Welcome, dear reader! The following story, "Chaos and Control", is a fanfiction I wrote based on William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, starring my original characters and set in an alternate universe to their premiere story, "Generation Beta". I poured my heart and soul into every word of this fanfiction, and it took me over a year to finish it. Expect a new chapter to be published every Saturday. I welcome your comments and reviews, but more than anything, I sincerely hope you'll find as much joy in reading it as I did in writing it.
As mentioned above, this story features characters from my fanfiction "Generation Beta". Though it isn't necessary in order to follow "Chaos and Control", I invite anyone unfamiliar with that story to visit my profile and take the time to read it, as to this day I consider it one of the best published pieces of fiction I've ever written. Otherwise, have fun reading this new fanfiction!
To anyone wondering, there are a couple of reasons I decided to write my own Romeo & Juliet adaptation:
1) I missed my fan characters and was desperate to write a new story about them.
2) As much as I love Romeo & Juliet, there are certain themes in Shakespeare's play with which I simply don't agree, so I challenged myself to create my own version of this classic story. This means that the basic plot of forbidden love is maintained, but I changed some details from the original work. Expect to see strong similarities to the play and some of my favorite adaptations, as well as plenty of new ideas. As for whether this tale will end the same way as Shakespeare's... you'll have to read to find out.
And before anyone asks: no, I did not write this story because of the new Romeo & Juliet movie. My fanfiction was already almost a year in the works when I found out about the upcoming film, and when I did the math, I realized that at the rate I was writing, the story would be finished around the movie's release date, so I timed my publication to the same month. It was really a matter of luck.
Thank you for stopping by! Now on to my story: "Chaos and Control". Enjoy!
Rated T for themes of teenage rebellion, some graphic violence and mild coarse language.
Montagues – Control
Romeo – Miles S. Hedgehog
Friar Laurence/Benvolio – Lily R. Hedgehog
Mercutio – Sonia Prower
Lord Montague – Sonic the Hedgehog
Lady Montague – Amy Rose
Balthasar – Aaron Prower
Capulets – Chaos
Juliet – Maria G. Hedgehog
Tybalt – Rex Echidna
Nurse – Angelica Bat
County Paris – Eugene Princeton
Lord Capulet – Shadow the Hedgehog
Lady Capulet – Crystal Hedgehog
Citizens – Neutral
Prince Escalus – Dr. Eggman
Authorities – Teachers and staff of Emerald High
Two factions, both alike in dignity,
In fair Green Hill, where I shall lay the scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil fights make civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal hate of enemies
A pair of teen hedgehogs find love for life,
Who dare to dream despite their families
And with their love bury their parents' strife.
The innocent passage of their young love
And the continuance of their parents' friction,
Which, but their children's hope, naught could remove,
Is fourteen chapters' course of this fanfiction—
The which, if you with patient eyes attend,
What here shall miss, my words shall strive to mend.
Chapter 1 – Old Enmities
In a unique world, in a large province with numerous communities, there was a modest and highly esteemed town known as Green Hill. This town was so named and revered for its utopian location, as it was ideally situated among rolling verdant knolls that extended out to a tranquil beach in one direction and vast open fields in every other. It was a place where spring always came early, gloominess never lingered for longer than a day, and the air was fresh and rich with pleasant fragrances all year round. In a land fraught with its fair share of turmoil, Green Hill had every potential to be an epitome of peace.
There was just one major problem...
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, somewhere along the outskirts of town, a young blue-eyed fox ran across the paths lining the village's many open patches of grass. In his right hand, he held a small brown bag, clutched tightly in his fist as he raced across the uneven ground as fast as his feet could carry him. This behavior could easily have been part of an innocent game, a simple weekend pastime typically enjoyed by children his age. But not today, not in Green Hill. No, this preteen fox, panting heavily as he glanced repeatedly over his shoulder, was running for his life.
After several minutes of sprinting without the slightest decrease in speed, the 12-year-old looked behind him for the umpteenth time to find that for as long as he had been running, nobody was chasing him, at least as far as he could tell. This was an immense relief, for he had been sure that by now, he would be a highly coveted target to a certain group of people. Unfortunately, as he would discover only a few seconds later, his relief was premature and doomed to be short-lived...
