Advent of Equinox by Skyblaze, Taranea

Chapter Four: All the Strange, Strange Creatures

Chapter Four: All the Strange, Strange Creatures, Part 1


Shadow stared.


“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” the (former) blue speedster quipped – though Shadow couldn’t help but think that there was just a bit of that usual cheerfulness and attitude missing now. And that wasn’t even taking the strange, growling voice into account. The black hedgehog blinked, trying to wrap his head around the idea that apparently, Sonic had transformed just like he had today. But not into a hybrid with wings…

The Ultimate Lifeform cocked his head.

“…so at night you become a bear?”

“No! I’m a wolf!” Sonic snapped, apparently slightly offended at the species confusion. “Or at least, something like that. But I didn’t go around calling you a cockatoo, did I?”

“No, you went for increasingly cringe-worthy bird puns instead,” Shadow agreed matter-of-factly, slowly walking around the dark body of what had up until now been the fastest thing alive. Back in his childhood, he and Maria had read each other stories about all sorts of mythical creatures and there had been a fair share of them about werewolves – only depending on the author and the intended audience whether the creature in question was a human turning into a wolf, or an unfortunate lupine Mobian going through the unimaginable horror of changing into a six foot tall furless monkey each full moon. Either way, Shadow remembered a huge part of the comedy in both versions had usually involved the frantic search for pants.

Sonic himself of course hadn’t been wearing any and it didn’t seem like he would need to in his new form either. He was taller now than before, perhaps standing at almost five feet of height if his stance hadn’t let him slump forward a little, hands on the floor and knees bent. His colour had turned much darker, royal blue having changed to a midnight that seemed to blend into the night sky. The only exceptions were his belly and the tips of his quills which he had kept, which had turned as white and as pale as the moon. The same also went for his now large, viciously clawed hands – where the cuffs of his gloves had previously been, a ring of white fuzz was covering the transformed hero’s wrists, thinly-pelted pastel-blue palms and fingers almost letting it appear as if Sonic was merely wearing different garments. Only his eyes had stayed exactly the same, now seemingly glowing only fiercer than before when contrasted with this dark and sombre new form. Shadow had finished his little inspection of the changed speedster (which had let Sonic feel only a little bit awkward) and came to stand in front of him again. Sonic actually looked a lot more fearsome now, and that wasn’t even taking the canines poking out of the edges of his mouth or the extreme muscles having piled onto his arms and torso into account. He also stood a little bit differently, crouching, his arms longer now than before and clawed hands digging into the soft night earth beneath their feet.


Reminded of this very crucial aspect, Shadow then actually turned his gaze downwards. He raised an eye ridge.

“Apparently, your shoes transform, too?”

“Err…” Sonic growled in his bass, before also looking at the larger, darker, and most of all spike-studded monstrosities he now wore. “Yeah, I think so. You know, I had been wondering about that.”

Shadow nodded, looking serious. “I see. Then we might be faced with the possibility of your shoes being Weresneakers.”

“Wait, what?” Sonic asked back, the question coming completely from left field and he had to stare at Shadow for one or two moments – before then actually feeling his lips twitch into a smile as he realized the other had made a joke.

Sonic chuckled. “Right. Didn’t think you’d have a sense of humour, faker.”

“I had a feeling I might need to develop one if I was to work together with you,” the black hedgehog’s tone was dry, but not unfriendly. In fact, Shadow had seemed to Sonic a lot more relaxed ever since his wings had come off (well, as ‘relaxed’ as a Person Of Mass Destruction like Shadow was ever likely to be…) but it wasn’t like the blue speedster could blame him. He wasn’t particularly happy about being stuck as a wolf until morning either. Sonic had always at least been able to feel totally at ease in his own body and that it once again felt so different, was already beginning to unnerve him again…

Shadow at this point slowly raised a hand, a flash of uncharacteristic curiosity in crimson eyes. Sonic blinked, roused from his ponderings to notice the movement just in time.

“Can I…feel your pelt?” the black hedgehog asked, just before already letting his fingers brush over Sonic’s new, dark coat.

“Uh, sure. If you want to,” Sonic replied superfluously, feeling a bit taken aback, but not that much – after all, the very first thing he’d wanted to do after seeing Shadow’s transformation had been to grab at those shiny feathers to see how they felt, too…

Just like Tails and Rouge, actually. Though I think Shadow would still make for a better petting zoo exhibit than me. ‘Mr. Monster’ alright…

Before his train of thought could go any further, though, Shadow’s gloved fingers were already running through the fur on his shoulder down his arm and sending a shiver down Sonic’s spine. In a sudden odd moment the blue hedgehog actually felt a pang of slight regret as the other removed his fingertips from his fur again after only a couple of seconds, a light frown on his features.

“Even your coat is as coarse as a lupine’s. It seems your transformation affects you more thoroughly.”

“Huh?” Sonic replied intelligibly, having briefly to fight the strange urge of crouching in front of Shadow to be petted some more before he could work out a sensible reply.

