beLIEve Chapter 17
The Chicken and the Egg
Hey, am again back from the dead! I had to rewrite this entire chapter after my computer crashed again, so it basically killed me lol (From now on, I'm officially using google drive ugh, scarred for life). I got so discouraged rewriting something I had had already struggled to write at all, but eventually found the willpower!
I was moping about how I would have to rewrite 8 pages worth, but your reviews and DMs really kept me going! It's because of you guys I'm back :)
Thank you all so much for your very thoughtful and kind reviews and DMs even after all this time. Some made me laugh because it makes me so happy people are excited and moved by what I write.
I have been trying to take better care of myself since last year, and feel better. Your thoughts are really what has helped me find the motivation to write for this story again. I've moved to a different country, so changes have been a bit overwhelming and tricky. I hope you've all been doing well! I'm sorry this has taken so long, I need to complete this fic!
Can't believe the new Sonic games came and went already! Maybe we'll get a new one this year.
But that aside, and without further ado, here is the next chapter! First off, we revisit a dear old enemy from present time who got into trouble a few chapters ago…
"Hey! Easy on the 'stache!" Eggman screeched as he was thrown into the cell.
"Target Dr. Ovi Kintobor apprehended. Continuing search for Ogilvie Maurice Hedgehog," the machine whirred and clicked.
The jail door smashed shut, and Eggman clumsily stood to pull on the bars.
"Let me out, you metal piece of trash!" the mad scientist barked uselessly. "When were you built, in the Stone Age?!"
"Scanning all current time databases…"
Eggman stopped short, staring at the robot before him. He stared at the familiar-looking coils and joints, at the sheen of black paint on corroded old metal…
"W-What is this?" he gasped.
Spines protruded from the robot's head and back, mimicking the shape of his blue enemy. It could almost be Metal Sonic, save for the blue-black paint and the quills raised like Super Sonic. The robot looked old, like something that had been built a decade ago before common tech reached all sides of Mobius, but still advanced for the time it was built in. But the way it was built was unmistakable—
"Error. Error. 0 matches for name search Ogilvie Maurice Hedgehog. Target Ogilvie Maurice Hedgehog not found."
Eggman's searching gaze halted as the robot turned to face him, vacant optics staring at their captive. The genius took a step back, the offence he had taken vanishing in favor of self-preservation.
"Subject Dr. Ovi Kintobor. State current location of target Ogilvie Maurice Hedgehog," the thing demanded. "Or face termination."
People were cheering for Maurice.
Maurice wasn't sure how long he'd been here, in this place. The last time he had asked a guard for the date, he had noticed it had been three days past his birthday. He didn't know how long it had been since he last asked. Maybe a month, two? In total, his time here had been a year and some, then.
But people were cheering, and that was all that mattered to him. He stood in the once empty arena, now filled with spectators—hollering, shouting and chanting. Wadded bills and ledger books were being passed back and forth. All the gambling and betting was hedged on the two fighters in the ring every week.
They were all sorts of spectators, from rich mobians of the mainland who had too much money to spend, to intrigued humans from faraway countries to scroungier individuals with unsavory backgrounds.
But in Maurice's young and jaded mind, there was no differentiation as long as they were cheering for him. The world was finally applauding him for doing something right, finally appreciating him in a way he never had been before, and Maurice felt powerful and fulfilled. For so long he had limited himself and his abilities to appease other people's misgivings and hatred for mobians of his kind. No more. He would run, crush, and dance for the whole world to see. Even if it only lay within the confines of this arena.
His opponent had been a large wolf, fully grown with rippling muscles. He stared down at the defeated abnormal mobian before him, who was bloodied but still breathing. Every week was the same, with every opponent more terrifying than the last. But the CUA leader who pitted Maurice against them barely batted an eyelid, welcoming them with open arms. People used to bet against Maurice because he was small and too young. The money intake had been tremendous. Now, as the arena's longstanding champion, the entry fee gave the CUA profit enough with its enormous amount of attendees. And of course, the CUA never told potential opponents the sheer hopelessness of the fight. After all, seven chaos emeralds and six deadly midnight-dark quills were near invincible against an average robot or abnormal that crossed Maurice's path.
The crowd was still cheering as Maurice smiled and waved. He twisted into a backflip and landed back on his feet. He then threw both arms in the air as if to catch the now roaring applause, before taking a bow.
He had fought like he was supposed to. Raised a fist like he was supposed to. Grinned like he was supposed to. Showed some showmanship like he was supposed to. The CUA leader had always emphasized that if you pleased the crowd, you could get away with anything.
