Mobius VII – Book 1: Escape From The City – Chapter 4

Chapter 4: The Leader of TORNADO



Cream

While the residential district of the Sector 7 Slums was small, it was the local bar and grille within that made it among the most popular destinations in the lower world of Megapolis. Scores of Mobians and Humans living in the slums would make their way to this haven of relief after an exhausting day full of menial work. 

The building was a medium sized, two storey brick complex with walnut-brown wood paneling on its sides and on the roof. Its construction made the building distinctive amongst the shoddy built and crumbling structures and corrugated metal shelters that dotted the district. The entrance consisted of two wooden double-hinged saloon doors, with a metal shutter behind them barring access into the bar proper during closing hours. The front facade of the restaurant brightly lit from the glowing neon sign just above the entrance. It read “Vanilla’s Haven.”

This simple bar nestled in the pockets of the slum was made famous for two things: the delicious, mouth-watering food and drink and the gorgeous, big-hearted, optimistic and gentle barmaid serving them up.

That very same barmaid led her old childhood friend away from the busy streets and through an alleyway between her bar and a neighbouring house leading to the establishment’s rear entrance. Clutching the paper bag tightly, Cream felt skittish as she glanced to and fro, her eyes and senses alert for any sort of movement. She was frazzled as her impromptu meeting with Miles – Tails as he now called himself – threw her off schedule. She now had to race to both get everything set up for the opening dinner rush and sneak Tails in and keep him hidden until the time was right.

As they found themselves in front of a steel door with a pair of locks at the rear end of the bar, Tails called out to her. “You okay?” he asked.

Cream jumped and nearly dropped the bag of sundries at the sound of the fox’s roughened voice. Her reflexes, gained through years of martial arts training, kicked in and she steadied herself before anything fell out of the bag. “Y-Yeah,” she replied, twisting back to look at him. “I’m just… a bit behind, that’s all.” She turned back to the door, shifted the large brown bag to her other arm and fished through her jacket pocket for the keys. 

I have to make sure Miles – I mean Tails – is out of the way until after today’s rush,’ she planned as she produced the keys from her pocket. Her nose wrinkled at the thought of his friend’s preferred name. ‘Once things die down, I’ll bring him in, introduce him, tell them his story and how he’s interested in working with us. Hopefully that’ll be enough to convince them…’ She picked out a key from the key ring and inserted it into the first lock. As she twisted it and heard the tumblers fall into place, her mind continued to wander. ‘I just hope that Bark hasn’t spotted me –‘ 

“Hey! Cream!” A deep, rough voice boomed out, once again startling the rabbit. It came from the entrance to the alleyway. “Is that you back there?”

Ice filled Cream’s veins and she almost dropped the grocery bag. “Oh no…” she muttered, as she looked to Tails with pinched eyebrows. The fox produced a perplexed stare in return.

Letting out a frustrated breath, she called out to the voice. “Yeah Bark! It’s me!” she hollered, praying to the Goddess that he didn’t notice her companion.

“Oh, OK,” she heard in response. Relief swam through the rabbit’s body, but it was only temporary as the voice returned. “Hey waitaminute! I saw some guy following you to the back just now! And why’re you going in through there anyway? Also, you’re running late and from the day I met you years ago, you’ve always been an on-schedule kinda girl, so what’s going on?”

Crud,’ her mind raced as she began to panic. ‘He noticed.’ “Um, well Bark?” she replied sheepishly. “Um… W-well… The thing is… It’s a bit… Um… Complicated?”

“What the hell?” she heard him grumble loudly. “OK, now you got me curious, I’m coming over there!”

Cream’s eyes widened as she heard footsteps lumbering towards her. She fumbled with the second lock, shakily selecting and inserting the key before unlocking the door. Before she could open it and usher Tails in, ‘Bark’ arrived.

He was a massive polar bear with coarse, yellow-white fur. He wore a worn, brown leather vest which was opened up to expose his broad, barrel chest. On his legs were baggy, green war fatigue trousers covered with pockets of all shapes and sizes and jet-black combat boots on his large feet. Covering his waist and abdominal area was a large steel band that had ribbons of ammunition wrapped around it. His left hand, which could easily cover the rabbit’s face with, was covered with a simple, fingerless leather glove. His right arm, from the elbow down, was missing and was replaced with an unusual prosthetic; a stout, metallic cylindrical weapon with six, snub-nosed barrels. This Gun-Arm was directly fused to his arm and connected to his nervous system, which allowed him to fire on command via his synapses. The ammunition wrapped around the metal band on his waist fed into the peculiar weapon.

His piercing, reddish-brown eyes swept the scene in front of him, his eyebrows knitted in confusion. He readjusted the reversed red and white ball cap on his head and rubbed his snout as he addressed the rabbit. “Cream, what the hell is goin’ on here?” he asked, perplexed. “You’re running late, your jacket buttons are ripped off and to top it all off, you bring home some weird stranger? Who is this guy anyway?” he gestured towards the two-tailed fox.

Cream stifled an exasperated groan. ‘Of all the days that this had to happen, it had to be the one where I ran out of greens for tonight’s special…’ “Well,” she began causally, clearing her throat and sweeping a stray strand of ivory hair away from her face, “Some creep was following me home from Sector 6 and was looking to try something. So I lured him into an alleyway and made him rethink his current life choices.” She glanced at Tails, before continuing her story. “And then, by a strange coincidence, I ran into one of my oldest friends from back in my village. Seeing an opportunity to catch up, I brought him back here to chat while I get things ready.”

Aside, she voiced out in her mind. ‘I was going to introduce you to him later tonight, when things got less busy, but…’ She watched the expression on the bear’s muzzle shift from suspicious to curious. Feeling brave and hoping that Bark wouldn’t cause too much trouble, she continued. “Bark, this is Mi – Um, Tails and he works as a mercenary. I was gonna-”

Bark’s eyebrows shot up at the mention of his title. Eyeing the smaller Mobian, he sniggered and then suddenly burst out laughing, cutting Cream off. “A merc?” he blurted out in between gruff chuckles. “Him? Ah hah hah, that’s a good one Cream!” He turned his back to the fox, who was glowering dangerously at the one-armed bear.

“I mean, look at him, even the SWORD’S bigger than he is!” he howled mirthfully, tears streaming from his eyes. After a while, he calmed down, wiping his eyes and grinning at the rabbit. “Look, seriously speaking, I refuse to believe that this kid’s a mercenary-“

Cream brought a hand to her lips as sharp, cold steel rested against the bear’s throat. She hadn’t even seen Tails move. ‘Twenty minutes ago, he could barely walk… and now… he’s swinging that thing like he’s done so his entire life…’ 

Surprised, Bark gazed downwards to see the broad edge of Tails’ Buster Sword lightly touching his neck. If he so much as twitched, his head would have flown off. He looked past the weapon to see its wielder, glowing eyes glaring menacingly at him.

“Finish that sentence,” Tails dared the larger Mobian in a quiet, commanding tone. Despite his visible exhaustion, he held the blade levelly. He steeled his eyes, waiting for any sudden movements from the gunner in front of him.

Bark tried not to gulp as he felt the edge against his jugular. As he nervously looked at the fox, his eye travelled to the electric blue irises belonging to the shorter swordsman. The polar bear’s own eyes widened at the sight before narrowing in anger.

Seeing that things were about to escalate, Cream crept up and tentatively extended her hand towards Tails. She placed it gently on his shoulder and looked placatingly at him. “Tails, please stop?” she implored.

The two-tailed fox cast a sidelong glance to his old friend, snorted and then eased off. He removed the blade from the polar bear’s neck and sheathed it. He crossed his arms and glared at the offending polar bear.

“Hmph, you’re pretty good, aren’t you,” Bark said coldly, rubbing his throat where the sword had been against previously. “But then again, it’s not every day that a member of Kintobor’s special police force poses as a mercenary to infiltrate my group!” He jumped back and pointed his Gun-Arm at the fox, who, again, unsheathed his blade and settled into a fighting stance.”There’s no way I’ll let you live to tell your SOLDIER buddies ‘bout us back at Kintobor! And Cream, how could you do this to us?” he glanced incredulously to the rabbit beside him, who returned a look of bewilderment as a response. “How could you let the enemy into our base?! Ah, nevermind that, I’ll take care of him and then you and I are gonna have a chat!” Turning his head back towards the fox, he raised his gun-arm, pointing it and tensing his arm muscles, as if he would have balled up his fist if it was still there.

Horrified, Cream stepped in between them. “STOP IT!” she shouted, bringing her arms up between the two in an attempt to stop them from fighting.

Bark yelled in surprise and pointed his arm away from Cream towards a pile of trash on the wall opposite to the bar’s back entrance. His arm still tensed, bullets spewed out from the weapon at a rapid rate, the cylindrical portion rotating with each shot fired. The shots tore through the refuse, shredding it into pieces and leaving smoking holes in the wall behind it. The gunner relaxed, stopping the flow of bullets and turned his head towards the rabbit in fury. 

“WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. “I could have shot you just now! Are you out of your mind?!”

“No, YOU’RE out of your mind!” Cream retorted, equally angry at the polar bear’s declarations. “You honestly think I’d bring Kintobor to our base of operations, which, for your information, is also MY home?! Which I’ve had the good grace to let you stay in, by the way? You seriously have some nerve! And one other thing you should know too,” she jabbed a finger towards Tails. “HE left the army five years ago, when they burnt down our hometown! He wants nothing to do with them anymore than we do!” She then fell silent for a moment and took deep breaths to calm herself down. She felt a stab of guilt course through her insides, which she attributed to the thought of her old home.

“I’ve already told him the gist of what we do and he’s agreed to listen to us.” she continued to Bark, annoyance still in her tone. “I was going to talk to you later tonight after the rush, introduced you to him, explained his circumstances and everything, but… I screwed up on that front, OK?”

The polar bear’s hardened gaze faltered at her words. Cream knew that if it was anyone else speaking to him, he would have ignored them, shoved them aside and resumed fighting. However, she knew that he trusted her level head and sharp intuition far more than any other in his group. He wouldn’t be able to ignore what she said, especially given the severity of the mission at hand.

Staring at Tails for a few more beats, Bark snorted and lowered his weapon, facing his ally. “Fine, he can stay,” he said harshly to the rabbit. “If he’s your ‘friend’ like you say, then I got no problems.” He then turned back towards the swordsman, glaring darkly at him. “But listen, you,” he spat at the fox, his teeth bared in dislike. “If you make any moves or do anything that exposes you for the traitorous son of a bitch that you are, I’ll do that -” he pointed to the destroyed heap of garbage. “- To you. Are we clear?”

Tails returned the glare, his namesakes rising in a threatening manner. “Crystal,” he replied acidly. He wrapped his tails around his waist and placed the sword on the disc attached to his back.

After a few moments of tense silence, the one-armed Mobian jerked his head, motioning for the SOLDIER to get out of here. 

Sighing in relief that the fighting was over and done with, Cream called out to Tails. “Go up the stairwell on the left and head for the room down the hallway,” she said. “ I’ll bring something up for you to eat, you look like you haven’t had anything for days. There’s also a bed in there for you to sleep on. You should get some rest after you eat, you look exhausted.”

Tails looked at her, his piercing gaze softening slightly as a form of acknowledgement and then made his way to the bar’s rear entrance.

“Oh and one more thing,” Cream added just as Tails opened the door. “Once the evening rush is over and we close up shop, we’ll start talking about the job and your payment.” The words left a bitter taste in her mouth as she said them. She then looked at Bark, addressing him sharply. “By the way, when’s the mission starting?”

Bark was taken aback by her cutting tone, but recovered quickly. “Well, phase one has just commenced, so in three weeks time, we make our move,” he replied, training his eyes on Cream instead of the former SOLDIER. 

Tails looked at his would-be employer. “Fine,” he replied without expression, walking inside and upstairs as directed. 

As soon as her friend entered the bar, Cream rounded on her teammate. “Bark, what the heck-,” she started, but stopped when the bear raised his hand, motioning her to stay silent. 

“Hold on,” he whispered. “Wait a moment.”

After a few minutes, he dropped his arm and faced her, a sigh of relief escaping from his snout. “Keep your voice down,” he continued in hushed tones, removing his cap and running his only hand through the thick forest of yellow-white hair underneath it before replacing it on his head. “We can’t let him hear us. Now, what are we gonna do about this? I can’t believe you brought him…” he trailed off, shoulders slumping. “Gah, this is all screwed up.”

“Bark,” Cream started, fingers pinching the bridge between her tightly shut eyes. She felt the beginnings of a headache drum through her forehead. “I know this looks bad, but,” she opened her eyes and looked into the bear’s own reddish-brown orbs. “If you’re serious about going through with this, I’d feel more comfortable knowing that he’s got your back, as well as the others. Think about it: he’ll be a great asset to the mission since he’s worked with them before and all. Plus,you saw how good he is for yourself, didn’t you?”

Bark rubbed the spot on his neck where the shorter warrior’s blade once laid. “Yeah okay, I admit he’s good,” he responded grudgingly. “But, c’mon Cream, are you really sure you can trust him?” he said, his eyes trained not at her face but at her ear. 

“Of course!” She said hotly, knowing what he was talking about. “You really think my memory’s that messed up?!”

“No, no, It’s… That’s not what I mean,” the bear stumbled, arms raised in a defensive, placating manner. “I’m… I’m just worried about you, that’s all. But seriously though, he’s-he’s pretty damn good, I have to agree with you on that.”

“Right,” Cream continued, flashing a small, but brightening smile, thankful for the change in subject. “See, if we’re going to take down Kintobor and save Mobius, he’s our best bet to do so. Please, won’t you just consider that angle when taking him on, at least?”

