A Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic


By Daniel J. Drazen



PAUSE FOR BOURGEOIS LEGALITIES: This fanfic is copyright 2007 by Daniel J. Drazen.  It is based on characters and situations created by SEGA, Archie Comic and/or DiC; I’ll leave it to you to sort out who has dibs on what.  The story is my own.  Distribution of this fanfic is rabidly encouraged unless you either claim that you wrote it or try to make a buck off of it.  This work is protected by all relevant copyright laws embodied in Title 17 of the U. S. Code, and if you violate copyright, the terrorists win.


This fanfic is voluntarily rated PG for mature content; specifically, for discussion of mature subject matter by immature characters.  If you don’t understand some of what’s going on, you either haven’t gone through puberty yet or you weren’t paying attention when you did.


This work was especially created for Amneco as part of the 2007 Secret Santa program at DeviantArt.  If you aren’t Amneco and you’re reading this, props to her for making it known.  And if you haven’t ever been to www.deviantart.com, head on over there and browse.


Time: This takes place according to the SatAM Sonic continuity in the Mobian year 3231.



*        *        *



            The devastation of Knothole was stunning.  And they had only been gone two days.


*        *        *


            It was early on a summer morning, before dawn, that the two women of Knothole, Rosie and Julayla, went to the hut that Sally and Bunnie shared.  Sally answered the knock at the door, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

            “Where’s Bunnie?” Rosie asked.  There was something unsettling about her; she was more serious than usual.

            “Still asleep, I guess.”

            “Stop yakkin’, Sally-girl,” Bunnie mumbled from her bed, “It’s too dang early.”

            “On your feet, Bunnie,” Julayla said.

            Bunnie didn’t answer.

            “Now, young lady.”

            “OK, OK, Ah’m up.  Barely.”

            “Put these around your waists.”  Rosie then handed each of the girls white linen sashes, about a hand’s breadth wide.  Sally then noticed that the women were wearing them as well.

            “What’s this for?” Sally asked.

            “All in good time, Princess.  Tie them on, both of you, and follow me to the edge of Knothole.”

            “Aren’t we going to have breakfast first?” Sally asked.


            Bunnie, still half-asleep, fumbled with the sash as she tied it around her.  “Can Ah at least pee first?”

            “Go with Rosie and wait now,” Julayla said in the tone of voice that the children had learned was not to be ignored.  She then walked over to the huts that were shares by the boys: Sonic and Tails in one, Rotor and Antoine in the other.  She knocked on the doors and ordered the boys outside.

            Tails was the first out, yawning and rubbing his eyes.  Sonic followed, stretching and muttering “Aw, man, it’s way too early!”  Antoine came next, working to button up the old cadet’s tunic that was clearly becoming too tight for his growing frame even though Rosie had let it out several times within the last year.  Rotor was the last to appear, yawning and scratching himself.

            The boys couldn’t remember ever seeing Julayla look so serious, even during the lessons that passed for schooling at Knothole.  “Rosie and I are taking the girls away from Knothole for a few days.”

            “For why are you doing this?” asked Antoine, who seemed to be the first one to grasp what Julayla was saying.

            “Where we are taking them, and why, you are not to know.  Rosie and I have discussed this and it cannot wait any longer.  It also means,” and here she paused, closed her eyes and took a breath, as if to summon her inner strength for an impossible task, “that you will be left alone for the next two days.”

            “Huh?” Tails asked, his brain still foggy.

            “I want to believe that you’ve been living here long enough to know how to survive on your own and to take care of yourselves.  We don’t expect anything to happen, but we have to trust you.  Besides, one of you will be responsible for making sure things run smoothly in our absence.”

            “Hey, relax, no sweat!” Sonic said.  “The hedgehog’s got it covered.”

            “The hedgehog,” Julayla answered, “will be answering to Antoine; we’ve decided to put him in charge.”

            “Yeah, yeah, that’s … say WHAT?!?”

            “Antoine, you’re slightly older and (I hope) somewhat wiser then the others.  Can you live up to the trust we’re placing in you?”

            For a moment, Antoine was as speechless as Sonic was dumbfounded.  Then he stiffened his back and saluted Julayla.  “You are to be counting upon me, my teacher!”

