"You perfect little fool. I was at your mercy, and now you've just let me win." Blacklight lifts Shadow's two Emeralds into the air, and unites them with his five others. His feet lift from the ground. His white fur begins to darken as he starts to radiate a shadowy aura.

Unable to do anything else, Shadow leaps at Blacklight in a desperate attempt to stop him.

Blacklight's aura flares to life as the transformation completes, creating a shockwave which knocks Shadow back. "Oh, it's far too late for that, brother." The Super Form of Blacklight has retained all of his various colors, except for his white fur, which has been almost entirely covered in pulsating purple shadows. However, a scattering of white spots and speckles have remained, glowing surprisingly bright. The whites of his eyes have turned yellow, and the pupils have turned crimson red. He starts to cough again. But when he finishes, he continues, "My reign over this pathetic planet begins now. And I think I'll start by obliterating the two of you."

"Sunlight, what are you saying!? What's happened to you!?" All turn to see Lt. Alfred Robotnik.


Sonic the Hedgehog: The Chaos Project

Season 0, Episode 19

Birth of Blacklight, Part 6: Project: Blacklight

Written by ChaosProject

Concept by ChaosProject


"Well, well, well. If it isn't my dear old creator! Come crawling back to me, have you? Can't live without me? Is that why you kept me prisoner?"

"Prisoner? No! Sunlight, I kept you inside to protect you!"

"You were afraid that they would hurt me?"

"No. I was afraid that they would try. Humans can be cruel, Sunlight. They can be quick to judge, and slow to accept new ideas. The world wasn't ready to accept you, and I knew that you weren't ready to accept that about them. Sunlight, please, don't hate them for something they can't control. They need time. You need time!"

"Ah, time. I could tell you so much about time. But the last thing I need is more of it." He lets out another loud cough. "I'm tired of waiting. And I think, just for you, I'll change my plans. I'm going off into town. I'll show them all that they were perfectly right to fear me."

"Sunlight…"

"Stop calling me that! My name is Blackli–…no. This form deserves something special. Something original. Unexpected. You shall call me…Black Night, the Ultimate Bringer of Darkness. Black Night for short. Shadow, consider this a challenge. Stop me. Please. I want to see what sort of insane plan you can come up with. I'll give you a few minutes before I start blowing things up. Sound good?" Not waiting for an answer, he snaps his fingers and disappears in a burst of purple energy.

"How could I have let this happen…?"

Maria answers, "This isn't your fault."

Alfred slowly turns to face his daughter. "Maria…"

"Father…?"

Unable to contain himself, he runs to his daughter, tears streaming past his spectacles. He embraces her, and holds her as tightly as he possibly can. Several times he tries to speak, but never manages to get out more than a choked sob. Finally, he lets go enough to look her in the eyes. "It's true…you're really here. And he…" He looks for a moment off towards the town. He shakes his head. "You shouldn't be out here, it isn't safe for your health. Come on, I have to get you inside." He looks up to Shadow. "You come as well." He gets up and walks off, leading Maria with his hand.

—–—

EDEN

Alfred leads the two into the whitewashed facility. Shadow has put his Inhibitor Rings back on. He walks with a slow limp, appearing heavily bruised. He breathes with a mild but continuous pant. Alfred continues speaking, "You'll be much safer in here, Maria. It's lucky that you haven't fallen ill after spending so much time in the open air. You still might have, I'll have to give you a complete checkup to be certain."

"Father, I have so many questions. Why–"

"I wish I could answer them now, dear. But I must tend to something else first. Please wait here for a moment." He turns to Shadow. "You…" He clears his throat. "I mean…Shadow. Come with me." He turns towards the back room of the lab, and leads Shadow inside.

Just as Blacklight had, Shadow directs his gaze towards one of the walls the moment he enters the room.

"So, you can feel it as well?"

Shadow thinks for a moment. Then he starts to nod slowly.

"Just as well." Gerald walks up to the wall, and begins tapping a code into its control pad. After a moment, the wall panel slides to the side, revealing the compartment containing seven Chaos Emeralds. Each one heavily pulsates its own colorful light, periodically filling the room with a rainbow-colored glow, and then dimming it again.

