Chapter 4: Big Adventures

There was no time left to waste. Periods were due and Shadow was still not ready. His plan required more than usual wit and imagination. It needed something that the ultimate one lacked.

The scheme had to have a feminine side.

With professionalism breathing down his neck and paperwork piling up in each drawer at school, there was only an hour time window for achieving the impossible.

And it was well over "not enough" with the essential ingredient dressing, re-dressing and over-undressing in its apartment. Shadow could have never understood the delicacy and reasons behind such heinous tradition. However, he did not have to repeat himself much. A shiny green gem "borrowed" from the Station Square Museum, siphoning the factor's attention, had the dirty work done for him, once every few minutes.

It was not common for a dark hedgehog to sneak into museums between guard shifts and steal precious Chaos Emeralds. Furthermore, it was very uncommon for any hedgehog to visit seductive white bats and not remove their shoes during the whole stay. Shadow ignored the begging and trades that Rouge showered and smothered him with while "multitasking" between the right clothing articles. Ignorance for a shield and a glistering emerald, constantly moving in his palm to position her attention at the right spot, were lifesavers.

Letting the young (crone-to-be) flying mammal as much as touch it was risky enough. Her mesmerized stare and caring strokes given for the little green paradise could have reminded only a pair of lovers, struck by passion. Lust for whatever meaningless object was what kept her heart pumping, he thought.

Immediately, he took it away from the grubby little female and prepared for Chaos Control. It was past his annoyance hours. Being held behind schedule by an obsessive gem stroker was not normal at all.

A flash and the two were no more in the apartment. The fact that it was improbable to exist in two places at once weighed painfully on Shadow's shoulders. Without other choices given, he was still stuck with Rouge. At the time, his torture was transported to Angel Island, a floating piece of earth hanging above the ocean.

Urban territories, although ridiculously irrational, were kind of cozy, compared to the wild jungle inhabited by only one moronic creature, the last of his kind, too. An insane knuckleheaded echidna, with a fortunate name of Knuckles, obviously, indicating the lack of brain power, but compensated by whatever strength available, resided there.

Knuckles, as guardian of the legendary Master Emerald, was forced and delighted to forever inhabit the mid-aired rock. The Master Emerald, in its turn, was a really big piece of jewelry that would have looked perfectly in bracelet form on Rouge's wrist, in her opinion. His nutty company consisted of a bipolarity syndrome sufferer and a puddle of water in one, Chaos, and some spooky dreadlocked female with the shortest skirt available on the market in those days, Tikal.

Nothing would have been a problem and company might have been prevented if it were not for Shadow's loyal shoes. The engine-powered hover skates, sneakers even, were far too loud to not wake up the alert echidna doofus. Combined with the Master Emerald's abilities of disrupting the power of the Chaos Emeralds, particularly around the shrine, it would have been suicide for every red-streaked black rodent to try and capture the powerful islanded gem.

Since he was unable to teleport straight to the old rocky emerald sanctuary and walking was out of subject, airmail seemed appropriate.

Rouge, being a jewel thief, had boundaries in physical strength and stood no chance in delivering the priceless rock off the island. Even getting to its location without a jet or helicopter was a fussy deal with wing strains and sweat.

Thus, letting the bat do the lifting and the hedgehog, trying to utilize a teleportation sequence right, appeared to be the perfect plan.

Simple as that, the bat flew towards her glistering goal, past a red echidna, always asleep after eight o'clock in the evening, and took it out of the designated hole in the ground. A trip back, a few huffs and puffs about the load, compensated by the amazing feeling of being able to hold the magic pebble, and the two had their mission complete.

However, since Shadow had never bothered to tell her anything that would have come after the theft, Rouge was extremely disappointed with the realization that she had been used.

Glaring viciously at her superior-in-office, she decided to let it go just once. What would the bum do with something as big as her closet without getting extra attention? Naturally, she would end up being the one to hold the precious thing, the scheming female concluded.

Leave they did, along with the treasure.

It was not long until Knuckles noticed a sinking feeling in his stomach. The silly monotreme was amused neither by the emerald's absence nor by the fact that his island was falling down into the sea, as the priceless object, keeping it afloat, had vanished.

Confusion took hold. Who could have been so cunning as to pass his tender hearing? Nobody could answer that question, having no clues provided.

However, hotheaded fools never needed a clear answer or facts to act.

