*Chapter 1: Overture*
In the old Opera house, there are people walking inside to auction. There are items that are very valuable to the Opera. Coming inside is an old rabbit, wearing a black dress and a hat. Her name is Cream the Rabbit. She looked around the Opera house as memories are flooding in her mind. She's been here before, but lived here before when she was a child. A badger, who is a auctioneer, came up to the stage to auction the music box with a green Chaos Emerald. No one raise their hand to buy, but one person did. Cream made a nod at the badger, but someone raised the price. Cream turned to see the old husky in a wheelchair. She can see that he wanted that music box because...he was once there. The badger turned to Cream to see if she wanted to raise another price, but she shook her head. The hammer was slammed down, and the mobians brought the music box to the old husky. He was staring at the green emerald with his brown eyes. Cream smiled at him.
'You deserve it, Mardic. You need it more than I do.' She thought. Then, the badger came around where the object covered by the cover behind him. Everyone stood before him to listen to his words. Cream and Mardic knew it had to do about many years ago.
"Lot 666, then: a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained. We are told, ladies and gentlemen, that this is the very chandelier which figures in the famous disaster. Our workshops have repaired it and wired parts of it for the new electric light. Perhaps we can frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination." He spoke. Mardic shuts his eyes, remembering that day when this Phantom of the Opera nearly destroyed the Opera house. The badger turned to the male mobians. "Gentlemen!" He said, giving them a nod. Now, they pull off the cover and reveal the chandelier start to lit up and raise up in the ceiling. Everything was restored. No dust, no cobwebs, and went back in time. A story happened many years ago, about the Shadow of the Opera.
Carriages are outside the Opera house, and one of them held two mobians inside. A white hedgehog and a purple chameleon. They look up in awe to see the big building that holds music and singing. But behind their carriage, there is a husky arriving. He formed a smile to see the Opera house. On the stage, there is a white bat wearing a Rome gown, rehearsing with others who will appear in a moment. The maids are cleaning the seats as they hear her sing so high, and it does hurt the ear drums. The maids wanted to cover their ears, but they do not want to disrespect the Opera Diva. Rouge continues to sing.
"This trophy from our saviors, From our saviors from the enslaving force of Rome!"
Then, the female dancers came out on stage in slave costumes. The main singers to the chorus is the yellow hedgehog and the young rabbit. Around them are the pink hedgehog, the purple cat, the young raccoon, and the chipmunk. But, the yellow hedgehog is the one who is special to someone. And it's her dream to become a diva someday, but once Rouge was around, it will never happen.
"With feasting and dancing and song, Tonight in celebration, We greet the victorious throng, Returned to bring salvation!"
Then, the male mobian dancers come on stage in costumes as well, but the main role is the red echidna with purple eyes who will sing with Rouge in a moment. With him, there's a blue hedgehog, a young twin-tailed fox, a brown coyote, and a green crocodile.
"The trumpets of Carthage resound! Hear, Romans, now and tremble! Hark to our step on the ground! Hear the drums, Hannibal comes!"
Knuckles came out from the crowd and came to Rouge who smiled at him and started to sing.
"Sad to return to find the land we love, Threatened once more by Roma's far-reaching grasp..."
But, tapping from below the stage was heard. A maestro, a purple cobra with yellow eyes look up at the echidna.
"Gentlemen, gentlemen..." He said to the one who play the music. He look back up at Knuckles. "Knuckles, please, it's Rome. Not Roma. Rome!"
"Yes, yes. Of course." Knuckles spoke. "Rome. Rome." He practiced. Before the cobra could begin the music, the man came out on stage with a purple chameleon and the white hedgehog in suits.
"Rehearsals, as you see, are under way, for a new production of 'Hannibal'." The man said.
"Monsieur Eggman, I am rehearsing. Would you mind just wait a moment?" The cobra said with a look. The man and the two mobians turned to the Opera actors, then at the maestro.
"Monsieur Toxic, Madame Vanilla, ladies and gentlemen, please if I could have your attention, thank you." Eggman spoke. The rabbit in a black gown came up with a cane, and Toxic climb up the stage as everyone turned to Eggman and the two mobians. "As you know, for some weeks there have been rumours of my imminent retirement. I can now tell you that these were all true and it is my pleasure to introduce you to the two gentlemen who now own the Opera Populaire, Monsieur Espio the Chameleon and Monsieur Silver the Hedgehog." The two mobians nodded at everyone who clapped at them.
