Anonymous Review Replies!
inujisan: I know, right?! I think that's why I like them both so much :3 But even though the backstory of Kintobor in the Fleetway story is sad, I like it as my personal headcanon, because it gives both characters a lot more psychological depth, I always thought.
Melody: Yes, it really is! The credit for that goes to the writer of the American Sonic the Hedgehog comic! :D
Guest: Hahahah, you must really love to see the main characters absolutely terrified, huh? XD Well, for what it's worth, I think they have enough on their plate as it is :p Let's see whether they can even deal with those monsters...;)
Sesshomarusama3: Here you go!
When we last left our motley band of heroes, they had pursued Robotnik, who had stolen the Doctor's TARDIS, right back to the point in time when Sonic was cohabiting with an earlier, friendlier incarnation of Robotnik in a secret lab. Things turned rapidly worse when creatures known as 'Reapers' appeared and devoured past!Robotnik and past!Sonic, and it turned out the TARDIS was dying due to having been roboticized, thus leaving them unable to fix the time line. Now Sonic and the Doctor are looking for an old roboticizer in the lab to fix her, while Shadow and Tails are looking for spare parts and tools to do so with. But time is literally running out for them as the time line of the entire planet is about to self-destruct...
Chapter 12: A Tale of Two Worlds
"Doctor!" Rose called, jogging through the corridors they had come from until she came to a point where they branched off into different directions. Shrugging, she opted for the one on the right instead of the staircase leading downstairs, not particularly fond of the idea of being trapped even deeper in the base. She opened the next door she came to, and entered another workshop – containing Shadow and Tails.
"Rose?" the fox kit looked up from the tool box he was sifting through. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for the Doc-"
"GET DOWN!" Shadow suddenly shouted and Rose, reflexes honed by endless adventures containing homicidal pepperpots, silver storm-trooper rip-offs, and exploding everything, was quick to obey. She threw herself onto the floor, just as another one of the black hedgehog's bright energy lances shot crackling over her head, ending the existence of another reaper coming up behind her with a bird-like scream.
"Close the door," Shadow instructed a bit out of breath. "There will be others."
The blonde girl nodded, not wishing to have a repeat of the trapped-in-a-church scenario back when the Doctor still had had a penchant for leather.
"Where has he gone?" she asked as soon as the door was shut, turning back to the two Mobians.
"Downstairs, I think. I wouldn't advise going looking for him right now," the red-eyed hedgehog replied, although he wasn't looking at her. "You should have stayed in the space ship," he said and it sounded disapproving.
"Oy, don't give me that! I've been in worse situations than this, you know?" Rose shot back, her annoyance with the condescension of the dark look-a-like of the much friendlier Sonic rising. "And besides, I know more about this than you!" she stated confidently, making a point of looking down her nose at the shorter Sapient.
Shadow for a moment seemed to be almost uncomfortable with her staring at him, a rare occurrence even if Rose did not know it. The black hedgehog took a moment to fumble with his golden wrist band.
"…indeed. Well, if that is the case, why don't you tell me more about how to defeat them while the kit is busy?" he finally managed, again pulling out his gun and fingering it briefly. "I'm starting to run out of Chaos Energy. That rift must be sucking it up."
"…ah." Rose suddenly looked a bit sheepish. "Well, uh, the most the Doctor ever managed was to make one disappear by letting himself and his ship get eaten. Er," she said, probably realizing herself that this wasn't very helpful. "But you can escape them by hiding in old buildings," she pointed out.
"Old buildings." Shadow raised an eye ridge. "Like what?"
"Well, there's churches-"
"See any churches in this underground lab?"
"Oh come on, at least I'm trying!" she retorted, getting slightly exasperated here. Then she paused, as she suddenly saw a bit of a gleam in the other's eye.
"…wait. Are you winding me up?"
"Woah, shit!" Sonic hissed, his younger self's influence obviously making itself known in his language. "Doctor! Hide while I finish it off, they need you more than me at this point!"
"Don't get too close!" the Time Lord shouted, eyes wide and sweat on his brow as adrenaline glands were firing in overdrive for what felt like the twentieth time in as many minutes. "If they catch you in this state, you'll be erased from the Time Line forever!"
"No worries!" For the first time since entering the laboratory, Sonic actually flashed a genuine grin again. "I'm going to teach them what 'Sonic Wind' really means…!"
