001. Beginnings

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"Time to escape the clutches of a name.
No, this is not a game, it's just a new beginning.

I don't believe in fate - but the bottom line;
It's time to pay.
You know you've got it coming."

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High and shining was the moon, great and pearlescent and perfectly illuminated against an inky canvas of darkest black. There was a chill in the air tonight, a chill sharpened by the unseasonable rain falling from the heavens, splitting the air with it's descent. Each crystalline drop would sing out its' secrets to anyone who cared to listen, but no one ever did. And so each drop sung its' last in vain before colliding with the multitude of trees below. Tonight, Prison Island was alive with Mother Nature's roaring symphony, and not a soul was there to appreciate it.

But there was a soul down there - one who heard this symphony, but did not care to listen. No, he did not listen because this soul was far too busy marveling the brilliance of his own mind to pay any heed to petty trifles such as rainfall. A brief flicker of lightning illuminated this figure as he meandered through the trees, each passing second getting him ever closer to his goal. The goal he has sought after ever since stumbling upon his grandfather's diary.

This 'Project Shadow' he would find here undoubtedly held great promise. He did not know exactly what it was or why it was concealed here - but then, that was precisely why it held great promise. It was clearly powerful enough for G.U.N to consider it a threat; and because of this its possibilities were endless as far as he was concerned.

Perhaps some sort of great and devastating weapon was waiting here for him to seize it, or some long abandoned, subterranean artillery base that begged for utilization. Perhaps this was to be the break the Doctor needed, the instrument which, finally, would enable him to achieve his dreams of world conquest. Perhaps, at long last, that cobalt vexation would not match up to the test this time. Of course he wouldn't. Because this time, he knew he would not fail. Too long had he been working on plan after brilliant plan, one after the other, just to be thwarted last minute by that Sonic and his little friends. Too long had he wanted the world, only to be denied it time and time again. He only wanted the world, was that so much to ask?

No. He deserved at least that much - and this time, he would not fail.

So he sought out the location of this 'Project Shadow.' He found the Island, and found the base - abandoned, of course. Evidently, those fools at G.U.N thought it was no longer a high priority risk; all trace of this mysterious invention had, after all, been erased from memory, erased by time. And, ah, at last. The Doctor came upon the containment area with greedy, curious eyes, which then turned doubtful as he eyed capsule. Was this what he was looking for? ...Yes, the insignia on the side is the same as in the diary but...was this it?

...A little small, he thought. But, then again, when has size ever indicated power? That blue inconvenience was testament enough to th- No. Sonic was lucky, not powerful - never powerful. Just incredibly lucky. But luck will only get you so far, Sonic...

With this thought, the Doctor let out his signature laugh, sought out the control panel, and allowed his fingers to dance across the master keyboard. With a few well phrased commands, and a well placed chaos emerald, the capsule activated. The Doctor turned in great anticipation of what awaited him, for he believed that this time, this was most definitely the break he needed.

Did Sonic and his team really think that they could so easily screw up whatever plans he had concocted, time and time again? Did the world really believe they were safe while Sonic was there to protect them? Yes, they did.

And, oh, how very wrong they were. Fools.

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This cold is penetrating; the draconian silence oppressively unendurable.
Alone, and silent, and so very, very cold.

How much time had passed?

He had no way of knowing, suspended in time as he was - and he did not care to know.
He did not care to know anything at all.

Vaguely, he became aware of something stirring outside, some force approaching. Possibly another bastard from G.U.N sent to verify that he was still secure in his stasis - but still he did not care.
There was no need to care, no sense in caring.
For he had learnt that caring came hand in hand with pain, and so he had stopped caring long ago.

Was it long ago, or was it only yesterday? -- of course, he had no way of knowing, suspended in time as he was.

It may have been a millennia ago; he had been still for so long. Yet, he could see in sharpest detail the events from that day, as if they had happened mere seconds ago. As if they were happening right now.

The sirens, the panic; the running and a resonating gunshot.
He watched as red stained blue. A blonde figure gave up her fight, and haunting blue eyes lost their light.
Darkness ensued.

All was dark, and silent; silent, and so very, very cold.

Abruptly, he became acutely conscious of a powerful source of energy nearby -- a Chaos Emerald? It's energy signature was different to the one he had, in the past, become so familiar with; but it was a Chaos Emerald still. Even in his cryogenic stasis, there was no mistaking the power he felt.

