This story is a Christian allegory. I have placed it in 'Spiritual' because there is no 'Christian' category on this site. It is a direct sequel to I Still Believe; I would humbly suggest that you read that before starting this. All Bible verses are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted. The song I Surrender All, which is sung later in the story and which is title of this story, is a hymn written by Judson W Van DeVenter. I mean no disrespect by using it or any of the other songs I will use in this story. To God be all the Glory.
Chapter 1—A Wolf in the Fold?
Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.—2 Corinthians 11:14-15
I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.—Galatians 5:10
What big lies we have!
We come as spies, disguised as lambs
But if they'd read just an open page
I think they all could spot the wolves far away
What truths Scripture has!
It's sure to warn if someone's bad
So before they understand God's grace
I think I ought to lock you up in a safe
—Little Read Bible Book, Apologetix
Commander Shadow the Hedgehog was taking the news rather hard. "More?" he asked, sounding despondent. His friend and mentor, Commander Jack, just sighed and nodded, his countenance grave.
Shadow bowed his head for a second, then turned to the window. "How many this time?"
"At least twenty," Commander Jack replied.
"Twenty." The word sounded bitter in his mouth as the ebony hedgehog repeated it. Twenty of the king's citizens had recanted and had gone to the Forbidden Realm—Lucifer's domain.
Shadow knew for a fact that any who entered the Forbidden Realm would never come back. He had spent enough time in Mephiles' army to know that the dragon would pounce as soon as they were in his clutches, and he would never let go. Twenty more souls doomed for an eternity—and the recantations were happening nearly every day now.
And why? That's what Shadow wished to know. The best they could figure, someone was deceiving the King's Citizens, lying to them somehow to make them recant, but who, and how…that was anybody's guess.
"There's more," Commander Jack continued, sounding even sadder, if that was possible. "Mighty was with them."
If the news before had been a blow to Shadow, this news was as if a lightning bolt had struck him from the sky. The hedgehog commander paled considerably. "W-what?" he gasped. Mighty! But he had been so strong in his faith…it was inconceivable that he would recant.
Shadow's head started to spin and he sat down behind his desk heavily, gazing out the window of his office. He wished not for the first time that he could turn back the clock, if only for a few moments, back to when he was still a new citizen, when the thought of anyone recanting was laughable, and when Amy and Sonic had been with him, to help him whenever he had faltered, as he felt himself faltering now.
But now, Amy had gone on a journey through the Borderlands, places at the outskirts of Lucifer's turf, where few King's Citizens were and to those who were difficult to reach. It would be several years, still, before she was due to come back. And as for Sonic…Sonic…
A bittersweet pang filled Shadow's being as he remembered the day that Sonic had been whisked away before his very eyes. It had been more than a small shock to find that his cobalt blue friend had not been from his world—although it did explain why Sonic had been so clueless about such obvious things, and why he would start speaking about strange things as if they were commonplace. He had been told that while the King may very well wish for Sonic to come back to this realm, Shadow would probably never see Sonic again in this lifetime, but that he would certainly see his friend when they crossed over into the King's City, and there they would live forevermore.
That had been nearly ten years ago, as Shadow could recall. After Sonic's disappearance, he had devoted himself to his task of studying to become a Commander, and had been thrilled when the day came when he had earned his commission. He had been assigned to the training grounds at Gala, a town about fifteen miles away from Delphia, where he had received his own training. Gala was a small town, surrounded on all sides by a thick forest. Shadow had heard Sonic once refer to a town Gala's size as…how had he put it…oh, yeah, "A one stoplight town." Whatever that meant.
Shadow wondered how Sonic would handle the thought of someone tricking King's Citizen's into recanting. More than likely he'd say something like, "Well, then, let's go get him!" And then rush off in some odd direction without one clue or idea as to who the deceiver was or where he should look. Sonic never had been one for thinking things through.
Then again, somehow Sonic had always managed to get the job done…
"…hear me, Shadow?"
Shadow's focus snapped back to the present, and his face flushed warm as he realized that Commander Jack had been speaking and he hadn't been paying any attention. "Forgive me, Commander. You were saying?"
Commander Jack raised an eyebrow, but he repeated himself anyway. "I said, an emergency Commander's Conference has been called. All Commanders are required to come to Delphia and report any information they may have on who this deceiver is and where he may be hiding, as well as how he is reaching King's Citizen's with his lies. Even if we get no new information, it will ensure that all the Commanders know about this so they can warn their trainees and keep a sharp lookout for any deceivers."
Shadow nodded. Right now, it was quite literally the best they could do—that, and continue to pray that the deceiver would be revealed so he or she could be stopped before any more King's Citizens destroyed themselves because of false teachings.
