boy,” snapped Coniau. “I have it all worked out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with Chaonen.” With that she got on her hovercraft and sped off over the wall and into the night.
        “Let’s go back to the hotel, then,” suggested Tails. “It’s pretty risky if we stayed here.”
        “Good idea,” agreed Sally. Sonic picked her up and flew into the air.
        “Hang on,” Tails said to Ark. Spinning his tails, Tails rose into the hang with Ark and followed Sonic.

        Chaonen stood outside, just in the shadows by the front gate. The guards at there posts ignored him, because that was what he told them to do. The great Coniau Ahcem, he thought. This is indeed an unexpected surprise. He adjusted something on his head.
        “Chaonen-daimyou,” his Shadow said, suddenly appearing.
        “Ack! I mean what?!” He grinned embarassingly, after sliding something as quick as he could under the collar of his coat/robe.
        “You should have waited for scientist Ahcem inside, Chaonen-daimyou. What if you were to catch a sickness, Chaonen-daimyou?” it asked.
        “It’s only for a few minutes,” Chaonen said, trying to put on his usual frown towards the Shadow. “And there she is now.”
        The Shadow turned its head. Coniau was speeding down the street on her hovercycle. “I’m best to leave then, Chaonen-daimyou.’re headphones are sticking out of your coat, Chaonen-daimyou.” Then it disappeared.
        Chaonen laughed nervously and stuffed his CD player into a large pocket before Coniau reached the gates. She got off her hovercycle and looked around. Obviously she hadn’t seen him yet and was shouting at the guards who weren’t responding the way she wanted them too.
        “Well if he isn’t out here then let me in!” She shouted. “I have been invited here just ten minutes ago!”
        “Enough shouting please, Miss Ahcem,” Chaonen said, startling her.
        “Ah Chaonen, or should I call you by a different title?” Coniau said, giving a little bow, or more like a nod of the head.
        He walked up to her. “Chaonen is fine.” She looked up at him, and I do mean up. Coniau knew she was short but she looked like a little kid next to Chaonen. He was almost a foot and a half taller than her. Chaonen had the guards open the gates and he gestured for Coniau to come inside. “I’ll have someone take care of your hovercycle,” he said.

        “About that alliance you mention,” he said after they had settled down in a comfortable room. There was a fire blazing in the fireplace before them, but it was mostly for show. The lights around the room with dark red curtains made it feel pleasant.
But to Coniau, the curtains looked like blood, though she didn’t really care.
        “Mind if I have a drink first?” Coniau asked. “A good cup of hot tea and a bottle of sake would be fine.”
        Chaonen got up without saying anything and pressed a button on his desk panel. “A bottle of sake and a cup of hot tea. Bring it to this room.”
        “Yes sire,” said a voice over the intercom.
        “It’ll be here shortly,” he said, sitting back down. “Now, the alliance.”
        “You sure get right down to the point, don’t you?” said Coniau, raising an eyebrow.
        “A habit you get with my job,” he smiled pleasantly.
        “Anyways. I did say I would offer my services. Of course I want something in exchange. One would be no one bothers me. Two-”
        “An efficent lab with the necessary materials to preform your research. Three, samples of Nin’nako,” Chaonen finished for her. “Plus I’ll add in room and board. Also you will be paid an amount fitting what I will proclaim. Food in on the house.”
        “My, my,” Coniau said, leaning forward with interest, “you are a smart lad. But...”
        Chaonen’s second eyelid slid over his eyes for a split-second. Equivalent, for his species to narrowing his eyes but more suttle.
        “...I want proof of a source of Nin’nako. In its pure form.”
        “That cannot be done,” he replied. There was a knock on the door. “Come in.”
A maid walked in a laid a tray with Coniau’s beverages on the table. She bowed deeply then left, closing the door behind herself.
        “Why not?” inquired Coniau, how was trying not to snap at him. She got a better control when she thought of this as one of the conversations she would have with her colleagues, one of wit vs wit relatively speaking.
        “Nin’nako’s pure form is that of something like a soul and essence. It’s hard the translate,” he said as Coniau skipped the tea and went right to the sake.
        “Oh silly me,” she said, taking a sip. “Hmm...this is rather good.” She poured herself another cup and ignored Chaonen as he sat and watched her drink. “I had meant it’s liquid form, when it resembles water.”
        Chaonen pondered this for a moment. He then reached forward and poured himself a cup. Gulping it down in one shot, he stood up and gestured for Coniau to follow him. They left the room and entered another. As they walked, Coniau couldn’t help but notice his odd clothing he was wearing. In her travels around the universe, she had only seen a glimpse of this type of clothing in one place, but couldn’t remember where. The robe he was wearing looked like a cross between a kimono and a long overcoat. It’s sleeves were long and one could see the sleeve of his shirt. The collar came two-thirds of the way up his neck and a long bannerish thing like that of a priest went from his chest to his ankles. Which then led her eyes, past the yellow tipped legs of his pants to the two killing claws on his inner toes.
        They entered the throne room. He led her up the few steps that went to the throne. There wasn’t much dust, but enough to know that he never actually sat in the throne. On the floor with a circle with strange marking on it around the edges, then a star shape in the center. Coniau had to admit, it did look like it had to be geometry done. Not like I’ll admit it out loud, she thought.
        “Well?” asked Coniau.
        “Step forward please, Miss Ahcem. Into the circle.”
        She strolled forward with confidence, then suddenly fell onto cold stone floor. Chaonen appeared beside her but landed lightly on the floor. “Pardon me, I should have warned you,” he said helping her up, but he had a grin on his face.
        Coniau dusted herself off and looked around to see where she was. Well it defiantly wasn’t the throne room. There wasn’t much to see or much you couldn’t see. All she could see were pillars that disappeared into the darkness. An eerie glow lit the room along with torches on every other pillar. She followed him to where the pillars formed a large circle.
        In the center was the glass still pool of Nin’nako, around the edges were more ancient symbols, but Coniau was staring at the Nin’nako. It seems so depthless and still that it did look like a mirror.
        “By...,” she gasped. “By...something.”
        Chaonen stood silently behind her. The usual grin on his face.
        “Unbelievable.” The Nin’nako gave off a strange aura, it felt peaceful and foreign at the same time. It radiated a soft blue light.
        “Do we have a deal?” Chaonen asked, snapping Coniau out of her daze. Coniau shook her head, trying to clear her mind, but it was hard. Something felt wrong. Chaonen took her shoulder and pulled her away from the mirror. “I take it you are not used to being around magic entities. But I believe you do know the effects Nin’nako can have on people.”
        “And I take it that you’re used to this?” Coniau almost snapped, but calmed herself. Then she remembered why she was here in the first place. She pretended to glance around casually. “What is this room for? Not much here.”
        “More like a chamber,” Chaonen said. “I use it for all sorts of things.”
        “Like?” Coniau prompted, but Chaonen wasn’t about to say more. She turned to Chaonen. “I believe this all fits the necessary elements for our deal.”
        “Excellent,” Chaonen smiled.
        “Will I be able to meet the person who came up with the plans for the LON-42?” she asked, a mock grin on her face. “The are quite ingenious.”
        “You think so? This planet is not the best for finding certain materials and quite behind in technology from what I am used to,” Chaonen replied, folding his hands behind his head.
        “When I saw it on the news, I was very surprised as well that someone on this planet had the genius to invent that type of fighter plane, let along one capable of space travel.”
        “Yes indeed, amazing about things like that,” he chuckled, walking away.
        “Hey! Where are you going?” Coniau shouted, quickly catching up to him. He stepped through the circle the had come from and disappeared. What have I gotten myself into? Coniau grumbled to herself and stepped throught as well. She was teleported back to the throne room. The next thing that happened, before she knew what hit her, was Chaonen grabbing onto her shirt and lifting her so he could look at her at eye level.
        “I am overjoyed that you’ve agreed to work with me,” said in a low sinister voice, grin on his face. “A bit of advice. Don’t make me show you what I do to traitors or double crossers, Miss Ahcem.”
        Coniau nodded nervously.
        “I’m glad we’ve come to an understanding,” he said, dropping her to the ground. As he walked away her looked over his shoulder to her. “By the way, you’re looking at the one who made the LON-42.”
        Coniau got up, rubbing her tail since she had landed rather hard on it. At least she knew what the Sonic and Sally were talking about now. Then she tossed her hair back and carefully stormed out of the throne room.

