Sonic Series Fan Fiction ❯ Verisimilitude: Invasion ❯ Plague and Madness ( Chapter 3 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Kiraa: Yay, finally the ball starts rolling. Hrm…who told Robotnik where Shadow was, that's a pretty good question. You'll find out by the end of the story. When did Robotnik get Chaos…well one assumes that it occurred when he destroyed the Master Emerald, but you all know what they say about assuming things.
Yeah, Shadow has some messed up dreams, it only gets weirder in this chapter folks. Yup, this chapter is dedicated to the utter delusion and insanity of Shadow's brain though for good reason.
And look! It's Sonic!
On a separate note. WHS really does exist. Sure I `added' to it to make it big and menacing in the Sonic-verse, but to find out about the real WHS just look up hedgehogs in Wikipedia.
The Second Era of Mobius
Next to the passing of time, the Second Era is the biggest reason why so little is known off the First.
After the people of the First Era died out two races laid claim on the remnants of their cities and technologies. These two races were the Serpents and the Avians. Neither took well to the other trying to outdo them, and before long the two were fighting a bitter war against each other.
What remnants of the First Era weren't destroyed by the fighting were jealously guarded by each race, which in time began destroying this material to keep the other side from gaining it.
Thus the Second Era is by far the shortest of all the Era's lasting only a bare 3000 years before the Serpents and Avians had managed to decimate each other, and the rest of Mobius, to the point that neither side could keep on fighting any longer.
Because of this war and the great number of lives it took and the fact that through it almost all the technology of the First Era was lost a great dark age took over Mobius. This dark age was the Third Era of Mobius.
Chapter 3: Plague and Madness
The dream of the maroon hedgehog kept repeating itself over and over. Eventually she stopped talking to him and, silently weeping, kept putting the bones in their proper places.
They moved from the plains to the deserts, to high mountains, and once, Shadow could swear, they'd even been underwater. Before long, or maybe an eternity later, she was joined in her work by a blue hedgehog. It wasn't Sonic, this hedgehog's spines were different, what with the bright pink tips, and his eyes were a deep honey brown. There was still an odd resemblance between him and Sonic though.
He didn't know when the dream ended, one moment he was sitting in total shock watching the two hedgehogs work and the flesh drip off his limbs, the next he's looking up at an off-white ceiling with a fan slowly rotating on it.
Oh, and someone was shaking him and trying to get his attention. He blinked several times, not quite able to recall when he'd lost consciousness, or where dream and reality connected and disconnected. Finally his eyes focused on the blue hedgehog hovering over him.
For a moment he thought it was still his dream but there was no bright pink on this hedgehog's spines. He stared up at Sonic who was giving him a curious look now that he had the black hedgehog's attention. Shadow tried to ask a question, something along the lines of `what the hell's going or,' and `where the heck am I?' All that came out of his throat was a sound that would've been more natural coming from a frog then a hedgehog.
Sonic raised an eyebrow at him. “Want to try that again?”
Shadow glared at him but eventually did get his mouth to work. Even if all that came out was a choked “What?” Which was rather odd, Shadow didn't FEEL like he was having trouble breathing, nor did his throat hurt, so why was his voice trying to pretend it was crumpled old recycle paper.
Sonic just rolled his eyes, seemingly giving up on waiting for Shadow to say anything coherent. He stood from, Shadow looked, the table that stood only a couple feet from the sofa he was prone on and held a glass of water out to the black hedgehog.
Water….it brought back memories and in a flash he recalled what happened to him only...
Had it been a short while ago or a week, how long had he been out? With a jolt he sat upright, making the rest of the world take a little carousel ride around his head, going `wheeeeee' all the way. He leaned to the left, against the sofa's back, until the world was done with its tango dance and settled back into place.
Sonic was still holding the glass out to him so he reached a hand up to take..it…
He stared at the gloveless limb that hovered in front of him. He couldn't even feel the hand, it had moved up on instinct alone. The entire thing shook like Jell-O, and when he tried to close his fingers all they did was twitch in the barest response to his command. He couldn't hold the glass even if he had tried.
