Advent of Equinox by Skyblaze, Taranea

Chapter 2: Hitting the Sky


“Will you stop enjoying this?! “

Shadow the Hedgehog was not in a good mood.

This day had started with complete amnesia, violent sickness, and a head that felt like it would split in three (which was worse than just two) any moment. But contrary to your typical hangover, Shadow had also woken up with giant wings. To add to that, right now he was being pulled along like a (very spiteful) kite by none other than Sonic the Hedgehog, the fastest thing alive and - in the Ultimate Lifeform’s opinion – also the most annoying one.

“But Shads, it is fun!” the blue speedster retorted at this point, only cementing Shadow’s view further by suddenly swerving wildly to the side in his high-speed dash, causing the black hedgehog to make an abrupt half-turn.

“Hyaaaaaak!” Shadow screeched in surprise, again grabbing at his throat in shock at the unfamiliar, bird-like sound escaping from his mouth. “Cut this out or I swear I will drag you out to sea,” the black hedgehog hissed, pointing threateningly at the expanse of blue ocean below the cliffs they were racing along. Sonic below him seemed to turn just a little bit more sky-blue in the face for a moment, but at least appeared to acknowledge the Ultimate Lifeform’s demands this time around.

“Chaos, calm down. Was jus’ trying to make this more exciting, you didn’t hafta jump straight down my throat for it,” the blue hedgehog defended himself,but at least once more running in a straight line.

Shadow scrunched up his snout, a little bit appeased even if by no means entirely placated. “Hmph.”

“Okay, I’m sorry…” Sonic was looking up at him once more, his expression now apologetic and Shadow actually had to raise an eye-ridge at this unexpected development – right before the mischievous sparkle returned into Sonic’s eyes and the blue hedgehog continued, “…if I ruffled your feathers, that is.”

Shadow wistfully imagined he could already dive-bomb that hedgehog like an actual bird of prey.

“Go and get yourself blunted, faker,” he grated instead, choosing a hedgehog insult where an avian attack was not available. Sonic snickered at the reproach, but didn’t argue further, instead focusing entirely on the path ahead again, which was fine with Shadow.

The black hedgehog so far had covered it up fairly well, but on the inside, he was just starting to freak out a little. He had woken up in a pool of his own blood. Had woken up as a freak.


Had woken up as more of a freak, probably, but still…

What had happened? Shadow racked his brain as to his adventures of the previous night. Nothing too far out of the ordinary, certainly – but wait, hadn’t he started to feel dizzy at the end…? He’d been sick a month ago as well, and reckoned it was a bit of residual illness. So he’d simply went to bed and then there had been nothing but darkness and feverish nightmares until the sun woke him…to a nightmare that was real.

A sudden gust of wind shook Shadow from his musings and the black hedgehog had to flap his wings hastily and clumsily to not lose balance. It was an energy-consuming task and one that he wasn’t all used to yet – how on Mobius did Rouge make this flying business look so easy?!

“Are we there yet?” he asked of his blue-furred guide and the azure hedgehog glanced up briefly.

“Almost. See Tails’ house up ahead? I’ll try to slow down, you try to land without breaking a leg of yours…”

Shadow’s mouth narrowed into a thin line as the Ultimate Lifeform attempted to comply – images of alighting birds were dragged out of his memory and he tried to imitate them, angling his wings a bit more steeply to stop his forward flight, bringing his legs below him again, jets switching on automatically for stabilization…

In the end, it looked by no means very graceful, black and white pinions jerking back and forth while the black hedgehog’s arms flailed wildly and it was probably his rocket shoes alone that let him land right-side-up at all, but at the very least he had managed to land on his feet and one knee, and that was something. Shadow straightened up, his gaze daring Sonic who had waited and watched to comment. Black wings on his back flapped once more before folding themselves neatly against his body, an almost unconscious movement, it seemed. Sonic raised an eyebrow but for a change refrained from saying anything, just waving a hand for Shadow to follow.

“Well, that seems to have worked. Come on, Tails’ house is just up these stairs,” he said, skipping up the staircase dug from stone that would lead to the place where the hero of Mobius and his kid brother had fought the Egg Hornet more than three years ago, Tails’ workshop-cum-house and the runway for his planes right next to it.

Shadow followed slightly less bouncily after having torn through the strips of his harness, the texture of the feathers feeling strange against his fur. What on Mobius could have caused this mutation? Part of him desperately hoped Sonic was right and the eclipse had caused this, (and therefore it could be somehow remedied) but another part of him worried it wasn’t due to external influence at all. Was it another freakish Easter egg his creator Professor Gerald had (knowingly or unknowingly) placed in his genetic code? Used some bird DNA in his search for the Ultimate Lifeform and the cure for Maria?
Maria… what would you think of me if you saw me like this?

