It had been two days since Espio had been freed from the confines of Eggman's laboratory, placed in stasis and had God knew what sort of experiments done to him. The chameleon stretched, tail uncurling itself as he got up from the bunk bed, standing with a yawn. Today was the day he got his test results back from Valdez's team, and he was a little excited but a little nervous at the same time.
Looking to the top bunk, he noticed that Sonic had already left, pursing his lips together. He'd been hoping to talk with the hedgehog, but every time he seemed to have a chance to, someone else either dragged him off or Sonic's attentions were elsewhere. Sometimes he wondered just what it was that the hedgehog did at night, and how the Hell Sonic could stay awake 24/7, but summed it up as the experiments that the doctor had done on his friend.
Shrugging on a jacket that had been made for him, Espio walked out of the room and down the hallway, heading for the labs and making up his mind that today would be the day Sonic told him what was going on, to not only satiate his own curiosity but to know that the other wasn't doing something he shouldn't.
Wings of a Butterfly
Written by Takato Metallium
Disclaimer: I disclaim all rights to Espio the Chameleon, Sonic the Hedgehog/Werehog and other such characters. They are property of SEGA, Sonic TEAM, Yuji Naka, Archie Comics Publications Inc. and other companies that I've probably missed out and not necessarily in that order. I only own the fanfic, the idea, Shadow and Tails plushies and not much else.
"As you know, today is the day we got the test results back from further down," Valdez said, admiring how much had changed in his friend these past couple of days – really, was he the only one making sure Espio ate properly? "So are you ready?"
The purple chameleon gave a deep sigh and nodded, earning a shit-eating grin from the other and Valdez turned his attention back to the computer behind him, touching the screen and opening up a folder under Espio's name. The charts made Espio confused, but the former Chaotix didn't say anything as Valdez pointed to a graph in one screen. "Okay. Here we have the varying abilities that we've encountered so far – these include telekinesis, pyrokinesis, hydrokinesis, metamorphosis, and other such abilities."
The scientist studied the chart for a moment's time, pursing his lips together as he brought up another screen, this one with a picture of Espio's skeletal diagram, and the outer flesh in a separate panel. "Hmm…it looks like you're able to manifest something. What that something is we don't know at the moment…I suppose we'll find that out on the battlefield in the right situation. They're still testing for kinetics you might have, so that's all we know so far." He closed the screens and turned around to face Espio.
"So what type of power do you have?" he asked with a raised brow, curious to know what his best friend was capable of.
Valdez chuckled, cracking his knuckles as he leant back in his seat. "I have extended night vision and techno kinetics. What that means is, I'm able to access any computer in the world – well, almost any computer –" he corrected himself after a frown of remembering the failed attempts on Eggman's database, "– and hack files and download information and store it all in here." He tapped his head.
"He mostly downloads porn."
"Ash!" Valdez's cheeks turned a bright shade of red as a yellow mongoose sauntered up to them, hands in the pockets of his black jeans, a grin on his face and ruby-brown eyes gleaming out from behind dark specs. "That is so not true and you know it!"
The mongoose, apparently named Ash, kept on grinning as he pushed his specs up his nose and leant against the back of Valdez's chair, giving Espio a once over glance. "So you're the newbie, huh? Don't tell me you're giving him to me. It's bad enough that I've got Mina as a partner…"
Espio frowned at the jibe, but Valdez raised a hand to silence them both. "I've partnered him with Sonic for the meantime, at least until Knuckles gets back from Downunda. Espio, meet Ash, and vice versa. Ash is our resident pyromaniac and sound kinetic."
"Yo." The black-haired mongoose gave a cocky salute and Espio was reminded of the attitude that Sonic used to have. "Speaking of Blue, where is he? I've got some information to give him. One of my boys on the inside hit the jackpot."
"Oh? Do tell." Valdez tilted his head, looking at Ash as Espio leant against the computer desk, waiting for him to continue.
"Well, y'all know how Eggman's been dissecting his victims since this all began five years ago, right?" A nod from both chameleons and Ash continued, fishing around in his jacket pocket for a packet of cigarettes before Valdez shot him a glare and his questing hand pulled out from the confines of material without them. "Apparently he's been using the empty husks as hosts for Dark Gaia's minions, who reanimate them but they're like zombies."