Maurice wondered if his opponents were just like him, held against their will but with nothing else to do but obey. No one was coming to save them, and with the current world order against abnormals, they were better off just doing what they were told.
He watched as some mobians dragged their fighter away from the arena grounds, glaring daggers at him.
"Disgusting freak," one of them spat at him.
Maurice was not phased, cocking his hip to the side and putting a hand on his hip. He had grown used to the resentment too. The crowd roared even louder. Of course, Maurice was not allowed to speak, but a harmless display of attitude was always a crowd favorite. His dark green eyes glittered, his upturned quills dark as night swaying as he turned to stride back into the doors that led out of the arena. He avoided the reaching hands of crazy spectators from above, all crowing his name. He followed his bloodied opponent into the shadows of the CUA building.
The crowd moved to a dull roar as he watched in the hallway the mobians haul their wolf fighter away, Maurice uncertain of what would happen to him after the wolf had failed. For a brief moment, Maurice chased after them with hurried steps, façade falling and eyes wide, because he had to help him, had to stop them, had to—
"Unfortunate, isn't it?" a metallic hand fell hard on his shoulder, and Maurice froze.
The CUA leader towered behind him. Agony flooded through Maurice as the emeralds' energies were sucked out of him, drawn into the leader's mechanical systems. The whirrs and clicks of the metal megalomaniac were blotted out by Maurice's ringing head. The hedgehog pup collapsed hard against the floor, his head held in his hands. He shook, convulsed and writhed in pain. His fur turned from dark to faded blue again, the dark aura gone into the grasp of the CUA leader's metallic body.
The CUA leader withdrew, clenching his metallic hand into a fist. "That will be enough for now. Take him away."
Maurice could barely register the hands of guards grabbing hold of him underneath his shoulders. He was pulled away in the opposite direction he had initially sought to go towards. His head lolled backwards, his legs numb and his vision splotchy. He could barely understand what had just happened.
Confusion swept through him at this new development. The mecha hedgehog always took him to the chaos compressor room to extract his chaos energy. But just now, he had done it by merely by being in contact with him. Maurice's stunned and frightened brain spun with questions. How would he ever escape the CUA leader's draining energy extractions now?
As he was dragged past the doors that led to his old cell, he wondered how his friend Dr. Kintobor was doing, seeking comfort in the thought of his only friend. While Maurice, prized fighter and energy source, had been promoted to a nicer room, Kintobor had been moved elsewhere. It had been a long time since Maurice has seen him, and he longed for the human's gentle and reassuring company. A prickle of shame passed through the hedgehog as he wondered what Kintobor would think of him if he saw him now. He pushed the thought away, doubting whether he would ever even see the good doctor again.
His vision slowly returning, Maurice looked up from his heels being dragged against the metallic flooring of the hallway. Light blinded him from the left side. He turned to see a large glass window pane giving view into a long room filled with what appeared to be heaps of metal. It was clearly some kind of laboratory, with flasks of fuel and other liquids lining the window. As Maurice was pulled along, he realized that these metal parts belonged to the robots he destroyed for practice.
They were being reconstructed, data gathered to build bigger and badder opponents. Maurice felt dread. It was different in front of a crowd, where he could hide behind a persona he had made for himself, than in the private of the training arena where the CUA metal overlord stood over him to determine if one day the pup would be able to see his mother. The scars Maurice had sustained from his many failures to achieve the emeralds' invincibility had faded, but were so deep entrenched into his skin he still felt them when he bathed, or when he looked for them under his fur.
He was so alone and he didn't know what to do.
He hoped his success pleased the CUA leader enough that it would spare the other abnormals held prisoner in the building.
But as he continued to see tables and tables of machinery parts flitting past him in the laboratory window, he saw it. Saw Kintobor, the human's eyes wide with guilt. The doctor's hands were frozen on a machine part, screwdriver in hand. He stared at the hedgehog as he was dragged by. The hedgehog came to understand who along with the CUA leader watched him as he fought for his life in the ring. And it broke Maurice.
Amy sat still in her bed, frozen. Her eyes stared at her own reflection in the window against the dark night. It was gradually getting lighter outside, around 4:00am. Too late for Amy to still be up, but the hedgehog was wide awake nonetheless. She shut Aleena's diary in her lap. Her eyes watered. She refused to look at Cream and Cheese who still slept soundly by her side.
She should sleep. But she couldn't.
"Entry 324: I have no one else to tell. I am so alone and I don't know what to do."
