Hi! I know I haven't updated Footwork in a while, for those who know about it (I'm about halfway done with the chapter) but this plot bunny has been on my mind for a while! I really like pokémon, so I want to try this out!
Knuckles stifled a yawn as he shuffled through the thick foliage, the full moon above help lighting the grassy path. The drowsy echidna weaved around a plush bush and stepped over a raised root, tossing a grape into his awaiting mouth.
The burst of flavor was expected of his favorite midnight snack. It had been worth the short trek to find some vines on the island. With the cluster of grapes in one hand, Knuckles lifted a drooping branch out of the way, stepping out into a breezy clearing.
He chewed on another grape as he shuffled toward the concrete alter standing proud in the middle, the tall structure holding the ever-shining Master Emerald. The gem thankfully hadn't mysteriously disappeared in his short absence. Eggman had been quiet for a while, but he could never be too careful.
Knuckles approached the alter, climbing the first step, before freezing in place. All grogginess drained out of his system to be replaced with suspicion. He felt eyes on him, the stare boring into the back of his skull.
It couldn't be Sonic or Tails because they would've announced their presence right away, same with Rouge. They wouldn't visit at the dead of night anyway. Eggman…the foreign tenseness here didn't feel like an Eggman attack. This was a complete stranger…on his Angel Island.
Squaring his jaw, Knuckles dropped the grapes and whirled around, yelling, "Who's out there? Come out!" Surprise then seized him, eyes widening at what he saw.
He didn't know what shocked him the most: the fact that the stranger hadn't been hiding at all, in full-view under the moonlight, or the fact that the stranger…wasn't a person at all.
It looked more like a Chao than anything, floating in the middle of the clearing with tiny fluttering wings. It had a green body, a couple of antennae, and bright blue eyes that met his without fear.
Dangling from its slim arms was a small basket, it crudely woven with leaves. Inside were two Chao eggs, one blue and one brown.
Common sense told Knuckles to relax because this was just a new type of Chao that had somehow made it onto his island, but something about this situation felt…off.
Knuckles stiffened once more when the creature slowly floated closer, almost like it was cautious. The echidna's brow furrowed when he could make out dark circles around its eyes, either natural or caused by exhaustion. It could be either because now Knuckles was able to see how poor the other's condition was.
There were dirt splotches on its body, its eyes were sunken in, and its breathing was shaky along with its arms, trembling from strain.
This was too weird. Knuckles put a halting hand up out of caution. He was dealing with an unknown here, and he had to keep the Master Emerald out of any danger. "Don't come any closer!" he shouted sharply.
His words seemed to startle it, the hovering creature abruptly stopping mid-air. It blinked owlishly before nodding. "Bi…c-celebi."
Knuckles had never heard a Chao say that before. All they spoke were their species name and incomprehensible gibberish. Knuckles didn't understand this thing either, but…there was an intelligence in those weary eyes that he wasn't used to.
The creature's voice was soft and breathy. "Celebi cel…" It stared at him for a couple more seconds, Knuckles staring incredulously back, before lowering itself down to the ground. He watched in silence as it let go of the handle of the basket, gently removing the eggs one at a time. They were situated in a way so they would lean against each other, keeping them upright.
When it finished, the creature grabbed the basket again and hovered away from the ground once more. It then backed away a few meters from the eggs, saying, "C-Cel bi bi."
Knuckles still had no clue what it was saying, but action spoke louder than words here. He risked a question, knowing that the creature at least understood him. "Are those eggs…for me?" A subtle smile grew on its face, and it nodded. "Why?"
The smile vanished as it looked away, something akin to pain in its eyes.
That didn't bode well.
Knuckles glanced at the eggs before gazing at his visitor, his mind nothing but a jumbled whirlwind at this point. "What are you?"
It looked at him again, gesturing to itself with one hand. "Celebi."
"Cele-" Knuckles gasped when there was a bright light, raising a hand to protect his eyes. After the intense flash died down, he refocused on the creature only to find empty air. "What?!" Knuckles searched all around, finding nothing but moonlit flowers and rustling leaves. "Where did it…"
Knuckles put his hand on his forehead, processing what in the hell just happened. This Chao-looking thing just dropped off a couple eggs and left a ton of questions behind.
His gaze drifted to the two eggs. He eyed them before shaking his head. "This can't be real," he whispered. "I have to be asleep, or those grapes are making me hallucinate."
