Scourge's Anarchist Paradise
I sat down on the park bench and grinned.
"It's a great day isn't it?" I asked Amy, who smiled too.
"Sure is. Nice weather, no Eggman for a while, and Nick and Jenna are on vacation for a week. Hey, did you meet the new kids at Laura's? Elaine's been telling me about them."
"Yeah, she invited them over to the park today with everyone else." Amy shrugged as she said, "I don't know why but she seemed nervous about it." Everyone except the three she'd told us about had come on time—we were wondering if they skipped out on us when two guys and a girl came over.
"Ethan! Emily! Sam! Glad you could make it. This is Miles, Amy, John, Scarlet, Eliza, Damon, Jason, Nellie . . . and Eric." I stood up to say hi, wondering why she'd paused at my name. There was a small collective gasp. The guy standing in the middle was like a mirror image of me, but with different clothes and blue eyes. Both of us blinked and scratched our heads at the same time.
"Well, this is freaky," we both said, and his voice was a copy of mine too!
"Dude, you sure I'm your twin?" joked Jason. Then the guy chuckled.
"I'm Ethan. Ethan McArthur," he said, holding out his hand and smirking.
"And I'm Eric, Eric Sarali." Then the other two introduced themselves as Emily and Sam.
"So, you guys are a band?" started Elaine to strike up conversation. Ethan nodded.
"Yeah. Anarchist Paradise."
"That's cool. Damon's an awesome singer," I said.
"Don't forget yourself, Sarali. I don't come close to what you've got," he nodded.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah… sure, whatever you say. Anyway, what are you guys planning as far as school goes?"
"We're homeschooled by our foster dad," said Emily automatically.
"Ah . . . lucky you. I hear homeschooling is half as long as regular school each day," said John with envy.
"Yeah, it's still a drag, though." Sam looked antsy.
"Hey, hear about those bandits lately?" asked Scarlet, looking up from her phone. Emily tilted her head.
"Bandits?" she asked. Her voice sounded odd, like she was choking. But she looked fine.
"Yeah. Security cameras only catch little silhouettes of them and sometimes a weird blur. But they always grab stuff that teens want, which is what throws most authorities off. What kind of person can get into stores without getting detected and then only goes for things like video games, clothes, and cash?"
"Sonic the Hedgehog and his buds could pull it off, but . . . you don't think Metal Sonic is involved, do you?" asked Jason.
"Nah, Metal was alone. It's more than one bandit, right?" said Miles.
"You guys are regular detectives when it comes to Sonic stuff," said Sam, peering at us like we were in a murder mystery novel and possessed knives.
"Kinda, I guess. I'm a pretty big Sonic fan, so sue me," I shrugged.
"Hey, me too!" said Ethan, "even if Sonic can get a little annoying and cheesy." Questioning his sanity, I stretched and got up.
"Sonic's the fastest thing alive, he saves people, and he doesn't ask for anything in return. What's wrong with that?"
"He'll always do the right thing, so he won't succeed very much. At one point or another he'll have to make a choice and when he chooses what's right he'll lose. He's not willing to risk that, and that's his weakness," Ethan explained. I didn't like his reasoning—the whole point of Sonic was to do the right thing—but I didn't argue.
"Well, we're going to perform at Laura's tomorrow night. Want to come see us?" asked Emily.
"Sure! . . . I don't know if I'll be able to come, though," I said. I then talked with Elaine in private for a minute to set up something pretty cool—if I could pull it off, Ethan and his band would get a surprise tomorrow night. We hung out for a while and even played a little soccer, but eventually we all had to go. That is, until I heard police sirens. I turned into Sonic the Hedgehog and asked the officer where they were headed.
"The mall—those weird bandit robbers are back."
"What store was robbed first?"
"They're apparently on a shopping spree. They started at GameStop and are going through the whole building from what reports say."
"Thanks, I'll be there in a second." I rushed as fast as my legs could carry me and followed the green blur that was terrorizing the stores. Shockingly it was at my speed. My mind searched for options—Jet? Vector on a bad case?—but I was practically sick because I knew the answer. I caught up with the green hedgehog as fast as I could.
"Hey, Scourge!" I shouted. The hedgehog stopped in his tracks and turned. Yep. He looked just like me, but with blue eyes, green spikes, and a different outfit.
"Last time I checked, you didn't work here, so unless you got a new job, stop taking inventory," I said. He laughed—it was so creepy, because it sounded just like my laugh.
