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The Ballad of Shadow the Hedgehog

By ShadowWeasel

Adventure / Action

Chapter 1

There was no thinking as Shadow the hedgehog fired six rounds from his revolving pistol. There was, however, the irrefutable stench of smoldering gunpowder, the spray of vibrantly scarlet blood, and the sound of souls being sent to hell.

The hedgehog in the left corner of the saloon spasmed violently as two balls of lead tore through his ribcage and shattered bone. One splattered the remains of his heart across the back-wall and painted the browning oak a dank crimson.

The two weasels on Shadow's right were destroyed by a pair of bullets. One through the eye. One down the throat. Both screamed and bled and writhed as life fled their bodies.

The rat on the upper level proved slightly more difficult, but none could escape the wrath of a discharging forty-five revolver. He screeched as the round ripped apart his neck, and as he clawed futiley at the wound the railing beneath him snapped into several pieces. There was a sickening snapping noise when he made contact with the hardwood floor below. Not before splintering to shards the table below, of course.

Now all that was left was the goddamned...

"Bartender," the graying hedgehog was saying as he jabbed a sawed-off shotgun into Shadow's skull. The ultimate life form froze as the cold steel touched just below his ear. Smart men knew that the area under the ear was the weakest part of the skull. This bartender happened to be a smart man. "Nobody suspects the bartender."

Shadow stood perfectly still. A slight breeze wafted through the now-empty and bloodied tavern, sending the black hedgehog's tattered trench-coat into a billowing wave. The wine-colored material of the jacket was stained with dust and gunpowder, much in contrast to the barkeep's attire.

The silvery hedgehog wore a gold-rimmed monicle, a maroon vest and bowtie, and a midnight-dark bowler-hat. He was grinning at the black and red hedgehog, certain that victory was his.

"Now turn the hell around, gunslinger," he barked. "Lemme' see your face."

Shadow did so. Blood-red eyes ringed with the darkness of a wandering mercenary. Glaring orbs of fire that concealed pain and misery. Killer's eyes.

"Hey," the bartender sneered, "you are the one that Robotnik's after. Wonder what the hell for?"

"How about you ask him?" Shadow suggested quietly. The plan was forming in his mind even as he spoke. Instincts working like clockwork. Brain running at a million miles an hour.

"How 'bout you shut your goddamned mouth?" the older man snapped. "You got a lot of rings on your head, Mister Shadow. And you're worth a helluva' lot more kicking than bleeding. So how's about you put your hands right on up there for me?"

The black hedgehog raised his gloved palms defensively, dangling his pistol between his thumb and index-finger. The monicle-wearing man watched the gun carefully.

"Drop the six-shooter."

Shadow cocked his head slightly and cast him a wondering look.

"I said drop it, goddamn it!"

With a shrug, the ultimate life form let the gun fall to the ground. The barkeep kept his eyes locked with the revolver as it went, unaware of just how fast the infamous Black Blur really was.

It didn't take much. A swift parody of a roundhouse kick across the countertop was enough to send a hellish ringing sound through the old man's head and ears, and the shotgun tumbled from his grasp as he reeled backwards and clutched the sides of his face. Shadow moved with the flowing motion of the kick, twirling around and snatching up his still-falling pistol out of the air with his left hand, and picking the sawed-off off of the table with his right. He aimed with his left, cocking the gun and chambering the sixth and final bullet.

Bang.

Wanted for Murder and Arson:

Shadow the Hedgehog

Reward:

500 Rings Dead

1000 Rings Alive

Sonic the hedgehog could only watch as another poor soul was dragged kicking and screaming into the blistering sunlight and thrown into the sharp, hot granules of sand that made up the wide road that cut through the center of Westown. Who it was this time, he couldn't be certain. He didn't recognize the man's face. But that didn't make the terror and heartbreak any less real.

"No! No, please! I didn't know! Please, let me go!"

What the crime was this time, Sonic wasn't sure of either. But that never mattered anyway. Not anymore, at least.

"I'm sorry! Just let me go, and I won't do it again, I swear!"

How many people had been executed this week... hell, Sonic was sure that he wasn't the only one that had lost count.

Metal Sonic's indigo skin gleamed and reflected beams of pallor, yellow light. Waves of heat hovered off of his body in patterned distortsions of air. The dark brown, leather hat cast deathly black shadows onto the earth below and concealed only half of the chrome-fiend's face. One could still easily make out the pair of bleeding, crimson eyes glaring through the darkness. Claw-like hands portruded menacingly from the sleeves of a dirt-black overcoat, and one talon waited patiently just above the trigger of a silvery, pristine bolt-action rifle.

The poor, shivering husk that had once been a dog cowered as Metal Sonic cocked the rifle. "Oh, God..."

"Citizen Kennedy," the sheriff from hell spoke in an even, deep tone that vibrated the sand and sent shivers down the spines of the innocent, "you are charged with crimes against our leader Robotnik and his people."

The brown dog drew crosses and crucifixes over his broad chest, quoting prayers and words of saviors. "Our father in heaven..."

"In the interest of justice and safety..."

"... hallowed be thy name."

"... you are hereby ordered to be executed."

"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done..."

"Scheduled to occur..."

"...on earth as it is in heaven."

"Immediately."

There was the taut, echoing retort of a rifle as Citizen Kennedy's brains were splattered across the sand. Gray smoke rolled and roiled from the barrel and clouded the scenery in a dark cloud. Pink blood and speckles of greymatter splashed across the golden clots of sand below, and the corpse of one man was left to rot in the sun and cook for the vultures.

Sonic shook his head sorrowfully and choked down a shot of whiskey as Metal Sonic took a moment to load another bullet into his gun. Damned machine always had to have things perfect, the blue hedgehog thought with disdain as the robot marched off to patrol the perimeter of Westown once more, not bothering to wipe away the bloody remains of the innocent that was now splattered across his face and half of the town.

"Another shot, Sonic?"

Sonic glanced over at Knuckles the echidna, who patiently awaited his most loyal, and no doubt most depressed, customer. The red echidna was already pouring the delicious gold-brown concoction into the glass before he could say yes.

"One of these days, Knuckles," the hedgehog vowed, murmuring his words in a slurred blend of drunkenness and heroism, "I'm going to put a hole in that bastard's skull. And we're going to watch him bleed his wirey guts all over the goddamned sand until he dies."

The bartender sighed and readied another bottle of alcohol. Third one today. For Sonic alone. "If you say so, Sonic," he agreed tiredly.

And then everything changed as one shadowy hedgehog in a blood-red trench-coat entered the saloon, and the wind sent the rickety double-doors fluttering against the walls with a wooden crack. Deep red eyes locked with toxic green ones, and all hell was soon to follow.

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