He needed to go to sleep, or wake up, or-
His brain was working too hard at this hour. Without another glance at the eggs or the suspect grapes, Knuckles climbed the stars of the alter. He didn't need to worry about them because they would be gone once the sun was up.
The morning sun's rays peaked over the horizon, and they were still there.
Knuckles was sitting on the bottom step, staring hard at the two gifts. Everything last night had been real. The Celebi, the eggs, the teleportation, everything. The grapes were still laying where he had left them.
The echidna deeply frowned as he stood up, approaching the blue and brown contrasting the sea of grassy green. A dark part of his mind had the idea to dump them far away on the island so he wouldn't have to deal with any of the craziness that could ensue.
However, most of him was curious. He wanted to see the Chao hatch if they were even Chao. Because the creature – Celebi – had him seriously doubting that. But the eggs did look like they belonged to Chao, so…
Standing by them now, Knuckles peered down at the eggs. He narrowed his eyes and reached down to touch the brown one, but his breath caught in his throat when the egg started to glow.
"Gah!" Knuckles backpedaled so quickly that he stumbled over his own feet, crashing to the ground. He couldn't take his eyes off the shining egg, it glowing brighter and brighter until- "What in the world is that?" Because it most definitely was not a Chao.
In the egg's place was a brown shrew, but it was way too big to be a regular shrew and too small to be a Mobian one. It didn't have fur either, the texture of its skin looking weirdly hard and rough.
Knuckles' heartrate skyrocketed when dark beady eyes trained on him. Its head tilted, and it squeaked out, "Sand?"
"Stay over there!" Knuckles ordered, thrown completely for a loop once more. However, unlike Celebi, this thing curled into a call and slowly rolled over to him. "What did I say?! Don't make me-" He didn't get the rest of his threat out, for the creature softly bumped into his leg.
It uncurled onto its stomach, staring at Knuckles again with that same head tilt. "Sandshrew rew?"
Knuckles knew that he had to calm himself down. He shouldn't get riled up over this…this baby. He'd seen stranger creatures before. Granted, those hadn't seemingly transformed from their eggs, but still. He was a warrior. He couldn't be scared of a glorified hamster.
Taking a deep breath, Knuckles gave the creature a once over before hesitantly poking it on the head, feeling hard plated skin.
Its tail perked, and there was a small smile. "Shrew! Sandshrew!"
Reminded of Celebi's speech pattern, Knuckles pulled back his hand a bit and asked, "Sandshrew? Is that what you are?"
"Rew rew!" The shrew leaned forward to nuzzle his palm before being distracted by the bunch of grapes on the steps. "Sandshrew?" It pulled away and wobblily trotted over to the fruits. A little clawed hand plucked one, and the shrew bit into half of it. Sandshrew cried out in what Knuckles could only guess was joy before sitting down and enjoying the rest of the bundle.
The echidna had no words really. His mouth was gaping, but nothing came out. What could he say? He had been dumped with two potential creatures he had never seen before by a green almost-Chao.
Something in the corner of his eye caught his attention, and Knuckles turned his head to see the other egg shining brightly. He mentally prepared himself when the light faded away. He was glad he did, because the creature that hatched looked nothing like Sandshrew.
It looked like a dog with its long tail, blue fur, and pointed ears. It was standing on two paws though as it took in its surroundings.
"Sand?" Knuckles didn't startle when Sandshrew was back at his side again, looking at the newcomer. It smiled and called out, "Shrew shrew!"
The dog look-a-like only then noticed them. It looked over the shrew before brightening a bit at Knuckles. "Ri?" The pup took a few stumbling steps forward until a harmless butterfly fluttered too close to its nose. An expression of absolute terror crossed its face as the walk morphed into a clumsy sprint. "R-Rio!"
Knuckles grunted in surprise when the pup basically slammed into his side, latching to his arm with a trembling grip. It whimpered when the butterfly flew closer. "R-Riolu…"
Sandshrew blinked up at the insect before jumping in the air to try to swipe at it. The butterfly flew away unscathed, and the shrew ended up on its back.
The pup, Riolu, stopped shaking, but it was still glued to the echidna's arm. "Lu?" It peered at the shrew in concern.
"Rew!" Sandshrew rocked back and forth until it ended back on its stomach. The smile returned. "Shrew shrew rew!"
Knuckles might not be crazy yet, but he would be well on the road if this kept up. Chao were one thing, but this was too much by himself. He wasn't going to deal with these things alone, hell no.
