The author of The Flames of Hope/Episode Shadow: Heroes Rise Again considers this page to be unfinished. As such, some sections may change.
Episode Final (Part I,Part II)
The snow fell down as the man in the trenchcoat walked through the forests of White Acropolis. He wasn’t used to walking so far, but the thick snow didn’t allow him to skate and any attempt to fly or Chaos Control to his destination would be picked up on enemy scanners. He was almost there now, though, just meters away from the wall that surrounded White Acropolis Base, an ex G.U.N compound under the control of Eggman since the Black Arms invasion of Earth.
He would know. He was the last one of the invaders’ race.
Shadow the Hedgehog threw away his coat and lifted the communicator on his wrist up to his mouth. He’d reached the entrance of the base, a large, badly paved road covered in thick snow. Above it, Egg Gunners floated, just high enough to keep them off the ground and above the snow. Shadow himself was in the woods nearby, concealed.
“Omega,” he whispered into the communicator “Go.”
“AFFIRMATIVE” Shadow heard Omega say, but not from the communicator.
E-123 Omega rose majestically out of the snow in the road and marched towards the Egg Gunners. His arms turned to rocket launchers just as the searchlights targeted him and the Egg Gunners opened fire, the bullets bouncing off his armour like nothing.
“PATHETIC CONSUMER MODELS,” the robot roared in what was probably his normal tone of voice. “LET ME SHOW YOU TRUE FIREPOWER.”
The rockets flew from his arms and blasted the Egg Gunners to shreds as more flew over the base’s walls. Good. Shadow thought. The distraction was working. That said, how long the distraction would last for was another matter entirely.
Shadow ran towards the wall, something he does very rarely, and fired up his jet boots, boosting over an unguarded section of the wall and into the base on the other side, falling down and landing gracefully on his feet. He quickly ducked behind a nearby barrel to avoid being seen by any searchlights. Now the hard part was done. Next came the easy part.
24 hours ago, Rouge the Bat had vanished on a mission to obtain a mysterious artifact. What it was Shadow had no idea: he hadn’t been disclosed the information, and seeing he was part Black Arms he kind of saw why G.U.N wouldn’t want to inform him. Her last known coordinates had been in Soleanna, and G.U.N was aware of Eggman’s presence in the nation, and seeing how they were all members of Team Dark, Shadow and Omega had been sent to investigate.
Well, “investigating” was pushing it a bit.
A searchlight spun past Shadow, not catching him behind the barrels. Just as it went past, Shadow leapt up on the barrels and boosted forwards towards the searchlight, grabbing onto the tower and quickly leaping up the metal framework before he was on top of the searchlight, looking over the base. It spread out for a mile, covering almost everything Shadow could see from here. He would have to search this entire facility for Route and hopefully not get spotted. He couldn’t Chaos Control either: he’d have to do this the old fashioned way. It wasn’t a problem, just not ideal.
The alarms stopped. Omega had retreated, hopefully having caused enough chaos to conceal Shadow’s entrance. Now, Shadow thought to himself, The real fun begins.
“ERROR. ACCESS DENIED.”
“Damn it,” Rouge muttered under her breath. She’d managed to get the wire box open and had been trying to open the prison door for the past 40 minutes. She had been sent to obtain an item on behalf of G.U.N, but she’d been spotted by Eggman’s robots: an exceptional feat considering her skill. Luckily, she hadn’t reached the object, so it would likely still be in the same place as logistics had told her it would be in.
The prison door swung open as Rouge put two wires together. She smiled and walked out of the cell, checking for guards before walking towards the exit. A robot stood outside the door to the outside, and spun round as the massive titanium door opened at a snail's speed. It flew inside: there were no robots in here, so a prisoner must have opened it, yet there was no one there. As soon as it was in position, Rouge drill dived down from the ceiling, slicing the robot in half. She checked the robot’s laser and swore as she found there was no trigger for it. Although she would have liked a weapon, she could manage with her own devices.
She stepped out into the freezing cold. She was in a canyon of some kind, with lasers blocking exit from the prison at ground level. Robots and searchlights dotted the area, keeping most of the canyon permanently lit. She was going to have to be sneaky about this.
She climbed up the canyon’s walls and ran along the top shelf, being careful not to attract attention from anyone. She could see the main base up ahead. That was her target, where she’d find the Scepter of Darkness. She was so focused on reaching the base quickly that she was caught off guard when a searchlight targeted her and sirens blared.
Several robots flew up to great her, aiming there weapons and opening fire. Rouge drill dived diagonally downwards, going straight through the searchlight and blowing it apart. Now she was on ground level but in almost complete darkness. She hid inside the searchlight’s metal frame as the robots flew back down again, unable to see her. She started to climb up the searchlight. One robot flew into the frame, but she kicked through it’s head with her heel. She kept climbing until she reached the top, leaving several confused robots in her wake.
At last, she reached the door to the main base. The door slid open automatically, and she stepped back in shock when she realised who was meeting her.
“Shadow?” She said in surprise “Why are you here?”
