Advent of Equinox by Skyblaze, Taranea

Chapter 5: Fly in the Freedom

Chapter 5: Fly in the Freedom




The loud protest was not exactly dignified, coming as it did from the Ultimate Lifeform, but at the moment he felt he had good reason - as he was starting to feel like a plucked chicken.


"Stop being such a big baby," Rouge tsk'd as another black feather fluttered to the ground, "These bent feathers need to be removed, or you won't be able to fly properly."


Shadow growled. All in all, the entire experience was more than humiliating. He was forced to stand with his feet apart, wings outstretched and arms hanging down at his sides while Rouge, Tails and, worst of all, Sonic, swarmed over his pinions with soft cloths, coating his feathers in a fine layer of oil.


Strangely, though it was embarrassing, it wasn't all that uncomfortable. Tails and especially Sonic were being very conscientious about his new appendages and some of the contact verged on being actually pleasant - not that he would mention that to them, of course.


After what felt like an eternity, Rouge stepped back, inspecting his wings with a soft, speculative, 'Hmm'. "I think that should do for now." A wicked grin formed on her face, the tips of her fangs poking out in a profoundly unnerving fashion. "Now, time to try them out."


The look on Sonic's face clearly said 'This should be fun.' even though the blue speedster hadn't said a word. Shadow was also quite sure that the rest of the hedgehog's body language was roughly translatable to 'I'll laugh my spines off if you manage another pratfall', but inwardly swore that this time, he would stay clear of that cursed poplar.


"So, the roof again?" Tails asked. Rouge looked up at it thoughtfully, then nodded.


"Yeah, that should do the trick."


It was only by a monumental exercise of will that Shadow resisted the urge to facepalm.




"What am I doing up here again?" Shadow asked pointedly of Rouge, "You don't need height to get airborne."


Rouge gave a world-weary sigh and turned to the black hedgehog, "Shadow, I've carried you several times and you weigh a ton. You may have noticed that your wings are bigger than mine, that's because they need to be to even get you off the ground. I'm a bat; my species has had millions of years of evolution to make us light and maneuverable. You, on the other hand, are a genetically-engineered hedgehog with some added extras.”


Tails took a sudden, surprised breath, looking between the white bat and black hedgehog as they stared at each other, waiting for the explosion he was sure would come.


It didn't.


"Point taken." Shadow replied evenly, "Please continue."


Tails stared in astonishment for a second, and then looked at his brother, but all Sonic could was answer back with another shrug, also declaring that for him there were three things non-understandable in the universe, those including girls, quantum physics and black hedgehogs in general.


Rouge smiled at Shadow, and then held out her hands, "Well, you already know how to control those wings of yours a little, so I'll skip right on to the intermediate class." Shadow nodded in approval. "The air is sort of like water when you're swimming - it doesn't matter how deep the water is because you're only using the top bit of it anyway. And like in water, you need to start off by moving your wings in a circle pattern - that'll stir up the air around you and give you some lift. Watch."


She turned around to show Shadow her own wings and, true to her words, she moved them in an odd motion, the tips of them moving back, out and forwards again.


"See what I mean? Now, you try."


Awkwardly, Shadow imitated the motion, muscles unused to such action pinging slightly in protest, but the longer he kept it going, the easier it became. Wind stirred up around him, and he found himself automatically leaning forward to counterbalance himself as the air swirled. Tails had jumped into the air to avoid being knocked off the roof by the backwash; Sonic had just dropped into a half-crouch, his weight shifted forward so the rubber grips of his sneakers squeaked over the roof tiles, holding him in place. For a moment, Shadow caught Sonic's gaze, his eyes sparkled with excitement but there was something else hidden in those verdant depths, something Shadow couldn't recognise, the crazed blue hedgehog was grinning broadly, and - not for the first time - Shadow wondered why exactly he needed an audience.


Rouge nodded in approval, "Good," she said, "You're getting the hang of it," she complimented him, "But remember to keep your wings outstretched, or they won't catch the air currents properly."