            Julayla started to say something in reply, then thought better of it, turned, and walked toward Rosie and the girls.  The boys said nothing as they watched the four of them turn and walk into the Great Forest.  In a moment they were lost from sight.

            “Whoa!” Sonic said.  “Two whole days all by ourselves!  That is SO WAY PAST COOL!”

            “Yeah, whatever,” Rotor mumbled.  “I’m going back to bed.”

            “And to where are you thinking to be going?” Antoine asked.

            “Back to bed.  Do I have to spell it for you?  B-E-D.  Good night.”

            “But it is not the nighttime; it is the morning!”

            “And too early in the morning.”  Rotor started shuffling back to the hut.

            “Cease your returning to the hut and returning back here!”

            “Lighten up, Ant,” Sonic said.  “You can play soldier later.”

            “Play?  PLAY?!?  This is not the playing!  The great responsibility has been place-ed upon….”

            “Yeah, yeah, whatever.  C’mon Tails, let’s get breakfast.”

            “What’re we having, Sonic?”

            “Whatever we got and whatever you want.”

            “Can I have maple cookies?”

            “Why not?”


            “Stop, stop, stop!  Sacre bleu cheese!  You cannot be serving something as fuelish as the cookies for breakfast to such a baby!”

            “Hey, I’m not a baby!  I’m six years old!”

            “And I am the one whom the grown-upwards have authorize-ed to….”

            “Grown-ups?  What grown-up?” Sonic asked.  “I don’t see any grown-ups.  How ‘bout you, big guy?”

            “Uh, nope!” Tails said brightly.

            “But I am having the….”

            “Race you to the kitchen, Tails!”

            “Non, non, non!  Stopping this at once!”


*        *        *


            Bunnie and Sally said nothing as, two days later, they followed Rosie and Julayla back to Knothole.  Under ordinary circumstances they would be chattering away to each other.  Being the only two girls in Knothole, they were even more tightly knit as friends than they might have been if their lives, and those of everyone else on Mobius, hadn’t been disrupted by the takeover of Doctor Robotnik.  That was why they were living in Knothole, after all.

            But they had just gone through an intense right of passage.  Once isolated from the boys, the girls had been instructed by Rosie and Julayla about the changes that their bodies would soon be going through as they made the transition from childhood through adolescence and on into adulthood.  This was usually knowledge passed down from mother to daughter and from father to son.  But Rosie and Julayla had to take upon themselves the responsibility of being mothers to the girls at this time.

            It was not, however, only the knowledge of change that weighed upon Sally and Bunnie.  Each knew well enough that Rosie and Julayla had become like mothers to them for the occasion.  But that only served to awaken their own memories of their own mothers.  And even the happiest memories, as warm and intimate and satisfying as breast milk to an infant, could not obliterate the fact that they didn’t know whether their mothers were even alive or, worse, whether they’d been turned into mechanical parodies of themselves by the Roboticizer.  It was a thought that was usually more than a twelve-year-old could bear, and easy enough to forget about in the course of daily living.  But now, as they walked through the Great Forest, where they were free to think and talk about anything at all, this most somber of thoughts kept them from saying a word to each other.  The women knew well enough what was on the minds of the girls and so respected their silence and did not try to draw them out.  Nobody said anything, until they stood at the edge of the clearing and looked at Knothole.  It was Bunnie who spoke first:

            “Oh … mah … stars!!”

            It might not have been that bad, but it was bad enough.  While the buildings were still standing, several stood with their doors ajar.  Bits of half-eaten food and paper littered the ground, and the large table in the dining hall could be seen lying on its side. 

            “It looks like a storm hit this place!” Sally said.

            Just then they heard “Go long, Tails!”

            “Hurricane Sonic, apparently,” Julayla said slowly.

            At that moment, Tails flew into the clearing, looking behind him and with his arms open.  Just before he would have collided into the girls and adults, he looked over his shoulder and caught sight of them.  Startled, he immediately stopped flying and landed on the ground, just before the ball Sonic had thrown hit him on the head.

            “C’mon, Tails!” Sonic said as he walked forward, “you shoulda caught … that ….”

            “Do you have anything to say for yourself, young man?” It was clear from Julayla’s tone that she was in no mood for humor.  Something within Sonic, however, couldn’t resist. 

