Mobius VII – Book 1: Escape From The City – Chapter 34

Chapter 34: The Crystal Golem



Tails

Tails drew his sword and faced down Specimen 512, Bark standing to his right.  The fox angled his head to the viridian creature on his left. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“…Green XIII,” the golem rasped, his voice sounding like crunching gravel. “An utterly nonsensical name that Nagus gave me. You can call me that, or whatever you wish.” He raised his massive, club-like fists into a fighting stance. “Perhaps I will tell you my true name, if we ever get out of this alive.”

“Fair enough,” Tails harrumphed. He then raised his sword and charged at the monster. “Let’s go!” 

Subject 512 became aware of the approaching Ex-SOLDIER and reacted. It swung its massive blob-like left arm to meet the fox’s blade, causing it to be embedded within its flesh. Shrieking in pain, the monster quickly followed up with a swipe of its long claws. 

Tails dipped forward and the claws glanced off his shoulder pauldron instead of striking his chest. He wrenched his blade free and got out of the way as Bark started to fire upon it, the bullets biting into the creature’s thick flesh. Roaring, 512 doubled over and shielded itself from the barrage with its left arm. In its hunched position, it convulsed suddenly as three large bulges appeared on its back.  The skin on its back stretched until it started to tear, purplish red blood dribbling out as the lumps grew.

Bark stopped his assault, bullet casings tinikling on the metal floor beneath him. “What the hell is it doing?!” he yelled to Tails as he reloaded. 

“It’s summoning some friends,” came Green XIII’s response before the fox could open his mouth. He strode forwards, a hand placed on a bangle stretched around its upper left arm.  He quickly slid a hand over two Emeralds affixed to the piece of armor and drew crimson energy from it. Fingers splayed and palm facing the twitching 512, the energy started to solidify into four large, fiery red chunks of crystal. “FIRE!” the golem called, just as three small, round yellow blobs erupted from 512’s back.

The crystal chunks shot out and embedded themselves in their targets. A second later, they exploded violently and showered 512 and the blobs with napalm. The monster shrieked and thrashed from the burns. It lumbered away from the holding tank and towards the circular pad and large array of supercomputers at the other end of the room. 

The yellow blobs remained by the tank. Two pairs of claws sprung out from their undersides. The soft tissues around its body hardened into a tough carapace. A slit at the front of its body opened vertically, revealing a glassy blue eye that swiveled around. They rolled around to douse the fires and then scurried away to different points of the floor.

“Magic is much more effective against 512,” Green XIII called out to the fox beside him as the creatures dispersed. “It’s skin is thick enough to withstand blades and bullets, but starts to weaken when exposed to elemental energy. Try Fire – the burns seem to weaken it better than other magic.”

“You sure do know a lot about this thing,” the fox remarked. He dug into his pocket for the Fire Emerald, swapped it for the Ice on his weapon and then drew energy from it.

“Not really,” the golem grunted in response. “But thanks to this -” he tapped the yellow Sense Emerald in the single slot on his armor. “- I know enough on how to harm it.”

Bark, seeing Tails draw reddish-orange energy, also followed suit. “What are those things, anyway?” he asked Green XIII, inquiring about the small, insect-like creatures that erupted from 512’s back.

“Ignore its minions, they’re a distraction and nothing more,” the golem called, a large, singular Fire charge in hand. He pointed it at the larger monster hunched by the pad, its flames now extinguished. “Focus your attacks on the big one!”

512 rose up from its position and bellowed threateningly. Murky green gas started to accumulate in its mouth as it started to charge towards the three fighters.

Wasting no time, Tails brought the Fire energy in between his palms and then pushed them out. “FIRE!” he called and the energy shot out, zigzagging towards 512. Suddenly, one of the smaller minions jumped into the magic’s path and took it with full force, the flames engulfing its body. The diminutive creature crumpled to the ground, convulsed and then went still. 

