Part 01 of 02: Impetus
Started: <20050521 // 0000CST>
Finished: <20050522 // 1413CST>
Part 01 of 02:
Written by Adam Czech
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, based on the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog, originally created by Service Games, DiC Productions, Archie Publications, Egmont Fleetway Publications, and various lesser sources. This work is not to be sold, and is not intended for monetary profit. This document is not to be modified, or redistributed in any way without the author's consent.
The original material and characters in this story that do not draw from any other source, including information about the world based on Adam Czech's "Sonic the Hedgehog: Neo Redux," are copyright to Adam Czech (Antipode), and may only be used with his expressed consent.
This story is (c) 2005 the author.
P U R P O S E IN L I F E
W H A T IS MY ?
One at a time, if you don't mind?
...What am I?
That depends on your point of view. Outwardly, I'm perfectly normal, at least for the frame of time in which I now find myself. More than perfectly normal, in fact, just plain perfect. A prime specimen of a hedgehog. Inwardly... no. On second thought, let's stick with the outward.
...Who am I?
Sigh, again with the personal point of view. She called me "Opacus," so by all accounts that is my name. I have been called many things in my lifetime, however. "Beast." "Saviour." "Freak." "Hero." None of which I care for. I'll go with my previous statement and refer myself "perfection."
...What is my purpose in life?
As far as I can tell, my objective is to be the perfection I was created for. The time of my creation is long since passed, but still I have much to prove. People must be persuaded to my role as the perfected evolution of their species. If that means the destruction of the unbelievers, so be it. There must be no doubt that my power is that of the greatest being on this, or any other, planet.
It was nearly midnight. All the other researchers had gone home for the night, long ago. He was always the last to leave, it seemed. "Burning the midnight oil," he would constantly quip as he waved farewell to his colleagues at the end of the day. He would not abandon his work until he was nearly too tired to drive back home. It did not matter that any of the other scientists never considered his work to be as important as that; he considered his work that important, and so it was.
Gerald Robotnik pushed his round glasses up the bridge of his avian nose as he peered through the lenses at his computer screen. His mind worked frantically at the problem in front of him, a problem that he had been working at for the past couple hours. Even when he felt getting closer, the solution was still so far away.
He worked at a place called the Associated Researchers Coalition, in Paris, France. Gerald was the top researcher in Laboratory 52, of the Central European Think Tank. His field was genetics, and his task was the prevention of the death of mankind.
Gerald himself had discovered the threat, nearly five years ago. It was a molecular disease, a virus, contracted from birth and eventually fatal. The plague ate away all feeling in a person's body, beginning with the lower extremities, then the upper, eventually working its way to the heart and brain. In the past year alone, fourty-two cases. And by his estimations, increasing exponentially.
Everyone at ARC was working toward something that would benefit mankind. Gerald Robotnik was ensuring mankind would be around long enough to make use of those things.
"And here we are again, are we?" She spoke with that prissy British accent that drove me absolutely nuts.
"So it seems."
"You always seem to be checking up on me. Being that 'responsible big brother' type?"
I knew a leer when I heard one. "Even with that screwed-up memory of yours you should know what I'm here to prove."
"Yes, yes, 'ultimate life form' and all that nonsense. I've heard it before, I've heard it a thousand times."
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I really have no choice."
"Oh, save it for someone who cares. 'Ultimate life form,' my ass..."
"You're the only person who's never been afraid at my powers... Why?"
She laughed. Condescendingly. "Because. I know they don't mean jack."
She welcomes me into bed with waiting arms. Outside of the lab, and all of the Master's experiments, she is my world. How this sweet little blonde-haired, fourteen-year-old girl can make my life worth living, I do not know. She wraps her arms around me and holds me close to her, and I feel all at once safe and secure. She whispers gently in my ear, and I smile and purr for her. It never occurs to me to ask "why." This is the one and only place, in my entire life, where questions do not need to be asked.