"How exactly do I do that?" he demanded, a slight edge of frustration in his rough voice.


"Easy - imagine that your wings are like your hands - stretch them out like you would your fingers." She demonstrated by splaying her fingers wide like someone preparing to play the piano. Shadow frowned in concentration for a moment, then, with the sound of ruffling feathers, his wings spread further. He stood there in the sun for a moment, looking for all the world like an image in a stained glass window. Sonic took a sudden sharp breath at the sight.


"What's next?" Shadow asked calmly, ignoring the other hedgehog behind him and the fox hovering somewhere above.


"Oh, the next bit is the fun bit," Rouge cooed, "Move your wings like I told you, then take a run and jump off the roof - that should get you airborne."


Shadow stared, "…that was a joke." His words were a flat statement.


Rouge grinned.


The Ultimate Lifeform's genetically engineered heart sank into his jet shoes.

Sighing deeply, Shadow slowly, step by step, backed up to the far edge of the roof. Rouge and Tails were overhead, Sonic seemed to have vanished - he had probably got bored. He felt an inexplicable flash of hurt at that thought, that the blue speedster didn't even view him as interesting enough to watch. He quickly suppressed the traitorous feeling, though.


Dismissing everything else from his mind, he focused on the horizon. Once more he felt that odd yearning, the need to soar high up into the powder-blue skies. Remembering everything Rouge had taught him and all he had learned from the painful experience yesterday, he ignited his jet shoes and began to propel himself forward, his wings moving as he did so, powerful gusts of wind stirring up the dust and stray leaves in the air. The roof edge approached and he braced himself, his wings stretching out to their fullest extent as they sought to catch the air currents he had stirred up. For a moment, he felt he had failed but then…


A gust of air rushed across his feathers, he felt himself lifted, cradled by the wind as earth and sky rushed past. Astonishment and joy filled him as a single beat of his powerful wings lifted him higher.


He was flying.


"That was wonderful, Shadow!" Rouge's voice broke into his thoughts. He turned his head for just a moment to see the bat flying along beside him, her much smaller wings having to beat five times for every single beat of his.


"Thank you, Rouge," he said, and could feel a tiny, unaccustomed smile creep onto his face even as he said it. Then he saw what was up ahead, "How do I turn?" he asked urgently when he saw the trees looming in front of them not wishing for a repeat of yesterday's exercise.


"Use your legs like a rudder, shift them right to go left and left to go right and then just lean on into the turn. Watch me." Exaggerating her movements so Shadow would get the best idea, Rouge moved her legs to the left, shifting the rest of her body weight to the right so she swooped into a tight right-hand turn.


"Just like an Extreme Gear, then" he muttered, pleased that there was at last something familiar for him to use. Shifting his centre of balance was second nature to him, after all. With that knowledge helping him, plus Rouge's helpful example, he turned a smooth U-turn in the air, the very tips of his wings brushing the leaves on the trees.


"Rouge…" he said in a low voice, "This is…" He couldn't find the words to express how this felt to him, how wonderful it was now he finally had some control.


"I know, honey." She smiled back at him, "I know."


There was a noise somewhere behind him; he could hear it even over the roar of the wind in his ears. It was faint hissing whine that had a distinct electronic overtone, and it sounded vaguely familiar.


He banked left in a slow circle to take a look, and to his surprise he saw Sonic, balanced on his Extreme Gear, his trademark grin firmly in place as he followed along behind.


"Hey! Lookin' good, Shads!" Sonic said, almost shouting over the rushing wind.


"What are you doing, Sonic?" Shadow called back, startled to find that his altered voice carried better in these conditions than his normal one would have.


"It looked like fun, so I thought I'd join in," Sonic laughed, and then a slightly concerned expression crossed his face for a moment, "You don't mind, do ya?"


"Would it matter if I did?" Shadow said, though his tone lacked some of its usual bite.

Sonic took that as an invitation, sliding his board up so he was level with Shadow. The blue speedster slyly glanced at him, "Wanna race, Shads? It'll be just like old times."


