Light the Match
Well, I had to hand it to the girls. They looked very different for only being at Scarlet's house for four hours. I caught sight of Amy first, in a knee-length pink sparkly dress. It had no sleeves. Her eyes sparkled in the dim lighting of the school.
"Hey, sweetheart," she smiled, taking my hand. And we lost the others in the crowd of dancers.
Miles blushed and stammered out that Nellie looked pretty. She giggled and thanked him—she was just in a yellow polka-dot dress with pleats in the skirt, but she was young, as was Miles. It really was cute, seeing them dance at arm's length.
Scarlet, wearing a slim silk black dress with ruffles at the bottom of the skirt, motioned for John to come with her.
"Come on, honey," she smirked, and he turned red as she pulled him into the gym. Eliza hadn't been so comfortable. She was in a purple dress, almost white, that had a silver sparkling ribbon tied around her waist. She adjusted it constantly, until Jason put a hand on hers.
"It's fine. You're beautiful." And they went in together.
Damon and Elaine did not throw themselves into the crowd, but danced off to the side. Elaine wore a silver dress that shined near white at the top, but darker and duller at the bottom. When Damon twirled her out on a whim, the skirt swirled and shined. It was like a fairy tale couple-and then they shared a kiss, sealing the image of a prince and princess into any bystanders' brains.
Emily immediately started dancing with Sam, moving in ways that drew the eyes of more than one guy. Sam put his arms around her possessively.
"Hi Ethan. I'm Maria," said the blonde, wearing a straight, plain blue dress with a white cardigan and a blue bow in her hair. He lost his smirk for a second and smiled honestly.
"Hey, Maria." He opened the door for her and led her in. She thanked him, and he nearly tripped over his own feet following. It wasn't until he caught Sam's eye that he remembered the plan, and almost ran out right there. You idiot, how could you forget? Keep it together.
I was having the time of my life, being with Amy. It wasn't until we went to get some water in the cafeteria to the side that I realized there was a problem. The teachers were gone. The door to the cafeteria was locked.
"We've got a problem," I muttered to Amy.
"You think it might be-"
"Hello, ladies and gents," said a voice in place of the music. "Here's Anarchist Paradise with Seven Rings in Hand!" And the lights turned on Ethan and his band. I saw Maria there too, with a bass guitar next to Emily. I guessed that Ethan had pulled some strings with Emily and Sam, because they didn't seem too happy about it. As the song progressed, Amy and I looked for the others—we had to have a plan when things went wrong.
Oh, did they go wrong.
Ethan grinned easily at the crowd again and began to sing.
"Make Believes Reborn—Myths in mind, re-thought—Question all that's known—Legends blurred and torn!" Everything he'd ever known as a kid burned in the back of his mind now. His ideas about how the world worked had been shattered so long ago he usually didn't look back on it.
"No such thing as fate for those who speed—A path out of time, instead of just living it—So many things erased before they begin—Hopes un-dream, instead of what could have been…" He knew better now. There were no heroes, no good guys. Either you got what you wanted or you didn't. He had been the normal little kid, playing with his older brother like always. His older brother was his hero.
"Fortune fades, like words in the sand—Just like that, it's nothing, it all just seems—Nothing, it all just seems," Yeah, everything was built on sand. Nothing was permanent. His brother, his hero, taught him that. There had been a big age gap between them—Ethan was six when his brother, Matt, was fifteen. But Matt was cool with hanging out with Ethan, and that's why it was so great to have him.
That's what destroyed Ethan's world, because that's only what it seemed to be.
"Fortune Shines, with seven in hand—Back to fact, make real of all that seems—Make real of all that seems…" So Ethan had to take what wasn't real anymore and do things his own way. After all, Matt had been cool, easygoing, devil-may-care . . . so that's what Ethan was now.
"Seven Rings In Hand—Speed through Nights with feet in sand—Seven Rings In Hand—Wonders all under command—" Now Ethan was the one in charge. He held the fate of every person in the room. The stage was set for it all. He looked over at Maria. Yeah, her life was in his hands too . . . He was in control.
"Seven Rings In Hand—Wild with just one single hand—Seven Rings In Hand—Arrowed Hearts catch fire now!" That burning blaze that had taken his home, his family, set fire to his heart as well. He had been a well-behaved child, but as soon as he stood in the sand-like ashes, letting them fall through his fingers . . . well, he was labelled as a rebel with everyone he met. So now the plan set in. Get the seven emeralds all for himself and get everything and anything he wanted.
"Make Believe's Reborn—Myths, in mind, re-thought—Question all that's known—Legends blurred and torn!" Every bedtime story with Robin Hood or some other self-justifying hero that Matt had read . . . well, none of that was real. But he could twist and make it his own way.
"No such thing as an arrow through who dreams—Hopes may burden, but forever, last to give in—So many things need a push or pull to begin—Un-free to move unless another hand gets in…" It was all set in motion by a little spark. Pain didn't come to a dreamer like Ethan—oh, he just pushed the pain to others. Then he made his dreams—his brothers' stories—real.