Bark listened to her words, processing them carefully and then let out a weary groan. “Fine, you win, I’ll consider it,” he conceded. “We’ll talk tonight. I’ll head to the front and open up for ya.” At that he started walking away towards the bar’s front entrance. He stopped at the mouth of the alleyway and turned around, a sheepish look on his muzzle. “Um, hey Cream?” he said, hesitating, his eyes downcast. “I’m… Well, I’m…”

The rabbit fighter shook her head. “Bark, it’s OK,” she replied, smiling once again. “I forgive you.”

Bark returned the grin. “Well then, you better get going, you got a bar to open, don’t cha?” he responded, turning back around and bounding down the alleyway to the front.

Satisfied, Cream took up her groceries and entered the bar. As she closed the door and looked up the stairwell, she swore she could see wisps of white and orange fur escaping her vision from the doorway on the second level. Her hand automatically rose to the back of her head, her finger tracing a jagged scar underneath her hair that went from the bottom of her right ear to the base of her skull as she realized what had just happened.

‘He heard it all.


Tails

Tails awoke to the sounds of a gentle rapping on the door in the room he was sleeping in. “Tails?” came Cream’s voice from the other side. “Sorry to wake you, but could you please come downstairs? I’ve closed up shop. We’re ready to talk.” 

“Sure, I’ll be there in a bit,” he groaned. Hearing her walk away, he lay in the dark space and stared at the ceiling above.

“Man, I sure lucked out,” he whispered to himself, the beginnings of a half-smile forming on his muzzle. “A place to stay and an upcoming job… Well, I better not keep my would-be employers waiting.”

He sat up on the hard mattress and stretched, feeling better than he had in years. He felt the strength course through his body as he flexed his fingers and the muscles on his arms. He sensed that he had somewhat of a basic handle on his acute senses, given how he was able to both listen in on Cream and Bark’s conversation earlier in the afternoon and tune out the loud, raucous crowd below while he slept. He stood up and turned on the lamp on the nightstand, shielding his eyes from the sudden burst of warm light that flooded the room. After waiting for his eyes to adjust, he pulled on the pauldron and his arm guard and then picked up his sword. 

The green gems nestled into the hexagonal slots shone in the dim, yellow light in the room and caught the fox’s eye. Holding the sword aloft, he stared at the Emeralds as a fuzzy memory bubbled to the surface.

He vaguely remembered sitting at a desk in a room similar to the one he was in right now, pouring over several textbooks and writing notes on a legal pad. Someone from behind chuckled, which caused him to jump out of his seat.

“Still studying? Jeez Tails, like you don’t know enough about Emeralds as it is!” the figure behind him chortled, its voice a ghostly echo in his mind. “Tell ya what though; instead of pouring over the books, why not show me what you can do?”

Tails blinked rapidly as his mind returned to the present moment. “‘Show me… what you can do?’ Hmph…” the fox mused to himself over the memory. “Come to think of it… I haven’t even tried using magic yet…”

Deciding that Cream and Bark could wait a few more moments, Tails placed a hand on one of the Green Emeralds equipped to the sword. He felt a surge of knowledge shoot through his body and into his brain when his palm made contact. It instructed him how to bring the magic into being. Removing his palm, he drew forth the energy from the Emerald and began to shape it with his Mana – the current of internal spiritual energy that exists and flows within all living things. He cupped his palm upwards and concentrated until a small orb of yellow-white light formed right in front of his eyes, further illuminating the room. The orb crackled and popped with electrical energy.

A sudden creak caused the fox to jerk his head towards the door in front of him, which opened a crack. The orb in his hand fluctuated in size as his attention shifted to the figure staring at him through the narrow opening. A single, baby-blue eye and strands of flaxen-yellow hair peeked out at the fox, who locked his own electric blue at it. The figure squeaked, backed away and ran off. Tails could hear the pitter-patter of feet clamber down the stairs and into the bar proper. The fox suppressed a sigh as he closed his fist. The Lightning spell dissipated and he reabsorbed the Mana into his body. ‘Guess I should head down now,’ he thought, sheathing his weapon and striding down the hall and the stairs down to the main level.

The inside of the bar had a cosy and warming atmosphere. With the booths, tables and stools placed around the floor there appeared to be seating available for up to fifty at a time. Tails guessed that the number of patrons in the bar greatly exceeded that capacity on a daily basis. The bar area consisted of a simple L-shaped ash counter top with a roughened finish and was complete with a flip-up portion at the end. Behind the counter were shelves stocked up with copious amounts of alcohol whose origins spanned the many regions of Mobius. A swivel door at the far end of the counter, opposite of the flip-up portion, led to a decent sized kitchen that held a sink, a six-burner stove and oven and a large fridge and freezer.

Sitting at one of the round tables were Bark and Cream. The polar bear wore an expression of distaste on his face while the fighter sat upright with her hands in her lap, her expression neutral and businesslike. Hidden behind the massive bear was a small human child wearing a sky blue dress with pale skin, bright blue eyes and golden hair; the very same child that spied him using magic. She buried her head deeper into Bark’s back at the sight of Tails, which the bear noticed. His upper lip curled up into a snarl. “You scarin’ my little cub?” he asked venomously.

Cream tapped Bark’s shoulder. “Bark! Be nice!” she admonished, glaring at him before turning her attention to Tails. “Sorry about that, he’s really overprotective of his daughter. That’s Hope by the way.” She angled over her seat to speak to the little girl, smiling warmly at her. “Hope, this is my friend Tails. Your daddy and I were hoping he could help us out with a little job.”

“Yeah,” Bark added. Though his tone softened when addressing his daughter, his eyes still glared daggers at the ex-SOLDIER. “This won’t take long, little one. Head back to your room and I’ll come read you a story.”

The girl tentatively circled around her father to face him. She looked up at his face with big, expressive eyes. “You promise?” she asked softly.

“Uh-huh,” Bark replied, nodding. His eyes still never left Tails. “Now, get goin’”

Giving the fox a wide berth, the human girl circled around and travelled up the stairs to her room. Once they heard the door close with an audible click, Bark started to speak.

“Listen up, cuz I ain’t gonna repeat myself,” he started, folding his arms and reclining back on the chair. “Cream’s filled you in on the basics, but here’s the real deal: We’re an anti-Kintobor group known as TORNADO. I’m it’s leader and Cream here is second in command. There are three others; you’ll meet ‘em later, should you take this job. Our mission is to sabotage operations of the Energen Reactors and RINGTEK Manufacturing Plants that keep Megapolis powered up at the expense of Mobius’ life. You know about those, right?”

Tails scoffed. “You kidding me? I used to work for them, so I know what they are and what they do.”

“And that’s why we want to bring you in,” Cream chimed in. She leaned forward, placed her elbows on the table and steepled her fingers together. “Your knowledge about the company’s major assets and your strength would be a huge asset to this mission. Like we discussed before, we’ve started up the first phase of the mission. The main ordeal will commence in three weeks time, which gives you plenty of opportunity to prepare and assess what’s to come.”

“So, now that you know the basics, what do you say?” Bark questioned, leaning forwards. “You interested?”

Tails made a show of considering their request, but he already made his decision when he awoke. He sauntered forward and pulled up a chair. Unsheathing his sword and leaning it against the table, he sat down and faced the two TORNADO members. “Yeah, I’m interested,” he answered with cool indifference. “So, let’s talk business…”


Mobius VII – Book 1: Escape From The City – Chapter 3


Chapter 3: The Childhood Friend

Tails

The distinct scent of the air after a storm, mixed with the pungent odor of pollution.

The sounds of footsteps, large and small, treading on cobbled streets, mixed with the loud whistle of a train engine.

The feeling of the warm, worn soles in leather boots and the individual fibers mingling with the callused pads on the bottom of his feet.

These were just some of the tens of hundreds of sensations that were bombarding the two tailed fox’s heightened senses. He was sitting in an unfamiliar place, his sword by his side and both hands in a vice-like against the sides of his head. Scents, sounds, shapes, textures and colours, all were overwhelming the fox and he slowly began to lose his sense of self. What he remembered prior to entering this strange, new setting was lost to him; all that he could remember now was his name: “Tails.”

In the midst of his suffering, he heard a voice speak out from his right in soft, dulcet tones. “Surrender yourself,” it said. “Give yourself up and sleep and dream…”

The voice was comforting, yet saccharine. Though Tails felt the urge to do as the voice beckoned, he also found himself to be strangely skeptical and wary of it. He gritted his teeth as the environment around him continued to batter his overstimulated mind and he began pounding the back of his head on the wall he was seated against in an attempt to redirect the pain.

Soon, a second, youthful voice called to him from what seemed like his left ear. “Hey! Stay with me!,” the new voice demanded forcefully. “Fight it! Don’t let it consume you!”

The fox pushed off of the wall and went to his knees. He bent forward and brought his head to the ground and began thrashing about, hissing as a blindingly sharp pain erupted from the centre of his skull. 

Sleep… Sleep and dream…”

“Fight it! Don’t give in! You gotta stay awake!!”

As the voices battled on either side of him, Tails started hearing a high pitched, buzzing sound in his ears. He lay face down on the grimy, cobblestoned ground and shook violently. The multitude of stimuli that his brain desperately tried to process soon began tiring him out. The voice on his right and its demands for him to sleep became stronger, as did the urge to sleep. Tails’ eyes started to close as the promise of slumber became too great for him to ignore.

It was at that moment that the buzzing in his head intensified.

He no longer heard the trains, no longer smelt the pollution around, nor did he even feel the stonework beneath his knees. All he could feel now was constant pain erupting from his mind. Tails felt as though his skull was being split into two pieces.

The soothing voice from his right became overpowered by the constant ringing coupled by the second voice on his left yelling the same thing to him over and over:

FIGHT IT! FIGHT IT! WAKE UP!!!

And then, as though struck by lightning, Tails’ body seized up. He rose up from the ground onto his knees, his head was thrown back, his eyes went wide and his mouth opened in a scream he could hear in his head, though no sound came out. 

He felt himself collapse to the ground seconds later, breathing hard, laborious breaths through his dry mouth. The assault on his senses had finally ceased and when he opened his eyes, all he could see around him was white.

C’mon little buddy!” It was the second voice, the one he heard on his left. It spoke in a cheerful tone. “I’m proud of you for not going to sleep, but you still gotta get a hold of yourself! You’re not out of the woods yet!

Tails’ breathing slowed as he calmed down. He could still hear the ringing, but it was not as loud as before. 

Now, you gotta concentrate for me, OK?” The voice continued. Tails felt that he heard it somewhere before, but he couldn’t quite make out where. “Try to focus and rein in your senses, starting off with touch. Close your eyes and breathe in and out.”

Something about its tone made the fox want to trust in what it was saying. He shut his eyes and concentrated as instructed. He tried to feel the ground beneath him as a whole instead of the individual sensations. When he felt confident that he could no longer feel the textured fibers on his clothes, the worn soles of his boots and the individual strands of fur on his body, he then moved onto his hearing. He screwed his eyes tightly and constrained his enhanced auditory senses to hear his immediate surroundings only. Conversations in the far distance soon faded away and all he could hear was the steady, rhythmic breathing from his mouth.

Good, good,” the voice said, clearly pleased with the results. “Just take it slowly.

The fox then moved onto his sense of smell. He exhaled a breath through his mouth and then inhaled, forcing himself to take in the scents directly around him. A pungent odor nearby caused his nose to wrinkle. ‘The hell is that smell?’ he wondered. 

Tails got onto his hands and knees and crawled blindly until he hit a wall. Pushing himself into a sitting position, he slowly opened his eyes to see the source of the offending smell in front of him: a rusted, gray dumpster overflowing with trash. Keeping his eyes on that sight alone, he began training himself to ignore the minute details around his peripheral vision until all he could see was the bin in its entirety. Satisfied, he opened his eyes fully and slowly began to take in his surroundings.

He was sitting in what appeared to be an alleyway between two run-down buildings. ‘Definitely not in the wilderness anymore, I’m certain of that,’ Tails deduced, as he craned his neck around. To his left, at the mouth of the alleyway, he could see people mulling about their own business.

Well now,” the voice in his head commented flippantly, interrupting him. “I suppose you’ve calmed down enough. Now let’s start from the top: do you know who you are?

Tails’ head bobbed up and down as he mulled over the question. His mind, now unburdened, was blank and full of fog. His head wobbled in the same fashion for a few moments until an answer came to him. “Tails,” he replied in a whisper, his voice hoarse. 

Tails?” the entity spoke in his mind, amusedly. “Odd name, how did you get it?

The fox’s head continued moving up and down as he searched for an answer. He saw a word form through the static in his mind. “Nickname…” he replied softly. “It’s a nickname.”

I see,” the voice said. “So what’s your real name then?

Tails put the back of his head against the cool wall behind him as he thought deeply. Try as he might, he couldn’t seem to remember something so basic. He was drawing a blank. “…Forget?” he questioned, his brow furrowing in confusion. He thought he could hear a sigh from the intangible presence in his mind.

OK then, new tactic” it grumbled, clearly annoyed. “Do you at least know where you are?

Tails brought his head back to look upwards. He saw no sky above him, only a ceiling high above him made of metal. Pipes, plates and cables crisscrossed with the steel beams. Looking back to his left and through the alleyway he was in, he could see a pair of large, twenty-five foot tall bay doors in the distance. A security checkpoint, with guards either milling about or watching the citizens going about their own business, was situated in front of the doors. He could hear the sounds of a large engine from his right; a train, he surmised.  

Processing the information in his mind, the fox’s lips parted as he finally recognized where he was at last. “Megapolis,” he answered quietly.

Alright! Well done!” it said encouragingly. “Now, can you tell me how you got here?