        “Ah-ah-achoo!!”sneezed Ark.
        The FF had gone back to their room at the inn and were waiting for something to happen, though they weren’t sure what. Ark was sitting by the fire with a blanket wrapped around himself and his feet soaking in warm water.
        “You should have mentioned something,” Sally scolded him.
        “Not like I could do anything about it,” Ark replied.
        “Well, that’s true, but you should have brought warmer clothes. It is winter after all.”
        “My species wasn’t meant to live in cold places,” he muttered, but mostly to himself.
        It had been hours and the sun would be steadily rising in the sky at this time if it weren’t for the clouds in the sky. At least it had stopped snowing, but by now the city was covered in several feet of snow.
        The Sonic’s communicator started beeping. He flipped up the top to reveal a small screen. It was Draca.
        “What were you all doing last night?!” she demanded. “Calling the castle like that! And who was that fox?”
        “Sorry Draca,” Sonic said *sweatdrop*. “Okay here’s the thing. We searched what we could of the castle without entering. Mostly we reasoned in her condition she would be in one of the bedrooms. She wasn’t so Coniau sort of volunteered to search the only other places we could think of.”
        “I didn’t know that Coniau was THE Coniau Ahcem!” Draca shouted. “By the first egg I mean!”
        “Have you seen her around?” Sonic asked. “We haven’t recieved any word from her yet.”
        Draca shook her head. Suddenly, there was a sound behind her. Draca whirled around, expecting to see a soldier. But the silhouette didn’t match that of a soldier’s. She was facing the sun and couldn’t see who it was. Drawing her sword, she leaped at the intruder. “Freeze! Explain yourself!” she shouted. To her surprise, it was Coniau. She had been trying to get her hovercraft to the ground.
        “Oh it’s you,” she muttered. “Argh!! Why is everyone threatening my life today! Okay, you’re only the second, but it’s annoying!”
        “Sorry,” said Draca, resheathing her sword. “I thought you were someone else.”
        “No kidding,” snapped Coniau. “Well I’m in one Inferno of a problem. Just when I decide to be nice for once.”
        Draca tossed her commicator to Coniau. “Here, you can yell at him.”
        Not wanting an earfull, Sonic tossed his comm. to Sally. She yelped and tossed it to Tail. Who in turn threw it at the last person in the room.
        “Thank you sooo much,” Ark sneered, sniffing then blowing his nose. He sat for several minutes holding the comm. in his hands while Coniau bitched at any living object. “Are you done yet?”
        “Infernos no! I’m going over there right now!”
        “That’s great!” Ark shouted. Everyone else in the room stared at him in disbelief. “Then I can give you my cold!”
        Coniau suddenly decided she wouldn’t be going back to everyone’s great relief. “Anyways. I got to see that pillar room. Socara wasn’t there and Chaonen ended up to be the one who designed the LON-42.”
        “Should have known,” muttered Ark. “Is he going to put it in mass production?”
        “I don’t know,” she replied. “But what about me?! I’m stuck here and he’s threatening to kill me!”
        “Nothing new about that,” laughed Sonic. “What do you think we’ve had to live with all these years?”
        “But he doesn’t threaten you!” Coniau argued. “I don’t even know why you’re all alive right now. He defiantly has the ability to kill you all in one blow.”
        “It’s all fun and games,” laughed Ark. The others didn’t find it so funny, but Ark was doubling over in laughter.
        “Coniau,” said Sally. “I think you need to play along with Chaonen at the moment. Try to contact us if something big happens or you find out vital info.”
        “I suppose,” sighed Coniau, though she hated the idea. Chaonen was really starting to scare her. Of course she’s been around other brilliant people who threaten her, but none of them had been a homicidal dictator of an entire planet capable of something far greater but holding back for some reason. “ sign of the freak yet?”
        “I’m starting to worry,” said Sally.
        “Why?” snapped Coniau. “Like I’ve always said, the freak is useless to us and only gets in the way.”
        “Maybe she got killed by Chaonen,” Ark said, recovering from the laughter.
        “Don’t say that,” said Tails.
        “Hey dragon lady wants to talk to you again.” Coniau handed the comm. back to Draca who glared at her.
        “On a more serious note. Something weird is going on at the dock how several days. It looks like they’re gathering massive amounts of supplies headed for the Downunda. Also, Chaonen’s been sending more weaponary as well, suddenly. This thing has got me worried, and from what I can tell. He’ll be leaving for the Downunda in I think a day or two.” Then more quietly so no one could here her, “I hope Zack’s alright.”
        “He’s leaving?!” Sally repeated, slightly shocked.
“I don’t remember Chaonen ever leaving Darkintis, let alone the continent,” said Tails.         “This could be a great opportunity!” exclaimed Sally. “Draca, has he sent most of his army down there too?”
        “Only a little, obviously he doesn’t want to leave the northern continent open to attack or take over. I wasn’t able to find out who is going to be in charge here while he’s gone though,” said Draca.
        “Usually it would be his top advisor right?” suggested Sally.
        “He doesn’t have any advisors, or none that anyone knows about,” replied Draca.
        “I bet if we blew up a few of his supplyships, Chaonen would get really pissed,” Ark joked.
        Sonic glanced at Sally. “That’s a good idea.”
        “Huh? Hey I was just kidding,” Ark said quickly, almost falling out of his chair.
        “I would help the DFF,” said Draca. “I hate to say this, but we haven’t really been helping much now. All the real fighting is in the Downunda and we haven’t had contact with them for who knows how long. Not even from Ivy, you could even be dead.”
        “That is so true,” sighed Sally. “We need to take some action and help as best we can here. Draca, you better sign off before you’re missed. We may need to talk with you again tonight.”
        “Right,” Draca said, giving Sally a salute that she returned. “Stay safe everyone.”
        The screen went blank. “But what about Soca-chan?” Ark asked.
        “I’m sorry, Ark, but there’s nothing we can do until something comes up,” Sonic said regretfully. Ark looked back to the fire.
        “What say we get some breakfast?” Sally suggested, trying to pull everyone out of their gloomy moods.
        “Alright!”shouted Sonic, “I’m starving. Come on Ark, you coming?”
        “No thanks,” he said.
        Before everyone left, Sonic threw a look at Ark. He would have murmered ‘poor guy,’ but that didn’t seem to fit.
        When Ark was alone, he reached under his shirt and pulled out a line gold chain this a locket hanging on it to. Opening it, he sighed. Inside was a picture, a golden brown from age. It was of him and Socara ten years ago. He let it fall from his hand, and dangle in the air reflecting the light of the fire.

        Draca shut off her comm. link. Coniau had gone back to trying to get her hovercycle to the ground while she and Sally were talking. “Let me help,” Draca finally offered. She reached up and easily pulled the hovercraft down.
        “I could have done it,” snapped Coniau.
        “Yeah, if you had been several inches taller,” laughed Draca. She turned around and walked out the door. Then hurriedly backed back in.
        “What? Forget something?” asked Coniau, still a little pissed. Then she froze.
        “Si-sire!” stummered Draca, bowing deeply.
        Chaonen was standing in the doorway, his Shadow sat on his shoulder. He snapped his claws together, the closet thing he could do to snapping his fingers. Mecha Knuckles and Metal Sonic appeared to the sides of Draca and Coniau.
        “What’s going on?!” Coniau demanded when Mecha Knuckles grabbed her. “Let go you inferior piece of machinery!”
        “’tis a pity,” Chaonen mock sighed as Metal Sonic restrainded Draca. “All these years you were just a spy and I was fool enough to trust you Captain.”
        Draca glared at him, her eyes slightly glowing white. Chaonen gestured for the two robots to bring them along. “We’re going for a little trip,” he smirked over his shoulder with the Shadow imitating his smirk.