"All seven…"

"I've held them here ever since Sunlight was created. He noticed them here, but…I don't think he ever realized what they were. Take them. You'll need them."

"What!? Are you insane!?"

"There's no other way. You won't defeat him without them."

"Do you have any idea what will happen if these Emeralds go anywhere near his!?"

"No, and neither do you. Fight him from a distance if you must, but you have to defeat him at any cost! Do you understand me?"

Shadow doesn't answer for a moment. "It could kill us both. You're really willing to let that happen?"

"He crossed the line when he threatened my daughter. If he dies…" He hesitates, but continues through clenched teeth, "…so be it. The risk to you is your choice alone."

Shadow nods. "I'll do it." Alfred steps out of the way, and indicates for Shadow to proceed. Shadow holds his hand out towards the compartment, and the Emeralds lift towards him in a line, and begin their orbit around him. His feet lift from the ground as he is filled with their energy. His black fur glows gold as the transformation completes. He gives Alfred one last nod, before he snaps his fingers and disappears.

—–—

Despite his ability to float, Black Night strolls through town, taking in the sights. He coughs loudly. Few people are out at the early hour, but the sound of shutting doors and window shutters can be heard as he walks past. One man turns towards him at the intersection of a road, not noticing him immediately. Blacklight shouts, "You there!" The man looks up. "Yes, you! Do you have the time? I'm supposed to be meeting someone here."

The man recoils at the sight of the demon-eyed shadowy hedgehog. "Ah! What kind of freak are you!?"

"Now that's no way to treat a stranger! I only wanted to ask you a question. Why, I oughtta–"

"Looking for someone?"

Black Night turns to face his golden doppleganger. "Shadow, ya made it! And here I was beginning to think that you didn't have the guts. But I guess I can't be right about everything."

"Leave the people out of this, Blacklight. This is between you and me."

"That's Black Night! Night! Get it right! Hey, I rhymed again!" Wordlessly, Shadow starts to float higher into the air. "Hey, where ya goin'?" Black Night soars up after him.

Shadow comes to a stop high above the city.

"Ooh, nice view. I see why you brought me up here. This whole floating thing…kinda fun, don'tcha think? Oh, look, you can see our little spot from up here."

Shadow silently shakes his head.

"Aw, what's the matter, mon ami? Don't you care about having fun? Isn't that why you came here?" He turns to face another direction, so that his eyes can be seen clearly, head-on. "Isn't that why you came here?" He lets out another loud cough.

"I'm done with your games. I'm here to finish this."

Black Night doesn't turn back to Shadow, but still keeps his eyes locked straight ahead. "So you've said before. But the games will never end, not if I have anything to say about it. After all, what is your life but a series of games? Or, rather, the lack thereof. You could really stand to start doing better in that area."

"You know nothing about my life. The story of my life goes far beyond these silly games that you care about."

Black Night thinks about that for a moment as he stares intensely at the nothingness in front of him. "Perhaps you're right. Maybe someday, if I'm lucky, I too may transcend this game into a true story, as you have. But first, I suppose this game must meet its end. And of course, we mustn't forget the poorly-received but all-the-same brilliant sequel, leaving me abandoned and nearly forgotten by all but my most dedicated fans. Then I might be good enough for a true story." He finally looks back to Shadow. "Before we do battle, I have one last request."

"And that is?"

"Let me look at you." He floats forward slightly, but Shadow floats back to match. He shrugs, contenting himself to observe from afar. He travels in a wide circle around Shadow to view him from all angles. "I see now that you are no Shadow. In fact, you bring shame to the name. But neither are you a ray of sunshine. You are what lies in the middle, and you deserve a name to match. How about…"

"Chaos…"

"Actually, that could work quite well, though–"

"Spear!" Super Shadow's spear of light sends Black Night flying back.

