"Sorry, I was just passing through." Shadow turns to leave.

Tikal cries after him, "Wait, don't leave!" He stops. "I've never seen you before. Are you a traveller? What is your name?"

"Yes, a…traveller. My name is Shadow, and I've come here from very far away."

"I am glad to meet you, Shadow. Forgive me, but why have you come here? This place is not easy to find, and few would seek it out in fear of the war."

"I'm looking for someone, maybe you can help me. Have you seen any other travellers come through here?"

"No, only you. This person you're searching for…is it someone important to you?"

"You could say that. It's very important that I find him."

"I see. You seem…troubled. Is there something wrong?"

Shadow sighs. "I appreciate your concern. But I really have to get going."

"Please stay! Tell me what's the matter, I want to help!"

Shadow seems prepared to leave. But something about her voice seems to pull him back. He sighs again. "…A long time ago…I made a promise to someone. Someone I cared about. And back then, I really didn't understand what that promise would mean. All I knew was that it was what she wanted. And I want nothing more than to respect her wishes, but…I'm beginning to wonder…if what I promised to do…is really the right thing."

Tikal thinks deeply on this. "I must say, I don't envy your dilemma. To choose between what is loyal and what is right…I hope that I never have to make such a choice for myself." She thinks for a while longer. "There's something I want to show you." She grabs his arm. "Please, come with me!" She starts to pull, and Shadow, without much choice, follows her as she runs away from the central ruins structure of the village.


Sonic the Hedgehog: The Chaos Project

Season 0, Episode 17

Birth of Blacklight, Part 4: Project: Chaos

Written by ChaosProject

Concept by ChaosProject


Shadow looks up with awe. Surrounding the elegant stone shrine are seven tall pillars, each one supporting a Chaos Emerald, most of which are pulsating with an odd pattern of light. At their center, atop the shrine, is the Master Emerald.

"Here they are."

Shadow looks to the ground in front of him, where Tikal indicates. Circled around him at a distance, and staring at him curiously, are a group of young Chao.

"Don't worry," she bends down to tell them. "This one is a friend."

Most of the Chao keep their distance. But one starts to waddle up towards Shadow's feet. It stops and looks right up into his face. "Chao?" Shadow looks to Tikal questioningly.

She nods and smiles. "Go ahead."

Hesitantly, Shadow reaches a hand down towards the little creature, and places it on its head. He starts to pet it gently. It closes its eyes and smiles contently, as the bubble above its head forms into the shape of a heart. All of the other Chao start to approach closer to him.

Tikal seems very pleased. "Look, they like you."

Shadow takes his hand back, and turns back to Tikal. The Chao gives him a very confused look, unsure why he stopped. "I'm grateful to have seen this place, but why have you taken me here?"

Tikal sighs and looks to her feet, perhaps with shame. "This place…it is their sacred home. They can live here in peace, because there is a spirit who protects and watches over them." While she speaks, the Chao all give up on Shadow, turn to face the shrine, and start to sing with little rhythm or structure. Tikal continues, "But my father…he wishes to destroy this place, and use the power of the Emeralds to help us win the war. If another battle comes…he will. His heart is closed off to the plight of these poor creatures, and even to me. I've asked the spirit to take the Chao and leave this place, but he is bound to the shrine somehow. I can only hope that we can all finally understand each other…before it's too late."

Shadow nods in understanding. "And if your father comes…you'll be forced to choose between loyalty to your tribe, and justice for the Chao."

She nods in return. "You understand, then."

"So…what will you do?"

She thinks a while longer. "I love my father, truly I do. But I can't allow his selfishness to destroy these creatures' lives. I will do everything in my power to stop him."

Shadow gives a very slow nod. "I see."

"But whatever choice you make…I'm sure that you'll be fine, as long as you follow your heart."

A voice which Shadow has learned to instinctively flinch at shouts, "That's the cheesiest thing I've ever heard in my life! I love it!" Sunlight leans casually back against the Master Emerald. "You wouldn't believe what I had to go through to get here. There's so much ambient Chaos energy around here, I almost got lost. In fact, I'm still a bit dizzy. But no matter."

Shadow growls, "Sunlight, get down from there. You don't know what you're doing."

"Au contraire, mon ami. I know exactly what I am doing." He waves a hand through the air, and the seven Chaos Emeralds lift from their pedestals, beginning to orbit him. "I'm about to become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." As the purple, white, cyan and green Emeralds draw closer to him, their pulsations start to grow more rapid. An odd dripping sound can be heard, which quickly grows louder.

"No, you don't understand! You already have four Emeralds, you can't take seven more!"

