Review: 50th Episode Special

As if it weren’t obvious, this episode was not exactly normal. I’ve mentioned multiple times before, both here and in the author’s notes of the actual story, that I had in mind the possibility of rewriting Crisis of Chaos, the four premiere episodes of the series. Besides just being generally poor in quality compared to my current standards of writing, those episodes had simply grown out of date as the series continued to grow. Being designed to come before the prequel, I of course did everything in my power to make sure that everything I would write thereafter would fit in correctly, but some inevitable contradictions and oddities popped up, especially in regards to Sonic Forces, which hadn’t even been announced at the time of those episodes being published. Eventually, I wanted to fix those problems, to address those conspicuously missing elements. But I’ve been focusing so hard on moving forwards that it always just seemed like a low priority. Then suddenly, I looked up from writing the Sonic Adventure Special, and realized that my next episode would be my 50th. Meanwhile, there were some unexpected delays in the episode that I had been planning on coming next. The secret Ninja Episode.

So, I realized that there would be no better time to go back to where it all began than for such a great milestone as a 50th episode. I figured that writing a new episode, rather than editing the old ones, would give me a lot more freedom to include things that would be considered spoilers if they’d been placed in those original episodes. Things like Fang, or even Infinite. It would also give me freedom in general, to write scenes which would have made for a very odd story flow if they’d been added before. I also figured that making a separate episode would attract a little more attention, and ensure that the new content would be read by people who already read the old episodes. So, with effectively no restrictions, I wrote.

This episode was dedicated to tying. Tying loose ends together, but also tying together the series as a whole. There are so many little things with considerable impacts that it would be hard to list them all. Probably the most important part, as mentioned above, was reconciling this story with the aspects that were introduced along with Forces (and Mania. I forget sometimes that that’s where the HBH’s come from.) It was addressing the questions of where Hero, Infinite, and of course, the Hard Boiled Heavies, were during this big war. I tried to write Hero’s introduction episode in this Season such that it didn’t matter too much, but still it left just a few questions hanging, which I hope have been answered. Infinite, on the other hand, benefited greatly from his one short scene in this episode. Where he was left at the end of Season 0, he had been given this odd sort of relationship with Blacklight which was left extremely vague, and next time we see him, Blacklight’s been dead for months and Infinite doesn’t say a word about him. I originally planned for him to at least say something at that point, but it just didn’t work with the episode. So finally, with this one, I was really able to show exactly what was going on between them. Infinite…had a friend…sort of. And that has a pretty significant degree of meaning for both of their characters.

The HBH’s are a little bit different. Technically speaking, there was nothing that really mandated their appearance in Crisis of Chaos, it would be very reasonable to say that, since they weren’t part of the big plan, they were just out fighting all the various offscreen battles. And technically that was true, though this episode actually retconned Heavy King into the ending scene of the original. But, just like Hero, it was nice to simply prove that they were there, and that they weren’t just sitting around and doing nothing.

Then, there were other things to reconcile. Things that, technically speaking, I could have planned for, but wasn’t able to anticipate, things that I would write of my own accord, knowing that they ran a bit against what the original Crisis seemed to suggest. One of the big ones there was Lumis. At the end of the Dawn of Chaos arc, Lumis was redeemed and welcomed back into the Realm of Chaos. But in the original Crisis, he was treated, both by myself the narrator, and by Chaos, as a villain, simply because all I had planned for Lumis at the time of Crisis was that he would be the future villain, with no details about how that story would end. That was reconciled in this episode by showing that Chaos was simply holding an unfounded grudge, with the added benefit of serious character development on both sides with the realization of similarities between them, and the fact that even the so-called-gods cannot be perfect.

And of course, there are the things I added simply to improve the depth of the story and characters, without any necessity otherwise. Little bits showing the relationships between Chaos, Sonic, and Shadow I found to be important because that dynamic was never really touched on outside of the original Crisis. And probably the part that added the most meat to this episode, the Commander subplot. At the time of the original Crisis, I had no idea how important the Commander would become in the grand scheme of the story. I knew I’d use him eventually, I just didn’t realize to what extent it would be. Naturally, I had to tell his missing story here after how much focus he got in Season 0, and even in the flashbacks of this season. Him combined with Hero was a fantastic way to show this war’s effect on the common man, something that was completely overlooked in the big robo-kaiju battle focus of the original Crisis.

And let’s not forgot the straight-up plotholes of the original that I had to fill here. Things that were pointed out me long after the original was published, such as “Why couldn’t the Hedgehogs just escape with Chaos Control?” and “Did Chaos die, or did he just go back to the Realm of Chaos?” and “Where did Tails get GUN technology from?” all got at least one dedicated scene to explaining. In regards to that last one, that “technology exchange” brought up for the first proper time in this episode was actually something I had planned on being discussed in a very, very similar scene in the original, and I’m not sure if I simply forgot to write it at the time, or if I actively decided to address it in what would become Forces of Chaos, and forgot once that came around. Either way, it never got addressed, so I had to fill it in here.

I’ll try not to drag this one out too much longer. I want to mention how I was randomly inspired to use the GUN Truck while watching a Sonic the Hedgehog Official Livestream a couple of weeks ago, and I’m very glad that I was. An action movie car chase scene just felt so right to use as the way that the Commander and Hero connect. To a certain extent, I was also inspired by a scene from the movie Captain America: Winter Soldier, in which Nick Fury, leader of the acronymed military organization SHIELD (I’ve drawn comparisons with the Commander before), was seemingly killed in a big, explosive car chase sequence. So what does that mean for the Commander? Is it possible that he’s still alive after being trapped in a sinking truck like that? Well, no one knows for certain. And eventually, that will become perhaps the single most relevant takeaway from this episode.

