BOOK 1: The Escape from the City
Sonic, SATAM. Based on the Final Fantasy VII storyline
Disclaimer: I do not own SATAM, Sonic the Hedgehog, SEGA Sonic, Final Fantasy VII and all related characters/plots; I don't own the plots or characters of any. They belong to their respective companies; SEGA and Square Enix
Chapter 1: Rain in the RINGTEK Metropolis
A storm was coming.
It was an event that happens only once every few months in the wastelands surrounding the massive, industrial city of Megaopolis, the "Heart of Mobius". Black clouds began to intermingle with the ashen, grey-yellow smog emitted from the metropolis' eight towering reactors, blocking out the rays of sunlight struggling to get through. Whatever organisms that eked a living on the barren lands started to burrow underground or find cover around the large rock formations in anticipation of the tempest to come.
Even the larger prowlers, horribly mutated by the radioactive runoff discharged from the city's reactors, were forced to seek shelter once the first few claps of thunder erupted, shaking the earth itself. In spite of their limited and rapidly decomposing intelligence, their basic, bestial instincts sensed that something was amiss.
This was no ordinary storm.
The threat of lightning and thunder did not stop the only two figures that refused to hide, instead trudging their way slowly towards Megaopolis. One was a blue hedgehog, with long, sharp quills coming out of the back of his round head and sweeping down his back. He wore a dark blue vest and long, baggy wool trousers, held up with thick, brown suspenders. A steel plate was fastened to the top of the trousers and covered with leather to protect the abdominal area. Black, battle-scarred leather pauldrons adorned his shoulders. His hands were covered with well-worn black leather gloves, which were cracking from prolonged use. On his feet, deep red sneakers with a broad, white stripe crossing the top, ending with a gold buckle on the outer side of each shoe.
On his back, the suspenders were bound together by a flat, circular, metal disk; attached to the disk was an enormous, gun-metal grey broadsword, five feet long, with a single, one foot wide edge. The riveted hand guard was adorned by swirling, golden designs. The base of the blade by the hand guard had straight, angular etchings on either side. The sword had two holes bored into it, near the hand guard, and above them laid two smaller holes. In each held two, brilliant green gems inserted into slots, linked side by side.
His unnaturally glowing jade-green eyes appeared to be focused towards the city looming in the distance; however, they were imperceptibly looking in all directions, observing even the tiniest of details. Ears kept flicking slightly to and fro, hearing sounds from miles away. Sinewy muscles relaxed, yet tensed in case of action.
His clothes were riddled with holes and tears while his body was covered in still-healing wounds; gun shots in non-critical areas, slashes from claws, swords and talons and bruises from blunt objects. His shoes were caked in a mixture of dirt and blood. The constant battles slowly, but surely wearing him out.
The hedgehog had his arm wrapped around his companion; a 21 year old orange-furred fox, stumbling about, unable to support his own weight. He was clothed in an exact replica of his protector's uniform, with slight differences. The zipper on the vest was down slightly, revealing tufts of white fur underneath. Instead of two pauldrons, he wore a large, metal one on his left shoulder, with cylindrical studs extruding from its surface. On his wrists were brown and grey gloves and on his left arm, from wrist to three quarters up his forearm, was a studded armlet to use as a guard. He wore brown, standard-issue combat leather boots. On the base of his left ear was a piercing; a single, silver hoop. He was weak and had no means to defend himself, relying solely on the good graces of his friend to keep him safe.
His body was thin, his pointed, white muzzle gaunt and sunken. His ears lay flat and his nose was dry as he staggered forward, his friend coaxing him onward. His irises were coloured an unnatural, electric blue, but his vision was clouded; wisps of silver and gold fogged his sight to the point where he could barely see in front of him. He was otherwise, uninjured. Apart from his eyes, he was as normal as can be for a Mobian.
With the exception of his large, bushy twin tails, dragging on the lifeless earth as he ambled.
Drool was slowly dripping out of his hung mouth and he moaned quietly as another crack of thunder erupted from the sky.
His friend stopped and bent his head down to look at him, concern flooding his features. "You OK buddy?" he asked softly. The fox only mewled in response.
The hedgehog didn't know what to make of the answer. He shrugged and said cheerfully to the fox, attempting to change the subject, "We're almost at Megaopolis, it's only another few miles to go, lighten up!" The fox moaned again.
