Categories > Games > Sonic the Hedgehog > Sonic Adventure 2: Dark Tomorrow


by nintendofreakgcn 1 review

Tails and co. get sent on a mission to check out a mysterious distress signal. What they fidn will change their lives forever.

Category: Sonic the Hedgehog - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Amy Rose, Knuckles, Miles "Tails" Prower - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006-08-04 - Updated: 2006-08-04 - 5850 words

A/N: Okay, here's the latest chapter. It's not much, but hopefully you'll like it.

Chapter 5: Mysteries
It was around noon, and Tails was out on the runway, feverishly working on the Tornado 3. In test flights over the past few days, some of the new equipment had been malfunctioning, and he'd been working all morning trying to figure out what was causing the problems. At that point in time, he was under the plane, inspecting the engine.

"Let's see..." Tails whispered to himself, "if that's connected to the power source, and it runs through to the thrusters at the back and under the wings..." Tails scratched his head. "I really should stop trying to mix technologies together. This plane's getting schizophrenic."

"Tails!" a voice shouted from the cabin. Tails got out from under the Tornado 3, and saw Amy standing just outside the door to the cabin. "Lunch is ready!"

"Have you told Knuckles?" Tails replied.

Amy turned to face the approximate direction of the Master Emerald shrine. "Knuckles!" she bellowed. Tails winced, and rubbed his suddenly sore ears.

"What?" Knuckles snapped loudly in reply, although he couldn't be seen.


"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute!" Amy turned away, and walked back into the cabin. Tails followed her, still wondering how he managed to wind up with the two loudest creatures on Earth.

As Tails entered the cabin, he saw three large rolls set out on plates on the table. As he sat down in one of the chairs, he asked, "Where'd you get the bread?"

Amy sat down in another chair. "I made it myself," she replied. "I just managed to get together all the stuff I needed."

Tails nodded, and began to eat. About a minute later, Knuckles walked in, frowning as usual. He took one look at the food on the table, and asked, "Hey, where'd you get the bread?"

Amy slapped her hand against her forehead. "If you'd been in here a minute earlier, you would have heard the answer to that question; I made it myself."

"Well, excuse me," Knuckles muttered as he sat down. "Strength's my specialty. If you want speed, try flying around in space and putting the corpse back together." Tails' muscles tensed as he glared at Knuckles. Amy looked like she was about to cry. Knuckles raised his hands in an act of surrender. "Okay, okay, clearly if you want humour, you should also look somewhere else. I'm sorry, alright?" The group resumed eating, which they all did in silence, with a few exchanged glances the only things close to communication.

A few minutes later, they'd all finished their meal, and calmed down considerably. "So, Knuckles, how's that book that Rache-Lu gave you going?" Tails asked.

Knuckles shrugged. "Most of it's just mindless garbage. I swear if I read one more thing about some random king conquering some civilisation, I'm going to scream." Knuckles leant back in his chair. "Still, there's this one section that I can't translate. I've looked all through that guide on the ancient Echidna language, but I can't find anything that matches."

Tails scratched his chin, and stared into empty space. "Weird." He turned back to face Knuckles. "Maybe you should track down Rache-Lu and see if she can translate it. She wouldn't have given it to you if she couldn't even read a section in it."

Knuckles shook his head, and scowled. "I'd die before I'd go back amidst that band of savages."

"Says the guy who hasn't bathed in the last week," Amy said.

Knuckles glared at her. "There's much more to civilisation than that." Before Amy could reply, a loud siren wailed in the corner of the hut. "What the hell is that?"

"We're getting a message from GUN," Tails said. He was sure he'd told Knuckles about that long-range communicator they'd brought back with them about a week ago, but the echidna was prone to forgetting such things. Tails ran over to the computer in the corner.

"Speaking of groups we've run into that are led by maniacs." Knuckles and Amy both followed Tails. The fox pressed a few buttons on the keyboard, and an image came up on the screen.

Rouge's face appeared on the screen. "Is that how long it's going to take for you to respond every time?" she asked.

Tails shrugged. "Probably," he replied.

"Oh great," Knuckles groaned, "we need to deal with images on this thing."

