It Takes a Bad Boy to Get a Bad Girl
Locke, the father of Knuckles, was standing vigilant by the Master Emerald as always when he saw them. The green hedgehog who attacked him years earlier and nearly incapacitated the old hedgehog. And he wasn't alone this time-- he was accompanied by an entourage of seedy-looking characters who looked suspiciously similar to Knuckles' friends, the Freedom Fighters. "You..." Locke growled. Scourge the Hedgehog (for it was he) lifted his shades and cracked a nasty grin at the Guardian. "Long time no see, old man. You wanna do this the easy way and get out of here while I'm in a good mood? Or would you prefer to start writin' your will right now?" Locke opened his mouth to respond, but he never got the chance, because right at that moment, there was a jarring explosion from the far end of the chamber, as a massive hole was blasted through the wall.
Sonic, Knuckles, and Manic were the first to come through the opening into the room. Scourge and Fiona turned around in time to see the Freedom Fighters draw their weapons. Sonics eyes narrowed as he glared at Scourge. Going somewhere, Scourge? Knuckles brandished his fist spurs as he growled, "We still got a bit of unfinished business with you from last time, punk." Scourge spread his arms wide and sneered, Well well well, if it ain't Blue and the Lame Brigade. Heh! I shoulda known you and your little gang of wimps would come after me. Manic made a rude gesture at Scourge and said, Whoa whoa whoa--Excuse me? Just whore you callin a bunch of wimps, you rat-faced biker-boy wannabe? Scourge looked at Manic and growled at him, For a little freaky-haired twerp, you got a pretty big mouth. You wanna put some muscle up to back it up, freak? Manics hand lashed out with lightning speed, and his chain-whip snaked out, slashing a cut on Scourges cheek with its blade. Manic flicked the chain back and caught the end, grinning impudently at Scourge. Ohhh, I'm sorry--Is that too much muscle for ya, dope? Breezie smirked and said derisively, "Why don't just you go on now and run home to your mommy, Mr. Tough Guy?" Scourge clutched his injured cheek, and glared at Manic. Youre gonna die for that! Sonic stepped forward. I dont think so. The only fight going on today is gonna be between you and me! Fiona sneered at him, Oh, wow. The big hero is gonna fight. Whos gonna back you up, Sonic? Your stupid kid sidekick? Sonic leered nastily at her. As a matter of fact, YES. Tails, show yourself. Manic sniggered and said to Fiona, Buckle up, ylittle prima donna. The other Freedom Fighters stepped aside, and Fiona gasped in shock at what she saw.
Tails was standing between the two halves of the group. But he was much older. His fearless blue eyes seemed to burn with a strange light. His hair had grown much longer and fuller, and at least half of it was dyed black in a pattern with his natural hair color. He had two small pin piercings on his left ear, and on his right ear was a small silver hoop earring. Below it was a second earring made of steel. It had a barbed tip, and the opposite end had a curving blade with a serrated ripping edge. His tails were much longer, and the fur was thick and had a glossy shine. He wore a sleeveless combat vest that exposed the rock-hard muscles on his arms and torso. On his left arm was a jet black tattoo of what looked like a snake-scorpion hybrid. On his hands were two armbands with sharp spikes, as well as a pair of heavy-duty fingerless gloves. He was also wearing heavy combat boots and sturdy field pants. A holster was strapped across his chest and over his left shoulder. There were several blast charges clipped to the holster strap. In his hand was a heavy energy blaster. Around his waist was a utility belt. It had a large pouch on one side, and on the other were several weighted throwing knives. This was not the Tails that Fiona remembered. This was a handsome young man, and a powerful fighting machine. Tails grinned and said in his now natural rough tone, Hey there, Fiona. Miss me? Fiona finally found her voice again. TAILS?! Tails holstered his blaster as he nodded and said, Yep, thats my name, Fi. C'mon, you remember, don't you? Tailsthe little twerp that you slapped about two years ago? The kid you left heartbroken? Yeah, thats me. Fiona looked him up and down in disbelief. Wh-whats happened to you?! Y-youre so much
ha... u-uh, OLDER!! Tails said, Yeah
... its called growing, Fiona. Im as old as you are. Fiona stammered, B-but how can
how can you be
as old as ME?! I'm five years older than you!" Tails exclaimed in mock realization, Ohhh, that. Rotor, you wanna take this one? I'm getting tired of explaining it over and over again. Rotor said impassively to Fiona, "You may not realize this Fiona, but all the dimensions have subtle differences in their laws of physics and reality, and the inhabitants of each dimension have evolved so that their cells can divide and grow under those conditions and those alone. In other words, although youve been in the anti-dimension for two years, you havent aged a day beyond sixteen, because your body couldnt grow. Meanwhile, everyone in this dimension continued to grow older. Tails has caught up to you in terms of agehes sixteen now. He looks as old as you because he IS as old as you. Tails then added on, Unfortunately, Im not the little preteen you knew two years ago. Ive changed in a lot of ways. But I can tell you one thing that hasn't changed-- I still feel the same way about you as I did back then. Thats a lot more than what your idiot boyfriend can claim. Scourge hadnt spoken at all (mainly because he had no clue what was going on). Fiona glared at Tails and said angrily, What do YOU know about Scourge? He loves me. Tails pulled a face of mock revelation. "Oh, oh, riiight. Just like he, uh, loves all the other girls he hits on. Fiona was taken aback. What are you talking about? Tails gestured at Scourge and said, Scourge might have taken you with him. Scourge might have said he liked you. The one thing he has never said, as far as I can see, is that he loves you. He only said he thought you were hot because you chose to be evil. Fiona was starting to feel strange, and she was getting a little suspicious about the whole nature of her situation. Tails continued his explanation. Back when Scourge was just Evil Sonic, he began hitting on every girl he saw when he first came into this dimension to impersonate Sonic. You werent the only one Scourge went after Bunnie
and I caught him red-handed, he went after Aunt Sally, he went after Mina
Tails grinned knowingly.