Espio stared at Ash, unable to comprehend what he was saying. There…somewhere out there were the reanimated shells of Vector and Charmy's bodies, being animated by someone who was not themselves, ordered to do things he knew they would never do. Valdez cocked a brow when he saw the look on Espio's face. "Oh no. You're not going to do what you're thinking about doing because you don't have the training to combat this threat yet." The blue chameleon turned around in his seat and picked up his cell phone, punching in a number and holding it up to his ear. "I'll send a special task force to deal with this…"
A hand enclosed over his and Valdez watched as it shut the phone just as its call was answered, looking back over his shoulder at his best friend who had a firm look on his face. "No. I'll deal with it. If it's Vector and Charmy…"
"Dude, don't get your personal feelings involved in all this," Ash said with a shrug and a noncommittal shake of his head, ruby eyes looking at Espio from behind his specs. "Doing that only makes things worse. Y'know how Blue's…well…not like he was?"
"Ash…" Valdez said with a small growl in the back of his voice, but the mongoose ignored him, leaning against an empty workbench, whereas Espio nodded, a brow raised at the information Ash was about to tell him.
"He thinks it's cause'a how he handled a mission that th' Freedom Fighters are all dead." Ash twirled a lock of hair around his finger, ignoring the violent glares he was receiving from Valdez. "Eggman had the Princess, see, an' Blue lead them on what was a suicide mission, had them split up to find 'er Royal Highness."
"That's enough, Ash," the blue chameleon ground out through his teeth, but the pyromaniac went on ignoring him.
"O'course, doing that only enabled Eggman to take them one by one. Th' Princess was dissected in front of Blue…"
"Please, no more." Espio rubbed his temples as Ash stopped talking, a deep sigh leaving his lips before meeting those dark eyes hidden behind equally dark specs. "I…I would prefer it if Sonic were to tell me what happened himself."
Valdez rolled his eyes, looking at his wristwatch before looking back at the other two. "Would you mind finding him and telling him Ash's news?" he asked Espio, who looked at him with a blink of his eyes. "I can almost guarantee you'll find him in the graveyard around about this time." His friend nodded and left the laboratory, smirking at the sounds of Valdez giving Ash an earful and a good wallop.
It had become dusk a lot sooner than Espio realised as he wandered out of the compound. He hadn't seen his roommate all day and so, thankful for Valdez's tip, headed for the graveyard that stood where Central City Park once did.
Approaching the cemetery, the chameleon couldn't help the cliché feeling of being watched, his golden amber eyes looking around and keeping an eye out for the other. "Sonic?" he called out, and his ears caught the sound of rustling and wind and he turned his head, looking the other way now. "If you're trying to scare me away, it's not working…"
"What're you doing here?" Espio jumped at the voice close to his ear and turned, meeting Sonic's dark jade eyes, a small snarl resting on the hedgehog's lips. "You shouldn't be here. If Valdez sent you, tell him…"
"Well, he sort of did," the former Chaotix member said, cutting off Sonic's half-hearted threat. "I also came here of my own free will." He pursed his lips together, watching the way the sun sparkled on the edge of Sonic's gaze. "Ash said one of his people on the inside gathered information on what happened to the bodies of those that Eggman dissected. Apparently he…"
Espio was cut off as a sudden growl left the hedgehog's throat as the sun finally went down behind the crumbled skyscrapers of the city. His lips pulled back like the hackles of a dog, and Espio got a full-eyed view of shape shifting teeth, watching the usually blunt molars change and become sharper, looking like they could rip the flesh off of something. He backed away as Sonic's blue fur became a deeper shade bordered with grey, ears becoming pointier and form becoming more muscled.
"Oh my…" he breathed, taking in the appearance of the other. Dangerous jade green eyes looked at him from the hawk-like gaze, a loud snort coming from Sonic's nose. Instead of backing away and running like any normal person would have done, Espio edged closer, reaching out and touching the dark blue fur that decorated Sonic's chest, lightly gliding his fingers through it before the hedgehog backed away, keeping distance.
"So this is why you're never in the room when it's time to sleep." Espio raked his eyes over Sonic's body again, biting his lower lip. "Eggman's doing?" A low grumble was his response and Sonic gestured to the moon before curling his hands into a shape as though he was holding something. "Chaos Emeralds?" A snort. The chameleon smiled in understanding. "You can tell me about it when you're back to normal."
Sonic sighed in appreciation, turning his head to look at the graves of his former teammates before his ears flicked back and his eyes narrowed, a small snarl coming from his throat as his lumbering form straightened itself from its hunched position.
