Decided I should post the first chunk of this and see what folks thought. It was born mostly out of annoyance at 'it didn't happen' style endings, then snowballed. Quick disclaimer: I wrote the earlier parts of this a long time ago, so some of the writing might be subpar. I've edited as best I could without destroying the plot's flow. That aside, please R&R so I can see if anyone is interested enough for me to keep posting this. ^-^
(Update 5-4-19: adding in line breaks for these first ten chapters since ffnet ate them when I first posted these. Gonna be a bit piecemeal, since it's a lot easier to find energy for the newer, much better chapters, but I'll get them all eventually really.)
A pair of lime green eyes blinked open. Their owner stared at the cloudy sky above him, feeling disoriented and more than a little confused.
Sitting up, he glanced at his surroundings. He was in an alley, laying in a box of what appeared to be packing peanuts. He raised an arm and grimaced when the staticky foam clung to his fur. His first order of business was clear.
Five minutes later, the dark furred creature was standing (mostly) foam free in the middle of the alley, brushing some dust off his arms. He looked around, thinking back and trying to remember why he would be-
He couldn't remember what he been doing last.
More than that, he couldn't remember anything he had seen or done before this moment. He couldn't even remember his own name.
Amnesia. That's what it was called. He had amnesia. How that happened, he didn't know, and there weren't any passersby to ask. And if waking up in an alley was any indicator, he probably couldn't ask his potentially nonexistent friends.
Friends. He cringed as the word set off a stream of half-formed images – several people talking, running, fighting each other and him. His mind recoiled from what he presumed to be memories (and a probable headache). The figures were blurred and unrecognizable, but the pain was clear and sharp. He was afraid to wonder what caused that particular association.
Shaking his head to clear it, he debated what to do now. He clearly didn't want to run into any of those people... But they would probably recognize him on sight. He wouldn't have that advantage. Staying here wouldn't do anything though. The only real option was to go out and hope he wouldn't be seen.
Frustrated, he turned and blasted the box to bits. He didn't have time to be surprised at producing the blast before being pelted with bits of foam. He took a moment to simply stand and loathe the existence of packing peanuts. At least now he could defend himself... assuming he could figure out how he'd done that.
After testing this attack (and shaking off the packing peanuts again), the dark one decide to get going. Someone was going to check out the noise soon, and he didn't want to know what would happen when they saw the former pavement.
He looked out at the street, then began walking with a reasonably casual air.
As he walked, he noticed that some places triggered a flashback. Several buildings made him go tense for a moment before, with an increasingly shaky sigh, he relaxed enough to keep moving.
He kept this up for what seemed like forever. Finally, he paused under an awning near some store. He folded his arms and stared, seemingly lost in thought, at a nearby park. The sky was turning red and gold, but a few families remained. He watched a mother raccoon try to coax her child home, eventually giving up and scooping the reluctant cub into her arms. The dark one looked away as the mother consoled the whining cub.
He turned slightly toward the speaker, surprised to realize he was being spoken to. The silvery white hedgehog gave him a strange feeling, making him wary, but it wasn't altogether bad. A part of it was just… familiar. He decided to wait and see what would happen. And what was that thing he said? "Shadow? What does that mean?"
The hedgehog looked blank, then resigned. "Oh, right. Sonic said you get amnesia sometimes. Uh… you aren't going to attack me, are you?"
"Why would I do that?" The dark one tilted his head in a confused gesture.
"Apparently it's a thing you do sometimes… something about revenge on the world. If you're not going to attack, I guess it doesn't really matter." He frowned. The dark one found himself feeling envious. Unlike him, most of the creatures he'd seen had mouths to express emotions. Actually, all of them did. Maybe he was just strange.
The other's next comment snapped him out of his thoughts. "Wait a- you're not Shadow! He said he was going to be at the lab today. Who are you?"
The dark one turned to face him, planning to say something like "Why don't you tell me?!" But as soon as he turned, the other tensed and dropped into a fighting stance. "Mephiles," he hissed. "I thought you were dead."
Now alarmed, he prepared for a blast attack, only to find his hands immobilized. "No way," the other said. "I'm not about to take a blast to the face again. Now why are you here? How are you even alive?"
He quickly realized the invisible restraints weren't going to give, and gave up trying to free himself in favor of glaring at his attacker. "How should I know? You seem to know me, so why don't you tell me!"
The other's face went blank. "You… don't know who I am?"
His eyes widened as he realized what he'd said. Way to give your amnesia away to an obvious enemy. Bravo. He tried yanking his hands free again, with no effect. In his panic, he missed the other's expression turning thoughtful.