“Uh … welcome back?”

            “Sonic!” Sally yelled.

            “Silence, all of you!  Where are the others?”

            “Rotor was in the kitchen last I saw,” Tails said.

            “And Antoine?”


            “He’s tied up at the moment,” Sonic said.

            “For YOUR sake, he had better not be!  Where is he?”

            Nobody said anything, which meant that they were able to hear a faint yet distinct cry from Antoine’s hut: “Assistance!  Assistance!”

            “Rosie,” Julayla said, “you look after Antoine, I’ll see to Rotor.  And I HOPE, Sonic, you will put that speed of yours to some good use and clean up this compound before I get back!”

            The news was even worse than Julayla had feared: Rotor had spent much of the past two days in a feeding frenzy.  The women had worked hard to exercise some amount of portion control when it came to him, but were afraid that it might be a lost cause given his species.  When they had left there had been two week’s worth of food in store; now, the supply would only last two days.

            “To say that I’m disappointed in you boys would be an understatement,” Julayla told the children when they were gathered in the dining hall a short time later.  “I don’t know which is worse: Antoine’s failure to exercise some amount of leadership, or the failure of you other three to show SOME signs of self-control!  We now have a very serious problem on our hands because our food is almost gone.”

            Sonic, Sally and Bunnie looked at Rotor, who had literally eaten himself sick and could only groan apologetically.

            “Sonic, you’ve been raiding Mobitropolis for food for us; I have to ask you to go there now and bring back something to replenish our supplies.”

            “No prob!” Sonic said confidently.  “There are still a few places we haven’t cleaned out yet.  How much do you need?”

            “Enough to make up for what’s gone, and I don’t care if you have to work all night at it.”

            “Hey, the hedgehog is on the job.  Time to go shopping!”  With that, he dashed out of the clearing.

            Julayla could only shake her head.  Sonic’s incredible speed seemed to have caused as many problems as it solved.  As long as he had that ability going for him, it was impossible to discipline him adequately.  And he knew it.

            Sonic had left the clearing a short while before sunset; by moonrise he had made half a dozen trips between Knothole and what had been the capitol city of Mobius until Robotnik’s takeover.  As irresponsible and flippant as Sonic had been, he hadn’t failed in his mission, returning with a number of cases of food.  These were duly inspected by Rosie and either stored or discarded if the contents turned out to be spoiled.

            Then, as after every food run, came the debriefing.  For Sonic wasn’t acting just as a deliverer of groceries; he was also acting as a scout, noticing what changes he could within the city.  Julayla laid out the old map, now an almost hopeless tangle of lines showing the changes that had taken place.  Before Sonic could say anything, though, Sally spoke up:

            “Sonic, where did you get the last two cases?”

            “In the storeroom of a new place I tried.  Looked like a dorm or something.  One room was nothing but beds and lockers.”

            “That explains it, then.”

            “Explains what?”

            Sally held up the side panel of one of the cases.  “This emblem; I think I know what it means.”

            “What?” Julayla asked.

            “This is the insignia of the Royal Guard.”

            Julayla studied it more closely.  “I believe you’re right.  Antoine, you father was in the guard.  Does this look familiar?”

            Antoine was still sunk in misery after having been locked in his hut by Sonic.  He looked at the imprint, nodded, and said nothing.

            “And where was it?” Julayla asked.

            “About … here!” Sonic said, pointing to a spot on the map.

            “That’s practically in the shadow of Robotnik’s headquarters!” Sally said.

            “Which is why,” Julayla said, “you are not to go back there.  None of you!”

            “Aw, man!  Why not?”

            “It’s one thing to raid buildings on the edge of the city where you can make a quick escape to the Great Forest.  But even you, Sonic, can understand that the deeper into the city you go the greater the danger that you’ll never come out again.”

            “There’s no chance of that happening!  I’m way faster than those slo-mos.  Besides, a lot of the old places I’ve been hitting have been picked clean.”

            “That’s no excuse for…”

            “Hey, what would YOU know about it?  I’ve BEEN there!  So back off already!!”  And with that, Sonic dashed from the room.  An uncomfortable silence hung over everything.

            “Everybody … go to bed, it’s late,” Julayla said in as calm a voice as she could manage.