Espio's eyes narrowed as well, looking around them. "Trouble?" A huff was his response and Sonic made a hand gesture towards the direction of the base. Espio shook his head firmly, backing up against the Werehog and dropping into a low fighting stance. "No way."
Another sigh left Sonic's lips before he shrugged and brought his large fists up as eyes glowed in the darkness around them. Espio swallowed deeply, watching the eyes look at them before a loud roar from his companion nearly made him jump as Sonic charged.
Purple lashed out at him and Espio ducked, then jumped over another lash of light, landing on the side of the only tree that remained in the park-turned-graveyard, watching them crawl out of the darkness into the streetlight that flickered overhead. Drooling, mindless creatures with demonic faces looked up at him and when Espio looked closer, he could see human and animal alike, reanimated just as Ash had said.
Rage boiled inside him, clouding his vision and he clenched on of his hands into a fist. Without thinking, he threw it back, feeling something connect at the end of the energy he was sending out and he drew his hand back in, sending half a ruined building crashing into the zombies below.
Espio blinked in surprise at himself, looking at his hand. It was glowing a baby blue hue, tendrils of smoke billowing from the energy. Concentrating, he pulled at the rubble made from the crashing building, watching boulders of all shapes and sizes lift up off the ground. Grinning to himself, he threw them at the approaching wave of zombies, quickly looking for his partner when he had the time.
Sonic appeared to be having the time of his life as his large black claws ripped into the reanimated corpses, sinking his sharp teeth into their flesh when they got too close. The Werehog howled, tearing another zombie asunder as the moon moved behind thin clouds overhead.
That was when flames appeared in Espio's vision and he jumped back, looking for the source of the fire as their enemy screeched in pain. Ash grinned at him, flames licking his fingertips. "Valdez thought a rookie like you could use a hand. Not late to the party, am I?" the mongoose said with a deadly gleam in his eyes, before he turned from him and launched another attack, fire shooting from his palm in a flamethrower.
Espio watched in awe from his perch on the tree, watching the way Ash made his flames combine to form amazing images, like the phoenix that swooped down from the sky to burst against the next wave, screeches filling his ears and heat against his skin. Sonic was trying hard to drive the zombies away from the gravestones, so hard that he didn't notice the ones approaching him from behind.
The chameleon acted quickly, drawing another batch of rubble from nearby and launching it at the approaching enemy. Hearing the sound of shattering rock behind him, Sonic turned his head and flashed a toothy grin in thanks before launching himself back into the fray.
The battle seemed to go on for hours, but neither of the veteran fighters seemed to be giving out. Ash launched a fireball at one group, the trio now back to back with each other. "Tcht," the dark-haired teen said, lowering his specs for a bit to survey the remaining zombies approaching them. "Blue, I don't think we can keep protectin' this area. Somethin's gotta give, an' it don't look like it's gonna be those freaks."
Espio hated to admit it, but Ash was right. Several gravestones were already cracked and rubble, and a loud growl of disagreement ripped from Sonic's throat. The Werehog snarled and howled, making Ash wince and rub his ear. "I don't like it either, mate, but…"
And then, out the corner of his eye, Espio saw sunlight peeking over the horizon. The zombie creatures, too, seemed to notice and hissed, snarling as they backed away, retreating back to the darkness before the sun could rise fully. Sonic smirked over his shoulder at Ash before he grunted. The mongoose pulled Espio away from him, and the both of them watched as Sonic's hulking form was seemingly absorbed back into his body.
The hedgehog shook his head and rubbed his forehead, then snarled wildly and approached them, jabbing Ash's chest with a finger. "The graveyard isn't to be destroyed," Sonic growled, his voice sounding hoarse from the howling and snarling he'd done in his other form. "I don't care if it's down to the last gravestone, but we won't let those who died in vain be forgotten. GOT THAT?"
Ash sighed and pushed the finger jabbing his chest away, looking off to the side, but his eyes flickered to look at Sonic from behind his specs. "Yes, sir."
Sonic pulled back and regarded the younger teen with a look of disdain before he turned to Espio. "As for you, we better get you back down to the labs. You might've overexerted yourself from using your powers too much for the first time."
The chameleon shook his head. "I'm fine…" Even as he said this, his world spun and he raised a hand to his head, a small moan escaping his lips before he fell forward into waiting arms.
And the world turned dark once more.
– end chapter two –