Another CyberSally piece featuring Rosie, another lesser known character in the SatAM and Archie series. This takes place at the same time as my 'Inner Cataclysm' illustration - [link]
- and immediately after.
I know this is a bit of a diversion from what I said I was going to paint next (with Sally's salvage of Bunnie), but it fills a few gaps and opens the way for more of the story.
As always, hope you enjoy.
--------Rosie stopped. Her face grimaced as she felt it.
Something screamed at her mind, shrieking from across the reaches of the Robian networks. A crushing wave of anger, intense compunction, terrible fear. It was the sound of a mind broken. It was the sound of the grief a mother shares at the loss of her child. The sound of the rage she curses the world with.
It was the sound of Sally.
Rosie began to well up as she felt Sally’s emotions overwhelm her; seeing the world through her eyes; at the sight of the life that had ebbed away in her arms.
“Oh, Tails...” Rosie uttered softly.
The young Robian looked up at her, a concerned look on his face.
“What’s the matter, Rosie? He said. Unaware of what had just transpired, his child mind not connected to the Robian networks. His whereabouts masked along with all the other children. Rosie stared down at him, taking his hand.
“Something terrible, my dear.” She said, her eyes now sad.
They continued their walk together, through the Great Forest, Rosie looking upwards towards the dying trees - so little life remained in them now. Everything was so still, no birds, no wind, no rustling of the canopies above. The schism she had felt changed the light of the day, everything seemed less saturated, laced with an almost palpable sense of foreboding.
Rosie came to a halt again, her thoughts now focused on the growing presence emanating from Robotropolis. Her spine shivered at the feeling as she turned towards the direction of the city, peering through the thick atmosphere of the forest. “Sally” She whispered. “What are you doing?”
The ominous wail of sirens filled the air, it’s ghostly sound carrying across the horizon, permeating the distance between them. The young Robian held himself closer to Rosie, now afraid. His head turning into her shawl.
“Rosie. What’s that?”
Rosie waited, listening to the networks which now grew quiet, the magnitude of what was about to happen dawning on her face.
The sirens grew silent...
“Sally! What have you done!” She gasped.
The calm was shattered by the blinding light of the distant explosion, Rosie quickly embraced the young Robian, throwing themselves to the ground as the approaching roar quaked the ground beneath their feet. It was only a moment later that they felt the searing heat as the blast hurtled them backwards. Rosie held on to the young Robian’s hand as best she could, only to be ripped from his grasp by the cataclysmic force that swept through the Great Forest. The trees bending like grass in the wind, many being ripped from the very earth and thrown up into the fiery maelstrom.
The world was bathed in the glow of a thousand suns. Rosie suddenly found herself on fire, being swept away in the swirling chaos of this nuclear storm.
The shock-wave past them by, Rosie found herself dumped at the remains of a once mighty Redwood tree. The forest had taken the brunt of the explosion but was now completely ablaze. Rosie mustered all the power her Robian body would give, frantically rolling and patting out the flames that enveloped her, then bringing herself to her feet; her shawl was torn and burned, her chassis tarnished from the extreme heat. She desperately searched for the young Robian who had been so violently thrown from her.
“Kaylan!!” She cried out, trying to get a fix on his position. “Kaylan, where are you?!” Her body staggered and swayed as she struggled to stay on her feet, her systems confused, the world still spinning around her.
She wandered through the inferno for nearly an hour before she picked up something, barely detectable. It was Kaylin’s homing signal, it must have activated automatically, producing a sound that only other Robians could hear. It led Rosie to a nearby opening in the ground, an old sinkhole, someone had been digging for water here at some point. “Kaylan!” She called again.
“Over here!” a tiny voice cried back. Rosie looked down into the sinkhole, it was around five meters deep, her eyes catching the dim blue glow of Kaylan’s power core. “Hold on my dear. I’m coming!” She made her way down the embankment at the far side of the opening, in to the relative darkness of the sinkhole, always glancing back at Kaylan, making sure he was still there. “Nearly there Kaylan.” Her Robian joints ached, the thermal damage to her systems beginning to set in. As she approached Kaylan she heard him quietly sobbing, terrified to move, curled up in a fetal position. “It’s all right Kaylan, I’m here.. I’m here.” She looked over him, examining him for injury.