On a related note, this episode featured the second appearance of the mysterious “J. Naka”. Eventually, we will get to meet him in the present. But for now, his backstory just keeps getting built up little by little.

So what’s next after this big special episode? Normally, I’d say we’re going back to right where we left off in the main story of this season. But the specials aren’t over yet! Something important is happening in the next few days! The release of Team Sonic Racing! You didn’t think I’d let that slip by, did you? (Apparently I’ve never mentioned it on this site before. Wow, I really need to step up my game.) So does that mean we’re getting a Team Sonic Racing special episode? Actually…even better! This isn’t just any special episode. This is a very special preview at a full-length episode vital to Season 2, which celebrates all things Sonic Racing, and then some! Green Light Riders is coming very soon!

-And there’s no better feeling than to be here with you! Look out!

Review: Season 1, Episode 9

Well…I’ve dedicated about six straight, no-distractions, nearly-uninterrupted days into writing this episode. I reached 14,000 words before I realized that there was simply no reasonable way I could publish this as a single episode. Even though I really wanted to. Seriously, this season doesn’t have room for any two-parters. So I guess I’m just expanding the season. Needless to say, this episode wasn’t exactly supposed to end where it did. It wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, we all know what happened to Shadow in the end. But, eh, it was dramatic, and roughly in the middle. It is sort of nice now that I have the two separate “Episode Shadow from another perspective” and “the rest of Forces from another perspective” episodes. This episode was originally supposed to be just the latter with a brief Episode Shadow based introduction, but, much like Vector, I guess I just got too caught up in the story. So that “brief introduction” basically became an entire episode of its own.

I suppose I should probably explain the whole “Tales of the Resistance” thing. Sonic Forces is…incredibly unique in the way that it handled its story. Yes, I know, that’s a pretty funny way to say “terrible”. But that’s the thing. Generally speaking, Sonic game stories tend to fall into two categories. Either you have something like the Classic games or Lost World or Colors or something, where there’s a very loose, simple plot that is presented as it is with no questions to be asked, or it’s something like SA2 or ’06 where the plot is complicated and presents lots of questions, but is still designed to be self-inclusive and answer those questions for itself. But Forces is different. Forces presents this grandiose plot, one of the biggest in the franchise, but then leaves 90% of it up to your imagination. And when it comes to Sonic, I have a very active imagination. So that’s why I’ve decided to work on this sort of…subseries to take place within The Chaos Project. The idea is not to rewrite Forces, but simply to tell the stories that Forces left out. In fact, the Forces special I wrote nearly a year ago, After the Fight, would probably be considered a part of this subseries as well. I did consider writing this as its own separate story, instead of making it a part of The Chaos Project, but…why should I leave these things separate when they stand to benefit from the context of each other? Plus, as you may know from Shadow of Time, I don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to reliably working on non-Chaos Project content. I’ll probably compile it all on the website with C.P. content removed anyways.

One of the reasons I love this part so much (and why it dragged so much longer than expected) is because I couldn’t pass up the chance to reimplement some nearly-canon yet lost material of Forces. To most of my readers, half of the dialogue during the Virtual Reality novelization was probably completely unfamiliar. But all of it (right up before the end) was actual dialogue programmed into the real Episode Shadow, but left inaccessible for unknown reasons. I might’ve mentioned this before, but Shadow’s line “I thought you said he was destroyed three months ago…” was one of the most spectacular deliveries I’ve ever heard from this voice actor of Shadow. But they cut it out. So to spite them, I put it back in. Even at the end, once Shadow started talking about “Showing them Ultimate Power,” those were cut lines as well, although they seemed to be intended for Eggman’s Facility (possibly implying a cut Jackal Squad fight, curse you Sonic Team). In general, Tales of the Resistance is expected to be full of such references to cut content, little-known trivia, and even some unused concept art, as you will be seeing right at the beginning of the next part. In terms of the “little-known trivia,” I should probably mention that the first flashback scene, of Rouge coordinating Shadow’s run through Enemy Territory while Omega deals with Infinite, was actually, for the most part, straight out of one of the official Sonic Forces prequel comics. But that’s not the trivia part. What’s interesting is that that particular comic, “Looming Shadow,” ended with a brief exchange between Rouge and Shadow which was entirely missing from the original game, despite the dialogue otherwise lining up perfectly. That would be because that ending exchange was, you guessed it, made up of lines that are programmed in but cut from the final game. It’s hard to say whether the comic writers actually saw a beta version of the game where those lines were used, or if they were simply given a bulk script to work with before anything got cut. But the way I see it, I’m simply doing the comic’s work. Only better. Eat your heart out, Ian Flynn (not really I love your work plz don’t be mad).

Coming back to the episode as a whole, I would say this one in particular was inspired by a few very specific questions.
1) What the heck happened at the end of Episode Shadow that made Rouge call Shadow over?
2) Why the heck did Episode Shadow end showing Sonic being defeated by Infinite without any additional context of any kind? What was the significance of that scene?
3) WHERE THE HECK WAS SHADOW OVER THE FOLLOWING SIX MONTHS!!?? Seriously! They dedicate an entire prequel story to Shadow, and they don’t even bother answering the one question about him that was actually posed by the main game? What were they thinking!?

