He moved quietly, but swiftly, his tails spinning to direct his diminutive body through the air as he sailed towards his target. The fox known as Mile Prower smiled in glee as his thoughts turned to the evening’s activities. Sure he’d catch it from his uncle when he got home, after all he wasn’t supposed to be away at all, but when he’d seen the poster advertising the coming of his favorite rock and roll band, how could he not come to nearby Silk City for the show.
Silk City was the last city in what was formerly known as the Kingdom of Mobius before one found oneself in the deep desert. It was even farther than the tombs of Amon-Rafi, the great hedgehog Pharaoh. As such, it was a city of sand and sandstone, hot during the day and cold at night, with little water to quench its population. Still it survived and thrived, or at least it had until Robotnik had conquered the world. As a city on the fringe of the Empire, though, even the “good” Doctor was somewhat less than interested in torturing the city. Of course there had been citizens rounded up in the beginning for roboticization, and unfairly high taxes were collected almost every month by the tyrant’s toady of a magistrate, but the city was better off than most that had been thrown under Robotnik’s evil yoke.
And still, even here, there were dedicated Freedom Fighters who strove to depose the usurper and place the true rulers back on the throne. Thus had the band Sonic Underground, comprised of the leaders of the Freedom Fighters themselves, the royal triplets of Queen Aleena, been asked to come and perform in the city, a sort of morale raising exercise that would also help to keep the trio in touch with the local resistance movement. And thus had Miles escaped the “safe” confines of his home to view the show in person.
Soon the young fox reached the stadium where the concert was to be held, being very careful to avoid detection by the assembled Mobians, no matter whose side they were on. Though he had a great deal more to fear from Robotnik’s minions, the fact remained that he wasn’t exactly paying for the privilege of seeing the Sonic Underground perform, a fact that would most likely irk the local Freedom Fighters who might think him a spy. Though he was fairly certain he could have gotten in for free, one of the band members was known to have a very soft spot for young children, the fact remained that, with two tails, he was different enough that someone would remember him, and the last thing he needed was for anyone to know he’d been here. Setting himself down in the scaffolding of the stadium where all its lights sat, the young kitsune lay down on his furry belly, lifted his flight goggles back up to his head, and smiled. Though it may not have been the best seat in the house, it did offer an unobstructed view of the stage where the familiar instruments had been set up. Soon three hedgehogs, one each of green, blue, and pink, came out on stage smiling and waving at the assembled crowd, the green hedgehog even going so far as to blow kisses at a group of female fans. Smiling, Miles Prower prepared to watch the show.
Sonic smiled as he looked back at his two siblings taking their familiar positions, Manic on the drums and Sonia on the keyboard. He himself took up the guitar that had been set out for him, his medallion humming a little as he did so. It was almost like the mystical instrument pouted every time he handled a regular guitar, a thought that seemed utterly ridiculous to Sonic the moment he thought of it.
“HELLOOOOO SILK CITY!!!” the blue Prince screamed into his microphone, eliciting a cacophony of cheers from the audience. “Now as you all know, Ro-Butt-Nik and his tin ear has put the kibosh on any music playing, so I guess we’re all gonna have to be good little boys and girls and follow the fat-man’s rules, right?” Boos and yells came to the hedgehog’s gratified ears as he feigned shock at the crowd’s response. “Really? But I’m sure he has a good reason. He’s probably scared we’ll all go deaf and no one will be able to listen to one of his butt-concertos.” As Sonic spoke, the video screen behind him came alive with footage of Robotnik waddling around a corridor, the soundtrack replaced by a rather unflattering farting sound with each step he took, much to the glee of the audience. “Guess no one told him about the ol’ musical fruit, eh?” More laughing came. “Well if no one’s interested in us keeping quiet, I guess we’re just gonna have to go as loud as possible, huh guys?” Sonia and Manic, recognizing their cue, smiled and prepared to start. “1-2-3-4!”