Ignorance truly was bliss, as soon as he realized the condition of his arm and hand he noticed that his other limbs were going through the same uncontrollable shaking and twitching motions.
It wasn't seizure like at all, more like shivering, but underneath his skin he could FEEL his muscles twitching. As if they couldn't quite make their minds up on whether to cramp up or not.
The glass wasn't being offered to him anymore. “You see?” Sonic asked.
It had been a test? Shadow stared at his twitching hands, almost expecting the flesh to really start dripping from them. “What happened to your rings?” Sonic's voice seemed to fade at the end.
Shadow just shook his head, the fog was rolling over him again. “The Black Arms broke them.” He said…
Although whether Sonic heard him or not he didn't know because when he looked up again it was to see the blue hedgehog with pink spine tips.
“There's no way we can honor our oath in the current situation.” For a second Shadow thought the hedgehog was talking to him, not that he could understand what he was saying. It was language that tickled at the back of his head with familiarity, but it didn't matter because in the next instant he noticed that the other hedgehog was looking right through him.
He didn't actually hear the voice that replied to the statement, but he had a sense of having heard it. He stepped aside so that he wouldn't be in the blue hedgehogs line of sight, it was kind off freaky being looked straight at but not being seen, and looked behind him. Nothing, there was nobody there.
The blue hedgehog shook his head in reply to whatever had been said. “It's not that simple.” He felt like he was watching a movie, or play rehearsal…except he only could see on character and a bit of the ground around that characters feet, everything else was covered in a thick grey fog.
The blue hedgehog suddenly stood a little straighter. “No, sir.” A frown creased his muzzle, and it progressively grew into a snarl as the not quite there voice…voices, continued to speak. “You can't possibly expect us to do that.” The voices angrily snapped something at him. “It's suicide! We refuse!”
Sonic's voice was a low murmur under the other blue hedgehog's angry outburst, and Shadow took to listening to that instead. He turned his head. The sofa was in a living room arrangement. Directly across from him along the opposite wall was a small and dusty TV. Beside the TV a hallway stretched into the rest of the apartment, and from his prone position Shadow could easily see through the cut out in the wall into the Kitchen.
He could also see Sonic talking into the wall mounted phone that sat right by the door-less doorway. “Yeah, they have to be real strong….No, the regular ones just don't cut it…Eh, I'll explain later, but can you just do this for me pleeeeaaaaaase….Yeah, I will…Don't worry, I'm sure you'll find some once you start looking for `em…Yeah I know…That's right…Yup, thanks Tails.”
There was a quite huff and Shadow looked down to see a little hedgehog playing at his feet. Little…..really little. The urchin was picking up rocks and throwing them into the pond ahead and in general just being very pouty. It was oddly familiar with fur so black that it was almost iridescent and shining all the colors of the rainbow, except for patches along the back of its limbs and spines where it was a dark dark, almost but not quite black.
“What's wrong?” Knowing the answer suddenly seemed very important. The little hedgehog looked at him with big…red eyes. “It's not fair.” It whined and Shadow had a sinking feeling. He knew who this was.
“I never got to exist.” It was himself, or what he would have looked like if he had ever been a kid. Old Robotnik had never given him the option and…
…long grasses waved in front him. He was in a clear field that was bound by forest on one side and sloped down into a deep river, before sloping back upwards and down again, then up and down repeatedly until it ran into the feet of a mountain range.
The scenery wasn't what attracted his attention though. It was the large lizard like things that plodded along the field in slow steady steps that did. Well, they kind off looked like lizards on one part, but seemed to have been mixed with warthogs somewhere along their evolutionary chain. They pulled at the grass, munching at it with toothless beaks, and dug through the ground with straight tusks.
A rustle and something quite large passed by, and through, Shadow. A giant scorpion, almost as big as the mecha Eggman had created, stalked towards the lizards. Its tail was held low to the ground, and it took the utmost care to go as unnoticed as possible, its low the ground body easily fitting under the cover of the tall grass.
