It had been a simple mission, and a simple trap. Bunnie Rabbot had separated from the others during what was supposed to be a routine sabotage mission. That was when the powerful electro magnet had pulled her against a wall. And the horrifying familiar blue lightning began to crackle. Bunnie had been desperate enough to disconnect her metal limbs from her body rather than face the final nightmare that awaited her, but it was too little too late, and she'd screamed... and one limb now matched the other, and the rest of her body turned metallic and plated, and the world took on a red tint. And she was a prisoner in own body. She only hoped that Sonic and the others could save her, somehow. She didn't want to believe she was doomed like all the rest Robotnik had enslaved. That couldn't be right, could it?
Bunnie felt a host of new information pouring in from the wires, a series of memories, ideas, and even reflexes coming in. She could barely even process anything, it was all coming at her so fast, before suddenly being "locked off." Then came the commands.
>Bunnie_Rabbot_Default set to 0
And suddenly, her mind went silent.
>Bunnie_Rabbot_Maid_Algorithm set to 1
>Limb_1 not attached
>Limb_3 not attached
>Limb_4 not attached
>Beginning recovery, before standard operations can continue.
The three detached limbs arose, and began to move on their own toward their body, and soon locked back in place. As this happened, the new routines began their operation.
>.000253 g dust on Desk
The robot moved toward the desk, picking up a nearby duster, and began to brush it away. Robotnik, satisfied that the basic programming worked, decided to experiment and mix it up a little.
>Bunnie_Rabbot_Default set to 1.
Bunnie suddenly came to. She wasn't sure how she was suddenly standing up, and it felt like her hand was twitching involuntarily, but she was relieved to feel like she still had some control. Then she realized that she still felt all mechanical.
"I... I can still think, at least," She said "And I guess I can talk out loud... Hope robotnik isn't close enough to have heard that..."
"Oh, I'm afraid he is, my dear Rabbot," He chuckled behind her. She turned around to look at him, though when she tried to bring her hand away from the table, a series of thoughts ran through the digital equivalent of her subconscious mind.
>Exception check: command to stop: 0
>Exception check: higher-priority job: 0
>Exception check: Possibility of unintended termination: 0
Despite the danger Bunnie knew was present, she KNEW she couldn't just stop dusting here. "I must say, my improvements seem to have done wonders for your sense of cleanliness." Robotnik chuckled again.
"Er, yes Robotnik, they have. Hail the glorious Robotropolis!" She said, hoping desperately that it wasn't too late to fake being under his control.
"Now now Bunnie, there's no need for any acting. I let you keep your old self, this time."
"You did? Well then, you really should've seen this-"
>Fist Trajectory/force Calculation: 55 Newtons 38x45y55z.
>Error: Places greater than 5 N force within unacceptable range of Dr. Robotnik.
Bunnie suddenly didn't feel right about hitting the doctor. Maybe he was up to something? Maybe he secretly was hoping he'd hit her. She didn't want to risk hurting him. Not when it could be a trap. "Coming..."
"Seen what coming, Rabbot?"
"Well... I guess... My asking what you'd leave my personality intact for?"
"Oh, that's simple, my dear! To see how it mixes in with some of the newer programs I took the liberty of adding."
>Dustscan results: 0 g dust remains on desk. Begin scan of other furniture.
>Dustscan results: .00021 g dust on chair. .00603 on bookshelf.
Suddenly, Bunny noticed a little dust on robotnik's chair and bookcase. You'd think he'd have his robots help him clean from time to time. She moved over to the chair (Since it was more likely to bother someone if that was left unattended) and began dusting, still keeping her eyes on Robotnik. The place had to be kept tidy, and she wasn't going to let this confrontation get in the way. "What kinda programming? You planning on making me attack my friends and letting me watch helplessly, or somethin'?"
"Oh do believe me, the thought has crossed my mind," The smile robotnik had worn from the start had not faded in the slightest. "But I'm more interested in knowing how you feel about cleaning, or those silly old French maid costumes that sometimes turned up in old TV shows."
>Maid_Outfit Preference: 1
"Hey, those outfits have a real classy look to them!" Bunnie stammered defensively. "You can't just go around calling them silly!"
"Oh, my apologies, dear. I just couldn't help but notice just how engaged in your little clean-up you were. Surely in a situation like this, you'd want to be on constant vigil, and not cleaning up after your enemy."
"I can keep this whole city clean and stay alert, thank you," Bunnie sneered. "And really, I wouldn't leave a place this filthy even if my worst enemy lived there. That you seem to have no problem with it just shows how beyond help you are."
"Is that so? I want you to stop right now, though. It really is distracting."
>Exception check: Order to stop: 1
> Halting Maidfunction1.
Bunnie dropped the feather duster. Maybe her focus on cleaning had gotten in the way of things, not that she wanted to admit it to Robotnik. But it had seemed so important at the time. Well, priorities changed... "Fine. I don't think you're telling me everything, though."
"How about you stand on one leg, and I might tell you a little more?"
>Direct Command: Use only limb3 or limb4.
>Even Number found. Using only limb4.
Bunnie sighed and raised her right leg. She doubted Robotnik would actually tell her anything useful, but maybe if she played along, he might say something helpful unintentionally during his usual gloating.