The fox narrowed its eyes as he settled back into a defensive stance. ‘What the hell? Did it just… block the attack on its own?’ he thought, racking his brain to comprehend what he just saw. Nearby, Bark and Green also cast their spells. However, none had reached 512 as the other two yellow creatures intercepted the magical attacks and lay dead.

512 came to a halt in front of one of its dead minions. It scooped it up, opened the mouth on its shoulder and devoured it. The sounds of teeth chewing and crushing the dead carcass made Tails’ insides squirm involuntarily as he held his stance, bracing himself for whatever came next. 

Suddenly, 512 doubled over, roaring as a growing bulge formed once again on its back. A few seconds later, the skin burst and a monster identical to the one Tails’ spell struck emerged and skittered to 512’s side. It’s glassy eye swiveled around and took in its surroundings. 

“Oh shoot, I forgot to mention,” Tails heard Green XIII call out from across the room. “It can regenerate its underlings by devouring them!”

Wish you could’ve told us that sooner,’ Tails internally groused as he maintained his guard. He watched with morbid curiosity as 512’s disfigured head and its smaller minion’s eye moved as one. Both eye and head locked onto the fox and 512 pointed in his direction. The smaller monster dashed towards him explosively and jumped forward, its sharp front claws outstretched. 

The fox stepped to the side and easily parried the strike, the claws screeching loudly against the face of the blade. Suddenly, he heard Bark yell out to him. “Yo! Watch out!”

512 had bounded right behind its smaller undering while the Ex-SOLDIER was distracted. Getting up close, it swiped at the fox’s side with its long claws, sending him flying across the room and into the holding tank. Tails yowled as his back collided with the tank, the glass cracking on impact. He slumped to the floor and clutched at his side dribbling with blood; the thick plate across his abdomen protected him, but the claws managed to pierce his side. ‘Great,’ he thought as he brought a hand to the Restore Emerald on his weapon.


Bark

Bark snarled as he unloaded another salvo at 512. The monster ignored the bullets entering its body as it ate and regenerated a second minion. The small monster then charged at the bear. “This can’t get any worse, can it?!” he yelled rhetorically. The bear rolled out of the way of the incoming minion and focused his aim at the larger creature now approaching him. 

512 stopped a few feet away from the bear, opened its mouth and belched. The green gas that had accumulated within spewed forth from the misshapen orifice on its shoulder towards Bark. The bear ceased fire and began to retreat as he tried to cover his mouth with the crook of his arm to protect himself. Some of the gas seeped through and he involuntarily inhaled it, the wretched taste causing him to drop backwards onto his rear. Seconds later, he started coughing violently and saw bright white spots float around his vision. “Th-the hell… is this?” he wheezed as he raised his now trembling arm and tried to aim at 512.

The monster approached the fallen polar bear and raised its massive left arm to pulverize him. Before it could land the blow, it was interrupted by a crystal explosion on its back. It screeched as the napalm burst coated its body with flames.

“Not happening pal!” Green said loudly. Bark watched as the golem bounded forward, jumped and dug his claw-like fingers into 512’s back. The monster emitted another pained screech as it tried to shake the golem off of its back. The two remaining underlings returned to its master and started tackling Green, who dug in deeper despite the painful bodyblows. 

Suddenly, Bark felt his body go slack. He lay back and looked into the ceiling, his vision becoming more blurry as whatever he breathed in was wracking through his body. ‘Is… is this the end for me?’ he wondered as he felt his body shut down.


Tails

Tails stood up after applying Cure magic to close his wounds. He rushed over to Bark’s side and knelt down. The bear stopped coughing, but his muzzle changed into a sickly, pallor definition. His eyes were bloodshot and froth was starting to gather on the side of his mouth. 

Shit, it’s poison,’ Tails cursed, digging into a pocket and extracting a plastic vial filled with green liquid. ‘Thank the Goddess Viv had the foresight to give us a few of these Antidotes…’ “Drink this, Bark,” he instructed urgently, breaking the top and tilting it towards the bear’s mouth. “C’mon man, don’t die on me now…”

Bark drank the liquid and within seconds, the colour on his face returned. He turned over, retched loudly and then started dry heaving. “Agh, Goddess that’s disgusting!” he yelled, his snout twisted in revulsion. He inclined his head towards the two-tailed fox. “…Thanks,” he added, and for the first time, the fox could sense neither half-heartedness, nor sarcasm from his tone. 

