Exactly fourteen years ago today, the United States of America suffered a tremendous loss of life due to an act of terrorism in New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. This following story is dedicated to the memory of the 2,977 innocent victims who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
On a cool September morning, a small, single-seat, propeller plane was soaring through the skies, about 10,000 feet above the ground. The skies were nothing but clear blue above the plane, while clouds were slowly passing by below as it flew over them.
In the open-air cockpit, a young orange and white fox with two twin tails was at the controls. His name was Miles "Tails" Prower, and he was, without doubt, the most-skilled aerialist on Mobius. He could fly just about any plane anyone could offer him to fly. Flying was his passion. Amazingly, not only could he do it on a plane, but he could also fly on his own with his famous twin appendages that gave him his nickname.
It seemed that Tails was born to fly.
The young kitsune peeked at a digital clock and saw that the time was 9:00 AM in the morning. The sun was shining brightly above his plane, and all seemed well. He could only anticipate yet another "routine" morning warm-up flight, and in no time he and his big brother (by relationship) Sonic the Hedgehog would be kicking their enemy, Dr. Eggman's butt yet again, like always.
"Nine o'clock, and everything seems just like any day," Tails commented to himself as he sighed in relaxation.
Then, just a few seconds later, everything would change …
Only ten seconds after making his comment, the fox heard a strange clicking noise coming from behind his pilot seat. He would never hear such a noise like that at a time like this, and he immediately knew that something was abnormal.
"What the heck was that?" Tails asked himself as he briefly looked all around his cockpit for any signs of abnormalities.
Unbeknownst to him, a tiny robotic bug had crawled to the top of his seat, right behind his head. It had been smuggled onto the plane by an unknown source while the young pilot was preparing for takeoff.
Tails was still feeling suspicious of the clicking noise he had heard a few seconds ago. He was desperate to find out what was happening around him.
Then, the answer to his question came by an entirely unexpected source …
Just as Tails turned back to the windshield to keep track of his flight pattern, the bug on his seat suddenly converted itself to a robotic human. The robot's arms held on tightly to the back of the seat as it made its transformation. The legs gripped on the sides of the seat as if it was a professional acrobatic.
Tails heard the sounds the robot made, and he looked down just in time to see the legs stretch onto his seat. Then, he felt the presence of hands holding onto the back of his seat. In just that one second, he registered what was happening, and he instantly knew that disaster was possible.
No sooner did the robot pull out a knife from one of its legs, and it brought the knife on front of Tails' muzzle.
The fox saw the knife, and his eyes grew wide in horror as he stared at the windshield. He knew now that he was being attacked and his plane was in danger of being hijacked. He tried his best to stop himself from panicking, as he figured that if he panicked then the robot would slay him right then and there.
As Tails kept both hands on the control yoke and breathed heavily in anticipation of the threat that was coming to him, the robot brought its head directly above his head and spoke in such a low voice that immediately frightened the poor fox …
"You will surrender the plane now. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet."
Tails was horrified. He didn't know what to do. Should he give up the plane to this robot that had been built by some terrorist, and risk an unanimous loss of life, or should he fight the robot at the risk of his own life?
"Give me the controls, and I will bring this plane back to the airport. Just stay calm and you will not be harmed," said the robot.
Tails knew that was a lie. He would likely die regardless of what choice he made. He knew that if he made the wrong decision, many other lives could be lost along with his. He would never want his plane to become a terrorist weapon that would kill hundreds of innocent people among the common good.
So, the fox took several deep breaths and prepared for what he would do next.
"Give me the plane, or I will throw you off!" threatened the robot.
With all the strength his voice had, Tails bravely screamed …
In immediate response, the robot grabbed one of Tails' shoulders and brought the knife closer to his neck.
The 8-year-old fox gathered up his courage and delivered a punch to the robot's head, which was enough for it to temporarily lose its balance, and subsequently drop the knife.
The knife went falling thousands of feet to the ground, but the robot wasn't terrorist-made for nothing …
As Tails tried to maintain his flight pattern, the robot suddenly jumped into the seat right behind Tails and grabbed his neck.
The fox felt his breath being deprived by the closure of his neck in the robot's tight grip, and he came right to the brink of choking when he grabbed one of the mechanical hands that were trying to kill him. Tails' hand had just enough strength to pull the robotic hand away from his neck so he could regain his breath, … but …
Right then and there, that same robotic hand grabbed the control yoke that Tails' other hand was holding onto, and it jerked the yoke around.
