Author's novel note: Weee! After Bad Fur Day, I thought I'd try my hand at a longer fic and here we are. This is technically my 2nd piece though I've posted other stuff before I posted this. Rather than writing this chronologically, I started with a basic idea though lacking any finer details, began with writing the most interesting bits and from there jumped from scene to scene, filling in the boring bits in between lol, as well as covering up plot holes as I could think of them. I hope this doesn't affect the story too negatively. Upside for you guys is that by the time I was ready to start posting this, a good portion of it had already been written, so hopefully updates will be relatively quick and regular (but who knows).
While rambling, I also want to take the chance to thank everyone who has posted reviews on the other fics that I posted before this. THANK YOU! I really appreciate it, it warms my heart to read those kinds and supportive words, especially the useful tips for the future.
I've tried to fix the most obvious plot holes as I've come across them, but if you notice any (I'm sure there are plenty!) please do bring them out and I'll try to account for them in upcoming chapters! This is my first attempt ever at writing a longer story so it's very much a learning process for me. Don't expect Nobel award level material… But as always, constructive criticism is appreciated! English isn't my native language and I need all the help I can get.
PS. The story starts off rather slow so let's start with chapter 1 and 2 right away, shall we?
In many ways, he approved of city life. The paved roads offered plenty of room for running – nothing like blazing down the freeway at top speed! You simply didn't get areas like that back in his native zone, though he would always recall the great green hills fondly.
He admired much of the architecture, too. Great reaching structures, ramps, rails, blinking lights, what was there not to love? A certain echidna would sometimes tease him by telling him that the fact he loved shiny things so much probably had more to do with a potential undiagnosed case of ADHD rather than any real appreciation of city architecture. He would have replied something about the fact that echidnas knew nothing about cool design even if it hit them on the head, but usually at that point he had already run off in an attempt to conquer whatever building they had been watching by running up its sides, anyway.
Of course, where there were cities, there were humans. While Sapients did live in the city – some of them, like Amy, were even born there – they were a minority. Getting used to humans had taken some time, but a certain degree of natural born wariness when he arrived had quickly given way to trust and even affection. He had always prided himself in been able to see the best in others. Well, that, and the media attention and idolization that soon followed upon his arrival helped too.
And then, of course, there was the food. During one of their first walks among the streets, they had found a street vendor. They had been hungry, recently arrived at Station Square and uncertain where to find anything edible. Hesitantly, he had bought them a snack from the seller, who had assured them that they would approve of the treat. He hadn't had much money then and it had felt wrong to spend it on something he'd usually find on his own for free, but they had both been too hungry at that point to care too much. His metabolism was off the charts and required large amounts of daily nourishment, while the little kit had given him the biggest puppy eyes he'd ever seen as soon as they'd smelled the cooking meat. Fresh meat had been a luxury during their travels.
That first bite had been a revelation.
Suffice to say, after his first bite of a chili dog, Sonic had abandoned large parts of his species' native diet. Oh, he would pick and choose the occasional favourite treat while they were out in the wilderness anyway, but in this aspect, he would happily admit that if humans were good for only a few things, making great food was certainly one of them. And the fact was that while his choice of foods would have lent most humans little more than a soft belly and greasy skin, the high calorie-diet gave his body enough to work with to help him grow stronger still. Only a year after he had become a regular city dweller, the difference was clear – he had already grown taller, he felt livelier and more alert and, he noted approvingly, his fur had grown a shade darker and was looking shinier than ever. Granted, finally hitting puberty might have had something to do with that, but personally he preferred to thank the glorious chili dogs for most of his physical strengths.
After living there for some time, they had gotten used to the buzz and life of the city. There was something to be said for food and supplies always available near you – in particular when you could move as fast as he could, leaving almost everything available near you, no matter how far away it was. Tails had especially enjoyed having access to hardware stores and other places that could lend him materials and equipment for his experiments in robotics and machinery. His tinkering, fixing and upgrading of electronics of all kinds quickly gave them means of income when the young fox started to sell repaired equipment and even offer some brand new trinkets he'd built himself.
They didn't live richly, but they made enough to afford living in the city, to keep them supplied with foods and items they needed in their daily life, and most important, at least in Tails' opinion, to eventually buy the old building that they re-built into his workshop in the Mystic Ruins.
