GeneX - The Series
Episode 7 - The Lessons of the Past
Note: Sonic the Hedgehog and related characters are (c) SEGA and
Sonic Team. You knew that, right?
GeneX and related fanchars are (c) 2BIT (TheGreatGator), the author.
The story thus far:
Many years ago, much of the United Federation was ruled by a number of echidna tribes. The most powerful of these were the Knuckles Clan and the Nocturnus Clan. Unsatisfied with their prosperous lives, each clan sought to overcome the other, and the threat of war between them was ever present. Pachacamac, chief of the Knuckles Clan, seeks the power to defend his people from the Nocturnus Clan tirelessly, leaving the raising of his daughter, Tikal, to his mother. Now retired from duties as chief, the elderly mother of the current chief spends her days tutoring the young princess, and in her free time, attempts to sway her son away from the path to war. But Pachacamac is driven by more than mere duty, and it will not be so easy to turn him from his dark path...
Now, on to the episode!
Tikal sat politely on the floor of her grandmother's hut, waiting to find out what today's lesson would be. The elderly, golden hued echidna was looking over stone tablets on a shelf, thinking. "Hmmm... So remind me, child... What was yesterday's lesson?" she chuckled. Tikal smiled. "It was why the hedgehog curls into a ball." she said, "And some boring numbers..." Granny pulled a tablet from the shelf and nodded. "Oh? Boring numbers, eh? Very well. I'll try something a bit more interesting today... Have I ever taught you of the various mystical races that exist in our world? The echidna are mighty, yes... But there is a much wider world out there." the elder said. Tikal looked quite curious. "Other races...? But... Father says the echidnas are the strongest force on the planet." she said. Granny nodded. "What does physical strength matter, child? Remember, compassion is far more important. Take these creatures, for instance." Granny showed Tikal a stone tablet depicting several creatures with broad, feathered wings on their backs. Some were cats, some were foxes, and one was a bird. "I don't understand... These are all different species." Tikal observed. Granny nodded. "Once, they were. Now, due to their great compassion and purity, they have been reborn as part of the Divine species. The Divines are magical beings that live in the sky. They occasionally come down to our world to help others, and sometimes, they select creatures here on our world to grow wings and become one of them. If one were to become a Divine, they would gain magic powers, too... However, some say you must have powers in the first place to be selected." she explained. Tikal looked at the tablet in wonder. "Have you ever seen such beings, grandmother?" she asked. Granny shook her head. "No... But I know they are there. For some things, you must have faith, child." she said. "Like how you have faith that father will see the light one day?" Tikal asked. Granny looked a bit taken aback by the question, but nodded. "Yes, child... Now, your numbers..." she said. "Awww..." Tikal whined.
Though she wasn't thrilled with every subject, Tikal loved her grandmother's lessons. She took particular interest in learning about the magical beings told of in the stone tablets she had collected. "The dragons are a mighty, greedy race, building fortresses and hoarding treasures in their dark strongholds." Granny said during one lesson, showing Tikal an image of fearsome winged beasts whose breath held the powers of the various elements, such as fire and ice. "What sort of treasure?" Tikal wondered, eyes filled with curiosity. Granny chuckled. "Well, none know for sure. Some say it is actually the dragons' own immense knowledge that is the true treasure. For it is believed that they know ways to wield the power of the Chaos Emeralds that no others know of. Yet even the dragons dare not take the emeralds, they know they do not belong to them." the elderly echidna said. Tikal looked thoughtful. "Then... who?" she asked, unaware that her father had come to the door, and was observing with a look of disapproval. Granny saw him and frowned. "That's... a lesson for another day. Run along, child." Tikal nodded, hurrying outside to play, though stopping suddenly when she found her father. "Oh! Hi, Daddy!" she giggled. Pachacamac softened his expression a little when she spoke to him. "Go outside, little one. I have grown-up matters to speak of." he said. "Oh... Okay." Tikal said quietly. As she reached the door, however, she remained on the other side in order to listen to what was being said. "What ideas are you filling my daughter's head with!?" the chief growled. "Only true things." Granny said simply. "If the seven emeralds become necessary, then they are ours to take! Do not tell her otherwise! I'll not have you turn my own daughter against me!" Pachacamac warned. Granny was silent for a moment, and Tikal heard her father turn to leave, so she got ready to run for it as well, when her grandmother spoke up. "If she turns on you, it will be by your own hand. I promise you that." she said. Pachacamac sighed. "I suppose so. The medicine echidna says you're not long for this world, after all..." Distraught upon hearing this, Tikal ran off with tears in her eyes.