Rouge glared at Knuckles. "Hey, it's not exactly a huge pleasure for me, either," she said. "Anyway, as much as I'd love to make one, this isn't a social call." Tails, Knuckles and Amy leant closer to the monitor. "The General wants you to do something for him."

Knuckles raised an eyebrow. "And why should we?"

"No particular reason," Rouge replied with a sly smirk, "but the situation's fishy enough to attract your interest, I'm sure."

Knuckles frowned. "Go on."

"Well, GUN just got a distress signal. Now, generally, we don't do much investigation into these, because whoever sends them is usually dead by the time we get there anyway. But we've getting a lot of them recently, and this one came from an island that's supposed to be uninhabited."

"It's clearly a trap," Knuckles interjected.

Rouge nodded. "For once, I agree with you, but that's why the General wants you guys to look into it."

"Didn't you tell me that he didn't want me dead?"

Rouge rolled her eyes. "What I meant by that is that you have a habit of getting out of deadly situations in one piece. Also, this island's only a few miles from your current position."

"Really?" Tails asked. He clicked on an icon on the bottom of the screen, and a map came up and covered the bottom half of the screen, compressing the image of Rouge's face. There was a group of several islands in the northern area of the map. "Which island is it?"

Rouge looked down, and her eyes skimmed through something below the image. "South Island."

Tails' jaw dropped. "You're kidding."

Knuckles glanced at Tails. "What's so important about South Island?"

"Well, Sonic told me about it a few times, and apparently, it's where he fought one of his first battles against Eggman."

"It's definitely a trap, then. Chances are that Eggman's built on an old base of his."

Tails turned his head to face Knuckles. "So, what do we do?"

"Spring the trap. Clearly, we're going to have to walk into some traps every now and then if we're ever going to get anywhere. Besides, if Eggman knew that we were this close, he'd just attack us directly. He must be expecting GUN to handle it. Maybe he wants to try and get a fix on their base or something. He won't be expecting us, and that gives us the advantage." Knuckles turned back to the screen. "We've got it under control, Rouge. We'll report back to you if we find anything."

"Try not to get yourself killed," Rouge said. "I'm sending over the coordinates the distress signal came from. Over and out." With those words, the image on the screen vanished.

Knuckles stood up straight, and stretched his arms. "Okay Tails, get the Tornado 3 ready. Amy, you know what you've got to do." Knuckles turned around and began to walk away. Tails stayed in his seat.

"Aren't you forgetting something, Knuckles?" Amy asked. Knuckles stopped in his tracks. "You promised that you'd let me come on a smaller mission as soon as one came up."

Knuckles closed his eyes, and muttered random obscenities. As he opened his eyes, he asked, "Tails, does this technically qualify as a smaller mission?"

Tails nodded. "It's just one little distress signal; you've been beaten, Knuckles."

Knuckles gritted his teeth, but didn't turn around. "Fine then, you can come, Amy. Just follow my every command, okay?"

Amy raised her hand to her head in a mock salute. "Yes, sir," she said. Tails struggled not to laugh.


It wasn't long before Tails was piloting the Tornado 3 towards South Island, which was now in clear view. Knuckles and Amy had been arguing the whole trip, but now that they were so close to the island, they'd stopped. Tails breathed a sigh of relief at that thought.

"Hey Tails, you picking anything up on the scanners?" Knuckles asked.

Tails glanced at the displays in front of him. "Well, there's plenty of life-readings around here, but nothing out of the ordinary: certainly nothing human."

"Aren't there supposed to be other sentient animals on these islands?"

Tails shook his head. "Not on South Island. Eggman's base wound up driving them all away, if they didn't die or get robotocised first. Most of them are on Westside Island."

"Wouldn't Eggman have wiped them out as well?" Amy asked.

"Nah, I wondered that once," Knuckles replied. "But Eggman's got no real presence in this area. He's got his hands full fighting GUN. You picking up any robots, Tails?"

Tails shook his head. "The only metal I can find is all up at Eggman's old base," he said.

"And where did the distress signal come from?"

Tails hammered the coordinates given by Rouge into the navigation computer. "Just past the Green Hill Zone, which is about as far as you can get from that base."

Knuckles mumbled something incoherent. Finally, in a clearer voice, he said, "Any theories as to what the trap is?"