The giant insect had almost made it right atop one of the lizards when a whooping howl cut across the relative silence. A spear soared high above him and with pin point accuracy imbedded its sharp head between the plates of the scorpions back armor. Blurs ran by Shadow as the scorpion hissed and thrashed frightening the large warthog lizards and sending them running, or at least plodding at a faster rate.
Hedgehogs leaped at the Scorpions back, dodging its stinger which lashed at them with venom at its tip. Again and again the little group of hedgehogs dashed for the monster easily three times their size, sticking spears deep into the cracks between its armor plates. They were fast, not as fast as Sonic and him, but more then speedy enough to dodge the monster scorpion's desperate attempts to save its life.
One hedgehog managed to duck under its large body and deeply imbed their spear in its underbelly. After that the fight was pretty much decided, and eventually the scorpion lay down, not yet dead, but it didn't do anything to stop the fatal blow from being delivered. The hedgehogs cheered, dancing around the dad scorpion in a happy circle. But at a command of one hedgehog they all fell silent and bowed to the dead monster.
The hedgehog that had given the order was grey-white and obviously battle worn. Only a ragged stump was left where his left ear should have been, and other such old wounds marked his body, but none were as impressive as the missing ear and the scars surrounding it. A bright green Chaos Emerald hung off a chain of true emeralds around his neck.
The white hedgehog led the rest in a prayer before the corpse and then with a word they were all cheering and whooping again. In prompt order the scorpions body was cut up, the largest part of its exoskeleton was quickly turned into a sled to cart the insides off the animal to…wherever.
Still singing and laughing the hedgehogs began pulling and pushing their kill along back to wherever they had come from with the white hedgehog at the lead. The procession passed right by Shadow's viewing spot, and for a second he though the white hedgehog's green eyes did look straight at him instead of through…
“-didn't do this!” It was dark. The only light came from the kitchen, everything else was in the deep grip of night. Shadow shivered cold and hot in turn and turned his head to blink towards the kitchen. Sonic was on the phone again, but this time sounded less then happy or pleasant.
“You better not have.” He growled into the receiver, and if eyes could kill Shadow felt real sorry for the fridge which was getting a full on assault from Sonic's glare. With a grunt Sonic looked away from the appliance, whatever the person on the other end of the line had said, the blue hedgehog's glare diminished. “That's true…..Don't play at that…..No I don't think you could, come to think of it.” At this point a vicious smirk crossed his lips. “Aww, did I hit a nerve?.....I'm less likely to do so then you…..Funny, hilarious.” The smirk was dripping sarcasm like the scorpion's stinger had been venom. There was a long moment of silence as the other person talked. “Don't worry `bout that, I've already got two more heading your way….Yeah, I'm terrible, you should watch out for me….Like I'd believe that.”
With that the phone returned to its receiver, and Sonic gave a heavy sigh…
…standing on a cliff overlooking a glorious seaside city. No that wasn't right. The city wasn't seaside, it was ON the ocean. Shadow couldn't tell how the city could float on the water, the buildings and streets seemed to be just short of getting flooded by the waves but its people didn't seem to have any issues at all, walking and running along quite calmly.
A long elegant bridge connected it to the cliff where Shadow stood. In fact, the whole city was elegant, seeming to have been built from the waves itself, as the water arched into elegant spirals and cones that had been frozen mid-air to serve the inhabitants as streets and buildings.
But there was something dark above the city. The sun was setting behind the buildings and almost hidden by the reddening sphere Shadow could make out a speck that was moving quickly towards them. By the time the sun had completely set the thing was already cloaked by the darkness as much as it had been hidden by the lights glare.
But in that short moment of transition Shadow had been able to identify it as a floating island…for some odd reason the sight of it was foreboding. Maliciousness filled the air. Shadow knew, even as the vision faded, that the beautiful and elegant city would not survive the night.
Fire danced in front of him. Sometimes green, sometimes blue, then pink, then back to normal red as dancers twirled around the flames throwing powders into it that made either the fire or the smoke it gave off turn all sorts of shades and sparkles. The dancers were all hedgehogs, brightly patterned clothes tied around them and bells strung to their spines, hands, and legs. They twirled around the flames dancing and chanting.
