Disclaimer: If I owned this game, it would have had some decent cutscenes.
Important Note: Welcome to this story! You can read this regardless of whether you've played the game or not and you will be able to enjoy it. This is a Sonic and the Secret Rings adaption, meaning that it won't follow the storyline exactly, although I can point out where I'm differing from the canon. It picks up slightly earlier than the game starts. The preface is a tidbit from later in the story to stir your appetite, Twilight series style. ;) Summary curtesy of Asher Tye, who also offers some excellent Sonic stories on this site - check them out!
Please read and have fun!:)
Burning Arrow, Wildfire Heart
"I offer up your life, blue hedgehog!"
Sonic tensed. The blade was rushing to meet his unprotected skin. He knew he had to dodge, even if the cursed fire consuming his heart would kill him either way. But Sonic never had expected someone else to react faster. Never had expected someone else to protect him for a change. And he would never had expected his friend to die, even as she screamed when the sword cut into her back.
And the creature laughed. He laughed, as he transformed, laughed as the magic was changing him into an awful epitome of creation gone wrong and he was laughing still at the prostrate hedgehog before him, powerless.
There was nothing he could do. Sonic's hands trembled, holding the lifeless body and he wished the Chaos Emeralds were there, so he could transform too, and fight, but they were away, as far away as the soul of this girl…
And even without looking at the now dying flame on his chest, Sonic knew he had failed.
Chapter 1: The Horrors of Presents
A bright and shining cruel sun crept over the horizon, taking great care to especially poke one very wasted and very tired blue hedgehog straight in the formerly sleeping eye.
At least, that was how it seeemed to Sonic. He yawned and stretched, taking in the mess he had been lying in, which happened to be his apartment in Station Square. He and his friends had celebrated his birthday here last night and gotten a little bit carried away, it seemed.
The blue hero groaned and massaged the temples of his aching head.
Mental memo: Never let that albino bat get close to the party punch again.
"Oh Soooonic! Time for breakfast!"
He winced as he recognized the voice of Amy Rose as it was coming way too cheerful for this early in the morning from the kitchen. Still, the smell of coffee that came wafting with it made it suddenly a lot more agreeable and Sonic raised himself to trot over. The only other person present beside the two was Tails who still lay snoring heavily upon the couch. The hedgehog smiled and let him sleep, stepping into the kitchenette and leaning against the fridge.
"Morning, Ames. Where's Knux and the rest?"
Amy, still very beautiful and fresh-looking despite the long night, beamed at his appearance.
"Oh, he said he had to go get some things from the city and left early. I don't know about Shadow. Rouge, I think she already went late last night. But of course, in your state you wouldn't have noticed that, I guess?" she asked, casting him a mock reproving glance.
"…can I just get some coffee, please? My head hurts."
"Case in point."
Nevertheless, she smiled as she passed a mug towards him which Sonic accepted gratefully as he sat down. Amy, obviously happy to have at last some private time with him, settled herself closer immediately. Since she had also made coffee for him, Sonic actually didn't find it in him to mind it that much - Amy was occasionally (well, okay, often) hyperactive and perhaps slightly obsessive, but it was true that she had a tendency to grow on you - much like a sort of cute case of lichen, Sonic had thought wryly at times. He raised his mug in thanks.
"How are you today? I hope you enjoyed yourself on your birthday. I know I did." She laughed a little at this last statement and laid an arm around the blue hedgehog, simultaneously resting her head against his shoulders.
Now Sonic panicked a little – Just what on Mobius have I been saying/ doing to her last night?! – but was saved from further worried guesswork as the doorbell rang.
Amy, seemingly disgruntled at this disturbance of her private hedgehog heaven, sighed and went, leaving Sonic to fight back the still regrouping headache with his own private armada of caffeine. When she returned not a minute later, she was waving a small brown box in her hands excitedly.
"Look, Sonic, a parcel for you! Just what could it be?!"
If -I- have had -one- mug of coffee, this girl obviously had the rest of the packet. Sonic raised a questioning eye ridge at the proffered box but then still took it with a cautious "Thanks."
