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"Hey, Tim! Hurry up with those dogs," Carl's voice bellowed from the back.


"Ah, coming boss." The beagle Mobian was in a frenzy as he finished up dressing the chili dogs with relish and mustard. Those family rushes are always such a hassle, he thought, handing, the bag filled with a dozen chili dogs to the rather portly warthog, "Sorry about the wait, sir."


The warthog smiled and snorted, "Well, at least you got ‘em done." After handing out the order to a family of beavers, Carl turned to the blonde beagle, who looked rather tired and seemed to have his thoughts elsewhere. "Snap out of it, Tim."

Tim shook from his manager's booming, rough voice. "Sorry about that, Carl; just been thinking about the holidays."


"Well, you can't go worrying over everything, Timmy, and you really have gotta focus on work." The warthog's eyes shifted downwards.


"Sorry about that, I’m just really nervous tonight with… you know… with Beth and everything…." Tim's ears and head drooped as he ground his heels slightly. Carl could only soften his expression, "Look man, you're young. You got all the time in the world to propose to her; she'd understand, she seems like a nice girl."


"No, she is, but this is what I want, and you know it's just jitters is all, worried about the future."


"Look, Tim, you can't go worrying about all that, I mean... it took me time to figure out what I wanted to do, and look where I am now!" Carl grinned and raised his arms at his establishment.

To Tim, it was no more than a greasy hot dog stand; he could only give a puzzled and uncomfortable look on his face.

The warthog continued, "Now, I know it's not grand, but it's what I ended up with. Life is how you make it, and whatever you make of it; I know this doesn't seem much to you, but hey, it makes me happy."


Tim gave Carl a reassuring smile, "Thanks man, I'm gonna miss this place."


As Tim gathered his backpack and headed off, Carl gave out a kind, yet loud, farewell, "Good luck, Tim! Don't forget to bring the pups over here when they're grown!"


Tim could only blush and walk faster away from the Hot Dog Stand as people looked at him with giggles and smiles.


As Tim walked along the grass in the cold winter night, he noticed a few strange sounds around him. He stopped briefly and turned around… no one was there.


"Man, I really got to work morning shifts in my next job," he sighed to himself.

As he continued walking, he heard clangs and footsteps, Though he increased his gait, the footsteps drew in closer toward him. He dared not to look behind him and quickened his pace much faster. Tim then heard a loud crunch, causing him to sprint as far as he could. He turned corners around the buildings and businesses, the footsteps getting further away. He then ducked behind an oak tree in the nearest park and slowly peered around him, with only the plastic playground and benches to keep him company.

He gasped, his heart pounding loudly in his ears; the faint smell of what could only be motor oil was still in his nostrils.


"What… I don't… I don't even want to know what that was…." He could only mutter to himself as he was slowly reassured that nothing was after him, "Maybe that was all in my mind, I mean like a bad dream, right?"


The park was still empty with the biting winter cold on his fur; he shivered at the breeze blowing towards him, "Y-yeah, just my imagi- AKH, AAHH, KLAH!!!"


A choking pressure was put on his throat. His breaths shortened. As he tried fighting what was assaulting him, he was slowly being dragged away, his windpipe being compressed he was unable to scream for help. The cold embrace from these hands was all he felt before he managed to let out a shrilling cry….

 

Sonic: Age of Mobius

Coming Soon to Free Scribes of Mobius

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The Story you are about to read is an adaption story that takes all The Western Interpretations of Sonic the Hedgehog and diverges them into one story. You will see familiar faces fight the good fight like in the comics and shows, places that you may have explored in the games, and read tales that you thought would never happen. Friends will be made, foes will be fought, and along with bright hope there will be horrors that you could have never imagined. Read at your own pace as we explore a world familiar and unique from the games, shows, and comic books you know of…

 

Prologue, Part I: The Last Morning.

 

The alarm clock screeched in the Hedgehog’s fidgeting ear, only to have its snooze-button slapped hard in retaliation. Pleased with smacking the obnoxious machine into silence, the blanket-wrapped hedgehog slipped back into dreams…

"Pancakes!"

...only to be screeched at one more.

The bedroom and adjacent hall suddenly turned into a marching-band’s worth of noise, a drumroll of footfalls bursting through the door, a child’s voice trumpeting twice as shrill as the hedgehog’s alarm.

"Uncle Chuck, Uncle Chuck! I want pancakes!"

The man slowly opened his eyes seeing a bronzed blur. "Wha? Jules?" His vision cleared up as he saw his wildly bed-tousled quills and vibrant amber eyes.

The child trampolined on his socked foot paws, shaking his fists with an excited grin. Chuck, still stiff, bleary-eyed, and groggy with the inertia of wistful sleep, could only mumble in response to his fading dreams: "Aleena, don't w...orry...everything… everything’ll…  be fine."

The child all but roared: "Pancakes!"

Upon a further cry for breakfast, Chuck shook his crazy-quilled head, waking up as his youngest nephew ran and jumped around the room. He sighed  through his snout as he got a clear vision of him, stretching his arms out with a yawn. "Oh, good mornin’, Sonny..."