“Oy! Come on, Shads, you’ve got wings, not a perambulator! Hurry up!” Sonic called, looking down at the slowly ascending hedgehog. Shadow gave a scowl in reply, wondering whether it was just him or the blue hedgehog was even more impatient than usual today.

“Tails! Hey Tails! Tails, open the door!” The hero of Mobius was banging at the kit’s workshop entrance now while shouting with all the volume and rudeness only the bestest of friends (and possibly bailiffs) were allowed to employ.

“I’m coming! What is it?!” the fox’s light voice was heard and there were a few clangs from the back, suggesting he’d dropped something (and a few curses, suggesting he’d also picked something up…) and then finally there were footsteps and the door was yanked open by a slightly oil-smudged nine year old. He looked at Sonic with curious blue eyes. “Hi, Sonic! Is anything wrong?”

“You bet there is! It’s Gaia, Tails, it’s happening again, the transformation and everything, and this time it’s got Shadow as well!” the blue hero waved his arms wildly, not caring how much sense this might make to anyone but him. Tails frowned.
“What do you mean it’s got Shad…oh.” The fox’ lips formed into a small perfect circle as he for the first time beheld the form of Shadow, the black hedgehog finally having climbed the last of the stairs.
He was silhouetted sharply against the sunlight and not for the first time, Tails was rather forcefully reminded that what people defined as ‘physical law’ did not seem to exist in the same universe as Sonic did. (Tails had a private theory that physical law had once existed on Mobius, but as soon as Sonic was born it gave up and went to go run a bar or something.)

“Are you quite done gawking now?” Shadow growled at the small kit, not appreciating anyone staring at him ever since having grown up as the primary object of fascination surrounded by scientists aboard the space colony ARK. Tails immediately flinched.

“Sorry! I mean, er, do you want to come inside?” the little fox offered, ducking his head between his shoulders slightly, namesakes swishing nervously as he gestured for the Ultimate Lifeform to enter. Shadow was glad that even though his wings had measured almost five feet in wingspan when he had spread them, folded on his back they were quite compact. The tips were just a little bit higher than his head, the pinion feathers level with the backs of his knees which meant he could at least pass through the door without problems.

Inside, he looked around. It had been more than a year since he’d last been to the fox’ place, but not much had changed. The house was mostly one giant space – Tails apparently believed in the open-plan look. The ground floor was split into a bit of living area and kitchen as well as a huge workshop while sleeping places, bathroom and balcony were on the first floor. The main laboratory, where Tails conducted his more expensive and complicated engineering feats, was built into the basement, both for security and safety reasons, (since ‘Complicated’ usually meant ‘various things going boom’…). Right now the fox looked at the stairs leading down to the lab a bit insecurely.

“So, uh, if you want to head down so we could do some tests-”
“Not so fast, kit,” Shadow interrupted. “Your blue friend here thinks this nightmare has something to do with the eclipse today. What is that about?”

“The eclipse?” Tails repeated, his young mind once more focusing on today’s events after the shock of seeing a winged hedgehog had passed. “Well, actually, that was weird, yeah. They’ve been talking about it on the news – some strange object passed right in front of the sun and then just disappeared, nobody has any idea what’s going on. Some say it was a sort of meteorite that has now crashed into the sea somewhere, GUN’s in a frenzy trying to find out what on Mobius it was or whether it’s even hit the planet. And trying to squelch the rumours and conspiracy theories, of course,” the fox added. He reached out with one gloved hand to pick up the remote and turn on the TV. It showed mostly pictures of Westopolis, a military spokesperson being interviewed while in the background the usual people who liked proclaiming the apocalypse were shouting a bit.

Shadow stared at the screen; a chill going through him as the television displayed a wire-frame diagram showing the trajectory the ‘unknown object’ had taken in order to blot out the sun. Something felt very wrong, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it…

“You guys wanna watch this? I’ll get us some drinks,” Sonic said, tearing Shadow from his thoughts once again as he headed past the other two into the kitchenette where he started to rummage around in the fridge. “Shads, you like Coke?”

“I have wings sprouting from my bloodied back, hedgehog, and you ask me whether I have a penchant for a caffeinated soft drink?”

“What, you want Red Bull? I mean, come on, it’s not like it’s gonna make it worse. You want ice cubes as well?” Sonic continued, unperturbed, meanwhile opening three cans. He nearly dropped the third one as Shadow was all at once snarling in his face, though.

