The World Robotizer hummed with unreleased energy, and Doctor Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik grinned devilishly. While he hadn't found out where the hated Hedgehog had disappeared to (he had the sneaking suspicion that the rodent's disappearance had something to do with the missing escape-egg. Were they attempting to go warn and evacuate everyone? The fools! They wouldn't make it even if the damned rodent broke his personal speed record!) what did it matter? In half a minute, the Death Egg would fire, both Mobotropolis and the United Federation would be reduced to smoldering slag-filled craters, every surviving sentient being on the planet would be his to control, and finally, Ivo would take up his rightful place as Ruler of Mobius. After that, maybe he'd expand that to Ruler of the Universe, who knew?
So, when Ivo gave Snively the order to fire, the oval dictator at last allowed himself to revel in the bright glow of his creation, and, grinning madly, he threw up his arms in victory and let out a triumphant laugh. "Ha ha! YES!"
Eggman got to revel in that victory for all of half a second.
Then the World Roboticizer, the creation that had cost Ivo nearly as much as the amount of materials it took to build as the Death Egg , the machine that would ensure him his final and greatest victory over the the annoyingly resistent Kingdom of Acorn, the device he had broken space and time to just make functional again faltered for a split second, a relatively minor moment-
-then the light is was giving off inverted and flashed throughout the chamber, circuit lines began to creeping up the walls, and Ivo knew exactly what that meant-
The egg emperor barely had time to find cover behind the inert remains of Silver Sonic before the World Roboticizer promptly detonated.
And detonate it did.
Sally had barely any time to seethe over her boyfriend's strange and rather aggravating actions that had led to her tumbling down to earth in an escape egg when the section the princess had just been ejected from exploded, and suddenly everything Sonic had done prior made horrifying sense. He had found a way to disable the Death Egg (she ignored the images in her head that spoke of how it was she who had done that, not him), one that required him to remain aboard, and one that necessitated his staying.
One that required him to die.
She could pound on the viewscreen all she wanted, but in reality, Sally could do nothing but stare at the falling slag and wreckage and wonder if, among them, was the corpse of the hero she had loved.
And instinctively, she knew, she knew that it should have been her up there, in place of whatever it was that Sonic had done to disable the World Roboticizer. She didn't know why, but she had never known anything more true in her life before then.
That had been her sacrifice to make, not his! It was supposed to be her who gave up her life, not him, never him! He was supposed to live, grant hope to those in need, save those deemed lost, lead the fight against the Eggman Empire! She was the spare, expendable! Elias was King, and already had an heir! She wasn't needed! She wasn't special! She-
Sally realized, numbly, that she was crying.
Sonic was gone. The Hero of Mobius was dead.
The princess could see all her dreams of a simple, beautiful wedding crumble to dust.
Sinking back into her seat, Sally attempted to regain her composure. It wasn't the first time she had lost someone close to her. She had survived. She had persevered. For the Kingdom, for freedom, for her friends, for her family. Sally had been dealt many bad cards by the fates but had lived with them all the same.
She had breaking points. She wasn't perfect. Despite her family's connection to the Source of All, she was only mortal.
There was only so much one could take before they gave up completely, and Aurora, Sally wanted to give up. She wanted to wallow in her anguish and let the world around her darken. She wanted to dream of better times, happier times. She wanted to hold Sonic, touch him, kiss him, talk to him, love him.
Sally couldn't do that now.
So she remained where she was, and mourned for the hero Mobius had lost, and for the Mobian she had loved.
And then, just as her escape egg finally made contact with the ground, her anguish turned to cold-blooded rage, and the princess clenched her fists.
This is my fault, isn't it? I spared Robotnik. He's alive because of me. This is my fault.
I can't fix what I did. It's too late for tht.
...but I'll ensure it's not a mistake I'll make again.
Sally had finally found a truth she should have realized ages ago.
Robotnik had to die.
"-ou read me, sir?! Doc- -re medical attention?!"