"Morning Uncle Chuck - now pancakes!"

Chuck could only be both amused and impressed by his youngest nephew, Chris. Even in the wee hours of the winter morning, the boy’s energy was boundless.

“Heh heh, well aren’t you up early? Wish yer siblings share the same enthusiasm.” He groaned as he stood up in bed, rubbing the small of his back with a stretch and a yawn. “Go an’ wake up Sonia and Maury an’ we’ll see about those pancakes.”

The boy flashed his uncle a bright grin "Alright Unc'!"

Chris rushed from the room, his foot falls clattering behind him as he hurried to wake up his siblings.

 All the while, Chuck groaned and continued to stretch out his back before sliding his slippered foot-paws over the foot of his bed. He unbuttoned his flannel pajama-shirt and gazed outside to notice a snow-squall softly falling amidst the backdrop of a warm winter sunrise above frosty hills. "Seems Christmas came early."

Chuck hoisted himself,  pushing off his knees with a grunt. He slipped heavy-footed around the room toward his closet door and slid it open.  He scratching scratched his chin, searching through a mess of wrinkled and coffee-stained coats, jeans, jackets, and flannels. Finally he spotted a freshly laundered lab coat with a triumphant grin. He gave it a quick sniff, smelling a hint of lavender. He dragged in the scent with a sigh and a slight smile twitching across his muzzle as he grabbed a pair of denim trousers. He chuckled to himself “As if mothering three hedgehogs wasn’t enough…”

He slides his arms into his coat and slips his legs into his jeans before sliding out of his slippers and into his sneakers. He yawns and rolls his shoulders as he walks out of his room and into the short hallway leading to the living room and kitchen. At the threshold he hears the static chatter of a radio in the distance.  His snout gives a slight twitch as he sniffs the robust scent of freshly brewed coffee. He bends around the corner and spies a slightly tired lady hedgehog brewing coffee-grounds and listening to the six o’clock news. He notes her long mane of sandy blonde fur and quills slightly frazzled from hours of bed rest, her red velvet pajamas complementing her warm and rich color. Her azure eyes glance over Charles and her lips part in a restrained smile. She perks up at the sight of him; straightens up over the sputtering coffee-maker with a dainty yawn. "Good morning Charlie, have you heard the news?”

He rubs the sleep out of his eyes and returns her smile and her yawn.

“About the rationing, yes I have, it’s a relief that things will finally be more affordable around here. Way things were goin' I thought I'd be forced ta sell my teeth to fuel you’re vile coffee addiction.”

Aleena chuckles at his joke, her laugh brightening up the already sun-lit room. She smirks up at him as she pours them both cups of rich and steaming black coffee. “I know, I know...even I have my vices, Charlie – noble lady that I am.”

Uncle Chuck shakes his head and rolls his eyes at her tongue and cheek conceit.

“You’re as noble as I am awake…”

He sips his coffee with a returning smirk. Aleena feigns a pout of indignation resting her paws on the curves of her waist. “Well, I’m just relieved that Chris can finally have a normal birthday from now on, like the ones we used to have.”

“Likewise, ‘leena. Ya know…” Charles tosses two cubes of sugar from a bowl and a splash of cream from a tipped saucer, then stirs it all around with a stray spoon.

“I still remember when Jules turned ten; I swear Chris is just like ol’ Jules, could never stand still to save his life.”

He chuckles to himself and blows the surface of his steaming drink, cooling it.

“Always fidgetin’ and runnin’ around like he had a pea-sized bladder and just drank the whole ocean. I swear, if shoe’s could stick, he’d run on the ceilin’.”

Chuck looks up at her warmly…then frowns. Rather than the expected smile, he eyes a disheartening frown.

Aleena sighed and tried to hide the frowning corners of her mouth with a forced upturn. Even if that were to fool Charles it could never do so for very long, she could never fully stifle back the build-up of tears in such vulnerable moments. He had grown to know her all too well this past year of still simmering grief, just now her blue eyes shimmered with them as she tried to hold them at bay. He felt a sudden pang of frenzied guilt, like he had just hit her. He shouldn’t have brought him up without gauging where she was emotionally today. He suddenly felt like an insensitive clutz.  He grit his teeth and winced. It came and went, the grief; it did for all of them. Sometimes she could just accept everything and go about her day and laugh and enjoy fond musings of her former husband. But today, well, it must be one of those other days…

“Oh Aleena, I didn’t mean to…”

Aleena forces a smile and closes her eyes as she turns to Chuck

“No it’s okay Charlie, I know what you mean. He was q-quite excitable…”

Aleena opens her eyes and thinks to herself about Jules "it’s just that they are all growing up so fast and…I just wish he was here to see them." She starts to tear up as she states this.

“Aleena, I’m beyond sorry. I know how much you miss him; I do too…”

“Charles, I just …”

Charles interrupts her as he stares into her teary eyes with a gaze confidence and determination

“Jules wouldn’t want us to mourn him, Aleena. He’d want us to live life to the fullest and give these kids a better future than the one we ever got. "

Chuck holds both her paws in his own "I know how things are, but I promise you from this day forward our days will be even brighter than the past..."

