Sonic Series Fan Fiction ❯ Verisimilitude: Invasion ❯ Dreams of Disaster ( Chapter 2 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Kiraa: `Lo folks. Some people asked for longer chapters. How's this? It's all Shadow in this chapter, but that'll change by the next one. Yup, Sonic finally makes a proper appearance in chapter 3.
The First Era of Mobius
The First Era of Mobius is the most mysterious division of the planets history. It is unclear, beyond creationist legends, when the era began, and its identifying feature is the great technological advancement of its people. Who these people were is unknown, the one thing that is for certain is that they were neither avian, serpent, or human. All three had their glory days in different era's and in the case of the avians and serpents their records constantly refer back to the race of the First Era.
What remains of the First Era today are scattered ruins of once grand cities. Beyond that the only other information that exists of this time period are either legends passed on orally, or what the people of the second era wrote. Neither source is very complete or trustworthy.
One thing that scientists know a great deal about, and thus the most well recorded part of the era, is its end. Ever story, though they all are slightly different, mention a dark star that rained chaos upon the world and brought a great plague that destroyed the people of the first Era.
Notably, such places as Mystic Ruins, and the fabled Angel Island are remnants of this time period.
Chapter 2: Dreams of Disaster
He was humming a happy tune, leafing through the pages of a book that his dream self didn't have the intelligence to read yet. But there were lots of pictures, which kept him entertained enough.
Shadow knew it was a dream as soon as it began. That happened sometimes. The dreams in which he's running with Maria erase reality and he truly believes it's happening all over again. The other dreams he has of Ark are like this. His dream self in one corner of their mind, the rest of him fully aware of what's going on in the other.
He didn't like the set up. He should have, remembering the times when he and Maria used to be happy would have been nice. Inevitably, though, there'd be a wrinkle in the dream, a point where Maria or he would do and say something that had his more conscious mind screaming that things would never happen like that. He or Maria would never do or say such things. The wrinkles marked where Robotnik had corrupted his memory, and for that he hated these dreams.
Show a starving a guy a steak and then throw it to a spoiled poodle, that's what it felt like to Shadow.
Most jarring was the constant cheer of his dream self. The thought that he had ever been that happy, it was almost embarrassing in the fact that he neither felt or remembered ever feeling like that.
The door to his room…no, their room slid open. And already there was a wrinkle. He and Maria had never shared a room, why were there two beds here? Another wrinkle, Maria walked in with her head cast down looking at sheets of large papers in her hand. She seemed to be very concerned by what ever was on them, her delicate face drawn in a frown.
Of course dream Shadow wasn't as perceptive as that. “What'cha reading?” Shadow flinched at the innocence of his own voice. Dream Shadow stood up and walked to Maria's bed where she now sat looking at the papers. Shadow could still see through the eyes of his dream self, at the same time he was standing in front of and looking at both the figures. Funny how things could work like that in dreams.
“Maps.” Was Maria's far too serious reply. Dream Shadow looked at the topmost paper over her shoulder, but didn't see anything `mapy' about them. Conscious Shadow did. The paper was white and all over it were black dots, each labeled by either a name or a series of numbers and letters. Some labels appeared multiple times and Shadow recognized it to be a star map.
Another wrinkle, Maria would never be looking at these things.
“Why?” Dream Shadow asked, and Shadow himself was curious since this dream was new in the sense that he'd never had it before. Maria lifted a small thin hand to point with a finger at a series of three dots. They were all labeled with the same name. “That.” She answered simply.
Dream Shadow was confused. What was so special about dots on paper?
Shadow himself understood. Star maps were made by layering multiple images, usually three, one over the other. Stars that appeared in different locations on each image were then obviously moving objects that had changed their positions in space during the time gap between images. The three that Maria pointed out had an unusually large amount of distance between them. In fact they took up the whole paper, starting with the first on the left, one in the center, and one on the right. Either there was a very long time gap between when these images were taken, or it was an impossibly fast moving object for its size.
“What is it?” Dream Shadow asked, ever curious.
