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About Literature / Student Core Member Dustin MartinMale/United States Groups :iconsonic-writers-club: Sonic-Writers-Club
 
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Hello, everyone! Before we get to this week's plugs, we'd like to wish everyone a very Happy Valentine's Day! May you spend the day with your loved ones and enjoy their company. Even if you're single, you have friends here who love you and hope for the best for you. For this isn't a day for just lovers, but anyone who cares about someone else. And everyone here cares about you. Yes, you. So enjoy and best wishes to you from all of us!

This week's most voted piece is Nicole and Shard by Drawloverlala by :icondrawloverlala: ! Congratulations! So this week, we'll be choosing some from her favorites!

The art is below. Please vote for one of them. Artists in the selection can vote as well, but not their own work.

Super Mario Galaxy by KnightOfGames marSONIC by aoii91 Rockman EXE by Tomycase
Sonic Coloring Commission by ElainaUnger Let's-a go on an odyssey! by TheBourgyman Surprise by ZenitSaga
Commission: Crio Man (X Version) by ultimatemaverickx BOOM by aimf0324 Skyline Relic and Fixit by SPJ-artredesign
Sonamy Boom by Megaloceros-Urhirsch Sonic Skyline by Deroko SSS: Sonic Skyline by caramelapple14
  • Listening to: Nothing
  • Reading: Not much
  • Watching: Arrow
  • Playing: Overwatch
  • Eating: Nothing
  • Drinking: Green Tea

Ed-ssertive Valentine

“Twenty-five cents, please,” Edd said, holding up the glass jar to Johnny. The nearly bald boy dug into his pocket, pulled out a shiny quarter, and deposited it. Although Edd would be happy to let Johnny enter, he knew that Eddy would demand everyone pay. “And Plank?” he asked, turning the jar to the painted wooden board that Johnny cradled in the crook of his arm.

Johnny turned to Plank, watching his painted face for an answer. “Sure I got it, buddy,” he said and pulled another quarter out of his pocket. A forged wooden quarter. “Plank says he’s a little short this week. He can pay you on his next allowance.”

Edd plucked the quarter out of the jar, examining it and frowning. He didn’t want to make waves, but he knew Eddy wouldn’t accept that excuse. Then again, it was unfair to gouge Johnny twice for his unique friendship, so he lifted the curtain and welcomed the pair inside. “This way, please” Edd said, waving him inside the giant patchwork tent. “Follow the painted line.”

“Oh, boy, Plank! Let’s go! You think it has five stomachs too?” Johnny nearly tripped over himself running inside with his best friend.

Sighing, Edd read the signs topping the tent. “See the Amazing Five-Headed Ed!” and below it “25 cents to enter” were crudely painted on old bits of pink and green fences and strung to the frame of the tent. He walked back to his table with the jar and set it down. Fishing out the wooden quarter, he looked it over. Eddy wouldn’t be happy about this at all.

Near his feet, he spied the bucket of metallic grey paint they had used to paint the sign and inspiration flashed in his mind. Surely he wouldn’t notice, he said, dipping the quarter into the paint until it was a solid grey. Once their scam was complete and Ed had finished removing the fake extra heads they had spent hours building, Eddy would gleefully snatch the jar and only see a few days’ worth of jawbreakers. The jar could accidentally lose one quarter one day. I’ll just go without a jawbreaker, he said, airing off the quarter and placing it back in the jar. His friends would protest, but he would play the martyr and no one would be the wiser.

Edd shoved off the thought of missing out on that mouth-watering ball of sugar. He straightened his polka dot bow tie and dusted the non-existent dirt from his long red shirt, waiting for the next customer. Yet none of the other kids from the cul-de-sac were in sight and there wasn’t much to do, but wait. So Edd stooped down and grabbed his label gun from off the ground. He typed out “Money jar” and placed the new sticker next to the glass jar, then examined all the labeled contents. He had covered the jar, the table, the paint, the paintbrush, the curtain covering the table, Marie Kanker…

“Oops, missed that one,” he said, setting up his label gun. “Let’s see. M-A—” He stopped and nearly dropped the tool in terror. “K-K-Kanker,” he said in a hushed whisper, taking in the girl lying on his table and propped up on one elbow. There could be no doubt it was Marie Kanker. The camo green cargo pants, the ratty black tanktop, the fluffy blue hair that exposed one half-lidded eye that zeroed in on him to put him through another harrowing experience.

“Hey, cutie,” she said, a half-grin inching up her face. “Miss me?”

If one Kanker was here, that meant the whole trio was there. Which meant Ed and Eddy were in trouble or they were about to be. He had to warn them. Their best chance was to get out of here quickly. He eyed the money jar, thought better of it, and backed up a step. “What, uh, how are you?” He tried to see inside the tent, hoping he could flag down someone inside.

Marie snatched him by the arm in a tight grip and pulled him back to the table, knocking the wind out of him as the edge slammed into his gut. “Better now,” she said, running a finger under his chin and twirling his bow tie. “And you?”

“Um, I, I,” he checked the tree line nearby and the alley to their side. No sign of the other Kankers yet.

“Relax,” she said, yanking his black beanie and head down to her level. “May and Lee are in the woods. They’re nowhere near here. It’s just you and me.” She puckered her lips and planted a brief kiss on his own. Thankfully, he didn’t have to clean a mess of red lipstick off his face this time. And he appreciated not being suffocated to death with a mass of smooches, so that it actually felt a little pleasant.

However, Edd kept his guard up. What’s she up to? Visions of past trauma raced past his eyes. He gulped and sweat poured down his face. “What brings you here?” he asked, cursing the fact that they had set-up the tent on the far side of the cul-de-sac and not closer to their homes.

“Can’t a girl want to spend time with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day?”

“Valentine’s Day is a few days away.”

“Close enough. And we haven’t seen each other for a while.”

And my days have been less nerve-wracking because of that.

She sat up and swung her legs over the side, staring him down. “We should hang out more. After all, we have a lot in common.”

He balked at that. “I’m not so sure I’d say that we do.”

“Oh, yeah? Then let me ask: what brings you here?” She leaned to the side, noting the tent on display. “Another scam?”

“Not necessarily,” he said, but she had already caught on with the signs and the money jar on the table.

“You know, I like a bit of sneakiness in a man. It’s good to have a strong, dark side.” She hopped off the table and leaned on it. “But you have to use it for yourself sometime. You can’t always let yourself be a doormat.”

Given the Kankers’ messy trailer and the junkyard it was located centrally in, Edd was half-surprised she knew what a doormat was. “I don’t let people walk all over me.” She raised an eyebrow and picked up the jar, spinning it in her hands. Present company excluded, he hated to admit to himself.

“Yeah, sure,” she said and lifted the jar. “And was this scam your idea or did Eddy rope you into it?” He almost suggested Plank’s quarter as a counter-point, then realized that he had been planning to sacrifice his jawbreaker instead of putting his foot down to Eddy. He sheepishly studied his shoes and gave a lame shrug. “Look at me. You think I let Lee or May boss me around? No. I do what I want, when I want.”

Although not entirely accurate, Edd didn’t argue. “So what? I should be more like you?”

“No,” she said. “I like how you are. You just have to stand up for yourself.” She cocked an ear and threw him the jar. “Here’s your chance to be assertive.”

He listened close. Coming down the alley, he heard the distinct voices of Jimmy and Sarah approaching. “Quick, hide!” he told her and to his amazement, she ducked behind the table and out of sight. When the two youngest children of the neighborhood rounded the corner, Edd ran to the table, setting the jar on top of it.

“Welcome!” he said, catching their attention. They stopped and studied the tent, reading the signs.

“Look, Sarah! A circus!” Jimmy said, clapping his hands.

“More like a freak show,” Sarah said and they approached the table.