Tails closed his eyes and rested his head again on his chest whilst racking his brain to figure out the reason why he was in the great city. With his senses under control, he found that he was able to think clearly. At once, the memories of the past began filling in. He started to remember that he left his hometown – Knothole – and came to Megapolis to become a SOLDIER… just like his hero.

Nazo.‘ Tails’ jaw tightened at the thought of that name. He clenched his fists and felt a burning sensation in the pit of his stomach as the image of the war hero came into his mind. His very presence radiated an otherworldly power unlike anything ever seen on the planet. Nazo was a hedgehog with pure silver fur and long spines on the back of his head that pointed upwards as opposed to sloping down. At over six feet tall – a height that towered over most Mobians – he was best described as a force of nature itself; an unstoppable being of near-godlike ability. He donned an unopened black overcoat overtop his muscular frame with ivory pauldrons adorning the shoulders. A pair of black leather pants, gloves and combat boots, completed the outfit. Tails could remember the cruel smile adorning the almost-silver coloured muzzle and the slitted eyes which glowed pale green. In his hand was the blade that made him legendary – a six foot long katana. Masamune, the fox recalled its fearsome name. 

Anger started to course through the fox’s body as the memories of a particular night came to him in vivid detail. He recalled that his first mission as a First Class SOLDIER was the joyous return to his hometown to investigate reports of Mutates coming down Mount Mobius. It was here that Nazo went insane and declared war on the world; his first act being the destruction of his home. He could feel the flames from that moment sear his arms and legs and his heart tightened in despair and hatred.

He remembered that he chased Nazo up to the Energen Reactor at the top of the mountain and how he faced off against him. But the memories after that moment became very hazy. Tails opened his eyes and stared down at his gloved palms. ‘I survived, didn’t I?‘ he thought, a slight smile on his face. ‘Somehow and in someway, I’ve survived destruction at the hands of a god… but why am I back in Megapolis?‘ 

He rested his head against the brick wall he was leaning against and his piercing eyes peered skyward. A loud klaxon went off without warning, causing the fox to wince from the sound. The alarm ceased and was then followed by the grinding noise of metal dragging against the flattened, packed earth. ‘Something’s opening up…’ Tails noted idly as he scanned the underside of the plate, testing the limits of his enhanced vision.

His eyes stopped at a bright red label on a large pipe that traveled transverse across the plate from left to right. Tails squinted to read the white lettering on the decal. It read: ‘Merc Pipes – a Subsidiary of Kintobor Inc.’

The fox tilted his head to the side as he reread the words. Something about them seemed familiar. As he glanced at ‘Merc’ for the fourth time, something started to form in the depths of his mind. The image of a word floating in a sea of fog.

…Mercenary…

“A mercenary?” he mumbled out loud, angling his head back down to the dumpster. His eyes widened suddenly as a revelation dawned on him.  ‘That’s right!‘ he thought, his body trembling with anticipation. ‘After I somehow survived that fight, I decided I had enough with Kintobor and Nazo. I would go back to the city and start a new life as a mercenary for hire. Big jobs, little jobs, anything for the right price!

There ya go, little buddy!” he heard the cheerful voice exclaim jubilantly. If Tails could see the entity’s face, he imagined it would be smiling. “Now that that’s been established; where do you go from here?

Tails’ look of jubilation quickly turned into a brooding frown. “Hm… Haven’t thought of that,” he muttered darkly.

Tell you what: why not take it easy for a bit?” the entity responded. Tails wasn’t sure where this voice was coming from – or if it was coming from himself. But, he realized, it was speaking the truth. He could use some rest.

The fox reclined back against the wall. For the first time since he entered the city, he felt satisfied, despite the terrible smell coming out of the large grey metal bin in front of him. Looking to the ground on his left, he spied his sword – the Buster Sword – lying close enough to reach with a hand. Lips curling slightly upwards, Tails leaned over, grasped the broad blade’s leather-bound hilt and held onto it tightly. Settling himself against the wall once more, he closed his eyes while keeping the rest of his senses on alert. 

He could still feel the entity’s mysterious presence, though it was diminished. “One last question,,” it said to the resting fox, its voice sounding far away. “What’s your name?” 

“…My name is Miles ‘Tails’ Prower,” he answered in a low, but powerful voice as he drifted off to sleep. “Former SOLDIER… First Class.”


“I have you now sugar!” 

Tails’ eyes snapped open as he heard someone cackling from his right. Pushing himself stiffly off the wall, he craned his head to see two individuals standing in the alleyway.

Standing at its mouth was a raccoon. Though the lighting from above was dim, Tails could make out his dirty grey and brown fur, his rumpled blue T-shirt and brown slacks that were a size too large for him. His pointed teeth were gleaming through a wide, lecherous grin on his muzzle and he licked his lips as though he was going to enjoy a tasty snack. The raccoon’s eyes gazed hungrily at the figure in front, who had its back turned to him. “Make this easy on yourself and don’t struggle, I promise I won’t hurt you,” he said gleefully as he inched forward slowly.

The second figure was a rabbit with cream-coloured fur. She had chocolate brown patches on the tips of her long ears and framing her soft almond shaped eyes, which were coloured in an amber-hazel shade. Her long ivory hair cascaded down to the small of her back and was tied off at the very bottom with a black elastic band. She had a petite nose, lush, full lips and an oval shaped face that was flawless. 

She wore a black, form-fitting overcoat that went down to her knees, exposing toned calves. On her hands were a pair of thick leather gloves and her feet were covered in sturdy, brown leather ankle boots. She was holding a large, heavy-looking brown paper bag filled with sundries.

As the raccoon approached, the woman set the grocery bag down beside her, with her back still facing her assailant. Tails watched as she collected herself and slowed her breathing. Her brows lowered into a scowl and her eyes hardened like steel. Tensing up her muscles, she waited. 

The lustful racoon growled and lunged forward, his arms outstretched and hoping to catch the rabbit off guard.

Instead, the rabbit quickly lifted her left knee and pivoted on her right foot, twisting her body at the same time. Using the momentum from the twist, she extended her left leg outward and executed a devastating reverse side kick. Her foot collided severely with the raccoon’s muzzle, breaking several of his teeth and his nose and sending him flying back to the alleyway entrance. The rabbit then faced her would-be assaulter, her hands up and feet placed in a traditional fighter’s stance.

The raccoon scrambled up to his feet and looked fearfully at the vicious being in front of him before fleeing from the alleyway, his pain-induced wimperings echoed through the narrow passage.  

Seeing that the pervert didn’t bring along any friends, the fighter relaxed and her arms dropped back to her sides. Looking down, she saw that the buttons of her tight jacket popped off, most likely during the spin. “Oh gosh, Jessie’s going to kill me,” she mumbled in a sweet tone that Tails recognised, sighing in frustration. “This was her favourite jacket-” 

Suddenly, she whirled around, her fists raised and her eyes scouring the area where Tails rested. It was as though she felt like she was being watched. “Who’s there?!” She called out, eyes narrowed and flicking to and fro. “Show yourself!”

Tails locked eyes with the rabbit as she edged forwards cautiously until she stood just in front of him. He saw that underneath the jacket, she wore a white, form-fitting tank-top that was cropped at her midriff. Going from her waist to just above her knees was a protective leather skirt, held up by black suspenders. What caught his eye was the long, thin white scar on her exposed, toned abdomen that crossed right to left diagonally from the bottom of her rib cage to just above her hip.

The sight triggered his memories and soon, the holes within them were filled with the image of the gorgeous rabbit standing in front of him. A rabbit that he finally recognized from his childhood…

“Cream Rabbelocke, we meet again,” he said to her softly.

The rabbit’s jaw dropped. Hastily fishing her hand down a pocket on the jacket she wore, she produced a small penlight. Clicking it on and shining it down on the figure in front, her lips broke out into an enormous grin. “Oh my Goddess, Miles Prower, is that really you!?” she cried out, half-shocked, half-jubilated. 

“Yep, it’s me alright,” he replied, smiling, his eyes squinting from the bright light.

Kneeling down, she placed the penlight on the ground and looked him over, concerned eyes roving over his body. “How long has it been since we last saw each other?” she asked in wonder.

Tails suddenly felt a sharp, stabbing pain on the side of his head. He placed a hand on his head, massaging it. “Well, it’s been…  five years since we last met,” he said.

The fighter’s grin disappeared and her lips parted slightly. “Uh, y-yeah… five year’s right? Time flies,” she replied, chuckling half-heartedly. “W-what have you been up to since then?”

“Well, a lot has happened,” Tails answered, not noticing the hesitation in her voice. “After Nazo went crazy during the mission at Knothole, I decided that I was done with Kintobor. So I left, traveled the world and now I’m back in the city as a mercenary for hire. Any job for the right price.”

Cream said nothing for a few moments, as she processed what he had told her. “Miles,” she spoke all of a sudden. “Do you have a place to stay?”

The fox jumped slightly, caught off guard. “No, I just got into the city. Why d’ya ask?” he questioned. 

“Well, I got my own place down here in Sector 7,” she said, a hand unconsciously stroking one of her long ears. “It’s a bar, I own it. If you want to, you can stay there for as long as you like.”

Tails grinned widely at this stroke of luck. “Really?” he said in awe. “You’d do that?”

“Yeah, of course,” she answered back, a tight smile crossing her lips. She suddenly looked away from him and Tails got the feeling that she was wrestling with something. “I-I can even get you a job too, y’know? There’s this group living in my bar right now that could use a mercenary like you.” 

“…Alright, let’s hear it,” the fox replied. Cream checked to see that no one else was around before drawing in close and speaking in hushed tones. She  backed away a few moments later, her fingers fidgeting and her eyes focusing on anything except the warrior resting on the wall. 

“Hmm, TORNADO huh?” Tails questioned, keeping his voice low after Cream finished explaining. He slowly began rising from his spot using the wall and his sword for support. “An anti-Kintobor organization… Sounds right up my alley. Sign me up for it.” He wrapped his tails around his waist tightly before placing the massive blade on the large magnetic disc on his back.

Cream cast a suspicious look at the weapon as though it had offended her in some way. Shaking her head, she collected the penlight, clicked it off and stood up. “Well then, come on Miles, follow me,” she said, going back to the bag she placed on the ground.

“Tails.”

“W-What?” the rabbit exclaimed, doing an about-face back to the swordsman.

“I go by ‘Tails’ these days,” the fox repeated. “Call me that from now on.”

Cream blinked. “Oh, OK then,” she replied, turning back and picking up the brown bag. She stood still for a few moments, her head bowed forward as though she was suddenly lost in thought.

Tails took a few tentative steps towards her. He was still not in the best of shape, but at least he could stand and walk. A few more days of rest and a decent meal or two would help. He could feel the knots in his empty stomach demand some form of sustenance. He stopped next to his friend. “Hey Cream, are we goin’ or not?” he asked.

Cream jumped, snapping back to reality. “Y-yeah!” she spluttered, a blush creeping up on her cheeks. “S-sorry, I just… I can’t believe you’re here…” Adjusting the bag in her arm, she quickly walked back to the main street. “Let’s go M-…  T-Tails,” she called back to him.

The two-tailed fox smirked softly to himself. ‘She’s changed,‘ he reflected, watching the brawling beauty in front of him. ‘But so have I, for that matter. We’re not who we used to be as kids after all…” Putting that thought aside, he followed her out of the alleyway, his movements sluggish, but steadily improving.

“Finally, things are looking up,” he whispered to himself, his lips curling upward as he followed his friend deeper into the slums.


Mobius VII – Book 1: Escape From The City – Chapter 2


Chapter 2: A Premonition

Flower Girl

Shadowed above by the massive Plate which contained the upper city, the slums of Megapolis were a dilapidated and often ignored portion of the city which was populated primarily by Mobians. While each sector of the lower city had its pockets of residential areas, only a few were lucky enough to hold communal amenities for the populace to use. 

Over time, the numbers for army personnel charged with community protection in the lower city started to dwindle. This came with increased rumors that circled through the residential hubs about the fearsome Robians – ordinary Mobians transformed into soulless mechanical monstrosities – and the uptick of mutants being sighted around the common paths. The gossip caused the residents to keep to their own hubs and reduce travel to other sectors in fear of being attacked.

A church located beneath the unfinished portions of the Sector 5 plate was once a particularly beautiful building. After being abandoned by the citizens, years of neglect and disrepair caused the building to become a shadow of its former self. The exterior was stained by the dirty air exhausted from the underside of the Plate. The roof was full of holes of various sizes that let rays of sunlight shine through. Inside, the floorboards and pews running from the large double doors to the altar were in a state of constant decay. Several stained glass windows were shattered and those that were untouched were caked with grime. A structural column holding up the vaulted ceiling in the rear had fallen, leaving the rear portion of the building susceptible to collapse. The storage areas up in the rafters above were covered with a thick layer of dust. All in all, it was not a suitable place to live in.

As run down as it was, the spacious interior held something that many in the city would have called a miracle.

Carpeting the centre of the church floor was a field full of beautiful yellow and white flowers . They grew out of a large, round patch that was unearthed by removing the old floorboards. The field started from the altar and took up two thirds of the floor towards the doors. Plants were a rare sight in Megapolis; the lack of sunlight and the nutrient-poor earth were hardly sufficient to grow anything. But the flowers at this church were hardy and their caretaker even more so.

A female Mobian walked around the patch, her dirt-coated, pale hands held a tattered, soft-cover book which she thumbed through. She wore a white, form-fitting dress that went to the bottom of her shins, the edge of the dress tapering into points like flower petals, and a padded, unbuttoned short-sleeved forest green coat that reached above her midriff. Around her waist was a worn, brown belt, which sat snugly above her hips. Inserted in a holster on the back of the belt was a retractable, metal guard staff. Her dirt-caked leather boots made soft, muffled sounds against the old floorboards as she circled the patch. 