“DO YOU THINK THIS IS A JOKE, DAMMIT?!” the black hedgehog screeched and for the first time, the smile actually dimmed on Sonic’s face, emerald eyes blinking in slight shock as he faced his panting, snarling black double, crimson eyes glaring and wings slightly ruffled in agitation. Sonic slowly placed the drink on the counter.

“…no. No, I’m not, Shadow,” he said, swallowing and folding his ears against his head as he realized that the other was apparently more upset about this recent development than he had thought so far. A part of Sonic had the impulse to lay a hand on the other’s shoulder or to comfort him, but he realized with a pang in his chest that the other would probably just push him away. But Sonic really wanted to help him…
“Look, I’m sorry. I mean, I’ve been through this before, but I guess I’ve forgotten how terrified I was at the beginning. It’s gonna be okay, Shadow. We’ll find a way to fix this.”

“You keep saying you understand what I’m going through,” the black hedgehog replied with a frown. “I still don’t understand what you mean by that.”

“What?” Tails asked. “Where were you when the planet broke apart four weeks ago?”

“Is that what actually happened?” Shadow asked back, slight surprise on his face. “I thought I’d made that bit up in my fever. I was feeling horribly sick last month and spent an entire week dead to the world. Did the Doctor try to take over the world again?”

“Yeah, bit like that,” Sonic replied, raising an eye-ridge. Robotnik had indeed upset the planet’s lifeforce and indirectly caused Sonic to transform into a werehog at night after a failed experiment to defeat Super Sonic. Mobius had remained a planetary puzzle until its hero had managed to defeat Dark Gaia and with the help of the Chaos Emeralds restored to world to its proper shape again. “I had been wondering why you and Rouge weren’t around anywhere while everything was going to heck. So you were sick, eh?”

“For some reason, yeah,” Shadow grumbled, the entire thing just becoming more complicated by the minute in his head. “Rouge took care of me while I was out. Don’t think she had any more time to deal with the Doctor’s craziness back then, either,” the black hedgehog said, before then actually snapping – or trying to snap – his talon-like fingers. “Rouge. I should call her. Maybe she knows anything about the eclipse from GUN by now…” Shadow strode back into the corridor and picked up Tails’ phone from the little table outside.

Calling Rouge would actually be a good idea. She was the closest thing Shadow had to a friend - not that either of the two would admit it - while they lived together, occasionally worked together and had saved each other’s lives a number of times. Shadow idly wondered what the bat might say when she found out that the Ultimate Lifeform had just become the tiniest bit more like her…

“He hasn’t got any idea what happened to you?“ Tails whispered to Sonic quietly as the other hedgehog was busy dialling around the corner. The hero of Mobius gave a shrug.

“Don’t think so. Am not entirely too keen on him finding out about it, either, to be honest,” he said, briefly rubbing the back of his head and gazing at the ceiling. “Couldn’t beat him in a race for starters,” he gave a slightly lop-sided grin, “Then again, it’s not like I’ve got a choice. During the eclipse I transformed briefly, so he’s gonna find out about it as soon as that damned moon comes up tonight anyway.” Sonic heaved an uncharacteristic sigh, ears drooping and quills deflating. It was clear the blue hedgehog was looking forward to neither the pain the forced change brought with, nor the other complications. Tails chewed his lip, large unhappy blue eyes indicating he very much wanted to help his older brother, but by then Sonic had already cast a glance over his shoulder and called out to their most recent house guest again.

“Hey! Shads! You’ve got her on the line or what?” he shouted toward the corner. There was a click of the receiver being replaced before the black hedgehog appeared again, his mood seemingly not improved.

“No. She’s not at home, maybe they’ve got her investigating right now. That, or she’s out shopping on a two wings discount,” he added dryly, causing a slight chuckle on Sonic’s part. The Ultimate Lifeform crossed his arms. “So, before I go to Westopolis and hunt down either her or GUN myself - thereby making Elephant Man look like a sideshow attraction in comparison - what can we do here?” he asked, looking from Sonic to Tails in a way that indicated he wasn’t placing much confidence in either of them. Tails cleared his throat, his namesakes swishing nervously as he tried to speak.

“We-ell, first, I’d try to analyze your feathers to see whether they in fact have anything to do with Gaia. We should also take a look at that necklace of yours,” he said, his gaze wandering upwards to the orange bauble that looked so similar to the light blue one Sonic wore on his wrist. “And then…and then…” the fox kit seemingly had to swallow before he could bring himself to utter the next sentence to a foreboding Shadow’s face.

“Ho-how about…flying lessons?”


Even this late into the afternoon, the air around the Emerald Shrine held a dusty chill. The island was hanging high up in the atmosphere – higher than the Guardian would usually take it, which accounted for the dry cool. But he had his reasons.

