A blue tornado, he tore through GUN HQ, up and up by any means he could. Aware that his old injuries were beginning to make themselves known through all the physical exertion, the lacerations to his legs and his damaged shoulder the main proprietors, he turned to his favoured side of his flight or fight instincts.

He wanted out of the building. He wanted open space where he could run faster than Nyx could fly. This city was lost, Nyx was never going to allow him time to figure out a way to stop the incoming frigate.

Scaffolding clung to the west side of the building, and had been protected from the two MagnoThermal explosions thus far by the sheer mass of GUN HQ. Needing a quick route to the ground, Sonic spindashed through yet another window and landed neatly on the crimson, metal scaffold.

As he did, another ship, this one with two masts but just one row of MagnoThermals, nose-dived directly in-front of him, only barely missing the scaffolding on which he stood. As it passed it completely obscured his view.

The scaffolding was secured to the building like a baby to a mother. It clung some seventeen stories high, encompassed about three and straddled the entire side of GUN HQ.

But it left Sonic stranded. Even if he hopped aboard the falling ship, that left nowhere to run until it hit the ground and possibly combusted.

The wind this high was buffeting and loud.

On the topmost layer of the scaffolding was what must have been a kind of office. Sonic found a radio station and blueprints upon vaulting inside. The walls would only come up to a human's chest, and there was no ceiling. He ducked into a corner, thankful for a break from the heavy gusts, and prayed that Nyx had lost him.

He heard nothing, and inside the half-box could see nothing. He forced his panting breaths into silence, his ears straining for the sound of anything but the wind. But there was nothing. Not game enough to peek over the side, Sonic remained still, frozen in the corner.

Then, a sense he could not explain. A tickle on his brain. He shook his head, confused.

'He's here.'

"Maia," Sonic whispered, mouth dry. She was here, and her senses could go where Nyx's could not. He felt a visual description of his hiding place sent from his mind elsewhere. Back through the bond, before it was cut, Sonic felt a bloodlust he was sure did not belong to Maia.

He broke from the radio station. Maia was nowhere in sight. He vaulted out, and with innate balance sprinted across the scaffold. He would have to get back inside the building, and go from –

His thoughts were cut off as something green and long shot from inside the glass he was running towards, aiming for his neck. Sonic threw himself sideways and put a hand in front of his face, and it was that the snake's fangs instead clamped on.

Sonic yelled as fire tore across his hand. His balance disrupted, they fell.

The snake unwrapped from his hand during the fall. Sonic plummeted three stories before slamming quills-first into a grill-floor, a walkway of the scaffold. He had just missed its high, metal hand-rails. It was not meant to support such a crash, however, and one side of it came loose with a jarring fall from stability.

He yelled again as gravity claimed the walkway. Falling straight down, Sonic had less than a second to snatch at the last rung of railing before being flung into empty air, legs dangling. His other hand bleeding and swelling, he had only his injured arm to use. The pressure it put on his weak shoulder was beyond uncomfortable, forcing him to use as much upper body strength he could. The walkway now hung straight down, supported only by whatever attached its remaining end to the rest of the scaffold.

The Black Fleet ship that had narrowly missed the scaffolding finally smashed into the bitumen below.

The ensuing eruption of the exploding MagnoThermals was the greatest yet.

It roared like a wildfire. Searing heat rode vicious blue and white light, biting at Sonic's legs as the hanging walkway swung wildly in the tempest. Below, numerous cars were obliterated. Not a large square like the front of the building, only four thin traffic lanes existed to contain the blast, which of course they did not. Parts of the ship not blown apart crushed surrounding buildings, some chunks as large as buses. Debris from the ship and other things no longer recognizable – the melted or shredded remnants of glass windows and lampposts, tyres, bitumen itself – was blown high into the air, high enough even for Sonic to reach out and touch. Miraculously, he was spared any shrapnel, but below was a pit of volatile blue fire.

The walkway jolted, and Sonic's head snapped up.

Nyx perched a few metres above him. The sharp light of continued explosions made his face look twisted. Nyx stood, wings ensuring his balance on the damaged and unpredictable walkway.

With one sharp movement Nyx flew to the top of the walkway, where it somehow still hung.

Sonic looked around desperately. Nothing to hold on to. Nothing to jump to. His hand throbbed painfully, his eyes were squinted not from the wind but from the intense pain plunging through it like barb wire. He could not use it to pull himself up.

And below the fire and explosions raged on.

With a jolt, Nyx lifted one end of the walkway and let it go. It hung now just from one corner.

Still Sonic thought rapidly. Not giving up. Always a way out.

He had to jump to spindash.

He had to jump.

Nyx lifted the last end. Sonic pulled up his body weight with one hand, planting both feet on the grate.

'Just a really massive air-board.'

It was hardly that easy. He needed a surface to run on, and when the walkway fell it fell straight down. Heart frozen and reflexes primed higher than they had ever been, Sonic waited out each crucial second out as blackness, the window-panes blurred into a single dark background, behind him screamed past, and the inferno below reached up, waiting, hoping, for a miracle.

The walkway fell, and rotated. Senses primed, reflexes wound like a coiled spring, Sonic saw the end of the walkway swing to meet the horizon.

He immediately spindashed forwards – it required less strength to fight gravity than running.

He reached the end, and just a few storeys before the walkway itself would be consumed, Sonic leapt.

His powerful jump did not shed all the velocity surging him downwards.

A blue comet skimming, arcing, back towards the urban destruction below, he suddenly realised that was it. The walkway slammed and shattered against something burning itself, and in seconds he would too.

He revved his spindash midair. His jump spent, the flames now licked at his quills. They did not protect from heat. He had tried, but he was going in.

'Then come on', he thought furiously, 'take me spinning and screaming.'