“Only twenty-five cents to enter,” Edd said, pushing the jar forward.

Jimmy pulled a quarter out of his pocket, but before he could drop it in, Sarah grabbed his hand. “We want to see this thing first. Then we’ll pay.”

“Um, uh, that’s not quite,” Edd said as Sarah started to drag Jimmy to the tent. He looked down at Marie, who punched her fist into her palm and grinned. “No,” he said, shaking his head.

“You do something or I will,” she whispered.

Refusing to let the children be pulverized by a Kanker, Edd stepped in front of the pair. “I’m sorry. You must pay twenty-five cents to enter.”

“Out of my way,” Sarah said.

Another glance at Marie under the table. “Please, Sarah.”

“It’s really no trouble,” Jimmy said, offering the quarter again.

“I’m not paying until I see it for myself. Now move,” she said, raising a threatening fist. “And it had better be worth it.”

Edd was caught in a bind, as Marie was starting to creep out from under the table, cracking her knuckles. And Sarah’s intimidating growls low in her throat pushed his stress level even higher.

Be assertive, he told himself. And he thrust the jar out at her. “It is worth it. And that’s why you must pay beforehand. Twenty-five cents.”

“You have five seconds,” she said.

And suddenly, he found himself caring less and less about Marie right behind them. This was a contest of wills and he was tired of always being the nice guy, especially to people like Sarah, the Kankers, and everyone else. “You have three,” he said, using what little of his lanky height that he could to intimidate them. He adopted his best firm face and tone. “Twenty-five cents, please,” he said, through gritted teeth. “Or leave the premises.”

Whether by sheer luck, actual assertiveness, or Jimmy’s whimpers of reluctance to watch his friend fight over such a small issue, Sarah conceded. “Fine.” She deposited a quarter in the jar and Jimmy followed suit.

“Thank you,” Edd said, resuming his friendly nature. He opened the curtain and welcomed them inside. “Right this way, please. Follow the painted line.”

Once they were gone, he faced Marie, who put her hands on her hips and smiled. The full nature of what he had done hit him and his knees buckled. “There it is,” she said.

“I think I need to sit down,” he said, reaching out for the table. Marie yanked him by the arm and helped him down onto the table rather roughly.

“Got to say, I’m proud of you,” she said.

He placed a hand over his rapidly beating heart. “I suppose I should thank you for the push.”

“Eh, I knew you had it in you. But you’re welcome.”

“So,” he said, setting the jar down, and giving her a shrewd look, “you didn’t really come all the way here just to see me and give me a pep talk, did you?”

“You got me,” she said and walked over to a tree near the alley. “I really did come to see you. On the way, I also picked a present.” A well-placed kick to the tree rustled the boughs and a body fell out, suspended and bound by a thick bungee cord. Even behind the gag, Edd recognized that red baseball cap.

“Kevin?” he asked, running over.

“I saw him sneaking around back on my way here, trying to ruin your little show. Figured he would make a nice early Valentine’s Day present.”

“I don’t know what to say,” he said. Although he tried to remain concerned, he couldn’t deny a certain satisfaction deep within at Kevin on the receiving end of a bully. He removed the gag from his mouth, giving him some air.

“When I get out of here, you’re toast, Double Dork!” he yelled, fighting the cord to free his arms and swinging around.

Marie bent over, sticking her face into Kevin’s. “You do anything and I won’t be so nice next time.” She took the gag and stuffed it back in Kevin’s mouth. “You could start with a ‘thank you’,” she said to Edd.

“Er, yes, I suppose. Thank you,” he said.

“Anything for my man,” she said, leaning forward on the tip of one foot and crashing into him so he was forced to support her. She wrapped her arms around his waist firmly. Not too hard that he couldn’t breathe, which was an improvement. And he found he didn’t mind this so much. It was kind of nice and, dare he say, normal.

Maybe the adrenaline is affecting me more than I thought, and he resolved to check his pulse later on.

“Of course, a guy should get his girl something for Valentine’s Day too,” she said, eyeing him knowingly.

“And what did you have in mind?”

She dropped the hug, tugged on the cord, and Kevin zipped back into the tree. She sat on the table and crossed her legs. “I think you know,” she said, winking, then tilted her head at the money jar. “Or I’ll take some good old-fashioned payment.”

It didn’t take long to put it together and he stammered. “W-W-What?” Is she serious? She wore a smirk that reinforced the notion that she was. He was at a loss of what to do. On the one hand, the very idea of instigating such physical intimacy made his body weak. On the other, he couldn’t very well give away their hard-earned money. Okay, hard-earned is a stretch, but Ed and Eddy would never forgive me.

“I’m waiting,” she said.

“Curse my luck,” he muttered under his breath. “Very well.” He shuffled to Marie, who opened her legs and leaned forward. “H-Here I go.” He closed his eyes and stuck out his head and nervous lips, hoping she would meet him halfway.

Marie chuckled and he cracked open an eye, realizing he had barely poked his head out an inch. “Oops,” he moved closer and tugged on his collar. The bow tie was suffocating him. “How’s this?”

“Perfect,” she said, pulling him by his shirt the rest of the way into a kiss.

The immediate shock settled down after the first couple of seconds and he realized it wasn’t half bad. Unlike the other kiss-fests he had been subjected to, her lips were soft, if a little cracked. And she was surprisingly gentle as they mashed their mouths together. Without thinking, he moved his lips against hers and his hands instinctively reached up, needing to hold onto her face or body, but not quite sure where to go. They settled on her hips and he lost himself to the kiss, sensing a warmth bubbling up from his toes.

“Woah,” she said, breaking the lip-lock. “Careful. A make-out that long will cost you extra.” However, he couldn’t help notice her face seemed a little bewildered, which was about how he felt. What had all that been? “Thanks for the present, Oven Mitt.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, stepping back around the table.

“I’ll take my fee and get out of your hat,” she said.

“What?” he said. “But you said the kiss or the money!”

“Yeah, for the loser in the tree. I’m talking about holding off my sisters for a bit. May and Lee would kill me if I didn’t tell them where their boyfriends are so close to Valentine’s Day. My sisters are in the woods nearby and we know some shortcuts here. I can either hold them off for an hour so that you and the other Eds can get home or I can go let them know where their boyfriends are now and we can have some longer lip action.”

“That’s not fair.”

“I gave you a pretty good deal. Stopping your scheme from getting ruined and helping you get money from those kids. And the kiss? Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy that too.” Heat colored his face and he pulled his hat lower to hide himself. “So what’s it going to be?”

As a last resort, he summoned up whatever assertiveness he had in his reserves from earlier and puffed up his chest. “No. Now please leave.”

She shook her head. “Nice try, but that won’t work on me. You look pretty cute doing it though.”

She was right that it would have no effect and he didn’t have the stomach for another head-to-head confrontation so soon after the first. “Fine,” he said, reaching into the jar and thrusting a quarter in her outstretched hand. “You promise?”

“Sure,” she said and pecked his cheek. “Don’t take it so hard. You’ve only had four people. Four quarters, four of us. Splits it even.” She had a point, but he didn’t tell her that. “See you later.” And like that, she was off down the alley.

Edd sighed. “Well, three quarters aren’t bad. I’ll tell Eddy that—” Then he looked closer at the jar. Wait a minute. He dumped out the quarters on the table and rubbed his fingers over them. They were all real. Plank’s fake quarter was missing.

“Oh, no,” he said, turning to the alley. It was too late. Marie was long gone and she would soon realize that she had a fraud. That hadn’t been his intention, although she wouldn’t take it as such and he couldn’t catch up to correct the mistake.

“I better warn the others.” He gathered up the money into the jar and rushed toward the tent. He stopped at the entrance, touching his mouth and glancing back at the alley. Marie was right about two things. He should start being more assertive.