The echidna hopped to his feet, catching Riolu off-guard enough for it to let go of his arm. When two curious gazes looked up at Knuckles, he pointed to the ground and sternly barked, "Stay here until I get back." Riolu drew back at his harsh tone while Sandshrew just cocked its head.
Knuckles turned and marched up the steps of the alter, going to retrieve the communicator he had up there. Sonic and Tails would surely get a kick out of this, and they would come up here to take the unknown creatures out of his hands to find out what in the world they were.
At the top, he bypassed the glistening Master emerald, instead going over and picking up the circular device on the ground next to it.
Knuckles palmed the communicator and pressed a button on its side. "Sonic? You there?" Nothing but static filled the air. After a few seconds, Knuckles tried again louder, "Sonic!" Still no answer. His impatience was wearing thin, but then he realized how early in the morning it is and how Sonic would be dead to the world for a couple more hours or so.
Knuckles inwardly groaned. He could hold out, though. All he needed to do was keep an eye on those two, and-
"Sand?" Knuckles whirled around to find Sandshrew standing next to the Master Emerald, peering up at the massive gem. A small clawed hand was reaching out.
"Don't touch that!" Knuckles stomped over to the shrew, not wanting to take any risks. Sandshrew paused and blinked up at him, then it continued to reach. Knuckles glared. "You stubborn little-!" After sliding the communicator into his glove, Knuckles scooped the shrew up and tucked it under his arm.
Sandshrew wriggled happily in his grasp. "Rew!"
Before Knuckles got to tell the other that it wasn't supposed to enjoy this, he saw Riolu climbing up the last step. It gaped at the big jewel before focusing on Knuckles. The pup looked between him and the smiling Sandshrew.
"Lu?" Riolu strolled over and raised its arms in the air. Those big eyes were pleading. "Rio ri…"
It wanted to be picked up because Sandshrew had been. Knuckles was dealing with actual toddlers, and yeah, he needed Sonic to wake up.
Just so the pup wouldn't cry obnoxiously, Knuckles grunted and scooped up Riolu as well, tucking it securely. There was a quiet 'awoo' in response, and he felt a wagging tail brushing against his back.
"Stop being cute, dammit," Knuckles grumbled as he went back down the stairs.
He placed the two back on the grassy ground once he reached the bottom. Riolu seemed a little upset while Sandshrew was distracted by a dandelion.
"Hey." Knuckles plucked the fuzzy plant and held it up, regaining the shrew's attention. He made sure both of them were listening. "You two can understand me, right?"
Riolu meekly nodded, and Sandshrew smiled. "Rew rew!"
The echidna squatted down to get at their level, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder. He hardened his tone. "That rock up there is mine, so don't ever touch it, got it?"
Even Sandshrew seemed a little put-off now. Eventually, they both nodded.
"Good." Knuckles patted both of them once on their heads. He then gave Sandshrew the dandelion, and it perked right up with a thankful chirrup. Knuckles sighed as he stood back up. "Now what am I gonna do until…"
He trailed off when a muffled growl reached his ears. He glanced down, seeing Riolu cradle its stomach. Knuckles couldn't be surprised that it was hungry. It had just hatched and hadn't eaten anything yet, unlike Sandshrew.
The grape vines were close by…
"Let's get some food." Knuckles walked away, gesturing for them to follow. "And stay close so you don't get lost."
One they left the clearing, Riolu took his command a little too seriously. It huddled into his side, holding his wrist as they trudged through the foliage. Knuckles let the pup hang off of him only because he really, really, didn't want to deal with it throwing a tantrum.
Riolu was tense, shying away from anything and everything that moved as they went along. Sandshrew was the opposite. It examined everything from colorful flowers to the rustling leaves overhead. Knuckles had to call the shrew back a few times because it had drifted too far away. Sandshrew was noisy too as it scampered around, making all kinds of sounds while Riolu was basically mute.
So when things had gotten suspiciously quiet, Knuckles searched around for the shrew only to come up empty. "Sandshrew?" He slowed to a stop when there was no answer. His eyes scanned the green shrubbery around, trying again, "Sandshrew, the hell are you?"
Riolu was looking as well with a concerned frown. "Ri lu?"
Knuckles inwardly groaned, his patience slipping. Did Sandshrew actually understand him? Because it was times like these that he was doubting it.
The echidna opened his mouth to shout again, but there was a rustling above him and a weight crashed down on his head.