...questions do not need to be asked...
Do questions ever need to be asked at all?
What makes a line of thought worth forming into a question?
Do questions feel left out when they're not asked?
If a question is not asked, does it ever become a question at all?
What's with all these damned questions?
Why all the questions about questions?
Whoever invented questions anyway?
Gerald Robotnik came home around two o'clock in the morning, took his medications, and went upstairs. The door to the bedroom across the hall from his own was wide open, and he let himself inside. A street lamp from outside shone gently through the large picture window on the far wall, illuminating his way just enough. The familiar shape in the bed by that same window moved slightly with soft breathing. His granddaughter. The reason for his quest.
The live-in caretaker had fallen asleep in a chair by the bedside. Gerald shook her gently and coaxed her to her own bed, just down the hall. He then took up the vacated position in the chair and took a moment to watch the sleeping girl. And all at once, his strain and weariness seemed worth it again.
"How can you say that? Those energies are what's kept you alive all this time."
"And where the hell has that gotten me?" she demanded. "So I'm 'imbued with the powers of Chaos,' whooo, big bloody whoop. That only means an even longer lifetime of misery and suffering."
"You don't understand... the power, the raw power at our fingertips..."
"Sometimes I wonder why you saved me in the first place. Was it really to be your personal punching bag for all of eternity? If so, thank you so much. Really appreciate it."
"You should be thanking me for giving you the opportunity to taste such strength!"
"Oh, yeah, sure, right. Thanks a million, Master of Time and Space."
I stir. She's whispering in my ear again.
I smile and nuzzle her cheek. She smiles back and quiets in her sleep again.
I take a moment to look around her darkened bedroom. The shadows look calm and inviting, but not more so than the warmth and comfort of the blankets. I close my eyes. I can feel her quiet breaths through my fur.
Is that what love is? Is that why you're showing me this?
Damn, there come the questions again...
You showed me love for a reason, right? Double damn.
You showed me love for a reason, I presume. You wouldn't have taught me the concept unless it was something I was sure to experience at least once in my life.
I'm pretty sure that's what this feeling is. When I'm with her...
That sounds about right.
Gerald was back at work early the next morning, thanks to an hot, fresh, thermos of coffee. Strangely enough, he was not the first one into the lab.
"Guten tag, fruend Gerald!"
It took him a moment to realise who was speaking, then he laughed. "Und guten tag zu ihnen, freund Charles. What on Earth brings you here so early?"
Doctor Charles Thorndyke approached with his hands in the pockets of his white lab coat. "Felt the need for a head start today," he replied, switching back to French, which was enforced as the standard language while inside the lab. He didn't speak it as well as his native English. Hell, he didn't speak it as well as Gerald's native German. But, when in Rome...
"Ach. Never enough hours in the day," Gerald mused idly, heading over to his workbench.
"I couldn't agree more," he chuckled, coming over to Gerald's desk to make small talk. "How is Maria?"
Gerald pushed his glasses up his nose, steeling himself and formulating a reply. "Stable."
Charles nodded understandingly. "I continue to pray for her, my friend," he put a hand on the other's shoulder. "I know somehow God will pull her through."
Gerald scoffed inwardly and changed the subject. "And how is your baby, Charles?"
The younger man smiled. "She is well. Growing fast. We should be able to do a rocket test on her this coming week."
Gerald raised his eyebrows. "Surely? You must let me see her."
"Right this way."
Charles took Gerald to his own desk on the other side of the lab. Sitting there, amidst piles of spare parts and hardware schematics, was a thick steel frame, just over six feet long. Metal plating covered a good percentage of its outer hull. Barely visible inside were various components and circuitry and wires that Gerald couldn't guess the purpose of; electronics was not his specialty.
"Truly astonishing, Charles. How close is it to completion?"
He put his hands in his pockets again. "If I keep coming in early, I should have the prototype complete by Friday."
