Beginning Flames

The New Recruit

The next morning when I woke up, Charmy was flying right above me and I let out a little yelp of fright.

"Good morning!" he happily exclaimed. "Are you excited for today?!"

"A-about what?" I quietly asked.

"Glad you asked, Kid," Vector responded, sitting at his desk. "I was mulling over yesterday's 'conversation' last night, and I had an epiphany."

"What's that?" Charmy asked. "Did it hurt?"

"Charmy, an epiphany is the realization of truth," Espio explained.

"Exactly," Vector agreed. "And I realized to make you, Kid, a part of the Chaotix team. Congrats."

"You mean... I'll be working here?" I wondered.

"I'm not sure if she would be up to the task," Espio said calmly. "She just met us yesterday. It might make her nervous."

"And this is the perfect place to toughen up her nerves," Vector countered. "Besides, we can't have her lazing around all day."

Why are they talking like I'm not here? "If I may say something..." I started.

Espio looked over at me.

"Yeah, what?" Vector asked.

"Well, I was just thinking..." I said. "If I'm gonna be working with you guys, then I can't wear my pajamas all the time." I pointed to my clothes. I wore a white spaghetti strap top, which was worn out from me wearing it all the time, and fleece camouflage pajama bottoms - good for comfort and warmth, but not for working in a detective agency.

Vector groaned. "Girls and clothes. I'll see what I have upstairs." He headed up the steps, mumbling, and grumbling as he climbed.

Well, he certainly didn't plan for this. This may end up biting him in the ass one of these days.

"Don't mind Vector," Espio said. "He tends to be irrational sometimes, but you'll get used to it." He paused. "Or not."

Charmy sat on my head and looked down at Espio. "Hey, Espio! I'm taller than you!" he said with a laugh.

"Sitting on someone's head doesn't make you taller, Charmy."

"In this case, it does!" the little bee sang.

At that note, Vector came back down, clothes in hand. "This is gonna have to do until you can get your own clothes," he said. The clothes he had was a plain white short-sleeved T-shirt, a pair of brown denim jeans that appeared to be a size too big, white socks, and a pair of sports shoes, which were good for running.

"Thanks," I quietly said, politely taking the clothes. "Where can I-"


And as such, I headed up the stairs. When I reached the top, I saw three beds, two on the right side, one on the left sitting right beneath the window, and a wardrobe that stood across from where I was.

These guys don't have much, do they? That's actually kind of sad.

I shrugged off my thoughts and started to change. The T-shirt was kinda loose, but it fit well. The jeans were, in fact, two sizes too big - good thing I found a belt just lying around coincidentally; don't know how that was possible since my glasses were no longer with me, therefore making me blind as a bat, but I won't go into detail. At least the shoes were a perfect fit, though. Pretty comfortable. I was going to ask for a hairbrush, but then I remembered that the Mobians that I was staying with didn't have any hair whatsoever, so I didn't bother. So much for brushing out the hamster nests.

Returning to the main work floor dressed and ready to go, I looked at the crocodile. "So, what are we suppose to do?" I asked.

"Well, usually, nothing happens," he explained. "We all just sit around bored out of our wits until someone comes by or calls us."

"Oh, I see..." Too lazy to put an advertisement in the paper or on a billboard? Then again... I looked around the room for a brief minute. They don't have many possessions, so that would mean they have even less money - or maybe none at all.

"Do you wanna play a game with me?" Charmy asked, shaking me out of my thoughts.

"Huh? Oh, uh, sure," I replied. "What game do you have in mind?"

"How 'bout Jenga?" He pulled out a Jenga box.

I felt myself show a small smile. "Okay, Jenga it is."

We set the game up on the coffee table, Charmy and I taking turns. It was quite a long time since I last played the little game with rectangular blocks. But I was pretty careful until one section only had one middle block holding the upper half up. That made it kind of nerve-wracking. Block in my hand, I had to carefully put it on the top.

"Careful, don't knock it over," Charmy warned.

Espio shushed him. "You're breaking her concentration," he said.

"Carefully..." I quietly uttered, gently placing the block down, carefully moving my hand back from the less than secure structure. A moment passed, and it didn't fall over. I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Awesome!" Charmy cheered. "That's gotta be our tallest tower yet!"

I chuckled a little. He's a funny little guy. But I wonder why a kid is working in a detective agency. It seems kind of unusual.

There was a knock on the door, causing the Jenga tower to collapse and blocks falling everywhere. Charmy sadly sighed 'Aw...', and we started picking up the pieces while Espio went to answer the door. Not looking at who was there, I could tell by the sound of the person's voice that it was a woman. After putting the Jenga pieces back in the box, I put the game back where Charmy found it. Next thing I knew, Vector nearly ran me over as I started turning to the door. The one who was there was a large orange female rabbit. She wore the most beautiful purple dress, her eyes a perfect shade of mid amber. She appeared to be the same height as Vector, as she stood over Espio. She carried a basket on her arm.

