Angel of Darkness and Ice.

Legal disclaimer and standard stuff: I don't know who owns Sonic and the other major Sonic characters, but it isn't me. Just to make a few things clear:

"---" – Speech.

Italics – Thoughts.

Bold - ? (read the story to find out!")

Hope you enjoy it, now on with the show!

Prologue.

The musical clink of glass tapping on glass split the quiet atmosphere of the moderate sized apartment in Station Square. There, again, the same note of industry as, in the kitchen of the living area, a figure tottered unsteadily on a kitchen chair, reaching for something on the top of the wooden cupboards. After a short series of stretching, quiet cajoling and one or two low expletives the mouse hissed in triumph, short tail swishing in exultation as it carefully lowered its prize, a green bottle full of quietly sloshing liquid, to eye level. A gloved hand wiped the label at the same time a hasty puff of air displaced the dust that had settled as a result of the bottle's long residency on top of the cupboards. A sly smile crept onto a handsome, furred face,

"Ah, knew you were up there somewhere. Old Moby, best red of the decade". The voice itself spoke about its owner; quiet and speculative but conveying the capability of great warmth and love. The apartment owner quickly rinsed the rest of the dust from the wine bottle under the tap. A quiet hum competed with running water for monopoly of the apartment's sound environment as the preparations neared completion. Having put the wine to chill in the fridge, the field mouse turned round and moved off to her bedroom to get ready. According to her clock, she had about two hours.

Not bad for pushing forty, girl, the field mouse commented as she drew the hairbrush through her, fighting to tame the unruly bushel. Jessie Wheatear sighed; she'd known from the second she'd hit her teens that she'd got her mother's hair – a completely disordered, light brown rug that dropped over her pretty, sky blue eyes at every opportunity. Still, she reflected, not that it'll matter all that much tonight, her visitor may have been many things, but a follower of fashion was never one of them. She chuckled, again almost failing to believe it had been nearly seven years since they'd last met. It seemed like only last week that he'd walked into the base and wondered why everyone else had collapsed into hysterics. That's a thought, a mischievous glint lit up her eyes like it belonged there, I wonder if I've still got that photo. A Mohawk, of all things. Satisfied that was as good as her hair was ever going to get, the mouse took a step back and examined the rest of herself.

People had often commented that Jessie was a looker, and she'd always agreed with them. Not particularly tall or curvy, hers was a subtle kind of beauty; you didn't recognise it at first, but it lodged in the memory and remained there, a continual reminder of her. Her eyes were her best feature; large and sky blue, they could enthral anyone who looked into them too deeply. Several had, she reminded herself, but none had ever been right for her. So at the grand old age of nearly forty she was still single, but it didn't really bother her; she had made lots of friends since she had arrived in Station Square a year ago, shortly after it was rebuilt following the Chaos incident. Looking at the town as it was now, she found it hard to imagine a single beast, no matter how strong, had been able to level much of it to rubble, or that the beast itself had been bested by a single hedgehog named Sonic. She'd heard stories, but as her Dad used to say, believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear. That was most certainly true, she mused as she slipped on a pair of trendy but casual black jeans and a matching T-shirt; well, most of the time anyway. A couple of hecklers had heard that Jessie was skilled in martial arts, but didn't believe it – a pinch on her rear, a spin, grab, throw combination and a quick trip to the Station Square general may have convinced them. Jessie smiled at the memory and wondered if her guest was still any good at the arts – the last thing she wanted was to get rusty and maybe he'd give her a match. The thought brought back other memories:

Dark, this was good. Razzy had tripped the switch at the right time and she was in position to make the dash across the courtyard. Hopefully the camera wouldn't be able to see her in the darkness and she'd be able to lift the jewel and get out before the circuit breakers tripped or anyone came to investigate. In and out, back and forth, just like training. Yeah, just like training.

She breathed, jumped up and dashed, full pelt, knowing exactly where she was heading and exactly how long it would take to get there. Dead on; she flushed with vindication as her left toe tapped the bottom of the display case and her hands reached up, aiming for the gap between glass and wood. There, she pried gently, whispering quiet words as she eased the case up. She could almost feel the gem in her hand when a steady thud-thud approached – footsteps! Split decision, run or risk it. She though for half a second then made her choice…

Jessie shook herself as the memory ran its course; she smiled as she realised that soon, another member of the guild would be here and they'd be able swap stories until late into the night with a bottle of Old Moby and a plateful of nibbles. Speaking of which, she slipped on a pair of leathers and headed for the door, her eye falling on a picture framed on the little table in the lounge. It was a photo of all about five Mobians (Mobile Mammalian – the term the humans called her race of walking, talking creatures) of all shapes and sizes, stood close together and smiling, in their own way, for the camera. She picked herself out with ease, winking at the camera man, and her guest, hat on skewed and in a shooter's stance, pointing a pain of imaginary 'finger-guns' off to the right. He'd called that his Western stance; he was a big fan of John Wayne. She slipped out her front door, locked it and jogged at a steady pace towards the shops, aiming to buy the nibbles in good time. It was the last time she'd ever see that photo.

She was gone. Time to move. Walk unseen, as always, through the reception area of the apartment block. The stairs were of no matter. The lock on her door was complex, but breakable. Once deactivated and locked from the inside, prepare. Close now, so very close…

"Hey, Jess. Looking good".

"Thanks Erin; hey, got anything in paprika flavour?"

"Try aisle four", the badger shifted in her uniform, squinting at her diminutive customer/friend, "got something planned for tonight?" The mouse hefted her burden and slammed into onto the counter, smiling,

"Yeah, seeing a really old friend. Just talking about old times, having a night in, y'know the sort of thing?" Erin slouched forwards, looking a little disinterested,

"Male friend perchance?"

