Advent of Equinox by Skyblaze, Taranea

Recap time

Recap time!


When we last left our heroes, they were heading into the Arctic to recover a Chaos Emerald that Tails had located somewhere in the vicinity. Things are complicated by the fact that a) Shadow turns into a kite by day and Sonic into a wolf at night, which seems to indicate that something has once again destroyed the balance of Light and Dark Gaia, turning Sonic (and this time Shadow as well)

once again into the avatars of those forces to restore the harmony of the life energy of the planet.


To that end, they are now hunting down the seven Emeralds which had solved this problem the last time, but as an unexpected variable, Shadow clones of an unknown origin have also started to attack. Could Robotnik possibly have built them? Right now, Shadow and Sonic in his wolf form just fought one of them in the arctic snow, but that fight ended abruptly when our heroes heard a noise and discovered they had had a very unlikely audience...


Chapter Nine: Unlikely Allies


“What,” Shadow said in a very flat tone, “is that.


“Uh,” Sonic stared at the small group that, compared to Robotnik's latest contraptions, resembled more a horrific lovechild between a paint store and a junkyard sale. He looked at Shadow.

“...have you ever heard of the term 'classic badniks'?”


“Classic whatnow?” Shadow asked, his frown switching between irritation and just plain confusion as he beheld the half a dozen small...things looking up at them from behind a snowdrift. He understood that they were some sort of robots, but the Ultimate Lifeform also figured that he hadn't yet seen any robots designed to look like, well, adorkable insect critters.


“Badniks,” Sonic repeated again. “Basically, Robuttnik's earliest attempts at killer robots.”


“Killer...robots,” Shadow said. As he spoke, something like a screw fell out of the purple thing resembling a bat.


Different times, okay?” Sonic shot back, no idea why he was suddenly feeling almost defensive of the things that had tried to kill him for the better part of his childhood. “If I remember correctly, those are called Moto-bug,” - he indicated the red thing that vaguely looked like an evil ladybug on wheels - “Caterkiller, pardon the bad pun -”


“Hey!” the green, yes, caterpillar-shaped badnik complained,


“Bat brain, that's the purple one, buzz bomber, I think they named a variety show after those,” Sonic said, gesturing first at the worryingly lilac-coloured thing that reminded Shadow of a sort of homicidal mixer that someone had stuck wings to, and then at something that looked like a robot bee with a construction helmet and didn't that say something about Robotnik's state of mind even five years ago, “That one's burrobot, he was always pretty useless – sorry, buddy, but that's the truth-”


“It''s okay...” a small voice said, which belonged to a little, yellow and blue badnik that looked like a sad, anthropomorphized trainee tank wearing a baseball cap. It hung its head a little.


“And that,” Sonic said, triumphantly pointing at the last one of the bunch, “is, uh...” for the first time, the hero of Mobius faltered a little,  “It's, crabby....something-”


“It's crabmeat!” an apparently rather, well, crabby, red and white robot resembling a certain seafood screeched, angrily waving one of its claws at the werehog. “And you could at least have remembered my name, you-!”


Right,” Shadow said, his tone suggesting that he was trying to keep this situation out of the ridiculous and failing, and that this was not improving his mood, “And what are they doing here?”


“Well, we were saving your hide,” one of them, the...purple vampire mixer...piped up, flapping its wings a bit awkwardly as if it by now wasn't so sure that that had been such a great idea any more.


Shadow raised an eye ridge. “Excuse me?”


“Wait,” Sonic interrupted him. “That was you who called out to warn me of that Shadow clone?”


“Well, yeah. I, uh, told my friends here you might not smash us?” Bat Brain asked, apparently trying a strained smile with a mouth that had only ever been engineered to be an angry snarl. Judging from Sonic and Shadow's slightly alarmed expressions as he tried to favour them with it, it wasn't a great success.