Suddenly, before he even had time to completely face forward again, the fox found himself being thrown to the ground at full force, launched by the energy behind his own speed after his foot collided with something he was almost certain had not been in his way moments ago. Spitting out grass and dirt as he recovered from his painful landing, the preteen realized that the "something" in question was the extended leg of a tall cat, whose long black boots and punk-style clothing gave her a very foreboding appearance. As the younger of the two looked up and their eyes locked, the girl's piercing stare and subtle snarl sent a chill down the boy's spine. It was only too obvious that he had stumbled into trouble.
"Well, well", said the teenage cat with a smirk, her pale eyes gleaming with malice. "What do we have here?"
The young fox swallowed in dread, but before he could muster up the courage to speak, another chilling voice sounded from directly behind him.
"Hey, Stephanie, look at this."
It was a male voice, and as he turned back to face the direction in which he'd been running, the young fox saw that it belonged to a dark vampire bat in a skull T-shirt and torn jeans. This new arrival was currently bending down to retrieve an item from the ground: the bag that had flown from the preteen's hand when he had tripped. Some of its contents had spilled over to scatter across the grass, though most of the objects were still in the bag into which the bat was now looking as he rose to his feet.
"What is it, Murdoc?" asked Stephanie. The other teenager examined the items in the bag for a minute before finally extracting one and tossing it to his friend.
"Firecrackers", he said. "And not the little kiddy kind."
The black cat caught the small explosive and held it up to study it for a moment, then looked down again at the rapidly paling fox still sprawled on the ground by her feet.
"This is powerful stuff, kid", she said, raising an eyebrow at the young boy. "Where'd you get this kind of firepower?"
The fox began to tremble in fear, too petrified to reply.
"These look like the bombs that went off in the park last week", added Murdoc. "Right in the middle of that football game."
"You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?" Stephanie asked the preteen fox, and now she took a step toward him and crouched to his level to stare into his wide blue eyes. "You know, the game that was just for players from Chaos?"
The boy stared silently back into the girl's pale yellow eyes, and rapidly shook his head in response. The cat smirked again.
"Really? Because we just heard another incident like that happened again today. Apparently, a bunch of firecrackers went off close to Emerald High about ten minutes ago, and the funny thing is, it was right where another group from Chaos was gathering for a meeting. Isn't that a strange coincidence?"
"Sure doesn't sound like a coincidence", the bat chimed in, and now the fox could sense him stepping closer as well. "Sounds more like another rotten scheme from Control to me."
"I think so too", said Stephanie without taking her eyes off the younger boy, the smirk vanishing from her face to make way for a more serious expression. "So tell us, kid: where'd you get these?"
The preteen remained silent for another minute, his interrogator's cold stare making him more nervous by the second, until finally he managed to find his voice.
"Th- They're not mine!" he suddenly stammered awkwardly. This statement seemed to pique the cat's interest.
"Is that so? Whose are they, then?"
"Oh, I don't believe that. They gotta be somebody's..."
"They wouldn't happen to belong to... your older sister, by any chance?"
At this question, the young fox whirled around to face the vampire bat who had just spoken. Though he didn't say a word, the nervous look in the preteen's blue eyes was enough to confirm the teenagers' suspicions. Murdoc smiled smugly as he spoke again.
"That's what I thought. All right, get up, kid. You're coming with us."
"No, I'm sorry!" the boy cried out, now glancing desperately between his captors. "I was just-"
"Save it, shorty", snapped Stephanie as she grabbed the 12-year-old by the arm and pulled him to his feet. "We know someone who'd really like to talk to you..."
And with that, the party of three marched back in the direction from which the youngest had been running, the bag of firecrackers in the bat's hand and the terrified fox's arm in the cat's.
For as long as anyone could remember, Green Hill had been ground to a feud between two rival factions: Chaos and Control. While these two parties did not officially encompass the town's entire population, they still had an extremely powerful influence over the community, to the point where it had become almost mandatory for every citizen to affiliate themselves with one side or the other. Over the generations since the rivalry had begun, this enmity had spread continuously further to the town's younger age groups, until finally, in the present day, the constant friction between Chaos and Control seemed to be concentrated among Green Hill's youth – mostly the teenagers, though not excluding the occasional preteen...