The workshop had been their biggest purchases to date, but also their most beloved one. Tails could spend days tinkering on some piece of machinery or other, while Sonic enjoyed returning to the surrounding wilderness now and then after a visit to Station Square. While he had converted fairly successfully to becoming a city person, he had kept some of his more… native habits, too. For one thing, he still preferred to sleep high up, and almost always preferred to rest in a great tree rather than huddle in a human sized bed. The noises tended to keep him up at night anyway. As a result, while both of them could often be seen dwelling in the city during the day, night time usually found the duo peacefully residing in the Mystic Ruins. Tails working on some project or other, Sonic dutifully watching over him from a nearby vantage point. In fact, this was exactly how one of their many adventures began, one summer evening.
Sonic had nodded off, comfortable on a large branch in a tree. He was almost completely hidden from view thanks to the foliage and had curled up as he had decided to take a nap. This particular branch sported a nice deep groove in just the right place, making it one of his favourite sleeping spots. The nap was quickly interrupted however as he startled awake, hearing Tails calling to him below.
"Sonic! You've got to hear this!"
The young fox looked ecstatic, almost jumping on the spot, twin tails twirling even more than usual. When he saw the drowsy hedgehog eyeing him tiredly, he carried on.
"It's a huge scientific conference in Northern Adabat! All the big names are going to be there, too! There will be seminars and lectures and demonstrations... They're going to unveil all sorts of new prototypes as well. We've just got to go!"
Unsurprisingly, Sonic was not all that ecstatic about the prospect of sitting in a lecture hall listening to someone prattle on about the most recent ultra thingymabob or the brand new whatisit. Now, he did appreciate Tails' knowledge about electronics, it had really come in handy on many occasions. His own philosophy regarding his work with electronics and robotics was pretty simple, though. Mainly, it consisted of 'Sonic smash'.
Still, he couldn't very well deny the young fox this opportunity, he supposed. Tails rarely got the chance to discuss his big interest with anyone else and perhaps he could learn something that could aid them in an upcoming battle. Eggman had been quiet lately and there wasn't really anything stopping them from going.
"Alright kid, we'll go... On one condition: While you sit and listen to some old dude talk about gears and cogwheels, I'm busy running exploring the outdoors instead. How's that?"
"That's fine, Sonic!' the fox beamed at him. "Although it wouldn't hurt you to at least listen to one of the introductions - I'm sure you could learn something!"
"Eh, I leave that stuff to you. Where did you learn about this conference anyway?"
"Oh," Tails backed up a step, giving Sonic room to jump down from the tree. "I got an invite e-mail from the Adabat Scientific Centre. It said they've invited the best, and the most promising upcoming, engineers from around the world to come together and learn from each other. I'm so excited! If we leave first thing tomorrow with the Tornado, we should be able to get there in time for the introductions on Wednesday... that's only two days from now, but I think we can make it."
"Is that so" Sonic mused as he stretched lazily. "Bet Eggman's gonna be there to muck it up. Sounds like his kind of plan… he's been quiet for way too long". He watched the fox grow a thoughtful expression.
"I hadn't really thought of that. I guess he could try something, but then again there's bound to be lots of extra security, right? He'd have to be pretty stupid to try something at a place like that." Getting an idea, he smiled. "Of course, that means it's extra important that we go there so we can stop him if he does show up!"
Sonic couldn't resist a grin.
And with that, they walked together back to the workshop, Sonic listening patiently as his little brother listed everything they'd need and what he would bring and what he hoped to learn and what he wanted to discuss, and...
"By the way, Tails, how are you going to fit all those gadgets in the Tornado anyway?"
"Oh, I'll think of something!"
The next morning found one rather annoyed hedgehog and one very excited fox. Tails had just finished packing the last of the food they'd need on their way there, stuffing an armload of sandwiches in a large cooling bag. The little plane was filled to the brim with electronics and gadgets, some of them fully functioning, some halfway there, and some he had no idea what to do with but hoped to get suggestions for. He had had a tough morning, trying to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. There were just so many things he wanted to show and discuss with someone as interested in electronics as him.
While many of the names on the invite list had been unknown to him, he had also recognized quite a few of them and he was just beyond excited at the chance of meeting some real experts. He was somewhat surprised he'd gotten an invite of his own, but he supposed word had gotten around after he'd used some of his inventions when they fought Eggman.
Sonic on the other hand had been ordered around all morning by the young fox and was rapidly tiring of it - get this, pack that! While he didn't begrudge his friend this opportunity, he expected the next few days to be exceptionally dull for him. The conference was going to be held at some big scientific centre or other, located in the middle of nowhere, in the vast Adabat wilds. Its location had been chosen to be as remote as possible, Tails had explained to him, so they could carry out experiments without risk of injuring any people nearby, and the endless dark night skies - there were no street or city lights near the centre - made the place perfect for astronomy related studies as well.