"Even if we had any 'old times', Faker - which we don't - how exactly am I supposed to race you when I'm like this?"


Sonic's eyes sparkled in a truly infuriating way, "What's the matter, Shads, those fancy shoes of your broken or somethin'? All ya need is a little bit of thrust…"


Torn between the urge to laugh at Sonic's pathetic attempt to goad him and the urge to growl at the reminder about the state of his Chaos powers, he instead elected to do neither. His shoes were still functioning, requiring only minimal power compared to any of his other abilities so he easily had enough energy stored in his own body to power them for a decent length of time.


He focused the Chaos now, channeling it into his shoes, returning Sonic's grin with a defiant smirk as he released it, tensing his wings in preparation for the slight jolt.


As it turned out, 'slight' was not exactly the word for what he received.


A blaze of golden energy haloed him as he suddenly shot forwards at incredible velocity - almost comparable to his normal ground cruising speed. Sparks of yellow-orange fire trailed from the tips of his wings as he hurtled through the air. He couldn't even cry out, there had been no time for surprise. Even amidst his shock, he felt an inexplicable warmth fill him as the amber pendant around his neck started to glow brighter and brighter. Somewhere distantly, he could hear Rouge and Sonic calling his name.


Nearly panicking, he tried to damp the chaos power rushing to his legs, even as he almost instinctively pulled his wings up and angled them forward to act like air-brakes. As he corrected the flow, he realised that this wasn't Chaos energy, it was something… else. It was as wild and powerful as Chaos, but somehow hotter, more primal - more ancient.


Flapping his trembling wings slowly, he let himself drop back down to the ground, somehow managing to prevent his knees from buckling when he touched down, his heart hammering in his chest.


Rouge, Tails and Sonic all rushed over to him, the bat and the hedgehog babbling questions about the state of his health, while Tails was silently scanning him with some odd hand-held device.


Sonic blew out an explosive breath, "Chaos, Shadow, what was that?"


"It wasn't Chaos." Shadow muttered, still trying to maintain his usual impassive façade and failing.


"Huh?" Rouge asked, her brow creasing in a frown.


"He's right, guys," Tails spoke up, "That energy discharge we saw was Gaia Energy, not Chaos."

Sonic made a thoughtful noise, "Hm, yeah, you might be right. Sure didn't feel like Chaos Energy."

Shadow looked sharply at him, "Is this what you meant about getting something in return for losing my Chaos Power?"


Sonic smiled slightly sheepishly as he leaned against his Extreme Gear, which had been set end-up in the soft grass, "I wasn't sure what you'd get, but I figured you would get somethin'."


Shadow's eyes narrowed, "Because you did." he said flatly, referring obliquely to the weird extending arms the werehog had.


Sonic shrugged casually, an echo of something dark behind his eyes, "You ain't seen me fight as the werehog yet."


Shadow silently translated that to mean that there was more to Sonic's transformed state than a shaggy pelt and elastic arms. The two hedgehogs regarded each other silently for a moment, assessing each other, as if trying to seek truth from the other's eyes.


"Hey, fellas," Rouge broke the spell, "We going to finish these flying lessons or what?"


"Yes," Shadow said, tearing his gaze away from Sonic, "What do you have planned next, Rouge?"


The lessons continued, but all four of them were wary now. It fell to Rouge and Sonic to rescue Shadow from any aerial mishaps, since Tails was entirely focused on the scanning device he kept pointing in Shadow's direction. Rouge showed him how to manoeuvre in the air, how to dive, how to safely carry someone else - Sonic had been happy enough to be the demonstration model for that one, since he was used to having Tails carry him, and Shadow had many times the little's fox's strength, Sonic was in no danger of falling. They even had a little fun at some point – with all four of them now airborne, at one point the lesson dissolved into a game of aerial tag for a few, light-hearted moments, the four of them chasing each other around the powder-blue sky of the Mystic ruins, swooping, diving, sailing, gliding and laughing. Even Shadow (who probably viewed it less as a game and more as just another training opportunity) couldn't help but let his lips twitch more than once, his red eyes gleaming in a way that Sonic wondered could perhaps indicate an inner amusement. The game was fun for everyone – Tails was the most maneuverable and Sonic the fastest, with Rouge having the most experience and Shadow the largest wingspan and most power in the air. It ended when Shadow managed a gust of wind that knocked a surprised Sonic clear off his Extreme Gear, even if the blue hero merely went into a somersault and landed on the roof gracefully – and then Rouge declared that it was time for Shadow to learn how to use his wings in a fight.