“It is you, right? Sonic?” The one called Moto-bug asked at this point, its voice scratchy and distorted as it was apparently the most badly damaged of the lot. “Ah'm sorry, mah optic sensors ain't what they used to be. But you looks...different.”


“Heh, yeah,” Sonic now actually gave a bit of a lop-sided smile, rubbing the back of his head a little, “I guess you wouldn't know, but we're currently dealing with this curse thing that transforms us every-”


“Yes, yes,” the old Moto-bug waved a dismissive scythe-arm, interrupting him and apparently not even listening, “ And ah right remember you used to be a lot fatter.”


At which point Sonic seemed to have a choking fit and Shadow considered a face-palm.


Excuse me?!”


“Don't listen to her! Don't listen to her!” The other badniks now swarmed frantically in front of the  Moto-bug, Bat Brain trying to cover Sonic's furious line of sight with his wings, “She's old, she doesn't know what she's saying!”


“Ah know what ah'm saying, sonny, and he was fat. Right and proper well-fed. Nothing like them noodly limbs of his and his friend there now, back then. Ah, they just dun make them anymore like they-”


“Sonic. I'm going to Chaos Blast the lot of them this instant if you don't give me one reason why I shouldn't,” Shadow grated between his teeth while the badniks were now scrambling to roll the elderly Moto-bug away and hastily re-assuring both hedgehogs that none of that was meant like it sounded, honest, both of them looked just like modern hedgehogs should, yessir, and could you pretty please not dissassemble them, that would be great, thanks.


“Yeah, I'm struggling to come up with one, too,” Sonic replied dryly, but then sighed. “But yeah, don't. They did try to help, after all.”


“They called the Ultimate Lifeform Noodle-limbs”, Shadow pointed out, but Sonic waved him off. “And they called me fat. I'm sure my frankly fabulous self-image will survive,” he said. He looked Shadow up and down and squinted slightly, then, "And hey, you are the ultimate lifeform after all,  ain't like you've got much to complain about in the department either," Sonic added in such a deceptively casual tone that Shadow almost didn't catch the meaning of his words, “Come on, let's find out what they're doing here, get what we came for and leave, kay?”


“Fine,” Shadow said, sounding as resigned as anyone spending longer periods of time with Sonic invariably did, still trying to puzzle out the meaning of Sonic's odd remark. Then he quirked an eye ridge.


“...were you, though?”


My weight as a twelve year old was absolutely fine,” Sonic managed to say that sentence wihtout actually separating his teeth. He turned his nose up and crossed his arms. “I just...hadn't hit my growth spurt yet, okay?”


“If you say so,” Shadow said, and Sonic wondered whether he had imagined the faintly amused undertone in the other's words. The hero of Mobius permitted himself a snort.


Heh. Shads actually friendly teasing me. World must be really ending, then.


Aloud, he cleared his throat and said, “Okay, you lot. No smashing time for now. Instead, wanna tell me what you're doing here?”


“Uh, right,” Bat Brain, who seemed to be the for the group, turned back to them. “Thank you. We're...not actually doing much here. As you can probably tell, we're from an old production line that was fitted with, as it turned out...slightly malfunctioning programming. As a result, we weren't, uh, he most effective of badniks,” the purple robot said, sounding a bit contrite. “Argued more about theoretical battle tactics than actually doing anything to stop you, for instance, no thanks to some members of the team,” Bat Brain said, shooting a side glance at the robot crab. It glared and crossed its claws in some sort of mechanical pout.

“But yes. Back then, when you had run through Mystic Cave Zone for the third time and Doctor Robotnik once again found all the other badniks destroyed except for us, and you still alive because we had once again just missed you...well...”


“He tried to destroy us himself,” Buzz Bomber said darkly. “We fled.”


“We found the robot version of the Town Musicians of Bremen. This day is getting better and better,” Shadow muttered under his breath, before for the first time addressing the assembled robots directly. “Okay, so you defied your creator and made for the hills,” he said, crossing his arms. “Why come here?” he asked, suspicion barely veiled in his words.