Ivo groaned as he regained his consciousness, and the oval dictator pulled himself out of the wreckage that was formerly the World Roboticizer Chamber, carefully shoving a slab of metal off his person before giving a defeated wave at a nearby camera, letting his runt of a nephew know he was still alive (a disappointment to be sure, but, well…) and standing up from the damaged floor. "Bah, I'm fine, Snively. Status report."
"Sir, there-" there was briefly static, then Snively's voice returned, "-massive leaks in all systems! The Roboticizer isn't just offline, it's gone!"
Phooey. Of course it had to up and disappear on him.
Blasted Bem. If he ever got to expand his power to their world, Ivo was going to carpet bomb their species out of existence then pump their atmosphere with toxins.
Another crackle. "All other systems are still online-"
"Finally, some good news," Ivo grumbled.
"-and we've had no drops in altitude. The Power Ring matrix is holding, barely, but it is holding. We're in no danger of crashing, thank the maker."
Having been satisfied temporarily with the report, Ivo suddenly realized that he had no confirmation of whether or not the rodent was actually dead or gone, and warily looked around whilst simultaneously picking up a broken pipe. "Oh, please, please tell me that finished him off… at least tell me it blasted him out…"
There was a scrunch of metal as a familiar shoe shot up from the debris freeing itself, and Ivo let out a tired sigh.
"No. Of course it didn't."
At this point, the dictator had honestly given up. There was no way he could actually outrun the hedgehog, there were no minions to distract him with, the closest Egg Mobile had been destroyed along with every other mechanical object in the chamber, and there was every chance that Snively and Lien-Da would stall any badniks in his direction to watch him die.
God, he hated that hedgeh-
The foot was metallic.
Previous inhibitions gone, Ivo did not move as his hated enemy clawed itself up from beneath the rubble, and for every inch revealed, the doctor's grimace turned into a grin, and it only grew wider.
"...Ah… ha… hah! Hah! HAH-HAH!"
And, as when the full scope of what had been done showed itself to Ivo, he laughed.
Maybe the day hadn't been a complete loss, after all.
Before him, a damaged Mecha Sonic stood at attention.
Oh, it felt good to be Eggman. Well then, never mind that whole 'defeated' business, ey? This changes everything! "Oh-ho-ho! Beautiful, wouldn't you agree, Snively?" Ivo remarked, patting the now-robotic hedgehog on his scalp with glee.
Said lackey, along with Lien-Da and every other member of the Dark Egg Legion present in the control room, was currently staring at the camera feed- or, more precisely, the hedgehog it showed.
"He… he's actually done it," Snively gaped. Impossible. The last time that hedgehog got roboticized, Robotropolis got nuked. But, this isn't really Uncle Ivo, is it? I wonder how this will turn out? He might actually start changing his plans, because this changed a lot.
Meanwhile, completely and happily unaware of his nephew's' dilemma, Ivo chuckled again. "Snively, Lien-Da, prepare for a full assault!"
"B-but, sir-!" the echidna Grandmaster stuttered, only for Eggman to cut her off. "I don't care how damaged we are! I have a Death Egg, it's got a Chaos Emerald, and we can destroy New Mobotropolis before that wreckage hits the ground!"
"That's just it, sir! The Chaos Emerald is gone!"
"We're not exactly sure what happened," Lien-da's voice crackled over the intercom, "but the Roboticizer blew-" static again "-and we're running low on power! The eggmites are working as fast as they can, but we're barely flying as is!"
The Eggman stood there for a moment, once again feeling victory slip like sand in one's fingers, and he growled. "Of all the blasted… And just when I thought I had that 'chaos factor' in my favor!" Ivo very much wanted to rip out his 'stache again, but prevailed against the thought. "Bah! Full retreat! Launch projects Titan and Deadly Cuddles to delay them! Get us out of here!"
"Sir!" Came both Snively's and Lien-Da's reply, and the intercom cut out.
With that, he turned around and began to stop at the chamber's thankfully not blocked off exit, before remembering the other occupant, and Ivo gestured for Mecha Sonic to follow. "Mecha Sonic, come with me."
"I need to come up with a better name for you."
Preferably when Ivo was sure his battle station wasn't going to crash into the ground.
