"We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature."- Henry David Thoreau
Mystic Ruins, mid morning
The five friends hopped into a mine cart and rode off into the tunnel leading to the forest, and Big's home. A short but bumpy ride later they arrived, up on a high cliff overlooking the endless dark green trees with a temple a good distance away. Everyone gasped at the breath taking view.
"It is beautiful Mr. Big," Cream managed to say.
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Big grinned, "Tank you, I like it two."
"And you lived here all your life?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, but da view always makes me happy inside, right here."The large cat pointed to the middle of his chest.
"I feel that way too Mr. Big," Cream excitedly joined in, "Seeing pretty things always makes my heart happy too."
"And me," Flower chimed in.
Sam and Amy nodded in agreement. The group remained silent for a moment until Sam cleared her throat."Maybe we should get going guys." she said.
Big sparked to life, "Oh yeah! I got lot to show you."
Big, apparently too excited to use the ladder, jumped off the edge. The girls gasped as they heard the ground rumble. Immediate action was taken; Sam shape-shifted into a vulture, carried Flower and Amy in her talons and floated gently to the ground. Cream and Cheese followed shortly afterward.
When the girls landed on the ground, they found that Big was completely unaffected by the impact of his fall. He was even smiling as though jumping off the edge of cliffs was a hobby he enjoyed doing every day. Regardless Amy ran over to him.
"Oh my God Big! Are you alright?" The hedgehog exclaimed as she examined Big as quickly as she could. To her surprise there were no signs of injury anywhere. Amy took a couple steps back and sizing Big up.
Big kept smiling, "It okay Amy. I'm fine."
"But you jumped off the edge of the cliff!" Amy exclaimed, "Seriously Big you could've hurt yourself."
Big's ears drooped, "Uhh… I'm sorry, I got so excited and I-"
Sam walked over to the large cat."Cheer up Big, ya didn't do anything wrong," she comforted, "But what you did was very dangerous. Just try not to do it that often okay?"
Big's smile reappeared, "Okey dokey!"
Amy shot a glare at Sam, but Sam ignored her as she said "Okay everyone let's go and explore!"
"Yeah!" Everyone but Amy cheered in agreement.
Everyone walked side by side with one another; Flower and Big, then Cream and Cheese and finally Amy and Sam. Amy was still glaring at Sam. The purple hedgehog gave Amy a sideways glance. "Something the matter?" She asked.
"Yes," Amy whispers hostilely. "Did you hear yourself talk? 'What you did was very dangerous'…"Amy gave Sam a higher pitch than usual, "'Just don't do it very often okay?' I mean what kind of person says that?"
"So?" Sam shrugged, not understanding why Amy would be upset, "Big is the only one who can make his own decisions. If he wants to jump off the edge of a cliff, it's dangerous sure, but-"
She silenced Amy with a motion of her finger, "That is something Big wants to do, so why stop him?"
"Why?" Amy's statement was for a moment above a whisper.
The four friends gave her a funny look then shrugged and kept walking. Amy went on."Big is like a big brother to me." The pink hedgehog explained, "I watch over him and make sure he doesn't do anything dangerous, and you're not a good influence."
Amy sighed in frustration. "First you go and steal my Sonic and now you're telling my big brother it's okay to jump off cliffs. I've got my eye on you Samantha the Hedgehog, now more than ever."
Amy huffed in anger and stormed away from Sam's side. Sam stopped walking for a moment, clenching her fists; just what is that girl's problem? Sam wasn't trying to do anything wrong; she just wants people to do what they want to do. And she just wanted to talk to her old friend, not steal anyone's Sonic.
That girl. Sam feels like Amy deserves a good kick in the pants sometimes. Just when Sam was just about ready to catch up with her friends, Cream the Rabbit and Cheese the Chao run up to her.
"Are you coming Miss Sam?" She asked, and then she noticed Sam's fists, "Are you okay?"
Sam forced herself to uncurl her fists, take a deep breath and smile, "Yeah, I'm fine."
She motioned for Cream to take her hand which the good rabbit did and the hedgehog said, almost reluctantly "Let's go."
For nearly an hour and a half the group travelled in the forest, following Big around and observing the various plants and trees to be seen. Big even led them to his own hut for a quick lunch break after a while. Cream, Cheese, and Flower seem to be happy with their adventure. Amy and Sam were still pretty mad at each other over their argument earlier, and they've been shooting glares to one another, giving each other their angriest faces; but overall pretending they were having a good time with the tour.