The badniks looked at him. Then the caterpillar turned to the others and asked,

“Okay, so has anybody any idea who he is?”


“Never seen him before,” the crab replied. “Looks like one of those black hedgehog things, though.”


“Yeah, Sonic, didja tame one of them? That's so cool!” the burrobot piped up, its light voice now sounding positively awed as it looked up at the blue hedgehog, “...though this one doesn't look as clever or dangerous as the other ones. Does it have faulty programming, too?” the small robot asked, peering curiously at Shadow.


“Yes, I think I can see why the Doctor wanted to incinerate the lot of them,” the Ultimate Lifeform said dryly to his blue-furred partner, who, annoyingly, now seemed to have some odd facial twitching going on and suspiciously trembling shoulders. “Stop giggling.”


“I'm...I'm sorry...!” Sonic managed, but of course only got so far before he now burst into laughter regardless. Shadow internally counted to ten and thought of the fact that Maria probably wouldn't approve of him grievously harming anyone who simply seemed to be cursed with a lack of basic self-preservation instinct.


“You will not insult me by presuming I am one of those things,” Shadow said instead, stepping forward and feeling inwardly pleased at how the badniks immediately shut up and scrambled to attention at his tone, “My name is Shadow the Hedgehog, and I am the Ultimate Lifeform, bioengineered by the brilliant ancestor of your bumbling creator,” he snapped his fingers and enjoyed the mechanical gasps at the small emerald flame that sprang to life in his palm.


“ These creatures that look like me are inferior copies with a bastardized purpose. I was made to protect this planet and command the power of Chaos, and anyone who dares to oppose or ridicule me will be destroyed.” He bent forward, until blazing red eyes were at a level with cartoony black and white optic sensors. “Did I make myself clear?


There was the sound of five badniks frantically attempting something that resembled a nod. Shadow decided to ignore the sixth one, the Moto-bug who now appeared to be taking the mechanic equivalent of a nap, and also the little burrobot who said something like 'I think I liked Sonic more' in a very tiny whisper.


“Right,” Sonic nodded. (and tried not to think of how a small part of him had noted that whenever Shadow got as serious as that, it was also seriously hot...) “Glad that's settled, then. Okay, so now that we're all introduced, wanna telling us now why you're here? And why you called out to me?”


“Well...” Bat Brain seemed to give the winged equivalent of a shrug. “Mostly, it was coincidence. We headed for the Arctic circle, because we assumed there would be less people who could have a grudge against old badniks. We tried to keep to ourselves, we really did, but sometimes, we, well...sometimes one of us would break and...see...”


“And you stole parts from the village to repair yourselves,” Shadow, who at times could piece things together eerily quickly supplied, crossing his arms. “That right?”


“We didn't have another choice,” the caterpillar robot said, sullenly, looking up at both of them. “You can't destroy someone just because they were doing what they had to continue to function.”


“Believe me, if I had this my way, we couldn't possibly be less interested in petty theft,” Shadow muttered, but Sonic ignored him.


“Okay, so that's one mystery solved. And no, we're not going to smash you because you stole, but you will have to work something out with the villagers,” the transformed hero said, “If you're scared they will try to take you apart, we can put in a good word for you so you might be able to come to an arrangement where you work for the things you need-”


“-if you give us the information we need and then not distract us from our mission,” Shadow cut in glibly. “Have you seen anyone else here, looking for something?”


“No one, apart from those things that look like you. We've been trying to stay out of their way, but even if they don't seem to talk, they do seem to be searching for something,” Bat Brain said, before it slightly tilted its head. “That...what you're all looking for, it wouldn't happen to be a Chaos Emerald, would it?”


“Why would you think we're looking for an Emerald?” Shadow asked, red eyes immediately narrowed in suspicion. The little burrobot shrugged its mechanical shoulders.


“It's Sonic,” it explained. “That's all he ever does, isn't it?”