And, brushing his tingling lips, he would privately admit that the kiss wasn’t half-bad.

*  *  *

Marie reached the woods in no time flat. In the distance, she heard May complaining about how tired she was. “Can we go home now?” she asked, whining.

“Not until I find my ring,” Lee said. “I already checked it all over our house, so it’s got to be out here. Keep looking.”

Marie reached into her pocket, feeling Lee’s ring to ensure she still had it. She would give it back in a few days. Until then, Lee could go crazy searching the whole neighborhood for all she cared. That would teach her sister to not steal her nail polish.

Her fingers also closed around the quarter in her pocket. She pulled it out, wondering what she should buy with it. Then she examined it closer. There were poorly made inscriptions on it that were barely visible and she sniffed a waft of paint on the quarter. A fake.

She snapped the quarter in two, exposing the wood inside. “That double-crossing, sneaky man of mine.” She couldn’t be mad. He had moved up to being very crafty and she found that all the more appealing. Also, this meant more time with him sooner rather than later.

“Here I come, cutie,” she said, clutching the quarter and racing off to tell her sisters where their men were.

Property of The Pen Vs The Sword. Please do not use without permission. Thank you.

Ed-ssertive Valentine
Pen:...

Sword:...

...What? I've liked this couple for a long time, and, well, it's Valentine's Day soon. May as well do something for it.

Pen: And you chose something unexpected?

No. Woke up one morning and my brain told me, "You need to write this story." So I told it, "I suppose I can, after I think of some-" "WRITE THIS STORY NOW!" "Okay, okay!"

Sword: Is he arguing with himself and his own mind?

Pen: I believe so.

Sword: I thought we were representatives of his mind. But how can he be arguing with himself if we're here? Does that make us real? Or are there parts to this mind we don't know about and oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed.

Pen: Don't worry about it.

Sword: Okay! Well, have a Happy Valentine's Day everyone! May it be good for you and may you find your special someone. Ed, Edd, n Eddy and all related material belongs to Danny Antonucci and Cartoon Network. The story, me, and Pen belong to the author. Please do not use without permission. Thankooo! 
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Chapter 11- The Serpents’ Lair

From atop the bell tower, we could see the shapes in the water below. Long, monstrous shadows that slithered through the streets, circling our position nonstop, waiting for us to make the first move. On the bright side, they had stopped thrashing. I also noted that none of them seemed as large as the serpent of legend that sank the city. Offspring, perhaps?

Right now though, we were more concerned with leaving. “We should just go back the way we came. Climb up the rope,” one soldier said and pointed at me. “He could fly us up there one by one.”

“That hole is well within their reach. You would have to get close to them to climb out. And if these things are longer than they appear?” Gardon asked, looking at each soldier in turn. “They could break into that tunnel and swat you off the rope. Or swallow you whole like a worm on a hook.”

“What about digging a way out?” another suggested.

“We’re too far underground,” a third soldier argued. “We need tools to get out of here.”

“Surely there’s some explosives in the vehicles. Or their weapons—”

“Are all disabled, remember?” Gardon said.

I half-listened to the arguments from the stairs and looked out one of the slotted windows at where the bubbles had appeared. Every now and then, the tip of a fin broke the water’s surface, reminding us of the danger, and then would surf through the water, dipping beneath slowly and leaving a large wake that soon settled. Then the water was calm again, like clear, green glass.

Blaze noticed my absence in the discussion. “What are you thinking?” she asked, standing beside me.

“Those things appeared after the bubbles died down,” I said. “They weren’t here before, which means that bell freed them. So there must be some gate to a room or some grotto on the other side. Maybe even a way out.”

The magic words reached everyone’s ears. The group’s arguments died on their lips and they listened closely.

“And if there isn’t?” she said.

“Then there’s something important on the other side. Something worth keeping safe.” I gave her a knowing look and she understood.

“The Sol Emerald.”

“That would explain why no one has ever found it,” I said. “The serpents are protecting it.”

“And just how do you propose we get there?” Gardon asked. “Don’t suppose you can knock out the wall.”

“There’s only one way through,” I said and all their eyes turned toward where the gate would be. I could already see the fear swallowing some of the soldiers whole. They wanted to flee, but put on a brave face for their Princess. The rest were in the same boat as me. Terrified beyond belief, yet we knew this was our only option. That simple fact stared us down with its ugly face and we had to meet it, no matter how repulsed we were by it.

I spoke up before any of the soldiers lost their nerve. “I-I’ll go,” I said, my voice croaking. I coughed and repeated myself. “I’ll go. I can create some shadow forms as a distraction if I need to. If all of you get up somewhere high, but close so you can tease them and make as much noise as possible to draw them away, I just might have a shot.”

“And if they come after you?” Gardon asked.

“Scream loud enough and they won’t,” I said, dodging the thought of that frightful outcome. “We better hurry. Otherwise, they might use those tails of theirs to knock over the tower and bury us alive.”

Gardon sighed. “Very well.” He rounded up the troops and sent them off to find high spots that were out of danger. He glanced back before leaving, his worried eyes hoping that I made it back. I assured him with a nod that I would.

I was happy they left first. My knees were about to give out and a cold wave of nausea settled in my stomach. I reached out for something to hold onto and found Blaze. I had forgotten she hadn’t joined the others.

“Are you okay?” she asked, helping me sit down.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” I said. “Yeah, no problem, yeah.” That was too many “yeah”s and she easily saw right through it.

“You don’t have to do this,” she said.

“I know I don’t, but it’ll be okay.” I shoved the image of a gaping maw of a giant snake out of my mind.

“We can try to find another way.”

“Like you said, Nega could show up any time. If the Sol Emerald is in there, we can’t afford to wait.”

“We could let him deal with this, then swipe the Sol Emerald before he can get to it.”

Appealing as they sounded, it wouldn’t work. Nega had too many robots at his disposal and too many guns. “He could take it before we have a chance. And we would be outnumbered. It’s too risky.” And he would likely expect that of us.

She bit her lip, as if she wanted to protest, but deep down knew that I was right. She looked at her hands in her lap and gave the same heavy sigh that Gardon had. “Please be careful then.”

“I will,” I said. “Be sure to yell at the top of your lungs for me.”

“Of course.” She leaned in and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek. I blinked and the next moment, she had pulled back, her face a mixture of deep concern, pain, and something else. “Stay safe.” She rushed out to find a spot to distract the serpents as well, leaving me to sit there, rubbing the spot on my cheek softly and grinning despite the impending suicide mission.

What on Earth was I doing?

*  *  *

Whenever I attempted to stand on the building above the underwater gate, the serpents swarmed around the gate, fiercely protecting it. No amount of taunts or calls from the others could change their minds. This reinforced my belief that the Sol Emerald must be on the other side.

The only way to distract them was to climb to the top of the bell tower, far out of their sight. Then the serpents split up, following the echoing yells from the others on rooftops and bridges. They never raised their heads above the water, only their tails. Blaze stood on one rooftop, calling down as what seemed like a third of the serpent’s body rose out of the water. It just cleared the building and swatted at her. I wanted to run over and help, but she hurried inside the building, escaping before the tail touched her.

I breathed easier and returned to the task at hand. I had to hurry or someone could get really hurt. Staring at the water below, I checked the distance to the underwater gate. A good hundred yards or so. And these things moved with lightning speed around corners and through the water.

I waited until the serpents were in the far corner of the city. Once they were, I said a short prayer, held out my arms, and dived into the water. The chill once again wormed its way into my core. No time to focus on that. Had to move quickly.

Putting one arm in front of the other, I swam as fast as I could, with no idea if the serpents realized I was in the water or how far away they were. I had to keep swimming for all my worth.