The theory was fairly simple. They had set up a simple dummy-like figure on the ground. The thing was poorly put together since it had been assembled in haste - Tails had commented that it resembled a scarecrow or perhaps the monster-like puppets they had found in Robotnik's old base long ago when they had had to fight him because he had released Chaos from the Master Emerald. Shadow's job now was to do a swooping dive and slash at the dummy with his talons.


Easy enough in theory, but considering the run of luck he had been having lately, he wasn't entirely sure he wouldn't end up eating turf - or the scarecrow. Carefully, he circled his target, trying to feel the air currents as they flowed around him. He took a couple of deep, calming breaths, then he tightened his muscles and let his wings close slightly, causing him to dive down towards the ground at incredible speed. As he swooped past, at the last possible instant, he reached out with his taloned hand to swipe at the dummy.


There was a sudden blaze of yellow light as his claws impacted, a trail of gold fire following the path of his hand, slicing easily through the scarecrow and arcing down to burn four perfectly parallel lines in the grass.


Everyone fell silent for a moment as scraps of fabric and stuffing drifted through the air like snowflakes.


"Cool," Sonic said, finally.


Shadow slowly descended back to earth, his wings folding neatly onto his back. He glanced at his transformed hand curiously, "Interesting," he said quietly. It wasn't quite a Chaos Spear, but it was better than nothing.


"So, you and fly and you can fight, but can you crow?" Sonic said his eyes full of mischief as he brought his Extreme Gear in for a landing, hopping off it with expert grace.


Shadow narrowed his eyes, "If that's another bird joke, Faker, I swear I will…"


"It's a reference to 'Peter Pan', Shadow. Sonic's just trying to be funny. Again," Tails interjected before violence could break out.




Sonic just grinned and turned to Tails and Rouge, "So, what now, team?" he asked, dusting himself off.


"Well, the readings I've got from the Emerald so far are faint, but it looks like there's one over in White Acropolis," Tails replied.


Rouge raised an eyebrow, "Coincidentally, that's also where GUN Intelligence placed Robotnik's last known location."


"Two birds with one stone, huh?" Sonic said, "Sounds pretty good. Are you guys coming along?"

Tails shook his head, "I'm gonna try and find that asteroid or whatever it was that blocked out the sun yesterday. GUN lost track of it, but maybe I can pick it up again." The kit's expression twisted into a frown that gave him a scholarly look far beyond his years, "I've got a weird feeling it's important, somehow."


Sonic nodded, used to trusting his brother's judgement, "Ok lil bro. What about you, Rouge?"


The bat smirked at him, "You're also trying to track down the rest of the Chaos Emeralds, right? Well, it just so happens that I'm pretty good at finding shiny rocks, so how about I try and have a look around for the other five?" One turquoise eyelid flickered at him in a fast wink, her smirk still in place.


"Good point," Shadow agreed, "Provided you don't get distracted and accidentally put them in your private collection," the black hedgehog finished dryly.


Rouge laughed; a rich, deep sound and gave Shadow a fond look. Sonic tried to ignore the way his insides seemed to twist when Shadow returned it.


"Yeah, with the Emeralds being drained the way they are, and the planet's Chaos energy in flux, I'm not getting the same kind of clear readings I usually do. Rouge might be our best bet right now," Tails said awkwardly, looking slightly guilty.


"This does mean you boys will be out in the field by yourselves," Rouge pointed out.


