Author's Note: This is something of an AU Sonic story. In it, Sonic, Shadow, Silver, and Amy are siblings drawn into a world of political intrigue, war time conflict, and discrimination for sins they never committed. It's a mix of all Sonic universes, so expect plenty of familiar faces to pop up in places you might expect and some you might not. Hopefully, at the end of the day, you'll enjoy it regardless. Have fun.
Disclaimer: I do not own any Sonic the Hedgehog character or related property.
Chapter One: Charle's Message
All the world changed for Charles Hedgehog with the simple knock on the door. Looking up from his workbench, it took a moment for his eyes to adjust after he yanked the welding goggles off his head; even longer for his mind to adjust to the time and surroundings. A glance at the clock confirmed that he had worked past noon. Was it really after lunch time? The older he got, the more it seemed time slipped away faster than ever.
"The kids are still out." he noted, moving away from monitors and instruments to approach the front door, wary at the presence the knock itself. Not the soft rap of a neighbor coming to call, for certain. Neighbors were at least thirty miles apart out in the edges of the Great Barren. Life was harsh and cruel, but Charles's privacy was second to none and frequent electrical storms made traditional communications useless. A house call was the only way to reach Charles.
He pressed his aging eyes to a periscope by the door, the other end of which was safely hidden from the prying and unaware. In response, his eyebrows lifted and a gasp escaped his lips. He took a moment to swallow the lump in his throat; he would have just as soon been gut punched.
"Come in." He hit the toggle beside the periscope and with a loud electric buzz the door swung open , letting a robed figure in with the dusty, barren wind at his back. No sooner inside and then the door sealed them off from the hellish environment—and not too quickly for their tastes.
Charles approached as the figure drew back its robe and cloak and discarded the garment as though the Barren were clinging to him like a stench. Unencumbered, his black-and-white tail came free with an anxious twitch and a lone eye-the only survivor of the two-took in his surroundings for a brief moment-as old a habit as the straight-backed soldier had ever had-before settling his host.
"St. John." Charles greeted him with an arm's grasp and a thump on the shoulder, "You dirty dog, this is no place for a Sunday brunch. What are you doing here?"
"Trust is what brought me here." The middle-aged skunk said with a note of distaste. "The trust that my message will be delivered and received."
Charles clucked his tongue awkwardly and nodded, "Come into the den, Ian. It'll be more comfortable and I'm sure you want something to drink."
Ian smiled a grim grin, "Nothing better."
Charles moved them from the foyer of his workshop to a sparsely furnished study with little more than an aging computer set to one side, a well worn fridge on the other, and a number of cushioned chairs well past their prime given their condition and aging fashion statement.
The light blue hedgehog grabbed a half-empty bottle and waggled it, "I save this for just such an occasion. Only for old friends, though." He remarked as he poured the potent drink into a small glass.
"Only friends, eh? Then why serve one to me?"
"Out here I can't afford to be picky, I suppose." Charles and Ian gave short laugh and raised their glasses, downing together.
"What news, then?" Charles asked, their pleasantries, such as they were, at an end. "A message from the Royal Strike Force isn't normal."
"No, Charles, and believe me I'm no more thrilled to be playing the errand boy than you will be to hear the message I have for you."
Charles swallowed, "You know the message then?
"No, it's sealed, but knowing you as I do and knowing the situation at the Palace, the content isn't hard to surmise." He reached into his pocket and produced a small disk, roughly the size of his palm. "I'll leave you."
"No need." said Charles, with a deep sigh, "I think I know what it is and you know the answer is no. I know how important my work is to King Acorn, but I prefer my life out here, just me and my kids."
"Far be it for me to criticize a man's preferences," Ian said, lifting his eye to his surroundings, "Though my own preferences run a little less...dreary."
"Home is home and out here I can do what King Max needs without the need for the Palace red tape. The electrical storms keep the Emperor's scouts from flying over and it plays havoc with their magical senses. Out here, I'm left alone by friend and foe alike and I'm happy with it."
"So be it." St. John shrugged, with not a hint of sympathy, "I'm not one to judge, but you don't have to justify anything to me. Best hear the message for yourself." With that, the skunk pushed himself out of the chair and disappeared into another room, leaving the message disk on his chair. Charles stared at it for several moments, each one longer than the next, as dread crept its way up his spine. He stroked his mustache thoughtfully, the graying hairs a testament to a lifetime spent serving other's needs instead of his own. He asked for so little for his himself, but the monarchy wanted to take the only thing he had left: his independence.