Honestly, it was as if the universe wanted to see her suffer.
Sally came to that astute conclusion when, after finally prying herself out of the escape egg that had landed in the middle of New Mobotropolis, was greeted to the site of a gigantic Metal Sonic wrecking havoc. On the bright side, it seemed as if the Death Egg was falling back, so she could appreciate that. The Metal Sonic, at least, the fighters of the city could handle. Speaking of which…
There was silence for a moment (discounting the terrified screams in the distance and the crumbling of building material) before the wall next to her seemed to fizz a bit, and the princess was relieved to know that at least one of her friends had made it off the battle station.
...She really wanted to ask the AI what exactly had happened on the death Egg, but that had to come later, however much it hurt her to admit. "Nicole, I need a ringsword."
Silence again, then the wall spat out the blue ring she requested from the Royal Armory, and with a nod in the nanite wall's direction, she scooped it up, equipped it, and ran off towards the fight.
In the distance, she could see Bunnie and Naugus both take flight to combat the mechanical behemoth, and for a moment, the Titan Metal Sonic faltered in its path and moved to swat the ones who had attacked it, and Sally got vicious satisfaction from the way she saw it swat Naugus out of the sky.
Then she saw a flash- then a beam- of pink Chaos magic, and the Acorn princess saw the Titan Metal Sonic crystallize near-instantly.
And then she saw Bunnie fall.
NO! No no no no, not again, Aurora please, not again!
Sally ran faster than she ever thought possible, weaving desperately through the throngs of citizens attempting to escape the destruction. So single-mindedly focused on making sure another one of her friends hadn't perished was she that Sally didn't notice when the Egg Annihilator Beam fired on the city, or when the Crystalline Metal Sonic moved to defend it. Only when it began to rain crystal chunks did she notice, and said crystals forced her away from where she had seen Bunnie land. Damn it! Please be okay, Bunnie…!
When the crystal rain had finally stopped, the princess caught sight of Cream the Rabbit holding Bunnie in her hands, and Sally breathed a sigh of relief, before heading over to the girl. Said rabbit had gone by the time she made it to Bunnie, who, thank the Source, was already being attended to by Doctor Quack, who looked up in surprise when the princess arrived. "Princess Sally! Thank goodness you're okay!"
"Don't worry about me, I'm fine!" -physically, at least, her traitorous mind provided, "-but what about Bunnie?! What happened?!" Bunnie's breathing was uneven and ragged, not to mention that a good two-thirds of her had been crystallized by Naugus' power.
In the background, somewhere close by, she could hear people chanting.
The Mobian duck grimaced at the query, turning back to his patient in an attempt to do… something. "It's magic, Your Grace. I can only begin to guess-"
"Bunnie! Mais qu'est-ce que c'est?!"
Sally winced at the sudden anguished voice of her Mercian commander as Antoine pushed his way through the crowd to reach his comatose wife, fear blazing in his eyes that only rose when the coyote caught sight of his wife. "Mon chéri… what has happened?! How has zis happened?!"
"I don't know, commander," Doctor Quack ground out reluctantly, "but the sooner we get her to the hospital, the better. You-" he pointed to Big the Cat, "-help me bring her to the hospital."
When the two Mobians left, and Antoine with them, the crowd that had been surrounding them broke apart, and only then did Sally, as well as the others who had accompanied Antoine, comprehend the background chanting for what it was.
Amy, who had been whispering with Tails and had been eyeing Sally with a glint in her gaze that the princess couldn't place stopped suddenly, turning towards the cheering. "Sally, Tails… those cheers…"
Besides them, Geoffrey grinned. "They aren't for you."
The group stood there for a moment longer before taking off into a run towards one of the open areas, where a large portion of the populace seemed to have gathered around the crystalline corpse of Titan Metal Sonic.
"HUZZAH! HUZZAH! HUZZAH FOR THE KING!"
And on that corpse stood a triumphant Ixis Naugus, arms raised in victory.
A/N: I finished this chapter months ago but forgot to post it up here. Let me rectify that mistake now.