1:Seeing Red

While on a stroll in the Great Forest, I had accidentally
strayed across a pack of werewolves. They were having one of
their leadership fights, right there in the clearing. A really
old grey haired creature versus a much younger and stronger one,
meaner too, with glinting yellow eyes. It was absolutely no
competition; the younger one was meeting no resistance as he
laid into the original leader.
They hadn’t seen me, and they wouldn’t have at all if I’d
had the sense just to slip away quietly. But I couldn’t go
knowing that the old one was going to be well and truly mauled
so instead I raced towards the combatants, yelling at them to
stop. The young werewolf hurled the other one way across the
clearing before turning and bearing his fangs at me. It suddenly
occurred to me that what I’d just done might not have been such
a good idea, but it was too late to back out of it.
He paced forward before leaping, snarling. I’m pretty sure
that I’d have been able to beat him if it had just been him and
me, but a second later, the whole of the pack poured in to assist
him. I suppose the first few moments of the fight were the worst.
After that I could still feel the sharp pain of claws tearing
into me, but it seemed deadened, far away, as if I’d got past
that stage. It didn’t last for long though. The last thing I
remembered before both the woodland floor and darkness came up
to meet me was the flash of teeth and claws and the triumphant
howls of the werewolves.
I came to surrounded by what looked like half of Knothole;
Slasher, Sonic, Sally, Tails and Rotor standing closest to me.
It wasn’t like normal awakenings either, no blurred, coming
into focus moments, just a straightforward snap into reality.
Another unusual thing was that I was upright, with my arms and
legs strapped to the wall too.
Wonder what the date is? I thought to myself, trying to
speculate how long I’d been unconscious. The date suddenly
popped into my head. Weird. How could I have known that? Still,
I shook aside my puzzlement and worked it out. I’d been
unconscious for more than a month. That didn’t make much sense
either; it was a seriously long time to be out of it for.
“Uh, hi,” I said. My voice sounded a little weird. As
soon as I noticed that, I also heard a steady hum in the
background, like the kind you get from a computer or robot.
Sally must have got Nicole with her.
Everyone was silent still, some of them looking at me
a touch nervously. What was up with them? Did they want me
to say something else?
“Jeez, I really didn’t think I was going to survive that.
Not after the whole bunch of them jumped me.”
Sonic shook his head, looking half upset, half
apprehensive. “You… didn’t.”
Something in the back of my head half understood this,
but the rest of me certainly didn’t. “Come again?”
Slasher stepped forward. It was a relief to see her.
She could explain what was going on, and sort it out too if
needs be. She always did. “After you didn’t come back, I set
out to look for you. You were torn up pretty bad when I found
you. There was no one in sight but I thought I could smell
wolves in the vicinity so I guessed that it was them who’d
attacked you.
“Anyway, I took you back to Knothole. It turned out
that your injuries were even worse than I’d thought at first.
Fatally bad, there was no chance of you pulling through.
Luckily, Rotor’s been trying out some new technology… robot
technology. He found that there was one way we could save
you. Using some new equipment of his, he managed to
incorporate you; your personality, self, mind and everything
into a bunch of special chips. He used up almost all of his
equipment in the process so he’d never be able to do it or
anything like it again. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Thanks,” I managed. It was just about all I could
think of to say. “But I don’t really see how that would help
me.” In my mind, I think I already knew the answer, but there
was no way I was going to accept it before I heard Slasher
say it to be true.
“After he’d done that, Rotor set to work on creating
a… shell to house you in. He made it to look almost exactly
like the real you, with several modifications and changes.
After a while he finished, and we’ve activated you. You’re
now a Mecha bot, Pip.”
“No,” I whispered, so softly that I doubt anyone
heard it. So that was it. I was now a robot, and a Mecha
bot too, to crown it all. At least it explained all the
weird things I’d noticed. I guess it was kind of Slasher,
Rotor and the others to do all that for me, but as not
knowing what to say, I found that I didn’t even know what
to think anymore. Since it was one of those both good and
bad things, it made it really hard.