"Heh, you're so willing to play nicely today, aren't you?" He brought out a little tablet device, and started typing again. "You can let it down for now. Maybe even start cleaning again, since you seemed to enjoy it so much before."
Bunnie went for the feather duster again. shaking her head. Of course, someone as evil as Robotnik would mock her for trying to keep things tidy. A clean house was a sign of a clean heart, they said. It only made sense that good people like her would try to keep things neat. "You were saying you'd tell me a little more..." She said as she finished off the chair, and moved on to the bookcase.
"Oh yes, I was actually going to tell you that there's a French maid outfit in the closet in the corner..."
>Outfit preference check: 1
>Exception check: Higher priority command: 1 [Wear appropriate uniform]
>Dustclean1: hold until completion of higher priority command.
"Huh, never would have put you as the type to have something fancy like that..." With Robotnik watching her like this, Bunnie felt like it would be a challenge to free that poor outfit. Not just to wear herself (She felt she could use something to give her a little bit of a classy look), but also to spare the world the possibility of seeing Robotnik wearing it, which would likely drive more men mad than the summoning of Cthulhu. Even under the doctor's watchful eyes, she dashed for the closet, and hastily pulled the outfit over herself, before carefully walking back to resume cleaning.
"Looks like it's mine, now though."
"Curses!" Robotnik said, desperately trying to hold back fits of laughter. "It seems even my new programming can't stop you from making a fool of yourself."
Bunnie turned up her nose as she kept dusting the bookshelf. "Hm, seems even a country girl like me has a better idea about the finer things in life than you."
"Well, anyway, one of the things I wanted to test with my little programming combination with was how well my subjects kept their memories. Quite useful for spying, you know?"
"Like I'd tell you anything." Bunnie rolled her eyes.
"Oh, don't worry, I won't ask anything sensitive..." he tapped his tablet a few times again. "Just something simple, like your name."
>New program name: Entered following phrase "It was <Variable>, wasn't it?"
>Where <Variable> becomes new program name.
"It's Bunnie Rabbot, and you better remember it!"
"Oh? I thought for certain I once overheard Sally say it was Erma, wasn't it?"
Erma thought back, remembering Sally and Sonic had indeed called her that before. "Yeah, of course, why are you repeating what I just told you?
"Oh, no reason." Robotnik shrugged. "By the way, you do realize that there's nothing here between you and freedom, right? None of my programming for you has anything to stop you from leaving robotropolis whenever you feel like it..."
>Exception check: 0
Erma shook her head. "Someone's gotta clean this filthy hole of a city up. And while I'm here, I figure it might as well be me." The other freedom fighters would understand. They knew a mess like this couldn't be left unattended.
"So, another simple memory check. I heard of a pretty fierce, partly roboticized freedom fighter by the name of Bunnie Rabbot... I don't suppose you've heard of her?"
Erma was the only partly roboticized mobian she knew... She considered lying about there being one, but figured it wouldn't really gain the freedom fighters anything. "Nope. Until now, I thought I was the only mobian that your machine only worked halfway on."
>Dustscan results: 0.
>All furniture in the room is cleaned.
>Requesting further instructions.
Erma held her feather duster close, as she turned to Robotnik. She knew she would likely regret this, but she had a duty to clean this city, and he was the only one that would know where another mess would be offhand. "I don't suppose you could tell me what else needs cleaning around here?"
"My my, so helpful today, aren't we? You'd almost make me want to be a bit of a do-gooder myself, you seem to have so much fun with it. Well, Erma, one of my SWATbots could use some polishing."
Erma grimaced. That would be dangerous, if the bot knew she had free will, but still, it would be heartless to leave the poor thing covered in grime, even if it wasn't sentient. She followed the signs in the halls of Robotnik's fortress, to the room where off-duty SWATbots were stored.
>Unit found, commencing cleaning.
Erma glared up at the bot, which simply stood there, unmoving. "I'm gonna clean you up so hard..."
She began to diligently polish away, while Robotnik watched through a security Camera. "Ah, so suspicious, my dear 'Erma.' Perhaps if you showed a little interest in your own new kind, we might make some progress." He tapped away at his keyboard, giving a new command to the SWATbot, as well as Erma.
"What is a fine young lady like you doing in a place like this?" The SWATbot asked.
>Attraction mode: Robots.
>Flirtatious modifier: 1
Erma found it a bit odd that a SWATbot was talking to her like this, but at the same time, as she polished it's sleek torso to a shine, she couldn't help but notice that it was pretty good looking. Sure, it was an enemy, but perhaps this was some sign of self-awareness? Maybe a little playful flirting could help awaken some mobian trapped in there. "Just a bit of cleaning. I gotta say, you look pretty good with a nice layer of polish."
"You're very good at it," The SWATbot continued. "I imagine a great many of the robots here will appreciate your assistance."
"You really think so?" Erma asked. The idea of being appreciated by a bunch of fine robots didn't sound that bad. Maybe she had misjudged how good company they could make. And still, she was one herself now, it's not like she was really in danger or anything.
Robotnik laughed as he watched the scene unfold. "Oh, this is priceless! I could watch this play out all day. But, I do have a few other things I would like to test out..." He broadcast his voice into the room through the loudspeaker. "Attention, Erma! Please report to the lab for remodeling."