"Good one, but you're outmatched. Fang! Fiona!" A red fox in a black jumpsuit and a purple one with guns in holsters leapt in.
"Oh, great. Just when I was worried this would be easy," I said. Odd, I didn't think it would be easy at all, but if it got them even a little nervous, I could handle it. Shoppers and employees alike were running away from us—we'd met at the center of the mall where all the plants and benches were.
"Idiot," spat Fiona. Then they charged me, and I regretted saying what I had. I needed a communicator or something to contact the others . . .
"HANDS OFF MY BOYFRIEND!" shrieked a voice from my right. I sighed in relief as one attacker—Fiona—dealt with the pink demon that was an angry Amy Rose. It was difficult to dodge bullets and still keep track of Scourge though—he was mirroring my every move at every turn.
"Hey, Fang!" shouted another familiar voice that relieved me, "Take this!" and Knuckles was at it with him. Fang couldn't really shoot when his attacker was right in his face. Amy was doing fine with Fiona too—her hammer was helpful against the ninja staff Fiona seemed to be using. As for Scourge and I—now that he didn't have backup and was tiring out, I was winning.
"Damn you," he muttered, punching me in the gut suddenly. But I had been aiming for him there too, so we both got the same impact.
"Hehe, that's all?" I coughed out. He had knocked the wind out of me. He smirked and nodded.
"For today. See you later, Sonic," and was a blur again, picking up Fiona and Fang on the way. That's when the police arrived.
"Sir, I'm telling you, we would have beat him if everyone had been there," I tried to assure the Chief of police as the yellow tape went up.
"Maybe so, but the fact is that everyone wasn't there. And I can't have kids risking their lives to fight other dangerous kids," he said, frowning.
"I'm not just a kid. For all you know, I'm your age." He raised an eyebrow to silently ask, 'Really?'. I shrugged.
"Eh, it was worth a shot. I know I pretty much act my age. I know I'm probably not the best person for the job. But I can't just sit around when I can help. My parents raised me right." He seemed amused by this kind of excuse.
"I suppose so. And the world can be grateful to you and your friends for what they've done. But even heroes need help sometimes. If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to ask." I paused. There was something that had been bugging me besides the communicator thing—Tails could whip it up like nothing if he had a place and the parts to build machines.
"There is something . . . Tails is a genius, don't get me wrong, but he's kind of helpless in a fight. I was wondering if there could be a place where he could work and maybe some scrap metal to start him off on some projects? So far there isn't much for him to help with." The chief smiled.
"I can arrange for that. Any particular location?"
"Preferably near Washington High. Or by Lakewood Street. He kind of lives in that general vicinity, so . . ."
"I see. Stop by my office sometime next week and I'll have something set up."
"Thanks, sir!" I nodded and ran back.
The next day I prepared for the concert. Elaine had told me what song I could come in on—frankly, it was one of my favorites from the Sonic series. I put on a blue t-shirt and some black sweats. Before leaving I checked my hair in the mirror. Still messy and somewhat spiky, but still black, not blue.
Elaine led me to the back of the stage and told me where to stand out of the light.
"You sure you can do this? He might just stop in the middle of the song," she chuckled.
"I'm sure; it'll be cool. Hey, did you hear about the bandits? It's Scourge, Fiona, and Fang," I told her. Her brow furrowed and she looked around the empty restaurant before talking again.
"I was there in one of the stores; I recorded most of the fight. Eric, I think the band you're about to sing with is actually the robbers, too. Ethan looks so much like you it's not funny. I'm pretty sure Sam hides guns in his boots. And Emily . . . well she acts a lot like Fiona, okay?" this sent a chill down my spine.
"Um . . . well, I don't want to confront them about it. They'll just figure out I'm Sonic."
"Not if it's me who does it. I'm not technically—"
"I can't let you do that. Scourge is dangerous. If Ethan is him . . . well, we'll be on guard, but we'll wait for them to slip up. Let the others know about this, okay? Oh, and tell Miles I might have gotten a workshop set up for him. Then he can start making gadgets all he wants." She smiled.
"Okay, sure thing. Have fun." She then went to turn off the lights, then turn on the spotlights that would light up only Ethan's band. After that, she turned on the neons in the restaurant that let people see their food. Some people shuffled in—including Ethan, Emily, and Sam, who were carrying in instruments and amps. Amy led our group in, looking for me and then seeming disappointed. Anarchist Paradise set up without even knowing I was right next to Ethan.
