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|Sonic the Hedgehog #217|
"Thicker than Water" Part One: Sonic and Bunnie head out into the Great Desert to aid Freedom Fighters in need, but they get caught up an whirl-wind ruckus! Who is friend and who is foe? Sonic comes face-to-face with enemies of the past while Bunnie is reunited with someone of her mysterious past! Then, in "Welcome Back, Chao!" Amy Rose runs into a few familiar faces - and a few new ones, too!
Thicker Than Water - Part One
At the Oil Ocean Refinery, Sonic the Hedgehog and Bunnie "Rabbot" D'Coolette battle it out; Bunnie dodges Sonic's spindash and deflects a second attack with her robotic arm. Using the rockets built into her feet, she launches towards the hedgehog; he leaps aside and she crashes through pipes and other equipment. As Bunnie charges her arm-cannon, Sonic reflects that this is not how things were supposed to go...
A day earlier, Sonic and Bunnie race through the desert en route to Sand Blast City in response to a call for aid. They banter a bit about who's keeping up with who until Sonic says that they should go easy given that they're about to deal with the Sand Blast Freedom Fighters again. Grimacing a little, Bunnie wonders why they in particular have to be the ones sent out, especially regarding their past encounters with the group; as she points out, the Sand-Blasters didn't ask for them in particular. Shrugging, Sonic figures it's just as well, seeing as they have previous experience in dealing with the difficult group. Bunnie then asks how Tails felt about not being included on the mission, and Sonic replies that while he wasn't thrilled, Tails at least accepted the notion that if something were to happen with them, he'd be needed to help the team back home. Satisfied with this, Bunnie suddenly launches into the air, saying that she'll race Sonic the rest of the way. Flying far above, Bunnie spies Sand Blast City, noting that its force field is repelling some sort of fire. She takes this as confirmation that their call for help was genuine, but suddenly, to her shock, something goes wrong with her robotic limbs. Sonic reacts in horror as he watches Bunnie plummet from the sky over the city. Sonic, infuriated (but not surprised) that they must have been double-crossed, burrows into the side of the canyon next to the city.
Within the city's dome, three of the Sand Blasters are at work; Avery tells Shift and Jolt to help him move equipment. The three are shocked when Sonic suddenly bursts from the ground. Dropping between the three, he demands to know what they did to Bunnie. Avery calls Sonic a traitor and hurls his box of equipment at the hedgehog; Sonic dodges and weaves between the three, saying he was expecting a fight even before they attacked Bunnie. Shift, swinging a clamp on a chain, calls Sonic a fool, saying they haven't had the "displeasure" of Bunnie's company for a long time. Sonic kicks both Shift and Jolt, insisting he saw Bunnie fall. He is suddenly thrown to the ground by Tex, who launched himself at the hedgehog in a scaly, spiny ball; his Spine Dash. Sonic finds himself on the ground before Jack Rabbit, who holds him at gunpoint while thanking Tex for intervening. Jack demands to know what Sonic is doing back in his city. Sonic bluntly replies that he and Bunnie came in response to his distress signal, and that they knocked her out of the air. Jack angrily retorts that while they wanted help, they didn't want them. He also denies having done anything to Bunnie. Jolt begins to speak up, and Jack tells him to be quiet; regardless, Jolt, laughing, suggests that, as Bunnie is half-robot, one of their EMP generators must have affected her and caused her fall. Jack eventually concedes that that's probably the case; he then tells Tex to punch Jolt for disobeying orders, much to the bird's dismay. Gesturing to Avery, Jack explains that the bear built a series of EMP beacons around the city as an extra measure against the local Dark Egg Legion, and adds that that must be why Bunnie crashed. Irritated, Sonic says, "Fine. 'Honest' mistake." He then asks what happened to Bunnie.