The plane started making wild jerky movements as a result of the control yoke being pulled around. The pilot and his enemy nearly lost balance as the plane shook them around the cockpit. The fox was holding onto the control yoke with one hand while using his other hand to pull away the other robotic hand that was still gripping on his neck in an attempt to choke him.
"STOP!" yelled Tails bravely, "I REFUSE TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR POTENTIALLY MANY LIVES INCLUDING MY OWN!"
"And thus you have asked to suffer!" replied the robot coldly as he jerked the control yoke to the left so hard that the plane made a sudden u-turn from north to south.
The cockpit shook violently as the plane made its unintended u-turn. Before he knew it, Tails found himself with the southeastern sunrise shining directly at him, nearly damaging his eyesight. The fox shut his eyes as he fought over the controls with the enemy that was intending to bring this plane down.
Tails turned the yolk to the right, and the plane turned to the southwest. It was then that the robot grabbed the throttle and pulled it down slightly, and the plane started to slowly lose height. The fox could see the clouds approaching from below, and he immediately registered that the terrorist robot had pulled the throttle back to begin a sudden descent.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" screamed Tails, "GET YOUR HANDS OFF THAT THROTTLE, YOU BUCKET OF TERRORIST BOLTS!"
The brave pilot grabbed the robotic arm holding the throttle, and he pulled so hard that the hand was separated from the arm. Wires snapped and electrical sparks ignited from the sudden cutting of the wires that once served life to the hand.
At this point, the plane was in the middle of a field of clouds, making it almost impossible for him to see where he was going. He felt that danger was very near. Anything could pop up at any time and leave the poor pilot vulnerable to an inevitable crash.
Then, Tails grabbed the throttle for himself and was about to pull it back up, when the robot's damaged arm suddenly came down on Tails' left arm and weighed it down, releasing his grip from the throttle.
"Prepare to die!" yelled the robot in Tails' right ear with a voice so loud that it briefly caused his ear to ring from the high sound volume.
Seconds later, the plane was below the clouds, and a large city surround by water came into view. Tails could see through the windshield of his shaky plane that this was no ordinary city …
It was the Manhattan portion of New York City, as he could see the Statue of Liberty not far from where they were.
Tails could clearly see the city coming straight towards them at full speed. He knew how much danger he was in now.
Then, what Tails saw next was the most disturbing sight of his life …
Upon the tall skyscrapers in the city were two identical twin towers that stood taller than any other building in the area. However, what disturbed Tails was that one of the towers had large clouds of black smoke billowing out from the top floors. Additionally, he could briefly catch a glimpse of what he believed to be someone falling from the stricken tower.
The fox's eyes were wide in horror. His mouth was wide open in terror. Nothing could describe the look on his face as he stared at what he registered to be the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
It was then that he realized that his plane was heading directly for the North Tower.
Gathering his courage against his enemy, the fox jerked the control yoke to the left and brought the plane to a sharp left turn to avoid the burning tower. He had made the move just in time.
The plane flew right next to the Twin Towers, and Tails sighed in relief, believing he had saved many lives that were already in jeopardy.
"YOU THINK YOU'RE A HERO, FREAK!?" the mechanical monster screamed right above Tails' ears.
Tails flinched at that horrible name that had haunted him throughout his entire life. He could not imagine that a terrorist-made robot would call him by that forbidden name.
Sensing Tails' weakness from hearing that name, the robot grabbed the control yoke and turned it sharply to the right.
Tails' plane made an abrupt sharp right turn, and was completely turned around.
Just as Tails tried to stop the tears from falling from his eyes, he then realized that he was heading straight for the undamaged South Tower of the World Trade Center.
The robot had taken advantage of his emotional weakness and used it to guide the plane towards the South Tower.
Tails realized that the robot had taken advantage of his emotional weakness to undo his heroic move. Now, he had to again save his plane from striking the World Trade Center.
With his muzzle still red from being called a freak, Tails grabbed the control yoke with both hands while the robot grabbed his hands in an effort to pull him away from the controls of his own plane.
With the two fighting over the controls, Tails briefly looked down and noticed local residents pointing to his plane in horror. He knew that they were terrified that he would become the next victim of 9/11.
"My creators owe you a very unpleasant death, Miles Prower!" said the robot in a demonic voice which horrified the poor fox to death.