Tails frowned, and looked at the displays again. He took one hand off the controls, and stroked his muzzle. "Well, the only thing I can think of is that Eggman's got some forces up in his old base, and that all that metal is keeping them hidden from scanners. It would have to be something pretty fast though for that ambush to work."

"Great, fast," Knuckles groaned. "I hate fast. I can't keep up with fast guys."

Tails resisted the urge to laugh. "Trust me, Knuckles, I realised that ages ago."

Knuckles gritted his teeth. "So we've got to get in and out as fast as we can. Tails, you'll stay in the plane and keep it ready to go. Amy, you'll go with me to check out the distress signal. We just find out whether or not whoever sent it is alive, grab any obvious evidence, and get the hell out of there. You got that?" Amy didn't respond. "Amy! Amy!"

Amy held upper her hand to silence Knuckles. "Yeah, I heard you, and I get it," she replied, "but why does the trap have to be fast? Why does it have to be in Eggman's old base at all?"

"Because Tails didn't pick up anything anywhere else."

"Well, couldn't Eggman have hidden something somewhere else?"

Knuckles sighed. "Tails, explain it to her."

"Amy," Tails said, "the only way the Tornado 3's scanners wouldn't pick something up would be if there was something jamming the signal. If that was the case, we'd pick up a spot of interference."

"Well, couldn't Eggman have come up with some new way of hiding his stuff?"

Tails shook his head. "Nothing's ever been able to slip by the scanners undetected. It always shows some sign if there's something there, and trust me, there's nothing there." Tails refocused his attention to what lay ahead. The shore of South Island was rapidly approaching. Tails pulled the plane into an ascent, and they soared over the trees that dotted the Green Hill Zone. The forest grew thicker as they went deeper into the zone.

"How much longer 'til we get to this blasted distress signal, anyway?" Knuckles asked.

Tails glanced at the display. "Just a couple more minutes, Knuckles. We should be able to see the area any moment-"

Tails was cut out by a loud boom. The whole plane shook. Tails activated the shield, then turned his head back. Smoke was pouring out of the engine. "What was that?"

Amy looked over the edge of the plane, and her eyes darted over the landscape. "I don't know, but we're under attack!" She turned to face Tails. "So much for your scanners."

Knuckles frowned. "Now's not the time," he said. "Tails, get us up as high as you can."

Tails nodded, and turned back to the controls. He could feel the sweat dampening his fur. "Hold on," he whispered. He pulled back on the joystick, and the plane pulled into a tight ascent. Tails was crushed against his seat. His vision began to blur. Finally, he pulled out of the ascent. He let out a breath that he didn't know he was holding as the plane returned to level flying.

Another boom resounded. The shield started to fizzle. Whatever this enemy was firing was clearly stronger than average bullets. "We'd better think of something fast," Knuckles said, "or this thing's gonna take us out."

Tails turned back to face Knuckles. "What can we do? The scanners aren't picking this thing up, and it's got too much cover for us to see it ourselves!"

Another shot hit the shield, and it started to crackle. Knuckles bit his lip, and folded his arms across his chest. He lowered his head. "How many missiles have we got?"

Tails shrugged. "About half a dozen, but I don't see how that's gonna help."

Knuckles sighed. "I want you to blast the forest with missiles. Make sure there's nothing left for whatever's shooting at us to hide in."

Amy stared at Knuckles in exasperation. Tails' jaw dropped. "Knuckles, we can't just do that," he said. "What about all the animals that live there?"

"They're acceptable losses to keep ourselves alive."

Tails shook his head. He couldn't believe that Knuckles wanted him to sink this low. "I can't believe what I'm hearing!"

Yet another shot hit the shield, which faded completely. Knuckles raised his head, and looked at Tails with a melancholy expression. "It's the only way, so just do it."

Tails could feel tears welling up in his eyes. "But - "

"I said do it!" Knuckles slammed his fist down on the back of Amy's chair. She flinched.

Tails nodded, and turned back to the display. He held back his tears as he entered the coordinates where the missiles would do the most damage into the computer. The tears flowed as he pressed the button. Six missiles launched from under the plane. They curved in midair, and dived towards the trees.

