Lately I've been really itching to share some writing with more than just a couple people I know, so I've decided to show some things I've been working on for Smash and Co.'s Roleplay series. I'll try not to reveal anything too spoilery, but most of what I've got down is pretty neck deep in the ongoing story. For the most part, anything past Episode 49 won't be shown save for some special cases. It's also worth noting that, when I joined SFW I was basically already on Season 3. So in a lot of the roleplays I joined, a lot of the character development (should have) already passed.
Season 1 - Episode 28
The dark, cold hallways sent more than just chills up their spines as Jenny and Tami ventured through the base. Now that they knew it belonged to Skull Cross, they felt an even greater sense of danger and mystery in this dank dungeon. The weak, fluorescent blue lights were few and far in between, leaving some sections of the corridors pitch black. With certain parts of the floor being covered in layers of ice, simply walking was dangerous.
"Stop!" A voice commanded from the shadows. Startled, the two came to a halt and assumed defensive stances. But they were even more startled when the figure stepped into the light.
"Ember!?" Tami exclaimed in a harsh whisper.
"Don't try to stop me, Ember!" Jenny defied.
"Hear me out," Ember said, standing in their way, "These aren't just your run-of-the-mill smugglers. Skull Cross is dangerous. They're ruthless and efficient; if you go after them you won't be coming back."
"So first you attack me, and now you're trying to help me?" Jenny placed her fists on her hips, "Which way's the wind blowing with you?"
"I have my reasons for what I did," Ember stated, "But I can't let you go any further. Leave this place, now!"
"We're n-not leaving!" Tami protested.
"Skull Cross must be stopped." Jenny declared, "This isn't just about me or you; there are countless victims suffering at their hands. Right now they've captured another girl, just like Marina. I--"
"Then she's a goner." Ember interrupted with gloom.
"No! Not if I have to say anything about it! I won't let the same thing happen to her!"
"Jenny, forget it! You can't save her!" Ember exclaimed, "You're just going to get yourself killed!"
"What difference does it make to you if I die to Skull Cross or you?" Jenny snapped back.
"I wasn't trying to kill you! I was trying to protect you!"
Jenny and Tami were taken back in surprise. "What?" Jenny gasped. "Then why...?"
"I never wanted to hurt you, but I couldn't let you get re-involved with Skull Cross." Ember explained, "Please, try to remember Jenny. Icicle and Inferno even straight up told you that we were both created by Ragonize." Jenny's eyes began to widen as she realized what she was getting at. "We're sisters, Jenny. You're my twin sister."
Jenny could only stare in silence as Ember went on. "You're sisters..?" Tami asked, "And you can't remember?"
Jenny shook her head, "I...I still can't remember anything about my childhood, but..."
"Well I remember," Ember said. "And I remember when they separated us."
"But why did you have to attack us?" Tami asked, "Couldn't we just talk?"
"Jenny wouldn't believe me when I told her I was her long lost sister. Why would she believe me if I told her what Skull Cross did to us?"
Jenny snapped out of her daze and faced her with a firm and focused glare. "What do you mean?"
"Before Skull Cross abandoned us, they planted tracking devices in our right arms." Ember stated, causing the two girls to gasp. She rose her right arm, covered in white bandages. "I removed mine first chance I got, but you...you never got that chance, did you? I've been snooping around. I know what happened 15 years ago, before you were adopted by...'that man'." Ember clenched her teeth through those last few words. "You were hospitalized in Greenflower before being sent to the Black Rose Orphanage. Whatever happened then must have caused you to forget, I'm sure, but more importantly...you never had that chip removed."
Jenny rose her right arm, staring at it in horror. "You get it now? They've been watching your every move, Jenny. Skull Cross knows you're here."
Jenny's gaze glazed over from her arm to Ember. She was shocked, but the more she thought about it everything began to make sense to her. Silence fell over the room as Ember gave her a moment to let it sink in. After a moment, Jenny continued to walk forward, wordlessly passing by Ember. "Where are you going?"
"To stop Skull Cross." She replied flatly.
"Don't you get it!? If you go against Skull Cross they'll destroy you!" Ember shouted.