"Rules, rules, rules! Will you ever stop spouting out your rules to me!? I am not bound by the rules of mortals! Let this be your proof! Ah ha ha ha!"

Needing to act quickly, Shadow sprints up the steps of the shrine, knocking down several Chao in the process. Tikal cries out in desperation, "Stop, you mustn't fight here!" She starts to chase after him, but realizes the need to tend to the Chao. The dripping sound grows to an intense pitch.

Sunlight, caught up in his laughing, only just notices Shadow's charge, and fumbles to pull out the white Emerald. The moment he does, a blinding arc of white lightning forms between it and the second white Emerald orbiting him. The force of the energy seems to try to pull the gem from his hand, attracted to its counterpart. But Sunlight pulls back, severing the flow of energy and allowing him to turn back to Shadow. "Chaos Fr–"

Shadow tackles Sunlight head-on, causing him to drop the Emerald, and causing the other seven to lose their orbit, and tumble through the air, splashing into the pool of water surrounding the main structure of the shrine. A moment later, the two hedgehogs splash into the pool as well. The dripping sound builds into a torrential rush of water. The seven Emeralds of the shrine take on a more intense glow than ever. As the hedgehogs stagger to their feet, a portion of the water next to them begins to rise above the rest, pulsating as if alive. Sunlight looks at the rising blob with concern. "Well that doesn't look good." He quickly reaches down and scoops up the red Emerald which has landed near his feet, which immediately ceases its brilliant glow. He gives Shadow a quick wave. "To be continued, mon ami." He snaps a finger and disappears, leaving the still-dazed Shadow alone with the blob of water that continues to shape itself into a roughly humanoid form.

The big green eyes of Chaos 0 glare at Shadow with intensity. Then it absorbs the remaining six shrine Emeralds, creating a flash more blinding than ever. When the light fades, the grotesque, frog-like form of Chaos 6 is revealed. Shadow marvels, "Chaos…." In another moment, he is lashed by the creature's massive tail, and sent flying and tumbling back.

"Shadow!" Tikal runs to his aid.

Shadow struggles to get up, clearly injured. "Just as powerful as I've been told." The creature slowly approaches, preparing for its next attack. Shadow moves to run back into the fight, but is stopped by Tikal's hand.

"No, don't hurt him!"

"Hurt him!? He's the god of destruction, and he wants to hurt me!"

"No, no! He's the kind and loving spirit who protects these Chao! He doesn't understand!"

"Okay, then make him understand before he crushes us!"

Tikal nods, and runs out to the space between Shadow and Chaos. Arms outstretched, she pleads, "You must stop this, I beg of you! Shadow is not your enemy!"

The creature roars in response.

Tikal seems to understand perfectly. "No, he didn't mean to hurt them! It was only an accident! If he hadn't acted so quickly, the other one would have done far worse! You witnessed him steal one of your Emeralds, you know him to be the only true enemy!"

Chaos roars again.

"No, no, please understand!" She closes her eyes, filled with fear and concern. "You can't keep harboring so much anger in your heart! You must learn to forgive!"

Shadow suddenly shouts, "Look out!"

Tikal gasps, realizing that Chaos has leapt into the air. Shadow dives at Tikal and grabs her, then warps them both out of harm's way just a moment before the creature crashes to the ground, making a sizable shockwave.

Closer to the shrine again, Tikal turns to Shadow. "He's been completely blinded by his own rage. He hears me, but he doesn't understand."

"Then it sounds like we only have one option." Shadow runs back towards the creature.

This time, Tikal doesn't stop him, but instead shouts after him, "Please, be careful!"

As Shadow runs towards Chaos, its shape begins to morph, into a tall, rounded standing structure, with the creature's tail still in its normal shape emerging from the top. From the structure suddenly shoots out dozens of thin tentacle-like protrusions, each one intended to impale Shadow. Shadow weaves, ducks, bobs and rolls to avoid the onslaught of attacks. Finally the creature takes another swing at Shadow with its massive tail, which Shadow is able to hop over. Shadow at last draws close enough to strike it with a spin attack. The watery creature jiggles slightly as Shadow bounces off harmlessly.

Shadow lands on the ground growling as the creature reforms into its normal shape. "This isn't going to work, I need to find a weakness! How did Sonic beat this thing?"

The creature starts to inhale with massive force, drawing in everything around, and nearly pulling Shadow off of his feet. As he struggles to keep his footing against the wind, a glint of white catches his eye. It's the same white Emerald that Sunlight had dropped earlier, drawn in by the creature's breath. Shadow comes to a sudden realization. "Ice!" He leaps after the Emerald and snatches it out of the air. Unable to regain his footing, he continues to be drawn in closer to Chaos. He turns to face it in the air, and holds up the newly-claimed Emerald. "Chaos Frost!"