“Thank you Charles…That helps, more than you ever know. I...well...wanted to tell...”

As both hedgehogs look at each other’s eyes, a loud snoring is heard from the living room, coming from Uncle Chuck’s adopted son, Benjamin “Muttski” Flynn.

Both Hedgehogs step away from each other in partial embarrassment and both peer into the living room to discover Muttski crashed and sprawled out on the couch. Chuck swiftly deduces the rambunctious teen fell asleep there whilst watching something on the television - again. A leather-bound book laid strewn open across his face covering the brown fur spot on his left eye. His honey-nut and brown speckled fur was stickered with stray post-it notes - most likely from falling asleep on some of his notes and tossing around in his sleep.

Aleena chuckles "Looks like Ben the bookworm had another wild night…"

Chuck shares her amusement "All those parties, and getting’ inta mischief - for shame..."

Aleena finds the strength to beam up at Chuck whilst wiping tears from her eyes.

"By mischief do you mean filching reference books from the Mobotropolis library?"

Charles sips his coffee and rolls his eyes.

"And highlighting an' taking notes in my personal textbooks. Truly, the most vile child in the world..."

They snicker together as an egg-timer dings.

She pauses and realizes she was going to get breakfast ready. She gives a little hop, breaking eye contact with Chuck. “Oh I almost forgot, breakfast!”

“Don’t worry; I can take care of that for you.”

“No, no it’s alright, Charles... I was just about done with the pancake batter, just wake up Benny and let him know breakfast will be ready quite soon."

The mood between the two hedgehogs lightened up, at her returning smile.  Whatever lingering sadness has - for the moment - subsided. “Okay ‘leena."

Charles walks up to the sleeping Muttski, leans over the couch, and shouts.

"Rise an’ shine Benny!”

Muttski bolts up, surprised and startled out of his dream (flailing around).

“Ah! Nerb Ninjas! Zebra Pirates!”

Muttski sits up and composes himself, straightening his bad case of bed-mane. He notices the mess of papers and books scattered along the coffee table. Frantically he straightens out a mess of papers, pamphlets, books, and highlighters, grabbing his bandana.

“Morning Unc, sorry about the mess.”

He pulls off a post-it note from his whiskers with a confused sniffle.

“You’re straightening things up well enough, no big deal but you really should get a good night sleep rather than crashing on the couch; it’s a bad habit, ya know.”

Muttski rubs his eyes and forehead “Yeah, yeah it’s just that some ol' mystery an' monster movies came up and, well, it got me readin' some Mythology books from the top shelf...again."

He thumbs over the big leather book and skims through the pages.

"Got real interested about this one in particular; it’s about the echidnas’ disappearance over 4000 years ago. Man, is it spooky! I mean, how does an entire species just vanish overnight? There's the one chapter dedicated to this one weird thing called…"

Muttski hears Aleena's stifled chuckles and suddenly realizes he is geeking out with scribbled on post-it notes glued all over his body. His ears droop as his snout begins to blush.

"Never mind, you probably read a lot of this stuff before.”

Muttski begins to pull away the post-it notes from his fur with a self-conscious simper.

“It’s alright Ben, I get lost in old history books from time to time myself, just make sure you turn the TV off before bed next time okay, brownouts and all...oh...I almost forgot.”

Chuck pulls another post-it note from Muttski's tail. He gives a slight jump. Then pats him on the back. "You missed a spot."

He places the sticky note Muttski in his padded palm. It is a sketch colored in highlighters of seven small multicolored gems surrounding a big emerald. “Alright, thanks, Unc'."

He places it and thumbs it against an open page of one of his study-journals.

"Hey do you want me to get the mini-hogs up and runnin’, Aunt 'Leena?”

Aleena peeks over the large arched threshold to the kitchen with a grateful nod.

"That would be most helpful, Benny. They need to -"

Suddenly, a yell from Two Hedgehog Boys are heard. Aleena's ears twitch, she instinctively frowns. “Surprise!”

A small caramel-colored hedgehog springs upright from a deep sleep in her cozy bed.

Sonia scrambles out, struggling with her covers and falls onto the floor.

Chris, masked in a ratty burlap bag ripped and cut to form a jack-o-lanter’s weeping grimace, leans over and rustles her quills. “Good morning Princess Prissy Pants!”

A lanky sandy-colored hedgehog boy leans and peeks over his little brother’s shoulder. Two twinkling hazel eyes peer from the gloomy, violet sockets of a gruesome heart-shaped tribal-mask.  He cocks his head at an uneasing angle, he snarls and growls, but then can’t resist breaking character with a fit of suppressed laughter. He gives his brother a slight shake. Christian looks up to his big brother and joins in the laughter. The eldest of the children, Maurice, gave a bow.

“The Flynn Brothers are proud to introduce you to the pissin’ your pajamas in the morning wake-up-call! If ya didn’t wizz in your sheets last night, you will in the morning or a money back guarantee. Don’t take my word for it: just ask my buddy Chris!”