“You’ve been missing for 48 hours,” He replied “And HQ thought you were too good to have died on such a simple mission. I was sent to assist you.”
“I can assist myself, thank you very much.”
“If you could, you would have finished the job 30 hours ago.”
Rouge glared at Shadow.
“Fine,” She continued “But I’m leading this mission. You will follow my orders until the mission is done, no complaining. Is that understood?”
Shadow nodded. Rouge looked away and continued walking forwards.
“Commander Rouge?” Shadow said.
“What?” Route replied
“It’s good to see you again, ma’am,”
Rouge looked away and smiled.
“Good to see you too, agent. Now let’s get this over with.”
The base was a wide open area littered with robots and searchlights. On top of a hill was a large, grey compound. That was their target.
“What are we waiting for, then?” Shadow said. He skated towards the nearest searchlight and boosted up the side, kicking the light off the tower and into the ground. Sirens started blaring again and Rouge sighed.
“So much for Commander Rouge,” She said and raced after him. A robot aimed at Shadow, but Rouge jumped up and yanked it backwards, piledriving it into the ground. Shadow, meanwhile, was faced by a bipedal mech that was firing lasers at him. The hedgehog jumped up onto the machine and set one of his jet boots to maximum, roasting the machine to the point where it started to catch fire. Shadow jumped off and kept skating towards the base, with Rouge flying alongside him. A searchlight spotted them and spun round, but Shadow fired an offhand Chaos Spear that made the thing explode soon they were racing up the slope to the base.
“Luckily, Eggman’s not here,” Rouge said. “We haven’t seen him physically since the Black Arms invasion. Sources say he’s hiding in Adabat.”
“And those sources are?”
“HQ hasn’t informed me. So they’re probably anonymous source sent into G.U.N to keep them off his back.”
“So how do you know Eggman’s not here?”
“Trust me, we’d know.”
They reached the top of the base only to be greeted by a large number of Eggman’s robots.
“HALT,” One of them said “SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG. ROU-”
Before he could finish Shadow fired off a large number of chaos spears, destroying most of the robots there. A robot with gigantic hands walked towards Rouge and tried to punch her, but she jumped up onto the robot’s chest and ripped out it’s power core. She then threw it into another robot, turning both the power core and the robot to scrap metal. The two ran through the base’s interior, which was surprisingly mostly empty. The whole base had felt like it had been running on a skeleton crew for Shadow and Rouge, but they had no problem with that. Rouge guided Shadow down the hallways, towards where her target was meant to be located.
Eventually, they entered an octagonal room filled with laser tripwires. In the middle was a dark purple scepter, an orb covered by angel’s wings on the top. It looked like something out of a heist movie. Rouge smiled to herself and had to stop herself from giggling. She’d missed this part of the job.
“Wait here,” Rouge said and dived under one of the lasers, moving at a pace and with a reaction time that even Shadow admitted he’d have trouble with matching. Within seconds, the lasers turned off as Rouge removed the scepter from the plinth and walked back over.
“The Scepter of Darkness,” Rouge said, looking the scepter over and grinning “What a beautiful object. I’d love to keep it, but G.U.N requires me to give it to them.”
“Why?” Shadow asked. Rouge winked at him.
“I’ll tell you when you get back,” She said and walked past him, out of the room. She enjoyed teasing him.
The two continued through the base until they entered a large, circular area, almost built like an arena. Standing in the centre was a large dog-like robot with an orange spike on its head. It looked straight at them.
“IDENTIFY YOURSELF, INTRUDERS,” It said.
“I don’t think there’s much point introducing ourselves,” Rouge said as both her and Shadow got ready for battle.
Shadow flew forward while the robot was docile, kicking the orange spike clean off. The robot naturally saw this as an act of aggression and tried to bite Shadow’s shoe, but the hedgehog blasted away at the last moment. He didn’t expect the dog to charge at him with quite the speed it did, knocking him to the ground. Rouge easily dodged out of the way and the dog spun round before it hit the wall, running straight at Rouge again. This time, she was unable to dodge and was knocked away. Shadow stood up as the machine gained on him: considering they had blown their cover, he saw no reason to hold back now. He got out the Chaos Emerald he had been given by G.U.N: he couldn’t use it before because Eggman’s army would pick up the energy signature. They’d picked up more than the signature now.
“CHAOS CONTROL!” He shouted. The dog froze in time and Shadow rushed over, kicking each of its legs in turn. He then unfroze time and the dog tumbled to the ground. Rouge took this as an opportunity to kick the head, but the machine was barely dented. Shadow fired off a Chaos Spear at the robot’s head, but it seemingly took no damage. The robot jumped to its feet and charged at Shadow, knocking him into a wall. Rouge flew up onto it’s back and the machine tried unsuccessfully to grab her, spinning around like a dog chasing its own tail.
Shadow got up: this fight was going nowhere. He was going to have to act fast to get this done before Eggman’s other robots turned up. He was going to have to do something he’d never done before.