Luckily, Slasher seemed to understand. “I’ll give
you time to think over it all,” she told me, managing to
give me a comforting smile while shepherding the others
out at the same time. Sonic, Tails and all the ones who
knew me really well also gave me encouraging grins on the
way out. When they’d gone, Slasher came over and unlocked
the straps. I wondered what they thought I was going to
do to them that required strapping me down, but I didn’t
ask. “Come on out when you feel up to it,” she said, and
I knelt down on the floor, wondering if I still
remembered how to do everything, and what other new things
I could do, apart from telling the time and date. That
could wait though. For a while I sat and thought the whole
thing over, trying to come to terms with it. Eventually, I
got up and walked, a little unsteadily, outside.
It was about two days later and a few people had got
used to the fact that I was now a robot. I was just one of
the many interesting sights of the village. The problem was
that I was having trouble with it. I just couldn’t seem to
get used to the idea myself. This was mainly because everyone
was being kind and sympathetic towards me which, far from
being comforting, had a negative effect on me. I was
practically longing for someone to get cross or yell at me.
And I’d noticed another new thing about me; I was
nastier somehow and when people spoke to me I made sharper,
cruller remarks. I was also getting more than a little
depressed, but I think that was more to do with me personally
than my new robotic feelings.
Anyway, I was alone in Rotor’s workshop, sometime
in the evening, two days after I was… activated. My
depression had got to about its worst level and I was
feeling really bad. Quickly checking that there was no one
in sight, I opened the nearest toolbox and got out the
equipment it contained. Picking up one of the screwdrivers
and opening a compartment in my chest, I tried to see if
I could unscrew any vital parts.
Just as I was doing so however, Tails poked his
head round the door. Seeing me, he came in and leaned
against one of the cluttered tables, which reminded me
of the inside of my head.
“I wouldn’t do that,” he said, looking helpful.
“You might deactivate yourself.”
I sighed. “That’s the whole… oh never mind.”
I dropped the screwdriver on the table. “What do you
want?” I added, ungraciously.
“I wanted to know why you’ve been avoiding me.”
He looked hurt. It was true, I had been avoiding
him. I just didn’t realise he’d noticed. I gave him the
real reason. There was no point in not telling him. “I
thought you wouldn’t want to see me.”
“I’m your brother. Why wouldn’t I wanna see you?”
“I… dunno. It’s because of that I suppose. I thought
you wouldn’t want to know me now I’m a robot. And I wouldn’t
blame you. I’ve been feeling a little weird recently. I’ve
been feeling like I’m, well evil.”
“Then maybe that’s how the others feel. The other
Mecha bots. It could be in the programming or whatever.”
“Yes,” I said, grinning for the first time since I’d
become a robot. “Go into world. Be evil. Kill people. Maul
people. And while you’re at it, totally annihilate the
others.” We both laughed at this.
“I’m going for dinner,” he said, after a more
comfortable pause. “Wanna come?”
“Okay then. I’ll just be a minute. See you there.”
He waved and headed out the door. I thought about continuing
with my attempt to wreck myself, but I suddenly found that
I didn’t want to anymore. I began to pick the tools up one
by one and put them back into the box. As I dropped the last
one in and shut the lid, I heard a voice behind me.
“Good idea.” I pivoted round to see Slasher standing
there. I realised with a slight flash of guilt that she must
have seen me with the screwdriver, trying to destroy myself.
Still, she seemed more pleased than upset, probably because
I’d decided against it. “You may not think it now, but it
is for the best.” I nodded, slowly. Grinning a little, she
added: “And you’ve obviously been keeping control of your
feelings. Well done.”
I felt a little proud at this. “Thank you. I haven’t
really been socialising much though. I’ll keep trying to
control myself.” I slipped past her out the door and we
walked over to the area where some of the others had set
up a campfire, determined not to let myself succumb to
my new, eviler side.
