Disclaimer: We know I don't own Shadow or Maria, because I've said it before. I would think you'd have got the picture by now... o-O

Okay, time for a rant. Lately, I've slowly, but surely, become somewhat obsessed with to other characters of the Sonic The Hedgehog series. Cream The Rabbit and Maria Robotnik have slowly been seeping their ways into my heart, and Bil's of course, along with Vanilla. Anyway, I think I've come to understand exactly why I'm coming to like them so very much.

Leverage.

Think of it: both of them are innocent and have burned their way into the hearts of the two fastest hedgehogs around. Maria probably got anything she wanted on ARK while Shadow was around simply by implying it.

Maria: I'm hungry
ZOOOOOOOM!
Shadow: -back with gourmet meal- Here you are...my...queen -heart vision-

He wanted to destroy the world for her! What does this tell you, guys?

And for Cream it's even easier. I have info for a gaming friend who tells me that whenever Cream cries in this one game (no idea which; might be fan or original), while fighting Robotnik, Sonic comes and does the work FOR her!! He beats Robotnik and Cream is still titled winner. Can we say 'slave labor?' Thought so.

But, look at the opportunities!! Cream's tired, Sonic tucks her in; Maria's sad, Shadow acts like a clown for her! They could probably have the two jumping off cliffs to make them happy, and what fangirl doesn't want that power?!

Maria: Shadow? .....I'd like a bunny.....
ZOOOOOM!!!
Shadow: -finds and cooks Cream-
Maria: .....O-O'
Shadow: Here you are....my love... -heart vision-
Sonic: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Shadow: Bugger off Faker!!

-evil grin- Oh the possibilities....oh right! Review answers for the fans! Almost forgot... '

Celestial the Hedgird - Thank you, it is getting better, isn't it? Lot's of little people in this review, your muses I presume? They all contradict each other, can't keep an opinion or answer in my head... -.-'

shadowgirl3000 - Thanks for the fav, but are you saying you don't like Maria? or is it really bad and the only reason you like it is because Shadow's part of the story? If so, how do I make it better? So confuuuuused!!!

Midnight el Gatito - Lesse, a week or three later! Oh of my most recent updatings, I'll assure you. It usually takes me a full month you know. :p Enjoy, okay?

DragonessFei - You don't have to stop changing your name, if you don't want to. I just need you to stop doing it so fast; I get used to one name, and you suddenly go by another. Wait a while, and give me notice. Or just keep reminding me, I'll get the hang of it someday....maybe.

Golbez&crew - Yay, you wuff me!! :) And here you are in the review answers again, so REVIEW!! Muwhahahahahahahahaha!!!

Dragon Master Naya - Yay, you didn't die!! :) And poo on Fido! -shakes fist at doggy- How dare you keep me from getting extra reviews!! I'm going to take you away to the Net Vet and get you FIXED!!

Fido: -howls and whimpers-

LoneGunGirl88 - Wow...I do believe that's the longest review I've gotten... Oo ...wow....your hands must hurt bunches after that rant, eh? Anyway, I'm happy you like how I protrayed everything, and thank you for the sleep wishes, I needed them. -all rested and bouncey- As for the tomorrow quote, I think I've translated it: if we didn't dream about what tomorrow is like, then it would bring about the end of the WORLD!!! So everyone, don't even think or use the word tomorrow and we'll see if it works!!

Shadow: You just used it....

......Maria's hungry.

Shadow: MY LOVE!!! ZOOOOOOOM!!

-snicker- :) I'm so evil.


"What do you think it's like on Earth, Shadow? It must be so wonderful...I can't wait until I'm better, than I can go down there too."

"But...Maria, if you go, if you're there....you won't be here...with me..."

"Don't be silly, Shadow! I'd never just leave you up here all alone!! You'll be right there with me and Grandfather, and we'll see all the sights! Everything, oh Shadow, I can't wait!"