During the Black Arms invasion, Shadow had discovered his innate control of Chaos Energy allowed him access to 2 forms: Light Mode, which required an almost zen like state, and Dark Mode, which required a contempt and hatred for everything around him. He’d often wondered whether he could tap into this increased supply of Chaos Energy without the emotional connection. Now was as good a time as any to find out.
He stood up, channeling energy like he was about to perform a Chaos Spear, but keeping the power locked inside him, not leaving his chest. He felt the power build up until it reached its limit. Then he let it go.
Rouge looked round as a bright flash of red light radiated from Shadow. The mechanical dog she was on also stopped, turned around, and let out a mechanical growl.
“I’ll let you two talk it out,” She whispered in where the machine’s ear should be as she flew away. Shadow stood there, radiating red light from his quills. He felt energy coursing through his veins like adrenaline, and all of it was at his fingertips. He flew towards the dog at such a high speed he even surprised himself. He then unleashed a bombardment of kicks and punches, teleporting around the dog with Chaos Control. The machine snapped at it’s limbs, trying to keep up, but it was no use: Shadow smashed through the machine, destroying wires and tubes, sending sparks everywhere. He finished up by smashing the dog’s head into the ground and teleporting in front of Rouge, who was looking onwards in surprise. The machine then exploded behind him.
“You meant to look away from the explosion, didn’t you?” Rouge asked. Shadow nodded as he felt the power fade and his quills turned to normal: he clearly had to build up a lot of energy for this power to work. The duo were suddenly surrounded by Eggman’s robots, but they didn’t bother to fight. Missiles soon swept past them and blew the robots apart.
“GOOD EVENING,” Omega said stomping up to them “IF I HAD BEEN INFORMED THIS MISSION WOULD INVOLVE THE AMOUNT OF DESTRUCTION PRESENTED, I WOULD HAVE RESCUED ROUGE MYSELF.”
“It wasn’t meant to,” Shadow said putting a hand on Omega’s massive arm as Rouge put a hand on his shoulder. The now reformed Team Dark Chaos Controlled away.
Team Dark reappeared in a small cave area; a safehouse often used by G.U.N agents. The room was home to a high-tech computer terminal, what looked like some kind of teleport platform and a picture of a green Mobian cat on the wall.
“That’s Princess Elise III,” Rouge said, noticing Shadow and Omega were a bit taken aback by this out-of-place painting. Shadow was only able to teleport here because he knew it existed, he didn’t know the features of the room until now. Rouge was busy tapping away at the computer.
“ID SENSORS ENGAGED,” Omega said, looking at the painting “PRINCESS ELISE THE THIRD. ADOPTED CHILD OF DUKE DUNCAN AND QUEEN MIREYA OF THE SOLEANNAN ROYAL FAMILY.”
“Mireya couldn’t give birth,” Rouge said, still tapping away “They decided to adopt a child in order to continue the royal family somehow.”
“DUNCAN DIED TEN YEARS AGO IN A CAR ACCIDENT. MIREYA DIED TWELVE YEARS AGO OF CANCER. ELISE WAS SIX WHEN DUNCAN DIED.”
“Poor girl,” Shadow muttered. He knew what losing your family felt like all too well.
“Anyway,” Rouge continued. “I’m getting a line to G.U.N HQ to inform them of a mission complete.”
The computer screen turned to static and an image of the Commander eventually flickered on.
“Agent Rouge,” The Commander said “Team Dark.”
“GOOD MORNING, COMMANDER. HOW WAS YOUR COFFEE?”
“Exceptional,” Abraham said, not wanting to offend the robot or mass destruction but wanting to get the question out of the way as quickly as possible. “Rouge, we have a problem. The rendezvous point has changed. Castle Town is no longer safe.”
“Eggman,” Rouge replied.
“Correct. He attacked the Festival of the Sun occurring last night. It’s a wonder there were no casualties. Anyway, the new rendezvous point is located in the old castle. I’m assuming Shadow can get you there.”
The hedgehog nodded.
“Hand over the Scepter to the soldiers there,” The Commander continued “Then get out of there. Good luck, Team Dark.”
The image went blank.
“This old castle…” Shadow wondered.
“KINGDOM VALLEY,” Omega replied “ORIGINALLY THE HOME OF THE SOLEANNAN ROYAL FAMILY. NOW A FLOODED RUIN.”
“It has been for over a decade,” Rouge said “Anyway, Shadow, time to get over there.”
The group once again put their hands on Shadow’s shoulders as he Chaos Controlled away.
Shadow stood on top of the tower, one foot balancing on the pointed tip. Rouge and Omega hung onto the side, looking over the half-submerged castle. The wind was harsh and ivy covered the walls, giving the place a strange beauty. Shadow surveyed the area.
“Do we have a lock on the extraction point?” He asked Rouge. She pulled out a circular device with a blue screen and the G.U.N logo on the back.
“Yep. Should be in that direction.” She pointed to the group’s right, further into the castle.
“ERROR. LACK OF THINGS TO DESTROY,” Omega said.
“Maybe this will be easy for once,” Shadow replied.