A life out in the Great Barren was no easy task, but his solitude and secrecy were worth the effort.
And then there were the kids.
"Come on! I'm wa-a-a-a-ting!" Tall, teenaged, and with a wry grin, the cobalt-furred Sonic the Hedgehog balanced himself precariously on his hand, upside down on the peak of a sharp rock outcropping. As soft lightning flashed overheard in the perpetually stormy sky of the Great Barren, he heard a soft BANG from his right. With a quick shove, he thrust himself into the air as another BANG to his left materialized a boot swinging for his face.
Letting gravity take its course, he bellowed, "HA! SLO-MO!" and began to surf on the barren stones down the rocky precipice, a sheer drop so heavily slanted it was almost entirely vertical. In front of him, a sudden BANG was proceeded by a small flash of a black arm and a white glove as they came swinging at his midsection, but a deft lean back saw him sliding knee first under the swing and back onto his feet.
"You emailed that one!" He cried, leaping into the air and hitting the ground at a rate of speed that defied belief. Dashing with the wind itself, he wove in and out of the barren, rocky canyons and jutting crags that comprised the landscape of the Great Barren.
BANG! A swing missed his left shoulder.
BANG! A foot almost smacked him in the face.
He leaped a third BANG, this time an attempt to sweep his legs, but unable to help himself, he sprang off his hands and spun in the air over his phantom attacker. It proved his undoing as a BANG above him saw a hand snatch him by the ankle and use his forward to momentum to swing him forward and smash him into the ground. His incredible speed saw him grind into the dirt and leave a rut extending halfway into the horizon, at the end of which he came to a rest and coughed a mouthful of dust into the air.
His ghostly assailant materialized out of thin air in a flash of black fur and stared down at Sonic, His midnight, crooked, backwards quills reaching into the air rather than towards the ground, as most hedgehogs. A tuft of white fur on his chest and red stripes down his quills made him a stark contrast to the cobalt blur now resting on the bottom of the Barren dustbowl.
"Faster." The black hedgehog said in a gravelly voice, "But not smarter, Sonic."
Sonic spat a mouth full of dust out, "Says you, Shadow. Smart enough to sneak your girl Jenna out from under your nose."
Shadow's grimace tightened, "You KNEW she was my date."
"Yeah, well, I answered the door and you didn't."
"I couldn't hear the door on the other side of the house."
"You couldn't hear us playing suckface in the hallway at school, either."
Shadow glared down at Sonic with a snarl, but had no comeback.
"Can I help it if she finds me more charming and fun with than you? I mean, what were you planning on doing with your date other than eat a box of rocks so she can sound like you?"
Shadow's fist came crashing down towards Sonic's face, but the nimble hedgehog rolled out of the way.
With a BANG, Shadow vanished from where he stood and reappeared behind Sonic, already in mid-swing, but Sonic again dodged him with a deft sidestep. Sonic spun around with a roundhouse kick, but Shadow had already vanished and reappeared behind Sonic to shove a hard foot behind Sonic's knee and drive him down. Shadow wrapped his arms around Sonic and the two vanished together in a BANG! A moment later, they reappeared over a thousand feet up in the air and began dropping like stones.
"Not cool, Shadow!" Sonic cried, flailing his arms to try and reach Shadow, "Mondo not cool!"
A slim grin crossed Shadow's face as he held himself just out of arm's reach. "Why don't you see if you can flap your arms fast enough?"
"I can flap my fist across your face!"
"I thought you liked going fast. Right now you're the fastest hedgehog falling to meet the ground. Let me know how that meeting turns out!" And with that, Shadow left with a BANG and Sonic swore under his breath as the ground came rushing up towards him.
"I'm gonna run a rut in his room when I wake up from the coma." Sonic swore, closing his eyes as the ground swelled in front of him.
He slammed his eyes shut and waited. The wind stopped rushing in his ears and his lunch went from the bottom of his shoes up to the back of his throat. The only sound he heard was the soft rumble of the distant thunder and the dull whistle of dusty wind blowing across the Great Barren.
Sonic opened his eyes and found the ground had halted its imminent rush and instead of falling down, he appeared to be falling sideways. Arms outspread, he floated a few feet above the dirt and towards an earthen pillar, upon which stood the reason for his salvation.
He spun himself around in mid air, still floating, but able to resituate himself upright, where he spun his legs uselessly in midair. "Come on, Silver. Set me down."