        Night fell upon the city. Several figures crept by in intervals within the shadows. The security around the dock was heavier than usual. More workers were rushing back and forth to get the next shipment out on time. Orders were being shouted about. All the snow had been cleared away.
        The figures carefully avoided the flood lights. There was a blur of blue and a soldier went down. No one had noticed. The soldier emerged againn after a few moments, or at least someone in the soldier’s clothes. He swung his pouch over his shoulder and walked towards the supplyships. The others melted back into the shadows in the other direction.
        The fake guard headed for the closest supplyship. It would be taking off in a few minutes and workers were running last minute checks on it. No one noticed him. The floodlights caused a dark shadow to fall over his face from the helmet he had, no one so him grinning. Back to the old job, he thought to himself with some amusement. He reached into his pouch and took out an object about the size of his hand. Mingling among the workers and guards, him placed the object under the supplyship in a consealed spot just before everyone cleared out for takeoff.
        “Is she here?” a shadow whispered to another.
        “No. I haven’t seen her anywhere, Sonic,” she replied.
        “This isn’t good,” said a two tailed figure. “We haven’t been able to contact Draca since this morning.”
        “Maybe she is involved in this,” Sonic suggested, gesturing to the supplyships.
        “Highly unlikely,” said Sally, scanning the area with Nicole. “Just as I thought. Nicole hasn’t picked her up. Coniau either.”
        “Damn it. How’s Ark?”
        “Going along to the schedule.”
        “If there weren’t so many floodlights we could do something,” complained Tails. “Chaonen doesn’t allow any face concealing clothing or armor either.”
        “What in the Ancients name is he doing?” Sally suddenly said. They both looked at her. She was following Ark’s beacon on Nicole, but he had suddenly gone the opposite direction he was suppose to go. The beacon stopped at a certain point.
        “Hey, he’s over there,” Sonic pointed out. He handed Sally the binoculars he was using.
        “But he’s just looking at some kind of aircraft. Looks like a jet, I’m not sure what kind.” She zoomed in. “Now he’s taking something out of his pouch...”
        “Hey, Sal. Nicole is receiving some kind of message,” Tails said. He picked up Nicole. “It’s Ark, he read. I can’t bomb the supplyship the airship to your right. It’s untirely weaponary and explosives. The whole place would go with it and part of the city.”
        Sally took Nicole and typed, “What about in the air?”
        “Explosives, as in nuclear, atomic, and I think some chemical based ones.”
        “What?” Sonic exclaimed in surprise. “Damn.”
        “The jet is a private jet. I believe that would make it Chaonen’s. The one to its left and front is the ship that will be escorting it. Chaonen’s jet is too heavily guarded to get on board. I’m going to try for the escort if I can.”
        “That’s insane! What are you going to do on the ship?!”
        “Some road rage, I mean air rage ;)”
        “Get back over here Ark.” Sally commanded of him.
        “Once in a lifetime chance. Want to come?”
        “Ark, that’s direct order you will not be going on the ship. Plant more bombs if you have to.”
        “The idiot!” Sally snapped. “Damn it. He’s going to get himself killed and that was a direct order.”
        “We have to stop him,” Sonic said, standing up. “Hey look!”
        Draca was heading towards the escort, but she had her hands cuffed behind her back and was being followed closely by an armed guard. “That’s what happened to her!” exclaimed Tails, “But she’s going on the escort.”
        Ark caught sight of them and stopped them as they came near. “What’s he saying?” murmered Sally. There was a minute of conversation, then the guard handed custody of Draca to Ark. He gestured with his gun for her to keep walking to the escort.
        “Guys!” someone suddenly said from behind. Everyone whirled around with weapons drawn. “Don’t shoot me idiots!” shouted Coniau.
        “Coniau!” said Sally. “Where were you? What’s happening?”
        “No time to explain, we have to help Draca! When she gets to the Downunda, they’re going to publicly execute her!”
        “Come on then!” urged Tails. “We need to hitch a ride now!”
        “How?! This place is massing with guards?” objected Sonic.
        “There’s one final cartload that needs to be loaded. You can sneak a ride on that,” said Coniau. “Hurry up! It’s leaving in five minutes!”
        “Lead the way,” said Sally. Coniau lead them to the cart. They hid behind the crates until it came close enough by, then jumped on and hid under the tarp. The cart placed its load in the hull then back out. The doors shut and they were plunged into darkness. The escort started to move then took off.
        “All clear,” said Coniau, getting up. She flicked on a mini-flashlight and looked around.
        “Some escort, it looks like a supplyship,” Sonic pointed out. “Now to find Draca.”
        “Draca’s probably up there.” She pointed to the stairs at the far end leading up. Coniau followed them as they carefully went up incase someone on the upper level spotted them.
        To their surprise, no guards were on that level, but best of all. Draca and Ark were there too. Ark was still in the guard outfit, though his usual red cape was hanging loosely from his shoulders, and had picked the lock on Draca’s handcuffs. “Guys!” Draca shouted as she saw them.
        “Draca! Thank the Ancients,” said Sally happily.
        “I guess we’re all together except two people,” said Sonic, then muttered under his breath, “Wish Coniau wasn’t though.”
        The gun shot echoed for a few moments. Everyone was staring in disbelief at Ark. In his hand was and odd looking gun , a whisp of smoke curled up with it, and it was pointed directly at Coniau. He looked more like the villain than a good guy. His eyes were still shaded by his helmet, but they could see that they were narrowed though his expression revealed nothing.
        No one spoke a word. Sally ran over to Coniau who was leaning heavily against the wall, clutching her arm. Sonic and Tails recovered from the shock and aimed their own guns at Ark.
        Ark didn’t act the least bit worried, instead he took the gun and snapped it up. After some impossible looking adjustments, it was the staff that he always carried with him. Then he tightened the cloth around it.
        “Just what do you think you’re doing!?” Sonic finally said, breaking the silence.
        “You always hated Coniau, so why are you so pissed?” Ark asked in a nonchalant tone.
        “Not enough to shoot her,” Sonic glared.
        “I’ve been suspecting that someone was leaking info,” Tails snared, grip tightening on his gun.
        “Could you move please, Sally?” Ark asked, ignoring Sonic and Tails.
        “Hey!” shouted Sonic. “Don’t ignore us.”
        “Fine, fine,” sighed Ark, throwing up his hands in mock fustration. “Have you’re way.”
        “Coniau, are you hurt badly,” Sally asked softly. “Let me see your wound.”
        “No, I-I’m fine,” Coniau said, jerking away.
        “Don’t be so stubborn. Is the bullet embedded in your arm?”
        “Let me help too,” said Draca, kneeling beside Coniau.
        “Wow, what would you know. Coni is trying to be brave,” laughed Ark. “Very surprising after she just lets herself be controlled by others. Letting herself get captured, barely able to resist. Too weak to resist you could say.”
        “Shut up!” Sonic shouted. “What are you talking about traitor?!”
        “All you have is you’re brain. Barely the right emotions. Envying ‘normal’ people,” Ark continued, still laughing. He looked directly at Coniau. “I bet she can’t even do anything on her own anymore, but she still thinks she can be normal like the rest of the antropomorphic population.”
        “Shut up, you fucking bastard!” Coniau yelled at him. She suddenly shoved Sally and Draca aside and launched herself at Ark.
        “Thank you!” He laughed, jumping backwards onto a crate, with surprising speed he swing his staff and landed a hard blow on Coniau’s side. Sending her colliding with more crates. She was up in a split-second, her image blurred. In her place stood Metal Sonic instead.
“Metal Sonic?!” exclaimed Sally and Draca.         “How the Ancients damned Hell did you know that?!” he screamed at Ark.
        Ark waved a finger at him from a top his perch on the crates. “That’s a secret.”
Metal Sonic lunged at him again, this time using his jets, but missed Ark once again who had dodged at the last moment. Unable to stop in time, Metal hit the wall. He could have sworn he hit Ark.
        With the other FF as a threat, Metal kept Ark between him and them. The strange animal was being really annoying though, jumping around from crate to crate and the rage that was building up in Metal. I kill him! Metal screamed to himself.
        Ark flipped a taser out from his pouch and got into a fighting stance. He dared Metal to attack. Unable to control his anger Metal fired all his lasers at Ark. They missed and the others had to duck to avoid the shots. “You’ll blow up the plane,” Ark pointed out.
        “As long as you go with it!”
        “Touchy touchy,” taunted Ark. Metal eyed the taser, then figured it was no threat to his circuits and lunged so fast that no was only a blur.