 “You think so?” Sonic asked, briefly rolling his shoulder. “When I was roped into this shape-shift gig for the first time, things were a lot worse back then …maybe that’s why.”

“Yeah, you still haven’t actually told me much about what was really going two months ago, either,” Shadow replied, simultaneously crossing his arms with Sonic’s loose gloves in front of his chest. “What exactly caused this back then? What happened?”

“Well…apart from the planet becoming a rubix cube, you mean?” Sonic answered, lips twitching. “Not that much, really. Me and Chip – he was sort of the incarnation of the light half of the planet’s life source, Gaia, but he looked like a really weird flying mouse - had to travel to all continents and collect the Chaos Emeralds and…put some temple tablet pieces back together so the Emeralds could be recharged, I think,” he said, looking a bit as if he himself wasn’t too sure about the logic of it all. But then again, he was Sonic, and this ‘logic’ thing in his opinion was mostly there to concern other people. “And then we fought the planet life force’s dark half - who looked just a little bit like Iblis, if you ask me…”

Shadow held up a hand to forestall the torrent of words, “Stop. Stop. This isn’t helping at all - you’re just giving me a headache.” The black hedgehog sighed. The dark-furred werehog just made a rough chuckling sound, using one of his massive paws to scratch himself behind one pointy-tipped ear as he did so.

Shadow shook his head, “I’ll just ask Tails when we get back. He might manage to be a bit more coherent.”

“Maybe,” Sonic shrugged. “I’d wager Knucklehead would be able to tell us something, too. But of course he had to chose now of all times to be away. He should get a damn answering machine on that Island of his…”

Shadow wondered why he had even bothered to ask when he really should have known better; the Ultimate Lifeform had so far considered the blue speedster as at the most capable of the attention span of a kitten in a yarn shop when all of the bundles were shiny.

“Hey, boys, ready to – wait, is that you, Sonic?” Rouge’s voice interrupted the two males, the albino bat cutting off her greeting in surprise. Sonic, briefly cringing at her exclamation, turned around.

“Hi there, Rouge,” he said with a slightly lop-sided grin, “Yeah, might’ve forgotten to mention that. Sorry.”

“First a hedgehawk, now it’s a werehog,” the female treasure hunter replied, smiling faintly with one of her incisors showing. “You boys sure are full of surprises today…”

“Actually, ‘werehog’ doesn’t make much sense as a denomination,” Shadow pointed out, his heritage of a family of scientists leaving him unable not to say it. “‘Were’ is simply an old word for ‘man’, and since Sonic doesn’t seem to have grown noticeably pinker since he changed…” he trailed off and Rouge raised an eye ridge.

“So what? We’re supposed to call him a ‘Hedgewolf’?”

“Perhaps a ‘Hogwolf’.”

Rouge shook her head. “No, ‘Wolfhog’ sounds better. Or a Wolfhedge?”

“That sounds like some sort of lycanthropic garden plant. No, how about-?”

Guys! How about simply ‘Sonic’?!” 

Both black hedgehog and white bat turned toward the blue hero who looked at them a bit like the owner of a house who had just found out he had employed Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as renovators. Rouge actually seemed slightly sheepish for a moment.

“…yeah. Sorry about that. You transformed for the first time now, too?”

“No, I had actually already turned into a…wolf…” Sonic said, stretching the last word a bit for emphasis with a pointed look at Shadow, even though the Ultimate Lifeform acted a bit like Teflon in regards to glares, “…about two months ago as well. I’ll probably change back at first sunlight.”     

“If you say so, honey,” Rouge replied, her training as an agent at least letting her take this unusual information in stride just as when she had first discovered Shadow’s new form. “I’ve finished up at GUN, by the way. We’re heading to the fox kit’s place now?” 

“Yeah,” Sonic confirmed, inwardly glad the older bat wasn’t making as much of a deal out of his transformation as others might have. Then, something occurred to him about going back.

“Um. Does any of you know much about flying planes?”

“What?” Shadow asked, “Why – oh.” The black hedgehog fell silent as the blue hero’s finger pointed at the Tornado still standing where they’d left it on the parking space.

“I don’t fit into the pilot’s seat anymore, but we have to take it back with us, otherwise Tails will never let us hear the end of it,” Sonic said. The little fact that he also had very little chance to run all the way back to the Mystic Ruins in his new form so quickly didn’t need to be mentioned, in his opinion.

“Hm. I suppose we could try Chaos Control now that I have my powers again,” Shadow said, at the same time walking over to the two-tail’s prized private jet, Rouge and Sonic following, the latter seemingly moving only a little awkwardly with his new overly long arms. Shadow briefly wondered how well Sonic would be able to fight in this new form.

“Ready?” he asked instead when they had reached the machine, one gloved hand braced against the side of the plane, the other arm with the Emerald stretched forward, so the other two Mobians could lay their hands on it.


And, in what was probably one of the more embarrassing moments in the biography of the Ultimate Lifeform, absolutely nothing happened.




“Right, so we have to find another solution. Since the Ultimate Lightshow this time didn’t work,” Sonic commented pleasantly sometime later, ignoring the disgruntled growl from Shadow’s direction.

