The Dark Time Eater
Silver dropped his hands, completely in shock. I scrambled back.
"You . . . then this is our real time?"
"Sort of," said Eric, "I'm from a couple years before now. But you have to trust me that Sonic's the good guy here. I don't know who he is, but Amy and Miles are on his side, so . . ."
"He's the Iblis Trigger, the one that causes everything to fall apart in the future! That's what Mephiles told me." Eric shook his head.
"No. Mephiles . . . he's promising you everything only so he can destroy everything around you even more. Sonic can help you save the world. He wouldn't destroy it."
"You don't even know who he is," Silver accused. I stood.
"Jason, you've just got to get back to the future . . . Have you still got a Chaos Emerald?"
"Sure." I pulled mine out. He backed away. I sighed, exasperated.
"Look, I'm not going to hurt you. You've got to get back home. What if Blaze is in trouble? You can't tell me you aren't worried," I said. He faltered.
"Uh . . ."
Shadow, Rouge, and Blaze arrived at the G. U. N. building. But it wasn't what they'd expected.
"What is this?" Rouge muttered, seeing a huge metal door with the Black Arms symbol spray painted on it. Shadow went to the key lock.
"It's on permanent lockdown. We only put dangerous creatures and toxic waste there to be studied by the highest officials on rare occasions," Rouge said, "I don't get it. What does it mean?"
"You don't want to know?" asked a deep male voice. Mephiles walked out of the shadows. They all backed up, taking defensive stances.
"I'm not going to do anything. What use have I for this devastated future?" he said, gesturing to the open door and the ever-present orange light of lava.
"Then what do you want? Why did you send Silver back?" Mephiles grinned.
"To set in motion the events that create me. Me, the Dark . . . yes, I would like to exist. And then I would like to consume everything that would defy me. But perhaps I ought to explain myself to you, Shadow. You of all people ought to see my way. Blaze, Rouge, stay out here for a moment . . ."
"Uh . . ."
"I think I can help with that," said another voice, one I knew very well. I sighed in relief.
"Silver," cheered Amy, as the brother I knew so well sped down the street.
"I am. Sonic's not the evil one. Look, you've gotta go back—Blaze and Rouge don't know that Shadow is in deep trouble. Shadow looks a lot like Mephiles. Make sure you get them out of there, then fight the fire demon. That way Shadow and Rouge can get back here to help us out. Don't trust Mephiles. He's evil as can be, using you to get what he wants."
"You're Jason, too?" Eric asked.
"Yup," grinned Silver, "I've been here for a while now. That demon isn't due for another few hundred years. . . in a completely different dimension. Sorry that you don't get to chat with Eric. You'll get plenty of that in a few weeks, when you get back to this world for good. Don't give up, mini me, but let's go." The two of them crossed arms with the Chaos Emeralds in hand.
Mephiles led Shadow into the high-security area. It was empty except for a stasis pod that was gathering dust. The room smelled like formaldehyde.
"Who's that dangerous?" Shadow asked, though he already knew.
"The normal humans found out that you were artificial. They found out things about you that even you didn't know—that you were injected with the organic material found in the red comet many years ago. That red comet has living beings within it. They aren't any more sentient than an ant, but they were indeed alien. They also had traces of unknown substances in their makeup.
"You were created as a weapon, Shadow. A chemical and physical weapon. Easy to control, after all, you've been training with G. U. N. since you were little. If anyone got the right chemicals injected into you, you could secrete enough poison to kill half the world in a week, and you would be fine. If someone controlled you well enough, you could take out the other half yourself—aren't you a sharpshooter and a living bomb? People began to realize that. But you don't have to be frozen away, an arsenal locked up."
Mephiles wiped the dust off of the pod, revealing Shadow's sleeping face.
"They feared you, and you let them lock you up. Why don't you take advantage of that fear, Shadow? Join me. Squash Stone and all the others that think of you as a nuke instead of a person."
Shadow stared at the pod. He glanced around the room and then squeezed his eyes shut, as well as his fists. He imagined it—ruling the world and all. He'd be terrible at it. And he'd rather not be a puppet to anyone. He knew that he was made as a weapon—but there was also another thing he knew.