“You’ve jinxed it now,” Rouge inputted “Let’s just get this over with.”
Shadow nodded. He fell backwards, falling towards the water below. Just before he landed, he pushed himself off the tower’s exterior wall, spun in mid air, and activated his jet boots. He watched the water ripple momentarily before flying across it. Rouge glided above him while Omega jumped between the towers like a gorilla, occasionally punching through the walls when he felt annoyed that there was nothing to destroy. Both members of Team Dark found it hard to keep up with Shadow, who was weaving in and out of the submerged ruins with a speed fitting for Sonic’s arch rival. He kept his eye on the ruins above: he felt like someone was watching him. Then again, he figured Omega and Rouge would notice that for him, so he just kept to trying not to crash.
Eventually, he reached a tower where the top spire had fallen away to leave only the floor. Shadow skated up it and stopped at the top as Rouge and Omega landed next to him.
“See anything?” Shadow asked.
“NEGATIVE,” Omega replied “LACK OF ENEMIES IS ANNOYING.”
“We’re almost at the extraction point,” Rouge said. “Not far ou-”
Before she could finish, Shadow heard a very distinctive laugh as a robot descended from the sky.
“OHOHOHO!” Doctor Eggman laughed using the robot’s speaker “It’s a pleasure to see you again, Shadow!”
“Doctor,” Shadow replied calmly. “Why are you here?”
“It seems that you’ve...mislaid some G.U.N soldiers, shall we say? I’ll return them to you on one condition: the Scepter of Darkness returns to me.”
“Well, then...I’ll have to take it by force!”
Several other robots flew down and opened fire on the group. Rouge took cover behind Omega’s bulletproof armour as Shadow homing attacked one of the robots, smashing it with his foot. Omega activated his miniguns and unloaded them on the enemy.
“FINALLY,” Omega said “SOMETHING TO DESTROY.”
Shadow homing attacked the robots at rapid speed. Once the group were cleared out, he floated down with his jet boots and looked at Rouge.
“Where’s the extraction point?” He asked “That must be where he’s keeping the G.U.N agents.”
Rouge pointed towards a large tower that still had stained glass in it despite the roof being completely open. Shadow nodded.
“Cover me,” He said. He shot across the water to two towers connected by a bridge. A bipedal walker greeted him with laser beams, but Shadow rushed under them and smashed the machine’s leg, buckling it, before kicking it hard enough to fall into the water. Omega grabbed Rouge and hurled her after Shadow, jumping between enemies as they tried to hunt down the hedgehog. The robot then went back to jumping between buildings, unloading on robots whenever he could and punching walls when he couldn’t. Shadow leapt between the towers, taking down robots at high speed, before smashing through the stained glass windows of another tower. The area was crawling with robots who opened fire instantly. Shadow slid under a bipedal walker and fired two Chaos Spears at it’s legs, making the robot crash to the ground. He jumped off the wall behind him and homing attacked into another robot before firing Chaos Spears rapidly, cutting down the other robots in the room. He walked through the door of the building to find a plinth with a model eagle on it and a lever of some kind. Shadow yanked on the lever and saw the air around him refocus, forming a grind rail. Shadow jumped on, only to find that Rouge and Omega were on similar rails next to him.
“RAILS ILLOGICAL,” Omega said “WIND CANNOT HOLD SUFFICIENT MASS FOR GRINDING.”
“Forget about logic and just enjoy it,” Rouge said. They continued grinding until they reached the extraction point. As expected, 3 G.U.N agents were tied up in the middle with robots floating above them. Team Dark jumped off the rails and Shadow once again stored up the Chaos energy inside him to enter his enhanced form, rapidly teleporting between the robots and taking them out faster than the blink of an eye. He deactivated his power as he and Rouge untied the agents.
“I need a name for that power…” He muttered. Then he looked up and saw more robots descend from the sky.
“Omega, get the agents to safety!” Rouge said. Omega nodded and carried them on his massive arms away from the group of robots and the newly arrived Doctor Eggman, sitting on what looked like a two-seater version of his classic Egg Mobile.
“Ah, Shadow! Rouge!” Doctor Eggman said “I’m sorry I couldn’t meet you in person earlier, but I had other matters to attend too. Now, the hosta-“
Eggman quickly looked around to see that the hostages weren’t there.
“Oh, well. Kill them anyway.”
“Good luck, Doctor,” Shadow replied as he got out his Chaos Emerald. “CHAOS CONTROL!”
Time stood still as Shadow created multiple Chaos Spears, frozen in mid air. He then snapped his fingers and time resumed, destroying most of Eggman’s robots in an instant. However, Eggman fired a grapple cabal from his Egg Mobile, grabbing Rouge’s arm and yanking her upwards. Shadow jumped up and burnt through the cable with his Jet Boots. Rouge flew towards Eggman and tried to kick him in the face, but the Doctor quickly drew a pistol and shot Rouge in the leg. Rouge held back a scream before another robot fired a massive hand at her and yanked her to the ground. As it did, she dropped the Scepter of Darkness.