Not too long after the terrifying encounter, the young fox found himself being led by his captors onto a large open plot with a few scattered trees, located close to the local high school. As the party of three stepped onto the grass of this area, the cat suddenly broke their prolonged silence with a shout.
"Rex! We got him!"
Just then, another group of teenagers appeared from behind a large tree several feet ahead, and walked across the plot to meet the approaching trio halfway. The faces of these new arrivals were not unfamiliar to the fox, and it was precisely this fact that was now causing his heart rate to accelerate. This scenario was exactly what he had been trying to avoid...
Once everyone had stopped in the middle of the area, the boy at the head of the larger group stepped forward. He was a tall red echidna, and though his worn jeans and the vest over his plain T-shirt gave him a casual appearance, his blue eyes commanded the most intimidating stare that could induce a chilling fear in any adversary he faced. This boy didn't just warrant respect; he demanded it.
As the captive fox looked up into the challenging eyes of Rex Echidna, he felt his heart sink lower with dread. The teenage echidna silently leered at the victim for a minute, then broke his gaze to face the cat still holding the preteen by the arm.
"Where was he?"
"Running away just outside town", replied Stephanie, releasing the boy and pushing him a step forward as she spoke. "He was almost on Control turf when we caught him."
"He had this on him", said Murdoc, and stepped forth to hand the bag of firecrackers to the group leader. Rex took it from the bat and opened it to briefly examine its contents. He then looked up to lock eyes with the fox again, a sneer now forming on his face.
"What's your name, kid?" he asked. The young fox hesitated before tentatively answering the question.
"'Aaron'?" the echidna repeated, raising an eyebrow. "Aaron what?"
The 12-year-old paled slightly at this question, but didn't reply. Rex's sneer widened as he spoke again.
"You're one of the Prower kids, right?"
Still no answer. Evidently, the boy's name was of great significance, and they all knew exactly why that was.
"Let me guess", said the red echidna, and now he took a step closer to Aaron as his voice settled into a more dangerous tone. "These bombs aren't yours, are they? I bet they came from someone else... and I bet that 'someone else' is your big sister. So what happened, kid? Did she put you up to this? Did she dare you to sneak up on a bunch of kids from Chaos and set the bombs off?"
At these accusations, the fox began to rapidly shake his head in denial. Rex was not convinced.
"Come on, Aaron, you can tell us the truth. I mean, why take the blame for something that's not really your fault, right?"
The preteen quickly averted his eyes to look down at the ground. The echidna dropped his smug attitude and adopted a more sympathetic tone.
"I'm gonna let you in on a little secret, Aaron", he said, lowering himself to one knee so as to level with the young fox. "The people from Chaos don't believe in 'shooting the messenger'. We don't hurt anyone for actually pulling a prank on us, just for coming up with the idea for the prank. So if setting these bombs off in the middle of our meeting wasn't your idea, we'd be willing to let you go... if you'd be willing to tell us who was really behind it. What do you say?"
Timidly, Aaron turned his head up to look Rex in the eyes again, prompting a minute of suspenseful silence to pass. However, although he opened his mouth to speak, the next words to reach everyone's ears would not come from the young fox.
"I say it's a lousy idea."
At these words, all heads turned sharply in unison to face the midsection of a nearby tree, where everyone immediately found the source of the voice that had just spoken: standing on a large branch, leaning casually against the tree trunk, was a two-tailed vixen in a sporty shirt and loose-fitting jeans, gazing down on the scene below with a mischievous smirk. As all eyes fell on her, she pushed away from the trunk, then spun her tails around each other to render herself airborne in a matter of seconds. She gently floated down from the branch to land between the younger fox and the red echidna who had just risen to his feet. As the girl's hazel eyes locked with the older boy's blue ones, everyone else felt compelled to take a step back, apprehensive of the tension that by now was only too familiar to them all...
Despite the general unease, the vixen maintained her confidence as she stared at the echidna and addressed him coolly.
The teenage boy, in turn, gazed unblinkingly back at the two-tailed fox and replied in a tone as cold and sharp as his stare.
The vixen sniggered briefly before continuing.
"So what's your plan? Instead of roughing the kid up right away, you promise to let him go if he'll point you to the one you really want? And then what? You wait to jump him another day instead?"
"Just because you Control kids don't honor your promises doesn't mean that those of us from Chaos can't", snapped Rex indignantly.