"Be it all the same, it's never the same—Just like that, just nothing, it all just means—Nothing, it all just means," What did it mean, a little voice asked in his mind. All this. He was becoming his brother, even though this was nothing like it…
"If all as is, it's never as is—Back to fact, make real of all that seems—Make real of all that seems…" Ethan was taking what he wanted, and pushing others out of the way. This was just a distraction, so Fang's bots could tie up the teachers.
"Seven Rings In Hand—Speed through Nights with feet in sand—Seven Rings in hand—wonders all under command!" He had the power to destroy and recreate everything—his brother couldn't have done that.
"Seven Rings In Hand—wild with just one single hand!—seven Rings In Hand—arrowed Hearts catch fire now!" Fire . . . He had barely escaped the flame. Ethan remembered that heat licking at his heels, hoping he'd be fast enough to get away. Matt had a simple whim, and set Ethan's world on fire. His pain was now the fire that made him who he was.
"Memories that dance! Fairy Tales in Trance! Know What to believe! Nothing's up to chance!" Memories washed before his eyes . . . not old, but new ones . . . dancing with Maria—no, that was just the fairy tale he'd never have. He couldn't make that real, and there was no luck to do that for him.
"Make Believe's Reborn! Myths, in mind, re-thought! Question all that's known! Legends blurred and torn!" Turns out, all he believed as a kid was a lie. Matt got out of the fire, but he never looked Ethan in the eye.
He was no hero. He wasn't kind. He was a monster, because he led Ethan on and then tore up his home and his family. Everything Ethan had known. And then Matt disappeared, just like that.
"Seven Rings In Hand—Speed through Nights with feet in sand—Seven Rings in hand—wonders all under command!" Even though people tried to slow him down, he couldn't be stopped. Not even Sonic could stop him now.
"Seven Rings In Hand—wild with just one single hand!—seven Rings In Hand—arrowed Hearts catch fire now!" One choice was left to him. Attack or move on. This was his chance. People always said he reminded them of Matt when he was that age . . .
"Seven Rings In Hand—Nights with feet in sand—Seven Rings In Hand—Seven Rings In Hand!" So that would be it. The seven emeralds would be his.
"Make Believes Reborn—Myths in mind, re-thought—Question all that's known—Legends blurred and torn!" Sonic, the hero, would be nothing compared to Scourge, the king. His legend would fade away like it never existed, but Scourge would live on.
"Seven Seas in Hand! Speed of Sound through sands! All our hopes and plans! In one Single Hand!" His choice, his chance . . . his match to light . . .
The applause died down, and Ethan took the microphone again, a wicked gleam in his eye.
"Get comfy, my friends. 'Cause if any one of you tries to escape or fight back, not everyone will get out of here alive." And Sam pulled a gun, grabbing Maria roughly by the shoulder. I signaled for the others to join me in the back. There was mass confusion until we heard a gunshot. Everyone froze, and we faced the stage. There stood Sam, Ethan, Emily, and Maria. Sam was holding a gun that had just shot into empty air, but he also had Maria trapped. Ethan had the microphone.
"All of the adults in the building are unconscious in a locked classroom. Right now I am sending a message to all of you and to your parents asking for a certain amount of money each. Once that's done we'll gladly let you go. Of course, to do that we'd need the Chaos Emeralds so we don't get caught. When Sonic comes barging in I'll take care of him. One wrong move, and Sam shoots my date. Got it?"
"Don't be so sure of yourself," I shouted, in human Sonic form to be less noticeable of a change. Ethan sneered and turned into human Scourge.
"Ah, I get ya, Sonic. Come on then. Fight me. Fang?" Sam pressed a button on what appeared to be a remote, simultaneously turning into a human Fang the Sniper (all I managed to register was his hair turning purple and a fang shooting out of his mouth). Robots made of scraps—so they'd raided Eggman's base—started marching in from the gym's supply closets and locker rooms. The other guys handled the robots, but Emily-turned-Fiona (a girl with bright red hair) was proving difficult for just one person to beat. She was fighting dirty, so all the girls started on her. Fang was backing away with Maria, but Shadow got to him first.
"Let her go. Only a coward would hide behind a little girl to get away." Fang dropped Maria, but she had nowhere to go because he was blocking the way to get the gym floor. She huddled against the side wall, trying not to be in the crossfire. I faced Scourge.
"I swear you will regret this," I growled, and we fought.
"You think I want to be the bad guy, Sonic? That I'm just trying to be evil for the sake of evil? Well let me tell you something. If you had one bad day. If you were out of luck. If you lost everything in a moment . . . You'd be just the same as me. And you know it." He punctuated his sentences with punches.
"And if you regretted one bad thing you did, then you'd be like me," I countered with a swift kick.
"I doubt that," he said angrily.
"You know I'm right."
"You know I am too," he said. A punch to the gut.
"What did you lose then, Scourge?" I asked, dodging another blow.
"Like I said. Everything. Now I'm taking anything I can, because I can't take back what's mine," he said fiercely. More fighting ensued.