Sonic and Shadow regarded each other for a long moment, then Sonic broke into a grin, "Sounds like fun!"


Shadow sighed.




The air in White Acropolis had a sodden chill to it when the two hedgehogs arrived in the mountainous region. Though at the moment the place was less 'White Acropolis' than 'Grey-brown Acropolis'. It was the end of the summer thaw, and the dozens of little streams that slalomed down the mountainsides were running bank-full, cutting broad, wet tracks through the snow the region was named for. Spiky, jagged rocks rose out from what remained of the slushy snow, their surfaces slick with icy water.


It had taken them roughly an hour to get there, Shadow now actually able to keep up with Sonic as long as the blue hedgehog didn't attempt to break the sound barrier. 


Sonic paused once again to grab hold of his leg and pull his foot out of a patch of soupy muck; it came loose with a wet popping noise. His red sneakers were now covered in brown sludge, but he actually felt kind of lucky he hadn't lost his shoes entirely to the sucking swampy depths. He shook his head; running was impossible here - as he had quickly discovered - the valleys were too saturated with water. He looked up, eying the rocks and wondering if climbing would actually work any better - at least that way he wouldn't be in danger of having his footwear disappear.


A large, dark shape passed over him, causing him to look up to see Shadow the winged hedgehog flying easily on the thermals as he soared over the mud and snow and water, effortlessly scouting the area. Sonic glared at him and, even though he knew the black hedgehog couldn't see him right now, he stuck his tongue out in a gesture of pure childishness.


Feeling slightly better, he swung up onto one of the rocks, and promptly felt a sudden sharp pain blossom in his hand. He pulled it back and saw that the sharp edge of the rock had sliced neatly into his palm, straight through the gloves he had put fresh on this morning. Absently, he began to wonder if the bad luck Shadow seemed to have been suffering lately was actually contagious.


"Enjoying yourself, Faker?" Shadow's mocking voice came from above him. Glancing upwards, Sonic saw the other hedgehog was circling him slowly, a smug smirk on his face.

Apparently Karma had a sense of humour.

Sonic, rather than get into yet another argument with the Ultimate Lifeform (which he most likely would lose...), chose to simply ask another question.


"You see anything yet?"


"Yes," Shadow replied, "The base is about half a mile up the main slope. Looks like he's moved the entrance, but that shouldn't be a problem."


"Heh, no. I've never had trouble getting into one of Eggman's fortresses," Sonic grinned.


"Strange that the Doctor chose to come back here. This base hasn't been used in almost two years," Shadow mused, sailing just in front of Sonic as the blue hedgehog laboriously hauled himself up and over the rocks.


Sonic shrugged, "I trashed his stuff up pretty bad last time. Even ole Eggman only has so many resources."


"Hm," Shadow said thoughtfully, "So this was his fallback position. It's isolated and difficult to get to by normal transportation, and the heavy metal deposits in the mountains disrupt radio transmissions. Makes sense for him to hide here."


"Whatever you say, Shads," Sonic grunted, not paying full attention as he tried to find a foothold on the slippery rock. His sneakers were not exactly designed as climbing boots - quite the opposite in fact. His shoes had been specifically designed to reduce friction, not increase it. And now that he had decided to climb up a sixty foot cliff, the handholds and footholds were getting harder and harder to find. It didn't help that the cut in his palm was causing his hand to throb painfully. The hero of Mobius gritted his teeth and continued to pull himself up. He had been through much worse than this. But suddenly, with a squeak, one foot lost grip on the wet rock, and he found that the other foot was slowly losing purchase as well it was forced to hold up all his weight alone. The familiar jolt of adrenaline hit his system as soon as his precious balance was gone and his fingers instinctively tried to dig deeper into the stone wall, but to no avail.




With a gasp, Sonic's foot slid off the rock entirely to dangle helplessly, his fingers clinging desperately to the sharp edge of a last crevice. Part of his brain screamed at him not to look down… but he did anyway.


