Chapter One - A Peaceful Day
Sonic and the Mystery of Chaos
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A Peaceful Day
It had been a weary few hours inside the humid cavern, and Tails felt nothing but relief as the thick vault slammed shut with a metallic clang, the glow of the seven emeralds inside vanishing from view. The gears clanked and groaned wearily as they slid the numerous locks into position.
Miles ‘Tails’ Prower was deep underground, wearing a hard hat and a pleased smile as he double and triple checked the various pieces of equipment on his safe. It had taken him a long time to design, and even longer to set in place when the earth beneath his workshop turned out to be surprisingly difficult, riddled with tough rocks that often took days to drill through. Getting his best friend to cooperate through this stage had been nigh impossible; for a burrowing species he was particularly averse to enclosed spaces. Eventually Tails had simply built himself his own machine to save time and patience. The tunnel he had dug was crumbly, damp, and, where Tails was, small and dark. The safe was not even at the end of the tunnel – in fact you could walk straight past it if one assumed that the tunnel’s end would hold the treasure – and that was the mildest of tricks this safe operated.
When he was sure no radar would locate it, no thief could break in, that all defences were impenetrable should a thief manage to anyway, and that the Chaos emeralds were indefinably safe, he turned, gave the spherical safe one more glance over his shoulder, and began to rotate his twin tails for which he had been nick-named.
Tails had been born with his twin tails, and as far as he knew he was the only fox ever to have such an anomaly occur. He rotated them faster so that they whirled like helicopter blades, making rhythmic swishing noises, and then began to rise.
If not for the light on his hard hat, Tails would have suffered many a crash on the winding trek back to the surface. He used his white-gloved hands as much as his tails to scramble up the rocky and foul smelling passage. Sometimes the already thin passageway tightened so much his tails no longer had room to spin.
Tails felt he had grown up a lot in the past few years, becoming more independent and developing more self-initiative. He felt he was no longer afraid of such foolish things as the dark. But, the light-void and damp tunnel made his skin crawl, the claustrophobia a constant threat.
Sweating in the old and musky air, Tails remembered the downwards trip being a great deal easier than this one, and was relieved to see the last bend in sight, unfortunately he also remembered it as a rather ugly one. This particular bend Tails had somehow managed to drill so that from the surface it ran vertical, then on a steep downward slant, before becoming a sheer drop and curving back on itself near enough horizontally, leaving a void of nothingness for at least thirty feet. But, putting on a burst of energy fuelled by the knowledge that he was nearing the surface, Tails made it up and around; forcing his tails to whirl no matter how weary. He could fly, but not forever – his tails were not that efficient.
No matter – there was the surface dead ahead! The bright light streaming into the shaft from his workshop was blinding. Taking off the sweaty hard hat as there was no longer need for it; Tails figured that by just rising he could make it blind.
The exterior of the shaft had a metal support around the circumference that would eventually help in the final stages of sealing – with which Tails’ newly exposed head had just connected.
Tails groaned as his skull quaked, ears rung and eyesight flickered. Numbness flooded his body, and his tails ceased rotating.
His yellow and white fur dragged against his skin as he obeyed gravity and began to descend headfirst back into the cavern, stunned, struggling to hold on to consciousness, and unable to stop.
But just before he collided with the crumbly but solid ground that would eventually send him, conveyer belt like, nearly one hundred metres underground, strong gloved hands caught him.
Sonic the Hedgehog locked his jaw in concentration as he struggled to keep his balance and not lose hold of his friend. He dug his red and white sneakers into the loose rock and forced his weight into the ground.
It did not work.
He and Tails tumbled backwards, inertia dragging them along with the plunging rocks. Desperate, he held onto Tails with only one hand, freeing the other. He plunged it into the loose rocks above his head and hastily attempted to find a handhold.
Silence... they had stopped, with less than a foot of crumbly earth to spare. Sonic groaned heavily and leant back, sighing with relief.
Scrambling to his feet before the stones below could loosen once more, Sonic quipped, “Hard hat on, buddy!” and, jammed the hard hat onto his own head. Still holding the semi-conscious Tails, he promptly crouched and leapt upwards, finding a wall and kicking off it onto the opposite. Speed allowing him to laugh in the cheated face of gravity, in this fashion he exited the shaft.