What followed next was a fairly standard Sonic Underground song that had never failed to fill the crowd with energy, particularly with its descriptions of freedom and fun, things that were often missing from the audience’s lives under the rule of Robotnik. Perhaps it wasn’t the most original song in their repertoire, but the Sonic Underground had thought it better to embolden others now than indulge in their own somewhat quirky ideas for songs. These concerts were meant to do more than feed the trio’s collective egos, they were an open act of defiance against their oppressor, an act anyone could join in on without being scared of reprisals. They were a symbol to bolster the resistance’s will to fight and make those weren’t yet Freedom Fighters realize things weren’t as hopeless as Robotnik wanted desperately for them to believe they were.
Still, there was no reason for it to be completely by the book, at least not in Sonic’s mind as the blue hedgehog used his speed and acrobatic skill to put on his own show, bouncing all over the stage as he played, much to the “oohing” and “ahhing” of the spectators. It was while he was flipping around stage that Sonic noticed a figure lying up in the rafters of the stadium, obviously someone who was trying to stay out of sight. A pro at multi-tasking, the blue hedgehog considered the possibility of this being someone who really shouldn’t be at the concert, a spy for Robotnik, possibly even Sleet and Dingo. As quickly as the thought entered his head, Sonic dismissed it. Robotnik’s agents, known for being greedy and short-sighted, would have tried to make a move already, not wanting to risk someone else trying to collect the giant reward Robotnik had promised for the capture of Sonic Underground. That meant it was more than likely just someone who hadn’t exactly had permission to attend to concert and, while the lights weren’t really someplace to play, Sonic saw no reason to rain on someone else’s parade, unless of course they proved themselves a nuisance.
Soon the song ended and the trio took a bow, or at least as much of one as Manic could manage given that he was somewhat trapped behind his instrument. As the crowd cheered and whistled Sonic reached into a nearby box and began throwing shirts and other assorted “gimmes” out into the audience. Nothing got people on your side like giving them free stuff, even if they couldn’t use it in public without getting arrested.
again, Sonic took an offered glass of water from one of the stage hands and
quenched his dry throat before going back to stand closer to Manic. It had been unanimously decided, unanimous
here being a euphemism for “Sonic had been threatened with having his quills shaved
off in his sleep if he didn’t agree,” by the group that each member would get a
chance to lead in at least one song during each concert. Though Sonic was unquestionably the band’s
front-man, Manic and Sonia were not keen to be seen
simply as backup. Thus it was that Manic
began tapping out a quieter rhythm on his drums while Sonic backed up the
sounds of his pink sister’s keyboard synthesizer. The crowd got quieter so they could hear the
beginning of Sonia’s slower song, only to be blown away as the pink hedgehog
upped the volume for her chorus, which her brothers quickly joined in on.
His mind set on autopilot, Sonic once more turned his attention to the little spy up in the rafters, only to notice he had vanished.
Miles had to get closer. Having never been to a live concert in his life, or at least not one by Sonic Underground, the little fox hadn’t realized that there was a possibility of the band handing out freebies. Though returning home with actual evidence that he had left would kill his deniability, he couldn’t pass up this opportunity to get a souvenir of the night directly from his heroes. Standing up and replacing his goggles over his eyes, Miles hopped off the rafters.
“Aeroni Race,” he whispered. Though it may have seemed like gibberish to anyone else, something was listening as the still night air suddenly moved forward, taking the little fox with it. This provided just enough time for Miles to twist his two tails together before spinning them apart and flying on his own, heading closer to the stage and off to the side. Behind the speakers the music was softer, but he felt he stood a better chance of swooping down into the crowd, collecting a shirt, and disappearing before anyone questioned where he’d come from. Soon Sonia’s song ended and Miles’s muscles tensed as he prepared to leap down into the crowd for a shirt. Unfortunately this time the hedgehogs chose to employ the cannons attached to Manic’s drums, using them to fire off balls of cottony fun into the back half of the crowd as the punk hedgehog beat his drums.