        “System rebooting...”
        “Activation in 5...4...3...2...” Metal systems started again and he could see, though his optic lens were slightly damaged. “What...?”
        The FF back to a safe distance. “Did it work for real this time?” Tails asked Sally.
        “I hope so, but it should have,” she said back.
        Metal looked around, then spotted Ark. Shame welled up inside him and he looked down at his hands, cold and metallic. “Oh Ancients,” he murmered.
        There was silence for quite a while until Sonic said, “So Metal. Feel any different?”
        Metal didn’t respond.
        “Ark mentioned something about you once being a normal mobian,” Sonic continued.
        “It’s true,” Metal said softly, still not looking up. “I was an experimental prototype for Robotnik back then. He thought that his robots had the strength and everything except the workings of a living organism. During one of his raids, I was captured, but I didn’t even fight back! My family was killed right infront of me and I was paralyzed with fear! I could have done something! At least die with them.” Metal’s voice started to shake, like he was crying, but that was impossible for a robot.
        “That is so sad,” said Draca. “But how do we know its true?”
        “Well Ark said it was,” replied Tails. Everyone looked at Ark.
        “Hey, don’t look at me,” he said throwing up his hands. “I ran across some old files about this, okay?”
        “Go on, Metal,” coaxed Sally. “We believe you, after all, some of our own family have been robotised.”
        “No, you don’t understand, Sally,” he said. “They’re minds are robotic, mine isn’t. It’s still my original organic brain. That’s why I could be tricked by Tails’ illusions is I wasn’t using the heat senors or scanners.”
        “And extra programs were used to keep you in line?”
        “Yes, for Robotnik that is. He abandoned me twice. I remember when he finally tossed me away, thinking my type was a failure. Chaonen found me, but by then my brain was almost dead. Somehow he fixed me, and I owed my loyalty to him. But apparently, he also had some safe guards incase I was capture by someone like you all. All my data banks with vital information are gone.”
        “We noticed that when we removed your programming,” said Sally. “We still need to ask, do you know what happened to Coniau, Oni, and Socara?”
        “I believe Coniau and Oni are somewhere on this plane. I don’t know about Socara though.”
        “On this plane?” Tails exclaimed. “We gotta find them, then Coniau can finish fixing up Metal.”
        Everyone except Metal and Sally went to look for them. “Metal,” she said. “About Knuckles, can he be turned back to normal?”
        Metal shook his head, “No physically, but perhaps mentally.”
        “Oh,” Sally said. “I better go look too, but Metal...”
        “Would you like to join us? I mean, to tell you the truth, I believe you and do think you have a rather nice personality.”
        Metal smiled, he was able to do that. “Thanks, but I can’t. I don’t want to fight against Chaonen, but I will help you out in other ways.”
        “Thanks Metal,” and she ran off.
        Metal sat down on a crate, it had been one crazy night. He still felt a lot of shame, but now he realized that he couldn’t do anything about it. What happened had happened many years ago and Robotnik was dead. Perhaps could could make up a few things.
        Someone cleared their throat behind him. Metal turned around, it was Ark. “Hey I’m sorry for what I did.”
        “Hell, I wanted you to do that,” smirked Ark.
        “How did you know I wasn’t Coniau?” Metal asked. “Was is because I didn’t use her nicknames for people?”
        Ark cocked an eyebrow at him, but with both eyes closed as usual. “Do you know how bitchy she is? You were like Angel Coniau.”
        “I was that far off?” laughed Metal.

        Sonic cautionously opened the door to the cockpit. He was wondering why the pilots hadn’t heard all the commotion they had caused and why no one else but them were on the plane.
        There were to people sitting in the of them was singing a very annoying tune.
        “Mes luv U! U luv mes! We a happi famili!” Oni sanged out loudly. “Wit a great big hug anna kiss froma mes ta U!”
        “AHHHHHHHH!!! MAKE THE FREAK STOP!!!!” Coniau was screaming at the top of her lungs. “I’M GOING TO KILL HER!!”
        “Oni! Coniau!” shouted Sonic. He ran up to them, then was surprised as to why they had stayed seated. There was nothing holding them down at all. “Great! You’re both okay.”
        “Infernos no!” screamed Coniau. “I had to listen to her for who knows how long!”
        “Why don’t you just get up?”
        “Homicidal maniac did something, maybe some gravity thing so we can’t move.”
        “He pin our shadows down,” said Oni.
        “That’s impossible freak,” Coniau snapped.
        Sonic looked down at the floor, oddly enough there was a knife sticking into each of their shadows. He pulled them up and Oni immediately jumped out of her seat and ran to the control panel.
        “So many buttons!” she screeched happily. “Huh?” There was a sign taped to the control panel. She read it and started to cry. “Na fairs!!!!”
        “What’s going on here?” Tails asked, stepping into the cockpit. “You found them, Sonic!”
        “Why’s Oni bawling her eyes out?” Sally asked, stepping in after Tails.
        Coniau read the sign herself and started to laugh. She held it up for the others to see. “It says ‘Don’t push these buttons or the plane well most likely blow up. This especially means you Oni.’ Wait, then it says ‘the buttons on the right panel can be pushed.’”
        Oni perked up instantly at those words and ran over to it. There was another sign Then asked. “ wes need landin’ gear? ‘cuz mes can push des iffa wes na needs.”
        Everyone looked at each other, then jumped her.

        “Damn it. Why had there been so many lightning storms lately?” muttered Chaonen.
        “It is odd, Chaonen-daimyou. This region shouldn’t be getting so many, Chaonen-daimyou,” his Shadow replied.
        “Damn it twice then,” he said, refusing to look towards the plane window despite the shade being down. “I hate lightning.”
        The Shadow wrapped itself around Chaonen’s neck and rested its head on its paws. Chaonen stroked it absentmindedly.
        It would take several more hours to reach the Downunda. Everything was going to schedule and nothing bad had happened so far. He was glad that they were above the storm clouds. Chaonen checked the process of the other aircrafts by the computer screen in the air above his desk. They were all fine and on schedule was well. Now he was bored. There was nothing to do and he was sleeply surprisingly enough.
        “Socara-hime is doing much better, Chaonen-daimyou,” the Shadow said sleepily, yawning. “Her fever has gone down, but she still needs rest, Chaonen-daimyou.”
        “That’s good.” Chaonen stared blankly at the screen. The Shadow looked at him worriedly.
        “I’m going to go see her,” Chaonen said suddenly getting up. His Shadow lifted off of his shoulder as he left the room.
        It didn’t approve at all of how things were going. There was scratching sound behind it. It floated over to the desk and rolled up the maps. “These are Chaonen-daimyou’s,” he said to the black raven that had been looking at them. “Chaonen-daimyou also said he did not wish for anyone too look at them.”
        The raven tilted its head at it, then hopped to the edge of the desk and jumped to the ground. The Shadow floated down after it. It really needed someone to talk to. Something bad was going to happen. It knew it

        Socara slowly woke up to the unfamiliar feeling of silk against her body. Where was she? Where was Oni and Ark? She even wondered where Coniau was, though she had nothing personal against her and infact found her to be quite fun. Opening her eyes she looked around. It was a small room, dimly lit at the moment, cozy, and pleasant. She looked out the window. Then she realized that she was on a plane. Where was she going!? And who had taken her?!
        She got up and stumbled towards the window. They were high above the clouds and a storm was going on under them. Socara choked back the panic that was welling up.
Trying to keep calm, she took in her surrounding in more detail. There was a small coffee table by the sofa. Mahogany desk with several items like pens and paper laying about on it. Elegant rug covering the floor. A full length mirror to her right. She glanced at her reflection, finding herself in a silk sleeping gown that was emerald green and slightly figure hugging.
        The bed was covered with a down comforter which looked out of place but was more practically than something like silk sheets. It was winter after all.
        Socara caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, but by then it was too late. A clawed hand clamped over her mouth and an arm pulled her against a warm body. Her arms were restrained, she struggled anyways.
        “Be still,” said the voice of the stranger who had grabbed her. The voice was gentle but commanding, and to her own dismay, she obeyed him. “Don’t make a sound.”
The hand over her mouth moved to her forehead.
        Then she only saw the black blindfold for a moment before it covered her eyes, effectively blinding her. The stranger gently led her in what she believed to be the direction of the sofa. He sat down, holding her to him. Socara shivered with fear at what the stranger might do next. But he only sat there, cradling her in his arms.
        The feeling felt familiar and she couldn’t help but relax. “Don’t be afraid,” the voice said. The voice was familiar too. What was it? What was it? She could feel the stranger nuzzle against her face, his breath of her neck. “Hmmm, I missed you,” he said so very quietly. Getting up, he laid her head against a soft pillow and kissed her lightly.
        Socara had stopped shivering from fear, but she was still scared. Her first impulse was to jerk away when he kissed her, but then a strange wave of calmness over came her. His kissing felt nice and she found herself enjoying them.

        Chaonen, and the stranger to Socara, was shocked when she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him to her. It even took him a while to realize that she was enjoying this. “I told you once, long ago, that you would learn to enjoy this,” he whispered in her ear.
        “Wh-what?” she stummered, looking rather perplex, even with the blindfold on. She was about to ask who he was when the plane shuddered and dipped drastically. Both of them screamed and were thrown from the couch. After some dizzying spins, the plane leveled again and began regaining the altitude it had lost. Chaonen looked out the window and could see that they had lost enough altitude to put them among the storm clouds.
        “Sire,” the pilot said over the intercom. “Are you alright?”
        “What happened?!” Chaonen demanded angerly.
        “W-we’re not sure, sire,” the pilot replied. “We think lightning hit us, it sounds outragous but that’s what we saw. It took out the left engines for a few seconds, but they’re back on line and there’s been no real damage.” The intercom shut off.
        Chaonen slowly got up, his should ached from hitting the wall so hard. He looked over and saw that Socara seemed alright. The blindfold was still on, to his relief. “Are you alright?” he asked her, helping her up, but as he did so a strange feeling came over him.
        “Ow! You’re hurting me,” Socara cried out when he hold had tightened to a deathgrip.
        Anger, hate, malice suddenly had over come his mind. Socara was too shocked to scream when a hard blow struck her across the face.