Squinting in the sun, Tails woke up to find he was lying comfortably on cool green grass in a sweet smelling pasture. Scattered trees and rolling hills filled the landscape under the perfectly clear blue sky. It was a fine, sunny morning.
Tails recognised it as Green Hill Zone, north west of Empire City – his home. He sat up, massaging his throbbing head and bright blue eyes blinking rapidly. He looked up and realised he was under a tall and leafy tree, its leaves blowing lazily in the idle breeze. That reaction reflected almost all aspects of Green Hill Zone.
“Sonic,” he murmured; a faint smile appearing on his muzzle as he realised what must have occurred.
“Over here, buddy.”
Walking languidly towards him was a lean, cobalt-blue teenage hedgehog with quills that sat firmly horizontal on his head and shoulder blades. His red and white sneakers were bright enough to be seen even if the grass was just tall enough to swallow them, the square, golden buckles shining and untarnished.
One remarkable thing about Sonic was his colour and spines, and another was why he was like that. Sonic was, as he proudly boasted at every opportunity, the fastest thing alive. The results of running at such insane speeds were evidently a sleek blue hide and a spiky haircut. Tails himself had clocked Sonic doing just over the speed of sound; it wasn’t a sight he thought he could ever forget. Sonic was normally sticking his nose in one kind of trouble or another, so it was not all too surprising or all too out of the ordinary for him to jump into a one-hundred metre deep shaft, leaving controls that should not be left lest they shut the three-foot iron alloy seal while someone is inside, to save a friend. Of course if the seal had shut, Tails had no doubt that Sonic would find away to get them out; they had been in far stickier situations.
“Nothing but a little fresh air to clear your head.” grinned Sonic.
Tails weakly smiled back, feeling slightly sheepish to have made such a mistake, “Thanks for the catch, Sonic; that was a kinda silly mistake”
“No worries,” he chuckled. “Not like I’m a stranger to saving your tails, hey Tails?”
Tails grinned in spite of himself, and took the hand Sonic reached to help him to his feet.
“Anyway, how’s the safe going?” Sonic asked.
“Erm... just gotta calibrate the locks from above, run a few tests on the program and ensure all firewalls” –
“Forget I asked, how long’s it gonna take?”
“Um, another day.”
Sonic sighed exasperatedly, then his eyes glanced to Tails to see if he had gotten the message. When Tails kept his face blank, Sonic sagged melodramatically and sighed even more emphatically.
Tails could not keep his face straight at that, “Alright, don’t worry, I can finish up here myself, anyway.”
“Fantastic! I wanted to take a run to Grass Mountain, a little bee told me there’s a United Federation laboratory there that isn’t owned by the United Federation anymore...”
“Really?” asked Tails, one eyebrow cocked, “Well, at Sonic Speed that’s only an hour away...”
“Of course,” Sonic cut in quickly, “I think there’s also some... kitten... catcher, about a day’s run north of here, between that and the hijacked base that’s gonna take me at least 24hrs to” –
“Alright, alright,” said Tails, shaking his head, “I should be able to finish up on my own, you’ve got your wrist-comm so I’ll be able to keep in touch. To be honest though I thought you’d be heading to Hill Top Zone… the electrical pulse anomaly?”
It had been all over the news since the morning.
“Ah, just a bunch of sci-fi fruitcakes. If it’s real GUN will already have smothered the area, anyway.”
“Well maybe I’ll check in with Knuckles to make sure it’s nothing… Chaosey.”
The impatience in his eyes was evident, but Sonic beamed, saying: “Knew I could count on you, Tails! See you in a day!”
And he was off, the pasture was a blue and green blur on either side as he accelerated to an eye-watering speed in one stride; he threw his blue arms out behind him, and rejoiced with the feeling of being faster than the wind.
Tails watched in delight as the streak of blue that was his best friend traversed over the pastures as fast as a plane could fly.
Then he jumped lightly into the air, his tails rotating superbly, and headed off in the opposite direction.