Maria looked up and her eyes were not her eyes. The dream turned confused, as if Shadow was looking at a double negative, the two images overlapping each other. He was waking up, he could feel it and Maria's voice raced him to reality.
“Those that you must destroy.”
Shadow shuddered awake. Well it was better then the other dreams he'd had. There's only so much blood even he can take before his already questionable sanity starts slipping.
It was dark, somehow he'd completely slept through the dusk round of wailing. That or the shreeker had decided to give its voice a rest.
That didn't mean there weren't other things to set his hearing on edge though. For a moment he thought he could hear the oddly familiar whirrings of mechanical movement.
He didn't shift an inch, even though his right hand was pinned uncomfortably underneath him and starting to throb from the blood loss, lest he himself cover up what noise there was. Conveniently he'd fallen asleep facing towards the window, where the world glistened in the moonlight from the evening dew. Silence, but he thought he caught a glimpse of movement out in the trash heaped courtyard.
Before another thirty seconds had ticked by he was out of the room and down by the doors. The factory was his turf, and as unreasonable as it was he didn't like the idea of somebody sneaking around in it. That aside, only the insane were out at night, situation being what it was. He especially didn't care for intruders if they were so obviously sneaking around…and making robot noises. Robots weren't associated with good things in his mind.
And hey, if it was another hobo, well, let's say that Shadow had thought they had learned to stay away from his stuff. He looked out at the trash heaped courtyard and saw nothing. That wasn't comforting at all to his instincts, more then a few alarm bells were going off up there. His ears twitched. Was that the wind or the muffled hiss of hydraulics?
On guard he stepped into the courtyard trying to look in every direction at once.
What do you get for being generally well behaved? Most kids got presents, but if you were Shadow the Hedgehog you got missiles. But these weren't the “Oh hey, here have these and blow stuff up.” kind of missiles, nope, they were more like the “OMFG It's coming straight for me!” kind.
The noise of metal against stone made Shadow whip around to look behind him when he was near the center of the courtyard. He could see an odd looking mecha, some kind of mix between spider and scorpion, clinging to the wall and bodily blocking the entrance to the factory. Its form was distinctly bulbous and spider-like, a missile pod sat on its back, above which curled a scorpion tail with a gun instead of a stinger. And two pincers were clasping and unclasping in front of it.
With a curse, Shadow prepared to spin-dash the thing to oblivion but a flash of light to his left had him leaping back and to the right to dodge the missile that exploded in a glorious blaze where he had been only a fraction of a second before.
No time to watch the pretty fires, the flashes of more jets and the whistling air told him more missiles were enroot. He dashed behind the gutted remains of a buss for some cover, then thought better of it and rolled away from the vehicle just as the missiles impacted with it, sending the empty hull rolling and bouncing on the ground as an interesting fire ball display. Shadow noted that it left quite a messy groove right where he had thought to hide behind it. Chalk another victory up to instincts.
Of course, he didn't have a chance to celebrate for long. The noise of hydraulics signaled the appearance of another spider/scorpion mecha right in front of him as he pulled out of his roll. He grinned, getting ready spin-dash this one, it was too close to use its missiles on him. He was about to dash for it when the tail lifted above its head and shot a broad laser at him. With a curse Shadow was again forced to leap back. He was in the now cleared space where the bus had been…with five spider/scorpion mecha surrounding him. A sixth still blocked the entrance to the factory.
“Ho, ho, ho, ho!” Shadow resisted the urge to cover his ears and role his eyes. Eggman's laugh was on par with the wailing, but of a holly different sort of horrid. Horridly annoying.
The little TV that was the fat man's way of communicating long distance hovered above the courtyard turned battlefield. His brightly mustached face leered on the screen, looking down at Shadow with no small amount of glee.
“Well, well, well. The dead do walk! You're not going to groan for brains or fresh meat are you?”
Shadow could be a very restrained hedgehog, he proved it right then by NOT flipping Eggman off. There went his little illusion of being dead, bad night. “What do you want Robotnik.” He refused to actually call the man something as childish as Eggman out loud, no matter how appropriate the title. He got the feeling that the fat guy actually got a kick out of the name and Shadow refused to be any aid to that.
