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

From the Ashes

by nintendofreakgcn 0 reviews

Cheese lies on the brink of death, as Tails is forced to confront his demons.

Category: Sonic the Hedgehog - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Amy Rose, Cream, Knuckles, Miles "Tails" Prower - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006-10-20 - Updated: 2006-10-20 - 4035 words

Chapter 6: From the Ashes

The cabin was silent, save for the quiet breathing of its inhabitants. Cheese lay on one of the beds, bandages covering the massive wound on his chest. Tails noticed a red bow tie around the chao's neck that he hadn't seen before. Until recently, it had probably blended in with the blood. Cream sat in a chair beside Cheese, holding one of his tiny arms. Her teary eyes were fixated upon him, and didn't budge, even as Amy went around with various medical instruments. Cream only blinked occasionally.

Tails stood as far away as possible from the scene. He leant back against the door, and tried not to look. He was in unknown territory. Although he'd experienced the death of his best friend, it had all been over in a flash. He hadn't had to deal with such prolonged worry. All it had been was a short, sharp shock, and then it was all over. The aftermath wasn't pleasant, but at least he knew where things stood.

Admittedly, Tails had felt similar worry in his life to what Cream must have been feeling. When he'd found Knuckles' broken body that night, when he thought he'd lost him to Eta, he'd felt fear, but it was different. He was certain he wasn't as close to Knuckles as Cream was to Cheese. Besides, Tails had been able to remind himself that Knuckles was tough, and that he'd surely pull through. He doubted that Cream could say the same for Cheese.

Finally, Amy stopped her duties, and sighed. "Well, I've done all I can," she whispered. "Do you want me to get you anything, Cream?"

Cream shook her head, but didn't look up for a moment. "Is he going to make it?" she asked. Tails stifled a groan. The scene was like watching a train wreck; no matter how horrible it was, he couldn't turn away.

"I don't know. All we can do now is wait and see." Amy's head sagged, and she trudged towards Tails. "We should probably leave her alone." Tails nodded in agreement, and the pair walked outside.

It was dark outside. Tails couldn't help but marvel at how quickly the sun had set that day. He looked up at the sky, hoping to see even a single star, but clouds had blotted out all the light. His head sank, and he sighed. "Be honest with me, Amy," he said. "What are the chances of Cheese surviving?"

Amy frowned. "About as likely as Knuckles being in a good mood when he gets back." She closed her eyes. "Remember how I once told you it's important to actually remove the bullet from a bullet wound?"

Tails nodded. "Yeah, you said that if you hadn't removed that bullet from Knuckles' leg, he probably wouldn't have been able to walk again. But what does that have to do with anything?"

Amy opened her eyes. "Well, that's about the only thing I didn't need to worry about when treating that poor chao. The bullet had gone right through him. It's the worst case I've ever seen, and they showed us some pretty gruesome stuff in that first aid course."

Tails shook his head, as if it would make that notion go away. "Why?" Amy didn't respond, but Tails continued. "Why'd this have to happen?" Tears formed in his eyes. "Yeah, we all know Eggman's evil, but doesn't he have more important things to do right now then just go around killing at random? They were no threat to him! They don't deserve this!" The tears flowed freely now.

Amy put a hand on Tails' shoulder. "Tails, there's only one guy in the world who deserves that, and he's the one guy who it's probably never gonna happen to."

Tails walked away, hiding his tears. "Look, I've gotta go pick up Knuckles," he muttered. He broke into a run.

"Tails!" Amy shouted. Tails kept running. "Tails!" she shouted again, louder this time.

Tails stopped, but didn't turn back. "What is it?"

"You're running the wrong way." Tails slouched as he turned around. Amy pointed behind her. "The plane's that way." There was a flicker of a smile on her face, but it vanished in an instant.

Tails nodded. "I knew that." It was a downright lie. Right now, he wasn't sure if he knew anything anymore.