Over all, the ending of Episode Shadow was severely, severely lacking. It’s almost like they decided to cancel the second half so they could get it out in time for day-one DLC. IT’S ALREADY DLC!! YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST TAKE THE TIME TO PUT ACTUAL WORK INTO IT!! Sorry. Anyways, two out of three of those questions were definitively answered by this first part. And that brings me to the Battle of Lost Valley. Green Hill was one of the many, many things in Forces that everyone reacted to, but never actually talked about. Why is it covered in sand? Why is it inhabited by an alien worm from the Lost Hex? Why is it littered with the scattered remains of Death Egg Robots? These are things that everyone points out, yet no one ever bothers answering. For these questions, I got one out of three. It’s a start. Writing the Battle of Lost Valley was immensely satisfying, just because it answered so many questions. It explains what Rouge saw at the end of Episode Shadow. It explains where the Death Egg Robots came from. It even explains where GUN went for the duration of the game. To top that all off, it gives the sand worm an actual purpose, and ties Episode Shadow quite neatly into the main story of Forces.

And I suppose that’s all I’ve got for this part!

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

Preview: Season 1, Episode 9

On Empire Day, a great battle was lost, and Rouge fled from the Rebellion to work for their enemies. But years ago, on the day that Infinite attacked, something similar once happened.

Rouge watches as a black-painted Death Egg Robot collapses into the sand of the Lost Valley under the onslaught of the GUN airships that fire from above. A buzz comes in her communicator. “Rouge, this is Shadow. What’s going on?”

“Finally back from your top-secret mission, are you? Did you find Eggman’s weapon?”

“No. Now tell me what’s happening.”

“Well, there’s this big battle in Green Hill. Eggman’s trying to take back the city. But we pretty much have it wrapped up.”

“Rouge, are you telling me the truth?”

“What’s the point of lying about it? Eggman got word that Sonic is nearby and mounted a massive assault. I mean, sure, A for effort, but it’s nothing to worry about. We’ve got the advantage now. Sonic is on his way too, so I don’t think it’s a big enough deal for you to head out.”

Shadow lets out a grunt of discontent, as if thinking deeply about something. “I can’t imagine the Doctor would do something like that without…” He trails off.

But Rouge hardly notices. Out of the central Eggman airship, the largest in the fleet, a point of pulsating crimson light slowly descends. Rouge lets out a gasp. “Shadow! This is not good! Hurry, get over here!”

Infinite’s voice booms loudly over the sandy plains, bringing an eerie silence to the battle. “Attention, insects of the military. You have been chosen as the first to witness the full extent of the power that will conquer this earth. Enjoy your final moments of life.”

Shadow’s voice can faintly be heard through the crackling static of the comm. “W––t –s i–, Ro–g–? W––– h––pe––d?” The voice is completely lost.

Infinite spreads his arms wide, and a massive wave of negative energy sweeps over the entire battlefield. Soldiers are lifted from the ground, tumbling uncontrollably through the air, and flying mechs seem no longer able to keep control, plummeting towards the ground. All of the airships aim their fire directly at Infinite. He chuckles softly as the vast majority of the fire passes him by completely. He points up an outstretched hand, and fires off a thin crimson laser beam of his own. Though the beam is thin, it wreaks massive destruction as it carves through the entire fleet one ship at a time, sending them all diving down into the negative space.

Infinite lets both of his arms drop down to his sides. In the air around him, countless hundreds of cubes are generated, each floating independently. He stretches back, then crosses his arms in front of him. One by one, in rapid succession, the cubes are launched away from him at immense speed. Each one seems to target a person or a machine. And each time one comes in contact, it appears to erase its target from existence in an instant.

From a perch high atop a cliff, away from the chaos, Rouge watches in horror as hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers appear to be annihilated before her eyes. Even the falling airships are removed.

Suddenly, the bubble of negative space contracts. There are no more cubes. And no more sign that GUN was ever there. Save for the wrecks of the Death Egg Robots, and the Egg Pawns quickly taking up defensive positions throughout the lost valley, there is no sign of any battle at all. The rest of the Eggman’s forces surge onwards towards the city.

—–—

Later…

Infinite bends down to pick something up from the streets of the city. “I’m sure we can find…some use for this…thing.”

Rouge’s voice sounds behind him, “I might be able to help with that.” Infinite doesn’t bother turning at the sound. “The name’s Rouge. I’m something of a treasure hunter. A jewel expert, you might say. And I want in.”

 

Preview: Season 1, Episode 5

 

Four years ago

If we wanted any chance of getting up to the ARK in time, I had to call in a favor from an old colleague of mine.

The Chaotix walk through the metallic halls of a military base, this one plastered with the familiar ‘G’ emblem of the Guardian Units of Nations. Espio voices quietly, “Are you sure we should be in here, Vector? Isn’t this a restricted area?”

“Relax, Espio! Trust me, this guy’s an old pal of mine, we worked together on a case way back. I’m sure they have an extra space shuttle or something lying around we can borrow. Besides, look around. Do you see anyone trying to stop us?”

Charmy questions, “Wouldn’t they be a little bit busy trying to, you know, fight off the alien invasion and all that? Maybe they don’t even know we’re here.”

They arrive at a metal door plastered in the white, full-decorated version of the GUN insignia. “Don’t worry guys, we’ll be on our way up to the ARK in no time.”

The door automatically rises open in front of them, opening the way to the GUN central command room, filled with lit screens of world maps and red blips, as well as other horrifying images of the war, managed by almost two dozen workers collecting and relaying information from them. On an elevated platform in the center of it all sits a man with silvery white hair in a decorated uniform, his back turned to the door. But at the sound of the door opening, he turns to see. “Now what’s going on!?” The man’s mismatched pair of red and blue eyes clearly identify him as the High Commander.

Vector greets, “Commander! So good to see you again! Sorry to bother you when I’m sure you’re so busy, but I’ve got a favor to ask, and it’s very important.”

“What!? Who are you, how did you get in here!?”

Charmy is quick to answer, “That’s an easy one! We’re the Chaotix, and the door was open!”

Espio questions quietly, “‘Old pal’, you said?”

“Well…really we were more like associates. He…might’ve questioned me about a case…once…” Espio groans and shakes his head.