“Well a little birdie told me that an old friend of mine that I thought dead actually wasn't so I came to see for myself.”
“With an army of Mecha? I suppose their here to carry the pie.” Shadow laced his voice with as much sarcasm as possible, something he was actually quite good at. He also made a mental note to track down `the little birdie' and make it squeak its last. He shook his head. “Why are you REALLY here.”
Eggman didn't even flinch at the sarcasm or the brisk tone that followed it after. “Little birdie also told me you had a Chaos Emerald, which I do believe my scanners are now confirming.”
Shadow gritted his teeth, resisting the urge to reach back into his quills to make sure the emerald was still there. He also amended his note to introduce the birdie to the screecher and if at all possible to whatever made the screecher screech. “So?” he said crossing his hands in front of him.
Now Robotnik frowned, obviously Shadow wasn't playing along to whatever plan he was weaving.
Eggman was quiet for a second. “Give it…pleeeeaaaaase.”
Okay, that earned itself a raised eyebrow. He hadn't expected for Robotnik to actually do that. “No.”
And suddenly the grin was back, as if the old coot had been hoping for that response. Either way, Shadow wasn't giving up his emerald, no matter how useless. It was his demmit.
The mechs had slowly been narrowing their circle, and now they rushed forward, their scorpion pincers open and aiming to cut through Shadow. He could see the whirring of laser saws on the insides of the pincers. But they were too close to use their lasers or missiles, now Shadow had the advantage.
With a leap he flipped backwards, onto the back of the mecha behind him. Now out of pincer range, the mecha ahead automatically aimed its laser at him. Shadow dashed forward in a spin, before the laser struck, causing the missile pod on the back of the one he'd been standing on to explode. His dash took him straight through the mecha that had fired the killing shot. That one was quick to explode as well.
As soon as he pulled out of his spin it was to realize that another mecha was coming for him from his side, pincers saws buzzing. He leaped over the striking limbs landing a kick on the robots head that crushed the metal underneath his foot. The robot began to malfunction shooting its laser in random directions, almost taking out the little floating Eggman TV. It did take out the mecha that blocked the entrance to his factory though. Shadow ended its plight then with a spin-dash through the damaged head.
Cool beans, only two left. The two mecha, which had been making a charge stopped as soon as he turned towards them. For a second they stalled then one took a cautious step back. In the next instant it was a full blown retreated, the mecha scrabbling over the decaying wall of the courtyard and away.
Oooookay. “That's it?” What? Had Eggman thought that Shadow would have gotten weaker or something? Bringing only six mecha, he almost felt insulted by the lack of effort. The sneer on Eggman's visage only seemed to grow in size.
What felt like ten tons of brick hit the back of his head, sending him rolling forward along the ground till he crashed into the abandoned carcass of what had once been a washing machine. Note that into truly means just that, the metallic side of the machine nor a great deal of its insides could withstand the impact.
Shadow recovered quickly pulling himself out of the appliance and ready to face whatever had attacked him. Above the little Egg TV floated with Eggman snickering conspiratorially too himself.
Right now Shadow really wished he could Chaos Control. Not only could he avoid getting hit, he'd skewer whatever the thing had been with a couple well placed rounds of his chaos lance.
His head was wet…he reached behind and touched the back of it where he'd been struck, it felt sore but not injured. When he pulled his hand back it was thankfully NOT covered in blood. Had someone hit him with a water hose?
Something, instinct, attracted his attention to the right, just in time to duck a large claw that had been aiming for his head. A large claw…that was made of water. Like a whip the extended limb curled back around, and again the claw was coming for him. He tried to leap away but the thing took hold of one of his legs.
Tugged along by monsters strength he was slammed and dragged across the ground as the clawed hand reeled him in back to its owner. Something gurgled and towered over him. Lifting his snout from the earth and spitting out dirt he looked over his shoulders to see…
Blue with green eyes, and it WASN'T Sonic.