The back of her vibrant, lime green hair was tied up into a braid and held up by a pink ribbon, while the bangs on the front framed her oval shaped face and complimented her bright, turquoise eyes. On either side of the top of her head were two, fully bloomed red rosebuds. Circling around the patch, she placed a finger on a sentence of a random page and read the passage from the book aloud to the plants growing in the field. 

“-And then he showed his true colours.

Once the headquarters and the majority of the city were completed, President Kintobor started pushing towards military rule by establishing a massive army supported by RINGTEK-powered war machines. He used his army to crack down on dissenters and rebels who questioned his authority. He ran policies favouring Humans while persecuting Mobians, which only served to increase the existing generation-spanning tensions between the two. He discreetly raised the costs of living for those citizens forced to live in the lower city below. Those who could not pay those crushing fees were captured and subjected to experimental testing in the R&D labs high up in the headquarters, where no one ever returned from. These experiments, coupled with further research into Energen and its applications into living beings, yielded the SOLDIER program: soldiers infused with pure Energen to greatly enhance their bodies for military purposes.

Using his newly created military forces, the president then set his sights towards the rest of the world. His first act was to invade Mobotropolis – the capital city of the Western Continent – and annihilate its Royal Family.  In the two decades since the coup, Kintobor expanded until nearly every region on the planet had an Energen Reactor, save for one; the secluded kingdom of Chun-Nan in the far East. The kingdom was wary of both the company’s technology and the growing influence the conglomerate had over Mobius. They resisted until a bloody war broke out eight years ago. Despite their mastery of magic and their knowledge of the difficult terrain, Kintobor’s vast army, their war machines and their unstoppable SOLDIER forces, conquered the tiny nation in little over a year’s time. That act firmly established Megapolis and Kintobor Inc. as the sole, dominant world power.

After the war, a brand new technology made its debut: Roboticization. This process involved the partial or total conversion of organic matter into a hardier, robotic form. Roboticization could even return missing limbs, which came particularly in handy for the veterans returning from the front. For a time, the innovation was deemed a blessing for the citizens. They believed that no matter what happened to them, be it loss of limb or sickness, Kintobor Inc. would swoop in and help with their wondrous scientific advancements.

That all changed only four years ago, prior to this book’s publication. Rumors abound in the slums, but what I could dig up was that the president discovered that the Roboticization process could transform individuals into mindless, robotic slaves. It is my belief that he began rounding up Mobians in the slums, with the commitment to use the process to remove their ills caused by the rampant pollution in the lower city. He then transformed them which had the effect of completely stripping them of their free will. These Robians were set them loose in the Slums to eliminate the vicious mutants and terrorize the denizens below, and in the Energen Reactors to act as guards against any interlopers either foolishly attempting to dig up company secrets or attempting to sabotage or destroy the reactors themselves as acts of terrorism…”

The woman stopped and snapped the book shut, a wry and bitter smile crossing her lips. She turned towards her flowers and knelt down to the patch. “That was pretty fascinating stuff, wasn’t it?” she asked the plants before her. “This guy, Kirby… he really knew his stuff, didn’t he?” Turning the book around to view the cover, she wrinkled the bump that was her nose. “The Untold Story of Kintobor Incorporated… Well, no wonder the book was banned up above. It’s lucky that I stumbled on one copy that missed being destroyed, right?”

The flowers didn’t answer back to her, but it was something that she was used to. Placing the book down to her right, she began working her hands into the damp soil. She moved around the patch, cutting dead leaves off the younger plants, transplanting seedlings to open areas where they could grow and snipping some of the fully matured bulbs to place in a woven, straw basket. After a good half-hour’s worth of work, she leaned back to stretch and mopped her brow. Tilting her head back, she looked to the holes in the roof above and beyond to the Sector 5 plate. Faint sunlight was streaming through the gaping sections of the unfinished portions. Her lips quirked upwards as she remembered the storm that had passed earlier in the morning. The deluge of rainwater provided much needed nourishment for her garden, which made her feel content.

Then suddenly, she heard the sounds of heavy footsteps just outside of the building.  A deep, cold chill ran down her back and she stifled a gasp. ‘Don’t tell me it’s them again?!’ she thought frantically, hunching over into a bent position. She swiveled around and then crawled on her hands and knees as quietly as she could to a pew close to her and huddled underneath it. She held her breath and waited for the footsteps to pass.

She then felt a sharp sting on her index finger as something needle-like jabbed into it. Biting her lip so that she wouldn’t scream out, she saw that a root from her flower patch extended out and inserted itself into her finger. Her eyes widened into saucers and she tried to wrench her hand away but her body suddenly went rigid, as though she had been electrocuted. 

She then saw visions, all of them moving in a rapid fire manner and many of which she couldn’t understand. The visions then slowed down enough that she could pick out a figure in them; a blue-furred individual wearing a uniform with a large sword on his back. It turned its head so that she could get a glimpse of the face from the side. She saw a single, glowing jade-green eye and a smirk that sent her heart aflutter until the figure disintegrated into wisps of silver and gold. Another figure appeared in his place – an orange-furred individual wearing an identical uniform with its back turned to her. Swishing about were two bushy tails…

At that point, the flower girl regained control of herself. She pulled her hand away and the root slipped out of her finger, leaving a shallow well of blood streaming from the digit. She was breathless and cold sweat matted her bangs to her forehead. Pinching her thumb to her forefinger to stem the blood, she first listened to see if the coast was clear, before crawling out from under the pew and moving towards a nearby floorboard. She wormed two fingers into a hole in the centre and pulled, causing the board to come loose. Placing it beside her, she pulled out the first aid kit lying underneath and set about bandaging her finger whilst mulling over the visions she saw.

The one thing she was able to discern clearly was the blue furred individual who then disappeared in a flood of silver and gold wisps of light. Realization dawned on her and she brought a hand to her lips in shock. ‘No way, It’s not possible…‘ she thought, ardently praying that whatever she dreaded wasn’t true, that the vision she saw was not what she thought it was. ‘He can’t have… died? After all of these years of him going missing, he’s now dead?’ She shook her head to banish the thought out of her mind. Of course not! He couldn’t have died?! The voices are just… lying to me again, that’s all!

Deep down, she knew otherwise. It was now the second time that she saw this sort of vision. The flower girl forced down the memories of the first time as a deep, cloying sadness began creeping into her heart. ‘…If he truly is dead – which he isn’t, I’m sure of it – it must have occurred… during the storm,‘ she reasoned as she finished tying the gauze to her finger.

Suddenly, her vision blurred as tears began forming in her eyes. She screwed them shut and her shoulders trembled as she succumbed to her sorrow and wept. She tried hard to keep herself from sobbing out loud and instead balled her hands into fists with her dirt-coated fingernails digging into her palms. Around her, the flowers seemed to resonate with her emotions; the petals and leaves drooped downwards as though they mourned alongside her. 

It was some time until she finally calmed down. Breathing heavily, she eased herself into a sitting position, brushing stray strands of hair away from her face and wiping the tears from her puffy eyes. As she slowed her breath, her mind then turned to the other part of the vision: the orange figure with two tails. ‘Now, what could that mean?’ she wondered, her brows lowering into a scowl. ‘There’s no way that someone with two tails exists on Mobius… So what’s the deal here? What’s this vision trying to tell me now?

The flower girl let out an exasperated sigh. “What’s the point in showing me these things?” she growled through clenched teeth. “Can’t they just… leave me alone?”

She felt the root that had penetrated her finger wrap around it again, this time in a gentle, comforting manner. The flower girl watched the tendril curl around the digit, a bittersweet smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. It was though her plants were telling her that these visions had to happen and that she could not run away from them any more. 

She scoffed at the thought. “Well, so much for that,” she muttered to herself, her brows furrowing deeply at what she considered. “I won’t stop running, even if the voices and the visions want me to do otherwise… It’s not like they’ve ever shown me anything good anyway…”

The Mobian ripped the root off of her finger, stood up in a huff and brushed off the dirt from the knees of her dress. She felt something softly bump into her chest as she straightened up. She looked down to see her pendant; a simple, hexagonal locket coloured amber-gold with a window to the contents within on the front. Inside was a silver-white jewel. She collected the pendant into her palm, which was as small as her own hand and stared at the gemstone inside. The sunlight from above shone down on it and gave it a brilliant, shimmering glow.

“…I know it’s a little… ostentatious – funny that I know that word, huh? A friend of mine taught it to me. But anyway…  Look,  I know it’s important to you, so I figured… it needed a safe space, y’know? So I thought: What better place to keep it safe than around your neck and tucked into your dress?”

The flower girl made a noise of amusement as she remembered the moment she received the pendant, her lips curling upwards despite her sadness. She clutched it gently with both hands and put it against her heart. Closing her eyes and bowing her head, she said a prayer in her mind to the Goddess and then tucked the locket back into her dress. She then set about to gather up her things. She replaced the medical kit and the floorboard that hid it, picked up the basket full of cut flowers and finally the book that she was reading aloud. 

Heading for the door, she plucked a brown, patchy satchel from one of the pews, stuffed the book inside of it and slung it around her shoulder. Checking to see that her retractable staff was in place, she opened the large church doors a crack to check if the surroundings were clear. Seeing that no one was around, she turned to smile apologetically at her growing patch of flowers before slipping through the door and closing it with a muffled click.


Mobius VII – Book 1: Escape From The City – Chapter 1

Chapter 1: The Price of Freedom



The SOLDIER

A storm was coming.

It was an event that happened rarely in the wastelands surrounding the massive industrial city of Megapolis. Dark clouds intermingled with the ashen, grey-yellow smog emitted from the metropolis’ eight towering reactors and the haze quickly blocked out the sun. 

Whatever organisms that eked a living on the barren lands started to burrow underground or find cover around the large rock formations in anticipation of the tempest to come. Even the larger Mutates – those creatures horribly mutated by the radioactive runoff discharged from the city’s reactors – were forced to seek shelter once the first few claps of thunder erupted, shaking the earth itself. In spite of their primitive intelligence, their basic, bestial instincts sensed that something was amiss.

This storm was unlike any before it.

The threatening air did not stop the blue, anthropomorphic hedgehog from slowly trudging towards Megapolis. He had long, sharp quills coming out of the back of his round head which swept down his back. He wore a dark blue vest and long, baggy wool trousers, held up with thick, brown suspenders. A steel plate covered in worn, black leather was fastened to the top of the trousers to protect the abdominal area. On his left shoulder was a black, battle-scarred leather pauldron and his left hand was covered with a well-worn white glove, soiled and cracked from prolonged use. His right shoulder was covered with a steel, studded pauldron and his upper arm was covered in tarnished, plate armor. An ornate steel gauntlet with a gold band and a red gemstone adorned his forearm.  He wore deep red sneakers with a broad, white stripe crossing the top. Each stripe ended with a gold buckle on the outer side of each shoe. 

The suspenders were bound together on his back by a flat, circular metal disk. Attached to the disk was an enormous, gun-metal grey broadsword, five feet long, with a single, ten inch wide edge. The riveted hand guard was adorned by swirling, golden designs. The base of the blade by the hand guard had straight, angular etchings on either side. The sword had two holes bored into it, near the hand guard. Inserted into each hole were two, brilliant green gems, with a linkage connecting them together.

His clothes were riddled with holes and tears while the rest of his exposed body was covered in a litany of wounds and bruises that were slowly healing. The bottoms and the sides of his shoes were caked in a thin layer of dirt and blood. Wearisome as he was, he still pressed forward.

A sudden, cool breeze flowed through his quills and he stopped in place, his eyes closed as he relished the feeling of the wind behind him. He then felt a frenzied, restless urge coursing through his body all the way down to his legs. It was as if the wind gently pushing on his back was telling him to stop holding back and to let go of all inhibitions.

It was telling him to run.

Before he could act on this impulse though, he heard the crackling sound of thunder above him, followed by a weak moan coming from his left. His unnaturally glowing jade-green eyes turned away from the city looming in the distance and towards his companion, who he had wrapped his left arm around.

Supported by the hedgehog was a 21 year old orange-furred fox. He stumbled about on weakened legs and was unable to support his own weight. He was clothed in an exact replica of his protector’s uniform, with slight differences. The zipper on the vest was down slightly, revealing tufts of white fur underneath. He wore a steel studded pauldron on his left shoulder, which was identical to the one the hedgehog wore. On his wrists were brown and grey gloves and on his left arm, from wrist to three quarters up his forearm, was a studded armlet to use as a guard. He wore brown, standard-issue combat leather boots. On the base of his left ear was a piercing; a single, silver hoop. 

His body was thin and his pointed, white muzzle was gaunt and sunken. His ears lay flat and his nose was dry as he staggered forward, his friend coaxing him onward. His irises were coloured an unnatural, electric blue, similarly to the green that the blue warrior sported. Dragging on the lifeless earth behind him as he ambled were large, bushy twin tails. Beyond his general weakness, the fox was otherwise uninjured. He had no means to defend himself and was relying solely on the good graces of his friend to keep him safe.

Drool was slowly dripping out of his hung mouth and his eyes were staring unfocused on hard dirt beneath him. He let out another quiet moan as a second crack of thunder erupted from the sky. 

The hedgehog bent his head down to look at his friend, concern flooded his features. “You OK little buddy?” he asked softly, wiping the drool off of his lips. 

The fox only mewled in response, his grip on the hedgehog’s arm tightening.

The hedgehog didn’t know what to make of the answer. He shrugged and said cheerfully to the fox, attempting to change the subject, “Look over there! We’re almost at Megapolis! In another few miles, you and I will be safe and sound!” He chuckled to himself lightly. “Heh, heh… Miles. Get it? Cuz your name?”

The fox moaned again.