Amy leaned her head back against the headboard. Her hands left the diary in favor of wiping away the tears from her eyes.
"It has been days since the incident, and Jules has still not returned. I have no one else to tell."
Amy felt the pages flit through her mind. The awful tragedy that befell Sonic's family when he was only two.
"We were on vacation on another island near home. Maurice has been growing bigger every day, and his abilities have become harder and harder to conceal. We left Christmas Island to figure things out for him, bring him to a place where mobians like us are commonplace. We would see how fast our child could run and how much we would have to hide when we returned home. Naturally, we took the chaos emeralds with us to ensure we kept an eye on them too. It wasn't an easy decision. Locke did inform us of how dangerous it was to leave the blind spot abilities of the island. Christmas Island's sanctity makes it very difficult to find, famous for confusing compasses and radars. Its exact coordinates are held secret by its islanders, but once you know them it's easy to find."
"Maurice has never experienced a place where he is accepted. Jules and I miss the acceptance very much. So we decided to go as a family treat. We didn't want our duty to interfere with how we raised a family. For a few days should have been okay. And it was, the first two. Jules and Maurice were having such a good time, racing each other and discovering how fast our son could go. I was so proud of him. He had also inherited my quills' abilities, to which I was very grateful for. I had always hoped he would have his mother's protection.
But the CUA found us. As you know diary, Jules and I took turns fighting with the abnormal resistance against them. Maurice always cries when one of us comes back hurt, but it's our duty as freedom fighters and adventurers to fight for what is right."
"It didn't take long for the CUA to detect the chaos emeralds with us. We were running to the bi-plane, water splashing to our knees as we waded away. The river separated us from their chopper as they swarmed towards us. The chaos emeralds were lugged over my shoulder, while Jules carried Maurice in his arms. Jules' speed will keep Maurice safe, but it was hopeless in the water. I was several meters behind him, but it seemed I was not their target. A shot rang in my ears. Jules was hit, and I remember watching as he fell in the water. I was screaming and as I waded faster towards my family. I watched as my husband and Maurice's shape got dragged under by the current and let the current take me too. We got pulled into the lower parts of the river, where the willow trees dipped low and gave us some small coverage as CUA soldiers ran along the banks to find us. Jules' shape snagged against a thick branch stuck between the shore and rock. I barely grasped him. His body was deadweight but his eyes were wide open and shaking as I pulled him out."
"He held Maurice out to me, who was sobbing and spluttering out water. I took him without question. The river ran red with Jules' blood and I wanted to cry too. I tried to hush Maurice instead before any noise gave us away. But we were surrounded and outnumbered. I didn't know what to do. I looked from side to side to find a way out, gasping when I glanced down at the bag of emeralds I was holding. I held the bag out to Jules, my eyes pleading. I remember him staring at me disbelieving, shaking his head. I insisted he could do it, one chaos emerald had healed him before from a bad sprain. Maybe he has an affinity for them, like Locke."
"Jules still shook his head, "I can't" on his lips. But if we did nothing he'd die. We'd die. Our son would die. Jules eventually took the satchel. He told us to go and to not look back no matter what we heard. I insisted to stay, because it's always been just him and I. But I remembered Maurice, and Jules and I shared a sad smile. I ordered him to survive. With a low laugh, Jules pressed a gentle kiss on our son's forehead in reply. Then we parted. My partner then splashed at the water loudly, to attract attention. His teeth gritted together as he tried to focus. The emeralds glowed through the bag so brightly, I was blinded. I turned and ran. And everything went wrong. Jules was screaming in agony as black flames of chaotic energy tore his blue coat apart, his eyes white. I looked back at him, and saw him like that—chaos energy tearing him apart. The sound alone was almost enough to make me fall to my knees. I did the unthinkable. I charged back to him. There was still enough time for me to get in and get out. There was still enough time for me to save him. But as I was merely meters away from him, Jules shot me a blank scowl as shadows crawled over his form, burning him up. He threw the bag of emeralds at me and cried, "Go!"
I suddenly knew what to do. The further the emeralds become will minimize the chaos energy's damage to Jules. So I turned back around and ran for the bi-plane again. The soldiers swarmed in towards Jules and he was still screaming. Everything shut down and fell dead inside of me. I sprinted, my face frozen in some expression I can't remember, Maurice pressed against my scarf as he sobbed for his father. We reached the bi-plane where I attacked two CUA soldiers guarding it. They fell to the ground as I uncurled, my heart beating fast. I climbed into the bi-plane, and I started the engine. I ploughed through soldiers that moved to stop us, and we took off without looking back."