"Go on, open it!" Amy grinned at him expectantly, plonking down opposite him again. Sonic shot a somewhat puzzled glance at her, but then proceeded to open it, now definitely slightly curious himself.
His eye ridges went upwards as he saw what was inside it – the paper revealed an old, leather-bound book beneath it, radiating an aged dignity. The edges were cased in brass metal with several small, colourful stones set in it; somehow, they seemed to be glowing. Finally, Sonic's eye ridges rose as he read the title -
"Oh Sonic, do you like it?! I picked it especially for you, it looked so pretty!"
The blue hedgehog winced again. The last time Amy had picked something as a present which 'looked SO pretty!' he had ended up with a gold ring around his neck – that he still wore actually, due to the fact that nobody knew how to get it off. The Egg Pawns who had put it on him sadly were not models equipped with a visual memory databank and Sonic had been sort of unconcious at that time. (1) Sonic was just glad that Shadow, who was rather excitable on that point, had already taught everyone (in quite memorable lessons) that male hedgehogs wearing gold rings as jewelry were NOT to be made fun of.
"Uh…thanks, but why…?"
"It's your birthday present, silly! Don't you remember that I didn't give you anything yesterday?"
Oh, Sonic remembered. He had just chosen not to say anything since he had been fearing to end up with a ring in his ear this time.
"…now that you mention it, of course! Thanks a lot, Amy, it looks really interesting!" Relief flooded him as he realized that he was safe from any more jewelry-based attacks this year. He hugged the pink hedgehog with one arm who immediately turned a deeper shade of pink.
"I'm glad you like it. Sorry that it's one day late, but I had to order it via the Internet and the mailman only brought it just now…"
"That's okay. But, ah…" he gently disentangled himself and tried his most engaging smile.
"Hey, how about we breakfast together later? It's just, after that night I feel like I really need a morning run, then I'll come back. I'm just going to race to the red mountains and maybe the coast, shouldn't take longer than a heartbeat."
He saw her somewhat disappointed face at this, understood, and winked: "Don't worry, I'm sure Tails will still be asleep when I get back. If you look at him now, he could be hibernating."
"Oh…okay. I'll set the table, then. Hurry, right?" she was obviously pleased that he knew what she wanted but still sounded a little bit anxious, her lips turned up in a timid smile.
"Hey, you're talking to the fastest thing alive!" A quick grin and he was gone, straight through the window and down the wall, relishing the feel of the fresh morning air on his face.
In fact, the 'heartbeat' Sonic had mentioned became more of a 'half-hour' as the miles stretched on, but the blue speedster was confident that he still had not broken his promise: Surely the small fox would still be dreaming soundly and it was only reasonable to assume that Amy would enjoy his company a lot more when he was actually well warmed up and relaxed – something he could only achieve by at least shattering the wall of sound a few times.
Filled with high spirits to the brim, Sonic dashed back to his apartment, ravenously hungry and looking forward to breakfast with his pink friend.
He was surprised, therefore, when he later entered his kitchen and found it empty.
Tails, as predicted, was sprawled on the couch and seemed to have not moved an inch, but of Amy there was no trace. Sonic frowned. The table was still set for two. But the food was untouched.
No answer. He glanced around the kitchen, and his gaze fell onto the opened fairy tale book, lying innocently on the table where Amy had sat. For a single, strange moment, Sonic even thought he had seen the letters on the page move, but then rapidly shook his head. Clearly, more coffee was in order still. He closed the weird tome with a resounding thud!, deciding to have a look at it later. But if Amy had got fed up with waiting for him and had left...no reason to waste a perfectly good breakfast, right? Sonic did feel a twinge of guilt at the thought, but a growling stomach could be persuasive... He sighed, shaking his head and stepping over to the couch.
"Hey, Tails. Wakey-wakey!" he grinned, bearing down on the amber fluffball on his sofa and poking it for good measure. The fuzzthing twitched.
"Nothing doing, li'll bro. You either get up peacefully or I'll dump so much cold water on you that we'll have to hang you up on your namesakes to get you dry."
