Tails' ears flicked upwards as he thought he heard steps descending the stairs. Had someone come up and then went down again? But why?
The young fox shrugged and dismissed the thought, instead putting the purse with his collected savings on his desk where he wouldn't forget it in the morning. It stung in his chest when he thought about all the things he would have been able to buy with that instead of giving it to Raker, but it couldn't be helped.
"I guess I'm just not a hero like you, huh, Sonic?" he asked.
Sonic didn't reply, but Tails hadn't expected him to, either. The blue hero just continued his index finger-waggling gesture on the screen of his television, his pixelated face eternally emblazoned on the title screen.
The video game console the TV was connected to, Tails had repaired himself and he was pretty proud of it. The technology had been ancient and the young fox doubted that there were any like it still functioning.
Sonic the Hedgehog, the protagonist of the century-old game had been somewhat of Tails' childhood idol – and if history (or at least, urban legends) were right, he had even existed at some point in time, battling an evil scientist just like the game depicted…the sole reason why now, more than a hundred years later, kits like him could live in peace and visit schools like Station Square High, where they get perpetually bullied and called freaks, Tails added in his own mind to the official version of his school book.
"I just wish you were still around, Sonic…" Or if there was more than just one game of you in existence.
He had read up on old records in the internet – apparently there had been a second game in planning, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, where the blue speedster had to save his friend. The new character had never been designed, but supposedly would have been called 'Tails' – which had given the young fox kit the idea for his nickname in the first place, it had just seemed so fitting! Tails loved to play pretend when he was lonely (read: he played pretend a lot) and he had imagined all kinds of adventures he would have gone on with Sonic, just like in the game…
But reality couldn't be changed. He had to give them his money tomorrow.
Raker would make good on his threat otherwise and Tails didn't want any trouble for his uncle Merlin or worry the old fox. His shop was everything to him, containing the fond memories and remnants of one adventurous life. And besides, Tails loved it, too.
"Time for some happier thoughts and pasttimes," he said to himself, trying to pull out of his current funk. The thought of the magic and novelty shop downstairs had reminded the kit of his favourite hobby and current project anyway.
Eagerly, he got out the box that had already been lying underneath his bed for some years now, but on which he always worked when he had inspiration or time.
He dumped the disassembled parts onto his desk and got out the screwdriver that Cream had retrieved for him. It was a very fine and expensive tool and Tails hoped somewhat that it might help him to finally repair the mysterious objects.
"Let's see…there's a chip that could go here…"
His uncle had lots of strange and old stuff down there in his shop, hidden away in corners, on shelves and in the cellar. 'Magic' tricks were often based on intricate and sometimes fascinatingly progressive machinery, so Tails loved to study and work on broken things and from time to time even repair them. (Earlier, his skills had merely been enough to wreck them, but his uncle had helped him even through this time with a smile and a grinding of teeth.)
The two objects that nearly looked exactly alike seemed to have been smashed and molten beyond help, though. He had discovered them in the same box that had also held the Megadrive video game console, where they had been covered in dust, but Tails still wouldn't give up. The desire to know what exactly those objects were was driving him. He had already painstakingly repaired the outer white and black plastic hull of both, and slowly, a more distinct shape began to emerge.
Tonight it was actually going great. Better than ever, even if his whole body hurt from today. His hands flew over the working space, sliding plates and bolts into place, gluing on rubber rings on the underside and carefully replacing molten parts. Now he even thought he could finally recognize what those things were…!
Tails frowned. He had been working for years on those things to find out that they were shoes?!
"Strange shoes…" he frowned, turning the pair in his hands this way and that.
"Hey, that almost looks like a Chaos Energy receptor!" he exclaimed as he looked more closely at one of the chips he had so hurriedly slipped into place earlier.
The Chaos Emeralds were a thing of legend, of course, but Chaos Drives were now the most used power-source…even the young fox had some up here, mostly for the toy planes he sometimes engineered.
Biting his lip to not bend any of the electrodes, he carefully extracted two of the green Drives from his drawer and then connected their ends to the chips.
At first, nothing happened.
Then, the soles erupted into fire.
The fox gasped, his eyes blinded by the light, engulfing everything until Tails' whole world consisted of blazing brightness and nothing more.
Merlin looked up at the ceiling, frowning. He could have sworn he'd just heard his nephew scream…
And then he was suddenly cut off and slumped to the floor, because an insane axe murderer just climbed through the window. Yeah, right. I'm really getting old. Probably shouldn't be watching those horror movies anymore, either…
In Tails' room, the young fox picked himself off the floor. Dizzily, the small twin-tailed figure looked around, as if he didn't recognize his surroundings at all. Then, his gaze fell upon the Sonic the Hedgehog title screen.
