Shadow was falling.

He could still see the giant disruption in space where, milliseconds ago, had been the falling ARK colony. And to his right, there was a second disruption where Sonic had been. Now, thanks to the Chaos Emeralds, both were safe.

Shadow was falling.

Earth was safe, Sonic was safe—in fact, everyone except for Shadow himself was fine. He smiled—he'd done what he'd meant to do.

"Maria," he thought, "I've done it for you. But I've done so much wrong—I have to atone for myself. That's why I didn't use Chaos Control to save myself, and saved Sonic instead."

The Chaos power fled from his body; even though it wasn't quite gone, there was no way for him to use it. Even as he tried to grasp it, it slipped away from him.

"Goodbye, Sonic. Maria, it won't be long."

With that, Chaos abandoned Shadow to space.

The first thing that hit Shadow was the cold. It sucked the heat from Shadow's body at an amazing rate. In just a second the temperature of his body dropped. It was colder here in space than in the most frozen barrens of Antarctica, and it would be lethal to Shadow in no time at all.

As he froze, another thing happened. In space there is no atmospheric pressure; without that pressure, the boiling temperature of water drops down dramatically. Even though his body temperature was dropping, he still had heat enough left to vaporize every ounce of fluid in his body.

Instantaneously, the fluids in his body boiled. They stretched him as they expanded under his skin. Some escaped through his ears or mouth or other openings, but the rest inflated his body like a grotesque balloon. Organs ruptured, blood vessels blew open, and his brain was stewed—all consequences of Shadow's own vital bodily fluids.

Before he could explode, however, he hit the atmosphere.

Since he was traveling at such high speeds, even the small amount of air at that altitude was enough to smash his body. It was as if he'd hit concrete instead of air. His body was smashed and split by the impact.

Despite the violence of the collision, what was left of Shadow didn't slow remarkably. As it passed through the atmosphere, the friction from passing through the atmosphere superheated his body. He combusted, flames erupting over his body and incinerating him in an instant.

The heat reduced Shadow's body to a scattering of tiny ashes—tiny as in the size of pollen or smaller.

Shadow's ashes never hit the ground. They were scattered throughout the atmosphere, their density reduced to near-nothingness amongst the rest of the molecules in the air. Shadow was irrevocably destroyed; within moments there was nothing left of him.

Watch where you breathe. You never know when you might inhale a little bit of Shadow.

Author's remarks: I originally published this story years ago, protesting wave after wave of overly-sentimental Shadow-centric fics. Since that time SEGA has brought Shadow back in a deliberately ambiguous way. I maintain that this is terrible story-telling, especially given the realities of explosive decompression and given that Shadow's original death was as good an end as anyone could hope for. Consider this my on-record protest.

This is just a laugher as far as I'm concerned. Go ahead and flame me if you want to. Usually I'm more serious than this, but I just wanted to make a point.

Disclaimer: I own this story and nothing more; this story based on material owned by SEGA.