The monster at this point rushed forward to where the hedgehog stood but of course, Sonic was long gone by the time its beak touched his previously occupied spot. The Doctor's eye brows rose a little as the hero of Mobius then seemed to generate an army of clones – and it took him a moment to realize that Sonic was now actually creating after-images of himself by modulating his speed, slowing down, then accelerating again at record rates. The reaper, in turn, grew confused, snapping and pecking at the phantom images, neither noticing that the Time Lord as the much older creature in the room would have been an easier as well as more rewarding prey, nor realizing what the elusive hedgehog was actually doing as he continued to dodge the attacks. The Doctor first started to guess what was going on as he could suddenly feel a wind picking up…
…wait a moment. A wind in an enclosed room?!
Brown eyes grew slightly wider as he focused on his blue-furred friend again – and found that he couldn't. What had previously been a three feet high, humanoid spiky form was no longer recognizable as anything. The hero of Mobius had accelerated to become a small tornado, a whirlwind about six foot in diameter, howling tightly compressed on one spot. The last of the after-images was just starting to disappear, and the reaper's head snapped around to at last search for the original…
With one last spin, the hedgehog released the minor cyclone he had conjured, and the wind funnel rushed toward the monster – hitting it square in the chest and whirling it against the wall of the corridor with a sickening crack where it lay motionless. Sonic dropped to the floor, dusting off his hands.
"There you go. I don't use guns, but when it comes to speed, I'm sure as hell a lot more inventive on how to use it than that striped faker."
The Doctor nodded, emerging from his observation place behind the console with an expression of approval.
"Not bad. Certainly beats my strategy for dealing with them, mind you."
Sonic gave a small grin, as susceptible to compliments as he had been when they very first met. "Why thanks, Doc. How far along are you with the roboticizer?"
"I think I'm almost done. Just need to disconnect a few more parts," the Time Lord replied, an off-hand gesture briefly indicating the techno-jumble he had already excavated from the machine. The components all more or less could have been smashed kitchen utensils for all Sonic could see in them but he correctly guessed that the Doctor and Tails probably had strange and complicated names for them and were able to make them do even stranger and more complicated things.
"Sure. Go ahead, I'll see to it that no more siblings of this guy come in here," the blue hedgehog said, again positioning himself within the door frame. There were another few moments of tense silence with the Doctor tinkering and disconnecting cables in the background, before Sonic finally spoke again, if only to distract himself from the feeling of time running out.
"…so you had a friend called 'The Master'? Seems like another one of those Names To Run Away From Really Fast, if you ask me."
"Never stopped running," the Doctor replied lightly, yanking another component from the insides and quickly sonicking it to stop the sparks, before he continued with a more sombre tone. "He's gone along with the rest of them, now, though."
There was a pause.
"Maybe it's better this way."
The sounds of parts being tossed aside echoed forlornly through the dimly-lit chamber as none of the time travellers said anything for a moment.
"But you weren't responsible for him…turning dark, were you?" Sonic asked, the hedgehog's voice uncharacteristically quiet now.
The Doctor shook his head. "No. He did that by himself."
"Thought so. You wouldn't be much of an intergalactic hero either if you were the cause of the threat to the universe in the first place, huh?" the hedgehog muttered, giving a slight kick against the door frame.
The Doctor briefly paused in his work to look up.
"Have you ever thought of killing Robotnik?"
The hedgehog didn't turn around. "…yeah. But I never did."
"Even though it might have saved lives in the future?" the Time Lord probed further, and finally, emerald eyes met his.
"Maybe. But I never could. Or would."
"The hedgehog who never would," the Doctor repeated, and Sonic again felt like there was some sort of joke that he didn't quite get, but there was something more in that voice, something like...appreciation...?
"Because he was your friend, once?" the Doctor asked.
"No. Because I don't kill."
"You didn't warn your parents not to go boating, though. You let them die," the time-traveller replied, eyes as old as centuries boring into Sonic's now and the younger hedgehog had to force himself to remain steady to not take a step backwards. The emerald gaze narrowed.
"Yeah, I did. Even if I made Kintobor into Robotnik, it was an accident and before he changed he also gave me the power I have today. If I wasn't around and Kintobor had turned into Robotnik still," Sonic swallowed, but his stare did not waver, "Mobius could already be his."
