(Static)…This is the final countdown…(static)

As if the four of them hadn't been through enough, Jigsaw presented them with yet another challenge. They had until six, and it was currently half past noon. After a few minutes, Sonic broke the silence.

"Well, if he wants us to leave, I'm not complaining, let's go!" Just as he was about to run out the door, Shadow caught him by the arm. "Hey Shadow, what gives? We have to leave!"

"Have you learned nothing? If you try to navigate the halls, you'll just end up getting lost. Besides, judging from everything that's happened, the exit is probably somewhere in this room."

"What makes you so sure?"

"I'm not, but we won't get anywhere if we wander around aimlessly."

"Well, I'm taking my chances," Sonic answered as he reached for the doorknob. "Besides, with speed like mine, what could possibly happen?" Opening the door, Sonic literally had to bend over backward as a large circular saw blade shot across the doorway, missing him by mere inches. "On second thought, I vote Shadow's idea."

"I knew something like this would happen. Spread out, there has to be something in this room that'll show us the exit."

After about an hour of flipping through blueprints without success, they decided to search through the various devices that adorned the worktables. Amy came across one device that was clamped onto the head of a mannequin.

"I wonder what this does," she said as she picked it up, unwittingly detaching the wire that connected it to the table. Holding it at eye level, she noticed that it was hooked into the area where a person's jaw would be. Then it dawned on her. "It's supposed to—!" She was interrupted as the device suddenly gave a short "clink" and snapped open, shattering the mannequin's head like it was glass. Just as the now wide-eyed Amy was about to toss the "reverse bear trap" away, she noticed a small envelope wedged in the clamps.

"Guys, I think I found something!" Removing the envelope from the device, they read the note inside.

The only way out is to look within. There is a door in the room that leads to salvation, but to glimpse your freedom could lead to your doom.


And it was signed with the puzzle piece from before. Looking through the envelope, they found two keys. Wasting no time, they searched for the door.

They'd been searching for hours and their time was almost up. Sonic was getting impatient.

"How hard could it possibly be to find—wait a minute," before anybody could ask what he was doing, Sonic had pried the carpet from the floor. "Come on, where—YES, I knew it!" There was a keyhole in the floor. Next to it was what looked like a small peephole (the little circular window that allows you to see who's on the other side of the door before you open it, for those of you whose age is greater than your maturity). Peering inside, he saw nothing, but as he was about to put the key inside, Shadow stopped him. "What's up?"

"Stand aside, I don't trust it." Putting the key in the hole, Shadow turned it, and was met by the sound of a gun firing, while plaster rained down from the ceiling. If any of them had been standing over it, death would have been instant. "I didn't think it would be that easy." He removed the key and put the other one in. This time the door opened. On the other side was a dimly lit passage, which led under the numerous halls of the labyrinth. Once inside, the four of them contemplated whether this was another trap. The razor wire that littered the passage confirmed their suspicions. Suddenly, an eerily familiar squeaking noise met their ears. Rouge, still toting Knuckles' head, nearly dropped it when she saw the source. It was the puppet from before, riding the same rusty tricycle. Once again, it spoke in that garbled voice.

"So…you have managed to escape…if you value your lives, find a path through the razor wire…" They turned to search for an opening. "Not you, Shadow…" The black hedgehog stopped to look behind him. "Remember our little bargain? You may leave…after we have met…face to face…or did you forget? Just like you forgot about your precious Maria…" Fuming, Shadow made up his mind.

"You three can go on without me. I've got some unfinished business to take care of…"

Peering into the monitor, John couldn't help but chuckle at how quickly the hedgehog was falling into his hands. "And to think, I had hopes for that one." He turned to his apprentice. "Amanda, if anything should happen to me, you will continue my work."

"I promise," she answered, looking at a picture of a certain purple chameleon. "You won't be disappointed."

"What information have you gathered about our next contender?"

"His name is Espio. He is egotistical, self obsessed," she paused. "And claustrophobic."

"Perfect, but let's worry about that later. I want you in position." She stepped into the closet, donning the pig mask. "Be ready, we've got a visitor to welcome." As if on cue, Shadow burst through the door. "Ah, right on schedule."

"So you're the one behind all this, huh?"

"You were expecting Dr. Eggman?"

"No more games." Shadow began to walk forward. "I'm going to finish this once and for all!"

"I wouldn't do that if I were you."

"Why should I care what you would do?"

"Simple, if you come anywhere near me, I will trip the failsafe on the razor wire, which will cause it to coil upon itself, slicing your friends to ribbons."

"You mean this failsafe?" Shadow held up the component from John's computer that would trigger the trap, before crushing it between his fingers. Glancing at the monitor, John discovered that it, and every other electronic device surrounding it, was totaled. When he looked up, Shadow was standing not two feet from him.

"But how? Without a chaos emerald—"

"I don't need one anymore. You've taken too many innocent lives—"

"Innocent? Don't make me laugh. Take Paul, he had it all, money, a career, a family, and what did he do? He tried to throw it all away."


"And what about Mark? He was on his feet quite often for someone with a terminal illness, probably because he didn't have one in the first place; and he knew it."

"Two people? You think that justifies—"

"And don't forget Adam and Dr. Gordon. One cheated on his loving wife, and the other profited from it. And need I remind you about Zep Hindle and Detective Tapp? Tell me, does any of that sound innocent to you, Shadow?"

"But nobody deserves what you've put them through!"

"Oh, really?" John chuckled inwardly as Shadow unwittingly started backing toward the closet. "They do, Shadow. You and I both know it. So what are you going to do now? Are you going to run away from your problems, like you always do? Sooner or later, you'll trap yourself in a corner. When that day comes, I'll be waiting. But watch your back, Shadow." At this point, Shadow was almost close enough that Amanda could inject him with the tranquilizer. "That day may come sooner than you think." Amanda then swung the closet door open and made a dash at Shadow. But no sooner was the needle about to break skin, than he Chaos controlled behind her, grabbing the syringe from her hand and stabbing her in the back with it. With Amanda out of the way, Shadow went for John, who had made for the door while the hedgehog was distracted. Turning a corner, he ran full force into the outstretched fist of a very pissed off ultimate life form.

"Not this time, you sick freak."

"I am sick, Shadow; sick from this disease that's eating away at me from the inside; sick of those who do not appreciate their blessings; sick of those who scoff at the weaknesses of others." He unsheathed a blade from within his cloak. "I'm sick of it all!" Shadow caught his arm just as the blade was about to connect. Tossing the weapon aside, Shadow picked up his former captor by the throat.

"Is that so? Well guess what. I'm sick too; sick of being hunted for merely being what I am; sick of being plagued by the memory of Maria's death; sick of losing my friends to heartless slime balls like you!" He then threw John to the ground, and with fire in his eyes, Shadow uttered the last words that the Jigsaw killer would ever hear, "Chaos…BLAST!"

Two months later, everybody had just finished recovering from their near-death experiences. When Tails and Cream heard what their friends had been through, they did everything in their power to comfort them. Sonic had called a temporary truce with Eggman, proposing that they sort their differences through negotiation, rather than fighting. Rouge had sold her fight club and relocated to Angel Island, taking over Knuckles' job as guardian of the Master Emerald, while the echidna's remains were buried at the foot of the alter. Amy had resolved to be less clingy and to let Sonic decide if and when he was ready to be with her. Shadow, once he managed to escape from the labyrinth, contacted the Chaotix; he had caught sight of a picture of Espio and decided not to take any chances. When that was done, he traveled to the G.U.N. Headquarters, and turned himself in.

(Static)…Game over…(static)