            “But Sonic…” Sally began.

            “When you see him next, tell Sonic I’m through trying to teach him anything.  I’m sure he’ll be pleased.”

            The children looked at each other.  None dared say anything.  Tails held himself as if he had a stomach ache.  They left the room without saying a word.

            Sally walked next to Tails.  “Are you feeling all right?” she asked.


            “I’m sorry, Tails.”

            “Aunt Sally, why did Sonic get mad at Miss Julayla?”

            “I don’t know, Tails.  I guess Sonic just doesn’t like people telling him what to do.”

            “He listens when YOU tell him what to do.”

            “Not always.”

            “But I know he likes you.”

            Instantly Sally’s face began to burn.  No, she told herself, don’t go there.  They continued walking to Tails’s hut in silence.  They found Sonic sitting on the steps, his head in his hands.       “Aw, man, what just HAPPENED?” Sonic said eventually.  “I can’t believe I yelled at her like that.”

            Sally remembered what the women had told her and Bunnie about what they called “mood swings” and about how their feelings could change in a moment as their bodies changed as well.  But she didn’t think it was her place to lecture Sonic about it; not at that moment, anyway.  “Maybe you should just … apologize.”

            “After I yelled at her in front of the others?  What would they think?”

            “Oh, grow up!  You really think this is about you?”

            Sonic lapsed into a sullen silence.  “Tails, honey,” Sally said, “go on and wait inside the hut, OK?”

            “OK.”  He walked past Sonic as the awkward silence continued.

            “Look, Sonic, it’s summer, we’re all hot and … just apologize to her.  The sooner you do, the sooner we can forget about this.”

            “Fine, whatever,” he said impatiently, “where is she?”

            “She should be in her hut by now.”

            “Listen, Sally, could you … uh … sort of go in ahead of me to make sure it’s cool?”

            “That’s not what … all right, let’s just go.”

            The two walked to Julayla’s hut, the silence continuing as they walked.  Sally could sense Sonic’s reluctance, but figured that at least Sonic was making the effort. 

Sonic stopped at the base of the steps as Sally knocked on the door to the hut?  Julayla?” Sally said.  There was no answer.  Sally opened the door.  Julayla, Sonic has….”

Sally stopped at the threshold.  Her eyes widened and she put her hand over her mouth as if to keep from screaming.  Sonic went up the steps and looked in.

The interior of the hut was illuminated by the light of a single candle.  It was neat and orderly, except for the blanket which had been pulled off the bed.  And lying on the floor, half-covered by the blanket, was the motionless form of Julayla.


*        *        *


It was deep into the night, and only a few hours until morning before Rosie emerged from Julayla’s hut.  The children had gathered outside and could see, as the door was opened, that Julayla had been put to bed.  Rosie closed the door and turned to the children who, despite the lateness of the hour, had been unable to sleep.

“Miss Julayla is very sick,” she told them, “and needs rest and quiet.  I suppose this means her classes with you all are canceled until something changes.”

“What’s wrong with her?” Sally asked.

“I’m not sure, Your Highness.”  The women almost never addressed Sally by her title unless something serious was happening.  “It appears to be her heart, and I … I really don’t know much about that sort of thing.  The best we can do now is to let her rest.”  There seemed nothing more to say, so she went back inside the hut, leaving the children alone in the darkness.

“C’mon,” Sonic said to Tails, and they began walking back toward their own hut.



“Is Miss Julayla going to die?”

“What?  No way!  She’s tough; she’ll pull through.”


Sonic stopped.  He had thought that Tails would be satisfied with the simple assurance that Julayla would recover.  But now Sonic realized not only how serious the situation was but how much trust Tails had in him.  He knew he couldn’t back up what he’d just told Tails, but he couldn’t tell the cub to prepare for the worst, either.  Sonic wondered if parents had to do this sort of thing all the time: making promises that they knew they might not be able to keep.


This seemed to satisfy Tails, who gave Sonic a hug and went on to their hut in an apparently better frame of mind.  Sonic told Tails that he’d be in himself in a minute, then sat down on the stairs.

It was bad enough that, after years of living in safety in Knothole, the life of one of the grown-ups was in danger.  What made everything worse was the sense that it was probably his fault!  Why had he yelled at her, anyway?  She was just being what she always was: bossy, a know-it-all, never letting him….