"Hey." The dark being froze and looked at him. "Does the name Mephiles mean anything to you?"
He flinched, curling in on himself with a confused expression. The hedgehog nodded like he'd confirmed something. "It's your name. I guess it makes sense that you'd forget everything…" His eyes narrowed. "Unless you're tricking me again."
Silver was struck by the realization that Mephiles actually appeared to be bothered by that comment. If this was a trick, he was a better actor than Silver thought. But he'd been tricked before... embarrassingly easily. He needed another perspective.
A few taps on his communicator and he heard a familiar greeting. "Hey, Sonic," he said. "I need help with…" He paused, noticing how Mephiles had flinched and flattened his quills, his expression a mix of fear and anger warring with confusion. The mixed signals reminded him of other experiences with flashbacks, when what you knew and what you 'knew' didn't seem to line up. "Silver? You still there?" He snapped back to the present at Sonic's worried query.
"Yeah, sorry. Could you come here? I need your thoughts, but you have to see this yourself."
A moment's pause. "What's going on? You okay?"
Another glance showed that Mephiles was listening closely. Not sure how much he should hear, Silver worded his reply carefully. "It's not an emergency… yet… but I want to be safe. I… think it's related to the… everything that didn't happen. And you should come alone."
"If you say so. Where are you?"
Silver rattled off the coordinates and ended the call. He knew it would be a couple minutes before Sonic got there. For one thing, GPS ran a lot slower than the Blue Blur; for another, since this wasn't an emergency, he would probably run to the outer edge of whatever zone he was in before heading back, aka 'take the scenic route.'
He tucked his communicator away in his quills turned back to the apparent amnesiac. "If I let you go, will you try to run or attack me?" He shook his head warily. "Good. I'll hold you to that." Silver dropped the telekinetic restraints and heaved a mental sigh of relief. Keeping something that focused for so long got ridiculously tiring. He watched as Mephiles backed up a few steps to shelter in the shadow of a dumpster. To Silver's surprise, he actually didn't try to attack or make a run for it. He took a moment to really look at his (former?) enemy.
The dark one's expression was now defiant, most of his fear hidden. But his spines lay back, practically radiating fear and uncertainty. After meeting other hedgehogs, Silver had observed that it was nearly impossible to fake the emotional responses of one's quills. You could suppress them some, but not really change the signal. One of his first priorities for living here was to learn 'quill-speak,' and he was better at it than even Amy. If Mephiles had even a little hedgehog instinct with that form, he couldn't fake the emotion. And he'd never shown any real signals before. Meaning – wait, huh?
He looked up, vaguely curious. "Yes?"
"Why do you have packing peanuts in your quills?"
Mephiles' face went completely blank. He slowly stood, turning to face the dumpster, before suddenly kicking it hard enough to flip it on its side. Silver jumped, surprised at the sudden display of violence. "Damn demonic little foam-"
When Sonic arrived, he was treated to the sight of a dark-furred hedgehog standing by an overturned dumpster and ranting about the 'foam scourge of the earth' while Silver watched bemusedly. He took a moment to wonder if he was hallucinating, then shook his head to clear it and strode up to Silver. "You know, you could have told me Shadow's gone off the deep end over the com."
Silver turned to him, expression becoming more serious. "Guess again. It's not Shadow; he's at the lab, remember?"
Now that he mentioned it, that did sound vaguely familiar. But if this wasn't Shadow… His eyes widened as he observed some key features. Or lack thereof, in this case. "Mephiles is back? And he went nuts?"
Silver gave a long-suffering sigh. "No to the second. At least, I don't think he did."
"Then how do you explain-?" He gestured at the absurd scene in front of them.
"I have no idea. But he didn't start this… whatever it is until I asked why he had packing peanuts in his quills."
"I see." The pair watched in silence as Mephiles continued his rant.
"-one box of the things!" he said, spinning to face them. "What did I even do in my last life to-" He froze, eyes locked on Sonic. His quills puffed out and he dropped into a defensive stance. "What do you want?" he hissed.
Sonic raised an eye ridge, about to make a snarky reply, but paused. "Silver, is my quill-speak getting rusty, or…"
"Not unless mine is too. Meph, he doesn't want anything. I just need to talk to him."
"And why should I believe that?" he demanded. Now that he was looking, Sonic could see the 'aggression' in Mephile's quills wasn't anger or a show of superiority, but an instinctual attempt to seem bigger when confronted. In other words, he was scared.
When Silver failed to reply, Mephiles scowled. (Well, his eyes narrowed at least.) "I don't actually care what you want with me. I don't know why you're mad at me. Just leave me alone!" Sonic darted forward and caught his wrists before he could more than start to aim a Chaos Blast. "Silver, little help?" he called as the dark one struggled.