His frame had suffered the same thermal tarnishing as her own, she gently pried his left arm away, Kaylan recoiling instinctively. “Let me see, Kaylan. I have to look.” Rosie said, gently pulling away his arm again to expose the large fissure in his right shoulder he had been shielding. The exterior casing had split exposing the inner mechanics. Rosie took a breath at the sight of it, his fragile body had, by some miracle, survived the blast and had also taken the impact of the fall down here. But she also noticed his power core had begun to pulse. It slowly surged, matching his breathing and became most visible at the site of his injuries. Rosie looked more closely and noticed a blue glowing deposit at the edges of his wounds. “What is this?” Rosie thought. She’d never seen anything like it and she didn’t notice it on her own wounds. The glowing deposit seemed to dim and set into new plating, Kaylan’s body seemed to be regenerating itself somehow. But how this was possible she didn’t know, she’d never seen any Robian do this, but realised she’d never seen any Robian child damaged this severely.
She sat with him for a while, Kaylan’s head resting on her lap, her hand gently caressing the side on his face. She started humming to him, an old tune she’d known since she was a child, trying to bring some calm to this nightmare that had been unleashed on them. She found herself beginning to drift off into an exhausted sleep. Invited by the cool darkness, her mind began to shut down as her own systems began to take account of all that had happened. Trying to make sense of it all.
Rosie didn’t know how long they had both slept as she roused herself back into consciousness again, she looked down at Kaylan, who was beginning to stir as well. His injuries were more or less gone, and his core had returned to a normal steady glow. She could barely believe he’d been injured at all, closing her eyes and smiling, giving thanks to whatever had saved him from his wounds.
The two of them emerged from the sinkhole, the flames had died down somewhat, the land covered with a thick layer of ash, the heavy orange glow of surrounding fires still present, making the land resemble some hellish interpretation of winter. The area around them was much more open than before, as most of the trees had been flattened by the blast, allowing them to see the distant horizon of Robotropolis. Or at least where it used to be.
Rosie spotted something in the fog around fifty meters away, or rather someone, at first she wasn’t sure. It was making it’s way slowly towards them.
“What’s that, Rosie? Kaylan said. Rosie didn’t answer, instead waiting for the figure to come into view. It was a Robian, and a badly damaged one at that.
“Stay here Kaylan.” said Rosie as she went off to aid the survivor. As she got nearer she saw the mangled frame of the Robian that stood before her, it’s emaciated shell blackened and charred, it’s innards fused and barely functional. It was a female Robian, she could just make it out as they reached one another. She was carrying someone, the blackened remains of another, it’s arm hanging limply.
“Are you okay?” Rosie asked as she took in the sight of them, the Robian’s back and head had taken most of the heat from the explosion, her brain-casing exposed, it’s shell warped and distorted, her face void, eyes weary. Rosie recognised her, something in the eyes. The eyes of an Acorn.
“Sally!” she said, taken aback.
Sally said nothing, instead continuing to stare vacantly forwards as if unaware of Rosie’s presence. After a pause Sally dumped what she was carrying to the ground, then walked off again, away from them both. Rosie went down to help the burden Sally had left behind. He was Mobian, not Roboticized, she rolled him over onto his back, the charred remains of his longcoat disintegrating with her touch until his face was finally revealed to her.
It was Tails. Rosie threw her self back in disgust at his face, scorched down it’s right side, the left virtually untouched and still clearly recognisable. Rosie shuffled backwards, away from the young fox she knew and cared for so deeply. Her hand covering her mouth and nose from the acrid smell of burnt flesh, catching her cries. She looked back at Sally who was now almost obscured by the ash clouds. Rosie scrambled to her feet, starting to give chase, but coming to halt and at last falling to her knees, not seeing the point in running after her.
“Why do this, Sally?!! Why Tails?!! Why all of this!!! WHY!!?” She screamed, leaving Sally to vanish completely. Rosie collapsed forwards, her grief now released as she sobbed.
Kaylan rushed to her side. “Rosie! What’s happening? Please don’t cry..”
Rosie clambered back to her feet, and took Kaylan in close embrace, his gaze looking back at Tails’ lifeless body. They released from one another, Rosie with a look of deep thought on her face, her mind now dwelling on more important things.
“What are we going to do?” Asked Kaylan. “Rosie?”
Rosie took his hand.
“We find the others.”
“And we find somewhere safe...”