Review: Season 2, Episode 4

I have been waiting for such a long time to write this episode. It wasn’t necessarily my earliest idea, but I knew from the moment I thought of it that it was a story that needed to be told. For the longest time, whenever I tried to think to the future of this series, this was almost always the episode that my thoughts drifted to first. It’s hard to explain exactly why that is. I believe I’ve said before that growth and coming of age is one of the greatest overarching themes of this series, and even in the canon, Tails has long been the representative of that idea. Everyone grows up over time, and in this series, Tails is no exception. Knowing that he would one day, years from now, be grown into a mature adult, I suppose I always saw this episode as a vital transition point. If there will ever be a moment where you can say that Tails grew up, it will be this episode. Sonic has long kept him in a world of black-and-white—we’re the good guys, and we fight the bad guys. But on this day, Tails was pushed into a much greyer world. And, more to the point, it was a reflection of Sonic who gave him that push.

And I suppose this is the part where I talk about Metal Sonic. That big twist at the end…wasn’t necessarily part of the original plan. I suppose I must give credit where credit is due. Usually in this series, I try to make everything my own. When it comes to new ideas and big reveals that were never a part of the original games, I have to dig deep to put the pieces together, and form my own ideas about what does and doesn’t work in the established world of Sonic. It’s rare that I become truly inspired by another person’s theories or headcanons, but this would be one of those instances. When I saw The Sega Scourge’s “Metal Sonic is Sonic, Roboticized” video, I was inspired—not because the theory was particularly convincing, but because it added so much weight and meaning to Metal Sonic’s long history that wasn’t there before. And weight and meaning are exactly the primary factors I consider when writing in such ideas. It’s not enough to have an interesting idea if it doesn’t add anything to the greater context, but this most certainly did. I started wondering immediately if there was a way I could make this admittedly outlandish theory work in my favor. And when I considered what that big reveal would add to this particular episode, I was sold.

Unfortunately, while the story of Tails and Metal Sonic was well planned and put together, the rest was not so much. As often as I thought ahead to this episode, I never muched considered how it could be made any more than one long, slightly boring conversation. A rescue party going after them was obvious of course, but what wasn’t obvious was how to make that relevant. Sonic running off to rescue Tails without any other kind of conflict or moral just wouldn’t have been interesting. At first I thought, with how I’ve been setting up a rivalry between Omega and Metal Sonic, it would be reasonable to have Omega go with him, and I could go through with some of the Metal Sonic-related conflicts I’d been planning in that area, but then I realized…I already had an episode just like that last season. While I enjoy pairing up characters in unusual ways for episodes, I certainly didn’t want to use the same unusual pair a second time when there are so many other pairs waiting to be done. I decided on Espio instead, for fairly obvious reasons, but…there was no conflict there. Both Sonic and Espio would want the same thing, both would be very focused on the task, I wouldn’t be much better off than with Sonic on his own. I decided to compromise and go for both. I thought that I could have the primary friction be between Espio and Omega, since they clash on a more fundamental level than Sonic ever did with Omega, but…that didn’t really go anywhere. They disagreed, and then…that was it. I mean, that conflict could have been taken as a warning sign for what was to come, but it just didn’t add anything to the bulk of the episode. The only other real option would’ve been having them make up and come to a better understanding of one another by the end, which there definitely wasn’t room for with the focus on Tails. It might have been possible without having Sonic awkwardly in the middle, but I was not willing to remove Sonic from the episode when the plot was so personal to him.

There’s one other disappointment of this episode, which you may have noticed. The ending was…not exactly conclusive. What did Metal Sonic do with Omega? I didn’t say. Why did they leave him behind? I didn’t say. What were the repercussions of that decision? I didn’t say. What ever happened to Charmy becoming a doctor? I didn’t say. The problem here is, the answer to each of those questions would’ve required just one more scene tacked onto the end of the episode. As it is, I already felt like I gave up a very good ending by continuing on after the moment that Metal Sonic attacked Omega, but Sonic and Tails talking about what happened was an absolute necessity. As for the rest…most of it will be integrated into the beginning of the next episode, where it will be irrelevant and out of place and distracting from the intended plot. But that’ll still be better than ending this episode five times over.

And now, for some general trivia! (I hope to make this a tradition with future reviews.)