Using all the heroic strength he had left in his body, a tearful and terrified Tails gritted his teeth and screamed as the South Tower came within striking distance. He tried to pull the yoke upward while the robot was trying to force him to push the yoke downwards.
The plane was flying at 580 miles per hour. Tails knew he only had a few seconds to save himself and hundreds of lives in Manhattan.
The cockpit shook so violently that the fox just about lost his ability to see clearly, along with his ability to force the control yoke to another direction.
The fox opened his eyes and saw nothing but tall steel and glass windows ahead of him. Quickly running out of available options, he jerked the control yoke up in his last effort to resist the robot's strength that was outmatching him.
The plane started to pitch upwards, but even then all Tails could see was gray steel …
It was too late …
Tails closed his eyes, brought his head down to brace for impact and let out his final loud scream, knowing there was nothing more he could do. His heroic deed would be undone in vain. He had failed to save hundreds of innocent people from their undeserved fate, as well as having his own untimely fate sealed.
He then heard a loud bang as the propeller of his plane sliced into the steel of the South Tower. Then, he heard dozens of loud explosions as massive fireballs poured out of his plane and blew a large hole through the tower's point of impact right behind him.
Finally, just as the remains of his plane came to a complete stop, he looked up, only to find a portion of ceiling come down right on his head.
Just as the debris smacked directly into his face, everything was suddenly dark and silent.
Tails opened his eyes and jolted up in his bed, screaming as loud as he ever had screamed after waking up from an abrupt end to the worst nightmares of his life.
The fox looked up at the ceiling and found that it hadn't collapsed on him. That's when he realized that it wasn't from the World Trade Center, but from his own bedroom. He looked around and found himself sitting in his bed with his soft blankets covering his body. The only light came from a lava lamp near his bed.
The whole thing had been a nightmare. He had experienced a dreadful vision in which he was a victim of the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
Tails panted heavily as he tried to recover from his false experience, but his emotions got the best of him, and he could feel the tears already threatening to pour from his eyes; … real tears this time.
He looked at his clock, and it read 1:39 AM. Then, he looked at the calendar and, to his horror, he realized what day it was …
Friday, September 11, 2015.
Today would be the fourteenth anniversary of the day America was attacked by terrorists.
Tails could not believe the unbearable coincidences that had spiraled in his head. Visions were already coming back to him as he remembered that horrible day …
He and Sonic had been flipping through channels that morning, when suddenly every single channel was cut off, leaving the TV black for a split second before showing a live shot of the World Trade Center's North Tower in smoke. The two brothers then sat there and hopelessly watched the horror unfold as another plane hit the South Tower, a third one hit the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after some passengers bravely revolted against the hijackers to save the U.S. Capitol. Just then, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, each within half an hour of each other. Sadly, the acts of terrorism left almost 3,000 men, women and children dead.
Tails, being a skilled pilot, himself, was personally devastated by the fact that jet airliners had been used as the weapons of mass destruction. He had wondered why anyone would go as far as to hijack an airplane and use it to destroy historical landmarks. The fox would spend the rest of that day in tears as Sonic stayed right by his side to comfort him.
The devastation Tails felt that day would be outmatched a few years later when Cosmo sacrificed herself to save their galaxy. After all, she was one whom Tails had loved with all his heart.
As Tails was forced to relive those terrible memories of what he had seen on TV that day in his head, he suddenly heard a calm, soft voice just outside his doorway …
The fox tried to stop the tears from forming waterfalls on his cheeks as he looked up and saw who that voice was …
Sonic the Hedgehog.
The blue hedgehog stood right at Tails' bedroom door with a worried look on his face. Tails found it odd that his big brother would even be here right now. They lived in separate households, and Sonic was not here when Tails went to bed a few hours earlier, so he had no idea how on Mobius he would be here right now.
"Sonic?" said Tails weakly with a sniffle as he scratched his nose.
"Are you okay, little bro?" asked Sonic worryingly.
"What are you doing here?" asked Tails in his confusion, "I thought you were-"
"I heard you screaming," answered Sonic, "I was in bed, myself, when I heard this loud scream, and the voice sounded just like yours, so I ran over here to check on you, and I must have made a lucky guess."
All of that was enough to answer Tails' question about Sonic's mysterious appearance out of nowhere. After all, Sonic was the fastest thing alive, so he could answer almost any call for help.