Oh, I almost forgot
he also went after Rouge. Fiona took a step back in disbelief and shock as Tails finished with, And Im 100% sure that hes still been hitting on all the girls in the anti-dimension, even when he brought you with him to Anti-Mobius. Tails was being truthful, and the conviction in his voice was so strong that Fiona was actually starting to believe him. Scourge, however, was starting to look very uncomfortable. Fiona looked at him, and with her face radiating suspicion and disbelief, she faintly said, Scourge
youve been seeing other women
behind my back?! Scourge took a step backwards. He was beginning to sweat. N-NO! I-I wouldnt cheat on ya, babe!! Tails snorted contemptuously. Oh, REALLY? Then why dont we ask the ladies if they would agree with you? He looked at Alicia and Buns (the counterparts of Sally and Bunnie) and said, Hey, you two! Tell me somethin'-- at any point, has Scourge tried to put the moves on either of you ever since he brought Fiona back with him to your village? The two Anti-Mobians gave him confused looks. Tails added on, If you tell me, Ill make sure nobody tries to stop you from going back to your dimensionas I recall, you guys dont exactly like being in our world. After a moment, Buns muttered to Alicia, Meh--sounds good to me. Alicia nodded and pointed at Scourge. With disgust in her voice, she said to Tails, You're pretty sharp, kid--Scourge DID hit on us, even after he came back with that red-headed chick. We played his little game for a while, but we got bored with him pretty fast. But yeah, he kept hitting on us. He'll hit on anything that moves, if it looks like a woman. Turning his back to her, Tails looked over his shoulder at Fiona and said, Do you need more proof than that, Fiona? Face itScourge never loved you to begin with. Scourge doesnt even know the meaning of love. To him, youre just another pretty face. Fiona was speechless with disbelief, emotional hurt, and rage. She was completely silent, and she didnt move for several seconds. Then, tears began to roll down her face. She had believed in Scourge. She had trusted him. She had been so sure he had really changed. But the whole time, he'd still clung to his old ways of infidelity. She glared at Scourge and said with barely controlled rage, I thought you said I was different from those other girls. You
you said we were gonna be together for the long haul... you lied to me
you used me
youyou she suddenly shrieked, You filthy two-timing pervert!!! She broke down sobbing in her open hands, completely heartbroken.
I can't count on anyone, she thought despairingly. I can't count on anyone... I can't trust anyone... not Sonic... not Scourge... nobody's ever going to be--
Fiona was snapped out of her heartbroken reverie by the sound of her name being said. Her face tearstained, Fiona slowly turned to face Tails, unsure of herself. The handsome young fox was smiling at her. It was a smile that held no blame, no derision, no mockery, and not even a trace of insincerity. It simply expressed acceptance, and something else... but Fiona couldn't figure out what it was. Tails said in a gentle voice, Fiona? Will you come back to us? Fiona blinked, looking at him with surprise on her face. Wh-what? Tails continued to smile warmly at the heartbroken vixen and held out his hand to her. Realization hit her like a brick: she was being forgiven. Fiona suddenly felt slightly weak-kneed. She realized that she never even loved Scourge to begin with. For once, Fiona listened to her heart, and she realized the truth: Here was the one person she could always count on. Here was the one man who would love her unconditionally, regardless of her faults, regardless of her past misdeeds, until the day he died. And to her astonishment
she found herself falling in love with the handsome golden fox, who was offering his hand to her in a gesture of hospitality. A weak smile crept over her face. She glanced at Scourge-- the man who had tricked her, who just used her as another squeeze-- and her expression once more radiated disgust and hatred. Scourge stared at her threateningly and said darkly, Ohhh, no! I know you aren't seriously gonna choose the lame brigade over me. There is no way I'm gonna let you dump me to join those losers again. 'Let me?' she thought. Okay, now THAT does it. Fiona turned her head away from Scourge with a cold expression. She slowly walked over to Tails and said nonchalantly over her shoulder, So sorry, Scourge
but I never was able to resist a man in black. Her ex-boyfriend glared daggers of rage at Tails, who grinned impudently and shrugged, as if to say What? I didnt do anything. As Fiona walked over to join Tails, he smirked at the anti-hedgehog and said, Unfortunately, Scourge, having a black heart doesnt count. And neither does wearing a FAKE black leather jacket. Suppressed laughs came from both the Freedom Fighters and from Scourge's unwilling minions. Stifling her laughter with her hand, Fiona slowly reached out and accepted Tails' outstretched hand. No sooner had her hand slipped into his than he pulled her in close and hugged her. She was momentarily startled, but her surprise melted away in the warmth of his embrace. His arms are so... strong... she thought, ...so how can he be so gentle...? The heartache she had been feeling moments ago was already fading, to be replaced with a sense of safety and comfort. She looked up at him, feeling somewhat shy, and returned the smile he gave. Tails slid one hand around her waist protectively and cradled her head with the other, silently showing affection to her, and washing away her pain. Fiona hugged Tails around his torso, feeling all her anguish slip away as his strong arms held her close. Then she heard him speaking. "Oh, don't give me that look, punk." she looked up at him, perplexed, and saw he was looking at Scourge. She turned, and saw the hedgehog glowering viciously at Tails. Tails coolly met his gaze as he continued, "What with all the lady-chasing you've done, you should've seen this coming from miles away... (so to speak.)" Fiona gave Scourge a look of cold indifference. "Oh, I don't think it would have changed things either way. Honestly, I dunno what happened to me-- food poisoning, or something, but I must've been hallucinating on the day I ever saw anything in you."