Knuckles paid no mind to the weather as he knelt on the cold stone platform, his hands outstretched in supplication as he chanted an ancient prayer, his violet eyes focussed on the light that glinted of the perfect facets of the Master Emerald. Breathing slowly and evenly, he sank bit by bit into a deep, meditative state, allowing his mind to drift and seek out the connection he had with the Master Emerald.

He rarely did this, since the power wasn’t meant to be used lightly. But something was horribly wrong, he had known that since the darkness had swept across the sun, leaving everything in twilight. There had been nothing natural about that eclipse, and that had worried him enough to seek the wisdom the Emeralds.

Images began to form in his mind. A burning cobalt flame that danced with ever-bright light, which Knuckles recognised after a moment to mean Sonic. The echidna just barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes – typical of the blue hedgehog to be caught up in this. The parade of images continued, flooding into his brain ever faster and letting him sink even further into meditation in concentration, both Guardian and Sacred Isle floating high in the sky and far from the reach of the surface world, unaware of any drama unfolding below.


Flying lessons.”

The tone in which Shadow uttered the phrase was comparable to someone pronouncing the words ‘Baby pancakes’. The black hedgehog scowled even more when he became aware of his blue doppelganger having trouble to hide his laughter at his reaction.

“I think that’s an awesome idea. We can film it and blackmail you for all eternity.”

There was the cold sensation of a gun pressing against Sonic’s temple ever so subtly.
“I think I have mentioned that I am slightly upset about recently having mutated, hedgehog,” Shadow explained calmly, but nevertheless with a certain undertone that suggested it was a bit like the calm you might find in outer space – quiet and serene only because you wouldn’t even get the chance to scream when you died. The hero of Mobius swallowed.

“Yes. I, uh, suddenly remember. Sorry. Hey, why don’t I go and call Knuckles to find out whether he knows of anything weird going down at the moment?”

“Maybe you should do that,” Shadow agreed and the blue speedster vanished around the corner as soon as the gun had stopped touching his head. Shadow sighed and sheathed it again within his head quills.

“Damn,” he muttered. That blue lunatic of all people had to find him…

“Errr…please don’t shoot in my house?” Tails roused the Ultimate Lifeform from his pondering by nervously raising a finger. Shadow gave him a somewhat weary glare.

“Then tell that idiot to behave himself. But it doesn’t seem like I could pull the trigger with these claws, anyway…” he grumbled, again looking at his transformed hands. Sonic hadn’t noticed, but it did seem like guns were another option that had been taken from him…Shadow gnashed his teeth together to stop himself from uttering another few choice swearwords.

“I think we should worry about that later,” Tails said, trying to regain a bit of his confidence. “For now we can run the tests I’ve talked about and while the computer’s calculating, maybe we can help you get used to your new form,” the fox kit suggested, at the same time leading the way down to the lab, Shadow following reluctantly. Ever since his time aboard the ARK he had taken a strong dislike to laboratories of any kind, especially if he was supposed to be the subject of experiments in there.

“You and the faker both seem remarkably relaxed about what’s happened to me,” Shadow stated as they descended the staircase and Tails switched the lights on to reveal a quite spacious room. It was filled mainly with one computer and various peripherals, but also tools and a smaller working bench as well as medical equipment and a stretcher bed, indicating that perhaps this room also doubled as a sick bay whenever Sonic or anybody else had gotten hurt on their adventures. Shadow folded his arms and leaned against the wall somewhat awkwardly, having to fold the wings on his back out of the way to be able to rest comfortably.

Tails cast a glance over his shoulder while he booted the computer.
“ I said, it’s not the first time we’ve witnessed a transformation like yours. But I guess Sonic should probably tell you about it himself.”

“Hm,” Shadow commented, now frowning at the floor and his rocket shoes, the last thing on his body that still seemed to be unharmed from this morning of madness. He was still shaken up about what had happened to him, even if he took care not to let it show too much.

“Please don’t be too mad at Sonic for joking around like he did. That’s just how he is. And besides, I think he was actually trying to cheer you up,” the fox said at this point, childlike blue eyes blinking at Shadow even while the Ultimate Lifeform still refused to meet the other’s gaze.

“Well, then somebody better tell him he’s doing a shoddy job of it,” he replied instead offhandedly, but with bitterness still lacing his tone, almost succeeding in hiding the not-quite lie contained in his words.
Because, actually, now that he thought of it, it was correct that Sonic’s flippant manner had annoyed him, but at the same time it had also prevented him from losing it or breaking down…Shadow was suddenly reminded that a lot of other people finding him in that ditch, soiled with blood and shivering, would have probably freaked out and descended into panic themselves. Yet Sonic – even if all the while cracking inane jokes – had automatically offered his assistance and at least come up with the beginnings of a plan of action.

