Fight for the World
Shadow and I found a small door with E-13 painted on the door.
"This is it then," I said.
"It is. Don't get killed," he advised.
"Same to you," I replied. He opened the door and the room we entered was dark and smelled like the squid I had to dissect for Biology (after Egghead left, of course). Then the lights turned on and I was looking at a gigantic orange man-eating monster straight from the video game—only more terrifying, considering it actually wanted to eat me.
It was giant—at least as big as it seemed in the game, or bigger—orange, with a bunch of wires hooked into its skin, all connected to the life support machine in the center of the room.
"I'll distract it while you go for the machine," I said quickly.
"Got it," he answered. I leapt in front of the monstrous thing and realized that tiny me next to it wouldn't be much of a threat or distraction. I turned human to make myself bigger and slightly more threatening-looking than Shadow, and did a very common thing used on Earth to get attention.
"Hey, your mother was a gecko!" I shouted, first thing that came to mind. I don't know if it understood me, but it swung its head in my direction.
"That's right, ugly, I mean you!" I said, sounding way less petrified than I felt. It could swallow me whole.
I ran back and forth in a zigzag pattern, dodging the spikes and fangs on its head as I attacked its legs, making it seem like I wanted to weaken it.
Meanwhile, Damon was smashing the life support on it like no tomorrow, spindashing, Chaos Spear-ing, and even putting a Chaos Blast against it. It was mutilated just as I tripped—missing gnashing teeth by an inch. Its head dropped to the floor.
"I think we did it," I said. He shook his head.
"Probably not. Let's check on the others, though—they might need help." We Chaos Controlled—I think that was the first time I did it myself—to find Rouge and Knuckles standing over a smoking, crackling pile of metal.
"Well, we don't have to worry about Omega coming to kill us," said Rouge grimly.
"You all right?" I asked.
"We're all a little banged up, but it's nothing we can't handle," said Knux.
"Hang in there. You guys check with Blaze and Amy; we'll find Silver and get all together in one spot. Hopefully this is over with," Shadow said. I turned back into a hedgehog. We found ourselves soon next to Silver and the Chaotix.
"Guys, we're all meeting on the observation deck. We need to stick together," I said. Silver nodded and we all got back quickly.
"Amy, Blaze, what are you guys looking at?" said Shadow suddenly. The alarms had long since stopped, and the place was actually eerily quiet. They were looking at files on the computer.
"Rouge hacked it and we started looking. Maria Robotnik was real, and she had a baby brother named Joshua—"
"—I read the entire story, so I don't need to hear it again," Shadow said stiffly, "and it's sort of about me, too, so I think you should get off of it now . . ."
"Oh, okay. Sorry," said Rouge hastily, closing it and turning off the computer.
"Don't say sorry unless you mean it. I don't really have time for empty words," said Shadow, and it almost sounded like he was quoting someone. He sounded irritated, so maybe that was it, but still, it was odd, because I'd never heard the phrase in particular before.
Elaine stood up, shocked. She had been watching the broadcast when Eggman had shown up, and the others. The feed would have been almost boring if it hadn't been so tense—if the Eclipse Cannon was used, everyone on the planet was sunk. Literally.
But now Shadow had just said something that rocked Elaine's world.
I don't really have time for empty words. That was something she had said to someone that she knew very well at a recent Halloween dance. She recalled the conversation immediately.
"So what do you do in spare time?" Damon had asked idly.
"I like to read, write, sing . . . listen to music . . . and draw occasionally," she had replied.
"Sounds interesting. What kind of books do you like?"
"Oh, just about any type of fiction there is. Fantasy is my favorite—magic spells and impossible powers, you know."
"I like that too—sometimes I think that writers write those types of things to help readers escape their boring lives and normal problems," Damon trailed off. The words "boring" and "normal" almost seemed like he had put air quotes around them . . . like he was being sarcastic.
"Are you liking tonight?" Elaine had asked after a minute or so of just listening to the slow dance music and swaying back and forth.
