*Chapter 9: Recovery*
5 year old Maria is running down the corridors to find two of her cousins who are always into trouble to get Maria in trouble. Maria found them in the small armory with guns on the walls. A girl with red short hair picked out the gun from the shelf, and her brother with brown hair smiled in awe to see the gun in the hands of his and his sister's. Maria ran in, panting to catch her breath.
"Don't touch that! You'll get hurt!" She says.
"I thought I told you not to follow us, little twerp." The girl said. For a 6 year old, she can be bossy around Maria.
"No matter what you do, you won't prove anything." The boy said who is 7. "Just because our grandfather likes you better than us, doesn't mean you have to rat out on us all the time." Maria looked at her cousins with her big eyes.
"Ivo, Isabella, please put the gun back. We'll get into so much trouble if you don't." She pleaded. "I won't say anything if you put the gun back."
"I don't know, twerp." Isabella spoke. "You look like the type who can tell."
"I swear I won't." Maria said. But, Isabella still has a gun in her hands. Maria couldn't take it anymore. Instead of leaving them here, she tries to take the gun away. The girls are fighting over the gun, and Maria holds the handle while Isabella tries to pull the gun away. But suddenly, Maria accidentally pulls the trigger, and it made her shoot three times in fright. Ivo covered his ears from the loud sounds. He uncovered them to see Maria's face that is full of fear.
"Maria?" He asked. He turned to see his sister on the floor, making a pool of blood. There are two bullet holes on her chest, and her brown eyes are open. She is not breathing at all. Ivo covered his mouth from throwing up.
"...I...I didn't mean..." Maria tried to speak, but she was so scared right now. Then, the scientists and the security came in the room because of the gunshots, and found Isabella's body on the cold floor.
"Holy shit..." One man said.
"What on earth happened here?" The other asked. Maria dropped the gun as she turned to everyone who came in, and her heart beats very fast when her aunt and uncle came in to see their dead daughter. Ivo cried and came to his father. Maria watched her aunt drop her knees to the floor, forming tears in her eyes, looking at Isabella's body.
"Isabella..." She whispered. "My little girl..." She began to sob. Maria started to cry too. Gerald came in and saw the crisis. He came to Maria, asking her what happened, but Maria embraced him in tears. She's afraid to talk. She accidentally killed her cousin. Her aunt turned to Maria with a snarl. Maria slowly turned her head back to see her angry aunt. "You did this...!" She growled. "You killed her! You little murderer!"
"Greta!" Gerald snapped. "Maria was only a child! It was only an accident!"
"Shut up, professor!" The woman yelled. "My daughter is dead! And your little brat killed her!"
"Dear-" Her husband spoke, but Greta turned to him.
"Mark, we're leaving! We're taking my daughter's body down to Earth and begin a funeral!" She said. "And the professor is not invited, neither do any of his people up here. Especially Maria Robotnik. The most favorite grandchild." Maria bit her lip nervously. Boy, does her aunt hate Maria's guts because of the accident. The family walk pass the security and scientists, but Greta turned to see Maria's face, glaring at her with her green eyes. "It should have been you, Maria." She said. Maria turned pale...
Gasping for breath, Maria sat up and realized that she was sweating. A bad dream. But, more like a bad memory she had. She took a glass of water from the bedside and took a long drink. She sighed a bit, and put the glass back.
'Every time I either had a nightmare or a bad memory from childhood, my heart beats so fast and I could barely breathe.' Maria thought. She's been through hell a lot when she was younger. Especially when she was 5. But, she wanted to put that behind her. It's all in the past. Maria got out of the bed and decided to take a walk through the colony to get to the room where she likes to watch the view of Earth. Whenever she was sad or have a bad dream, she goes to that escape pod room to see the view of Earth. Its glow makes her feel so alive inside. She may be in the pink nightdress that passed her knees, but she's the only one who was awake in the ARK. It's past two in the morning.
Little girl, little girl, don't lie to me,Tell me where did you sleep last night?In the pines, In the pines, Where the sun never shines,Will shiver the whole night through.
After a while, she walked in the room, but to her surprise, she sees Shadow standing by the window alone, watching the view. Maria thought he would be asleep, but he probably couldn't tonight. Maybe he had a bad dream too? Who knows? Maria came beside him and smiled.
"Shadow, what're you doing here so late?" She asked. Shadow turned to her with a neutral look.
"I thought I would...come here and see Earth again. After you show me this, I couldn't help but to come here and look at it again." He said. "So, how are you feeling?"
