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The Second Cross:
The Glimmering Hope

'My heart's racing again."
"What's happening? Why do I feel this way?!"
"Where... am I...?"
[After the conflict with the many Nightmares surrounding the little black vixen, a sudden surge of otherworldly power has taken them away from immediate danger.]
[They have been sent by the will of the mysterious gem to a more familiar place...]
-St. K. Campus.-

[A flash of bright red light accompanies the sound of thunder... Two figures appear as this light dims.]
Cruce: [With his arms crossing his chest in a defensive position and his eyes closed...] ...Hm...? [He opens his eyes and slowly drops his arms.] ...What...? What did you--...? [He looks to his side, spotting the short girl holding the crimson gem.]
Strange Girl: [She stands silently, staring at her gem.] ...
Cruce: Hey, is everything okay? [He turns his body toward her, then catches a glimpse of a sight he quickly wondered how he missed earlier. He raises his head to see chunks of land hanging suspended in the air. These bits of floating land are smaller than most of what he has seen. Each of them have risen out of the earth with large strands of dirt underneath. They rise in a large-scale stepping-stone formation up to the clouds.] ...Whaaat...? [He glances at his surroundings.] Oh, this must be the field... [He and the girl stand in a decent-sized grass field where P.E. generally takes place.] Looks like it happened everywhere again... Hey, um... [He returns his attention to the girl.]
Equinox: I'm... sorry... My name is Equinox the Nightwish.
~Equinox the Nightwish~
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Cruce: Equinox the Nightwish...?
Equinox: Yes. [She nods, keeping her eyes on the gem.] You can just call me Equinox...
Cruce: Equinox... So, how did you end up here and in the middle of all of those Nightmares?
Equinox: [She shakes her head, her eyes closed.] I don't know. I'm still scared... They all came after me after I woke up. I fought many. But... I've seen a lot before, but there were so many.
Cruce: You've seen a lot of them before? So that means you're an offworlder for sure.
Equinox: [She faces Cruce with a nervous, but curious, expression.] ?
Cruce: ...Oh, well... It's a long story. I know where we are though... [He scans the area before facing a familiar street.] Based on experience... [He smirks at Equinox.] We should be safer around here. By the way, my name is Cruce. Sorry if I--...[He finally notices the gem Equinox is holding.] ...Hey... That crystal...
Equinox: ...[She stares into its shine.]
Cruce: Is... that why my heart is racing...? ...(It looks like...) What is that?
Equinox: Your heart is racing? Maybe you really are connected to... the Chaos Emeralds.
Cruce: (Chaos Emerald?!!) [He steps back in shock.] Wha--?!
Equinox: [Slightly startled, her ears flatten.] ...?
Cruce: (...Again... another silly children's game is real!? I-is this happening, or am I losing it again...? God, do I really have to go through this a second time?!) ... [He sighs.] ...The Chaos Emeralds... [He shakes his head.] Geez, Equinox, there's a lot going on here. I think we'll be safer over there. [He points to the school buildings obscured by the trees.] (And as much as I really don't want to show my face around there... But who's gonna know this is my face?) There's a lot that needs to be explained. Follow me. [He starts ahead at a slow pace.]
Equinox: [Silently, she follows after Cruce, walking at his side once she catches up with him. She continues holding her Chaos Emerald with both paws.]
[As soon as the two reach the parking lot, the Awgo officers which remain plentiful and unharmed draw their weapons. Standing at the front of the force is the vigilant Officer Gordon.]
Cruce: Oh great...
Equinox: ... [She moves closer to Cruce...]
Cruce: [Looks down at Equinox for a moment.] (She's scared... This girl's pretty cute. My heart's racing like crazy... Is she the Eclipse? I did hear a girl's voice in my head... Either way, she's young. Poor thing's probably still shaken by all of those Nightmares.)
Gordon: [He aims his handgun at the taller of the two.] Hold it right there!