"Ember, what you've told me has only proven that my biggest fear is now a reality." Jenny stopped in her tracks, her hands balling up into fists. "That my involvement in Skull Cross has been endangering my friends. When I met Ragonize back then, I didn't realize how big a thing I was getting myself into. I wanted to keep it just between me and Tami, but my friends have been getting tangled in this mess, too. They hurt Marina...they hurt Smash..." Jenny turned back to look at her, "And they hurt you too, didn't they?" Ember flinched. "I realize now just how much of a burden I've been to them. They want me dead. They kidnapped someone close to me to lure me out into a trap, and I took the bait." Jenny's gaze hit the floor. "But if I hadn't, Marina would have died instead! They cut off her arm, and they plan to use it in some sick experiment on their next captive!" She began to shudder and quiver, her voice cracking as she continued. "She wanted to become a model. It was what she strove for since she was just a preteen, and Skull Cross stole that dream away from her...just to get to me!"
"Jenny..." Tami placed a hand on her forearm.
"I ran right into the trap, but the only reason I got out in one piece is because Smash took the fall for me! And now he's really hurt, and it's all my fault!" She looked up, her eyes welling up with tears. "I already lost Tina and Neo...but If someone else had sacrificed themselves to save us...if Smash had really died that day because of my connections with Skull Cross...I could never forgive myself."
Ember's frustration seemed to fade, leaving only sadness in her eyes. "...You'll die. You know that, right?"
"It's me they want." Jenny replied, "Whether I live or die...no matter the outcome, my friends will be able to live on happily. No one else has to suffer anymore." With that, she continued to walk onward, leaving the two behind. Tami and Ember exchanged glances, both hesitant to let her keep going.
"Ember...I don't want her to die, either." Tami said quietly, "But...she's right about Skull Cross. If she stays, they'll only come after her again. Even if we did remove the device, they already know where to find her, and how to lure her out of hiding. That's why...I'm going with her." The fox quickly scampered off after her friend shortly after her brief speech, leaving Ember the only one still standing behind. "...Tch! There's no changing her mind, is there...? Damn it, Jenny..." She grumbled, before running after them.
Chapter 1 – In Pursuit of Strength
The purr of the blue motorcycle died down as Smash parked in the dirt driveway of the old house. The sun was setting over Greenflower zone; the evening breeze blew gently across the yard as he stood up and walked to the door. Even though it had only been a few months since he moved out into the city and started his new life with Luna, it felt like it had been years since he last stepped into the home he grew up in. The wooden door creaked open, and the blue echidna poked his head in. "I'm ho--" He stopped himself, "I'm here!" He called out. Smash walked inside and closed the door behind him. He walked into the living room, and immediately noticed Pearl standing across from him. "...Youuu said we needed to talk?" He said.
There was a slight moment of silence. Smash began to grow uneasy, remembering just how serious Pearl looked when she told him to meet here. Did something happen? "Jenny's gone missing." Pearl finally said. Smash tensed up, feeling a cold chill run up his spine. "No response from her phone or cell, not at home or any of her usual spots; I fear it's just like what happened to Marina."
Smash opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. His throat felt dry and his mind was racing for an answer, but never came to a stop. "We need to call a meeting, and form a search party again."
Now he was beginning to sweat. ''This is bad. I never came up with a cover plan...and this has to stay a secret, no matter what!'' "What's the matter, Smash?" Pearl asked, interrupting his thoughts. She turned around, staring coldly into his eyes. "You seem awfully quiet...for something so urgent. Are you shocked? Or maybe..." Her eyes and brows narrowed into a harsh glare. "...you know something?"
"Wh...what are you going on about?" Smash finally asked.
"Did you already know that Jenny went missing?" She interrogated.
"Of course not!" He blurted out. ''Good lord, she's tough! Putting me right on the spot like that...'' "Then we need to call a meeting, right away!" She exclaimed.
Smash grunted. He was backed into a corner. Of all people, she was the last person he wanted to know the truth, and get involved in this mess.
"You are hiding something from me, aren't you?" She folded her arms. "Well, that's fine. As it turns out, I was hiding something from you, too." Smash looked baffled. "Jenny isn't really missing."
Under normal circumstances, this would have relieved anyone. But Smash knew this could only mean one thing, and froze up entirely. Pearl pulled two small envelopes out of her pocket and tossed them onto the table. "She's dead."
Smash's head hung low. ''She knows.'' There was no need to look through the contents of the letters inside the envelopes; he knew exactly what they said. It was the letter from Jenny, informing him of her departure, and the letter from Tami, detailing her and Jenny's encounter with Skull Cross, leading to the latter's untimely demise.
"When did you receive these letters?" Pearl asked, her face more relaxed but her voice still sharp.
"...the beginning of November, around when you and Sandy spent the night at Violet's." Smash answered quietly.