He stopped himself.  He knew exactly what he was feeling, and he hated it.  He’d never stopped to figure these things out before.  Maybe with grown-ups like Julayla around he didn’t have to.  But that could change; EVERYTHING could change.  He wished he could think about something else.

As if in response, Sally came around the hut.  “Sonic, we’ve got a problem.”

Sonic was on his feet in an instant.  Julayla?”

“No, Antoine.  Nobody’s seen him anywhere, not for hours.”

“Even before…?”

“I think so; at least Rotor said he didn’t see him, but he’s always got his nose in his work, anyway.  Sonic, I’m afraid he may have gone off to try and find the old guard house.”


“Because his father was in the guard, that’s why!  I’m going out to find him.”

“Not without me, you’re not.”

“Sonic, we need to get him out of the city.”

“And the sooner I get in and get him, the sooner he’s gone.”

“After the way you and the others treated him while we were gone, I think there’s a better chance he’ll listen to me.  So I’m going with.”


“End of discussion, Sonic.  And you’re NOT dragging me by the hand, either.  The last time you did that, Julayla said you almost dislocated my shoulder.”

“So what am I supposed to do, carry you?”

“That would be nice!”

Sally had meant it sarcastically, but when she had said it the full weight of her words brought the conversation, which was becoming heated, to a dead stop.  Both of them shifted uncomfortably.

“So,” Sonic asked, “so … how do I…?”

“I guess … you sort of ….”  At a loss for words, Sally held out her arms.

“Uh, yeah.”  Neither of them moved.

“Sonic?” Tails called out from inside the hut.

“Start without me, Big Guy,” Sonic said to him.  He turned back to Sally.  “OK, so where were we?”

“Sonic, we have to go after….”

His impatience overcoming his uncertainty, Sonic scooped Sally up in his arms.  One arm caught her behind the knees and the other around her back.

“So … how’s this?” Sonic asked.

“Uh, fine, just … fine,” Sally said, her mouth suddenly dry.

“OK, then … hang on.”

Sally then put one arm around Sonic’s neck and clasped her hands together.

“Uh … Sal, what are…?”

“You told me to hang on, remember?”

“Oh, yeah.  Right.  Ready?”



“Move your fingers up my leg, and you’re toast.”


*        *        *


Up until recently, when a sudden burst of acceleration from Sonic had come close to dislocating her shoulder, Sally’s view when accompanying Sonic had not been spectacular.  Instead, she had pretty much been dragged behind him.  Now she could see what he saw when he ran, and it was amazing.  Sonic had been traveling the different paths leading to the city for years and could manage them even on a night such as this with no moon or starlight to guide him.  The trees of the Great Forest loomed up in front of her only to disappear at the last moment.  The next thing Sally knew, they were out of the Great Forest with the grassy plain between them and what was now known as Robotropolis.  Seeing it loom up at breakneck speed made it seem even more formidable.  Then it became a maze of long stretches and short jogs as Sonic zigged and zagged through the streets.  Before she could appreciate anything else about the trip, Sonic had rather unceremoniously deposited her in the middle of a street and disappeared into the shadows nearby.  Allowing herself only a momentary glance, Sally ducked into the shadows herself.

“Sonic?” she whispered as loudly as she dare.

There was no answer.

“Sonic!” she whispered again.


Sally looked around.  She could barely make out Sonic, half-hidden behind a pile of rubbish.

“Where are we?  Are we close by?”

“We’re … uh … we’re here.  It’s right behind us.”

“Then let’s get going.”

“Can you, uh, wait a minute?”

Sally had the momentary urge to ask Sonic if he’d lost his mind, but then she realized that he wasn’t simply standing but was using the rubbish heap as cover so he couldn’t be seen from the waist down.  Remembering what the women had recently told her and Bunnie not only about themselves but about boys, she realized what was happening.  “OK.  I didn’t see Antoine as we came in, did you?”

“Nah.  He must’ve gotten a major head start.”

“Then let’s look around inside.  We can only hope Antoine knows enough to keep a low profile.”