Both brothers looked amused at their handy work and give each other a high-five.

Sonia scowls at her two brothers, bolts up from the carpet, grips one of her frilly plum and maroon striped pillows, and starts wailing on them with all the force her petite body could surprisingly muster. She swings her puffy pillow around in a unbalanced arcing swing, whacking Maurice atop his head and slapping Christian aside the side of his muzzle knocking his mask off, leaving both in a daze. She stumbles and straightens her wrinkled lilac pajama top with a frustrated grumble. The two brothers have enough time to bolt out of their bed room with Sonia in tow speeding after them...

“You two stone-headed, thick-brained dolts are not going to get away with this like last time!”

The adult Hedgehogs and adolescent Muttski eye Sonia as she chases her brothers all around the house, the pursuit ending in the living room circling around the post-it marked couch where Sonia keeps swinging and hitting her brothers with her pillow. Muttski's head swipes side to side as he watches them. He smirks and chuckles to himself.

“A bit early for a slumber party don’t ya think? I thought pillow fights were a more nocturnal activity.”

Sonia rocks back and chucks her pillow at Maury, only for Maury to duck and end up hitting Muttski square in the face instead. "Umph! Ceasefire, sis! Cease fire!"

Aleena and Chuck glower, unamused at the Hedgehog Kid's shenanigans. Aleena huffs through her snout as Chuck gives her a sheepish smirk, she especially doesn’t want to deal with this at 6:30 in the morning. She takes one bold step into the living room, standing up right, robe swishing about. Her voice is crisp, commanding, and loud.

“Christian! Maurice...You will apologize to your sister or, so help me, there will not even be a whiff of a chilidog during the birthday. I'll have you all eat pickled eggs and bologna!”

Both Hedgehogs felt a chill up their backs at that wicked ultimatum. Both in unison turn-heel and apologize, heads drooping towards the floor, the youngest brother went first followed by the oldest.

“Sorry Sonia..."

“Yeah…sorry sissy-sis. We just wanted a laugh that’s all.”

Aleena spins on her slippered heels, posture still straight and commanding. Chuck raised his eyebrow and folds his arms. Rarely did he get to see the duchess in her element on anything but boring televised showings of parliament, even more rarely was when it was in a domestic setting.

“Now that’s more like it. Boys I’ve hope you washed because breakfast is almost ready and Chuck and I have a busy day ahead of us. Parliament is voting on a series of new edicts to help with the war-clean up. That...and there some laws I'm hoping to veto.”

Charles raises an eyebrow at the blond hedgehog

"What do you want to veto, wait...Is it The Demilitarization Act?"

"Among other things...I don't feel this is a wise choice, Charles. There are resistance-cells still out there that are hostile to us. And you know the Overlanders won't give up as a whole. We can't just turn our backs to the Overland or the Carthage just because we signed a peace treaty."

"But what about the domestic policies? How much military do we really need now, shouldn't we focus on the border issues and tighten them up?"

Charles frowns slightly and sighs. National loyalty and years of personal friendship tempt him towards a bias of staunch support when it comes King Maximilian and the political and strategic decisions he has made over this difficult time-span of his early reign. Still a prince at the time, he basically inherited the war along with the burden of his crown.  Charles knows Aleena on the other hand has been more critical against certain laws of austerity that have been passed throughout this war. Good intentions do not always mean good decisions, and patriotism to the crown has had an occasional way of blinding the Council of Lords and their proposals of policy. This fact had been long drilled into him by Jules during his days at the University, and even more so hammered in by his surviving wife.   Well aware of his own dedicated service to the crown and Aleena's somewhat pessimistic yet constructive criticism, he grins as he decides to play devil's advocate. These discussions (or more honestly said respectful-yet-heated debates) have always been a bright spot on Charles' day, especially since Jules has passed on. He reminded her of him in this regard, a bad habit of wanting to debate and never take a single stance for granted. And, he gathered over his time spent with her, that it was something she had lost with Jules, a fellow intellect to intellectually inspire her hungry mind.

He wiped his glasses on his lab coat, trying an eager grin.

"As far as I'm concerned Aleena, both The Overland and Carthage are too crippled at this point to make such a rash move. Even if The Overland did somehow initiate any attack on Arkeon Territory, due to the treaty they would also have to contend with every other Kingdom and The UF. They wouldn't last long. The Carthage on the other hand..."

Charles grimaces slightly as he recalls an unfond memory.

"If any of them survived the Li'rule Massacre, I highly doubt they would be even a threat anymore...they barely have the infrastructure to feed their own children. If you ask me, we just need to keep in check what territories we do have and slowly dismantle the arms trade, maybe The Demilitarization Act is going too fast but King Max has never lead us in the wrong before Aleena, I trust that he will moderate decision. Many of the Lords like yourself are passionate about devoting their resources to something beyond this war, Aleena. And gradual scraping  of the military could just that."

Aleena rolls her eyes.

"So you think that this really over? No, it's not. Charles...Li'rule for one thing still has many powerful splinter cells, warlords with a lot of resources. Just because their government has faltered doesn't mean their rebels haven't. And the same goes with the Overland."

