Review Replies! :D

Xhalia: Heh, I think he kept them in because he doesn't quite know how to take them out, he's never had any before. XD And yeeeah, poor Sonic, he has to take a lot of jokes because of the dialogue they gave him in the games. But I like him being adorkable. ^^ Thanks for commenting!

SonicDude87: What is dead may never die! Err. I mean, Happy to hear you like the fic! :D As long as there's reviews, it shall be finished :)

Asher Tye: Mayyyyyyybe...? XD I do like my puns. :3 And interaction between Sonic and Shadow a little too much. XD And a new chapter for your stories? Yay! As we all know, quality sonic fic is hard to come by, so happy to hear that! Thanks for commenting!

Ri2: It is, isn't it? :p And no Shadow without his skates, of course!

EnderMagic979: Aw, thanks, happy to hear that! :D I try my best :)

XxShadowxX: No worries, school won't last forever :p And yeah, intertwining my fics is a lot of fun! The skate scene is one of my favourites.^^ There'll likely be a few more 'Life...' references in the upcoming chapters, too. Gotta make some publicity for the sequel ;)

Katiemonz: Yeah, I don't update frequently, but I always do eventually! :) Thanks for commenting!

Darks8728: Thanks! Hope you like the new one, too!

DEV: Aw, danke! Dein Review freut mich wie immer total, tut gut, zu hören, dass Sonic und Shadow gut ankommen :) In dieser Fanfic fallen so viele Charaktere rum, die ganzen individuellen Konstellationen zu schreiben (oder sich jedesmal eine neue Kampf-Choreo einfallen zu lassen), ist gar nicht so leicht :p (Wobei ich bei Sonic und Shadow wenigstens schon, ähem, einiges an Übung habe XD) Trotzdem freu ich mich schon, dann am Ende eine fertige Game-adaption zu haben (und, Tangente: ich hätte ja ganz gerne mal eine Zusammenstellung von Fanfics, die alle Spiele abdecken, „Speed und Purpose" für Sonic 1, „Rising Star" für Sonic 2...so ein Kanon fürs Sonic Fanfic-Fandom wär doch mal cool :D) Freut mich aber auf jeden Fall, dass es dir bisher gefällt und hoffe, der Kampf mit dem Golem erfüllt alle Erwartungen.^^

Kogarashi: Yup, poor Shahra^^° Having Sonic as master is NOT easy...XD Sonic-Shadow interaction is my favourite next to Sonic-Tails, so glad you like! Thanks for commenting!

Fox's Ace: Totally taken from the lyrics. I have a soft spot for quotes from Sonic music, they're littered throughout my fics. XD And yeeeeah, I guess the rings kinda function that way, but my personal head canon is that Shadow needs very specific 'energy input' that he can work with, when it comes to chaos. Sonic is more of a generalist.

Clockwork: Thanks! And no worries, I always like to hear about fav quotes or lines or moments :)

Icys: glad to please! He's not my second fav character for nothing!^^

YumeTakato: Hah, glad to hear everyone's enjoying Shadow back to his old self :) The only character I like more than him is Sonic, so that's saying something – and by now I actually at least have a lot of experience writing him, so glad that's paying off. XD Thanks for commenting!

St Noof: Aw, thanks! :D Another description-heavy SU-related one shot coming up in the future, might wanna watch out for that :) Unfortunately, though, I don't own a Wii U yet (might have to pick one up for Sonic Boom :p) and I'm not much given to online gaming at all – I prefer to be in the same room as my fellow players, so I can try and garotte them with the controller cable when I get hit by the third blue shell in a row ;)

IMPORTANT: Egads, thanks for catching that! Just goes to show that what every author really needs is a beta reader, but good ones are hard to come by. Shall be rectified!

Aurawarrior13: Well, for a given value of 'soon', at any rate...:p hope you lik and thanks for the review!

You Can Call Me Nora: Aw thanks! That really makes me happy to hear that, I'm glad you like Shahra in this story, she is a type of character I don't usually write as much (I have tendency to favour the more...snarky ones XD) so it's really good to know that she's working out well :) More scenes for her to come! (As soon as I'm done with making Shadow look cool, anyway XD) And no worries, as long as wonderful reviews like yours continue, the story shall be finished with joy! :D

CHCynder; Welcome aboard, glad you like! And yeah, I really like Shadow so I was only too glad to find a way to fit him in here, and Amy makes a great Sheherazade, don't you think? :3 Humour is my pride and joy, so happy to hear you like it! Thanks for the comment!