"Are you feeling okay, Tails?" Sonic asked again, "Did you have a bad dream again?"
Tails knew what 'again' meant. He often had nightmares about his troubled childhood, being bullied by everyone in society and being called a 'freak' by everyone he came face-to-face with. Although this no longer happened around him, his memories would always come back to haunt him time and time again.
Tonight, however, was much different than what Sonic would ever have guessed it would be …
"Sonic, … (sniffle) … do you realize what day it is?" asked Tails as he nearly began to sob.
"Um, … it's Friday morning," answered Sonic.
"Not the day of the week, Sonic," replied Tails, "The month and the date."
Sonic thought it over for a few seconds.
Then, … he looked at the calendar and widened his eyes in realization that today would not be just any old day …
It was September 11.
"Oh, my. For the love of ..." Sonic stopped himself as he knew what September 11 meant to everyone.
Then, he gasped.
"Is this why you were screaming, little buddy?" the hedgehog asked his little brother.
"It's not easy to say, big bro, … but … (sniffle) … I've just had this horrendous nightmare in which I was a victim, myself," sobbed Tails.
Sonic's heart nearly skipped a beat when he heard that sentence. This was why Tails had screamed. He had gone through a terrible vision in which he was a victim of the attacks that took place exactly fourteen years ago, today.
Tails let the tears of misery pour from his eyes and shower all over his white muzzle as his sobs turned to weeps.
Sonic could never bare the sight of his little brother, the one he always cared for, the one he always tried to protect from harm, in such an emotional state like this. It always tore him up just looking at the fox in hysterical tears.
Feeling that Tails was in need of someone to be by his side, the blue speedster immediately walked up to Tails' bed and sat down right beside his brother. Upon noticing his big brother sitting beside him, Tails jumped into Sonic's lap and wrapped his arms around the hedgehog's neck. Sonic returned the embrace by wrapping one arm around Tails' back and the other around the fox's twin appendages to keep him warm.
"I don't know how to tell you, bro," wept Tails as he made no effort to stop his crying, "I was flying my favorite plane like it was another morning of routine warm-ups, then, out of nowhere, a robot bug crawled behind my seat and turned into a robotic human. We started fighting over the controls, and-"
Sonic stopped Tails in mid-sentence as he felt disturbed by the thought of a robotic human coming out of nowhere behind Tails' seat and threatening to strangle him.
"A robotic human?" said Sonic with a look of disgust on his face, as if he had been dumbfounded.
"Yes," answered Tails, "He ordered me to surrender the controls of the plane to him, but I refused. He tried to slay me with a knife, but I swung the knife out of the plane. Then, he started an attempt to choke me as we fought over the controls, until he jerked the plane in the other direction and pulled it downwards into the clouds."
Sonic found it unimaginable for Tails to have been in such a scary situation like that.
"Then …," Tails continued, " … once we were out of the clouds, we were suddenly flying towards Manhattan. I looked ahead and saw the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The North Tower was already in smoke, and I realized that the robot was intending to smash me right into it, so I jerked the plane to the left to avoid the North Tower, but then, … (sniffle) …"
Tails stopped as he vividly remembered the next detail that had been the definition of his miserable childhood.
"What happened, little bro?" asked Sonic gently as he patiently allowed Tails to take as much time as he needed.
"The robot called me a freak as he criticized my thoughts that I was a hero!" shouted Tails in between unbearable weeps of misery.
Sonic gasped in shock as he heard the word 'freak'. He knew how much Tails couldn't handle that name under any circumstance. That one single word had troubled Tails throughout his childhood all because of his two twin tails which everyone took very seriously.
"I started crying after he said that word, and he took advantage of that by turning the plane around, straight towards the South Tower!" cried Tails, "I realized what had happened, … (sniffle) … and tried my best to turn the plane away from the tower, but the plane was shaking so violently that I almost lost consciousness. I made one last effort to jerk the plane upward, but … (weep) … it was already too late!"
Sonic's eyes were wide as he realized the terror Tails had faced in his nightmare.
"I smashed into the South Tower while trying to fight a hijacking terrorist on my plane!" screamed Tails loudly, "Fire brewed all around me as my plane crashed into an office room, then a piece of debris from the ceiling hit my head, … (weep) … and I was done for!"