Silver pulled himself together enough to remake the restraints and allow Sonic to release his hold. Silver looked at Mephiles with a disappointed expression. "I thought you said you wouldn't attack." He looked down, kicking sadly at a pebble. "Guess you didn't change after all."
Since Silver wasn't looking, Sonic was the only one to see Mephiles flinch and flatten his ears briefly. Since when did he react to anyone's opinion about him? Actually, his behavior overall was really strange. It suddenly seemed obvious why Silver wanted a second opinion. He wouldn't trust his own judgement after being tricked before.
But even with his penchant for trickery, this sort of act would be outside Mephiles' limits. He wouldn't humiliate himself that way. So if this was for real, and Mephiles had honestly agreed not to attack, why had he broken that promise? Why had he even made the promise?
Sonic shook his head. As far as he was concerned, that was too much thinking and not enough action. So he just went with the first thought that came into his head. "Hey, Mephiles." Two pairs of eyes turned to him. "What's the difference between me and him?"
The dark one looked at him like he was mentally deficient. "Everything?"
Sonic rolled his eyes. "Not what I meant. It sounds like Silver didn't have issues with you taking your chill pill, but I walk in and it's like I took your last chili dog. What's with that?"
Mephiles took a moment to process the metaphor before answering. "You remind me of… something." Sharing his amnesia blatantly seemed like a bad idea. Silver gave him a funny look (oh right, he'd figured it out already) but didn't comment. Sonic beat him to it.
"That's all? Must be one heck of a memory."
Blink. Blink. "Uh… yeah." He didn't know what he could say without compromising himself further. Then he noticed Sonic was looking sort of past him instead of making eye contact. Strange.
"You know," Silver said suddenly, "If you can't remember why we'd attack you, there's no reason for us to fight."
"He's right," Sonic said with a growing grin. "After all, we were only enemies because you were doing bad things. If you keep the world-destroying to a minimum, we'll do just fine."
The what? Mephiles was beginning to seriously question just what sort of person he'd been before losing his memory. He didn't voice his thoughts, instead saying, "Fine. Can I have my arms back now?"
Silver and Sonic exchanged a look. Sonic shrugged, so Silver dropped the restraints. "I'm not giving a third chance," he warned. Mephiles rubbed his wrists and didn't reply.
"So!" Sonic clapped his hands once. "Now that's settled, I say we introduce ourselves. Again." He rolled his eyes as Mephiles attempted to look confused. "Look pal, I'd be more shocked if you hadn't forgotten everything. I'll let someone who knows what they're talking about explain, but it's definitely normal."
"Oh, really." Mephiles crossed his arms and gave Sonic a doubtful look.
"Yes, really." Sonic imitated the pose, but ruined the effect with another grin. "Anyway, I'm Sonic, he's Silver. Let's see if we can't start off on the right foot this time."
There was silence for a moment as the three ran out of things to say. Silver broke the silence when it began to feel too awkward. "What now?"
Sonic shrugged. "We could go back to the lab. Not like we can leave our new friend alone, and I'm betting he doesn't have anywhere to stay." He moved as if to pat Mephiles on the shoulder, then stopped almost before he'd started. Mephiles still noticed, but decided not to comment.
It occurred to him that Sonic wanted some kind of reply. He thought for a moment. "Not unless you count a blown up box of packing peanuts."
Sonic snickered, and Silver looked distinctly amused. "Is that why my comment set you off earlier?"
Mephiles shuddered. "Those things are pure evil."
"Whatever you say." Sonic shrugged. "Now are we going or are we going?"
"We're going, already! Learn a little patience."
"What's that? Can't hear you over my sonic boom!"
Mephiles had just enough time to wonder why Silver had clapped his hands over his ears before the aforementioned hit. He could barely hear his own surprised (and slightly pained) yelp over the ringing in his ears. Silver was saying something, but it sounded like his voice was coming through several layers of cotton. "What?" he asked. Based on Silver's flinch, he must have been louder than he'd realized.
Silver leaned in to yell in his ear. "ARE YOU OKAY?"
"I will be," he said, trying to keep his volume more reasonable. The ringing was beginning to die down.
"Good," Silver said with a relieved sigh. "Sonic could afford to think about others before pulling these stunts." He shook his head rapidly before refocusing. "Are you ready to follow? He'll call us slow anyway, but he might as well be wrong."
"I'm fine. Let's just go."
"Okay, follow me!"
As he followed the telekinetic, Mephiles realized that he was already getting used to these two. He decided that was best kept to himself until he figured out how he felt about it.