"Don't get me wrong; I think you have some valid points, but with Armand leading the new security force to protect the border, I highly splinter cell is going to sneak into Mobotropolis."

Aleena sips her coffee and looks up at Charles with a wry gaze and a raised brow.

"Your argument assumes someone already hasn't... And then we have to deal with the fact that we just made our police and our military one and the same...Who's going to police them? And for the majority of those brave veterans who did the right thing - how many are being simply discharged? And with what deserved reward? A pat on the back? Look at Colonel Stripes who's been in this war sense the first shot went off - are we really going to just push him to the side and let some pedantic greenhorn like Armand and his new recruits take his place? Armand will be too busy searching our homes for contraband cheese than hidden terrorists. Veterans like Stripes are getting an icy shoulder and spat on for being -"

Muttski flips the channel to the morning news and smirks.

"Speak of the devil an' he may come..."

Muttski points to the television screen showing a uniformed tiger briskly marching passed a series of Mobians dwarfed by his muscular frame, all of them wagging microphones as he exits a large carrier plane. The Header on the screen blares boldly: "War Hero or Warmonger? Colonel Stripes pleas to Our Royal Majesty to remain in Li'rule and The Overland, as well as various other occupied territories.

The Bronze Hedgehog is surprised how large this Tiger is.

"Whoa...a Felidae! Look how huge that guy is!"

Chuck realigns his glasses

"It's not like our soldiers are just going to be forgotten for their service Aleena, they're all simply being reassigned to protect Acorn Territory, I have faith Armand can deal with any potential threat that is thrown at them and take care of us like they did during the war."

Chuck tries to reassure Aleena and places a hand on her shoulder

"The time for war is over, we don't need to keep building weapons, draining our coffers, and sending soldiers out to God-knows-where, this is just the next logical step."

Chuck can feel Aleena's shoulder tense.

"Just because we won the peace doesn't mean we've truly -"

" - won the war. To withdraw now is strategic suicide."

Everyone stares at the screen as the tiger in a beret gives his farewell speech from podium out front of a drizzly landing pad.

"I have personally petitioned our new King himself in writing and plan to meet with him in person for council on this matter. Right now, our allies are vulnerable, contention and strife still simmers in many territories, and civil unrest is still occurring despite the peace treaty. Do not think this is over because of Charlemagne's and Kodos' defeats - their convictions will outlive their persons. The separatist movement especially remains strong within our borders and Overlander enmity without. As for your attendance to my Honorable Discharge, thank you all for your time...unlike most of the time. "

The crowd around erupts in a in audible commotion as journalist flash cameras and pester the imposing tiger for answers to garbled questions.

Muttski could only gag in disgust from Stripes heed "Forget this, who wants to watch Renard News Network anyway, a bunch of fear mongers right Uncle Chuck?"

As Charles opens his mouth to rejoined his adopted son only to have Aleena flash her disapproving azure gaze, cutting him off and deflating his smart assured countenance with a single quip .

"Tell me Charles, in teaching Ben everything you allegedly knew, did you teach him to ever think for himself?"

She cross her arms with repressed snarl.

Chuck cleans his glasses with a sigh and shakes his head, eyes cast low to the ground.

"If I let you teach him, he'd be watching this channel all the time..."

"No...he'd be reading the new."

On the next channel, a flashy opening is shown for this channel's Morning Talk Show, showing off Castle Arkon and the Capital of Mobotropolis in the brazen light of the rising sun. In the gradient colors similar to that warm glow appears a flourish logo: The Morning Rise. The view fade to lofty crane shot of an open ritzy studio fitted out for a talk show with furniture and decor a strange mix of sleek angular modernity and antique Victorian flourish. The camera settles its downward gaze on the cheery face of a well dressed ruddy-blonde vixen in a feminine dress-skirt and suit with a clear and melodious voice.

"Good morning Kingdom of Arkon! This Scarlet Garcia of the PNB excited to tell you some excellent news to warm your spirits on this chilly the Sixth of December, 3229."

Muttski's tail wags slightly at the sight of Scarlet. Maurice notices how dopey eyed Muttski is over Scarlet, and says with a sly smile

"Ah, it's only hot-off-the-press news ta Mutt' when it comes from that hot an' Foxy host..."

Sonia swoons and giggles, plopping herself next to Muttski and leaning her head on his shoulder. "Ahw...that's so charming, Benny. Star-crossed love...Dogs and foxes."

Muttski blushes and remarks

Muttski: "I...I don't know what you're talking about, PBS has some great news! Informative, ob..."

Scarlet leans in slightly. Muttski's eyes spy a hint of cleavage peeking out from her blouse...

"Ob...jectifying. I mean objective!"

His snout begins to blush as hormones get the better of him.

"Come on dude, you can't be drooling because of the news..."

Maury cackles leaning in on his shoulders with drumming hands.  Muttski cringes in embarrassment as Manic taps against him, making a scene out of his secret crush.