The thing made a grab for the emerald held in his spines. “Oh HELL no!” He twisted on the ground, wrenching his foot out of the monsters claw and in the same move kicking his other foot into its knee. The monsters leg bent under blow like jello, bouncing back and only causing it to lean to the injured side slightly.
Shadow growled and made a bid for freedom. The things arm shot out again, making another grab for his legs. He jumped to avoid the strike but now airborne could not dodge the second hand that grabbed him around the neck. He kicked and punched at the limb, but just like before the water gave way and bounced back with every blow.
The grasp on his head was solid, right around his muzzle. He couldn't breath through the water!
“Ho ho ho ho! How do you like my new toy Shadow. His name is Chaos and he's the true Ultimate Life-form.”
Shadow would have LOVED to make a snarky comment back, lack of air and water around his nose and mouth made that kind of difficult though. The creature had pulled him back towards itself, the hand around his mouth held him up while the other ran through his spines and finally pulled out the Chaos Emerald. It stared at the brightly glowing green stone with something akin to hunger then finally threw it up towards the Egg TV which suddenly grew a hand and cought the emerald.
But it didn't let go of him…his struggles were starting to grow weaker. Desperately he tried to hold his mouth closed against the ever increasing urge to breath. The arm around his muzzle bubbled when instinct took over forcing his mouth open. There went that perfect record.
The thing seemed to give him a pitying look as water rushed into his lungs making and his vision darken. All he could hear was the rushing of blood in his ears and finally the darkness swallowed him whole.
He felt rather pathetic when he woke up. Almost immediately he started coughing, but the water was already gone. Sitting up on his hands and knees he took a couple well appreciated gulps of air, before looking around. Nothing, the area still showed signs of the battle, but there was nothing left of Robotnik, his pet monster, or the mecha. Not even the remnants of the robots he'd destroyed remained. His factory now had a nice burn scar where the mad mecha's laser had cut across its surface.
There was a distinct empty feeling between his spines where the Chaos Emerald had been only a short while before. Glancing towards the sky he judged it was less then an hour before dawn. His head where Chaos had struck him felt like it had bloated overnight and the leg he'd wrenched out from the monsters claws throbbed from the gouges that its talons had cut in the movement. But hey, as long as it wasn't a concussion or broken bones he could deal.
With a groan he stood up. His fur was wet all over, from Chaos and the morning dew, and he shivered involuntarily. Once again he took a second to appreciate AIR. Then he shook himself and put his mind to the problem.
Robotnik knew he was alive, and somebody else knew too, and had passed the information along to Eggman. Looked like it was time to revive the old “To Kill” list. That aside, he was now Chaos Emerald-less, though considering that the one he'd been holding on to was practically dieing maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. And he knew just where to get another Emerald.
It was cutting it close though, but hey, maybe the wailing would cover his theft. He set out at a run from his factory and across Station Square, well a run to anybody else a jog to him. His jets kicked in automatically and he was soon speeding towards the National Art Museum. Hopefully their Chaos Emerald would be a little more functional.
The actual theft was pathetically easy. Yeah sure, alarms went off but nobody was going to come out before the shreeker said goodbye to the night. And even if they had it wasn't as if they could have caught him anyway.
Shadow took a slower path home. Now that he was out and about he was actually kind of curious if anything WOULD happen once the wailing started. He settled himself down in the Station Square park, waiting for the dawn noise to start as he looked at Mobius' new moon.
The planet was now a clear and constant object in the night sky, though the shreeker kept to his dawn and dusk routine. Today the planet would pass whatever mathematical marker the space people had set up for it and be officially considered as part of the sun's orbit.
Dawn came…and there was no sound. The whole world held its breath waiting for the terrible noise that had plagued it for over a month.
Silence. Nope no shreeker, not even a whistle of the thing. Shadow felt almost disappointed. With a `che,' he stood from the ground. Tossing his new, bright purple, Chaos Emerald up and down in one hand. Well looks like it was time to go home. A speeding streak of blue drew his attention to one of the taller buildings in the city. It ran right up the structures side and resolved itself into a bright blue shape..well dot from this distance, but Shadow recognized it never the less.