"And we are deeply honored to introduce our new patron, Mardic Flynn the Husky." Espio spoke as the male light blue husky with navy blue hair and brown eyes appeared.
"My parents and I are honoured to support all the arts especially the world renowned Opera." He said with a smile. From the crowd, the yellow hedgehog can see Mardic with her blue eyes, and she smiled. She knows him since she was a little girl. Would Mardic recognize her? Then, Rouge came up to the husky with a smile and have her hand out for him to kiss. Eggman cleared his throat to introduce the male mobians to the diva.
"Mardic, Espio, Silver, this is Miss Rouge the Bat, our leading soprano for five seasons now." He said. Mardic had to smile at the flattering bat after he kiss her hand, and heard the red echidna cleared his throat. Eggman spoke again. "And Knuckles the Echidna."
"An honor, sir. I believe I'm keeping you from your rehearsal. I will be here this evening to share your great triumph. My apologies, monsieur." Toxic smiled at him gratefully.
"Thank you, Monsieur Mardic." He said with a nod and came down to start the music to get back to rehearsing. Rouge giggles and came to Knuckles with a semi-jealous look.
"He loves me!" She said. Vanilla took Silver and Espio to give them a little tour of the dancers, but Silver was close behind Vanilla for asking some questions he needs to know since he is the new manager with Espio.
"We take a particular pride here in the excellence of our ballets, monsieur." Vanilla said walking by the dancers.
"I see why, especially that little brunette angel." Silver said, looking at the little rabbit, dancing with the others. Vanilla gave him the cold look.
"My daughter, Cream the Rabbit." She said. Silver cleared his throat nervously. There is the yellow hedgehog beside her, and Silver found her beautiful. Even as stunning as Rouge.
"And that exceptional beauty? No relation, I trust." He asked, not trying to sound awkward from earlier. Vanilla turned to the dancers, and spot the yellow hedgehog.
"Maria Robotnik the Hedgehog, promising talent, Monsieur Silver, very promising." She replied.
"Robotnik, you say? No relation to the famous scientist from the Space Colony? Professor Gerald Robotnik, is his name?" Silver asked with a look. The rabbit nodded at him. They both watched her with the other females.
"His only grandchild, orphan at 7, when she came to live and train in the ballet dormitory. Her life now is here on Earth." Vanilla says as she watched Maria spin a little, her gold long hair flies behind her.
"An orphan, you say!" Silver said with wonder. He heard about Professor Gerald, but never thought he had a granddaughter who is a hedgehog now. Maybe he changed her into a mobian? They all turn back to watch the rehearsing as the chorus sung.
"Bid welcome to Hannibal's guests, The elephants of Carthage!As guides on our conquering quests, Dido sends Hannibal's friends!"
The big elephant prop appeared, roll in on stage, with the female red/orange echidna on top in costume. The chorus, including Rouge and Knuckles sing.
"The trumpeting elephants sound, Hear Romans, now and tremble! Hark to their step on the ground, Hear the drums!Hannibal comes!"
The managers clapped for the diva and everyone. Now, the elephant is led off stage. The dancers begin to stretch since the rehearsing is over for now. Toxic looked up at Rouge who came up to Silver and Espio.
"What do you think, Monsieur Silver, Monsieur Espio?" Rouge asked with a smile.
"That was marvelous, Miss Rouge." Espio said with a nod.
"And Rouge, would you like to show these gentlemen about your character who sings in Act III?" Toxic asked. "She does have the fine aria." Rouge smiled at the cobra. So, she came up in front of the stage as Espio and Silver stood by her. Toxic nodded at the mobian who starts to play the piano. Knuckles smiles as Rouge sings.
"Think of me, Think of me fondly, When we've said goodbye. Remember me, Once in a while, Please promise me you'll try. When you find that once again, You long to take your heart . . ."
Suddenly, the backdrop falls to the floor, crashing Rouge and half of the cast who were covered by the backdrop. Everyone cried out in shock, but they hear Cream's voice in panic.
"He's here! The Phantom of the Opera!" She said, looking above, trying to look for someone.
"It's the ghost!" The purple cat said.
"He's here..." The raccoon said. They all hear Rouge's screaming, and she slam her hand on the floor in anger.
"Get it off me!" She yelled. Knuckles came over to lift the backdrop and pull her out.