Tails helped him up, a smirk crossing his lips. “No charge,” he said, helping the bear up and then drawing his weapon. “Now let’s say we help out our new friend, huh?”

As if on cue, Green skidded towards them, having finally been beaten off by 512’s underlings. He rose up gingerly and both Tails and Bark could see cracks along his torso, up his forearms and down his legs. They then watched transfixed as the cracks started to seal themselves up. 

Green stood up unsteadily and turned to look at the other two Mobians. “What are you looking at?” he grumbled, a pained expression crossing his chiseled face. “While you two were gawking, you both could have been taking that thing down!”

Tails shifted his attention towards the monster and cursed loudly, seeing that it regenerated its final minion. The monster shuddered after releasing the smaller creature from the confines of its back. It then roared loudly and started charging towards the Mobians, its mouth leaking gas. “Heads up!” he yelled as 512 belched another cloud of gas towards them. 

Both he and Bark retreated to avoid the poisonous cloud, but Green instead pressed forward. He passed through the mist unaffected and threw an uppercut at 512’s torso, stopping it mid charge. 512 swung its clawed arm at Green, but he crouched to avoid the swipe as he continued his attack on the monster, pummelling it with repeated blows. The golem used its mass to its advantage, the added weight and hardness of his crystalline make-up increasing the force of each punch. 

Bark suddenly spotted the yellow shelled creatures advancing on Green’s rear. “Yo! Crystal guy!” the bear shouted to catch his attention. “Watch your rear!”

“Wha-” Green XIII started, looking over his shoulder to see the three underlings skittering in a line towards him. That moment of hesitation was all the monster needed to strike. It reared its claws back and thrusted them into the golem’s chest, piercing his thick, stone hide. Green XIII cried out,  stumbled backwards and then tripped over the smaller monsters, sending him back onto the floor. The three then swarmed the fallen golem, their sharp claws pecking at the opening made by their master. 

“Bark, c’mon! We gotta hurry!” Tails called as 512 raised its bludgeoning arm. “Cast Fire on 512 while I clear those things off of Green!” He charged forward and swung his sword like a bat. The flat of the blade collided with the three monsters and sent them flying into the supercomputers by the circular pad. They crashed into the computer equipment, causing sparks to fly out.

Behind him, Bark held a glowing, orange-red orb in his left hand. He swung his arm towards the monster just as Tails swept the smaller ones away and called “FIRE!” A column of flames burst forth from Bark’s fist and arced right at 512, hitting it directly in its chest.

Tails then followed up Bark’s attack and slashed at the tube connecting 512’s left arm and navel. The tough flesh had weakened due to Bark’s magic attack and allowed the massive blade to cut through it cleanly. Blood spurted out from both sides of the severed vessel and the mutant emitted a horrible scream of pain. Its left arm then slumped downward and became unresponsive, becoming nothing more than a useless vestigial limb.

Meanwhile, Bark came up to Green’s downed figure. A trickle of blood pooled out from the slowly shrinking hole in his chest, the crystal growing over to cover the wound. He reached out a hand. “C’mon, get up,” Bark said, pulling the golem up onto his feet. 

The Ex-SOLDIER joined their side, his blade and his uniform were stained with 512’s blood. He handed a Potion to Green XIII.  “You alright?” he asked.

“Yes,” Green XIII replied, breaking the top and downing the restorative. “But this fight is not over yet. Be on your guard. 512 still has many tricks up its sleeve.”

The monster let out another bellowing shriek, causing Tails to wince at the sound. It opened its mouth and expelled poisonous gas over a wide area. The mist started to drift towards the three fighters and increased in size and density as the monster continued to exhale.