  • The following locations from previous Sonic games were featured in this episode:
    • Emerald Hill Zone (Sonic 2)
    • Aquatic Ruin Zone (Sonic 2)
    • Hill Top Zone (Sonic 2)
    • Mystic Cave Zone (Sonic 2) (implied)
    • Lost Labyrinth Zone (Sonic 4) (cameo appearance)
    • Metallic Madness (Sonic CD) (implied)
  • Metal Sonic’s memory featuring the Lost Labyrinth was an exact first-person recreation of a cutscene from Sonic 4 Episode Metal.
    • The artifact obtained in this scene was stated to be the source of Metal Sonic’s copy ability and shapeshifting power seen in Sonic Heroes.
      • The actual purpose/history of this artifact has never been officially confirmed. However, in-game text does pose the question, “Just how did Metal Sonic make his comeback after Sonic the Hedgehog CD?” Given that Metal Sonic’s first canon chronological comeback after CD would be in Heroes, this implies a connection between the plots of the two games.
  • Both Metal Sonic and Tails frequently refer to the events of Sonic Heroes—particularly, the battle between Team Sonic and Metal Overlord—which took place approximately five years before this episode.
  • In describing how he was betrayed by Eggman, Metal Sonic refers to the events of Sonic CD, Sonic 4 Episode Metal, and an unspecified number of Classic Sonic games which take place in between, and feature some form of mechanical Sonic.
    • As there are no such “main series” Sonic games, this must refer to more obscure titles. Sonic Triple Trouble is the most likely candidate, as it has already been Chaos-Project-canonized by the appearance of Fang in Season 1.
  • Metal Sonic frequently quotes the phrase, “I am no longer afraid of anything,” originally spoken in the opening moments of the Metal Overlord fight.
    • He quotes himself on several other occasions, including the famous “I am the one true Sonic.”
  • This episode marks the first in-universe usage of the name of one of Metal Sonic’s abilities, V. Maximum Overdrive.
    • I have no idea what the “V” stands for. Maybe velocity? Metal Sonic was also shown using the Black Shield, an ability not seen outside of the 2-player mode of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.
  • The episode title “Before I Sleep,” combines with the title of the previous episode, “Miles to Go” (also meant to be a reference to Tails’ given name) to form the line, “Miles to go before I sleep,” a repeated phrase from the Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
    • While this is not a two-part episode, the related titles show that the episodes are meant to be grouped together.
    • The implication of this line is that someone is on a path towards their end (sleep), and has much to do before that time comes.
  • This episode marks the first time the Chaotix tent has been shown in an episode written by me. Its original appearance in Season 1, episodes 13 and 14, (“Out of the Shadows” parts 1 and 2) was written by a guest author.
  • When attempting to convince Tails, Metal Sonic provides the first ever CP-canon implication of a population size of Sonic’s world, giving the approximation of 10 billion.
    • Given that the real world has a population of about 8 billion, and that Sonic’s Earth typically approximates the very near future of ours, this implies that the number of animoids in Sonic’s world is somewhat less than 2 billion.
    • This number was chosen as one that is large enough to reasonably populate large-scale animoid-majority cities such as Sunset Heights, while still showing that they are vastly outnumbered by humans as implied by most other relevant games.
    • It is also notable that 10 billion is predicted as the maximum stable human population that Earth can support.
  • During a conversation with Sonic, Espio refers to himself as Charmy’s guardian. It is not specified whether this title is legal or honorary. Either way, it is a component of their relationship which has not previously been described.
  • Metal Sonic suggests that he does not remember Omega, despite having fought him as Metal Madness during the events of Sonic Heroes, as well as several prior encounters while disguised as Eggman.
    • It is possible that Metal Sonic has forgotten that particular detail, or that he was pretending not to care in order to maintain a more menacing image.
  • While it is never stated directly, Metal Sonic implies that his head may contain Sonic’s actual organic brain.
    • This is supported by his especially protective actions towards the machinery around his head.
    • A direct confirmation was avoided, partly because I may want to change my mind about that in the future, partly because the image of it might be a bit graphic for children, and partly because I felt the idea might be a bit more powerful if the reader could come up with it themselves.
  • This episode marks Espio’s first successful usage of an entirely new chakra-based Ninja Arts technique—the Shadow Sealing, which he was shown failing to do in S1 E15: In Too Deep—opening the way for him to potentially learn many more.
    • Why did I decide to give Espio magic shadow powers? I mean, he can already create a whirlwind using his fingers, so I didn’t think this would be much of a stretch.
    • Regardless, I expect any future technique he learns to be similarly underpowered. It isn’t exactly efficient to spend a minute-long fight scene drawing a seal on the ground and hoping that the enemy stands right in the middle of it without noticing.
    • What do I mean by chakra-based? That’ll be explained in a future episode.

And there we have it. Flawed though it may be, I still love this episode and all of the deep implications it presents. There’s one other interesting note here. This episode was designed with the idea in mind that the reader may have to choose a side. If Sonic is right, then every word Metal Sonic said was a convoluted attempt at psychological warfare, forcing Tails to play into his hand. But if Tails is right, then Metal Sonic is still Sonic at his core, and can be saved. So are you Team Sonic? Or Team Tails? Make your choice.

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

S2 E4: Before I Sleep

It’s that time again! Another episode of The Chaos Project is now published! Read it right here!

Tails is missing. Captured by Metal Sonic, with lives on the line, Tails must play by his captor’s rules if he hopes to survive. Help is on the way—but how long will it take? Can they rescue Tails before he learns the truth?

Also, an important date slipped by this week—you may know it as the 29th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, but I know it as the 4th anniversary of The Chaos Project! 4 years! Amazing! (And we’re like a quarter of the way done at best. I’m going to spend the rest of my life on this project at this rate…)

Preview: Season 2, Episode 4

Ah, so nice to be back in the land of the living. I didn’t want to go dead silent for so long, but…sometimes, life…is a thing…that happens. But yeah, the next episode is coming, so…take a look!