As Fiona curled her arms around him, Tails grinned at Scourge and said, Ouch. Hard luck, sucker. Scourge was shaking with rage. You
THERE AIN'T GONNA BE ENOUGH LEFT OF YOU TO SCRAPE OFF THE FLOOR WHEN I'M DONE WITH YOU!!" He flared up Chaos Energy in his hands. Sonic warped in front of Tails and Fiona. Maybe that ego of yours is pluggin' up your ears. I told you once, and Ill tell ya againyoure not fightin anybody but me, punk!! Scourge grinned in anticipation. Ha! You and what army, wimp? Sonic grinned back and flared up Dark Energy in his hands. Hm... Me and THIS army.
Both Fiona and Scourge stared in horror as Sonics body was enveloped in Dark Flames. Behind the inferno, they could see Sonics silhouette changing shape. Fiona whimpered in fear, Wh-whats happening to Sonic?! Tails hugged her reassuringly. Shh, its all right, Fiona. Nobody's gonna hurt you." He gave her a knowing grin. "But Sonic's about to hand Scourge's butt to him on a platter."
Suddenly, the flames parted into a halo around Sonics body. To Scourge and Fiona, he looked like something out of a nightmare! His body was jet-black, his eyes were fiery red and orange orbs against white-rimmed, murky black backgrounds, his spines were streaked with shocks of inky purple color, he had a trident-shaped mark on his forehead, his eyeteeth were sharp fangs, and he was enveloped in a voluminous, ragged, ghost-like cloak. He swept the cloak aside, revealing his handsboth wearing chain-mail gloves. Each of Sonics hands had a long, ripping edged blade-claw on every finger. His mouth was twisted in a cold, fiendish grin at Scourge. Sonic said in his cold, serpentine voice, You can call me Phantom Sonic. Scourge mumbled,
Before Scourge could even react, Sonic warped forward and slashed Scourge across the chestright on the spot where Locke had punched Scourge years earlier. Scourge gasped in pain as blood began to leak from the gashes on his chest. He suddenly roared in fury and flared up his Chaos Energy once again (the pain had broken his focus at first). He threw a barrage of Chaos blasts at Sonic, who merely conjured a dark energy shield, absorbing the Chaos Energy. Scourge halted the rain of Chaos blasts and charged at Sonic head-on. He shot his fist out in a vicious right hook. With an almost bored expression, Sonic flicked his head sideways, and the blow missed his cheek by inches. Then, baring his fangs, Sonic lashed out with a vicious roundhouse kick, and he knocked Scourge clean off his feet. The anti-hedgehog landed on his back with a grunt of pain. No sooner had he hit the ground than he leapt upright and warped right at Sonic. The Phantom hedgehog blasted straight up on his dark-flame boot rockets. The two hedgehogs warped all over the room, clashing whenever their paths intersected. Scourge snarled at his counterpart as they crossed for the sixteenth time, Im gonna make you die long and slow for that cheap shot, you wuss!! Sonic went into a spin attack and pounded Scourge relentlessly with his tentacles in a buzz-saw formation. Youve got no room to call me a wuss, pal! You havent hit me once, and Im kicking your butt clean into next week! Sonic jeered as he suddenly kicked Scourge in the chest when he came out of his spin attack. Scourge skidded a good several yards across the hard stone floor, before springing upright and charging Sonic with a furious roar. As he got within two feet of Sonic, the Phantom hedgehog shot out his hand and snatched Scourge right off the ground, holding him up in the air by his neck and grinning wickedly at him. "Learn to use your indoor voice, punk," he chuckled, before flinging Scourge clean across the room. As he fell to the floor, Scourge managed to land on his feet. "How?!" he snarled. "How are you doin' this?! Where did you get this kinda power?! Why don't I have it too?!" he ranted in disbelief. Sonic glided in a lazy circle around him, still grinning as he replied, "Honestly, Scourge, I kinda have you to thank for it. If you hadn't sent that scar-faced idiot, Patch, over here to Mobius Prime, I wouldn't even know about this power." Scourge was taken aback. "What? Patch? What'd he have to do with it?!" Sonic shook his head. "Oh, I'm not tellin' you THAT much, punk. I will admit, though-- this isn't quite my style. But when it comes to kicking your butt, I can make an exception. Speakin' of which, HEADS UP!" He suddenly spin-dashed with blinding speed and knocked Scourge off his feet. Scourge hit the ground several feet away from Tails and Fiona. Tails smirked and said, Awww, whats the matter, Scourge? Is he going too fast for ya? Or are you just too shocked that you lost your girlfriend to a younger man? Scourge jumped up and snarled, You better shut your mouth, you little twerp, and enjoy the last few minutes ya got to live. Cuz after Ive pounded vampire-boy over here into a pulp, Im gonna pound you straight to oblivion!! Tails grinned maliciously at Scourge and said, You gotta back up the tough talk that your mouth makes, biker-boy. You couldnt even cover up your little cheating spree, and now youve paid the price for it. What makes you think you can macho-talk your way out of this?! Scourge looked at Fiona with a feigned expression of pleading and bitterness. Fiona, babe, dont believe him! Dont run off on me! Fiona glared with hatred at Scourge. Just like you didnt run off on ME?! YOU LIED TO ME, SCOURGE!! Your other girls had nothing to lose by telling the truth, and even they knew you were cheating on me! I hate you! Theres no way Ill ever go back to you, you lying creep!! Scourge roared in anger as he narrowly dodged one of Sonics homing attacks, AND THERES NO WAY IM GONNA LET YOU LEAVE ME AND TAKE AWAY MY ACE OVER BLUE!!! Tails looked at him with fearless contempt. You never had any ace over Sonic with Fiona, you idiot. Sonic only dated her cuz he thought that it would help me to get over her and move on. Fiona was startled by this statement for a few seconds, but she quickly forgot about it, because Scourge suddenly revved up his legs to charge both Tails and Fiona. I DONT CARE!! SHES NOT DUMPING ME!!! he roared. News flash, Scourge she just DID, Tails said with a rude grin as Sonic intercepted the charging anti-hedgehog and bulled him across the room.