"At least we don't force Chaos kids to choose between taking a beating or betraying their faction and being marked as cowards", retorted Sonia. "If that's your plan, you're wasting your time. My little brother is no snitch."
Aaron looked up at his big sister, who glanced over her shoulder for a second to offer him a smile and a wink. The echidna scoffed in derision as the two-tailed vixen turned back to face him again.
"Your brother was caught running outside town with this", he said, indicating the brown bag still in his right hand. "We know he's the one who dropped these bombs on us earlier, and we're pretty sure it had something to do with you. So start talking, Sonia. Are these yours?"
The teenage fox glanced at the item her rival was holding. Had anyone been paying close attention to her expression in those few seconds, they might have noticed the slightest wavering in her otherwise confident smile. Fortunately, her uncertainty remained undetected by the others, and she still managed to pull off a convincing smirk as she looked up into Rex's eyes again.
"Yeah, those are mine", she admitted without the slightest hint of regret. "So?"
"So", the echidna continued, "is it true you put him up to it? 'Cause we're betting it was all your idea, just like the football game in the park last Saturday."
"Yep, you got me", Sonia replied curtly. "I'm the brains behind the whole operation; my brother is totally innocent. I'm the one you want, so let him go."
In response, a sneer returned to the teenage boy's face, unknowingly inducing unease in both Prower siblings.
"Not so fast, Sonia. I mean, even if you are the brains, he's still technically an accomplice. There should still be some kind of punishment, right? There's no deal for his release if he didn't actually turn you in himself."
"You don't want Aaron", said the two-tailed fox coldly, and now every trace of smugness vanished from her features as she took on a much sharper demeanor. "His Gift is in the Mind class, and his focus is music. Roughing up a kid whose no match for you would just make you look bad. Wouldn't you rather take on a challenge instead, like, say... a Control leader with a Gift in Flight?"
Rex knew that Sonia was testing him, and he was not about to let her get the best of him. Not in front of a whole Chaos group that looked up to him.
"Ha!" he taunted haughtily. "You really think you can beat someone with a Calling in Power? I could floor you in a second!"
"You'd have to reach me first", the vixen retaliated, a mischievous grin returning to her face. "I bet I could knock you out before you'd even have time to look up."
As the fox and the echidna continued to glare at each other, their friends began to glance nervously between them. The reasons behind this rivalry were common knowledge to everyone...
Ironically, Chaos and Control had every chance at amity. They were equally authoritative, each one holding influence over approximately half of Green Hill. Both factions handled political matters with similar diplomacy, and they were very much alike in the way they presented their ideas to the public. Yes, these two parties could easily have gotten along, were it not for one great issue on which they openly disagreed...
A trait common to all citizens belonging to either faction was the possession of a single special ability. These abilities, as far as anyone had yet determined, were divided into four main classes: Speed, Power, Flight, and Mind. They had also been given unique names by both parties: the people from Control called their abilities Gifts, while those from Chaos referred to them as Callings.
Generations ago, the gifted citizens of Green Hill comprised a single faction known as Chaos – named for the special energy that was believed to grant them their abilities – and this group played an important political role in running the town. Over time, however, disagreements arose within the faction over the true significance of abilities, until eventually a large portion of the group seceded to form an opposing faction, which they called Control. Ever since, the two sides had been engaged in a feud, each fighting for greater influence over the rest of Green Hill.
To Control, Gifts were birthrights, powers that came without obligations or responsibilities. The way they saw it, they had every right to use their abilities at their own will, however they themselves saw fit. Chaos, on the other hand, saw their Callings as blessings, bestowed on them for special reasons meant to be discovered throughout the course of their lives. To them, these abilities were intended to be used wisely, and squandering them was seen as an act of the utmost disrespect. As a result of these contrasting opinions, Control saw Chaos as ignorant fools who were unknowingly wasting the full potential of their powers, while Chaos in turn saw Control as arrogant jerks whose actions were generally reckless and selfish.
For generations, these two factions had never seen eye to eye. As much as the rest of Green Hill had tried to help them sort out their misunderstandings in the beginning, over time their rivalry had simply been accepted as the norm. With all hope for peace having been extinguished long ago, it was no wonder that the two teenagers now staring each other down by the school were inducing such unease in their watching peers...