"So...it's all starting to come together now. I remember how depressed you were then, even though you insisted you were fine." She reminisced, her expression softening up, "Why, though? Why didn't you tell us..?" Pearl asked.
Smash's gaze never lifted from the floor. "...I couldn't." He stated. "I couldn't tell you all without getting you involved."
"You didn't want us involved? Smash, Jenny was our friend too. We have every right to get involved after what happened!"
"And that's exactly it." Pearl's eyes widened as Smash looked at her straight in the eye. "What would you all do if I told you that she was murdered by a criminal organization?"
"Would try to stop them? To take revenge?" Smash answered for her.
"Even though Tami specifically stated not to pursue them?"
"Well, I...I can't just sit around. How could I? I wouldn't want to worry Tami, but we can't just leave it at that..." Pearl trailed off.
"Listen, Pearl. I know how you feel." Smash said, "I know more than anyone else. But this is something I can't afford to get everyone wrapped into. I worked with them in investigating Skull Cross, and we learned that these people are too dangerous for you all. I promised Jenny that I wouldn't get any one of you involved until you guys were strong enough to stand up to them."
"But we can stand up to all kinds of things when we're all together!" Pearl protested "Did you already forget that we beat not one, but two Dracomancers and saved the whole world a couple months back?"
Smash shook his head. "First off, that's because we didn't have a choice. Do you really think I would willingly put you guys in such danger if I had a say in the matter? I wasn't going to risk leaving you alone a third time."
"Even so, we all made it out safely, didn't we?" Pearl insisted.
"There's a reason for that, too." Smash countered, "Ragonize was still weakened from the other battle and the old Dracomancer was never aiming for the kill to begin with."
"Why do you think there was such a low casualty count for a near apocalyptic invasion? Remember what the old guy said: The more people he had under his control, the stronger he became. The only people he wanted to kill were the legendary weapons and the people who could wield them—you know, the ones that were actually a threat to his cause. Everyone else he just wanted to steal their power from."
Smash walked around the table towards his sister. "Listen to me, Pearl. These guys aren't like that pyromaniac we dealt with when you first started Team Violet, who likely underestimated us because he was dealing with a bunch of kids. They're not like the mindless slime monster we found underground who had a crippling weakness. And they're definitely not like Thanatos and his shadow monsters either. Skull Cross is dangerous because they don't need a reason to gun you down. They won't hold back because you're young, because you're a girl, or because they need you alive. These people, will kill you, if you give them the chance." "And it doesn't stop there, either." Smash continued, "These are the same people that kidnapped Marina. Do you remember how that went down? She vanished without a trace, and nobody had the slightest clue when or how it happened. Heck, if we didn't get that inane clue that only Thunder could decipher, Marina would have been dead by now. And even then, she didn't come out completely unscathed; she lost her arm! That alone is reason enough for me to keep you guys away from them. I can't take that kind of irresponsible risk. If someone else got nabbed by them, there's no guarantee that we'd be able to find them alive, or even at all." Pearl was nearly at a loss for words. "Listen, I know it was wrong to keep it a secret, but if word got out, there would be no way I could keep you all from going after Skull Cross even if I did tell you otherwise." He said. "Maybe you would listen, but what about Speedy or Splice? They won't be able to live with themselves if they stayed quiet. And what do you think Kyle would do if he learned that Skull Cross victimized another friend, right after they chopped off Marina's arm and left him to find her bloody bracelet? And what about Violet? Jenny was her role model; she idolized her! There is no way she wouldn't assemble her team and try to avenge Jenny--ultimately making the exact same mistake she did." Now it was Pearl's turn to look down at the floor. She found herself unable to argue anymore. She then felt Smash's hand on her shoulder. "That's why I can't let them know. Not yet. I promise I'll tell them when the time is right...so for now, can you please keep this between us?"
"But, why..? I still don't understand; why can't you just tell them you don't know how she died?" Pearl asked.
"It's still too chancy," Smash shot down. "If I don't give them info, who do you think they'd turn to? Jenny's butler." Pearl gasped softly, "He knows just as much about this as I do, and I don't believe he has any reason to keep quiet. In fact it'd be strange if he didn't know anything, seeing how much Jenny confided in him. They'd catch on in no time."
"I-I see..." Pearl's face drooped, "So, there really is no other way..?"
"Please, Pearl. Just bear with me for a little while longer." Smash pleaded. "I promise I'll explain everything later."
"Then, just tell me one more thing." Her face grew serious as she looked back up at him, staring straight into his eyes. "What are you going to do?"