"Stone never controlled me, faker, and neither will you," he smirked, chuckling. "The scar on my face is enough to prove that. And this future just doesn't exist for me. Because I won't let anyone turn me into anything that I'm not. If I had to be locked up, I hopped in the pod myself. But my friends would have busted me out. And you're just a petty devil on my shoulder, trying to make me think otherwise." He laughed, and pointed at Mephiles who looked so much like him. He spoke his mind.
"You're nothing." And punched Mephiles in the face.
The group of them began to patrol the town, trying to find some semblance of a cause. They met again on Main Street—empty handed.
"There's got to be something," Eric said. "I wish the entire group was here. Then we could all figure this out." A crash and explosion sounded from around the corner.
"You guys having issues too? I grabbed everyone I could find. And things are starting to turn sort of normal outside the city limits. Think maybe someone is leading us on, trying to get us to follow their plan." It was Scourge, grinning not so cruelly. With him, he had Knuckles, Cream, the Chaotix team, and Blaze. Also, a bunch of robots were following them.
"Seriously? Robots?" groaned Eric.
"Gotcha buddy. Just keep off of their radar. And don't be scared of Scourge, he's on our side. Sonic, you got this?" Tails said, grabbing my younger self by the shoulders and hovering away.
It was a swarm of them—all things I'd faced before, but there were so many.
"Come on," I growled, "I need two of me to deal with this." And I heard a sudden war cry—my younger self with an aluminum baseball bat, swinging with all his might, knocking off the head of one Badnik.
"Thanks," I said, giving him a thumbs-up.
"No problem. Duck!" I did, and the fist of another robot just missed my head.
Tails flew near Eric, in case he needed any help. Blaze, Silver, and Knuckles held their own at the intersection, with Blaze keeping some at bay, Silver doing range shots, and Knuckles smashing anything left. It was cool, the all-out battle, but it seemed endless. Scourge watched my back, and I watched his.
"Man, this is endless. What's going on?" he grunted.
"Everything we've faced is coming back at us," I growled.
"Eggman sending everything back at us again?" suggested mini me.
"Iblis is gonna pay," said Tails, sending an electric pulse through the bots.
"DIE YOU HUNKS OFMETAL!"
Mephiles and Shadow fought for their lives. But Mephiles was winning, and Rouge and Blaze had no idea. Until Silver returned.
"We have to help Shadow. He's in serious trouble," he said immediately.
"Got it, hon," Rouge grinned, engaging Omega for battle and roundhouse kicking the door in.
"You're done, Dark," shouted Blaze, hands igniting.
"No. It has only just begun. My creator has officially made me in the past—using some of Shadow's DNA. Now I can take the frozen world that has only a few left to defend it. Thank you for your assistance." He melted into black ooze and seeped through the floor.
"Let's get out of here," said Rouge.
"Sorry Silver, Blaze. We've got to help the two of you from our time. And we have to beat Mephiles to a pulp."
"All right. Thanks for your help, you two," Rouge said, giving each of them a hug and kissing Silver on the cheek. He blushed bright red.
"Keep those demons down, got it?"
"DIE YOU HUNKS OF METAL!"
And Omega's machine guns and Shadow and Rouge joined the fight.
"Hey, I think they're almost gone," said Tails. And he was right. They were almost gone.
"Don't let your guard down," Silver said.
But when the robots were all gone, there was nothing else.
"All right, regroup. What's happened?"
"Mephiles tried to get me to go at his side. I gave him a black eye."
"Little Eric came from before we all changed."
"The robots are crazy."
"Iblis escaped prison—he has to be behind this." As they all caught up with each other, Eric was dazed. He couldn't understand it all, still in awe of the battle he'd just witnessed. No one noticed the black ooze. But when Sonic suddenly collapsed, everyone noticed.
"Wait—Sonic!" cried Amy.
"This is what I needed. The life force of your hero," laughed Mephiles. He began to crystalize, becoming skeletal with black markings and strange red eyes. A ragged purple cape hung off of his shoulders as he grinned.