A theatrical laugh, a whirring noise; a release of pressure and a sudden warmth. His body awoke, and his mind too. No longer did he think incoherent thoughts in bouts of inconsistent consciousness. No, now he was fully awake, fully aware.

At long, long last.

No - no, it was much, much too soon. He did not want to feel, did not want to remember. It was too painful to remember and he was not ready. He wanted to go back to his darkness, to the cold and the loneliness and feel nothing. Nothing at all.

But still, the memories assaulted him like cougar to the kill.
Uncaring and unrelenting: swift and precise.

He was running, and he was not alone. The sirens would not stop shrieking, the warning lights would not stop blazing - his vision was tainted with red, and they were running for their lives. Down a long, steel corridor, and a sharp turn to the left. No! God no, please, not another dead end. They had never been lost before - they had walked these corridors so often together that it was criminal they should lose themselves now.

But the sirens were screaming at them, and the lights were blinding them. The soldiers from G.U.N were hunting them down, and they were running. In their blind panic, they just kept making all the wrong turns.

He had wanted to fight them. It would be easy, effortless - he was indestructible. But the Professor had bade him run; do not fight, but protect Maria and flee for the escape pods.

And so that is what they did. Hand in hand, they ran as they had never ran before. He, for her life; and she for his. They did not care for themselves, only for each other. Perhaps it was this selflessness of spirit that had led them to evade the murderous soldiers so far. Legs aching, blood pounding in their ears, hearts frantically beating, they ran, and found themselves upon the observation deck.

The grand, elephantine glass wall gave way to an opulent picture of ethereal beauty. Earth possessed a remarkable beauty; its' deep blue oceans and swirling ivory clouds had an indescribable charm. But the two fugitive figures dashed past this majestic sight without a second glance. They had often stood in this very room - pressed against this very glass - gazing down upon the planet and dreaming of what life was like down there. They were dreamers. But now, reality had come crashing down on them, and this vision of beauty was just a terrifying insinuation of what they risk loosing if they do not escape.

Past the glass wall, into another hall lined with doors. Second door on the left, down several flights of stairs; the heavy footfalls behind them getting louder, closer. But the two had to be getting closer to their own goal too, surely. All around them was steel and chrome - cold, comfortless and uncaring, like the hearts of the men who hunted them. 'Hey, you there - girl - stop right there!' But Maria did not stop, could not afford to stop, for she could not let them capture her Shadow. They would destroy him, because they did not understand. They did not want to understand. 'Stop running right now, or we'll open fire -- cease and desist!!' But Shadow just grasped her hand harder, and ran faster. Away from the shower of bullets with promises of a swift end. Away from the soldiers with hearts of intolerance and ice. He ran at a faster pace than Maria could cope with, and so every now and then she lost her footing, and scuffed the floor. But no cry of pain escaped her - better a scraped knee than a bullet to the head.

- Ahead; Landing Deck and Evacuation Chamber -

At last, they were close. They could have cried with relief, but crystal vision was absolutely crucial, and so their eyes remained dry. They rushed in, Shadow running to the escape pods to prepare one for Maria; Maria running to the control panel to seal the doors shut, protecting them from the soldiers - for now. 'Maria, quick, you must get in, there's no time to lose.' But Maria did not listen. She stood silent for a second, before turning to Shadow with tears in her eyes. 'There's no need to cry, you'll be safe now' - he took the tears for fear. And in truth, they did betray her fear, but only a fear that he might hate her for what she was about to do.

Resolved, she rushed over to him, crouched down, and hugged him her last. There was a whispered apology, and before he could question her, Shadow found himself thrown roughly into a capsule and sealed in.

"Wha-- No! Maria, no! What are you doing?" Shadow cried, pounding against the glass. But to no avail; the glass was not built to give way to the pounding of fists, not even his.
"Shadow, will you promise me something?" Maria implored, the tears now staining delicate rivulets down her pale cheeks. Her blonde hair was in disarray, her brow tense; she was the very picture of distress.
"Maria, please, let me out! I can protect you! Open the hatch, please!!" He was begging. Tears of sheer, disbelieving terror were forming in his own innocent, inexperienced ruby eyes. "Please, don't do this..."
"Shadow, I need you to promise me something." Maria laid her delicate, bruising hand on the glass in front of her. Shadow had not realized, in his sheer desperation to get her to safety, just how hard he had gripped her hand. And now, it seemed, all his efforts were in vain. "Shadow..."