FlameUser64: Ah, true, I think that was a slip-up (probably too much SonicX on my part) Shall be corrected, thanks!

SerenatheHedgehog: One Ifrit battle, coming right up!

Guest: Aaah, will they or won't they? :p Read on to find out! ;) Thanks for commenting!

GoddessofThunder: Thanks, glad you like! And yes, finishing All They Want For Christmas is definitely the plan, the finished script has been lying around for ages!^^°

AngelofGrace96: Hah, if there's one thing you can bet on with me, it's that there's gonna be Sonic-Shadow interaction! XD They're not my two favourite characters for nothing, after all :p Thanks for the comment, hope you like the new chappie!

Sturm and Drang: oh, half German nick name, how come? :p But glad you like it, it's a lot of fun to write (and Captain Jack Shadow is my all time fav hybrid character XD)

Katz4: Hahah, most of my readers are usually complaining about whiplash from all the mood changes! XD Glad you like, hope you enjoy the new chapter and thanks for the review! They're what keeps me writing :)


Disclaimer: If I owned this game, loading times between levels would be months.

Chapter 35: Fire-Forged Friendship

The Ifrit roared. It was easily over 15 feet tall, towering over Sonic like a kid with a magnifying glass over an ant.

Sonic's bladder piped up that it didn't want to be part of this fight any more. Sonic's stomach pointed out that it had been first. Sonic's ego, however, replied that all body parts that continued to behave like complete sissies would be ripped out and disposed off if the complaints continued, and then the entire hedgehog had already leapt into the fight.

"Okay, I've let you play around for more than enough for one day!" Sonic shouted, building up speed as he started running in circles around the metal giant, trying to find an angle where it would look promising to attack. The flame on his chest was dancing in the hot air, wafting over his left shoulder as he ran, but he tried to pay it no heed. All it meant was that he at least didn't have to worry about burning himself on the red-hot metal skin of the Ifrit – right now, he was as fire-born as it.

"Sonic, be careful, the Ifrit is no child!" Shahra warned as the blue hedgehog easily side-stepped one, two thrown barrels by he Ifrit that exploded harmlessly behind him.

"Yeah, no, it's a rip-off of the Egg Golem and I already defeated that one two years ago," Sonic quipped. He was still trying to get a look at the Ifrit's back, but it was made difficult by the fact that it twisted around in the ring-shaped walkway that Sonic was running on, always turning with him so it wouldn't lose him from sight. Its movements were that of a spider with amputated limbs, but its reach was wide and the obstacles on the walkway made it hard to gain speed. Sonic gave a growl of frustration as he had to dodge another barrel being flung at him, again having to slow down to leap to the side.

"Alright," he growled. "Let's take it apart bit by bit." As soon as the Ifrit's hand had come down again in front of him, Sonic launched himself into the air, curling up to hurl himself at the brightly glowing joints of the fire golem's fingers. They continually dipped back into the molten metal as the fire spirit manoeuvred, and as a result shone red-hot even against their furnace background. It let Sonic's stomach tense up as he was rushing toward them, hoping against hope that what Shahra had said would hold true, that the flame arrow would protect him, that his spines wouldn't simply melt when connecting with the 800 degree hot metal. Sonic closed his eyes at the impact...

And opened them again in triumph a split second later as there was the familiar jolt of a homing attack impact and he could hear the Ifrit scream. Sonic uncurled in the air, suspended for a moment in the weightlessness of his bounce, blue fur just as as bright (if sweat-drenched) as it had been a moment ago, and the hedgehog laughed.

"Hah-hah! I am Sonic the Unburnt, Father of Dragons!"

...and then proceeded to curl up again and hit the other knuckles of the Ifrit's hand as quickly in succession as possible, simply because he could practically hear his friends' sweat drops from their ledge above.

"Legendary hedgehog! I sense a strong power coming from the light on the Ifrit's head!" Shahra called, apparently wisely ignoring her master's TV-related quips. Sonic landed on the circular walkway again, just as the Ifrit had collapsed in the middle of the ring like a monstrous marionette with cut strings, its damaged hands lying limply across the walkway on both sides. On top of its head a sort of red, bulbous crystal had indeed started to glow and Sonic had fought enough insane contraptions in his life to recognize what that meant.