"Why, Ms. Vanilla!" Vector said to her. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

The rabbit, Ms. Vanilla, smiled and replied, "Good day, Detective. I thought today I would..." She trailed off as she looked over Vector's shoulder at me. I immediately started getting embarrassed, and looked at the ground, shuffling my feet a bit. "Detective, who is that girl over there?"

"Huh?" Vector distractedly asked.

"She's a new member of the team," Espio explained for his boss. "We found her a couple of nights ago. She was unconscious."

"Oh dear," Ms. Vanilla said, obviously concerned. She walked past Vector, stopping in front of me. "You poor thing. You must have been frightened to death."

"You might say that," I quietly replied, not meeting her gaze. Just then, my stomach decided to growl, making me more embarrassed. I know I haven't eaten in a couple of days, and what's worse, I'm hypoglycemic. I'm surprised I'm still standing.

"Dear, have you eaten anything at all?" Ms. Vanilla asked.

"Our food supply is... currently low at the moment," Espio responded.

"Yeah, Vector lost the rest of our meal tickets," Charmy spoke.

"Quiet, Charmy...!" Vector said, covering the little bee's mouth with his hand.

Ms. Vanilla smiled. "Good thing I decided to come by today," she said. "I would like to invite you all to lunch at my house today. I know how much you all like my cooking."

"Ms. Vanilla, you really are an angel," Vector said, his face showing a slight shade of pink, though Ms. Vanilla didn't seem to notice.

"Oh, Detective, you're too kind." She looked back at me. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

"Cheyenne," I quietly spoke. "My name is Cheyenne."

"Cheyenne. Such a pretty name. Well then, I shall see you all later." She left, closing the door behind her.

Ms. Vanilla was really polite and kind. And by the way that Vector was blushing at the sight of her, I'd say he has a little crush on her. Turns out the croc has a bit of a soft spot and isn't all mean and green.

"Now, see here, Kid," Vector said to me. "That was a nice lady you met, and I don't want you to make her feel bad, or else you'll be answerin' to me. Understand?"

"I know she's nice," I said. "And, I couldn't help but notice... I saw you blushing a little while you were talking to her. Do you have a crush on Ms. Vanilla?"

The crocodile's face turned red as Charmy started laughing at his embarrassment. "N-NO! I do not!" he stuttered. "She's just a really awesome lady who listens to techno music while baking cookies! If that's not awesome, I don't know what is!"

I rolled my eyes. "Oh, come on. I can read you like a book."

"I can hear you blushing from here, Vector," Espio said with a smirk.

"Shut up, Espio!" Vector shouted.

Charmy laughed louder at his boss's embarrassing expense.

Around noon, the Chaotix and I left the detective office to meet at Ms. Vanilla's home for the lunch she invited us to. The route we took was through the forest. I was a bit hesitant, even though it was the middle of the day, but I went along nonetheless. It was a peaceful walk, colorful birds chirping. Of course, I learned that the birds were called Flickies (an odd name for a bird if you ask me). Even though the sun was shining, and the Flickies were singing, I was afraid that the giant beast was going to try to attack us. Vector kept saying, 'Oh, relax, Kid. There's nothing here,' but that didn't make me feel any better.

We arrived at Ms. Vanilla's, which at first glance appeared to be quite small. Vector knocked on the door, and the one who answered was another rabbit. She had the same fur and eye color as Ms. Vanilla and wore a tangerine-colored dress. She was also a little girl.

"Hi, Cream!" Charmy exclaimed.

"Hi, Charmy!" the rabbit girl called back.

Cream, huh? Well, judging by the fur color, I'm gonna take a leap of faith and say that she is Ms. Vanilla's daughter.

At that thought, Ms. Vanilla came to the door. "Perfect timing," she said. "Please, come in. Lunch is almost ready."

We went inside. The place was much bigger inside than it was out. Very fancy, too. It was almost something you would find in a small mansion or large house.

"Excuse me, Miss," the rabbit girl Cream said to me. "May I ask who you are?"

I knelt to be eye level with her. "My name is Cheyenne," I answered. "What's your name?"

"My name is Cream," she said with a smile. "It's nice to meet you, Miss Cheyenne!"

I made a small smile. "Nice to meet you, too." I stood back up. Such a polite little girl. Her mother raised her very well. But I wonder where her father is...

"Oh, yes! Before I forget," Ms. Vanilla spoke. "There is someone who has been living here for a while now."

Vector's eyes widened a bit, though he kept a smile on his face. "Really," he said, trying to be casual. "Do we know this person?"

"I don't believe so. But he's been so helpful around the house. Tending to the garden, cooking meals, keeping an eye on Cream whenever I'm not home."

The croc's eye began to twitch. "Uh-huh, I see. Does he have a name?"