The ground seemed to plummet further away until all he could see was a long, long tumble with jagged rocks the only thing there to break his fall. His fingers strained, the hedgehog feeling like the tendons beneath the torn gloves and taut skin were about the break, or his nails to crack, the slice in his palm a thin flame of agony. His feet bicycled uselessly in the air, desperate to find a foothold, dislodging pebbles and stray flakes of half-melted snow. It had been a while since he had experienced a situation like this, Tails usually there to save-


A fierce, vice-like grip suddenly tightened around Sonic's wrist, lifting him bodily up out of harm’s way and up to the top of the cliff. Looking up in surprise, he saw Shadow, one taloned hand wrapped tightly around his peach-furred arm.


“Idiot,” Shadow growled as he set the blue hedgehog down. “You could have been killed.”


“Aww, I didn’t know you cared, Shads.” Sonic said as he dusted himself off with an admirable display of nonchalance. It was feigned, of course. Inside he was still shuddering, since as his fingers had slowly lost their grip a vivid memory returned to haunt him in full Technicolor surround-sound. A memory from the first time he had gone up against Robotnik, when a mis-timed jump had left him dangling equally helplessly over a spike trap – only that time there had been no-one there to pull him to safety and he had fallen. By sheer luck, he hadn’t been too badly injured, but the spike had grazed his leg deeply, just below the hip. Using his spin-dash had been such agony that he had barely bothered… but he had won in the end. Even though he had needed to spend a month almost bedridden afterwards.


Suppressing the memory with the ease of long practice, Sonic looked over to the long plateau which was dotted with metal barriers, spike traps and tall observation towers as well as the expected patrols of robots. At the end of that long, intimidating stretch was where Robotnik’s base sat, its grey metal almost blending in to the darker granite of the rocks around it. Two huge, thick metal doors had been cut into the mountainside, looming over the plateau ominously, the logo of a maniacally grinning face stamped onto them proclaiming the owner of this place loud and clear, the rictus grin silently foreshadowing the fate of anyone stupid enough to try and gain entry.


“Huh. You were right, Shads. Wayyyy too easy,” Sonic scoffed. It would take him maybe five minutes to get through all that. If he was going slowly and took time to wreck all the robots.


Shadow nodded, and then gestured with one clawed hand, “It appears the real entrance is concealed on the west face.”


They both moved over to take a closer look, squinting against the sun to discern the steel doors welded into the mountainside and Sonic noted that the apparent gate was well concealed… and apparently only accessible by air as it was more than a hundred feet high and had no convenient  ramps leading up to it this time.


Chaos, doesn't this guy have any idea about fair level design?


Sonic looked up at the darker hedgehog – who had apparently just realised the same thing.

“Any chance of a lift there, Shads?” Sonic smirked.


“Do I have a choice?” the Ultimate Lifeform responded automatically, though there wasn't any real bite to his tone this time. When Sonic didn't say anything else, he merely spread his wings dutifully, the black and white pinions briefly throwing a shadow over the pair, before he one, two, three powerful wingbeats that lifted him off the ground. The air whooshed past Sonic and let his quills rustle, the blue hedgehog briefly closing his eyes like someone enjoying the breeze at the coast might have done. He seemed almost....blissful...

Shadow quickly shook his head at this nonsense thought, again ignoring that feeling that tried to creep up in his stomach everytime he saw Sonic just smiling and enjoying a private moment of peace. Circling overhead, Shadow just looked at him for a moment. Despite Sonic’s completely untrammeled enthusiasm, the blue speedster was not exactly looking his best. His shoes were covered in mud, looking a pale brown instead of their usual cherry red. His gloves were filthy, and one had splotches of reddish-brown where he had clearly injured himself. A flicker of concern travelled through Shadow’s mind and was quickly suppressed.


“Hold up your hands.” Shadow instructed gruffly. Emerald eyes opened with that characteristic twinkle of mischievousness, but the younger hedgehog nevertheless raised his arms obediently, stretching them toward the winged Ultimate Lifeform swooping down.