? ? ?

“…”  A distant voice calls out quietly. “Tails… Tails.”

Tails lets out a groan as he struggles to open his eyes. “Sonic…?”

The mechanical voice answers, “Not quite.”

Tails lets out a sharp gasp as he opens his eyes on Metal Sonic, and his head instantly clears. He moves to crawl backwards, away from the threat, but the pain from his broken leg quickly halts that movement as he lets out a tear-filled cry.

Metal Sonic shakes his head slowly. “Such a frail little thing.”

Tightly gripping his injured leg, Tails is finally forced to look his captor in the eye. “You… What are you do–…” He trails off as he starts to look around. His back is against the wall of a dark, earthy cave, with visible light coming in through the small entrance a short distance away. A jagged line of claw marks decorates the wall opposite to him. Finally, he remembers. “Charmy… What have you done with Charmy!?”

“He’s alive. For now.” Metal Sonic takes a step closer to Tails, kneeling down to look at him at eye level. Tails nervously presses himself as far back into the wall as he can go. “And if you would like him to stay that way, you will do exactly as I say.”

In spite of his fear, Tails spits back, “You won’t get away with this. Sonic will find me, and he’ll beat you like he always does! Hopefully for good this time.”

Metal Sonic rises back to his feet, letting out a mechanical chuckle. “Sonic is far away from here. And he is hardly my most pressing concern.”

“What do you want with me?”

Metal Sonic turns away from Tails, lifting up a robotic hand close to his face, and slowly turning it over. As the hand moves, it begins to stutter. “I am damaged. I require repair.” His head turns back to face Tails. “You will repair me. Your tools will be provided.”

“You want a tune-up? Go find Eggman. I’m not helping you.”

“I believe that you will help me, Tails. And I believe that you will be happy to do it.”

“And why’s that?”

Metal Sonic lets out another long chuckle. “Because once you do, I’m going to kill Doctor Eggman for you.”

What is Metal Sonic planning? Will Tails really agree to help him? Find out, on the next exciting episode of The Chaos Project! Secrets will be revealed…

Review: Season 2, Episode 3

I’m trying to figure out exactly how the planning process for this episode went. I want to say it was among the earliest episode ideas I’ve ever had, but then I’m not sure this even resembles that original idea anymore. I don’t even fully remember what that original idea was. Here’s what I do know. Just as I did back with “In Too Deep,” I have once again taken two entirely disparate episode ideas, slapped them together, and called it a day. I’m beginning to have second thoughts about my “A-plot, B-plot” plans. An episode in which Sonic and Amy check up on the Little Planet and watch over it until it disappears was definitely an early idea as well, but it never had anything to with Tails and Charmy’s mission. The plan was for the missing space in the Little Planet plot to filled by flashbacks to Sonic CD, where I would just straight up retell the story of the game, only with actual dialogue added in. In a way, I was kind of excited about doing something like that. I was thinking about making an entire “Unspoken” subseries in that vein, retelling the classic stories as if they were modern. But when I got to thinking about what that would entail…I just couldn’t do it. Of all the classic games, CD is probably the one that is most…thorough about its visual storytelling. It isn’t intensely visual in the way that 3&K is with its storytelling, there’s just a bit less of a story to tell, so it gets it all done. I realized that, in the case of CD, there just isn’t really anything significant that dialogue could add, so I’d be wasting everyone’s time by adding it. But I still felt like the regular appearance of the Little Planet was something that needed to be addressed, so I was left with only half of a functional episode. I decided that using it as a B-plot for another episode was my best bet. I chose the Charmy and Tails plot to stick it to, not necessarily because they meshed well or because it needed that extra content. I really just did it because it was the only way I could get it to fit. Both of these plots needed to happen this season. The CD plot needed to happen on the last day of December, and this Tails-focused episode needed to happen early on so that it wouldn’t be closely condensed with other Tails episodes this season. Thankfully, I had Metal Sonic to tie the two together. The general idea was that you were supposed to expect Metal Sonic to show up in the Sonic and Amy plot, so it would be an even bigger surprise when he shows up for Tails instead. I’m not sure that I managed to pull that off quite right, though. I spent so much more time on the Tails plot, it probably would’ve seemed odd if it was the other one that became important in the end. The general pacing was also really off for similar reasons. If the Tails and Charmy episode had stood on its own, they probably would’ve spent quite a bit more time in the other Rebel camp, and perhaps the rock slide would’ve even happened while they were there instead of before, adding an extra bit of action/drama in the right place. Instead, that ended up being the easiest place to trim the fat, so to speak, so the important part where they meet these other Rebels ended up happening awkwardly more than halfway through the episode, even more awkwardly suddenly interrupting the standard back-and-forth between the two plots that had been going. Oh well.