One block passed by. Then another and another. If my heart was thumping so loud in my ears and every passing shape didn’t seem like a deadly predator, it would almost be peaceful down here. The buildings were simple on the bottom and the kid in me thought it would be fun to dart in and out of the windows and doorways, playing underwater hide ‘n’ seek in the shadowy homes.

Hide ‘n’ seek happened sooner than expected. I felt a powerful surge through the water, like a humongous object was darting toward me. I swam faster, hoping to outrun it. The gate was ahead, less than forty yards away. The force gained on me and I thought I could hear a hungry rumbling around the corner.

Crafting a shoddy doppelganger, I flung it behind me and it zoomed backwards, off into the waters and around a corner. Cutting to the side, I dove for safety into one of the buildings and crouched beside a window, wishing the beast to pass. The building shook at its roots and I held on.

Slowly, slowly, the surge seemed to pass and fade away. The monster had taken the bait and I relaxed. Or I wanted to relax. Something was off. The water was eerily still and a looming shadow darkened the area.

Then I saw it. I could scarcely believe my eyes and I blinked several times, hoping my fear was imagining things. A sea-green mammoth of a serpent slithered past and its body never seemed to end. Its scales like thousands of glittering gems and spiny blue fins running the length of its back that folded and sprung to life, communicating its malicious intent. What struck me cold were its sickly yellow eyes, with a sliver of a pupil, that seemed to see all and regard everything with cold disinterest. Everything was a toy, a plaything before it. Or food.

The serpent swung its head side to side, checking the buildings, its searchlight eyes glowing in the depths. Please pass, I urged it. Please pass.

It swam past me, then stopped, and turned around. I cursed my luck and carefully moved away from the window, sticking to the shadows. The serpent seemed to have my scent. It swept across the buildings, glaring at each with a penetrating gaze. Could they see in the dark? I assumed so and prayed I was hidden enough.

My lungs ached for air. My head was starting to feel light and I didn’t have much time. The serpent opened its mouth, a muffled hiss rolling off its silver tongue. I could create another doppelganger, but the light might attract the serpent before I was ready to move. Yet if I was quick, I could make a poor one by the entrance, quickly throw it, then swim like lightning—

The serpent reared its ugly head in the doorway.

Crap. It saw me.

For a long moment, neither of us moved. The serpent flicked its tongue, opening its mouth partly, enough to see the bottomless gullet that awaited me if I got caught. I searched the building. There were stairs to my right. A window to my left that led to a dead end.

The serpent hissed and jammed its head in. I swam up the stairs. Its tail waited for me up top. I saw another set of stairs and tore up them. No serpent up here. Yet.

The building shook and rocked me around. I raised my hand, a green body emerging in the water. Not enough time for detail. As soon as it had some vague quills and my body shape, I sent it out the third story window, then swam back down to greet the serpent’s tail.

Edging to the window, I hid in a corner. The serpent rounded on my creation and snapped at it. Taking my chance, I swam like mad for the gate.

However, the water behind me swirled and I dared to look back. The serpent had realized the glowing body was a fake. It found me in the water and coiled into a spring. Then it shot forward at me, its body swaying in the water, left and right as if trying to fake me out with which side it would attack.

Twenty yards to the gate. Almost there. The serpent was already on top of me. It raised its head, gauging its target, and striked.

I put up a round, teal ball and it sank its fangs into it. I kicked the ball further into its mouth, blocking its throat. That should hold it, and I flipped around, concentrating on the gate.

The serpent swirled around, attempting to break the ball into pieces. I stopped powering it, instead pouring my focus into my speed. The serpent snapped the ball and it showered into dozens of light fragments. Its murderous eyes zeroed in on me and if snakes could growl, I thought it would.

I ran smack into the wall and felt the rocky surface. Where was the gate? It should be here. My chest was on fire and I couldn’t last much longer. Where was this gate? Not above or below me. It was off to the side, several feet away. And the serpent was shooting toward me, throwing his all into one last effort.

So did I. I swam like no tomorrow, slicing through the water with all my strength. The serpent opened its jaws and I entered through the open steel gate. Home free!

Or so I thought until I remembered that the serpent could fit through the gate too. It had first entered the city through the gate.

The serpent chomped shut and I tucked my legs in close, barely avoiding its sharp fangs. I had to stop it. My eyes landed on the gate and I grabbed it with my power. The thing seemed stuck and it was hard to focus when I was staring down a deadly creature like this. Not to mention my vision dimmed, zoning in and out as my body begged for air, on the verge of blacking out. At least I wouldn’t know that I was being eaten alive in that case.

Again, the serpent opened its mouth wide. I jerked the gate loose and it slammed its weight onto the serpent. It must’ve been made of something heavy, for it trapped the beast underneath it. The serpent thrashed wildly, whacking its head against the walls and the gate, desperate to free itself. But it wasn’t going anywhere. It was stuck tight under the gate and I could breathe easier.

Instead, I rose above the surface and breathed heavily, sucking down as much air as my lungs could hold. I flopped onto a bit of ground like a dying fish and rolled over, calming down from the intense terror I just experienced.

Below the surface, the water stirred up angrily, but all the serpent could do was struggle. I had won. For now.

Sitting up, I looked around. The ground I was on narrowed into a single-person walkway along the wall further into a large recess and ended in a flat wall. I shot a ball of light into the air, illuminating the place and saw nothing besides rock and water.

Didn’t really have time to waste sitting around. Protest though my body may, I rose to my feet, hunched over still, and walked deeper into this new cave. By the time I reached the end, I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of anything. No exit, no Sol Emerald. Only a dead end.

I checked the water, wishing for at least an exit. I couldn’t see much in the dirt and darkness and I dreaded the thought of climbing back in. But I had to be thorough. With that thought, I crawled back into the water. Thankfully, my nerves were too far frozen to care about the sudden chill rushing up my spine.

The bottom was a mixture of dirt and rock that had crumbled off the cave over the years. I sifted through it, here and there, digging up what I could. In the far back corner, I found something gleaming among the dirt.

With a shaky hand, I brushed over the mud and found a shimmering gem, the same cut and brilliance as the one at the castle. Only this one was a royal purple that seemed to belong on top of a scepter or woven into a beautiful tapestry. I picked it up and swam to the surface, climbing out of the water.

I brought my light closer to the gem and inspected it. Once I had washed and wiped away the mud and gravel so it shined all the brighter, there was no doubt. This was the Sol Emerald. It only made sense to hide it here, guarded by these serpents. I smiled at this victory.

However, that still didn’t get us out of here. There hadn’t been any sign of another passage underneath the water. So what did we do now?

I sighed and tucked the emerald away. For now, I needed to re-group with the others. They must’ve been worried and I didn’t want them taunting the serpents for long. These creatures might get fed up and lash out more violently.

The gate was surprisingly easy to bypass. I stuck close to the wall while swimming and stayed out of the trapped serpent’s reach. The serpent’s thick body held the gate up enough that I could squeeze through without too much trouble. Once out, I quickly flew out of the water and headed to the bell tower, rounding up everyone else on the way.

When the group assembled, everyone started grilling me for answers. I explained the cave and how it was a dead end, and showed off the Sol Emerald. Some of the soldiers marveled over it and Blaze smiled. “Well done,” she said and seemed relieved.

“Thanks,” I said, handing it to her.

“Well, we’re one step ahead of Nega now,” one of the soldiers said.

Another grumbled and looked forlornly outside. “Doesn’t matter much if we can’t escape. We’re back at square one.”

“I’m not so sure,” I said. “The only way to the Sol Emerald was past the serpents, right? A way to ward off thieves. But what if it was one of the people who lived here?”

“I see what you mean,” Gardon said, tapping his chin. “If one of the survivors ever came back for the emerald, they wouldn’t trap themselves. They would have a way out or a method to beat the serpents.”