Huffing in transitory anger, the fox continued to hang on. More than likely they would send goodies into the front few rows, and he could be patient.
Suddenly the sound of drums came to his ears much louder as Manic began to beat out a fast passed beat causing both of his siblings to walk to different sides of the stage with their more mobile instruments and begin to play. As if on cue, Sonia and Sonic moved towards each other, Sonic hoping on one foot while he strummed his guitar while Sonia held her keyboard to her chest and sort of wiggled towards him. Before they met, Sonic kicked off on his leg and did a flip over his sister, as she fell down into a splits position, pulling herself back up as Sonic landed. Then the duo began moving away from each other, making it to opposite ends of the stage as they continued paying.
As the crowd started clapping at the hedgehogs’ display of acrobatic prowess, Miles did to. Unfortunately, so wrapped up was he in enjoying himself that he forgot he was not in the most stable of positions and as he clapped, he lost his balance and fell.
Sonic laughed as he completed his trek across the stage, though it couldn’t be heard over the sound of the music. Since Manic was stuck behind his drums, he’d been given the right to choreograph for his two siblings during his own songs, so it had been his idea to have Sonic and Sonia cross the stage like that. The blue hedgehog had had his doubts but he had to admit the crowd was getting off on this. Just as Manic had instructed him to do, Sonic stopped playing, raising both his hands in a victory sign just as Sonia did the same, leaving their younger brother to perform his own drum solo.
The solo was interrupted as a furry orange streak suddenly landed directly on top of Sonic, knocking the hedgehog down to his back. The music stopped as the crowd gasped and Sonic attempted to stop his head from swimming.
“Sonic are you all right?” Sonia asked, running up to her blue brother’s prone form.
“I think so,” Sonic said with a touch of dizziness as he stared at the creature that had landed, and was still sitting, on his chest. It turned out to be a mobian fox, which was interesting considering how rare most mammalian mobians were these days. The poor kid looked rather dizzy himself, not surprising considering he’d done a header into Sonic and was still trying to get the world to stop spinning. Carefully Sonic slid out from under the boy and waited for him to come to his senses. Finally the fox’s head stopped bobbing back and forth and his eyes focused once more on his surroundings. “Hey keed, glad you decided to come down here and join us,” Sonic said in his friendliest voice. The kit looked up at the blue hedgehog, his eyes as wide as saucers as he did so. Any moment now Sonic half-expected the poor boy to jump clear out of his fur. “Hey look I’m not mad or anything; no harm no foul.”
“Did anyone lose a kit in the audience?” Sonia asked, well-meaning as always. Suddenly, the fox kit leapt into the air and took off, racing away from the blue and pink hedgehogs. It was then that Sonic noticed the most peculiar thing about the fox; he had not one, but two big fluffy orange tails.
'What was that about?' Sonic wondered. He’d seen stage-fright before, especially in children, but this was somewhat ridiculous. Even if the kid wasn’t supposed to be here, why would he race off so quickly? Quickly the blue hedgehog returned his attention to the performance. He may not have understood why the kit was acting the way he did, but it really wasn’t any of his business.
“Okay dudes, sorry about the interruption,” Manic called out through his own microphone. “Guess some fans just can’t wait until after the concert to be over before they get an autograph, eh?” The crowd giggled along with Manic. “Let’s start this party one more ti…”
“Attention citizens,” called a cold metallic voice from outside the stadium. “You have been found guilty of participating in an unlawful assembly. You will surrender, by order of Robotnik.” Immediately the doors to the stadium blew open as hundreds of SWATbots poured in to make arrests.
its time to punch in,” Sonic said back to his siblings, discarding his normal
guitar as he activated the medallion that hung from his neck. A bolt of blue light shot out as the amulet
transformed into a guitar. Behind him,
both Sonia and Manic copied their brother’s actions, their own medallions
transforming into a keyboard and a drum-kit respectively. “Okay guys, top priority is to get the people
out.” So saying Sonic leapt into the
crowd, dragging his fingers across the strings of his mystic instrument and
firing off a blast of sonic energy that fried a nearby SWATbot.