"Hello, ladies and gents!" said Ethan, "and is Eric out there, guys? Could he come?" he asked the table with all of my friends. When they shook their heads honestly (they didn't know I was here. Only Elaine did.), he looked disappointed. I was trying to hide my snicker, as I was standing right next to him in the dark, while the spotlight was only on him and his band. The restaurant was otherwise pitch-black. Elaine was going to turn the light on for me when my line in a certain song came on—not that Ethan knew anything about this.
Emily was going first, with some song that oddly gave me the chills in the bad way. She was good, don't get me wrong, but she . . . well . . . she reminded me of Poison Ivy from Batman and Robin. It made me want to avert my eyes, like I wasn't supposed to be watching this. I don't remember much of it but the chorus:
"Tell me what ya got to break down the walls—you just might need dynamite! Tell me whatcha got to break down the walls—kick senseless my defenses. Tell me whatcha gonna do, I need you to light the fuse, so tell me whatcha got to break down the walls. Ya just might need dynamite!"
I vaguely wondered as I stood there and waited if Emily liked messing with bombs and if I should be worried. Then Ethan grinned and took the main microphone.
"All right then, here's my favorite one. Emily's going to take my guitar, and I'm going to sing. Don't plug your ears, I won't shatter your eardrums . . . maybe . . . and here we go, singing Live and Learn, originally by Crush 40."
The music started, and Elaine timed it just right so that the spotlight on me turned on just when I started singing the first line. The look on his face was priceless, but he quickly got his act together, looking extremely full of himself, and it was like we had rehearsed it for months.
…Can you feel life tangle you up in side?
Yeah! Now you're face-down on the floor! O-o-oo-whoa!
But you can save your sorrow, you paid in trade!
When you can't help but follow! It puts you right back where you came!
We walked up to each other and made gestures like we were explaining two different sides of a story.
Live and Learn! Hanging on the edge of tomorrow!
Live and Learn! From the words of yesterday!
Live and Learn! If you beg or if you borrow!
Live and Learn! You may never find your way!
We pointed up at the ceiling, and at each other, and exchanged fake punches. There was even a small flip involved.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, oh yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!
There's a face searchin' far, so far and wide,
there's a place where you dream, you'll never find.
Hold on to one and—hold on to one and!
We each turned to have our backs to one another and stepped farther and farther away with each line, then, as the chorus started again, we turned to face the audience and addressed them.
Live and Learn! Hanging on the edge of tomorrow!
Live and Learn! From the words of yesterday!
Live and Learn! If you beg or if you borrow!
Live and Learn! You may never find your way!...
With the last note of the guitar, we stood in a pose with his fist an inch from my face and mine pulled back to hit.
The applause was the equivalent of a large robot of Eggman's exploding. And I know what that sounds like.
The entire time, we'd been sort of dancing like we were taking shots at each other, and he'd give me this sort of angry smirk, like we were actually fighting and he was sure I was going down. I don't know what my face was like, but I was thinking along the lines of the lyrics that I sang. I really, really liked this song. But that expression on his face began to seal the fear that he was probably Scourge.
Elaine was grinning from ear to ear when the lights came up.
"You guys were amazing!" she said. A few people came up to me and asked how long I'd rehearsed with him. They didn't seem to believe me when I told them I got on that stage without them knowing.
Elaine went up to the mic and said: "Well, that concludes our performances for the night. Enjoy your meals and don't forget to tip the waitress!" she then turned to Ethan and I.
"I'm going to make a music video of that tonight and use some of the footage of Sonic and Scourge's fight from today in it. Is that okay with you guys?"
"Um . . . why them?" Elaine shrugged at Ethan's question.
"It's a song from a Sonic game, and that's a recent event people can connect it to. Plus I could see Sonic and Scourge singing that the way you two did. Or Sonic and any of his rivals, I guess." Ethan had a weird, twisted expression for a few moments before relaxing into a smile.
"Sure, why not?" I sighed.
"Yeah, it'll be cool. Just make sure there's a disclaimer that you didn't call Sonic up and get him to drag Scourge in to sing this for your own nefarious purposes," I said, chuckling. Elaine rolled her eyes.
"Trust me. No one will think you guys lip synched and that I had managed to tie up the two hedgehogs to sing this," she replied. Ethan laughed.
"Nah, but they might think Eric and I are Sonic and Scourge by how epic we are." I tried not to react too much as I forced up a chuckle. Because that's what I was almost positive of—Sonic and Scourge had just sung a duet together, and if I didn't figure out how to stop Scourge without revealing myself to him or without getting anyone hurt, people wouldn't just think we were Sonic and Scourge. They would know.