Well look at that, Sonic was still alive too. It'd been weeks since he'd last caught site of the blue hedgehog. For a moment he considered heading on over and ever so casually informing the hedgehog that Robotnik was out looking for Chaos Emeralds again. He dismissed the idea just as quickly. Sonic probably would be curious to know why Shadow had the Chaos Emerald from the Art Museum.
Nope, Sonic could figure out what was happening on his own. If he hadn't already, what with Angel Island taking an ocean plunge and all.
A high pitched whistling started up in the sky. He looked up so fast his neck gave a protesting pop, almost expecting to see MORE missiles. But no, he was instead greeted by bloody red clouds. And these clouds weren't read because of the sunrise.
They spun overhead, pulling ever closer the ground, and Shadow watched with a mix of wonder and horror as the bloody tornado touched down on the opposite side of the park. This wasn't the only one, he could see far away another tornado touching down on the grassy plains of the landlocked side of Station Square. And Sonic, he turned back to the direction he'd been originally facing, was making a point of avoiding a third tornado and running as far away from the things as fast as he could.
Well gee, the day just couldn't get any weirder. He gets beat by a walking soap bubble, Robotnik got heard from somewhere that he was a live, and now Sonic was running chicken. And then the chaos fell. It was almost a physical wave that rushed down from the sky and forced him to his knees. He felt like rat caught in a snakes gaze, frozen or hypnotized, but either way completely unable to move. The chaos energy twisted and twined in the air around him.
Until that point the tornado had been only clouds, but now the chaos energy provided its accompanying wind. But it felt like no chaos energy he'd encountered before. It was dark, just dripping with vileness, that although he couldn't see seemed to want to stick to him like a leech. There was a soundless roar in the air, and without knowing when he'd done it, Shadow found himself curled up in his tightest ball ever.
He was terrified, more terrified then the wailing had ever made him, and all he could do was lie there and wait for the storm to pass. That didn't take all that long actually. The tornados lasted only minutes, and they left a rotten taste in the air as they vanished.
Breathing like he'd just circuited the world three times Shadow staggered to his feet as soon as he could. The Chaos Emerald in his hand glowed like a Magnesium flame and every cell in his body was telling him to get the fuck away from that area. He turned, intending to do just that. A monster stood in his way.
It looked almost like Chaos, except it was considerably larger, solid flesh, big muscle…and it had a gun trained on him. Sure it didn't look like any gun he'd ever seen before, but he recognized the general shape well enough. Usually he would have smirked, guns didn't scare him, but he couldn't summon the emotion to do that now. The think dripped the same disgusting chaos energy that had ripped through the area earlier.
He took a step backwards, away from the creature. It barked an order, in some odd guttural language, that sounded like it was trying to cough phlegm out of its throat. Shadow didn't bother even trying to decipher what it was saying, he could guess well enough anyway. He raised the Chaos Emerald that was making a very good imitation of a halogen lamp.
He felt the familiar surge of power that was Chaos control, the emeralds chaos energy seemed to fall upon the alien energy that still clung to him like a buzzard on a fresh kill, eating up that energy and adding it to itself. He vanished from in front of the monster.
For a second, while in that purgatory of Chaos Control he breathed a sigh of relief. SAFE! And Jynxed. As soon as that thought crossed his mind something dark rushed up and grabbed a hold of the string of chaos energy that was teleporting him. With a silent cry he was thrust back to reality…in the center of an armed encampment of the creature from which he had just escaped. They all had weapons trained on him.
It was like one of those messed up nightmares where you keep running and running but the monster kept coming right after you. Except the monster had managed to catch Shadow. Legends said that if you get caught in your dreams you'd die, he was pretty sure the reality would follow the same route.
Not that he showed it, heck no. Holding the Chaos Emerald tightly in his hand, the creatures seemed to have an aversion to its light, he stood up and glared at them. No fear…not until he saw the floating….octopus eye ball thing at least.