"Rude! Rude, Shadow! Does the word mean nothing to you!? It seems that I have no choice but to teach you manners myself!" His seven Emeralds begin to circle him. He takes one arm and starts to lift it upwards, causing the entire river running around the town below to suddenly start flowing straight up, towards himself. As he does, all trace of color on him, save for his primary shadowy black fur, turns dark blue. He then does a similar movement with his opposite arm, lifting a moderately-sized hill from the ground of the opposite side of town, and crushing it into rubble, as his colors shift to dark green. The two streams of raw element begin to circle him, each in a different orbit than the Emeralds, and perpendicular to each other. He adds a stream of wind, which picks up some stray dust and and water droplets, turning his colors light cyan-blue. He produces a stream of fire, and diverts some of the water into shards of ice, creating a near-complete sphere of elements around himself. Finally, from the center of the sphere begins to seep a torrent of pulsating, shadowy purple fog-like energy, which stretches all the way to the ground before beginning to take a roughly humanoid shape, with the orb of elements at its head. Then the elements break their orbits, and move to cover various parts of the shadowy figure, creating an elemental golem. Black Night's voice booms from inside, "You want to finish this game? Here's your final boss!"

"Let's finish this!" Immediately, the golem hurls a massive rock at Shadow. Shadow zooms in, on the offensive. "Chaos Spear!" He throws his own attack, strong enough to deflect the rock out of his way. Black Night tries to swat him away with an icy hand, but he dives out of the way. Not relenting, the golem continues to breath a massive stream of fire from its mouth, which Shadow weaves around. Finally, he dashes straight into the golem's chest, wreaking havoc as he attempts to destroy it from the inside. But the golem reaches with a rocky hand into its own chest after him, and rips him out. Shadow struggles to escape, but its grasp is too tight. Suddenly, he relaxes, and starts to spark with a red energy. "Chaos Blast!" The explosion completely obliterates the golem's hand, giving Shadow a chance to retreat back.

"Do you really think that you can defeat me that way!?" As Black Night speaks, the golem's hand and chest reform exactly as they were before.

Shadow growls, "He's right. It's useless to fight him like this. But I can't get in close, either. Something has to change." He starts to reach for one of wrists.

"Ah, the gloves are about to come off, I see. Or, rather, the Rings. Still falling back on the same old tricks, I see. Though I must say, you weren't looking too healthy after last time. Are you sure you want to go through with it again?"

Shadow's Inhibitor Rings have already dropped far down below. "You've left me no other choice. Chaos Shine!" Shadow unleashes an intense beam of light energy.

"Chaos Void!" An equally intense shadowy beam exits from the center of the golem's chest, colliding with Shadow's and creating a swirling orb just like last time. The orb grows to a massive size before detonating, creating a powerful shockwave and a thick cloud of smoke.

Shadow quickly soars out of the cloud. Black Night unleashes another powerful breath of fire. "Chaos Torrent!" Shadow dispels the flames with an onrush of water. The golem throws thousands of shards of ice. "Chaos Inferno!" Shadow vaporizes the ice with a stream of fire. The golem tries to strike him with a rocky fist. "Chaos Terra!" Rather than counter the attack, Shadow takes control of the earth with his own power, and tears it off of the golem's shadowy core. "Chaos Frost!" He does the same with the ice. He closes his eyes for focus, and finishes off the rest with a single movement, leaving only the hazy, shadowy figure, with Black Night's glowing eyes barely visible in the center of the head. "Chaos Shine!" This time up close, Shadow's beam of light completely dispels every inch of darkness that it touches, as he sweeps it up until it blasts through the head, where Black Night lies.

As Black Night is knocked back, all of the remaining energy dissipates, leaving only the two hedgehogs. He gives Shadow a big smile. "Shadow, I'm very impressed. In fact, I'm quite proud." He spreads his arms out wide. "How about a hug for your bro?" He starts to float closer to Shadow. Shadow zooms backwards in response. "What's wrong? Don't you want a hug? You look like you could use a hug. Have you ever been hugged before? Come here!" This time he flies towards Shadow at top speed.

"Chaos Tempest!" Shadow tries to keep Black Night back with the force of wind, and momentarily succeeds. Until Black Night pulls out a cyan Emerald of his own. Before he can even begin an attack, an arc of cyan lightning suddenly forms between his Emerald and Shadow's, which seems to exert a force pulling the two together. After a moment of pulling, six more arcs of colorful energy connect the two hedgehogs together, one matching the color of each Emerald. Shadow tries to pull himself away, but has become completely trapped by the strange force. The two draw closer and closer as Shadow shouts, "No!" Then the two hedgehogs touch, and everything goes white.