Cruce: [He stops, Equinox holding onto her Emerald with one paw and one of Cruce's tails with the other.] ... [Behind them, a menacing rumbling is heard...] ... [Cruce turns his head slightly.]
[From behind, a Nightmare imp flies at Cruce.]
Cruce: Back up! [He counter-rushes at the Nightmare as Equinox instinctively lets go of his tail. He does so by letting his abnormal speed come into play once again in a short burst. He tackles into the Nightmare with enough force to send it flying into a warped tree into the distance, followed by ending its life, or perhaps afterlife. Cruce faces a small militia of Nightmares of the same kind.] Good to know you followed us here! [He brings his arms up into a sort of strained, casting position where it appears he is about to clasp his palms together. The air around him shimmers.]
Equinox: ...No... [She holds her Emerald up at arm's length. It glistens brightly.] I haven't thanked you, Cruce... Your presence gives the Chaos Emeralds strength... Look... [Abruptly, a tiny shimmering shockwave leaves the Emerald.] Chaos Blast!!
[Within split seconds, a light takes her to the center of the small horde of Nightmares. Directly following the teleportation, she flairs both arms out, the Emerald floating in front of her. It releases a powerful blast of its own mystical energy in all directions, fading into formless energy after a certain distance. All Nightmares are vaporized in this blast...]
Equinox: [The Emerald drops in both of her paws. She turns around and returns quickly to Cruce's side, almost standing in front of him and looking up nervously at the officers.]
Cruce: [He stares down at Equinox.] ...Wow... (Maybe she is the Eclipse... That was...) ...Awesome...! Nicely done...
Equinox: [She looks up at Cruce and gives a small smile.] Thank you, Cruce...
Gordon: I'll be damned...
Cruce: ...[He sighs.] Listen, Sir... I know I fled out of here, but what choice did I have? Go silently and let you take my cousin and I to who-knows-what sort of Awgo autopsy center or something?
Gordon: Highly unlikely... It would've been so much simpler than that.
Cruce: Something just tells me it wouldn't have. I know how Awgo works... I've seen what they can do.
Gordon: You know nothing compared to what I know, boy... I've seen a lot of crazy s**t, and this here was no exception. I doubt we'll be going anywhere, so consider this apocalypse your lucky break.
Cruce: ...Honestly, Sir... this is far from a lucky break for me... For... any of us... [He looks down to Equinox again.]
Gordon: ...Hm...
Steady Awgo Officer: Sir, they're like that skunk creature, if it can be called that. How is this Cruce...?
Gordon: Good question, Officer Laurel... We knew he could turn into that white flying thing...
Officer Laurel: The girl did mention his name, but... how can we be sure?
Cruce: Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again... There aren't very many Cruces out there. You've got the right one, don't worry.
Equinox: Um... Did you... say a skunk came by here...?
Laurel: Yes, I recall his name being Stream?
Equinox: Stream is here...? [She looks into her Emerald.] Why...? Can you tell me...? [Seems to be talking to the Emerald.] ...You don't know what it is this time...? Maybe Cruce knows...?
Cruce: Me? Well, as far as I know, he's another... um... Sonic guy.
Equinox: ...[Tilts her head at Cruce.] ...You know Sonic...? ...Oh, you mean Mobian.
Cruce: Yeah, a Mobian. So this is important. Officer Gordon, can we get in there?
Gordon: Only if you get your three-tailed a** back out here to help us when the next horde of Night-things comes. We're running low on munitions...
Cruce: [He nods.] Just hang in there... (Everything will change... I got a feeling...)
Stream: [He is holding his goggles, wiping them clean with a tissue from the box on the teacher's desk.] Whoa, nelly...
Bongo: What? Dead bug?
Stream: No, but I've gotten that plenty of times. My heart... kinda burns.
Bongo: What, heartburn?
