A "Changes Are No Good" side-story. Sonic's ritual, Saffron's reason, and a GUN Halo party.
Side-story: "Alice and the Catepillar"
Down at Smokey's Bar, a blue hedgehog in an open-jacketed GUN uniform sat and idly swished around his drink. He never was much of a drinker, but it had become a sort of routine. Every time he felt overly stressed, he would find himself here, doing the exact same thing: sit, drink, swish, stare. Sit, drink, swish, stare. Sit, drink-
Something touched his back, and a woman's voice spoke. "Sir?" He let out a startled yelp and splashed himself with the drink. "I'm sorry, sir, let me..." A gloved hand picked up a nearby napkin and started trying to dry him off. He recognized the woman as his second-in-command, Saffron.
"Saff? What are you doing here?" he asked. He noticed she was out of uniform and blinked. He had never seen her out of uniform. He even suspected she slept in it on occasion. "... and you like the Mini Mango Bunch?" he added, gesturing to her shirt.
"I was concerned, sir. You didn't seem yourself after the terrorist attacked," Saffron answered. "If I may speak freely, it's not like you to be quiet."
"There's a lot of things you wouldn't think are like me," he mumbled to himself.
The hare tilted her head to one side. "What was that, sir?"
"Nothing, Saff," he said, swishing and staring at what was left of his drink. "And don't call me 'sir'. You're not on duty, and I hate being called it anyway."
"Yes, sir-Sonic," she said with a slight nod. "Why don't we get out of here? The former commander and some of the soldiers have set up a local-area network and have a Halo 6 party going, and we need all the help we can get taking down ex-President Emyr..."
Sonic couldn't suppress a chuckle at the thought of a group of soldiers losing to an over-glorified civilian in a shooter. "Sorry, Saff, but shooting things was never my thing, even shooting fictional things."
Saffron gave her commander another odd look. "You're in a strange occupation then, sir. Why did you join GUN?"
He looked at his drink as though he was trying to melt the glass with heat vision. "I made a promise to myself to make the world a better place, and I will," he stated forcefully.
"Sir..." Saffron breathed. "I... I made a promise too. If... if you don't mind hearing me out, sir-er, Sonic?"
The hedgehog finally looked back at her. "Huh? Sure. I always wondered what made you sign up."
"You remember the Black Arms invasion, right? You were in my hometown when it started, after all, or so the papers said," the hare said.
"Yeah, I was," Sonic agreed. "You're from Westopolis?"
Saffron nodded. "Born and raised, sir-Sonic. It was horrible; the sky went red and these... things were dropping from the sky, and I was just a little girl at the time... Then this GUN soldier-he had to have been younger than Horrocks, sir-came along and led my family and me to a safe place, then he went back in..."
"I see..." Sonic murmured. They actually did something right...
She shuffled her feet. "I remember his name. Private Arnold Frank. I know I shouldn't have, but I looked up his file not long ago. He died in that attack, and his sidearm turned up missing. I don't want to think of whose hands it wound up in..."
A flash of memory overcame the blue hedgehog. Shadow had been toting a gun around since the invasion, and he vaguely remembered hearing the current commander yelling something about a thief before the angsty bastard caught up with him the day... He shook his head. "Nah, couldn't be..."
"Nothing, Saff," Sonic replied. He plunked some money down on the counter and hopped down from the bar stool. "You go onto your Halo party. Something tells me we're all gonna need to squeeze in a little happiness where we can right now. Later! And give 'em hell for me!" He walked off, humming a snatch of something the hare didn't recognize.
"Sir..." she said as she watched him go. It was like something was on his mind, but he just couldn't say what and she couldn't figure it out. She needed more clues to the mystery, but that was her specialty. She wasn't an intelligence officer for nothing, after all.
But first, she decided, Emyr was going down. So declared "sweetiedarling", and so it would be.*
(*Of course, that was until "Mista Prezz" fragged her for the n'th time that night and she broke her controller by throwing it against the wall. Repeatedly.)
Thanks to the fabulous Typical (JesusKetchum31 'round these parts) for Jason's name and screenname, and the idea of a GUN halo party. XD
Sonic et. al. are owned by Sega. I'm just borrowing them.