“First they call me chubby, then they say I'm unoriginal. After this, I'll need some serious ego-stroking,” the blue hero muttered, at the same time trying not to appear too miffed that it was now Shadow who seemed to have trouble to suppress a snort. 


“You're his creatures. Do you think the clones are something the Doctor built?” the black hedgehog asked then, eying the badniks sharply.


“No,” the catepillar shook its head. “We don't think so. They...sort of lack his touch.”


“If you mean they don't fall apart after one spin-dash, then you would be right,” Shadow said, ignoring the collective bristling of the badniks at his remark. “Alright,” he said, dismissively, “Then we're done here. You can scatter.”


“What? But-!”


“We don't need an audience for what we're going to do,” the black hedgehog said, irritably. “If you want to be helpful at all, you can go and keep an eye out for more of those clones, but I don't want you hanging around here.”


“One moment,” Sonic said, grabbing Shadow's arm and pulling him a few metres aside, the black hedgehog for once forced to yield to Sonic's superior strength easily, even as he was obviously irritated.




“Shadow, why are you sending them away?” Sonic hissed under his breath. “The Emerald is submerged in freaking ice water, we could ask them to get it for us.”


“For them to make away with it as soon as they have it, yes,” Shadow replied, and cut Sonic off before the blue hedgehog could protest. “Sonic, I don't trust them as far as I could throw them. They could be spies for the Doctor, they could be rigged with a self-destruct mechanism, they could steal that Emerald and fly away with it as soon as we've finally got our hands on it. No.”


Sonic stared at him for a moment, once again sharply struck by how little Shadow trusted anyone, and how much his heart ached when he thought of the events that had made him that way, “But...they don't seem like bad guys.” he said softly.


Shadow gave him a look. “You don't look like much of a hero in your current state,” he pointed out flatly.


“Low blow.” Sonic drew a little back from the hedgehog, his voice neutral, but his eyes...Shadow for a moment wondered why only looking at them now actually made him regret what he had just said, something slightly injured and vulnerable, like a wounded puppy.


This...dammit, Sonic, I didn't mean to-


“I...just don't want someone to get hurt,” Shadow said quietly, carefully not saying something else, namely something like you.. He looked at Sonic again. “You're too trusting sometimes, hedgehog.”


“If I hadn't trusted you not to backstab me back then aboard the ARK, we would never have been able to defeat the Biolizard,” Sonic pointed out, and it was a bit satisfying to see Shadow...not so much as flinch, exactly, but still look a bit awkwardly to the side. Sonic considered this. Shadow was a loner, someone who had possibly been burnt just one time too often in his short life, someone who was almost desperate to never have to rely on anybody because of it...


...and someone who trusted you to help him when Gaia let wings erupt from his back, a voice in Sonic's head supplied.


What would happen on the infinitesimally small chance that the badniks would betray them after Sonic had gotten Shadow to trust them?


Sonic took a breath and looked at the black hedgehog, “Okay, even considering we do send them away -  how are we supposed to get to the Emerald? I ain't going in there, that's for sure.”


Shadow regarded him for a moment, seeming...almost relieved? Grateful? Sonic wasn't sure, before the black hedgehog gave a dismissive handwave. “I can retrieve it. Water close to zero degrees usually kills humans from hyperthermia somewhere in between exposure for sixty to ninety minutes. I am not only the Ultimate Lifeform, but also expect to spend considerably less time submerged.”


Sonic blinked. He wasn't even going to mention how Shadow's continued display of knowledge relating to various causes of death was just a little bit this side of morbid, but he was also trying to ignore the knot of worry that seemed to have formed so instantly in his stomach at those words.


“Are you, uh, sure?”


“Happy? No. Sure? Yes,” Shadow replied. “The thing that actually makes me want to go through with this less than pleasant vision is the certainty that after we've retrieved the damn thing we can go home and leave this entire blasted snowscape behind. And the sooner I do that, the better. Now would you kindly ask our guests to leave?”


