Author's Chapter Notes:
I'll bet you've been wondering where the heck Shadow has been in this story, eh? Well, now you know!

Sonic/Blue (c) Sega SonicTeam
Miles/Tails (c) Sega SonicTeam
Knuckles (c) Sega SonicTeam
Amelia/Amy Rose (c) Sega SonicTeam
The Chaotix/Vector, Charmy, Espio (c) Sega SonicTeam
Shadow (c) Sega SonicTeam
The gates of the town opened with an ominous screech in the early morning. Knuckles shifted Miles' sleeping weight in his arms to make him easier to carry, then walked in with the others.

The town looked deserted, not a good sign in Blue's opinion. He ran over to a door, but was locked tight. Maybe they didn't like visitors? "Hello?" He said, and a slight rustle in a bushes nearby caught his eye. "Are we playing hide and seek?"

"Sonic, c'mon. Let's go find the inn." Amelia said, tugging on his arm gently. He glanced at her, then nodded, following her slowly. A small tug and he was walking at her pace in the direction she was.

They neared a large house that had double-doors and had music coming from it. Curious, Blue dashed in, eager to see who was playing, and the music stopped. Everyone inside was looking at him like he was a stranger - which he was.

"May I help you?" A floating waiter outfit said, the voice from somewhere above the collar. "If you want to order, you're going to have to find a table. You're blocking the doorway."

Blue blinked, then said, "Is this the inn?" He looked around at the group - they were all staring at him.

"Um...we don't cater to nudists." A bee standing at the piano said, crossing his arms. "Get some clothes on, now."

"Nudists? What's a nudist?" Blue asked, and everyone cringed back. He was insane, idiotic, AND a nudist!? "What'd I say?" He said, his ears dropping at their expressions.

"Sonic! Here you are!" Knuckles said, coming in. "Silly boy, forgetting to dress! He was just so eager to come and listen to music!" He explained loudly to the group. "I'll go and get him some clothes now, sorry for the embarassment!"

Blue, confused, let him lead him outside and back to the rest of the group. "Knuckles, what's a nudist?"

"Someone who walks around in public without any clothes on. Didn't you notice that everyone was wearing something over their fur?" He explained, motioning to the others.

Blue looked, and sure enough, it wasn't just the girls. He hadn't noticed before, since he didn't really look at much more then his face, but even Miles was dressed in something close to 'human.' But, wouldn't that be obvious, since he understood them and, when he had to, even acted like them at times?

"So...I have to wear...clothes?" Blue asked, turning to him. "What will I wear?"

"I don't have a spare outfit myself, but maybe someone in town will be nice enough to lend you something." Knuckles said, looking around. "Hey, how about him?"

Blue blinked, then looked over at a cloaked figure. Was he even WEARING clothes?! Something in the back of his mind nagged at him not to trust this stranger, but Knuckles ignored any thought of possible danger and approached him.

"Hey! I got a bit of a nudist problem here." He said, pointing back at Blue over his shoulder.

The figure looked over, then nodded. "So I see. Come with me, I'll help you get him some clothes." He motioned for them to follow and Knuckles went over to pick up Miles while Amelia and Blue followed together.

"So, where'd you all come from? Rather large group to be traveling with." The stranger remarked, looking back at the rest of the group they'd come with. Most were just looking around uneasily. All looked under-fed.

"We were captured. By Humans." Blue said, stepping closer. "We just escaped last night."

"So, you thought you'd be safe here?" The stranger said, turning to him. "Well, you were right to think so. Any Human that comes near here is shot on sight."

"Shot?" Knuckles said, wincing. His sudden jerking movement woke Miles and he yawned a bit before he was set down and allowed to walk. "I don't see any guns around here."

"We don't need guns." The stranger replied calmly, a hint of a smile in his tone. "We have other ways. Of course, guns are used from time to time."

"We?" Knuckles looked at him.

"Sure. The townpeople and I. Did you really think that those three in the bar, heck, that entire group, were helpless?" The stranger smiled.

"Oh. Okay." Knuckles nodded. "I figured that."

"Of course." The stranger nodded.

"So, you got a name?" Knuckles asked, looking at him as they walked into a large building akin to a mansion.