“I, uh, I’d need to take some test samples of you now,” Tails was waving a hand in front of Shadow’s eyes to attract the Ultimate Lifeform’s attention again. “Is that okay?”

“What do you need?” Crimson eyes snapped back into focus immediately, letting Tails swallow. Why couldn’t this guy look a bit friendly for once?

“Some feathers, mostly. A chip of your talons couldn’t hurt, and maybe some blood. I’d also like to take a look at your pendant, but that can wait until later.”

“Right. Go ahead, then,” the black hedgehog replied, his own desire to know what had caused his transformation greater than his dislike of once again being prodded and poked in a laboratory. Tails nodded, using first a sort of scalpel-like knife to carefully cut away a thin scrap off one of Shadow’s black-clawed fingers, his small hands remarkably steady and careful. Tails put the sample into a small air-tight container and set it aside, returning a moment later with a rather foreboding-looking set of tweezers.

“This is probably going to hurt a little…” the fox announced, trying to remain steady. This was his area of expertise, even if Shadow looked less than pleased at the prospect of basically getting one of his feathers torn out. The black hedgehog was about to protest when they were both interrupted by a familiar, bouncing tread on the staircase.

“Bad news, guys, can’t reach Knuckles either. Either that eclipse sent him into total paranoia mode and he’s standing atop that Emerald with a giant baseball bat right now, or… well, that first idea sounds pretty likely, actually. We should check up on him later. Not that you’d have any trouble getting up there, huh?” Sonic announced, favouring Shadow with another grin (even if noticeably keeping out of his dark doppelganger’s reach).

“Sonic, if you don’t want to swallow that soft drink can of yours square, I suggestAH!”

“Sorry!” Tails looked a bit sheepish as Shadow whirled around with murder in his eyes, glaring at the fox now holding a small, black feather in his gloved hands. The kit tried an unconvincing grin. “It seemed like a good idea. Look, I even got blood of you all in one go, right? I mean, please don’t kill me.”

“Let up on the kid, he meant well.” Sonic placed a hand on the black hedgehog’s shoulder. “Here, I got you your drink.”

“Fine. You get that one for free,” Shadow declared with a side-glance at Tails, having to remind himself the fox was doing this as a service for him. He finally took the offered beverage from Sonic as well, his anger toward the other having abated a little. Damn if those eyes of his wouldn’t look so sympathetic all the time…

Shadow tried to concentrate on something else.

He took a sip from his drink, snout slightly crunching up as he was less than fond of the sickeningly sweet taste. No wonder the hedgehog was so high all the time if he drank nothing than this sugar-in-a-can.

“Well, how about we go up now and see about your flying capabilities while we wait for the results? Not trying to sound pessimistic here, but if this is all caused by Eggman, we have to be ready for combat soon as possible,” Sonic pointed out. “Plus, if this was a video game, we’d totally need a tutorial!”

“If this were a video game, I’d return it to the store and shoot the developer,” Shadow muttered under his breath, once again wondering which birth defect could have hotwired Sonic’s default state to permanent unnatural enthusiasm. Aloud, he said: “Okay. Let’s try this,” while heading back for the stairs, the other two following as the machines whirred in the background.

It was strange. Even though he usually preferred the indoors, having been raised aboard the confines of ARK for all of his childhood, now he actually found that a part of him was suddenly yearning for the outside, the wide, open skies, blue and inviting…

Shadow firmly stopped that mental train of thought, privately hoping it would derail violently and every flight of fancy riding inside it would die a horrid death. Ugh…

Wait, ‘flight of fancy’? Was his subconscious plotting against him, now? He had enough with Sonic’s puns without his inner monologue joining in.

The trio of Sapients emerged from Tails’ house, stepping blinking into the sunlight. Sonic clapped into his hands. “Okay, cool!”

He paused.

“So, uh, how we gonna do this?”

Shadow felt a bit like calling the entire venture off.

Fortunately, Tails stepped forward. “Well, I think at first just try what comes naturally. If you need help taking off, you can try flapping your wings while running, that’s how I first managed to fly. And if everything else fails, we can always push you off the roof.”

“Great,” Shadow replied insincerely, but still moved a bit away from them, knowing that if he were to move his wings, he’d need more space. Slowly, he spread his new appendages, feeling strange unfamiliar muscles shift in his back…

He beat his wings for the first time.

And the resulting wind pressure almost knocked him over backwards.

Stop laughing.”