"Rouge! Are you hurt?" He asked. Then, he looked up in anger, seeing a male polar bear lifting it. "You idiot!" Knuckles yelled. As everyone was shouting, Vanilla arrived by the steps of the post of the catwalk, and the letter falls to the floor. She picked it up, and there is a red symbol on it. She look back up and see the black cloak disappear in the shadows.
"Bark!" Eggman yelled as he looks up at the catwalk. "For god's sake, what is happening up there?!" Bark finished lifting the backdrop and look down at everyone.
"Don't look at me, Monsieur Eggman!" The polar bear said. "Believe me, there was no one here but me. I was not at my post. If there was someone there...then it must be a ghost!"
"It was him!" Cream spoke. "The Phantom of the Opera!"
"Good heavens! Will you show a little courtesy?" Silver asked with a look. "And Eggman, you did not tell us that this place is haunted by a ghost."
"It's Shadow!" Cream said. But, she was silenced by her mother and the girls. Espio stares at her.
"Mademoiselle, please! These things do happen." The bat turned to him with a snarl. Her eyes are flaming with anger.
"Yes! These things do happen! Well, until you stop these things happening, this thing does not happen!" Rouge snapped as she walks away from the stage and pass everyone, but she turned back to them. "If you need me, I will be in my room. But, my own dressing room from here! I do not want to hear another word about this ghost!" Knuckles followed her out, but turned to Espio and Silver with a look.
"Amateurs!" He said to them.
"I don't think there's much more to assist you, gentlemen." Eggman said. "Good luck. If you need me, I shall be in Frankfurt making battleships." With that, he left without turning back. The cast looked at the new managers nervously. Espio cleared his throat.
"Miss Rouge will come back." He said to them. But Vanilla came to him with a letter.
"You think so, Espio? I have a message, sir, from the Opera Ghost." She hands him the letter. The girls gasped but Maria. Espio rolled his eyes at everyone who twitter in fear.
"God in Heaven, you're all obsessed!" He said.
"He merely welcomes you to his opera house and commands you to continue to leave Box Five empty for his use and reminds you that his salary is due." Vanilla said as she reads the letter to the new managers. Espio blinked a few times.
"Monsieur Eggman paid him twenty thousand francs a month. Perhaps you can afford more, with Mardic Flynn the Husky as your patron." Vanilla continued. Maria grab a hold of Cream's hands nervously.
"Madame, I had hoped to have made that announcement myself." Espio spoke.
"Will Mardic be at the performance tonight, monsieur?" Vanilla asked. Espio nodded at her. But Silver spoke.
"Madame, who is the understudy for this role?"
"There is no understudy, monsieur. The production is new." Toxic said by coming up the stage. "We thought Rouge could stay for this until...this happened." He looked up at the catwalk where Bark is standing. Then, Cream took Maria by the hand and brought her over to the managers.
"Maria could sing it, sir." She said. Maria looked at Espio and Silver in silent. Espio huffed a little.
"The chorus girl?" He asked. But Cream continue to drag on. Maria watches with a slight blush. Now this is embarrassing.
"She's been taking lessons from a great teacher." The young rabbit said. "Amy, Blaze, and everyone heard her sing with the teacher once in a while." Espio raises his brow, he turned to Maria who stares in silent.
"Hmm. What is his name, Miss Maria?" He asked.
"I don't know, sir..." Maria spoke uneasily. Before Espio could speak, Vanilla spoke first.
"Let her sing for you, monsieur." She said. "She has been well taught. Believe me..." Toxic returned to his post to start the music. Maria gulped nervously at the managers, then back at everyone who watched. The piano was heard. She had to start from the beginning to an end. She took a breath, and then start to sing.
"Think of me, Think of me fondly, When we've said goodbye. Remember me, Once in a while, Please promise me you'll try."
Maria was about to turn away until Vanilla uses her cane to stomp the floor, making everyone jump. Maria turn back and continue to sing, but hears Espio.
"Silver, this is doing nothing for my nerves." He whispered. Silver hushed him and listen to the yellow hedgehog.
"When you find that, Once again you long, To take your heart back and be free. If you ever find a moment, Spare a thought, For me."
Her voice was like heaven to everyone's ears. Espio was impressed. He gave her a smile. Maybe this could work. Tonight's performance could work. Maria will be the new diva of the Opera house.