WHAM! Another robot slammed into the wall, breaking into two, now inanimate, pieces of junk metal. Sonic turned around to see that it was Knuckles who had stopped the robot right before it had reached him. He gave him a quick nod as they both kept fighting and shouted, “Thanks. That was a close one!”
The day began like any other day. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose learned that a small army of Dr. Eggman’s robots had descended on the city and were wreaking havoc everywhere. As usual, the team raced to the scene and leaped into action. Sonic sped up and down buildings, leaping off them, smashing through the outer shells of robot after robot. Tails weaved his plane in and around the cityscape, blasting robots into oblivion. Knuckles and Amy Rose used their strength and fighting skills to dominate several other robots. It almost seemed too easy. And perhaps it was.
Not far from the scene of the battle, Dr. Eggman observed the fight between his creations and Team Sonic from a floating platform. Smiling, he pulled a small remote control from his pocket. He pressed a small button on the side of the remote. Suddenly, from beneath the platform, a swarm of what appeared to be bees formed a cloud around Eggman.
“Finally! My ultimate plan has come to pass! These robot bee stings will inject Sonic with tiny nanobots that will take over his cellular structure and turn him into a robot—a robot that I can control!” Eggman said and laughed. “Fly, my pretties!”
The swarm drifted high into the air and began the flight toward Sonic and his friends in the city.
Unaware of the oncoming cloud of robot bees, Sonic stood with his friends in the middle of the carnage, and smashed and shattered the remains of the evil robots surrounding them.
“Nothing like totally winning another fight with Eggman’s loser ’bots!” Sonic said, his friends laughing.
“Oh, Sonic,” Amy Rose giggled, “you were amazing, as always.”
Tails and Knuckles rolled their eyes at each other.
“You’re right, I was!” Sonic said.
“Whatever,” Knuckles said. “You couldn’t’ve done it without us.”
“Could so!” Sonic replied, pretending to be offended by his friend’s words.
“What I don’t totally understand, is why it was so easy to beat these robots. Something’s up,” Tails said, sounding unusually worried.
“Easy?! There were like a million robots. That wasn’t easy!” Knuckles protested.
“No, he’s right,” Sonic said. “It’s almost like it was supposed to be a distraction. Eggman’s up to some—” Tails raised his hand. “Shhh. What’s that noise?” he asked. The group went silent. In the distance, they heard a humming noise. It grew louder and louder. The sky darkened as the cloud of bees shrouded the sun.
“What . . . what is that?” Amy Rose asked, her voice quivering.
“Eggman’s distraction,” Sonic said.
The cloud of robot bees shrunk and morphed into an almost-solid cube. The cube picked up speed as it hurled toward Sonic. The speedy hedgehog was poised to strike. Just as he was about to run toward the cube, the cube exploded into a spherical swarm. Each of the thousands of robot bees pointed their stingers toward Sonic and were moving down on top of him in sphere formation. Sonic’s eyes grew wide. He’d never seen anything like it before. Paralyzed in wonder, Sonic could only stare as the bees moved faster and closer to him.
“Sonic! Move!” Tails yelled. But it was no use, Sonic was hypnotized by the bees.
Knuckles jumped into action. The red echidna climbed rapidly up the wall of a nearby building and sprang off toward Sonic. The bees were getting close, only inches from Sonic.
Knuckles collided with Sonic, slamming the hedgehog to the ground and out of the bees’ path, snapping him out of his hypnotic trance. Sonic stood just in time to see the sphere of bees cover Knuckles, stinging him all over his body.
Seconds later, the bees regrouped as the cube and flew away, high into the sky. Sonic, Tails, and Amy Rose stood over Knuckles.
“Uggghhhh . . . what . . . happened?” Knuckles managed to say as he moaned. “I . . . I don’t . . . I don’t feel right.”
“We’ve got to get him back to my lab,” Tails said urgently.
Back in Tails’ lab, Knuckles was flat on his back and connected to several different machines. The brilliant fox was examining a strange spot on Knuckles’ arm.
“Guys, come check this out,” Tails said. Sonic and Amy Rose joined him, peering at the weird metallic spot that was slowly growing on Knuckles’ arm.
“I think those bees are turning Knuckles into a robot,” Tails said matter-of-factly.
“How is that possible?” Amy Rose asked.
Sonic turned away, angrily. “Eggman. He has to be behind this. Those robots we beat were
a distraction, like we thought—a distraction so those bees could sting me and turn me into a robot.”
“Exactly,” Tails said. “I think those bees’ stingers injected Knuckles with microscopic robots—nanobots—that are rewriting his body and turning him into a robot.”
Amy Rose teared up. “Is there anything we can do?”
“We have one shot, but it’s a long one,” Tails said. “We have to get inside Knuckles and destroy the nanobots that have started to take over his body.”
“Inside?” Amy Rose asked, confused.
“Yes,” Tails replied, walking across the lab to a large machine topped by a laser. “We can use the Super Shrink Ray and enter his body through that robotic spot on his arm.”
“I’m going in,” Sonic said.
“I thought you might say that,” Tails said. “Here’s what I think: It looks like the nanobots are just like any other beehive. They have a ‘queen’ that’s controlling them. Plus, I think they’re self-replicating or something . . . anyways, they have orders from the queen to complete their task, so they will not stop until they do.”
“Or until I defeat the queen,” Sonic said.
“Exactly,” said Tails.
“Knock out the hive. Got it. Where’s the queen gonna be so I can kick her tail?” Sonic asked.
“I don’t know exactly, but I bet she’s inside Knuckles’ brain,” Tails said.
Sonic nodded. “Let’s do this,” he said.
Copyright © 2018 by Jake Black; Illustrated by Ian McGinty. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.