“It wasn’t my fault. The Chaos Emeralds are obviously drained again,” he stated, still not looking at anybody right now.

“Sure, Shadow. Nobody is blaming you,” Rouge cooed, petting his arm a little. The bat thought she at least had to make some attempts at appeasement (since she had giggled considerably longer at Shadow’s brief perplexed expression earlier). The black hedgehog hmmphed.

“But we still have to get the Tornado home,” Sonic pointed out, undeterred. “Rouge; haven’t you ever learned how to fly?”

The bat put a hand on her hip. “Honey, I’m a spy and treasure hunter. My business is conducted mostly in government buildings and museums at three in the morning and I hardly tend to arrive in a jet plane for that.”

“Okay, okay, I see your point,” Sonic replied wearily. “Shadow, what about you? Never steered any flight crafts before?”

Well, there was the time I had kidnapped an extraterrestrial flying manta ray and was standing atop it in an apocalyptic thunderstorm while aliens tried to shoot me down…

“…no, not really.”

 Sonic’s shoulders sagged a little, and for some reason that sight compelled Shadow to at least add: “Except for flight simulators aboard the ARK.”

“Eh, close enough. Climb into the pilot’s seat, I’ll give ya directions,” Sonic replied cheerfully, all at once brightening up again. Shadow blinked.

“Wait, what? You want me to fly that thing now?”

“Sure,” Sonic nodded. “It’s easy, Tails has installed a bunch of stuff for situations like this, in case he got incapacitated in aerial combat or something like that. Hop aboard,” he said, already climbing into the more spacious backseat with slightly more grace than Shadow previously had. “Come on, you’re not afraid, are ya?”

“Your attempt at reverse psychology is pathetic,” the black hedgehog stated flatly (even if Rouge was rather sure she had seen his quills bristle just briefly…). Nevertheless, he did climb on board himself, sliding into the pilot seat with ease and letting his eyes roam over the controls. Seeing Sonic fly so effortlessly before had made him actually a bit curious…

“See, it’s easy,” Sonic’s voice came over his shoulder. “You fire up the engine by flicking those three blue switches on your left. Make sure the aerofoils are set to ‘takeoff’ position – that’s the little yellow lines on the right there, just above the compass. Ease off the brakes with the stick on the right of your chair, and then pull back on the main joystick. The auto-pilot can do the rest.” The blue-furred hero looked down the side of the plane. “You coming, Rouge?”

“No offence, hot-shot, but I’d rather make my own way there. I trust Shadow with a lot of things, but not operating heavy machinery. Did he ever tell you what he managed to do with the waffle iron?”

“I thought I had made myself clear that that had been an accident,” Shadow growled, black ears twitching as he thought he could clearly hear a throaty chuckle from the backseat. Sonic once again pushed his pointy muzzle over his shoulder and gave him a grin.

“No worries, I’ll believe ya. And I think we’re ready we’re ready for take off. Rouge, we’ll see you back at Tails’ place?”

“Sure thing, tiger – or wolf, in your case,” the white-furred female batted a turquoise eye lid at the transformed hero, before taking off in a near-soundless beating of black bat wings. She disappeared into the dark midnight sky quickly; an ability inherited from her feral ancestors which had apparently survived the changes evolution had put her species through marvellously well. Shadow knew Rouge flew fast, and while she would not be able to keep up with a jet, she shouldn’t arrive much later. He briefly wondered what his top speed might be if he ever learned to use his wings correctly…

“Oy! You falling asleep in there? Get her in the air!” Sonic snipped his clawed fingers and brought Shadow back to reality. The black hedgehog blinked.

“Yes. Starting the plane.” He quickly reached for the switchboard. “This one first, right?”

“Uh, no,” Sonic said, “This one was the rocket turbo I told you about, rememb-”

That was about as far as he came before the plane shot off screaming.




Far higher in the heavens than the two hedgehogs travelling in the jet plane, Angel Island and its Guardian still floated silently through the skies. But despite the serene appearance, the images the Master Emerald showed the last of the echidna were anything but peaceful now that night had fallen…


He saw darkness, blood and pain. The moon bathing a landscape as a wolf howled mournfully into the silent night. The moon seemed to turn into a bright blue gem and fell from the sky. The sun raced to take its pale sister’s place, burning away the darkness as the high-pitched screech of a hunting bird rang out across the land.

Then a black blot appeared in the centre of the sun, expanding slowly until the sun was consumed in dark, inky corruption.


The bird and the wolf both shrieked as if they were both in the grip of intolerable pain and overwhelming loss. The ground began to buckle, then seemed to shatter like glass... 


Knuckles cried out, snapping violently out of his meditative state and breaking the connection. He fell backwards and lay for a moment on the cold stone, his muscles trembling. He closed his eyes, breathing hard as though he had just run a foot-race against Sonic.


Shaken, he decided that perhaps it would be best if he just lay here for awhile. After all, who didn’t need some peace and quiet now and then…?


To be continued in Part 2…



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