This isn’t good,’ Taiis surmised as he and Bark started to back away. ‘Gotta do something about that gas… but what though?’ He carefully assessed the cloud. ‘Perhaps… If we could create an explosion, the force of it could push the gas away. Grenades could do the job, but that still doesn’t stop the source of it all.’ He then witnessed Green XIII standing firm against the oncoming cloud and his eyes widened with realization as he remembered the events of the past few minutes. ‘Of course!

“Green, any chance you got enough Mana to cast some magic?” the fox asked.

“Yes, I do,” the golem responded, his eyes fixed on the poison-spewing creature ahead.

“Good, then I have a plan,” Tails said. He turned to Bark. “Bark, you have those grenades still?” The bear narrowed his eyes at him, perplexed, but then nodded in affirmation. “Alright, hand one over to me. Green, charge another Fire spell. We’re going to use the grenades to clear out some of the gas, that should give you enough visibility to send a charge right down its throat,” the fox explained. “If I’m right – and I usually am – the explosion should both stop the gas from forming and severely injure it.”

“…You sound sure of yourself,” Green commented gravely, tapping into the Fire Emerald on his arm and drawing the energy out. 

“Hey man,” Bark said to Green, his lips curled into a smile. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned after spending a few days with this guy, it’s that he knows what he’s doing. He’s legit.” He turned his attention to the fox and tossed him an explosive, before pulling another one out from his side pocket. “Alright foxy, you tell me when.”

Beneath his stoic exterior, Tails chuckled inwardly to himself. ‘About time he has faith in me,’ he mused. “Right, so on my mark, we toss the grenades and get behind the holding tank behind us,” he explained quickly, his eyes trailing the incoming poisoned vapour. “Once they explode, Green, you launch that down his throat. Bark and I will go in after and finish it off with more Fire spells.”

Both Mobian and golem complied with the fox’s plan. Tails turned his focus back onto the gas, watching it crawl towards them slowly. Behind him. Green held a magic-infused crystal chunk in hand as he waited for the signal.

The mist soon crossed the invisible line that Tails demarcated in his mind. “Now!” he yelled, pulling the pin out of the explosive and tossing it. Bark followed suit, pulling the pin with his teeth. The three then hurried behind the glass tank, with Green situated in front.

A second later, the explosives detonated and the shockwaves parted the gas enough that 512 could be seen, if only for a moment. Green lumbered out of his hiding spot, shot his hand holding his magic charge out and called, “FIRE!”

The projectile launched and sailed straight towards 512’s open mouth. At the last second though, the monster clamped its mouth shut and twisted its body so that the chunk embedded itself instead into its now useless left arm. It exploded, the flames covering the limb, but 512 made no sounds of pain.

Tails and Bark also cast their spells behind Green XIII’s, but they again were intercepted by two of 512’s underlings – both of which survived the crash into the supercomputer equipment. They again fell lifeless to the ground after making their sacrifice. Tails looked on in horror as the monster opened the orifice on its shoulder once again and belched out more clouds of gas towards them. It then started to step towards the three.

“I take back every good thing I said about you just now!” Bark grumbled to the fox, sweat accumulating on his forehead as he eyed the approaching cloud of poison mist. “What the hell happened?!”

“I-I don’t know?” Tails replied, flummoxed. It was the first time that his knowledge had failed him. He knitted his brows and went over what he knew once again. ‘Somehow, it knew to expect the magic attack. And earlier, it used its minions to intercept them as well. So what does it all mean?’ He scanned his surroundings and his eyes lay on the third yellow monster. It was tucked in between two large pieces of laboratory equipment on the other side of the room. It stood still, with its glassy blue eye trained directly on himself, Bark and Green XIII. And then suddenly, all the pieces lined up in Tails’ mind. 

That’s it!’ he thought, his eyes widening and mouth parting. His knowledge didn’t fail him – rather, it was incomplete. “The main body and the smaller monsters are linked!” the fox said aloud to his teammates. “It can see our movements with its minions; in fact, they’re not just minions, but they’re its eyes! That’s how it knows to intercept and anticipate our attacks!”