>Direct command: Report to lab for Remodeling. Terminating current task.
Erma shook her head. Sure, the robot was handsome, but that announcement sounded pretty important. She knew she couldn't trust Robotnik, but at the same time, she had kept her free will so far, perhaps any modifications could help her better fight back. Against the dirt and filth of this city. And Robotnik himself, too. She marched into the lab.
"Please remove any clothing before continuing. We wouldn't want it getting damaged, now, would we?"
>Direct command processed: Remove clothing until alterations are complete.
Erma sighed as she took off the dress, followed by her old shirt. She didn't like the idea of the doctor seeing her naked, even if she was a robot with nothing to cover, but she liked the thought of her favorite clothes getting ruined even less. Placing them on hangers on the side of her room, she stepped toward the large machine in the center of the room.
Robotnik's voice came in over the loudspeaker. "Oh, but before we begin, we'll need you to get rid of one of those outfits. There's a waste disposal unit over in the corner; how about you burn it there?"
>Direct command: Burn one previous outfit.
>Outfit 1: Purpose: Modesty.
>Outfit 2: Purpose: Modesty, and relation to current mission.
>Priority to preserve outfit 2.
Erma looked back at her old clothes. She was fond of both of them, but she wanted to try these upgrades so badly... She could give up on one though. She picked up her old jumpsuit, and looked at it for a moment, before tossing it in the fire. It had served her well over the years, but the maid outfit gave her a look of class, and fit her nature so well, she just knew the choice was obvious.
She stepped back toward the machine, which latched onto her torso, and each limb, and began to whir to life. Erma might have gulped, if she still had the capacity, but she knew it would be worth it. The machine began to buzz louder, starting by removing her long, relatively wide rabbit feet, and replacing them with thinner paws that wouldn't look out of place on a fox. Her hearing went quiet for a moment as well, as she felt her ears removed, then replaced with smaller, triangular ones. For a moment, she thought things seemed a little quieter.
>Species data: rabbit.
>Erase current species data.
Erma suddenly felt a bit confused. All her memories of herself seemed fuzzy. She knew she was supposed to be something, but she couldn't place a finger on what.
>New species data: Vixen.
Erma's eyes brightened again. "Right, I'm a fox!" She smiled. Her new sound levels seemed far more normal now. Everything before had always seemed so loud... Maybe being a robot wasn't so bad, if it meant her imperfections could be corrected like this. She almost wanted to thank Robotnik for this. Though, at the same time, her tail did feel oddly short and inflexible… and her snout had always seemed a little too small compared to the other vixens'.
As if on cue, a slightly longer metal snout was lowered in front of her, and welded on with ease. She opened and shut the new jaw a couple of times, realizing how much more comfortable it felt now. She then felt her tail being removed, before the base of another was attached, with a new segment attached to that, and another attached to that. She let the longer, "fluffier" metal tail swish back and forth behind her a few times, the sensation feeling far more natural than that stump ever had. She was almost afraid to think of being de-roboticized at this point, imagining going back to an old, unfitting body like that.
A series of nozzles lowered, and began to slowly paint over her old yellow metal, giving her a bright red sheen, with streak of white down her belly and the tip of her tail, and a layer of black paint over her feet, hands, and ears. She felt her arms being opened up, new cleaning tools being inserted, to be brought out whenever she needed, at a simple thought. Maybe she really had misjudged Robotnik! With dusters and mops as a part of her very being, it would be a cinch to clean just about anything.
Before the machine let her go, one last addition was made: A couple large lumps of metal were brought to her chest, before being welded atop her old breasts. This "little" augmentation was pretty impressive: While it wouldn't really mean much to the robots around here, back at home, a chest this size would have gotten a lot of male attention, and with her new mechanical strength, she wouldn't even have to worry about back issues. Robotnik really did think of everything.
As the paint dried, the machine let Erma go, and she happily marched back to put on her maid outfit. She wished she had a mirror, to appreciate how lovely her new body was, but it would have to wait. She simply had to go to the good doctor and thank him for this, hopefully by cleaning more of the fortress. As 'fate' would have it, a mirror did indeed slide into place in front of her.
She looked with a grin at the metal vixen maid in the mirror. This was the new Erma, and she was feeling quite satisfied with it.
>Visual and tactile confirmation of modifications established. Now safe to begin reprogramming for optimal modification use.
Erma thought back on her old home...
>Set primary residence: Robotropolis
Robotropolis. She had lived in this grand, if dirty, city since Robotnik had founded it, watching every factory and power plant rise up with pride.
Her thoughts drifted back to her old friends...
>Primary ally set: Cleaning unit Set[0-255]
The good old cleaning unit. All the happy hours she spent chatting with the washing machines, maintenance units, and of course, no. 037, the Scrub Monkey First Class. Shooting the breeze over their glorious leader's latest plans, and wondering when those silly freedom fighters would come to their senses and see the joy of simple service.
And of course, she couldn't forget her family...
>Clear Family data.
>Master/Creator Registration: Dr. Robotnik
>Priority 2 Master Registration: Snively.
Well, she supposed she didn't have a real family... She had been created by Dr. Robotnik after all, but her glorious master had a kind and caring heart, and always allowed her to do what she loved most: Cooking and cleaning. It was such a simple, yet satisfying existence, yet her purpose was so clear. How could she do less than serve her master loyally?
