Heating Things Up
"Hi, sweetie! Just calling to check up on things. How have you been?" Sonic asked Dawn via her communicator. Night had fallen, and she had parked the Purple Lightning at the edge of a lake beneath a waterfall.
"Great, Mom!" Dawn replied happily. "I've already had my first fight against Eggman, and I beat him without even having to try."
"That's our girl!" Knuckles quipped. "You've been training for that moment for years. Of course he wouldn't be a problem for you."
"Stay sharp, though, Dawn." Sonic said. "There's a good chance Eggman will be back, and he'll most likely have something more challenging for you to face."
"Don't worry, Mom. I won't let my guard down for any foe." Dawn assured him.
"You do that, sweetie." Knuckles said. "Well, we'll check back on you tomorrow. G'night, Dawn."
"Good night, Mom and Dad."
Dawn hung up and laid down on the ground next to the Purple Lighting, staring up at the starlit sky. Just one day into her journey and she was already showing hopeful signs. She was well aware that even greater foes loomed ahead of her, but for the moment she wasn't worried about that.
At ease by her confidence and calmed by the soft sound of flowing water nearby, she closed her eyes and peacefully drifted off to sleep.
Dawn woke bright and early the next morning, eager to begin the next day of her journey. As she stretched, with the morning sunlight warming her fur, she stared up at the peak of the waterfall she stood beneath. She guessed that there had to be something up there worthwhile checking out.
After converting her motorcycle to gauntlet form, Dawn began to scale the rocky cliffs using her spikes. She could've made it easier for herself and used the metal platforms strewn across the lake, but this was a better way to prove herself-and much more fun and exciting. She almost slipped a couple of times-once even losing her hold and falling a few feet-but she caught herself each time and continued her climb.
When she reached the top, Dawn surveyed the top of the waterfall. It turned out to actually be a volcano-a few rivers of lava were pouring out of its sides, and its activeness accounted for the water below being warm. On the other side of the volcano's throat, Dawn noticed an opening leading to a passage below. With a running start, she spindashed over to the other side and made her way down.
Dawn walked through a cavern lit by holes in the ceiling. Moss and crystals covered the walls, and small flora-many of which she recognized from the forest back home-were growing along the floor. Suddenly, from deep inside the cavern, there came the sound of a blast and a slight tremor that nearly knocked Dawn off her feet. It came again, and again. Dawn realized that it was probably another villain looking for trouble. Ready for battle, she ran with her super speed toward the culprit.
The caverns seemed endless, but Dawn finally made her way to the bottom of the volcano and to a field, where someone in a mech suit was blasting at the walls, which also had a bit of crystal covering them. It wasn't Eggman, but a resident of Hedgehog Village whom she only saw on occasion when she was younger. Her father didn't speak of him very much, but her mother and friends did at least once, and it was enough for her to recognize him.
"Charlie!" she exclaimed, getting his attention. "What are you doing to the volcano?"
"Run along, little girl." Charlie said. "This is private business." He turned away to resume his "business," but then stopped in his tracks and looked back at Dawn. He recognized the spikes on her knuckles, the crescent mark on her chest.
"Those spikes.....that mark.....so, you must be...his daughter."
A heartbeat after making the connection, Charlie fired at Dawn. She dodged them, but they ended up hitting the volcano wall, causing two streams of lava to splash down before them. Dawn quickly escaped harm's way and began scaling the walls again, but when she looked down she realized that Charlie was pursuing her.
"Get back here!" he shouted after her. She had reached another cavern that overlooked the upcoming villain. "Your menace father is a big enough thorn in my side, but I'll never tolerate his daughter's existence!"
His words filled Dawn with rage. "My dad is not a menace!" she screamed at him. "He's good, kind, patient, and loyal to our friends, my mom, and me. Yeah, he's not all that smart, he's show off-y at times, and he makes a lot of mistakes, but I love him despite-no, because of all his flaws. He's the best dad in the world to me, and you just can't understand that!"
The left hand of Charlie's mech grabbed the cavern ledge, but Dawn used her super strength to rip it right off. His grip with the other hand wasn't strong enough, and he plummeted to the ground below, his fall broken by sections of rock that had fallen down with him. Although his mech suit was sufficiently damaged, the blaster on his right hand was still functional, and he shot at Dawn as she ran down the cavern until she was out of site.
"This isn't over, you little brat!" she heard him yell. "I'll erase Knuckles' mark from existence if it's the last thing I do!"
Now that she was safely away from Charlie, Dawn realized that she was headed deeper into the volcano. More of the lava streams were appearing and the air had noticeably increased in temperature. She did her best to avoid them as she tried to find her way out. But just when she spotted a passageway leading to the outside, more streams burst around her, and she cried out in pain as stray droplets caught her on the left arm and right leg. Her wounds slowing her down, she sped towards the source of light and out of the volcano.
She didn't have time to observe where she was or even tend to her injuries, as she had collapsed from pain and exhaustion. Before she blacked out, a dark figure moved into her field of vision.