Sonic smashed Scourges cheek with a devastating punch. Whos got a bad track record with the ladies now, you second-rate wannabe?! He warped backwards as Scourge swung his fist at him. At least I fight my own fights!! the anti-hedgehog snarled. Sonic replied derisively, Please--Tails could whip your butt without even TRYING. He shot two beams of energy from his eyes and blasted Scourge across the room as he said with a wolfish grin, He just doesnt waste his breath on jerks like you. Besides, I've got first dibs on you. After all the bruises I took from you, I've owed you--
he shot out his electrified tentacles--
--and fired several bolts of electricity at Scourge. "--BEATDOWN!!"
AAAAGGGHHH! screamed the anti-hedgehog as he was electrocuted. Sonic broke the flow of electricity, and with his jacket smoldering, Scourge collapsed face-first to the floor. Sonic smirked at him. Your move, biker boy, he growled in his beast-like voice. Unsteadily, Scourge got to his feet, burned and bleeding, and he used his Chaos powers to heal himself as best as he could. The bleeding on his chest stopped (but the gashes remained), and half of his burns faded. He then warped right at Sonic, determined to kill his counterpart. Sonic morphed his left-hand proto-titanium gauntlet into a massive buzz saw. He swung the shrieking, spinning blade in front of Scourge, and the anti-hedgehog, panicking, ground to a halt barely an inch from the blade. Right then and there, Sonic released all control on his ferocity. His red eyes began to burn with fiery rage, and he bared his fangs as a spine-chilling roar built up in his chest and exploded out of his lungs. A massive dome of Dark Energy began to build up around the enraged hedgehog, and bolts of energy began to jolt out with loud bangs as Sonic prepared to unleash his Dark Storm super-attack on his counterpart. The Phantom hedgehog's eyes burned into Scourge's, and he began to build up two gigantic spheres of Dark Supernova Energy in his hands. Scourge's eyes widened in shock. For the first time that he could remember, he felt his heart being gripped by the cold, icy hand of fear. Sonic projected his tentacles straight out like spines, and they began to crackle and spark with the power of 100,000 volts of electricity. Scourge, nerveless with terror, turned on his heel and, for the first time in his life, he fled, running for a nearby door.
Tails shook his head and said in a low voice, Oh, no you dont. Youre not gonna get away THAT easily. Fiona looked at him uncertainly. "Tails...?" Tails didn't respond, but simply drew his gun and fired once just once. The exit was the last thing Scourge saw before the concentrated energy blast blew clean through his chest.
Tails allowed himself a smile of grim satisfaction. Game over, Scourge. Scourge stared down at the charred, gaping hole in his chest as he fell to his knees. Y
was all that he managed to say before he fell over, dead. His sunglasses fell off his head and clattered on the floor. Sonic was silent for a moment, and then he chuckled, Heheh
Nice shot, big guy. Fiona stared at Scourges body in disbelief. I... I cant believe it
Tails looked quizzically at her. Cant believe what? Fiona exclaimed, You didnt even aim your gun, and you... you just got him right in the chest! Sonic walked over to Scourges body. Kneeling down, he examined the hole in Scourges chest. After a moment, he said, Well
it wasnt exactly dead center, big guy. You got him between the chest and the stomach. Then again, he was a moving targeta fast one. Still awestruck, Fiona exclaimed, How did you hit him so easily?! Tails smiled modestly and spun his blaster in his hand. Well, Fiona, I did tell you that Ive changed a lot. Ive been practicing with a blaster for five hours a week for the past year. Did I really surprise you THAT much? Fiona shook her head in amazement and said, Quite honestly, Tails, Im still having trouble believing its really you! I mean, youve gotten both of your ears pierced, you have a tattoo on your arm, youre geared up like youre about to fight a whole war by yourself, and to top it all offIm being serious when I say thisyou are buff! What happened to you? As he holstered his gun, Tails smiled and said, I grew up, Fiona. In case youre wondering how I went from eleven to sixteen in two years
its a funny story: Ixis Naugus escaped from prison last year, and he was hit by an explosion when his cells electric field shorted out. Sonic and I were the first ones to spot him. He was disoriented, and he fired some kind of aging spell that hit me by accident. I was knocked unconscious, and while I was out for the count, Sonic put down Naugus and locked him back up with the help of the guards. When I woke up, I found myself at the age I am right now. Rotor did some tests on me and found out that Naugus spell made me three years olderboth physically and mentally. As Fiona attempted to grasp this, she said slowly, And what about the gun, the bombs, the throwing knives
She made a pronounced look at his arms.