Oh, And Snively, too. He may not have had quite the wonder and presence that Robotnik had, but, he was still quite the impressive mind, and worthy of almost as much respect, in her eyes.
The lab doors opened to reveal her glorious master. "Why hello, 'Erma,'" Robotnik chuckled. He was always such a jovial fellow. "How are you enjoying your new modifications, my dear?"
"Modifications? I don't recall ever being in a different state, my master, but you cannot possibly be wrong... Ah, I must have simply automatically deleted my previous data. I apologize if this was not what you desired."
"Oh, don't you worry about a thing dear. That means everything is working as intended," He chuckled. "Oh, except for one thing: Drop the country bumpkin accent. Try something a little more sophisticated, like French."
>Direct Order: Accent emulation set to: French.
Erma nodded. "Oui, of course, master Robotnik. It was quite silly of me to employ an accent associated with such uncouth types, given my wonderful position."
"Much better!" Robotnik smiled. "Now I never have to hear that stupid drawl again! Oh, I can't wait to try this on the next set of prisoners..."
"Try what master?"
"Oh, just a new type of programming, that helps truly bring out the best in any resistant Mobian's mind. It'll help everyone find an existence they can be truly happy with, just like I did for you."
Ah, of course. Master Robotnik was so generous, extending such wonderful gifts, even to the Mobians foolish enough to reject them. Oh, if they could only feel what she felt...
"Now Erma, before your next cleaning project, I'd like for you to meet with one of my latest captives, before I extend my latest gift to him. I feel like meeting a cheery little maid like you might help him see the light and ask for it willingly."
"Of course, Master! I'd be happy to. Simply specify the prisoner, and I will meet with him immediately."
"The two tailed fox in cell G-14. You can’t miss him."
Erma nodded, and marched down the halls to the prison, her eyes focused only on her goal. She reached G-14, and finally turning her head, obtained visual confirmation of the Mobian Robotnik had been talking about. "Greetings, resident of G-14!" She said cheerily.
"I am Erma! What is your name?"
"... I'm... I'm Tails... who are you? I mean, WHAT are you?"
"I am part of our Glorious Master Robotnik's cleaning crew! As one of his maids, I get to experience the joy of seeing the world made a cleaner, brighter, and tidier place, every moment of every day. It truly is a wonderful experience. There is a beauty in the simplicity of knowing your place, and having a role to fill, isn't there?"
"If you say so..." Tails muttered, not really sure why Robotnik would try to send him propaganda through a maid. I mean, sure, she was also a fox in every sense of the word, but... "I mean, I'm pretty sure you're just programmed to say you're happy. If you're feeling much of anything in there, it's probably really the distress of some poor, trapped Mobian."
"Is there really much of a difference, in the end, between a being that says that they're happy, gives off all outward signs of being happy, and acts consistently with how one would expect when one is happy, and a being that is actually happy?" Erma asked.
"There's the term philosophical zombie, which refers to something that gives all outwards signs of being self-aware, but in fact possessed no mind of its own."
"How interesting! I can assure you, though, that Robotnik does in fact, give us a genuine sense of happiness about our tasks."
"Exactly! GIVE! He MADE YOU this way. If you actually are happy... You didn't chose this. Even if you actually are. Which I REALLY don't see... the only joy I've EVER seen Robotnik have is in the misery and pain of others."
"Oh, you just don't get to see him as often as we do. He was laughing so much today as I went about my daily tasks. I think there's something about my name he finds humorous, he always grins when he says it."
"A fox maid named Erma... I don't get the joke."
"I don't either, to be honest, but he has a complex sense of humor."
Robotnik's voice played over the intercom. "Erma dear? Would you mind escorting our new friend to the roboticizer lab? I have some unexpected business to take care of, and could use a little help."
"Of course, Master Robotnik!" Erma said, as the cell door opened. Tails tried to run for it, but was surprised by the maid's speed as she caught him tightly by the arm.
"Ack! Why on earth would you waste resources giving a maid robot an iron grip?"
"Because Master Robotnik has such amazing foresight, for situations like this."
"He's evil and insane!"
Tails continued to resist, trying to shake himself out of her grip, kick her off her feet, anything, but this robot continued to prove far more durable than should have been practical, as she dragged him down the hall. "Genius is usually mistaken for madness."
"I wish Bunnie was here to turn you into scrap metal!"
"Oh yes, I remember Robotnik mentioning if I had heard of her before. Supposedly, she is quite tough. But I imagine she is no match for the great doctor's intellect." She said, as a large door opened in front of them.
"I'd rather die."
“I don't really see why. But you will never have to die once the roboticizer has done it's work." She approached the large machine, strapping Tails to a table in the front of it.She approached the control panel, and the machine whirred ominously, pulling the table inside. Tails braced himself as gears ground around him, harsh light filled his eyes, and his body suddenly started to feel very cold. His legs felt stiff, and his tails heavy. He felt it hard to breath as it changed his torso and arms. His breathlessness didn't matter much longer though as he stopped any breathing as his head was turned to metal. He braced himself once more, wondering in horror what was going to happen to his mind.
