Disclaimer: I don't own Sonic the Hedgehog or any other affiliated characters or names.
A/N: I've edited the fic (yet again!) Maybe now it'll be a little easier to read...
Everything is red.
My own energy...
...the power of the Chaos Emeralds...
This is the only thing that sustains me...
...when it's gone...
...I won't breathe...
Shadow forced his eyes open. He winced and shut them again.
'How could I have fallen from ARK?' he scolded himself silently.
Then visions were flashing past his mind, faster than sound...
"Maria..." He coughed.
Visions of that last day on ARK...
The military... storming the space colony... killing everyone in sight.
"Maria!!" He screamed into the emptiness of space.
...how could they shoot her...!?
'Maria never hurt anyone...'
Shadow gasped in pain. His Super form was keeping him from dying... but for how long?
His Super form... a barrier between his air,
...and the cold death of space.
Visions of standing in the control room... talking to Maria...
Shadow closed his eyes tighter. 'Is this my life, flashing before me...?'
Visions of being awakened by Eggman.
Visions of rescuing the bat-girl from the island.
Visions of defeating the FinalHazard.
Visions of that first meeting with that blue hedgehog... Sonic...?
"It begins with this... A jewel containing the ultimate power..."
"That's the... Chaos Emerald! ... Now I know what's going on! The military has mistaken me for the likes of you!"
"Say something! You fake hedgehog!"
'Sonic... I owe you an apology... you're the ultimate life form... you lived... I didn't... I'll tell you when you die too.' Shadow shook the thought of dying from his mind. But it was inevitable.
The friction and heat against his thin shield of pure energy almost became too much to bear. Shadow felt himself losing power...
... passing out...
Suddenly, he opened his eyes. He was in a dark place... there was a shining light, far away...
'I have to reach that... that must be the afterlife... that's where Maria is...'
He tried to stand up, but the image blurred. In shock, he saw space... Earth...
'Where am I?' Then the dark void came back into focus...
'I have... to get there...' Shadow weakly made progress, but his surroundings faded... faded into a transparent world... partly a world of the living... partly a world of the afterlife.
He growled in frustration, wincing in pain.
'Wait... if I feel pain... I'm not dead...?'
A voice... hauntingly familiar...
"Shadow, stop where you are!!"
"Shadow, no, don't go!"
Shadow collapsed onto the ground. 'Where am I...'
"You're... going to the afterlife! Shadow, go back, now!"
"Maria!" he shouted hoarsely.
Shadow looked up. In this blurry, transparent world, he saw a face...
...a kind face...
... shining down on him...
... Maria ...
"Shadow... no," she whispered. "Your friends need you."
Shadow looked down stubbornly. "I have no friends."
"Are you sure...?"
"Yes... you're my only friend..."
"Shadow... you'll never be happy if you don't accept others. If you choose to give up on life."
"What kind of life is there?! There is no more happiness without you..." Shadow felt the sting of salty teardrops, falling on his burned face. "Where am I? I don't want to hurt anymore..."
Maria was crying. She stammered, "This is... a place between the living world and the afterlife. You don't belong in the afterlife yet."
"But... I belong where you are. You--"
"Shadow... not many people get this chance. You have another chance at living. You can go back to Earth. You can go back to your friends."
"I don't have friends!"
"Sonic. Tails. Knuckles. Rouge. Amy"
"... They helped me keep my promise. They're not my friends..."
"Sonic is especially crestfallen... He thought you two could be allies, friends... there is no one else quite like him. He wants a rival, like himself..."
"He'll find someone els-- Wait. How do you know about Sonic? The rest of them..." Shadow looked into Maria's eyes, trying to focus. His vision was shaky... dizzying... blurry...
Maria said quietly, "I've been watching you..."
Shadow felt a pang of guilt. "I'm sorry... for all the trouble I've caused..." He looked away.
Maria choked. "It's all my fault... don't blame yourself."
Shadow looked back at her. "Your fault?! No, it's completely my--"
Maria sighed. "It's all because of me that Grandpa went insane... programmed the space colony to give you so much trouble. It's because of me that you both wanted revenge."
Shadow said, "It's my fault because I made that choice... I don't know why I showed Eggman the Eclipse Cannon..." He felt tears roll down his face. "It's my fault the moon is half gone... It's my fault you died, because the military went after us..."
Maria knelt down to Shadow. "No... it's no one's fault. But listen: there isn't much time. You must go back to the living world." She touched his silver fur, gently because of the scorches. "Your Super form won't last much longer. Use that Chaos Control that you have. Please go back to Earth."
Shadow flinched at the touch. Then he apologized. "I'm sorry... it's just that I'm burned... but the pain is going away." He smiled quietly.
Maria looked serious. "Hurry. You're... dying right now. You must get out of here... the longer you stay, the harder it will be to leave..."
"Can the Chaos Control warp dimensions?" Shadow was surprised.
"...yes... you haven't discovered its true power, I believe..."
"...I don't want to go."
"You have to..."
"But I don't want to leave you..."
"Can you come?" Maria shook her head.
"I'm afraid not. I belong in the afterlife. You belong in the living world."
Shadow nodded. He didn't want to leave Maria behind, again. But the promise of a new life... "Maria," he whispered. "When I get back... I will try to apologize... for all the destruction I caused..."
The two looked at each other. Maria blinked away tears.
Shadow straightened up painfully. Gasping, he cried--
As he left, he heard Maria's voice... one last time...
"Shadow.... wishes are eternal...."
the boundaries of the dimensions
Shadow found himself
back in the living world...
...back in space.
But his mind carried him to the land, on Earth.
... but the pain was unbearable...
... everything rushed by,
at the speed of sound...
In a split second, he appeared in a flash of light, hovering over the ocean, close to land...
Shadow's eyes widened. 'The earth... looks so beautiful from here...'
He sighed. His silver color, burned from the fall, changed to black...
With his Super form gone, he couldn't fly anymore...
Then there was a cold rush of water, and many painful stings of salt
burning his body all over...
Gagging, he draped himself over a piece of driftwood.
'Lucky moron...' he muttered in his mind.
Seemingly an eternity later, Shadow felt himself being washed up to the beach...
'My aim was a little off... I guess... should have tried to get closer to shore...'
Another voice shattered his thoughts.
He lay still, too weak to do anything. But he knew the voice at once.
"Shadow... how... did you..." Sonic was stupified. "We thought... for sure..."
"Heh heh... about time you got here, faker..." Shadow whispered.