"And what of your project, Gerald?"
Now it was Gerald's turn to smile. "It progresses, but slowly. Some days I close my eyes and see nothing but numbers and formulae, I think of the problems so much."
Charles nodded. "I know the feeling. You ever need a fresh perspective, you know where to find me."
"I'll be sure to keep that in mind."
She pets me constantly, though my back is covered in thick spines. But she's careful, and knows just the right way to do it to make it feel wonderful. I sometimes wake in the middle of the night to find her tiny hand constantly moving along my head and back. I purr.
When the sun rises she wakes and cuddles me, talking to me gently about her life with her grandfather. I don't understand some of the words, but it doesn't matter. Just being with her is enough.
People come to see her. There is one woman that she tells me is her caretaker, that comes in many times during a day. She doesn't like me much, I can tell. She gives me looks. Other times a man comes, to instruct her in new ways to speak, it seems. The first time he came she spoke to him about me; I recognised my name. He smiled. At least some of her people like me.
...I wonder why she never leaves the bed?
.. ... . .. .... t h e q u e s t i o n s . . .
Gerald stayed late again. He left the main lab and rode the lift up one level. There was an auxiliary testing centre called Chamber Three. The door was locked, and he was one of a dozen people in ARC to know the pass code. He entered.
A while back, Gerald had done some serious thinking.
The mission, his main objective, here at the ARC Think Tank, was to keep a genetic scourge from wiping out a large majority of the population of planet Earth. A virus that was rapidly approaching epidemic levels. A virus that attacked otherwise healthy infants regardless of sex, ethnicity, social class, or living conditions. A virus whose only requirement was that the target be human.
Oh yes, they had done tests. Every species of animal on Earth had been resistant to the disease. Only the humans, the homo sapiens, the so-called "evolved life form," were affected in any way.
And so, the conundrum:
How to make a human, more than human?
The answer was deliciously simple:
Gerald Robotnik believed that evolution was a natural part of a species' development. In this case, however, he would have to give it a little scientific nudge in the right direction. Gene splicing had been on the radar of the scientific community for years now. It was nothing new, and Gerald had experimented with it himself a few times. But now was when he had to put those years of experimenting to the ultimate test. The test to save Man.
It was obvious there was something that humanity had lost along its way to the top of the evolutionary ladder, something the animals still possessed. His goal was to find what that something was, find a way to replicate it, transfer it, allow it to be given to humans as a way to block the affects of the virus. It was logically referred to as "Project: Darwin."
His first tests had gone inconclusive, so he was forced to go the opposite route: bonding human DNA to the animals in an attempt to forge some kind of hybrid gene-chain, a mix of human and animal that would combine Man's higher-level thinking skills with the familiar traits and virus resistance of their furry friends.
Finding a way to facilitate this procedure had been a rocky road, at best. Simply injecting the stem cells may have worked, given time, but time was not something Gerald Robotnik had the luxury of. The key to that was in solar energy. Every five-year-old knows that the sun carries radiation within its life-giving rays, and that too much of the radiation will eventually give you cancer and fry your insides. Which was true.
The sun was the largest mass-energy generator accessible from Earth. It had more power than Mankind would ever imagine using, even though it was slowly burning itself out. Energy can always be manipulated. This was the basis of Charles Thorndyke's own research: creating a transference of relatively low-powered solar radiation into extra power, able to be harnessed and stored and used.
As Robotnik stepped into the lab he was greeted by his personal staff of scientists. He made sure there was at least five of them here, at all times, to monitor the experiments and keep nutrients flowing to the animals suspended in fluid tanks along one wall. Five tanks stood, each with an occupant, a representative of their species. He walked over to regard the one closest to the door. It held a hedgehog inside, larger than average, what with the genetic manipulation already performed on it. There were nutrient tubes and medical equipment and tethers connected to most parts of its body, sometimes into its body, as the case required.
She opens herself to me.