'At least that fox is already gone, that’s one less potential victim we have to worry about.'
Outside, Sleet and Dingo stood on either side of the Mayor for Silk City, watching as the SWATbots poured invaded the stadium. The duo had tracked the Sonic Underground to the city, and it hadn’t been too hard to figure out what they were there for. Though the Mayor had been somewhat reluctant to help, being far more interested in the pursuit of his own creature comforts than actually enforcing his master’s many, MANY laws, a little bit of strong-arming and a false promise for a cut of the reward had secured Sleet and Dingo the use of his own SWATbot army.
“Sleet, do you really think it was a good idea to tell ‘em we were here before we busted in?” Dingo asked.
“Doing so causes panic, and panic causes chaos. I bet the rebels inside are so frightened they’re stampeding like wild terrataurs.” The wolfish Mobian chuckled as the image came to mind. “No doubt those three meddlers are going out of their minds trying to keep from hurting the people instead of the robots.”
“Hey now, be careful,” the mayor spoke up. “I don’t want a full scale uprising on my hands over some trampled children.”
“You worry too much,” Sleet assured him. “Once the royal triplets are our prisoners, there won’t be any fight left in these pathetic miscreants.” Turning to his partner, Sleet continued, “Dingo; lets go do a perimeter sweep. Maybe we’ll find some ‘lucky’ audience members who managed to escape.”
“Ha, sounds like fun there Sleet,” the large, muscle-bound dingo said, punching the palm of his hand with a fist.
Contrary to what Sleet hoped, pandemonium did not reign amongst the assembled Mobians. Though it was not something they were overly enthusiastic about, the Freedom Fighters were very aware of the fact that their concerts were prime targets for raids by the forces of Robotnik, particularly given who the primary performers for these events were. Thus it was that escape plans were always made and this time was no exception. While many of the older members of the audience did run around in apparent panic, thus keeping the SWATbot’s sufficiently distracted, several began to herd the younger, more vulnerable revelers away to safety. Robotnik was known to reserve his more sadistic punishments not for the Freedom Fighters themselves, but for their children, and that made getting those kids to safety a top priority. In fact, it was such a priority that one shepherd failed to notice he’d picked up an extra head festooned with a pair of flight goggles.
Sonic had been wrong when he’d assumed Miles had left the stadium after being exposed. The little fox had figured that if he kept to the shadows, most people would simply forget he’d been there. Then of course the SWATbots had attacked and he’d found himself wishing he’d actually listened to his uncle instead of disobeying him. If any of those SWATbots recognized him…
'Come on Prower, don’t be such a downer,' the kit chastised himself as he followed the line of children. 'The Freedom Fighters will get us to safety, and then I can just slip away from them and return home.' Soon the troop made it outside.
“Okay kids, we’re going to head down the back alleys. Don’t get lost or…”
“Or you might not be found again,” came a slick voice as a wolf and a dingo suddenly appeared, flanked by three SWATbots. Without warning, the robots shot the adult that had been guarding the children, causing him to crumple to the ground before the frightened youngsters who began to back away in fright. “Now, now,” Sleet said in a pseudo-gentle voice. “There’s no need to fear. We’re not going to shoot you. Dr. Robotnik loves children, especially dipped in motor oil.”
“Fat chance, Big Nose!” Miles yelled before he knew what he was doing. This quickly drew the attention of the wolf.
“Oh really,” he said with a sneer. “And just what will you do about it, pipsqueak?” At this point all Miles wanted to do was get out of there and return to the safety of his home, but deep down he knew he couldn’t simply abandon everyone else here. Sucking up all his courage, the little fox moved away from the crowd, allowing himself to be seen more fully as well as giving himself some room to act.