Exclamations – all the way, the echidna swore in the most ancient dialect known to history and, trusting his emerald seeker sense, began trotting forward to return the stone… Wherever it was…


Despite popular demand, Shadow pulled through another week of formalities and paperwork. He could have lived on more, but some things were just keeping him too far from life, Big things, to be precise.

Having those mentioned, a purple ball-shaped feline, Big the Cat, found himself mindlessly looking for his pet and only friend, Froggy, yet again. The supposedly unmistakable trace of the amphibian led him straight into an old pond a few hundred feet away from the school grounds.

"Uhhh," acknowledged the one cat platoon, glancing at the white structure absentmindedly.

And he kept staring for ten minutes. Blinking from time to time, trying to buy the luxury of an idea. He was denied a loan in the brain bank so he did enter the building and barge into the closest room available. Being guided by a nose, the fat creature sniffed out the only recognizable scent available.

Unfortunately, it was the headmaster's.

To the second floor, straight by the tiled floor, at the door knob, no knocking. The door swished open and Big bounced in, tripping over the doorsill, left in the path of his right foot by mean, mean builder people. Rouge woke up from her browsing trance within the laptop's influence and looked at the fallen miracle of nature.

Nope, it was still alive. The bat did not have to bother to move away from her desk. She just waited for the enormous pile of wiggly tissue to begin communication sequences by itself.

Big stood up, agreed with himself audibly using an "uhhh" and rushed forward to a door in a plasterboard wall, separating the space in the office between Shadow and Rouge. The secretary guided him along with her eyes, gulping from time to time, as clumsy feet enabled the hillbilly to trip over and just barely make it to knock down every single piece of working machinery in the office, including the plaster wall panel.

Content was the female. The large bundle of joy entered Shadow's part of the room.

The door closed.

Rouge twiddled her way over to the wall and listened attentively to the tirade taking place behind it. It seemed to be rather serene there: a certain spiteful monotone was constantly bouncing off the feline's eardrums with an "uhhh" for effect once in a while. That was her cue. Shadow was busy. Nothing could stop her. Yes! The treasure was close, so close she could taste it, she believed.

Big's idle attitude would have been kind enough to keep the boss occupied long enough, but before the female could have gotten out of the office or turn around, something felt wrong.

And it was not "just" something. It was something horrible. Her hair, her beautiful hair seemed heavy…as if wet. A hand was raised to check. Indeed. Tapping on the moist surface showed that it was not water. It was some sort of goo. Disgusting, vile, besmirched! Messing up hairdos is less legal than marijuana, speaking feminine standards, in particular.

It was not the end. That was not even the beginning.

In-between her short-timed rant about ugliness and a trip to the mirror, a sound, and not just any sound, the most repulsive little utterance a person could hear.

Something croaked. The exact something, which had somehow gotten on top of her head while she was listening in, croaked.

Naturally, it was a disorientation. The bat tumbled over, fell, tripped, stood up and ended up crawling, knocking down a jar of paperclips and holding onto her dear head for mercy. But it wasn't there anymore. Her ugly found itself resting on her belly. It looked into the female's frightened eyes with sheer confusion.

It scared the lipstick off of her.

The female shrieked in terror. It was an awful experience, indeed. The little concentration of disgust hopped off, displeased by her voice chords and leaped onto the office desk.

Again, she had found it trying to stare her down. A foul, croaking, slime-carrying dark green frog was looking into her beautiful unadulterated eyes.

Her screams had hit the right spot as Shadow rushed out from behind the wallboard. The scene that awaited him was odd and, not to mention, silly: a practically grown woman was rammed into a chair, sitting on the floor, while a frog, located dangerously close to her computer, covered in reddish half-done jelly, was trying to get the substance off its body. The frog's tongue motions looked quite threatening to some, but a certain member of the trio had no difficulty in accepting that presence.

Big dropped out of the principal's office, exclaiming a cheerful: "Froggy!" Then, he hugged the sticky critter and happiness was drawn all over his face, as well as raspberry jelly.

Shadow frowned gently and, with kindness in his heart, removed the pesky duo from his sight.

As for the bat, she still lay on the floor, with the headmaster's scowl on her hair and the grounded paperclips.

Yet another day in the misfortunate streak.

Blue heroes from all around the world would have agreed on that, bearing in mind that a certain azure Hercules was being apprehended by pink cuddly love bites at the very moment. Snuggles, wuggles, huggles, terror and murder – all for him.

Sweet sounds of an approaching school year echoed in the rosy atmosphere.

"Argh!"