It went almost unnoticed among the chaos signatures of all the other monsters. And perhaps that's what was so frightening about it, the fact that it could blend in so well, yet when Shadow searched for it he could feel an undertone of…eternity. There was no end to the power within this things grasp. He recognized it too, this thing had been what had pulled him out of his Chaos Control, something he hadn't even known was possible.
One of the monsters was talking to him in their phlegm filled language. Shadow grimaced at it. He felt like he was being questioned though hell if he knew what the questions were. The floating eyeball thing seemed to know this and laugh. Finally it floated between him and what Shadow assumed was the leader of these forces, it looked different from the rest and tougher too despite being easily less than half the size then the rest. The two spoke for a while and then the eye turned its gaze on him.
Shadow had almost managed to hedge his way to the circle, there was a nice gap which he KNEW he could get through before anything made a shot or grab for him, if he could just get close enough to it. He'd already decided that jumping wasn't an option, they were in a clearing with no trees close enough to jump too and, worst of all, there were even MORE things flying in the air. The eyeball barked an order and the gap was closed. “Che…” he first glared at the monsters that had blocked it then at the eye-ball.
It laughed again. Shadow only cought a glimpse of one of its tentacles whipping out towards him, but it was enough to duck the attack. Three more came at him and he dodged two of them by leaping back. The second, though, he could not escape. He'd leaped back right into one of the monsters, which held him until the third tentacle curled around his head.
It only stayed there for a second, then it seemed to shift on the inside, turning into an energy solid that slid right through Shadow's head to writhe around and INTO his brain.
Shadow was frozen, all motor control was beyond his reach. He couldn't even SEE anymore. But he could feel the thing, like a wave of thunder blasting into his mind grabbing at things it found of interest. What it didn't like was ignored, as it dug into his consciousness.
Shadow tried to fight it off, but he felt like an ant throwing sand grains at some unnamable beast towering over him. The thing seemed to have gotten bored with just glancing over his mind, it thrust into him. Clawing at thoughts and what Shadow was.
Instinct. It was instinct that saved Shadow again, the same instinct that had told him from the beginning that these were things NOT to be messed with. With a sound that imitated a rusty iron door being shut he could feel a barrier forming around him. Bright Chaos Energy repelled the intruding demon and, try as it might, it could not get through the new defense.
Reality came back in a burst of air and light. Suddenly he could see again and the first thing he was greeted with was the grassy ground coming up to meet his snout. The eyeball was ranting above him, audibly upset. The creatures ignored him, gathering around the thing and listening to it talk quickly, they seemed to think he was unconscious.
Shadow didn't do anything to prove them wrong, laying as still as he could. Hey, he'd been playing dead for the last half year, taking the act up a notch wasn't too hard. He glanced at the Chaos Emerald that he'd somehow managed to hold on too out of the corner of his eye, resisting the urge to turn his head to see it better. It's bright glow had faded, as if the Emerald's energy had just been exhausted in a major attack. Well that would explain where the Chaos Energy defending his mind had come from.
The eyeball barked an order and one of the creatures came up to his prone form and attempted to pry the Emerald out of his hand. The next instant the creature stumbled back screeching, the limb that had reached to grasp the emerald now a chard stump. Shadow absently noted that its voice had nothing on the night screecher. The eyeball said something dark. He didn't know exactly what, but Shadow could guess easily enough. Seemed like every language had its set of curses.
“Wake up, Shadow.” Hissed the eye as the `commander' creature kicked him. Oh joy, when'd the thing learn to talk Standard? Maybe he should consider an acting career, what with the very convincing groaning and staggering as he `woke up,' that or he wasn't fooling anybody and the creatures just let him play at his game.
“Do you know what we are?” The eye asked once Shadow was up on his feet. The black hedgehog was surrounded again, but slowly he began to draw power from the emerald. He'd just blast all of these things into oblivion, though he had to be cautious about gathering the energy or it would notice him. He had a feeling that the thing could interrupt his Chaos Spear just as easily as his Chaos Control
As for its question, Shadow was forced to snort to stop himself from say, “Butt ugly.” He didn't think the comment would get him a kind reception, and so far he was still in one piece, when most of the monsters around seemed quite desperate to change that. “No.” he answered instead.