At last, Tails could hold no more of anything. He openly started weeping right into Sonic's chest. He could control virtually nothing inside his own body. It was like being semi-conscious and being able to do nothing but let tears pour from his eyes like an inevitable flooding just waiting to happen on Sonic's lap.
Sonic, on the other hand, was horrified from what he had heard. He knew Tails had been through haunting nightmares before, … but 9/11?
Sensing that almost nothing could comfort Tails now, the hedgehog tightened his hug on his little brother and embraced him as tightly as he could. He was sure it wouldn't help, but it was all he could do at this point.
After a few minutes of being embraced tightly by his big brother, Tails managed to stop his weeps and revert to sobs, but tons of hiccups started coming from his mouth as a result of all that excessive crying.
However, at that same moment, Sonic had started sobbing, too; the last thing Tails had expected.
"S-Sonic?" whispered Tails sadly as he looked into Sonic's teary eyes.
"I'm so sorry, little bro," Sonic replied in a whisper, "I just can't even imagine how scary it must have been. I can only wonder if it really happened and I was there, … right with you, … trying to protect you."
The two brothers looked into each others' eyes and exchanged tears as they hugged each other as tightly as they could.
"I'm glad we weren't really there," whispered Tails through his hiccups, "But, … (hiccup) … if it really had happened, … (hiccup) … I don't know what I would have done. How could I have been on a plane, … (hiccup) … (sniffle) … and it was suddenly hijacked by people who wanted to use it to deliberately take buildings down? I love flying, … (sniffle) … but why would people want to use that as a weapon of mass destruction? In fact, why do people even do these things with airplanes? Why!?"
Tails started weeping in Sonic's chest again, unable to bear the pain of thinking about the fact that airplanes even could be used as a deadly weapon against the people among the common good. Something this young fox enjoyed everyday could become a plot for terrorism. Why could anyone have thought of such a terrible concept of hijacking planes and using them to commit suicide and mass murder?
Sonic sighed sadly and patted the back of Tails' head numerous times in an effort to stop him from crying excessively again. He struggled to come up with an answer to his brother's question that wouldn't further upset him. Never would he want to make Tails suddenly afraid of doing the one thing he loved more than anything else in the universe.
"Tails, …" Sonic began, " … I'm sure we all know that it's difficult to avoid these things from happening. That's why people nowadays take extra measures to make sure it never happens again. I'm sure it'll never happen to you, … but if it ever does happen to you, … I'll be there … to make sure you're safe, … just like I always do."
Tails listened to every word that came out of Sonic's mouth. It all sounded so sincere to him. He wanted to feel sure that he would never be on a plane that would be hijacked by a terrorist-made robot, especially if it happened to their beloved Tornado. However, with Sonic always being there to help him feel secure, Tails felt that he would be safe from anything that tried to take their plane down, especially if they were nothing more than Dr. Eggman's lackey robots.
"Do you promise?" the fox asked through sniffles.
"I promise, little bro, … from the bottom of my heart," replied Sonic in a very gentle voice that sounded so comforting to Tails.
After a few moments, Tails finally gave Sonic a gentle smile and hugged him around the neck once again while snuggling into him.
Sonic returned the embrace by gently rubbing his little brother's twin tails so that they felt nice and warm.
"I love you, big bro," said Tails as tears continued to fall down his face.
"I love you, too, little bro," replied Sonic with tears also falling from his own eyes, "Anything for you, my little brother."
The two brothers looked at each other in the eyes very closely and smiled, knowing that as long as they had each other, they would always be safe from whatever tried to tear them apart.
While the memories of 9/11 would always leave scars in their minds, along with everyone else who had witnessed it, Sonic and Tails would move on with their lives, continuing to fly their beloved Tornado on their never-ending battles against Dr. Eggman, … and always remember those who were lost on that fateful day … exactly fourteen years ago.
And so, on this day, the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11, I would like to remind everyone in this country that we will never forget those who perished on that dark day 14 years ago. From the bottom of my heart, I wish to dedicate this piece to the memories of those who lost their lives on 9/11, to the hearts of families who lost their loved ones that day, and to the hearts of people, like myself, who had the misfortune of watching the events unfold on live television as they thought of the heroes who made their best efforts to save lives at the World Trade Center, at the tragic costs of some of their own lives as they died as heroes.
In loving memory of all the 2,977 men, women and children who perished on September 11, 2001 …
Rest in peace.