Silver and Knuckles kept smashing robots, but they just kept coming at them in hordes. That is, until Tails dialed something on his wristband. An electric wave billowed out from him and a huge group of them died. Miles smirked slightly before trying again.
"Dammit!" shouted Fiona before taking another shot at Amy with her ninja-style staff. Amy had gotten a few hits off by them, and Rouge was distracting her.
And then Cream stepped in, healing Amy and Rouge at intervals. That's what gave them the edge that they needed.
Shadow faced Fang with a cold, almost sadistic stare.
"You're only a coward, Fang. You hide behind guns and knives to give yourself the advantage you need, because you know you can't really fight me. Isn't that right?" Fang glared at him.
"You've never fought with a gun, have you Shadow? I'll even the playing field." He tossed Shadow a gun, and picked up another from his other boot. Shadow laughed darkly.
"You shouldn't have given me this . . . You're going to lose."
Finally, I came at Scourge ruthlessly. He wouldn't win. He couldn't. And I had more of an idea.
"I lost something once, you know. I was eight. I watched my brother get kidnapped. Imagine that, and not seeing him for eight years."
"Imagine never wanting to see him again."
"He lit the match when I was six. Now I'm lighting my own and becoming the legend that I thought he was." A wild look came over him. He was fighting furiously now, nonstop.
Silver and Knuckles had smashed the robots to pieces now that Tails had short-circuited them. They began to sneak people out of the gym to the park where they'd be safe—Knuckles had punched a hole in the back door of the gym that was hidden by the bleachers. Fiona had gone ballistic, and the girls were having trouble with her again, constantly focused on just beating her.
Maria looked on as Fang aimed and shot. Shadow dove out of the way just in time, and the bullet hit the wall behind him. Maria squeaked in fear. Still on the move at top speed, Shadow shot Fang's hat off his head. He skidded to a stop, smirking. He hadn't even been looking.
"Let's see if you can beat that, Fang." The Aussie lowered his gun, backing away. Shadow aimed the gun at his chest.
"I ought to shoot you, you know. Keep you from hurting anyone else ever again." And it looked as if he might. But Maria shouted.
"No, please, don't!" Shadow's eyes widened as he realized what he'd almost done. He'd almost become a murderer. He shifted his aim and shot the gun out of Fang's hand, damaging it beyond repair. Fang pulled a knife as Shadow got closer.
Maria dove for the knife, and suddenly Fang was weaponless, backed into a corner. Maria tossed the knife out of the way and tied Fang's wrists behind his back with the microphone cord. She grinned at Shadow.
"You're not the only one who can be a hero."
I was frustrated. We were evenly matched down to the last detail. I had to do something.
"Come on, Scourge. Ethan. Just because your brother lit a match and did something you hated doesn't mean you have to follow in his footsteps."
"I'm not following him," he growled, leaving a particularly nasty punch to my jaw to punctuate the sentence.
"Sure seems like it," I replied, and I got another slam to the stomach for it. A constant barrage of punches kept me busy, to say the least.
"Damn it," he muttered when I'd finally managed to slow him down, damaging the gym floor in the process. Eh, no basketball during class at least! Fiona suddenly tossed a red device at us. He pressed a button and smirked at me.
Suddenly, the Chaos Emeralds were floating around us, and Scourge was glowing red. For some reason, I wasn't going Super from them, too. He blasted me backwards, into the basketball hoops. Before I knew it, he had me pinned at the base of the stage. I was exhausted, sporting bruises everywhere. He had me at his mercy.
That was when Shadow tackled him, and Silver and Knuckles delivered a huge hit to my doppelganger from behind. It had little to no effect, besides getting him off of me. Scourge ripped the gun out of Shadow's hand and aimed it at me.
"No! Sonic!" Maria yelped. She was standing in front of me, arms flung wide to shield me from a bullet.
"Maria, get out of the way!" shouted Shadow desperately.
"No. I won't. Ethan, you don't have to do this anymore. Light a different kind of match—one for a candle, not for a fuse. Come on," she said, somewhere between pleading and demanding. Scourge faltered. I stared, shocked, as he dropped the gun, powered down, and fell to his knees. Maria ran to him and embraced him. Was he crying?
Fiona was livid. She took the staff that she'd been using and plunged it into the floor, splintering wood around her, and was out the door. The teachers had just been freed into the gym.
"Crap! That's a bomb!" said Scourge, suddenly standing.
"How long do we have to get out of range?"
"Not long enough. It's on a timer but the range'll take out the entire building and the property. Fiona may not look it, but she's smart when it comes to destruction," Scourge said, standing. "We can't disable it. We have to Chaos Control everyone here into the park."
"Everyone, grab hands! Now! Don't ask questions!" Maria shouted from her position next to Scourge. Within moments, everyone was in the brilliant flash of light that came from four simultaneous shouts of Chaos Control. The building was a demolished pile of flames and bricks. I looked on, shocked, as police sirens started towards the scene.