On that note, let’s talk about those other Rebels. They won’t be becoming main characters, but they will be appearing again in the future. Now that our Rebellion has been fighting on their own for a year, I thought this would be the ideal time to show that they aren’t really alone in the world. When it comes to seeking a better world, no one is really alone. The individual characters, of course, also served individual functions. I wanted Captain Fox to be someone you can imagine Tails easily looking up to, maybe like an older, more mature, Fox version of Sonic. I even considered giving him a little Hedgehog sidekick, but that didn’t seem very relevant. Anyways, I wanted you to be a bit surprised when they came close to bumping heads. The reasons why will be explored in the future. And then, of course, there’s Katherine and Charmy. I suppose I have to back up a bit to Charmy, first. For the same reason that I made Amy into the official counselor of the Rebellion, I spent a long time thinking about how I can give Charmy something important to do. Technically speaking, I can see why it may not seem necessary. The Chaotix work very well when treated collectively as one character, so it almost seems silly to break them apart and analyze them individually. But delving deep into character growth is one of the primary reasons that this story exists. So I could’ve left Charmy as a static, unchanging joke of a character, or I could show him growing up just like everybody else. The choice seemed obvious to me.

The leap from detective to doctor might not be so obvious. But…what do we really know about Charmy’s personality? I mean, he’s loud, he’s hyperactive, he’s childlike…so basically, he’s a child. But he’s not 6 anymore, it’s been 5 years, so he’s 11. He’s getting to the point where most children would start putting some more serious thought into what they want to do with their lives. And there is one other thing we know about him. He loves flowers. He loves nature. He loves living things. Seems like a prime candidate for a healer to me. (Also he’s a healer in SEGA Heroes, RIP.) More importantly…I kind of needed a doctor. I have been keenly aware of the fact that every new medical feat pulled off by Tails, a thirteen year old mechanic, has been more unbelievable than the last. I certainly could’ve introduced an OC to do the job, but…the way I see it, the canon cast always takes precedence, and I saw this as an opportunity to really build on Charmy’s character in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I needed him to be able to accomplish something as a character that no one else could do, and this seemed like the most viable option. So this is what I decided on. (Still working on something to do for Cream, though. She’s officially taken the spot of most useless character.)

So anyways, I needed a doctor, I decided on Charmy, and for reasons I can’t talk about yet, I need him to have embraced that role full-force by the end of the season. So I needed to construct an episode that would push him hard into that decision. The mildly traumatic experience of patching up Tails, so closely followed by validation from an authority figure in the form of Katherine, was intended to do just that in the most reasonable way I could think of. And that’s that.

Back to the topic I originally started with, the other Rebels were all named in theme, just as Jackal Squad was previously. This time, the characters were named after…drum roll please…Star Trek characters! We have Captain James (Kirk) and Leonard (McCoy) of the original USS Enterprise, and then we have Katherine (Janeway) and Harry (Kim) of Voyager. Why did I choose Star Trek names? Entirely arbitrary! Sort of. Just like last time. I was debating the name of Captain James the Fox right up until the moment I introduced him. I knew that I wanted to refer to him as Captain Fox, but the first name was up for grabs. Even though the names ended up being inspired by Star Trek, the designs definitely weren’t. That honor goes to Nintendo’s Star Fox series. Captain Fox was loosely inspired by the titular Fox McCloud, and Katherine was similarly based on a character named Krystal. I was originally thinking about playing off of that and calling them Kloud the Fox and Christa the Wolf or something like that, but after the weirdness that ended up happening with Sly, I decided I’d be better off distancing myself a bit with the names. James McCloud is also a Star Fox character, and while I would like to call that a coincidence, it probably was that fact that got me thinking about the possibility of my character being Captain James and referencing Star Trek.

Once that was set in stone, it was intended to be a one-time deal, but then when I got around to naming Katherine, I decided I wanted them to have standard nicknames for each other, and I also wanted to keep the “K” sound, which led me pretty quickly to Katie as a nickname. I could’ve gone for something different as the real name, like Katelyn or something, but the connection from Katherine to Star Trek was too good to pass up as a running theme. Then I needed a couple of throwaway names, and Harry the Rabbit (Hare) and Leonard (Leo) the Lion came pretty naturally.

These kinds of standard “human” names aren’t generally common for Sonic characters, so why did I put so much thought into them for this? Well, it ties back into a theme for the episode as a whole. After all the crazy fantasy weirdness of the last three episodes, with spirits descending from the heavens, space stations falling out of the sky, and some of the most complicated time travel I’ve ever experienced, I really wanted to dial this one back to a very “human” level. This is an episode about people. People getting into arguments, talking about their feelings and their interests, getting hurt because of their own mistakes and moving on because it’s all they can do. The other Rebels were meant to be a reflection of that. While our Rebellion is practically a band of superheroes who typically have superhero problems, the other Rebels are just a bunch of regular guys who happen to be fighting for a cause. This contrast will continue to be explored in the future.

Speaking of the future, what has Metal Sonic done with Tails!? To learn that, you’ll just have to stay tuned…

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

S2 E3: Miles to Go

For the first time in a year, a chronologically new episode of The Chaos Project has arrived! It’s finally time to learn what happened after Metal Sonic was released. Read the episode right here!

With Metal Sonic on the loose, the world is a more dangerous place than ever. But for this world, the Rebellion must keep on fighting. What is Metal Sonic’s true plan? Can he be stopped?

