by Asher Tye
Disclaimer: I do not own Shadow, Sonic, Amy, Tails, Eggman, Rouge, Knuckles, the Chaotix, Omega, Cream, or Big. Sega owns them and I am using them without permission for this non-profit story. Downtown Ebony Hare is owned by Archie Comics. I do own Silver Fox and if you want to know anything about him you'll have to read his story. As it is he's only a minor play in this story. Also, since referring to him as Dr. Robotnik gets confusing with the references made to Gerald Robotnik, I will be using the game name Eggman. Also I would like to thank my friend Darkdesire1202 for inspiring me to write this.
Summary: Based on the game, it would seem Shadow chose to live out his life on Space Colony Ark. While this might seem fine, the colony is still government property… and rent is due.
Ark. The secret space station constructed by a joint effort between the government of Station Square and the scientist Gerald Robotnik. More than fifty years ago, it was the scene of tragedies that very nearly resulted in the destruction of Earth. Only a few months ago, it had played a key role in preventing the planet from being conquered and its population consumed by alien invaders. Now, though, it served a very different purpose.
Inside the main communications center of the station, Shadow the Hedgehog had set up what could be considered a dining area. Obviously, the Ultimate Life Form had yet to get any experience with the annoyance of telemarketers. At present the black hedgehog sat with his legs propped up on the console, a steaming bowl of ramen noodles in his hand as he munched. All around him, the refuse of six months worth of meals lay strewn about.
It had been a pleasant six months for the living experiment. It had been somewhat of a surprise when the President had agreed to let him remain on the Ark, but it was no less than he deserved. Shadow had spent the months just exploring, looking around and remembering the past he finally knew. Slowly, the nightmarish memories of Ark's invasion were being replaced by much more pleasant memories of his time with Maria and Gerald. And he'd found it interesting to discover some of the things the station had housed in its heyday, things Shadow had not even known were present. His solitude had only been interrupted three times. The first two times had turned out to be simply a case of industrial spies looking for anything they could sell back on Earth. A good thumping had sent both groups sprinting back planet side to get away from the "Demon Hedgehog" as they had put it. The third incident had been more amusing. Some idiot had had the bright idea to use the Ark as a base for his criminal operations.
"I'm takin' over this Station so clear out!"
Those had been the first words the black and white furred hare had said as he'd stomped into the station. Shadow had nearly died of laughter as he'd caught his first look at the pompous mobster that looked like he'd stepped out of one of those ridiculous gangster movies Eggman kept to amuse himself when he wasn't plotting conquests. The hare had not found it as amusing and had ordered his cronies to "fill him full a' lead!" He'd later rethought his orders when Shadow had grabbed him and threatened to give him a tour of the station's outer hull… without the benefit of a spacesuit. The mobster couldn't move fast enough to get back to Earth, and consequently to jail, as a result.
#What was his name again? Oh right, Downtown Ebony Hare.#
A sudden, incessant beeping knocked the hedgehog from his musings. Upon the console, a blue light flashed, indicating that there was an incoming transmission. Frantically he looked around the console, silently cursing his creator for not instilling him with enough sense to actually pay attention when the system's operation had been explained to him the first time. He also cursed whoever had decided the stupid console needed so many buttons, dials, and switches. Finally, the Ultimate Life Form was able to establish his side of the communications link, and was quite surprised at what he found on the other end. He had expected either the President or Commander Sherridan to be on the other end, especially since they were supposedly the only one's who knew what communication frequency Ark used. This woman, though, was definitely neither of them.
She had a pinched oblong face with her hair done up in a tight bun that seemed to pull the wrinkled skin on her face too much. A pair of horn-rimmed glasses sat on her face, along with a brown mole on her lower lip.
"Excuse me, excuse me," the woman said in a somewhat shrill voice that made Shadow want to quiver. "Is anyone there?"
"Yes, hello, I'm looking for a Shadow Robotnik the Hedgehog?" Cautiously Shadow looked around him.
#Exactly how many hedgehogs does this woman think live on Ark?# Shadow thought to himself before answering.
"This is Shadow."
"What? Oh bother, something is wrong with the connection, I'm not receiving any video… Is there something wrong with your camera?"
#Camera?# Shadow looked around the console, searching for anything that looked like a camera. He found the thing covered by a discarded can of soup. Carefully he wiped the lens clean.
"Ah that's better," the woman said. "My, it seems you've been having yourself a bit of a party, doesn't it?" Shadow scowled at the woman for noticing the strewn trash.
"Was there a reason you called? I did think this frequency was restricted or something…"
"Oh it is, it is, but given the situation, I felt it was better to contact you in person. My name is Matilda Brown and I represent The Office of the Executive Budget for Station Square." Shadow's eyes widened. Again he had not been expecting this. "I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but do you recall an incident involving an alien invasion by the group 'Black Arms?'"
"Of course I do, I'm the one who stopped them." At this point Shadow saw Ms. Brown lift a rather thick pad of paper into view of the camera as she began reading from it.
"Right. And you may also recall the events revolving around one… Biolizard was it?"
"And before that was the revival of the water monster Perfect Chaos as well as numerous…"
"Uh, does this perhaps have a point that has to do with me?" The woman looked up from her notepad, a look of consternation on her face at being interrupted.