"It has been days but there's been no signs of him. Deep down I know why, but saying it here will make it real, and I don't want that."
Amy put the diary aside on her night table as she turned the lights off. There were more entries, but she couldn't bring herself to read anymore.
"Maurice! Little fellow?"
Maurice sat at the foot of the door, ignoring the banging fist on the other side.
"Maurice! Please, I'm sorry!"
The cobalt pup had been thrown back into his living quarters. Compared to his old cell, it looked almost like his normal room back at home. There was a little bed, an on-suite toilet and sink and even a small bookshelf in the corner in which its contents were rotated regularly. It gave Maurice all the deceptive tranquility that became worse when he remembered what he had to face when he left it. It was his personal and idyllic prison inside of a prison. The tiny TV was blaring all the fight move sequences Maurice had to learn for tomorrow. He would have to memorize them and practice by himself, or die.
But for now, he stared blankly down at the magazine spread across his lap. The banging on the other side of the door he leaned on continued. He flipped a page.
"What am I even saying?" he heard Kintobor chuckle nervously. "You can't even open the door from in there, can you?"
Maurice raised his eyes to stare at a spot on the wall.
"I'll just talk, okay?"
The hedgehog said nothing.
"I had no choice, little fellow. They'll kill me if I don't keep recalibrating the chaos compressor and keep making machines for them. I was told to monitor your fights against my robots, so you could improve. My family is still out there, waiting for me. I…I have to tell them I'm alright."
Maurice's ear flicked. Kintobor wasn't alright—he was a prisoner in a top-secret facility that experimented on abnormal mobians.
Maurice glares at the shiny red shoes given to him on the day he hadn't realized it was his birthday, because he had been too busy nursing his wounds. He had remembered feeling anger towards the gift, given to him as if to win him over like he had a choice.
"The shoes," Maurice said, and he felt Kintobor jump at the sound of his voice outside the door, "Did you make them?"
They had a white strap to keep his foot still, and a golden buckle to tighten it.
"Yes," Kintobor's voice perked up, "They're made from fibre-diamond to resist friction and wear and tear, are indestructible—"
"What else do you know?" Maurice demanded.
A pause, and more nervous shuffling.
"I...I'm the one who rescaled the chaos compressor and attached it to that robotic fiend's hand... And—there…There's more."
Maurice flinched, remembering the utterly devastating intake of energy that had left him winded for hours after the CUA guards had dumped him here. He couldn't take whatever else Kintobor would reveal to him—not like this. Not when he had nothing else left.
He waited for Kintobor to begin, hearing him take in a breath on the other side of the door.
"I knew your father," Ovi swallowed, then amended, "know him."
The cobalt hedgehog wrapped his arms around himself.
"Jules and I were friends."
Maurice recoiled, reeling. After all this time, Maurice still couldn't accept the half metallic structure as the remains of his father. Let alone that his only friend here had known his father before his disappearance.
"We used to work together when we were younger. My work was focused on using chaos energy to save the environment. Your father, with his chaos-gifted speed, helped me with my research. He would run on treadmills and power up my lab in his spare time. My assistant became jealous of him, and left work. Jules and I never saw him again. Until a year later, he returned under the guise of a company interested in putting to use my research. All of my research and my chaos compressor were taken from me and have been used by the CUA ever since."
Maurice's head was spinning.
"Jules was my friend," Kintobor said again, his voice thick. "Jules knew how dangerous my research was in the CUA's hands. He fought tooth and nail against the CUA with the gifted mobian resistance. They all wanted to put an end to the organisation's infractions on mobian rights around the world. In the meantime, I was captured."
Maurice felt lied to.
"I-I'm sorry I never told you before. I didn't know. I didn't know he had a son."
"What happened?" Maurice whispered.
There was a long silence. Then, a sigh.
"The CUA captured Jules. He was badly hurt when I saw him. He had called upon the power of the chaos emeralds on his body, and the energy tore him apart. Just like many others, he was not the controller. But I think he knew that. He knew that, but he was so desperate, he tried anyway," the doctor sounded on the verge of tears.
The hedgehog pup remained silent. He flipped through another page of his magazine, not really reading the words.
"One side of his body was paralyzed and disfigured. He was brought in to the CUA to see if they could salvage his life and question him on the emeralds' whereabouts. But the chaos energy must have impacted his mental faculties because he was writhing and spitting…like a…madman. He was dying when they let me see him," Kintobor spoke so quietly and quickly, Maurice almost couldn't hear him. "You see, one of my research projects consisted of creating prosthetic limbs for patients who needed them. I had a machine that would design cybernetics specifically tailored for their bodies."