Knuckles stumbled forward with a gasp while raspy trills rung out. It sounded suspiciously like laughter. "Shrew shrew!"
Ignoring how Riolu hid its smile, somehow finding this amusing, Knuckles grabbed Sandshrew before it jumped off his head and grated on his nerves even more.
He held the shrew with two hands so they were face-to-face. Sandshrew acted like his scowl wasn't there, happily waving its arms. "Sand rew rew!"
Knuckles took a deep breath before he did anything drastic. Babies, babies, they're babies. It was playing. "Look," he started, "If you do that again, we will turn around without getting anything to eat." Sandshrew slumped at that, glancing at Riolu when it whined. Knuckles mentally patted himself on the back. "You don't want your friend to be hungry, right?"
Sandshrew shook its head.
"Good." Knuckles set the shrew down. "Now stay where I can see you."
"Shrew!" it answered before going to bother a zigzagging butterfly.
Knuckles ran a hand down his face, glad that only one of the creatures was hyper beyond limits.
He continued on with Riolu by his side, and surprisingly, he hadn't had to call on Sandshrew anymore. It stayed within sight while sating its limitless curiosity.
It wasn't long until they reached the vines. The plants were wrapped around sturdy trunks and branches of nearby trees for support, carrying many bunches of grapes. The vibrant purple sharply contrasted the green and brown surrounding them.
"Shrew shrew…" Sandshrew was gazing on in awe, Riolu doing the same with wide eyes.
Knuckles went over to the nearest cluster, standing on his tiptoes to reach the fruit. With a jerk, he separated the grapes from the vine. He tried one to test its ripeness, and sweetness burst on his tongue. They were good.
The echidna held them out for Riolu to take. "Here." The pup shuffled up to him and gently grasped the bundle. It simply stared for a moment before plucking one and tentatively trying it.
There was a gasp and a bright smile. "Lu lu riolu!"
Sandshrew was smiling as well. "Shrew!" It then glanced inquisitively up at Knuckles, pointing at the hanging fruits. "Sand sand rew?"
It didn't take a genius to know what the shrew was asking. "You already had some earlier, but…" Knuckles searched for a smaller bunch. There were plenty grapes around here, so giving more away wasn't going to hurt. He popped some off and gave it away.
Sandshrew did a little dance before plopping down and shoving the grapes into its mouth. Riolu sat as well, enjoying the fruit at a more sedate pace.
Knuckles grabbed a few grapes himself, chewing languidly as he observed the two. They were communicating to each other between bites; it was obvious that there was no language barrier between them. Were they the same species, despite looking completely different from each other?
Another thought came to the echidna as he looked them over, finding no hints that specified their gender. Now he was too curious to let the question go unanswered.
"Hey, Riolu." The pup looked up at him with perked ears. Knuckles swallowed a grape and asked, "Are you a male or a female?"
Riolu tilted its head at him in slight confusion, and Sandshrew was now paying attention with puffed out cheeks.
After a moment of thought, Knuckles gestured to himself. "I'm male, are you?"
It seemed to comprehend then, answering with a nod. "Rio!"
Knuckles glanced at Sandshrew, raising a brow. "And you?"
The shrew shook its head in a negative and chirruped, "Rew rew!" Riolu flinched away when some grape juice flew out of the open mouth.
Knuckles hummed as he went back to eating, wondering what Celebi had been. It had a high-pitched voice, but he couldn't go off of that because Sandshrew's was low and raspy.
Speaking of Celebi, where had it gone, and where had it come from? Knuckles never seen anything like it or the two in front of him before.
He doubted he'd get the answer to those questions anytime soon.
Knuckles was thrown out of his thoughts when static emitted from his glove, followed by a familiar voice. "Knuckles? You there?"
The echidna was surprised that Sonic was up this early, but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. He took out the communicator and responded. "Yeah. I tried contacting you a while ago, but I guess you were still dead to the world."
"Sure was! I think I heard you calling me too."
Riolu and Sandshrew were peering up at him at this point. Knuckles disregarded them, frowning. "Then why didn't you respond?!"
"Uh, well, funny story-"
Knuckles rolled his eyes. "Nevermind that! Look, I need you and Tails to get up here because these strange creatures-"
"Creatures?" He glared into the air when he was cut off, oblivious to the irony of it. "You have some too?!"
Knuckles wanted their lives to be normal for once.
Should I continue this?