The missiles all hit their target. The explosions set fire to the entire forest. Soon, the blaze was all that could be seen where once there had once been life. Tails shook his head as he turned the plane around, and began to fly back towards the area where the first shot had come from.

Tails gasped. Something was rising out of the blaze. A large brown robot hovered out of the burning forest. It was shaped roughly like a tree, but it had legs where roots should have been, and instead of branches, it had a single arm on one side, and a large sniper rifle on the other. It had a large, dome-shaped head.

The robot ascended until it hovered several metres above the Tornado 3, and a fair distance away. It pointed its sniper rifle at the plane, and used its arm to hold the weapon steady. Yet another boom resounded. Tails swerved the plane to the side, but the shot hit one of the wings, tearing through it with ease. The robot reloaded.

"Tails, listen to me," Knuckles said. "Fly the plane under this thing, and then perform the tightest loop you can manage over it. I'll take care of the rest."

"But how do you know what you're planning is going to work?" Tails replied.

"Just trust me." Tails turned back, and saw that Knuckles had his shovel claws held at the ready. Tails knew that if that there was one thing that he could trust Knuckles to do, it was create havoc. Right now, that was what they needed.

Tails nodded, and turned back to face the front. His eyes narrowed, and he thrust the throttle forward. The plane rocketed forward, throwing Tails back into his seat. A bullet soared past, missing by mere inches. As they passed underneath the robot, Tails pulled back on the joystick, pulling the plane into a tight loop. Tails became dizzy as the blood rushed in seemingly random directions in his head. He thought for a moment that he saw a red blur plummeting towards the robot.

Finally, Tails pulled out of the loop, and was relieved to find that they were back on a horizontal plane. He went limp as he gasped for air. After a few moments, he found the energy to look up. His jaw dropped as he saw Knuckles standing on the wing of the plane, with the robot's head dangling from his right shovel claw.

Tails whipped his head back, and saw a massive cloud of smoke that could only be the aftermath of an explosion. Amy's expression was just as shocked as his. He turned back to face Knuckles. "How did you do that?" Tails asked.

Knuckles shrugged. "I just tore through it," he replied. "It wasn't that hard."

Tails pointed at Knuckles. "But you had to leap out at just the right time, and you would have to move just right to get through it and land on the wing!"

"Hey, I may be a bastard sometimes, and I would have a million environmentalists on my tail if Eggman hadn't outlawed 'em, but I get the job done." Tails simply nodded in reply. "Oh, by the way..." Knuckles flung the robot head at Tails. He just managed to catch it. "Souvenir."

"Knuckles," Amy said, "why would Tails want that ugly hunk of junk?"

"Actually, it could be very useful," Tails replied. "If I can hack into its memory, I may be able to find what its specific last orders were, which could be useful. Also, I'm pretty sure that it was an E-100 robot, and it couldn't hurt to check out the CPUs of those robots."

Amy rolled her eyes. "Right," she muttered. "Frankly, I'd rather you made some scanners that actually work."

Knuckles shook his head and sighed. "Come on, we've still got a mission to do. Tails, take us to the location of the distress signal, so we can figure out what's going on and then get out of here. Burning forests aren't exactly my favourite scenery."


A few minutes later, Tails landed the Tornado 3 on a high cliff overlooking the ocean, around the location of the distress signal. The signal had been broadcast from a nearby cottage. Strangely, the house looked completely fine, save for a single broken window.

"Something's not right here," Tails said as Knuckles and Amy jumped out of the plane.

Amy scratched her head. "Yeah, shouldn't there be more destruction or something if there was a distress signal?" she asked.

Tails looked at Knuckles. "Do you think there's another trap waiting in there?"

Knuckles shook his head. "Nah, if Eggman was gonna strike, and he can keep hidden from our scanners, he would have done it we were still flying. I fight better on the ground." He turned to face Tails. "Besides, aren't you forgetting what weapon that freaky tree robot used?"

Tails nodded in realisation. "A sniper rifle..."

Knuckles nodded back. "Exactly. My guess is that that robot just fired a shot or two, and killed everyone in there." He glanced at Amy, who was looking faintly pale. "I hope you don't mind blood, because I think we're about to see a fair bit of it." He pointed towards the cottage. "Come on, let's go."