and the fact that youre completely ripped? Tails grinned. Ive been takin combat lessons from Knuckles since I was twelve, and I had to start working out to keep up with his training routine. Espio taught me how to use throwing knives, and Crimatus trained me to use a blaster
Hey, kid! blurted out Anti-Bunnie. Tails turned around and replied, What? Anti-Bunnie folded her arms and said, You said you would let us go back to our village if we spilled the beans on Scourge. When are you gonna pay up? Tails nodded and said, Oh, yeah. Sorry about that. Sonic, could you open up a portal to their village? Wordlessly, Sonic used Dark Energy to open up a portal in the middle of the room. Tails said quietly to the Anti-Freedom Fighters, Youre free to gobut hold up for just a second. Tails walked over to Manic and whispered something to him. Manic nodded and reached into his jacket. He pulled out a burlap bag that was about the same size as his belt-pouch, and handed it to Tails. Tails walked over to the Anti-Freedom Fighters and handed the bag to Anti-Sally. Puzzled, she opened the bag, and her eyes widened. The bag was full of priceless gemstones that Manic had borrowed from the ruins. Tails said to the Anti-Freedom Fighters, Consider that my way of compensating you guys for everything you've been forced through by Scourge. Anti-Sally divided the gems among the gang, and then they walked through the portal, one at a time. Anti-Sally was the last to go. As she was about to pass through the portal, she looked over her shoulder at Tails and gave him a small smile. Yknow what, kid? Youre all right. Tails nodded, and Anti-Sally passed through the portal. Sonic closed the portal, and Tails stared for a moment at the spot where it had been. Right now was the perfect opportunity to tell Fiona just how he felt about her.
Tails slowly pulled off his shoulder strap and let it fall to the floor.
I cant hold it in any longer, he thought to himself, I have to tell her the truth
but what if she still doesnt feel the same for me??
He unclipped his spiked wristbands and let them fall next to the shoulder strap.
No... I dont care, he thought. I HAVE to do this. I have to tell her, and get this burden off my chest. No matter what she feels towards me. For better or for worse... I just have to tell her.
Tails took a deep breath, turned around, and walked over to Fiona.
He finally had the courage to tell her everything.
The room was silent as Tails approached Fiona and summoned all his willpower to say what was on his mind. Finally, he looked her in the eye. After a moments hesitation, he slowly reached out, and clasped her hands in his own. He spoke softly to her.
I know that a lot has changed in the last two years, but... I want you to know
I really do still feel the same way about you. Fiona was silent for a moment. She blinked as tears rolled down her face.
Are you sure that you could still have feelings for me
? she wept, Even after what I did to you and everyone else
? She averted her eyes in shame and embarrassment. Tails smiled weakly. Just feelings? He lightly cupped his hand on her cheek and turned her head to face him. Fiona, dont you get it? It goes so much further than that
He felt like he wasnt even himself anymore-- his voice sounded like that of a stranger to him. He curled his hands around her waist and drew her close.
I love you, Fiona, he said in a quiet voice. I always have
Fiona, I have been in love with you since the day I first met you.
Fiona felt like she would faint clean away at that moment. She was unable to speak for several seconds, and when she found her voice again, she spoke haltingly. Y
m-me? Tails smiled as a tear rolled down his cheek. You heard me, Fiona. I love you. And I always will.
Fiona was speechless. She could not break her gaze into Tails eyes. The room was completely silent. Fiona was still for a moment, and then, she slowly began leaning toward Tails, millimeter by millimeter. Everyone was completely silent. They all knew what was about to happen. Each and every one of them was praying silently that nothing would happen to disturb the moment. Fiona came closer and closer to Tails. Sonic whispered under his breath, Come on, come on
Tails and Fiona were mere inches away. Manic muttered in an impossibly quiet voice, You can do it, kid
you fought for this girl for three years
dont let this chance slip
Fionas eyelids began to slide shut, as did Tails. Their faces were barely half an inch apart. Then
the emotions between them peaked.
Their lips met
and after several moments, the silence was broken. You finally did it, Big Guy, Sonic sniffled as he wiped away a small tear, You finally did it
The Freedom Fighters broke out cheering. Sallys eyes were flooded with tears of joy for the two-tailed fox she had cared after in his childhood. She hugged Sonic and gazed at the two embracing foxes. She sniffed a little and whispered, Hes
hes grown so fast
Im so proud of him. Sonic smiled and whispered back, So am I, Sally. He sure has come a long way.
After several seconds, Fiona slowly parted from Tails. She managed to find her voice again, and she sobbed quietly, I
I love you too
Then her head sank as she whispered haltingly, But
I dont know how you could still love me after what I did to you. Tails slowly pulled her closer. He tilted her head up, his hand under her chin, until she met his gaze. He smiled and said to her, Hey... Fiona, you came back, didnt you? If you still cared about me enough that you would trust me over Scourge
if you still cared enough to come back to me... then thats more than I could ever ask for. He smiled again and gently stroked her cheek, wiping away her tears. Its alright, Fiona
no need to get tears all over that beautiful face of yours. The young vixen smiled weakly through her tears at her only love and hugged him. A mass Awwwwwwwww came from everyone in the room. Tails held Fiona close, as if he thought she would disappear if he didnt. He never wanted to forget this moment. At the same time, Fiona had never felt real love before not with Sonic, and not with Scourge. But now, she felt warm and safe in Tails strong arms. After two years, Fiona finally realized that she loved one man and one man onlya two-tailed fox named Miles Tails Prower.