The Commander rises to his feet, appearing furious. But before he can say anything more, the door opens once again, and a soldier steps in, throwing a salute. “Commander…the invaders! They seem to be in retreat!”

“What!?”

“Estimated over 1000 black aliens turned tail left their active battlefields, returning to wherever they came from. Alien ships tracked leaving the surface all seem to be converging at the Space Colony ARK.” Vector and Espio glance at each other for a moment.

The Commander pounds his fist onto the side of the chair as he shouts, “The Eclipse Cannon! This isn’t a retreat, soldier! It’s an attack plan!” He presses down on a button on the chair’s arm, channeling his voice through the base’s PA system. “Attention all units! Mobilize all mech battle sections! We must stop the aliens from infiltrating the ARK at any cost!” He takes his hand back. “And somebody get these clowns out of my command room!”

The messenger soldier holds up his weapon threateningly at the Chaotix. They all raise their hands at once in surrender. He motions for them to proceed out the door. “You heard the Commander, get moving!” They slowly file out.

That was when I first started getting suspicious. Everything seemed to center around that ARK. There was something that connected the Professor to those aliens, and whatever it was, my employer seemed to know about it. I didn’t know what the answer was yet. But I knew the only way to figure it out was to get to the ARK and see for myself. And I wasn’t going to let such a minor setback keep me from finding the truth.

 

Review: Season 1, Episode 3

So I had just started writing this episode, when suddenly, I realized…”WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING!? Why am I cross-canon shipping Rouge the Bat with freaking Sly Cooper!?” Okay, so one, it’s not shipping, because they hate each other’s guts, and they never even kissed on-screen. Two, this was not, I repeat, NOT Sly Cooper. For those not aware, Sly Cooper is the titular character of a videogame franchise that released exclusively for the PlayStation family of systems. In those games, Sly is a thieving anthropomorphic raccoon born to a family with a history of thieving going back many generations. He wears a mostly blue outfit, and fights with his signature hooked cane. Given that information, it would be all too easy to misinterpret my Sly, who I’ll call Sylvester to make things easier, as being the very same person. So here’s how it went. Planning for this episode began with the simple desire to show why Rouge considers herself to be both a thief and a spy. The obvious answer to me was that she was once a thief, but her life was changed by an offer from GUN. I quickly decided that giving her a partner in crime, whom she would have to betray, would be a great way to add depth and drama to the episode. By adding a romantic relationship to the mix, I though it might subtly demonstrate the origin of Rouge’s flirtatious nature. The choice of a Raccoon for the other thief was beyond obvious. Calling him “Sly” wasn’t quite so obvious, but I’d hardly call it a stretch. At that point, I realized that a raccoon thief named Sly sounded oddly familiar. I’ve never actually owned a Sly game, but a friend of mine did, so I saw the first one played a fair amount. Anyways, I realized it was a thing, so I had two choices. I could start over from scratch, or I could keep rolling with the reference. I decided on the latter. So I added the blue outfit and the staff, and Sylvester was born.

There are a few notable differences, the largest being that Sly Cooper isn’t actually named Sylvester (as far as I know) and that Sylvester doesn’t have the last name Cooper. Additionally, Sly wears a blue beret and grey pants, which were notably missing from Sylvester’s outfit. Sylvester’s staff does not have a hook like Sly’s cane. That being said, Sylvester may have quoted Sly once or twice. His personality is intentionally very similar…with the whole criminally unstable thing added on top. I’d say the obsessiveness was also added, but…Sly actually was pretty obsessive in his games. And of course, Sly didn’t turn out to be a villain. Point is, it’s a reference. A parody, one might say. But absolutely not the same person. It’s still a little awkward that I put him in a relationship with a canon character, but I just had to keep reminding myself that he was never the point of the episode, just a character there to help tell Rouge’s story.

So, on to Rouge. I must say, minus the weirdness I’ve already talked about, I was really looking forward to this episode. My very first attempt at delving neck-deep backwards into Sonic lore, to tell the stories that were missed…unless you count the Forces Special, but that was recent enough that I wouldn’t call it “neck-deep backwards”. It’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to write this story in the first place. Maybe that’s why this is now among one of the fastest episode I’ve ever written. But why Rouge? I want to say that I mentioned something along these lines before, though I don’t really know when. I find Rouge to be a very…unique character, not necessarily in terms of her design or personality, but simply in simply in her role in the Sonic franchise. Rouge is one of the only characters introduced in the modern series who isn’t a completely special, one-of-a-kind person. I know that sounds like the opposite of what I just said, but think about it. Silver, Blaze, Infinite, Omega, even my own characters like Zero, Blacklight, and Chaos, they’re all very, very…specific characters. The only ones more like Rouge are Cream and Big, and they’re…well, not quite as interesting to work with. Rouge is just a normal person in the Sonic world, and yet she still manages to play an interesting role, and has a sort of mystery about her. I thought that made her the perfect candidate for my first backstory episode.

I already explained some of the basics behind planning for this episode, but there was one very important goal beyond Rouge herself. But I suppose it still began with her. When I knew I’d be telling a story about her joining GUN, I knew I needed to explain why. The answer seemed fairly obvious. She’s a jewel thief. And they needed seven very special jewels in their possession. As shown in Adventure 2, they absolutely were collecting Chaos Emeralds by that time, as they had three of them waiting in storage, not counting the one that Rouge was carrying with her (the very same one that kicked off this episode). In a general sense, it should be obvious why they would do that. But they’ve never done it before. So what got them started? I realized at that moment that I had the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between Adventure 1 and Adventure 2. And that became my mission for this episode. After all, the Perfect Chaos incident certainly seems to be the first time Sonic ever really went public. All of a sudden, these world-ending scenarios are now happening in the public eye. And of course, GUN would’ve known about that. Realizing the destructive potential of the Chaos Emeralds, locking them away would easily become priority one. So they needed Rouge. Gap officially bridged. Of course, there were a few extra references thrown in just to bind things that much tighter. Of course, there’s the blue Emerald that Rouge apparently holds onto all the way through Adventure 2. The three reports she receives at the end line up with the three she later has to retrieve from Security Hall in SA2, as well as the extra one in Tails’ “safe hands,” which he received due to his actions in Adventure 1, as you might recall. Then she was ordered to investigate the Master Emerald, which how her story was started off at the very beginning of SA2. And of course, the Commander flips out when Eggman steals the information he later uses to wake up Shadow.