It was kind of ironic that, when I was actually
trying to be on my best behaviour that I succeeded in
getting into a fight. I was sitting with Sonic and Tails,
trying to ignore the fact that they were eating, something
I could not do anymore. I was also trying to ignore what
they were eating, since when I could eat, I had been a
total vegetarian, no gelatine filled sweets even.
We talked a little, but I was more comfortable talking
with Tails than with Sonic. Maybe it was because Tails was
my brother or maybe it was just that he understood me
better, I don’t know. Anyway, Sonic was trying not to look
me in the eye. I suppose this was because he was unsure
about how to treat me, but it didn’t come across like that
at the time.
“You could at least look at me, Sonic,” I snapped,
after a while of this. “Or are you afraid I’m going to
kill you just by staring you in the eye?”
“No,” he answered, glaring at me. “Of course not.”
“You’ve got more guts than I gave you credit for,
then. I thought you were just being a spineless wimp but
now I know you’re just a wimp.” This sounded nasty, even
to me, so I tried to smooth it over. “Sorry,” I added.
“Ignore me. I didn’t mean it.”
Sonic didn’t answer directly. “Hey, Tails,” he said,
a few seconds later. “I bet Knuckles is having a bunch of
grapes right now. What do you think?”
My fists clenched. So he obviously hadn’t forgiven me.
And he knew just what to say to hit me hard. “I said I’m
sorry,” I told him angrily. “Can’t you just leave it?”
Sonic continued as if he hadn’t heard me. “He might
even be having an apple. Would you like an apple Pip? Oh I’m
sorry I forgot, you can’t can you?”
“Leave it,” I growled. That was my last warning to
him. I could see that Tails was looking worried. With good
reason. Sonic was rapidly approaching a high danger zone.
The next thing he said totally clinched the matter.
“I’m sure Ringo would just love to see you like that.
After all, you practically joined her, didn’t you?”
Immediately the words were out of his mouth, I saw genuine
regret fill his eyes. “I’m sorry Pip. I don’t know what
came over me. I’ve been a little stressed out recently
and had some late nights on top of that. Then when you
called me a wimp I guess I sorta snapped. I really,
really didn’t mean it. You know that don’t you?”
Yes. Maybe I did. But not then. I could probably
have ignored more food jibes, but he had touched a sore
point with his last remark.
I’d never told the full story, not to Sonic or
anyone, only a little vaguely to Tails once, but Sonic
did know a bit of it. And it had never been proved
that Ringo had died.
Ringo, a zebra, and her friends had sheltered me
when I had had managed to escape from captivity under
Metra, my robot tormentor, a werewolf Mecha bot. I
hadn’t told them about Metra or anything about him, a
little out of hard found loyalty but mostly because I
was afraid they wouldn’t like me anymore and they’d got
some problems of their own at the time.
They were nice, looking after me and letting me
stay in their village. After many years, I had actually
found somebody who cared for me. Ringo had promised to
become my official guardian after they had sorted out
their problems. But before that happened, Metra and his
robots tracked me down.
I think Metra had thought that I was going to go
and tell all his secrets or whatever to everyone, I
don’t know. I just know that one night they turned
up, torching the village and massacring its occupants.
I think a few of them managed to escape, I’m not sure.
I just hope Ringo was among them.
Whenever I think of it, it always seems more and
more like my fault. If I’d told them, if I’d warned
them they could have been prepared for something like
that. But I hadn’t thought he’d… I suppose the worst
thing of not telling them was that they thought that
I’d planned it all. The last I saw of Ringo, she gave
me a contemptuous glare before the flames hid her from view.
I would have helped defend the place, but a whole
squadron of robots was stationed to stop me, two keeping
a hold on my arms while the others stood around me. I was
forced to watch the whole thing. I’ve never been able to
rid myself of the scenes and I had nightmares of them when
I… wasn’t a robot. I generally keep way on top of them,
but whenever I get upset, scared or lonely they return. Or
when some jerk can’t keep his mouth shut.
Anyway, I was practically livid with rage and nothing
Sonic said was going to change that. “Don’t talk about
things you don’t understand,” I hissed, in a deadly tone
of voice, getting to my feet. Before I even realised what
I was doing, I had leapt at him, bowling him right over
and pinning him to the ground.