Sonic came up to the couple, arm-in-arm with Sally, and smiled as he rubbed his eyes. Heh, I was hopin this would be a happy ending, he said. And for once, it actually was. Sally smiled at the two foxes and said with a small laugh, Come on, lovebirdslets get out of here. Tails held up his hand and said, Not yet, Aunt Sal. He walked over to where Scourges body sat on the floor. He cupped one hand around his mouth, pointed at Scourges body, and said jokingly, Hey! Does anyone want to burn this if I give them fifty bucks? No? No volunteers? Alright then, Ill do it myself! Everyone burst out laughing as Tails pulled out his blaster, flicked the setting to Ignite, and torched Scourges body. Moments later, all that was left of the anti-hedgehog was a pile of ashes and a Chaos Emerald. Fiona looked at it in confusion and said, What the... where did THAT come from? Tails quickly realized what happened. That must be what allowed Scourge to use Chaos Control. Tails knelt down and plucked the emerald out of the ashes. He shrugged at the remains of Scourge the Hedgehog and said, Spoils of war, man. Tough luck. Amidst the laughter of the others, Tails pocketed the gem and went back to Fiona, placing his arm around her. He looked around at the Freedom Fighters and said, Now that thats been taken care of, lets get out of here. As the Freedom Fighters headed out, Knuckles looked up at his father Locke, who was standing next to the Master Emerald, and grinned at him. Nice visiting with ya, Dad. Sorry about the wall. Locke smiled at his son and said, I hope to see you again soon, Knuckles. Goodbye for now. Knuckles waved goodbye to his father. A short while later, the Freedom Fighters were on a plane headed back to New Mobotropolis.
Fiona was startled by the sight that greeted her when she walked inside the plane. The interior of the cabin was a luxurious den room. Tails smiled when he noticed her surprised expression. What do you think? he said to her. Fiona rubbed her eyes and exclaimed, Are we in a plane, or are we in a luxury suite?! Amy Rose set her hammer in the weapons locker and said with a smile, Were in both. This whole plane is custom-built. We all wanted to at least be comfortable on our way to and from mission areas. Suddenly, Tails swept Fiona up in his arms, and she whooped in surprise. There were a few chuckles around the room as Fiona smiled in surprise at Tails and said, What was that for? Tails pulled an expression of mock bliss and said in a dreamy voice, Shhhh
Im busy fulfilling a life-long dream right now. Everyone dissolved into helpless laughter. Fiona managed to get her laughter under control as she kissed Tails on the cheek. The others spread out and claimed their seats, and Tails carried Fiona over to a nearby sofa and sat down. As he leaned back, the vixen slid into his lap and leaned forward so that she was laying on top of him, her arms around his shoulders. Sonic hid a smile as he whispered to Sally, Sheesh, theyve only been dating for fifteen minutes, and ALREADY hes getting friendly with her. Sally smiled as she glanced at the couple. Can you blame him? After all, hes endured a LOT to win her heart.
Tails grinned at Fiona and said, So
were you surprised to see me? Fiona gave a small giggle and smiled at him. Ill leave it at this: I was startled to see you
She snuggled up to him and laid a hand on his cheek.
and I was surprised by how handsome youve become. Speakin of looks, said Manic, somebody shoulda told Scourge that the wild rider look went outta style decades ago. Fiona then realized what was bothering her about this hedgehog: I dont mean to be rude, but
who are you? I dont remember you being with the Freedom Fighters
Manic grinned and said, Names Manic. Im Sonics brother. Fiona blinked in surprise. She gaped at Sonic and exclaimed, You never told me you had a brother, Sonic! Sonic shrugged and said, I knowI didnt tell anyone for a long time, Fiona. Ive also got a sister. He pointed to an orchid-furred girl hedgehog sitting in a cushioned lounge chair. She smiled at Fiona and flashed a peace sign at her. My names Sonia. Sonic could sense that Fiona was a bit confused, so he explained to her. Fiona, theres a long story behind my family, so listen carefully: First of all, Manic and Sonia and I are all royalty. Our mother is Queen Aleena, the ruler of Subterranean Mobius. Subterra-what? Fiona said, now even more confused. Sonia took up the explanation from there. Subterranean Mobius is a huge underground kingdom. If all the nations on the surface of Mobius were removed, Subterranean Mobius would cover the remainder of the planetto put it simply, Subterranean Mobius is a planet within a planet. Fionas eyes widened. And youre saying that you and Manic and Sonic
are the children of its QUEEN?! Sonic nodded. Thats right. The three of us were born in the middle of the Great War
Sonic told Fiona about how he spent practically the first five years of his life on Freedom, how he and Tails eventually chose to leave because they felt drawn to their true birthplace, and how he, his siblings, and their mother summoned a superpower that hurled Robotnik out of Subterranean Mobius and locked him out forever. When Sonic finished, Manic grinned and said, Heh
we had one heck of a time as the Sonic Underground, didnt we, bro? Sonic grinned back and said, Even though all three of us were only ten years old. Fiona turned to Manic and said, Manic, what was that thing that you hit Scourge with? That dope got a taste of my chain-whip, kid, Manic replied with a smile as he uncoiled the weapon. For all that creeps tough talk, he was just about the biggest wuss Ive ever seen. He was A.M.A.N.M. He was what? Fiona said in confusion. Tails smiled and said, He was All Mouth And No Muscle. Fiona laughed slightly. Then she sighed and said, I just cant believe he lied to me
Sally said matter-of-factly, Fiona, lets look at the facts: In terms of personality, Scourge was the polar opposite of Sonic. Sonic acts like a gentlemanhes honest, kind, faithful, politewell, most of the time Hey! Sonic exclaimed in mock indignation. Sally kissed his cheek and smiled, Im only joking, sweetie. She returned her focus to Fiona and continued, Anyway, where Sonic is a person with morals and virtues, Scourge was the exact oppositehe was rude, sadistic, cruel, hostile, unfriendly, and above all in this case, he has no loyalty or faithfulness to ANYONE. He knew you were his girlfriend, but he didnt care about respecting the so-called commitment he made to you. Instead, he just kept on being a womanizing jerk. Fiona looked down at the floor. She knew that the princess was right. How could I have been so stupid? she said quietly. Youre right, princess You can just call me Sally. Everyone does. Sorrybut
