As Myra got out of the car, Skye was able to get a look at the building from the phone’s camera.
“Wait, I…. The GPS co-ordinates were altered, but I’ve been here before….” He murmured quietly.
A group of young children were playing in the park, a rather exuberant game of tag, involving not just running but clambering all over the various rides.
“It’s not fair you need to go home tomorrow,” said one of the kids to a little lynx girl in a blue dress.
“Maybe I can talk to Mommy and Daddy and ask them to stay longer,” replied the lynx. “I like it here! It’s fun!” Before the other child could respond there was a cry of ‘TAG’ as the third kid barrelled into the two of them. The lynx lost her balance and fell from the climbing frame, catching her arm of the side of the metal slide as she landed.
Silence descended for a moment, then there was a rush as the children gathered round the lynx, babbles of ‘Sorry, sorry’ and ‘It wasn’t MY fault’ could be heard. But as the lynx sat up the silence returned. Her injured arm was visible, but there was no blood. Instead, where the fur had been torn away, was gleaming metal. The lynx looked to the other kids smiling.
“I’m okay. I can fix this easy,” she said. Her smiled faded as the other kids didn’t smile back, but instead looked a mixture of angry and scared.
“She’s a robot!”
“Robots are mean!”
“Daddy said we can’t let stinking robots take over again!”
“Grandma told me of a nasty robot that pretended to be Mobian! She said there could be more.”
“But… but… I’m not a bad robot…” the lynx pleaded, tears in her eyes. Her pleas were in vain as more insults, then some stones, were hurled her way. The lynx turned and ran.
“Skye? Are you in here?” Miles Prower’s voice echoed around the interior of the abandoned building. His ears twitched as there was a sound of movement from upstairs. Following the sound, it didn’t take him long to find the little lynx girl, hiding under an old bed, still crying a little. “There you are. C’mon out. Daddy’s here,” said Miles gently. Slowly, the lynx crawled out from under the bed, then hugged Miles tightly. Miles hugged back, gently petting his daughter’s head. His eyes fell upon torn arm. “Did… the children find out again?” he asked softly. The lynx nodded in reply.
Miles sighed. It was an all too common occurrence for his child. When other children found out about his or her’s true nature, they would either bully, or run in fright. It was one of the reasons the Prower’s had taken their holiday here. Somewhere out of the way where Skye’s nature would be unknown. Miles looked around, trying to think of some way to distract his child from what happened.
“You know, I almost ended up living here when this place was an orphanage,” he said at last.
“You did? How come?” asked Skye.
“Sally was pretty close to one of the founders,” Miles replied. “A really nice lady called Rosie. She offered me a place with kids my age, but I was just starting to come into my own as a Freedom Fighter, and I didn’t want to give that up.”
“But why is it all run down now? If Rosie knew Sally, couldn’t she have helped fix this place up?” Skye continued questioning.
“That’s… a bit of a sad story. I’m not sure you want to hear it,” said Miles.
“I do!” Skye replied. Miles looked down at his child, studying her. He suspected she was also looking for a distraction, and even a sad story would be preferable to thinking about what those children had done.
“Alright, though I don’t know all the details,” Miles replied after a moment, trying to gather his thoughts. “Rosie founded the Orphanage with the help of one of her friends, called Violet. Together they ran the place, and very successfully from what I heard. But then one day Violet went missing, I guess she got caught in the cross-fire of the war. Soon after, that…. That happened to Rosie. Eggman attacked the village, several times in quick succession. Likely there was something in that village he wanted. And during one of those attacks, Rosie died, but managed to get the children to safety. Amy Rose was actually there, investigating after the first attack, but she didn’t arrive in time to save Rosie.”
Miles went quiet for a moment as his mind drifted back to those day, while Skye waited patiently, used to her father’s more introspective moments about the past. “Things went from bad to worse after that,” Miles eventually continued. “Violet’s son…. For the life of me I can’t remember his name… anyway, her son and some volunteers tried to keep the place running, but it wasn’t enough. And in the end, Violet’s son was accused of murdering his best friend.”
Skye gasped. “Why would he do that?”
“He didn’t,” Miles replied. “From what I heard, the two of them tried to break into one of Eggman’s bases, and it went badly. But the villagers didn’t care, they’d come to see the young man as something of a ill omen given all the bad events around him, so they had him arrested and thrown in jail.”
“But why, if he was innocent?” asked Skye, confused and upset at the idea.
“Sometimes people can’t see past their fear. They see only what’s on the surface. You know what that’s like,” said Miles.
“But I look Mobian on the surface!” Skye protested.
“But when they know you’re a robot, they can’t see past that,” pointed out Miles. Skye looked down, and Miles mentally kicked himself for bringing up the one thing he was trying to distract Skye from. “Come on, we better get back to your mother. She’s worried sick about you…”
“Myra…. Amy…. I….. I need help…” said Skye, sounding very distressed. “If there….. there is something you are told never to do, no matter what… because doing might lead to a lot of people getting hurt, maybe even dying in the future, yet…. Doing it… would save lives, right now…. What should I do?”