“Rouge!” Shadow shouted. He flew towards the robot, but Rouge had already wrestled out of his massive hand and kicked his head clean off.
“Shadow!” She shouted “Get the sc-“
It was too late. The scepter landed on the ground and shattered. The room was suddenly covered by an unearthly darkness. Shadow could feel himself start to choke and heard that Rouge and Eggman were clearly affected in the same way. It came as no surprise to him when he heard jet thrusters start up as Eggman ran away.
The darkness cleared. Rouge was on the ground, having been almost choked into unconsciousness. Shadow staggered back and breathed heavily as he regained his composure. He looked to where the scepter was: a dark shadow hung above it, spinning around. It soon formed into a pool on the ground and out of it rose a being with Shadow’s body, but not his features. Red highlights were now a dark blue, mouth was completely gone and eyes were now a reptilian green.
The being’s body lolled backwards, it’s arms and head dangling limply.
“A mortal form…” the being growled. “How insulting. And your form no less.”
Shadow’s copy raised its arm towards Shadow but took a few moments to move his fingers to be pointing. His head rolled forwards and body jerked upright, staring Shadow dead in the eyes.
“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it, old friend?”
“ ‘Old friend’?” Shadow repeated “I’ve never met you before! Who are you?”
“So, you don't remember me...I suppose that’s the way with your kind...you forget about actions you’ve done less than a second ago...or was it forever? Time is not a thing I enjoy, and yet now I’m forced to comply with it.”
Shadow tried to charge a Chaos Spear in his hand, but suddenly felt weak. He couldn’t feel his energy at all. Rouge staggered back, leaning on a wall.
“What...the hell…” She muttered.
“Interesting…” the new arrival muttered, shuffling over to Shadow “My presence hurts you...I will keep this in mind…not that it will matter once I send you away…”
He raised his hand, ready to click his fingers.
“I’m sure I’ll find a suitable timeframe for you to live until there is no time...200 years from now sounds reasonable.”
Rouge crumpled to the floor, unconscious. Shadow couldn’t stay upright either, falling to his knees.
Shadow fell down, his head at the new being’s feet, and passed out as he clicked his fingers and said his final words.
“My name...is Mephiles.”
Shadow woke up, gasping for air. He stood up quickly, got into a fighting stance, and realised Mephiles was nowhere to be seen. He was in a computer room: the walls were lined with banks of computers, and a large screen sat at the back of the room. Rouge was busy tapping away at the controls.
“It’s about time you woke up,” She said. “Glad I wasn’t alone with the whole choking thing.”
“What happened?” Shadow asked, walking over to her. The room felt unbearably hot.
“Mephiles sent us to the future. I checked the computer: it’s 2217. Do you think he has Chaos Control?”
“No. He couldn’t have had a Chaos Emerald.”
“The Biolizard didn’t need one.”
“It never had time manipulation abilities on this scale, though. Even I don’t.”
He looked up at the computer screen.
“Found anything useful about our situation?” He asked Rouge.
“Yep,” She replied “A video recording. But I thought we’d watch it together. Save us time.”
She opened up a video file, a news report of some kind. It showed Central City, a sight Shadow was more than familiar with. The voice of a female news reporter came on.
“The Iblis crisis has gripped the world,” She said “But, today, some hope was gained.”
The scene changed to a destroyed square, with several police, G.U.N and Kable Enforcement vehicles around the perimeter. In the centre was a massive crater, and nearby the crater was the dead body of a white hedgehog with an X shaped scar.
“The military, as well as the mysterious vigilante who assisted in the capture of the Iblis Trigger have been commended for their bravery, even if the latter died protecting this world.”
The scene changed again, this time to a protest. Countless people were protesting, with signs like “1 life for the many” and “Iblis or the Earth?”
“The hedgehog is currently in G.U.N custody, being questioned about his role in the rise of Iblis. However, many think that the believed Iblis Trigger should be executed immediately if there is any hope of defeating Iblis.”
The scene changed for a final time. It showed a G.U.N vehicle unloading a figure in chains thick enough to hold a bear. Military personnel were stopping the cameras from getting a good look, but there was a moment when they had a clear shot of the person being carried and the video stopped. Shadow and Rouge both gasped as the saw the Iblis Trigger.
It was Shadow.
“Shadow…” Rouge said “This can’t be right. You must have been framed or something...right?”
It didn’t matter if he was. If Shadow truly was this “Iblis Trigger”, then he’d destroy the world. And if not...that just meant that humanity didn’t trust him.
“After all I’ve done for them…” Shadow muttered through clenched teeth. “They try to kill me, the ungrateful bastards…”
“Shadow, listen to yourself!”
Before Rouge could continue further, they heard some shouts and a loud thud from down the hallway. The two looked at each other and ran down the winding, ruined corridors, both dimly aware they’d been here before. They reached the room but stayed in the corridor outside in case they were hostile. Luckily, they weren’t.
“What happened?” Knuckles the Echidna asked “Where are we?”
“The future,” Tails said “Eggman was right. He’s found a way to travel through time!”