"I...I'm not drooling! He dabbled his muzzle to see if it's true. "Uh, am I?"

"Forget Scarlet guys. If I end up droolin' here it's 'cause I'm starvin'! Hey mom? Mom! Mom!"

As the two siblings bicker at each other, the Vixen on PBS begins The Morning Rise with a special guest

"For our first segment, we have a very special guest. He's the renowned youthful General of our The Royal Army, war hero, and a loyal friend to The King, I am proud to introduce you all to General Armand D'Coolette."

The cameras switches to a rather bronze-furred coyote, dressed in a ritzy royal-uniform and with a stiff countenance.  He's seen talking to someone off screen, just as he looks away he notices the cameras now focused on him. He takes a more relaxed demeanor and puffs out his chest to appear to look brave, bold, and strong despite his stiffness. He runs a slightly unsteady paw through his slick brunette hair and gives Scarlet a warm genuine smile. All the while Aleena spies the coyote's stiff expression with a doubting smirk.

Aleena groans and rolls her eyes "I could care less about what that Green-horn has to say. I'm going to get breakfast on the table before you and Muttski build a shrine around the TV and Chris resorts to eating waxed fruit...I still remember his last valiant attempt."

Charles is cut a bit by her words. And feels like what was to be a witty banter has backfired. He feels a pang of guilt. Aleena is passionate about her politics, maybe he should have been more delicate about their differences.

"Don't remind me. He was nauseous for the whole day..."

"Yeah, and it looked so tempting the last time...it still does now."

Sonia crosses her arms, still leaning on Muttski with a pouting face as she bangs her bare heels against the couch. "And he barfed on my doll house...On purpose!"

"For that last time, that was an accident! The only time I barfed on purpose was last Halloween."

Muttski cringes.

"I should have never taken that bet..."

Maurice says in agreement "Yeah, dude, you shouldn't have...candy-puke, now that's some super sticky stuff."

Sonia bunches her fists and growls, quills splaying. Muttski scoots away from her, getting some distance. "You said Maury did that!"

"He did? That's convin' devil-hog.... I trained him well. So that's why you were givin' me a hard time 'till Christmas."

Christian jumps around and tugs on her mother's robe.

"Pancakes...Pancakes...I love your pancakes!"

Aleena's frown melts into a doting smile, she leans down and kisses her son's snout.

"And I love you, you know that?"

"Uh-huh. What can I say? I'm irresistible."

As Chris hugs his mother "Hey mom...I want to try somethin' new!"

"And what would that be, hm?"

"I want to try a new food!"

"Oh? Something new, eh? Like what? Spinach? Brussels sprouts?"

Chris gags and sticks out his tongue.

"Yuck! No...I want to put chili on pancakes!"

"Well...I don't know. Let's go into the kitchen, L'il-C. Will experiment and make you some Frankenfood. I'd rather spend time with my you than Scarlet 'The Bimbo' Garcia."

Aleena then gives Charles and Muttski a harsh stare.

Meanwhile the TV continues on as Scarlet begins her interview...

"So, Sir Coolette. Let me be first to say it's an honor to have you take time out of your busy schedule to be on the show. "

"Merci, merci Madam Scarlet, it iz wonderful to a chance to speak to zee people."

Scarlet sits cross legged with a warm smile, whilst twiddling a high-heeled footpaw and slender calf extending from her Well tailored skirt.

"All of Arkeon has been wondering about your big promotion as of late...Tell us, what is it like being the big chief? What do you plan to do differently than grizzled old hawk Colonel Stripes?"

Aleena sneers back at the TV and whispers in Chris' ears.

"He's no hero like that big Felidae, you know. This guy is as pompous and listless as a scarecrow in a dress suit."

"Heh heh, no kidding, this guy looks like a complete tool...actually, he looks a lot like a kid in my school-group. Looks like he could be his old man, that would explain a lot. Looks an’ sounds like him too."

Armand's rough accent cuts through Chris' words from the TV.

"It is very, how you say...incroyable!"

Scarlet with a polite nod corrects Armand "Incredible?"

He nods bright eyed with a stiff and tight-pressed smile. He continues to nervously emphatic bob his head as he speaks. "Oui, of course..."

He picks a bit at his uniform, dusting it off for the enclosing camera.

"I never zhought zhat I would make it zhis far in my career so... juvénile?"

Aleena scoffs and sneers sarcastically as she side-glances the screen.

"I'll say..."

On the screen Scarlet leans in a slightly nods then tilt her head in a charmingly curious way. Muttski gives a slight sigh, incurring the smirk of Manic and the giggle of Sonia.

"So...young?"

To the TV Aleena continues to show his distance.

"I'd stick with the first word. Guy's greener than the King's garden."

She smiles warmly at Chris, hopefully expecting the sweet sound of her son's laugh. All the while Armand nervously continues to pick, fidget, and bob on screen. His tail wags nervously.

Christian’s laugh is a loud chuckle with an air of confidence to it, that is both heartwarming and soothing to his Mother.

"it is quite a..." Armand gestures with his paw rolling on his wrist as if to coax the word.  "...surprise now zhat I zhink of it, but I am gratefuls for zhis occasion  that zhe King has bestow upon moi."