Please note that, with the slight reorganization of episodes now that Green Light Riders has been moved up to its correct chronological position, links on the website may be slightly inaccurate for a while until I get around to fixing all of them.

Preview: Season 2, Episode 3

Yes, that’s right. We’re skipping from 1 to 3. 2 was posted almost exactly a year ago, as the Team Sonic Racing special episode. (It wasn’t supposed to take this long to catch up…) Regardless, here is the preview.

“Hey, is this it?”

Charmy and Tails both stop. They’ve arrived at a thin valley between two peaks on either side of them. Beyond the valley is a wide crater-like depression in the ground, completely surrounded on all sides by similar peaks, making this the only clear entrance to the area. “Yeah, this is definitely it. There should be a system of volcanic caves that all open near the top here. We should go check out–”

Charmy shoots him an intense glare.

Tails innocently finishes, “…just one of them, not gonna spend all day here. If its size and depth are adequate for shelter, then that’ll be it. It’ll make this place just about perfect for a rebel base.”

“Look out!” Charmy suddenly dives into Tails, tackling them both to the floor as a bolt of energy sails over their heads. Tails lets out a cry of pain. The first shot is followed by dozens of others, a continuous stream of laser fire striking against the rock they’ve taken cover behind. Charmy panics, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Tails answers through gritted teeth, “It’s fine, I’m fine.” He looks out at some of the stray laser bolts that strike the ground behind them. “That looks like Eggman weaponry. What are Eggman’s robots doing here?”

“Could it be a trap?”

“I don’t know, maybe.”

“Well what do we do!?”

“I don’t know, let me think!” Tails cautiously tries to peek his head over the rock, but is forced to retreat back down before he can see anything. “We definitely won’t make it out if we run for it. And there’s too many to try and fight.” He reaches up to tap his communicator. “Sonic, we–” He frustratedly taps it a few more times. “Busted. Must’ve broken in the fall.”

“What other options do we have?”

Struck by an idea, Tails pulls off his pack. “Just one.” He pulls out a shiny white med kit. “Closest thing we have to a white flag.”

 

Review: Season 2, Episode 1

Meant to post this a while ago. Oh well, here it is.

I’ve already brought up a couple of episodes which were among the earliest concepts I ever came up with, but I’m pretty sure this one has officially taken first place in that area. (Although that spot will be taken again very soon.) Following the very earliest plans for what will eventually become the finale, and a few related ideas for Season 0 and Crisis of Chaos, this was perhaps my very first idea for what comes in between. “If this is war is such a problem, why didn’t travel back in time and fix it the first chance they got?” I knew that if I was going to turn this into a series, that question would need to be answered. The way I saw it, there were only two possible options. Either they physically couldn’t, or they realized they shouldn’t. That had to get an episode either way. Either I had to come up with some sort of crazy, universe-bending excuse that would prevent me from ever using time travel for any reason throughout the remainder of the series (which admittedly could’ve made for a halfway decent episode on it’s own, if I’d really put some thought into it), or, I could come up with a time travel plot so ridiculously convoluted and deeply disturbing that no one involved would ever try anything like it again. The second option sounded like the far more interesting of the two, and was the far less restrictive. Certainly, Sonic and Shadow would never want to try time travel again, but now, if I ever need them to, they still can.

I was generally intending to leave it up in the air exactly when this episode would have to take place, but it became obvious pretty quickly that it wouldn’t make sense for them to do it if they didn’t do it as soon as they possibly could—the moment they obtained their second Emerald. That actually turned out to be a huge contributing factor towards the decision to do the Rouge-focused story arc for Season 1. I…to be totally honest…was actually legitimately planning on killing off Rouge. Maybe. Maybe not till a bit later. I don’t know. But I figured that the death of a main character would be the absolute best possible justification for attempting to fix things through time travel. It seemed like the, uhh…anime thing to do. And that’s not an insult, mind you. But anyways, I eventually decided a couple of things. One, I didn’t have the gall to kill off a canon character so early in the game. And two, this episode would be the most powerful if the timeline were brought back exactly the way it was—actually having Rouge die, and then be magically brought back because of accidental butterfly-effect would cheapen the effect. So, I settled for a nod to that scrapped concept, and a near-death into medical miracle. Besides, I still have at least a couple of plans for Rouge yet to come. And hey, maybe there were some unintended side-effects of injecting her with Chao blood that I haven’t come up with yet.

So, back on track, I had a framework in mind for an episode where they would try time travel and fail miserably, but that still left the question of content. Going back to Crisis of Chaos was really the only choice for time travel destination, given the context, and, believe it or not, I actually wrote the original Crisis of Chaos scene, where Sonic leaves Eggman alone in hangar bay, with the idea in mind that a time traveller from the future would eventually show up right at that moment. Fulfilling that plan was immensely satisfying. But that was only a small piece. What situation could possibly be traumatic enough to make a person like Sonic completely disavow the miracle cure-all that is time travel? I figured I’d have to go as traumatic as it gets by having him witness his own death. I originally had a slightly more gruesome death in mind, but I decided to dial it back just a bit. Still a PG story, after all. That change required introducing a new concept in a very odd way. Blacklight being able to drain life through physical contact was teased at the end of the 50th episode special, but I was not intending that to become relevant any time soon. But I thought that dropping the reader into the middle of what seems like it could have easily been the finale of a Season that never happened, with plot points and a history completely foreign, would not only be an interesting twist, but might also help the reader identify a little better with the completely nonsensically overwhelming nature of Sonic’s experiences, and so better understand why Sonic makes a rule against time travel in the end.