“Let’s hope it was only in the experimental stages,” Sonic the Hedgehog replied.
Rouge and Shadow both gave each other the same look. Eggman possessing time travel was worrying, but they both knew they had to take things one step at a time. With that, Rouge walked forwards and the group spun round at the sound of footsteps.
“Who’s there!?” Knuckles shouted.
“Oh, good, it’s you,” Rouge replied with the same snark she always used when talking to Knuckles “I was worried that it would be someone capable of harming me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Knuckles replied, angrily.
“Calm down, Rouge,” Shadow said, half jokingly even if Team Sonic couldn’t hear it. “They’re here to help.”
Shadow walked out of the corridor and looked directly at Sonic.
“Long time no see, Shadow,” Sonic said, waving ecstatically despite their current predicament. “So did Eggman send you here, too?”
“No. We were sent here by...different means.”
Shadow wondered if he should tell Sonic about Mephiles. The mysterious being had copied his appearance; had that been why he had been hunted in this future? Shadow brushed it aside: he knew perfectly well why his future self ended up the way he did.
“How long have you been here?” Sonic continued, clearly figuring out Shadow didn’t want to talk about it.
“An hour at most,” Shadow replied “But...there’s something you need to see.”
Shadow got out his Chaos Emerald. He didn’t want to show Team Sonic the video: he figured he could get the same point across in another way.
The group teleported to the top of a ruined skyscraper, looking over a city of toppled skyscrapers and endless fires. The shadows of monsters danced in the light and the sky was a darker shade of black than Shadow’s fur.
“This was New City,” Shadow lamented “200 years into the future.”
Shadow had seen the video, he knew what happened, but the absolute devastation he was now witnessing had caught him off guard.
“My God…” Sonic muttered to himself, his happy tone suddenly becoming much more serious. He turned round and looked at Shadow “How did this happen?”
“A monster called Iblis destroyed a large chunk of the world,” Rouge said in the same tone of voice as Shadow “We don’t know much else.”
“Iblis…” Sonic muttered “The Iblis Trigger...He was right.”
Shadow’s heart froze. Did Sonic already know about the Iblis Trigger? Would he be the first friend to turn on him? Tails put a hand on Sonic’s shoulder and whispered something to him. He looked at Tails sadly, nodded, and got up. Did they both know what was going to happen? Sonic turned round to look at Shadow and asked a question before Shadow’s train of thought could go any further.
“We need to get back to our own time. How do we do that?”
“We can fix Eggman’s time machine,” Tails suggested “I’m sure there must be materials for it somewhere. Shadow?”
Shadow nodded, put his hand on Tails’ shoulder and vanished. The group were sitting around for half an hour before Shadow reappeared.
“We have a starting point,” Shadow said. “Rouge, do you have a spare G.U.N communicator? I gave Tails mine.”
Rouge nodded and handed Sonic a communicator wristband which he wrapped around his wrist.
“Alright, people, listen up!” Tails said through the communicator “This machine is pretty banged up, but I can get it working. I need a few materials, though. Firstly, I need a power source of some kind. I’ve located energy signatures in a volcano 30 miles away, but it’s way too dangerous to get there from your current position.”
“Me and Rouge can get those,” Shadow said “Chaos Control will get us there safely.”
“Luckily, the other thing I need is in the city. I need a plasmapheric energy conductor, and I have a reading on one. Sonic and Knuckles, I’ll guide you there.”
“Alright, got it!” Knuckles said.
“How many jumps to the past can we manage?” Sonic asked.
“Two at the most,” Tails replied “If the first one doesn’t reduce the area to ash, the second definitely will. Luckily, you’re the only life signs for miles around.”
“Ok,” Shadow said “Let’s get moving.”
Rouge nodded and put a hand on Shadow’s shoulder and the two Chaos Controlled away.
Shadow ran down the rocky path, Rouge gliding alongside him. The path led up to a massive volcano, towering over the deadland that seemed to go on forever. They had no idea where the city was in relation to this place. All they knew was they had crystals to obtain.
A giant worm made of fire jumped out of the ground, stopping Shadow in his tracks. Rouge tried to drill dive the monster, but flew back as her hands were scorched by the monster. Shadow fired a Chaos Spear through its head.
“Looks like we can’t touch these monsters,” Rouge said.
“You act like that’s a problem.” Shadow replied. He activated his Jet Boots and blasted off, running around a looping rock formation that went into an area of volcanic activity just outside the volcano. Rouge simply flew over to this area.
“Show off.” She muttered.
Shadow soon ran out of road and started running across one of the walls on the side of the crater-like area, avoiding the boiling lava bellow. Several flaming birds spewed fire at him, but Rouge dispatched them with a well-aimed bomb. Shadow leapt off the wall, jumping between rocky platforms before they collapsed. Soon, a humanoid made of rock and fire twice Shadow’s height appeared. He swung his hand round, trying to knock Shadow off the platform, but Shadow flipped over the hand and shot a Chaos Spear into his face. As the monster staggered back, it exploded as Rouge kicked a bomb into it’s back. Shadow nodded to her in thanks and used his Jet Boots to fly over some more lava, before eventually running up the crater wall to reach a rocky outcrop teeming with monsters. Rouge landed beside him and threw several bombs up into the air. Shadow used Chaos Control to freeze time around them before jumping up and kicking and palm striking the bombs in rapid succession. As time returned to normal, the bombs flew everywhere, blasting the monsters to shreds as Shadow landed on the ground.