The only question was where would they go? According to everyone else, nothing about the city had changed while I had been in the serpent’s caged area. Was there some other way out already that we had overlooked?

Blaze examined the Sol Emerald, her eyes intent and thoughtful. Then I saw the lightbulb shine on her face. She turned to Gardon and the soldiers from his group. “You said you found a carving of the bell tower and the Sol Emerald?”

“Yeah,” Gardon said. “It seemed to be pointing at the bell tower. But we know why that is. You ring the bell, the serpents are released, and if you can make it past them, you get the emerald.”

“Then wouldn’t the bell tower be pointing toward the Sol Emerald?” she asked. We looked at each other. “And,” she pointed to me, “we found a carving where the Sol Emerald shielded the entire city, protecting the survivors from a giant serpent.”

“I remember,” I said. “It was high above the city.”

“And where’s the highest place in the city?”

We looked up into the rafters of the bell tower. “No way,” I whispered. It made sense though and was worth a shot.

In minutes, Blaze, Gardon, and the other soldiers were watching from beside the bell and the stairs as I flew around the bell tower’s roof. So far, I hadn’t seen any place to use the Sol Emerald. “Try looking higher,” Gardon said.

Floating upwards, I searched the very top and found it. Right under the point of the rooftop, there was a tile that slid out. I checked the other three sides and found tiles that also slid out of place, leaving behind a perfect-shaped slot for the emerald.

“Found it!” I called down. “Here goes!” I slid the emerald into place, moved back a little, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

“Nothing’s happening,” one of the soldiers said.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious, eagle eye. I twisted the emerald, this way and that, pushing it into different combinations. Without warning, the emerald suddenly flashed a brilliant purple light, blinding me. Guess I found the right one.

I dropped down to everyone else’s level and as the black spots faded from my sight, the emerald’s light swallowed the top of the bell tower. It looked like a large candle, illuminating the city and walls in an otherworldly color.

The light reached the orbs shaped like Sol Emeralds in the walls and ceiling. They caught the light and reflected it off one another, bouncing the brightness throughout the city and in the water, until the whole cave was overlaid in a violet hue. The serpents, wherever they were, didn’t disturb the display and watched with bated breath with us.

“What now?” Gardon asked.

I didn’t know. The purple light extended to every inch of the city and still there was no way out. Okay, we had had a little light show, so what next?

A bit of sand fell on my head and I brushed it off. More fell and I looked up. Above the tower, where a particularly bright orb caught my eye, a thin trail of sand fell through the air, silent and steady, onto the roof of the tower. Blaze noticed it too and by then, the trickle of sand had grown into a wide column.

Cracks appeared in the ceiling, snaking their way through the orbs, and forming with an Earth-shattering ker-raaack! The middle of the ceiling split into two uneven slabs and lifted into the air, dumping bits of sand on us. The far ends of the slabs at either side of the cave swung down, upending the desert above and into the water, building large sandy hills. The slabs scooped the water’s surface, breaking it into two halves, then stopped when they were perfectly parallel to one another’s rocky surface.

And like that, the hue disappeared over the city and the light receded into the Sol Emerald. I grabbed the gem and floated back down to Blaze and Gardon, marveling at the new exit with them.

Blaze was the first to react and break the spell. “We better hurry. Those things won’t stay open forever.”

*  *  *

It took us a while to climb up the slabs, using the orbs as handholds. Blaze commented on the genius of the ancient people and how inconspicuous the orbs were. “Using the orbs to climb out,” she said, shaking her head.

“Never would have guessed that,” Gardon added.

I heard most of the soldiers grumble through the trek and more than one shot me the evil eye as I flew past them. Then again, they had been more than grateful to accept my help bypassing the beginning of the slab climb near the water, where they would have been prime targets for the serpents. I didn’t pay attention to them and zipped out of the cave, arriving at the top to help the others out.

The soldiers Gardon had left above surrounded the hole, pestering us with questions and exclamations. Yet my interest was Nega. I scanned the skies, expecting his fleet to at least be on the horizon. But it was all clear, baby blue all around.

Blaze’s first question when she finished the climb was “Where’s Nega? He should’ve been here by now.” All the soldiers up top shrugged.

That didn’t make any sense. Last report said he was far ahead of us. Even if we arrived beforehand, he should’ve been here by now. The soldiers swore up and down they hadn’t seen him as we headed back to the vehicles.

“We’ve been watching the skies closely,” a troop leader said. “I’ve had my scouts out for hours, but there’s no sign of him.”

“Any word on the radio?” Blaze asked, entering the driver’s seat.

“None so far,” the leader said. “We did get a brief call from our unit in the White Jungle southeast. Since then, no contact and no update from them.”

As if on cue, the radio interrupted the conversation. “Now I wouldn’t say that.”

The voice was unmistakable. Blaze hit the push-to-talk button on the radio. “Nega.”

“Your Highness,” he said, his mocking tone oozing over the speaker. “Is Silver there as well? Did he survive your little excursion?”

“I’m here, you soulless wretch,” I said.

“Good. It would be such a shame for you to die now, my little pincushion. The fun hasn’t even started. It’s nice to talk to you both again. I’m sorry we missed each other, but I couldn’t resist a safari trip through the jungle. Lots of interesting wildlife here, local legends, and the natives are quite hospitable. We even joined up with another sight-seeing tour.”

Blaze growled. “If you harmed my people, I’ll—”

“Settle down now, Your Highness. Your people are fine. Well, some of them are fine. I’ll let one of them explain.”

A new voice was shoved onto the phone, a stoic, calm person who muttered some curses at Nega. “Apologies, Your Highness. I fear he got the jump on us. His ships appeared out of nowhere.”

Cloaked, I would wager. That still didn’t explain how he fooled the scouts who reported his fleet heading east.

“He has the Sol Emerald from the jungle. He already knows you have the other one.” I glanced by habit out the window, afraid of a drone nearby. Not that I would be able to see one anyway. He would keep any drones high and out of view. “Nega demands you bring your Sol Emerald to him. Or else.”

“Or else what?”

A gunshot rang out and a body dropped to the ground on the other end. Blaze gasped and my voice caught in my throat. “Or else I start eliminating everyone here in the most violent ways I can think of,” Nega said. “And believe you me, I have quite the imagination. Isn’t that right, Silver?” He paused, letting the situation sink in. “You have three hours to make it here. Better move. Tick-tock.”

Property of The Pen Vs The Sword. Please do not use without permission. Thank you.

End of the Universe: Chapter 11
Man, this was tougher to write for some reason. Had to balance a lot.

Sword: Like a juggler.

Not quite.

Pen: Yeah. More like a fifth-rate writer. Or lower.

And there's the daily hit to the self-esteem. Thank you for that.

Pen: Anytime.

But we're going to try our best (keyword: try) to get these out a little faster. What do you all think about it? Pretty big stuff is on the horizon. I'm real excited and I can barely contain myself. You'll have to wait and see what we have planned though. Take care and thank you for reading!

Silver, Blaze, and all related material belongs to Sega. The story, Sword, and Pen belongs to me. Please do not use without permission. Thank you.

Chapter 1: A Dead World
Chapter 2: One-Way Trip
Chapter 3: Back in Time
Chapter 4: Jewelry Heist
Chapter 5: Answers and Evidence
Chapter 6: Bed Rest
Chapter 7: Scene of the Crime
Chapter 8:
 Homecoming
Chapter 9: Emerald Hunt
Chapter 10: The Jewel of the Sea
Chapter 11: You are here.
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glasses by cherucat It's you (mini comic) by niliamaria1 STH-A Chaotic Christmas by NinjaHaku21
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Cat in a skirt by MezmeroMania Curry Warrior by Shira-hedgie We Scare Because We Care by straahl
Sleep? There's a Nap for that by WalkingMelonsAAA Darth Maul by ChunLo Star Wars: Princess Leia #4 Cover by TerryDodson
  • Listening to: Nothing
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  • Drinking: Green Tea

Grease Monkey

Tails entered the house, reeking of grease and oil and covered head to toe in black, slick stains that matted his fur. He set his toolkit by the door and pried off his googles, revealing his baby blue eyes, the only bit of him actually clean. There was nothing more cathartic than working in his garage all day, rebuilding engines, repairing machines, or even doing simple tune-ups. Somehow, he always managed to get so covered in grime that he could’ve passed for Shadow.

