Cream's suggestion, which Marine agreed with, was to go to an ice cream parlor and have some treats. Well after midnight, they then decide to have a walk through Central City Park and talk about life. The conversation revolves around Marine's background and she gets real deep and emotional, especially when talking about her younger siblings.
Both felt a connection and while they wanted to continue, they stopped because Cream was getting tired and Marine had internal issues with whether or not she is going too far too soon with these foreign feelings that could mean love and not sex. Cream offers to send Marine back to the barracks, but she declines, saying she can make it on her own.
Cream then saw an unusual and awkward site of about four chaos tending to a small fire. Given that it was a hot night, there was no need for a fire. Going closer, she heard some familiar screams, which caused her confusion. Before she could get closer, Shadow and Alicia come in and tell Cream to go home because she's in a danger zone. She didn't respond, only doing what Shadow told her to do.
DISCLAIMER: Marine, Cream and all other related characters and properties are owned and operated by SEGA Corporation and Sonic Team. This author makes no such claims and is not paid or compensated for the production of this fiction. Please do not flame.
(Chapter 13- Rose-Colored Glasses)
"What do your coordinates say, Alicia?"
"The system says that the chaos energy should be about fifteen meters east by northeast," she responds as the two of them walk toward the direction of what should be the site only for the blip on the satellite map to suddenly disappear.
While Shadow is intent with walking over to the site in question, he's stopped by his co-worker. "Shadow, hold on! It's gone!"
Turning around after stopping, Shadow asks Alicia, "What the hell do you mean, 'It's gone'? You told me it's here. We should see it."
"Well, do you see anything here? This is actually the spot where it's supposed to be, but…nothing and the mark disappeared on my navigation."
Shaking his head, an old proverb hit him right in the face. It was déjà vu all over again as this is the fourth time in which high levels of chaos energy has appeared in the Central City area, both urban and suburban, and they haven't been able to catch it. It's getting really old for him as he says to Alicia coming closer. "You're equipment, these last ten days, has been leading Rouge and I on a wild goose chase, and for what? We still don't know why the hell Chaos energy keeps rearing its ugly head and we keep coming back to square one because each time we hit a dead end. We need something better because even when we're in the vicinity, it shows up and ships out like it's on the next transcontinental flight out of here."
"Don't blame it all on me," says the sassy female squirrel. "Remember, we've been getting these reports from our higher-ups. They're the ones who want us to check up on this information and we're only following orders. That's not something you can justifiably rest on my shoulders, so just watch what you're saying. There's always more to the puzzle than just the pieces."
Shadow can't argue with logic, especially when it's coming from a voice aiming to be as fair as she can and putting matters into their proper perspective. Nodding his head, he tells her, "You're right. Maybe we should relook all of these things and see what develops. You've saved all our coordinates, right?"
"I wouldn't be an agent worth my nickel badge if I didn't." Alicia, looking over the screen of her device for a few more seconds, asks Shadow, "Rouge was told to go home and take time off after getting into a fight with a Midshipman, right?"
"But…that doesn't mean that we can't have her looking at some paper to help us during this matter."
"What are you getting to, Alicia?"
"I'm saying," she replies, "Rouge can't do anything strenuous, but I just need as many heads as I can get looking at this data to see if there's a common bond. If we find it, maybe we can find a code to get ahead of them before they cut and run. I'll call her and see if we can look at this stuff at her home."
"All right," Shadow concedes. Looking back in the area where the chaos energy was supposed to be, he remarks, "I can't stop you, but who knows if she'll even be up for it, even if we're looking over data. When she went home on Thursday, she practically fell into her bed and wasn't answering most of my calls."
"Do you know of anyone she could contact to help her during this time?"
"Well, it's interesting," Shadow remarks. "Rouge then told me that her mom wanted her and her sister, Rose, to connect more because of a volatile situation that affected her and, in turn, left the family quite frazzled. If you want to know more about it, I think she'll answer any questions you have."
"So her sister is gonna be there to watch over her?"
"Alicia, I heard something of that sort, but I couldn't give you an absolute yes or no." As Shadow continues his explanation, he brings out his cell phone and proceeds to dial his comrade's number to confirm his arrival. "Rouge left that sort of ambiguous, but I'll squash any concerns you have in just a moment."
"We're not far from her home, so let's just keep walking," Alicia figures. "We'll be there before you know it."
Fifteen minutes pass as the two agents makes their way to Rouge's house and see a bat creature exit the house. Alicia initially believes she's spotted her associate leaving her home, but a closer look reveals a younger face with less of a figure than the thirty-year old Rouge and a pink complexion. On pure assumption, she yelled out to the bat, "Hey, excuse me!"
The female bat turned around not recognizing the squirrel, but remembering the black hedgehog in pictures and stories from Rouge. "Yes?"
"Would you happen to be Rose the Bat?"
"Yes. Did you call Rouge about ten minutes ago concerning some work?"
Glad to know that she wouldn't be running into any trouble while finding Rose, Alicia says, "Yeah. We just wanted to go over a few things with her concerning a recent mission." Walking up to her she introduces herself, saying, "I'm Alicia Acorn and this is Shadow the Hedgehog. We're both from the Guardian Unit of Nations."
"You want to discuss some top secret information that if I were to know about would be enough to off me?"
"Pretty much," Alicia concedes. "Not meaning to be that…blunt, but I think you get the idea. I can't have just anyone knowing these facts."