Immediately, there was a muffled noise from inside the building to their backs, a hollow metallic sound like someone crashing into a locker.  Whether it was the sound or the small talk, Sonic felt safe enough to emerge from behind the trash heap and to rejoin Sally.  Finding the door, Sally eased it open and the two crept inside.

As she did, she felt something sharp prick the end of her nose.  She gasped, but someone began to let out a high-pitched scream which Sonic silenced less than a second later by cupping a hand over Antoine’s mouth.

“Antoine, what are you DOING?”

“Forgiving me, ma princess!  I thought you were being the SWATboot.”

“And I thought you had some brains!” Sonic said.  “What’s with the get-up, and where did you get that butter knife, anyway?”

“This ‘get-out,’ as you are calling it, it once belong-ed to my fathair.  And I founded it over there.”

In the dim light coming in through the open door, Sonic and Sally could see that Antoine was no longer wearing the cadet’s tunic that he was wearing when Robotnik took over and the children had literally escaped with whatever they had been wearing.  It was his only link with the past, with a better time long gone, and Rosie had tailored and retailored it until it was close to unwearable.  But now Antoine was wearing the dress tunic of an officer in the Royal Guard, with gold epaulets on the shoulders and brass buttons down the front and on the turnback cuffs of the sleeves.  He was also brandishing a basket-handled cutlass with the sheath belted to his side.  Since he was still too young, however, the overall effect was more comic than impressive.  The sleeves came down past his fingertips and the bottom of the tunic stopped just above his knees.  The sword belt gathered the fabric around his waist in numerous folds and creases.  All in all, he looked like a small child modeling adult pajamas.  But he still held himself with as much dignity as possible.

“Antoine,” Sally said in a firm whisper, “put away that sword.  Now!”

“But ma princess, we are in the danger!”

“YOU’RE in danger, Ant.  The hedgehog can….”

“Sonic, shut up!  We’re ALL in danger if we stay here.  Now come on!  We’ve got to get back to Knothole.”

“But I was still searching my fathair’s feets lockair!”

“I’m sorry, Antoine, but you have to leave it.  And that’s an order from your princess.”

Antoine opened his mouth to say something, then stopped and sheathed the cutlass.

“Thank you.  Sonic, look outside and see if the coast is clear.”

Sonic took a quick look outside, then turned back to Sally.  “Everything’s cool.”

Suddenly there was a shaft of light shining at the doorway from above; it was obviously the spotlight from one of Robotnik’s hover units.  Then they heard the mechanical voice of a SWATbot: “ATTENTION INTRUDERS.  COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP.”

“You heard him, Sal,” Sonic said.  Then, to the astonishment of Sally and Antoine who was cringing behind Sally, Sonic suddenly became a swiftly-rotating blue sphere that spun in place for a second then dashed out the door.  Instantly there was the sound of metal falling to the ground.

Overcoming every instinct to stay in hiding, Sally ran to the doorway, followed quickly by Antoine.  Two SWATbots were converging on Sonic, blasters armed and pointing at him.  ‘BY ORDER OF ROBOTNIK….”

“Order THIS!”  Again, Sonic became a high-speed ball that slammed into one SWATbot, ricocheted off and hit the other one dead center, smashing it to pieces.  Then, bouncing off the wall of the building, he smashed into the hover unit, landing on his feet as the unit and its robot pilot fell to the ground, useless.

“Sonic, what WAS that?” Sally asked in awe.

“A little something I’ve been working on called the spin-dash.  Wanna know how I came up with it?”

“You can tell us when we’re back in Knothole.  Now let’s go before more of them show up!”

“But princess, how are we to be…?”

“Sal, you ride up front; Ant, grab my waist and hand on.”

Sally let herself be cradled in Sonic’s arms again while Antoine hugged Sonic’s waist.  “May I just be saying, my princess, that it is the honor to beEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE….”


*        *        *


It was nearly dawn when the three of them arrived back in Knothole.  Antoine was badly shaken by the high-speed escape, and staggered back to his hut, tripping on the sword as he went.  As Sonic and Sally watched him go, they also saw Rosie coming toward them.  Any appetite for breakfast the two had quickly died.  Julayla is awake, and wishes to speak to you two.”

“Aw, man!”  Sonic and Sally remembered that the last time she had spoken to them it was to forbid them from doing what all three of them had just done.  They silently made their way to Julayla’s hut.  Sonic knocked on the door, quietly.