That was the first half. Actually, I originally had this in mind as a two-parter that would break as the Future Sonic appears, but I decided against that…mostly because this Season is crammed a little bit full, and didn’t really need the filler. I figured keeping it all focused and fast-paced would help avoid confusion, anyways, which is important for an episode like this. But anyways, why Future Sonic? Well, the whole, “go back in time, change the future for the worse, realize your mistake and fix it” plot certainly served my purposes, but on it’s own, it felt a bit…predictable. And, as you ought to know by now, an episode with a halfway decent plot but no character relevance just isn’t enough for me. I wanted something more, at very least, an extra layer of complexity that would really get the characters thinking hard about what’s going on. In other words, I needed to layer up the anti-time travel excuses. Sonic failing once was certainly traumatic. But him realizing that he would be destined to fail over and over again, countless dozens or hundreds of times, could completely transform his view of what is or isn’t possible. That’s basically the gist of it. Of course, that wasn’t twisty enough for me, so I decided that I had to make things even more complicated with the “kill your past self” suggestion. The idea there was to add an element of distrust—and if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Actually, I meant for Future Sonic to be the antagonist. The intention was for Present Sonic to be so overwhelmed by what’s going on that he would, at first, give in to the self-killing plan, but in the moment, would realize that he couldn’t go through with it, suddenly making an enemy of Future Sonic who will not allow this to go wrong. Seeing himself driven to that madness was supposed to be the nail in the coffin for the establishment of the no time travel rule. But I just…couldn’t justify getting our Sonic to agree to murder, even if it is only himself that he’s killing. Meanwhile, Shadow ended up being right smack in the middle of a character arc that, while seeming obvious given the episodes that needed to lead up to this one, I did not realize would be happening during the early planning phases for the episode. I certainly couldn’t ignore what he was going through, but my original plans for the episode really only had him there out of the necessity of a second Chaos-Controller. So, a lot of relatively last-minute changes resulted. I had it in mind that an interaction with Chaos had potential for an interesting story to tell, and when it came down to it, I decided that Shadow needed it more. If this had turned out to be a two-parter that focuses on Sonic as originally planned, I probably would’ve included a subplot about Sonic wanting to try to save Chaos, or bring him back to the present with them, but, once again, I settled for a quick nod to that scrapped concept instead.

Given the shifting focus to Shadow, turning Future Shadow into the true antagonist seemed like the natural way to go. I decided to keep the suggested mistrust of Future Sonic as a sort red herring instead. Anyways, Shadow seeing himself go so bad felt like a very sensible reason for him to finally start making his way towards becoming a nice person again. But wait! Shadow was a total jerk in the Team Sonic Racing special! Umm…oops. My goal in doing that was to show how much crazy stuff was going to happen in the Season finale, and I did not even consider the fact that I might be stepping on my own toes for this episode. But that turned out to be a beautiful inspiration. The idea of Past, Present, Future, and Original Sonic and Shadow all existing during the same moment in time was crazy enough, but mixing and matching them for who goes home in the end was exactly the sort of embracing of the insanity that I wanted out of this episode. Having Past Shadow suddenly confronted with two diametrically opposed versions of his future self was an obvious place to go from there, and fits in so unbelievably well with the central theme of his character. And…I suppose that just about covers the important points.

So, what does this episode mean for the rest of the season? Well…not much actually. This was as much a part three to last season’s finale as it was anything else. I like the idea of connecting one Season to the next so directly. (Little bit of inspiration from Star Trek there, which liked to have two-part episodes split up as the finale of one season and the premiere of the next.) But anyways, there was a little bit of effort made in a few places. One of my goals for Season 2 is to have emotions expressed a little more physically, and a little less verbally. Show, don’t tell, you know? I feel like that tends to be one of my bigger shortcomings as a writer, trying a little too hard to explain what people are feeling. Having Sonic give Tails an actual hug was a big step in that direction. That really shouldn’t feel like such a weird thing to do, but it did anyways. I guess I’m just worried people might interpret it the wrong way? Next episode probably isn’t going to help that either… Regardless, I do want to sell that brotherly bond between Sonic and Tails a bit harder this season. Let’s just say, it’ll become pretty important. I didn’t exactly embrace it for this episode, but I believe I’ve also mentioned that I hope to go a little more in the direction of an A-plot B-plot for more episodes in the coming season. Hopefully, that’ll allow me to do a little more exploring of the world and characters without mandating that additional dramatic plots be attached to all of them. I don’t know, I’ll see how it goes.

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

Setting Sail with Shipping

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Excerpt from:

Blacklight’s Totally Awesome Espio x Amy Drabble Fanfic

Espio stared into the great globes of Amy’s eyes, and in that moment, he knew that they were perfect for one another. He began to—

[Shadow]: What are you doing?