—–—

?

An intense, continuous sound can be heard, like that of a raging river. Slowly, Super Shadow opens his eyes. He is surrounded on all sides by two kinds of energy, one of gold and white, the other of purple and black, which flow around him. The two are unevenly mixed, in small shreds in some places, and large patches in others. In a somewhat erratic fashion, the two energies are constantly morphing and flowing, one type of energy almost constantly flowing into and overtaking the other, only to be itself overtaken. "What…what is this place…?" His voice echoes off into the distance.

"An excellent question." Another loud cough announces the presence of Black Night.

Shadow groans. "Why can't we both have just died?"

Black Night emerges from the swirl of energy. As he does, the area around him grows intensely more erratic, with light and darkness shifting and stabbing into each other so quickly that it almost can't be tracked by the eye. "But Shadow! If I were dead, then the world would have to miss out on my unique and exciting brand of comedy!" Shadow glares at him. "What? I wasn't joking. Or was I? Hm."

Shadow sighs. "What do you know about this place?"

"Oh, right, that. Tell me, Shadow, when you use Chaos Control, what do you see?"

"See?" Black Night nods. "I see the place that I was, and then the place that I end up."

"I'm afraid that's incorrect. Go ahead. Think about it. Think about that one, momentary instant," he snaps his fingers, "between starting point and destination."

Shadow scrunches his face as he thinks hard. "There isn't any…or…is there?" He starts to look around, perhaps gaining some vague recognition of the strange realm.

"You got it. Welcome to the Flow of Chaos. We are currently connected to all of space, and all of time."

"And…this energy around us?"

Black Night shrugs. "Heck if I know. So…what now?"

"I'd say nothing's changed." Shadow takes a fighting stance in the air.

"Yes, yes, you're probably right. But do you really want to fight in here? Doesn't it seem almost…blasphemous?" Shadow says nothing. "Fine, fine, take the first move. I'm ready."

Shadow takes the opportunity. "Chaos Frost!" He throws his hand forward. But nothing happens.

"Uh…hate to break this to you, but there isn't any ice in here."

"Chaos Tempest!"

"Or air, for that matter. Here, let me try. Chaos Void!" Rather than emerging from himself, the dark energy from the realm around them is thrown from its place, towards Shadow in a massive onrush.

"Chaos Shine!" At the last moment, Shadow throws the light energy from its own place, countering the dark in perfect balance. After a moment of driving against each other, the energies simply dissolve and return to their places in the realm around them. Changing tactics, Shadow dashes at his opponent.

Black Night dashes back, and the two collide in the middle. The moment they make contact, the energies in the realm polarize around them, with all of the light concentrating on Shadow's side, and the dark on Black Night's. The two drive against each other with all of their might, forced even harder by the energies around them. Then they're forced to break off, and the realm returns to normal once more.

Shadow immediately continues the onslaught, as does Black Night. Each time the two strike, the energies of the realm polarize again. Again and again they strike each other, the full force of Light and Darkness behind them, each one a perfectly equal match for the other.

Suddenly, Black Night doubles over in yet another fit of violent coughing. Shadow wastes no time. "Chaos Shine!" All of the realm's light energy is hurled at Black Night, with no chance of being blocked. He is hit by the full force of the attack, a continuous torrent of light. When the light fades again, the semi-conscious form of Blacklight is revealed, his shadowy aura fading rapidly. Shadow dives in and grabs him, shouting, "Chaos Control!"

—–—

Super Shadow drops Blacklight onto the center of the hill by the town. Blacklight struggles to stand, coughing meekly. "So…this is it, huh? I… …I guess you won the game. I just don't understand…how you could have beat me. I am pure…and you are just some…alien mongrel."

Shadow shakes his head. "You still don't get it, do you? Your DNA…your name…it's all the same, it makes no difference. Who you are isn't determined by what you've been given. It's determined by what you do with it. There is no destiny that can't be changed through action."