"So what do you say, Rex?" said Sonia, folding her arms conceitedly. "You wanna let my brother go and take me on instead, one on one?"
"That's an interesting idea", the echidna replied without dropping his own confident air. "There's just one problem. You see, there are about... a dozen of us, and only two of you. Who's to say we can't all just take you both on right now?"
At this, the vixen chuckled in amusement, then brought her fingers to her lips and whistled loudly. A moment later, the teenagers of Chaos were all turning in unison to see another group now stepping out from behind the same tree on which the two-tailed fox had first been spotted. As these new arrivals slowly lined up behind the Prower siblings and the rest cautiously retreated to stand behind Rex, Sonia leered at her rival with a growing self-assurance in her hazel eyes.
"You wanna run those numbers again?"
The red echidna hesitated to scan the line of teenagers from Control before stopping his gaze on their leader once more. After an awkward pause in which he contemplated the opposing groups' matching numbers, he finally sighed in exasperation.
"Fine, your kid brother can go", said the Chaos leader, a hint of bitterness in his voice as he tossed the bag of firecrackers back to its original owner. "But he better watch his back from now on. If we catch him dropping any more bombs on us, he won't get off so easy..."
And with that, Rex turned and walked away, prompting the rest of his group to follow suit. On that cue, Sonia also turned away to face her peers, now looking forward to celebrating a minor victory over Chaos with them all. However, as they were about to find out, this encounter was not over just yet...
While most of the group from Chaos started to leave, a purple cat named Eugene Princeton remained still in his place, coldly eyeing the preteen fox standing among his sister and her friends. As he watched the smiles of victory forming on the Control kids' faces, he gingerly rubbed a bruise on his left elbow. He had been one of the injured victims of Aaron's prank, and the fact that the boy had just gotten away with it made his blood boil. The cat didn't care who was covering for the young fox; he wanted justice for his and his friends' humiliation... even if he had to get it himself.
No longer able to contain his rage, Eugene suddenly grabbed a small rock from the grass by his feet and, focusing his energy, chucked it at the Control group as fast as his Speed Calling would allow. The rock sailed through the air at a dangerously high speed, missing Aaron's shoulder by an inch and crashing into the large tree behind him. This action was not missed by the group, and now as Sonia whirled around to find the culprit, her smugness vanished to be replaced by a burning fury. The instant she caught sight of the purple cat a few feet away, she dropped her bag of firecrackers and rushed forward, tackling him to the floor before he even had time to register the attack.
By the time the struggling pair hit the ground, everyone else had become aware of the outbreak. Before the vixen had fully raised her fist to punch her brother's attacker, she was brusquely pulled back to her feet by a crocodile from Chaos rushing to his friend's aid. Before Sonia's new opponent could retaliate for the cat, however, he was pushed back by a green hedgehog from Control, who in turn took a hit to his right shoulder from Rex. The next thing everyone knew, Chaos and Control were immersed in a free-for-all.
About five minutes into the brawl, the noise had begun to attract attention from the nearby school and was drawing in spectators. One of the first to arrive on the scene was a lilac hedgehog in a navy blue knee-high skirt and a white shirt, running toward the fray with panic in her emerald green eyes.
"Stop!" she yelled. "Please, not again! Stop!"
The girl halted in her tracks only feet away from the melee, trying desperately to get their attention. It didn't take long for someone to notice her, but unfortunately, that someone didn't give her the kind of attention for which she'd hoped. Soon enough, the hedgehog found herself cautiously backing away from the echidna now advancing toward her with a menacing glint in his eyes.
"What's the matter, Lily?" shouted Rex. "Too scared to fight for your own side?"
"Hey, you leave my cousin alone!"
Catching sight of the new arrival, Sonia quickly distanced herself from the fray to rush to the lilac hedgehog's aid. Knowing full well that her pacifistic cousin would never accept a challenge to fight, the two-tailed vixen felt it was her obligation to stand up to the red echidna for Lily. Stepping between her rival and one of her family members for the second time that day, the fox glared unfalteringly at Rex again as she spoke in a harsh tone.
"First you pick on a 12-year-old kid, then you go after Lily Hedgehog, the school peace-monger? What's next? You gonna start harassing the Rabbit triplets?"