The warrior sighed. "Man, this trip did a number on you..." he mumbled as he continued to drag the semi-comatose vulpine onward.
Soon enough, the rain started to fall, in small, light droplets onto the duo. The hedgehog stopped to look upwards, frowning. "Well, this won't do," he mumbled, looking around for shelter.
He spotted a cave at the bottom of a ridge overlooking the city, straight and to the left of him slightly. "OK Tails," he addressed the fox by name. "We're gonna go to that cave over there and camp out 'til the rain stops," he said, pointing towards the cave.
'Tails' said nothing at first, and then nodded imperceptibly.
The hedgehog smiled and started walking to the cavern. "Don't worry about a thing Tails," he said as he guided him. "You'll be alright. We'll get to Megaopolis, find you a doctor to help you get better." He paused, grunting as he started going up an incline on the way. "And then after that, we'll be on our way to fame and fortune! All you have to do," he continued as the rain started to pour harder, "is just to hang on for a couple more hours, OK little buddy?"
His pace started to slow as the ground beneath him became muddy and slippery, making it harder for the invalid Tails to gain any traction. The spiny swordsman gritted his teeth, summoning up more strength to continue onward, his sneakers starting to make squelching sounds in the mud with every step.
Tails started to slip further, causing the hedgehog to stumble himself, almost losing his footing. Looking ahead, the cave was only a few hundred feet away from where he was. The rain started coming down in sheets now. Lightning arced and flashed across the sky wickedly. Thunder boomed loudly, causing the hedgehog to flinch at the sound.
As they neared the cave, the swordsman's ultra-sensitive hearing noticed different sounds besides falling rain and thunder; the sounds of helicopters, of Overlanders and Mobians communicating, directing orders, tanks treads rolling over and bipedal mechaniloids stepping on the continuously saturating soil. His ears shot up like arrows, eyes widening.
"Damnit, they found us..." he whispered to himself. He hoisted up Tails, using as much of his remaining strength he could muster to drag the catatonic Mobian to the mouth of the cave. He set him down slowly, hiding him behind a boulder, and then he stood up to go back outside.
"Listen Tails," he said to the fox as he drew his sword to check it over, looking out into the distance. "Kintobor's army's found us. Doesn't look like they'll be taking us alive either." He looked back and smiled at Tails, a tinge of sadness in his eyes. "I want you to stay here and be safe. I'll draw them away from here by going to the top of the ridge." He paused briefly at the thought, taking a breath to relax himself. "I promised you, Miles 'Tails' Prower, that I would get you to the city and help you fix whatever the hell they did to you, and I'll keep it, if my name isn't Sonic the..."
Suddenly, he stopped mid-sentence, his brow furrowed and teeth gritted. "They're almost here!" he said, placing his sword on the disk on his back and running out from the cave to the direction where his heightened senses led him.
Tails looked up from his hiding spot in the cave to see his departing friend. He extended his hand, trying to reach out to him, to tell him not to go. He willed himself to say, "Don't leave! You'll die!" but no words left his mouth, just an utterance of sound. He tried to get up from the ground, but only succeeded in falling flat on his face. Undeterred, he started to slowly crawl his way out of the cave, in hopes of reaching his friend. The exertion was taxing his frail body, and it was only moments later when his limited strength failed him and he passed out in exhaustion just outside the cave, hidden away from the army's eyes.
Soldiers by the droves marched towards the ridge, each sporting coloured uniforms to denote rank. Blue uniforms for grunts, green for platoon leaders, grey for sergeants and red for the higher ups. They were flanked by tanks and 'Sweepers': bipedal machines with large spikes for feet, high-caliber machine guns for arms and small anti-personnel missiles, hidden inside the elongated, rectangular body which was parallel to the ground. Attached to the back of the machines was a large motor, spewing out greyish-yellow exhaust into the air. The 'face' of the machine consisted of a large intake grill with vertical slats of metal, opening and closing to make a frightening visage. On the side of the body, a model number was etched into the burnished metal, KMI-E-SERIES-25. Helicopters flew above them, the now-constant rainfall disclosing their location in the air.
Sonic dashed up to the top of the ridge near the cave at max speed, making sure he left a trail distinct enough for the army to follow him. Sure enough, they followed the muddy tracks, trapping him at the peak. The soldiers lined up, cocking their machine guns, raindrops splattering on their helmets and sounding like the drums of war. The sweepers, tanks and helicopters aimed weaponry of all sorts at the lone figure standing near the edge.