Knuckles had only taken a single step when Amy held out a hand to stop him. "Listen," she whispered. "What's that sound?" The trio fell silent, and listened intently. Tails could just hear a faint whimpering emanating from the cottage.

"Oh great," Knuckles groaned. "If there's one thing I hate more than when Eggman leaves no survivors, it's when he leaves some." For the second time that day, Tails couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Amy looked at Knuckles incredulously. "So what would you like?"

Knuckles folded his arms across his chest, and looked skyward. "Well, it would be nice if he'd just die, I suppose."

Amy rolled her eyes, and pulled Knuckles' arm. "Come on, we need to find out what's going on."

Knuckles pulled his arm away and stepped back. He held his arms out in front of him. "Oh no, there's no way I'm going in there. I can't handle all that emotional... stuff. Tails, you go in."

Tails flinched. "What?" he questioned. "But what about me staying here so we can leave in a hurry if we need to?"

Knuckles glared at Tails. "Look, we defeated the robot of the week, okay? If Eggman has anything else up his sleeve, I'll just trash it if it tries to attack us. You just go in there, and do what needs to be done. That's an order." Tails sighed and shook his head. He undid his seatbelt, and leapt out of the seat. Amy began to walk, and he followed, but before they could go very far, Knuckles said, "Tails, wait up a minute." Tails stopped, and turned around. Knuckles shooed Amy away. "Amy, you can keep going; I just need to talk to Tails for a minute." Amy shrugged, and jogged towards the cottage.

"What is it?" Tails asked.

Knuckles leant back against the side of the Tornado 3, and sighed. "Look, I know you don't exactly agree with what I told you to do back there, but I hope you realise that if we die, there's nothing to stop Eggman from burning every forest in the world down if he wants to, and I think he does. Anyway, I'm sorry I made you do it."

Tails shrugged, but he couldn't hide his frown. "That's okay."

Knuckles shook his head. "Tails, you're no better at lying than I am. The only difference is that you have a heart; I lost mine ages ago." Knuckles patted Tails on the shoulder. "Hold onto that, will you? One angsty guy's enough for this outfit."

Tails nodded, and turned around. Before he could take a step, he heard Amy's voice gasp, "Oh my God."

Knuckles frowned. "Sounds like Amy's not taking it too well," he said, but Tails was already running towards the cottage. He reached it within a matter of seconds, and barged through the open door, which led into the kitchen. What he saw would haunt him for the rest of his life.

An adult female rabbit lay crumpled on the floor, dead from a bullet right between the eyes. A very young female rabbit knelt beside the corpse. Her closed eyelids couldn't stop the tears from flowing. She held a heavily bleeding, light blue chao in her arms, and its blood stained her orange dress until it was as dirty as the entire scene.

Tails just stood there, utterly paralysed. He'd seen some terrible things in his life, but nothing like this. He managed to glance at Amy, whose face had all lost trace of colour, save for her fur, which formed a mocking contrast. Her eyes, however, were solely on the scene before the pair. She shook her head a few times, but Tails knew all too well that nothing was going to make this scene go away.

Nevertheless, something had to be done. Tails couldn't just leave the young rabbit there. He'd never forgive himself if he did. She had nothing left, and although he didn't know what he could offer, he had to do something. But what could he do? Even though he'd been in a similar situation before, he hadn't dealt with it well, and he didn't have a clue how he could have done so. Even if he had, there were so many little things, so many things he didn't know about her. One wrong move could ruin any chance. So he just stood there, watching her, and hoping that a solution would come out of nowhere.

Much to Tails surprise, it came. Amy took one step towards the rabbit, and then another. Finally, she managed to whisper, "Hello?" It wasn't much, but it was far more than Tails had found the courage to do.

The rabbit didn't open her eyes. The tears kept flowing as she cowered away from Amy's voice. "Just do it," she whimpered.

Amy moved to step back, but somehow stood her ground. "Do what?"

The rabbit sniffled. "Finish me. You've taken everything else away; why should it matter now?"

Amy shook her head. "We're not here to hurt you. We're here to help."