Her grandmother still seemed in good shape, and Tikal's lessons continued, though at her next lesson Tikal was noticeably distracted. Granny was showing her a tablet depicting shape-shifting creatures known as morphs, though even she confessed they might be folklore, since they had only been seen briefly in the past, and never seen again. However, she soon noticed how upset Tikal seemed and questioned her. "What's troubling you, child? You could scarce write your own name when we were practicing your letters." she asked. Tikal looked at her with tears in her eyes. "I heard... that you will be gone soon. Like mother." she whimpered. Granny sighed. "I am sorry, Tikal... I'm old. I would have told you sooner, but I did not wish to burden your young mind..." she said sadly. Tikal hugged her grandmother tightly and sobbed. "I don't want you to go away!!" she cried. "I know, dear. I shall just have to teach you all I can in the time I have." Granny promised. Suddenly, Pachacamac burst into the room! "Nocturnus marauders! Tikal, you must hide in the shelter!" he shouted. Granny stood up defiantly. "Pachacamac, let me speak with them! There must be a way to avoid bloodshed! We mustn't start a war!" she said, though she suddenly burst into a fit of coughing. The chief glared at her. "THEY are the ones calling for war! I must protect my people! And if they need a demonstration of our might, then we'll kill all who cross our borders!" he snarled before storming off! "Daddy... Father... He's gone crazy, hasn't he?" Tikal gasped. Granny took Tikal's hand. "Let's get to the shelter..."
To pass time in the shelter, Granny told Tikal of the phoenixes, special birds that could not die. Instead, their bodies would burst into flame upon their death, and they would be reborn from their ashes. Still, they are quite rare despite being unable to die. She also spoke of the gargoyles. "A race that hides in the shadows, the gargoyles are secretive and don't get along with other races. Some say their skin is as stone, others say they are furry like us. They often have wings and can fly." she said. Tikal nodded. "So, since they hide in the dark, that's why we don't see them? Tell me more, grandmother..." Tikal asked, scared while hiding in the shelter. "Well... I don't want to scare you further, but while we're on the subject of darkness... There are the Darks. Creatures born from evil, they are shadows brought to life. They tend to have purely malicious intent, and are in a sense, the opposite of Divines." Granny said. "That is scary... Something else, please..." Tikal whimpered. Granny nodded. "Okay... Hmmm... Mirages. Odd looking beings. Some say they don't exist. In point of fact, they can APPEAR not to exist. They can turn invisible, and some say they can walk through walls. They are not to be mistaken for illusions, which actually do not exist, but appear to exist!" she said, "Now, does that confuse you?" Both of them chuckled a bit, feeling a bit more at ease now.
Eventually, some soldiers came for them and said that the marauders had been driven off. Tikal hurried out, but as she did, she noticed her grandmother fall over! "G-grandmother!!" Several echidnas rushed over to help her, but Pachacamac, who was standing nearby, just stood with crossed arms and a vacant expression, as though he didn't care. Tikal pulled at his arm. "Father! Help her!" she begged. "They'll take her to her hut. I'm sorry, Tikal, but your grandmother will pass within a few moons, and there is naught I or anyone can do about it!" he said coldly. Tikal watched helplessly as her grandmother was carried off, not sure what to do.