Jack says that earlier, they had noticed that something fell from the sky and landed among the Legion, and that they recovered whatever it was and left with it. He figures therefore it's likely she was captured. He then offers to help rescue her... providing Sonic helps him with something. Sonic bluntly asks what it is he wants, and Jack, grinning, puts an arm around his shoulder and tells him they want to take over Eggman's local base. Sonic flatly agrees to help, and Jack smugly tells his team that it seems that Sonic is willing to let bygones be bygones. Jack says that afterwards, they'll help recover Bunnie, but adds that she's probably in "fine company" anyway. Sonic asks what he means by that, and Jack leads him further into the city. He asks Sonic if he remembers how the city used to be under attack from a horde of Robians; Sonic flatly replies that Jack that not only tried to force Sonic to be the city's defense against them, but had later used them to attack Bunnie. Jack waves this off; he continues to explain that the Robians eventually returned to normal (thanks to the Bem) and that Sand Blast City took them in. As he speaks, he approaches a captured Legionnaire bound in chains. He angrily throws off the Legionnaire's hood, revealing a scared rabbit girl with cybernetic eyes and hands. Jack snarls that the former Robians ran back to Eggman in order to willingly be Legionized. Sonic is shocked; as the miserable Legionnaire is led away, he expresses confusion that they could have possibly sided with Eggman willingly. Jack explains that they now run the Oil Ocean Refinery for the Eggman Empire, which is what he wants Sonic to help his team take over tomorrow morning.
Elsewhere, a groggy Bunnie awakens on a cot, her jacket neatly folded and her hat hung on the bedframe. She realizes she's not alone; two Leggionaires are in the room. She leaps from the bed, asking if they really think they can keep her prisoner. One of the Legionnaires, shocked, responds that they rescued her when she fell from the sky; the other runs off, yelling for "the Baron." Bunnie grabs the cringing Legionnaire by the robes and is about to punch him in the face when a voice asks her to calm down, addressing her, to her surprise, as "Buns." A richly-dressed rabbit stands in the doorway; he extends a robotic hand and tells Bunnie she's among friends.
Bunnie throws herself into the man's arms and they embrace tightly. She calls him "Uncle Beauregard" and says she never thought she'd see him again; he says the same, adding that he'd missed her dearly. Bunnie, however, breaks away, admitting her confusion at the situation; she asks her uncle if he's really part of the Dark Egg Legion. He confirms that he's the Grandmaster of this chapter, assuming she's a Legionnaire as well. She gently replies that no, she's a Freedom Fighter. The Baron asks the two confused Legionnaires to leave them alone for a bit. As they exit, he sits down across from Bunnie, saying they need to catch up. Bunnie sits back down on the cot. Beauregard first asks her how, if she's not Legion, she ended up with robotic limbs; she explains that she was thrown into a Roboticizer and was rescued after the process was halfway completed. Beauregard says he's proud that she became a Freedom Fighter after that, and asks if everyone started pronouncing her last name "Rah-BOT" instead of "Rah-BOH," adding that he gets that all the time. Blushing, Bunnie says her last name is D'Coolette now, showing off her wedding ring. The Baron is shocked, saying she's grown up so quickly, and Bunnie says she wishes he could have been there. Beauregard does coldy add, however, that D'Coolette is the family name of "soldiers bent on protectin' the oppressors." Narrowing her eyes, Bunnie pointedly says that her husband is a good man and asks her uncle to not start that again, not after they've finally reunited. The Baron concedes, good-natured, but admits that with her as a Freedom Fighter and him as a Legionnaire, he's not sure they'll be able to remain peaceful. Bunnie asks, regardless of what happened between the Kingdom of Acorn and "the baronies" in the past, how he could possibly side with Eggman. Striking his leg with a clang, the Baron replies that getting Legionized isn't all that bad, adding that it fixed his bum knee. Bunnie insists she's serious; he replies that he knows and asks her to walk with him.