"Well, not to be a hindrance, but there are a lot of things working against you right now," Rose responds. "It's pretty damn late, Rouge has done nothing but answer the door since I came here and I just got in town yesterday evening. She's eaten a little bit, but most of the time she's just been in bed. How badly can someone get knocked out?"
"If I may," Shadow interjects, "the blow was quite hard. I mean, Rouge gave you the details, right?"
"Yeah, she got thrown against a dumpster by a resurfacing enemy of the family yet cleared to go home that same day. Here I am thinking that your fancy pants government jobs had Cadillac health plans, but…apparently she's well enough to come here, bitch about her head pounding and throw up if I make any sudden changes to the light in her home."
"Have you thought about sending her back to the hospital for further evaluation? It could be something bigger than the symptoms are showing."
"Alicia if Rouge's condition doesn't get any better in the next twelve hours, that's gonna be my next move," Rose replies. "I don't give a damn if she hates hospitals, I have to step in and take a stand for her sake. If my older sister is in no condition to work or take on all this classified information, I'd have to say no. She's been very…moody since I got here. Come on into her room and we'll see if anything's changed."
Rose flies in the direction of the door back into her older sister's home. Alicia walks in that same direction, but gets stopped by Shadow grabbing her by the right arm. "Wait, Alicia," he says softly.
"Shadow! What's gotten into you?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't want Rose hearing me," he whispers. "Just wait for her to go back into the house."
Once Rose makes her way to the door and gets inside the house, Alicia turns around to ask him, "What the hell was that about?"
"I…Alicia, we've been working with Rouge for a good amount of time," he confides. "Did any of that make sense to you at all? Rouge knows what she gets herself into when she goes to work. She takes bumps, bruises and gets into fights all the time because she has to do that. I've never known her to be reluctant about going to the emergency room. And moody? I know she's snarky and somewhat smarmy, but moody? I just never got that out of her and I've known her for over twelve years."
"You think Rose is lying to us?" Alicia inquires. "What reason would she have to do that?"
"Not exactly lying as much as it's stretching the truth. I paid close attention to Rose's words and…they just have me curious."
Shadow's counterpart just is not seeing what he is. "So, you're saying…"
"Look, though I don't want to betray the trust of Rouge and her family, this is eventually gonna come out…no pun intended."
"As you know, a few days back Rouge got into a fight with a Midshipman who travels several cities worldwide on goodwill duty. They have a history together because on one tour last year, this girl named Marine had a one night stand with Rose."
"Everyone in that family was just floored, especially given that Marine cut and ran without saying anything and she never came back to explain herself."
"Oh, my stars!" Alicia exclaims.
"It doesn't end there," Shadow continues, somewhat crestfallen. "Apparently, the family didn't know about Rose's…orientation until she got backed into a corner about Marine and was left naked in the eyes of her folks and siblings. Rouge took it really hard at first because they talked about everything, or so Rouge thought. They're trying to reconcile, from what I've heard through Rogue and though it's tough, they take it a day at a time."
"Well, hate to sound cruel, but there's not much we can do about their family affairs right now. Let's go inside, Shadow. I'm sure Rouge is waiting for us."
"Good idea," he answers as the two of them walk towards the front door of Rouge's home.
While sitting up in her bed and taking notes, Rouge the Bat holds her cell phone in her left hand as she takes notes in her right hand. Nodding, she replies, "I love what I'm hearing from you right now."
Though she's tickled by the voice of someone on the other end of the line, Rose enters the room as Rouge asks, "Just so we're clear, you have enough information to book this tomorrow?" As Rouge continues to listen, her sister listens closely to the sounds of the house and hears two pairs of feet stepping on the stairs. Figuring that the two are coming in soon, Rose signals to her sister to wrap up her call.
Seeing this, Rouge nods to her sister and points her to the door mouthing, 'Watch out for them,' as she quickly tells the individual on the other end, "I have to go. I'll call you in the afternoon. Thank you and goodbye." After shutting her phone, she places it near her clock and pulls her bed covers over her body.
Three seconds later, Alicia and Shadow enter Rouge's room seeing what appears to be a weakened operative finding it difficult to make sudden movements including turning her head to Alicia just to say hello.
"Are you up for some number crunching, Rouge?" Alicia asks.
Getting up and stretching her arms and neck, she answers "I got your call. I'm up to it for now. Be warned, though; if I fall asleep, it's not a life-threatening problem as much as I'm just tired."
"Noted," Shadow remarks. "Okay, Alicia. Let's see if we can make heads or tails of this."
"Yes, sir," she answers placing her unorganized materials onto Rouge's bed and sets up a map large enough for the three in the room to see. Before they go further in their work, Alicia points out Rose, standing by the doorway.
"Uh, here," Rouge says, reaching into her pockets to pull out some money to hand to Rose. The younger bat grabs it and thanks her sister, who says, "Use it for whatever you want. We just need an hour or two together and in private."
"Thanks, sis. I shouldn't be long either," she admits before saying goodbye to Rouge's co-workers and leaving the premises.
A/N: Why did this take so long? Will the excuse 'life got in the way' suffice? What about finding some difficulty in writing this chapter? Well, I think the next step is a brief hiatus, though, because I don't see my other issues ending soon. If I do that, I'll make sure to get chapter 15 out there to you, because a major plot point with the main story and the sub story come together there.