        He woke up groggily, feeling like he had a hangover. “Oh, my head,” he groaned. It took a while for his vision to return from blurry to normal. At first there was a black smear infront of him, then it focused into his Shadow, it was floating in the air above something. It looked at him.
        Chaonen pushed himself into a sitting position with his back against the wall. He broke out in a cold sweat when he saw what the Shadow was floating over. It had done the best it could and had laid a blanket across her, but it was completely soaked blood by now. Socara was lying like she was dead on the floor and she most likely was, her hair fallen across her battered face.
        He pressed himself against the wall when he saw the wall opposite of him. “What have I done? What have I done?!” He screamed over and over, unable to take his eyes off the wall splattered with crimson. “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!”

        “So here’s our list of things to do,” said Coniau. “1) Get off the plane upon arrving at the Downunda. 2) Escape Chaonen. 3) Contact/join up with the Dowunda FF.”
        “Dat sounds eazi!” smiled Oni, swinging her legs in the air.
        “4),” Coniau muttered under her breath, “Hurt the freak.”
        “Getting off this plane isn’t going to be hard,” said Sonic. “Getting away from Chaonen and finding the FF are going to be slightly harder.”
        “How are we going to past him?” Sally asked. “He is the one who trapped us on this plane.”
        Everyone thought about this. How we they going to get past Chaonen? They only had an hour or so to figure it out too.
        “He won’t be there,” Metal said suddenly. “My data and memory banks may have been wiped out but I still know that this was a joke on you all.”
        “WHAT?!” Coniau shouted in outrage. “A joke?!”
        Metal nodded. “I recall that he said he had a surprise for you all and wanted you to be with the other rebels opposing him.”
        “Mes luv surprises!” Oni squealed happily and was given a smack on the back of the head from Ark’s staff as an answer. “OW! Wha’ U do dats fer!”
        Ark sighed as he easily held Oni back from beating him to a bloodly pulp with his staff. Everyone else sighed too.
        “Back to more serious matter,” Sally said embarassingly.
        “Couldn’t we jump out of the plane before it lands?” Tails asked.
        “The airport is right by the ocean, we’d land in the water,” said Metal.
        “Infernos,” snapped Coniau. “Look, the majority of us can fly. Oni, Sonic, and Draca all have wings. Tails has his tails, and Metal can jets. All we need to do hop out of the plane before it lands and fly to safetly. Capese people?”
        “That’s a great idea Coniau!” Sally exclaimed. “Why didn’t we think of that sooner? Metal can carry Ark, Tails can carry Coniau and I’ll be carried by Sonic.” She turned to Metal. “Can you be traced by Chaonen?”
        “No, Chaonen has never tracked me with any mechanical devises,” he replied. “Neither have I any homing signals.”
        “Good, it’s settled then. We should all get some rest and prepare in half an hour,” said Sally.
        Oni immediately went down to the cargo bay to look around. They could even hear her shouting misc. phrases until they shut the door.
        Chaonen clutched at his head. “What have I done?!” He shouted wildly.
        “Calm down, Chaonen-daimyou!” It shouted frantically, trying to get him to calm down. “Chaonen-daimyou, you must calm down!”
        “What’s happening to me?!” he shouted, unable to hear the Shadow. “Why can’t I control my own thoughts or emotions?!” He doubled over nearly about to cry. “What’s happening what’s happening?!”
        The Shadow did the last thing it could think of at the moment, it whirled around and struck Chaonen hard with its tail. Chaonen touched the place on his cheek where the Shadow had struck him, a red line. It had never hurt him ever since he could remember. “Please, for your owe sake and Socara-hime’s, please calm down Chaonen-daimyou,” it pleed. “Remember why you’re here and concentrate on that, we’ll work this out Chaonen-daimyou. Right now, Socara-hime needs you’re help, Chaonen-daimyou.”

        “WEIII!!!” Oni shouted, jumping out of the plane, followed later by the others. “Isn’t dis fun?!” She swooped away from any lights and flew to the out fringes of the airport where there was only vegetation.
        Coniau was shaking. “I’m never jumping out of a plane again!” She turned to Tails. “Why did you have to wait so long to start flying?!” *twitch twitch*
        “Well I had to make sure we were clear of the plane, Coniau,” he said back.
        “Now we need to find some allies,” Sonic said, founding his gargoyle wings. “How did we say we were going to do that?”
        “Um...guys,” said Ark.
        “Not now Ark, we have to find the DFF.”
        “But really, there’s-”
        “Ark, we are still in danger here,” we need a safe place,” Sally said, interupting him.
        “Er...Sally, maybes U listen ta Ark,” Oni stuttered.
        “Oh fine,” sighed Sally. “What?”
        “Freeze! Hands in the air! Don’t move or we’ll kill you!”
        “Who said that?!” Sally demanded.
        “We said hands in the air!” came the voice again from the darkness.
        Everyone slowly put their hands behind their heads.
        “I thought I’d mention that we’re surround,” smiled Ark.
        “Wipe that grin off you’re face,” muttered Coniau.
        A tall wallaby emerged from behind a tree. He kept his rifle steady on the FF. “Looks like more spies,” he said.
        “What should we do with them?” asked the Koala who came out of hiding as well. “They’re probably with the new recruits.”
        “Search ‘em, then we’ll have ‘em interrogated back at the base,” the wallably replied. Several more Mobians came into view. They searched the FF, with alot of protest from Coniau, since they took her laptop.
        “That’s mine, scum!” She shouted, kicking at the dingo that had taken it. “No one steals from the greates scientific genius in the universe!” This only resulted in her being gagged.
        “Wait!” shouted Sally. “Are you from the DFF?”
        “We ain’t with that bastard Chaonen, that’s fer sure mate,” sneered the wallaby.
        “But we’re Freedom Fighters too, from the Northern Continent!”
        “A lie to save you’re own skins.”
        “No, you must believe us! I’m Sally Acorn!” Sally insisted. The wallaby came closer and shone a light onto her face.
        “Yeah right, mate. There aren’t anymore Northerners.”
        “Why won’t you believe us?!” Sonic spoke up. “We’re telling the truth! I’m Sonic the Hedgehog! That’s Mile Prower!”
        The flashlight beam went onto his face. “Does look like him,” commented the koala. Some others nodded too.
        “Have Ivy confirm it,” said Ark. “We can’t lie against her.”
        “Ivy?” gasped Sally. “How do you know about her, Ark?!”
        “I thought she was dead,” said Tails.
        “How did you know about her?” snared the Dingo.
        “Do you think we’re stupid enough to be wondering around in damned knows where claiming to be famous FF?” Ark exclaimed.
        “Could be a clever trick,” said the Wallaby.
        Oni yawned. “Dis borin’,” she said. The koala glared at her and shoved her to another Mobian, a timber wolf.
        “Maybe we should,” said the timber wolf. “We searched them and they don’t have any of Chaonen’s technology or weapons.”
        “Fine, but we shouldn’t be so close to the airport. Come on,” he led everyone farther into the wilderness. A mile away were hovercrafts and they forced the FF to get on, and sped off into the night. They landed several miles farther, close to the base of a canyon.
        The Wallaby took out some sort of communication devise. It was hard to see it in the dark. “This is Beta 1 contacting Home base.”
        “We read you,” came a for voice. “What do you have to report?”
        “We captured some Mobians, but we’re not sure if their spies or suspicious civilians.”
        “You’re not making sense Beta 1.”
        “They claim to be Northern FF. The Founders, Sally Acorn, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mile Prower.” As he spoke the others watched their captives carefully.
        Oni leaned against the stone, almost blending into the darkness with her black clothing. She was watched carefully by the timber wolf.
        “They have requested to have Ivy to keep ‘em out. Yes that’s what I said.” A pause. “Yeah, I can wait. We’re not in immediate danger.”
        It was several minutes later that the voice could be heard again over the mic. “You’re lucky, Beta 1, she wasn’t busy at the moment.”
        Suddenly a clear sweet voice came. Everyone heard it in their minds. “Hi everyone!”
        “Hello, Ivy. You’re doing well I hope?” smiled the Wallaby.
        “I fine!” Ivy replied happily. “Wow! Who new people? Wait...”
        The others looked at each other, this was it. We’re they’re captives allies or enemies?
        “Sally! Not see long time!” she shouted happily. “Wow! Sonic and Tails too! Two new people!”
        Ark and Oni both flinched. There was silence for a moment. “Well, that proves it then,” said the Wallaby. “Sorry we didn’t believe but I know you understand.”
        “That’s alright,” smiled Sally. “I’m kinda glad this happened. We’re rather lost here.”
        “I want to see Sally!” exclaimed Ivy, her voice ringing with joy. “I see! I see!”
        “We’ll be bringing them home,” chuckled the Wallaby.