“...all right,” Sonic said reluctantly after a moment had passed. “But...if anything...I dunno, if you feel like you're starting to lose consciousness or anything, you come out, okay?”


“Yes, yes,” Shadow waved him off, irritably. “I should be able to sense the Emerald with accuracy and precision and be back before you know it. There's no need for fretting.”


“I don't fret,” Sonic lied, at the same time turning around abruptly and stalking back to the robots.

“Okay, I don't know whether you've heard anything of this, but me and Shads talked it over, and it would be best if you leave. Thanks for the heads-up earlier, but we're good on our own now.”


“What? You want to retrieve the Emerald alone...from in there?”  the buzz bomber asked, briefly glancing at the icy depths. “Are you-”


Yes, we're sure,” Sonic cut him off. “We'll manage. Besides,” he raised an eye ridge, for one moment wondering whether Shadow might even have been right with his suspicions, “Why would you be so eager to help us? I'm Sonic the Hedgehog, remember? I used to smash guys like you by the dozen back in the day.”


“Yeah, but...but you also smashed Doctor Robotnik and he tried to smash us...” the burrobot looked at the floor as it poked its two arm drills together a bit nervously. 


“We've offered him our help, okay? He doesn't want it, we don't insist,” Crabmeat stated, looking at the other badniks sternly. “I say we should start leaving this place before more black hedgehog things are attracted by the Emerald.”


“Yeah, that's a good idea,” Sonic nodded. “I'll keep my word and say something good about you to the villagers so you can try and start talking to them instead of stealing when this is over. Good luck until then.”


“Thank you, Sonic,” Bat Brain replied. “Good luck to you, too, I suppose. And, uh...” it flapped its wings a bit indecisively. “Also...thanks for sometimes asking before you smash something. That kind of thing, it...doesn't always go unnoticed.”


“Right,” Sonic said, scratching his head a little as he watched the strange little parade of old robots roll, flap and sputter their way back where they had come from, soon not even noticeable any more in the arctic night. He turned around took a few steps back to Shadow, who had dug a torch from their backpack and unearthed another few supplies.  


“Got everything?”


“Yes,” Shadow replied. “I have a light source and a knife in case I have to prize the Emerald free from somewhere. Also, I've laid the towels and the...heating equipment at the top of the backpack for when I return. And, for your sake, mostly, I'll be tying a line around myself so you can have some peace of mind while waiting.”


Sonic shuddered in sympathy. For all his insistence on the self-reliant plan, Shadow didn't seem to look that much forward to it.


“Okay, then,” Sonic said. The idea of some sort of rope around Shadow's waist made the plan indeed sound somewhat better, even if the blue hero still didn't feel that happy about the idea of Shadow potentially jumping to his doom. They approached the edge of the ice, their feet sinking into the freshly fallen snow, more flakes settling on their coats as they stared down into the dark waters more than fifteen feet below them, ice shoals bobbing on the small waves that lap against the ice walls that make up the shoreline. Sonic looked at the water and then back at Shadow.


“I don't care how long you say you can survive in there, I'm giving you ten minutes tops before I'll yank you out of there like an ultimate mackerel.”


“Fine. That should be sufficient,” Shadow waved him off, experimentally pulling on the line wrapped around his hips like a belt and handing the other end to Sonic. “It's fifty feet long. I don't think I shall require more than that.”


“I hope,” Sonic muttered, and then still had to keep himself from internally flinching as Shadow only nodded, and then flung himself off the cliff to hit the ice water with a splash! and then was swallowed up by it in seconds.




Tails was staring at the scanners in his workshop with a frown of confusion. He hadn't heard back yet from either Sonic or Shadow, which could either mean the mission was going so swimmingly that they hadn't had the need to radio back to him for assistance, or that something so terrible happened to them that they couldn't even call for help any more, his ever-so-helpful mind supplied brightly while an overactive imagination cheerfully seemed to have prepared a veritable slide-show of detailed images just what could have happened to two continental mammals in the arctic. Tails bit his lip and tried to ignore everything.