"So what are your plans to improve Colonel Stripes now...mixed...reputation?"

"Now now." He gestures two open palms in a consolatory fashion. "Colonel Stripes has done a lot for this Kingdom."

Under her breath Aleena sneers loud enough for everyone to hear "More than you ever have..."

"However, it is about time zhat someone new took his place. Someone who is more qualified to lead during times of peace."

" 'Someone New' should go back to boot-camp and do a job he's actually qualified for, scrubbing latrines..."

Armand places his hand to uniformed and puffed up chest with a fanged but uneasy smile.

Scarlet leaned in an bit, ears pricked up high and with her best newscaster smile as the camera focus on her.

"Yes. He is a war hero after all. But many fear he has become too much of war-hawk than his stripes let on."

Armand gives a slight titter and dismissively shakes his head at the joke, Scarlet and an unseen studio-audience chiming in. Aleena glowered, incredulous and smug.

"And all have too much fangs to be sheep..."

Scarlet asks "Thoughts on that, Colonel Armand? And how do you plan to counteract that image to the populace?"

"I intend to connect more so with zhe people. as we could not communicate as well with zee people during The War do dissidence and worries of espionage. In a time of peace both zhe Kingdom and it's People should communicate more so in order for this new peace to last. Zhere needs to be transparency. For it is not only soldiers that have the right to ensure the safety of our Kingdom, but the right of every citizen to uphold that safety to let us know if an injustice is taking place."

"Colonel Stripes was a War Hero, however we are no longer fighting a war, it is time for us to secure zhe territories we do have and rebuild, and more importantly to progress towards peace."

Armand smiles with his hollow confidence. The in studio audience looks rather assured with the promising answer, but a select few can see through it. Aleena can feel and see the skepticism through the TV, like pinpricks of starlight in the dark blanket of night. Some believe he same way she does - that the war is not truly over, and acting like it is could very well steal away a more grounded and secure victory.

"As long as my men and I watch over zhis city, with our fellow soldiers throughout all zhe provinces I can assure you zhere is nothing to worry about but continuing our lives beyond the threat of war."

The audience happily claps at his folly.

"And what about Stripes claims that there are still -"

"I will be personally overseeing the pursuit of any splinter cells and dissidence that do not follow in line zhe Imperial Pact. Zhey will be tried as criminals in a civil court. There will be no tribunes, there will be no executions, no encroachment from Overlander or traitorous Mobian alike, and zhere will be no more war. I swear this on my honor."

Aleean sneered upon the mention of his "honor.”

“You have no honour to swear by, draft-doger..."

Charles, tired of Aleena's overly vindictive commentary, finally opens his mouth and speaks.

"Honestly Aleena, Armand has yet to do anything and you're already writing him off as incompetent, he deserves a cha-"

"He had his chance when the draft came up - he fled from it...Even you served Charles, I served - we all did our part even though we're pushing to our forties. All the while this manchild barely out of squirehood struts around like a Knight in the Court-of Blades like he's son of Kodos!" She turns around to Maurice, Sonia, and Benny.

"Who would you feel the safest with, kids, veteran and tactician Colonel Stripes or...that...?" She points to the Coyote on the screen.

Sonia asks "The Felidae looks like he knows what he's doing, why did he resign anyway?"

Muttski shared Aleena's sneer, but not for the coyote on the screen "It's because he was a grizzled old warhawk... we're not tryin' ta rule the world here or profiteer through war, we're trying to keep the peace between everyone. If we didn't pull out of Li'rule and The Overland we'd be no better than The Overland when they tried to take over Mobotropolis as vassalage..."

Maury only looked confused at the whole discussion "Vassalage? That some type a sausage?"

Maury leers impishly as Chris stomach growls. Chris scowled up at his brother.

"Hey genius, remember what Lady Rosie taught that day we got ta see the Castle's Library . A Vassalage is basically what ya get when a government tries to take over another as a puppet. Now enough with all this nerdy poltio-jumbo before my own brain eats itself! Mom, I just want pa-"

Muttski interrupted. "Exactly...Chris is right about the Li'rule kingdom at least being a potential puppet-state. We're not trying to be the next Overland Sonya, every other nation and kingdom could see that and spark another war late. And we all know such colonialism is wrong. Chris knows what I'm gettin' at right big guy?"

Chris shakes his head, still clutching at his growling stomach.

"Woah, woah, I'm not agreeing with you here Benny, I'm jus-"

Sonia adds with a dreamy daze in her eyes "I mean I'd feel more safe with Colonel Stripes, he looks so much stronger and nicer...and he’s so...wow..."

Aleena could only raise an eyebrow with a small gasp from her daughter’s response.

"H'oh goodness... Reign in those hormones girly - you need to faun over with less years and more quills."

Chris sighs, annoyed at his sister as she spaces out...He grumbles.

Aleena notions to her youngest son "Keep going Chris. Sooner you make your point the sooner we can eat."

She rubs the top of his head, messing with his tuft of sandy bangs about his forehead.