"Right on it, Shahra!"

It was easy to run and leap across a twisted, twitching metal limb that could rear up again at any moment and fling you into the molten metal it lay in, provided you tried really, really hard not to think about what you were currently doing. As it were, not thinking was of course Sonic's speciality and the hedgehog had managed to dash along the arm of the collapsed Ifrit with easy grace.

"It's lights out for you, big boy!" the hero of Mobius shouted, at the same time reaching the shoulder and the head of the mechanical giant, and catapulting himself into the air, spinning there for a moment like a buzz saw before he then came down on the Ifrit's crystal with the force of a wrecking ball.

This had seemed like a great plan, except for the part where it then exploded in a giant blast of fire.

"AGH!"

Sonic was hurled backwards from the explosion, his impact high up against the wall of the room fortunately cushioned by his spines. There was an 'oomph!' from the blue hero as he tumbled downwards onto the platform also holding Knuckles, Tails, Amy and Shadow.

"Sonic!"

"Are you okay?!"

Tails and Amy were of course the first ones at the blue hedgehog's side, wide eyes and shrill voices testifying to the horror of having seen their idol flung across the room like a burnt rag doll. Even Knuckles and Shadow hurried over, only glancing down at the Ifrit for a moment to make sure it was down for another minute at least.

"Y-yeah...no worries. Stubborn little fella, isn't he?" The blue hedgehog shook his head, raising himself onto his elbows and then climbing clumsily back onto his feet. There was an audible crack from his spine as he straightened and Sonic winced.

"Ouch. Okay, maybe not 'little'..."

"Anything broken?" Amy looked at him, teeth biting her lower lip, her hands clasped around the hilt of her hammer that she didn't even seem aware of.

"Nah," Sonic waved her off. "C'mon, Ames. Give me some credit."

"Sonic. The Ifrit is moving again. It's going to wake up any minute." Knuckles' voice cut in, the echidna staring down toward the floor of the chamber worriedly. "We need to end this fight."

"And with 'we', you mean 'I'," Sonic poked his tongue out. "Keep cool, Knucklehead, already on it!"

"Sonic, wait-!" Amy called out, but by then, the blue hedgehog had already leapt from the platform to jump down onto the walkway again and start the deadly game of cat and mouse with the golem once more.

"No!" The pink hedgehog shouted from the edge of the platform, turning around to the others. "We gotta do something, the blast just now could have killed him if it had flung him into the molten metal!"

"...very well," Shadow replied to her surprise, his tone calm and deliberate, like that of someone used to work out strategy for a battle. "I'll go down and distract the Ifrit, the echidna can drop on it from above and you-"

"No!"

"Shahra?!" Tails gasped as the genie had all at once appeared in front of them in a puff of smoke. "What are you doing here?! Get back down there with Sonic!"

"I will, Envoy, I will, but I couldn't help but overhear you talking – and you mustn't interfere in the fight!" she pleaded. "You can't touch a fire spirit, or else you will burn. Even the temperatures down there at the bottom are hot enough to render mere mortals unconscious in seconds." Her eyes were wide as she glanced from one of them to the other, not one of them looking convinced at all. "Please understand," she sighed. "It's how stories work. The hero has to be the legendary hedgehog, protected against the power of the Ifrit's flames."

Shadow frowned. "So what, we're supposed to be...cheerleaders?" he asked acidly and Shahra winced. Amy tried to imagine Shadow in a cheerleader outfit. It didn't work very well.

"Well, it is his story," Shahra shrugged, a little helpless.

And then a mechanical scream and a yelp from below tore all of their attention back down to the spectacle at hand.

"Sonic!"

None of them could have been exactly sure what had happened during the last twenty seconds, but the end result was obvious. Sonic had to have tried again to hit the vulnerable finger joints of the mechanized golem, and attempted to vault across its limp arm toward its head once more, but this time, it apparently hadn't worked quite so well. All they saw was the Ifrit yanking its metal arm upwards with the hero still on it, making him loose his balance and fall, plummeting straight toward the white-hot sea of metal lava for one heart-stopping second - until the hand of the golem struck out again and backhanded the smaller hedgehog so hard, he crashed straight into the walkway again.