The eye seemed to find this ridiculously funny, though the mad laughter that eminated from it was anything but pleasant. Shadow revised his opinion, Eggman sounded like a star opera singer in comparison to this thing. The eyeball was definitely the first to go down he, he decided. “Too Long..” It finally chuckled at the end of its outburst.
“Tell me,” there was still laughter at the edges of its voice, but now there was a distinctly malicious edge to it, “why can't I…turn your mind.” The creature was obviously not too certain about the wording, but that didn't seem to diminish its mirth at the least.
Shadow just shrugged, he presumed it was talking about whatever it had attempted to do in his head. Yay, for being the ultimate life form! Take that Chaos. However the eyeball seemed less then pleased with his lack of response, its happy mood had vanished as if somebody had flicked the mood switch, not that Shadow really cared. Only a little more energy and he'd blast all these things to kingdom come.
“Are you going to serve us willingly then? We'd make it quite worth your while.” Well there was something he hadn't been expecting. Sure, the analytical part of his mind said that it'd be very good to be allied with something so powerful, he had not forgotten that glimpse of eternity he'd seen of the eyeballs chaos energy. But that aside, Shadow danced to nobodies tune but his own, not to mention that his instincts screamed “Bad Shadow, bad!” for even considering the idea. These were NOT allies.
“No thanks.” He shook his head no and the attack was instantaneous, and Shadow thanked his lucky start that he'd been prepping the energy inside himself as he immediately felt a force press down on his head, cutting him of from the Chaos Emerald. What energy he had he sent in the shape of a Chaos Spear straight at the eye.
Which vanished in a wink with Chaos Control, letting the beast behind it get speared by Shadow's attack. Shadow didn't have time to curse at that, forced to take a jump or be crispy Swiss cheese hedgehog as the rest of the monsters opened fire on his location. He spun mid air, cutting one of the annoying flying things with his spines and kicking another that tried to approach from behind.
He didn't see where the eye was but he clearly heard it yelling a command in its own language. Another flying thing came for his other leg. He didn't see it as the falling body of the one that'd been slashed by his spines was in the way. Thankfully it didn't take any flesh in its sharp toothed beak. Instead it grasped around Shadow's ankle, giving a vicious pull that flipped him mid air. With a crackle of Chaos Energy he felt the ring break under its jaw. It didn't bother him too much as he flipped himself again to avoid landing on his back, rather the ring then his bones.
He was under attack almost immediately. The ground creatures were still shooting at him, and they had spread out now. Worse yet, these things were smarter than Eggman's robots, completely refusing to shoot their own when Shadow dashed between them trying to get them to do each other in.
They were hemming him in again, taking care to keep him away from the tree-line and reducing his area of movement with each attack. Very different from the pre-programmed movement of robots, these things were coordinating and adapting together to take him down.
Trying to create a break in their barrier he dashed for the nearest one of the ground-walking monsters and spin kicked it straight in the head. It's skull caved under the impact and Shadow grimaced at the mess it left behind. That'd be a bitch to get out of his fur later…if there was a later. Another airborne monster dove for him mid-kick. It seemed to be going for his neck so he lifted an arm to block it. The things beak closed on his wrist instead and with another crackle of chaos energy he only had two rings left.
The flying monster didn't have the chance to back off before Shadow began to spin with it still somewhat attached to him. The creature sailed away the next second, shredded by hedgehog spines but the ring still firmly clasped in its dead jaws. Shadow's spin took him straight towards the `commander' creature which attempted to fire a couple shots at him. But the spinning hedgehog proved to fast to strike…until Shadow was right on top of it.
The monster dropped its weapon and lashed out with its hands. And just like that it broke Shadows spin, with each arm holding one of his hands and feet. Chaos Energy cracked between them and Shadow lost his last two rings to the creature before it moved forward and solidly head butted him right between eyes.
It let the dazed hedgehog drop at its feet, throwing the remains of the golden rings behind with a disgusted motion. It glared down at Shadow who lay spread eagle on the ground before moving away. The eyeball floated into his fading vision, it was laughing again. “Tell what is left of your people,” it hissed at him happily, “that the <i>Black Arms</i> have returned to finish what we started.”