Incoherent shouts were heard by the sealed doors. Gunshots; a profanity. A rumor of explosive.
There wasn't much time left.

"Anything, Maria..."
"Promise me you'll help the people on the planet below," she said as she walked away from him, toward the control panel once more.
"Wha-- what do you mean? What are you talking about?" Help them? How was he supposed to help them when he couldn't even help her, the one he most cared about?

"This is a Government Operation, young lady! Open this door right now, or we'll blow it and you right down to hell."

Maria readied her hand over the ejection button; ignoring the soldiers, ignoring the threats, ignoring Shadow's pleas to let him help her. "Shadow, promise me you'll do all you can to protect the people on earth."

An explosion; a cloud of smoke.
They were here.

"Shado--"

A gunshot sounded through the air; time slowed.

Pounding his fists against the glass -- tears spilling from the corners of his eyes, incoherent pleas and profanities escaping from his mouth -- Shadow the Hedgehog could do nothing but watch as Maria collapsed over the control panel, her hand over the ejection button still. He watched as red stained blue. Watched as a blonde figure gave up her fight. Watched as Maria turned her haunting blue eyes to him; he saw them dimming. She offered him one last, tearstained smile - a smile of resignation and of surrender.
He would not see her again.

"Sayonara, Shadow the Hedgehog..."
Down came her hand.

"--No! Maria please, you don't have to do this! Maria!! No, no plea--"
Darkness ensued.

All was dark. And silent.
He could no longer hear Maria's desperate pleas. No longer hear the shouts of the soldiers with their abhorrent guns and nauseating bullets.
All was dark, and silent; silent, and so very, very cold.

And, strangely, this cold was dissipating fast.

Shadow returned to the present, his eyes burning. His body crawling. His spirit in flames. He fought to suppress the rage burning in his soul -- the hellfire which, at once, threatened to consume him and urged him to consume the world.

He sat up, and observed his surroundings for the first time. A strange, icy mist enveloped him, and the air smelled musty. Old. Apparently, a considerable amount of time had passed since he was placed here. It did not matter; he did not care. Whether it had been one year or one hundred years since Maria's death, he would avenge her still. He would keep his promise to her.

He would help these people by showing them the error of their ways.
And he would protect them too. Protect them from themselves.

These humans were a vile and disgusting race, fueled by greed and concerned only with destruction. They knew only hate. They needed to be eradicated: to be saved from themselves. Oh, he did not think himself noble in performing this task, not at all. But it was a task that needed to be done - and it just so happened that he would take great pleasure in its' execution. Not only would he be saving the human race from themselves, he would be exacting his revenge on the very people who had wronged him. They were hunted that night, like animals. And she, his dearest friend, the only one who saw him for what he was inside and not what he appeared to be - slaughtered.

Yes, they were hunted that night. But now, he thought, as he rose from the stasis pod, now it was his turn to play the hunter. They would pay for what they had done to Maria. It had been a long time coming, but Shadow could see his revenge lying in wait, just on the horizon.

And there would be no mercy, for Maria was shown none.
Merciless bastards.

"Wh-- what's that?" An outraged cry caught his attention. Ah, yes. The one who had freed him, apparently. Judging by his eccentric uniform and look of surprise, this was no agent of G.U.N. "Is that you, Sonic?! How did you get here? You'll not destroy my plans this time!" Sonic? Plans? Who was this delusional fool? A closer inspection revealed him to bear a striking resemblance to the Professor. But that could not be, the Professor would have recognized him. A descendant then, perhaps.

"Wait a minute.. you aren't Sonic..."
"My name is Shadow. Shadow the Hedgehog. I am the Ultimate Lifeform."

And, ah, there is the response he had anticipated. The Doctor's face had just become the very picture of ecstatic avarice. He was greedy. He was cruel. Just like the rest of his pestilent race.

"And I, Shadow, I am Doctor Ivo Robotnik. The very being who has just released you from your stasis."
"Good Doctor, I thank you. And since you were so kind as to release me from my prison, I will grant you one wish ... My Master."

A huge and wicked grin crept around the Doctor's face at that last address. Perfect. He could sense in the Doctor a potentiality for manipulation and exploitation. He would extract whatever use he could from this foul human, and then destroy him along with the rest of his pathetic race.