        The FF looked around in amazement at the central headquarters of the rebels. It was actually a small city or large town depending on how you wanted to look at it. Everywhere everyone was doing something, whether preparations or relaxing and everything in between. It was an amazing sight to behold compared to the very limited and small facilities of the FF, this was after all the a full-fledged army.
        The wallaby, motioned for the FF to follow him. The entered a building and he spoke to the furson at the desk. They then went into an elevator and up several floors. On the 25th floor they got off. “It is truly an honor to meet you all, mates,” he said. “Pardon my bad manners, my name’s Walt. Walt Wallably Jr. to be exact. This is Daria, Fang, and Alpha.” He gestured to the koal, wolf, then dingo. Then nodded and smiled in return.
        “Was you’re father Walt Wallably of the original DFF?” Tails asked.
        “Yep he was mate,” the Wallably smiled, standing taller in pride. “Great fur he was.”
        “I used to know him, but I never knew he had a son.”
        “He used to tell me stories about the prime of his life, he did mention you in it. Though it’s odd, you should be way older.”
        “I know, long story though,” said Tails. “But its great to meet his son. Where is the ol’ fellow?”
        Walt paused then said, “He passed on.”
        “Oh I’m sorry,” said Tails.
        “My mother used to talk about you,” said Daria. “She was Barby, I’m sure you remember her.”
        “Of course!”
        “Well here we are,” Walt said, stopping at the double doors. He dusted himself off then knocked on the doors.
        After a moment, “Who is it?” A voice asked.
        “Lita, it’s me Walt and some surprises for Ivy,” he replied.
        “They here! They here!” shouted another voice, everyone knew it was Ivy.
        “Whoa, calm down little lady! I’ll go open the door,” the Lita. A brown rabbit opened the door. “Oh, you have lots of visitors Ivy.”
        “Yeah!” shouted Ivy, hopping up and down excitedly. Everyone entered the room, which looked like a nursery with toys scattered everywhere. “Sally!” Ivy jumped into Sally’s arms trying to hug her with her small arms.
        “Ivy!” Sally almost cried. “You’re alive!”
        “How come she lookes like a little kid?” asked Sonic, happy to see Ivy too.
        “Oh you mean that,” smiled Lita. “We had some sort of accident when the Northern FF first sent her here for safety. And this was how she ended up. Athair, a sage who used to be here, said that she had a spell on her too look older but this is the real her.” She took Ivy from Sally’s arms and let her get some attention from the others, which she enjoyed very much.
        “Oh she’s so cute!” exclaimed Draca, tickling her. “You remember me Ivy?”
        Ivy shook her head and stick a talon into her mouth. “No mam.”
        “Oh she’s so polite too,” Draca smiled. “That’s alright, Ivy.”
        Her appearance truly did match her personality and mind a now. A little girl was what she truly was. An odd looking, dragon, echidna, eagle, lion, fish cross, but still cute.
As everyone lavished attention on Ivy, Oni and Ark stood off to the side, totally forgotten.
        After while, Lita had Ivy to go off and play while the Sonic, Sally, Tails, and Draca discussed why they were their with the DFF. Ivy jumped onto a ball the same size as her herself, rolling over but still hanging on. She rolled to Oni’s feet and looked up with her big eyes. Oni made a big stupid looking grin down at her. Ivy giggled and made a funny face too.
        “Do you like it here, Ivy?” Ark asked, crutching down beside her.
        “I like lots!” Ivy beamed. “Lots fun and lots nicie people. You funny. You too.” She suddenly laughed, pointing at Oni. “Funny in heads, funny like Socara.”

        Chaonen stepped off the plane. He had arrived 3 hours after the FF. His generals bowed, greeting him. Other high ranking soldiers were lined up and saluted when Chaonen walked by.
        “I trust your trip was well, sire?” asked the first general, the otter.
        Chaonen didn’t reply. His other generals decided not to say anything, especially with that glare in his eyes. He walked off the runway and into the terminal, not caring about anything at the moment.
        Still knowing their duty, another general, a jaguar, cleared his throat and said, “Sire, the supplyships have arrived without delay and are being carefully unloaded as we speak. As you probably know, our troops are steadily gaining ground but at a very slow rate, the new supplies and weapons should help us greatly.”
        No reply still.
        “The rebels are showing some weakness in the southern tip,” the jaguar continued, “but storms are moving into that area and disrupting our communication.”
        “Have the LON-42 ready on my private pad immediately.”
        “Pardon, sire?”
        Chaonen grabbed the jaguar by the neck, “I said,” he almost hissed, “Have my plane ready for take off now.” He dropped the jaguar.
        “Yes sire,” gasped the general from lack of air, and ran as quickly as he could to get the order down.
        The other generals kept their distance. “Hold off all attacks until I give the word the resume, but have them stationed along the borders of rebel territory where it is most heavily guarded.”
        Another general, the boar was about to object, until Chaonen glared at him from over his shoulder.

        Having dimissed his generals and with everyone else to scare to go near him, he retired to his rooms, supposedly. On his bed, Socara lay sleeping, her wounds healed. He had had to use the only healing potions he had left, but this time he didn’t have the time to wait for nature to do it, and she most likely would have died anyways. His Shadow was laying curled in a loose circle beside her on the pillow. When Chaonen entered the room, it lifted its head and looked at him.
        Chaonen gently lifted Socara into his arms, the Shadow made a weak protest but then kept quiet. Instead, it followed Chaonen as he stepped into a circle engraved in the floor and was teleported to his private pad outside. The LON-42 was ready and waiting as he had demanded. A ladder had already been put on the side.
        Climbing up, he put Socara in the copilot’s seat and got into the pilot’s seat himself. Put on the helmet, made a quick check, started the engine, and took off down the runway into the night.

        Oni sat up and yawned, stretching her arms and back in feline style. She rubbed her eyes, and jumped out of the top bunk of the bed. She washed and brushed her face and teeth, threw on her clothes and went to find a source of food.
        In the hallway, she passed the door where Sonic, Tails, and Ark were sleeping. And idea popped into her head and she grinned evilly. Slowly opening the door, she crept inside, only a few people were in there and all asleep still. Locating her target, she pulled something out from her sleeve and unceremonially, dumped it on Ark.
        “Are we under attack?!” was the first shout of confusion, followed by other shouts of bewilderment.
        “ONI!!!” shouted Ark.
        “U lookies funni all soaked wit freezin’ cold water anna mad likies dat!” laughed Oni, giving him a smack with the now empty bucket.
        “I’m going to kill you!!” Ark raged, but Oni ran out before he could get her leaving him to fume until he could dry off and get dressed.
        The men’s bunk area had a very interesting wake up call.

        “Oni, I know you enjoy playing tricks on Ark, but you are are no longer a kit and need to respect your teammates,” Sally lectured at Oni. She went on for a while longer then said. “I trust you understand.”
        “Yeppers!” grinned Oni.
        “And what do you understand?”
        “Do more pranks where people na sees mes!”
        Sally sighed and gave up. She hoped Oni was at least partially joking, which she was. She was just going to do more pranks anyways, sure she understood Sally’s lecture, she only wasn’t going to do it.
        “And Ark, I wish to talk to you privately,” said Sally, getting serious.
        “Busted!” laughed Oni, running out the door, but first sticking her tongue out and pulling an eyelid down at him.
        Ark muttered under his breath and turned to Sally.
        “How did you know about Ivy?” she asked.
        “Read it, it was some files in the computer back at Knothole,” Ark replied, not really caring.
        “Those files about her mindspeech were classified,” Sally said. “Only Sonic, Tails and I had the password.”
        Ark shrugged. “I kinda assumed it after reading the nonclassified documents.”
        “Assumed it?” Sally said harshly. “Those files only say that we found her on this date, then had her relocated to the Downunda on this date, then that she was missing in action on this date. Now how does one assume that she is a mindspeaker off of that?!”
        “I jumped to conclusions,” shrugged Ark. “Besides, if I hadn’t taken a wild guess, we’d probably would have been killed by the rebels.”
        “You have a point about that, but this doesn’t excuse you. Also, you defied a direct order from me.”
        “Hey we found Ivy and rescued, Coniau, Draca”
        “I’ll give you credit on that but your action will have a consequence when things settle down,” objected Sally. “Watch what you’re doing Ark.” She left with that warning.
        “People need to relax around here,” Ark shrugged after she had left.