Shadow continues to move closer to the creature, as if nothing had happened. Remembering how Sunlight had used the attack, Shadow tries again, this time throwing his free hand forwards as he does. "Frost!" Nothing happens. He starts to contort his hand into every different pose he can think of. "Frost, Frost, FROST!" Still no response. Drawing ever closer to the creature's mouth, Shadow tries something else. "Chaos Control!" Again, nothing happens. Now only inches away, Shadow goes for a last resort. "Chaos Spear!" The attack hits one of the creature's eyes from point blank, irritating and distracting it enough to drop Shadow, allowing him to run a fair distance away.

Panting heavily, Shadow stares down the Emerald with rage. "Why can't I do it!?" Sonic's words echo in his mind, "It's about hope…you've always drawn your hope from the past, from Maria. And I think that as long as you keep your promise to Maria in your heart, you'll never lose Chaos Control again."

Shadow shakes his head. "I can't keep that promise anymore…" He looks over to Tikal. "…but that doesn't mean I can't still have hope. And that still doesn't explain why I couldn't use Sunlight's attack. Could it really just be that he's stronger than I am?"

The creature roars and lashes out with its tail once more. Shadow runs to avoid the attack, but trips and falls, leaving him completely vulnerable to the attack.

"STOP!" The deadly end of the tail halts just inches away from Shadow's head. Tikal has her arms wrapped around as much of Chaos as she can hold. She looks up to its face as she cries "You mustn't do this! Violence isn't the way!" Chaos stares back at her with its vertically-oriented eyes. Then its form begins to shrink down. The six Emeralds it had absorbed clatter to the ground. After only a few moments, Tikal holds the hands of Chaos 0 in her own. "Once rage enters your heart, it may never leave. That's why you must always fight against it, or else it will control you."

In response, Chaos makes the same odd dripping sound from before. Tikal nods. The he dissolves into a small puddle of water, which makes its way back to the pool around the shrine. Shadow walks up behind Tikal. "What did he say?"

"First…he apologized for almost hurting me. Then…he promised that he would protect me. That he would never let anything hurt me again."

Shadow nods slowly, perhaps understanding what that would mean for their near future. He thinks, "I should tell her…to take the Chao and get out of here now, before Chaos destroys everything. But…I followed Sunlight here to restore history, not to change it. There's no telling what could happen if I make such a great change to history. So I have to let her–… Just like–" He doesn't seem willing to finish the thought.

"The other hedgehog…the one who took the Emerald…is he the one you were looking for?" Shadow nods. "His greed…it will destroy him. Unless you do something about it soon. His heart is conflicted…but it is not yet lost."

"You could tell all that…even though he left so quickly?"

She nods. "You must go find him. I'll stay here, and help to protect the Chao."

"I'll get your Emerald back." He sighs, as he looks over her one last time. "Your kindness and sincerity…your ability to see into people's hearts. You're so much like–…" He trails off. "If we had known each other longer…I think we could have been good friends."

"That's silly. We're already friends." She gives an innocent smile. But then it starts to fade. "I'm never going to see you again, am I?" After a pause, Shadow gives another slow nod. "Will you promise me something?" Shadow immediately seems concerned by the request. "No, it's just…don't forget about me. Please?"

Shadow seems to think about this for quite some time. "I…I promise."

She smiles again. "Well then…sayonara, Shadow the Hedgehog."

These words are almost too much for Shadow, the same said by Maria so long ago. But he recovers himself after a moment, enough to let out a calm, "Goodbye." Without anything more to say, Shadow turns to leave the Echidna and her doomed tribe.

—–—

Shadow skates at top speed along the edge of the ocean, searching for any sign of Sunlight. The sun is beginning to set.

"So, where we goin'?" Shadow looks with shock to see Sunlight running right alongside him, matching his speed. Both skid to a stop.

"It's time for answers. How did we end up in this time? We were supposed to go back to yours."

"Oh, my time?" He innocently puts a hand on his chest. "I thought you said we were going to the past! You should've said the present if that's where you wanted me to go. I mean, I suppose it wouldn't be your present, and I did have a weird feeling that that's where you wanted to go. But I agreed to go to the past, so easily overpowered your will, and sent us to the past. Now, time for you to answer my question. Where were you running off to?"Shadow glares at him with intensity. "I…guess we're already here, then." Shadow still says nothing. "So, any new thoughts on my name?"

"You have to put that Emerald back. History depends on all seven being there tonight."