The rabbit stopped crying, and opened her eyes. Maybe it was just relative, but when compared to her tiny body, her brown eyes seemed massive. Tails couldn't help but feel that they had once been full of hope, and he would have given anything to see them like that. Now, they just reflected the emptiness that he was sure she felt inside her. "You're not that creature who came here before," the rabbit whispered in a voice that should have been heavenly, but was filled with despair. "Who are you?"

"I'm Amy," Amy replied. She pointed to Tails. "That's Tails." He waved, and immediately felt like an idiot for doing it. Amy shot a frown in his direction, and he stepped back. "We also have another friend called Knuckles, but he's outside." There was an awkward silence. "Um, what's your name?"


Amy managed to form a warm smile, though Tails didn't understand how she could do it. "That's a nice name." Tails thought he saw a flicker of happiness in Cream's eyes, but it was gone in an instant as she shivered. Tails knew that the cold she felt couldn't be adequately described. Amy picked up a large tea-towel as she walked towards Cream. She put it over the rabbit's shoulders, and knelt in front of her. "Do you think you could tell me what happened here?"

Cream whimpered again, and the flow of tears restarted. She managed to nod as she looked down at the chao in her arms. "I don't know exactly. We were just preparing lunch, and Cheese was hovering in front of the window like he always does... did." Tails guessed that Cheese was the chao's name. He glanced over to the broken window, and figured out the rest. It was best to let Cream tell it, though. "I saw a really strange tree outside, and it was moving. There was a loud noise, and the window shattered. Cheese dropped to the ground, and blood spilled everywhere." Cream shuddered, and fell silent.

Amy gently stroked Cream behind the ear. "Come on, you can do it."

Cream took a deep breath as she closed her eyes. "My mama hit the button for the distress signal, but as she went to pick up Cheese, there was another noise, and... and..." Cream wailed, and wrapped one arm around Amy, holding onto Cheese with the other. Amy returned the embrace. As she stroked Cream's light fur, Tails found himself the odd one out. He sighed, and walked around the kitchen to try and take his mind off things.

The room was spotless, save for the glass fragments near the window and the blood that had stained the whole scene. Tails studied every detail intently to try and take his mind off Cream's wailing. He couldn't bear to hear it, and yet he couldn't leave. He wanted to be the one comforting her, and yet he couldn't. He hated Eggman for what that robot did, but he hated himself even more, for being powerless to stop it. He clenched his fists until he was sure he would pierce his skin. Finally, he managed to calm down. Enough blood had already been spilt that day.

Tails turned around, and saw that the scene was much as it had been before. Cream now had both of her arms around Amy, and was wailing louder than before. Cheese's body had been laid down beside the pair. Amy's eyes were closed.

"I know it's hard to believe," Amy said, "but I know how you feel." Tails wanted to share that comment, but couldn't. "I lost someone who meant a lot to me, too. But we're gonna help you get through this, I promise." Cream's sobs softened ever so slightly.

Tails walked over to the group. He knelt beside Cheese's body, and inspected it. The chao had a gaping hole in the side of his chest, and it had become clogged with blood. There was no doubt that it looked bad, but Tails had to do something, to give something. Right now, all he could give was a hope.

Tails made some silent prayers to each and every god he could think of as he felt around Cheese's neck. He held back the tears as he assigned himself to the fact that there was nothing to find. Just as all hope seemed lost, he felt the faintest beat in Cheese's neck. Tails sighed with relief as another beat, just as weak as the first, but still present, confirmed the pulse.

"Um, Cream?" Tails asked. There was no response, save for a slight change in the volume of Cream's sobs. "Cheese is alive.

Cream went silent. She and Amy both turned to face Tails, their expressions betraying their mixture of worry and faint hope. "He's... alive?" Cream whispered.

Tails nodded. "Barely, but he needs medical attention, and fast. We need to take him to Angel Island."

Amy looked at Cream. "Is that okay, Cream?"

Cream paid no attention, and broke off the embrace they had shared. Her eyes were now solely on Tails. "Can you save him?" she pleaded.

Tails closed his eyes. "I don't know," he said. Cream's head sagged. He opened his eyes, and put a hand on her shoulder. "But I promise we'll do everything we can."