“So what do we do about it?” Green XIII asked bluntly, still staring into the mist that was slowly approaching them. “If it can see everything we do, how can we kill it?”

“Easy,” Tails said, smirking. A new plan had formed in his mind and he felt confident that this time, it would be foolproof. “We keep the optical monsters busy enough that the main body can’t see. Right now, there’s only one. Bark,” He turned to the bear. “How good is your aim against moving targets?”

The bear’s lips curled into a savage grin. “Pretty damned good, I’d say,” he said, a hint of arrogance in his tone. “Why d’ya ask?” 

“You’re on optical monster duty,” Tails replied. “Keep that one there busy enough so that it can’t focus on us. Meanwhile, Green and I will handle the big bad over there. If for some reason it gets past us and summons any more eyes, can I count on you to take care of it?”

“Yeah, no problem,” Bark answered. He creased his brows at the green fog in front of them. “But how are ya gonna get through the mist?!”

“Leave that to me,” the golem said, stepping up. “I see where this is going: I’m the only one for whom the poison doesn’t affect.”

“Alright then, get to it Bark,” Tails instructed. “Keep on ‘em like flies to shit.”

The bear threw the fox a wry grin and complied with his instruction, aiming and firing his gun at the smaller monster in the corner. It skittered out in a panic as bullets tore through the computer equipment and Bark gave chase to it. “Hey! Get back here you piece of shit!” 

Green XIII turned back to Tails. “So what’s next?” he asked. The mist had started to draw closer to them.

The fox charged another Fire spell in his hand. He started to feel the beginnings of Mana fatigue set it, but he pushed it aside and concentrated on the task at hand. “First, you get in close and stop it from spewing gas,” he said, his jaw set in a firm line. “I’ll launch a spell at the shoulder, which should weaken the skin enough so that you can then start pulling out its teeth.” He saw the golem raise a craggy eyebrow at him. “I need an opening big enough to send another spell down its throat, as I originally planned.” Tails clarified. 

“Ah, I understand then,” Green XIII acknowledged, his fists clenched tightly. “Get ready then, fox.” He turned away from the warrior and then charged forward into the mist towards 512. As he approached, Green XIII jumped up and then threw a haymaker at the monster’s true head. The stone fist collided hard with the disfigured mass that made up its head and sent it reeling backwards. The mouth on its shoulder closed involuntarily, cutting off the gas.

With the gas dissipating, Tails had a clear shot at 512. “Won’t be able to avoid it this time,” he murmured to himself, noting that Bark was keeping the third minion at bay behind him. “Green! Get out of the way!” he yelled as he brought his palms together, poured in more Mana to strengthen the spell and then pushed out, calling “FIRE!”

The energy shot out and struck the monster directly on the mouth on its shoulder, burning the flesh and weakening the muscles beneath it. Green XIII followed up with several strikes to the affected area to loosen the teeth before he started to rip them out. 512 hollered savagely as the bloody teeth, each as long as a human forearm, were thrown to the ground. Green XIII had removed a few before being swept away by the monster’s clawed arm.

Tails charged another spell behind the one he just launched. Between the spell casting, avoiding attacks and his current injuries, fatigue had now begun to set in. His breathing became laborious and sweat trickled down the side of his head. ‘Got to… keep it together,’ he willed to himself, gritting his teeth as he prepared the strongest Fire spell he could muster. ‘Only got one shot at this…

The golem roared and charged back at 512, despite the gouge marks made in his side from the earlier swipe. He weaved around the claw, climbed it’s arm once more and grasped two more teeth in its shoulder. He yanked hard, breaking them away and creating a large opening into its throat. “DO IT NOW!” he yelled out as he was swept away once more. The monster turned to Tails, sensing his presence and started bearing down on him, poison gas starting to accumulate and spill out from the large opening in its mouth.

The Ex-SOLDIER focused on the opening in 512’s shoulder as it lumbered towards him. He pushed out again with his palms and called “FIRE!” The magic shot towards the mouth, travelled into the opening made by Green XIII and into its body. 

