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Fan Fic / Don't Keep Your Distance

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''"There's nothing they can't accomplish together: no hill they can't climb, no river they can't traverse, no pretentious existential debate they can't circumlocute their way out of!"
— Paint to (and, teasingly, about) Arrowhead, chapter 1

A long-running Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic by Plastic Raven, created as a Fan Sequel to Sonic X but also including characters and locations exclusive to the games - and lots, lots of original ones. Raven's first entry into the fanfic world, he posted the first few chapters on the forums before migrating it to Fan Fiction Dot Net. It has been running since May of 2014 and appears to have no end in sight; it can be found on FF.net here.

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The story centers on the quest of eleven-year-old Paint the Seedrian-Fox - who was born from a seed cast down to Mobius (Sonic and co.'s world, unnamed in the show) and found by the grumpy recluse of a nearby village - to meet her father, Tails, after she learns from this recluse that he exists; prior to this development, her life has consisted mostly of abandonment and bullying for her connection to the Metarex and her related history of bad behavior. She can't go it alone, though (no, she really can't), but her best friend (see header quote), her former bully, his best friend, and one of Dr. Eggman's robots all find reasons to come along, and their journey takes them literally across the world that is so scarcely seen in the show as they bond together in ways none of them could have imagined.

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Don't Keep Your Distance provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: When Star first appears, it is implied that it doesn't understand much of the Mobians' language, but this is never referenced again after long (or it just learns very quickly by context).
  • Affably Evil: Dr. Eggman generally, per his Sonic X incarnation. His portrayal in the 2010-onward games also counts, and this possibility is channeled by him having Decoe, Bocoe, Orbot, and Cubot as assistants.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Chives the Dog. In accordance, she never seems to mind being enslaved in a diamond mine.
  • Author Appeal: Anything related to languages and linguistics, apparently, since a number of indigenous Mobian languages are discussed (especially the Echidna language, the origin of the names of a number of characters and locations, e.g. Solakku) and the pillbugs' Chicago-esque accent is explicitly stated in an author's note to be based on the "Northern Cities Vowel Shift".
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  • Author Avatar: Seemingly averted, despite the reputation of Original Characters and Sonic ones in particular.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Despite the fic carrying a "T" rating on Fan Fiction Dot Net, there's little non-kid-friendly content to speak of besides a few minor and forced sexual jokes, Paint bleeding mildly in one scene from injuries, and a scene where Maxwell's parents are apparently taking some type of unnamed depressant drug together. It's more than likely that this has to do with T ratings inherently attracting more visitors than the more modest "K+".
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Only days after mocking her heritage and forcing Jewel to beat her up, Maxwell has gotten on good enough terms with Paint to defend her at her trial, although he doesn't appear comfortable with the idea.
  • Big "NO!": When Paint realizes that she and Alice are trapped inside a mountain, probably for the rest of their lives. They escape within a couple of chapters.
  • Bold Explorer: Played up by Paint at a few points (including the first chapter), as she romanticizes literary adventuring.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Paint wets herself when the group encounters a giant Eggman robot in the woods, this constituting one of the fic's only true fight sequences.
  • Character Development: All four of the main Mobians, to varying extents. Paint learns to be a more responsible person and consult her friends before rash decision-making after their vitriolic reaction to her freeing from captivity the two wolves who imprisoned them and other youngsters for several weeks. In turn, she has (both by example and by good-natured ribbing) taught Arrowhead to harness his creativity, Jewel to stand up for himself and do what he loves, and Maxwell to be less hostile and kinder - admittedly, with ambivalent results.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: By default, as its journey is undertaken by a group in (at the beginning) its tweens and early teens who have never spent much of any time away from their home village or even with one another.
  • Continuity Nod: Paint's fear of thunder is likely a reference to Tails' in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. In addition, the world is named Mobius (and its currency "mobiums") after that in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Archie Sonic The Hedgehog - plus other derivatives such as the planet's main language being called "Mobian" (though this may be a Translation Convention, since both Sonic X and the games have been released in multiple languages).
