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Rifted Redux

By Sapphy

Action / Adventure

Prologue

In a midnight sky, stars hid behind outstretching clouds, rivaling the moonlight. There was stillness in the atmosphere that seemed unbreakable; the serenity of the untouched landscape lay apart from the city miles away. Scattered trees refracted light on the forest floor, making slivers of shadows along the grassy earth. An autumn breeze gently whooshed at the long, sturdy branches, which created a near silent whistle among the otherwise absolute silence. Clouds parting, the moon and stars became clearly visible and dominant of the universal canvas.

Walking upon the plains was a lone ebony hedgehog, a silhouette of black against night. Even the blood red streaks in his quills blended in. Shadow let the breeze whip at him gently, raising his eyes to the night skies admiringly. The galaxy he grew up surrounded by seemed so untouchable on this planet, just as his purpose was so out of reach on the ARK. Barely visible, miles away, and forgotten by the people of this world was the revolutionary space colony. He smiled, knowing it would all be nothing more than a distant memory now. He stood there in the swaying grass, recalling the events from months ago. He had been victorious against the tyrant Black Doom- at a price. Rubbing his bare wrists reminded him just how powerless he truly was now. It stung. What was once a formidable threat to an entire planet was now only a smoldering flame. In his vigorous onslaught against the alien overlord, he had removed his inhibitor rings in order to defeat him, unconcerned with the consequences at the time.

Now those consequences were strangling him.

He had come out to the wilderness to escape everything after running from the annoying human media that now worshipped him. After he destroyed the massive Black Comet with the legendary Eclipse Cannon, the humans immortalized him in their history books, despite the fact he wanted to murderously eliminate them not too long ago. The behavior was a perfect example of their narrow-minded thought processes, and a reminder of how pointless it would be to waste his time with them. Their persistent complimenting and overawe agitated the midnight-colored hedgehog to his limit. It came to the point where he decided to abandon them completely.

Lately, things had settled down from the Black Arms invasion. The humans no longer showed interest in capturing him for military purposes. It appeared that they thought more realistically about the situation (the chance of another planet catastrophe) and alternatively began to devise other lethal weapons.

He had been under the radar for quite some time, enough time he hoped for the humans to forget him. Day after day he simply wandered the wilderness, fearing to exert too much energy without the stability of his lost inhibitor rings.

In all the emotions stirring since the invasion, most important to him, he found closure. It had seemed definite to him that the world was against him, that everyone wanted to manipulate him or destroy evidence of his existence. According to a certain someone, however, none of that would ever matter as long as she was by his side.

He was a loner with no future to aspire to and no past to seek. In a cold world that the ebony hedgehog did not favor, there was one person he had subconsciously sought out after every episode of grimness, the one person who could ease the pain and loneliness he felt every day of his ageless life.

In the back of his mind, he knew what everyone saw it as. He assured them, rather assertively, that the alliance was completely platonic, strictly for business. He would always hear their unconvinced laughter. But maybe it was just his conscious, the doubt in his own mind, telling him different. Clearly, he had no interest in such a thing. But perhaps it was only clear to him as he pounded that belief into his own heart. Nonetheless, he had to come to a decision…

Come to a decision? Since when had he ever pondered the thought of visiting her? Normally he would just invite himself, leaving just as insolently. She never seemed to care, after all. Even if he disregarded that problem, things had changed, and instead of an anti-social loner no one minded, or even a fugitive running from the law, he was now a welcomed hero.

He had absolutely no interest in their paltry idolizations, nor would he feel obliged to encourage them by revealing himself after months of hiding. Then again, how could he allow himself to be indirectly controlled by their foolish behaviors? Eventually, this thought lodged in his ego, and his pride got the best of him.

He looked away from the night sky, a shimmer of gold in the corner of his peripheral vision. There, suspended on the dead branches of an oak tree he vaguely remembered from months ago, were two rings.

"Ironic that I should find them here."

He gingerly took them from their landing site, setting them back onto his wrists in their rightful place. The inhibitor rings shone brighter, rejuvenating their owner with familiar strength. With one last look at his past home in the stars, Shadow took off in a blur of black.

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