It wasn't long before Tails returned to Angel Island, but it seemed like a lifetime to him. Knuckles had said nothing during the entire trip back from South Island, and Tails was grateful for it. The last thing he wanted right now was some of Knuckles' patented cynicism.

The Tornado 3 landed on the runway, and slowed to a gentle stop. Tails gradually shut down the plane's systems. He sighed as he unbuckled his seat belt. As he looked back, he noticed that Knuckles was already on the ground, and had taken the body of Cream's mother with him. The corpse lay behind him, and he held it by the ankles.

Tails shook his head as he jumped out of the plane. He pointed at the corpse. "Couldn't you show her a bit of respect?" he growled.

"Tails, she's dead," Knuckles replied. "What does it matter?" Tails simply glared in response. Knuckles shrugged. "Fine, have it your way." He tossed the corpse over his shoulder.

Tails rolled his eyes. "Come on," he muttered. He walked away, and motioned for Knuckles to follow. The echidna complied.

Knuckles picked up the pace until he was walking beside Tails. "Hey, Tails, where exactly are we going to keep this thing anyway? I sure don't want it stinking up the shrine, and at a guess, there's someone in the cabin who doesn't want to see it just yet."

"I've got it under control, okay? There's something round the back that will do the trick." Tails and Knuckles walked around to the rear of the cabin. Amy was there, and she was standing next to a clear, horizontal capsule that hovered a foot about the ground. The device had a small keyboard on its side.

"What the hell is this?" Knuckles asked.

Amy gritted her teeth. "Were you paying any attention when Tails told us what all the stuff we got from GUN does?"

"Only when he was describing the weapons, and something tells me this isn't one of those, unless we're planning a very quick cremation." Tails and Amy both glared at Knuckles. "Can anyone here take a joke?"

Amy rolled her eyes. "This coming from the most short-tempered guy on the planet."

Tails held up his hand, silencing Amy and Knuckles. "Look, it's a cryogenic freezer capsule," Tails said. Knuckles stared blankly. "It freezes things in order to preserve them."

Knuckles held up his free hand. "And why are we preserving a corpse?"

Tails' muscles tightened. "I told you - I think Cream deserves the chance to give her mother a decent burial."

Knuckles was silent for a moment. "Interesting that you think she'll be around here for that long." Tails was about to reply, but Knuckles cut him off. "Well, go on then, open the blasted thing up so I can put this corpse in there."

Tails flinched, but soon got a hold of himself. He walked over to the capsule, and pressed a button on the keyboard. The capsule hissed as it opened up. Mist poured out into the air. Tails pointed into the capsule. Knuckles trudged over, and tossed the body in. Tails gritted his teeth, and rearranged the body, so that it was lying properly on its back, and not in the haphazard way Knuckles had left it.

Tails shivered as he got out and closed the capsule. "Amy, could you take that over to the storage shed?" he asked. Amy nodded, and pushed the capsule over towards a shoddily built shed next to the cabin. Tails had had to build it up in a hurry to store all the supplies they'd gotten from GUN, but it had held together so far.

When Amy was out of sight, Tails turned to face Knuckles. "What's your problem, anyway?" Tails snapped.

Knuckles scowled. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Tails scowled. "Come on, you know what I'm talking about. You've been acting up ever since we found Cream. Why?"

Knuckles scowled back. "I think the bigger question is, 'Why are we going out of our way to slightly prolong the life of that chao?' It's gonna die, anyway."

Tails stamped his foot. "He's not gonna die!"

Knuckles folded his arms across his chest. "Oh? And what makes you so sure?"

Tails frowned, and lowered his head. "Because... he can't."

"I see. If I were you, I'd have a long, hard think about how objective you're being." Knuckles turned away. "But if you'd rather do something else, then go analyse that robot head we found."

Tails shook his head. "I can't. I left my toolbox in the cabin, and Cream's in there. I can't go in there."

"Why not? You afraid of what you might find?"

Tails head shot up. "You're wrong!" Knuckles said nothing, and walked away, towards the shrine. With a huge effort, Tails managed to turn away.