you are rightabout all of it. I shouldve known that Scourge would just stab me in the back. Tails gave her a small hug. Fiona, its
its not really your fault that things turned out the way they did. Fiona rested her head on his shoulder. Its okay, Tails. If you're just saying that to make me feel better, you don't have to... Fiona, thats not the only reason Im saying it. Im saying it because its true. Puzzled, Fiona looked up at him. Tails spoke impassively to her. Fiona, do you remember when Scourge was just Evil Sonic, and how he impersonated Sonic for a time? Fiona nodded. Tails then asked, By any chance, during that time, did you ever tell him what you told me on that one day, when I found you crying out in the garden? Fiona delved into her memory. Come to think of it
I did. Tails asked one final question: Did he ever say anything to you about it before you
had a lapse in judgement? A small part of Fiona still hurt whenever she heard someone mention her act of treachery. She couldnt help but appreciate the fact that Tails refused to acknowledge that she betrayed the Freedom Fighters as she replied, He mentioned that to me a lot of times, Tails. Why? Tails replied, Fiona, Scourge tempted you. Its only a hunch, but Im pretty sure that once he learned that you used to be a criminal and that you felt insecure about becoming a Freedom Fighter, he decided to take advantage of it. The things that he said to you
did he tell you that
you shouldnt have abandoned your criminal life? Fiona was starting to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together. Yes
he told me a lot of times that I was a better criminal than a Freedom Fighter. Tails nodded and replied, Thats what I thought
he let out a sigh and said, Fiona, Scourge played on your insecurities. He used your own emotions and guilt to convince you that you were meant to follow the same path he followed. And by constantly using your feelings against you, he pushed you to the point where you probably were desperate for a way to go back. Then he offered you an easy opportunity to do that. Fiona, what Im trying to say is that
you arent really to blame for the things you did. If anyone is at fault, its Scourgehes the one who deceived you. I dont want you to think that you did any of the things you did with real intent, because you didnt. Youre a good person, FionaIve always known that. Why do you think Ive still loved you after all this time? Fiona was silent. A small tear of joy ran down her cheek. She realized just how much Tails cared about her, and it touched her deeply. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. Thank you
Miles Prower, she whispered in his ear. Tails returned the hug. I love you, Fiona, he murmured softly. I love you too, Tails, Fiona whispered back. Every other girl in the room was looking at the young couple with the Awwww-thats-so-sweet face. The room was completely silent. Everyone suddenly heard Ash mumble, If this gets any cuter, Im gonna need a barf-bag. All the girls (including Mina) exclaimed sternly, ASH! as Fiona and Tails looked at him with surprise and a small amount of amusement. Ash raised his hands up placatingly and laughed, Im kidding, IM KIDDING! It was just a joke! Bunnie looked sternly at him for a moment. Then she suddenly chuckled. She gestured at Tails and said, And to think that just a few yeahs ago, this was the same lil fella who covahed his eyes every time Sugah-hog and Sal-gal kissed. Shaking her head, Breezie smiled and said, Freedom Fighter, mechanic, inventor, weapons expert, martial artist, computer wizard, engineer, ace pilot, guitaristI swear, for the past two years, its been hard to believe he was still single! Fiona sat up and looked at Breezie. Did I just hear you call Tails a guitarist? Manic laughed and said, Ohhh, man, this is gonna be good. Breezie smiled at Fiona and said, Thats right, Fiona. Weve had a new band singing for the troops. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Manic, Sonia, Crimatus, and Ash got together and formed a rock band two years ago. Mina then added on, My own band and I were struggling to come up with new songs, and the guys were only too happy to take some weight off our shoulders. Sonic opened a drawer on a side table next to his seat, and withdrew a CD case. The front cover was black, and the words The Renegades were printed on it in flared, inky purple Gothic letters with red outlines. Tails raised an eyebrow and said, Sonic, you dont have to show me off, you know. Sonic shook his head and smiled. Im not showing you off, Big Guy. You oughtta be PROUD of your talents. He walked over to the entertainment center and inserted the CD into a media player. He turned on the television, and took a remote off its stand next to the media player. He returned to his seat and hit the play button on the remote. The screen was black for a moment, and then a stage faded into view. Sonic and the other band members were onstage, shrouded in fog. Suddenly, the fog was sucked away towards the back, and Tails exploded into a viciously fast tune on his guitar. The others were all playing in perfect time with him. On the screen, Tails began singing:
With you, its never good enough
Because you want the stuff
That could change your future
Youre lost amongst a sea of chance
And now the more you dance
Just gets you sinkin deeper
Its okay, dont apologize
You dont know what youre striving for
And you never seem to try
Its too early, dont live your lie
Keep on movin, its time to
RIDE! RIDE! RIDE!
NOW ITS TIME TO
RIDE! RIDE! RIIIIIIIDE!!
Everything keeps temptin,
But nothin comes for free,
I have to wonder how you drive
When the roads too dark to see
Its too early, its time to
RIDE! RIDE! RIIIIIIDE!!
We light the fire to watch it burn,
But when it comes your turn,
All that's left is embers
You ran this race with no real heart,
Youre right back at the start,
You'd already lost it
Its okay, dont apologize
You dont know what youre striving for
And you never seem to try
Its too early, dont live your lie
Keep on movin, its time to
RIDE! RIDE! RIDE!
