Disclaimer: Sonic and co. don't belong to me. They belong to the dudes and dudettes at SEGA.
Author: And here I am again, after being away for SO LONG. Sorry guys, but with the amount of work I'm being piled with, it's been hard to keep updating. But don't worry guys. I WILL finish this story. Albeit more slowly. At least until I can get my workload dwindled down to a more manageable size. Anywho, thanks for all the reviews, it's the reason I remembered this fanfic when I saw those reviews on my e-mail inbox. I'd also like to thank one of those reviewers for pointing out something to me. Right then, with that aside. Read on!
"_" indicates a character's speech
*_* indicates that the character is speaking through thought
(_) indicates an action between a speech or thought
Chapter 14: Things to Come
The streets of Central City looked so beautiful in the afternoon. The sky was dim and adorned with small hints of the coming evening, lighting the place a mix of clear blue and tints of orange here and there. It was also the time of day that the usual hustle and bustle of the big city life was at a stand-still. As to why, no one really knew. But it was awfully peaceful this time of day. People could say that it's one of the reasons why Central City is such a great place to be, despite the past attacks from a certain doctor.
Regardless, that isn't the matter at hand. We turn our attention to the small group of travelers across the street. It was difficult to miss sight of them. What with the hulking gem that they were transporting. At the back of the group was Team Chaotix, the group of Vector, Espio and Charmy are constantly speaking of their new life to be at New Nocturne. In front of them was Princep Lyra and Hastatus BB, who were the one's actually carrying the giant gem in question. At the very front, a bit far off from the group, was Sonic and Shade.
The two highest ranked members of the Nocturnus Clan were having a bit of a private conversation, trying not to let their voices be heard by those traveling behind them.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner, Shade? Don't you trust me?" Sonic asked, trying his best not to let the others hear.
"I'm sorry, my Lord... I had hoped to deal with the problem myself... I didn't want you to worry..." Shade began, feeling rather ashamed of herself for keeping the secret of the Prefect Gizoids from her Lord.
"Shade, you told me that I'm Imperator now. And as Imperator I have a responsibility to care for my people. And if there are bad guys after me, it could endanger everyone in New Nocturne." Sonic continued, shifting his head closer to Shade's.
"I... I know my Lord... And I'm sorry... I feel terrible for keeping it a secret..." Shade admitted, avoiding her Lord's gaze.
"That's okay, Shade. Nothing we can do about it now." Sonic said, placing a hand across Shade's shoulder. "But how are you certain it's them?"
"Well, when you helped us all return here, many of the Gizoids were shut down and put into storage. When the Archiver told me that the Prefect Gizoids were not amongst the rest of the Gizoids that were salvaged, I assumed the worst." Shade explained, looking rather fearful over the thoughts of any possible harm that would befall her Lord.
"I knew they would seek you out for revenge over what you've done. So, I opted to stop them before they could do anything by collecting the very things that could potentially be used against you, my Lord." Shade continued.
"The Chaos Emeralds..." Sonic said, with a thoughtful look in his eye.
"Exactly. Hence why I wanted them secure and under our protection. I would've collected them sooner, but I wanted your coronation to be of top priority." Shade said.
"Why would you think my coronation is more important than keeping the Emeralds safe?" Sonic asked, raising a brow.
"Because you're their target, my Lord. And since you were going to become Imperator, I wanted you to be safe as soon as possible!" Shade said turning to face her Lord, and unintentionally raising her voice despite being face-to-face with him.
"Sorry, my Lord. I did not intend to raise my voice so close to your face..." Shade said, blushing in embarrassment as she turned away again.
"That's alright. At least I know you care about me." Sonic said, grinning to himself.
"I do not want in any way to see you harmed. I worry about you beyond what my duty tells me." Shade said, looking over to her Lord once more. A sincere expression on her face.
"Oh, Shade... I appreciate the concern. But you worry too much." Sonic said, chuckling lightly to himself as he seemingly didn't take the matter seriously.
"Someone has to worry about you, my Lord... I cannot imagine my life without you..." Shade said, not realizing what she had just said until after it came out of her mouth. She had held her breath then and turned away, looking at her Lord from the corner of her eye as she saw the weight of her words making Sonic gaze at her questioningly.