Grabbing her jacket, Bunnie follows her uncle outside the small dwelling. Outside is a rough desert settlement; among the small homes are large cannons. All around, robed Legionnaires are at work moving supplies; to Bunnie's surprise, they seem like friendly, hard-working individuals. While walking, Beauregard explains that they all used to be Robians, slaves to Robotnik. One day, he explains, they all found themselves turned back to normal, though with no idea as to how it happened. They tried to settle a bit in Sand Blast City before trying to return to their individual homes. However, according to the Baron, the Sand Blasters were merciless; they claimed that "once a Robian, always a Robian" and treated them "worse than slaves," eventually forcing them out into the Badlands. Beauregard says that they had no choice but to ask Eggman for an edge and that he tried his best to keep the group organized and safe. A small armadillo girl approaches, carrying a massive crate with ease thanks to her cybernetic arms. She politely asks the Baron where he would like the crate placed, and he directs her with his thanks, addressing her as Matilda. Beauregard turns to Bunnie, saying that they don't want to help Eggman or protect his refinery, but that they have no choice right now. Bunnie hugs her uncle, telling him she understands and that she'll do what she can to help; he thanks her.
The next morning, Sonic and the Sand Blasters are en route to the refinery in a fleet of jeeps; Sonic rides with Jack and Avery. Jack is confident that this time, the battle will go in their favour; Sonic doesn't really care, saying that the sooner they win, the sooner he can find Bunnie. Peering out a pair of binoculars, Jack says it's funny Sonic should say that; Bunnie appears to have turned traitor and is riding in with the Legion. Sonic, looking through another pair of binoculars, is surprised. He announces a change in plans, saying he'll rescue Bunnie first, and bolts from the vehicle, much to Jack's displeasure.
Riding in a saucer piloted by Matilda, Beauregard asks Bunnie if she's sure about facing the Sand Blasters, as they are technically Freedom Fighters. Bunnie eagerly assures her uncle that the Sand Blasters are no friends of hers. Suddenly, Sonic leaps upon the saucer, and strikes Beauregard in the face. He begins to cry that Freedom Fighters stick together, but before he can finish, Bunnie flings him from the saucer, yelling "Don't you touch him!" The stunned hedgehog lands in a puddle of oil within the refinery. As Bunnie flies in after him, Sonic pulls himself from the oil; he muses that either Bunnie is playing double-agent again or really has turned traitor. He decides to play it out to see what's going on. As Bunnie hovers overhead, she apologizes for attacking him, but insists that she won't let the Sand Blasters take over the refinery. Sonic retorts that he can't let Eggman keep it, either.
Welcome Back, Chao!
Cream the Rabbit politely but hurriedly urges a group of Chao to head into the cellar of the manor; all around is a heavy stomping sound. Vanilla the Rabbit approaches her daughter; Cream tells her that she's trying to move the Chao as fast as she can, but they're too scared. She asks if anyone is coming to help them as a towering, three-legged mecha stomps its way towards the manor. Vanilla worriedly hugs her daughter, saying she started calling for help on their old radio but didn't receive an answer. From within the mecha, Snively Robotnik smugly makes an announcement; that after detecting a large source of mystical energy in the area (likely from the Chao Garden on the property), he's come to drill it in the name of the Eggman Empire. He tells them that they have ten seconds to remove themselves and any belongings from the area, mockingly counting "One. Two. TEN!" Cream and Vanilla resume trying to rush the Chao to safety. Suddenly, the mecha teeters as it's struck by a thrown hammer. Amy Rose announces her arrival, standing before a Warp Ring and wielding her Piko Piko Hammer. She berates Snively for not staying in hiding and instead coming out to harass innocent people; while she's ranting, he attempts to have one of the mecha's feet squash her and she angrily retaliates with her hammer. As Snively attempts to recover from the blow, Amy muses that she could do more damage if she could reach the cockpit at the top; Cream timidly offers to fly her up, being able to fly with her large ears. Vanilla protests that it's too dangerous, but Cream tearfully insists that they need to protect the chao. Amy reassures Vanilla that she can protect Cream, and Vanilla eventually gives in.