Stop it. They're Sonic and Shadow. They've both taken on worse. You've got something to do here, and if you want to be useful at all, you better do it!


The two-tailed fox shook his head as if to physically clear it and then stared at the monitor again with renewed concentration. If only the readings would make more sense!


These measurements have to be faulty somehow. There's wayyy too much Dark Gaia readings everywhere, this is completely different from last time. But that simply can't be, it goes against any basic natural law – a planet has to have exactly equal amounts of both energies, otherwise it would break apart like last time, and it hasn't this time – and even if these results were accurate, where would the extra Dark Gaia energy be coming from?!


Tails groaned and let his forehead bump against the monitor, hoping everyone else was having more luck with their respective quests.




Shadow would have screamed the moment he hit the water, except he knew that that would only have meant inhaling it. Instead, he drew another breath and threw himself into the icy darkness, knowing that with every second he spent inside this frozen hell, his reflexes were likely to become slower and his muscles would cramp up more. He could feel his heart rate speeding up as if he were in a life or death situation, his metabolism instinctively trying to compensate for the sudden temperature loss like crazy. It wouldn't be too long now before the shivering would start, letting his hands become unsteady and clumsy. Shadow shone the torch below him and kicked off, hover skates even underwater working perfectly and letting him carve through the ocean more effectively than any attempts at swimming ever would have.






He wasn't about to let Sonic see that the only swimming style he'd ever mastered was the dog paddle, either...


Shadow blinked and narrowed his eyes as much as he could, the cold, salty water burning against his corneas as he pushed through the water. The entire sensation eerily reminded the black hedgehog of the time he'd spent aboard the ARK submerged in a liquid-filled cylinder when he had still been Professor Gerald Robotnik's project, but back then, that solution had been pleasantly warm, and it had never been so dark...


Focus. It has to be around here...


Well, at least that memory meant that Shadow didn't immediately associate the sensation of being underwater with something bad or something to panic about. He slowed his movements, briefly closing his eyes, letting his Chaos senses reach out around him...




Shadow had felt it, just a small blip on his own personal Chaos radar, but it had been enough. He could feel it, pure Energy cut into the perfect shape of a diamond, focusing the field around it, calling the Chaos, calling him...




Or at least, that was what he would have said if he had had the air to spare. As it was, Shadow was able to stay under considerably longer than most other non-aquatic Mobians when he had a lungful of air to go on, but even he knew that that wouldn't last forever.

But it wouldn't need to.


Shadow grinned as he swam toward a rock formation below, the dark blue gem stone they were looking for  perched right atop its peak, just faintly glowing even in its depowered state and only waiting for a taker...the black hedgehog stretched out the arm that wasn't holding the flashlight, only a few feet from his goal now, intent on nothing but closing his fingers over the stone.


Which was why he never even saw the attacker until they slammed a fin into the side of his head with full force. 




Sonic was tapping his foot. And occasionally pacing in a circle. And sometimes doing both of those things at the same time which was one of those special talents that only superspeedy hedgehogs seemed to possess.

Finally, he stopped. And sighed.

“You can come out now, you know? Your series was always rubbish at hiding.”


“What? No, there's nobody here, I sw – oh, shoot,”  a small voice could be heard, and then, what at first glance had looked like a silver snow cone stuck upside down in the snow, slowly grew until it revealed first the head, then the upper body, and the entirety of the little burrobot as it made its way out of the white cover that it had been buried under. “It's the nose, isn't it?” it asked a bit sheepishly. “For some reason that always sticks out.”


“Yeah, 'sticking out' seems to be a sort of theme with you guys, to be honest,” Sonic said, but made sure to accompany the statement with a small smile to convey that he wasn't about to attack the small badnik for going against their wishes. “Why'd you stick around?”