  • Courtroom Episode: The trial scene, where Paint and Star are respectively on trial for bringing an Eggman robot into the village, and existing.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: This grim possibility isn't stated, but if Arrowhead had not connived a way to set Paint and Alice free from their shackles in the main building of their labor camp as it burned to the ground, the metal would have become red-hot before melting to their skin.
  • Cute Mute: Star cannot speak, although it understands spoken language, so it communicates entirely through gestures and expressive noises.
  • Death by Materialism: Subverted. Nisaya, who runs the child labor camp, almost burns to death because, when she refuses to leave a crumbling building until she has picked up a number of valuable diamonds from the floor, she is trapped under a falling beam. Nevertheless, she is rescued by her brother Nettle and Paint, unconscious but safe.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Arrowhead's mother is, simply put, not a nice woman at first, especially not to Paint. She only comes to lighten up - while keeping her snarky mannerisms, but with a warmer core behind them - when Star, the embodiment of her scorn of the girl, ends up rescuing the town from other Eggman robots and she realizes what a jerk she's been.
  • Fantastic Racism: In multiple forms.
    • Paint's isolation as a child has largely to do with her association with the Metarex, who the village learns attempted to destroy the entire galaxy (the central conflict of Sonic X's third season).
    • Henry Mikolajczak, a colleague of Caroline Schlosser's father and a human, sends a sympathetic email to him about Caroline's disappearance, where he mentions offhand about Mobian police: "The police haven't found anything, but they're not widely known for their competence anyway (I'm a tolerant man, but I don't know if we'd be in this situation if we had humans doing the job...)". In the same email, he misspells Baaritch, the name of the central Mobian deity, and admits that he never paid enough attention to their culture to know if he was doing it right.
    • Regarding the history of humans in Mobius' media: "Of additional note, although not related to the setting's age, was the apparent absence of any Mobians in sight - it was all humans as far as the eye could see. Paint had a hunch this wasn't just a manifestation of extreme political correctness crowding out all but Mobius' most resented minority group."
  • Five-Token Band: Barring Arrowhead. Paint (the girl/the Seedrian), Jewel (the hyena, thus connected to a vicious, colonizing race), Maxwell (the gay guy), and Star (the Eggman robot) all represent stigmatized or minority groups, although females and homosexuals are not shown to experience any discrimination in the story.
  • Foreshadowing: Raven seems to like this technique, as a litany of events are foreshadowed, ranging from minor ones like Solakku being present aboard Eggman's prison ship, hinted at a few chapters earlier by the characters wondering when they'd see her again to major ones like the first real Eggman encounter being predicted by a radio broadcast they can't quite hear.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Paint (Sanguine), Maxwell (Choleric), Jewel (Melancholic), and Arrowhead (Phlegmatic) seem almost designed after the four classical temperaments at times.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • "A couple of pop-up ads of barely clad human women, playing cards, and gambling chips were plenty showy on the margins..."
    • "'Awww...' Paint pleaded, unsatisfied, 'why enforce a division based on reproductive organs and antiquated societal roles?'"
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The much larger Eggman robot the group meets in the forest, which ends up being one of the only real deaths in the story.
  • Girls' Night Out Episode: Not "out" so much, but the labor camp's residents are segregated by sex. Because DKYD is told in third-person limited with its focus on Paint, her male friends are not seen for a brief while.
  • The Hermit: Morris the Iguana, who lives in a hidden shack at Sunny Clearing's outskirts. He occasionally participates in community activities, such as gathering food (him having been the one to find the infant Paint and take her home on one such outing). He mentions a distaste for the village's ignorant hive mentality as cause for his isolation.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Paint gets bloody cuts all over her body when crawling through a broken window, not even noticing until at least an hour later.
  • Is This What Anger Feels Like?: When Star gets its first (robot) kill.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Maxwell, who acts rude, sarcastic, and even abusive toward his friends at some times and is their most steadfast defender at others.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Hoo boy. Between the named and unnamed locals of Paint and co.'s hometown Sunny Clearing (including Arrowhead's, Jewel's, and Maxwell's parents), nearby Little Apple, metropoleis Yakhtanmantannji and Electric City, and a small child-labor camp, the story has included dozens of Original Characters, most of them Mobians. In fact, the first official characters, barring a couple of dream sequences, do not appear until chapter 67.