"I can't remember who that is, but for some reason he bugs me already."
The fox turned around to the table and froze as he beheld the shoes. Hesitatingly, he reached out to touch them, as if he couldn't believe they were real. Then he grabbed them in one lightning-quick movement and slid them on hurriedly, apparently sighing in content as he stood again. A gloved hand touched the purse that was still lying on the table at that.
"Oh, right…" his voice growled. "Raker…"
The small fox picked up the phone, got out the class list and dialled a number. Soon after, Merlin did a double take as he heard the door slam, his nephew not even bothering to say goodbye.
The old fox glanced at the clock.
"Almost midnight…!" he rushed out. "Miles! Come back! This is no time to be out alone for a young kit!"
But the street was already deserted.
"He got some nerve, calling us at this hour…" a jackal was growling, pacing the school yard and gnashing his teeth. "But if that kid wants to play, we'll play. Raker doesn't back down from anyone, you hear me?!" He barked at his gang who were quick to assure that yes, Raker didn't back down from anyone and no, they didn't mind at all being out in the cold at this time of night.
"HEY, FREAK! COME OUT NOW!" he roared, his voice eerily echoing through the deserted streets. The thin, rusty skeleton of the monkey bars shivered in the light breeze, as if it had been frightened by Raker as well, but nothing else seemed to happen, until…
"No worries, I'm here."
"What?!" Raker spun around and their gaze fell on a lone figure, sitting atop the school roof relaxed, his silhouette outlined against the moon.
"Huh, how did he get up on there? It's kinda high…" a younger jackal muttered, apparently in awe.
"I don't care how he got up there, idiot! But I want him down, NOW!" Raker bellowed, making the smaller gang member wince and duck, yet the figure on the roof didn't even bat an eyelid.
"If that is your wish…"
The fox stood up and leapt from the rim.
"Wha-?!" A few of the more easily scared youths fled, but most remained there, even if it was only because their fear of the consequences of disobedience was greater than the worry what would happen if the crazed fox landed on their heads.
Nothing like this happened, however.
Instead, jets embedded in the shoes suddenly blazed into life and the figure hovered down, his arms crossed in front of his chest as he descended slowly to land in front of them.
Raker recovered first. "Nice light show, freak. But I don't care for the lame magic from your uncle's shop. You said you had the money, so fork it over!"
The fox smiled.
"Uh, Raker…" the younger jackal was tugging at the bigger one's vest nervously, "mebbe we should go home, I dunt like how he's lookin'…"
"Have I asked for you opinion, bait?!" The white-furred jackal slapped the other one and sent him sprawling onto the ground where he fell silent. "I don't like how your scrawny carcass looks, but do I ever complain? Now let me finish my business," he snarled, before facing the smaller fox again.
"Not so fast," The two-tail held up a hand, seemingly unmoved by the display of viciousness. "I have the money with me in my glove. But let's have a little competition for it first."
"Competition?" Raker repeated. He was more than irritated. Not only seemed Tails to have completely reversed his personality, he had also changed his tone – the kit sounded as if he'd hit puberty and managed to compress two years of breaking of the voice into the time span of one evening.
"A competition," the fox confirmed. "You and me, one against one, no holds barred. No killing, though. The winner gets the money and doesn't get bothered by the loser again."
Raker started laughing.
The small vulpine still smiled.
"Y-you kiddin'?" the jackal howled. "I'll bite you to pieces! You don't stand a chance! You hear me guys?! The foxling's gone insane!" he called back to his gang.
The other teens nodded, hesitatingly. In fact, though, they didn't feel nearly as confident as their leader. Because they had looked at the fox a little bit more closely.
And they had seen it wasn't just his voice and eerie calm that made him different from the Tails of this afternoon – this Tails was also a little taller. He stood different. And the fur on his back and on the back of his head had changed, too…it looked almost like flaring spikes.
But the most disconcerting difference was his eyes. Because, they were sure as hell, those baby blue orbs that had cried so often at their feet had never looked so fierce. And never this crimson.
'Tails' wasn't smiling. It was a smirk and a dark promise.
"Well, Raker?" the fox asked.
"Turning you into pulp should be fun. And I think your uncle will more than willingly cough up some cash when we deliver you and your tails back to your house, separately," the jackal replied, cracking his knuckles. "But perhaps it's not fair if I have all the merriment alone. Isn't that right, my friends...?" He asked, not tearing his gaze from the boy as he waved them to his side like a hunter will call on his dogs when the fox is cornered.
