Beginning Flames

Serena

About two months had passed since I first started my training as a Half-Blood. When it came to the elemental aspects, I was ace. The physical aspects... not so much. I would get tired in the first ten minutes of the exercises. I started eating healthier, grew about a few inches taller - I was 5'4" when I started, now I'm 5'7" - my eyesight got better, and I drank more water. But even after all that, I would still get tired. I bet the other guy did a lot better than I did. It was also exhausting telling Vector that I was going out for my morning walk and running into Zephyr on the way. Of course, Zephyr did sometimes visit - he brought Cream with him occasionally - and he was a good sport to go along with it, making up stories as to what we did during the day, but kept it simple.

Of course, I figured someone in the Chaotix would be skeptical of my whereabouts. Espio never really asked many questions, but I would see a suspicious look on his face now and again as if he was telepathically questioning me about where I was going every day whenever we don't have a case. I'd give a genuine look back as if to say that I was fine and there was nothing for him to worry about. I wasn't sure if it was easing his thoughts, but he would close his eyes a brief moment before a smirk would be plastered on his face. I didn't know what that meant, but I had a feeling that my 'daily walks' were not convincing him in any way at all anymore.

One morning, I woke up as the sun had barely risen. However, this morning was different than any other. I got up and stretched like I usually would, brushed out my hair, and as I walked out the front door, I saw Espio standing in the clearing. Before I could ask, he jumped into the air, flipping backward, landing on the roof. I couldn't see what he was doing then, but I saw several shurikens flying through the air, disappearing into the treetops. Then he jumped off the roof, performing a double front flip, and pulled out three kunai, and he started slowly disappearing. His camouflage abilities practically made him the ninja of ninjas. One kunai went flying into a tree trunk, the second into a nearby rock, and the last into the railing of the porch. The ninja chameleon turned visible again.

Whoa... That must've been one of Espio's ninja routines. I've always thought ninjas were cool, and that was the coolest thing I've ever seen!

Espio came to the front porch, retrieving his kunai. "You seem impressed," he calmly said.

"It's just," I started, "I've always thought ninjas were pretty cool, how they sneakily enter a building without getting spotted, all the cool ninja weapons they have."

A small, modest smile came on his face. "I am quite impressive, aren't I." He looked up at me. "I'm sure you'd want to learn some of my moves."

"Who? Me? I-I don't think I could pull off some of those ninja tricks."

"Nonsense. Anyone can learn the art of Ninjitsu. It takes time, patience, perseverance, and discipline. Do you want to try?"

Me, learn Ninjitsu? Hmm... If I did that, then my physical status would be a little better. "I'll think about it. Right now, it's time for my walk. See ya later, Espio." I continued on my way, looking forward to another day of training.

Walking down the dirt path, hearing the chirping of the Flickies in the trees, I pondered over how mixing in ninja training with Immortal training would work. Of course, I knew that I would have to talk to Silver and Blaze about making a schedule - not that I've considered taking Ninjitsu lessons from Espio yet. I listed different pros and cons to taking up Ninjitsu, whether it would help or hinder me in my progress. Either way, overall, I knew I would get physically and mentally stronger.

There was a bush that started shaking when I walked by it. My curiosity piqued, I bent down and parted the leaves when a Chao popped out and attached itself to my face. I jumped back in surprise, nearly falling backward. I looked closer at the Chao, seeing a little red bow tie. It was Cheese, Cream's pet!

"Cheese, what are you doing out here?" I asked as I gently pulled him off my face.

"Chao, chao!" Cheese happily exclaimed as he flew around me.

If only I could speak Chao... I looked around. "I wonder where Cream is." I looked back at the little guy. "You're coming with me. We're gonna find your owner."

"Chao!"

"Cheese? Cheese! Where are you hiding?"

Whoa, that was fast.

Instead of Cream appearing from the trees, it was Zephyr. He saw and walked toward me. "Ah, Cheyenne. I see you're out and about on this lovely day. And you found Cheese, too."

"Chao, chao!" The Chao started flying around the wolf excitedly.

Zephyr chuckled lightly. "Yeah, she found you alright."

"Wait, you can understand him?" I asked.

"When you hang around forest critters long enough, you're bound to pick up a thing or two." He raised a curious eyebrow at me. "So, where are you headed?"

"Oh, well... I'm just walking about, getting some fresh air."