Hmm, his revenge is so close. And here the Doctor stands, smiling maniacally, thinking he is the one in control.

Oh, how very wrong he is. Fool.

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Finally. He has, at long last, found it; the instrument that will enable him world conquest. It has been a long time coming, but finally he has come across what he deserves.

He was a little surprised at first - he'll admit - the thing so resembled that infuriating blue headache that he thought for a second he'd been fooled. It was a moment of fear, but it was irrational. Unnecessary. For now, right in front of his very eyes, stood this Shadow the Hedgehog, this 'Ultimate Lifeform.' Powerful and deadly and oh-so obedient. Putty in his ingenious, diabolical hands. He really had to commend his grandfather on this creation; it was pure gold. Genius must run in the family. And the Doctor did not think he could have found a bigger pot of gold if he had journeyed to the end of the rainbow himself and threatened the leprechauns with massacre. He really had outdone himself this time.

Yes, this time, he thought, Sonic has indeed met his match. He and his little friends would be the first to go. Then he would eradicate G.U.N and their nettlesome military. And then -- why then, the world would have no choice but to bow to him. Or face annihilation.

Ah, the sweet imminence of success. The good Doctor, in his delight, could almost taste world domination, and oh did it taste good. Once more, he let out his obscene laugh.

Oh yes -- and this is merely the beginning.

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The Hedgehog smirked internally as he viewed the human's foolish antics. He does think himself rather the big shot, doesn't he. But his greed and conceit makes him incredibly pliable; putty in his hands. Shadow began to take a step toward the Doctor, only to halt suddenly as red security lights began to flash.

But this was no memory, and he would not run this time.

The Doctor began cursing, and Shadow focused his power, sensing a rumbling ahead and slightly to the left of him. No sooner had he latched onto it's location did the machine make its' appearance, guns blazing. Time for a warm-up.

"Behold, Doctor, the true power I possess."

Shadow lifted off from the ground, effortlessly dodging the speeding bullets with an eldritch grace. These bullets, unlike the ones previously fired at him, did not strike him with any kind of fear, because the fear he felt before was not for himself, but for the one he protected. His beloved - if indeed he knew anything of love. They had taken her from him, and now, he had nothing to lose. These bullets were no threat, and this machine was no oppressor. He was no longer the prey, but the predator.

It was child's play. He sped toward the machine, and with a well aimed spin attack struck the machine right through the core, immobilizing it in an instant. It did not surprise the hedgehog that G.U.N had incorporated some sort of robot to guard him. What did surprise him, however, was how easily it had succumbed. Had he been held in stasis long enough for time to take it's toll on the machine, or did G.U.N just severely underestimate his power? Perhaps. Those fools never were ones for good judgement, it seemed.

"Why Shadow, that was spectacular! Absolutely amazing!" And here was that covetous Doctor again. In awe of his display, obviously. "Now, about that wish--."
"--Bring me more Chaos Emeralds," the hedgehog interrupted, "and meet me on the Space Colony ARK. I will await you in the Central Control Room."

And with that, Shadow turned on his heel and left. This would be too easy. The Doctor was a fool, consumed by his greed. Shadow foresaw no difficulty in manipulating him to his will. Once he had located all seven Chaos Emeralds, he could finally execute his plan. Vengeance for Maria, revenge on humanity.

He was not God; he would show no mercy to the merciless. He would only be returning the favour. The destruction of that pitiful excuse for a robot was but an appetizer. It did not slake his lust for revenge.

No...there was so much more to come.
That was merely the beginning.

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Okay, so this is my first attempt at a Fanfic. I was just sort of experimenting here with narrative, seeing if I can write in the perspective of a character, expressing their thoughts and emotions, without actually writing in first person. Reviews and critiques are VERY welcome, please, I'd like to see your opinions. (:

The theme 'Beginnings' is from that Fanart100 meme thing that was on LiveJournal. Basically, there are 100 prompts and you'd draw/write something relating to that prompt. And so this is my response to 'Beginnings' - the OBVIOUS choice, I know. There are loads more (like, 99 more, wouldn't 'cha know ;D) and I may or may not do them. And I'm shutting up just now.

Robotnik, Shadow, Maria, G.U.N, Prison Island etc. etc. are © to 'SEGAAAAA' -- and whoever else it is that owns them, it sure as hell isn't me.
And lyrics are © to 30STM