"When is this conference?" Shadow asked.
"When the sun is at the highest peak on Thursday," Commander Jack replied, standing to leave. "I will see you then."
Shadow nodded, his face set with grim determination. "Thursday."
Thursday seemed to simultaneously come too quickly and not quickly enough for Shadow, but it did come all the same. Shadow found himself in a large conference room with many other commanders. Some he recognized. Many he did not. But they were all there to deal with a common, very deadly, threat.
Commander Jack took the podium that stood in the middle of the room so that all could see him. "I thank you all for coming here today," he said, and then he explained the situation.
As one can imagine, his news went over like a ton of freakin' bricks.
It took Commander Jack several minutes to restore order enough for the varied commanders in the room to ask questions of him in a somewhat dignified manner.
Commander Sally Acorn was the first to speak. "Sir, how is this deceiver so cunning as to deceive the King's Citizens so thoroughly, so many times over?"
Commander Jack just shook his head. "We don't know this. We don't know hardly anything about why or how. We simply know that he or she is, and that we must find a way to stop this imposter quickly."
"Commander, if I may be so bold." Everyone hushed as this new commander stood up so that he could be better heard. Commander Julian Kintobor was a well respected commander, known throughout the region as one of the King's most hardworking followers. Only Commander Jack was more well known. He was well-liked and his advice was always listened too and usually taken.
Commander Jack nodded. "Of course, Commander Julian. What is it you wanted to say?"
Commander Julian looked upset, as if deeply concerned about something. "Forgive my brashness, commander, but I can only think of one way that a deceiver could deceive so many so thoroughly." He closed his eyes, and his face twisted as if he was put through severe torture just to suggest what he was about to imply, and continued, "Our imposter is a Commander."
This news was even less well received than the last. A commander! It was unthinkable, unbelievable…and unfortunately, it made too much sense to be dismissed.
Shadow's mind seemed to be in a fog for the rest of the night. It was too much information, too much cursed bad news…he needed time to sit down, to allow his shock to abate, to think.
The rest of the meeting was lost to him, except for the very end, when he distinctly heard Commander Jack swear everyone in the room to secrecy regarding Commander Julian's fears. They could not be certain the imposter was a commander, and there would be more lost than gained if people started to point fingers at one another. Afterwards, Commander Jack dismissed everyone.
As Shadow prepared to leave, however, Commander Jack pulled him to the side. "Meet me in my office after the others leave," he whispered, then he moved on. Shadow wanted to sigh. Here was more news, and more than likely he would not get the time he needed to think. Nevertheless, after the other commanders left, he found himself in Commander Jack's office.
He wasn't alone; three other commanders were with him. There was Commander Sally Acorn, sitting off to the side. Sally's armor was quite beautiful; her Breastplate of Righteousness was smaller than most, ending around her upper waist. It was steel, and the sides looked as if someone had literally stitched pure gold into the metal. A dove was outlined in gold in the middle of the breastplate. The Breastplate itself was snow white. A golden gorget was tucked under her Breastplate, giving her the look of wearing a beautiful golden brooch. Her Shoes of Peace were long leather boots; the majority of which was snow white. The toes of her shoes were golden; and elegant golden patterns flowed up each shoes. The tops of the shoes, which ended near the tops of her legs, were pointed, and golden as well. Her Belt of Truth, which indeed is the only part of the armor that is the same for each person in the King's army, was a thick, white belt that covered her waist. Her Helmet of Salvation was also white, rounded to fit her head snuggly. It completely covered her head, and under her chin, leaving an area for her face to remain uncovered, although it came in points under her eyes and just above her chin. Each point was golden; it framed her face quite beautifully. Her Shield of Faith was round; completely white save for a golden emblem of a dove in the very middle. She was wearing golden chain mail under her armor, as well. Her Sword of the Spirit was a flambard; an exceptionally long sword that had been forged with undulating or wave-shaped edges. It is sometimes referred to as a flame-bladed sword; for the curves give the appearance of flames running up the sword on the battlefield.
Next to Sally was Commander Ray the Flying Squirrel. Shadow remembered him from the last commander's meeting; he had shown up at the last minute and had tripped over a waste basket, nearly knocking both it and himself down. Despite that fact, Shadow had heard he was a loyal and dedicated follower of the King.