Stream: No, but again: plenty of times. It feels like it's beating away. But... it doesn't. It's weird. It's way faster than before. And it feels like it keeps getting faster.
Emelina: [Standing near Bongo.] Do you think it has something to do with the orb?
Stream: Gah, don't know... [He tosses the tissue in the trash can nearby, fists now against his hips.] Maybe. Still not too sure what that old thing is. Say, how long are you all gonna be here?
Bongo: [He shrugs.] We're not allowed to leave, so...
Emelina: I'd say a day or two.
Bongo: If we live that long.
Emellina: Well, let's be optimistic!
Bongo: ...Uh...
Nic: Optimism is a bit difficult to retain under these conditions, Emelina.
Emelina: I know, but...! ...I know...
Stream: 'Ey, the girl's got a point. I've been through crazy times myself. This is a little different, but same old tricks when we're talkin' Darkness. 'Least, I think.
[The classroom door is opened. A whitish-pinkish kitsune Mobian holds it open for a black fox girl.]
Student: Whoa... Check it out. [He points at the two.]
Student: More animal people?
Student: This is intense...
Al: Animal people...?
Ivan: Neeeat, foxes! [He walks up to them.]
Nic: [Approaches as well.] So nice of you to join us... Hey Stream, friends of yours?
Stream: [He faces the two before smacking his forehead.] Whoa, nelly! Equinox?!
Equinox: [Tilts her head, holding her Emerald in both paws.] Stream? You did come here.
Stream: Whoa... whoa whoa whoa, back up, hold the phone, stop the presses... Where on Mobius--
Bongo: --Earth.
Stream: ...did you get that Chaos Emerald...? I guess the better question is, how did you get here too? Are you alright?
Equinox: I don''t know many answers to this whole dilemma, but I'm okay. This nice wanderer saved me from Nightmares after I found one of the Emeralds buried in a crater.
Sream: [Stares at Cruce... He rubs his eyes, a sporadic blinding light only affecting his and Cruce's vision.]
Cruce: [He looks away.] (Agh, that light...) [Covers his face.]
Bongo: [He looks at Cruce and Stream.] ...What, is this the opposite of a staring contest?
Emelina: [Giggles.] That's not so fun.
Ivan: Heheh. [Imitates what they're doing.] Hey Nic. Wanna play?
Nic: [He doesn't respond. He continues watching the two.]
Ivan: ...Darn it... I guess you win...?
Cruce: [He faces Stream, the light fading fast.] What the crazy was that...?
Stream: My eyes... Shoulda put the goggles on... [He faces Cruce.] So who's your friend, Ekky? 'Never seen this guy.
Cruce: [Notices the Circle watching him.] (Oh, not this again!!)
Equinox: His name is Cr--
Cruce: --ystal over there, check that out! [He points at the pinkish orb in the center of the room.] Wow, did it wreck this room or what...?
Equinox: [She looks up at Cruce, blinking a few times.]
Cruce: ...[Grins foolishly.]
Nic: [Raises an eyebrow.]
Al: ...[Furrows his.]
Stream: ...Yeah, it's freaking me out. The orb, that is. Say, I didn't catch your name, what was it again?
Cruce: I'm... ...(Gordon knows, which means Awgo knows... It'll spread fast. Better just tell them.) [Sighs.] Alright, I'm Cruce.
[A few students in the room gasp. There are murmurs of confusion and disbelief.]
Nic: [His eyes widen.]
Al: Cruce?!
Shaun: [He approaches the Circle.] Du-hu-huuude... That is gnarly.
Cruce: Yeah, yeah... Take a good look, I happened to become a Mobian when I woke up... after fleeing the heck outta here. [Stares at Al.]
Al: Wh-what was I supposed to do, lie? To Awgo?!
Cruce: ...Hmmgh...
Al: Besides, if you wouldn't bounced like that, you and Topher would probably be fine now. We wouldn't have been split up.