“I’m not, Shadow, honest,” Sonic tried to convince him rather unsuccessfully while grinning as if he was trying to separate the upper half of his face. In truth, he was really trying his hardest not to - if only, oh if only the otherwise always so aloof and frustratingly collected ‘Ultimate Lifeform’ weren’t so flustered and cute as soon as he felt the situation was not under his control anymore...Sonic had to do an abrupt mental double take as he wondered whether he had really just applied ‘cute’ as a label to the guy who had held him at gun point not ten minutes ago.
Chaos. The last time I had to deal with this werehog stuff, I at least knew I was staying *sane*.

“Maybe you ought to try the running approach first. It gets easier when you’ve done it a couple of times,” Tails interjected at this point, interrupting Sonic’s thoughts, the blue hedgehog by now hoping that the sudden heat he could feel on his cheeks stemmed from the sunlight and not something else…

Shadow inclined his head, not looking at the blue hedgehog. “Right. I can’t run too fast in this form, but I’ll try.” His skates flared into hissing life as the sand below them was scorched and the Ultimate Lifeform now hovered over the ground. Shadow pushed forward, feeling the aerial resistance push against his wings, but refusing to fold them; he’d need to make use of that very force to eventually take off. Scowling at the novel difficulties, Shadow just poured more power into his jet shoes, moving his feet in the graceful skating motion that so far had been his primary mode of transport but could be no more. He was accelerating steadily along the runway in front of Tails’ house, acutely aware of the wind brushing against the underside of his wings, knowing he’d have to brake, turn, or take off soon or else he’d fall down the cliff he was heading toward. Shadow leaned forward as he usually did when acquiring speed, and he could feel how that aligned his wings more effectively with the flow of the air past him, started to carry him…Shadow beat his wings for the second time. And took off.

Yes!” He couldn’t help but give a rare, wild grin for a second as his feet left the ground and nothing but thin air supported him – before crashing right back to the ground.

“No! Dammit!” Shadow cursed, barely managing to come to a juddering halt before he would have skated right into the ocean below. Sonic, and a second later Tails were at his side in an instant.

“Shadow! You okay? That looked pretty good!” Sonic offered him a genuine smile and a thumbs-up. “Just try not to fall into the sea,” the blue hedgehog advised sagely, a small shudder indicating just what kind of relation the hero of Mobius had with said element.

“I won’t.” Shadow waved him off. “I got to take off, but couldn’t stay in the air. I need to be able to move my wings faster.” He moved past them to try again, and both Tails and Sonic couldn’t help but share a smile – neither of them failing to recognize just how similar Shadow’s attitude was to Sonic’s own at times.

Unaware of any friendship conspiracies behind his back, Shadow merely shot off once more, this time managing to flap his wings sooner than during the first attempt, but still not able to actually remain airborne, the ground always coming up to meet him before he could rise any higher. He tried again and again, but even if he managed to beat his wings twice, and once even thrice before dropping down again, in the end, it was still rather frustrating. Plus, the sheer size of the wings was starting to take its toll on his yet unaccustomed muscles. Scowling, Shadow turned around to walk back to the other two – at which point he noticed that Sonic was lying on the floor beating the cement with his fists and Tails biting down on his lower lip to desperately hide his giggles.
“Anything funny about me?”

Shadow asked the question without yelling, but its tone was the verbal equivalent of a rocket launcher being directed at you. Sonic was still convulsing with laughter on the ground, but at least Tails did not seem to have an immediate death wish and tried to give an explanation.

“N-no, but…you know, you jumping, wildly flapping your wings, falling down and fl-fl-flailing, and ru-running around,” the kit started, having trouble to speak clearly in between giggles, “Sonic said it…it looked a bit like…like...a chicken…”

At which point both hedgehog and fox howled with laughter again and Shadow for a moment wished Doom’s Eye was here again so he’d have an excuse to blow up the planet.

“Right. This is pointless. I’m leaving to find Rouge,” the black hedgehog instead replied coldly, turning around without gracing the two Mobians with so much as another look. Sonic instantly sobered up.

“No, wait!” The blue hedgehog jumped to his feet, his form blurring as he zipped in front of Shadow, barring his way. “I’m sorry, please stay. We can try something else. I promise I won’t laugh anymore.”

“I’m not some form of cheap entertainment, hedgehog,” Shadow glared at him. “Get out of my way.”

Sonic’s face fell, and for some odd reason Shadow briefly got the strange impression he’d actually hurt the other. Sonic looked away.