Maurice felt a chill creep up along his spine.
"I was ordered to look him over to see what we could save. And they…" Kintobor chokes out, "and they used my creation to make robotic repairs on the half of Jules' body that had been damaged, including parts of his brain. My creation…it was used like as if to make a robot out of a sentient being. Like a…roboticizer."
The magazine trembled in Maurice's hands.
"My creation was incomplete… It—it was never meant to be used like that. They didn't account for the effects negative chaos energy can have on the brain. And given the access to his bodily functions and twisted memories, Jules he…he went crazy. He killed them all—my assistant who had become the CUA's founder, and all those who followed him. Jules…no, this—this impostor robot Jules—has been at the helm of the CUA ever since."
Maurice's teeth ground together, the magazine slipping out of his shaking hands and off the side of his lap. He curled inwards on himself, drawing his legs up to him and hugging his knees. He buried himself in the cage he made of his body and quivered without a sound. At the very least, here he could control whether he spoke or didn't. The cobalt hedgehog couldn't help but feel the anger light up inside him, so familiar and so resentful he wouldn't be able to hold it back if he were to open is mouth.
He had thought Kintobor to be his friend.
He had thought Kintobor would never lie to him.
He had thought Kintobor a responsible man, a man who would prevent his creations from being used for evil.
He had thought with Kintobor, he had a chance of liking the world that had so far rejected him.
It's because of Kintobor that he's in this prison that won't let him go.
He must have been quiet for quite some time, because Kintobor hesitantly tapped the door again.
"Maurice, I'm sorry. I know that adults have failed you. They couldn't protect you."
Jules had been Maurice's real-life proof of a superhero, an ideal both perfect and inspiring. So much so that Maurice had felt that it was in his own right to follow inevitably in his parents' heroic footsteps. He remembered when mama used to speak so highly of papa—the Jules she loved. Maurice found it hard to connect her Jules to the mecha one that had been so cruel to him now. The caring, loving one Kintobor depicted seemed far away from the robot that despised Maurice and Aleena for being the cause of his disfigurement. Maurice always strived to be as strong and as brave as mama had told him his father was. The past year, Maurice had long since abandoned the idea in the face of his own hero's violence. A father who Maurice did not remember and had never seen, and only existed to taunt him for the things Maurice lacked. Fleeting, dreamy, and punishingly unreachable—
Jules was his poltergeist.
The hedgehog child wondered if he had anything left to rely on anymore other than himself. He tried to breathe within the confines of the tight ball of quills he had made with his body.
"I'm sorry we failed you. But I promise I'll get you out of here. I've been working on a plan—you'll be out of here soon. I can take you to see the world—you'll see—it's beautiful!" Kintobor said.
Everything Maurice once had a keen interest in had now dwindled to defeated apathy.
"Everyone says that I am weapon. They say that if I get out of here, I'll only hurt everyone," Maurice shook his head.
There was beat of silence.
"I'm not interested in your fake promises, Doc'," Maurice sneered. "I'm staying right here."
There was a slam against the door, like someone had hit their fist against it. Maurice startled, and uncurled completely. He blinked, recognizing that the usual gentle doctor had slammed his fist against the door.
It took a moment for the insult to register, but when it did, Maurice's cheeks flared red with indignance. He whirled his torso to glare at the door. "I'm not a chicken."
"I don't think I recall the heroes you described to me being chickens," Kintobor goads him. "Chicken."
The hedgehog turned away again, staring at the red shoes on his feet. His fists curled, his teeth bared. "If I'm a chicken…then you're nothing but an egg. You failure of a doctor."
His words came off harsher than he intended, and in the silence that followed, Maurice almost regretted it.
"Yeah," Kintobor let out a soft, sad laugh, "You can just call me Doctor Eggman."
~What came first? -Chicken or Egg?
I couldn't help myself XD
A lot of revelation in this chapter to compensate for your year-long cliffhanger! I hope it doesn't seem too rushed. This is the last time I write on a Word doc. Lesson learned! From now on I'm using Google drive!
Anyway, I hope this chapter helps explain most of how the CUA came to be and what happened to Jules! Next time, we'll catch up with Knuckles' team in the past and more Dark Maurice! (And maybe find out what happened to Aleena o.O?) I know present Sonic and Shadow have been MIA, but I will make up for it! The next few chapters will be increasingly past Sonic/Maurice heavy and getting into the thick of what happened, so prepare yourselves for next time~
Thank you so much for every review, fav and follow!