He entered the kitchen/dining room combo, where Cream was heating up a bottle on the stove. Against the counter that separated the kitchen from the dining room, Violet sat in her high chair, babbling and smacking her hands. On her high chair’s tray, Cheese snoozed peacefully. He had grown larger in recent years, or fatter as Tails thought, and his skin was a paler blue than it was in his youth. Other than that, he was the same cheerful Chao that often latched onto Violet ever since her birth. Same as her mother, Tails thought.

When Violet saw Tails, she stared at him for a moment, as if to mentally process him, then reached up, grabbing for him. “Ba, ba, ma, ma,” she said.

“Hey there,” he said, bending down to her level. Her ears had grown longer than her body and drooped over the chair. A bit of color was coming into her fur as well. The biggest change, and personally best he thought, was that she no longer cried non-stop. The first few months had seemed so long, but now they could get a decent night’s sleep.

He stuck out his forefinger, circling it near her nose and watching her fascinated eyes follow it. She tried to grab it and gum it in her mouth, but he pulled back. “No, no. You don’t want to eat oil. It’s nasty, trust me. Daddy’s had enough fall in his mouth before.” He scratched her head and she cooed.

“Tails,” Cream said, checking the bottle’s temperature by squeezing a few drops on her arm and wiping the milk off on a towel. “I just gave her a bath.”

“Right, sorry,” he said, checking Violet’s head. No sign of grease, but he was filthy. He headed to the shower, scrubbing his work away until he was squeaky clean. Once out of the shower, he headed back to the kitchen, smelling a delicious butterscotch pie on his way in.

“Sonic and Amy here yet?” he asked, eyeing the oven.

“Should be soon,” she said, pulling his face away from the oven by his chin and kissing him. She tapped him on the nose. “You’ll just have to wait until then.”

“Okay, okay,” he said. “I’ll feed Violet.”

“Thanks,” she said.

He grabbed the bottle, testing its heat on his arm, and picked his daughter up out of her high chair. As soon as he did, Violet scrunched up her face and let loose a terrible cry that hurt his ears. “Ssh, ssh,” he said. “Violet, it’s okay. Here’s your bottle.” But when he tried to give her the milk, she refused to drink and continued shrieking. “Look, I’m here. It’s Daddy.” He reached out his finger again, hoping that would calm her. If anything, it made the yelling worse and she smacked at his hand.

Cheese woke up, covering his ears and shaking like a leaf from the noise. He cooed low, upset and annoyed.

Tails looked to Cream, helpless and unsure what to do, the same as he had a lot lately. Cream understood and dried her hands on a towel. “Here, I’ll feed her,” she said. “Would you keep an eye on the oven? The pie needs to come out in fifteen minutes.”

“Yeah,” he said, hanging his head dejectedly and passing her to Cream. Almost as suddenly as she had started crying, she stopped and allowed Cream to feed her the bottle. Violet looked up at her parents with curious eyes, as if wondering why they wore grim expressions.

Tails sighed and headed into the kitchen, leaning against a counter. His mood soured and he grumbled, angry at himself and wondering why this kept happening.

“It’ll pass,” Cream said, reassuring him the same way she always did. “It’s just a phase.” The same reasoning she always gave. The same that Tails had been buying into for the past few weeks. “Maybe it’s just separation anxiety. Did you read those books my mom gave us?”

“And re-read them and re-read them. It’s too early for that. She’s only a few months old.”

“And the ones we bought?”

“Nothing in there either.” He had scoured every available source for any reasoning why Violet feared him. The worst explanations had been because the baby was abused or didn’t feel safe with the parent. The first definitely wasn’t true and he hoped the second wasn’t either. Unfortunately, not feeling safe was the only answer that made sense.

With a heavy face, Cream sat in the living room, feeding their daughter while Tails watched the pie. When it was ready, he took it out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool. At least this doesn’t cry when I try to hold it, he thought.

He wished he understood what about him scared his daughter so much. The crying happened seemingly at random. The only surefire way to get her to wail was to pick her up. One hundred percent of the time, it always happened to him. Never to Cream, never to Vanilla when she visited. Even their friends, including Shadow, could hold her now and then without inducing tears. Never Tails.

Why? He couldn’t figure it out. He wasn’t a bad father, was he? No, no. That thought came up every time and he always shot it down. He followed the books to a t, same as any engineering book he read, and he made sure to memorize each and every word. He took the advice of his friends, copied Cream’s care for Violet, and did his utmost best to provide for her.

Then what’s wrong?

Although he constantly pushed away the notion of being a bad father, it never truly went away and gnawed at the back of his mind. Maybe kids found him unlikable? That had certainly been the case when he was a child, always poked fun at for his twin namesakes and ousted as abnormal. Perhaps Violet already sensed her father was a genetic freak? Still, he would have thought his own daughter would accept him.

A small bump brought him back down to the kitchen. He stared into Cheese’s concerned and disapproving eyes, as if the small Chao could read his thoughts. The same look Cream always gave him when she sensed his self-doubt. It was a scarily accurate imitation and he wondered if pets truly reflected their owners. Or is it the other way around?

He reached out and scratched Cheese’s head. “I’m alright, buddy,” he said with a small smile. “Thanks.”

Cheese cooed and nuzzled against him, then dove straight for the pie. “Ah, ah, ah.” Tails snatched the dessert away and hovered over it. “This is for lunch. Cream would kill me if you ate it before Sonic and Amy got here.”

Ding-dong!

Speaking of which, he thought and carried the pie to the dining room, laying it beside the rest of the food. As he headed to the door, he threw a sharp glance over his shoulder, and Cheese halted midway to chomping into the pie. “Don’t.”

Tails opened the door and greeted Sonic and Amy. “Hey, how you doing, bro?” Sonic asked, clasping Tails’ hand and pulling him in for a one-arm hug.

“Good, you?” he asked, then hugged Amy, minding her round belly. Their second baby seemed fit to burst out of her right then and there.

“Good,” Sonic said, helping Amy in.

Cream entered with Violet and whispered excitedly to her. “Look who it is, sweetie.” She greeted Sonic and Amy. “You look great,” she told Amy.

“I look like I’m smuggling a beach ball,” she said, rubbing her stomach. “Should be any day now though. Thank goodness. I forgot that it’s like carrying a sack of rocks tied to her waist. Sorry we’re late,” she continued, as her husband helped her with her coat. “We were at Shadow and Rouge’s longer than we planned to be.”

“Weren’t you just dropping off Florian?” Tails asked.

“Yeah,” Sonic said, hanging up her coat. “But Shadow kept us waiting in the foyer for a long time. Something about insisting ‘laying down fly paper and Velcro to catch Florian’.”

Tails exchanged a knowing look with Cream. Sounds about right, he thought.

Sonic helped Amy to a chair at the table. “Oh, it looks delicious, Cream,” she said, noting the food.

“Yeah,” Sonic said and Tails noticed him swallow the drool in his watering mouth.

“Thank you,” Cream said and began ladling soup into a bowl for everyone. However, Violet had grown bored and started tugging on Cream’s ears. “Ow, ow. No, no. No pulling Mommy’s ears. Violet!” She looked to Tails and he started to stand, preparing for more screaming.