        Walt read over some papers, his brow furrowed in deep thought. “This is odd,” he muttered.
        “What is?” Daria asked, sitting across from him with her own bit of paper work. Spies tended not to get so much unless it was reports.
        Walt tossed a digital map at her. She looked it over and than back at Walt, confused. “Why would the enemy station their troops where our forces are the strongest?”
        “That’s what’s odd, mate,” he said, putting the papers down. “Something big is going to happen. I know it.”
        Suddenly, Fang stuck his head in from the doorway. “Hey! We got a new assignment. Mr. commanding officer wants us.”
        “Right,” said Walt, getting up and following Fang.

        “You understand your assignment?” their commanding officer, Barrocio, said.
        “Yes, sir!” they said at once.
        “Now, Sonic and Miles will be accompanying you,” continued Barrocio. “You are to be in and out as quickly and quietly as possible.”
        “Yes, sir.”
        Barrocio nodded to Sonic and Tails. “You are all dismissed. You will leave at 2000 hours.”
        They saluted then filed out of the room. “Alright,” said Walt. “Will need to go down to the shop to get our equipment.”
        “Shop?” asked Tails.
        “Yeah, that’s what we call the hanger where the equipment that we need will be,” Walt explained. “I suppose will be learning a lesson or two from the Greats tonight.” He grinned in good nature.
        “Of course,” Sonic grinned back. “The Blue Blur is always ready to show the tricks of the trade.”
        1100 hours.
        Ivy squeeled happily as Oni waved the big bubble ring. A gigantic bubbled floated in the air and Ivy ran after it, tripping on her wings every now and then. “Another one please!” she giggled when the bubble popped on her.
        “Okies!” Oni laughed, swinging the ring again so another big bubble was formed. Ark sat by the bay large windows, feet propped up on a rubber ball.When Oni agreed to take care of Ivy while Lita went on an errand, he wasn’t about to let...’it... take care of a little child all by herself. Who knows what Hell will break loose, he had thought. Not like this was so bad, nothing weird and psychotic yet, and Ivy was fun to watch as she ran around after the bubbles.
        He looked out the window in boredom. Pretty good view too. Though this was the main HQ for the rebel army, it also was a normal town in its own way. People bustled around in the streets, going about their daily business. Every now and then a hovercraft whizzed by. Something caught his attention. Quickly fumbling in his pouch, he took out a pair of binoculars.
        Focusing them, he saw what had caught his attention. Someone dressed in gray, was kneeling and partially hidden behind a stone gargoyle on a building not too far away. The suspect had on some sort of high tech goggles, he had a laptop with a small radio antennae. This didn’t seem right, but he wasn’t sure and their was no one he could ask. Grudgingly he turned towards Oni. “Oni, get over here and tell me what you see by those stone gargoyles.”
        “Huh?” Oni asked, holding the ring in mid-swing. “Wha’ U wants?”
        “I think there’s a spy on that building over there.” He handed the binoculars to Oni. “By the stone gargoyles.”
        “Yacca, U rights anna he lookies likies froma Chaonen army.”
        “How can you tell?”
        “’cuz he got all dat neato stufferz!”
        “Argh.” Ark sighed, taking back the binoculars. “Yeah, well I doubt a rebel would spy on his own base.”
        “Wha’ issa he lookin’ atta?”
        “Looks like the...umm. I don’t know.”
        “What is you doing?” Ivy asked, tugging on Oni’s robe.
        “Justa bad person ova dere,” she said.
        “Badguy? I no like badguys.”
        Ark got an idea. “Ivy could you see if that guy is bad?”
        “He bad,” Ivy said almost immediately. “He wanna know what they doing in that room you go see other people in.”
        “Meeting room?”
        Ark looked at Oni. She stared back blankly. Sigh. “Oni could you have Ivy go to another room?” he asked.
        “Because, I’m going to do something to that guy and I think Ivy is a littel young to see it,” he said to gritted teeth.
        It took a few moments, but then Oni got the point and had Ivy go play in the other room. When she came back, Ark was kneeling outside on the windowledge. He was carefully aiming the sniper rifle in his hands.
        “Na silencer?” Oni asked. Also hopping up and down with excitement.
        “Don’t need one,” replied Ark. “I hope.” He fired.

        Ark sighed as personal ran all over the place, trying to locate who had fired the shot.
        “Peoples real paranoid ‘round here,” said Oni. She stretched her wings and jumped off the windowsill. “Mes be righties backerz.”
        “Where are you going?!” Ark shouted after her. “Leave me with all of this!?”
Right on cue, the door was kicked down and 10 furs stormed in with all their guns aimed at Ark.
        “Ivy?!” Lita shouted, running in behind them. “Where are you?”
        “Lita!” Ivy said as she ran up and hugged her leg. “Why lots people here?”
        As Lita fussed over Ivy, the leader was shouting things at Ark. “Look out! Here comes another one!” someone shouted. Ark yelped and dove out of the way, as all ten fired.
        “Mes ba-ACK!” Oni screamed, jumping back off the windowledge.
        Walt ran in. “What’s going on here?!”
        “A shot was fired sir!” said the leader of the group. “He’s on the windowsill.”
        “We’re on the 25th floor, where would he be going?” Walt raged, grabbing a gun. He went to the window and whipped to the side. “You?!”
        “Mind if I have some help?” Ark asked *sweatdrop*, desperately keeping his grip on the ledge. Oni peeped up over the side.
        “Dey still gonna shout us?”
        With everyone back inside and the squad gone. Walt demanded to know what was going on. “A bad guy outside!” Ivy exclaimed. “He all scary with big teeth and claws and...”
        “They need to talk by themselves right right, Ivy,” said Lita. “Why don’t we got get something to eat?”
        Walt turned back to Ark and Oni when Lita and Ivy left. “A spy?”
        Ark nodded. “Over by the stone gargoyles.” He pointed in the direction with his staff. “And how did I set off an alarm just by firing a gun?”
        “A special security we have in this section of the building to protect Ivy. She’s one of our best weapons.”
        Oni smacked Ark. “Nicie goin’s smartie!”
        Ark glared back. “I still got him.”
        “Dat’s true. Right inna da forehead!” Oni exclaimed. She pulled out the equipment that should have been with the spy. “Anna he got kewlie stufferz too!”
        “Let me see those!” Walt said, grabbing the equipment from Oni. “This could have valuable information on them, mate!”
        “We in the clear?” Ark asked.
        “Yeah, especially with Ivy backing you up,” Walt said. “I better go get this to the boys.”
        “Mes got dat stufferz first,” complained Oni, when Walt had left.
        “Shut up, ya already got what you wanted,” grumbled Ark, leaving the room.
        “Well dat true,” Oni said thoughtfully, then pounced the red ball nearby.

        “Damn it!” snarled the boar. “I can’t believe they got him so quickly and he was one of my best!” While he was grumbling to himself, he didn’t notice the jaguar walk up.
        “You didn’t...!” he shouted backing away.
        The boar whirled around. “Mind your own business!” The boar snatched up the laptop. “How much did you see?!”
        “Didn’t see anything! I want nothing to do with this, William!” The jaguar shouted fearfully, backing away, but bumping into the table. “I don’t want Chaonen’s wrath on me if he finds out!” He ducked under the table and ran for his life, just as General William pulled a gun and started firing. If it wasn’t for the silencer, someone would have heard, but no one came. He threw the gun down angerily.
        “Damn it, if that idiot says anything I’m done for,” the boar said to himself, locking the doors so they wouldn’t open unless someone had a password. “No, he won’t say anything. He’s too scare of Chaonen. Bah! Weaklings, all of them. Following a leader who can’t lead. Place off the troops where defense is strongest?! Insane! Stupid!”
        He restarted his laptop. Typing in a password, he accessed the files on his spy’s comp. He hadn’t found out much when he had been killed. “Damn it.” His top spy was notorious during the day, never working at night and no one had caught him, not even the best, until this point. Well, he’d have to destroy the evidence now. He activated the self-destruct.
        1500 hours
        None of the tech boys were hurt too badly in the explosion. Unfortunately, they hadn’t obtained anything information that could help them.
        “Ah, man,” sighed one of them, while laying on the sofa as Daria sighed the cast put on his arm. “I hate things with self-destruct mechanisms.”
        “Oh don’t complain so much,” laughed Daria, capping the pen. “No one was seriously hurt. And from what I can tell, the spy was shot before he obtain any info as well. So no gain or loss for us and the enemy.”
        “Always the optimist, eh Daria?” he chuckled. “As soon as they let me, I’m going to go get drunk.”
        “Is that all you think about?”
        “Oh yeah! That and girls.”

        2300 hours
        “Let’s move out. Is everyone ready?”
        “Yes, sir!”
        “Good luck.” Walt saluted and the other returned it.