Ray's armor was lighter; made mostly from a thick leather instead of metal, to let him have use of his agility and not impede his flying skills. His breastplate was long, durable leather that was snow white. In the middle he had an emblem of a cross etched in pure gold. His Belt of Truth was resting just over the bottom of the Breastplate. His Shoes of Peace resembled thick white leather boots. Near his ankles a golden band covered the top of his boots. His Helmet of Salvation was was a round, thin piece of white metal that that covered the top of his head. His Shield of Faith was an unusual piece of equipment; it resembled a leather cape that Ray could drape over his arm when not in use; when he was using it, it stiffened and became as hard and unyielding as any metal. It provided him a lightweight shield that gave him no trouble at all when he took to the air. Ray's Sword of the Spirit was a 10 inch dirk dagger; Shadow knew Ray had quite the reputation for it. It was said that he could throw the dagger and hit a target he could barely see from distances that Shadow found hard to believe were not exaggerated. The hilt of the dagger was golden and Ray had it attached to a pouch hanging from his Belt of Truth.
Leaning against the far wall was a chameleon. Shadow wasn't sure of his name, Commander Epsilon, or something to that effect. The Chameleon's armor was the second most unique armor Shadow had ever seen; only Sonic's had been more unorthodox. He wore a simple white tunic under his armor. His Breastplate of Righteousness was lamellar armor, which looks like thousands of scales hooked together so tightly nothing could pass. Two thick golden strands, impossible to break, went over the shoulders and kept the Breastplate on the chameleon's body. An emblem of an eagle was etched into the middle in solid gold. the Breastplate itself was white. His Shoes of Peace were golden sandals; his Helmet of Salvation looked for all the world like a white hood that covered his head; leaving a small opening for his eyes. Just above the opening was a thick material; thicker than the rest of the hood; and on this material strange markings were written in gold. Shadow would later find out that these markings were the words King of Kings in a language known as Japanese. His Belt of Truth hung around his waist; to this a simple gold cord attached the naked blade of the Sword of the Spirit that the chameleon used, a katana that had golden cloth wrapped around the hilt.
The chameleon gave Shadow a curt nod, which the hedgehog returned. Then the ebony commander sat down to wait.
He didn't have to wait long. Presently the door to the office opened and Commander Jack stepped into the room.
"Thank you all for agreeing to meet with me in private," he said graciously as he walked over to his desk.
"What is this about?" Commander Sally asked as soon as he was seated.
Commander Jack smiled. "I'm glad you asked. I'm concerned that Commander Julian is right—that the deceiver is a commander. I called you four here because I know for a fact that each of you is truly and deeply devoted to the King."
"But what does that have to do with the imposter?" Ray asked.
Commander Jack's smile grew slightly wider. "I am about to ask each of you to do something I would not normally do. I would like you all to leave your trainees with your Lt. Commanders, and then work together to hunt down this deceiver, whomever it may be. And he or she may very well be a commander, in which case you will have to expose that person. It could take some time, and you would no doubt be trekking throughout most of the kingdom as you follow this deceiver's trail. I will not force you to do this, however. The decision is yours to make."
There was a short silence while each person thought through their decisions. The chameleon spoke first. "Finding this deceiver is our top priority. I will go."
"Thank you, Espio," Commander Jack said sincerely.
"I will go too," Sally confirmed. "The damage this imposter will do if we do not stop him will be astronomical."
"I will go as well," Shadow agreed. He could not in good conscience sit back and do nothing while this fiend drove the King's citizens to their destruction.
Ray was silent for a while longer, deep in thought. "Well…I'm not sure I'm the right person for this job," he finally admitted. "But if you believe I can do it, Commander, then I'm willing to try."
Commander Jack looked quite pleased. "Thank you, Ray. That's all I ask. Some horses will be provided for you all, of course. I would like you to leave first thing tomorrow. For now, get some rest. It will be a very long journey."
Shadow waited for the others to leave, and then he too trekked down the halls of the Delphia training grounds. It brought back so many memories of his training here. And though he would not be sleeping there tonight, the ebony hedgehog decided to walk past his old room. All was as he remembered it. There was the door to what used to be his room…and next to it…
Shadow sighed as his gaze fell upon the door to Sonic's old room. He half expected the cobalt blue hedgehog to come bursting out of it, full of energy, vowing that he wouldn't let that accursed wall get the better of him that day.
Oh, the hours he had spent watching Sonic try to get up that wall! The hedgehog never had been able to climb up it fast enough to earn a passing grade…perhaps it was just as well that the King had sent him back to his home world. Sonic would have been mortified if he had been unable to pass the King's academy simply because he couldn't get over a wall.
Shadow chuckled at the memories of Sonic's exploits with the academy wall. And he hoped that, wherever he was, his friend's days were not as distressing as his were.
He had better get to his new room and get some sleep. More distressing days were still to come.