"...I'm going to keep on the case," He said. "There are still things we need to know about this group; what they're after, what they're capable of, motives, leader, heck we still don't even know what the crap we're dealing with here. All I know for sure is that the mystery behind Skull Cross was a very personal matter to Jenny. So much that I feel like...I feel she really won't be able to rest in peace until this whole thing has been resolved. I want to at least gather enough information for when we all go at them together."
"So until then you're just going to go alone?"
"I told you I can't get you all invo--"
"Smash, no. Stop this." Pearl cut him off, startling him with a confrontational stance. "Why do you always have to be like this?"
"Wh-what? Be like what?"
"Like some kind of lone wolf with an overbearing desire to protect everyone! Why do you always try to shoulder all the burdens by yourself? You always keep us in the back while you're out there putting your life on the line. Don't you understand how that makes us feel?"
Pearl sighed after a deep breath, "Listen, Smash. We all look up to you. You're more than a friend to us; you're our leader. Our family. We care and worry about you just as much as you do for us. If you were to die, I don't know what we'll do."
"I'm not going to die, Pearl." Smash reassured.
"How do we know that?" She countered, "You're always looking out for us and going on about protecting everyone, but who's going to protect you? You may be stronger than the rest of us but even you have your limits!"
"I'm not going to engage them unless absolutely necessary." Smash said, "I only want to learn the truth."
"Well, what then? What if you have no choice but to fight?" Pearl asked.
"...Then I'll fight. But my highest priority will be coming back to you, alive and well." He managed to give a small smile. "Like I always promised, remember?" Pearl stayed silent for a few moments, before saying, "...You do realize Jenny said the same thing, right?" Smash flinched. "She promised you that she would return, before going off and encountering Skull Cross." Her hands tightened into clenched fists, "She never did. Because they killed her."
Smash could barely find the words to defend himself. "But she...she went off specifically to fight Skull Cross head on."
"What difference does it make whether you attack them or they attack you!? Open your eyes, Smash; What you're doing is the exact same thing!" Pearl yelled. "Think about it: Why would she run off and leave you behind when you both were on the case together? It's because of you! She was worried about you and your crazy one-man-show stunt you pulled when we were escaping their base in Mt. Frostbite! She didn't want to endanger your life by chasing after Skull Cross together; she went to defeat Skull Cross because she didn't want to lose you! She wanted to protect you, just like you want to protect us!"
Smash was more than stunned, and Pearl could see in his eyes that her words were sharp enough to hurt him. Even if it was indirect, had he really caused Jenny's death?
Pearl sighed, realizing what he was probably thinking. "Look. You can't keep blaming yourself for what happened to Neo and Tina." Smash snapped out of his trance with a sharp gasp. "You did the best any one of us could have. But sometimes there's nothing we can do."
"Pearl, you...how did you—"
"You didn't think I noticed?" She asked, placing her hands on her hips. "You changed ever since then. You'd grown more self conscious and protective, your training became more intense—sometimes to the point where you wouldn't even be able to stand afterward! I knew from the start that it was because you felt guilty about what happened. But you can't forget that we're here for you, too. We've been through the same things you have; Speedy, Splice, Violet, Gizmo, we all feel the same way." Smash slowly placed his palm on his forehead, looking distraught. "I don't want you to blame yourself for what happened to Jenny, either. I just want you to wake up and realize what kind of path you're on." His sister finished. "You really aren't making this any easier on me." Smash finally said. "Sometimes I think you know me a little too well."
"Well somebody has to." She remarked.
"I can't risk getting you guys wrapped up in this mess," He restated.
"Then talk to someone who'll understand," Pearl said. "Someone you can rely on."
"Just no more working alone, okay? You keep flying solo and you're going to fall with nobody there to catch you."
"Alright alright, I get it." Smash huffed. "I'll see what I can do. But I'll ask again, can you keep this a secret from the others?"
"You promised to tell them when everyone's ready, right? Ready as in strong and mature enough to face them?"
"Then, in that case I want you to train me." Smash's eyes widened in surprise. "I'll keep this between us, but I want you to train me so that when the time comes to confront Skull Cross, I can fight on the front lines."
"No no, that's not—" Smash huffed, "Look, you're free to work out with me, but I really don't want to put you in any dangerous situations if I don't have to even if I do train you for it."
Pearl shook her head. "Just working out's not good enough. I want to learn how to fight like you do. And it's not just because I want to avenge Jenny and stop Skull Cross...to tell you the truth, I've been meaning to ask you for a while, now."