The two continued onward to a rocky door covered in purple crystals.
“Shadow, Rouge, you there?” Tails said through Rouge’s communicator “There’s a faint energy signature coming from your position, but there’s a stronger on further inside the volcano.”
“The energy signature must be from these purple crystals,” Rouge said to Shadow “There must be a cache of them inside.”
Shadow nodded and the two of them continued on as the door slowly slid open. They went through a small cavern area before coming to a long rocky bridge with another giant humanoid standing on it in front of a lava waterfall. Shadow teleported behind its head and fell downwards with a Chaos Spear in hand, slashing it’s entire body in half. Rouge flew through it and chucked another bomb at several firebirds who were preparing to open fire. Shadow jumped up and Rouge threw him above the waterfall, allowing him to homing attack to dry land. Several rocky platforms floated downstream, and Shadow jumped between them as Rouge flew alongside him.
“You’re getting close,” Tails said “There’s an entrance to a side cavern that should take you straight to the crystal room.”
“Understood.” Shadow said. The two reached another outcrop similar to the last one, although instead of a door there was an open tunnel, presumably the one Tails mentioned. This time, Shadow simply teleported him and Rouge past the monsters and they dashed down the tunnel.
The tunnel lasted for a while. There weren’t any monsters and purple stones floated above them, emitting a faint light. After a while, Shadow could tell Rouge was getting bored of the monotony. However, eventually they came to a giant cavern with a huge rock platform in the centre. Crystals jutted out of the side walls and central platform.
“We’re there,” Rouge said into the communicator. All she got back was static. She shrugged, assuming it was just the reception, and both members of Team Dark started collecting the crystals. Soon, they had enough to leave. As they turned to leave, Rouge dropped to her knees, choking.
“Rouge!” Shadow shouted, dropping down to help her.
“S...Shadow,” She spluttered “It’s him.”
Shadow looked round. A black shadow rose out of one of the crystals, quickly reforming into a body. Shadow’s body.
Mephiles had returned, and he was laughing.
“Shadow,” Mephiles said “It’s been a million years since I’ve seen you...yet at the same time it has only been two seconds.”
“Stop it,” Shadow growled. Even though Rouge was effected, he couldn’t feel Mephiles’ poison aura. “Let her go.”
“That is no way to greet an old friend. Beside, I controlled my aura to only hurt her, you should be thankful you’re not choking to death.”
“I’m not a friend of monsters, Mephiles.”
“I believe you were friends with Gerald Robotnik, yes?”
Shadow teleported up into Mephiles’ face, reaching out to grab him by the neck, but only grabbed air as Mephiles vanished in response, appearing next to Rouge. He put a hand on Rouge’s back as his body crumpled over to look her in the eyes. His hand was icy cold and sent shivers down Rouge’s spine.
“How far would you go to save this woman, Shadow?” Mephiles asked. Rouge stood up shakily, brushing off Mephiles hand and threw a punch at him. Mephiles teleported just out of her reach and she looked shocked before finally giving in to Mephiles’ aura and falling unconscious into his arms.
“I SAID LET HER GO!” Shadow shouted, teleporting behind him and aiming a Chaos Spear at his head. Mephiles turned round before Rouge and the crystals turned into shadowy mist and vanished.
“What have you done to her?” Shadow continued.
“I have returned her to Crisis City,” Mephiles replied “I assure you, I am intent on keeping Sonic’s party alive and well.”
“Stop lying through your teeth. What do you want?”
“I want to destroy this world and everyone on it. Don’t you want that, too? After all, you are the son of Black Doom.”
Shadow fired the Chaos Spear, but Mephiles teleported behind him again.
“Please,” Mephiles said “Before you make your decision, there is something you should see.”
The two teleported away, into a grey room with walls lined with glass tubes, each containing a person. Mephiles raised his hand, pointing to one after a moment of moving his fingers to find the right one. Shadow turned round to see the person in the pod: it was him.
“When Iblis was released,” Mephiles said “They hunted you. Not because you had done anything, but because you were a threat to them. They used Iblis as an excuse to kill you, just as they used your predecessor as an excuse to slaughter the ARK. They never trusted you, Shadow. Even your friends don’t. How long till Sonic fights you for real? How long till Rouge and Omega think you’re a monster? How long till the whole world wants you dead?”
They teleported back into the cavern. Shadow looked down. The video was true: humanity would turn on him. He’d be trapped in a tube for 200 years by his own friends.