        Chaonen slowly manuvered the plane into the cave at first it was completely dark with only his own lights to illuminate the way. No other plane had advanced hover craft abilities like the LON-42 and was able to move at the slow speed he was going at.
As he went deeper into the tunnel, the passage grew narrower and narrower, then suddenly opened into an immense cavern. Chaonen couldn’t help but be awestruck by the sight. His Shadow chittered with awe as well.
        He had never expected the view that opened before him: a shimmering landscape of glimmering pools and vast towers. They couldn’t possibly have been shaped naturally. This was defiantly it.
        “Chaonen-daimyou...,” it gasped.
        Chaonen torn his gaze away from the scenary and landed the plane on a plateau by a shimmering blue pool. He hopped onto the wing and looked around again, this time searching for something. The Shadow peered curiously into the a nearby pool.
        Seeing what he was looking for, he jumped off and ran in excitement. His Shadow went after him. They stopped at the entrance of something that was almost out of place. A magnificent temple. Ancient writing were engraved all around the entrance. That was it, but the feeling or aura it gave was unexpressible. The whole place was unexpressible.
        Itching with anticipation he went back to get Socara. She was still sleeping in the co-pilot’s seat. Touching her forehead, he woke her up with a quick spell since the sleep she had been in was magic induced.
        She stirred, the slowly opened her eyes. At first she made no reaction, then her eyes suddenly focused and she started screaming. “Somebody help me!” she screamed.
Socara couldn’t believe she was looking face to face with her enemy. All the FF except Oni and Ark had stressed how dangerous he was. Now he had grabbed her wrists to restrain her.
        “Be still,” he commanded. Her eyes widened with recognition.
        “It’s was you?!” she screamed. “On the plane it was you?! No this can’t be!” She started to cry.
        “Be quiet!”
        Socara shut up immediately, taken over by fear.
        Chaonen forced her to get out onto the wing. He drew the pummel of the sword forom his pocket and shoved it into her hands. “You will do exactly as I say or you’ll never see any of you’re friends again. Do you understand. I could kill them all right now so you better cooperate!”
        “What have you done with them!?” Socara demanded with a rage she didn’t know she had.
        “I said be quiet!” Chaonen snarled, backhanding her across the face.
        “Calm down, Chaonen-daimyou,” the Shadow said into his ear. “This isn’t like you, Chaonen-daimyou. She’s scared, please have some patience, Chaonen-daimyou.”
        “You as well!” The Shadow was taken aback in shock. “I have worked years to reach this goal and no one is going to hold me from it! Do you hear me! Not even you!”
Chaonen grabbed Socara and nearly dragged her to the temple. He threw he into the entrance.
        “Inside is an object I want you to get. I don’t know what it looks like exactly but you will know it when you see it,” he said in a low threatening voice. “Don’t take anything else, in fact don’t even touch anything else! Get me that scion now!!”
        His voice echoed through out the cavern then died off. Socara didn’t move.
        “Didn’t you hear me?!” he raged, but didn’t take a step forward. Looking at the entrance he muttered something under his breath and threw out a hand. Instinctively, Socara threw up her own hands to protect herself, but nothing touched her. Opening her eyes, she saw a dark force field was now blocking the entrance. “You’re not leaving until you get that Scion.”
        At this Chaonen turned his back and walked away. “No!” Socara screamed after him. “You can’t keep me in here!” She ran up and pounded on the forcefield, but the moment she touched it, electricity ripped threw her.
        In the distance, Chaonen could hear her scream. He suddenly felt bad the way he was yelling so much at her and hoped you would just enter the temple, saving herself some pain. But what was inside? Guardians? Boobytraps? He desperately wished he could go in himself, but he couldn’t.
        From what he knew and could read from the ancient carvings at the entrance. Only certain people could enter, who ever met certain requirements. Oddly enough, one of those was that you had to be female.
        Chaonen felt so alone now in this cavern, suddenly realizing he had driven everyone even relatively close to him away. Even his Shadow servant kept it’s distance. It even refused to meet his gaze. The fantasic scenary was no comfort now. Having nothing else to do he sat on the wing of his plane and waited, tilting his head back and closing his eyes.
        He didn’t know how long he had been asleep, but something woke him up. The cavern had dimmed as if the sun had set. The only light was the faint glows of the pools.
His Shadow floated up and gripped his collar, wrapping itself around his neck.
        “Chaonen-daimyou,” it whispered. “Something is in here, Chaonen-daimyou.”
        Chaonen nodded, slowly getting to his feet, not making a sound. A suddenly movement in the corner of his eye, caused him to whirl in that direction but it was gone.
The Shadow started hissing softly, but menacingly. Another movement, then another. Trying to focus his eyes to the darkness, Chaonen unconsciously started growling too. He snapped his jaws in mock agitation hoping to scare whatever was out there.
        Suddenly the Shadow roared in full threat. Chaonen ducked in time to avoid his attacker. It landed onto the stone by the blue pool, finally showing itself. “An ochrae?!” Chaonen exclaimed. “What the Hell?!”
        “Magiceaters, Chaonen-daimyou,” the Shadow whimpered, taking cover under Chaonen’s coat, “It doesn’t look like the poisonous kind, Chaonen-daimyou.”
        The creature was about 4 and a half feet tall from the shoulders. It looked like a greyhound with small shriveled wings. Unlike it’s cousin, this one was pale black, it’s claws retractable. Worse of all, it was more intelligent. The ochrae reared it’s head up and roared at Chaonen.
        “Thisss isssn’t good.” Chaonen reached for the gun in the cockpit.
        “What if therrre arrre morrre, Chaonen-daimyou?” the Shadow whimpered.
        “I don’t want to think about that.” Suddenly, another growl came from his right, then the left and behind. Several more ochrae stepped to where Chaonen could see them. They had surrounded them.
Chaonen flexed his claws and growled menacingly, slashing the air with his razor sharp claws. His roar combined with the Shadow’s drove the ochrae back a distance, but the bravest came back almost immediately. It was obviously the leader of this pack.         Finally, after the frightening standoff, it charged at full speed. Chaonen threw himself to the side and the ochrae hit the side of the plane, rolling to the ground. The others were circling closer. Have to get the gun, Chaonen was thinking, edging closer back to the cockpit. The leader abruptly leaped and snapped at him, catching his sleeve. It torn it away, almost dragging Chaonen to the ground with it. Chaonen roared and slashed at the ochrae, ripping out it’s throat. As fast as he could he leaped onto the wing and grabbed the gun, just in time to shoot the ochrae that had charged at him. It yelped and fell onto two others. They squabbled for a brief moment, then gave up because the one that had fell on them was already dead.
        Then all of them attack at the same time. Chaonen’s gun was knocked away from him and he was thrown to the ground, receiving a nasty blow from another ochrae. He bit back the pain, stabbing it with the blade that he had strapped to his upperarm under the coat. But there were to many off them.
        “Run, Chaonen-daimyou!” his Shadow screeched at him. Seeing that was the only choice left or die there, Chaonen ran into the darkness, stumbling on loose gravel and rocks but still staying up. He could barely see where he was going. Another one of the numerous pools lit his way for a bit. The ochrae were still close behind no matter where he went.
        Chaonen dug his foreclaws into the ground to stop in time to avoid falling over a cliff that had appeared before him. “What do we do now!?” Chaonen asked the Shadow, for the ochrae had once again surrounded him and this time there was nowhere to run.
        “I do not know, Chaonen-daimyou,” it whimpered. The ground suddenly shook. The ochrae retreated as the ledge gave way and Chaonen plummeted into the darkness.

End of Chapter 10

Preview: *twitch* well, went beyond my usual 20 p. make to make 39. *twitch* I’m screwed, wait wrong subject, sorry. :P
        Let’s see. Next chapter or to may be the end. Yep, the conclusion to Emerald and Brass. So say good by while you can. That is to part one. HA! I tricked you didn’t I! You thought the horror would end, will it’s not! There IS a part II AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
        So...ummm... I have no idea what it is coming up except for every singular ity bity detail leaving out all the main ones. Okay, I’ll stop messing and tell my loyal readers. *come on humor me* Did you take that poll on the main page?! *ahem*
        Is Chaonen dead? Falling off a darkness knows how deep of a pit or high of a cliff is not good for one’s health. The ochrae have been revealed to be creatures even Chaonen doesn’t want to cross. *same things that Tails and Ark ran into in chap. 8 ‘Storytime’* Socara is trapped in some sort of temple with surprises in store for her. Things are going to go to hell if the enemy’s leader doesn’t show. With General William having plans of his own, and the spy group heading for the base of the enemy, what’s to happen? Thought of the chapter: if Oni and Ark hate each other so muc, why do they still cooporate and work together sometimes? You’ll find out sooner or later. A new character is going to make her first appearance, and immediately get tangled in this web I’ve weaved of my world of death, treachery, and war, but with strong loyalties and many surprises.
        ‘till next chapter. -Nin’nako Foxie