I suppose that leads me into my next topic. This is the first indication that the Commander was ever present before the events of Shadow the Hedgehog. But we’ll most certainly be seeing more of him in this timeframe. Ever wonder why GUN went after Sonic when their leader knew very well about Shadow? We’ll certainly go over that, eventually. It may also have something to do with that soldier at the end, Mr. J. Naka. That name ring a bell? Well it shouldn’t. Necessarily. We’ll likely be seeing more of him in the future, though. Think of this as a sneak preview.

Something else I forgot to mention. Rouge’s flashback outfit was heavily inspired by an official concept art sketch recently revealed on Sonic social media channels (thank you, Aaron Webber). Here, I think I can just show you.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSonic%2Fposts%2F10156220547112418&width=500

The third photo shown is a prototype design for Rouge, where she looks quite a bit younger. This is what I was referencing when describing her design. And that’s all I got for now.

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

 

Preview: Season 0, Episode 3

I was considering just publishing this today, but unfortunately, writing for the current episode isn’t going quite as smoothly as I’d hoped. So here’s a preview instead.

Rouge stares with wonder at the Chaos Emerald, held up on a pedestal in the center of the dim jewelry store. The glass case that once covered it has been removed, and placed on the ground. After a moment of hesitation, Rouge grabs for the Emerald. Everything remains quiet.

Rouge slowly turns the Emerald over in her hand, getting a close look at it. “I…I have it. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

A voice answer on the communicator in her ear, “More beautiful than me? I ought to be offended.”

Before Rouge can answer, another voice shouts, “You there!” A security guard stands in front of a door, weapon raised and pointed at Rouge. His eyes dart from the glass case on the floor, to the Emerald in her hand. “Stop, thief!” He fires off two rounds from his gun.

Rouge ducks down under the cover of the pedestal for momentary safety. “Sly, I’m pinned down, I need cover! Sly?” The alarm has been triggered, and flashing red lights now flood the smokey room, to the sound of an incessant wail.

Not getting any answer, Rouge carefully peeks out from her cover, just in time to see a blue and grey blur of motion strike at the guard, knocking the weapon free from his hand, and sending it sliding across the ground. An animoid raccoon, wearing a dark red backpack and a lighter blue sweater, stands crouched in front of the guard, wielding a long wooden staff in one hand. He glances back to meet her eyes for a moment. “Get out of here, go!”

Looking over to see the spot Sly entered from, a small round hole made in the shuttered window, Rouge makes a run for it. Halfway out through the hole, she glances back to see that the guard has drawn a baton in one hand and a taser in the other. Sly leaps up to attack with his own weapon. Rouge makes her own leap, flying out into the night.

Leveling out at the height of most of the rooftops in this area of the city, Rouge takes one last glance at the jewelry store, where a red light still periodically flashes through her exit hole. The alarm can still be faintly heard. She looks instead back to the Emerald in her hand as she flies along through the air. “You’re finally mine…” She gasps and weaves off to the side, just in time to avoid some sort of energy bolt that was fired through the air.

Down on the street below, covered behind a blockade of strobing police vehicles, a group of soldiers and robots alike all have their weapons pointed up at Rouge. Without saying a word, they continue to fire. As she dodges two more energy bolts, Rouge exclaims, “How’d they get here so fast!?” She dodges around another wave of fire, only to find a cable wrapping around her boot. “Uh oh.”

The soldier with the grappling gun yanks down hard, sending Rouge crashing down into the center of the blockaded area. She slams into the ground hard enough to see stars.

Through the spots in Rouge’s fading vision, she sees a pair of polished black shoes belonging to a tall figure approaching her. Though she can hardly hear him through the ringing in her ears, the man speaks in a commanding voice, “Rouge the Bat, you are hereby placed under arrest by order of the Guardian Units of Nations.” Then everything goes black.

 

Review: Season 0 Finale (Episode 32)

Oh, man. It’s hard to believe it’s over. I mean, The Chaos Project still has a long way to go, but Season 0, the backbone of the whole story, is actually over. It’s been two years. Two whole years! Ten percent of my life, I’ve spent on this season alone, and now it’s over! Two years ago, if you had told me I would end the season on a cliffhanger battle between Blacklight and Infinite, I would’ve…well, first I would’ve asked who Infinite is, because Forces wasn’t announced yet, but then I would’ve called you crazy. Certainly, I would’ve been on, like, Season 2 at least. And certainly, if it had somehow taken me that long to end Season 0, there’s no way I would’ve dedicated such an important episode to concepts from some bland Modern Sonic game that no one likes. After all, the stories of Modern Sonic games are specifically what I’m writing this story to combat. And yet, here we are. I guess you just never know what life’s gonna throw at you. But hey, make your move, work it out, that’s what life is all about. It’s an adventure. And somehow, through it all, it still leads into Crisis of Chaos in exactly the ways I wanted it to. I suppose I should probably explain that ending scene itself. The idea didn’t occur to me until some time during the writing of this episode, but I thought that, given the way this whole arc started, and the innate similarities between Infinite and Blacklight that have been drastically strengthened by the Ruby connection, their relationship needed better resolution than the climax offered.

