Breaking Point

Chapter 3

Subzero

For many years I was unaware of the temperatures the sadistic researchers burned me with. In a report that I found later, over thirty years later, I found my answer. 45 degrees Celsius! That is 113 degrees Fahrenheit! In 100% humidity!! It felt like it was, according to the report, 50C/122F! My body temperature was at 42C/107F far above my average of 37C/99.5F. My temperature was high enough to land me in an emergency room! What happens to the report is for you to know much later. The next test would be a test of cold temperatures.

After I passed out from severe overheating, I can only recall waking up in a hospital-like patient room. A scientist watched me intently as he scribbled notes. A spark of anger was aroused in my heart as I glanced at him. He handed me a large bottle of cold water, and my face lit up at the sight. "Thank you," I said gratefully and proceeded to chug the water into my thirsty mouth. The researcher seemed surprised, as I rarely if ever talked to any of my captors. I stopped halfway through the bottle, deciding to wait and find out if that was enough. The water tasted almost sweet whenever I was parched. I was once again returned to my cave for three more days. As I waited in something associating with my own name, I concluded that next was the test for cold...

How correct my conclusion was! In the end of that period, I was taken to a different stairwell from the main one. These stairs were at the end of the prison, and behind a secured door. The door opened and the stairs went even deeper into the Earth. I never knew of such a place before, but I do now. The stairwell was lined with cold, bluish steel, and we descended into the depths. A second complex of laboratories was stowed away down here. In those labs my next round of torture awaited. My new prison was called the Icebox by the scientists, which was easier to remember than its official name: Cryostat Extreme Low Temperature Chamber. Same coldness is implied anyway.

The Icebox had more capabilities than just getting colder than hell and staying there, it also could have gusts of wind, and even spray water. This fridge had wind chill and rain to go with it! I was led to a medium sized room filled with computers and sensory equipment, thermometers, Dewar flasks, (thermos bottles are their more familiar name) and researchers running about. The focus of the Icebox was a multitude of things. Cryopreservation was on top of the list; even now scientists fail to effectively freeze large amounts of tissue, yet alone entire organisms! The formation of ice crystals is uneven, so crystals rupture the intricate machinery of the cells it is supposedly preserving. The colloid suspension we commonly call blood is the greatest challenge. Blood is kept at 3C, just above freezing. The second goal was to design effective thermal insulation materials, be they natural, synthetic, strait from the field, or processed. The third goal was designing weapons that could endure the cold temperatures, especially temperatures below -20C/-4F.

Behind a solid steel door that was two meters wide, the Icebox waited. Here I go... The door opened slowly, and behind it was a second door identical to it, like an airlock. I stopped in the airlock and technicians pinned several wires to my head and chest. A needle was pricked in my arm. The researchers would measure my pulse, blood pressure, temperature, core temperature, blood oxygen levels, brain waves, skin electrical resistance, and my skin as it reacted, for example, with goose bumps. These scientists were quite conscientious. I was more than used to having needles put in my arms, but this needle was large, as it was meant to inject adrenaline in my body in case I was too cold for the scientist's liking, not my own. I stared at the door, and could feel bits of tape clinging to my head and chest.

Soon the door out closed, shutting out light from outside the room. Several windows were in the lab to peer into the Icebox. The second door opened, causing my fur to slightly stiffen as I walked reluctantly into the cold. I would be frozen alive for hours on end also, forget just being baked alive. The air was cold, but not to a degree I found discomforting. I once again found a corner and sat there to wait. The steel of the corner caused me to jump at first. Damn that is cold! I sat back down and time dragged on. The temperature stayed constant at first, to see how I would react in that given temperature.

I felt cramped already, and the needle in my arm was not helping very much! My thick black fur is the best defense I have against cold. I have quills on my back to keep my back warm and a mass of quills on my head to keep it warm. I even have a white tuft of fluff on my heart to keep my chest warm. Now that I know Sonic, I can only wonder how he would cope with this chill. He only has short fuzz on his arms and chest. The spot I sat on was slowly getting warmer, so I waited more. The icebox was dark, nearly pitch black, save for a red light above the airlock. My skin tightened slightly in order to fluff my quills up and keep me warm. I was not completely fluffed up yet. I still can fluff up, and I can start shivering, and as a last resort, curl up in a ball, covering my body with quills and putting my body in a smaller area.