And all around the blaze were other hedgehogs, dancing more to their own tune then the professionals before the flames. And everywhere there was laughing and singing. The smell of fermented honey was thick in the air. Shadow saw the white hedgehog again comfortably talking to another white hedgehog, this one a female with fur which was of a much purer and pinker color then the scarred male's.
Shadow got a good look at those scars, he was facing the white-gray hedgehogs left side, and as he talked, Shadow could see that not only was the left side of his face scarred and almost missing an ear, but the eye on that side was glassy, clouded, and blind, and that that his left canine was missing.
Something had really put the old hedgehog through the grinder, and the old one still looked like he could kick Shadow's tail at any time of the day.
“Let me go!”
Shadow was trapped, and this setting was far more familiar. Dream self here, aware self there. Old Robotnik seemed to be on his last leg. He looked worn down, and frazzled. He was THIN for crying out loud. He was also preparing an injection which Shadow was pretty sure was just for him. Joy, Christmas had come early.
Not only was he bound, but there were…things attached to his head…and some sticking in. It was quite painful. Dream Shadow was frightened almost witless. The room shook, somewhere the roar of an explosion echoed oddly. Shadow had a feeling they were underground.
The old man staggered slightly, but regained his balance far too quickly for Dream Shadow's liking, and approached the bound hedgehog, needle in hand. Dream Shadow tried to edge away from the approaching figure, or at least melt into the table. Neither of which worked.
“What's that for?” Dream Shadow whined, his gaze focused on the needle.
The doctor didn't seem to hear him, far too involved in his own mutterings. “Terrible, horrible. Kill a thousand demons, become a demon.” He blinked at Shadow, the question finally registering, though it was far too late. The needle was already through Shadow's skin, which had to be weekend by an acid before it could pierce through, and injecting its…holy fudge the stuff was bright pink with yellow swirls! That couldn't be healthy.
“A last shot at redemption. He'll hate me for this enough as is. Really terrible, what I've done. Terrible, terrible.”
And he was running through the halls of Ark. Desperately wanting to run faster but not daring too because the little figure that clung to his hand was getting drawn along behind him and could barely keep up with the pace he was setting right now. Behind them he could hear the ever approaching steps of booted feet.
He knew, he didn't dare turn around to look, but he knew G.U.N was catching up. Maria however did dare to glance behind, causing her to stagger, and forcing him to slow his speed even more. “Shadow!” she cried in alarm, but he didn't dare give a response. Only a little further to the escape pods… if they could just keep their lead for a little longer.
“Why didn't you just carry her? You could've gone as fast as you wanted to.”
Shadow stopped mid-rant, glaring at Sonic for daring to interrupt him. The blue hedgehog was giving him a curious look, sitting cross legged on the table and looking honestly interested in what Shadow had been saying.
“Because…..” Shadow trailed off. Why hadn't he? The dream derailed, with a happy new wrinkle to go with it. He was back in the tan bone field. But the maroon hedgehog wasn't there, only the blue hedgehog sitting in much the same way as Sonic had been. He was turning a skull in his hands.
Shadow stared at it. Nope, not a hedgehog skull, or any other kind of skull he'd seen before, though that said he hadn't seen all that many bones, never-mind skulls, in his life. It still seemed eerily familiar, though. The blue hedgehog was humming a quiet nonsense tune to himself and, for the first time, Shadow was close enough to see that this hedgehog was quite old. There was grey around his muzzle and the barest hint of sagging skin around his eyes. Either way he still looked pretty tough for an oldie…except for the bone hands that played with the skull.
Shadow tried to say something to him, but no sound escaped from his lips. He kept trying though, feeling like he was shouting but still there was nothing to be heard from his throat. Finally the blue hedgehog stopped in whatever private game he was playing with the skull to give him a critical look.
“Don't bother,” He said in an old and tired voice, it was pitying in all the ways Shadow usually hated to hear others talk to him. “We can't hear those that don't exist.”
That was the last thing Shadow could recall clearly after he woke up. From that point on his mind went beyond confused. In one cold swoop he descended into insanity that refused to be remembered clearly.