She asked me why I didn't wear clothes. I said I didn't know, possibly because I had fur instead.
She asked why she had to wear clothes, then. It's not like she was going anywhere. I said I didn't know.
Her small fingers come up, fumbling with each of the buttons of her blouse in turn. Her face is red.
She removes her shirt and pulls the covers quickly up to her neck. She smiles at me nervously. I smile back, not understanding her nervousness.
She beckons me to her, and I slide beneath the sheets again. She holds me, and I can feel her flesh unobstructed by fabric. She can feel the soft fur of my chest against her. She closes her eyes and smiles. I smile. It feels good.
"I don't have time for this. We need to do this now."
"No, we don't," she growled. "What makes you think trying to destroy me will do you any good?"
"To prove that I can. You were created as I was. You are the only one able to withstand my attacks. You are my equal."
"And what's so bad about that?"
"I cannot have equals! I am perfection, and perfection has no peers!"
"Perfection? More like an Olympus complex."
"...What is that supposed to mean?"
"Oh, go look it up."
They had hit a snag after that.
Using modified solar radiation to promote growth in the subjects had been a marvellous, genius idea. But when the bodies were fully grown they still had no more awareness than they did in their unaltered forms. This angered Gerald, but he did not allow himself to be blinded by his anger. He began searching frantically for a sign...
And then something magical happened...
"...eyewitnesses are telling police that a gigantic meteor or asteroid has impacted northwest London..."
It was the greatest disaster in the past five years. It quickly sent shockwaves around the world.
"...at least half the city is destroyed, death toll is being estimated in the millions..."
Gerald had seen it first on the news media, then had done his own research. The eyewitness reports said that the "asteroid" looked more like a mountain falling from the sky. It didn't fall from orbit, either, it merely appeared above the city like some kind of island floating about London, then fell like the city-sized rock it was. The damage was widespread and total.
"...emergency crews have arrived at the perimeter of the crater that used to be downtown London. Those lucky enough to be merely injured are being cared for..."
A special group arrived with the EMTs: an emergency dispatch from G.U.N, the Guard of the United Nations. They quickly put themselves in charge of the clean-up operation, managed the search and rescue, and discreetly captured those responsible for the disaster. Of course, everyone thought it was a natural disaster, so G.U.N. didn't have to broadcast their findings, especially concerning the nature of the suspects. As soon as Gerald heard he caught the next flight to the United States, using his status as a government employee to get into the holding facility.
When he reached the cell he was truly shocked and amazed. The individuals held inside were hybrids, crosses between human beings and animals, just as he was trying to duplicate with his research. After the initial shock had wore off, he requested blood samples be taken from each of them. Just because an event that no one completely understood had shaken the planet to its core, didn't mean he couldn't use it to his benefit.
Working on a project to an optimal ending was difficult. Starting from what you know, and trying to get to an invisible point you didn't, was damn near impossible. Having all of the pieces to fill in your own blanks, in the form of a syringe of fully-functional animal/hybrid DNA, helped immensely. And what's more: one of them was even a hedgehog! He could literally cut and paste the genetic sequence directly into one of his subjects!
In fact, that's precisely what he did.
I did my own research into my creation after I was freed from the lab. For all of the Master's strengths, he had no idea what he was doing with that blood sample. The hedgehog he had taken it from obviously wasn't from around here. He wasn't even from our time.
I know now most of the intricacies of temporal displacement, "time travel," if you prefer layman's terms. I know that one of the most fundamental parts of displacing yourself is that you have to shield yourself from corruptions in the timeline, one of which occurs directly at the point of departure. Without that, any travelling you do would instantly result in your erasure from the continuum, creating a paradox that would unravel the fabric of the universes. Luckily, the act of temporal travel itself results in its own form of protection, which bonds a kind of "temporal energy" to your body that keeps you from screwing things up too badly.