Throughout the tour Big pointed out the flowers that are safe to pick and berries that are good to eat and the girls picked them gingerly. Cream had picked so many flowers that Big had to help her carry most of them. Flower picked two or three flowers but didn't go overboard like Cream did. The group was wondered the forest again after their break, once again admiring the scenery.
Cream marvelled at the beauty of the flowers, Big got tired of walking relaxed by the river, Amy and Sam sat as far from each other as possible, and Flower sat with Big.
Suddenly the fox sat upright, "Hey guys! There is a guy over there!"
Everyone was shaken from their thoughts looked over to where she pointed and saw it was only an explorer. He heard Flower yelling and went over to the group.
"Hello there," he greeted, "Are you folks lost?"
Everyone shook their heads.
"Not at all, sir but thanks," Amy spoke in what seemed like forever, "Big was just giving us a tour of the forest."
The explorer smiled, "Good, how's the forest?"
"Great, Mr. Explorer!" Cream beamed, "Everything in the forest is just so pretty, I even got a lot of flowers for Mama!"
"I can see that," The man noted from the tiny bits of flowers caught in Cream's hand, "And you don't have to call me 'Mr. Explorer', my name's Adam Duarte. I regularly come to this forest to report any how the plants are doing under the weather."
"So you work with the weather man?" Flower asks innocently.
Duarte chuckles a bit then says, "No not very often, but in this case I may have to."
Sam raised an eyebrow, "Why?"
Adam turned his back to them, "Come with me and I'll show you."
Off the man went with the group following him. It was not a very far walk as they reached their destination in no time at all. Adam led them to a weak, water-depraved bush, with weak drooping peonies decorating the bush.
Cream gasped, "What happened to them?"
Duarte stared at the bush, "It hasn't been raining in the forest lately, so the flowers are dying slowly."
"That's horrible!" Big bellowed.
"But we've been picking flowers and they looked perfectly fine," Sam pointed out, "So how come they're looking-"
One glance at the flowers showed weakness and water-deprivation. The flowers looked worse than the peonies, "Oh..."
Cream looked she was about to cry, "Oh Mr. Duarte, will it rain soon?"
Adam ruffled her ears as an attempt to comfort her."To be perfectly honest I don't know." He said, "But I sure do hope so. The one thing we can do Miss is to hope for the best because flowers need rain as much as we need water."
Cream nodded at him in agreement. Adam stood to his feet having crouched to talk with Cream.
"I love nature," Adam sighed, "I always have. That is why it always pains me to see any sign of apathy toward the flowers. I've no water can so I cannot water the poor flowers myself."
The sadness was thick in his voice, like he actually is pained to learn the flower's misfortune. Flower went over to Adam and tugged at his sleeve. When the young man looked down to her, Flower asks "Is there anything we can do?"
Duarte sizes her up then turns to Sam and Amy before speaking, "The rain isn't the only issue."
"What?" Flower heard what he said; she just didn't understand the meaning of the phrase.
"Until other issues are solved," Duarte went on, "The rain cannot come."
"What the heck do you mean?" Sam grunted, tired of the riddles.
Before Adam could answer, his radio sparked to life. Adam reached for his radio, spoke softly for a moment then sighed. He pressed a button and turned to the friends.
"I have matters to attend to." He finished, "Enjoy the view of the forest."Adam's hardy boots sounded for barely a few seconds and then the forest remained silent. No one knew what Adam meant.
No one spoke; everyone deep in thought on the current situation; the flowers are dying and all seems due to the lack of rain. The friends thought of solutions but none seemed quite right.
Flower broke the heavy silence, "Hey guys…"
All heads turned to her, eager on what she has to say, "What if we watered all the plants ourselves?"
"With what?" Amy questioned.
Flower pointed her two tails toward the river. Everyone nodded. How come no one thought of this before?
"That's a great idea Flower," Cream jumped at the idea, "But... what would we use to collect the water with?"
"Ooh ooh! I know! I know! I know!" Big jumped up and down.
"Yes Big?" Amy encouraged.
"I has a watering can at home," Big announced, "But it's only a little can an' not a big one."Big stretched out his arms to demonstrate the size of his imaginary watering can.
Sam shrugged, "Something's better than nothing."
"But," Amy began, "The forest is huge. It'll take you guys forever to water all the flowers."
"Not if we use teamwork," Cream chimed in, "I'll go call Mama and she can call as many people to help as she can."
Everyone nodded in approval.
"Yeah, that can work," Flower acknowledged.
Amy seemed eager to get the plan moving, "Yes yes so let's go back home and get everything ready."
"I can go and get watering can," Big announced again as he raised his hand trotting out of the forest.
"And I'll go and get Mama," Cream declared.
"Chao chao," Cheese agreed.