“Hold on tight!” Shadow called, much like Rouge sometimes did when she had flown in to collect him, and their coordination worked perfectly. Taloned hands closed securely around peach wrists, Sonic's gloved fingers gripping his own forearms in a tight lock, being careful not to tighten his grip too much, lest his talons start sinking into Sonic’s vulnerable flesh.


Again, Shadow could feel that peculiar tingle race up his arms at Sonic's touch, the Chaos stored in that lithe blue body exciting his own that was forced to lay near dormant during the day. Before he could even think about that, however, the breeze and his own wingbeats had already taken them off the rock precipice. Sneakered feet had left the ground now, blue legs dangling uselessly in the air.

“Okay, let's make for the door!” Sonic smiled up at him before winking “Don't drop me, right?”

“Make a couple more bird jokes and I'll think about it,” Shadow replied dryly, before concentrating on their flight path again. The winds at this altitude were treacherous and now he had added weight. Although...Sonic wasn't that heavy...

No wonder, he's almost pure fur and muscle, Shadow's inner voice added in his brain unbidden, the black hedgehog looking down for a moment at the lithe body dangling below him, stretched out in this precarious position, making for a near perfect display of every single toned limb.

Sonic looked up, then and Shadow found that he was staring right into Sonic’s eyes. The blue hero was staring back up at him with an expression Shadow couldn’t define, but still left him feeling slightly shaken, his heart thumping erratically in his chest. The Ultimate Lifeform rapidly looked up again and tried to concentrate on the clouds or something.


Sonic himself was basically unaware of any ogling going on above him, merely trying to hold on to his - currently literal - guardian angel. Being carried by Shadow was different from being carried by Tails, and it made for an added tingle of nervousness – and excitement. Sonic was used to the smooth helicopter flight of his kid brother, yet the small drops in altitude and the flurries of wind emanating from his wingbeats tickling his fur as they whirled past him, giving him unfamiliar, but not unpleasant goosebumps, were an entirely new experience.


Sonic briefly looked down again and wished he hadn't. He was far from being afraid of heights, but there's scarcely anyone who liked looking at his potential, pointy death below, so he thought he was excused.  Nevertheless, he unconsciously tightened his grip on Shadow's wrists, trying to focus on the steel door in the rock that was rapidly drawing closer.


“Hey, you'll be cutting off the blood circulation in my hands. You aren't...scared, are you?”

Shadow's voice suddenly cut into his thoughts, and emerald eyes looked up, blinking as the hero of Mobius met the gaze of the Ultimate Lifeform and could hardly believe it – was that a smile tugging at the edge of Shadow's lips?


“, 'course not,” Sonic was quick to reply, shaking his head a little. Which was only the truth. Above him, Shadow's powerful wings were nearly blocking out the sun, and the black hedgehog's body was aligned like an arrow, nearing in on their goal. Beneath those pinions, Sonic nearly felt...comforted...


He actually looks really awesome when he's flying, shot through his head, and he didn't have a way to word it otherwise. And even if he was currently completely at Shadow's mercy, he wasn't worried. The other would never let him drop.


A brief smile flitted over Sonic's face, the blue hero himself slightly surprised at the trust he felt around Shadow. Did it have to do with their shared fate of being forced to transform? Or maybe it was something else entirely...


“How are you going to open the door?” Shadow asked suddenly, breaking into Sonic’s thoughts.


“Throw me.” Sonic replied.




“Throw me. I’ll spin-dash and smash it open.”


“And if I miss?”


“You won’t miss.” Sonic said confidently. Then his voice dropped to almost a whisper, “I trust you, Shadow.”


There was a long pause, then Shadow tensed his muscles, swung his arms so Sonic swayed like a pendulum for a moment before he heaved him forwards with all his strength, sending the blue hero hurtling towards the door.


“Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh!” Sonic cried.


To Be Continued…


Author’s Note: Sorry this has taken so long! Taranea and I have been insanely busy! But don’t worry, the next chapter after this will come along pretty soon. And expect MUCH more action in the next chapter. Robots, fights, transformations and threats - all coming up soon!

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