Halloween was finally rolling around, and we were all going to the dance the night of—except Miles. He was going trick-or-treating with Damon's sister Maria and Amy's cousin Nellie.
At first, we were all going to go as one big group, but then John asked Scarlet to go with him as his date. Jason then asked Eliza, who said yes. That left Damon, Amy, and I—until Damon asked Elaine. I groaned inwardly at this—I mean, I've had a crush on Amy since who-knows-when, but asking her out . . . well, I had to do it at some point or another. After school, two weeks before the dance, we all were out shopping for costumes. In between the racks, Amy and I were just looking, and the others were trying on full costumes rather than the masks and hats. I took a deep breath.
"Hey Amy, would you go to the Halloween dance with me?"
" . . . yes! Oh, Eric, I was worried that you wouldn't ask! We don't need to worry about costumes here, I'll make them. I've got an awesome idea," she grinned. I smiled back. As long as I didn't look stupid, I'd be okay with it. We were all at my house on that Saturday night. Amy brought a large box for hers and my costumes. And that night I met Nellie.
Nellie was a six year old who was the pretty princess type of toddler. She seemed very polite when she came over with her mom to pick up Miles. I don't know if their parents planned it, but they matched: Miles was a knight, and Nellie was a fairy princess. I chuckled as they left. Then Amy took my into the kitchen and locked the door behind her.
"We'll meet you guys outside!" she yelled through the door, "Our costumes will be a surprise!" What had I done? I grimaced at the thought of something cheesy . . .
She smiled and opened the box. Then she sorted out the stuff, and brought half of it to me.
"Put this stuff on, okay? I need to get mine on as well," she said. I went to the side bathroom, and she decided to change after me. Whatever she'd given me, I guess it wasn't bad. In fact, they looked like the clothes of a regular Goth. Except for the shoes and gloves . . . no . . . she was dressing me up as Shadow! I laughed once I realized it. When we were both eventually dressed, she curled her hair, put in a hairband, and sprayed mine with black stuff (and made a few red stripes). She sort of reminded me of Alice in Wonderland—of course, she was Maria Robotnik from the games.
"Will Damon be okay with me dressed as him?" was all I asked.
"Of course I asked him first! It's fine as long as you don't make fun of him."
"No! I would never do that to embarrass him!" I chuckled. We walked out. Damon doubled over with laughter.
"You—two—that's awesome," was all he could say. Elaine looked a little confused, but said nothing. I looked between them.
"And who are you two supposed to be?" I asked. Elaine looked scandalized.
"It's obvious! He's the Phantom of the Opera, and I'm Christine!" I only got it after she said so. I'd seen the movie once or twice, but I wouldn't have recognized it at once. Jason and Eliza were the Grim Reaper and the devil respectively, and Scarlet and John were a vampire king and queen. We all headed over to school together, and went in the gym. It was decked out in strobe lights, a fog machine, some "spider webs", and a bunch of orange and black balloons.
We danced a while, and eventually, people realized that the music had stopped. I looked up to the stage, where Nick, student body jerk—sorry, representative—was standing, holding a microphone. And he was dressed as Sonic. His girlfriend was dressed as Amy.
"Come on, he looks nothing like me," I muttered to Jason, who laughed.
"Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls," he said, "As you know, there's been a video going around about two of our classmates, and I wanted a sing-off to prove who's the champ between the two of them. That's right. Damon Von Garthe and Eric Sarali, get up here now!" I groaned and went up.
"Well, what song do you want us to do?" I asked.
"Your pick from these," he plopped a binder into my hands and set down his microphone next to another one on the end of the stage.
"This one?" I asked, pointing one out. He shrugged, in effect taking off his cape and leaving it on the side of the stage.
"I'm okay with that. Every line or so, we switch off?"
"And with the main chorus, we both sing that one line," I grinned. He nodded.
The music started playing and it was almost like we'd rehearsed it. I don't know how that worked, but it did. (Italics are Damon singing, normal is Eric, and bold is them both)
"C'mon and light the fuse, he's a rocket and he's ready to go, 'cause now the countdown has started and he's ready to blow, he's got dope sounds pumpin' in his stereo-eo, he can act fast, puttin' on a show—"
"Go on and get yourself together there's no time to rest and if you put the time in he'll put you to the test, he's like a runnin' man in his world, more is less and if you wanna test him best bring your best. Don't make me spell it out, bring your best!