[Blacklight]: Writing a shipping fanfic.

[Shadow]: Why?

[Blacklight]: Because literally everyone does it.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) That’s a lie.

[Blacklight]: Oh, I’ll deal with you in a minute.

[Shadow]: Espio…and Amy? Those characters have barely ever interacted in the canon. What in the world would give you the idea that they’re in love?

[Blacklight]: Oh, my poor, innocent Shadow. When it comes to shipping, there are three rules that always hold true.
Rule #1: If two characters show animosity towards one another, that means they are hiding their true feelings for each other, and are actually in love.
Rule #2: If two characters are good friends and spend a lot of time together, that means that they’re actually in love.
Rule #3: If two characters have never met before, that’s because it’s obvious that they would fall in love the moment they meet.

[Shadow]: So…basically…every pair of fictional characters in history?

[Blacklight]: Now you’re getting it!

[Shadow]: That can’t be true…

[Blacklight]: Of course it is! I’ve seen you shipped with almost every character in the Sonic cast! Rouge, Amy, Cream… *raises eyebrows* …Sonic.

[Shadow]: Ugh…

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) That’s enough, you need to stop this. In this studio, we respect the intentions of the creators. That means no pushing of a romantic relationship between two characters in any extent greater than that which has been explicitly shown in canon material.

[Blacklight]: What about between three characters?

[Shadow]: Good Lords…

[Blacklight]: Oh, I’m just referring to the little love triangle you’ve clearly been setting up between Rouge, Knuckles, and Shadow, boss.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) You’re imagining things.

[Blacklight]: And what about pairing a canon character with an OC?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Slightly more debatable. Regardless, I don’t believe a character should ever be created for the sole purpose of of a romantic pairing with another character. That’s just bad writing practice in general.

[Blacklight]: So where does that leave the thing you’ve been setting up between the Rookie and Infinite?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) For the love of… Look, it’s perfectly normal for people to show some degree of caring for one another without there being anything in romantic involved.

[Blacklight]: You are clearly forgetting about rule number 2. And number 1, in this instance.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) For the last time, I don’t have any shipping in The Chaos Project.

[Blacklight]: The weird tension you’ve clearly been setting up between myself and Shadow says otherwise.

[Shadow]: That’s it. I’m out. Done with this. *exits*

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) See what you’ve done? You’ve crossed a line.

[Blacklight]: Don’t worry, he’ll be back.

[Shadow]: (offscreen) And I’m not coming back!

[Blacklight]: Welp…maybe Shadow will come back to answer your questions if you leave them in the comments below!

Blacklight Answers the Hard Questions

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[Blacklight]: Alright, this’ll be a rapid-fire one. Shadow, are you all ready with the questions?

[Shadow]: I don’t understand the point of this.

[Blacklight]: These are questions that Sonic fans have been asking for years! Who better to answer them than someone who actually lives in that universe?

[Shadow]: I don’t see this going very well…

[Blacklight]: Well that’s your opinion! Hit me with the first question!

[Shadow]: Question 1: “Why can we see the entire moon when half of it was destroyed in Sonic Adventure 2?”

[Blacklight]: There is no moon. The moon is a hoax. It’s just a set piece. Next!

[Shadow]: Question 2: “Where does Sonic keep all of his rings?”

[Blacklight]: You don’t want to know.

[Shadow]: Question 3: “What do Sonic’s hands look like under his gloves?”

[Blacklight]: You thought those were gloves? Those are just his hands.

[Shadow]: Question 4: “Which story path is canon in Shadow the Hedgehog?”

[Blacklight]: It’s the one that leads to the secret twelfth ending, where Shadow learns that he’s actually a figment of Sonic’s imagination.

[Shadow]: That’s false.

[Blacklight]: Prove it.

[Shadow]: No thanks. Question 5: “What happened to Eggman’s appearance in Sonic ’06?”

[Blacklight]: One word. Diet and exercise.

[Shadow]: Question 6: “Where is–…” Oh, dear… “Where is that FOURTH Chaos Emerald?”

[Blacklight]: We’re still searching for it to this day.

[Shadow]: …Question 7: “Is Sonic Rivals canon? Is Sonic Spinball canon? Is Tails’ Adventure canon?” It…goes on for a while.

[Blacklight]: Yes, yes, and yes! Everything is canon! Sonic All Stars Racing is canon, Sonic’s Schoolhouse is canon, Sonic’s appearance in Pac Man is canon! What don’t you people understand about this!?

[Shadow]: Didn’t you write these questions?

[Blacklight]: Shut up and ask the next one.

[Shadow]: Question 8: “How did Sonic get his powers?”

[Blacklight]: Too much coffee.

[Shadow]: Question 9: “What exactly is the Lost Hex?”

[Blacklight]: It’s a lost hex, duh.

[Shadow]: Question 10: “How can Blaze be from the Future and the Sol Dimension?”