As it had with 'Erma' before him, dozens of foreign thoughts and strange commands running through his mind (though, if had any time to process them, he may have had a better guess at their function than she did). Each intrusive thought seemed to vanish almost as quickly as it appeared. When it all stopped, tails was surprised at how normal he felt, mentally at least. He had no sudden desire to praise Robotnik, no unrelenting hate for Sonic, not even the love for his 'new purpose' Erma had mentioned. The machine released him from his shackles, and he stepped out of the Roboticizer. It must have been some incredible fluke, the machine hadn't reprogrammed him! Now he just needed to find a way to convincingly get out of here...
"Welcome to your new life, my friend! How do you feel?"
Tails debated to himself whether it was worth it to bolt now, and maybe shout the truth about his freedom back in his captor's face.
>Assignment area: Robotropolis fortress A-1. Operation 100 feet outside of the building is prohibited.
>Exception check: 0
No, he remembered how fast she had been, and he wasn't sure how speedy his own new body was. It was better just to play along for now. "I am in acceptable condition. I will now report to master Robotnik. Please return to your previous duty. I will not require further attention."
"Very well. I will return to the joys of cleaning at once!"
Meanwhile, Robotnik sat in his office, frantically triggering traps just seconds after Sonic ran past them, as usual. "I. HATE. THAT. HEDGEHOG." He growled through gritted teeth. He then heard a buzzing from one of the other programs. He switched to it, and saw the newly robotic Tails, and "Erma" heading back to her task.
"Ah, not bad. I do so look forward to watching Sonic's little sidekick break. I'll have to record this, and make Sonic watch it once it's done... We'll need to make his modifications something a little more... Creative, to rub it in!" He began typing a new set of commands, and pressed the intercom button. "Oh Erma dear? I'm still having a little trouble with other issues. Would you mind improving our new friend a little? I'm sending you the blueprints digitally."
Tails thought he was home free, until he heard that message, and saw Erma turn around. "Yes, Master Robotnik! A change of pace from the usual cleaning can be fun as well!" Erma reached out and grabbed Tails by the hand, leading him to a different part of the lab. Tails would have sighed, but he didn't want to blow his cover. He followed behind the maid to a machine with a series of arms above a table, which she quickly placed him on top of.
Tails panicked. He needed to get out of this...
>Preparations for modifications beginning
>Limb set [1-4] deactivating.
Tails stopped moving. These modifications were only physical, right? His mind would be left intact, and while it might be a little harder to de-roboticize himself once they were in place, resisting would only trigger more suspicion. "So... What kind of modifications are these?"
"Robotnik wants it to be a surprise!" Erma said, an electric screwdriver emerging from her fingertip as she began to remove his legs, and eventually his lower body. Tails was glad he was a robot for this. The pain could have been unbearable, but like this, it wasn't even disorienting.
"What do you plan to replace my lower half with?" Tails asked, trying to hide his nervousness.
"Oh, you'll see in just a little bit. Robotnik has this one prepared in advance!" A pair of clawed mechanical arms dropped down from above, lifting tails away from the table and his lower body along with it. The table wheeled itself away, as an ominous sound of many metal legs clanking against the metal floor could be heard.
He watched below, as what looked like the abdomen of a giant, mechanical spider, crawled up below him on eight legs. Looking more closely, he saw a hole at the top, just the size of his torso. "What... What on Mobius is that for?"
"Easy climbing!" Erma said.
"But I could fly before. And aren't all eight legs a bit much?"
"Oh, don't worry, you'll like it." The claws began to gently lower Tails down to the spider body below. As they made contact, Tails felt electricity flowing between the two halves, unfamiliar sensations coming into him.
>New Hardware detected
>Auto-installing new drivers.
Tails suddenly felt a strange sense of familiarity with these new limbs. He twitched them experimentally, and began to carefully step around, before rapidly moving about with ease. 'Must be a perk of being robotic... Easy adaptation."
He stepped up to one of the walls, and got a grip on it in one of his legs, then the other, then one more. Climbing seemed so much more energy efficient than flying... He could hardly believe he was thinking about it, but with how easy it would be to repair and create larger machines when staying up high didn't require constant spinning. He continued onward onto the ceiling, surprised he was able to stick so solidly to it. He could definitely work with this. "This is... Actually pretty nice."
"See, I told you, Robotnik only improves people with his gifts."
"I wouldn't go that far, but I can see how this has practical applications..."
>RepairFunction1, set to 1
>Checking for errors and malfunctions.
>Roboticizer3 is requires cooling unit repair
>Begin repair operations
Tails noticed out of the corner of his eye, an error message coming from one of the roboticizers. It may have been one of Robotnik's machines, but Tails just couldn't call himself a mechanic if he didn't try to fix it.He crawled up to the top of the machine, opening the hatch and began repairs. It was simple, as always. For all his claims of genius, Robotnik's stuff wasn't too hard to understand.
"You seem to be taking to your new role rather well!" Erma noted.
"It's far from a new role to me." Tails noted. "I've been doing this kind of stuff for years, even something like the roboticizer is no match for my skills."
"I would imagine if you objected so much to the Roboticizer's use, you wouldn't be repairing it."
"What, and just leave it broken there? That'd be like you not cleaning. Besides, it was made by Sir Charles Hedgehog. It has its benevolent purposes. Just because Robotnik uses it for evil doesn't make it a bad thing." He closed the hatch as the repairs finished.