Cruce: Well, as it goes, Topher's nowhere to be found. I lost him... He's tougher than he looks. Way. But I'm worried...
Emelina: I'm worried too... Do you think he's alright?
Cruce: He can handle himself. I have faith in the guy.
Bongo: 'Think he can handle himself...? Seriously?
Cruce: [Turns to Bongo.] Yeah... why?
Bongo: Well, he's kinda girly...
Emelina: Hey! [Slaps Bongo's arm lightly.] So?!
Bongo: Ah! [Flinches.] I-I'm just sayin'! He's not exactly one I'd expect to... I dunno... see get through this with flying colors... No pun intended!
Cruce: [He shakes his head in frustration.] ...Just because he's a little... fruity... doesn't make him weak...
Bongo: Well, how do you--
Cruce: Stop stereotyping against gays, man. I got out of there. He's perfectly capable of doing the same as me and coming through.
Al: But... wasn't this girl--Equinox, did Streams say? Wasn't she with you?
Cruce: [He looks at Equinox beside him.] ...She was...
Bongo: I just don't know if Topher can handle it on his own. You didn't...
Cruce: ...[Shrugs his shoulders.] ...Just don't underestimate him...
Stream: [He has been watching them speak with an incredulous expression.] (This Cruce guy... Was he the one I was calling out to? He's a Mobian fitting in with a crowd of humans... And those feelings I got, all that weird stuff that happened when I looked at him. I couldn't see... His voice sounds almost exactly the same. Is it? Is it him...? I... can't tell... I don't...)
Equinox: Stream? [Tugs lightly at his large tail.] Are you okay?
Stream: Huh? [Looks down at Equinox. He pats her head and smirks.] Nah, I'm alright. Just thinking... Hey, we usually work alone, but... I think it's safe to say that I hope some more of C.E.P.O. is here with us. Not that I'd wish any harm upon them, just... I have my reasons...
Equinox: I do too. [She nods.]
Ivan: Gosh, Cruce... You know what's funny? This is kinda like all your visions, you know?
Cruce: Hm?
Ivan: I feel kinda sorry for anyone who doubted you.
Stream: (...Visions...? Is he... I...? No... I can't reveal... It's too... dangerous.) [He closes his eyes and turns away.]
Cruce: Yeah, I guess you're right... Hm, I wonder if Awgo's alright out there.
Nic: They'll probably call you if they needed help... I feel the need to ask: What did Topher turn into?
[The group faces Nic curiously.]
Cruce: [Perplexed.] ...What? Wait... How... did you even know... he would turn into anything in the first place?
Nic: To be frank, I didn't. It was an urgent question that I wanted to ask. I'm not sure why I did it in hindsight.
Bongo: You're not Frank...
Nic: [Stares at Bongo blankly...]
Cruce: ... (What... the hell...? He knew? But how?! W-wait, I don't even know. Did Topher turn into anything yet? I remember last time it took him a bit to change. Once he did, I thought that was it, but then everyone started turning into Pokémon or Safans. Hell, the whole world became something else. So it would follow the pattern, but Nic shouldn't know about that pattern... Unless... are their memories restoring? No no no, they'd know more... wouldn't they?)
[At this moment, an Awgo officer, Laurel, bursts into the room.]
Laurel: Hey! Another horde of things out here! C'mon, fighters!
Stream: [His ears flick up.] ! Er. [He turns to Cruce and Equinox.] You two sit tight. You just got back, after all. Let old Stream take care of this.
Equinox: [She nods.] Good luck.
Stream: [He nods back, smirking, before dashing out the door with his goggles now over his eyes.]
Emelina: He's so fast...
Bongo: Basically a rip-off Sonic the Hedgehog.
Al: Rip-off? He's real, dude. And so is she. [He points to Equinox.]
Bongo: [Faces Equinox.] ...Yeah... and so is that Chaos Emerald...
Equinox: [Looking up nervously.] ...You know about the Emeralds?