He knew he could run; he could jump off the side of the cliff and dash down it to escape, but he could not this time. 'No more running,' Sonic thought. 'I can't leave Tails behind. It's time to fight." He turned to face the crowds of soldiers, vehicles and mechs, determined to take this to the end.
"SOLDIER First Class, Sonic," a general holding a megaphone spoke, his voice nearly drowned out by the rain. "You are surrounded. Turn yourself and the other subject over, or face destruction at the hands of the Kintobor Army."
Sonic could barely make out where the voice was coming from. It did not matter to him however; he made up his mind long ago. "Boy, oh boy," he said, shaking his head, smiling. "The price of freedom is steep." Drawing his sword, he took the flat of his blade and rested it on his forehead, closing his eyes.
Above him, the storm raged, lightning shot through the sky, illuminating everything for brief moments while thunder erupted, making it sound like the gods above were demanding that the bloodbath be started.
And then Sonic opened his eyes, which shined with an unholy light. His body started to radiate energy; tiny green bolts of electricity crackled around him, mimicking the tempest above. He felt his quills rising up, his entire body supercharged for battle.
He softly intoned a verse he inherited from his mentor, memorized through long years of battle and hardship:
"Neither for glory, nor for riches, we protect the dreams of all and maintain our honor... as SOLDIER!"
And, as the last word was spoken, Sonic, former SOLDIER First Class and the fastest living Mobian on record, threw his sword into the air and curled up into a ball, as any hedgehog would do in the face of danger.
The grunts were bewildered at the move, dropping their guard involuntarily. The general in the helicopter who ordered his surrender actually smiled, thinking that the former SOLDIER decided to give up.
And then, the curled up rodent started rapidly spinning in place on the ground, soon becoming a blue, blurring ball. The sword thrown into the air lazily reached the apex of its arc and started falling, gravity bringing the mass of metal hurtling to the land.
Just when the sword was about twenty feet from the ground, Sonic launched himself, the momentum of his spin dashing him forward. He pushed off of the surface and launched himself into the air like a rubber ball hitting the floor, right into the path of his own weapon. He then untucked his arms and grabbed the sword at the hilt, while rotating at maximum velocity. This had the effect of turning the warrior into a spinning, twelve foot diameter buzz saw of death, flying forward into the soldiers that were gawking at the sight.
Sonic struck, mowing down an entire unit, body parts flying in all directions. He uncurled and jumped straight into the next horde, swinging the massive sword, cutting soldiers and mechs indiscriminately, pushing his battle-scarred body to its limits. Around him, orders to fire were shouted out, but the SOLDIER did not care. All he was focused on was the battle at hand and taking out anything and everything within his reach to protect his friend, Tails. Even if it killed him.
"COME AND GET IT!"
"FIRE! SEND EVERYTHING AT HIM! KILL THAT HEDGEHOG!"
And thus, the ground was awash with rain... and blood.
When Tails awoke alone in the nook that hid him from the army, the rain had begun to taper off slightly. Sunlight started to peer through the now clearing clouds. Blinking, he placed a hand on the muddied ground and pushed himself up to a sitting position. Wiping his eyes with the other, cleaner hand, he noticed that his sight had returned; he could not see the fog of silver and gold that had greatly limited his vision before.
And then suddenly, his eyesight sharpened. Everything started to come into greater clarity, contrast and magnification. He could pick out the minute details in a rock formation several thousand feet away. He could see the tiny organisms that were crawling around a moss-filled boulder from his peripheral vision. Colours and shapes, both known and unknown, were pouring into his eyes and his mind was rapidly processing the information, lest it overloaded.
Next, his sense of smell returned. Immediately, the two-tailed fox could smell the clearing rain, then the putrid breaths of monsters lurking in their hideaways, followed along with the scent of gunpowder and the strong, coppery odor of blood. This particular stench was greatest at the ridge near the cave where he was hidden; the very ridge where Sonic went to. Tails turned his head towards the ridge, perking his ears up in reflex.
As soon as he did this, he was able to hear the mutated monsters emerge from their hiding places, yards away from his current position. He could hear their growls, their snarls, their yelps and roars with extreme clarity. He then picked up the sound of feather-light breathing and a barely heard moan. Focusing on that particular noise only, the fox gritted his teeth and went to his hands and knees, crawling up the ridge.