After Shadow had been released from his statis, many things about ARK did indeed change. The Prototype was moved to a large hiatus chamber, due to the dangerously violent fits it had experienced as of late. Maria, though she had long habored a fear of the creature, felt guilty over its fate. Her grandfather however, assured her that it was for the best, since not only was the giant lizard a hazard to the safety of the colony's inhabitants, but it had been miserable, weak, and temperamental since it's creation. It would be more comfortable in hiatus, he said.

Second, now that the actual project was reactivated, all side studies were discontinued in favor of Shadow's completion. Meaning many labs were redone or all together abandoned by the scientists, including the observation deck, with its wall to wall window that gave an almost perfect view of Earth as the colony circled far above it.

The deck had quickly become one of Maria's favorite places on the station, mostly because of the afforementioned view of the beautiful planet whose colors swirled beneath the ARK as it revolved endlessly. The young girl could be found there at almost any time of the day, seated before the large pane and watching the blue sphere intently, longingly...

"Maria..?"

Her blonde turned around, followed by a slight twist of her upper torso, even though she already knew who the speaker was, her bright smile proving it.

"Hello Shadow. How'd the testing go?"

The black and crimson hedgehog sighed, coming to a halt beside her. "Well, I suppose. More injections, but the Professor says he's close." Shadow had gotten into the habit of calling Maria's grandfather, his own creator, by 'the Professor.' Maria often tried to convince him to refer to the elderly man as 'Grandfather' like she usually did, but he refused to title the man so affectionately; he was still somewhat miffed about his seven year nap. She'd given up after he said that.

"Hmmm..." Maria turned back to the window to watch the slow orbit of the Earth. Shadow's eyes followed her gaze.

"What do you think Shadow? Of the Earth..?" She watched him answer with a shrug out of the corner of her eyes and smiled.

"Living down there..." She sighed. "It must be so wonderful for all those people. I can't wait til I'm better, then I can see what it's like..."

"You've been there before. You told me."

"Yes, but that was a long time ago. People forget things after a long time. Little things, like how the grass feels when you lay down in it, and the woods smell after it rains...things you think you'll always have..." Maria's smile was still there, but the hedgehog could see it was just for show. Her eyes were crying, not with tears, for she held them back, but she was no longer smiling because she was happy.

Now she was just smiling so he wouldn't know she was sad...

He placed a hand on her shoulder, expression worried. Maria frowned slightly, eyes still trained on the planet below. She chewed on her lower lip for a second, and slowly she stood, brushing herself off. Shadow kept his gaze on her, his concern very plain. She smiled, this time with more meaning, looking back out the window.

"I can't wait until Grandfather finds the cure." She smiled. "Then we'll be able to go down to Earth. I'll show you everything Shadow, oh you can't imagine what it's like!"

"...wonderful?" Shadow asked, and eyebrow quirked. Maria laughed, and his worry dissolved.

"Yes, it's wonderful..." She said, covering her giggling mouth with a pale hand, her eyes losing their sad covering. Shadow smiled.

"By the way, I read the little magazine you showed me the other day..." He waved it at her, though from when it had appeared from, Maria had no clue. Shadow was always doing this like that; it was as if she had her own personal magician. She wouldn't have been surprised if a rabbit came tumbling out of his quills and pigeons from his gloves.

"You can read now too?" The young girl's hand fell away as she gasped. Shadow smirked.

"And write, but that's still at a novice level..."

Maria felt her pride in her friend swell. He'd only been active for a short time, but she could tell that he was maturing mentally at a very fast pace. Her grandfather said he had to, in order to gain the knowledge of the world around him at a suitiable speed. The final piece of Project: Shadow, could not spend hours trying to figure out if it was safe to cross a street, or some such thing that any mere child would recognize. It had to be swift, sure, strong, and smart. It had to know and understand what was going on at all times.

"I wanted to ask you..." He began to flip through the pages and stopped on a particulary colorful one. "Is this what Earth looks like?"