When it was time for her next lesson, she visited her grandmother's bedside instead of keeping her appointment with the new teacher her father had swiftly found for her. The medicine echidna was busy chanting over her, but they all knew that that wouldn't do any good. Granny beckoned her over to her. "Tikal... I need to tell you something." she said. "What is it?" Tikal asked. "I'm going to be gone... You must listen to this, and never, ever forget it..." Granny said seriously. Tikal nodded with tears in her eyes. "Yes, grandmother..." she said. Granny coughed, then began: "The servers... are the seven Chaos. Chaos is power. Power is enriched by the heart. The controller serves to unify the Chaos... That's it... Do you need me to repeat it? Write it down if you must. You cannot forget it..." she said. Tikal stared at her in shock. "But... what does it mean?" she asked. Unfortunately, her grandmother had grown very weak, and fell asleep, so she was forced to leave.
Stricken with grief and confusion, Tikal wasn't sure what to do. She saw her father, moving about with war on his mind, and it seemed his plans would go unopposed now. Granny was the only one willing to stand up to the chief. Tikal couldn't let her die. So what could she do? She thought over everything she'd learned. Something HAD to be useful! Then she remembered the Divines. Magical creatures! Surely they could make miracles happen! "But I'll never find a creature like that here in the city... I need to sneak away..." Tikal thought. So, she started to look for a way out of the city she knew. With the echidnas so busy readying for war, no one really seemed to notice what she was up to, anyway!
She rushed out of the city, running as fast as her legs would carry her into the jungle. Tears started to form in her eyes as she ran, clouding her vision, but she didn't care. Her grandmother was dying. Without a miracle, there was nothing she could do about it. She tripped and fell, and started sobbing in the soft pile of leaves where she landed. As she cried, however, a soft voice called out to her. "H-hey... Uh, are you all right?" the voice asked. Tikal rubbed her eyes and sniffled her nose. "What does it matter? I might be okay, but I can't do anything to help anybody..." she whimpered. "Oh..." the voice replied, "Hey... I don't want to be a bother, but... c-could you help me down from here?" Tikal stopped crying and looked up with alarm. Looking around, she spotted a winged creature tangled up in some tree branches! Its wing appeared to have been bent a little, and seemed injured. Its body was a mix of fur and feathers, its feet ending in talons, though its arms were quite furry. It had the face of a bird as well, and indeed, broad winds, much like the Divines! Its fur was a golden hue, while its feathers were white. Tikal gasped upon seeing him. "You... you're a Divine!" she said. The creature whimpered from his entanglement in the trees. "How's that? Please, my wing hurts!" he groaned. Tikal hurriedly climbed the tree, and carefully pulled the branches apart. "Easy... easy...! Whaaaaa!" The creature stumbled out of the tree and landed on his tail, but still shakily stood up afterward. "Oh... I'm sorry! Are you all right?" Tikal asked. "Y-yeah... Thank you. My name's Icarus. I kinda had a crash landing and hurt myself there. I was stuck for more than a day! Boy am I hungry..." he sighed, turning to leave. Tikal didn't want him to rush off quite so fast, though. "Wait! Come back to my city! I can find you some food! And... maybe you could help me?" she asked. Icarus shuddered. "The echidna city?! Sorry, no offense, but you guys scare me when you're in a group." he said, "You're all preparing to start the war to end all wars... or something." he shivered. Tikal scratched her head. "Wow, he's a cowardly Divine..." she muttered, "Then I'll help you find food out here, then! Please... My grandmother is dying..." she begged, bowing down on her knees before him. "Wha? What are you doing?" Icarus stammered. "You're my only hope..." Tikal pleaded, "You must help me..." Icarus blushed. "Wow... No one's ever thought of me as... helpful before." he mumbled, "All right, deal. You help me find food, and I'll go with you, Miss..." he said, holding out his hand to help her up. "I'm Tikal." she said, taking his hand and smiling.