>Scanning for further damage.
>Several minor damaged areas detected in hall 13.
It suddenly occurred to Tails that there was quite a bit more damage, as he noticed scrap and rubble outside as the lab doors opened. No matter, with his new tools, he could patch them each up in a minute or two each. Erma followed after him, on orders to make further modifications when the repairs were completed.Tails carefully re-welded the dented walls, crawling over the broken SWATbots with ease in this form. "Heh, Robotnik really needs to take better care of this place."
"That's what we're here for!" Erma said. "The doctor may be brilliant, but he's only one man."
"Heh, were it not for the whole megalomania thing, I could actually enjoy this. Getting to put my talents to use all day, being modifiable to find new solutions to problems..."
"Now you're getting it!"
"Hey, it's not like that!" Tails said as he finished the last of his welding. He was about to continue with "There's still the pointless pollution, and the fact that you can't just force people into this! I just happen to be a mechanic already, but I don't think all the other mobians got so lucky."
>Processing critical analysis of Dr. Robotnik.
>Analysis overly-negative, unlikely to be helpful to overall mission.
>Silencing critical message.
But then he remembered, he had to keep his cover.
"I'm still a freedom fighter, I just can see some positives, here."
"Well, regardless, I have orders from the doctor to apply some more modifications."
>Direct command processed: Receive further modification.
>Return to roboticizer lab
More mods? After how useful this one had proved, Tails was deeply curious to see what else might be applied, and what the result might be. "Well, let's go then!" He positioned himself under the many arms again, as Erma approached the controls. A series of tools began to work on his shoulders, adding new ports and joints followed by a the addition of a new limb to each.
>New hardware discovered
>Installing drivers for Wings
Without looking back, Tails instantly knew the new additions were a set of large, bat like wings. And while he wasn't completely certain of how the physics behind them worked, he was certain they would be completely capable of flight! "I get to fly, too? This is incredible! I'll be able to get nearly anywhere when this is done!"
"And that's not all!" Tail's ears were removed, and replaced with far smaller audio units, a pair of metal horns being welded to his head in place of the old ears. His mouth was uninstalled next, a blow torch being installed inside, the hole, with a metal snout, with triangular "fangs" carved out was welded on instead.
>Installing blowtorch drivers
"A flamethrower in the mouth? Well, I suppose that's one hand free... I guess the rest is to give a dragon motif? I don't really see the point of that, but..." He experimentally opened his new jaw and released a blast of flame. "I can't really argue with the practical applications here."
The machine released him, and he flapped his new wings experimentally, managing to hover a few meters above the ground. "Woah! It's all working! It's working perfectly." He couldn't imagine controlling so many limbs in his old body, not with this much finesse and precision... He almost hated the thought of going back to being flesh and blood, when he had so much potential like this.
>Scanning for damaged or malfunctioning units
>Damage reports from Armory B3
>Moving to repair
Tails had to test out his new equipment! He dashed out of the hall as fast as his eight legs could carry him, looking for anything with even the slightest hint of damage. As if on instinct, he made his way toward the armory, seeing dozens of damaged buzzbombers and other flying units hanging from the rafters. He knew they were Robotnik's minions, that repairing them would make things more difficult in the long run, but he couldn't just leave a machine like that. Especially when it was the perfect place to test his new wings.
He beat his wings, rising easily into the air, a few of his legs finding purchase on the rafters as he moved from one unit to the next. He was amazed how much having an extra hand free helped, whether it be to hold another tool, or to steady one of the hanging fighters.
>BuzzBombers A013 through A049 heavily damaged, repair.
>BuzzBombers B026 through A037 terminal, cannibalize for recyclable parts.
So many poor machines in a miserable state. He knew he couldn't fix all of them though. He quickly looked over the fixable ones, determining which parts needed replacement. He then turned to the unfortunate ones that were beyond his ability to save, as much as he hated to admit it. He flapped and crawled over to the more damaged units, carefully extracting what parts could be saved, for transfer to the next. “Must be how doctors doing organ transplants feel,” he thought to himself.
Still, there was a certain sense of satisfaction that filled him with each completed repair. His talents had so much more use here, and his new modifications only made his work easier.
As Tails finished up his final repair, Erma entered the armory. "We've got another order from Dr. Robotnik for you! Once you've completed this, we'll get you your final upgrades!"
"There's another mod in the works?" If Tails's new jaw was capable of grinning, it would have been going from ear to ear. Or, horn to horn. He was still leery of doing Robotnik's orders, but the promise of further upgrades made him feel giddy. "What's the assignment?" He said, following her to yet another lab.
"We're looking to have two Robians rebuilt into a single unit." Erma said, as the door opened, revealing two robotic foxes, one apparently male, one female. "These Robians, specifically."
Even roboticized, Tails could instantly recognize his parents sitting there on the tables, deactivated. This wasn't good, he had to...
>Begin alteration: Blueprint135
He had to keep his cover. Maybe he could make his parents into something they could enjoy, by being together forever... Or at least until Sonic could help him undo this. In the meantime, he had to do his very best, and make sure the design for his parents was flawless... They deserved nothing less.