"Grant me…one last request. Tell Maria…she'll always be a Barbie to me." He suddenly breaks down into the most violent fit of coughing yet. When he looks up again, a drop of red can be seen pooling at the corner of his mouth, as he looks to Shadow with genuine fear in his eyes. Then he collapses back to the ground.

—–—

Maria hops off of the examination table. "Is that all, father?"

Alfred finishes looking over the last of the diagnostic data that's appeared on his screen. "Yes…there is no immediate threat to your health. It seems like your grandfather's treatments have been relatively effective."

"Grandfather has been telling me that he's very close to a cure. He says that, soon, I'll be able to…" She starts to laugh. "He says I'll be able to go down to the planet with Shadow. But I guess I've already done that, now. I was so looking forward to seeing the grass, and the trees, and the sky…and meeting you. I wasn't expecting any of it to happen like this."

"I…wasn't quite expecting this, either."

"Father, do you think Shadow will be alright?"

"…I do. Shadow has an incredible strength of will. He will not give up."

As if on cue, Shadow steps through the door, and drops Sunlight onto the floor. "He's dying."

The Robotniks at once shout, "Shadow!" Alfred runs up to his creation. But then he stops. "You want me to save him?"

"He doesn't deserve death."

Alfred looks down to Blacklight. The blood on his lips is beginning to dry. "I'll do what I can." He looks back up to Shadow. But Shadow has already dropped to the floor as well.

—–—

The glittering blue marble that is Earth glows faintly beneath the light of of a thousand stars. The sun can be seen breaking over the other side. "Take a good look, Shadow." Professor Gerald steps up behind Shadow, and they stare out of the ARK window together. "Everything down there…will someday be in your hands."

Shadow looks up to his creator. "What does that mean? In my hands?""

"The world will be yours, not to control, but to protect."

"Me? Protect the entire world? How can I do that?"

"It's been done for centuries."

"What are you talking about?"

Gerald pauses. "Shadow…do you know why you are a hedgehog?"

"Well…because that's what you made me."

"Yes, but I could have made you anything. Something with more natural power, something with…regenerative capabilities. But those ideas failed. And I decided on a hedgehog as the final form. I decided on you."

"Why?"

Gerald pauses again. "It was because of something that happened to me…a long time ago. My life was saved by a hedgehog. I had never seen anything like him before. He could do things that seemed…impossible. When I asked him how…he told me a story. An ancient legend about a chosen one called 'the Controller'. According to this legend, a new Controller is born with each generation, tasked with protecting the world by wielding the power of Chaos. When the story was done, he disappeared. I was alone on that day. As the years went on, I began to wonder if it wasn't all just a dream, or an illusion. But it was no dream. All that he said about Chaos turned out to be true, and I have no doubt that the rest of the legend was as well."

"If the world is already protected by the Controller, what does it need me for?"

"You see, Shadow…there is a flaw in this generational system of Controllers. Each one must start from scratch. One must die for the next to be born, and so their knowledge must die as well. But you, Shadow, can change that. When you go down to the planet someday…I want you to seek out the Controller. Learn from him all that he has to teach. And when the next Controller comes…you will become the teacher. Eventually, the day will come when the two of you together will save the world from the ultimate calamity."

Another voice shouts happily, "Shadow, there you are!" Maria runs up to greet her friend.

Shadow looks up to Gerald questioningly. Gerald smiles back. "That's alright, Shadow. You can go. Just don't forget about what I told you. And, just one other thing. Wake up."

"What?"

Maria takes Shadow's hands in hers. "Wake up, Shadow. Wake up. Wake up…"

Shadow opens his eyes to see Maria and Alfred standing over him. "Shadow, are you alright?"

Shadow props himself up on the examination table, clutching his head. "I…think so. How long…?"

Alfred answers, "You've been unconscious for several hours. It's nearly noon."

"Blacklight…?"

Alfred points over to a familiar pod next to a computer console. On the other side of the glass lies the unconscious Blacklight, the faintest peaceful smile on his face. "When I created him, I knew there was a chance…if he were to use too much energy within a short period of time…that it could kill him. But I never imagined it would be possible to use so much."

"Is he…?"

"He's alive. Barely. I knew of no other way to save him. His body needs time to regenerate. And you almost had to go in there with him."