The warrior shook his head. “OK, I get it, it was a lame joke,” he chuckled. When he heard no further response from his companion, he let out a sigh. “Man, this trip did a number on you…” he mumbled under his breath.

As he trudged on with the fox in tow, the hedgehog barely repressed the frustrated and restless feeling he had inside him. If there was one thing he hated most of all, it was moving slowly. He desperately wanted to feel the wind rushing by him as he ran, but he knew that his usual, blistering pace would be too much for the two-tailed fox to handle. The warrior cursed at his annoyance. ‘I can’t be selfish,’ he thought as he half walked, half dragged his barely conscious companion through the darkening wastelands. ‘He needs my help to get better… After all, I dragged him into this mess in the first place.‘ 

His train of thought was broken as the rain started to fall in small, light droplets onto the duo. The hedgehog stopped to look upwards and frowned at the sky. “Well, this won’t do,” he muttered, looking around for shelter. 

He spotted a cave at the bottom of one of the ridges overlooking the city, straight and to the left of him slightly. “OK Tails,” he addressed the fox by name. “We’re gonna go to that cave over there and camp out til the rain stops,” he said, pointing towards the direction of the cave.

Tails said nothing at first, but then nodded imperceptibly in agreement. 

The hedgehog smiled as he led him to the cavern. “Don’t worry little buddy,” he said as he guided him. “You’ll be alright. We’ll get to the city, find a doctor to help you get better.” He paused, grunting as he started going up an incline on the way. “And then after that, we’ll be on our way to fame and fortune! All you have to do,” he continued as the rain started to pour harder, “is just hang on for a couple more hours, OK?” 

His pace started to slow as the ground beneath him became muddy and slippery, making it harder for the invalid Tails to gain any traction. The spiny swordsman gritted his teeth and summoned up more strength to continue onward, his sneakers starting to make squelching sounds in the mud with every step. 

Tails started to slip further, causing the hedgehog to stumble himself and nearly lose his footing in the process. Against the now pounding rain, he looked ahead to see that the cave was only a few hundred feet away from where he was. The rain started coming down in sheets now. Lightning arced and flashed across the sky wickedly. Thunder boomed loudly in the hedgehog hyper-sensitive ears, causing him to flinch at the sound. 

After a herculean effort, the pair made it to the cave. As they entered its mouth for shelter, the swordsman suddenly heard something besides the falling rain and thunder. Kneeling down and honing his senses, he soon picked out the hum of hover engines and the heavy boots of Humans and Mobians tromping on the wet ground over the din of the storm. He picked out the hoarse voices of officers directing soldiers and the squelching sound of tank treads rolling and bipedal mechanoids stepping on the ever-saturating soil. His ears shot up like arrows and his eyes widened, realizing what this all meant.

“Damnit, they found us…” he whispered to himself. He hoisted up Tails, using as much of his remaining strength he could muster to drag the catatonic Mobian deeper into the cave. He concealed him behind a boulder, propped him up into a seating position and then kneeled down to his level to speak.

“Listen Tails,” he said to the fox, a sad smile crossing his muzzle. “Kintobor’s army has found us and it doesn’t look like they’ll be taking us alive either.” An exasperated scoff escaped his lips and his eyebrows lowered into a scowl. “If I were a bettin’ hog, I’d say that that crazy bat-crab bastard at Kintobor had something to do with this.” He pinched the bridge between his eyes and then drew out the enormous sword from his back. Placed it on the ground beside him to inspect it, he continued talking. “I want you to stay here and be safe. I’ll draw them away from here and hopefully catch ‘em by surprise at the same time.” He paused and then turned his head to the catatonic fox, whose eyes were misted over with confusion. 

The warrior placed a hand on the fox’s shoulder and the corners of his mouth turned upwards once more. “Hey, I made a promise to you, Miles ‘Tails’ Prower,” he said in a warm, caring tone. “I promised that I would get you to the city and help find a way to fix whatever the hell they did to you. Before we get there though, I gotta go take care of these losers first.” His smile grew into a grin as he stood up, placed the blade on the disk on its back and turned towards the mouth of the cave. “Hope they’re fast enough to catch me!” the warrior said cheerfully as he stretched and warmed up.  “Honestly, I could use a bit of a challenge right now.”

The bravado he portrayed belied the uncertain feeling he had in the pit of his stomach. As the storm began to lighten slightly, the sounds of the machines and of boots trampling the ground became more pronounced. The hedgehog ceased his stretching. ‘Oh boy…’ the swordsman mused, his ears flattening as he listened on. ‘That’s a LOT of soldiers and mechs out there… and they’re all out for little ole’ us.’ He twisted his body back to the fox slumped on the ground, his head bowed to his chest. A sickening thought then crossed his mind; he could leave him there and run off. What made him feel worse was that he was considering it.

The warrior shook his head violently and pushed that thought away as far as he could. He would not abandon his friend, not after all he had done to keep him safe. ‘No more running,‘ he thought. ‘It’s time to end this, once and for all.” 

Waving farewell to the twin-tailed fox, the hedgehog turned back and strode out of the cave to face the crowds of soldiers, vehicles and mechs that awaited him. Outside, he bent down into a runner’ starting position, tensed up and then shot off like a bullet in a flash of steel and blue fur through the rocky outcroppings. 

He zipped up to the top of a tall spire that overlooked the area. Keeping low to the ground so that he wouldn’t be detected, he scanned the horizon. From a few hundred feet away, he saw soldiers by the droves marching towards the ridge where Tails hid, each sporting coloured uniforms to denote their rank and status. Blue uniforms for grunts, green for platoon leaders, grey for sergeants and red for the higher ups. They were flanked by tanks and ‘Sweepers’: bipedal machines with large spikes for feet, high-caliber machine guns for arms and small anti-personnel missiles hidden inside the elongated, rectangular body that was parallel to the ground. Attached to the back of the machines was a large motor that exuded greyish-yellow exhaust fumes. The ‘face’ of these machines consisted of a large intake grill with vertical slats of metal that opened and closed to make a frightening visage. The hedgehog squinted his eyes and saw, with remarkably enhanced vision, a model number etched into the burnished metal on the robot’s side: E-25. 

He angled his head to the dark grey skies and saw several egg-shaped transporters above the soldiers, each held aloft with hover engines on either side of its body. On the undersides of each transporter were a pair of large, six barrel rotary machine guns along with a searchlight that roved the ground below, the drizzling rainfall disclosing their location in the air. “Huh, they must be desperate if they’re bringing SkyTrans carriers into the fray,” the hedgehog muttered to himself, frowning at the sight.

He scanned the area between them and located a spot of flat, open earth on another ridge that overlooked the city. It was close to where he hid Tails but far enough that the army wouldn’t circle back and look for him. ‘Looks large enough that I can go to town on anyone who approaches, but small enough that I wouldn’t be completely overwhelmed,” he thought to himself as he scrutinized the plain. ‘Looking at this closely, if I play my cards right, I might actually stand a chance here?’ 

Deep in the pit of his stomach however, he didn’t believe that for a second.

The hedgehog stood up, drew his sword and held it with the gauntlet-covered arm. He took several deep breaths to ready himself. Then he flung himself off of the spire, slid down to the surface and then, with a sonic boom, dashed off to the top of the ridge. The shockwave ensured that he left a trail distinct enough for the army to notice. Without fail, the searchlights on the SkyTranses above picked the speeding hedgehog out and the soldiers and mechs began to give chase. 

The warrior soon reached the ridge and halted right at its edge, followed closely behind by the army. Soldiers lined up, cocked their machine guns and took aim. The Sweepers, tanks and SkyTranses followed suit and pointed weaponry of all sorts at the lone figure.

“You are surrounded!,” the hedgehog heard a grunt shout out. “Turn yourself and the other subject over, or face destruction at the hands of the Kintobor Army!”

“Boy, oh boy,” the warrior said to himself as he smiled and shook his head. “The price of freedom is steep.” He closed his eyes and tightened his grip on the sword, just as the storm above began to gain strength once more. Lightning shot through the sky, illuminating everything for brief moments while thunder erupted, making it sound like the Goddess above was demanding that the bloodbath be started. The sky opened up and the heavy raindrops began splattering loudly on the helmets and metal bodies that surrounded him. 

Live with no regrets. Believe in yourself. And chase after the impossible,’ the hedgehog mentally recited to himself, a habit he picked up over the years. He then scoffed at the thought of the imposing army in front of him. ‘Yeah, this is definitely an impossible situation… But things like this never stopped me before. And ‘sides… I got something to fight for…

And then the warrior opened his eyes, which shined with an unholy light. A golden aura started to radiate from his body and tiny silver bolts of electricity crackled around him, mimicking the tempest above. His quills rose upward and he felt as though his entire body was supercharged for battle.

“Hey, assholes!” he yelled out for all to hear over the sounds of the strengthening tempest above. “I made a promise to somebody very important to me! And you guys should know that a SOLDIER’s word is his bond!”

And, as the last word was spoken, the self-declared SOLDIER threw his sword into the air and curled up into a ball, as any hedgehog would do in the face of danger.

The grunts were bewildered at the move, dropping their guard involuntarily. The general in one of the SkyTrans vehicles above who ordered his surrender actually smiled, thinking that he decided to give up. His face fell when he saw the curled up rodent rapidly spinning in place on the ground. The hedgehog became nothing more than a gold-tinted blue, blurring ball with tiny, silver bolts of lightning arcing around him. The sword thrown into the air lazily reached the apex of its arc and started falling, gravity bringing the mass of metal hurtling to the land.

Just when the sword was about twenty feet from the ground, the hedgehog launched himself, the momentum of his spin dash throwing him forward. He pushed off of the surface and launched himself into the air like a rubber ball hitting the floor, right into the path of his own weapon. He then untucked his right arm and grabbed the sword at the hilt, while maintaining his supersonic rotation. This had the effect of turning the warrior into a spinning buzz saw of death as he flew forwards into the soldiers that were gawking at the sight. 

He struck at the same moment a lightning bolt cracked across the sky. The spinning attack mowed down an entire unit and sent body parts flying in all directions. He uncurled and jumped straight into the next horde, swinging the massive sword, cutting soldiers and mechs indiscriminately and pushing his battle-scarred body to its limits. The aura surrounding him ceased to disappear and instead glowed more intensely as he launched more spinning attacks, one after another. 

Flesh, bone, sinew and machinery flew as the hedgehog fought on. The relentless assault from the opposing army dwindled his strength, slowly, but surely. Pushing himself beyond his limits was a gamble, but he had already admitted to himself back at the spire that he was in a losing fight. Amidst the orders being shouted out loudly, the hedgehog’s focus was on the battle at hand, with his prime objective being to take out anything and everything within his reach and to keep fighting on and on until either they gave up and left or he fell. 

Soon enough, he was barely able to hold the sword upright, but he willed himself to keep fighting. He hacked as bullets entered his body. He slashed even as explosions tore holes in his legs. He couldn’t stop. He wouldn’t stop.

He was going to protect that two-tailed fox who was like a little brother to him.

Even if it killed him.


Tails

Tails awoke alone in an unknown place with a severe throbbing sensation stabbing his head. 

Groaning and rubbing his eyes in the darkness, he groped around his surroundings. His hands eventually patted against the rock he was leaning against and he deduced he was in some sort of rocky cospe. He could not for the life of him remember how he ended up in that small nook with his back against a boulder in Goddess-knew where. However, he did recall a voice speaking to him, telling him to stay here while they dealt with something.

His headache suddenly intensified at the thought. Flashes of memories, from happy to grisly and everything in between, swept through his mind at a speed too fast to process. He turned his head and rested his cheek against the cool rock, his teeth gritted in pain as he was being bombarded with various mental images. He felt like a computer being booted up after a long time being shut down.

The pain subsided after a few minutes, to his great relief. His face still against the rock, Tails opened an eye and caught a glimpse of light coming from the mouth of the cave. Startled, he tried standing up, only to stumble and fall flat on his face. Cursing softly underneath his breath, he forced himself onto his hands and knees and crawled out of the cavern and into the open badlands.

The first thing he noticed was the light rain that was drizzling down to the wet and muddied surface. Above him, faint rays of sunlight started to peer through storm clouds that began to clear up. Blinking from the contrast between darkness and light, he placed a hand on the muddied ground and leaned against the cave opening as he waited for his eyesight to adjust. 

And then suddenly, it sharpened. Everything around him started to come into greater detail. He could pick out the minute cracks in a rock formation several thousand feet away. He could see the tiny organisms crawling around a moss-filled boulder across from him through his peripheral vision. Colours and shapes, both known and unknown, were vividly pouring into his eyes and his mind nearly overloaded while attempting to process all the information.

When he found himself able to manage his vision, the two-tailed fox was then bombarded with the smell of the clearing rain and the putrid breaths of Mutates lurking in their hideaways, followed by the scent of gunpowder and the strong, coppery odor of blood. This particular stench was greatest at the top of a nearby ridge. Tails turned his head towards it and perked his ears up in reflex.

As soon as he did this, he was able to hear creatures emerge from their burrows yards away from his current position. He could hear various animalistic and ambient sounds with extreme clarity. He then picked up the sound of feather-light breathing and a barely heard moan. Focusing on that particular noise only, the fox gritted his teeth and went to his hands and knees, crawling up the ridge.

As he reached the summit, Tails felt his muscles grow stronger, little by little as he moved closer to the scent. He now stood upright and stumbled slowly to the top where the smell of blood was overwhelming.

The outcropping of rock was stained red and dotted with blobs of shimmering gold and silver liquid. Tanks, hover transports and pieces of bipedal mechaniloids were scattered along the ridge with black-charred marks riddled all over their lifeless husks. Tails saw the dessicated bodies of soldiers – both Mobian and Human –  lying on the wet earth with bronze bullet casings draped over their whole or dismembered bodies like garlands of flowers. The remains of a hover transport – a SkyTrans, Tails recalled – was teetering on the edge of the cliff. 