"Yeah! I'm having one of the best nights of my life . . . I don't normally date, and . . . I'd like to do this again sometime soon," he said. Elaine sighed.
"For once, I believe those words."
"What do you mean?"
"When people say things over and over again . . . they become cliché, used, and meaningless. That would almost sound like a line that an actor was reciting in a movie, except for the fact that you're being sincere. People aren't often sincere anymore . . ."
"I guess I know what you're saying. Like when you automatically say "Hi" "Bye" and "Love you mom" every day, you start not meaning it."
"Exactly. I hate it—which is why I don't talk to people much. They start talking automatically like a machine, and then I just figure that I don't have time for empty words."
And now Elaine was hearing her own words from the mouth of Shadow the Hedgehog.
Her mind was on overdrive. Mr. Namggerd was Dr. Eggman. Damon admitted to working for G. U. N. He, Eric, and Jason disappear a lot—same with Amy, Miles, John, Eliza, and Scarlet. Eric's changed a lot lately . . . they all have . . . and Eric at that field trip, he saved us all . . . and then, they all laughed at Eric's costume, especially Damon . . . there's really only one explanation.
Elaine began writing furiously in her notebook, a thing she did when something big was going on. It wasn't a journal—she wrote poems, bits of songs, and little stories in this. Now it was a poem, titled Shadowy Figure, Secret Truth. But she would stop soon when she realized that the horror wasn't over yet.
Suddenly the computer screen turned back on, with the face of an old man in the forefront.
"My name is Gerald Robotnik. I was part of the organized group of scientists that helped to create both this space station and the monster called the Biolizard. I have no love for anyone any longer, as the great disease known as humanity has destroyed the only people I cared for—my grandson, granddaughter, and my dear friend Tanya, who has lost sanity because of the human race. It was you all who created and supported G. U. N. Society led my daughter to have to leave her two children here with me because she could not care for them. The bane of goodness . . . Iblis . . . the man most hated in my heart . . . this destruction is for his sake, that he might suffer the most. Know that he is the reason for my actions now. Space Colony ARK will fall to Earth. Its impact will destroy about one fourth of the world, and the dust and debris in the sky will block out the sun, sending the world into another ice age. The temperatures will freeze everyone on point of contact." I gaped at the man's grimace—in the game, he hadn't looked very real, but this . . . he meant it when he said he hated Iblis, when he declared his lack of love for the world.
The entire ship shook, and I heard a roar.
"It's the final hazard. Does everyone have a Chaos Emerald for Shadow and I?" I asked quickly. In seconds, we were Super, and we Chaos Controlled outside into deep space. The Biolizard was now gigantic, the size of the ship itself. We were three-foot tall hedgehogs that glowed in the dark. However, it was basically mindless.
"Blast it until it dies?" I suggested.
"Go for the big red welt on its back. That's where it's weak," he advised. He sent about fifty Chaos Spears at once at it, while I myself actually spindashed the red spot that was where it was once connected to the life support machine. It sent strange glowing blobs of goo—I could have sworn it was spit, or maybe venom—at us, but it missed. Soon enough, it was dead, and stopped moving. However, the ship still was because of the momentum caused by the Biolizard. It would still crash.
"We've got to teleport it so it stops moving towards Earth," I said.
"I don't think you get it, Sonic—not we, I. It's what I was created for, to protect everyone."
"But you don't have to sacrifice your life for it! I'll do it, Shadow! My parents lost Jason, so it's nothing new to them! You've got a little sister!"
"My family isn't my real family, and you know it."
"They might as well be!"
"I can't let you do this," he argued.
"I can't let you! I don't care what happened in the game—wait—let's both do it then! If we each put in half the energy, then we won't fall to Earth and die, because we won't have drained the Emeralds as much," I said as fast as I could. I was not going to let my friend die.
Shadow said, staring into the eyes of Sonic, "Fine. On three."