512 halted its approach and convulsed violently, it’s claw shakily went to the throat of its true head. A roar – louder, drawn out and more pained than any Tails had heard from it – shot out of the mouth on its shoulder as its internals were blasted by Fire energy. The monster then toppled backwards and landed on the floor with a loud thud.

Tails fell backward onto his rear, panting from putting all of his remaining Mana into his final attack. He uncorked both a Potion and his second-to-last Ether and guzzled both of them down. Moments later, he felt the restoratives kick in. He slowly stood up and, together with the golem, approached Subject 512 carefully. 

Across the room in the control station, Nagus’ assistant burst out in a panic and ran to a door near the station. Tails watched as the trembling Mobian scientist hurried to leave, all the while glancing back at the fighters who felled the monster he unleashed. With a terrified squeak, he got the door open and sailed out, blubbering as he did so. 

Turning back to the monster, he kept his guard up and watched for any sudden movements. Bark soon joined them, having finally killed the last of 512’s minions. The three stopped a few feet away from the body, the chest heaving and the orifice on its shoulder sucking in deep, ragged breaths. Its true head turned towards them, the tendrils that spilled out over where its mouth was were wriggling chaotically.

And then Tails heard a sound coming out of it. It was faint, but his enhanced hearing made it possible to pick up the words coming out of its mouth. He lowered his sword, his eyes downcast and somber. “Hurts?” he said aloud, his brows furrowed. 

Bark and Green XIII looked at the fox with confusion crossing their faces. “That’s… what it’s saying,” he explained. “‘It hurts… kill me.’ It has probably been suffering since the day it was created.”

He approached the fallen monster. Up close to it, Tails could see the face in detail. Sunk into the skeletal eye sockets were a pair of bloodshot, glowing green eyes that looked back into his own. “K… KILL… ME…” he heard it say in a guttural, tremulous voice, the tentacles coming out of its mouth fluttering at every word. “IT… HUR… TS… NO… M… ORE… PLE… ASE…”

Wordlessly, Tails stood over the body and turned his sword so that the point hovered just above its neck. He looked back into its pleading eyes, sympathy for the creature stirring deep inside him. A second later, he plunged the blade into the soft tissue, severing its neck and vital arteries.

“THA…” was all the creature could muster out before dying instantly. The tentacles on its face stopped fluttering and its chest went still.

The fox pulled out his blade and wiped his brow with the back of his arm as Bark and Green XIII approached from behind. The bear let out a grimace. “What in the hell was that about?” he questioned Tails.

Green XIII answered for him. “It – no he – was a former Mobian,” he said, his raspy voice tinged with pity. “Experimented on by Nagus, just like I was. Only, the tests he was subjected to were much more severe and his eventual transformation was far worse.” His eyes travelled to Tails. “I surmise he regained enough of his sanity that he wanted you to end his suffering?”

Before the fox could answer, the doors to the lift on the far side of the room opened up to reveal Cream and Cosmo, the latter fully dressed and sporting a new bangle with four unlinked Emerald slots. They saw the men gathered over the fallen monster’s body and hurried over to them. “Is everyone OK?” Cream said, her brows creasing.

“Yeah, for the most part,” Tails responded, looking back to her and then gesturing to Green XIII with a thumb. “And we have this guy to thank for it.” 

The golem lowered his head and raised a hand in deference to the fox’s words. “Please,” he muttered, a hint of a smile crossing his stony lips. “If it wasn’t for the swordsman’s quick thinking and tactical mind, we would have been in far dire straits-”

“You came,” Cosmo’s quiet voice broke in. They all turned to face her. She bowed her head, with her arms crossed behind her back and the toe of her earthen-covered boot shuffling the floor. “I-I can’t believe you all came… for me…”

“Of course,” Tails smirked, a small grin crossing his face. “Did you think we were just gonna leave you here?”

Cream smiled at her. “Not a chance,” she answered Tails’ question while taking one of the flower girl’s hands into her own. “Like I said before downstairs, we’re friends. We wouldn’t dare leave you behind.”