Tails shivered at the sight of the macabre scene. His eyes roved around before landing on the only body barely left breathing; a mangled blue hedgehog whose life force was streaming endlessly through a large hole blown into his chest, a hand clutched in a bone-breaking grip around the hilt of an impossibly massive sword. The fox recognized the uniform he wore as a standard-issue SOLDIER outfit. His shimmering jade-green eyes were starting to fade. 

The fox’s eyes widened at the sight and raced over to the body. In his haste, he stumbled over a dead body and slid on the bloody mud until he came to a stop. He crawled the rest of the way to the hedgehog’s side, his left cheek and face slathered with reddish-brown mud and gasping for breath. He searched the SOLDIER’s body in an effort to save him, but he realized it was a fool’s errand. He was too far gone.

The hedgehog chuckled upon seeing the fox before coughing up blood. He took several shallow breaths before he spoke. “For the… both of us…”

The fox blinked, processing what he heard. “The both of us?” he murmured, puzzled.

“Yep… that’s right,” the hedgehog replied, wheezing. Struggling, he raised his arm and placed it behind Tails’ head. “You gotta… You gotta…” 

“Live.”

The warrior embraced the fox at the last word, his hand dropping back into the mud a moment later. Tails rose up, the hedgehog’s blood mixed in with the mud caked on his face, and nodded in acknowledgement. 

Satisfied, the SOLDIER then raised the hilt of the sword up, his right arm shaking with the effort. “Take… the Buster Sword…” he said, offering it to the two-tailed fox. “Keep going… Keep flying high… For my sake and… for yours as well…”

“Believe in yourself… Cuz I’ve always believed in you… Little buddy…”

Tails took the sword at the end of the hilt with both hands. It was still warm. To his surprise, he found the weapon to be lighter than he thought it would be, despite its size. He looked down at it and then to its owner. Suddenly, like water bursting through a dam, the memories of the SOLDIER washed over him in a flash. He saw the battles, the laughter, the tears and the hardships that bonded them together. The fox felt a vice-like grip squeezing his heart as he finally remembered who the blue hedgehog was.

“I will… Sonic,” he said thickly through gritted teeth, addressing the SOLDIER by name for the first time as he gripped the hilt of the Buster Sword tightly in his hands.

Satisfied, Sonic then took his right hand off the hilt and it too, joined his left on the wet ground. His breathing started to slow as his mouth opened a last time, saying one final thing that Tails almost didn’t hear:

“Take… care…”

He smiled one last time, his eyes glazing over as he passed away.

Tails watched on as the SOLDIER died. On seeing the glassy look in the hedgehog’s eyes, he felt the flames of rage and anger roil around in the pit of his stomach. He was angered that this SOLDIER died for him. And enraged at the faceless enemy who was responsible for the act.  

Kintobor Inc. 

He suddenly tilted his head back and screamed, loud and long as the rain continued to fall on his face. His screams tapered off as his throat became raw and his breathing ragged. Choking back sobs, Tails looked again at the dead hedgehog and though his face was frozen in a smile, he could still hear his voice in his mind…

“Tails, don’t stand still and waste time waiting for something to happen. If you want something really badly, you gotta move forward and chase after it, even if it’s impossible. It’s the only way to live without regret.”

The fox let the words wash over him as he looked towards the city on the horizon. He made the decision to move forward and finish the journey for the both of them. He got up, using the Buster Sword as a support and looked back to Sonic for what would be the final time.

“Thank you,” he softly said to his still body. “I won’t forget. Adios, Sonic the Hedgehog.”

He walked away from his deceased friend, never looking back as he did so.


Espresso Shot [Movie] Review – Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another edition of Games with Coffee!

First question: Did you see the Sonic the Hedgehog movie that released on Valentines Day? Second question: If you haven’t, why are you still sitting here? GO. AND. WATCH. IT. NOW. (Or not… considering the current events… but still.)

Ahem.

That’s it. That’s the entire post.

Oh wait, you want me to write a review of the movie? Well… I did mention in my comeback post back in January that I would do one… And I always endeavor to keep my promises…

Alright then! So, we’ll do this properly: Games with Coffee’s first ever Espresso Shot [Movie] Review! Similar format as the regular reviews, but with minus Gameplay (for obvious reasons, of course.).

Let’s get to it!


Image result for Sonic the hedgehog movie poster

Wow. What a timeline we live in, huh folks?

When the very first teaser images for Sonic the Hedgehog were released by Paramount Pictures some time early last year, I thought it was a joke. “There’s no way that this is what it’s really gonna look like?” I thought cynically.

Image result for sonic the hedgehog teaser images

And then the teaser trailer dropped. Humanoid Sonic? Gangsta Paradise? Muscular calves?! No gloves?! Shoes with laces?! Cyclops!? TEETH!? Oh my goodness…

Image result for sonic the hedgehog uh meow gif

Dear god, what an abomination.

Right there and then, I was ready to throw it in and declare Sonic the Hedgehog’s media career dead and gone. I planned on reminiscing on the good times, back when the retro games were king, when the 3-D games did some experimental fun stuff – some were good, others, not so – and when Sonic used to be cool. “Now,” I thought, sadly watching my favourite character spiral into oblivion, “Now, he’s a joke…”

Thankfully, other Sonic fans like myself thought the same thing and they demanded action. You want to know who else teamed up with us fans? Kids. They, too, thought that the design looked horrible. Nightmare-fuel really. So then, Paramount did something that was completely unthinkable:

They listened.

Director Jeff Fowler acknowledged in a tweet what everyone else was thinking: the design wasn’t acceptable. They’d go back to the drawing board. They’d make him better.

And then they did something even more unthinkable: They went to Tyson Hesse.

Now, who’s Tyson Hesse? Well, he’s the god who descended down from the heavens the artist who saved the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. He’s the guy who put together the wildly popular and entertaining Sonic Mania Adventures and Team Sonic: Overdrive shorts. He’s also one of the artists working on the IDW comics run of Sonic The Hedgehog, which looks way past cool! (I still need to start reading this series…).

On November 12, 2019, Paramount proved that did the right thing in bringing him aboard when the new trailer of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie dropped, showcasing the brand new design. It was, in a word, EPIC:

To this day, this trailer has over 33 million views. I myself had it on repeat in the background at work. For two weeks. This, THIS was what I wanted to see: a proper looking Sonic the Hedgehog!

Fast forward to February, the hype was REAL. Paramount released a hilarious Super Bowl commercial, where athletes of all kinds were extolling the virtues of our blue, supersonic hedge-hero. Social media was abuzz and Sonic was EVERYWHERE. And I? I was still skeptical. “Sure, they redesigned his look, but there’s no way in hell that this movie was going to be any good. According to history, video game movies are supposed to be terrible. Yes Detective Pikachu was an exception to the norm, but that’s all it was.”

Watching this movie at an advance screening on the Thursday ahead of its Valentines Day release made me realize that I shouldn’t expect the most negative of outcomes. I’ll admit, I shed a few tears on my way home from the theater. It’s not just because I’m a hardcore Sonic fan who just saw his icon on the big screen, but because the story was so heartwarming and so familiar to me.

Isolation, loneliness and ADHD do go hand in hand in hand after all.

Story

(HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Clocking in at 100 minutes runtime (referencing the fact that Sonic needs 100 rings for an extra life), Sonic the Hedgehog introduces how our lovable blue hedgehog ended up on Earth in the first place. The film opens in media res with Sonic and Robotnik battling it out in San Francisco. It’s here, where Sonic tells his story.

Born with speed-based super powers on an alien world resembling the one in the video games, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) lived a life of hiding with his mentor/mother figure, Longclaw, an owl. When he accidentally leads a pack of echidnas back to their safe house, Longclaw hands Sonic a bag of rings and instructs him to get to safety.

Rings play a vital part both in the video games and in the movie as well. In the latter, they’re used as a mode of transport, allowing beings to travel great distances by just thinking of their destination. In a sense, these operate with the same principles as the Giant Rings in classic Sonic games or the Warp Rings in the latter issues of Archie Comics’ run of Sonic the Hedgehog (we’re talking Pre-Super Genesis Wave here folks, keep up!). Using these rings, Sonic had been planet hopping and evading those who would want to exploit his powers for their nefarious purposes.

His travels eventually led him to live on Earth in the sleepy town of Green Hills, Montana (another reference to the games!), where he had holed up in a cave for the last ten years. With no one but himself to keep him company, Sonic argues in movie that he’s “living his best life on Earth.” In reality, his existence is a lonesome one. His interactions with the residents of Green Hills are limited to him standing on the sidelines as an observer and pretending that they are his friends. Two people he has great interest in are Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) – a local cop – and his wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter) – a veterinarian. Sonic affectionately nicknames them “The Donut Lord” and “The Pretzel Lady” respectively.

His loneliness doesn’t truly settle in until he tries to emulate a Little League game he saw one afternoon, using his super speed to play practically every position from offense to defense and even coaching! When he scored that home run, crossed home plate and raised his hand for a high five, only to find that there was no one there to give him one, I’ll admit, I lost it.

It took me back to when I was 9, when my ADHD and my self-esteem were at their worst. I was alone. I was friendless. I spent my recesses playing in one of the baseball diamonds at school, alone, with nothing but my imagination to keep me company. And instantly, I identified with the character. Well, I’ve always identified with Sonic, but the movie version more so than ever before.

His rage and frustration manifests his speed based powers and sends the entire Pacific Northwest into darkness. The military decides to send their top technology guy, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate, which leads Sonic and Tom to cross paths. Tom, who’s recently accepted a job as a street cop in San Francisco, shoots Sonic with a tranq when he catches him in his garage. Sonic was just about to escape to the next destination of his escape map – the Mushroom Planet. This causes the hedgehog to drop his warp ring as he blearily mutters  the words he sees on Tom’s shirt: San Francisco. This opens a portal on the floor to the city. His bag of rings drops into the portal and lands on top of the Transamerica Pyramid.

Robotnik tracks Sonic to Tom’s place and the two escape with the doctor on their tail. The second act of the movie becomes a buddy act between Sonic and Tom, where Tom helps the hedgehog retrieve his rings. He goes on to explain what a bucket list is and helps Sonic to live out his last day on Earth enroute to San Francisco. Sonic tries to do everything on his bucket list and acts nonchalant but he secretly wants to have true friends. Being alone with only yourself as your source of companionship really drags on your soul, y’know?

Meanwhile, Robotnik retrieves one of Sonic’s quills from Tom’s house and determines that it holds almost unlimited power – enough that he could use it to his own devious purposes. This results in a sort of victory dance, in which Jim Carrey goes full Jim Carrey and it is fantastic.

Everything comes to a head in the third act. An explosion injures Sonic and Tom takes him to his veterinarian wife, who’s apartment hunting in San Fran. After being gifted his iconic shoes, Sonic and his human companions retrieve his bag of rings, only for Robotnik to show up, his machine now powered by Sonic’s quill. Sonic eventually decides to stop running and use his powers to save his new friends, which culminates in the movie’s spectacularly visual final act. At the end, and with help from Tom and the people of Green Hills, the hedgehog defeats Robotnik with his patented Spin Attack, banishes the Doctor to the Mushroom Planet and ends up getting his high five, new friends and a home to live in.

OK, sure the acting’s a bit wooden at times, but Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey really nail their respective roles. Jim Carrey really stole the show. He brought his traditional, old school 90’s visual comedy back to the screen and it made Robotnik much more dimensional than his game counterpart. Ben Schwartz really shined as Sonic. He put in so much expression and emotion into the character that it makes the other Sonic English VA’s look like amateurs in comparison. His interpretation of Sonic makes the character so endearingly irritating and it’s great! Also, James Marsden did a great job as the straight man who befriends a talking animal. It looked as though he actually enjoyed playing this role. Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) were real stand-outs, despite the limited screen time both characters had. Bottom line is, the movie’s wholesome and full of fuzzy feels. Thankfully, there is only one fart joke to endure and a couple of Floss Dance moments, but otherwise, the rest of the jokes were funny. The story’s pretty predictable and I wished that they pulled more from the game lore, however as a starting point to the character and the series as a whole, I think Paramount did a fine job with the script.

Also, can we just take a moment to relish in the feels at the part when Jojo gave Sonic his iconic red and white shoes?

Image result for sonic shoes movie jojo

So wholesome…

Visuals

Compared to when it first was teased, Sonic the Hedgehog looks amazing. Sonic truly looks like Sonic, thanks to Tyson Hesse and the exhaustive effort of the animators who went back and revamped all the CGI. The visual effects also look pretty good. I really liked the electricity that comes out of Sonic when he goes whole hog. I do wish they incorporated more of the game world into this movie, but as it’s an introduction to what could be a franchise film series, it’s understandable why they went this route.
I greatly enjoyed the visual Easter eggs they included in the movie. From Sanic, to the rings around the Paramount logo, there was a ton of references to the games and I loved it all!

I originally had misgivings about Robotnik’s appearance, but I found those to be unjustified. As this is an origin story for both characters, it made sense for Robotnik to look anything unlike his original appearance in the games. That said, Jim Carrey really nailed the evil genius – he turned from a one-dimensional character into something that could be expanded on in future installments. His transformation at the end to his iconic look was simply marvelous.

Audio

Oh. My. God. As a Sonic fan, I LOVED the audio. I also loved the fact that it wasn’t overstated. Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) did a superb job with the soundtrack. He really showed respect for the source audio. He even snuck in some motifs from the animated series. There are certain parts of Dr. Robotnik’s theme that sounds similar to his theme in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s wild!