As he reached the summit, Tails felt his muscles grow stronger, little by little as he moved closer to the scent. Slowly, he made it to the top only to meet a grisly scene.
The outcropping of rock was stained red, caused by spilled blood. Broken machine parts were strewn here and there, with black-charred marks riddled all over their lifeless husks. The bodies of soldiers, both Mobian and Overlander, were scattered all around, bronze bullet casings draped over their whole or dismembered bodies like garlands of flowers. The remains of a helicopter were teetering on the edge of the cliff. It was a macabre scene to behold. The first thought to cross Tails' mind when he arrived and scanned his surroundings was 'Where's Sonic?'
Tails answered his own question once his eyes landed on the only body barely left breathing; a mangled Sonic, whose life force was streaming endlessly through a large hole blown into his chest, a hand clutched in a bone-breaking grip around the hilt of his sword. His shimmering eyes were starting to fade.
Tails' eyes widened at the sight and raced to his friend, half crawling and half stumbling in haste. The fur around his muzzle was muddy when he reached the hedgehog's side, panting and out of breath. He searched the SOLDIER's body in a futile effort to save him, knowing he was too far gone.
The hedgehog chuckled at his fate, and then coughed up blood.
"Sonic-" Tails started softly, his voice rough from misuse, but the hedgehog interrupted him.
"For the... both of us...," he said, taking in a shallow breath.
The fox blinked, processing what he heard. "The both of us?" he asked, puzzled.
"Yep... that's right," Sonic replied, wheezing. He raised his other arm, struggling at the effort, and placed it behind Tails' head. "You're gonna... You're gonna..."
Sonic embraced the fox at the last word, his hand dropping back into the mud a moment later. Tails rose up, the hedgehog's blood mixed in with the mud caked on his face, and nodded in acknowledgement. He would live for the both of them.
Satisfied, the SOLDIER then attempted to lift up his sword, his arm shaking with the effort. He only managed to lift the hilt of the sword up.
"Take... the Buster Sword..." said Sonic, offering it to the vulpine. "Continue living... My dreams... my honor... they're yours now."
"You are… my living legacy."
Tails took the sword at the hilt with both hands. It was still warm. To his surprise, he found the weapon to be lighter than he thought it would be, despite its size. He looked down at it, and then to its owner, giving him a tiny nod.
"I am... your living... legacy," he said, gripping the hilt tightly in his hands.
Sonic then took his right hand off the hilt and it too, joined his left on the wet ground. His breathing started to slow as his mouth opened a last time, saying one final thing that Tails almost didn't hear:
"Take... care of her."
He smiled one last time, his eyes glazing over, before he passed away.
Tails watched on as the hedgehog warrior died, realizing the price his friend paid to save his own life. His mind recalled all their moments together, from beginning to end.
He met him on a routine mission gone wrong; it was his brains and Sonic's brawn that turned the tables to make it a success. From that moment, the two were an inseparable duo, Sonic charging head first into skirmishes, Tails bringing up the rear as support.
Off-duty, they hung out, pulled pranks on unsuspecting army officials and told stories of their lives and dreams.
Everything changed when they got the order to investigate certain disturbances occurring in his hometown of Knothole…
And finally, their escape from the army that they once served, comrades and friends now enemies to evade or defeat, leading to the moment of Sonic's death, and of Tails' survival.
The fox's eyes widened in shock at the realization, after all the memories washed over him. Sonic was not coming back. He was gone. Forever.
And he screamed to the heavens, long and loud, hoping that all those in Megaopolis could hear him. He screamed until his throat became raw and sore. The pain in his throat felt like nothing compared to what he felt inside.
As his screams echoed over the land, Tails looked at the horizon, towards Megaopolis, and then looked back to the dead warrior beside him. Instantly, he recalled a saying his friend once told him:
"Embrace your dreams. If you wanna be a hero, you gotta have dreams."
Tails let the words wash over him and looked towards the city on the horizon, making the decision to finish the journey for the both of them. He got up, using the Buster Sword as a support, and began to walk slowly down the slope. He turned back to Sonic, looking at him one last time.
"Thank you," he softly said to his still body. "I won't forget. Adios, Sonic the Hedgehog."
He walked away from his deceased friend, never looking back as he did so.
A/N: And so it begins anew. Enjoy and see you in a month!