"What Chris was tryin' ta say...hopefully...is that we shouldn't leave people high and dry. Right Big-C?"

"Yeah! After all what's that dandy gonna do anyway, talk terrorists to death?"

"Mama's boy..." Muttski huffs and shakes head. "You disappoint your big bro, dude. It's not just Armand that will defend us in our sleep, it's our men and women who fought for our freedom we now have, they're coming back to keep us safe."

Chris narrows his eyes, stomach gurgling, his patience as drained as his empty stomach.

"They always have been that is why they went in the first place - I don't see how all your sugared-up gibberish has ta do with who is protectin' our hides. Tell me, bro. what good's a Colonel who has no idea what he's doing? At least that Felidae had an idea on what's going on - warhawk or not - your Colonel was just blowin' smoke out of his ass on talk-shows while you were gawking over that Fox."

Aleena puts a hand to her mouth. Half shocked, half suppressing a laugh.

"Chris...Language..."

Chuck however, wasn’t as amused by Chris’ language "Christian... That is no way to speak around or about your elders. Or to Benny."

Muttski starts to flush a deep red. His tail wags.

"Yeah...and I-I wasn't gawking, I was just paying close attention at the interview, it's exciting to see what the new Colonel has in mind instead of all this doom and gloom about war...."

Maury starts chuckling and gains his siblings and cousin's attention

Maury: "Dude, no one gets that type of excited for politics, at least I hope not..."

Sonia joins her brother’s laughter and shakes her head.

"Do you even know what that Colonel said? Were you even listening?"

"Of course I do! I mean, of course I did..."

Chris stomach continued to growl, and gives the beagle a scowl "Okay then Muttski, what were they talking about?"

"Well they...I mean it was about...umm..."

Muttski's head starts to droop down along with his ears

"Thought so..."

Aleena, with hips in hand turns to their Uncle "Now, Chuck...best help Muttski make his point..."

Charles could only sigh at the conundrum he finds himself in "Look this isn't perfect, I know that, and there are going to be rough patches in this act but in the long run this could be for the best, if we didn't fall back we'd be promoting such acts of violence to befall us, no one wants to continue the war here." Though Charles wants to believe that the kingdom will know best, he thinks for a moment that having Armand be the face of security might not exactly be the best choice. "I know Armand is a bit soft, but he's dedicated and determination can go a long way, if not I know King Max has others in line that could take over if need be."

Muttski was surprised on such criticism about Armand, yet could understand what Chuck meant "Yeah Uncle Chuck has a point, I mean that can get someone else instead of Armand, people are going to go up the wall if there's another year of food and power rations, you can't forget that."

Despite the duo's back and forth, both Aleena and Chris looked at each other unconvinced and sigh, Sonia could only watch the conversation with curiosity, while Maury only slumped with muzzle in hand out of boredom.

A loud growling can be heard in the living room, startling the beagle and hedgehogs, all except Chris that is as he wined "Come on guys, can we please eat?"

Aleena looked at Chris with concern and noticed the time "Oh goodness everyone it's 6:45, Charles it looks like I'm gonna need your help after all."

"No problem Aleena, kids behave yourselves while I help your mom prepare breakfast."

Chris could only shout for joy "Yes, Pancakes!"

As Charles approached the cutting board, Aleena with a small grin whispered in his ear "Don't think you won that debate there Charlie."

"How about we call for peace and discuss politics later?"

"For now, yes."

---

 

Chris' expression was full of joy, 3 stacks of pancakes laden with butter and blueberry syrup, alongside it are two patties of pork sausage nearby mixing with the syrup, topped off with a glass of Chocolate Milk "This is beautiful, only could a Chilidog match it's wonder.."

Maury and Muttski's plate were similar, each had 2 stacks with 2 slices of bacon and sausages each, both had Orange Juice with their breakfast. "Now THIS is how breakfast should be, full of Meat, ain't that right my brother from another mother?" Muttski could only chuckle at Maury's use of slang, he always tried to make himself cooler than he actually was "Heh heh, yeah man we're on the same boat here."

Like Mother like daughter, both Aleena and Sonia had banana and strawberry slices with their stack of pancakes, two slices of buttered wheat toast laid aside separate plates. Sonia could only look at her older brothers with a raised brow "You guys do realize there are foods that aren't meat and sweets right?"

Charles was a bit more modest with his breakfast, Strawberry jam wheat toast along a classic combination of Bacon and Scrambled Eggs "Sonia does have a point boys, it's important to have a steady and balanced meal."

Aleena smiled upon bites from her pancakes and teased "Finally Charlie, something we can agree on."

Charles used a spoon to scoop up his scrambled eggs, laying them on his toast and bacon, making an odd Strawberry Bacon Egg Sandwich, the kids could only look at their Uncle with both curiosity and disgust.

Aleena giggled "A new invention of yours Charlie?"

Chris finally had moment to stop eating to look at his Uncle's food Frankenstein, he nearly cleaned out his own plate "Uncle Chuck why did you have to ruin your breakfast with Eggs?"

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