For the first time, Shadow notices that his Inhibitor Rings have been reattached.

"Those rings of yours are of an incredible design. Only my father could have made such a device. They saved you this time. But I can't say that for the future."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm no expert on the subject, but I do know that every moment you go without those rings puts your body in danger. I wouldn't advise removing them in the future."

Shadow sighs. Then he gets to his feet, and walks over to Blacklight's pod. He stares into it for a long time. "I came here to protect history. So why am I trying to change it? Why can't I just let him die? That's how it was supposed to happen."

"You saved someone's life. You shouldn't be ashamed of that."

"But at what cost? I don't know, so why am I so certain that this is right?"

Alfred thinks for a moment. "If he came to your time…instead of you to his…would you have saved him then? If it would only affect your future, and not your past?" After a moment, Shadow nods. "When you make a decision in the present, it affects the course of the future. From your perspective, my future has already happened. But from my perspective, your past hasn't, and I can still take action to change what seems like destiny to you. This is no different."

Shadow thinks on this for a while. "All the same, I must do what I can to protect the world that I know. That's why you have to hide him. Somewhere different from where you're hiding me, somewhere no one will find him for at least forty years. You have to make sure that you never acknowledge that he's alive, or some idiot will go looking for him. And someday…if he ever wakes up…I'll be there, ready for whatever he thinks to try."

Alfred nods. "As far as history is concerned, he is dead."

Shadow starts to think again. Suddenly, something strikes him. "The Emeralds! Where are the Emeralds?"

"Still here. Follow me." Alfred moves towards the back room of the facility, and Shadow and Maria follow. Seven Chaos Emeralds stick to the side of the back wall, pulsating wildly. "The other seven are on the opposite side of the panel. It seems that they're too strongly attracted to each other to scatter." Shadow nods slowly. "Will you be able to use them to get home?"

"I think so."

"I suppose that means…you'll be taking Maria as well?"

Shadow nods. "She needs to go home."

The father slowly turns to face his doomed daughter. "Maria…I'm afraid this is where we must say goodbye."

"But father, we've spent so little time together! Can't you come with us?"

"Oh, how I wish I could. But where you're going…I can't follow." He sighs.

"Father…will I ever see you again?""

Alfred freezes up. "Uh-…anything is possible."

Maria looks down solemnly. "Goodbye, father."

Alfred kneels down to look her in the eyes. "Maria…I love you. Please, don't ever forget that. You bring light into every life that you touch. Even these few hours that we've spent together have been more than I ever could have hoped for." The two embrace. "Goodbye, my daughter." They separate again, and Alfred looks to Shadow.

Shadow nods, and stretches his hand out towards the Emeralds. Faltering slightly, they are pulled from their place against the wall, and orbit tightly just above his open hand. Alfred types the usual code into the control pad, and the wall panel slides open, revealing the other seven. Shadow repeats his previous action with his opposite hand, sure to keep the two sets of Emeralds as far apart as he can hold them with his outstretched arms. He looks to Maria. "Hold on to me. And don't let go." She grabs ahold of his arm. Then he looks to Alfred. "You might want to stand back."

Alfred obeys. "Shadow…thank you. For helping me to understand."

Shadow only gives one final nod in response. Then he slowly draws his two outstretched hands together, causing the sets of Emeralds to react to each other. Within moments, everything goes completely white.

—–—

The Flow of Chaos

Shadow opens his eyes to see the same realm of swirling energies as before.

"Shadow…what is this place?"

He looks back to Maria behind him, to see nothing but pure, intense light energy behind her. "Maria…do you see that behind you?"

She looks to that side of the realm. "It's…so bright."

"I think…it's you. That's the light you bring to the world. " They both stare at the sight for a while. "Maria…everything that's happened today…I know it seems strange, but you can't talk about it to anyone. Not even me."

"I don't think that I understand, but…I'll do anything for you. You know that, Shadow."

"There's one more thing I need you to do for me."

"Anything."

"If things…ever look bleak…I want you to remind me…about what we've always talked about. Make me promise…to protect people. To give them a chance at happiness. We promised that's what we would fight for, and if I forget everything else, I want to remember that. And I will keep that promise, no matter what tries to stop me."