Man, where do I even go from here, talking about this episode? SO. MUCH. ACTION. This was really testing the limits of my action-writing skills. I suppose that explains how this ended up being far and away the longest episode of this season, likely of the entire story. 14,000 words, where 5,000 is where I like to be, and 11,000 was the record set just one episode earlier. Dialogue is very efficient, one word of dialogue translates fairly well to one second of screen time. But for an action sequence, two or three sentences, long ones, could be necessary to describe just a quick few seconds of equivalent on-screen motion.

Anyways, I suppose I should start with the actual episode content now. I already mentioned in last episode’s review that that episode was like the “character finale,” while this is the “action and plot finale,” and that ended up holding pretty true. But what I didn’t say was that, while last episode was specifically for Shadow and his little group, this episode was for everyone. Usually I like to identify who the main characters for each episode are, and by my normal evaluation method, that would include pretty much the entire Sonic cast this time (the exceptions being Silver, Blaze, Classic Sonic, Zero, and arguably Sonic himself, plus spin-off characters like the Babylons). For such an important episode, I think that’s pretty fair.

Since it actually took up a pretty fair percentage of this episode, I suppose I should talk about Cream’s little character arc. I promised it would happen, and I think I delivered. In the end, she didn’t really “handle herself” as well as I’d hoped, but I also wanted to make sure to keep things within her established character. Fun fact; I was originally planning on having her actually accept the gun from the Commander, or maybe end up being forced to use his, but in the end, I realized that was kind of…wrong, to put a gun in the hands of a seven-year-old. Hence why I had to talk about the safeties in the gun to have the Commander offer the weapon in the first place without seeming like a terrible, terrible person in the process. The culprit, I think, for making me think it was okay before I came to my senses, is Ender’s Game, a sci-fi novel about a child sent to wage war against an alien race. You might remember it for the terrible movie it had a few years back, but the books are great. Anyways, the idea of a kid with a gun didn’t seem so crazy to me in light of that, but I realized that not everyone would agree with that assessment. But anyways, those scenes were also nice because I got to give the Commander a proper character arc, even if only a small one. I’ve been painting him as such a jerk throughout this series, but I do really like him as a character, so it was very nice to show his more caring, protective side. Not to mention his skills as a soldier, since he’s usually on the sidelines. Before our next topic, I’d like to confirm that Heavy Shinobi is not dead. I just wanted to prove a point about Infinite’s brutality, which I think went quite well.

Since I just mentioned soldiers, I guess I’ll move on to Hero next. I knew right from the beginning that I didn’t want to pull another fake Super Form with him like I did in After the Fight, but I also knew that he was much too important to this episode arc to be relegated to lesser fights. So, recalling the fact that Titanic Monarch was a Zone before it was a final boss, I thought that having Hero traverse that Zone in the middle of Shadow’s Super fight would be a great way to show off the sheer scale of the Monarch, while also giving him a great opportunity for a final interaction with Infinite. Of course, this planning was all before I was even done with After the Fight, so their entire thing they had going back then was all for the purpose of leading up to “I don’t want to see you burn.” Essentially, that was Infinite’s way of saying “I care about you,” which is insane for him, but that’s why I had them spend so much time together over the course of this arc. And then of course, Hero said his first words! Sort of. “Nuh-uh” aren’t exactly words. I originally planned on a more resolute “No,” but I was advised against such a drastic move at this time. Doesn’t mean he won’t say more in the future, but as his very first semblance of speech, something a little more like how he usually expresses himself seemed a little more appropriate. And of course, we have his resolution, becoming a proper GUN soldier. I mentioned this before, and I know that it felt rushed, almost out of the blue, but I couldn’t have him talk about it! The best I could do is hint that he’d be without a purpose after the war, and show that he has a respect for the Commander. Honestly, I think it’s a pretty reasonable step for him to take, given his character arc in Forces alone, but since it’s technically your custom character, I can see why anyone might disagree with that.

I guess I’ll talk about my shames of this episode now. Probably the biggest was how much Tails was shoved off to the side, considering that he was technically the first main character of this arc. Before Forces ever came along, this arc was intended to form a pretty important bond between Shadow and Tails, and I’ll admit that that part got completely dropped halfway through. I’ll just have to move the building of that relationship off into next season (or maybe the one after), which is fine by me. I can still use the early episodes of this arc as a foundation. But anyways, it’s actually pretty sad that Cream got more of a focus in this episode than Tails did, but in the grand scheme of things, he really just wasn’t that important, and I didn’t want to force anything. Next up is the Super fight. It was meant to be…a lot more exciting. But as you could probably tell, I gave up on actually describing most of it halfway through, and instead just implied that stuff was happening while they were talking. The problem is that the Monarch itself had a giant, blaring, fragile weak point, one hit and it’s over, which made it a lot harder to keep interesting. Not to mention the fact that the episode was intended to be much shorter, so one battle spread throughout all of it wouldn’t have seemed so dragged out that way. There’s one last disappointment, and it’s a small one. Considering that Bruno the Wisp is technically the only original character I introduced in this arc, I would’ve like for him to be…at least a little bit more important. I mean, he served his purpose, he gave Hero a way to communicate with others, he armed the Wispon when necessary, and he showed off character from Hero in that he’s less secure without him. And of course, he had a few entertaining interactions with Infinite. But he himself didn’t gain much in the way of character. Oh, well. And…that’s really all for disappointments. I’m quite fond of this episode over all.