The door briefly opened and two others walked into the chamber, also stuck with wires. One was a human wearing a heavy coat and a deerstalker hat. His coat was open, and he took his hat off. The second one was another hedgehog. I guess they were there to be compared to me. The human was white, with blue eyes and brown hair. The hedgehog was brown with brown eyes; typical. The human nodded to me and I grinned back. The human spoke with a Russian accent. "Hi. I am Ivan Sokolov." "Nice to meet you, Ivan. I am Shadow Hedgehog. What are you doing here?" "Oh, you see I am here on a college field trip. The scientists paid me money to be part of an experiment." "Right. I doubt you are cold, judging by were you are from," I replied. "No. This is late spring weather! This is fine for me!" Ivan took his coat off, laying it at his feet as the other hedgehog approached. "Cool in here. I like it. I am Isaac Hedgehog." "Hello. I am Shadow Hedgehog. Why are you here?" Isaac shrugged. "I am in between jobs, and I need something to tie me over. I could use the money right now. Why are you here, Shadow?" I paused. What should I say? "Just here for some cash, you know," I lied.

The temperature was getting colder by the minute. The others sat a meter away from me. I never knew I was designed to endure cold, I thought quietly. "Ivan?" "Dah," Ivan responded. "Have you ever been through a -50C winter?" I asked. -50 degrees, I have heard, is very cold. If some slob was to spit, their spit would freeze by the time it hit the ground! "Dah! Been through -55 before!" Ivan boasted. It is getting colder. My quills and fluff bristled a little more. Isaac had his fur fully fluffed. Ivan put his coat on, leaving it unzipped. "Feels like it is about -5C," Ivan stated. We waited more. Ivan had zipped his coat partway. Isaac was the same. I was fully fluffed, and it kept me warm. "It is now about... -20C, a bit chilly," Ivan said. His coat was fully zipped. Isaac was faintly shivering. "How are you going, Shadow?" I looked into Ivan's eyes. "I am fine. Not really warm, but I am fine." One hour passed. Isaac now was shivering a lot. I was slightly cold. Sitting still in cold is a lot colder than it is while working. The body produces much less heat. A wind started to pick up. Isaac curled up. I was shivering slightly. Ivan put his cap on. "This is getting... familiar. Back home, it feels like it is -60 when wind blows!" "O-oh. W-what is the c-coldest you ev-ever felt?" "When it is -55 and the wind is fast, it feels like -65. Freezing cold!" We waited. Isaac was shaking uncontrollably and curled up. Ivan pulled the flaps on his cap down. I was shivering a lot.

A speaker from the room ordered Isaac to leave. "Just you and me," Ivan said. "You are really good with cold." "I know. I am fluffier than Isaac is," I replied. Ivan chuckled. The temperature dropped again. I was shivering uncontrollably. Ivan was fully bundled up and shivering. "This is home! Feels like it is -40C." The air grew colder still. My fingers and feet were numb. I curled up, and my shivering was less intense. The wind became faster. A spray of sleet rained down on us. I briefly peeked out of my curled up body at Ivan. "Cold!" He said simply. He was shivering a lot. I curled back up as I shivered more. Curling up puts my head and chest in the center of my position, focusing my heat more. I was tempted to heat myself up with Chaos, but that would ruin the experiment. I was shivering uncontrollably and curled up, as warm as I could get. I could hear Ivan's teeth rattle. "F-f-feel-l l-l-li-ke -55C/-68F! C-C-C-COLD!" Lucky for Ivan, they treated him for what he was, a person. I however, was not treated as a person. After he left, I could only shiver away and wait...

I could feel heat leave my body. Cold!! It is so cold! My arms and legs were numb. Moisture from my breath was freezing onto my quills. I was beginning to lose focus and drifted into and out of sleep. For one last time I woke up. I went to sleep again, and the sleeping saved my life. I was hibernating... This was what the scientists wanted to see. They stopped the wind and sleet to pull me out. I nearly got frostbite! I could have lost my fingers and toes! I hated the scientists. I hated most the individual in charge of my torture, regardless of who the bastard was. If he was even some person such as Brad Pitt I would have gladly burned him... alive! One of the most painful deaths possible is burning to death.

After the GUN organization was finished prodding me, after Grandfather was finished with programming the ARK, and after the colonel was done forcing me to have sex with him, I was placed in a glass tube and frozen. I remember it well. They washed me and sealed the capsule. I was bare at all times, but before I was placed in the capsule, the captors dressed me up with gloves and shoes that Gerald himself designed for me. I was clean, so my skin and fur felt nice, but I was thirsty. The final thing I remember is a humming noise and that I was getting much colder. I thought I was going to be frozen to death. My body numbed and I saw warm fog float from my mouth. Well, this is the end. I closed my eyes and waited. I fell asleep with one thought in my mind.

I have been abused, broken, tortured, and raped. My family is gone. My new friends were killed in cold blood. I am being starved to the point of death. Even when my mind wants retribution, I ask this as I am on the brink of tears. Tears rolled on my cheeks and froze in place. Why am I here?


A.N. For those of you who wish to know why Shadow has been raped, it is because I see him as pure. I want him to be as pure as I can possibly make him be. The more pure and strong the heart is, the greater the burden needed to crush it. He will overcome terrible odds in the future. "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph!"

The End