She was about to respond when someone came in through the door. He looked like a wolf. He had smoky colored fur, short black hair that spiked up in a faux hawk, eyes that were the color of rubies. He definitely was a different kind of Mobian than that of the others. He didn't have a muzzle color, but had the snout of a dog, stood at least six feet tall, and didn't wear the white gloves that most Mobians wore, for his hands had long, sharp claws. He wore a brown jacket, but no shirt underneath. From his chest to his waist, his underbelly, I assume, was red and seemed to define his pectorals and abs. He was also wearing blue jeans, but no shoes or socks on his feet. Speaking of which, his feet were humanesque, nearly almost the same as a human's but not quite - all ten toes, but were a little more rounded. He looked kind of fierce. Perhaps a bit frightening.

"Ah, speak of the devil," Ms. Vanilla spoke. "This is Zephyr Timberwolf. He's from a quiet town called Bridgeport. Zephyr, these are the detectives I told you about."

"Hi!" Charmy said, then flew up to him, looking at him from head to foot, front and back. "You're really cool looking."

"Charmy, sit down!" Vector snapped.

"Oh, it's fine," Zephyr spoke coolly. "I like kids, anyway." He looked over to me. "You must be the new detective, yes?" His voice was deep, but not as deep as Espio's, perhaps a couple of octaves up. It almost sounded like a dove cooing.

I nodded my head in response to his question.

"So, Zephyr," Vector spoke. "How long you been in town for?"

"Only a few months," Zephyr replied. "Everything in the big city was already taken, so I kept moving until I collapsed around here. Then Ms. Vanilla found me, took me in. She's really lent a hand to me, such a good soul."

"Oh, Zephyr, you're really too kind," Ms. Vanilla said modestly with a small laugh.

I looked over at Vector, and he was not happy. His eye twitched bad, and I swear I could see his blood boiling beneath his skin. Uh-oh. I think he might have some competition against Zephyr.

"In that case," Ms. Vanilla continued, "it's time for lunch. Cream, dear, let's get the food from the kitchen."

"Yes, Momma," Cream replied, following her mother to the kitchen.

"Such a kind woman," Zephyr said admiringly. "If only there were more like her."

"Alright, that's it," Vector said, standing up and ready to kill. "Look here, pal-"

"Vector, don't do anything brash," Espio said, trying to hold his boss back.

"It's okay," Zephyr said. "He's merely jealous that I've been living here with the one he has a crush on and possibly thinks that I'm taking advantage of her kindness - which I'm not. He's also worried that she will fall for me, but she never had those feelings toward me, not once."

Vector seemed to relax a bit, sitting back down. "Alright then," he said. "As long as we understand each other." Then his eyes widened. "Wait a minute, how'd you-"

"You're like a book. I can easily read you."

"That's what the Kid said earlier!"

The wolf looked over at me again, making me nervous.

Why is he staring at me like that? It's making me uncomfortable.

As if hearing my thoughts, he stopped looking at me.

My eyes widened a bit. What the hell?! Is he some sort of mind reader?! If he is, that's both fascinating and creepy.

During lunch at Ms. Vanilla's, I just couldn't help but feel that something was off. Zephyr seemed like a nice guy, but I've somewhat known that every action has an intended purpose. Other than being a different kind of Mobian, I couldn't help feeling that Zephyr was hiding something, but I never said a word. I kept to myself, complimenting on how delicious the food was from time to time, trying to keep up the conversation. I figured if Zephyr could read minds, then I had to mind what I was thinking around him.

"Chao, chao!" A little blue creature with a little red bowtie came flying out of nowhere, straight into Cream's arms. It was nothing I've seen before. It was adorable.

"Cheese!" Cream exclaimed happily, holding the little thing tightly.

"Chao!" the little creature happily exclaimed.

"What little creature is that?" I asked Cream. "It's kinda cute."

"This is my Chao, Cheese," she said.

"Chao, huh?"

"You don't know what a Chao is?" Zephyr asked.

"I'm... not exactly from the area," I answered. "So I'm not familiar with the wildlife around here."

"Chao, chao." Cheese pulled out a letter, handing it to Ms. Vanilla.

"What's this?" she wondered, taking the letter from the Chao and opening it. She pulled out the paper inside, starting to read it, a confused look forming upon her face. "This is unusual."

"What's wrong, Momma?" Cream asked.

At that moment, an explosion came from outside, everything in the house violently shaking.

"What's going on, Vector?" Charmy asked.

"There's only one person we know who would make a loud entrance like that," Vector said. "And that person is right outside." The croc stood up. "C'mon boys!"

"Okay!" Charmy squeaked excitedly.

"Roger," Espio spoke.

Vector looked over at me. "You're stayin' here, Kid," he said.

"I thought I was a part of the team," I said.

"You are! But since you're just a rookie, you're gonna have to stay back. And possibly take a few notes."

The three detectives went outside to see what the commotion was, and yet there I was, a rookie detective, missing all the action. One part of me said to just stay inside and wait patiently and pray for their safety. The other part of me wasn't so rational, so I bolted out the door after them.

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