"In this world, (his world!) where life is strong. In this world, (his world!) life's an open book. In this world, (his world!) where compromise does not exist. In his world of worlds every step meets the rest! In this world, (his world!) where one is all. In this world, (his world!) never fear the fall! In this world (his world!) where compromise does not exist. In his world of worlds every step meets the rest!" And it went like that for the rest of the song. Funny enough, it was almost as if he got all the lines that said "he" "him" or "his", like he was describing me and I was showing myself off. That sounded more like Sonic and Shadow than Damon and I, now that I think about it . . . anyway, after we were done, there was thundering applause. Some random Ke$ha song came on after that and people started to dance. I found Amy near the edge of the stage. She grinned like crazy.
"You were amazing! No one can deny it!" she gushed.
"Thanks. How is your night going so far?" I asked.
"Okay enough for a Halloween. Low on candy though," she giggled.
"Trick or treat?" I asked.
"Treat. What do I get?" she replied. Come on, Eric, be a man and kiss her! You've liked her since . . . forever! I kissed her. Not on the forehead. Not on the cheeks. On the lips—and she kissed back.
Sasuke, Ross, and Ryan were investigating, as this was the only case they'd had in months. Well, Sasuke was investigating. Ryan was eating his spaghetti at the table and Ross was listening to music.
"Ma'am, I'd like to ask you if you know the Sarali family very well," he asked the owner of the restaurant. This was a place that was known to often have teenagers come over. She was a sweet old lady.
"Yes, especially the young boys—Eric and Jason—they're in my niece's classes at school. Right now they're at a Halloween party. I'm sure you could imagine my surprise when so many people came to pick her up—seven in all! I mean, I know she has friends, but she was always a very quiet girl, so I assumed it would be one or two. I think she's smitten with that Von Garthe boy, too, with the way she looks at him . . ."
"Ah, yes. Do you know much about what happened to Jason?"
"No, not really, but it's very good and well that he's back, isn't it?"
"Ma'am, I'm wondering where he went."
"Well, I certainly won't know. Goodness, even he doesn't!"
"I see. Thank you for your help. And your food is excellent."
"Thank you, young man! Stop by any time!"
"I believe I will." Sasuke stood and half-dragged the other two back to where they could continue the investigation, when they got a call. Ryan picked up.
"Hello! This is the Chaotix Detective agency! How may we help you?"
"I have a lead on the Sarali case. Meet me at the location I am about to test the directions to. You will be rewarded substantially." Even Ross heard that part.
"Let's go, then, guys!" he shouted over the music that only he could hear.
It was horrible. It was terrifying. It was—well, it was my mother. This is the incident I was talking about in the beginning. When we got home from the party (Kissing Amy was a thousand times better than getting any chocolate on the way home. We still did both.), Mom brought us to my room to talk.
"All right. I'm not going to put up with it anymore. I want answers from both of you, tonight, and you are not leaving this room until I get them," she said firmly. I gulped. More than once, Eggman had let robots loose. We had to clean up after him, but that usually meant missing class and/or doing homework. Our grades were dipping lower—except for Miles, of course—and we'd gotten home more than once after curfew, exhausted, and Mom obviously wanted to know why. Plus, I guess that Jason and I aren't really good liars.
"Jason, first of all, I know you can't possibly have amnesia. I may not have been around for nine years, but I know you, and I can see you glancing at Eric and smirking when you think I can't see you. And both of you—where are you always going without telling me? I don't want to punish you for something that is legitimate, but you have to tell me." We looked at each other. I spoke first.
"Mom, we—we can't. But I swear that we aren't being stupid and getting drunk or taking drugs. We aren't hanging out with gangs. We aren't out trying to commit suicide. Mom, we're . . . I can't explain it. We'll be careful." Tears came to her eyes.
"I just . . . don't want to come home from work . . . and not find you here . . . don't leave, please. I want you safe. I don't want you to disappear." She sobbed and looked between Jason and me.