There were flashes though. Like waking up in the dark, screaming and frothing at the mouth, to look at the doorway to the room and see Sonic there with wide frightened eyes. And others where he was fighting, or trying to fight, and he knew for a fact that he'd made a pretty descend attempt at taking one of Sonic's ears off in one of his more maddening moments.
There was no longer a border between reality and nightmares. When he ran down the halls of Ark, he was running for real. Or trying to run, but his legs were like butter and only left a bloody trail of peeling flesh behind.
“-tarve at this rate.” A whine. Shadow growled, trying to focus on the source of the annoying sound. There was a `meep' and more hasty discussion. Sibilant whispers at his ear, death clawing towards him. He never even felt his limbs being bound, didn't realize that he truly couldn't move them anymore beyond the lack of control he'd been suffering earlier.
A hand on his jaw forcing his mouth open, another mouth covering his own, forcing food and then down his throat. POISON! He could feel it burning all the way down, eating at his insides. Melting the flesh off the rest of his body like it had his limbs. He would've fought, imagined that he had.
Nightmares piled on nightmares, there was no escape, no waking up.
Shadow fancied that he must be dead…though with all the white it couldn't possibly be hell. Didn't feel like heaven though, too cold and..empty. He collapsed to a non-existent ground in exhaustion. He'd been running for an eternity, it felt like, though he couldn't for the life of him remember what it was from.
It didn't matter, he was dead; whatever the thing was it couldn't reach him here.
The first thing Shadow realized when he woke up was that he was AWAKE. Just the sheer awareness of that seemed almost alien to him.
The second thing he realized was that he was going to be sick. The black hedgehog rolled over with a grown, something snapped on his arm, and…right off the edge of the sofa, and proceeded to empty his stomach. Somebody, in a burst of ingenious foresight, had put a bowl there, so the floor wasn't privy to his digestive juices. There was a startled cry from somewhere in the room.
He sat back against the sofa when he was finished, trying to steady his breathing as his stomach gave a couple last heaves though there no longer was anything left to heave out. “Erm….Shadow…” The uncertain voice came from his left and Shadow turned his gaze towards it to see a very worried Tails. The fox was making a point of keeping a small step stool between himself and the hedgehog and looked like Shadow just might jump him. Fresh bandages were wrapped around the foxes left arm.
“Are you….alright?” Shadow glared at the fox. Great, he'd just puked his guts out in front of the little beast and it went and asked such an inane question. And this kid was supposed to be a genius?
“Just fine.” Shadow growled, as he tried to stand. Much to his disgust he found he had to use the sofa as a support, and that once he did finally manage to get to his feet it was only to lose his balance and fall back onto the furniture. He let out another growl.
Tails, wide eyed, and still looking like Shadow might skin him alive, made a dash for the open window. “SONIC!” he called, leaning out of the window and looking upwards, probably towards the roof Shadow guessed.
“Ha?” came the faint reply from above.
“He's awake and,” Tails glanced back to see Shadow sitting up now on the sofa, “sane….I think.” Shadow wanted to ask what the heck the little brat meant, but right now his brain was still too busy processing the idea that this place might belong to either Sonic or his tag-along. Heck, he had a hard time figuring out just what his last memory was, never mind other things like…how he'd gotten here, why he felt like crap, why he had rope burns on his limbs….
He stared at his ankles and wrists. Yup, those were definitely rope burns, and where had his gloves and shoes gotten to anyway? There were rings on his wrists and ankles though, where'd those come from? A twinge on his arm brought his attention further up the limb to see the point of a needle sticking there. He pulled it out, and then glanced to the little IV drip stand that had at some point of time snuck behind the sofa.
“Alright!” Some scrabbling from above and Tails had to quickly remove himself from the window frame as Sonic swung into the apartment from the room above. “Yo, Shadow.” Said Sonic, standing there with his cocky little posture, and a cocky little wave, and, of course, his ever present cocky little grin. Shadow wanted to strangle him, preferably with electric barbed wire.
He was also suddenly very aware of the empty spot between his spines that should have held a Chaos Emerald. And again, having been given the right trigger, his mind supplied him with the last couple events that he could remember. Shadow groaned at the onslaught of information, preferring to close his eyes and put a hand to his forehead instead of watching Sonic posturing. “What the hell's going on.” He said finally in exasperation.