Whoever made the decision to use “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen deserves a freaking raise. Best decision ever made! It was like the song was made for the movie, really. I nearly jumped out of my chair and cheered when it was playing. It’s one of my favourite running songs and one of my favourite songs in general from the band.

That piano version of Green Hills Zone that plays at the final parts of the movie gave me freaking feelz. I think that’s the one covered by Jean Baptiste, the pianist featured on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Regardless, it was a perfect way to set up the end of the movie.

Rewatchability

There are so many visual nods and Easter eggs referencing the Sonic franchise in this movie that it will take a couple of trips to catch them all. Plus, there’s that end credits scene that sets things up for a sequel.

Beyond that, there are a few good reasons to rewatch this title. Kids and adults will enjoy the fun story, wacky characters and the power of friendship. This, despite the fact the whole “Alien befriends human on planet Earth” plot has been overdone. Also, Sonic’s story of a lonely existence is a universal one that every one can relate to. And Jim Carrey’s performance is just fantastic. It’s well worth a second watch.

The Last Drop

Sonic the Hedgehog may, in fact, be the one that breaks the video game movie curse. As of writing, the movie has grossed almost $300 million overseas, despite its 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It doesn’t do anything original or groundbreaking, but it provides a great jumping on point for those who are unfamiliar with the character and the series. For fans, this is basically a love letter to them. It tells them that they are heard and that they are understood in regards to their favourite characters or series.

However, I do want to stress here that outrage culture shouldn’t be the solution to all our problems, especially when it comes to the things we love. I shall shamelessly plug the first episode of the STORY MODE Podcast – hosted by my good friends, The Well Red Mage, Blue Williams (@wrytersview) and Ryan from RetroGameBrews – in which they discuss the Sonic movie and the circumstances surrounding the fan input that resulted in the design change.

I’m of the opinion that video game adaptations should be handled by those who are intimately familiar with the source material (OK yeah, I kinda copped that from Red, sue me :P). Video game moves should not be treated as cash cows by film execs looking for a quick buck because people truly and genuinely care about these IP’s. I mean, Sonic to me… well, he means a lot to me and it’s great to see that the character his being treated with the respect he deserves, especially after years of neglect and being the butt end of a joke. I just hope that other big name film companies recognize this for other upcoming adaptations.

Pros:

  • Cute, charming story that will draw in kids and adults.
  • Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey really nail their respective characters.
  • It’s action packed and pretty well paced with lots of great visual effects.
  • Solidly leverages the IP to fit the narrative.
  • Sonic looks like Sonic.
  • Lots of great Easter eggs for fans to pick out.

Cons:

  • The story could have been a bit more ambitious
  • More elements from the IP could have been used, but they may be saving it for a sequel.
  • Some sections felt a touch wooden with regards to their acting.

Score: (Personally, it’s a 5/5, but I gotta be objective here:) 4.5/5

4.5 out of 5

Super Mario Multiverse – Super Mario Odyssey: An Odyssey of Our Own

Happy Mar10 Day everyone and welcome to a special edition of Games with Coffee!

Finally, after much waiting, the day has come! It’s the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration, brought to you by my good friend: The Well Red Mage!

Picture this: A hundred Mario games and a hundred writers talking about said Mario games. That’s what this collaboration is all about: celebrating the iconic plumber and his numerous appearances in over a hundred video games!

Mario has touched the lives of all of us at one point, even those who are fervent Sonic the Hedgehog fans (like myself!). Then again, it could be said that without Mario, Sonic wouldn’t even exist! Alas, I digress.

Without further ado, here’s a story I’d like to share with you all as a part of the Super Mario Multiverse. Enjoy.


Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, tells the tale of Odysseus and his ten year long journey to return to his family after the Trojan war. Since then, the word has been used to refer to voyages most epic and grand in nature. Therefore, the use of the word “Odyssey” in Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch pertains to the epic worldwide journey Mario and Cappy undertake in order to rescue Peach from Bowser’s latest scheme: to marry her. Cappy’s sister, Tiara, was also held hostage to be used as a wedding prop and thus spurred the sentient hat spirit-thing to team up with the plumber.

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Super Mario Odyssey was a truly vast adventure and possibly the best Mario platforming game I’ve played since Super Mario 64. I received a copy of my own as an anniversary gift from my wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time. The game featured various locales filled to the brim with colorful characters, awe-inspiring scenery and plenty of challenges and collectibles to keep one busy for quite a long time.

What made this game memorable for me however, was the calm and steady reassurance it provided my wife and I during the start of a great and life-changing odyssey of our own.


Friday January 12, 2018 is a day I consider to be one of the most important in my life. 

The weather that day was the most variable and chaotic it had ever been. It went from warm in the morning, to freezing cold in the evening. It went from light rain to freezing rain and then finally to thick, heavy snow at the end of the night.

I returned home early that day just as the weather started turning. I was in the kitchen with my wife, observing the weather and mentioned offhand to my unborn child, “I wish you were out here to see this crazy weather we’re having.” 

You know that saying, “one shouldn’t tempt fate?” Yeah, well, turns out that kid listened very closely to Dad that day. Not even an hour after I said that, my wife went into labour. 

It started off as minor contractions, but they ramped up in intensity very quickly. Outside, the weather got worse: going from freezing rain to a full on blizzard.

At the three hour mark, we finally grabbed our stuff and headed to the hospital. I packed my Switch with Super Mario Odyssey on deck in a small travel bag along with all the necessities we would need to take the little one home. The game was in the furthest corner of my mind at the moment; I had to concentrate both on navigating the snow and ice covered roads and on the excruciating pain in my hand as my wife gripped it for dear life.

After an hour’s drive, we made it to the hospital that we booked a private room for. The snow was roughly four inches deep at that point and the storm was still raging. We dashed to the maternity ward, checked in and my wife got examined and prepped for delivery.

Four hours into labour and she was already three quarters of the way dilated. This kid wanted out. Now. If that wasn’t enough, when the doctor delivering our child did a secondary examination he discovered (to our collective surprise) that he was breach. He freaking flipped between the first and second examinations!

The doctor gave us our options on how to proceed and we both decided on a Caesarian. Half an hour later at 8:02 pm, January 12th, my son, Arjun, was born. I held him in my arms as my wife rested from the surgery. He was skin and bones and weighed no more than four and a half pounds.

Because of his low weight and blood sugar levels, he had to be placed into the NICU. Being separated from our child was the scariest moment we as a couple have ever faced. The minutes felt like hours as we awaited status updates about his condition. We barely slept as we constantly worried about the little guy. Remembering that I packed my Switch, I took it out and passed the time playing Super Mario Odyssey. The sight of the portly, jump-happy plumber travelling the vast worlds with his hat-shaped companion helped me to keep things in perspective as we awaited the news of our son.

Eighteen hours later, we got the OK that everything was going to be fine. The OB let us stay another night at the hospital to get some further rest before being discharged the following day.

Relieved of our collective constant state of fear and worry, I pulled out my Switch, turned it on and started playing some more Odyssey while my wife was napping. Some time later, she called out to me and asked me to sit on the bed with her. System in hand, I reclined next to her. She cuddled into my shoulder and watched me play through New Donk City and then Bowser’s Castle, looking for more Power Moons, completing side quests and picking up costumes to wear. 

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It was that moment, with our son resting nearby and my wife and I sitting side by side, playing Super Mario Odyssey, that I knew that everything was going to be alright. We were parents now, yes, but Mario’s calm demeanor and unwavering, unflappable resolve helped to make that realization feel less scary. And though I’m a Sonic the Hedgehog fan at heart, I still have to thank Mario and Cappy for getting my family through such a frantic and stressful time.


Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn’t stop here… There’s more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games. Visit the Center of the Multiverse to see more:

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Kingdom Hearts III & Final Fantasy XV: My Disappointment in These Long-Developed Games

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another edition of Games with Coffee!

Folks, as I’m sure you’re all aware, I love RPG’s. Specifically, those created by Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft), developers of the timeless Final Fantasy series. And while the series and developer are venerated as one of the most popular and well-known, some of the latest entries in the last few years have fallen short in my opinion.

Today’s edition analyzes my disappointment with two specific titles: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. While I initially enjoyed both games and thought they were well worth the wait, as I played through and got deeper into them, I found myself feeling disappointed at the final product. More often than not, the story lines had started off fairly strong before tapering into an incoherent mess. The combat and gameplay was interesting until it turned tedious and monotonous. There were some interesting side quests, like the rare hunts in FFXV and the Gummi Ship treasure collecting in KHIII, but I found myself wishing that the developers took more time to focus on tightening up the story rather than packing more content.

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With FFXV, the last few chapters of the story felt rushed. The pacing was off and I found that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the base game. And then there was the additional DLC, implemented long after the story had been completed. While I enjoyed the focus on the other characters, what I didn’t like was that the director (Tetsuya Nomura) shoehorned these additional parts. It’s as if he and his team showed precisely that their original product was rushed and not ready for the mainstream. I’ll admit, the original ending did tug at my heartstrings. Saving the world requires sacrifices and it’s a theme that I enjoy exploring in stories.

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Kingdom Hearts III felt short and unfinished compared with Kingdom Hearts II. Every time I finished a world, I thought to myself “Is that it?” I always felt that there was more story to glean from each world, like in Thebes, where Pete and Maleficent accidentally unearth Pandora’s Box. Speaking of those two, I didn’t like how they were regulated to the sidelines. And what is up with that box?! I swear, I’m kind of tired of getting more questions instead of answers.

What really set me off was the ending for KHIII. I foresaw this game to be the conclusion of Sora’s story, but instead, it turns out to be another “To Be Continued.” No happy endings for both Sora and Kairi. This, among other things, is what really disappointed me; those two have been through the ringer since this journey started and once again they are separated. Sora, once again looks to be embroiled in another master plan hatched by a guy named The Master of Masters. All I’m asking for, is when will we get a complete and definitive ending?

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When will it end??? T_T

Now, don’t get me wrong, these are still pretty good games. The level of detail put into them was stellar. Again, I just wished that Square-Enix and the director put as much effort into the stories for each game as they did with the gimmicks, mini-games and other little things they put into these titles. I hope that they learn from these two games and keep the focus on the story this time with the Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I have my doubts that they would. We’ll see, come April.


What are your thoughts on these two games years after their release? Do you think they did a good job with the story or do you share my opinions that they could have polished the story more? Do you think FFVII: Remake will suffer the same fate? Let me know in the comments below or on social media.

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.

Presenting The #SonicSunday Power Hour!

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

This is a bit of a delayed post, but I am excited to announce the start of my stint in streaming. I’ve always wanted to go this route, but I felt that I never had the proper resources to do so. That is, until last November when my dear cousin (and sponsor for this endeavor) decided to gift me a gaming rig composed of parts he no longer needed.

Suffice to say, I totally appreciated the gesture!

Long before I received the rig though, I was thinking about jumping into the streaming game. Back in Christmas of 2018, I picked up a capture card with the goal of starting up a channel. I hadn’t realized however, just how difficult it was to take up streaming. I needed a space and time to play and a proper audio/visual set up and I just never had those things at the time. I streamed maybe twice in 2019 and both times were not that great. I was awkward. My mic was terrible and I couldn’t get into the groove. I shelved the idea of streaming and moved on.

So, what changed? Sonic, that’s who. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to talk about how the speedy blue hedgehog made a difference in my life in “The Characters That Define Us,” the massive collaboration effort brought to life by Matt and Nikki of the blog, Normal Happenings. I poured my heart out into my piece and as I did so, I remembered all the things that Sonic did for me throughout my life and continues to do for me still in the present. My contribution has not been released at this time, but it will be publicized sometime this year.

Meanwhile, I decided that 2020 was going to be a banner year for me. Besides my contribution to Matt’s epic collab, I also was ready to complete, edit and publish my longstanding fanfiction, which I talked about in my first post of this year. I still wanted to do more to celebrate the character and the franchise that has given me so much. And so I decided.

I wanted to return to streaming and focus solely on playing Sonic the Hedgehog games. So without further ado:

Introducing The #SonicSunday Power Hour!

The premise is simple: between February and June, I’ll be playing one title from Sonic’s illustrious history for one hour every Sunday at 9:30 pm EST. It’s my way of showing how much I love Sonic.

There will be 21 episodes and each game has been hand-selected by me. Some games will be the first time’s I’ve every played them and some games will come with challenges. Excitement abounds.

If you want to see what game is coming up for the week, either check my events timeline on the sidebar or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

I’ll eventually put each episode up on YouTube, but for now, you can catch Episode 1, featuring Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear) on my Twitch channel. Episode 2 will come this Sunday!

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Edit: The first episode is now up on YouTube! Episodes will be uploaded every week on Mondays. 

Hope to see you on my stream! And as I always say, remember to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.

Games with Coffee in 2020

What’s up everyone? Happy New Year and welcome to a new edition of Games with Coffee! I hope your holidays were well and full of rest, food, coffee and plenty of gaming opportunities!

Today, I’ll forego a year in review and instead talk about the year ahead. Let’s dive in:

Games and Related News

A lot of crazy gaming stuff is happening this year.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 is coming out this March April.

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Sonic the Hedgehog’s first foray into Hollywood is happening in just under a month from now.

A whole wack of other high profile games are going to be released this year and I know that a lot of people are looking forward to their release later this year. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind, Animal Crossing and Cyberpunk 2077 are just a few I can name off the top of my head. Also coming later this year are the new next-gen consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

While I might pick up the Final Fantasy remake, I plan on tackling some of my backlog this year, meaning (for the most part) I’ll withhold purchasing new games for the time being. I also got Dragon Quest XI for the Switch, but it’ll be a while until I start on that. For now, I’m going to get through Pokemon Shield, Final Fantasy XII and a couple of smaller games on my Switch before I tackle that beast. And let’s not get into my PS4 and Steam backlog…

I need to make a spreadsheet.