Insulted at the accusation of being one to bully 5-year-old girls, the echidna opened his mouth to retaliate. Before he could say a word, though, the air was suddenly pierced by the sharp blast of a coach's whistle, a sound that years of experience in Physical Education had taught every student of Emerald High to respect. In a matter of seconds, the fighting teenagers hesitated to look in the direction of the school, where they quickly noticed a group of adults approaching the open plot at a run.
At the head of the arriving group was the school's P.E. teacher, a beagle known as Coach Barkley, who was blowing his whistle as he hurried toward the fray. Behind him, a Great Horned owl in a blue blazer – the school's principal, Mr. Hornsby – could be seen scurrying away from Emerald High's main building with concern on his face, and on either side of him, two pairs of adult hedgehogs followed: on his left side, a blue and a pink hedgehog; and on his right, a black and a white hedgehog. By the time all these adults had reached the plot, the teenagers had ceased their fighting, all anticipating the discipline they knew was about to be imposed on them...
"What is going on here?" said Principal Hornsby as the noise of the coach's blasting whistle finally died down. "What's all this commotion?"
At the principal's questions, the teenagers once again flew into an uproar, this time fighting to have their voices heard as they all tried simultaneously to explain everything that had happened within the last hour. Unable to isolate a single voice in the cacophony, the owl turned to the beagle to request he use his whistle again. Before the coach had time to bring it to his lips, however, the yelling teenagers were silenced instead by a different set of noises: a loud horn blaring across the field, followed by an amplified male voice shouting through a megaphone.
Silence fell immediately as all heads turned sharply to face the source of the call, which had come from beyond the Chaos side of the plot. A moment later, a large one-person vehicle with a horn over the dashboard rolled into everyone's line of vision, carrying a tall round human man in dark goggles and a red suit that matched the remaining color in his graying mustache, the only hair on his head. Once the automobile had stopped some yards away, the man stepped out, tossed his megaphone back on the seat, and proceeded to stride toward his spectators with an expression of great anger and frustration.
"Enough!" he yelled again, directing the order at the youth. "This is the third time in two weeks that a fight has broken out, and my patience is wearing thin! Now I don't care how it started this time; I'm still the mayor of this town, and I still say fighting is prohibited on public property. Is that clear?"
Most of the teenagers looked down at the ground in shame, several of them tenderly rubbing fresh injuries such as black eyes and bruises. The man then turned sharply to address the two-tailed vixen and the red echidna standing some feet away from their friends.
"And you two! I know you both had something to do with this. You always do. What do you have to say for yourselves this time?"
Sonia and Rex glanced anxiously at one another, then looked down without saying a word. Principal Hornsby took it upon himself to patiently recall their attention.
"Ms. Prower, Mr. Echidna, Mayor Eggman just asked you both a question. I suggest you show him some respect and answer him."
The pair of rivals slowly turned their heads back up to face the mayor, and simultaneously gave the same bitter reply they'd been repeating for years.
Despite his doubts regarding the sincerity behind their apology, Eggman acknowledged it with a curt nod. He turned his attention back to the rest of the crowd and proceeded to address them all again.
"Prower, Echidna, you stay here and explain everything to the principal. The rest of you kids, go home! Sonic, Shadow, a word..."
As most of the teenagers dispersed and their leaders reluctantly approached the principal, the blue and the black hedgehog walked over to the mayor, who seemed almost as cross with them as he was with the young rivals. Interestingly enough, like said adolescents, these two adults seemed equally unwilling to stand in each other's presence, much less talk to each other. Meanwhile, Aaron cautiously climbed down from the tree he had scurried up when the free-for-all started and ran over to stand with Lily, who had stayed behind to witness the unfolding conversations involving her cousin and her father.
"Sonic, Shadow..." Eggman began, sighing in exasperation as he eyed the hedgehogs standing on either side of him, "for as long as I've been in Green Hill, all I've seen is animosity between Chaos and Control, and over the years, the problem has only gotten worse. So I told myself long ago that if I were ever elected mayor, I would do everything in my power to stop all this pointless fighting. But I've come to realize that I can't do it all alone. It has to be a unanimous effort. You two have got to start taking control of your factions, before this problem gets out of hand!"
"Hey, I can handle Control just fine", said the blue hedgehog indignantly, and now his green eyes shifted from the human to lock with the red eyes of the black hedgehog. "If there are fights breaking out in Green Hill, maybe it's because Shadow can't manage his own people."