Tails knew he was right, but only in a way. He wasn't afraid of what he might find there, but rather, what he might not find there. He was afraid that he would walk into that cabin, and find nothing. He was afraid that all that would be left in there was an emptiness, the only natural result of Cheese's death. He knew he couldn't truly find something like that, but he was afraid that it could find him.

Tails trudged towards the cabin entrance. He applied a tiny push to the door. It creaked as it opened; that was the only sound that could be heard. Tails walked into the cabin, and found everything exactly as he'd left it. Cheese was still lying on the bed, and Cream sat beside him. The fact that she wasn't actively crying suggested that Cheese was still alive. Tails had that much to be thankful for. He walked past the bed without making a sound. He picked up his toolbox, and was about to leave when he dared to look at Cream's face.

Tails was sure that if he looked up "despair" in the dictionary, there'd be a picture of Cream's face at that exact moment. Her complexion was pale at best. Her eyes were lifeless. Her mouth was rigid, as if she was using her expression as a last bastion against a horde of misery that was ready to claim her at any minute. Cream looked at Tails. His jaw dropped, and he shuddered.

Tails was no longer staring at Cream, but at himself. The figure was no longer watching over a bed, but staring out into the harsh vacuum of space. He was no longer watching a dying body, but rather a burning capsule. With agonising slowness, it burned, always getting redder, but never exploding, never sealing anything.

Tails tore himself from the vision, and barged out of the cabin. He slammed the door behind him. The toolbox fell from his hand, its contents spilling out over the ground. Tails slumped to the ground, and he panted like he'd been through hell and back again. Maybe that's because he had been. As Tails rubbed his temples, he knew exactly what was happening.

His worst memory had invaded his dreams before, but now it had burst forth into his life.


Hours passed, but to Tails, it seemed like days. He'd resolved to extract the robot's memory core before he did anything else, but the work was long, tedious, and so simple that it allowed his mind to wander far more than he'd like.

Try as he might, Tails couldn't get that cursed image from the cabin out of his mind. Maybe Knuckles was right. Maybe he wasn't being objective. Was he just seeing his own suffering in Cream's situation? Was his hope that Cheese would survive just a selfish desire to fix the errors of his own past, or was there something more?

With a sigh, Tails removed the final screw holding the robot's memory core in place. He pulled it out of its socket, and held it up to the fading moonlight. No light shone off its dusty exterior. It was so small, barely the size of Tails' palm, and yet it held a story of a crime against nature, against life, and against any good that remained in the world. Somewhere in this plain device lay the reason for Cream's suffering... if there was one at all.

Tails put the memory core into his toolbox, which he snapped shut. The only computer he possessed that could read that memory core was in the cabin, and he had no desire to revisit that nightmare. He stood up, leaving the toolbox on the ground, and walked away. He had no destination in mind, but some force that he couldn't fight drew him back to the cabin. Before he realised what he was doing, he nearly back at the scene of his renewed nightmare.

Tails forced himself to a stop, a few metres from the door. Part of him wanted to go forward, while another wanted him to flee, and thus he was rooted to the spot. Something was happening behind those walls, something that would change someone's life forever. He wanted to be there, but knew that he shouldn't. It wasn't his place.

The silence was broken by the creeping of the cabin door. A shiver ran down Tails' spine. Amy stepped out, her head hung low. Tails let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding. He ran up to Amy, who glanced up. "How's he doing?" Tails asked.

Amy shook her head. "I'd give him a few minutes, tops." She walked past Tails, without turning back.

Tails spun to face her. "Where are you going?"

"Look, Tails, you're not the only one who's being reminded of other things." With those words, Amy walked away into the night.

Tails couldn't fight the urge anymore. Only through seeing the inevitable would he find any peace. He pushed the door open. It creaked, and he held his breath. He could only hear a gentle weeping from the other side. He pushed the door open all the way. He shook his head as his eyes fell upon the latest in a series of horrible scenes.