“I…you’re not. Entertainment, I mean.” He sighed. “Look, I’m sorry if I’ve actually upset you. I didn’t mean to. It’s just…” The tip of his shoe scuffed the ground briefly and he folded his arms. “It’s just that this transformation business is pretty grizzly. And yeah, scary. Even to me,” he said, now very definitely not looking at Shadow but the black hedgehog could see the white-gloved fingers of the other digging into the peach-furred arms as the hero of Mobius was obviously uncomfortable with the subject matter. He also wondered whether he had imagined the lightest flush in the blue hedgehog’s face for a moment…

“When I’m joking around, I’m just trying to deal with it, see? That’s my way to stay sane. Yours is, I dunno, being grumpy all the time,” Sonic shrugged, emerald eyes briefly meeting slightly narrowing crimson ones, still wary and apologetic at the same time. “But what I’m trying to say is, I really, genuinely, want to help you. And I’m in the same boat as you, so you’ll probably have enough opportunity to make me suffer later,” he added, looking none too thrilled at the prospect. He finally met Shadow’s gaze. “Apology accepted?”

Shadow exhaled slowly.

“Fine. One last chance. But I’m going to expect a full explanation of your part in this situation soon.”

“Sure! Later, I promise,” Sonic agreed eagerly, emerald eyes lighting up like a miniature sunrise once more. “Now how about we get you on the roof?”


“This doesn’t look very safe,” Shadow commented. He was also staring at the 30 feet drop below them, imagining himself on the ground looking a bit like the dead feral pigeons one found at the side of motorways.

“Nah, it’ll be alright,” Tails insisted, hovering in front of him, namesakes spinning in their familiar motion, “If you fall, I’ll catch you. Besides, both you and Sonic have managed worse jumps, so this should be an okay height to start with.”

“Hnh,” Shadow replied non-committally, still wondering why he was doing this at all. Beside him stood Sonic, totally at ease at the edge of the roof, eyes momentarily closed in bliss at the ocean breeze ruffling his fur in the sunshine, almost appearing as if he was enjoying his last day alive and had to soak up every minute of it. For a single moment, Shadow almost envied the other hedgehog’s complete lust for life, and that was one moment too long. Shadow shook his head at those nonsense thoughts and instead tried to focus on the task at hand again.

“Okay.” He spread his wings. “Here goes nothing.”

Shadow leapt.

And almost crashed into the ground 10 metres in front of the house, had Tails not caught him by the wrist beforehand.


“Damn,” Shadow hissed as he was carried back to the roof and the waiting Sonic, annoyed with his lack of coordination.

The blue hedgehog shook his head. “Tsk-tsk, Shadow…I think you need some heroic assistance to show you how to fly.”

“Oh yeah? And pray tell, where is that coming from while Rouge is out?” the black hedgehog commented acerbically. “You certainly can’t fly unless challenged by megalomaniac canaries.”

“Oh, ye of little faith,” Sonic sighed in mock-hurt, before rapidly wagging his finger. “But hey, you keep trying, I’ll just get something.” The blue hedgehog jumped down onto the balcony and disappeared inside, leaving the two others alone.

Shadow exchanged a look with Tails, who shrugged; it basically implied that he didn’t know either what his insane older brother was up to now, but didn’t consider it to be too great a source of worry.

“Well, okay, why don’t we try this again,” Tails said instead, “From what I know of aerodynamics, your main problem was that you try to upright yourself too much. Try to fall more horizontally.”

Shadow raised an eye ridge at this gem bit of advice, but didn’t say anything in return. The bit of gliding he’d managed beforehand had been a start, at any rate. He stepped toward the edge of the roof again, this time flapping his wings even before his legs pushed him off. The result was a slightly nauseating lurch as gravity battled the air supporting him, but Shadow refused to give in, giving a second, third, fourth wing beat before he once again lost his balance and started to tumble head over heels toward the ground. Tails managed to catch his ankle.

“Hey, that was pretty good!” the fox called down to the upside-down black hedgehog. Shadow was about to reply, but then something caught his eye and effectively stopped that thought.

“Is that the faker on your house roof again?” he asked, squinting against the sunlight as he tried to make out the figure while he still dangled. Tails tilted his head, the fox’s expression torn somewhere between confusion and amusement.


“And is he wearing a bed sheet around his neck?”


“And can you tell me why the hell-?

By the Power of Greyquill, I am Captain Mobius! …or something!” Sonic shouted at this point, raising a fist toward the sky.

“What the – seriously, did someone drop him on his head or-?”

“No…” Tails managed.

“Hey, Shadow! Having fun dangling? Here, lemme show you how a real hero flies!” Sonic called – before launching himself off the roof.

“Fly me back,” Shadow dead-panned to Tails still holding him. “Now I’ve got to learn how to fly simply so I can dive-bomb him and his silly cape at some point.”

Sonic meanwhile had spun in the air and landed gracefully (thereby tearing the sheet over his back to shreds) and was now racing below them.

Tails sighed. “And those were my favourite sheets… I really hate it when he’s hit the caffeine.”