The kit scowled. "I said one on one."
"Tough luck, freak. But you've got to see it from my point of view…I want you to hold still when I tear your appendages off, slowly, and so a few of my pack will have to keep you in position. It's a lot more fun when I don't have to deal with your annoying struggling…more fun for us both, no?" he asked, his fangs once more exposed in a wide grin that was madness, and what was worse, it was a controlled madness, a madness that knew it was mad, madness that revelled at its power, looking forward to inflict pain once more…
"Alright, guys? Let's have fox fry tonight..." Raker growled with a twisted joy riding on his words, and the teens got into motion, all of them wishing never, ever to see that grin up close. They were reluctant at first, but then came with more vigour, as it became apparent everyone was moving. After all, even if that fox looked a little bit more freaky tonight, it was still ten against one, right? What could he possibly do?
And, as one, they charged.
The spot the fox had been in suddenly was empty. Confused, their heads whirled and they beheld him some ten yards further off, puzzled as to how he could have gotten there so fast.
'Tails' snipped his fingers. An emerald green fire started to burn in his hands.
"You violated the rules first," he said, "That means 'No killing' is off, too."
His smirk spread into a grin, but it wasn't one of innocent mirth. Their eyes watered as they thought they could see gold rings materialize on his ankles and wrists.
"Say, jackal…have you ever heard of Chaos Spear?"
The alarm clock rung as always at 6.30 am and a gloved hand slapped it silent. The young fox sat up in his bed and yawned. He felt incredibly tired, almost as if he'd been up all night. Even his head pounded, as if it suddenly was more…crowded?
The amber-furred figure stretched, ignoring the protests of his sore muscles and the nonsense thoughts that one gets in the early morning.
When did I even go to bed…?
Tails frowned. He couldn't remember. The last thing he did was working on those things that had turned out to be shoes and then…his gaze flickered to his desk.
"The shoes! They're gone!" he gasped, but then noticed that they were, in fact, on his own feet. And fit very snugly, at that. Had he ever put them on?
Heh. Maybe I'll wear them for school. That would be at least one nice thing today... Sighing, he snatched the purse from the table as well and opened his door to continue down to breakfast.
"Morning, uncle Merlin!" He called, but apparently his uncle had already opened the shop and eaten breakfast without him. Shrugging, Tails poured himself some milk and sat down. His gaze fell on the newspaper and blue eyes became the size of his own saucer.
A kid from Station Square High attacked. Victim in coma, cause of damage not yet confirmed, medical staff puzzled. Perpetrator unknown. Nine others scared out of their wits and refusing to talk.
Name of victim: Raker the Jackal.
Tails could feel a cold shudder running down his spine that had nothing to do with the morning chill.
End of Prologue
"Then again, maybe I should just stop reading manga," the fox muttered to himself. "Especially that Game King stuff."
Whoever said it would be Sonic to the rescue?
And poor Raker, he just doesn't seem to learn, does he...
Allright! Heh, originally that was intended as a one-shot-ish drabble, but now I received such a lot of cool feedback that it got the ideas flowing...meaning there is an entire story in the works! It will take some time before I actually start uploading it though...first I need to finish either Burning Arrow or Life, and secondly for the backstory for this to work I need to play sonic nextgen...for which I don't own the console. T.T
But never fear, this won't die - for chaos is sure to ensue when Tails has to face a frightened jackal cub at school, Manic gets into trouble with his old gang, Merlin has something an arrogant teenage billionaire wants, and a new, shy, white-furred British exchange student arrives who might just have something in common with the twin tail...and what's that about an escaped convict?! And of course, there's still a certain blue hedgehog who hasn't shown his face yet - all of this and more to come in "Tails" of Shadow(s)...so put this on alert and please review:D
And mind you, I almost had it like this:
Tails (hovering down in front of Raker): Since you were so kind to release me, my master, I will grant you a wish...
Side note: As for the crossover, this is of course Yugioh! and anyone who doesn't know it and takes a look at the first chapter of the manga might be pleasantly surprised...;) as always, no knowledge required for continued reading. If I ever start to write three chapters full of a very detailed card game, though, you might wanna get Knux to whack me upside the head. I don't think there will be any of that sort, though...anyone not familiar with the series might want to check out the ' yugioh abridged series' by LittleKuriboh, though, via google. Funny even without the background knowledge and highly entertaining.
End rant. Your thoughts:D