Sunlight puts a hand up to his chin as he thinks on that for a moment. "I see, I see… Certainly a creative name, but a bit of a mouthful, don't ya think?" Shadow has never appeared so irritated in all of his life. "I was thinking something a little shorter, catchier. Maybe…Nova. An event of the most extreme light…and yet a powerfully destructive force. And just imagine what happens once I find seven Emeralds." He marvels at the thought of Super Nova. "But…no. Destruction…isn't enough. I need–"

"So, the seven Emeralds? That's your endgame?"

"Endgame?"

"We can't keep up this game of tag much longer. You have to have some kind of plan."

"Who said anything about a plan? Maybe I just don't want to let go. After all, I'm having so much fun!"

"You think all of the destruction you're trying to cause is fun!? You know this is a one-way track! Tell me now how long this will last!"

"Ah, speaking of destruction…" He points off in the distance behind Shadow, and Shadow turns to look. Far back where Shadow came from, a group of thick black columns of smoke rise slowly from glowing red fires spread throughout the Echidna Village, fires which will soon spread to the Emerald shrine if left unchecked. The sky around them continues to grow darker. "Close your eyes, Shadow. Close your eyes and feel the burn. Isn't it wonderful?"

Shadow slowly shakes his head. "Now I see what I have to do."

"Oh? And what's that? Go ahead, open your–"

"Chaos Spear!"

Sunlight is launched back by Shadow's sudden attack. He gets up and wipes the corner of his mouth. "So, that's how we're gonna play it, huh? And here I thought we could still get along." He whips out the red Emerald. "Let's try this on for size! Chaos Inferno!" Sunlight unleashes a stream of fire from the palm of his hand.

Shadow dives back to avoid it, and counters with another "Chaos Spear!"

"Oh no you don't!" Sunlight switches to the green Emerald. "Chaos Terra!" He claws a hand upwards, and a massive chunk of earth rises in the path of Shadow's attack, blocking it entirely. Then he throws the hand forwards, and the earth is flung towards Shadow at a high speed.

"Chaos Control!" Shadow warps away from the attack, and reappears into a kick aimed at Sunlight's head.

"Chaos Control!" Sunlight disappears, avoiding the attack, then reappears in the exact same place, aiming a punch at Shadow's chest. Shadow snaps to warp away, and Sunlight snaps to pursue. The two engage in a war of Chaos Control, appearing in a place, throwing an attack, and warping away just as quickly, so rapidly that one might mistake them for being in a dozen different places at once. All the while, Tikal's words echo in Shadow's mind, "Promise me…," providing a new source of hope to fuel his Chaos Control. But the image of someone else appears, the old source of hope who he could never expel from his mind. "Please do it for me…"

Shadow appears farther back than normal. "Chaos Spear!" He hurls his weapon of light.

Sunlight appears opposite to him. "Chaos void!" He counters with an orb of shadowy energy.

They both warp to the center of the two attacks and lock into physical combat, each trying to force the other into the path of the attacks. With the attacks inches away and neither with an advantage, they both shout "Chaos Control!" A time-space rift forms between them, pulling them both in, Shadow shouting in irritation, "No!"

The two attacks collide as the rift collapses, momentarily creating an odd swirling pattern of light and darkness.

—–—

?

Sunlight lands on the metallic floor, and immediately takes off, only to be tackled by Shadow. "Oh no, you're not getting away from me this time!" Shadow pins Sunlight to the ground, and starts to attack him savagely.

"Shadow!?" Shadow freezes at the sound of the familiar voice. He turns slowly to face Maria. "Shadow, what are you doing? Who is that?"

Acting on instinct, Shadow leaps back to take a protective stance in front of his old friend. "Stay back, Maria! He's dangerous!"

But Sunlight does not attack. Instead, he looks over the pair with the most extreme of interest. "Maria…someone you know, clearly. This…this is the promise girl, isn't it? So this…" He looks around at the walls of the ARK "…must be your home!" He spots a window, and runs towards it to get a view of the Earth below. "Ooh, pretty view!" After a few moments, he starts to nod in satisfaction. "Man, you grew up with this? You must've been one lucky kid…adolescent…man child?" He waves the question off. "Oh, you know. Whatever it is we were when we were born…made…argh!"

Having no answer from Shadow, Maria puts forth the question to Sunlight. "Who are you? How did you get here, when no ships have docked recently?"

Sunlight suddenly looks back to them. "My, she is a pretty one, isn't she? I can see why you like her so much." He gives a suggestive wink. "But I think I'm more interested in seeing the rest of your home. I think I'll take a look around. Chaos…"

Shadow dives after Sunlight. "No!"

"Control!" He disappears a moment too soon, and Shadow crashes to the ground.