I didn’t give Sonic so much as a chance to hit back
as I attacked him. Several people tried to stop me, but I
just lashed out at them with my feet, kicking them away.
Tails was yelling at me to stop, reminding me strongly of
something, although I couldn’t quite place it. I was only
stopped when Slasher arrived on the scene and knocked me
several yards away from Sonic with one wing.
The fight had only lasted a few seconds, but I was
pleased to note that Sonic was limping on one foot when
Slasher helped him to his feet, and he had a long jagged
cut down the side of his face.
I didn’t bother to get up from where I lay. I’d just
realised what Tails had reminded me of. Me. When I had
tried to stop the werewolf battle, trying to prevent the
stronger one from killing the other, for what seemed to
me like no good reason. The memory of the young one
hurling the old one across the clearing came back to me,
and I looked across at Sonic. I could imagine me having
done that, if Slasher hadn’t stopped me. How could I,
after Slasher had gone and said how well I was doing, too?
I picked myself up, slowly, to show that I wasn’t
about to go and rip Sonic’s head off and followed
Slasher, who had indicated for me to do so. Sonic limped
after us for some way, but Tails caught his arm and
held him back. From the look on Sonic’s face, I think
he was going to explain to Slasher that I’d been provoked,
but I was glad that Tails had stopped him.
Slasher stopped, at a point well away from the
others. She then turned to me. She didn’t say anything,
but the silence was much, much worse. “I’m sorry,” I
said, my head bowed in shame. “I know I shouldn’t have
attacked Sonic. I just let myself go, and…” I stopped.
“You found what it was like to be more like the
robot you’ve become,” she finished for me. I nodded,
wordlessly, still staring ashamedly at the ground. She
gazed at me for a moment longer, before saying: “All
right then.”
I stared at her then. “What? That’s it? I thought
I’d be punished.”
“I think the other villagers will be punishment
enough,” she answered. I thanked her and left, wondering
what she could have meant. Since I went straight back to
Rotor’s tool shed for the night, I didn’t find out the
answer until the morning.
When I went around the village the next day,
everybody either avoided me or sneered outright.
Only Tails didn’t. I’m not sure which Sonic would
have done, although I suspect he might have sided
with Tails, as he was getting his wounds seen to.
I tried to ignore the villagers, save Tails,
amusing myself by trying out some of my new skills.
One of my favourites was the scanner, which allowed
me to detect all the things in the immediate vicinity.
It was fun guessing who each one could be, some of
them easier than others.
I spent the rest of the time forming a plan. I was
going to go away. There was no way I was going to stay in
Knothole; I just didn’t fit anymore. By the end of the day,
I’d worked it all out and was ready to put it into action.
I crept to the edge of the village at nightfall, moving
more quietly than I had ever done before. I allowed Tails
to come with me, as far as the tree line border of the
Great Forest.
When I reached the edge, I turned to him. “So…
goodbye then Tails.”
“Will you ever come back?” he asked, looking
pretty miserable.
“Perhaps. To see you.” I added the emphasis on
the you, so that he’d know I meant him and not the
whole village. “And maybe Slasher.” I almost added
“And the next time we meet, we may be on different
sides” but decided against it. There were some
things I was not going to tell Tails. Not now anyway.
“Oh. Okay then.”
“Do you think you could wait until morning, then
go and tell Slasher I’ve gone and that I said thanks to
her for all that she’s done. And…”
“Tell Sonic… tell him that I said sorry.”
I gave him a quick reassuring smile, then left, walking
at a quick pace into the forest. Now I had a purpose. I
knew exactly what I was going to do. I was going to go
and see if I could find the other Mecha bots, to see if
I could join forces with them. I’d also got an idea that
might make them change their views if they didn’t want to.
“The future’s bright,” I said aloud. Then, unable to
resist it, I added: “The future’s orange.” Then, humming
under my breath, I headed away from Knothole, in the
direction of Sapphire City.

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