"Never better, Shadow. Thank you for taking me to the nursing room." Maria replied. Shadow gave her a nod and look at Earth.
My Daddy was a Railroad man.Killed a mile and a half from here.His head was found, in a driver's wheel.His body was never found.In the pines, In the pines, where the sun never shines,Will shiver the whole night through.
The two stared at Earth, and it felt like hours to them. Its glow, the colors, everything about Earth is so beautiful to look at. Maria began to imagine her and Shadow in the grassy fields with big trees, and flowers around them. The wind hitting them, making Maria's hair fly behind her, and Shadow's spike fly behind him as well. Maria smiled at the thought.
"I know we've been through with plants, but...I still want to experience them, Shadow." Maria said. "The flower beds, the grass, and trees. I want to see them all when we go there someday."
"Me too." Shadow said. "We will discover everything. And Maria, I will wait for you. As soon as you are recovered from your disease, we will go to Earth together. With Mardic, with the professor, anyone you wish to bring." Maria turned to him. She figured that Shadow will find out about the NIDS by Gerald. She couldn't blame Shadow for knowing this, he had to know.
You've caused me to weep, you've caused me to mourn,You caused me to lose my home.
"My grandfather told you about my disease, didn't he?" She asked. Shadow nodded. "Well, you have the right to know anyway. Since he already told you, then you know why I can't go to Earth yet."
"Yes. You don't want to get everyone else sick, and your disease would be worse." Shadow said. "No matter how it will take for finding a cure for you, Maria, I will wait for you. I promise." Maria felt like crying, but she holds her tears back. She embraced him. Shadow flinched at the action. She's hugging him again like last time. Shadow felt hot on his cheeks again. But, he pass that aside when he returns the hug.
"You're a good friend, Shadow." Maria whispered. "Thank you."
Little girl, little girl, where'd you sleep last night?Not even your mother knows.
Shadow smiled a little and release her as she stood up. They both stare at the window again silent, until a door open to reveal Gerald coming in. Shadow and Maria turned to see him there.
"Oh, Maria. You're awake." Gerald said. "You should be in bed. It's really late."
"I'm fine now, grandpa. I woke up from...a bad dream." Maria replied. "I was only here for a couple minutes and I found Shadow." Gerald looked at the black hedgehog, then at his granddaughter.
"Well, I will let this one slid for now." He said. "Now, off to bed, my dear. I will see you in the morning."
"Okay." Maria said. She turned to Shadow. "Goodnight, Shadow. See you tomorrow." She walked out of the room, leaving Gerald and Shadow alone.
"Well, she recovered quickly." Gerald said. "I'm impressed, Shadow."
"Thank you, professor." Shadow said with a nod. "And...we talk about Earth and...I promise her something."
"About what, Shadow?"
"That...as soon as she was cured, I will take her to Earth. All of us can go...together." Shadow said. "I said I will wait for her, and...I said that before when she shows me this view. She's my first friend, and...I want to do something for her to make her happy. Like celebrate my first holidays with her, and have this Christmas spirit." Gerald nodded at him.
"Yes, Mardic told me about you wanting to make this holiday more special for all of us, including Maria. And...that was a wonderful idea, Shadow." He says. "Thank you, Shadow. For everything."
In the pines, In the pines, where the sun never shines,Will shiver when the cold winds blow.
Shadow nodded at him. Gerald was telling him to go the room to sleep since it was so late. Shadow obeyed and left the room. As soon as the door slides shut, Gerald came over to the monitor and the screen appeared. The professor was muttering to himself. He was nervous. He was worried about the next 50 years. The day when Black Doom will use Shadow for taking over Earth with the Chaos Emeralds.
"Oh lord, what will I do? How am I going to explain this to everyone and my granddaughter? They will...they will never forgive me for this." He said to himself. He was looking through the files of the military, G.U.N. that he contacted once in a while to talk to the President. "If they find out about the Ultimate Life Form with the alien DNA...oh god." Gerald said. "No. It's okay. I won't say a word. They won't find out about Shadow. If they do, they will understand that Shadow is the protector of the ARK." He shuts the screen off and left the room in silent. In the shadows, there is Doom's Eye watching the professor leave the corridor.
"If that human ever leaves the deal, then I shall take back what was mine." He spoke. "Hmm. His granddaughter was important...perhaps she could be a good use." After that, he flies away through the colony.
*Song: 'In the Pines' from Walking Dead Game Season 2*