What the doctor didn't know was that the blood sample was positively charged with that energy. And he injected it into me.
See where this is going, don't you?
In fact, the blood sample was irradiated with another form of energy as well, one that was nearly identical to the kind he had been "feeding" me and the other subjects for years. It would later come to be known as "Chaos energy".
So, in actuality, what the Master was going for happened. I was given awareness to meet, even surpass, that of the humans around me. My enhanced body was given an enhanced mind to match. And, thanks to the Chaos energy now coursing through my system, I had powers beyond anything they could ever imagine.
I was a god.
The only other problem with the project involved one of the holding tanks malfunctioning, causing the glass to break and the subject inside to become contaminated. They had quickly cleaned that up, though, and the experiment continued. What was the subject's species? Gerald thought it was the feline, but he didn't remember.
The glass in the tank had shattered as a result of being struck with a shard of debris from the island crashing into London. I know, physically impossible. But what I found relates back to temporal displacement. Obviously whatever event caused that massive chunk of planet Earth to end up in our time frame needed obscene amounts of energy to accomplish, and it was all released in one resounding burst. And when something explodes like that during time/space transit, the chunks of debris don't only get scattered in the physical plane, they get scattered in the temporal plane, too. For one of those stray chunks to careen back in time three days less than the rest of the event was virtually nothing. The fact that it careened through her holding tank and straight into Subject P4n02's skull must have been fate.
And don't worry about her, I saved her from being tossed out into the garbage.
And no, she didn't appreciate it in the slightest.
Gerald slowly opened the door to his granddaughter's room and quietly entered. She was not yet asleep, despite the late hour, and stirred beneath the covers. "Grandfather?"
He smiled. "Yes, Maria. I'm home."
She blinked her bright blue eyes and smiled back at him, resting her head back on the pillow.
"Now you are never awake when I get home from the lab," he chuckled, sitting in his familiar chair by the bedside. "Why are you now, hm?"
"I don't know," she answered quietly. "I felt like I should wait for you today."
"And I'm glad you did. There's someone I'd like you to meet."
"Oh? Who, grandfather?"
He gestured at the hedgehog standing beside the chair, about the height of a ten-year-old. He blinked in confusion at his surroundings, but looked in curiousity at the girl in the bed. "He is from the laboratory where I work," he explained to her. "I want you to spend some time with him."
Maria's eyes were large as she saw him, but she nodded quickly in enthusiasm. "I will, grandfather! He is most intriguing!"
He chuckled. "And I know how you have wanted a playmate for quite some time. I know it has been hard for you, having to spend all your time in this room."
Gerald coaxed the young hedgehog toward the bed, where Maria welcomed him with open arms. "You're so dark," she observed, running a hand down the spines on his back. "I shall call you... Opacus."
"I've had my share of pain, too, you know."
She brushed the dark hair from her eyes and looked over at me contemptuously. "You don't say."
"I've had my loved one die in my arms. You can't say you know what that's like."
"True, I don't. But I have my own brand of foul experiences."
"I don't want to hear them."
"I don't plan on telling you."
Then comes the awkward silence. I love awkward silences. I'm not sure why.
"Why don't you just walk away," she says quietly, her earlier fire having died down. "Leave me be."
"I told you why. You're in the way."
I'm covered in blood now.
Some of it is mine. Some of it is theirs. Some of it is hers.
She's gone now. Maria. I've lost her.
I'm tearing at the body of the man who killed her. Vengeance.
He had died a long time ago, but I can't stop. My anger is still there. Not until my anger is gone.
Maria's room is covered in blood. Three of them had barged in about an hour ago. They had shouted something I didn't understand. Then they shot her. One bullet. That's all it took.
She looked over at me as she died. I saw the fear in her eyes, the fear of death. Then her light, the light in her eyes, those eyes I had stared into every night, was gone.
I'm not sure what happened next.
But all three of those men are dead now.
And I'm covered in blood.