"Perhaps." The Doctor shrugged. "Or perhaps Kintobor would be a kindly scientist and everybody would live in peace."
The Doctor had the sudden impression of emerald flames dancing behind those otherwise kind eyes and had to remind himself he was treading a dangerous path.
"Where are you going with this, Doc?" Sonic asked, anger and hurt at the perceived betrayal by his older friend brimming beneath his words now. "I just tried to do what was right."
"But do you never wonder what could have been?" the Time Lord questioned. "With those Emeralds, you have time-travel at your disposal. Do you never want to go back and change things? Lots of people would."
"They might. I don't," Sonic replied firmly, wary now, and curiously somehow briefly looking older than his seventeen years would suggest. "I never look back. I never wonder what if."
"Oh. And why?" The Doctor asked, tone still with a predatory edge to it. Sonic's gaze never wavered.
"Because that's the only way I can carry on to protect my world."
There was a pause. Finally, the Time Lord was the first to drop his gaze and a quick smile flitted across his face, dissolving a bit of the tension in the air.
"I think Mobius has the best hero and timeline it could wish for." The Doctor smiled. "Wanna help me carry the roboticizer upstairs?"
Tails was still working his way frantically through the technical mess in Kintobor's/Robotnik's laboratory, trying to remember which parts he had used two years ago when he had last fixed up a roboticizer to work in reverse. But still, even with the mortal danger they were currently all facing, he couldn't help but notice what might have counted as one of the rarest things he'd ever seen in his nine-year-old life. The Ultimate Lifeform had just nearly smiled.
"Perhaps," said Shadow at this point, trying to look away from Rose and crossing his arms again, as if he now appeared almost embarrassed he had engaged in some teasing with her. For her part, the blonde girl at this point was more than confused. The black hedgehog had acted unfriendly the entire time he had been on their team, so what was up with that sudden change of pace now? A faint roaring and screeching from the corridors let her flinch again; outside were the reapers. Maybe trying to push through to the Doctor would not be such a smart idea now. So should she stay with the dark hedgehog and the fox...?
"So, what was that you said earlier? This...Doctor of yours, he actually sacrificed himself to get rid of the reapers?" Shadow asked, still not actually looking at her and his voice sounding casual, but the way his ears were turned toward her betrayed his interest.
"Well..." Rose briefly licked her lips. "...yeah. Like I said, we were trying to hide from them. The whole thing was kinda my fault," she said, looking pained for a moment as the memories came back. "I called them the last time. When I was a baby, my dad died in an accident. I made the Doctor take me back to the day he died, and I saved him." Her voice was quiet as she spoke next. "And then they came."
"So even with a time machine more powerful than anything in the universe, going back in time to save someone you care about is the one thing you can't do," the midnight hedgehog stated, and it sounded bitter. "Figures."
"It's complicated," Rose replied unhappily, though she wondered where the sudden flash of pain in the hedgehog's eyes came from, or what he might be seeing in his mind right now. Nevertheless she continued. "When the Reaper showed up in that church we were hiding in, the Doctor stepped in front of us. He shouted at them that he was 'the oldest thing in this room' and distracted it from us. It attacked him and afterwards it disappeared," she said, and only for a moment, there seemed to be a hint of despair in her blue eyes, of the bottomless horror she'd felt at that very moment when the Doctor had been ripped from her life. Shadow was looking at her now, expressionless, and if the black hedgehog had seen the pain of that memory, she couldn't tell.
"After a while, my father managed to... to do the right thing," she said, and even now, remembering that day made her voice break a little, telling everyone listening exactly what her words would have meant. The only way how a man who was meant to be dead could have restored a Time Line broken...
The blonde girl briefly wiped at her eyes, her mascara smudging slightly and she let herself sink onto a battered chair for a moment as there didn't seem to be any immediate danger anyway. Then she blinked in surprise as she suddenly felt a gloved hand slowly, almost hesitantly sink onto her shoulder. Shadow once again didn't seem to be able to bear looking at her, the black hedgehog suddenly appearing almost more awkward than aggressive. She was a bit reminded of the hug Sonic had given her, except for Shadow even this seemed to be a big gesture.
"I lost someone once, too," he said, voice steady, but sounding rusty as if he had rarely spoken those words aloud. He seemed to hesitate.
"I suppose if someone had offered me a time machine, I would have tried to save them as well."
Rose reached up and softly covered his fingers with her own.