"Shade... What do you..." Sonic began, but couldn't finish as something, or perhaps better yet, someone had disturbed their conversation.
"Well, well, well... what do we have here..." A familiar and sultry voice said from above the group. "Could I be dreaming? Or is that really the Master Emerald? And out in the open!"
As Sonic and the rest of the group looked up, the person slowly descended and landed just in front of Sonic and Shade, and blowing a kiss towards Sonic.
"Rouge? What are you doing here?" Sonic asked, as Rouge made her way forward towards them.
"Oh, you know me. Where there are precious gems, I'm never far away." She said, her typical smug expression plastered on her face.
"I'd appreciate you being more formal to my Lord, bat." Shade said, taking up a position in-front of her Lord protectively.
"My, my, so hostile. Have I done something wrong?" Rouge asked, facing Shade while still smirking, but in a taunting way.
"You did not address my Lord properly. And I cannot tolerate that." Shade said as she glared, the inlays on her battle-suit beginning to glow lightly.
"Come on, Shade. Lighten up." Sonic said, walking up to Shade's side.
"Very well, my Lord." Shade answered, as she continued to glare at the bat darkly. "Be thankful of my Lord's leniency. But be mindful of your actions."
"I'll try my best." Rouge answered sarcastically, still smirking.
"I hope so. But that aside, what is it you want, bat?" Shade asked with a bit of a growl, crossing her arms as she shifted her position to place herself in front of her Lord once again.
"Oh, so that's how its gonna be... I see... Well then, Ms. Iron-Sides, I was simply-" Rouge began, but was cut-off by Shade.
"What did you call me?" Shade said, feeling her temper rise like a boiling kettle.
"Oh, don't mind it so much." Rouge said, waving her hand nonchalantly. "Now then... Let's get to more important matters..."
"It matters to me greatly knowing whether or not I've been insulted..." Shade said lowly, the inlays of her battle-suit glowing a little brighter.
"Oh, lighten up. I haven't insulted you in any way. *Since it suits your personality quite well...*. So calm down, echidna." Rouge replied with a huff.
With that said, Rouge saunters over to where the Master Emerald is, her eyes reflecting the emerald's glow as she fails to hide the glint of desire in her eyes. Sonic and Shade slowly turn as their eyes followed where Rouge was going. But before Rouge could even get too close, Team Chaotix stepped in to block her path.
"Sorry there lady. Just cause Knuckles isn't here, doesn't mean you can just walk up and take the Master Emerald." Vector said, standing in front of Rouge as he stood stoic and rather serious.
"Hmmph... Alright then, be that way." Rouge said as she spread her wings and began flapping her wings to fly away. "Guess I'll be taking my leave... For now."
"Is that all you wanted to do here, Rouge?" Sonic asked.
"Not really. I originally wanted to check on that dinner-date we had planned." Rouge said, hovering above the group.
"Tonight, right? But I think I'll be taking a rain-check on that one, Rouge. I'm sorta dealing with some things right now." Sonic explained calmly.
"Oh, alright. Don't you worry about it Big Blue. Besides..." Rouge said, looking over Shade with a steely gaze. "... Nah, don't worry about it. I'll just drop by when it's convinient."
"Alright then. See you, Rouge." Sonic said, gesturing a goodbye to the female bat.
"And good riddance..." Shade muttered coldly, looking straight at Rouge and countering the bat's steely gaze with one of her own.
"Right then." Rouge said, blowing a kiss towards Sonic as she smirked and looked over Shade before turning around to leave.
"Hey, Rouge!" Sonic called after the bat, making her turn around to look at him. "I want to ask you a favor!"
"Oh? And that is?" Rouge asked, putting on her best and sultriest smile and a hand on her hip.
"There's gonna be trouble in the near-future. And I wanted to ask if you can put your hunt for the Chaos Emeralds on hold for now. At least until the matter has been settled. Is that okay?" Sonic said, grinning all the while as he placed his hands on his sides.
Rouge merely chuckled as she turned around and readied herself to fly away.