“Humans are monsters,” Mephiles continued, “You are not their only victim. Join me, Shadow. We can free the universe from their corrupt grasp. Make them pay for their crimes. Let order reign in this universe...as it shoul-”
Mephiles was cut off as Shadow fired a Chaos Spear straight into his chest, throwing him back. He crumpled to the ground in a way that would shatter the bones of an actual Mobian.
“I don’t care what you have to say,” Shadow replied, “I don’t care if humanity turns on me. I don’t care if I lose, if I’m locked away for 200 years by my own friends. I will keep fighting till my last breath...and until the day comes before I have to fight my friends, before I can return to Maria, that means fighting monsters like you!”
Mephiles stood up with his typical unnatural movements. Soon, he snapped his head back fast enough to break his neck if he had one and started laughing.
“Oh, Shadow,” He said “I would have been honoured for you to stand alongside me. But it seems you wish to condemn yourself to the agony of your future...an agony that will come sooner than you think.”
Crystals broke off the walls and floated towards Mephiles as he slowly rose up into the air. They were absorbed into his shadowy form before his entire body was encased in a crystal sheen: still the same shape as Shadow, but now made of glowing purple rock and even more unnatural than before. Shadows swirled around him, forming into an army small, giggling creatures behind Mephiles.
“Let me show you, Shadow…” He muttered “Let me show you OBLIVION!”
Shadow got into a combat stance and prepared to fight the horde of shadows.
Shadow started off by teleporting behind Mephiles with Chaos Control, going to kick the back of his head. However, he was pulled back by the shadow creatures behind him, throwing him to the ground. Mephiles turned round slowly before teleporting up to Shadow and slashing at him with his new crystalline claws. Shadow ducked under them and went for a sweep attack. Mephiles was knocked off his feet, but he quickly righted himself in mid air and teleported away as a horde of monsters flew at Shadow.
“Chaos Control!” Shadow shouted as time froze around him. He created several Chaos Spears and unfroze time, quickly blasting apart the shadows. Mephiles teleported behind him and tried to slash at him with his claws, but Shadow turned around and blocked it, going to punch Mephiles in the chest. Mephiles blocked this with his palm and, while the hedgehog was still distracted, the creatures jumped into Shadow’s back.
Shadow staggered away, feeling his body slowly turning cold as the monsters continued giggling. He raised the Chaos Emerald to do Chaos Control, but soon realised his arms were turning to ice. He released a small blast of chaos energy, a much weaker version of his Chaos Blast move, knocking them all away. His body quickly thawed out due to the heat of the volcano. He looked around, quickly realising Mephiles was nowhere to be seen. He used his Jet Boots to fly straight upwards, scanning the arena for him, but all he could see were the hordes of creatures that were slowly blotting out the light.
“FIGHT ME, YOU COWARD!” Shadow said. He charged his fist with Chaos Energy and groundpounded the shadows, releasing a huge shockwave that killed a large portion of them, although more quickly took their places. Shadow tried to move, but realised he couldn’t. He could see in the light of the lava surrounding the platform that his shadow now looked like Mephiles.
“How can I fight you if you can’t fight yourself?” Mephiles whispered in his ear. The shadowy being floated above him, now dark black instead of his usual purple. Shadow felt his hand move on it’s own as Mephiles moved his own hand and soon Shadow was choking himself.
“Let...me…go…” He wheezed, trying to fight Mephiles’ control and failing miserably.
“No one says such an empty threat unless they expect to die soon.”
Shadow tried with all his power to remove his own iron grasp, streaks of Chaos Energy radiating from his quills as he tried. He slowly started to pull his arm away, but Mephiles’ hold was still strong as he couldn’t move the rest of his body.
“Shame,” Mephiles said, unfazed by this turn of events. “If you can’t kill yourself...I will kill you in other ways.”
The legions of shadow creatures rushed towards Shadow, burying him alive. He couldn’t move, and soon he wouldn’t be able to breath. There was nothing he could do.
“You’re helpless to resist, Shadow,” Mephiles continued “Drown in darkness!”
Shadow gritted his teeth.
“I’ve felt what helplessness is like before,” He replied “Never again.”
His body glowed bright red, the aura radiating out of the pile of creatures he was buried under. Suddenly, the creatures were reduced to nothingness as Shadow unleashed a massive Chaos Blast, entering his new form once more. Mephiles lost his control over Shadow and was thrown back like a ragdoll, landing on the ground before immediately getting up again.
“Your powers of Chaos will not stop me, Shadow,” He growled. Shadow smirked.
“Chaos Shadow,” He replied jokingly “I’ve been looking for a name for this form.”
He teleported up into Mephiles face and punched him, catching Mephiles off guard. He tried to summon his army of monsters, but it soon proved fruitless in the face of Shadow’s new power. Shadow kicked him upwards, teleported after him, and bombarded Mephiles with kicks and punches before finally grabbing him and throwing him to the floor.
“I believe…” Mephiles muttered “It’s time to run.”
“I WON’T LET YOU ESCAPE!” Shadow shouted. He flew downwards, aiming to groundpound Mephiles, but he clicked his fingers and they both vanished 200 years into the past.