A pale grey cocoon was slowly enveloping Cheese. Cream was on the bed, her hands pressed up against the barrier. It didn't budge. Tears flowed out of her lifeless eyes. "Cheese," she sobbed, "please, don't leave me. You're all I have left."

Tails remained motionless. He was no expert when it came to chao, but he knew what was happening. His worst nightmare was about to reach its logical conclusion, and at that moment, there was nothing he hated more than logic. He'd been in Cream's position before, and he knew that, although Cheese was the one who was dying, she was the one who would suffer the most. She was the one who'd be dragged into the void that had claimed Knuckles, Amy, and himself.

Cream didn't deserve that. No one deserved that, not even the one who'd caused it to happen. Thoughts flooded Tails' mind, thoughts of any number of possible ways to stop what was happening, but each one was more ridiculous than the last. As each second passed, the cocoon grew darker and darker, until eventually, it was almost black, and it was impossible to see inside.

"No..." Cream whispered, but it was too late. She pressed her head against the natural coffin, and closed her eyes. Tears slid down her face, and passed the short gap to the cocoon. Pink stains trickled down the surface. Tails scowled as he fought back the tears. Death had the nerve to mock its own victims.

Tails screwed his eyes shut. He tried to kid himself that it was out of respect for Cream's privacy. He knew that it was out of his own fear and inability. The same fear that had held him back on ARK haunted him now: the fear that it may all be pointless. He was out of his depth in more ways than one, and right now, he just wanted to believe that that wasn't the case.

The room fell silent as Cream's sobs stopped. One way or another, something had ended. Cream let out a faint gasp. Tails dared to open his eyes. His gasp joined Cream's. Where the grey cocoon had once stood, there was now a fading pink cocoon, with a large egg inside it. As the husk faded, the egg remained. Cream's hands trembled as they edged towards it. Her eyes had the faintest glimmer of hope in them. Once again, Tails found himself pleading to beings that his logical mind had been certain didn't exist. A miracle was needed, and he had to believe that something out there could provide it.

Cream picked up the egg, and held it at eye level. Her mouth hung open, but no sound came out, not even a breath. For a long moment, all was still. Then, the egg began to shake. Cracks appeared across its surface. The top shattered, and a tiny blue head poked its way out. As more of the eggshell fell away, it revealed a red bow tie around what Tails knew to be the neck of a chao.

Once again, tears formed in Cream's eyes, but they were different this time. "Cheese?" she whispered.

The chao, who was smaller than Cheese had been, looked around the room with its vacant eyes. Finally, they came to rest on Cream. For a brief moment, the pair stared into each other's eyes. Then, the chao nodded. It was that needed to be said. "Chao!" Cheese shouted as he leapt into Cream's waiting arms, which promptly squeezed him tightly in a warm embrace.

For the first time, Tails saw Cream smile, and heard her laugh. It was worth all the pain he'd gone through to see it. Finally, she'd reached that heavenly state that he was sure she'd spent most of her life in. Tails breathed a sigh of relief.

Cream stopped laughing, and looked at Tails. Sweat trickled down Tails' brow. "Um... er..." he whispered. "Congratulations." He winced at his poor choice of words. He pointed outside. "I'll be off now. Just give me a shout if you need anything." He turned around.

"Tails, wait," Cream whispered.

Tails turned his head around. "Yeah, what is it?"

"Thank you."

Tails raised an eyebrow. "For what?"

Cream shrugged. "Everything."

Tails nodded, and walked outside, more confused than he had been when he'd entered the cabin, but grateful for it. The sun was rising in the east. As Tails walked towards the shrine of the Master Emerald, laughter filled the air. He turned around once again. Cream had wasted no time: she was already outside, with Cheese flying beside her as fast as his shrunken wings could carry him.

The pair seemed full of life now. Every step Cream took had a spring in it, propelling her along effortlessly. Cheese looped and turned in mid-air with surprising agility. Occasionally, he spiraled out of control, but she was always there to steady him. They were like partners in a dance that honoured life. Tails smiled. He wished he could be like that, but even to watch it was a gift in itself.