"We'll see. But I can't keep any promises~" Rouge said, before finally flying off to wherever she's off too.
With that small distraction taken care of, the group continued on their way back to New Nocturne. And along the way, Shade warned her Lord of Rouge. But Sonic assured Shade not to worry about it too much.
"She knows enough to keep her nose clean when there's something important at stake. Besides..." Sonic smiled as he nudged Shade playfully at the arm.
"If anything goes wrong, I always have you and the others to rely on." Sonic continued, his smile growing wider.
Shade merely nodded, looking at her Lord and smiling to herself.
It was already passed evening when they arrived. The moon had risen so beautifully tonight, making New Nocturne a truly wonderful sight to behold. Although not yet as grand as the original Nocturne, the center piece of the soon to be grand citadel is remarkable on its own. In fact, the main stronghold, home to Imperator Sonic's throne, lights up the rest of the citadel and the homes around it well enough despite not being complete just yet.
Vector and the rest the Chaotix gaped in awe as they circled about trying to get as much of the scenery as possible. Even Espio, the ever calm and disciplined Ninjutsu expert can't help himself from the rather wondrous sight. Sonic merely let the group of friends go about their business. He wanted the trio to grow comfortable with their surroundings as much as possible.
Charmy was the most excited of the trio, buzzing over and around the place in a very animated fashion, often asking questions from the people around them about how cool everything looked. Vector had to openly apologize to several of Sonic's people whenever the young bee asked too many questions.
"Sorry... he can be so annoying at times..." Vector said to a young male echidna who Charmy had asked about their battle-suits.
"It's no trouble, really." The male echidna replies as he moved along.
Eventually, the group makes it to the main stronghold. Sonic and Shade lead the trio in, entering the main hall of the stronghold, and eventually making it towards the throne room.
"What are we doing in the throne room again?" Sonic asked Shade, not quite sure he recalls why she wanted to go there first.
"We have to secure the Master Emerald first, my Lord." Shade says, as she gestures Sonic's bodyguards towards the center of the room.
"Now then, my Lord, use your gauntlet to bring down the Emerald's placeholder." Shade continued, looking over to her Lord.
"What?" Sonic asked, obviously perplexed by the request.
"Look up towards the ceiling, my Lord." Shade says, as she pointed upwards.
Sonic looked up to where Shade was pointing, and gawked slightly at the sight.
"What is that, Shade?" Sonic asked, looking up to see a massive structure. It looked like a chandelier of sorts, but it was somewhat machine-like, with the Nocturnus clan's signature neon lights around it. Highlighting the machinery's shape.
It took only a second before something clicked in Sonic's mind. He recalled seeing something similar at Ix's throne room from the original Nocturne.
"That looks like that thing Ix used to house the Master Emerald when we faced him." Sonic said, looking at the machinery with curiosity.
"Indeed it is, my Lord. It is a heavily defensible structure that will ensure the Master Emerald's safety." Shade said, as she looked up briefly before looking at her Lord once more. "And only you can access it."
"How?" Sonic asked, as he took his gaze away from the machinery and back to Shade.
"Your Imperator battle-suit can command it to lower down towards us. To do so, simply focus on it. Like all of our technology, everything runs on thought and emotion." Shade explained, walking up to her Lord and positioning herself by his right. "Here... let me help you, my Lord."
Shade takes Sonic's right arm, trying to aid her Lord in the use of his battle-suit's minor functions. Placing her left hand on Sonic's bicep while she placed her right hand under his gauntlet. Oddly, Shade unconsciously stole a quick grope of her Lord's bicep.
*Ooooh~* Shade thought, as she gauged her Lord's muscle. She had to admit, despite appearing skinny, her Lord definitely has a very toned and athletic musculature.
"Now what, Shade?" Sonic asked, catching the magenta echidna's attention from her thoughts.
"Oh! Yes, right... Here." Shade began, looking up towards the machinery above and doing her best not to lock eyes with her Lord.
"Now, I need you to focus my Lord. Focus your thoughts, and will the machinery above to lower itself." Shade instructed.