Cream flies, airlifting Amy, and admits that it's all somewhat exciting; Amy tells her to just wait and she what she does next. Dropping from above the cockpit, Amy rears back and shouts "EAT MALLET, SCUM-BUCKET!" Snively screams as Amy strikes the mecha with her hammer; the entire thing is knocked off-balance and falls... directly onto the manor, destroying it. Amy, holding Cream's hand, stares down at the wreckage and cringes.
Not much later, Amy helps load luggage through the Warp Ring, insisting that, as she destroyed their home, Vanilla and Cream can stay at her house until NICOLE can construct them a new home in New Mobotropolis. Vanilla thanks her for her offer, but says that Cream is being stubborn. Cream sits among the Chao, arms folded, and pouts that it's not fair to leave the Chao without their garden. Amy approaches one of the Chao and says she recognizes several of them; she figures that they are the ones that used to live at the old Lake of Rings and fled during the Destruction of Knothole. She says that NICOLE should be able to make the current Lake of Rings into a new Chao Garden easily, which delights Cream. Happy that they all get to move to the "big city," Cream happily follows after Amy, thinking that she'd made a new friend for life.
As Cream and Cheese celebrate finally being in the comic series, they get a phone call. Cream quickly hangs up, saying the caller had the wrong number. On the other side of the line, Sonic X's co-star Bokkun prepares to tell a dejected Chris Thorndyke and El Gran Gordo (Eggman's wrestling persona) the bad news.
- Beauregard: We tried to make peace with the Sand Blasters. Settle a bit before trying to get back to our homes... They showed us no mercy. "Once a Robian, always a Robian," they said. We were worse than slaves under them.
- Amy: --Would you knock it off?!
- Snively: Aah! You knock it off! No! Wait! Poor choice of words!
- Bunnie and Sonic head to Sand Blast City in response to a call for help.
- Bunnie is knocked out and recovered by the local DEL.
- Sonic ends up agreeing to help the Sand Blasters in order to find Bunnie.
- Bunnie finds the DEL is led by her uncle Beauregard, and agrees to help them against the Sand Blasters.
- Amy Rose meets and defends Cream, Vanilla and the Chao living in their garden from Snively
- Cream, Vanilla and the Chao are relocated to New Mobotropolis after their home is destroyed.
- The first story has exactly the same title in Sonic the Hedgehog #89.
- The title of the second story references to the titles of Issue 173 and Issue 174's second stories, So Long Chao
- This issue features the return of the Sand-Blasters, who haven't been seen since Sonic the Hedgehog #119.
- Despite the group being introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog #62, this is the first time each of the Sand Blasters have been given names.
- This issue has the first 2-page spread since Sonic the Hedgehog #139.
- Sonic plugs the barrel of Jack's gun with his finger; this is another "Sand Blasters" nod to Looney Tunes.
- This marks Cream, Cheese and Vanilla's official debut in the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic series. Before, they were only shown in the Sonic X spin-off comics and in Off-Panels.
- This issue marks the second time Bunnie is mistaken for a Dark Egg Legionnaire.
- Storm the Albatross makes a silhouette cameo in Sand Blast City; according to artist Ben Bates, the cameo was originally of Cream, as he didn't realize she would be introduced in this issue's back up story.
- While he makes his official debut this issue, Beauregard Rabbot was first mentioned by name in StH: #39.
- Avery references the Engineer character from the video game Team Fortress 2.
- The trees in the backstory are actually Chao Nut Trees from Sonic Adventure.
- It is likely that Matilda, introduced in this story, is Mighty's long-lost sister.
- According to the TSS Sonic Colors Adaption interview with editor Paul Kaminski, the backstory was originally scripted to be longer, but SEGA intervened, and the story was shortened to a one-parter.