"It won't happen again," said Jason, "I know it. Mom, trust me—I can take care of myself. Eric can too, even more so. What can we do to make it easier on you?"
"Have a cell phone on at all times. If there is ever an emergency, call me. The password that lets me know that you are in danger can be "orange". Fit it into a normal question, and I'll come running. Please do this. I don't want . . . well . . . you know . . . to happen again. And do I have a promise that you'll tell me the truth someday?"
"Yes," we both said.
"Good. Then you're just not allowed to play video games for the rest of the week, rather than being grounded."
Damon smiled at Elaine and waved as she went back in to help clean up at Laura's. He then found a concealed spot in the area and Chaos Controlled into his bedroom.
"I'm home!" he called.
"Hi, honey!" said his mother. He got dressed in his normal clothes and took out his laptop and the files once more.
The last entry was ironic to the point of making me sick. Joshua somehow got to E-13. He's a dead corpse in my private medical lab right now. Maria asked me where he went, and I told her that he went home. She assumed it meant Earth. I decided the one good that I could make out of this tragedy would be to donate the body to science—Joshua is going to be Savior.
That entry was short. The next one was from the next day, but was super long. It was the last one in the file.
We have succeeded, but at a price. After fixing injuries, replacing certain body parts, and making certain implants, Savior is as alive and happy as Joshua was a week ago. Perhaps he is a little more durable. After all, his bones are made of a combination of a special alloy and normal human ones, and certain chemical treatments have made him invulnerable to sickness. No one knows it, but his G. U. N. passcode—as I know he will have someday—is Robotnik, the only code that the scientists here on the ARK know. It will probably be him reading these files one day.
Maria was playing with the baby on the observation deck—it really is beautiful to look down on the Earth like that—and was talking to him. I was their babysitter for an hour, and then it was Tanya's shift. I caught a bit of what Maria said.
"Someday we'll be on Earth with Joshie, and you two will play together while I babysit you. Then when we're older, I'll be like a mom to both of you, and you'll be best friends. Then when you get to be a grown up, you'll be like a knight in shining armor. You'll protect people. Do you know it's even more pretty down there than from up here? You'll be the one to keep it that way . . ." and then it was Tanya's turn. I went down to the control center to find Private Stone and the Commander boarding, with the guards of the ARK all in ranks around them.
"What's the meaning of this?" I asked.
"Project Savior has become a threat. All attempts at this project must be shut down—except for the Biolizard. We already know the conditions on that." I argued, but they wouldn't have it. I was pushed aside, and the building was put on lockdown. I watched the security tapes play helplessly—I could not leave the room, as it was airtight on one end and all but on the other. Maria had run ahead of the lockdown sequence carrying Savior. Tanya was with her. They were in the platforms with the escape pods that were programmed to get to the G. U. N. headquarters in the U. S. They got there—but so did Private Stone and Joseph Iblis. Stone told Maria to step away from the release panel on the pod. Savior was inside already. She shouted that she would never do it. Stone shot, but missed and hit Tanya's left arm. Iblis cursed and yanked the gun out of his arms, and shot Maria just as she pressed the button and the pod rocketed back to Earth. The screams will forever haunt me.
After that, the troops took in Joe and retreated to Earth. I stayed without them knowing. I'm sure that Stone will delete these files if he ever finds them. But if it isn't him, if it's you . . . and you know who you are . . . then I am going to let you know what I have done for the past three hours. I have finished the ultimate weapon—the Eclipse Cannon. It will bring revenge on the world that took them all from me . . . humanity will pay. I will now leave the ARK forever through the air lock, as well as this life entirely. There will be no oxygen where I am going.
If you're reading this, Savior—Joshua Damon—whatever you may be called now—know that you are the hope of the innocent. And that I'm sorry for having done all of this to you.
Gerald Isaac Robotnik
Damon stared at the screen, unable to comprehend what he was seeing, only hearing the ringing in his ears. He could almost hear the gunshot and screaming of Tanya even as he stared out at the stars. The ARK, he imagined, was somewhere up there . . . the place he had been born . . . conflicted thoughts kept him up that night, as well as loud music from a car driving nearby.