Sonic looked up at the machinery. In his mind, he blocked almost any other thought he had and focused at his task. He was no stranger to this form of command. With years of use of the Chaos Emeralds, Sonic has learned how to fully tap into sources of power by will. And in mere seconds, his gauntlets stirred and glowed, and the machinery above began to glow as well.
*Down* Sonic thought, willing the machine above him to obey. And in no time at all, the machine lowered down.
"Good, my Lord. Now, re-focus your thoughts and make the machine open itself up." Shade said, taking a quick glance at her Lord's face before stealing an even quicker glance over the bicep she had groped before looking back towards the machine once more.
As he followed Shade's words, Sonic commanded the machine to open itself up. As he did, the machine whirred loudly as the neon lines encircling it flickered brighter in a brief second. And as it did, the machine rotated slightly as some of its arms opened up. In some ways, the giant chandelier looked like a massive crane's claw. Eventually, the machine finds itself low enough that it is surrounded its intended target, as Sonic's bodyguards lifted the Master Emerald slightly off the ground.
"Okay, my Lord, command it to clamp down on the Master Emerald." Shade said.
Sonic briefly nodded before focusing his thoughts to make the machine enclose the massive emerald. As the machine closed itself around the emerald, Sonic took the initiative and commanded the machine to lift the emerald up. And soon, the machine lifted the emerald up slowly towards the ceiling once more.
"I see that my Lord has gotten the hand of things." Shade commented, finally regaining the courage to look towards her Lord again.
"Of course." Sonic said, feeling his cocky nature rising.
As the machine reached its destination, several more machinery on the ceiling began to glow. Louder whirring sounds echo across the throne room as several pieces of what appears to be glass encircle the Master Emerald as they fit around the chandelier perfectly. As the glass encased the emerald, more machinary began to converge around it, securing the Master Emerald in a sea of glass and metal.
"Wow." The voice of Vector came from behind Sonic and Shade. The crocodile, and the rest of the Chaotix, had been at awe with sight that they seemingly lost their ability to speak until now.
"That was so cool!" Charmy blurted out, buzzing his way underneath the Master Emerald's perch.
"Well, now that the Master Emerald is secure. Perhaps it's time for us to have dinner, my Lord." Shade said, lowering her and her Lord's arm. Not realizing that she had unconsciously hooked her arm with Sonic's.
"That sounds good, Shade. Let's go guys." Sonic said cheerfully, somewhat unaware of Shade's arm around his. It wasn't until he moved and tugged on her arm that they realized the situation.
There was a brief pause of sorts, with both Sonic and Shade looking towards their entangled arms while Shade blushed and found herself paralyzed with embarrassment. Shade looked up slowly, making contact with her Lord's eyes and seeing his cheerful smirk. She turned her head away, unable to really look towards him as she tried to snake her arm away from Sonic.
"I'm sorry, I didn't-" Shade began, but stopped when she felt her Lord's arm tug and tighten their entwined arms.
"It's alright, Shade. Come on, let's walk towards the mess hall together." Sonic said, swaying his free arm in a beckoning manner.
Shade finally brought her gaze back towards her Lord, but still somewhat avoiding to lock eyes with him.
"If... If my Lord wishes..." Shade said, trying hard not to stammer and bringing her free hand up to hover lightly in front of her face.
And thus, Sonic's bodyguards went ahead forward. Gesturing the Chaotix to follow as they lead the group to the mess hall. Trailing behind them were Sonic and Shade, walking slightly slower than usual.
It was late. Sonic, Shade and the Chaotix had a wonderful meal at the mess hall earlier that evening. And to their surprise, Tails came and joined them. He told the group how busy he was all day with moving all of his stuff to his place inside New Nocturne, and apologized that he must've missed out on a lot of things. Sonic didn't mind, as well as the others. After dinner, Sonic tried to explain to Tails of what happened with Knuckles... But he opted to tell him in the morning.
It took a bit of effort, but Sonic also found lodging for Vector and the rest of the Chaotix. They were temporarily holed up at an empty room inside the stronghold. Sonic said he'll find something more suitable in the morning.
Sonic was tired. After all, after the injuries he got from that incident with Knuckles, his body just ached for bed-rest. He just didn't try to bother telling it to Shade at the time.