Smash's eyebrow rose in curiosity. "Really?"
"Yeah." Pearl rubbed her arm, looking somewhat troubled. Something else was lingering on her mind.
"So then tell me, sis...Why do you want to fight?"
Pearl didn't say anything at first, seemingly trying to find the right words to use. “Because...I don't want you to have to fight alone anymore,” She finally said. “And not just you. I don't want any one of us to have to carry such heavy burdens on our own anymore.”
“Hey...” Smash said in a comforting tone, before she continued.
“No matter how safe we try to play it, this is a dangerous world we live in, Smash.” She looked towards the open window as the evening breeze blew inside. “Skull Cross...Ragonize...terrible monsters and your regular street thugs to boot; it's almost impossible to avoid conflict. Eventually, we'll have to fight back—whether we want to or not. You Smash, you're so determined to fight back; so adamant on protecting the friends and family we have left that you're willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to bring everyone home safely—even your own life.”
“But me...I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum.” She said, “I've grown far too dependent on others. Everyone's sacrificed so much for my sake. I've relied on Violet's parents to help me raise Sandy, when it was my idea to take her in. I've relied on you to support us, when you struggled so hard to make ends meet by fighting people way out of your league in an arena of all places. You and Splice both put your lives in peril, so I could keep on living! And I have to ask myself: What have I done for you? What have I done to help anyone?”
“Don't be like that, you've done a lot for all of us.” Smash told her. “Take Violet for example. Do you think she'd have come this far with her team without your support?”
Pearl's hands clenched tightly, “That's not enough. In fact, that makes it worse. I'm a member of Team Violet: The Greenflower Guardians. Why is it that I'm being saved more often than I'm doing the saving? When the shadows attacked our house and I was taken away, you risked your life to head out into the night—when the monsters were at their strongest—to find me. And when they attacked our hideout in the forest, the first thing I did—while Splice fended them off by himself while Marina tried to escape with Sandy—was call you. I didn't stop to think that you were carrying out the mission, that I could have called Gizmo or the others instead, or that you had the fate of the entire world resting on your shoulders at the time and had a legion of shadows out for your blood already. I called you because I knew that no matter what happened, you would come and save us. I knew that you'd save me. But when that monster had me by the neck against the wall...I thought that was the end. I thought I was going to die...I was too scared to even try to fight back. Splice was managing against a dozen of those things, while Marina protected my own daughter...and I couldn't do anything...I didn't do anything. My life flashed before my eyes, and when it was all over I realized one thing: I'm weak. I'm weak, I'm selfish, and I'm no good to anyone like this.”
“That's enough.” Smash sternly interjected. “I told you before I don't want to hear you talk like that. You're being way too hard on yourself.”
“I'm not simply being hard on myself, it's the truth.” Pearl argued, “We'd agreed to focus on the problem at its source, and not the little things around it. But I dragged you away from that to save me, because I couldn't save myself! As long as I stay this way I'll only be a liability to you and everyone else. That's the truth: I know it, and you know it, too.”
Smash was taken aback by her words. He still stood by his opinion that she was being too hard on herself, but he found himself unable to counter her logic.
“The road is only going to get tougher from here on out. I can't afford to be dragging everyone else down. I have to be at my best: For my friends, my family, and myself...That's why I want—no, that's why I need you to train me.”
After a brief moment of silence, Smash averted his gaze and gave a heavy sigh.
“This will be the last big thing I ask you for. You're the only one I can turn to. Please, Smash...”
Smash shook his head. “I'm not qualified to teach,” He stated. Pearl's expression soured with disappointment. “Not while I still have so much left to learn...So bear with me. I may not be the best but I'll teach you everything I have learned so far.” He looked back at her with a small smile, “And after that...we'll aim for new things. We'll both work hard at getting stronger, together.” As her face began to beam, Smash cut her off before she could open her mouth. “Just promise me one thing, that you won't take on more than you can handle.”
“Of course.” Pearl said, “That's basically what I was warning you about.”
“And that's exactly why I'm telling you.” He explained, “Those same feelings of weakness and helplessness are what drove me down this path to begin with. And it's one doozy of a path.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Pearl huffed, folding her arms. Smash ruffled his hair idly.
“I...hadn't realized how bad I was getting with that. I've caused a lot of trouble.” He admitted, “Done some things I can't take back. Sorry ain't gonna cut it, either. But one day, I swear, I'll make it up to everyone.”
Pearl nodded. “Yeah...and so will I.”