“I...uh, I guess I only wanted to see whether your friend makes it back alright. I know he doesn't want our help now, but...I know that sometimes things happen that mean you need it after all,” the burrobot, said, looking a bit to the side.


“Yeah, here's to hoping no things happen,” Sonic said, gripping the rope a little tighter. “He's been down for three minutes. I'll pull him up in another seven.”


“Uh-huh,” the bot nodded. “That's because he'll need air, right? I always wonder what that would be like...”


“Not pleasant when you're not getting it,” Sonic said in a slightly strained tone, the company of the old badnik plus the conversation about being underwater conjuring up unwanted memories of certain very labyrinthine zones and that was something he did not currently want to think about. The little robot seemed to get the hint, though, because when it spoke next, it had chosen a different topic.


“Say, is he your new sidekick? The scary black hedgehog?”


Sonic almost laughed, despite the tense situation.

“What, Shadow? My sidekick? Oh man, that would be hilarous, but do yourself a favour and don't let him hear that!”


“Right,” the burrobot said, now sounding a bit confused. “Only you used to have a sort of small, yellow thing with you and it isn't here this time...?”


“A small...what you mean Tails? He's a fox, dude, not a 'yellow thing'!”


“Sorry!You organics look all a bit similar, to be honest. Is, still functioning?”


Again, Sonic's lips almost twitched at the obvious difficulty the little robot seemed to have with its vocabulary. In truth, he welcomed the conversation, because it at least distracted him from the alternative, which was worrying over Shadow. Surely a little rambling couldn't hurt to pass the minutes...?


“You mean whether Tails is all right?” Sonic asked. “Yeah, he's fine. Stayed home for this gig, though. Shads...Shadow is someone I met more recently, two years ago during some business involving a space colony. I, uh, collected quite a few friends in a bit strange ways ever since I left Green Hill Zone, to be honest,” Sonic said when the burrobot seemed to stare at him at this information.


“...friends? Like, more furry things?”


 “Appreciating you not calling us 'things', buddy, but yeah.” He started counting them off at his free hand's fingers. “Like, there's a reptile and insect detective agency, then there's Shadow, who, like I said, has some...alien baggage or something, then there's Blaze, who's a pyrokinetic princess from the future – or a princess from an alternate dimension, actually, still haven't quite figured that out – Rouge, who's actually more Shadow's friend, but yeah, she's either a spy or a treasure hunter, but really, the only thing she's actively hunting and/or spying on is Knucklehead and his Emerald, then there's those idiot birds on their hoverboards, and then I also met Silver, who I think is some sort of time traveller from a period where they've successfully interbred hedgehogs with cockatoos...” Sonic trailed off  a little when he became aware that the robot was now staring at him with a slightly strange expression. It took a moment before the classic model found a sort of reply.


“...the future sounds terrifying.”


“...yeah,” Sonic said. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.” He glanced at the communicator display that doubled as a stopwatch at the moment and felt something clench inside himself when he saw that it already been eight minutes. Not yet the time limit he had set Shadow.


But already enough time for something to have happened to him.


Sonic cast a worried glance at the murky water below. If this was any other situation, he probably wouldn't even be half as nervous about Shadow being able to handle himself, but this was water...


The blue hero took another breath as he stared at the rope. Maybe he could start pulling it in just a bit...?


And it was at this point that he saw the black body floating to the surface.


Shadow!” Sonic yelled, without thinking, before he realized that whatever the dark, misshapen thing that had just surfaced a good thirty metres from them was, it certainly wasn't a hedgehog body. “What is that?!” he barked at the burrobot, who nervously let his drills turn.


“I – I don't have the data-”


“Shadow!” Sonic yelled again, because now there surfaced a second strange body, and a third, and that was when Sonic pulled at the rope with all his might.


It came flying out of the water with a torn end.


“N-no...!” Sonic stammered, staring at the frayed line in his hands in utter horror.