"Yeah, why?" In her hurry, Jessie had failed to pick up the subtle tones of fun in her friend's deeper voice.

"Oh, Wheaty's sowing some wild oats, hey?" the badger queried with a smirk. Jessie's mouth hung open in shock as she mentally kicked her tail. Shock rapidly became anger however,

"If I wasn't in such a rush I'd come round your side of the counter and slap you into next week", the mouse stormed crossly, "and no, he's a guest, something your filthy mind probably couldn't get round". The badger chuckled as she passed Jessie her shopping,

"Ah, you know I'm only kidding, and I thought you were serious I'd be out that door faster'n Sonic the Hedgehog. 'E came round here once, y'know".

"Okay, gotta go. I'll catch you tomorrow Erin". The mouse exited rapidly before Erin could move onto that old story. From what she'd heard, the famous blue blur had ducked into the supermarket to avoid some besotted fan and had hid under the counter – to here Erin tell it you'd have thought the hedgehog had opened the place. Jessie shook her head, making her customary mental note not to allow Erin to catch her out as she always did. She smiled faintly, that was probably why she liked the badger; her skill with words defied her course accent and thick speech. That's people for you, the mouse thought, can't pigeonhole them because they'll always surprise you if you do.

The key code clicked in and the front door swung open, allowing Jessie to come in and dump her shopping on the sofa. Quickly kicking her shoes off, she made to sort the shopping into different flavours when a sudden sharp noise made her pause.

Take the bait, mouse. Just a little closer; take the bait.

Jessie stiffened and strained her ears, the little shell-shaped organs twitching as they filtered the air. There, again, a sudden clump, very low and very quiet. She was instantly alert, every muscle primed and ready to react, senses keen and blood rushing, ready for a fight. A lot of Mobians underestimated her species; mice weren't particularly strong and lacked specific weapons such as the kick of the hare or spines of the hedgehog, but they were quick and had a prehensile tail that counted for a lot. Jessie smiled; if someone had broken in, they'd better break back out before she caught them. Moving forwards stealthily, she approached the source of the noise; her bathroom.

Quickly and quietly, the mouse crept towards the door, breath quick and light. Something was niggling at her mind, but she pushed it aside as an attack of the nerves. Should give her something to tell her soon-to-arrive guest though, she thought.

Outside the door. Stopped tapping, made ready.

Jessie pushed the door open suddenly and sprang forwards to see…nothing. With a sudden lurch of dread, the niggling sensation roared in full volume; she realised at the very last second that she could be walking into the perfect

Trap.

Even before she'd stopped moving forwards the mouse felt an arm, strong and constricting, wrap around her throat from behind. A second fist pushed into her back, forcing her forwards into the grip, cutting off her air. She panicked for a second before old reflexes kicked in. She jabbed an elbow backwards, aiming for the floating ribs of her attacker, only for her arm to hit thin air. He's not behind me, but how… she thought furiously, blood surging in her ears and vision becoming tinged with red. She pinched at the flesh of the arm around her neck, trying to force her throat into the crook of the elbow to breathe. Her pinches were hard, but the arm was like iron; immovable, unfeeling and irresistible. Her vision dimmed, senses receding as she became aware of slow, heavy breathing in her right ear. She mustered everything she had left for a final pull on the arm. It moved, slightly, but far too little to matter.

Her last thought was that she'd never get to talk to her guest.

She was out. Lowered her to the floor. She'd bruised the arm, but it was still working and still efficient. Checked her breathing – she wasn't dead. Had a use for her. Her and the others. It was quickly found; they all had one. They showed all the targets. All but one.

A sinister silhouette, looking for all the world like a congealed shadow, materialised in the lounge of the apartment. Dressed in a tight-fitting black body suit, the figure was completely silent as it slowly, deliberately searched the room. It came upon the photo that Jessie had so recently glanced at; any emotion it may have shown was concealed behind a leather mask, fitting tightly to the wearer's head like a second, senseless skin. It picked up the photo almost delicately, moving its gloved fingers over the glass imprisoning the picture in a gentle caress.

With a barely audible click, a sixth finger appeared between the middle and ring fingers of the silent assailant's left hand. Except, it wasn't a finger; it was a short-bladed knife, so sharp it was nearly invisible end-on. This knife was a Spyder; it was a crime to be even holding one in Station Square. Small, concealable and undetectable to metal detectors, they were deadly weapons and fetched a high price on the black market. It was a mark of prestige in the underworld to own a Spyder and a mark of almost certain death to be attacked with one.

This mysterious figure couldn't have cared less; it was a tool to be used and discarded as necessary. Using the fineness of the blade, the picture was skilfully removed from the frame, then using the sharpness of the blade, it was skilfully doctored. Not showing a flicker of emotion, Jessie's attacker placed the mutilated picture on the table in plain view and deposited the off-cuts in a pocket. The blade was replaced and another, more readily identifiable tool brought forth.

Leave the mark. Didn't want to; other targets would see and know. Had to, the law must not be broken. Quickly left the mark then took the target and opened a window. Leave quickly and with no trace. Revenge is one step closer now. Soon.

Taking the slumped form of Jessie Wheatear over one shoulder, the shadow in flesh made for a window. Opening it, the sound of an aircycle coming to a halt at the front of the apartment reached the figure's ears. Taking a final glance round, the figure left down a preconceived escape route. It was a perfect kidnapping; no witnesses and no evidence. No, nearly perfect, one tiny scrap, left on purpose, sullied the crime. Things were about to hot up.