Maria smiles at him. "I'll never forget."

Shadow goes silent for a while. "This realm…is connected to all of space, and all of time. That means I can put you back right now."

"Put me back? Aren't you coming with me?"

"I'll meet you on the other side, don't worry about me." He places a blue Emerald into her hands. "Give this back to the Professor, alright?" She nods. "Are you ready?" She nods again. "Okay. Maria…goodbye."

She smiles. "See you soon."

Shadow's only answer is with a long sigh. "Chaos…Control." In a flash, his companion disappears. "I'm sorry that I couldn't save you. But I'll never forget my promise. Never again." His words echo off into nowhere. He looks to the six remaining Emeralds in one hand. "These have to go back to where they came from. Chaos Control." Four of them disappear, leaving the purple and the yellow from his own time. He looks to the seven in his other hand. "These go back to the Lieutenant. Chaos Control." All seven disappear, leaving him with only two. "And now…I must return as well." He spends another moment staring into the depths of the strange realm. The swirling of the energies seems more calm than it once was. "From here…everything changes. From here…I start writing my own destiny! Chaos Control!"

—–—

Present Day—March 20th, 0 B.E.

Eggmanland

The purple Chaos Emerald begins to lift into the air, swirling around faster and faster as it rises. The moment it contacts the roof of Eggman's Chaos Control Prototype, a bright flash of blue swallows it, and the entire field of light lining the chamber collapses in on itself with one final spark of blue lightning. The Emerald is gone.

After an awkward silence, Cubot announces, "So, how do we know if worked?"

Orbot answers, "I certainly don't feel any different. Does it look like anything around us has changed?"

Eggman shouts, "You fools! You wouldn't notice any difference if the timeline had changed! Your–" He is cut off by a high-pitched whine. The purple Emerald appears in a flash of light, and drops back to the floor of the chamber. "What!?" He goes around to the inside of the chamber, and picks up the Emerald. "It seems the time-travel process has failed." He thinks for a moment. "Scrap this useless machine. Another failed experiment."

Cubot responds, "But sir! You sent the Emerald ten seconds into the future! Just imagine the possibilities!"

Eggman groans, and leaves the room.

—–—

"Hey, Shadow! Shadow, you alright?"

Shadow, startled, looks up to Sonic suddenly. He changes to look at his own hands, then up to the thriving tree he sits under. He looks back to Sonic, and stares intensely at his face.

"Shadow, what's going on? First you stare blankly into space, and now you're staring at me!"

"No scar…"

"What? Scar?"

Struck by a new thought, Shadow looks around for the tablet device, and quickly finds it lying next to him. He activates it. The last confessions of Lt. Alfred Robotnik are displayed, exactly as normal. "It's back to normal…no reference to me… I have to make sure!" He suddenly rises to his feet, and sprints off.

"Hey, where ya goin'!?" Sonic pursues.

It seems Shadow's tree was never far from EDEN, as he quickly arrives at an old, abandoned facility. Where there was once a hole in the wall has been covered up by wooden boards. Shadow easily breaks through them, just as Sonic catches up.

"Shadow, what's going on? What is this place?"

Shadow continues inside. The place is dim and dusty, and all of the machines and materials inside have been emptied out. But Shadow is still able to find his way to the back room. He wipes a layer of grime off of the control panel attached to the back wall. It glows faintly, looking to be on the verge of flickering out. But it still functions. Shadow reaches out to enter the code, but stops as he realizes that he never saw what it was. The obvious answer strikes him quickly. He types in the password, "MARIA". Stalling a few times, the wall panel slides open. Inside is a single slip of aged paper. Shadow picks it up. It's a note.

Shadow:

It wasn't long before the military came to take you away, just as you led me to suspect. They obtained all of my father's files, including his diary, but I refused to give them the password to open your pod that you've undoubtedly just entered. Your history should be intact. As for the other one…they never suspected a thing. He is safely hidden away.

"The other one?" Sonic is looking over Shadow's shoulder. "Shadow, who wrote this? What's he talking about?"

Shadow addresses Sonic for the first time. "It doesn't matter who or what. All that matters is that everything is right."

The end of one Adventure…

And the beginning of another.