Edit: When I read back through this, I thought my writing was a little off these first few chapters. I think the pacing is too fast. My writing does improve as the story progresses, and perhaps one day I'll go back and polish it up a little.

Edit: Second Place Winner for Best Romance and Best Original Hero in Mystery002's Fanfiction of the Year Contest 2010!Also nominated for best fanfiction – contest pending.

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the story. As of now, it's rated for violence, and although the rating will stay T it may be for other reasons later, we'll see what happens. 8D I'll also make references to my previous fanfic, ARK, in here, but you won't have to read it to understand and the references will be pertinent to the story. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Sonic

Rated T for violence


CH. 1

Knuckles peered stealthily over the top of the boulder, his purple eyes scanning the night. He took in the wooded area, the thick trees standing still, the black, moonless sky, and the large clearing that housed a silver, egg-shaped building. The air was cool and crisp, the silence being accentuated by the lack of wind. The woods seemed solemn and wise, their stillness occasionally broken by a distant rustle of a bird taking flight.

Knuckles glanced at Sonic beside him. The blue hedgehog was also peering over, the familiar battle fire in his green eyes.

"We'll have to be quiet," Knuckles stated. "If Eggman's in there his robots will easily be able to hear us."

A seductive female voice behind him snapped, "Of course he's in there! Why would I lie?"

Knuckles turned to glare at the bat who sat with her arms crossed. "I don't need any more reasons not to trust you, Rouge."

"I've changed my ways," she said indignantly.

"If you ever-"

"Will you two stop!" Amy exclaimed, crouched further back by Tails. "You're giving me a headache."

The girl hedgehog's shades of pink were darkened in the shadows, and her large wooden hammer lay at her side. The yellow fox watched the rest of them silently, occasionally flicking his two tails.

Sonic shifted his weight to the balls of his feet, obviously ready for action. "It's too far away to see much, but we'll just improvise."

"Great," Knuckles muttered.

They had been informed earlier that day by Rouge that she'd found Eggman's newest base and would assist them in breaking in and stopping whatever he was doing. Sonic and the others knew she was probably after the two Chaos Emeralds Eggman possessed, but Sonic assured them that they'd deal with that later. If Eggman was hiding, it was there duty to find him and attack.

Sonic gestured to Amy and Tails with his white gloved hand. "You two stay here, we'll take care of this. Ready, guys?"

Knuckles grinned darkly, pounding his fists together in a display of masculinity. "Oh, yeah!"

Rouge rolled her eyes.

"You know," Tails said, "Eggman hasn't done anything for awhile. I wonder what he has planned."

Sonic stood up. "How bad can it be?" Then he hopped over the top of the boulder and started running.

Knuckles followed, Rouge flying beside him. As they rapidly approached the building, they saw green robots standing guard.

Sonic dropped into a ball, taking out the nearest one. He bounced up and shot through another, the crash sending pieces of metal flying into the trees.

Knuckles charged one with a mighty roar, abandoning the stealth strategy and relying on his strength. His knuckles shattered machines rapidly, the sounds echoing in the quiet night.

Rouge landed gracefully, checking the outside of the smooth building. With a smirk she spotted a door and began to run to it, calling, "Boys, I found-"

Then the entire structure exploded.

The walls were ripped apart, black smoke billowing out. Heavy chunks of metal crashed into the trees and rolled across the ground. Pieces from the roof fell like rain, and the robots were sent flying.

Sonic looked up from where he'd been knocked onto his back. The smell of the smoke was thick and repulsive, and the sound of the explosion was still echoing in his ears. His body hurt, but he was too dazed to decide if he was seriously injured or not. His green eyes stared up at the sky, the smoke blurring the tops of the trees. But through it he saw a point of light, probably very bright but dulled through the haze. Sonic squinted, making out some sort of machine that vanished into the sky.

Knuckles moaned loudly. "Ow. Sonic? Rouge?"

His friend's deep voice brought him to a focus and he gingerly sat up. "Yeah, Knuckles, I'm here. Are you okay?"

"Yeah," the echidna responded, standing. He rubbed his eyes to clear them as the smoke began to disperse. "Where's Rouge?"