I could probably keep talking here for hours, as seems to be becoming the norm. But I think I’ve covered all the most important parts. There are quite a few things I sort of intended to talk about, like more about those three ending scenes, but I think I wrote them in a way that each speaks for itself. So I guess this is where I’ll stop. So now is the time for another big announcement. I can now confirm that I will publish the premiere episode of Season 1 on June 23rd, the second anniversary of the story, and Sonic’s 27th. That’s next week! No need for a long seasonal break! (Though there may be a summer hiatus thereafter.) So keep an eye out!

-And until then, remember to live and learn every day!

Preview: Season 0, Episode…31 Again?

Since last time we spoke on this series, I changed around the episode numbers a little bit. After the Fight, the Sonic Forces Special which does include a single event contemporary to the story, no longer counts towards the Season’s episode count, and is instead its own separate entity. It’s still located in the same place, it just isn’t numbered. The result of this is that all episodes thereafter had their number lowered by one, making what I once called 31 into 30, and this, which would have once been 32, into 31. Why did I do it? Well, like I said, that episode was very unusual for the story as a whole, taking place 100% in the past, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t count. I may have flashback episodes in the future, but there will always be a base in the present. But…perhaps the more important reason is that this way, the Season will now end at a nice round 32 episodes. That’s right. This is the next-to-last episode of the Season. But enough of all that, you came here for a preview, right?

Backed by Chaos, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Rouge, Omega, Vector, Espio, Charmy, Hero, Infinite, and an army of GUN soldiers, human and animoid alike, Shadow stands ready to lead the charge against the horde of Replicas that stand opposite to them, including Zavok, Metal Sonic, Chaos 0, Mephiles, and countless of Blacklight’s shadowy minion creatures. Blacklight, still bearing the mask of Infinite, and the intensely-glowing Phantom Ruby, floats high above them, slowly drifting down until he stands before his army just as Shadow does. He speaks with a strange, distorted voice overlaid with his own, “So good to see you again, Shadow. We were wondering how long it would it would take you to take our bait.” The air is filled with strange glowing fissures in space itself, leaking out small violet particles. “And we see that you brought all your friends. That will make them much easier to destroy.”

Shadow at first seems surprised at the coherence of Blacklight’s thoughts. “Blacklight…is that still you?”

Blacklight laughs softly. “Of course it’s us, Shadow. Who else would it be?”

“Us? You and who else?”

“No one else. Just us.” He places his hand over the Ruby. “We are one, now.”

“No, no, don’t you see it!? That Ruby is taking over your mind! But it’s not too late to fight it! You have to fight it!”

“Fight it? Why would we want to do that? We were always destined to be together, don’t you see it, Shadow?”

Behind Shadow, Infinite growls and clenches his hand around his blade.

Shadow responds, “What happened to the free spirit, who hated rules and wouldn’t listen to anyone but himself!? Isn’t he still in there!?”

“Yes…and no. Besides, we still listen only to ourselves. Hence, why we aren’t listening to you now. So we would suggest you stop wasting your time. That is, if you still intend to stop us.”

Shadow closes his eyes and sighs, ready to take his last shot. “I have something for you.”

“What’s this? A gift?”

“That’s right.” Somewhat hesitantly, Shadow pulls something out and holds it up high for Blacklight to see. It’s a shiny red apple.

Blacklight gasps. “Is that…could it be?”

Shadow nods encouragingly. “I brought it for you. Just you. I thought you might enjoy it.”

“Shadow…that really means a lot, you know?” Slowly, Blacklight starts to lift his mask, revealing a genuine smile underneath. But, halfway up, he seems to change his mind, and lowers the mask back down. “Only two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine more before you’ve repaid your debt to us.” He directs out a hand, a violet glow is cast over the apple in Shadow’s hand. With the flick of a wrist, the apple is plucked out of Shadow’s hand with the Ruby’s power, and drawn into Blacklight’s. He lifts his mask up again, just high enough to take a large bite. “Hm. Not bad.”

Shadow lets out another sigh, realizing that there will be no easy way out.

Through a mouthful of apple, Blacklight continues, “Well, what will it be, Shadow? Who will make the first move?”

Behind Shadow, Infinite suddenly shouts, “We will!” Sword drawn, he charges alone out of line. Immediately, Hero runs after him, raising his Wispon in preparation to back him up.

Blacklight merely laughs, extending his arms wide as a command for his entire army to charge in response.

Havoc erupts on the battlefield.

The final battle has begun.

-And until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

Review: Shadow of Time Parts 4 and 5

I didn’t even realize that I forgot to do the review for the last one, so here’s both, to get us all caught up. But part 4 was a while ago, so I’ll have to see what I can remember.

I’m a little worried about things getting too formulaic here. Shadow plays the Dark mission of a level, meets the hero of said level, and eventually gets rid of the hero before completing the level, followed by a newly-made scene that includes a flashback. Part 5 sort of broke that mold, with its flashback near the beginning and its focus on the boss fight at the end, but Part 4 was definitely a culprit. That’s why I specifically made a sort of joke over the fact that Shadow expected to be interrupted as he was preparing to destroy the ARK defense systems, as he was by Vector. A little later, I decided to cut out the Commander’s flashback, because I wanted to focus on Shadow, and it didn’t really add much to the scene beyond what he was saying anyways. So, why did I decide to have the Commander lose an eye? Well, it’s just a continuation of a preexisting symbol. Just like with the President’s photograph, the Commander’s heterochromatic eyes were already there for me, begging to be used. In the original game, they were there to symbolize the game’s entire theme, the thin line between good and evil, and the duality between them. But this story’s theme is a bit different. By cutting out the Commander’s “good guy” eye, Shadow symbolically cut out the goodness within himself. Additionally, the altered situation made for a great lead-in for the team-up of the Commander with Sonic, since that’s something that came up very suddenly in the original game. There’s also one other reason. Ever heard of Nick Fury? Fury is to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe as the Commander is to G.U.N. in Sonic. And Fury has an eyepatch. I couldn’t resist making the comparison. As for Part 5, there isn’t as much to say. It was nice, finally writing the meeting of Shadow and Sonic, even if it was mostly constructed from recycled quotes. Either way, there’s more of that interaction to come.