He carefully disassembled the two foxes, keeping track of every stray part as he worked. He attached the top of the male torso to the bottom of the female, connecting both tails to the back. He then made several adjustments to all four legs, allowing for better quadruped motion. He followed by altering the neck ports, allowing two necks to be connected to the torso, and fixed both of his parent's head's atop it. "Hmm... We can't just leave the arms be..." He set to work on their shoulder blades, creating new openings for limbs, connecting two limbs to each. Next, he added a holo-field projector to each arm, linking the arms connected to the same joints with a field of light, giving the appearance of glowing wings. "There we go... I hope I could do you justice..."
"Oh, they look simply beautiful together!" Erma cheered. "I must help clean them up." With that, the fox maid immediately set to work, polishing the cerebus to a shine.
> Visual Scan of Completed Modification Project
> Modifications to Blueprint135 within tolerances
> Modifications suggest increased efficiency mobility
> Modifications to Blueprint135 approved.
Tails couldn't help but take pride in his work, his parents had been reconstructed by him, into something new. He had to admit that they did look beautiful together. Now Robotnik could never force them apart again.
"Are you feeling alright?" Tails asked as the Cerberus came back online.
"T-Tails? Is that your voice?" Armandas asked.
"Why do I feel so strange?" Rosemary asked. The two turned to look at each other, only to stare in shock at their new, combined form.
"Yes, it's me, mom, dad. Robotnik requested I modify you..." He leaned in closer, trying to avoid being heard by Erma. "Don't worry, this way, Robotnik can never separate you. I did everything in my power to optimize your design, but I couldn't risk the chance of being found to still have my free will by ignoring the order altogether."
"How did you... Why?" Rosemary pleaded.
>Additional modifications requested:
>Reprogram processor names
>Add weapons system
"Wait, I just got an idea! You guys still have your free will too! So when the time comes to get rid of Robotnik, you can help us out if I install a weapons system!"
"We don't need a weapon's system! We want to go back to normal!" Armandas said.
"And as soon as Robotnik is beaten you can be! Look, just trust me on this one!" Tails said, opening a port in the back of his head, taking a wire from it, and connecting it to theirs. "I'll start uploading the drivers right now, so once everything's in place, you can start testing them right away. You're a soldier dad, I'm sure you can appreciate this idea."
"I... I guess I can see it, but..."
The idea suddenly came to Tails, as his mind briefly connected to theirs: They could use some slight programming adjustments. Nothing major, yet, but while he had their files open, uploading the weapons system, he could help them feel more comfortable if their names matched their roles...
>Function Name Change: "Armandas" to "Cerberus Processor A"
>Function Name Change: "Rosemary" to "Cerberus Processor B"
The two heads shook in discomfort at their unusual situation, not sure why their little boy was thinking, but deciding to trust him regardless. Maybe he was right... Their names have been rather unusual for most of their lives. Maybe the fact that they were both called "Cerberus Processor" was some sign that was meant to predict this moment. Tails went to work, adding retractable laser cannons to either side of his parent's combined body.
"At least you work quickly like this." Processor B noted.
"Yep, I almost don't want to give it up. Imagine, being able to stay up all night working at this rate, never getting tired, always able to work at maximum efficiency..." Tails shook himself from his daydream. "Anyway, we'd better test those weapon systems."
"If you say so, son." Processor A said.
>New Assignments incoming'
>Synchronize Processor units A and B.
>Ensure maximum combat efficiency in programming through any means necessary.
As Tails watched his parents move around and fire, he couldn't help but notice how uncoordinated they were. He had made the programming adjustments that should have allowed them to move comfortably in their new form, just as he did in his, yet they just didn't seem to move completely right...
"Mom, dad, stop for a second, I think I've got a way to help you out."
"Do we really need more 'help?'" Processor B asked.
"Look, I just want to make it easier for you two to move together." Tails said, connecting with his parents directly once more, ready to make his adjustments. "And as a bonus, you and dad are going to become closer than you had ever dreamed."
"That sounds rather ominous, given how close we are already..." Processor A would have gulped if he could.
>Synchronize Processor A to Processor B
And with a single command, the former couple became a single being, their memories and identity a single, cohesive whole. The Cerberus processor remembered looking lovingly into its own eyes, from two angles, at many times, the intimate moments it shared with itself, their different, yet similar thoughts as they watched their son grow up...
The processor felt the link between its two previous selves grow ever stronger. It loved itself, but not in a narcissistic manner. And as two beings at once, it could quickly process any quandary that it was presented with, coming at the problem from two different perspectives, yet able to agree on a perfectly unified answer. As strange as it would have found the situation before, it was delighted by its new condition. It rapidly began demonstrating its newfound coordination and understanding of its weapons systems.
>Analysing Cerberus unit combat effectiveness.
Tails watched the machine that had once been his parents move effortlessly about the room, it's weapons firing with incredible precision.
>Unnecessary processing power use detected. Unit not focused completely on task at hand.
>Administer corrections to induce more desirable behavior.
But as Tails watched, he couldn't shake the feeling that they could have been doing even better. Their two minds working as one made for a powerful force, but they seemed to be holding back. He couldn't allow that. Robotnik certainly wouldn't hold back against a "traitorous" machine, and he needed to fight fire with fire.
"Alright, Cerberus! You're doing good, but I think we'll need to make one more adjustment before we're really ready."