  • Locked in a Room:
    • In the trope's most traditional form, when Paint and Alice the Hedgehog are trapped inside a mountain after the rocks they are digging out block their exit and leave them completely in the dark. It is here that Alice reveals her crush on her and kisses her - Paint gently lets her down, causing a brief spell of anger, but they remain good friends. Afterwards, they are locked in a room again to prepare orders for customers as their captors deem them unfit for manual labor.
    • Similarly, when Arrowhead accompanies Maxwell to the hospital for his surgery to mend his broken wing, it is later revealed that Max admitted having had a crush on him in the past.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Caroline Schlosser, the first human the group encounters.
  • Metalhead: Cayne the Mink, plus her two brothers and father, can't get enough of the stuff, much to other characters' dismay when they're trapped in a truck with her and she has control of the radio.
  • The Millstone: Paint, although she is also the source of most of the group's overt kindness and caring.
  • My Beloved Smother: While Arrowhead's mother is in truth only looking out for her son's safety, she sees Paint as a bad influence and goes to at-times ridiculous lengths to keep her away from him, such as silencing him with condescending, caustic remarks at her trial so he cannot testify in favor of the girl.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Cayne the Mink. This is especially uncomfortable due to her apparently poor hygiene and unkempt fur.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: A consequence of Paint's frantic, esoteric style of humor. Normally it only results in her briefly unintentionally offending someone (namely, when Oliver thinks she is making fun of his accent when she actually adores it) and having to apologize. It becomes damning, however, when she and her friends have just been brought to the labor camp and she realizes Alice looks uncomfortable, so she makes a number of rapid-fire Incredibly Lame Puns, the last of which contains the word "wing" and reminds Nisaya that Maxwell could potentially fly away to alert the police to their activities. This causes the woman to break his wing and leave it untreated, after which he obviously doesn't want to talk to Paint for quite a while.
  • Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females: Averted, unlike in the official Sonic universe and the majority of other fan works, except for canonical female characters and others from nearby regions wearing clothes.
  • Planimal: Obvious. Borders on Plant Person on account of Mobians' human-like intelligence, behavior, and body structure, but regular plants do not have sentience in this universe.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted; aside from prepared speeches, the parlance of calm and educated people, and so forth, it's rare to go more than a couple of sentences without an erm, ah, uh, etc.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Alice to some extent; she was first captured by the wolves because she desperately needed a ride home so she would be on time for some event. She admits Paint's spontaneous nature is what turned her onto her in the first place.
  • Serial Romeo: Esmeralda the Pillbug. Her pushy, loud-mouthed attitude, which belies her good heart, doesn't help.
  • Single-Minded Twins: The panda twins from Sunny Clearing, and the beaver twins who are Cayne's best friends.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Funny Animal by default, as in the canonical Sonic universe, but perhaps with a nudge in the animal direction, as few of even the females wear clothing, and they sometimes display behaviors native to their species counterparts, e.g. Paint wagging her two tails when she's exceptionally happy.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: Fantastic leaning a bit toward simply Unusual, as this extended version of Mobius is adorned with features of the real world not normally seen in Sonic media, perhaps with the exception of the Archie comics, such as cities and towns with names (even street names), indigenous Mobian cultures and languages, political and religious issues and structures, and few Mobians not from official works having any supernatural powers.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Around the middle, while the actual show tends to stick to one of the two extremes.
  • Story Within a Story:
    • The tales of Pomegranate the Sparrow, an evil witch invented by Paint, Arrowhead, and Star, which they return to write more of once in a while. On one such occasion, the story is simply shown to the reader, with the three authors alternating by paragraph and their writing styles and word choice serving to illuminate what they think of one another.
    • Also, the Explosion Echidna films and the horror movie the group watches.
  • Straight Gay: Maxwell and Alice being gay is never really mentioned or consequential apart from whom they crush on. In fact, Maxwell is by far the most crass, impolite, burly, and violent one of the main cast.
  • Supporting Leader: Arguably Arrowhead, the planner and detail-keeper of the group.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Most of the population of Sunny Clearing.
  • Trauma Button: Fire for Star, as it watched Blaze destroy its best friend.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Being buried alive, for Arrowhead.
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