The trees were rushing past him and Sonic revelled in the feeling of pure bliss that enveloped him whenever he was engaging in his favourite past-time;

Chess-playing.

What the…?! Sonic nearly rammed a tree at this random thought and only evaded it by narrowly spin-dashing past it, sending various squirrels fleeing for their lives.

What an odd thought. Where had it come from? Sonic shook his head slightly, trying to regain his concentration and that light-headed running sensation he loved so much. The forest opened and he dashed across a clearing, grass blades moving in his wake like waves behind a racing boat.

This was not the first time this had happened to him today. He was oddly distracted and there was something that kept nagging at him, trying to remind his speed-crazed brain of something important…

He saw a stream up ahead and sped up, the moss underneath his feet now flying in all directions. Laughing with delight, Sonic took a running leap and crossed over the liquid, landing smoothly on a small, grey stepping stone on the other side, then continued without breaking stride deeper into the forest, whooping as his legs carried him ever faster.

---

When he had left, the stepping stone slowly extracted himself from the mud on the river bank and looked gloomily at the remains of his small camping fire that the oblivious hedgehog had just trampled into kingdom come. It stared after the Blue Blur and his happy trail of destruction.

"Why does everybody hate me so much?" Omochao asked in a desolate sort of voice.

Just then, a random duck hunter thought he had heard something and took aim.

---

Sonic, meanwhile, was bouncing off tree trunks and getting slightly woozy from the spinning and adrenaline combined. He stopped, trying to get a grip on himself as he leaned against a lichen-covered stone.

A date…that important something was a date and it should be around now…but what had that date been about? And when was it exactly?

He shrugged, and continued running, jumping on a wet branch where he planned to practice his grinding skills.

Truth to tell, Sonic didn´t even know what day today was. He had been out in the wilderness for quite a while now, sleeping in caves or in trees at night and running from dawn till dusk. He was by no means forced to do that but enjoyed it rather a lot. Every once in a while, he would start feeling smothered in Station Square so the hedgehog just went high-speed trekking for a week or so if he felt like it. Eventually, lack of food (no berries or feral fish could substitute Chili Dogs!) would drive him home again, but until then, the world was his to explore and nothing would bring him back to civilization before that.

Naturally, his friends stayed at home; Tails rather tinkering with his machines ("Look, Sonic, I made another plane that will crash eventually!"), Knuckles of course still guarding that hunk-a-rock of his, and Shadow being too busy angsting on stereotypical high buildings to enjoy something as trivial as company. Eww.

Damned Eww, if you were Shadow.

Sonic smiled as he thought of them, leaning his body over the left side to avoid hitting a bird´s nest and relished the feel of warped gravity at such high speed while marvelling at his own reactions.

Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. Sonic ground to a halt, then hopped down lightly and landed on the forest floor nearly without a sound. His ears flicked in all directions as his gaze was trying to penetrate the thick green foliage on either side.

He was no longer alone.

But even with his listening strained, he could not make out a single sound other than the usual nature background noises. Slowly, he shifted his weight from one foot to another, turning in a semi-circle, taking in everything he could, yet discovering nothing.
Constant fighting over the years had provided him with very healthy survival instincts and thus he was fairly sure that there was someone here besides him, someone who was keeping themselves hidden. He could sense it.

As several moments passed without anything happening, Sonic wasn´t so sure anymore. Perhaps he was just imagining things? Maybe it was only because he was too wound up, even if Robotnik in truth had been fairly quiet over the last few weeks.
He shrugged, then took off at top speed. Intruder or not, he´d feel a lot safer when the wall of sound had shattered and there were a few miles between him and the mysterious stranger. After all, nobody could keep up with him at this pace, right?

Even in months to come, Sonic would know better than to ask this question in fanfictions.

As the distance he had covered began to grow, the feeling of danger gradually lessened. The hedgehog idly wished his friends were with him now nevertheless. His thoughts drifted back towards the time he had said goodbye a few days ago…

---

"Sonic! Where are you going?!" Tails had stood in the doorway of his house at the Mystic Ruins and looked quite surprised to see his friend heading out towards the tree line where the wilderness would start.

"Hey, Tails!" he had called back, "Just out for one or two weeks, I´m gonna go explore some more of those red mountains. Try not to let Eggman conquer the world while I´m away, okay?" He had winked and prepared to dash off again when the little fox had interrupted him.

"But…no! You can´t!"

Sonic frowned. "Why?"

The kitsune was now shifting distinctly uneasily. "Because…because…you really have no clue?"

His blue friend just stared at him, tapping with one foot as he received no direct answer.

"No, Tails, I don´t. And I´d really like to get going now, so…"

"Please, Sonic, don´t! It´s because we…"

"Look, li´ll buddy, I´m sure it can wait, right? After all it can´t be that important or else I´d know it. So, catch you in two weeks!" And with a flash of azure he was gone, leaving a rather annoyed-looking fox cub behind. He really didn´t like shrugging his friends off like that but once Tails started prattling on about something or other you could start to grow mushrooms out of your ears without noticing it. Better to cut him short before he started.

Oddly enough, with Amy it had been the same. Of course, the pink hedgehog was never fond of letting him go, but this time she, too, had tried to hold him back and tell him something. Which fortunately was quite hard to do when the object of your attention was already a hundred yards away and still accelerating. (And he had to, since on that day he had actually said he´d take her out to Twinkle Park...) Well, maybe he would just apologize to them later.

