Sonic the Hedgehog
And a Child Shall Lead Them
By Lucky_Ladybug

Disclaimer: Nack, as always, is Sega's!! Everything else is mine!! :)

The red and blue lights flashed, the sirens wailed, and K-9 units were dispatched to comb through the thick Pacific Northwest woods.

Nearby a frantic mother cried, "If only I had brought Britney in when I heard the telephone ring! If only I had just let it ring! It's just been so hectic since Henry died, and now this! . . ."

A policeman tried to comfort her. "It's alright, Nancy. We'll find Britney," he assured her.

Before long, another policeman and his canine companion emerged from the brush. In the dog's mouth was a small shoe.

Nancy gasped. "No. No . . ."

"We found it near the creek," the policeman said softly. "Is it Britney's?"

Nancy nodded, taking it gingerly and holding it close.

"Oh, Nancy, I'm so sorry," the first policeman said, putting his hand on Nancy's shoulder. "But there's still hope. We're going to keep looking!"

"That's right," the second policeman said, stroking his dog's fur. "We're going back in now."

Nancy shook her head. "If Britney is dead now too, how will I live?"
The lavender-and-white weasel grumbled to himself as he found himself getting tangled in the vine-like plants hanging from the tops of the trees.

"Tarnation!" He unraveled the vines, except for one which attached itself around his left ankle, which he didn't discover until he tried to take a step forward and fell flat on the forest floor. He let out a small yelp of surprise.

As he struggled to get up, he suddenly became aware of what sounded like crying. He pushed his Stetson back on his head and stood up, finally free of the clinging vine. Cautiously he advanced on the nearby bushes, parting them slowly to reveal a forlorn young human girl with pigtailed blonde hair, a blue jumper with a pink T-shirt, and missing one shoe. She looked up with a gasp, her freckled face tearstreaked.

"What're you doing in here, little missy?" the weasel asked.

"I don't know!!" the girl wailed. "I was just chasing the pretty butterfly and then I couldn't find my way back and I fell in the creek and I'm cold and hungry and my foot hurts!!"

The weasel noticed that the girl's clothes were sopping wet. Generally when people first met him he came across as rough-and-tumble and cold, but he had a soft spot for kids . . . especially kids in trouble.

He came closer. The girl looked frightened, but didn't (or couldn't shy away). "What's your name?" he asked.

"Britney," came the soft answer. "Who're you??!"

"You can call me Nack," the weasel replied. "Listen, little missy, can you move your foot?"

"I don't know . . . it hurts!" she exclaimed.

Nack came over and sat down next to her. "I know it does, little missy, but you've gotta try to move it. It's very important."

Britney scrunched up her face as she successfully attempted to move her foot. "It moved," she choked out.

"That's good. That means your foot isn't broken," Nack told her. He paused. "How long have you been gone?"

"Since the sun was high in the sky," Britney replied, who didn't have a watch and who couldn't tell time anyway. "I'm cold!"

Nack held her close, and Britney didn't pull away. Instead a peaceful smile settled on her face. "You're soft," she proclaimed, feeling the silky fur on Nack's arms.

Nack grinned, trying not to laugh. Instead he asked, "Do you know where you live, little missy?"

Britney replied, "Somewhere beyond all the trees, in a nice white house with a big, big yard and a tire swing hanging from a big pear tree!" She coughed.

Nack suddenly felt alarmed. It suddenly struck him that Britney could quickly develop pneumonia after falling in the water, and with night upon them, the temperature had dropped drastically. "Tell you what, little missy, I'd better get you home," he announced.

Britney nodded, but didn't reply.

Nack gathered her into his arms and started out. He had a pretty good idea what home Britney meant, but he wasn't entirely sure how to get there. On a whim (or perhaps due to a possible idea planted by his mother, he thought later), he headed for what looked like a possible path. Sure enough, before long he found the creek and used his tail to spring over it. Britney giggled, enjoying the ride as they flew over the small brook.

Before long, Nack had managed to find a shortcut through the woods and reached the edge, where a frantic-looking woman was pacing, holding a child's shoe.

"Mommy!" Britney called.

Nancy looked up. "Britney!" she exclaimed, practically flying over and lifting Britney into her arms. "Oh, Britney, are you alright?"

"Yes, Mommy, the nice weasel helped me!" Britney chirped.

Nancy looked at Nack. "How can I ever thank you?"

Nack looked embarrassed. "It's okay, ma'am. Just knowing she's safe with her Mama is all the thanks I need." He paused. "By the way, I think she might've twisted her ankle. You better have her checked . . . and get her into some dry clothes. She was starting to cough."

Nancy nodded, holding Britney close. "I will. Thank you again, Mr . . .?"

Nack shrugged. "I have many names," he said. He turned to Britney. "I'll see you around, little missy. You be careful now, you hear?"

Britney smiled and nodded, then motioned for Nack to come closer. She hugged him, whispering, "Thank you, Nack."

Nack blushed. "Don't mention it."

"I was scared and you helped me!" Britney returned.

Nack grinned and ruffled her hair. "I was happy to help, little missy."

As he disappeared back into the brush, he heard Nancy calling, "Britney's been found! She's alive! My baby's alive!!" followed by other comments such as "Who was that carrying her?" "Was that the fierce bounty hunter?" "No! Fang the Sniper?? You must be joking!"

Then Nack heard Britney speak up. "That was my new best friend, Nack. He was there for me when I was all scared, and cold. . . . He's my hero!"

Nack paused. He had never been anyone's hero before. So what if those people realized it was him? He tried to keep up his tough bounty hunter image, but sometimes, he thought, other things were much more important.