Amy beat him to the punch. “Oh, here. I can hold her.” And she took Violet off of Cream’s hands. She smiled and poked a finger into Violet’s belly. The baby gurgled and beat her tiny limbs up and down, enjoying the attention. Sonic leaned over too, making a silly face and tickling her toes.

On the one hand, Tails was happy to see his daughter happy. On the other, he should’ve been the one able to make her smile like that. He stirred a finger around his glass, trying to block out the negative thoughts that relentlessly pounded his mind.

When he raised his head, Amy’s eyes shifted away from him. Before he could question if she had been staring at him, Cream finished doling out the food and placed Violet in her high chair at the end of the table beside Sonic and Tails.

For the next half hour, Amy and Cream talked about their kids and how each were doing, Amy’s due date and health, names she had settled on for the baby. “It’s actually been pretty hard,” Amy said. “I can’t decide on any yet. None have stuck out to me.”

“Better pick one soon before they arrive. You still don’t want to know if it’s a boy or girl?” Cream asked.

“No, we want to be surprised.”

Meanwhile, Sonic regaled Tails with their latest encounter with Robotnik as Tails tried to get Violet to finish her bottle “And then Silver’s twins destroyed the robot. You should’ve seen it.”

“Anyone hurt?” he asked.

“Nah,” Sonic said. “Everyone was fine. No problem. Ouch!” Violet had smacked the bottle out of Tails’ hand and whacked Sonic’s forehead with it, leaving behind some white drops clinging to his eyebrow.

“Violet, no,” Tails said, pointing a stern finger at her, then apologized to Sonic, offering him a napkin.

“Hey, not the first time I’ve had milk on me,” he said. “Florian spits the stuff like a sprinkler. I smell like a dairy almost every day.”

Tails chuckled and picked up the bottle. “Here, drink,” he said to Violet, but she scooted away from him, frowning and searching elsewhere. He reached out further to her and she whined, her face growing red and twisted. Not again.

“Hey,” Sonic said, gaining Violet’s attention. “You need to drink your milk if you want to grow up like your dad. C’mon.” She stared at Sonic, trying to register his face again. Tails took the opportunity to push the bottle to her mouth. Again, she opened her mouth wide to cry. “Want me to try?” he asked Tails.

The kitsune sighed and handed over the bottle. Sonic pressed it against Violet’s lips and to their surprise, she accepted it. She started sucking on the last of the milk, watching Sonic the whole time. Sonic, and not Tails. Letting Sonic feed her and not her father.

Although he maintained a polite grin on his face as Sonic made baby talk to Violet and helped her drink the last drops, Tails’ mood darkened in his heart. And that made him feel worse. He didn’t want to be mad at his best friend, nor frustrated with his daughter, but it happened and he hated himself for that. It wasn’t their fault. It was his, somehow, and he couldn’t figure out how to fix it. That only poured on the self-loathing for himself and he pushed away from the table.

“Excuse me,” he said, not looking at anyone in particular. “I just remembered that I have something I need to work on.”

“But we’re eating lunch. And we haven’t had dessert yet,” Cream said, noting the untouched pie. “It’s your favorite.”

“Sorry, it really can’t wait,” he said and nodded to Sonic and Amy. “Sorry.” Then he hurried to the garage, shut the door, and leaned against it. He banged his head on the door, closing his eyes and feeling foolish for how he left.

Well, this day is going great, he thought to himself. Heaving a sigh through his nostrils, he looked to the Tornado. The navy blue biplane was parked in the center of the large garage. May as well get some work done, he thought, grabbing a pair of goggles off his tool table. He scooped up a toolbelt too, strapping it around his waist, and plopped onto his creeper, scooting underneath the plane for some maintenance.

This was relaxing for him. All the parts of a machine laid out, easy to locate any problems or repair any damage. Everything made sense as he worked, everything meshed and fit together, and he always had the right tool for the job.

Even before Violet was born, he had thought he would be ready. Everyone had told Cream and him the horror stories of the first few months and he had brushed up on all the problems that were bound to occur. And while caring for a baby was more overwhelming than he could’ve imagined, he thought Cream and he had managed well so far. Not perfect, for sure, and there had been several instances where he was completely lost on what to do. Yet they pulled through.

This, on the other hand, was different. Nobody had any answer for your child being afraid of you with no discernible cause. There wasn’t any diagnosis on that and there seemed to be nothing wrong with Violet. So it had to be him. She was just naturally afraid of him for some reason.

Did she already believe him to be a bad father and would he be? Did he exhibit some trait for that? Was it something he constantly did that upset her? Or did she really see him as a genetic freak because of his twin tails?

None of it made sense and the more Tails dwelled on it, the more his mind ran in circles until he unscrewed the wrong screw and a piece of the plane fell off, conking him in the head. “Ow!” he said, grabbing his scalp and biting back several swears. He hissed, rolling out on his creeper and met a pair of bright green eyes overhead.

“I think you forgot something,” Sonic said with a smirk, holding out a hardly used, yellow hard hat. “Safety first.”

“I’m done anyway,” he said, standing and kicking the creeper away. “Amy inside?”

“Nah, I already ran her home. She wasn’t feeling good.”

He nodded. “And she wanted you to come check on me?”

Sonic shrugged. “She suggested it.”

“She volun-told you too, then.”

“I wanted to,” he said. “And Cream was worried too.”

Tails rubbed his eyes. He hadn’t meant to worry Cream. Another stack to the misery pile for him. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to cause a scene. I’m fine now.” Sonic sat on a stool by the tool table, spinning around in it and humming to himself. He was waiting for Tails to open up. Tails knew Sonic wouldn’t leave until he heard the whole story and the blue hedgehog could be very persistent. “Infuriatingly so,” as Shadow often put it.

“Fine.” Tails sat on the table next to Sonic, taking off his tool belt. “It’s Violet.” He explained the crying situation that had been happening over the past few weeks and all the solutions they had tried, from quiet and familiar environments to help her feel safe to imitating Cream’s exact maneuvers when carrying her. “And nothing we do works. She’s still scared of me.”

“No kidding. You look like The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” he said, pointing out the grease stains covering Tails.

The kitsune examined himself. He was just as dirty as he was before his shower. He vaguely wondered how he had managed to get so filthy. “Did this ever happen with Florian?”

Sonic crossed his arms and raised his eyes to the ceiling, thinking hard. “Not that I can remember.”

“So just me then,” he said glumly.

“Hey, it could be anything. She could be a cranky baby. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. Either way, it’s a phase that’ll pass.”

“That’s what Cream keeps saying,” he said, hopping off the table. “But what if my own daughter is scared of me the rest of her life? Even as an adult, she’ll be traumatized of me.”

“That won’t happen,” Sonic said.

He knew that, but his mind was on a roll now. “Yeah, but what if Violet grows up and is afraid to talk to me, never invites me to events, always lives in fear of me, her father?” Silly, of course, yet the fear persisted and continued growing.

“Dude, sit,” Sonic said, offering his seat and forcing Tails into it by his shoulder. Then he looked him dead in the eye, making sure Tails didn’t turn away. “Look, you’re a great father and doing all you can. This is a temporary thing. That’s it. Got it?”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding, his worries still carrying his heart around in their whirlpool of despair.

The door cracked open and Cream poked her head in, carrying Violet in her arm. “Tails?” she asked. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” He glanced at her. “Sorry about earlier.”

“It’s okay.” She kissed the top of his head and smiled, cupping his cheek.

Maybe Sonic and Cream are right, he thought, watching Violet yawn and stretch her little arms and legs. Maybe this is a phase. He could only hope it was. Still, it stung to not be able to hold Violet at all.