Julayla, it’s Sonic and me.”

“Come in.”

The first thing that struck Sally was how small her old teacher looked as she lay in bed, the covers drawn to her neck even on what felt as if it would be another hot summer day.  She glanced to her side and saw Sonic run his forearm across his eyes.  The two of them approached the bedside.

“Please listen to what I have to say,” Julayle said in a low voice.  “Two days before War Minister Julian overthrew the King and began calling himself Robotnik, I was told by my doctor to consider retiring from serving as tutor to the princess.  I was told that I had a weak heart.  I knew what that was like, for I watched my own mother die from the same thing before either of you were born.  I was still considering working for the royal household a little while longer when everything changed. 

“After we arrived at Knothole I kept pushing the thought from my mind.  I told myself that perhaps living here in Knothole would strengthen me, and give me a few more years.  I now know I was only fooling myself.  Still, I’m surprised that I’ve lasted as long as I have.”

“Are you … dying, Miss Julayla?” Sonic asked.

“I think slowly, but yes.  I may last a few more months or years yet, but I’m not strong enough to teach you any more, Princess; I’m afraid your formal education ends here.  I’m sorry.”

Sally bowed her head and began to cry.

“Your Highness,” Julayla said, and Sally looked up.

“When you are finished being sad, you must then be strong.  Your time is coming sooner than I would have liked, but we can no more control these things than we can change the directions of the clouds.”

Sally sniffled.  “I’ll try.”

“I know you, Princess; you will not only try, you will succeed.”

Sally then put her arms around Julayla’s neck, hugger her, and cried.  It was clear to Sonic that Julayla wanted to return the gesture but was too weak for even that.  After a long time, Sally straightened up and Julayla called Sonic to her side.

“I should have told everyone about my health years ago, Sonic, even if you and the others might not have understood.  But please understand this: what happened to me was not your fault.”

Sally felt awkward listening to this and quietly left the hut.

Outside, the light was strengthening.  It was indeed going to be another hot summer day, but a beautiful one as well.  Mobius was not going to stop turning, and the Great Forest was not going to stop growing, because Julayla was ill.  She looked toward the bridge that spanned the Great River.  There was someone standing on the bridge: Bunnie, wearing a loose-fitting shirt that stopped just below her tail.

“Is Julayla all right, Sally?”

“I don’t think she’ll ever be ‘all right’ again, but she’s still alive.”  She then told Bunnie about the events of last night, and Antoine’s trip into Robotropolis.  The two turned toward the bridge railing.  Bunnie leaned against it, then moaned in pain.

“What’s wrong, Bunnie?”

“Ah don’t know which is worse: that my hoo-has are so tender as they’re comin’ in, or that now Ah gotta cover ‘em up.”

“At least you’ve got some.  I don’t think mine will amount to anything.  Besides, who are we trying to impress?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, unless there’s another group of refugees nearby with kids our own age, the only boyfriends we’re going to have are right here in Knothole.”

“Ah never thought of the boys as ever bein’ boyfriends; Ah always figured they were … well, just boys!”

“So who do you like?  Antoine?”


“What!?  After the stunt he just pulled?”

“Look at it from his side, Sally-girl.  He was lookin’ for somethin’ that belonged to his Daddy.  He should at least get points for tryin’.”

“I guess you’re right.  What about Rotor?”

The girls paused for a second, then said in unison “Naw!” before dissolving in laughter.

“Yeah, his tool box is his girlfriend,” Sally said.  “What about … Tails?”

“Oh, now you’re just bein’ creepy!”

“Then that just leaves Sonic.”  Sally tried to sound casual about it, but just saying his name set her heart pounding.  Bunnie was silent for a long time before she spoke.

“Sonic can be as sweet as sugar, but Ah git the feelin’ he’s kinda stuck on himself.  Not the same way Antoine is, but it’s like … like there’s a part of him that’s never gonna grow up.  Ah don’t know that Ah’d want that in a boyfriend.”

“So you’re saying….”

Bunnie laughed again.  Ah’ll let you have him, Sally-girl.”

Sally smiled.  She was hoping Bunnie would say that.  Her heart danced like the sunlight on the surface of the Great River.