Knuckles had been a teensy bit more upset…

"You promised you would help me clean up the mess you and Robotnik wreaked upon my island! I only helped you fight him because you did!"

"Yeah, but look, Knucklehead, we can do this later, right? I mean, I feel like going on a hike and when my feet itch to run, I run. Simple as that."

"Considering that your feet almost always seem to do that, I´d rather think you have some kind of fungus. Now get your blue butt up here and help out!"

"No way, Knux, sorry."

"You cheating, arrogant…" the echidna then had seemed to remember something and continued in a slightly less angry voice: "Hey, and what about this weekend?"

"What´s the matter with this weekend?"

"Well, Tails and us were naturally sorta planning to…"

"Sorry, the connection is suddenly incredibly bad. Call you back when I find the time, okay? You can start the cleaning without me, how about that?"

Sonic had hurriedly hung up, leaving a stuttering, incandescent echidna on the other line. Not the nicest tactic, but Sonic hated cleaning work. And even if he had promised anything, he could still do that when he got back, right?

---

He stopped once again, wondering suddenly whether their behaviour might have any connection to the 'important date' that just wouldn´t leave him alone.

And then it him.

'It' being unfortunately a projectile.

He yelled in surprise and pain as something smashed into his side and knocked him to the ground. Instictively he curled and leaped to his feet a few yards away, facing the direction of the…what had it actually been that hit him?

His ribs were still intact although it hurt quite a lot. Why would anybody use non-lethal ammunition when trying to fight against him?

All his wonderings were cut short, however, as he finally saw a pair of eyes shining among the leaves. Neon-red and they did not belong to Shadow.

"M-metal…?"

The robot stepped into full view. "Priority hedgehog confirmed. Commence combat."

"Oh, sh…"

Sonic barely dodged the next attack. Metal Sonic had come blasting at him, blazing claws slashing at his throat. He threw himself backwards to avoid the swipe and rolled out of harm´s way. Getting up, he could feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins, all thoughts of dates now driven from his mind.

"Never giving up, do ya, Mecha? Here we go!"

He tried a simple spin attack and was satisfied with the robot´s reaction who managed to avoid him by a quick jump. There was no fun in fighting if your enemy wasn´t at least nearly on par with you.

Keyword: nearly.

Sonic didn´t really feel threatened. Metal Sonic had never defeated him and never would; a match here in the outback just meant some brief entertainment for him and then a long-distance call to the scrap metal collectors. He laughed and they charged at each other, quills as hard as diamond meeting reinforced steel spikes in mid-air, both bouncing off the other harmlessly and regaining their footing in mere seconds.

The two hedgehogs circled their respective opponent, Metal occasionally shooting another one of these weird projectiles at him which Sonic evaded effortlessly. Neither one of them seemed to have the upper hand for now.

Someone in the woods sighed. This was all taking too long.

Mecha tried to tackle the blue hedgehog and was rewarded with a kick to the back – it dislodged parts of his CPU and he became dizzy, although the cry of pain from the blasted rodent upon receiving an electric shock from Metal Sonic´s hull was worth it.
Still, time to bring this battle to a close. Robotnik had told him not to use his full arsenal but now Metal was going for the kill. Poisonous darts slowly slipped out of his wrists, ready to be shot…

Too late. In the split second that the robot had not been paying attention, Sonic had charged forward at an incredible speed. The blue ball tore through Mecha´s metal leg, audibly cracking it and sending his double crashing down, involuntarily kneeling in the moss and snarling.

Emerald eyes glittered in triumph.

The unseen presence in the woods, however, slapped his forehead and growled. A Chaos Emerald was produced. Now listen closely, and you might even be able to hear two very
well-known words…

---

The explosion took Sonic off his feet.

He screamed in surprise and was abruptly cut short as the collison with a tree knocked the wind out of his lungs. Going limp, he flopped down in a quilly mess at the base of the trunk, feeling as if someone had just taken his spine, wrung it out, hung it on the washing line and then run a cement mixer over the whole thing.

Where the hell has that blast come from?!

His robotic rival had fared far better – already having been on the ground, Metal Sonic had merely rolled over a few times and now got staggering to his feet. Letting his rocket booster do the work instead of his injured leg, he slowly hovered over towards a still prostrate Sonic who was desperately trying to ignore the burning pain in his back muscles and raise himself.

"Still as cocky, hedgehog?"

Clinging to the tree, Sonic had nearly managed to work himself up to a standing position, although his legs were still shaking like puppies out of the bathtub. Metal Sonic was almost on him, his red eyes flaring menacingly, fully aware of his weakness. He really was in trouble now.

"Say your final prayers, my loathsome copy…"

Sonic was still too shocked to believe any of this. Should he really die here, in this remote wilderness, without ever seeing his friends again?! He tried to scramble away from the robot but just fell to the ground again as soon as the support of the tree left him. That explosion had turned his muscles into water…he stared helplessly at Mecha from his sitting position as his metallic double loomed over him.

I´m sorry, guys…for leaving you like this…

A steel-plated hand rose over his head and Sonic shut his eyes tight, bracing himself for the lethal slash.


Okay, so raise your hands who knows what that mysterious date could be.

This fic is becoming quite a weird mix...never wrote something like that before. Please let me know what you think:)

Also, all praise for this story goes not to me, but to Shads, a friend of mine...who is unfortunately too lazy to create their own profile here. I merely helped writing this down and getting it done in English. Hope you liked it.