“Umm…I'll just take care of this stuff.” Tails said uncertainly before fetching the pole with its broken IV drip and vomit filled bowl and retreating into the kitchen. Sonic just sat himself down on the table in front of the sofa, still smiling at Shadow. “How much do you remember?”
Shadow glanced at the other hedgehog, pondering for a second what kind of answer to give to that. His last couple memories were anything but coherent. “I remember…getting sick?” It came out more a question then a statement, mostly because the black hedgehog himself didn't know what the heck had happened to him. Especially since now he was feeling better and better by the second.
Sonic just rolled his eyes, “Understatement of the century, that.” Shadow saw that Sonic's right ear looked pretty torn up, like something had tried to chew it right off the blue hedgehog's head. “Seriously, what kind of a hedgehog doesn't keep some spare rings around?”
“Unlike some people, I don't need rings to be powerful.” Shadow snarked back, clearly in the superior on this ground. Sonic just stared at him as if he'd just said the ocean was purple and the sky polka dotted. After a long pause of silence Sonic asked very slowly, as if he were talking to a little kid, “Shadow, what are rings for?”
Now it was Shadow's turn to stare. “Power?” What else could they possibly be for? Sonic looked about ready to either burst out laughing or put the black hedgehogs head through a wall. With the blue hedgehog, it was really hard to tell.
In the end it was laughter. Sonic leaned his head back and gave a long mirthless laugh. Shadow growled, he'd never taken well to being laughed at, “Just get to the point, faker.” Just like that the laughter was gone. Shadow had only ever seen `serious Sonic' once, and that was when they were both in front of Ark in their super forms, and even back then the idiot had worn that stupid grin.
The grin was gone now. “Do you know what WHS is?” Sonic asked.
“No. Should I?”
A snort, “Of course, every hedgehog HAS to know about.” Sonic sighed. “WHS stands for `Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome.' It's pretty much a plague that every hedgehog in the world has to deal with, and that's why all hedgehogs have to wear rings.”
Shadow blinked. A plague? He glanced down at the rings on his limbs. Well gee, it would have been useful to know all that stuff a little earlier…like in his fight against the Black Arms. Actually, now that he though back on it, he realized that the monsters had been aiming for his rings in that fight. They had known.
“It starts off real simple first. You lose motor-control of your limbs,” Sonic sounded bored now, like he was reading out of a book, “and then progressively lose the feeling in them as well. Once that's done it moves on to rot away your brain. First you lose your ability to maintain consciousness, which quickly moves from to full blown delirium and onwards to insanity until your pretty much rotted away to a gibbering twitching vegetable. You almost took my ear off, and made a pretty good attempt at using Tails' arm for a chew toy.”
“How long dose it usually take?” Shadow asked, still staring at his hands and vividly remembering the dreams in which he'd imagined the flesh dripping off them, not even reacting to the statement of having harmed either the fox or other hedgehog beyond regretting not having finished the job. He didn't see Sonic shrug in response. “Most hedgehogs take half a year at the very least, usually around five years for the plague to run its full course.”
Shadow frowned at the news. “I couldn't have been out for that long.” He said, returning his gaze to the blue hedgehog across from him.
“Nope.” Sonic grinned at him. “You've been out of it for a month. Your luck really sucks you know. Whatever Robotnik did to make you, it let the plague spread like wildfire through ya. It's also, as we've found out through much trial and error, why you need four rings, when most other hedgehogs can get away with wearing just two or one. Also, don't lose `em again. The disease will start back right where it left off, so there won't be enough time left to save you ya a second time `round.”
Shadow glared at the other hedgehog. He didn't need Sonic telling just how utterly horrid his luck was, even if it was the truth. That aside, a month was a huge amount of time, he remembered Robotnik and the old codger's new pet…and hadn't those monsters done anything since their attack on him?
“What's happened while I was…sick.” Yeah, sick was the best way to go. He had no other word for it.