“To infininity and beyond!”

“Right.” With a supreme effort, Shadow managed to beat his wings while still suspended in the air, thereby instantly destabilizing Tails with his sheer mass, who had to let go.

“I’ll show you which one of us can fly!” Shadow shouted, finally released and for the first time, Sonic stopped – and was, frankly, a little awed.


Shadow could feel the sun burn into his black feathers as he had spread them wide against the sky. His upside-down start had meant that he immediately slipped into the right position – and now he soared. His shadow passed over a wide-eyed Sonic’s face, his chest expanding as he breathed in for another powerful wing beat, for the first time gaining height all by himself.

“Way to go, Shadow, you did it!” Sonic cheered from below, the black hedgehog barely able to hear him over the rushing of the wind in his ears and the roaring of blood and adrenaline in his body.

Below him, he almost couldn’t believe how the landscape flitted past, the experience dizzying, terrifying and exhilarating all at once. He had flown before, of course, either dangling from Rouge’s hands, riding his Extreme Gear, or enveloped by the power of Chaos, Super Shadow reigning supreme, but this
Shadow had trouble not to break into another uncharacteristic feral grin, the experience of actually supporting oneself in the air against the forces of physics far greater than he had imagined. His arms spread to his sides for better balance, wings once more cutting through the air like fins through water, air currents dancing tingling along his wing tips…

“Shadow, watch out!”


Tails was suddenly flying alongside him, eyes wide and pointing at something.

“You need to turn!”

“Turn? How do I-?!”

It was at this point that the Ultimate Lifeform crashed into a poplar.



Shadow’s world was very blurry, very painful, way too bright and filled with not enough ice packs.

“I think he’s coming to. Believe me, Tails, we hedgehogs have thick skulls.”

“Yes. I think I’ve noticed.”

Two voices began to make themselves heard, both familiar (even if the second one was loaded with just a little bit of uncharacteristic sarcasm).

Something large, blue and curious loomed into his view.

“Hey, Shads. Waking up?”

“Un..fortunately…” Shadow managed, gnashing his teeth and forcing his body to sit up despite his pounding headache and a fair share of bruises. “What actually happened?”

Sonic shrugged. “You hit a tree, dude. Before that, you looked mighty cool, though.” He grinned.

“So I did, apparently.” Shadow managed, making it purposefully unclear to which statement he was replying to. Especially since a little something had just done a bit of a flip inside his body when Sonic had told him he had looked ‘cool’…
That crash must have hit me harder than I thought. Since when did I care about compliments, exactly?

Shadow briefly rubbed the side of his head, before raising himself with the help of the poplar and then standing on his own two feet, nothing seriously hurt or broken. A sudden irrational fear overcame him as he briefly wondered whether his new, more fragile appendages might be damaged, but was able to expand them with ease, a few bent feathers the only result of his fall.

“Do you want to try again? Or should we head inside to see whether the tests have produced anything?” Tails asked, blue eyes evidently surveying the black hedgehog for more than external damage.

Shadow inclined his head. “Let’s go back. For more flying lessons I’d rather wait until I can reach Rouge and not Captain Bedsheet.”

“Okay,” Tails simply shrugged, by now knowing better than expect Shadow to give thanks for his help. And, of course, Sonic immediately took offence at his ‘awesome costume’ being ‘dissed’ and so the usual bickering resumed until they were back at the workshop and Tails pushed the door open.

“Right. Another round of drinks for you guys before we head down, or-?”

The young fox and the two hedgehogs fell silent as soon as their gaze fell onto the still running television. Onscreen, the news reporter had changed to a male one and it still showed pictures of Westopolis – but now the reporter’s voice was frantic, and the pictures were full of fire and smoke.

The building of the city bank was burning and had a large, gaping hole in the side, the street and sidewalk torn up as if a rocket had crashed and exploded in there. In the background, GUN vehicles were rushing toward the site and soldiers swarming the premises. The news anchor was trying to be heard of the background din as he seemed to be shouting something about what had been stolen or what was being stolen – it wasn’t easy to tell – but then finally, something of his garbled speech made it through to the ears of the staring Sapients in Tails’ living room.

“-fortunately, GUN has arrived, sending in –rrrkhzt- bravest and finest to combat the -kzzzht – and here he is – Shadow the Hedgehog!” he declared and at the same time, the unmistakeable shape of the Ultimate Lifeform appeared onscreen – wingless, clawless, but toting his signature gun.

Sonic could suddenly feel Tails grip his hand tightly enough to hurt.

“Sonic…if that is Shadow, then who is this?”

To be continued…
You must login (register) to review.

Sonic and Shadow (c) and TM SEGA - Sonic Team

Sonadow Online