“I better get going,” Sonic said. “Amy probably needs help.” He hugged Tails, Cream, and opened his hands to Violet. Cream placed the baby in his arms and he rubbed his nose in her face. “See you later too, fuzzball.” She cooed and he held her up to Tails. “Say ‘Bye-bye, Daddy!’ ”

“Ba-ba-ba,” Violet said and Tails smiled, stroking her belly with his finger. She grabbed his digit, her own hands barely circling it, and pressed the finger to her mouth, slobbering on it.

Oh, now she likes me, he thought.

Sonic raised an eyebrow. “Here,” he said, setting Violet against Tails’ chest.

“Sonic, no, I’m dirty and—”

He shushed Tails. “Just give me a minute. Hold her.”

Tails wrapped his arms around her reluctantly. They watched Violet and waited, Tails squirming in his seat and preparing for an earth-shattering scream.

But no crying came. None whatsoever. In fact, Violet grabbed Tails’ nose, pulling her face to him and running her hands through his fur. Tails was baffled. What? How?

Meanwhile, Sonic smacked his forehead and belted out a laugh. “I can’t believe you didn’t see it!” He wiped away a tear. “For how smart you are, you don’t notice when the answer is right in front of your face! Or all over you.”

“Which is?”

“Grease.”

Tails examined himself once more, noting all the grease stains, then it slowly dawned on him. “There it is,” Sonic said. Cream tilted her head, puzzled by what they knew that she didn’t. She looked her husband over and soon realized it too.

“His smell,” she said.

“Exactly,” Sonic said. “Tails always smells like an engine. For as long as I’ve known him, there’s always a faint whiff of it.”

“And when I shower and scrub it off for Violet, she gets scared because she doesn’t recognize me,” Tails finished.

“Exactly,” the hedgehog said. “She’s knows the smell of her dad.”

He smiled and looked at Violet. He didn’t need to question it. It all made sense and the living proof was right before him, nestling into his chest. All the fears of being a bad parent washed over him and his spirit soared like a plane through the clouds. “Thanks,” he said, blinking back his watery eyes. He wasn’t a bad father. His daughter did love him and he could finally hold her at long last.

“Anytime,” Sonic said, rubbing his nose.

Cream frowned. “I hope this doesn’t mean I’ll find oil everywhere in the house.”

“Nah,” Tails said. “Just a dab behind each ear. After all, can’t argue that it’s not my natural smell. Two against one.” He lifted Violet high in the air above his head. “Isn’t that right, my little grease monkey?”

She burbled, waving her arms in circles. A line of drool smacked Tails’ forehead and Cream chuckled. “I suppose so.  But don’t make me chase after both of you with a shower head.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he said and brought Violet back down into his arms, enjoying her small body against his, and kissed the top of her head, smearing a dab of grease into her fur. She didn’t seem to mind and neither did he. Tails planned to stay on that stool and hold his daughter for a long while. After all, he had a lot of lost time to make up for.

Property of The Pen Vs The Sword. Please do not use without permission. Thank you.

Joys of Parenting: Grease Monkey
First off, we'd like to thank :iconcandicindy: for allowing us to use her character Violet for this story.

Sword: Thank you! :la:

This one kind of came out of left field. Just driving and listening to Rod Stewart's "Forever Young". Good song by the way. Especially if you're melancholy and in a thoughtful mood. So this came about from that. We'd love to hear what you all think.

Pen: Say you hate it so I can stop being forced to write this drivel.

Shush. As always, Tails, Cream, and all related material belong to Sega. Violet belongs to :iconcandicindy:. The story, Sword, and Pen belong to me. Please do not use without permission. Thank you.

Sword: And find the other parts of this series below, peeps!

Labors of Love Part 1: Joys of Parenting: Labors of Love Part 1
Labors of Love Part 2: Joys of Parenting: Labors of Love Part 2
Shadow the Sitter: Joys of Parenting: Shadow the Sitter
Three Times the Fun: Joys of Parenting: Three Times the Fun
Father-Daughter Time: Joys of Parenting: Father-Daughter Time
Grease Monkey: You are here.
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Hello, everyone! Before we get to this week's plugs, we'd like to wish everyone a very Happy Valentine's Day! May you spend the day with your loved ones and enjoy their company. Even if you're single, you have friends here who love you and hope for the best for you. For this isn't a day for just lovers, but anyone who cares about someone else. And everyone here cares about you. Yes, you. So enjoy and best wishes to you from all of us!

This week's most voted piece is Nicole and Shard by Drawloverlala by :icondrawloverlala: ! Congratulations! So this week, we'll be choosing some from her favorites!

The art is below. Please vote for one of them. Artists in the selection can vote as well, but not their own work.

Super Mario Galaxy by KnightOfGames marSONIC by aoii91 Rockman EXE by Tomycase
Sonic Coloring Commission by ElainaUnger Let's-a go on an odyssey! by TheBourgyman Surprise by ZenitSaga
Commission: Crio Man (X Version) by ultimatemaverickx BOOM by aimf0324 Skyline Relic and Fixit by SPJ-artredesign
Sonamy Boom by Megaloceros-Urhirsch Sonic Skyline by Deroko SSS: Sonic Skyline by caramelapple14
  • Listening to: Nothing
  • Reading: Not much
  • Watching: Arrow
  • Playing: Overwatch
  • Eating: Nothing
  • Drinking: Green Tea

deviantID

ThePenVsTheSword
Dustin Martin
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
Name: See up top.
D.O.B.: 03/27
Sex: Male

So I came here from fictionpress and fanfiction. Just thought I'd post some of the stories here and see what people think of them. If you guys like them or just want to read more, let me know and I'll post some more Perhaps even earlier stuff. Might also add some drawings if I can ever improve well enough to draw something decent.

Yes, I do take requests for certain prices. If you want, just let me know what you want me to write/draw and I'll try to charge accordingly.

I'm only on deviantart, fictionpress, and fanfiction. Any other people with the same name are someone else entirely.

Current Residence: FL
deviantWEAR sizing preference: M
Print preference: Unsure
Favourite genre of music: 90's rock and 80's pop music
Favourite photographer: Unsure
Favourite style of art: Sketches I suppose
Operating System: Windows 7
MP3 player of choice: iPod
Wallpaper of choice: A beach setting
Favourite cartoon character: Pinky because I can do his voice
Personal Quote: A lot. Ask and I'll tell you some.
Interests

With Daniel Craig saying Spectre is his last Bond movie, who is your favorite Bond? 

53%
8 deviants said Pierce Brosnan
27%
4 deviants said Daniel Craig
7%
1 deviant said Sean Connery
7%
1 deviant said George Lazenby
7%
1 deviant said Roger Moore
0%
No deviants said Timothy Dalton

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:iconotaku-techy:
Otaku-Techy Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the llama. :)
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:iconthepenvsthesword:
ThePenVsTheSword Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Student Writer
You're welcome! :)
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:iconm2b6:
M2B6 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the llama!
Reply
:iconthepenvsthesword:
ThePenVsTheSword Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2017  Student Writer
You're welcome!
Reply
:iconm2b6:
M2B6 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
:) (Smile) 
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:iconclub-dreamiverse:
Club-Dreamiverse Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist Writer
Hello, ThePenVsTheSword! I'm Club-Dreamiverse (autistic 18-year old big-hearted dreamer)! How was your day? Also, care to watch the creative Animate Your World ads?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is10R2…
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:iconthepenvsthesword:
ThePenVsTheSword Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2017  Student Writer
Hm, I remember some of those ads.
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:iconclub-dreamiverse:
Club-Dreamiverse Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist Writer
What was your favorite ad?
Reply
:iconthepenvsthesword:
ThePenVsTheSword Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2017  Student Writer
Hm, maybe the first one, as I remember that one the most, so nostalgia factors in. I do remember seeing some of the others though and I thought they were good.
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(1 Reply)
:iconchingoryu:
ChingORyu Featured By Owner Edited Jan 22, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for all the favs again! :squee:
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