Cream nodded, and scooped Cheese up into her arms. "It's going to be okay, Cheese, it's going to be okay..." She kept whispering those words as she stood up and walked towards the door. Tails sat there for a moment, utterly stunned.

Amy leapt up and walked beside Cream. "Um, is there anything from here you need?" she asked. "We could be gone a while."

Cream shook her head. "All I need is Cheese. I need you, Cheese, I need you..."

Tails stood up as Amy and Cream walked out the door. He ran after them. As he left the cottage, he found that the pair had already reached the Tornado 3, and were climbing aboard. Meanwhile, Knuckles was walking towards Tails with a massive scowl on his face. They both stopped, with less than a metre between them.

"Okay, three questions," Knuckles growled. "Who's the rabbit, who's the chao, and what the hell are they doing?"

Tails gritted his teeth. "The rabbit's called Cream, the chao's called Cheese, and they're coming with us because Cheese needs serious medical attention."

Knuckles raised an eyebrow. "Cream and Cheese? Who came up with those names?"

Tails shrugged. "Presumably a dead woman."

Knuckles nodded. "Ah, well that answers another question I was about to ask."

Tails sighed. He'd just had a thought, and he knew Knuckles was going to hate it. "Look, Knuckles, can I ask you a favour?"

"I think you're going to anyway."

Tails ignored that comment. "Could you stay here and watch over the body of Cream's mother?" Knuckles stared at Tails. "I'll be back as soon as I can, I swear."

Knuckles put his hand in front of his face, and shook his head. "Okay, I'm going to explain this how I see it, so correct me if I'm wrong: I'm staying here, alone, on an island that could still potentially be inhabited by killer robots. I'm doing this so I can guard a corpse." Knuckles spread his arms out wide. "Mind explaining to me why I'm doing this?"

Tails sighed. "Look, I don't think Cream's going to be coming back here. I want to give her mother a decent burial, so she can get some closure."

"What more closure could she ask for than her mother's death?"

Tails shoved Knuckles, but his puny attack barely caused the echidna to budge, though he definitely flinched. "Look, do you know what I would have given to have Sonic's body, so I could bury it?" Tails shouted. "Anything!" Tails took a few deep breaths, and stepped back. "I think Cream deserves that chance. Come on, you were just telling me that I should hold onto my heart. Well, that's what I'm trying to do."

Knuckles sighed. "I hate it when someone follows my advice. It always winds up backfiring on me." He shrugged. "Still, I suppose I can't go back on my word now, can I? You're totally crazy, but I'm gonna let you do what you want this time." Knuckles waved in the general direction of the Tornado 3. "Now get out of here. I don't wanna be stuck on this dump any longer than I need to."

Tails nodded, and ran past Knuckles. Before he could go far, Knuckles whispered, "Oh, and Tails?" Tails stopped in his tracks, and turned around to face him. Knuckles didn't return the gesture. "Good luck."

Tails managed a weak smile, but it vanished as soon as he turned around again. He ran towards the Tornado 3, and jumped aboard. There was a faint click as he strapped himself in. He turned his head around, and looked at Cream, who was sitting in the seat behind him. Her eyes were closed, and she held Cheese close to her chest. As she gently rocked in her seat, she whispered, "It's going to be okay, Cheese, it's going to be okay." Her tears suggested otherwise. Tails couldn't even bring himself to try to fool anyone.

Tails forced his head back to the front, and pushed on the throttle. The plane rocketed away, and took to the skies. Tails made a turn, much more gently than usual, in the hope of sparing Cream's nerves. They passed over the forest, which was still burning, but the fire was dying down. There was nothing left but the occasional charred husk of a tree. It was just one scene of death that he'd seen that day, and Tails didn't want to see another.

Something would rise from the ashes. Something had to.


Next chapter: One life has been lost, and another hangs in the balance. Will Cheese pull through, or will Cream lose everything she's ever known? Can Tails deal with fear, despair, and a friend who doesn't seem to care? These questions and more will be answered in Chapter 6: From the Ashes.

A/N: The notion of Cream living in the Green Hill Zone apparently comes from a Japanese episode of Sonic X. Regardless, I think it's a decent concept, and it's not as if it really affects the plot that much, anyway.
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