Tales of Soleanna
by K.M. Carroll
As Silver flew out of Solaris's egg of light, the world flickered past in a long, unraveling ribbon of color. Was he flying upside down? Where had the ground gone?
Silver tumbled end over end as the universe swept out from under him. He grasped at its trailing edges. He must not fall out of the world! But it was like trying to grasp flowing water. Black oblivion awaited him beyond the draining world. Silver couldn't avoid it. He curled into a ball and covered his eyes.
Warmth buffeted his body, and something soft brushed against him. Feathers? Silver opened one eye and saw Solaris's wing curved around him.
Then Silver sat on the dock outside of Soleanna, and watched the sailboats in the harbor. He looked around wildly. He'd fallen out of the universe, and now he was back on the docks? What about his time, where Iblis had been defeated?
Silver pressed his hands to his forehead. The memory of the ruined city, the caves, his underground village, all faded to nothing. Iblis. He must not forget Iblis. And Blaze.
He focused on Blaze's face, the memory of her disappearing as she floated up into the sky. The gut-wrenching guilt Silver still carried. Somehow, someday, he had to find her and bring her back.
Bring her back from what?
Silver clenched his fists. No! He wouldn't forget Blaze! She'd sealed herself into another world. Because ... because of something he'd done. He clung to his guilt. He had to remember her, or he'd never be able to find her.
Silver stood up and paced up and down the docks. What time had he been dropped in? He picked up a newspaper and glanced at the date. May twentieth. But what date had it been last time? Silver shook his head. Why should there be another date? There was something he was forgetting. He clutched the newspaper and looked at the photos of black and red aliens. Should he remember this? It reminded him of something. Like a monster made of fire.
He had to find Blaze before he forgot everything. But how to reach another world? Maybe with the chaos emeralds. They could do everything else, after all. Where were the chaos emeralds, anyway?
Silver glanced out at the horizon and spotted a dark shape up in the sky. Was that a floating island? He shaded his eyes with one hand. It sure was. Maybe there were chaos emeralds there. Maybe he'd find someone there. Someone who he'd wronged somehow. What was her name? Blaze, that was it.
Silver levitated himself and shot into the air, toward the floating island in the distance.
Blaze the cat lay on the grass, head pillowed on her arms, flames still flickering from her fingertips. Seven rectangular glowing stones lay around her in a ring, each shimmering a different color.
Slowly she opened her eyes and lifted her head. She pushed herself to a sitting position, and gathered the gems together in a pile. She shook her hands to extinguish the flames at last, and gazed across rolling hills to the setting sun. "They must never leave my sight," she murmured aloud.
Footsteps approached from behind her, and she turned, crouching over the gems and baring her teeth. Two cats stopped fifteen feet away, both wearing red robes and carrying metal rods tipped with red glowing spheres. One stepped forward and raised a hand, palm outward. "We come in peace! Calm down."
Blaze did not relax her stance or her snarl. "Who are you?"
The lead cat bowed slightly. "I am Errin, Prince of Mobanus, and this is my realm." He gestured to the horizon with his rod. "This is my valet, Feln."
Blaze's mind raced. This world was inhabited after all. She'd better come up with a fancy title, fast, or someone would take these gems. She scooped them up, stood and bowed as regally as she could. "I am Blaze, Guardian of the ..." She glanced at the gems, and Iblis's chained fire rippled inside them. "...the Sol emeralds."
Prince Errin bowed again. "It grows dark, and it's not safe on these moors for wayfarers. Would you accept our hospitality for you and your charges?"
Blaze considered a moment. She had no food, no shelter, knew nothing about this world, and exhaustion weighed heavy on her limbs. Finally she nodded. "All right, then. But I must guard the Sol emeralds with my life. They're too dangerous in the wrong hands."
"Trust me, Guardian Blaze," said Errin, "we will help you protect them with every guard in our royal kingdom."
Sonic put his feet on the railing and leaned back in his chair beside Sally. Fireworks exploded overhead in globes of gold, green and violet. "Ah yeah, this is great."
"Look at the size of that torch they're lighting!" said Tails, leaning over the railing with Sally's binoculars. "Here comes the Princess!"
"Where?" Sonic sat up and grabbed the binoculars. The Princess walked along the floating platform toward the waiting braziers, waving left and right. Robo Knux stalked in her wake, adoring eyes fixed on the Princess.
"Now that's hilarious, Robo Knux for a bodyguard," said Sonic. He straightened and stared at nothing. "Wait a minute."
Tails grabbed the binoculars out of Sonic's drooping hand, but Sonic didn't notice. Robo Knux as Elise's bodyguard. Hadn't Sonic left them all huddled together on the ground in some sort of dark purple world, while he flew up into the sun?
Other memories floated by like feathers on the wind. Running down a train. A white hedgehog with a shock of spines on his forehead. A ruined city lit from beneath by flickering flames. But try as he might, Sonic couldn't connect them together. They hung in his mind, a series of disjointed images with nothing linking them.
"Sonic?" said Sally, touching his arm. "Are you okay?"
Sonic touched his chest. Two faded scars lingered there, one like a knife cut, and the other round like a bullet hole. Seemed like they should hurt a lot more.
Slowly Sonic sat down again. "I'm fine, Sal. I think."
After the ceremony, late that night, Robo Knux saw Elise to her chambers, then went hunting for Lord Kaz.
Kaz sat at a table in the dining room, wearing a maroon velvet dressing gown and reading a newspaper. He looked up and nodded as Robo Knux approached.
Robo Knux walked up and stood beside Kaz's chair. Through the wireless network used by all mecha-bots, he said, "So, do you remember anything?"
"I remember that you finally figured out who I am," said Kaz through the network. "Or rather, who we are."
"It's a good thing I keep memory backups," said Robo Knux. "I'm probably the only one of you living sissies who has the full record. Elise doesn't have a thing for Sonic anymore, so you have a shot at her."
"I have the full record, too," said Kaz, grinning.
Robo Knux examined his claws. "So, tell me. How do I wind up in a human body?"
Kaz pushed back his hair and revealed a thin scar at his hairline. "Brain transplant."
"Of course," Robo Knux muttered. "That bypasses Mecha's entire organic evolution! I'll bet he hates you. Did you come back in time?"
"Of course," said Kaz. "I wasn't letting Elise slip away from me so easily. Remember the name Richmond Kaz."
"Ha, I get it," said Robo Knux. "Can you still kill people?"
"I suppose I could," said Kaz. "But psychotic killers wind up in prison, if they're lucky. They don't get hot chicks. You'll have to learn to control yourself."
"Yeah, yeah," said Robo Knux. "I suppose you can't tell me how far in the future this happens?"
"Nope," said Kaz. "Be her bodyguard. Learn manners. The restraining shell will let up once you're trained."
"You're kidding," said Robo Knux. "It's not forever?"
"Heck no. Eventually it'll just go away and you won't even realize it's gone."
Robo Knux poked the shell. It resisted. Man, he had a long way to go. "I guess I'd better get back to guard duty."
Kaz winked. "See you around."