Two small ears shot up, turning in all directions, alarmed. "…that's blackmail!"
"You got that right."
Sonic's cheerful mood was enough to lighten even the spirits of a grumpy fox kit with a bad fur day and soon the two found themselves talking and joking as always, reliving the most grotesque moments of last night in between orange juice and aspirin.
"…and I still think tipsy Shadow looked good with that turquoise lampshade on his head – although when he kept calling Knuckles 'Lego-shoes' I didn't think the whole thing would end without a bloodbath, but …hey, what's that?" Tails interrupted himself as his gaze had fallen onto the closed book, still lying at the edge of the breakfast table.
"Huh? Oh, that," Sonic said, trying to sound casual, even if he couldn't quite pinpoint that there was something that made him feel slightly strange whenever he looked at the thing - in a strange way, it seemed to somehow occupy more space than it did, and when he had stared too long, he had started...hearing strange echoes. Like winds across a desert, maybe, even if by now Sonic was seriously wondering whether he had maybe accidentally drunken more of that punch last night than he'd thought. He tore his gaze away from the tome again, trying to focus on Tails. "Amy left it here as a present for me. Title sounds familiar somehow."
"It's the famous Arabian Nights, Sonic. A collection of foreign fairy-tales and adventures from the eastern countries, there are supposed to be over a thousand. The most well-known are the ones of Aladdin, Ali Baba or Sinbad the Sailor." The young fox had picked up the book now and was stroking its cover admiringly. He didn't seem to find anything odd about it at all, so Sonic supposed it really had to have been him. He cleared his throat.
"…if you say so. You interested in that kind of stuff?"
Tails's cheeks reddened slightly. "Uh-huh, I, I actually happen to like fantasy a lot. Would you mind if I borrow the book?"
"Not at all. I wonder why Amy even gave it to me, I'm not the reading type anyway."
The two-tailed fox grinned cheekily. "Yeah, I know. You usually only read books with more pictures than text."
Sonic quirked an eyeridge, a flash of challenge lighting up his gaze. "Oh! Oh, I see how it is. The kid I taught to read is getting uppity now." He leaned forward, on the table, his expression mock-severe. "You really wanna go there, buddy? Arguing taste in literature with the hedgehog who was once forced to read 'Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie' to a certain two-tailed fox kid for forty-seven nights in a row for bed time? 'cause I counted."
Tails blushed for a moment, but then immediately turned his nose up, crossing his arms and assuming a haughty expression. "That could have been any two-tailed fox kit!"
"Uh-huh," Sonic replied, non-impressed. "And while we're at it, your books have pictures, too. Don't get on my case for that."
"Ye-es," Tails admitted cautiously, "but actually, the pictures in my books are called 'blueprints', Sonic." The kit reached out to pat the hedgehog's hand. "Probably too complicated for you, I understand."
"This is the point where I will resort to brotherly violence."
"...oh. Fair enough."
The next second, the (already messy) apartment was already filled with lots of squealing, hiding behind furniture, racing-around-the-table, (and a few threats to fly Sonic out of the window and drop him over the swimming pool). It was perhaps five minutes later when both friends found themselves lying on the carpet, panting heavily. Tails turned his (rather dishevelled) head toward his big brother.
"Now will you let me have that book and leave peacefully?"
"…only if you write a summary for me so I can spare Amy's feelings by pretending that I actually read the thing."
Tails left his friend's apartment for the train station quite happily with the book under one arm and his mind in the clouds. Today would be wonderful: Finally no crazed scientists, equally whacko hedgehog robots or generic racist aliens...Just a day for relaxing, day-dreaming and probably also reading the newly acquired action-packed book.
At least, that was what Tails thought until he got the barrel of a gun shoved into his face.
To be continued...
I've already killed Tails once in my fics, will I do it again?! (develops shifty eyes) ...or isn't everything as it seems? Could Shadow be out for revenge for the lampshade incident?
(1) To get the full story behind that incident, please refer to my other two-shot, 'That Special Day'.
Please tell me what you thought of it, I'd really like to know whether you liked it and would continue to read! Thanks for coming with me until here:)