"One," Sonic said. Shadow thought of both Maria Robotnik and Maria Von Garthe. Both of them were his sisters . . . and his parents . . . he couldn't let them all go. And Elaine . . .
"Two," Shadow said, and I looked back at the ARK. Everyone I cared about was in danger . . . if we pulled this off . . . well, I'd certainly have a boost of self-esteem in knowing that I've saved the world. If we didn't . . . I'd never forgive myself.
"Three. Chaos Control!" We both yelled, and in a huge flash of light, we were in another spot in seconds. The ship had stopped, but I was totally drained of energy.
"I think . . . we . . . did . . . it . . ." I said, before blacking out completely.
Shadow heard Eric saying something before being knocked out by lack of energy. He then entertained a very interesting dream. As Damon, he was sitting in a grassy field with three people around him. One was Elaine. Another was none other than Maria Robotnik herself, seeming to be frozen in a distant world. The third . . . well . . . he looked like Damon used to, before he ever touched the Chaos Emerald, except no scar, and he didn't wear black. He too, was frozen. Elaine turned to Damon and smiled.
"Hi, Damon. Wanna listen?" She offered one of the earbuds from her iPod, one of which was in her ear already. They stared at a misty night sky while listening to Never Turn Back.
"It really means something, doesn't it?" she asked.
"To not let the past drag you down . . . let history help you stop making wrong choices, but not letting things you can't change stop you from moving on," Damon answered.
"I agree. It's nice," she said, and then she froze, and the music stopped. Maria Robotnik unfroze and gestured for him to stand.
"Hi, Damon. I understand that things are hard to believe with everything that's happened lately, but I promise you that I'm proud to have known you . . . even for a little bit," she smiled. Her eyes were not the sad ones of a dead girl—but the happy ones of someone who was satisfied with life and ready for a clear future.
"Thank you, Maria, and I'm sorry that it had to be so short."
"Just take care of your sister. I really like her . . . we'd be best friends in a fair world," she said, freezing, too. Then the boy walked towards them. He looked at Maria, then at Damon.
"I'm glad it was you. I don't think I'd be able to see my sister dead in front of me—unless I was the same way, which I am," he said.
"So you're Joshua. I thought you died when you were a baby," Damon frowned.
"This . . . is what I would have been, growing up. I wouldn't have become Shadow, and well . . . I guess it's for the best."
"It really stinks that you never even got a life, and I did. If we could switch places every once in a while, I wouldn't mind," Damon said truthfully.
"I would like that. Sadly, it's not happening. Don't let me get you down. You don't need to mourn someone so long."
"But . . ."
"That's why you always wear black, isn't it? Subconsciously, it's me. I won't weigh you down. I might visit again, though, give advice . . . that sort of thing. I consider you a brother after all."
"Same to you, Josh," Damon answered.
"I like that. Makes this seem a little more real," chuckled the boy that Damon would have sworn was a clone of him only months ago.
"When will I see you again?"
"Look in the mirror. I might not look like it, but I'm there," he said, and Damon's world went black yet again.
Strange dreams followed as I was probably hurtling towards Earth. There was one with a concert—Damon as Human Shadow was the lead singer and guitarist, Maria Robotnik and Maria Von Garthe were also vocalists and pianists, and a guy that looked like Damon used to was on drums as a back up singer. They sang Never Turn Back while the Amy waitresses handed out chili dogs. Then the vampire dude from Twilight was coming in with a hot dog suit flipping a sign that said "Eat at Eggman diner." This was followed by a fight in which I recall flying chili. Then a bright blue light flashed, and next thing you know, I had my face full of dirt. Looking around, I saw horse hooves, black smoke with creepy glowing eyes peering out, and the bottom of a long, light red cloak—but that's a story for another time.
I woke up in my own bed, about a day later from what Jason told me. We couldn't have an excuse for our parents, so of course all of our families got together, and the guys happily voted for me to explain everything. Did I ever mention that my friends are wonderful people that I occasionally want to strangle?