"And lose? You only wish I was as bone-headed as you."
Sonic looked up. Standing on a small outcropping stood the silver-furred hedgehog, his silver bangs jutting upwards worse than Shadow's quilld. One arm outstretched, fingers spread towards him, the other hand holding two fingers to his temple. It was a mystery why holding his fingers to his temple helped to initiate his unique gift to levitate objects, but as with all their unique "talents" there were certain quirks to their usage. Shadow could grab someone and teleport them, but if caught by the wrist or waist, he couldn't teleport out of the hold. Sonic himself tended to use his speed sparingly or risk burning through a pair of sneakers almost daily.
Silver held Sonic in front of him, letting him float, readying his feet with several back-and-forth swings. "No smart alec remarks before I win?"
Sonic nodded and aimed a finger at Silver and said, "Bang."
Shadow came flying out of his teleport, his leg already arching in a massive roundhouse kick. Silver had to drop Sonic and hold his hand up, fingers spread, to block Shadow's attack. Sonic hit the ground and quick-dashed at Silver, who turned back, crossed his arms, and thrust them outward with a great cry "YAH!" He expelled an invisible, concussive force that radiated outward and sent Sonic and Shadow flying backwards.
Shadow teleported behind SIlver, but Silver didn't duck in time to avoid Sonic's flying tackle. Sonic flew into Shadow and Silver and the three rolled on the ground together. Silver levitated them just above the ground, rendering Sonic's speed useless, but Shadow had him by the arm, trying to teleport. Unfortunately for him, Sonic had Shadow by the ankle. For the moment, the three of them gave a small, futile struggle until the realization sank in that they had arrived at an impasse.
Sonic laughed. "This is going nowhere fast."
"Stalemate." Shadow scoffed.
Silver chuckled, "I'm just gonna float us over Devil's Ravine and drop you two in."
"Uh oh." Shadow said, looking around, "Has anyone seen Amy?
A great shadow blocked what little of the sun managed to leak through the clouds and the three hedgehogs glanced up to see a massive boulder the size of a troop carrier bearing down on them as it arched into the air.
"BEAT FEET!" Sonic cried. Silver dropped them and Shadow took both of them into his arms as he took off with a BANG just as the boulder dropped where they were standing. It crashed, broke, and tumbled off into the distance.
BANG! The three hedgehogs appeared on a small rocky cliff, right behind a short hedgehog with soft, pink quills hanging down just off her shoulder. She wore only a dingy white shirt with a pink heart in the center and a short black skirt that stopped midway up from her knees. She held a boulder that had to weight several hundred pounds above her head, scanning the ground below her .
Sonic yelled, startling her into turning around, "Amy, how many times do we have to tell you we don't play Punch-Tag with you?"
"You're too strong." Shadow said, arms crossed as he glared.
"And its unfair because you can break every bone in our bodies with a single hit." said Silver as he used a small push to toss the boulder out of Amy's hands.
Amy scoffed and put her hands on her hips, "Well, *I* wanted to play Gutter-Snipe, but noooo, you guys have to play slap and tickle with each other-as if I can't take a punch in the face."
"Hey, it's mondo not cool to do that to girls." Sonic said, "I don't care how strong you are."
"Well, you guys suck." Amy pouted, kicked at the ground. "I didn't feel like sitting at the lab again, helping Uncle Chuck move heavy equipment or watching him build stuff I don't understand."
"Yeah, Silver said, shaking his head, "Me neither."
"Third." Shadow snapped his fingers, "How about a game of Frack-Tackle?"
Amy shook her head, "Nah, I don't have clean underwear. Anyone up for Crab-Dangle?"
"I'm still picking rocks out of my teeth from last time." Sonic said, "What about Sucker-Duck?"
"Again?" SIlver complained, "My no-no parts hurt just thinking about it. I'd rather play Dog-Down again."
"No! No! No!" The chorus from everyone else settled the dispute that a rousing game of Dog-Down was not in the cards.
"It's getting late anyway." Shadow commented, "I say we play Go-Home-And-Eat."
"That's a game I can get behind." Sonic said. "Anyone up for chili dogs?"
"As long as you don't make them." Shadow said, "The only game we'll play then is Blow-Chunks." Shadow teleported just in time to avoid a rock tossed at his head.
To be continued ...
Well, what do you think? There will be more sibling hijinx next chapter and Charles will find out what's inside the message. Drop a review and tell me what you think. I always welcome a good critique.