"Well I don't know if you realized this, but all of these disasters came at a pretty bad time for the government, particularly Black Arms' invasion. We were still trying to pay off repairs to the capital from Perfect Chaos's attack. In short we seem to have come into a rather large debt."
"As the head of the Budget Oversight Committee, I should tell you that we are looking for every way to bring this runaway debt back under control before our government is forced to raise taxes to a rather unfair rate, or shudder declare complete bankruptcy. That was when Ark came to my attention." Shadow suddenly felt butterflies in his stomach. "Do you know that the cost for maintaining Ark, and yourself, occupies almost one eighth of this country's yearly budget?"
"Why is that a problem? You people were all gung-ho to bankroll this station fifty years ago when Gerald built it."
"Yes but as I said, we've had some rather bad luck since then. Also, fifty years ago Ark was home to a number of scientists and researchers using their talents to further mankind's knowledge. Now, though, you are Ark's sole occupant. Now, I know that, given you efforts on our world's behalf as well as your link to Ark itself, the president has given you his permission to live up there, you must understand that there is no country on Earth that could assume such a debt as running your station without some return on its investment. That said, I'm sure you understand why we can no longer allow you to live up there for absolutely nothing."
"Starting this month we will be sending you a bill for the amenities and utilities we provide you." Shadow had never heard of such ridiculousness.
"And how do you expect me to pay; squeeze lumps of coal into diamonds?"
"Oh come now, Mr. Hedgehog. Dr. Gerald Robotnik was a very rich man and I find it hard to believe that he left you nothing." It was true, Gerald had indeed been a very wealthy scientist. That was how he'd been able to pay for half of Ark's construction. As far as Shadow knew, even then there had been plenty of money left in the good doctor's accounts. Idly, Shadow had looked into what had happened to that money, and had discovered that with no other relatives, it had all gone to Eggman (which explained where he'd gotten the money to start up his criminal career). The President had offered to help the black hedgehog retrieve his fair share of the money but, as someone who was not naturally greedy, Shadow had declined. Now he was wishing he hadn't.
"There, there was money, but it's not in my possession."
"Really… Well I'm sure you'll think of something. I the meantime, I assume you're going to want a copy of the itemized billing statement?"
"Uh, I guess so…"
"Very well then, it's coming." Shadow watched as the printer began to put out papers as the bill printed.
#Maybe this won't be so bad…# Shadow thought. An hour later, as the bill finally finished printing, he was no longer thinking at all. His jaw had dropped as he'd read each item; as well as the rather large number next to it.
"This is INSANE! No citizen would have the ability to pay this every month!"
"Well I'm sorry if it seems that way to you Mr. Hedgehog, but I can assure the price is no bigger than necessary. This is what we spend each month to keep that station you're using as a trashcan operational."
"I couldn't pay this even if I had Gerald's orginal fortune!"
"Now, now, there's no need to get angry. If you are unable to meet a payment this month, we can easily create a payment plan for you."
"And if I can't pay next month?"
"Well then we will start to have a problem." Shadow gripped the bridge of his nose as he closed his eyes, a headache suddenly forming.
"Look, the President said I was allowed to live up here…"
"And no one is disputing that. You have my word that there isn't a single person in my office or any government office that would ask you to leave. But as I said, it is most unfair to expect taxpayers to spend such an exorbinant amount of money on one person's home, even if he did help the world during the an alien invasion."
"'HELP the world?' I didn't 'help the world' I saved the world, and I'm starting to think that might have been a mistake."
"Now, now, there's no need to talk like that."
"You keep saying that…"
"The bottom line is that you have a rather large bill that you should begin budgeting for. If you cannot pay then I'm afraid we'll have no choice but to discontinue your services, which will, unfortunately, make the station a less than comfortable home." In truth, all Shadow actually needed to survive was the ambient Chaos energy that surrounded everything. Anything else was actually a luxury. But just because he didn't need things like power, oxygen, water, and etc. didn't mean he was all that keen to live without them.
"So you expect me to either pay this phone number you've got masquerading as a bill total, or live forever in what basically amounts to a floating tomb?"
"That's a somewhat crass way of looking at it, Mr. Hedgehog, but I guess it is a somewhat accurate analogy."
"Then I choose option three."
"I love Ark. It's the only place I've ever called home. But only a fool remains someplace that will obviously become more of a problem than he can handle. So…" Shadow reached behind him and pulled forth the yellow Chaos Emerald. "I'll leave the keys under the door mat. CHAOS CONTROL!" There was a yellow flash of light and then Shadow was gone.
The NERVE of those people! I save the world not once, not twice, but three times, and they expect me to give them money to live in MY HOME! Forget this; there's gotta be plenty of space to live in on Earth. There's just one problem…
I have no idea how to live on Earth. Dr. Gerald never really planned on me having to learn how to do this on my own, so I have no memory of how to deal with this. Wait… that blue hedgehog, Sonic. He's been living on Earth all his life and he doesn't seem too unhealthy, so he must be doing something right. It's time I found out just what he does…
To be continued…
Maybe not the funniest chapter in this series, but it will also probably be the longest. Stay tuned as Shadow begins his quest to find the perfect living space for himself.