“Yeah!” Bark sniffed, tugging at his cap and flashing a grin. “I mean, you saved Hope’s life, got her to safety and everything. I couldn’t just sit there and let you rot here? No way!”

“Y-you guys…” Cosmo trailed off, her eyes growing misty. 

Green XIII parted through the throng that surrounded the flower girl and approached her. To her surprise, he dropped to a knee, took her hand gently into his and pressed his lips unto it. He looked up to her now reddening face. “Milady, you must forgive me,” he stated eloquently. “I didn’t mean to frighten you so, but merely played the act for Nagus, you see. T’would be uncouth for a ki-ind of individual such as myself to behave in such a bestial manner, so I must apologize.”

Bark and Cream both gaped at the golem, astonished by his uncharacteristic nature. Tails, however, caught the slip of his tongue. He narrowed his eyes at him. “What are you anyways?” he asked. ‘Or rather, who are you,’ he mentally added as an afterthought.

Green XIII released Cosmo’s hands, stood up from his knelt position and faced the fox. “… I am a Mobian,” he started after a pause, his crystalized face unreadable. “But now, I’m also something else, due to Nagus’ experiments… In a sense, I am what you see right now.”

“OK then, so how’d you get past the poison gas?” Bark asked, his arms folded. “Despite that heavy duty body of yours, you still seem to breathe the same air as us, so what gives?”

The golem paused again to consider his words. However, Tails beat him to the punch. “He’s wearing a protective pendant,” he announced. 

All heads turned to him and the fox continued. “That crystal ain’t fully opaque,” he went on, peering through Green XIII’s body. Beneath the semi-translucent viridian layers, he could see the golem’s true body beneath. He was thin and lanky and stood a few inches taller than himself. His body was coated with dark, matted fur. Around his neck was a small, silver pendant that was shaped like a star. “Look closely and you can see a pendant that must protect against the effects of poison.”

“How very perceptive of you,” Green XIII commented lightly. He looked directly into the fox’s glowing eyes. “Judging from your eyes, you must be from SOLDIER?” 

“Former SOLDER, actually.”

“I see,” Green responded. He continued to look unblinkingly at the fox, who was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable at the gaze. “…Might I ask where you’re from?”

“Hey, um,” Cosmo interjected before Tails could speak. He turned to face her and saw that she had a nervous look about her. “So, while I do enjoy this chat, maybe we should, I dunno, get out of here first and then continue?”

Bark grinned at her sheepishly, his hand rubbing the back of his head. “Ah damn, y’know she’s right,” he said to Tails. “Ain’t no need for us to be in this crappy building now anyway, so let’s get the-” He stopped mid sentence, his mouth in an ‘O’ shape as a thought struck him. “Hey! We should destroy the Roboticizer while we’re here!” he exclaimed, pointing to the circular pad at the far side of the room.

“So that’s what that was,” Cream noted, a finger tapping her chin. “I was wondering-”

“No, It’s too risky,” Tails cut in sharply, his arms crossed. “In different circumstances, I’d be all for it, Bark. But right now, we have to focus on getting Cosmo out of here.” The fox then eyed the smashed supercomputers in the distance near the pad. “Anyway, it looks like 512’s friends have taken care of its brains. I’m not sure what the long term effects are, but we can speculate at what that might be at a later date. The fact of the matter still stands. We have to leave. Now.”

“Question is, how do we get out of here?” Cream voiced. Her finger lingered on her chin as she thought “Besides the lift here, there’s no other elevators on this floor or the one below.”

“If that’s the case, then the only other elevator available to us is the one on the 66th,” Tails reasoned. He started to make his way to a door on the opposite side of the room, the same one that the lab assistant escaped from. A small smile crossed the fox’s lips as he saw that the door remained unlocked. “We’ll take the stairs there,” he continued, opening the door and leading the others through it. “Stay together and keep your guard up; we don’t know what’s gonna come at us next.”


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