Gerald ran through the hallways of ARC, his heartbeat pounding in his ears. He had seen the G.U.N. patrol cruiser outside his home, and had quickly turned around and drove recklessly back to the lab. He knew what was happening. It was what he feared every night as he went to sleep. They had found out.
He cursed himself for being so foolish and taking those blood samples. That must have been what tipped them off. It had to be. He had taken so many precautions for his work.
The lift ascended to level twenty-six, and he hurried to Chamber Three. He listened intently for voices, footsteps, anything to indicate that G.U.N. had found the place before he had a chance to destroy his research. Nothing.
He opened the door and ran inside.
"The government has discovered us. You know what you must do."
The five white coats nodded their understanding and set to work. The three tubes remaining along the wall needed to be drained of fluid, their subjects destroyed. All information, paperwork, datawork, and equipment, needed to be dismantled and destroyed. But there was one piece of technology that Gerald would not allow to be lost forever.
The solar energy converter.
That was the key to the entire project. He needed to save at least some piece of that. And the main controller for the device was merely a circuit board, easily disguisable as another piece of hardware entirely.
There's nothing left for me here. Maria is dead. The Master can no longer tell me what to do.
I am Ultimate Power! I can control my own destiny!
I concentrate. My whole body is alive with energy. I can feel it calling to me, guiding me. I have the very power of Chaos flowing through my veins, and if I can control that, harness that, shape it to my will...
I feel a sickening lurch...
... And I leave.
Gerald huddled in the stairway, his hands in his pockets, his left holding tight to a circuitry board. He had called Charles Thorndyke on his mobile phone, asking him to meet him immediately. Gerald knew G.U.N. would be swarming Lab 52 by now, and his computer would be raped for information. Luckily, he did nothing directly related to Project: Darwin in that office, so they would find nothing... unless they somehow discovered Chamber Three's significance.
"Gerald!" he whispered as he approached, ducking into the starwell. "By God, man, what have you done?"
"There is no time to explain, my friend," Gerald answered as he took the hardware out of his pocket. "I only ask that you take this and keep it safe. It is simple electronic hardware, they will not question you about it."
"Why? Gerald, I don't understand any of this. What's on this board that G.U.N. would hunt you down for?"
"Something... dangerous. Something that will change the future of mankind, for good. But it exists in a grey area of ethics, and for that I am targeted."
"Gerald, if this is unethical..."
"That will be for the history books to decide. I only know I must complete my work, if I survive through this incident. Here," he pulled a USB flash disk out of his coat pocket and handed it to Charles. "If I die, you may access the information on this disk. Not before. I do not wish you involved in this any more than you are now."
"I... I give you my word, friend. I ask no more questions."
Doctor Gerald Robotnik was apprehended by G.U.N. Peacekeeping Forces on his way to Charles de Gaulle international airport. He was forced to stand trial for crimes of ethics, based on evidence taken from his work in genetic engineering and manipulation. He was found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison, without visitors or chance of parole. His work has been destroyed.
The product of his work, however, is alive and kicking.
You want to know what happened next? I'll tell you, but you won't believe me.
Charles Thorndyke kept that circuit board, all right, right up until the soldiers came to question him. He was told to give up any information or items given to him by "the suspected." He knew he couldn't keep an extra circuit board a secret for long, so he gave them one. He thought it was the one Master had given him, but he had gotten it confused with the one he was using for his energy probe.
And when the Thorndyke Energy Conversion Device was launched into space the week after, it was controlled by a circuit board programmed to transfer solar energy into Chaos energy.
I watched the next thousand years pass from a distance. World War III wiped out the population, the world was sent back to the Stone Age, and planet Earth was bombarded by radiation that began a rapid evolution of the species left standing. For those of you still taking notes, this means animals.
An entirely new civilisation arose, one run by thinking, sentient animals, who begin to write their own history independent from Man.
So now the question:
Did Master fail after all?
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