They roamed deep into the jungle, and as they did, Icarus was moving his injured wing, shaking feathers off it as they went. New feathers were growing in rapidly. "Now that I'm down from there, my wing finally has a chance to heal up." he sighed. "So, where were you off to in such a hurry?" Tikal asked. Icarus shrugged. "Bad doings around here. My people say many disasters await this area. So we must leave for a new land. I was meeting my family..." he said. Tikal raised an eyebrow. "But... Hm... Never mind." She wondered what could drive away the Divines, but she was holding on to her hopes. She couldn't bear to hear more bad news right now. Soon, they found a tree with very large, delicious looking fruit growing on it. "Looks like the sort of fruit we give to Chao, but I'll eat anything right now!" Icarus chuckled, flying up to grab one. Tikal rubbed her chin curiously. "...Chao?" she muttered to herself. While Icarus was busy eating, Tikal noticed a creepy looking building nearby. A black-walled structure, which she recognized from her grandmother's tablets. "A dragon fortress!?" she gasped. Suddenly, she found herself surrounded by dragons! Icarus hid high in the treetops as the hulking, winged lizards grabbed Tikal and dragged her back with them! "Aaaah!! Let me go! What do you want!? Icarus!! HELP!!" she cried. Icarus watched, shaking like a leaf. "She... She's done for!" he gasped.
Tikal soon found herself locked in a dungeon, staring through the bars at a crowned black dragon. "L-let me go! Do you know who I am?!" Tikal said feebly. The black dragon chuckled. "I know exactly who you are. Welcome to the Arcangel, princess! Few have ever set foot in the dragon stronghold and lived... but perhaps your father would make a deal, hm?" he growled, turning to leave. Once she was alone with her single dragon guard, Tikal started to cry. "I've only made things worse... I should have known better than to leave the city..." she sniffed. "Hey, don't cry, sweetie. It's all my fault." Hearing Icarus's voice, Tikal looked around. She saw him peeking through a barred window to the outside. "Icarus! Can you break through those bars?" she asked. He frowned. "Look, Tikal... I'm not magical like you think I am. I'm a griffin. And a pathetic griffin at that. Want to know the truth? I was on my own because... My family ditched me. Messed things up once too often, I guess." he sighed. Tikal couldn't listen to this right now. She WOULDN'T. "Look, I don't care what your family thinks! I'm the princess of my tribe. The dragons holding me means that they're going to ransom my father. I need to get out. I mean it, Icarus. YOU are my ONLY hope! So you have to find a way!" she insisted. Icarus looked unsure. "I... I don't..." he stammered. Tikal reached through the bars and took his hand. "You can. I believe in you." she said. Icarus blushed and backed away a little, thinking. "Well... if you say so... Then I'll give it a try!" he said. He then flapped up and gripped at the bars of the window with his talons. "I've seen other griffins do things like this before!" he said, flapping with all his might. He pulled and pulled, but he just didn't seem strong enough. Soon, the guard dragon took notice. "Hey! What's going on!? I'll fry that intruder!!" he snarled. "Icarus, look out!" Tikal shouted. The dragon blew a powerful fireball into the cell, which Tikal and Icarus hurried away from! To their surprise, it melted the prison bars! "Huh... Aw, I told 'em we should just EAT the prisoner!!" the guard groaned. Tikal gulped, but then Icarus flew over. "Hop on my back! Quick!" he yelled.
Tikal quickly hopped on to Icarus, but as they flew off, the dragon smashed through the wall in pursuit! "Yikes!! We gotta get outta here!" they both yelled. Icarus flew like lightning, doing his best to evade fire blown at him by the dragon! Tikal watched behind them so she could call out where the dragon was blowing fire. "Left! Okay... Dodge right! Yikes!! Pull up!!" she shouted as Icarus frantically tried his best to follow her direction. Finally, he'd had enough. "All right... Follow me, dragon..." He swooped down into the jungle, heading for the trees. "Icarus? What are you doing??" Tikal gasped. "Pulling up... NOW!" Icarus pulled up right around the trees where he'd been stuck before, and the dragon gasped in surprise as he stumbled into the tangle of branches. "AAAAAARGHH!! This isn't funny!! Get me down! Get me down RIGHT NOW!!" the dragon screamed. "Ha ha! I did it! I actually did it! You were right, Tikal!" Icarus smiled. Tikal hugged him. "Thank you... Now could you do me one last favor? Please take me home..." she sighed tiredly.