“Humm. Well, Eggman's been collecting the Chaos Emeralds again, bye the way I saved yours. I'll give it back to ya' later. Anyway, Eggman's got this freaky new monster its made of..” Sonic took a moment to shudder in disgust and revulsion, “water of all things, and its insanely powerful. Can't beat the damn thing.”
Shadow suppressed the little `yay' that chirped up in his head at the idea of getting his Chaos Emerald back. Sonic hadn't answered all his questions. “What about the Black Arms?”
Sonic glanced out the window, ears twitching to some sound or other that had caught his attention out the open window. “The what?”
“The black monster things, that came down with those red tornados.” Sonic returned his attention to Shadow, giving the black hedgehog a curious look. “You actually saw them? The tornados I mean.”
“Yeah, weren't you there?”
Sonic shook his head. “Nope, I was out at Greenhill. But everybody was talking about it when I came back. Lots of weird stuff supposedly happened that night. There were monsters there? You sure you weren't seeing things because you lost your rings?”
Shadow raised the intensity of his glare on Sonic before muttering a, “Never mind.” and turning his gaze away. However, something didn't mesh in Sonic's explanations, which forced Shadow to once again look at the other hedgehog, this time more critically. “YOU don't wear any rings.”
Sonic gave him a look and grin that clearly screamed `because I'm better then you' as he gave a simple “Nope.” and hopped off the table. He went into the hallway, passed the kitchen where Shadow was sure the little fox brat had been eavesdropping on everything they'd said. He returned only a minute later with Shadow's gloves, shoes, and Chaos Emerald in hand, all three of which the black hedgehog was quite happy to have back.
“Who found me?” Shadow asked as he pulled his shoes back on, and slipped the thick leather of the top under his ankle rings. “I did.” Sonic called from the kitchen door where he was talking about something or other with Tails. “Well it did mean that when Eggman went and bragged about having found you alive I could play all high and mighty since I'd already known you were.”
Sonic stepped into the living room with Tails right behind him, “Though, I didn't know if you were going to be so for much longer at that point. We were out looking for suitable rings to save you.”
Shadow looked up at the two. They looked like they were ready to leave someplace. He wanted to ask `Aren't all rings the same?' though it seemed by context that they obviously weren't and he felt like he'd been made fool off enough for the day. He had his stuff back, and a Chaos Emerald, time to get out of here.
“As for payment…” Sonic trailed off suggestively.
“Payment?” Shadow narrowed his eyes in suspicion, as far as he knew Sonic never asked to be repaid for his `good deeds.'
The blue hedgehog nodded. “It was killer finding those rings. Took a whole month. That is, a whole month in which Eggman's had the run of the place while we were trying to save your tail. You owe us, and all the people Eggman's hurt. So now your going to come with us and help us find the last couple Chaos Emeralds and catch the old mad.”
Shadow responded to Sonic's grin with a full blown glare, Tails wisely retreated out of the immediate line of fire. “I will do no such thing.” He said pointedly, with a barely concealed growl.
“Yes you will..” Shadow opened his mouth for a response but was cut off, “Becaaaaaauusse. Robotnik said he beat you up AND stole an Emerald from you. And you being the wonderfully vengeful person you are will track him down and get `em back. Right?”
Shadow grit his teeth. Glare to grin, he tried to figure what game Sonic was playing as. Of course trying to read Sonic was like trying to read a one way mirror. You can look at it and see nothing but yourself, but you know full well that there's SOMETHING on the other side that can see you clear as day.
And curse that blue idiot for playing off of his vengeful side. Which was actually quite true, he HAD been intending to head after Eggman for some payback. “Fine.” He sighed, standing and feeling quite pleased when his legs didn't so much as give an odd out of place jitter.
Sonic gave a cheer and somehow managed to push both him and Tails out of the door, while managing to stay between the two of them, practically at the same time. Shadow didn't despair too much at being drafted into the `Sonic Side Kick Squad,' not when there was many a deadly Eggman trap in the near future to push the blue nuisance into.
As for all the weird things he'd seen in his delirium. Here's to hopefully forgetting every single one of them, and those that stuck around long enough would just have to be analyzed later.