But all this meant for Sonic was that he'd be going to a dull place surrounded by dull rain forest - meaning no room to run freely - and even worse, the centre had to be located on an island of all places. As in, surrounded by deep waters, Adabat well known for its exceptionally harsh currents. Basically, he'd be stuck in that one spot with nowhere to go. He was already feeling bored just thinking about it, and they hadn't even left the workshop yet!
"All right, I think that's all!" Tails quipped as he closed the hatch to the storage portion in the plane's underbelly. "Everything taken care of? All doors locked?"
"Yeah, yeah". Sonic stifled a yawn.
"Alright then, let's go!"
Tails climbed into the pilot's seat while Sonic jumped onto the wings. He eyed the ropes and wires cautiously. Tails had, unable to fit all he wanted to bring in the storage unit, taken to strapping some of his equipment to the wings themselves. He had assured Sonic that it wouldn't affect their flying abilities. Though he also recommended Sonic grab a firm hold as they took off. You know, just in case.
Starting the engine and checking the controls, Tails motioned to the hedgehog, who gave him a thumb's up in return. They were ready.
"Here we go!" the fox yelled happily, and Sonic smiled in response at the kit's evident joy. The plane took off and the hedgehog watched the workshop grow smaller and smaller below them as the plane lifted higher into the air. Carefully, he sat down, leaning slightly onto some contraption or other behind him, securely attached with multiple ropes. They were on their way.
The trip was long and, as far as Sonic was concerned, beyond dull. One seascape looked much the same as any other and they were too high up to see much of the land, giving him little to look at other than the plane itself. Tails had preferred not to make any unnecessary stops, taking them down only once during the day for dinner and bathroom breaks. Sonic had taken the opportunity to stretch his legs by running around for a few minutes, before the fox ushered him back on the wing and they continued forward.
As night approached, Tails once more took them down, this time landing near the edge of a great forest for eating a late dinner and sleeping until it was time to take off again.
The next day continued in much the same manner, with little variation. Tails pushed the little plane hard and was glad to note that as the clock – recently adjusted for the new time zone – struck 10 p.m., they were finally nearing the island that hosted the ASC, the Adabat Scientific Centre. He shouted for his blue companion who was dozing on his spot on the wing, before contacting the landing tower. The remote location of the centre meant many of the visitors came by plane and fortunately there was a landing strip ready for them. Soon, he'd taken them down on the ground again, and they entered the area together.
Sonic whistled upon viewing the building. It was many stories high and he knew from Tails' explanations that it also continued underground. On one side, what reminded him of a giant telescope took up most of the space. Surrounding the centre was a park-like area full of smaller buildings, probably storage areas and similar. And beyond that, miles and miles of dark, foreboding rainforest. There were no lights on the outside, the area lit only by what light escaped from some of the windows.
"Some place, huh Tails?"
The fox laughed.
"Wait until you see the inside!"
They continued walking past the building, however, to another one located not far away. This was the visitors' centre, which also hosted simple rooms for people like themselves who were staying for longer than a day's visit. It reminded the duo of a simple but clean motel. They checked in successfully and helped unload the plane's contents into their room.
Sonic glanced around the white walls as Tails was busy looking over a few of his gadgets for any damage from the plane ride. The larger objects had been left by the plane itself, while the rickety desk was filled with miniature computers, high-tech equipment and, sitting closest to Tails, his trusted laptop. It had been one of the first pieces of equipment he'd bought when they had arrived in the city. While at first glance it would appear as nothing more than a regular old, worn laptop, he had done various upgrades to it over the years, to the point it was running quicker than most government computers. He used a rag to wipe a little bit of dust off it as Sonic sat down on one of the beds.
"So, when does this thing get started tomorrow?" Kicking off his shoes, Sonic laid back and eyed his friend, one ear flicked back as he was getting ready to sleep. He usually needed some time to relax and be able to sleep peacefully, but he was too tired to care right now.
"Oh, I have to get up early to catch it all! I'll set the alarm to 6, okay?"
"Fine by me… as long as you don't expect me to be up by then!" Sonic smirked at the kit, before yawning wide, rolling his shoulders as he stretched. Tails didn't reply, just waved at the hedgehog and smiled. No point in arguing with him – Sonic would do as he pleased anyway.
Content, they both soon fell asleep.