"And I'll go with you." Flower said.
"Me too," An eager Amy replied, "Just so that someone responsible can-"Amy was turning her head to specify to Sam that she was mentioning her but found no purple hedgehog.
Amy was surprised, "Sam? Sam where are you?"
No answer. Cream, Cheese and Flower too looked worried, "Miss Amy, where did Miss Sam go?"
"I...I don't know," The pink hedgehog replied.
Amy fought her conflicting thoughts; a part of her was glad that Sam left. But the other part of her is worried for her, she did slip away without a word after all. Amy wanted to tell Cream that Sam didn't matter; all the hedgehog did was annoy Amy. Yet Sam was nice to everyone and was quite likeable. Amy cleared her throat.
"Cream do you know how to get home from here?"
"Yes m'am," Cream responded politely.
"Okay, I want you, Cheese and Flower to go to your Mama's house and ask her to get help with the water and making a search party to find Sam."
"What about you?"
"I'm going to look for Sam."
"On your own?"
Amy leaned down to Cream, "Don't worry about the issue Cream, I'm sure Sam hasn't gone far at all. And who knows…"Geez Amy sure was good at faking her preppy attitude, "Maybe I'll find Sam before you know it."
That was good enough for Cream. She nodded and said, "Be careful Miss Amy."
"I will." The words barely slipped from her mouth as the three younger friends flew away. Amy sighed then examined the ground in search of footprints. There were none. Any sign of Sam was erased. The sun shone bright in the sky as Amy began her search.
Sam walked through the jungle, her thoughts swirling in her head over and over again. She was mad. Actually, she is pretty steamed; Amy was starting to drive her off the deep end… so she did the only thing she could do- walk away. Or at least stay away from everyone until she felt like her normal self again.
Sam heard much of the conversation as she snuck out of the hearing range of everyone; they are going to try and water all the plants in the forest then everyone is going to go and look for her just because she "disappeared". Sam didn't 'disappear'; she just walked away so she could clear her head. Besides there was a certain pink hedgehog that refused to cooperate with her desire to clear things up. So Sam decided that running away for a while was the best move.
The only problem was that Sam was wondering around for so long that she forgot where she was. Oh darn… she was lost. The purple hedgehog shrugged. No worries; Sam would just shape-shift into a bird and see where she was and find her way back from here. So that was exactly what she did.
She transformed into a bird only to find herself in an unfamiliar territory, with large beat-up trees blocking her view. Sam frowned; she certainly does not remember this part of the forest. How long was she walking for anyways?
Sam knitted her eyebrows in worry; where was she anyway? Certainly no closer than the entrance to the jungle but nowhere near as close as she is to home. Looks like Sam has to retrace her steps a little bit. Before Sam could make any move of any sort, a light blue bird hit her side, making Sam tumble midair. What was that?!
Sam tried to strain her eyes to the flash of-whatever that was when it hit her again, this time with more force. And talons. Wincing, Sam fell out of the sky and right onto a tree branch.
The branch whined under her weight and threatened to break. Sam acted quickly and hopped to the ground, shaping her arms into wings to slowly lower herself to her feet. She barely had time to let out a sigh of relief when the bird thing came right up to her face.
He scowled at her with the most unpleasant look; his beak half scrunched half pointed straight at her bosom, eyebrows crunched up in anger, like a mother who found out one of her children was lying, and glares sharp as knives that could cut into her skin.
"Finally!" His screechy voice screeched, "It is about time I found you! Where have you been? Not crawling around in those...worms I hope!"He wrinkled his beak at the thought of worms.
As Sam uncupped her ears, which was not easy to do, her eyes widened. She remembered him now; Predator Hawk! The persnickety, stingy and most unbelievably precise bird Sam had ever come across.
Hawk saw Sam's recognizing him and continued, "It's about time you recognized me, and to think we've known each other for quite a bit."The blue bird stopped and stroked his chin, perhaps wondering if that last statement was true.
"What're you doing here?" Sam demanded once she calmed down, "Why are you here? Someone needs to tell me what's going on 'cause I'm confused."
The hawk casually flicked an invisible piece of lint from his shoulder, "I was sent here to pick you up, that's what. And what a day he picked!"His dark blue eyes narrowed down to his red jumpsuit, which looked completely clean, "Look at the mess this jungle has made to my beautiful suit! I am going to make you pay for my dry cleaning young lady!"
"Who sent you to pick me up?" Sam asked as she tried to steer the conversation back on course.Knowing Predator Hawk, it was quite easy to get off track of any serious conversation.
The blue bird halted his assaults on the muck and averted his eyes to her, "Who sent who to pick up what?"