He looked at me for what seemed like forever. Finally, he shook his head a little, shrugging it off. "I'm not sure if it's me, but you look taller."

Phew... "Yeah, uh, I think it might be a growth spurt or something."

A smile grew on his face. "Hey, listen, if you're not doing anything at the moment, maybe we could go into town and hang out."

I guess training would have to be put off today...

"Training? What training?"

Dammit! I forgot he could read minds! "Ninja training!" I blurted out.

"Ninja training? So you're learning Ninjitsu from Espio?"

"Yep! Totally! Though, uh, I hadn't officially said yes yet. I mean, I've been thinking about it, of course!" I nervously laughed.

His smile never left, despite how weird I was being. "That's good to know. Anyway, you up for my offer?"

I nodded. "I've only been to Mobotropolis a few times for cases - you were there for one of those times. I'm not quite familiar with the area yet."

"Don't worry. I'll keep you safe." He winked playfully at me, and I couldn't help but laugh a little.


After returning Cheese to Cream, Zephyr and I were in Mobotropolis. The buildings still messed with my head a little, so I stuck close to Zephyr. Not only was he my tour guide, but I also made him the official bodyguard for the day. He took it as a compliment and even joked about how he was protecting a lovely damsel. Even though he was just teasing, I felt kinda embarrassed by it.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about," he said. "You should take it as a compliment. And for a human, you're really pretty."

"No, I'm not," I said, looking at the ground.

"Like you don't get looked at." He looked at me from head to toe. "Of course, with that outfit, people would think you're a slob."

I looked at my clothes. They were so plain and boring I would rather go naked. "I guess I look a little plain."

"C'mon. I'm getting you some new outfits."

We went to the largest shopping complex in the city. I wasn't much into shopping, but whenever I was with friends, I would browse around with them. Zephyr thought of having me try on this teal colored knee-length dress that had spaghetti straps, and I immediately denounced it. I was never into dresses to begin with. I've always been a bit of a tomboy, so dresses were a big negative. But then he said that the dress could make my eyes pop and compliment my figure, and I still said no. I tried to run but instead bumped into a blond-haired girl, and we both ended falling to the floor.

"Oh, my god!" I exclaimed. "I'm so sorry!" I started helping her up.

"Oh, it's okay," the girl spoke as she stood. "I was just standing here, so it was my fault anyway." She turned to face me, and I couldn't believe it. She wore a pink tube top, pink fish nest sleeves, a pink miniskirt, red knee-high boots. Her eyes were like emeralds. But that's not what astounded me.

Her face. Her build. Her height. She looked almost like me.

"Wow! We're like twins!" the girl exclaimed excitedly. "This is, like, totally amazing!"

"Now this is uncanny," Zephyr said with surprised amusement. "It's not every day people would run into their doppelgangers."

"Oh my god," I slowly said. "There's another me running around." And I don't like her at all. She's too... happy.

"This is sooooo exciting!" said the girl. "My name is Serena Conspicuous! It is soooo good to meet you both!" She took a step closer in my personal space. "What's your name?"

My god, she is super annoying...! And what kind of surname is Conspicuous, anyway? "Cheyenne Rowe?" I cautiously answered.

"Such a pretty name!" Serena hugged me tightly. "I just know we're gonna be the best of best friends!"

Get her off. Get her off. Get. Her. OFF! I heard Zephyr trying to hold in his laughter. "I'm so glad you find this amusing," I said sarcastically.

Serena pulled out of her hug. "So what are you up to, Chy-Chy?"

Serena Conspicuous? More like Mary Sue.

"I'm actually buying her some new clothes," Zephyr answered, patting my head as if I were a little kid.

"Awesome! There's a lot of stuff that I'm sure you'll just love, Chy-Chy!"

"Good to know," I said, then started walking away. "Okay, bye."

"See ya later, Chy-Chy!" She skipped away.

Zephyr, only a few steps behind me, quickly caught up. "Aren't you excited to have met your doppelganger?" he asked.

"Honestly, I'm not," I said. "I thought having another me around would be fun, but she's... way too nice for my taste."

"Too nice as in really innocent?"

"No, too nice as in something must be wrong with her. I don't know what it is, though."

"I think I know why that might be. Twins or doppelgangers can be seen as signs of bad luck. Most of the elderly can be kinda paranoid about that kind of thing."

"I see..."

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