NOW ITS TIME TO
RIDE! RIDE! RIIIIIIIDE!!
Everything keeps temptin,
But nothin comes for free,
I have to wonder how you drive
When the roads too dark to see
Its too early, its time to
RIDE! RIDE! RIIIIIIDE!!
Everything feels tempting,
When you don't know who to be
I often wonder how you feel,
When you're lying next to me
It's too early, it's time to
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what,
Yeah, yeah, after all that time,
Yeah, yeah, no answers
RIDE! RIIIIIDE! RIIIIIIDE! RIIIIIIIIIIDE! RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE! RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE!!!!
You know it's not enough, (RIDE!)
You know it's not enough, (RIDE!)
You know it's not enough
Fiona was slack-jawed in astonishment from the moment she heard Tails singing. After a moment, she said faintly,
Somebody pinch me
I must be dreaming
With a mischievous grin on his face, Manic slowly stood up and walked towards Fiona. Tails pointed at him and said in mock severity, Manic, dont you even THINK about it!! Fiona was still overwhelmed with amazement. Tails looked at her and said, Fiona? Are you alright? Fiona recovered herself somewhat and said incredulously, Im fine
but Im at a loss for words! I
Im dating a rock star, for heavens sake! Sonic said with a grin, Comparing Tails to Scourge, the score is 100 to zip. Who do you think is winning, Fiona? Fiona replied sarcastically with a straight face, Gee, I cant really tell
Everyone laughed, and Fiona kissed Tails on the cheek. For the first time in several years, the Freedom Fighters had time to feel happy. For the first time in several years, Tails felt content with his life.
The rest of the afternoon was peaceful for the new couple and the other Freedom Fighters. Shortly after they got home, Crimatus met with King Elias and told him that Fiona had redeemed herself from her betrayal and had rejoined the Freedom Fighters. Much to Tails relief, Elias respected Crimatus knowledge and judgement as much as his father had. Upon the lynxs request, Elias exonerated Fiona of her previous crimes against the Kingdom and had her position among the Freedom Fighters officially reinstated. Later, Manic and Rotor took Fionas guns into Rotors workshop, stripped the internal mechanisms from them, and installed energy blaster systems inside the gun cases. As evening began to set in, Tails and Fiona left the housing complex and went up to one of the hills in the bases massive garden. They sat in a hammock on the hilltop for two hours in silence. Finally, Tails broke the silence and said, Fiona
where did you live before Robotnik put you in that prison camp? Fiona sighed and said, I
I dont really know. I dont remember anything before the prison camp. I remember a womans face
Im sure that it was my mother
I remember seeing a SWATbot firing on the woman
Tears began brimming in her eyes. Tails kissed her forehead and held her close. Its okay, Fiona
I know what its like to grow up without parents
my mom and dad disappeared when I was only a year old. They were kidnapped and roboticized by Robotnik, and then they were teleported away and deroboticized by the Bem alien colony. They only just came back two years ago. But
I do know what its like
not having any known family
He stroked Fionas cheek comfortingly. She looked up and kissed him. Oh, Tails
youve been so kind to me
Tails smiled. Thats because I care about you, Fiona. Fiona placed her hand over his cheek. Im sorry for hitting you that one day, sweetheart
dont know why I did it
Tails slowly ran his fingers through her curly red hair. Its okay, Fiona. Im not mad at you. I only want to know one thing. Considering what happened today, do you still think that you cant count on anyone? Fiona smiled and nuzzled Tails under his chin. No, I dont
because I know that I can count on you. Tails slowly curled his twin tails over her body, shielding her from the night breeze. Fiona snuggled up to him and closed her eyes. Good night, handsome. I love you. Tails smiled and laid his head back. I love you too. Welcome home, Fiona. Soon, both foxes had drifted off to sleep.
Half an hour later, Sonic and Sally came up to the hill when they spotted the couple in the hammock. Sonic had a folded blanket over his arm, and Sally had her kitten, Mira, in her arms. Both of them couldnt help but smile when they saw the two foxes asleep in each others arms. Aww
thats so sweet, Sally whispered to her boyfriend with a smile. Sonic quietly stepped over to the hammock. He unfolded the blanket and placed it over them. He accidentally bumped the hammock, and both foxes stirred. Hmm
? Tails mumbled. Sonic smiled. Sorry, you two. I didnt mean to wake you up. Fiona yawned and said, Its alright
did you and Sally need something
? Sonic shook his head and tucked the blanket around them. Nope. Just makin sure you two dont freeze to death during the night. Its supposed to get a bit chilly out here tonight. Sally came over, and Mira hopped out of her arms and onto the hammock. Fiona sat up when she felt the weight on her leg. She looked over and blinked with surprise as Mira began to pad across the blanket. The vixen smiled and said, Whos this? Sally smiled and replied, This is Mira. Sonic rescued her from Robotropolis and gave her to me just after he came back from space. I decided to bring her up here to keep you two company. The tiny kitten slowly walked up, and she curiously pressed her nose against Fionas. The vixen giggled and said, Nice to meet you too, Mira. The kitten meowed and then sat down by the two foxes and began to purr. Sally walked over and gave both foxes a kiss on the forehead. Good night, you two. Well see you in the morning. Gnight, Aunt Sal. Good night, Sally. Sally placed her hand in the crook of Sonics arm, and they headed back to the housing complex. Tails, Fiona, and Mira were all sound asleep within minutes. The moon soon came up, shining down upon the two lovers like the eye of some celestial guardian. Somehow, lives of the Freedom Fighters suddenly felt much brighter.
END OF CHAPTER