“Oh no,” the burrobot said, sounding genuinely distressed. “This isn't good, I'll radio the others-”


You!” Sonic whirled on him, suddenly all wolf, bared teeth and glowing eyes and raised fur, “If I find out that this was anything to do with you, and Shadow has come to any harm, there won't be a place in the universe that you'll be able to hide from me,” he snarled, and then, before the robot could say anything else, the hero of Mobius had already hurled himself into the water after his friend.


xxx was so cold...


Sonic knew that by rights he should be panicking. He and water did not mix. He even avoided going near swimming pools when he could, but for some reason, that seemed to be one of the advantages of the wolf, a certain instinct that let him know water was safe, he could swim, it would be fine...

“Shadow!” Sonic shouted again as his head broke the surface once more, desperately splashing his way toward the spot in the water where all the dead things had been surfacing, his coat, thicker than that of a hedgehog feeling heavier by the minute and dragging him down....


Very well, Sonic thought. Down is where I'll have to go anyway.


He took one last breath and disappeared under the surface.


Shadow? Are you here? Anywh-SHADS!


Sonic nearly would have gasped as his eyes did their best to regain some sort of focus underwater and he started to recognize the scene below and in front of him.

Bodies. Bodies floating everywhere.

He still couldn't make out their exact form, something strange, a mixture of amphibian and pescine features maybe, but all of them damaged, dead, fins, tails, other parts missing, bleeding, floating slowly upwards...


And then, right there down below him, the Emerald that was illuminating the entire horror panorama, lying peacefully upon a rock formation with the unmoving body of Shadow weightlessly suspended in front of it.


Sonic's entire mind screamed as he immediately stretched out his elastic arms, kicking his legs to reach the black hedgehog and the Emerald, his mind working frantically as to what must have happened here – a fight, obviously, these things, whatever they were, attacking Shadow as he had tried to get the Emerald. And he must have been fighting and killing them until his air ran out...

Sonic reached the black hedgehog and would have sighed in relief as he appeared unharmed, at least as far as he could make out in the dim underwater lightning of the drained power gem.

Only then a thought occurred to him. Mainly that if Shadow had passed out from oxygen deprivation...


Has he really finished off all of the attackers?


And then once again, Sonic could only be grateful for the sometimes uncanny reflexes of the wolf, because he twisted just quickly enough to avoid being chomped into pices by two hugely gaping jaws rushing toward him.


Oh no, you don't.


Sonic transferred both Shadow and the Emerald into one of his large paws and used the other to swing after what had to be the last monster that Shadow hadn't been able to take down. He still didn't know what they were (killer wales? For some reason killer wales really hated hedgehogs...) but at the moment wouldn't have cared if this was Cthulhu in person, his claws digging deep into the side and flesh of the black creature and hauling it close enough that Sonic could deliver a bite of his own into its neck, holding it there, before shifting his hand to its tail and then twisting it with the wolf's strength until he could feel its spine crack. is...a lot of blood, I think I finished it...


Sonic could feel how his arm dropped away from the dead creature, his muscles suddenly feeling a whole lot heavier and he was also aware of how his vision now seemed to go a little funny around the edges.

Yeah...I...probably...should have spared a little air to get us up there, huh, Shads...?


Even thoughts were becoming more sluggish now, while there was a steadily growing burning in his lungs, indicating that any moment now, his body would overpower his brain and force him to take a gulp of air that didn't exist, and that meant he still wouldn't be able to save Shadow...




And then, just before complete blackness threatened to overwhelm him, the last thing Sonic could see was, hilariously, another red, piranha-shaped classic badnik zooming toward him, sharp teeth gleaming in triumph, and wasn't that a laugh, because not only would he die by the...well, fin...of something he had already been able to stomp in his childhood, no, it also meant that the black hedgehog had been right all along and now the price they'd be paying for Sonic's trusting nature was both their lives.


Shadow...I'm sorry.


To be continued...? 




You must login (register) to review.

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

Sonadow Online