Sam face-palmed her forehead and let out an aggravated sigh,"Look I don't have time for whatever game it is Sc-"
"This forest is driving me bananas!"The hawk refused to let the hedgehog talk.
Sam let out an exasperated sigh before turning to walk away. She got barely a few steps away when her ankle was snatched upward a thick rope hugging her ankle tightly. Sam let out a scream as she went soaring through the air upside down. Predator Hawk glanced over to the direction of Sam's scream, his eyes widened in relief.
"Oooohhh," He said thoughtfully. "That's where I left my trap. And to think it could've caught perfectly good healthy REAL prey."
Sam muttered something under her breath.
Predator Hawk got right in her face, "What was that my dear?"
"I said you better have a very good reason to be doing this to me."
A scream rang behind Sam, making her jump a little, or what looked like a jump. Amy hung suspended in the air, her right foot caught in a small loop of rope. Her dress dropped in her face, revealing her underpants. Amy groaned in embarrassment.
The blue hawk shielded his eyes, pulling a long black bar with a long white word censored on it from his pocket and covering Amy's waist. He admired the work of the bar.
"Much better." He remarked.
"Get me down from here!" Amy wailed, "I need to find Sam!"
"And some dignity." Sam snickered.
"Oh shut- Sam?!" Amy noticed Sam for the first time and grew surprised, "Where were you? I've been looking for you everywhere!"
"Funny, I've been avoiding you everywhere," The hedgehog joked, "I'd like to talk but this is not the time to do that."
Before Amy could respond, four screams followed the talking with Big, Flower, and Cream suspended by a foot in the air. The trio looked dizzy already.
"And here are traps two…" Hawk nodded toward Amy's, "Three…" To Flower's, "Four…" Cream's, "And five." to Big's.
He marveled at the sight of the captured friends, "I caught five people and I didn't even have to get down and dirty. This is SO easy."
"Predator Hawk?" Sam said, "You forgot something?"
"Me? Forget? Impossible!" The hawk bellowed and stomped on the ground, "Whatever that may be?"
"I can…" Sam suddenly shape-shifted into a puddle of water, sliding out the rope and splattering in a pile of water before reshaping into a smirking purple hedgehog, "…shape shift."
The blue hawk growled as he cut through the air, his razor sharp beak aimed right at her when Cheese the Heroic Chao smacked him square in the face, forcing the hawk to miss Sam by a few inches. The hawk muttered under his breath before realizing something very important: He was hung in the air.
By his ankle. In trap number four. Then he realized important thing number two; Sam conveniently helped the others, with the help of Cream, Cheese and Flower (curse their little ankles the embarrassed hawk thought)- offscreen and placed the long black bar with the word censored right on his face.
The group took turns explaining their sides of the story, and watering the flowers did not slide. Then everyone asked the exact same question at the exact same time, "Are you alright?"
Sam examined herself for a moment, and then nodded, "I'm walking aren't I?"
Everyone laughed, and then got wet. Startled everyone looked up at the sky to find it was raining! Smiles stretched on every face; never have they ever been so glad to see dark clouds and feel the ice cold raindrops on their noses.
Flower opened her mouth wide, tasting the water fresh from the sky. Cream Cheese and Big cheered and jumped together. Sam and Amy had to admit but it was quite cute how everyone was celebrating the long awaited arrival of the rain.
Amy glanced over at Sam."Sam?" She whispered.
Sam looked over at Amy. She knew what Amy as going to say but she waited.
"I guess I was a bit of a..."
"Jerk?" Sam guessed.
"Yeah," Amy replied, "I didn't mean to be like one to you. I'm sorry."
Sam playfully punched her in the arm and the pink hedgehog jumped back a bit, not used to the gesture, "What was that for?"
"Being a jerk of course," Sam laughed.
Amy, seeing she was forgiven, playfully punched back. The girls laughed for a longer than a few minutes. Sam gasped as she came to a realization.
"What's wrong?" Amy questioned.
"We forgot all about Adam Duarte and Vector!"
Amy was about to speak and reassure Sam that they are in fact fine when a clumsy crocodile and a skinny explorer stumbled into the clearing.
Duarte beamed, "The rain is back! It is back! I knew it would return I just knew it!"
"Yeah yeah the rain is back now please get off my tail!" The crocodile demanded.The explorer mumbles an apology then stood to his feet."All is forgiven?" He asked mysteriously.
The hedgehogs gave him an odd look but nodded nonetheless. Adam Duarte smiled then walked away with his arms outstretched. Vector stared after that guy, "You guys friends with him or something?"