"Chaos aren't the type to start fights without grounds, Sonic", said the other leader with equal annoyance. "If anything, the real problem is your kids provoking mine first."
"My kids are never a problem. In case you didn't notice, my daughter tried to stop the fight, and my son isn't even here!"
"Maybe so, but your niece is enough of a troublemaker to give the whole youth of Control a bad name!"
"You mean about as bad a name as your nephew gives the youth of Chaos?"
Sonic and Shadow fell silent at the mayor's order, though they continued to glare coldly at each other. Eggman sighed before speaking again.
"You see? This is exactly what I mean! Now let's talk about today. Explain to me how today's fight came to happen in the first place."
For the next several minutes, the mayor listened as the leaders of Chaos and Control tried to explain their sides of the story. They both made the valid point that they couldn't have prevented the fight themselves due to the fact that they and their wives had been in a meeting for most of the afternoon with the high school principal, who had also been hoping to find a solution to some of the problems arising on campus from the rivalry between factions. By the time Sonic and Shadow were through with their account, Principal Hornsby had already obtained enough information from Sonia and Rex to justify placing them both in detention for a week and confiscating the firecrackers Aaron had brought with him. As the principal and the P.E. teacher returned to the school with the brown bag in hand, Eggman gave his final word on the matter to the hedgehogs.
"I don't care if most of the fights these days are among the kids; it's still your job as leaders – and adults – to keep them in check. My patience has reached an end. From now on, if anything like this happens again, I will hold you both personally responsible. Understood?"
Sonic and Shadow hesitated, still focusing their icy gazes on one another, before finally turning to the mayor and replying in unison.
And with that, Eggman turned on his heel and strode back to his vehicle, muttering under his breath as he climbed inside and drove away. The patriarchs of Chaos and Control wasted no time in walking the few feet back to their wives, who had been waiting patiently with nervous expressions on their faces. With the day's meetings officially over, the black hedgehog took the white one by the hand and proceeded to coax her away from the others.
"Let's go, Crystal", said Shadow calmly, then turned to the teenage echidna standing a short distance away. "You too, Rex. Your father will want a word with you..."
The echidna spared one last look of resentment at his rival, then followed his aunt and uncle away from the school. Sonia watched with equal indignation as Rex disappeared down the path leading to Chaos territory, until a sharp tugging at her left shirtsleeve brought her promptly back to her senses. Looking over her shoulder, the vixen saw her little brother standing just behind her, and at the sight of the unease in his blue eyes, she turned around to face him with a smile.
"I'm sorry I messed up", said the boy sadly. "Sorry the principal gave you detention and took your firecrackers away. It's my fault..."
"Hey, don't worry about it, squirt", the girl laughed, ruffling her brother's bangs in her usual playful manner. "I'm used to it by now. Besides, he didn't take them all. There's plenty more where those came from."
Aaron, however, did not smile back as he voiced his real concern to his big sister.
"Why'd you do that, Sonia? Why'd you take the blame for the prank?"
At this question, the smile faded from the teenage fox's face, and she lowered herself to one knee to gaze seriously into the preteen's eyes.
"Because I'm not letting my little brother get dragged into my battles", she said. "Now the question is: what were you doing with my bombs in the first place?"
The 12-year-old hesitated to look over his sister's head at the hedgehogs standing nearby, as though to make sure they weren't listening in. Once satisfied that all three were immersed in their own conversation, he then looked back at Sonia and whispered an awkward reply.
"...I just wanted to prove I could be part of your group..."
"Aaron..." the vixen sighed in exasperation. "Is that was this was all about? We've been through this before. I told you: you're still too young. The Chaos kids are rough. You know that; you almost got yourself beaten up today!"
"But I still got them good with the firecrackers!" the young boy argued. "Come on, Sonia, I wanna be one of you guys! Please? You're so cool!"
"I said no, Aaron. Maybe when you're a little older."
The Control leader had made it clear that there was no room for discussion, but her younger brother was not about to give up just yet.
"Well, what if I told you I overheard something from the Chaos kids before I set the bombs off on them?"
At this, Sonia's interest was suddenly piqued, and a mischievous smile returned to her face.
"I'd say tell me more, and maybe I'll think about taking some time off your wait."