Now, as usual, a chronicle of specific changes:
1. Change in level order, The ARK/Cosmic Fall/Space Gadget are combined into one, and now come after Air Fleet dark mission. The introduction scene used most closely reflects The ARK.
2. Despite Vector’s presence, the ARK is not collapsing, and Shadow is still destroying Defense Units. Vector has donned a black leather jacket for unknown reasons. (That was very relevant at the time I wrote it, but it’s been a while since then.)
3. The Commander encounters Shadow after the level instead of before. In the encounter, Shadow attacks the Commander and slices his eye. After the encounter, Sonic finds and helps him.
4. In a scene that did not exist before, Shadow meets Black Doom in the Eclipse Cannon control room. As Black Doom forces Shadow to fire the Cannon, Shadow has a flashback to his first encounter with Rouge in Sonic Heroes.
5. In a scene that did not exist before, the President learns that the Eclipse Cannon is targeting the GUN base he occupies, and gives a last goodbye to the workers in the room, before the base is destroyed by the Cannon. Rouge is presumed dead.
6. In a scene that did not exist before, Sonic and the Commander watch from space as the GUN base is destroyed, and decide to go after the Black Comet together. The Commander makes a speech to whoever is left to hear to join them in the fight. Emerald placement has been slightly modified.
7. In a scene that did not exist before, Black Doom takes Shadow to the room where he was first awoken, and agrees to unlock Shadow’s memories. Shadow has a flashback to the very moment he was awoken, and the promise he made to Black Doom at the time.
8. Sonic and Shadow spend some extra time on the Black Comet debating over Shadow’s allegiances.
9. During the battle, Sonic and the Commander argue and interfere with one another.
10. Once Shadow gathers all seven Chaos Emeralds, he spares Sonic’s life. At the last moment, Eggman appears, claiming Shadow to be an Android.

Preview: Shadow of Time, Part 5

The next episode of The Chaos Project isn’t quite ready yet, so we’ll be taking a brief detour for the return of Shadow of Time! Here’s a preview!

Amidst the alien world that is the interior of the Black Comet, Shadow steps forward slowly, wielding easily in one hand a long gatling gun, several times his own size. Before him waits a massive squadron of GUN Trooper robots, headed by three mass-produced Big Foot models, all with weapons directed at Shadow.

Doom’s Eye comments from behind, “So, the humans have decided to play their hand, have they? Go! Show them your true power, Shadow!”

“Hmph.” Shadow pulls down on the trigger, letting loose a continuous stream of destruction from the powerful weapon in his hand, which shreds through every last robot in the path Shadow directs it along, until there’s nothing left but smoke and a few scraps of metal. Shadow tosses the emptied weapon aside, and it clatters across the ground as he goes to pick up a new one from the rubble.

“Yes…show them how powerless they truly are!”

Another voice interjects, “Powerless? You hear that, Commander? The jellyfish with an eyeball just called us powerless!”

Shadow doesn’t turn to the source of the voice. “Sonic.”

Sonic stands with his arms crossed in front of a giant red mech. The mech floats with no legs, but has two massive, powerful looking arms, and a single large eye-like structure on the front of its head. Small white print on each of the mech’s arms reads “U78-X/D Diablon”. Holding the purple Chaos Emerald in one hand, Sonic points accusingly with his other at Doom’s Eye. “Why don’t you come out of hiding and meet us face-to-face, Boss Man? We’ll show you just how ‘powerless’ we are.”

Shadow turns angrily at Sonic. “I thought I told you to stay out of my way!”

“Yeah. And I told you to stay away from that thing.” Sonic again points at Doom’s Eye. “I guess neither of us is very good at taking orders. Which makes me wonder why you’re taking orders from a jellyfish!”

Shadow closes his eyes and clenches a fist. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Is that what you told Tails before you attacked him? Or Knuckles, before you blasted him into a building? Or what you would’ve told Rouge, before you obliterated the military base!?” Shadow growls, and clenches even harder. “Shadow, I want to understand. I want to help you! But you have to talk to me!”

The Commander barks at Sonic, “Don’t you get it!? That monster doesn’t want to be helped! He’s chosen his side! And he’s ready to destroy us all!”

“Shadow…why are you siding with those black creatures?”

“It’s because…it’s what I have to do.”

“You don’t have to do anything, Shadow! You have your own free will! You don’t have to live for anyone else! You can help people, you can do whatever you think is right! I thought you already learned that!”

“You’re wrong! These humans don’t deserve help! They don’t value life, I’ve seen it with my own eyes! I’ve relived it over and over again! Even the innocent don’t understand! This is what I was born to do, Sonic. I can bring order to this planet.” Shadow closes his eyes again. “Just hand over the Emerald, Sonic. You don’t have to be a part of this.”

Sonic shakes his head. “I can’t let you go, Shadow. Not like this.”

“I don’t want it to come to this, Sonic. But if you try to stop me…I’ll destroy you, too.”

“If that’s how it’s gonna be, Shadow…” Sonic raises his fists “…then bring it on!”

Doom’s Eye commands, “Enough fooling around! Shadow, finish them!”

The Diablon bangs its metal fists together, and some sort of yellow ray shield raises around the mech. “This is for my family, and for Maria! I’ll settle this once and for all!”

Untitled

After all that’s happened, the paths of Sonic and Shadow must finally collide. And only one can come out on top.