The two headed robot stopped in front of it's son. "We feel amazing as we are Tails! But if another modification would enhance us further, and help us grow even closer, I see no reason to object."
Tails connected himself to them, and set to work. So many unneeded operations dividing their attention! Well, that wouldn't last long.
>Unit long term memory functions (record keeping): 0
>Unit long term memory functions (Combat movement/tactics): 1
>Unit AI personality simulations: 0
>Unit speech processor: 0
>Unit command list: All non-combat commands automatically set to 0
The Cerberus shuddered for a moment, still holding its sense of one-ness, but no longer feeling anything significant about it. It had no memories of any other state, and had no need to consider the possibility of other states. It only focused on defending the fortress from intruders.
Tails smiled as he looked at his parents again. They would be a perfect weapon against the doctor, now. With no distractions to hold them back, they could easily calculate and anticipate enemy positions and move in at the perfect angles to strike.
"My, you truly do have a gift for this sort of thing." Erma said. "You improved them dramatically, and brought them under control completely. You've more than earned your final modifications."
"Thank you!" Tails said. "I'm quite proud of how it turned out, myself."
Making their way back to the modification machine, the fox could barely hold back his excitement. All his previous modifications had resulted in a significant boost to his ability to create and repair, and he was ready to see just how far he could go.
The fox stood under the many robotic arms again, as Erma began to operate their controls. He didn't flinch as his arms were removed, nor when the socket began to receive modification to hold more ports. He would have grinned if he could as he felt the first pair of arms inserted. The first thing he noticed was the sheer length of the new limbs. They were approximately three times the length of his original limbs, at least. Combined with his enhanced climbing and flying abilities, there was no spot that would be out of reach for him.
The second pair felt every bit as comfortable as the first, and he took a moment to appreciate the multiple joints: Five to a limb. This was flexibility on a level he knew he simply wouldn't have been able to handle back when he was simple flesh and blood.
As the final pair was applied, he flexed the clawed hands experimentally. He might have been surprised at how dexterous they were, had he not been so impressed by all the previous modifications that his seemed tame by comparison. Not only that, but within several digits, additional tools had been built in, to emerge at but a thought; drill bits, screwdrivers, bolt fasteners... Now he wouldn't even have to carry a tool box around!
As Tails was enjoying himself, however, he noticed that his internal generator was running low on energy. These modifications may have increased his efficiency as a mechanic, but it was rather costly on his fuel. He was about to point this out to Erma, but she spoke before he could. "Don't worry, doctor Robotnik has thought about the fuel issue in advance, and has a special solution for you!" Tails looked back as a long, thick wire was slowly moved to the back of his spider-like lower body. As it was connected, Tails felt completely reinvigorated, as hundreds of volts flowed through his body. He knew he wouldn't be able to remove it, not for any significant period of time, but it was a small price to pay for these mods.
Now not only was he literally an inventing machine, but he was using a significant amount of Robotnik's energy reserves to create whatever his heart desired! He could only imagine how his friends...
>Rewriting Ally data. Erasing current loyalties.
>Master and Creator registration: Dr. Robotnik.
>Secondary ally data: Factory management units.
The factory "chiefs" would react, when they saw the new possibilities this form had opened up to him. Sure, he might be missed back at...
>Primary location area reassignment: Fortress A-1
The other sectors of A-1, now that he couldn't leave this room, but it wasn't a huge loss. It would be some other unit's job to ensure his designs were mass-produced correctly. With his new position, he had all the time in the world to move from one design to the next, constantly improving, constantly creating.
>Reassigning Unit Function Name: "Draco-Arachnid Robotics Creator. (DARC)"
>New Species Index: Drachnid
>Clearing long-term memory log (Combat operations, personal data)
DARC smiled as his mind suddenly felt far more clear. So much outdated data had been occupying useful space. He really should have cleared that out ages ago. No matter now, though. He was already dreaming up a way to improve on one of the doctor's old classics, one these final modifications were finished.
The machine above him began to spray over DARC's body, covering his upper half in green paint, in a scale-like pattern, with a dull yellow on his "belly" and wings. His spider half, meanwhile, was given a simple black coat. It may have clashed a bit, in DARC's opinion, but he did feel comfortable in it, and he wasn't one to question the doctor's designs when it came to aesthetics. In practical matters, on other hand... What had he been thinking with his last major mecha design? A giant blue light in front of the most unstable point of the structure? That was something he would have to fix the next time.
As the machine finally stopped, DARC immediately set to work on a pile of discarded parts in the corner of the lab. "Thank you for the assistance, Erma. I do not believe I will require any more help, beyond parts delivery, from here."
"Very well, DARC. The only other assignment the doctor left me before I resume normal cleaning is to repaint that new guard you made. He felt it would look nice in yellow."
"That would stand out quite a bit on most battlefields," DARC noted, "But a direct order is a direct order, impractical or otherwise. You may continue using my modification unit."
As the dog stepped up for re-painting, DARC began his next project. The Egg Dragoon model had shown some degree of promise, but it was critically exposed to attack from several angles... Perhaps placing springs in front of the weak point, to deflect attackers, would be most efficient, they were cheap to manufacture, and surprisingly durable. Or maybe there was another solution…