“If you don’t let us go, I’ll make you very sorry,” Miles said defiantly, an act that immediately caused the wolf and dingo to start laughing.
“Ain’t that cute Sleet, the little nipper thinks he can bluff us,” the dingo said.
“Boy, you are about to learn a hard lesson,” the Mobian referred to as Sleet said, gesturing to his SWATbots. “Rough him up as a lesson to the others.”
“Funny you should mention hard,” Miles said with a smile as he put one foot forward. All around him the air seemed to energize as he balled his fists up, peculiar electricity dancing in the air around him. “Gigani Gran!” The fox punched the air before him as he spoke and, at his cryptic command, three spears of rock suddenly erupted from the ground before the SWATbots, smashing each into circuits before the stunned eyes of Sleet and Dingo.
“That was magic,” Sleet whispered, his eyes widening with a realization before he pointed to Prower. “You’re from Shadakor!”
“Run!” Miles commanded the children as he stood his ground. Thankfully they did not need any more prompting as they took off in all directions, hopefully making for their own homes where they’d be safe. Dingo made a move to try to stop one, only to be stopped himself by Sleet.
“Forget those small fry; Robotnik’s got a billion Robium bounty on any citizen of Shadakor that can be brought in.”
“Kinda hoping you guys didn’t know about that,” Miles sheepishly admitted. Immediately the two adults advanced on him. “Uh-uh, don’t forget what I did to those SWATbots.” At his words both Sleet and Dingo stopped in their tracks, neither willing to run the risk of being impaled on stone spears.
“What are you waiting for, you lout, get him,” Sleet commanded.
“But Sleet…” Before Dingo could finish, his partner delivered a sharp push to his back, sending the bigger Mobian stumbling forward. Quickly Miles shot forward with his other fist.
“Gigani Gran!” This time, however, no spears of rock came forward, much to Dingo’s great relief. “Oh man, what’d I do wrong that time?” Miles asked himself, his subconscious mind replaying all the times his uncle had gone over that spell with him.
“Well, well. It seems our foxy little friend is something of a novice,” Sleet said dangerously, approaching the boy. “Grab him!” Both Sleet and Dingo leaped for their quarry.
“Bye!” Miles said as he jumped into the air himself, his tails allowing him to hover above the tangled heap of the two bodies. Quickly putting on his goggles, the two tailed fox quickly made his escape.
“He flies… of course,” Sleet said in irritation, drumming his fingers on the ground angrily.
“So what do we do now?” Dingo asked, to which Sleet looked at him incredulously.
“What are you; new?” Taking out his remote, he zapped his larger ally before Dingo had time to answer, turning the giant Mobian into a small orange plane.
Meanwhile, back inside the stadium, Manic was having his own brand of fun as he beat out several beats on his drums, sending several shockwaves out to destroy the advancing robots.
“Got another one,” the green hedgehog crowed.
“Do you mind being a bit more careful,” Sonia admonished. “The last thing we need is for you to bring this whole building down on our heads.”
“Well pardon me for having a little fun,” Manic retorted, sending a blast of energy rocketing towards another SWATbot as an act of defiance.
“Hey gang, most of the people have been gotten out, so it’s time for us to do ‘the old fade into the night’ bit,” Sonic said as he raced up to his two siblings.
“Right,” Manic said as he transformed his drum-kit back into its medallion form so he could escape. “I’m packed, so lets go sibs.” The trio quickly made their way through the fighting, Sonia and Sonic pausing only long enough to get off a few shots at the SWATbots, until they came outside.
“Not so fast, hedgehogs,” the “honorable” Mayor of Silk City said. “The Doctor would like a word with the three of you.”
“Can’t be. We just had our last physicals four weeks ago,” Sonic quipped as he fired his guitar at the toady.