Cream and Cheese passed out of sight, but their laughter still filled the air. With his head held high, Tails resumed his trek towards the shrine. It wasn't long before he reached it, and as he ascended its steps, he found Knuckles standing at the top, looking up at the sky. Tails walked beside him, and looked up as well.

"Care to tell me how the hell that happened?" Knuckles asked.

Tails shrugged. "Apparently, chao still have a few surprises up their sleeve."

"They don't have sleeves."

Tails laughed to himself. "It's a figure of speech, Knuckles."

"Right." Knuckles was silent for a moment. "Listen, you should get some rest. It's been a long day."

Tails shook his head. "I'm not that tired."

"Well in that case, you won't mind if you start looking for where those blasted echidnas from Nachide went, right now."

Tails looked down from the sky, and stared straight at Knuckles' face. "What?"

Knuckles looked at Tails. "Can you think of anywhere else we could send the kid? Frankly, I'd rather she was with someone I wouldn't mind killing if they mistreat her."

"But why can't she stay here?"

Knuckles scowled. "Tails, this isn't an orphanage we're running here! This is war! Trust me, the kid and her pet aren't cut out for this life."

Tails stepped towards Knuckles, and looked up into the echidna's face. "How can you be so heartless? Do you have any idea what she's been through?" Tails clenched his fists.

Knuckles stepped back, and folded his arms across his chest. He closed his eyes. "Look Tails, don't get me wrong, what's happened to her is regrettable, and I'm glad for her sake that the chao made it through alright. It's just that she's utterly useless to us. She's nothing but a kid who was probably spoilt rotten by her mother. She's got no skills, and she sure as hell can't fight."

There was silence for a moment. Knuckles was right, and there could be no doubt about that, but Tails had seen something his friend hadn't seen. "So whether Cream stays or gets kicked out boils down to whether or not she has a use to us."

Knuckles nodded. "Pretty much."

"Well, maybe you could answer a question, then: why do we bother fighting Eggman?" Tails stared at his feet. "You told me the day we escaped ARK that there was no way we could ever hope to defeat him, and that's basically the message you've given off ever since then. So, why do we bother fighting?" Knuckles didn't answer. Tails raised his head, and stood firm. "Well, I'll tell you what keeps me fighting. It's the thought that we could make life even a little bit better for someone. As long as I can do that, I'll keep fighting."

Knuckles' scowl turned into a frown. "And you think the kid provides that?"

"I've gotta hope she does."

"And that's all it is?"

"Well, you were right before, Knuckles: I wasn't being objective, but I've seen something since then."

"And you honestly think she'll be happier here than anywhere else?"

Tails nodded. "I don't know why, before you ask. It's just a gut instinct."

Knuckles sighed, and opened his eyes. "Then, as much as I hate to say it, I'd have to be mad to kick her off this island. She can stay, as long as she doesn't get in the way." Knuckles managed a weak smile. "I suppose I'll have to stop eating the wild rabbits around here now, won't I?"

"Probably." The pair fell silent. The laughter grew louder as Cream and Cheese emerged out of cover and into the light. Tails gazed at them as they made their way around the shrine. Cream looked up, and waved at Tails. He smiled sheepishly as he waved back. Knuckles didn't respond.

It was at that moment that Tails realised what it was he'd congratulated Cream for earlier. It was honesty, to others and to herself. When things were at their very worst, she hadn't denied what had been happening, and thus she'd been able to save Cheese, and herself. He hadn't done that, and thus he'd fallen into emptiness. Amy and Knuckles seemed to have suffered a similar fate. Maybe there was something they could all learn from Cream.

Tails knew that the future held many uncertainties, but there was no doubt in his mind that it would be hard, especially for Cream. The reality of her mother's death would hit her someday, but he was sure she would cope, and that he'd be there to help her every step of the way.
Sign up to rate and review this story