Fanfiction

I’m still on hiatus from the blog, but I’m making some amazing progress on my passion project. In fact, I have just finished roughly 75% of the rough draft! I estimate that I have about eight to ten chapters to write and it should be ready to publish in full by mid-2020. Again, each chapter of this story will premier exclusively on Games with Coffee and will be migrated to other fanfiction sites (such as Fanfiction.net) once the story has been fully published.

Another thing that I want to finish is my Legend of Zelda: Black and White series. The idea of a Film Noir-style Zelda was inspired by a TWRM Radio post back in July of 2018. If you haven’t read them yet, go and start here. I’ll wait. 

The whole story is expected to be completed in roughly ten parts plus an epilogue. I won’t say too much, but there will be a betrayal. I just hope it won’t be too obvious when all is revealed. More on that will be coming in Fall of 2020.

Posts

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My “Guide to Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer” entries were fairly popular, so I’ll be adding some more parts to it. Expect to see topics such as dealing with distorted thinking, mental contrasting and how to keep the positives and negatives balanced within you and even a little section about budgeting! (Because we can always use budgeting tips for this time of year.)

I’ll also try to go back to my roots as a blogger. 2019 was a weird year, in that I didn’t post as much as I used to (nine posts vs. 31 in both 2017 and 2018!). Despite taking a break and working on the fanfic, I should be back to a more consistent schedule of posting for this year and I got a lot of things to cover. So, expect to see more personal stories, more editorial pieces for discussion, some acquisitions, a few major events and a lot of talk about a certain blue hedgehog…

Collaborations

Speaking of hedgehogs, my good friend Matt from the blog Normal Happenings has begun slowly trickling out posts for “The Characters that Define Us!” This is a massive, year long collaboration that involves over 52 writers discussing the characters that had made a lasting impact on their lives. Yours truly is a part of this collaboration and I’ll be talking about none other than the Blue Blur himself: Sonic the Hedgehog! I don’t know when it’ll be released, (Matt’s being very hush-hush about the schedule) but keep it locked here for updates when they become available!

I have some more Sonic related stuff to discuss, but that’s gonna have its own section. 🙂

On the other side of the console war spectrum comes the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration, organized by my other good friend, The Well Red Mage! Scheduled to go up on March 10 (Mar10 Day), this massive collab will feature over 100 writers talking about Mario games of all kinds. I myself will share a little story about how Super Mario Odyssey helped my little family during a tight situation.

Streaming

This past Christmas, a cousin of mine (let’s be real, he’s more like a brother to me) who I haven’t seen in ages gave me a gaming PC built from spare parts he wasn’t using any longer! The reason behind the gift was to support my endeavors. Oh, and to do some online gaming as well! Honestly, no words could express how much that gift meant to me – both the computer and the gesture behind it are incredibly powerful.

I have no words to express my gratitude…

With a new, more powerful rig at my disposal, I’ve decided to venture back into the world of streaming. I’m on Twitch and I’m planing on streaming every Sunday nights starting in February. You can check my stream schedule to your right under the freshly added “What’s On The Menu?” events calendar.

This now begs the question: What am I going to stream? Well, I’ll explain below:

#SONIC2020

I’ve decided to dedicate this year, 2020, to Sonic the Hedgehog. To that end, I’m doing several things in tribute to this awesome character:

  • I’m starting a show on Twitch called “The Sonic Sunday Power Hour!” Inspired by my #SonicSunday posts on Instagram, every Sunday, from February to the week of Sonic’s birthday, I’ll be streaming a Sonic title for one whole hour. I’m in the midst of preparing the first stream for February 2nd. You can also check out my test streams (see What’s On The Menu on the sidebar) and provide feedback on my audio/visual setup! I want this to look and sound decent when it all starts, so your help would be greatly appreciated dear readers!
  • I’m getting a tattoo to celebrate the character! I won’t say when I’ll get it, but I’ll let all you know when it happens. I’ve designed it myself.
  • See “The Characters That Define Us” in the collaboration section above. It’s a huge deal.
  • A movie review of Sonic the Hedgehog! It’ll be a first for the site, so please bear with me. I predict it will be terrible (as all video game movies are), but Detective Pikachu surprised me greatly, so… *shrugs*
  • And finally, my much talked about, much anticipated debut of my fanfiction passion project, titled: Mobius VII Book I: Escape from the City.

Site Updates and Content Scheduling

It’s also time to do a little housecleaning here at Games with Coffee. I’ve designed and uploaded a brand new header, added some new social media links and the aforementioned events timeline that I’ll update periodically to show what’s coming up soon on the blog. This will also help me maintain a consistent schedule, so I don’t put up nine freaking posts in a year.

While most of these changes have been implemented in the last week or so, I’m pretty limited as to what I can do with other things (say, implementing a Dark Mode). Which is why I want to upgrade my plan here at WordPress. I feel that with a Premium plan and access to CSS, I can do so much more to make Games with Coffee your number one spot to just chill out and read some stories while drinking coffee.

You may have also noticed a little blue button on the side asking to buy me a coffee. Clicking there will take you to my page on Ko-Fi, where you can support me for the price of a coffee. Donations are non-recurring and the proceeds will all go towards upgrading the site. I’m about halfway to that point as of writing. So, if you could buy a coffee for your favourite coffee-fueled writing machine, I and this website would sincerely and greatly appreciate you for it.

Plus, you get an awesome and inspiring thank you note from yours truly for every coffee you buy. And we could all use some inspiring words from time to time, am I right?

And Finally, Some Personal News

So… remember this post a couple years ago? I started this job with a fresh, new mindset and for the most part, it’s helped greatly. Until I got laid off due to restructuring. Yep, I’m jobless to start the new decade.

But, it’s not all that bad. I look at it as a chance for a new beginning. Ten years ago, I was just finishing school, just got hired for my first job, in debt, dating, writing a fanfiction and having basically no clue what direction my life was going to go into.

Here in 2020, I’m married, I have my own home, I have a pretty good career in engineering, I have an amazing kid who’s totally into Sonic the Hedgehog (like his old man!), I have this awesome blog with these way past awesome people reading it, I’m collaborating with truly spectacular folks like The Well Red Mage and Matt from Normal Happenings, I’m going to start streaming soon and I’m still writing fanfiction! And… actual original fiction too. Maybe. Who knows?

I’m pretty thankful for all of those things, but I still feel unsure of what the future holds. However, if I continue to espouse everything I’ve talked about here on this blog, about being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer, then I’m sure everything will work out.


So, what’s next? Well, my first test stream has been planned for this Sunday. I put up a Twitter poll to request what game I should test my setup with, so check that out and vote! Otherwise, I’ll see you this Sunday at 9:30pm Eastern for The Sonic Sunday Power Hour! Hope to see you there!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.

 

The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer: Part 4 – Finding Your Goals

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

At last, we have arrived at the final part of my miniseries. To those of you who have stuck with my ramblings so far, a heartfelt thanks goes to each of you. I also want to thank everyone in the WordPress community for being an amazing bunch of talented and friendly writers and also for inspiring me to write this series. I finally feel that I’ve fulfilled the requirements I have set out in the tagline of this blog: A Blog for the Mature Distinguished Gamer.

Read the previous three parts here:

Part 1 – Priorities

Part 2 – Failure, Success and The Gaming Mindset

Part 3 – Respect, Kindness and Empathy

The first three parts in this series all lead up to this final one about Finding Your Goals. In the games we play, the characters we play as have a goal or a dream that they want to accomplish. Some are as simple as rescuing a princess or fulfilling a last wish. Some are as difficult as overthrowing an empire, uncovering the truth on a conspiracy or saving the world from a deadly threat. Whatever the case, these characters pursue these goals with abandon.

The Mature, Distinguished Gamer (MDG) must embody that same pursuit with their own goals. However, they should be kind and empathetic to themselves when pursing them. They should realize that the mindset will make or break accomplishing those goals. They should understand that failures or setbacks won’t derail their efforts, but will instead make them stronger for the future. And finally, they need to set priorities so that they can focus on accomplishing their goals.

But what if you don’t know what your goals are? That’s what this part of the series focuses on today. Let’s get cracking on the final part of The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

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Go On A Quest

On January 1st, 2017, I decided to take a Quest for personal discovery. I’ve written on this subject just over two years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, and you can read that post here. In it, I go over my process. It’s a good compliment to this post.

But the thing is, I’ve dialed back on this constant stream of updating experience. Why? Well, the objective of The Quest wasn’t just to establish good habits, but to identify both the things that were important to me and the things that I’m passionate about. In my case, it was my writing. While I enjoy my job as an engineer, it didn’t necessarily spark the same drive and passion that I have for writing. The Quest helped me to realize that I both love to write and want to work on it more. It also established a set of goals I have for myself, which include writing and publishing an original story among other things.

Now, you don’t have to employ my method, but it’s well worth it for the MDG to take a real close look at yourself and to see what you’re passionate about. From there, one should establish a system where they track the activities related to those passions and then set goals for them accordingly. You can use productivity apps/sites that utilize gamification, like Life RPG, SuperBetter or Level Up Life to track and maintain goals. Or use a system like mine and track through spreadsheets or lists. Whatever choice you make, do the research and make sure that it’s the right system for you.

So, the bottom line here is that if you want to truly find out what you want out of this fleeting life we all live, go on a personal quest of discovery!


Keep A Log

During The Quest, I kept a notebook and documented what I did in a day, noting the highlights and lowlights in that period. It was a way to help track the goals that I laid out in my Quest. Rereading some of the passages I’ve written has helped me to set new goals or reframe old ones, like writing twice a week as opposed to every day as originally planned.

Sometimes, writing out your thoughts and feelings over a period of time and then looking back through it can reveal a lot about what you want for yourself. You may even come to a realization about yourself that you may have missed altogether! It may not be as earth shattering a revelation as when Kratos learns of his godhood in the God of War series or the fact that Solid Snake and Liquid Snake are twin brothers, but it can set a path for the MDG to move forward, as opposed to aimlessly wandering about. For me, writing about writing was the kicker; I just never realized it until I took a closer look at myself by writing a log of my day.


Two Final Notes

I’d like for you to try this exercise when you get a chance: make a list of the things you really want to spend your time on in a day. In other words, what would you typically want to do in a day if you had no restrictions? Below is what I would love to do in a day, as an example:

  • Write my novel.
  • Write some fanfiction.
  • Write something for the blog.
  • Interact with my fellow games writers.
  • Spend time with my wife and son.
  • Stream online.
  • Bake stuff.
  • Exercise
  • Design and build something really cool.

Now, with that in mind, make a list of the things you typically do in a day and how long you spend on each. Again, I’ll be the example:

  • Work – 8.5 hours
  • Commute – 2 hours
  • Spend time with wife and son – 3 hours
  • Gaming – 1.5 hours
  • Writing -1 hour
  • Sleep – 6 hours
  • Workout – 0.5 hour
  • Misc. (Interacting with other writers, baking, chores etc.) – 1.5 hour

Now compare the two lists. You can see that between working, commuting, family time and sleeping, there’s not a lot of wiggle room to work with. If you do your own list, does it make you feel uncomfortable seeing how much time you have left remaining once all your responsibilities are handled? If so, why does it make you uncomfortable? What would you do to change that?

Ultimately, this exercise shows why it’s important to budget time for yourself and your goals. Doing quests and writing logs for your goals does nothing unless you carve out some time out to achieve them. It may require some sacrifice (I might have to cut my gaming time for my case), but it will only help in the long run when it comes to accomplishing your goals. It’s something to keep in mind.

Finally, as we conclude this miniseries, I’d like for you to keep this statement in mind: Focus on being better and chase the impossible. Life is naught but a journey through highs and lows. More specifically, as Auron would say:

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And with that, we conclude the series. I thank you for joining me as I (finally, after much delay!) celebrate the blog’s third birthday.

But before I sign off, I have some important announcements. Bear with me, all.

Announcements

First and foremost, with the conclusion of this series, I will be taking an extended hiatus on this blog until I finish my fanfiction passion project. It’s been a goal of mine to finish this and I’ve put it off for far too long. It’s gotten to the point where it has literally taken over my brain and is preventing me from coming up with new ideas here, so I need to get this thing completed once and for all so I can move forward. As I’ve finished my outline roughly last year, I surmise it’ll take me a few more months to completely finish it. Which leads to my next announcement.

I will be posting this story here on this blog exclusively once it’s completed and beta read by others. I used to write on fanfiction.net, but I feel that I have better fanbase here on the blog than anywhere else. No lie, you guys who have been following me, (whether it’s from day one or recently), rock so hard, so I think it’s fair that you all get first dibs on the final, ultimate version my story.

In the intern, I will continue to write for The Well Red Mage and Normal Happenings as a contributor to their respective blogs. As The Hyperactive Coffee Mage on TWRM, I will be writing up more in-depth game reviews and participating in collaborations when they arise. One of which is the absolutely MASSIVE Super Mario Multiverse collaboration! We’re still looking for writers, so check out the post if you want the 411 on this epic undertaking!

On Normal Happenings, I am but one of 52 other bloggers celebrating “The Characters That Define Us:” another massive blogging collaboration featuring writers discussing the characters that made them who they are today! I’m excited to share my story about Sonic the Hedgehog. Look out for it next year! I’ll also be lurking around here and there, reading and commenting and whatnot!

Beyond that, this will be the final post this year for the blog unless I change my mind (or when part one of this epic fanfic is fully finished…). Thank you all so much for your patience and understanding. I love and appreciate you all.


With that, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, thanking each and every one of you for joining me on these ramblings and always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing! See you all soon!