"This is the end," he said, and the sky darkened.
"SONIC!" they all cried out. Except Amy, who looked over at Eric, who had backed away.
"No . . . he's not dead yet . . ." She put a hand to the injured, blue-haired body. Sonic the Human was not breathing there. She looked around.
"His soul is still here. Just not in his body. He's with each of us. He's alive. Knuckles, use the Master Emerald to call of the Chaos Emeralds here." Knuckles looked on at Sonic, then up at Eric, and understood. "On it."
"You haven't taken Sonic from us," Miles shook his head, using a remote to call in his plane.
"Is that so?" chuckled Mephiles. "The puny kid isn't going to help, you know. He's nothing to me. I am Mephiles the Dark. I am the Time Eater. Everything that exists I consume, and everything humanity has known is but oblivion. And that oblivion is me." He snapped his fingers, and the city was rubble. Everyone gasped. He grinned.
"I think I'll look for my creator to congratulate him on my creation. Don't wait up." And he teleported away.
"What kind of power is this?" Shadow growled. Eric screamed.
"We . . . we can't . . . we're gonna die," he said, shaking in fear.
"No, we're not," Silver said, "If I have anything to say about it. We'll go down fighting. That's how Sonic would do it, huh?"
"Sonic's gone, Jason," Eric told him, gesturing to the body on the ground.
"That's not true-"
"Don't give me that crap. This isn't a stupid movie. He's dead."
"Yeah, not really." Was that the wind? Eric wondered.
"Sonic?" asked Miles. No answer.
"Everyone heard that, right?"
"Yeah. I did," Eric said, looking around.
"Mephiles consumed my life force, right? I'm just trapped."
"There it is again! Sonic's alive!"
"And I got the Chaos Emeralds! We're still in this," grinned Knuckles, joining the band of fighters again.
Everyone from their time gathered around the Chaos Emeralds and began to glow. Eric hefted Sonic into his arms and dragged him closer into the circle.
"Y'know, he can't fight," Eric muttered, "But I doubt he'd want to miss this."
"He wouldn't," said Miles, smiling. "Eric . . . you do know who he is, right?" Eric had had an idea, but dismissed it.
"Nah, not a clue. But you guys seem to trust him, so I figure he's as good, if not better, than the Sonic from the games. A good guy, right?" They all nodded.
"We can still have Sonic in the fight," Shadow said looking around the circle.
"How?" asked Cream.
"Eric . . . if he's up to the challenge . . ." Eric's brow furrowed.
"What? What could I do? Sure, I'll revive Sonic if I can, but I don't think I can."
"Not that, you idiot," said Rouge, rolling her eyes. "Hon, Sonic is someone you know very well. Think."
"Well, Miles is Tails, Amy is Amy Rose . . . and Jason is Silver . . . then . . ." His jaw dropped and he looked down at Sonic again, a new realization dawning on him.
"Yes, you are."
"I . . . I can't possibly fight this . . . I'm just a kid."
"We're all kids here, Eric. What day was it, when you appeared in this crazy future?" Eric replied with the date that they all received their powers.
"See, that's when we all got our powers. That's when you could turn into a hedgehog and all that. It happened that day. Look. We're all people you know, or will know soon." In many flashes of light, Eric was surrounded by people he knew all too well.
"We had to keep fighting. We had to have these powers for a reason. So we use them—and I won't let anyone destroy the universe as long as I'm still breathing," said Jason, turning back into Silver.
"Just imagine being Sonic and say 'Chaos Transformation'. Go ahead," Blaze encouraged.
Eric took a deep breath.
"We could all still die. But at least we have a chance to fight together," Shadow said.
"Better to fight and lose for something worth it than to give up," Eric agreed. He took a Chaos Emerald, and, as an afterthought, put the hand of his older self on the emerald as well.
"-Transformation!" And it was like Eric's voice was doubled. And the flash of light was especially bright—to reveal Classic Sonic, and . . .
"Here you thought I was gone. Well let's go kick some Mephiles ass—I'm waiting!" I grinned.