For the second time that day Shadow lost consciousness.
He'd felt pathetic the last time he'd woken up. Now he felt like crap run over by an eighteen wheeler. With a heavy groan he rolled to his front and then slowly and cautiously got up on his hands and knees.
It wasn't that he was injured, no, he felt sick. Sicker then he'd ever been before. His stomach did an odd flip as he finally regained his feet. Oh fuck, bad nigh, bad morning, and utterly crappy day. Life just couldn't get any peachier. He staggered forward retrieving the Chaos Emerald from the ground a few feet away from where he'd been laying.
A couple charred monster limbs lay around the jewels area. He was very pleased to find that even with him down the stone had still fought the good fight. There were sirens in the distance, one of the bloody tornados had touched down right in the middle of the city and, he realized now, he was right where he'd seen the first make contact at the back of the park.
He shuddered. Each and everyone of those tornados must have been a contingent of those monsters. The idea that there were more of these things didn't sit well with his already queasy stomach. Looked like Sonic had had the right of it, breaking for the high winds ASAP.
He could hear people approaching, probably investigators heading to inspect the area, and Shadow wanted nothing to do with them. Forcing his legs to stop pretending to be pudding his set off at a fast run.
He could swear that tree hadn't been there only a second before. He could also swear that his snout was about to sue him for all the things it'd been hitting that day. Shaking his head Shadow tried to clear his thinking. It was getting far to ADD for his comfort.
He set out again, this time running slower, but by the time he reached the area where he'd encountered the first monster he was out of breath and forced to take a break. The logical part of him noted that this was very bad. He had immunities to almost every disease, plague, and sickness on the whole fucking planet. Old Robotnik had made sure of it. There should be nothing that could get him down like this.
Sadly the rest of his mind seemed to be in an odd fog and couldn't quite keep up with the logic. He looked at the Chaos Emerald that was still in his hand. It was dull, almost completely life-less. But there was still a slight light coming off it, an odd glassy sort of light, and Shadow fancied that it made the Emerald look like it was crying.
Again he shook his head, he was starting to turn delusional. But before the rest of the logic could catch up, the fog around his head had him leaning against a tree, then sliding down it. His spines left shallow cuts on its bark, and the smell of the resin seemed almost suffocating.
He fainted again, setting a new all time personal record for `number of times knocked out in a day.'
There WAS crying. He looked over the wide open and tan plain that stretched before him. All around old bones of what must have once been a great forest clawed from the ground. Between the blackened remnants of trees were bleached bones of countless people.
And over the whole scene echoed an eerie weeping. Straight ahead of him kneeled a dark maroon hedgehog. Her spines were plastered to her back with blood and she was crying as she picked up bone after bone and placed them back on the ground. She was putting the bodies back together, he realized. Putting each bone in the place it would have if the person had been laying there on their back. A long line of already arranged bones stretched from where she worked to far into the horizon.
Shadow looked around at all the bones that still were scattered every which way. It was an endless impossible task she was doing.
“You don't need to end up like this.” She sniffled and he realized she was talking to him. Bleary, tear reddened eyes blinked at him as she turned around to face him. A purple Chaos Emerald sat on an amethyst chain around her neck. “You shouldn't have to suffer as they have, no one should.”
She broke down then, falling back to her knees and hands coming up to cover her face. Shadow saw that her hands were nothing but bleached bone themselves. “How could they, how could they, how could they…” she repeated over and over, rocking back and forth.
Then she lifted her head skyward and let out a horrid screech that Shadow had only ever heard from a distance. He fell to the ground before her, curling up and covering his ears as if he could hide from the sound. There were no gloves on his hands, he noticed, the shrieking falling into a background noise as he moved his hands in front of his face. There weren't any shoes on his feet either, he realized.
He watched in horror, as slowly, starting at the tips of his toes and fingers, his flesh began to rot and drip off leaving only the pearly bones in its wake…
Disclaimer: Characters and setting belong Sega.