“Look out below!!” screamed a voice as a small orange figure slammed into the mayor, knocking him to the ground. This was followed by Sleet riding his orange Dingo-plane right into the ground; decimating the SWATbots that had stood ready to capture the hedgehogs moments ago. As the dust settled, Manic was somewhat startled to see the same little fox kit that had landed on his blue brother now sitting on the unconscious mayor’s big belly.
“Not one of
my better landings,” the fox said in something of a daze.
“Oh I don’t know, any landing you can walk away from,” Sleet said, smiling as he suddenly hefted the boy up by the scruff of his neck.
“Put the kid down Sleet,” Sonic commanded, backed by his two siblings. For the first time the wolf suddenly noticed the presence of the trio.
“Well well, if it isn’t their royal highnesses. Sorry I can’t stick around, but this little brat here’s too valuable to run the risk of you free… OW!!” So caught up had Sleet been in bragging that he hadn’t noticed Miles pull his goggles off, swinging them around to smack the wolf right in the nose. “You little brat.” Sleet prepared to deliver vengeance to the little fox with a fist to the face, only to watch as a blue streak suddenly zipped around him, snatching the kit from the bounty hunter’s hand.
“Dig this Sleet,” Manic said as he struck a rapid fire beat on his once more active drum kit. The effect this had was to create a fairly deep hole right under the three bad guys and causing them to have a rather long fall. His task completed, Manic once more de-powered his instrument. “Hehe, dig this, get it?
“Good job bro,” Sonic said, still holding onto the fox cub he’d rescued from Sleet. The little kit still hadn’t taken his eyes off his hedgehog rescuer.
“I’m glad we all did a good job, but I think it’d be a good idea if we left now,” Sonia said as she turned to leave. “It won’t take Sleet long to realize he can just fly Dingo out of that hole.
“Good idea,” the two male hedgehogs agreed, following after their pink sister. Finally Sonic remembered his impromptu passenger.
“Oops, sorry about that little guy, guess we kinda forgot about you,” Sonic apologized as he put the kid, who still hadn’t lost his wide-eyed expression as he continued to stare at the blue hedgehog, back down on the ground.
“Ah, that’s no biggie Sonic,” the fox finally responded, realizing he was being spoken to. “I’m kinda easy to forget about.”
“Not with two freaky tails I bet,” Manic said, receiving a smack to the head from his two siblings. That was when they realized that their brother’s observation was indeed accurate.
“Oh my stars, you’ve got two tails,” Sonia said, making the young kit suddenly very self conscious about his appearance.
“Uh, it’s nothing really.”
“Is that why Robotnik’s after you?” Sonic asked. “I mean Sleet did seem to think you had pretty good sized bounty on you, ‘specially if he was willing to pass us up in favor of keeping you.”
“No, I don’t think Robotnik even knows I exist,” the kit said truthfully as he began to back away from the trio. “I… I don’t really know what he wants me for.”
“Don’t try to kid a kidder kid,” Manic said, quickly cutting off the fox’s escape route. “I’m bettin’ you know what’s up. Ya know, if you need help the Sonic Underground is all about helpin’ lil’ guys.” Once more the fox seemed hesitant.
“Or,” Sonia pointed out, folding her arms in a triumphant gesture, “we could just take you home and ask your parents. I’m sure they’d know everything. And there can’t be that many foxes around here, especially not foxes with two tails. So they can’t be that hard to find."
“Harder than you might imagine,” replied the boy, smiling sheepishly. “I’m not actually from Silk City.”
“Where’re you from then?” Sonic asked. “Abu Gaara? New Saite? One of the nomad camps?”
“Think less east and more west.” At the fox’s statement, the three hedgehogs looked at each other skeptically.
“Uh kid,” Sonic began, “not sure how much you know about geography, but the only things out west are sand, rocks, and more sand. It’s a desert.”
Perhaps I should give a proper introduction.
Grandpa always said that’s important,” said the fox, gathering himself
up to stand before the royal trio. “My
name is Miles Prower, from the Hidden City of Sand; Shadakor.”