Bongo: It's a long story.
Cruce: [He walks forward, Equinox following closely behind him. His arms are crossed. He seems to be focusing his attention on the sphere in the center of the room.]
7th Grade Teacher: You be careful, um... Cruce...?
Cruce: [He turns to his teacher.] Mrs. Heren... Were you and everyone in here when this sphere came down?
7th Grade Teacher, Mrs. Heren: We were. In more or less just appeared out of nowhere and sent this powerful wave across the room. I'm astounded it didn't do any harm to us.
Cruce: 'Guess that explains the whole warpy furniture.
Mrs. Heren: It does... Cruce...?
Cruce: Yes? [He faces his teacher.]
Mrs. Heren: Now that you're one of them... [She gestures toward Equinox, who is still standing behind Cruce.]...what will you do? Can you return to normal?
Cruce: ...I'll have to be honest with all of you...
[The students await his answer silently. The Circle silences their own conversations and watch.]
Cruce: That "white flying thing" reported by Awgo... Yeah, that was me. The black one was my cousin.
[A few more murmurs of confusion...]
Al: I knew it! I totally knew it!
Emelina: ...Humph! [Crosses her arms and looks away, eyes closed.]
Bongo: Cruce can turn into Shaymin...?
Nic: Trippy.
Cruce: I can also turn into a white fox; a kitsune. Not like this, but on all fours. It's called a Safan.
Ivan: A... Safan...?
Mrs. Heren: ...Cruce, are you... you're not making this up...?
Equinox: ...[She shakes her head.] ...H-he's not... There's no way. He can't just know that much. C-Cruce... Who are you...?
Cruce: Just a misguided teenage boy... Honestly, I don't even know who I am... I'm supposed to be someone important, but I'm no better than any of you. I'm a kid, not some hero... And to think this is all happening again.
Nic: Again?
Bongo: What?!
Shaun: Dude, again?
Ivan: When did it happen before...? On V?
Equinox: Again...? I... didn't ever hear from Lavender or Riolu that something like this happened with them?
Cruce: ...[He stares baffled at Equinox.] Lavender? Riolu?! You know them?! You actually know them?
Equinox: ...Y-yes... I can speak with them through telepathy. It's a telepathic network we Phaze Guardians share.
Cruce: ...You're a Phaze Guardian... But... You're so little...
Equinox: ...[She lowers her head, looking into the red Emerald.] ...
Cruce: Don't take that the wrong way, you're ridiculously strong. The way you blew up those Nightmares out there with just a quick burst of whatever-it-was was amazing. Don't get me wrong, Equinox. You're awesome.
Equinox: ...I don't think I would have been able to do it without you... I think your presence does something for the Emeralds... Something beyond my understanding.
Cruce: ...Hmm... [He stares at his palms.] Well, that's a twister... Don't worry... I don't get it either. [He chuckles.] And, guys... [Refers to everyone as he looks up.] I'm not as smart as I seem here. I'm just like all of you...
Al: ... Yeah right...
Bongo: Take a good look in the mirror, dude.
Cruce: Hey now. Don't make me come over there.
Bongo: [Stands on one leg in a clumsy, defensive position.] SUPAH KUNG FU STYLE!
Kevin: I think that's grasshopper.
Bongo: [Karate chops Kevin in the chest.]
Kevin: [Doubles over, holding his stomach with both hands.] Oof! Heeeey!
Cruce: [Rolls his eyes.] Good to see the whole Apocalypse thing hasn't changed your... well, you know... you-ness.
"It almost makes me comfortable here."
[Outside, the battle has already come to an end. Stream lands skillfully on two feet after having delivered his signature homing attack to a few Nightmares. He stands straight, troubled by many things, old and new.]
Stream: ...(If Darkness is here... Nightmares and all, then that's a good indicator that guy is here...)
Nice, decent-sized episode. Notice how that symmetry is still easily identified, but kinda fading away?