It was an ad for cameras, but the picture used featured a blinding array of magnificent colors that made a splendid picture of a bright garden in sunlight hours. Among the tulips, lilies, and other flowers was a couple and their baby boy, since it was obviously a boy, thanks to the little sailor outfit. The woman, a brunette in a yellow, flowing sundress was knelt down beside the child, helping him to take his first steps, while the other, a dark-skinned man in a navy suit, stood behind her with a small camera. Of to the side to the ad were the words: It's a Kodak moment!

Maria looked at the picture a long time, smiling. Shadow had only just gotten the magazine that morning, and already had read it and found her favorite picture. He really was amazing sometimes.

"Not exactly Shadow, but very close..." Maria said, pointing to the picture. "This is probably just one place on the planet you know. Not all of Earth looks like this."

"Do some of the other places look like this then?" He flipped a few more pages and pointed to a small picture beside the article. It was of a warzone, the information beside the photo talking about an attack on a school full of young children. There were bodies littered about in the picture, burnt buildings in the background, smoke blocking the sky.

"Yes, I'm sorry to say. There are some places like that, much as I wish there weren't." Maria sighed, fingers lingering on the picture. "Things like that happen a lot all over the planet, and there's always someone who's lost a person dear to them..."

"If bad things happen though....why do you want to go? Why not stay on ARK when you get better?" Shadow asked. "The Professor could make one of those other places up here and you wouldn't have to worry about even getting hurt. Nothing bad happens up here."

Maria's lips curved back upwards at this. For all his quick learning, Shadow was still blessed with the simple, innocence of childhood. His niavity would probably get him into trouble someday, but he had all the time in the world to understand it better.

"Shadow, things like this happen everywhere. Bad things...they just happen sometimes." She tried to think of one, but couldn't come up with a real crisis that had happened on ARK itself, except for one. "Remember when we first met...? How the Prototype had me cornered in the experiment lab...?" At his nod, she went on. "Well, if you hadn't stopped it, saved me, I might have been seriously hurt right then."

"Wouldn't that have been a bad thing?"

Shadow thought about it, before ansering.

"But, it didn't happen." He pointed out, closing the magazine with a slapping sound. "So, nothing bad ever happens here, as statistics would show."

Maria smiled, and began to walk out of the room with her friend. Shadow lead the way, and she took much slower, more lagging steps. As he went out of the door, the only one in the ARK that opened in the strange 'V' shape it did, for unknown reasons, she lingered, partially in the deck area and partially out in the hall.

Bad things happen, Shadow, and we can't stop them...I just hope you're ready when you realize that... She frowned just a little, as she thought.

"Maria..? Are you coming?"

She jerked her head around to look at him, and her grin returned. For him, she could smile; he worried when she didn't, and often told the Professor in case she was ill. Then they would both fret over her to no end.

"Yes...I'm coming.." She came up beside him, taking hold of his hand and they walked down the halls of ARK together.


Alright then, that's a wrap people! :) The fourth, well...third, chapter is finished, and I have two or so left to go. So praise me and I might grace you with their presence! Oh, almost forgot! -glomps Shadow- There you go, with love from LGG!!

Shadow: AGH!! Get off me!! I must tend to my queen!!

Maria: -propped up on pillows- Really Shadow, you don't have to go through all this trouble....I'm fine!!

Shadow: NONESENSE, MY PRECIOUS!!! -fans her-

Knuckles: -raises eyebrow- You're so obsessive... -clutches Master Emerald-

Shadow: Can you talk?

Sonic: -sniff- How could you cook Cream, Shadow?! She was the cuuuute little one!! The irrestibly cute oneeeeee!! i---i

Shadow: Well, I turned the oven up to 350, basted her, and--

Sonic: NOOOO!!! -covers ears- I'm not listening, la la la!! I'm not listening, la la la!! I'm not listening, la la la!! I'm not listening, la la la!! I'm not listening, la la la!!

Ugh... -rolls eyes- Don't forget to review guys, I don't want to be stuck here with these lunatics and have nothing to do or read!! i--i