"NO!"

"You metal freak, I will dent every non-bone in your-!"

Tails' and Amy's screams were almost simultaneous and even Knuckles had gone slightly paler around the muzzle, Shadow's lips a thin line.

"Is...is he...?" Amy's voice trembled, but fortunately even as she was speaking, the blue bundle on the walkway began to move, but did so somewhat sluggishly.

"Shahra! You need to get back down there and help him!" Tails shouted, mostly because now the Ifrit had started throwing barrels again that exploded upon impact, and the small figure of the hedgehog below only managed to roll out of the way at the last second, the bruised hero stumbling to his feet again with visible effort.

"I cannot," Shahra bit her lip. "I do not possess any offensive magic that would be of use here, I can only give advice – and this is meant to be a duel of the protagonist with an enemy that is mirroring the arrow in his chest..."

"But...!" Amy looked like she wanted to protest, all of them staring downwards at their friend's battered body twisting itself in increasingly desperate manoeuvres to evade the flung projectiles. Sonic wasn't slowing down yet, dodging to the left and the right, trying to increase his speed to get close to the Ifrit's hand again for a counter-attack, but seemed to have some trouble, movements sometimes too erratic to have been entirely intentional.

"Oh no. He's hurt, I think." Tails' namesakes were twisting themselves around each other and the small fox looked increasingly anxious. Knuckles' fists tightened. He knew Sonic could take a lot, but even the hedgehog had limits. But if he was the only one who could physically touch the red-hot golem...and the stories had shown how they reacted when characters didn't play their role...

But then even Shadow's eyes widened as the next thing that happened was the Ifrit suddenly letting itself sink into the molten metal with a lazy splash, and the liquid level in the chamber rose at once to submerge most of the walkway, leaving Sonic all at once stranded on a single platform amid a glowing sea. The hedgehog barely managed to brake quickly enough to avoid shooting into his own death. The next bit of the walkway that had been high enough to not be completely submerged was too far to jump to safely over the gap. Sonic whirled around furiously, facing the upper half of the Ifrit that was still visible above the surface.

"Hey, what gives?! Stop hiding!" Sonic shouted, chest heaving and quills flaring in the heat and tension of their duel. "I get that you want to take a relaxing bath, dude, but you've got a date to become trash metal first!"

Of course, the Ifrit didn't reply.

But then again, another barrel bomb flung at the hero of Mobius who now had no where to run to any more was perhaps answer enough.

"Oh no, you don't," Shadow muttered softly, stepping forward as both his hands burst into emerald flames.

Shahra whirled around. "But, but that's against the rules of the narrative-!"

The black hedgehog shrugged.

"Screw the rules, I have Chaos powers."

And he leapt straight over the edge.

"CHAOS SPEAR!"

"Shadow!" Sonic gasped as his black counterpart fell from the metal sky like an avenging angel, the bright lance of energy he flung knocking the projectile of the golem out of its flight path and straight back into the face of its owner with an explosion that rocked the entire chamber.

Up above, the others stared.

"Chaos...powers...?" Shahra repeated, eyes wide.

"Yeah," Amy replied, swallowing. "He has the ability to...wait." she paused, then stared at everyone else. "So do I! Tails, come with me! We'll do long-distance attacks!" and Shahra couldn't do anything but gape as the pink hedgehog had leapt straight after the first one, hammer materializing in her hand even as she fell.

"Coming, Amy! Knuckles, glide over to the other side and try to hit him with anything you can tear from the walls, okay?"

"Got it." Both echidna and fox exchanged only one brief nod before even they had hurled themselves off the side of the platform, leaving Shahra behind. Below her, she could see the black hedgehog skating across the molten metal akin a dervish dancer, Tails and Amy swerving around his head like a battle armada while their echidna companion had already torn the first steel girder loose, and all Shahra could think of was how it had not even taken five seconds for all of her master's friends to follow him into battle as one.

To be continued...


Theeere you go! One li'l update for y'all. That said, currently participating in a photo scavenger hunt the makers of which seem to be a tad bit insane, so if any one of you wanna help me and perhaps live near the dyerville giant, or can play a church organ, or are perhaps flying a fighter jet/other kind of plane in their spare time and would like to take a picture for me, please PM, if not, a review makes me just as happy, as usual :)