"Shadow. And you?"

"Knuckles."

They shook hands, then entered, Blue and the others following.

The next day...

Blue yawned and stretched, then sat up in the comfy bed. Much nicer then that dumb one in the Human place! He stood up and walked over to put on the clothes laid out for him. From watching Knuckles, he thought he knew how to put them on!

...It was the same as the shoes and gloves. No idea at all. He knew that Miles would never let him live it down, after he walked in and found him trying to pull a pants-leg over his chest. He burst out laughing as soon as he did and quickly retreated, only coming back to help him with a big grin on his face.

He narrowed his eyes at Miles, whose eyes were still showing hints of laughter in them. "It's not funny, Tails."

Miles blinked. "...Tails? Who're you---wha?!"

"It's your new nickname. I made it for you."

"Not very original." Knuckles remarked. "Were you in a mood?"

"No." Blue said sharply. "I'm just...in a mood to give him a nickname. Yeah."

"Suuuure." Knuckles grinned. "Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy. Sounds nice."

"Amy?" Amelia said, blinking. "Would that be me?"

"Sure!" Knuckles nodded. "We can be a whole gang or somethi--"

"No." Miles said sharply. "I'm not going to be joining any gangs." He looked away slightly. "Not anymore..." He mumbled.

Shadow, who still hadn't shown them his face, looked at him. "Terrible past?"

"Quite." Miles replied, then looked at him. "How about you? You still haven't shown your face."

"Is it required?" Shadow asked, an amused tone to his voice.

"It'd be...nice." Miles said, crossing his arms.

Shadow winced inwardly, then recalled what Metalla had said. Sighing, he pulled down his hood to reveal a black hedgehog with red stripes on his quills.

Blue blinked, then stood up. "You're a hedgehog?"

"Yes. Did you think you were the only unique one on Mobius?" He said, smiling slightly.

"Well...I don't know. I didn't know much of Mobius...until now." Blue admitted.

"You're lucky." Miles said bitterly. "It's not a basket of roses out here. Heck, maybe it would've been safer to just stay in your mother's womb."

"What?" Blue looked over.

"You sound as if you've experienced the whole world, and had it crash down it's walls on you." Knuckles remarked. "Gonna tell us that story sometime?"

"No." Miles said, then looked up at several bangs on the front door.

Blue looked up, panicked. Had the Humans found them?

"...It's the Chaotix. Don't worry." Shadow said, then walked out of the room. Shortly afterwards, a black ninja outfit, a bee in an orange vest and black pants, and a crocodile that might as well be dressed like a mafia leader bounded in. Shadow followed afterward, his cloak removed, and a rather annoyed expression on his face.

The bee had stolen his cloak and was using it as a super-hero cape.

"Hey, it's the nudist!" The bee said cheerfully, flying over to Blue. "Nice outfit! Maybe if you come by the cafe in that, we'll give you a discount!" He grinned, a mischievous look on his face.

"No, not just a discount. He'll get any drink for free." The ninja outfit said, crossing it's arms. "We just love hoodies."

Blue blinked, then pulled his hood over his head. "Thanks?"

Honestly, he didn't think his outfit was too spectacular. All he had was a light-blue hooded sweater, a pair of forest-green jeans, and his usual gloves and shoes, momentos of his days in the Human place.

"Don't let them fool you, Sonic." Miles said, narrowing his eyes. "These guys have the look of liars."

"We're not lying! Honest!" The bee said, his hands behind his back.

"Charmy the Bee, Vector the Crocodile, and Espio the Charmeleon." Shadow introduced, pointing to each person. The ninja outfit soon filled with a purple Charmeleon's body.

"Pleasure." The Charmeleon said calmly, bowing.

"Well, new friends!" Vector walked over and pulled them into a bear-hug. "Wait until you meet M and R!"

Shadow winced. Well, it was about time anyway...
"Actually, there's someone I'd like you all to meet." He said, looking at them.

"Who?" Blue asked, looking at him.

"My...leader."

To Be Continued...
Chapter End Notes:
Who are M and R? Actually, that was revealed in the last chapter, so you could actually tell me that yourselves.

Watch for the next chapter!
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