"In the end, I couldn't save him, either. But...I got to hold his hand when he died," she said.
The other seemed to nod, but when he looked at her again, the hurt she had seen earlier in his gaze now was there again, and this time it was fresh and sharp. The dark-furred Sapient seemed to be looking at her and at the same time seeing someone else, his gaze travelling over her blonde hair, blue eyes and a face that might have just been a few years older than the one in his memory, before he finally forced himself to look away, his voice nearly too rough to make out his words.
"I wish I could have held hers."
Rose bit her lip, not knowing what to say. But there wasn't ever anything to say really, was there? Not when you stood in front of a gravestone, not when you had been too late, not when you just had to listen to someone being exterminated and there wasn't anything you could do...
"Maybe..." she swallowed. "Maybe when all this is over, we could ask the Doctor if you also could-"
"She died in a bullet hail," Shadow said before she could continue, and then looked at her again, and even if he still seemed far from fine, there was a faint trace in his eyes, almost like...gratefulness? "Not the best place to hold hands."
"Doesn't sound like it, no," Rose replied quietly. "But still, maybe we could-"
We could ask the Doctor whether we can go back and save her.
We could go to an alternate universe where she's alive and you're not.
We could open the TARDIS console if we had a big yellow truck...
None of these made sense, none of these was replicable, but still, she wished she could say something, anything, that could take some of that pain away. The same pain she'd seen in the Doctor's eyes too often, the same pain she knew herself too well...
"It's in the past. But...thank you," the black hedgehog replied, and it sounded sincere. From somewhere at the other end of the room Rose could hear the two-tailed fox alien mutter something that sounded suspiciously like 'Shadow said thank you to somebody. Now that definitely means the world is going to end today...'
And his prophecy almost came true when at this very moment, the door finally crashed into the room and a reaper spread its wings to block the exit it had come from.
"No!" Rose screamed, instinctively leaping backwards and away from the creature, Tails looking terrified and for a moment caught in a terrible decision whether to abandon the excavated equipment and flee, or to do what Sonic would have done and stand and fight...but as it happened, that decision never became necessary.
"I can't take it down from a distance any more; not enough Chaos Energy left in this world," Shadow grunted, squaring himself in front of Rose and Tails, the beast now screeching at him somewhat warily, but still advancing. Rose grabbed the closest weapon-looking thing, but Shadow held up a hand.
"Tails, you almost ready?"
"Good." Not quite turning to Rose, the black hedgehog asked,
"This Doctor...does he love you?"
"What?" asked Rose, completely taken aback.
"Are you why he carries on?" he asked again, and even while he was now circling with the reaper, firing one, two shots from his handgun that let it stagger, but only cowed it briefly, managed to shoot one short glance at her.
"Us timeless creatures," he started, and it sounded a bit tired. "We need someone to live for."
He seemed to take a deep breath, and Rose remembered how they had told her that Shadow was ageless, that he was the only surviving experiment of his creator, and that not only his friend, but his entire family had died in a gunfire a life time ago...so when he asked her again, there was only one answer she could give.
"Rose. Is it you he's fighting to protect?"
"Yes. Yes, he is," she said, and then almost gasped as soon as she realized what her words just had to have meant.
Shadow nodded, once, briefly. "Good," he said. "Help Tails carry the equipment outside; he needs you now. And give your friend and the blue faker my regards."
"Shadow, NO!" Rose called out when the black hedgehog then stepped toward the reaper in front of them, emerald fire starting to crackle in his palms.
"Rose, help me carry these upstairs, I can't lift them on my own!" Tails shouted at the same time, but the blonde girl could only watch as a scene repeated, a scene in a church that happened less than a year ago and now it was all happening again...
"I am the oldest thing in here," Shadow announced to the reaper in the door, a ghost of a dark smile gracing his face as he spread his arms. "'allo, beastie."
And the reaper attacked.
To be continued...
Um. Yeah. If I had a TARDIS, I'd have gone back and posted this chappie like two years ago but, yeeeeeeeeah...on the other hand, if any of you are enjoying THIS Doctor crossover, you can now also head over to my profile and enjoy my *other* Doctor Who crossover intergalactic space adventure, which went up a couple of weeks ago :3 Any fans of Loki from Avengers-fame here, maybe? ;p Hope you liked and if you are still here...please review? Oh dear...