"Shadow!" Maria runs over to help him up. "Shadow, please tell me what's going on. I don't understand."

"The Professor…"

"What?"

"The Professor, he's in danger!" He grabs her arm and starts to lead her off as fast as she can follow, never looking her in the eye. "Come on, we have to help him!"

—–—

Shadow and Maria barge into the research lab, to Professor Gerald's complete surprise. "Maria what–" He stops as he realizes that Shadow is there as well. "Shadow!? You're supposed to be in hibernation, what's going on!?"

"No time to explain, Professor. Did he come through here?"

"He? He who?"

"Good, that means he didn't. Professor, make sure that Maria stays here, she'll be much safer with you."

"Safer from what!?"

"There's an intruder aboard, and I have to go find him before he interferes!" Shadow runs off again, alone, leaving his once-family with even more questions than before.

—–—

Sunlight pokes around at an odd-looking machine appearing vaguely like a head, with small, dim green eyes, and a red and yellow emblem on the forehead. The whole room is lit with an odd purplish color, which makes his bright white fur seem to glow. He lifts the device until it raises above the level of his head, and stares deeply into its eyes. "Alas, poor Shadow! I knew him well, or so I thought, at least. I thought him a fellow of good humor, a spirit kindred to my own. But now, how he so abhors my very soul! He spoke the truth, this game may not forge on. And when it meets its end, but one shall stand. Does my life truly weigh beyond his own? I might let him end it now, the easier for us both. I wonder what it might be like to fail. Perhaps it might be fun, I know not of it. To be, or not to be: that is the question." He fumbles and drops the device, and a small control panel pops off. "Ooh, shiny." He starts to poke around inside. "Just what are you?" He takes two ends of a wire, and reverses them. Suddenly, its eyes light up.

"Sunlight!"

He looks over his shoulder to Shadow. "Now, what was that thing I told you about that name again? Oh, that's right. It isn't mine! So stop using it!"

"Put it down, Sunlight."

He looks back to the device in his hand, which Shadow clearly recognizes. He shrugs, and casually tosses it over his shoulder. He starts to shake his head. "No, it just doesn't work. I'm flattered at how much you care about my old name, but that's just not who I am anymore. I need a name to reflect the shadows in my soul, don't you understand? Though, I suppose 'Shadow' is already taken… What do you think? Perhaps, something a little more balanced?"

"I think that I'm getting tired of this conversation, Sunlight."

"You know…maybe you have a point. I shouldn't reject my heritage of light. I should have a name that shows its transformation. That would truly help others to understand me, would it not?" He starts to look around. "What about…Blacklight?" He shivers at the very sound of the word. "Oh…yes, yes! It's perfect! My soul, in that one word, I do outpour! Blacklight! Blacklight!" He continues to speak only that one word, as the device that he threw begins to rise up behind him, supported by a floating orb of watery fluid.

Shadow shouts with surprise, "Chaos! Behind you, it's–"

"Nevermore! Nevermore shall I be constrained by your incessant bore! I am free, and shall be free forevermore!" He rises into a maniacal laughter. Quoth the Hedgehog, "Nevermore!" Suddenly, he snaps his fingers and disappears, leaving Shadow alone with the artificial recreation of the creature he could not defeat.

Artificial Chaos shoots out two lethal tentacles at Shadow, forcing him to dive out of the way. But they were never intended for him. The tentacles enter into two more Chaos head modules which had been lying in the shadows, and within moments their eyes light up as well. The original Artificial Chaos shoots out a dozen more tentacles, each one aimed at others of its kind. In another few moments, Shadow has become completely surrounded by waterbound machines.

Shadow growls, "I don't have time for this!" One of the machines shoots out a tentacle of water, this time aimed to kill. Shadow leaps over it, and aims a spin attack at the head module of the attacker. But the head recedes into the water beneath, and Shadow bounces off of the watery figure, creating a mild splash. Shadow is already prepared as the head resurfaces. "Chaos Spear!" The attack destroys the machine, causing the water underneath to burst out in all directions, completely drenching Shadow. He only has a moment to shake himself off before he's attacked by the next. He dodges just in time. "I have to get out of here!"

—–—

Shadow barges through the door to the research lab once more, completely soaking wet, perhaps as much from sweat as from water. Judging by his panting, it seems that he has just narrowly avoided yet another Artificial Chaos.

"Ah, Shadow, so glad you could make it. Yeesh, you look terrible." Blacklight stands in the center of the room, a smug look on his face. Against the wall stands Professor Gerald, protecting Maria behind him. "Mustache Senior over here has been telling me so much about you. Do tell me more about this…Black Doom fellow."

To be continued…