When they arrived at the echidna city, Pachacamac was addressing what appeared to be every able-bodied soldier in the city! "What's going on? We better check it out..." Tikal said. Pachacamac looked crazed with rage. "The Nocturnus filth have abducted my daughter! Our own princess, Tikal! This must not stand!" he roared. Tikal gasped. "Uh oh... Father noticed my absence and assumed the Nocturnus were behind it. I'd better do something before war breaks out..." she realized. "Can... Can I help?" Icarus asked. Tikal looked at him and smiled. "Actually..." While they discussed what to do, Pachacamac continued. "Their forces may be great, but ours are mightier! We will overwhelm their numbers with sheer power! Who's with me!!" he shouted, answered with cheers from the echidnas. Just then, Tikal stepped up to her father. "STOP!" she shouted, loud enough for her voice to echo to every echidna ear in the assembly! Pachacamac was taken aback. "T-tikal! S-such a relief to see you have escaped!" he stammered. "The Nocturnus did not capture me! I went forth seeking guidance, and I have returned with a messenger of the Divine!" she announced, bringing gasps and murmurs from the crowd. "It's true! A winged beast!" one echidna said. "The Divine are real!" gasped another. Icarus stepped forward. "The Divine have observed your people, and they are displeased! There is to be no further bloodshed, or you will suffer the consequences! So says I, the messenger of the Divine!" he proclaimed. Pachacamac frowned. "But, you can't seriously..." Before he could say much more, Tikal spoke up. "The messenger of the Divines has spoken! No further bloodshed!" she announced, prompting Icarus to take to the sky in dramatic fashion! As he flew off, the echidna warriors laid down their arms, and Pachacamac wore an enraged scowl. "She thinks I don't know a griffin when I see one? Just like her grandmother..." he grumbled with contempt.
With the drama over, Tikal went with Icarus to visit her grandmother. "You know... I can't heal her..." Icarus said. "I know. Thank you for all you've done anyway." Tikal said, "I just wanted to meet you once more to say goodbye. I'd let you stay with us, all things considered, but now that you've given a 'Divine proclamation,' maybe it's best that you go." Icarus gave her a hug. "I'll be okay. I'll show my family a thing or two, you'll see. Well, goodbye, and good luck." he said before leaving Tikal with her Granny. The old echidna wasn't in good shape, but she smiled. "I've heard such things, dear. You've driven your father up a tree. Good job." she smirked. "It should stop the war." Tikal smiled. Granny shook her head. "He wants it... His greed and desire for power makes him strive towards this war... Greed is terrible. Once it starts, you always want more." she said. Tikal frowned. "Grandmother, I'm sorry. I wanted to find a Divine to cure you. But it was only a griffin." she said. Granny sighed. "Divines don't do that anyway, child. We all must meet our ends someday. That is the way of it. Tikal... I have one final request of you... Your father will seek what the Chao protect. The Chao... are gentle creatures. They must not be harmed. It would be... disastrous... Remember... The servers... seven... chaos..." And with these final words, Tikal's Grandmother passed away. Tikal wiped a tear from her eye. "The servers are the seven chaos... I remember, grandmother..." she said sadly.
Pachacamac stood outside the door contemplatively. "Fine. No more bloodshed. By our hands! I will instead seek a power that may defeat our enemies with a single swift blow. I'm nothing if I'm not flexible." he muttered. "If it becomes necessary to take the Chaos Emeralds, then I will take them. And if that old crone thinks my daughter or some fake proclamation from a griffin can stop me, then she has died a fool!"
Tragedy would strike the echidnas, but Tikal's spirit would always hold her grandmother's lessons even for centuries beyond. They would never be forgotten.