Shortfuse the Cybernik is a fictional character created for Sonic the Comic by Lew Stringer. He is a character who manages to regain his own self-awareness and declares his own personal war on Dr. Robotnik. His armour is made of Megatal, an indestructible material created by Tekno the Canary. Shortfuse has gone on to be one of the comic's most popular characters and has appeared in many stories.
Originally an idealistic, young, short tempered Mobian squirrel, Shorty's life was changed when his friends and neighbours were captured to be turned into Badniks. Shorty attempted to rescue them single-handedly, damaging some equipment in the process, but was captured by Dr. Robotnik. Robotnik decided to use Shorty as the organic battery for his prototype new Super-Badnik - the Cybernik, a process that meant Shorty would never be freed from the armour.
However, a combination of the damaged equipment and Shorty's stubborn personality allowed him to resist his Badnik programming. Renaming himself Shortfuse, he decided to use his powers to fight against Robotnik in revenge for trapping him in the suit. From this point on Shortfuse decided to battle alone, declining Sonic's offer to join the Freedom Fighters. After one solo endeavor, Shortfuse manages to free Tekno the Canary, a former weapons designer for Robotnik (and the creator of Megatal), who redesigns his armour and helped him blow up one of Robotnik's factories.
Shortfuse worked solo but was repeatedly drawn into battles alongside Sonic and the gang, assisting against the giant Mekanik and Commander Brutus, and once battling with Knuckles the Echidna over a misunderstanding and was temporarily brainwashed by Robotnik into fighting Sonic. During the time Sonic spent trapped in the Special Zone, Shortfuse joined the Freedom Fighters to provide the muscle and psychological boost that the group needed. However, his short temper affected the team and occasionally put them in danger; after a mission in which Shorty left Johnny Lightfoot in danger in order to battle rival Vermin the Cybernik, Amy Rose booted him from the Freedom Fighters (he later reconciled with them).
After Robotnik was deposed, Shortfuse was left without a purpose and he had trouble adjusting to civilian life, his Cybernik state getting him fired from job after job. When the alien Insectra Empire contacted Mobius looking for a champion to help them against their evil enemies, he leapt at the chance; unfortunately, the alien war turned out to be a pointless, brutal waste of time and Shortfuse was brainwashed into continuing to help them. Amy & Tekno rescued him, and in the process he gained a program from a friendly alien race that allowed him to exit his suit for the first time. In the same story arc, Vermin broke free from his maximum security jail cell; in order to finally defeat him, Shortfuse was forced to sacrifice his freedom by giving the program to Vermin and then destroying the empty Cybernik armour from the inside.
After a few sporadic battles (such as against Agent X and Colonel Granite), Shortfuse went into his final battle against Robotnik & his attempt to drain Mobius' life energy until the planet suffered environmental collapse. Shortfuse commandeered the alien machine Robotnik was using, stopping him from using Mobius' life energy to give himself powers, and used it to reverse all the damage the villain had done. However, the feedback proved to be too much and destroyed his suit, finally freeing him and giving him his chance to be plain old Shorty the Squirrel.
Solstice, Slaves and Set
A short time after Robotnik's committal to the asylum, Tekno designed a new Cybernik suit for Shorty, one that could be activated and deactivated with the push of a button. The armour's first test battle against the mysterious Slave One didn't work out so well, however, with Shorty being thrown through a window with ease, where Slave's One waiting master tampered with the suit, Slave One teleporting away shortly afterwards. Not long after, Shortfuse, under outside influence, began kidnapping people and hooking them up to a biological computer, which in turn fed power to the Ring of Eternity. It didn't help that an imposter was dressing as the Cybernik, robbing the bank and committing petty heists all over Metropolis Zone. Tekno was forced to lock her lab down with Shorty inside for his own protection while she investigated. The enraged Shorty, having seen a news report on the bank robbery, broke out and tracked Tekno down at the scene of the faux-Cybernik's apprehension. Even more annoyed, Shorty returned to his biological computer, ignoring Tekno's frantic attempts at communication. After tracking his signal and rescuing the hostages, Tekno located the Eternity Ring, locked on to an unknown dimension, but was quickly attacked by the brainwashed Shorty. Tekno was able to deactivate his armour, but without warning, the pair were sucked into the Eternity Ring.
Six months on, Shorty had made a new life for himself in the frontier town of Solstice, selling jewellery and carvings made from gold and platinum from Tekno's earrings. He had grown to like his new home and life in a world without technology, despite the pair almost starving to death when they first arrived. A meeting was arranged between Shorty and the town's greedy Regent to discuss use of his resources in finding more gold. The Regent however forced Shorty into fighting Slave One at high noon in order to save Tekno, who his men had captured beforehand. Without his armour, and with the immense heat taken into account, Shorty was defeated easily, and he and Tekno were taken to the Pyramid of Atum and Slave One's waiting master: the false Egyptian God, Set. Shorty's headache wasn't helped by Tekno's attempt at escape causing them both to be shocked into unconsciousness, the squirrel remaining out cold during the slaves' rebellion and Tekno's apparent murder of Set.
Two weeks later, the Eternity Ring had been tracked down, and Tekno and Shorty departed the Pyramid. During the journey, Shorty pressed Tekno for answers as to what had happened between her and Set, but she remained blunt and tight lipped. They erupted into a huge argument before continuing their journey to the Ring, only to find that Set was still alive and had got to the ring first, wearing Shorty's armour, which had since assumed a spherical form when not being used. While Tekno tried to get the Ring working, Shorty tried fighting Set, but to no avail until Tekno decided there was no other option. She flung the armour sphere at Shorty, turning him back into the Cybernik. Back to full strength, Shortfuse fought bravely against the false God, but Tekno dealt the finishing blow, seemingly killing Set for good, to Shortfuse's horror. When the time for them to return to Mobius, Shorty refused, but Tekno took control of his armour, holding him in place long enough to drag the resisting squirrel through the ring back to Mobius, where a war had since erupted between the Mobians and the New Robotnik Empire.
It is unclear when Shorty will return or what will happen when he does, but it is clear that his relationship with Tekno is broken beyond repair.
- In an interview, Lew Stringer was asked why he felt Shortfuse was popular: "Well, Shorty had a short temper, and readers of the STC age group could perhaps relate to that, encountering the frustrations of growing up and the impatience of youth. Or perhaps they just liked to see him zap stuff?"
- Lew Stringer has confirmed that Shortfuse and Tekno had a "soft spot" for each other, but he never made it explicit in case it turned off the younger readers .
- In order to catch new readers up, Shortfuse gave a summary of his origin in most of his stories. This has become an in-joke with older Sonic fans.
- Shortfuse made a brief cameo in Archie Comics' issue #134 in a group of Robians as Sonic explains about the mass-deroboticization by the Bem.
For a full list, see List of appearances by Shortfuse the Cybernik.
Shortfuse began his first adventure as Shorty in the 3-part Sonic's World story Enter the Cybernik. From then on, Shorty's main appearances would be under the Sonic's World banner, becoming regular when he became a Freedom Fighter. He also sporadically appeared in Sonic adventures, but was never handed his own series (save, perhaps, for the Knuckles story Knuckles Versus the Cybernik). In Sonic the Comic Online, Shortfuse returned in a new suit of armour and would eventually take part in the Tekno & Shorty series.
- Shortfuse the Cybernik at Sonic News Network, the Sonic Wiki
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