The preteen fox smiled at his sister's change of heart, and promptly leaned forward to whisper in her ear. The glint in the teenager's hazel eyes was clear evidence that the news was indeed very intriguing, and that she had every intention of using it to the advantage of Control.
Sonic stood some feet from the Prower siblings with his wife and his daughter, still unnerved by the discussion with the mayor. His distress was not missed by the other two hedgehogs, who wasted no time in voicing their concern as soon as the group from Chaos had left.
"What did Mayor Eggman say, honey?" asked the pink hedgehog nervously.
"Same as always, Amy", the blue hedgehog replied with a sigh of disappointment. "Except this time he made it clear that Shadow and I will both be in trouble if a public fight ever happens again."
"Dad, isn't there some way you can work things out with Shadow?" said the lilac hedgehog hopefully. "I mean, this war has been going on way too long. Isn't there any chance for peace by now?"
Lily Rose Hedgehog was one of the few open pacifists of Green Hill. Although her parents – Sonic the Hedgehog and Amy Rose – were the leaders of the Control faction, her high intelligence had led her to draw her own conclusions about the feud years ago, and ever since, she had been very candid about her disagreement with the rivalry, a fact of which her father was well aware by now.
"I'm afraid it's not that simple, Lily", said Sonic. "Differences between people don't just get resolved overnight. Politics are a little more complicated than that."
"Especially when both parties think they're always right", his daughter added bitterly. Despite the disrespectful undertone, the blue hedgehog couldn't help but laugh.
"You really make the most of your Gift, don't you? You're just like your mother. Typical Mind class..."
"I'm sorry, Dad", said Lily sarcastically. "Would you rather I'd been born with a Speed Gift, like you and Miles?"
At the mention of that name, the girl saw the smile fade from her father's lips.
"Speaking of your brother", said Sonic, now turning his head to scan the surrounding area, "where is he? I haven't seen him all day..."
"He went out this morning", said the lilac hedgehog. "I think I saw him heading to the fields."
"He's been heading out alone an awful lot lately", said Amy thoughtfully. "I wonder if he's OK..."
Just then, the arrival of another person caught everyone's attention. An adult fox with two tails was making his way up the path from Control territory, and as he approached the younger foxes, the elder of the two siblings warily rose to her feet.
"Hi, Dad", said Sonia awkwardly as the newcomer stopped by her side and folded his arms. The disappointment in his blue eyes was only too evident.
"The principal just called me", said her father. "Said you got involved in another fight with the Echidna boy. Earned yourself another week of detention?"
"But Dad, he-"
"I don't wanna hear it, Sonia! We'll talk about this at home. Let's go, now."
The two-tailed fox looked up to see who had just called his name, and noticed his adopted brother waving to him from a few feet ahead.
"Hi, Sonic!" he called, waving back. The blue hedgehog spoke again.
"We'll go with you. Just hang on a minute..."
While Tails waited with his two children, Sonic turned back to his daughter to ask her one last favor.
"Lily, if you see your brother today, can you ask him how he's doing? We haven't been seeing him a lot lately. Just let him know we're worried about him, OK?"
The lilac hedgehog nodded with a warm smile. She much preferred seeing her parents showing genuine concern for their family and friends, as opposed to the hostility they normally showed their rivals.
"Sure thing, Dad. I'll go out to the fields soon. I just need to lock the study first."
Although there was no class on weekends, a select few rooms on the Emerald High campus stayed open on Saturdays for parent-teacher meetings and some activities for students, such as the study by the library to which Lily had exclusive access. Though she often used the room for her own research, its main purpose was as a quiet public space where she could offer private tutoring, an opportunity she had taken to use her Gift of high intellectual capacity to help all her fellow students, regardless of faction. The way she saw it, this impartial service was her best chance of making any progress toward a more peaceful future for Green Hill, and thus was the greatest hope she had to hold on to.
Sonic reciprocated his daughter's smile with a nod of his own, and with that, he and Amy walked away to accompany the Prower family back to Control territory and their respective homes. The lilac hedgehog watched her parents, uncle and cousins disappear down the path, then sighed and made her way back to the school alone, her mind still clouded with thoughts of the afternoon's troubling events. In truth, Lily had been planning on visiting the fields anyway, because if there was one person in town with whom she greatly wished to talk now, it was her sensible twin brother.