[Blacklight]: Well, according to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, time and space are actually one conglomerated concept known as time-space. If we look to M-theory, a subset of string theory, more specifically, superstring theory, we know that there are in fact 11 dimensions of space-time. There is no distinguishing between the spatial and temporal dimensions. To our simple three-dimensional perspective, 11-dimensional space can take on a multitude of interpretations, including other dimensional worlds coexisting within the same confines of space and time we live in. Given the duality of space-time, this other spatial dimension, which one might call another world, can also be referred to as another temporal dimension, which one might call the future. The equivalence of space and time means that these two very different concepts are in fact one and the same. The future is another world, another world is the future.

[Shadow]: …

[Blacklight]: What’s that look for? I said I was going to answer the questions, didn’t I?

[Shadow]: Right…well, that’s all of them.

[Blacklight]: Over so soon? That’s alright, I suppose. But what hard questions would you have wanted me to answer? Tell us in the comments below! Make sure to get those questions in in time for the Q&A session at the end of the day!

Behind the Scenes on the Set of The Chaos Project

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[Blacklight]: Alright, you folks have waited for long enough for answers. Time for me to fess up.

[Shadow]: Finally going to explain why you aren’t dead?

[Blacklight]: What? No. This is the story of how I became so incredibly handsome.

[Shadow]: Your face was made as an exact replica of mine. The end.

[Blacklight]: You just have to suck the joy out of everything, don’t you?

[Shadow]: Yes. Now why don’t you explain the other thing?

[Blacklight]: Oh, fine. Why am I not dead? Well, that’s actually a very complicated question. You see, while I am Blacklight, the life of the Blacklight you know isn’t necessarily identical to—

[Shadow]: We’re actors.

[Blacklight]: We are not actors! We’re characters on a reality show! The cameras capture our actual lives!

[Shadow]: With some input from the director. Such as you getting killed off.

[Blacklight]: Don’t remind me…

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Yes, please don’t remind him…

[Blacklight]: So anyways, I didn’t actually die. The director just wanted me off the show, for some incomprehensible reason.

[Shadow]: Not that it ever stopped you from showing up.

[Blacklight]: Exactly what I was getting to! Since I figured you folks at home wouldn’t believe me, I prepared a special behind-the-scenes look at the filming of an episode of The Chaos Project! Please, take a look!

Behind-the-Scenes of The Chaos Project

Season 1, Episode 17: Doomsday Part 1

[Tikal]: The world will always depend…on the Controller…and the Guardian… *fades away*

[Knuckles]: Now, what to do with– *shot in the back*

[Fang]: Hello, Sonic. Long time no see.

[Director]: Cut! That’s a wrap! Everyone take your places for scene one of episode eighteen!

[Blacklight]: *applauding* Bravo, bravo! Beautiful scene! Hey, is it alright if I ask Sonic a few questions for a thing I’m putting together?

[Sonic]: What!? No! A little bit busy here!

[Fang]: Who is this guy again?

[Director]: Get out of the shot, Blacklight! We’re about to start filming!

[Blacklight]: Fine, fine, I’ll go somewhere else.

—–—

On-set interview with the director

[Blacklight]: So how exactly do you manage all this?

[Director]: Well, we try to keep cameras rolling all the time to capture the really good stuff, but there are always a few vital scenes that need to be set up in just the right way.

[Blacklight]: Like my death scene?

[Director]: Exactly.

[Blacklight]: Still plotting my revenge for that, by the way.

[Director]: That would be in violation of your contract.

[Shadow]: (offscreen) Then every single one of you is to blame for what’s happened to her!

[Director]: Oh, speaking of the good stuff…

[Blacklight]: You know, this would really be the perfect time for me to come back from the dead and hit him with the life advice he desperately needs.

[Director]: No.

[Blacklight]: As a ghost?

[Director]: No.

[Blacklight]: Hallucination?

[Director]: Still no.

—–—

Later in Episode 18

[Blacklight]: Shadow, buddy, hey, I need a favor on something!

[Shadow]: Blacklight, get out of here! I need to plant this explosive before the Death Egg fires!

[Blacklight]: It won’t be long, I promise! I just want you to help me co-host this thing that I’m—

[Shadow]: Blacklight, get off of the set! You don’t work here anymore!

[Blacklight]: Actually, I have a contract. I may not be allowed on camera, but they actually can’t legally kick me out.

[Shadow]: Ugh, where’s that *** director when you need him? Blacklight, I swear to *** Lords of ***, if you don’t *** out of here *** now, I am going to *** *** you are *** out onto the *** *** you’ll have to beg for ***. Do you *** me!?

[Shadow]: …

[Blacklight]: As you can see, this is what I have to deal with on set every day.

[Shadow]: What did you do…?

[Blacklight]: Oh, I just bleeped out some of the words for fun. Add a little spice, a little excitement, you know? That’s what they do on reality shows, right?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Not on mine.

[Shadow]: I am going to destroy you.

[Blacklight]: Aw, you wouldn’t do that. You love me too much.

[Shadow]: (glowing with red energy) You are going to regret the day you were born.

[Blacklight]: Uhh…boss? Could you…do something about this?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Yeah, sure. I’ll cut the camera before the violence starts. You kind of deserve this.

[Shadow]: Prepare to die, you filthy piece of—

Technical Difficulties

[Shadow]: CHAOS BLAST!!