He was in his room now, sitting at the edge of his bed as he carefully ran the events of the day all over again. And that was when a knock came to his door.
"My Lord... may I... may I come in?" The voice of Shade came from the other side.
"Of course. Come in, its open." Sonic said, as he watched the door open to reveal Shade.
"I apologize for disturbing you so late... I simply needed to speak to you of tomorrow." Shade explained, walking up to her Lord.
"It's okay, don't worry. Come on, sit next to me." Sonic said, patting the space next to him to gesture Shade to sit with him.
Shade did as she was told and sat next to her Lord. She was hesitant, of course, which made what she wanted to talk about even more difficult. She blushed again, although not quite as bright as usual. She mentally scolded herself, quite perplexed as to why she was finding it increasingly difficult being in her Lord's presence. Her heart raced, and found herself unable to form words. But she willed herself forward. She wasn't going to let nervousness conquer her.
She took a deep, somewhat shaky, breath and making Sonic raise a brow before she exhaled and faced him.
"I'd like to start out by apologizing, my Lord." Shade began, her confidence returning slightly.
"For what?" Sonic asked, looking confused as he shifted his weight on his bed to get a better view of Shade beside him.
"With everything... Not telling you about the emerald crisis, the Prefect Gizoids, and the incident with Knuckles... I just-" Shade began, trying to keep calm, but Sonic shushed her.
"It's fine, Shade. You had your reasons. And the situation with Knuckles... Well, with time, maybe I can fix the issue. Till then, its best we deal with these Prefect Gizoids." Sonic said, finally lying down on his bed.
"You seem awfully lax about this, my Lord." Shade said, shifting up on the bed to look over Sonic.
"We've dealt with those gizoids before. And from my experience, they weren't really that difficult to fight." Sonic said confidently, placing his hands behind his head.
"If I recall correctly, Charyb had the advantage on you when you were all submerged in water. And Tails told me how you could hardly hurt him till the water level went down." Shade said, a cheeky smile on her face.
"Well... Water is my weakness! He had the battlefield advantage, that's all. But when the water went down, we gave the gizoid quite the beating." Sonic said, sitting up.
"(Chuckle), I can imagine." Shade said, feeling quite relaxed and happy. "But as much as I enjoy our conversations, its best we get a goodnight's sleep."
"Why?" Sonic asked, as he watched Shade turn and hop off his bed.
"Well, after all the time that has passed, and after speaking with my father- I mean, Praetorian Rufous, I realized that we never really celebrated your coronation, my Lord." Shade explained, making her way out of her Lord's room.
"Now that I think about it, yeah we didn't. Wait... so..." Sonic began, but didn't finish as Shade continued.
"So, we'll be having a grand celebration tomorrow. We'll gather up the people, decorate the plaza, set up a wonderful feast, you'll make speech, and we'll all simply eat and dance the night away." Shade explained, strangely looking forward to all of it.
"Sounds like it's going to be one heck of a party!" Sonic exclaimed, excited by the idea.
"It will. It'll be the first time, in a long time, that my people will have a celebration like this. It'll... also be my first time experiencing it..." Shade said, looking down on the floor as she did.
"You've never experienced a party before?" Sonic asked, looking somewhat dumbfounded.
"I was born at the time when Imperator Ix was at power. You can probably understand why there were no reasons to celebrate anything..." Shade said, trying to push away small traces of memories from her past.
"Oh... I'm sorry..." Sonic apologized, as he stood up and walked over towards Shade.
"Its okay... I'm-" Shade began, before feeling arms wrapped around her. She looked up to see her Lord, his body enclosed around her own.
Shade felt her heart race, as well as her cheeks warm as she felt her Lord's own warmth around her. She also felt... she couldn't quite explain the feeling, but it felt as if all the burdens of the world evaporate away from her. She felt lighter... almost like air... and that the only thing keeping her from flying away was the secure embrace that Sonic has around her. Shade eventually hugged back. Not wanting to drift away...
She didn't know when it happened... but she felt the soft feel of her Lord's soft bedsheets underneath her. But it didn't matter... with her arms and his against one another, she simply let herself eventually fall asleep in his arms.
To be Continued...