"Over here!" called a thoroughly annoyed bat.

Knuckles walked over to her, his body a bit sensitive but otherwise fine. He saw her on the ground, white fur now gray and looking very inconvenienced.

Knuckles looked at her and said with a tone of annoyance that didn't show in his eyes, "Are you hurt?"

"I think so. My leg hurts. The ankle."

Sonic walked over, frowning. "Is it safe to move her?"

Just then Tails and Amy came running up, panic in their eyes.

Amy wrapped her arms tightly around the blue hedgehog. "Are you all right, Sonic?"

He blushed. "Amy, please, I'm fine."

"Hey, Tails," Knuckles said, "Rouge hurt her ankle."

The fox kneeled down by her. He studied the shape of her ankle through her white boot. Then he gently touched it, causing her to cringe. "Can you move it?"

Rouge squeezed her eyes shut and slightly rolled her foot. "Yes, but it still hurts."

"It might be sprained. If you'd like we can take you to Sonic's house and look at it further."

She nodded, sighing. "Okay. Carry me, Knuckles."

The red echidna's jaw dropped, shock crossing his face. "Me carry you? No way!"

"Oh, just do it and stop complaining!" Amy scolded.

Knuckles reluctantly looped one arm under her knees and the other behind her back. He attempted to keep her at a distance, but she circled her arms around his neck. "Thanks, Knuckie."

His face turned red. "I-you-"

"C'mon," Sonic interrupted. "Let's head back. Wherever Eggman went, he's gone now."

StH

The group made it to Sonic's house, Rouge and Knuckles arguing the entire way. The house was simple but homey and well-kept. Sonic turned on the lights as Knuckles laid Rouge on the sofa, obviously relieved. Tails bounced into the kitchen to get ice.

"So," Amy said, settling into a big chair, "what exactly happened?"

"I don't know," Sonic replied, attempting to dust the ash from him. The smell was starting to settle in the room, so he went to open a window. "Right when we got to the building it blew up. It saw something shoot out, like a rocket or a jet, but it was small. Big enough to hold Eggman, though." The open window let in a cool breeze and that smelled of grass.

"Where would he be going?" Amy wondered aloud.

Tails walked in with his soft step, holding a bag of ice. "It had to have been somewhere far for him to need that much power to take off."

Knuckles knocked his fist together in anger. "We should have gotten there sooner!"

Tails kneeled beside Rouge, holding the ice to her ankle. "Does it feel better?"

Rouge sighed dramatically. "It's difficult to say after Knuckles carried me. He was so rough."

The red echidna snapped a glare at her. "You asked me to carry you."

"I thought you could be a gentleman. Shadow would have taken better care of me."

Knuckles rolled his purple eyes, stomping over to look out the window.

"Speaking of Shadow," Sonic said, turning to the bat, "I haven't seen him for awhile."

"Oh, he's around," Rouge replied. "He mostly keeps to himself, but he's around."

StH

The city lights flashed and shone along the crowded streets, their vibrant multi-colors a stark contrast against the black sky. The noises of cars, people, and music from shops drifted up and became thinner in the air. The smell of concrete and restaurant food was dispersed by a cool wind over the tops of the impermeable skyscrapers. Energy thumped from the streets of the city, but from Shadow's perch on top of a building, the excitement seemed distant and detached. The black hedgehog watched the activity as one might watch passing traffic: casual and uninterested.

His blood red eyes shone in the moonlight, the only thing that graced the sky. No stars were visible because of the sky smog. He was torn between liking and disliking that fact. The stars reminded him of the ARK. But at the time he didn't feel like being reminded.

He had moved on, yes. He was no longer full of pain from his past. But times still arose when he felt . . .lonely.

Shadow glanced around at the sky, hoping to see a flash of bat wings. Rouge was always a good friend. He'd even accept the blue hedgehog's company at the moment.

He heard a soft rumble and turned his head in the direction of the noise. There was a brief flash of light, far off in the black countryside.

Shadow's red eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "What was that?" He asked, his smooth voice cutting into the night.

Then with an agile leap he left the building to investigate.


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